Let’s face it, blowing up Atlanta’s Starlight Six Drive-In for work must’ve been pretty damn cool. I’d even be willing to bet that the film maker, cast and crew of Dear God No! had fun on most workdays – blowing up the drive-in, riding motorcycles, playing with fake blood and special effects, making jokes, and the gratuitous use of beards, boobs, and violence.
Dear God No! held its World Premiere at the historic Plaza Theatre in Atlanta on Friday, September 9. Word of this locally-filmed and produced independent flick must have traveled fast because the sold out line wrapped around the building. 375 people came out to see what local Atlanta film maker James Bickert and his crew had created – some were friends of the cast and crew, others were Kickstarter Partners (who had donated money to make the movie happen), and yet others were intrigued by the proliferation of the film premiere through social media and were also morbidly curious about it’s “WARNING: Dear God No! contains gratuitous nudity, mad science, hairy beasts, Nazis, patricide, suicide, nuns, decapitations, evisceration, infanticide, limb removal, rock and roll, machine guns, explosions, heavy drug use, incestual lesbian rape and Richard Nixon.” I was in the latter group; I had to know if the film maker and crew could actually pull all of that off without the film coming off as a clustered mess.
The Plaza Theatre, Atlanta’s independent non-profit cinema, was the perfect place to host the World Premiere of Dear God No! as the renovated theatre room has a large stage where the creepy, trench coat-wearing emcee could get the crowd riled up and introduce the movie – in this case with lewd jokes and having the audience say, “Dear God No!” after everything he said. The theatre auditorium lobby was covered in Dear God No! movie promos and horror props used on set (fake heads and hearts, anyone?).
Touted as a lost ‘70’s drive-in exploitation film, Dear God No! was shot in color on super 16mm film format which gave the film a softer focus, rich color saturation, and natural graininess that softened up and almost romanticized the movie’s gore. The production company Big World Picture’s goal was to make the film look as authentic 1970s as possible with little to no computer-generated special effects. Keeping in line with the 1970’s look, the bikers wore what looked like hand painted gang jackets and rode on stripped-down bikes with no helmets; backdrops included a drive-in and hole-in-the-wall bar with the additional scenery of open roads, fields, vintage cars, and a backwoods cabin. This was definitely an exploitation flick featuring all that could be perceived as sensational (refer back to the movie contains warning), right down to the twisted movie poster by The Dude Designs and movie tagline, “When the blood begins to flow, who will be left to scream.” World Premiere attendees were lucky enough to receive an official uncensored poster, a certificate of movie survival, and some even received other pieces of furry film memorabilia.
This is one movie that truly lived up to its name, “DEAR GOD NO!” Several times during the movie viewers gasped, moaned, and groaned at the gratuitous violence, blood, and gore; but they also laughed. Being an avid horror movie fan, one thing I’ve come to learn is that there is a strong connection to how well a movie is received or remembered by the laughter associated with it. Well at least for me, laughter can make or break an over-the-top horrific movie. I think James Bickert, Writer, Director, and Executive Producer along with Co-Producers Nick Morgan and Shane Morton get that. I felt Dear God No! was an interesting mix of Quentin Tarantino-esque style meets Troma films goriness and comedy. Basically, Dear God No! was the uninhibited film that the two might have made together if Tarantino’s budget got reined in and Troma upped the ante on special effects. One scene in particular reminded me of a scene right out of Troma’s Tromeo & Juliet, but with a sicker twist of course. Doing a little bit of research on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) turns up that Bickert’s last film in 2000, Dumpster Baby, was both produced and distributed by Troma Entertainment.
My favorite parts of the movie included very well done decapitations and authentic horror scenes which I was not expecting out of this production (but I would’ve known better if I had read the bios of SPFX artists on the movie’s website first). I also liked the onslaught of jokes that made the harsher parts more tolerable – the deliveries were spot on, smart, and hilarious!
The Dear God No! cast included Atlanta locals, horror movie veterans, professional actors, rock band members, a former World Wrestling Federation RAW babe, special effects gurus, Silver Scream Spook Show-ers, Atlanta haunted house ghouls, and monster costumers. Dear God No! starred Jett Bryant, Madeline Brumby, Olivia LaCroix, Paul McComiskey, John Collins, Shane Morton, Nick Morgan, Rusty Stache, Jim Sligh, Billy Ratliff, Johnny McGowen, John Collins, Heath Street, Rachelle Lynn, Nick Hood and Jim Stacey. The original motion picture soundtrack was provided by the Atlanta-based band the Forty-Fives.
This film is not yet rated, but contains loads of gratuitous violence and nudity. The World Premiere event even noted, “SISSIES, MINORS & THOSE WITH HEART CONDITIONS WILL NO BE ADMITTED. NO EXCEPTIONS.” So, if you have a twisted sense of humor, love horror, and don’t mind uttering, “Dear God No!” every ten minutes, go see this movie! If not, avoid it like the plague. And yes, every bit of the warning about what the film contains is true. I’m still in shock about how they managed to cover and weave all of those topics into one film. And yes, there were times when I really wish they hadn’t gone that far with the topics. “Get ready for the thrill kill ride of your life! Sex and violence so extreme you will want to scream… DEAR GOD NO!”
P.S. As far as I know, the Starlight Six Drive-In thankfully survived the filming of this movie as did the Plaza Theatre after its World Premiere. It is unknown whether Bigfoot the monster and/or the band were accidentally harmed in the filming of this movie or in its post-production stage.
Exclusive pics by Brook Hewitt!
Future showings of Dear God No!
September 22nd 10PM: Arizona Underground Film Festival (Tucson, AZ)
October 15th: Pollygrind 2011 – Las Vegas
October 21st 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
October 22st 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
October 23rd 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
October 24th 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
October 26th 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
October 27 9:30PM: Plaza Theater – Atlanta
To Be Determined Starlight Six Drive-in – Atlanta
Rain and Fire in Sedona
A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography.
What to do, what to do.
Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!
The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.
When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold.
We were about to become glass blowers!
Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.
Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”
Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.
Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.
Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.
Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.
They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor.
Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing!
Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.
If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!
How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!
Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando
I owe him a poem:
Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town.
He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.
He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.
He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make
There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.
Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.
He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too
Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.
Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.
Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:
If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out.
The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.
I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius!
Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.
“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.
The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.
The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.
“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.
John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!
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