We've spilled plenty of ink here at BMD about how much we love The Astrologer - the bizarre, hyper-auteurist grindhouse work of WTF. But in case you forgot, here's a quick refresher on this cinematic "secret handshake":
Craig Denney’s work is a maniacal act of self-mythologizing, charting a sort of rise and fall story about Alexander – a carnival side show act who becomes a diamond smuggler, political prisoner, star reader to the rich and famous, film star himself (in a movie called The Astrologer, which he does in fact watch in The Astrologer), and finally a has-been – all in the span of eighty minutes. There’s a genuine madness on display, as Denney pours the contents of his brain onto celluloid, scoring it all to stolen Moody Blues tracks, while lingering on these rather beautiful tableaus of him hanging out shirtless on a pleasure boat after diving for jewels at the bottom of the ocean. How this movie could afford a helicopter is beyond this writer, but we’re certainly all better off because of it.
Notoriously hard to see, The Music Box Theater's Front Row programming showcase - which features rare cult titles from around the world - is teaming up with the A.V. Club and Daily Grindhouse to present a series of midnight movies, including The Astrologer!
Here's the full line-up, which also includes Franco Prosperi's Wild Beasts:
1984/dir. Franco Prosperi/Italy/92 minutes/35mm
Franco Prosperi returns to his docu-exploitation Mondo film roots with the most ludicrous, most polished, most Italian of all animal attack films, Wild Beasts. Made as if for no other reason than to show the filmmakers of Roar exactly how it's done, Wild Beasts predicates itself on the single greatest premise to ever grace the silver screen: a ton of PCP was just dumped in the zoo water supply and, man, does it ever make the animals want to kill everything and everyone in sight. Cue a borderline offensive amount of shocking gore, with rats devouring people, bare breasts and all, elephants smashing faces, and large felines gleefully, enthusiastically ripping people to shreds.
Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27 at 11:59 p.m. at The Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.)
1975/dir.Craig Denney/United States/96 minutes/DCP
In an era where anyone with access to the internet can become a Wikipedia cinephile, The Astrologer remains something special. This rarely screened film is a fascinating passion project that combines carnie mysticism, international high adventure, and a Christ allegory for good measure. The film's director and star Craig Denney didn't secure the rights to the Moody Blues tunes that he used in the film, relegating The Astrologer to obscurity and ensuring that the film will most likely never receive an official release. However, thanks to the preservation efforts of the American Genre Film Archive, Music Box audiences can be among the lucky few to enjoy the adventures of astrologer/asshole Alexander with an eager midnight audience.
Friday, February 2 and Saturday, February 3 at 11:59 p.m at The Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.)
STRAY CAT ROCK: SEX HUNTER
1970/dir. Yasuharu Hasebe/Japan/85 minutes/DCP
Three years before her starring turn as ice-cold assassin LADY SNOWBLOOD, Japanese action heroine Meiko Kaji and her all-girl gang of juvenile delinquents terrorized the streets of Tokyo in Nikkatsu's STRAY CAT ROCK movies. The third film in the series, STRAY CAT ROCK: SEX HUNTER sees Meiko and the girls coming to the defense of a handsome mixed-race wanderer who falls victim to a xenophobic beating at the hands of their male counterparts. Set against the psychedelic backdrop of Japan's answer to the swinging London of the 1960s,STRAY CAT ROCK: SEX HUNTER features a feisty gang of teenage girls who take no shit, including one cathartic scene where they light up a party full of would-be rapists with Molotov cocktails. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10 at 11:59 p.m. at The Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.)
Look, if you're a straight-up weirdo cinephile like me and you DON'T go to these screenings, that's some bullshit (ed. note: This is extremely accurate). Every one of these films is a stone-cold, freak out classic, and each are best experienced with an audience.
Be there. See The Astrologer. Learn the secret handshake.