I spent the vast majority of this weekend sitting in the dark staring at a screen but this weekend it was not my computer screen. Amazing! A few thoughts after having seen the choice selections on offer at ESCAPISM! at the Carolina Theatre of Durham:

Black Sheep: How did a world as terrible as ours produce something this perfect? Possibly the funniest movie I have ever seen. I’m not joking. I loved it. Perfect in every way. Flesh-eating sheep, weresheep, hot, hot Kiwi men. Perfection. I can’t begin to tell you why it’s good. You just have to watch it.

Netherbeast, Incorporated: How did a world that contains Dave Foley manage to produce this dreck? An ambitious failure at its best. A lot of great ideas on display and some stellar performances but the sound is awful, the lighting is awful, the editing is awful and from scene to scene it’s hard to believe that it was filmed with any sort of whole story in mind. I bet it looked great on paper. I bet it was hilarious when they were sitting around brainstorming it, high as a Georgia pine and seeing twice as many stars. I just wish it were consistent, watchable and that they’d given Dave Foley something to do. Actually, what I wish is that they could reshoot it with the same cast and an entirely different crew and a budget of some substance.

Apocalypse Oz: The premise is that it’s an action short (~25 minutes) in which all dialogue comes from either Apocalypse Now or The Wizard of Oz. The story itself, such as it is, leaves a lot of room for the viewer’s imagination in a way that completely worked for me; I was ready to declare it an important piece of work about one of the least-examined questions of race relations in modern America. The Boyf felt that it was a good short that had some troubled spots. I thought it was almost flawless. I’ll admit that the Wicked Witch hams it up in an uncomfortably pinched sort of way but otherwise I loved it. I would watch it again and again.

The Norman Rockwell Code: The opening credits are the funniest thing in it and they don’t feature any of the actors or any of the plot. This should be indicative that the rest of it is just a waste. I can’t believe someone filmed this. The gag is that Barney Fife’s community college symbologist son has to investigate a crime that occurs at the Norman Rockwell Museum, attempting a spoof on The Da Vinci Code. It is just dreadful from start to finish. The only sounds in the theatre were the cries of disbelief from the couple seated behind us. I kept having to fight the urge to laugh at them. The movie never even tempted a smile out of me.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan: It’s a digitally remastered 25th anniversary print that had never been shown before this weekend and it is beautiful. Memo to the cackleboxes in the balcony: you are assholes. I didn’t come to listen to you flirt with each other. Everyone outside was talking about you after the movie. You are assholes. When Biscuit has to be the one to provide me with a more sensible frame of mind in which to examine your behavior then it is a bad, bad scene, my friends. The end.

Tron: Another 25th anniversary showing. Gods, what a beautiful movie. I’d long forgotten what a Tron reunion Babylon 5 turned out to be. The inner child oohed and ahhed appropriately. The inner 33-year-old wonders whether Jeff Bridges got the only over-the-shoulder crotch flap because he was showing too much or too little batch in that leotard. Pants Wilder rightly suggested that if it had been too little batch that Bridges could have simply stuffed it. Point to Jeff Bridges’ movie-wrecking manhood.

Cthulhu: It’s based on a story that wasn’t about Cthulhu, but I can deal. Word is that the movie was great but the sound quality was terrible. Another after-the-fact editing disaster? I would find that deeply disappointing. I didn’t get to see it but I have high hopes that an opportunity to change that will present itself soon.

The Monster Squad: What a cheeseball dorkfest. I loved it. I loved it as a kid and I love it now. Plus, cast reunion, right there on the stage! I love nothing more than when the army shows up and asks for Eugene. Gods, it gives me goosebumps thinking about it. That is a movie that manages to find the Childlike Wonder button and give it a good, hard mash. I doubt everyone holds it in such regard but it just works for me. I’m in the goddamn club, ain’t I? remains one of the best lines ever delivered on screen.

Endurance Challenge: Mordred’s Isle: A short featuring one of the cast of Futurama; to be precise, two shorts included in the same set that gave us Apocalypse Oz, The Norman Rockwell Code and The Toll (a cute but forgettable mockumentary featuring some really excellent CGI). Endurance Challenge was hilarious and the only thing in there to help Oz pull the stinking corpse of The Norman Rockwell Code behind it.

The Carolina really goes above and beyond to cater to its target audience with these film festivals and this year’s ESCAPISM! was no different. For all that I was disappointed in Netherbeast and for all that I can’t believe anyone would dare submit The Norman Rockwell Code to anyone for anything other than a bonfire, I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see any of these without the hard work of the theatre staff. I have nothing but appreciation for the fine, fine work they do and the great time I and many friends had at the theatre over the course of the weekend.