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It Came From Clintonville

Scott Hammond grew up in the glow of the VHS era, creeping downstairs after everyone else was asleep to stay Up All Night with Rhonda Shear. The new world of cheaply made, weirdo, sleazy, gratuitous, bloody, hilarious movies had a formative effect on his tender adolescent brain. Alone in his sleeping bag, cradling his two [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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Scott Hammond grew up in the glow of the VHS era, creeping downstairs after everyone else was asleep to stay Up All Night with Rhonda Shear.

The new world of cheaply made, weirdo, sleazy, gratuitous, bloody, hilarious movies had a formative effect on his tender adolescent brain. Alone in his sleeping bag, cradling his two liter in front of the TV, Hammond felt like he was privy to an exclusive cool club that no one else knew about.

A little over a decade ago, Hammond was a little older, and a little wiser, but his love for all things camp had not dimmed over the years. In an effort to gather his friends for some laughs, he organized Bad Movie Nite! As an aperitif to the main event, he would show collections of clips, or a ridiculously tone-deaf social hygiene film. Soon his house was bursting at the seams with people. The scene was out growing the venue.

In Spring of 2011, Hammond called up Eric Brembeck, the owner of Studio 35 in Clintonville. Hammond wanted to join the tradition of late night kook, and what better place to start than the cultural hub of the neighborhood? Seven years later, and Bad Movie Nite! is still going strong. It has moved from monthly to every other month, and some of the faces have changed, but the heart remains as low-budget as ever. (Still, the effort put into BDM!—each episode has 200-300 edits and takes about a month to put together—is impressive). Hammond took a moment away from his monsters, lasers, and two-liters to give (614) a little history lesson about BMN!

How bad does something have to be before it’s good?

Why do I eat so much ice cream? Why do I think my hair looks good this way? What makes something good or bad is subjective. When I say Bad Movie Nite! I do mean this is, let’s say not Academy material, but also bad, as in your parents wouldn’t want you watching this unsavory material. Like Bad Movie Nite! is baaaaaad in a hair-slicked-back-skip-class-to-go-smoke-under-the-bleachers kinda way.

How do you coax people into watching bad movies?

Candy. Beer. Free hugs. I’m like a carnival barker and I will straight up lie to you to fill a seat. People who look for alternative programming. Something different and fun. Folks who are into bad movies already. BMN! has strong word of mouth. I’ve heard praise like “that was amazing and I’ve never seen anything like that before” to “you are a depraved individual and my mother warned me about people like you.” We give out BMN-themed buttons when we have a new episode. People collect them and I think some people might actually come just for the buttons. One woman had 20 pounds of BMN! buttons on her denim jacket, which was flattering.

What defines a “good” movie and a “bad” movie?

A good movie is one that meets some or surpasses all its goals. A bad movie is one that fails to meet its objectives. A good bad movie is one that fails disastrously. If you’re watching a werewolf movie that’s supposed to be scary, but you can clearly see a zipper in the werewolf’s fur and its victim is screaming, but also kinda laughing, that’s funny, and also something you don’t see everyday. These movies are often so bizarre, watching them is an experience you just don’t get with other movies.

What is your favorite bad movie?

My favorite bad movie is a teenage sci-fi sex comedy called Dr. Alien. It’s about a dweeby teenager, Wesley Littlejohn (the ’80s amiright?) who is turned into a hunk overnight by his college or it might be high school (the movie is a little confused by this) science professor, who is secretly an alien looking for a mate to help her repopulate her home planet. It’s a cheap and goofy movie with a surprising amount of heart and hits a lot of points on my b-movie wishlist (aliens, lasers, corny jokes, horny teens, car chases, killer music).

Why should we watch these movies if they are so bad?

It’s fun to watch something weird and unexpected, especially with a large group of people have sharing that same experience. These movies are bad, but they’re also kinda earnest too. You have to respect a group of people who really don’t have the money or talent to make a movie, but pull it off anyway and here we are years later enjoying them.

What was your favorite movie as a kid?

Better Off Dead. It has a lot of sensibilities of a B-movie. It’s about a guy who gets dumped and decides to become an ace skier to win back the girl. It takes place in real life but not quite our reality. There’s a bunch of weirdo characters. There’s a dancing hamburger. It’s amazing. It has an off-kilter sense of humor that I think played a major impact on me. My mother rented it from the Video Barn when I was little. She never (and has yet to) returned it so I watched it again, and again, and again.

How do you discover new movies?

A lot of these movies star the same actors (Gerrit Graham, Linnea Quigley, Richard Moll) and are directed by the same people (Jim Wynorski) so often one movie leads you to another. Sometimes a movie will clumsily use footage from another to save money, which leads you to track that one down… Legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman was notorious for this. He made Battle Beyond the Stars to cash in on the success of Star Wars. Special effects scenes from Battle showed up in dozens of his productions for the next 15 years. It’s fun to spot them when they pop up.

Who likes to come to bad movies?

Degenerates. Winos. People that were AV Club geeks in high school. Interesting people that are easily bored by standard Hollywood fare. Folk who are looking for a place to make out for two hours. Cool kids. Actually one of my favorite parts about BMN! is all the awesome, interesting, and super talented people I’ve met through it. Audience participation (yelling out comments during the show) is highly encouraged and it’s really fun to watch people make the show their own.

Bad Movie Night! will hold its eighth anniversary 8.17 (11:30 p.m.) at Studio 35. For more, visit  facebook.com/badmovienite.

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox

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At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7PRvBxpBkI/

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit shortnorth.org.

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Arts & Culture

Undercover: Unique music festival showcases Columbus music talent this weekend

Mike Thomas

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Since beginning in 2018, Columbus Covers Columbus (CCC) has grown into a signature event in the thriving local music scene. Now in its third year, this unique festival is centered on the concept of local musicians playing sets comprised entirely of music from other local acts.

CCC is the brainchild of Columbus music promoter Tony Casa, who wanted to create a showcase for a supportive community of local artists to share their mutual admiration for each other's music.

As entertaining as the event is for spectators, CCC doubles as a valuable networking opportunity for local entertainers and creatives.

"There are great local merchants, games, and tons of networking opportunities for everyone in the community," says Casa. "This isn’t just a great show, it’s like a proper festival—but in the winter."

Since its inception, the event has expanded to include stand-up comedy, poetry readings, burlesque performances, live podcast recordings, and more, all in the spirit of promoting and celebrating the Columbus creative community.

CCC will take place from January 17-19 at Classics Victory Live at 543 S High St. The event is 18+, with tickets available at the door for $10. For more info including a full list of artists and vendors, visit Columbus Covers Columbus on Facebook.

Cover photo by Catherine Lindsay photography.

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Arts & Culture

Columbus band snarls is bursting with promise on debut LP

Mike Thomas

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As the decade that birthed the fidget spinner and basically nothing else of note drew to a close, music blogs large and small dedicated astonishing amounts of digital ink to their inevitable “album/song/artist of the decade” rankings.

Usually restrained to a totally undaunting 100 items, these lists surveyed the topography of a ten year span that saw the legacy of rock music as we know it (straight, male, and horny) continue its gradual and unceremonious slide into irrelevance.

From relative newcomers like Courtney Barnett, Snail Mail, and Julien Baker, to established voices such as the Breeders, St. Vincent, and Sleater-Kinney, rock music in the 2010s was revitalized by female artists who enjoyed a larger portion of the spotlight in this decade than ever before.

Columbus-based alt-rockers snarls are firmly situated on this new wave, but the rapid success the group has enjoyed since forming in 2017 is entirely due to their own hard work and astonishing creative powers. Consisting of Chlo White on guitar and lead vocals, Riley Dean on bass and vocals, and sibling duo Mick and Max Martinez on guitar and drums respectively, snarls is the capital city’s contribution to the future of rock—and they won’t be contained to the 614 for long.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Originating in the local DIY scene, snarls got their start playing house shows, eventually moving on to established venues throughout the city. The group’s sound incorporates influences from ‘90s grunge, to the emo stylings of bands like American Football, to the pop sensibilities of Halsey and Kesha. The result, as White puts it, is music that coalesces into a “melting pot of teenage angst.”

In the summer of 2019, snarls was propelled to a new level of notoriety when the video for the group’s single, “Walk in the Woods”—a glittering anthem of unrequited love sung over chorused-out guitars and with a hook more infectious than meningitis—premiered on the music blog Stereogum. The track also made the cut for the site’s “100 Favorite Songs of 2019” roundup.

“We didn’t even have a tripod, the camera was set on like four books and the backdrops kept fucking falling,” White recalls of filming the video, which the group self-produced.

“That song not only has given us more streaming, but has brought us so much press and cool shows,” Mick says of the track, which has accrued almost 40,000 streams on Spotify at the time of this writing. “I don’t think the Sleater-Kinney thing would ever have happened if that song wasn’t out. It’s crazy that just that one song alone has brought us so much opportunity.”

The Sleater-Kinney thing? That would be snarls opening for the legendary Pacific Northwest rockers at the Newport Music Hall on their recent tour stop in Columbus. While it was easily the biggest show in the young group’s career thus far in terms of profile and audience size, the members of snarls were up to the challenge.

“For me, it’s easy to switch between playing a house venue and playing the Newport,” Dean says confidently of the band’s milestone moment. “It’s still just a stage. It’s still just people watching me play my music. One’s just bigger.”

If the release of the group’s breakthrough single is any indication of snarls’ trajectory, it’s safe to assume big things are on the horizon. “Walk in the Woods” is just a taste of the group’s first full-length LP, titled Burst, which is planned for a Spring 2020 release. To help achieve their artistic vision for the album, snarls tapped Jon Fintel of Relay Recording to handle production duties.

“Jon has played a really important role,” Mick says of Fintel’s contributions to the recording process. “Not only does everything sound high-quality because of him, but even when we brought demos to him, it was like ‘let’s scrap this song because it doesn’t quite fit in, and I know that you guys can do something better.’ And then we wrote one of our favorite songs.”

For established fans, the description that snarls teases for their new release should come as no surprise: expect a long emotional arc cast across tracks that alternate between “perfect for dancing,” and others better suited to crying. For snarls, the completion of the recording provides a profound sense of accomplishment.

“I make a lot of art. I’m always making a photo, or doodling, or writing. But this is one of my—our—finer- crafted pieces of art that I am just really proud of, regardless of what happens with it, or if it goes anywhere,” says White. “If it just sits in a dark corner for the rest of my life, I’m still content. I’m just really proud of all the work that we collected in this little ten song record.”

Find snarls on all major streaming platforms. For tour dates, merch, and more, visit snarlsmusic.com

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