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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

Ohio animator creates tribute, parody video of DeWine & Acton

Wayne T. Lewis, Publisher

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Video at bottom of story

About three weeks ago, when the world was starting to fall apart, Dave Stofka was looking for something to take his mind off the stream of daily bad news. A freelance web developer and animator since 2007, Stofka had just the idea.

"I watched Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton's press conferences, and all the Facebook comments I was reading conveyed a sense of great appreciation of their leadership. At some point I jokingly thought to myself that all they need is a theme song. Growing up in the days when every show had a theme song, the "Laverne & Shirley" theme popped into my head for some reason, said Stofka.

With some encouragement from his wife, he dug into the project putting to work his previous experience making animated parodies. Stofka says he put about 100 hours over 2.5 weeks into the video project.

"I knew technically how to pull it off. The jokes started flowing the more I worked on it and bounced ideas off my family and a couple friends. It snowballed from there," said Stofka.

The 1:20 video offers a light-hearted take on the state government's efforts - led by DeWine and Acton - in combating the coronavirus pandemic. The video is based on a hilarious take on the "Laverne & Shirley" theme song, performed by Stofka's friend, Elisa Grecar.

"My goal in this was to bring smiles to people's faces. It's so easy to focus on the negative and difficult to focus on the positive -- not just in times like this but in life in general. I love that Ohio's motto is "With God, all things are possible" -- it made a perfect tagline at the end -- and personally it has given me a lot of hope to get through this," added Stofka.

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Arts & Culture

CCAD Spring Art Fair goes virtual

Mitch Hooper

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The COVID-19 outbreak has all but canceled every event slated for April, but that isn't stopping the Columbus College of Art and Design from finding ways to safely move forward. Though there won't be an in-person Spring Art Fair this year, folks can still support these students and their artwork through the first ever virtual installment of the showcase.

Spanning April 10 to April 12, the CCAD Spring Art Fair will have its students projects, designs, and creations available for purchase online. The day kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday at midnight. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the artists, makers, and designers.

CCAD is also running a giveaway for anyone who makes a purchase during the Art Fair. If a visitor spends $50 or more and posts their receipt (without their personal information visible) to Instagram with the hashtag #CCADArtFair, they will be entered in to win a $50 gift certificate to CCAD’s Continuing & Professional Studies classes. Three winners will be selected randomly on April 13.

To find out more about the Art Fair, visit ccad.edu/experience-art/art-fair.

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Arts & Culture

Now Streaming: Columbus entertainers find virtual ways to perform

Mitch Hooper

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As Columbus entertainers prepared for warm weather and folks returning to the bars, COVID-19 came in and put it to a halt. The bars being closed indefinitely not only impacts owners, servers, and bartenders, it impacts the performers who rely on these places as a platform to showcase their talents. When folks can't come support local entertainers, what can they do?

What if they bring their talents to them? That's what many Columbus entertainers are doing during social distancing. While "work from home" wasn't much an option before this, comedians such as Amber Falter and Ian Miller are taking to Instagram Live and other streaming platforms to perform.

The first virtual show the two did was with Alexis Nelson of BarkBox, and admittedly, they were a little nervous about not having an audience for feedback.

"I was actually scared to start," Miller said. "Jokes don’t have what I call 'standalone timing.' You need a give and take with the audience, you build it into your jokes. The thought of telling jokes without immediate feedback was terrifying."

The two said the show went great and it didn't take long for both of them to enjoy streaming their comedy. Falter quickly did another virtual show, A Hamantha and Brisket Comedy Hours, with Samantha Sizemore and Bridjet Mendy themed around dating stories via Zoom. Miller, on the other hand, started a weekly story telling show on his Twitch channel Glass Cannon Comedy.

Falter, co-host of ACLU Stand-Up For Choice, says there's even been some silver linings to streaming her comedy.

"I was joking with one of my friends that is always like, 'Hey, I'm going to make it to the show! Can't wait to see you at the show!' and then they never make it out," Falter laughed. "Now you have no excuse, honey!"

As for the future ACLU Stand-Up For Choice comedy events, Falter said she and others involved, such as co-host Pat Deering, are figuring out how to do so through streaming.

Miller said he has seen many of his shows canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. He had six shows slated across 13 days, all of which have been canceled. Additionally, his monthly story telling show as well as Glass Cannon's quarterly-themed shows are suspended.

"It’s been rough. There may not have been of ton of Columbus comics “paying the bills” with comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t felt the impact," Miller said "Times are tough, and it’s really hard to have a side hustle of any kind when you know leaving your house could put yourself and other in danger."

And that's why he believes it's so important to support entertainers in anyway you can. Whether that be through a share or follow on social media, every little bit helps grow their platform.

Falter echoed this sentiment, too.

"I want this to become a source of income and I've been extremely, extremely grateful for the people that have even sent like $2," she said. "Or not even that, if they just followed me on Instagram or told me I had a good set. [By just] saying, "Hey that was really fun, thanks so much," that alone is making me super emotional."

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