Y'all know me... Know how I earn a livin'... Well, not actually a living--more like a time-consuming hobby/obsession. But be that as it may, let me just say that I was as pleased as Jabberjaw with a brand new drum set when I learned that 92Y Tribeca's amazingly hysterical film-clip/variety series "Kevin Geeks Out" would be using a shark theme for its next show. Some folks might remember how I extolled the virtues of Kevin Geeks Out About the Future last January, and I was supremely bummed that I could not join in the simian hijinks last month at Kevin Geeks Out About Monkeys. But I'm happy to report that spending an evening in NYC cinematically swimming with the sharks has more than made up for it.
I can honestly say that I never truly comprehended what a vast and varied (well, maybe not terribly varied) subgenre the whole "sharxploitation" thing was (new pop culture term?) But thanks to Emmy-nominated TV writer Kevin Maher and his co-host, writer/director Matt Glasson, I now grasp more about the breadth of shark cinema than I previously thought possible.
The event was timed at precisely 124 minutes--the exact running time of the original Jaws. How's that for dedication? And although that might seem like a long time for a clip show, Kevin and company filled every moment with aquatic predatory madness to such a degree that not one person would have dared question the decision. For instance, we learned all about one of the ultimate "what-ifs" of movie history--a John Hughes-scripted (!!) 1980s parody of Jaws that never came to be. We got to see sharks fighting Batman (shark-repellent bat-spray, anyone?), giant alligators, giant apes, and yes, zombies (the infamous underwater fight scene actually got the loudest cheer from the crowd, much to this blogger's delight.)
New Yorker cartoonist Karen Sneider regaled us with a true romance comic strip of unrequited shark/human love. Matt lovingly detailed the sordid history of the Italian movie industry's relentless attempts to shamelessly rip off Jaws, including screening a super-rare bit of footage (courtesy Tenebrous Kate) from the most blatant of all Jaws copycats, Enzo Castellari's Great White, a movie whose very existence was almost completely stamped out by Universal.
If it was even tangentially shark-related, it was referenced in this exhaustive tribute to maneaters at the movies, from the early days of pre-Jaws cinema, through Spielberg's mega-blockbuster and its many imitators, through the Jaws sequels, and right up through the modern era of CGI sharkitude. Throw in Scatman Crothers, the Olsen twins and Mario Van Peebles, and you can begin to understand the magnificence that was on display. Oh, and did I mention that all audience members received an authentic 1978 Jaws 2 trading card? Because we did.
In keeping with the tradition of themed treats, this time around we all got delicious shark cupcakes, made by artist/blogger Sara Reiss. Unlike with the Dippin' Dots of last time, I was not sent home with a giant styrofoam container of cupcakes; but that was a disappointment I was willing to bear. After all, there were so many other incidental joys throughout the evening. Kevin's Quint costume, for example (although a recreation of the U.S.S. Indianapolis speech would've been appreciated); or witnessing Matt debating with Dread Central's Heather Buckley as to whether John Landis killed Vic Morrow. If these aren't reasons to sojourn hundreds of miles from the soil of my homeland in southwestern Connecticut, I don't know what would be.
The best thing about the Kevin Geeks Out series is that it's a bona fide underground New York fandom phenom growing larger and larger via word-of-mouth. I'm not kidding when I say that it was significantly tougher scoring a ticket this time around than it was two months ago! And I'm sure it's only going to get tougher, so if you're in the NYC area and you'd like to be a part of this completely unique genre geekfest, head to the 92Y Tribeca website and secure tickets to the next event. It's billed as Kevin Geeks Out: April All-Stars!--and while it's not fully clear yet what this entails, I do know that Don Knotts will be prominently featured. And that's really all I need to know.