Logan Theatre reviving some forgotten -- or never known -- trashy movies

There are raunchy, trashy, terrible movies. And then there is "Intrepidos Punks," in a class all its own. An exploitation artifact from early 1980s Mexico (there is some dispute about the film's exact date), it pits the berserk against the berserker: Punk biker gang versus corrupt law enforcement.

As I watched all 90 minutes on YouTube earlier this week, a few things stood out. The look is as punk as a Twisted Sister music video. Hair so outrageously teased, you wonder if the cast single-handedly kept the hair spray industry in business that year. Eye makeup so junky (including one actress with painted-on spider webs), it seems likely this where Ke$ha got all her ideas. And for the women, at least, it's mostly a clothing-optional aesthetic.

The entire movie is bat crazy, but my favorite moment is actually a fairly mundane scene early on featuring a meeting between the lady punks in their black leather bikinis and a crime honcho in a business suit and eye patch. The way it's blocked, the guy is framed hilariously by the frizzy hairstyles of women assembled. The director of photography really liked those hair shots.

As bizarre and enjoyable as it was to watch the film alone, this is really the kind of thing that should be experienced with a group of fellow-minded trash connoisseurs. On Wednesday, you'll have your chance when the Logan Theatre kicks off its late-night Wednesday Rewind series with a screening of "Intrepidos Punks," kicking off a weekly schedule of equally eccentric offerings —most of which never saw theatrical release in the U.S. and remain unavailable on DVD.

According to the Logan's Shaylah Paul, the newly refurbished venue is looking to brand itself with more of this type of alternative programming. She teamed up with Katie Rife, who has an extensive VHS collection of the peculiar and obscure (and is affiliated with the video collective Everything Is Terrible) to narrow down a selection that runs through the end of May.

Coming up Feb. 13 is the soft-focus oddity "Fabio: A Time For Romance," featuring the famously bare-chested model who graced hundreds of romance novel covers. "It's one of the most ridiculous things that either of us had heard of," Paul said. "The movie is billed as 'The world's first video romance novel.' Fabio seduces the same woman while playing three different characters: a viking, a pirate and some kind of Italian count. It's sub-soap opera acting and lots of billowing curtains. He's the definition of '80s kitsch, so we had to do it. It's a really short running time, less than an hour, so we're throwing in a few male stripper videos from the '80s."

Searching online, all I could dig up was the intro, wherein Fabio wears a linen blazer (sans shirt) and stiffly welcomes the audience in his Milanese accent while flute music plays in the background: "This program was created as a very special gift for my friends."

Later this month the Logan will screen "Roller Blade" (Feb. 20), which Paul describes as a "1986 science fiction movie about a cult of roller skating nuns who spend a lot of time in a hot tub where wounds are inflicted and their battles can be healed. They join up with a group of rebels who are fighting against the fascist state in the future. For fans of outrageous sci-fi, this is right up your alley."

A title coming up in May caught my eye: "The Man Who Saved the World" (1982), or "Turkish Star Wars" as it is more commonly known (and which is how the Logan is billing it).

"There's a whole genre of films like this from the '80s," said Paul. "There were all these pseudo-remakes of American blockbusters" when Western films were banned in Turkey after the 1980 coup d'etat. "They're basically rip-offs. 'Turkish Star Wars' lifts all this footage, like the Death Star battle sequence from the original 'Star Wars.' It uses music from a bunch of other films like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' It's interesting because there's a historical and political reason for why these movies came about.

"All of these movies have ridiculously low budgets, so it's funny to see what they could do. It's really cheap looking and unintentionally funny, like a scene where a shirtless guy is doing a training-for-battle montage and he's just punching a bunch of rocks." Bad moviemaking at its best.

"Intrepidos Punks" screens at 10:30 p.m. as part of the Logan Theater's new Wednesday Rewind series, which runs through May 29. Go to thelogantheatre.com.

A fourth season comes

Showtime is renewing its Chicago-set drama "Shameless" for another season, the cable network announced earlier this week. Though a good chunk of the series (which co-stars Gold Coast resident Joan Cusack) is filmed on a soundstage in Los Angeles, all exterior portions are shot on location here in town. The show's viewership continues to rise, debuting in January with 5.4 million viewers (across all platforms), up more than 20 percent from the previous season.

Movie/theater mashup

Touted as a gothic horror tale about a young woman and her missing brother, "Night of the Magician" begins this weekend at the Chopin from Screen Door Productions, which has been experimenting with "live" movie events. "A live movie, for the uninitiated, is a full film which must be experienced live," says co-writer Jack Lawrence Mayer (whose last project was the HBO Go series "Single Long.") "We have a live band scoring the film, we have live shadow puppetry, live actors, singing, dancing, and a full set and lighting design which extends the world on the screen out and around the audience." Through Feb. 24. Go to nightofthemagician.brownpapertickets.com (and use promo code NOTM10 to get $5 off).

Parenthood

Chicago-based filmmaker Todd Looby's drama "Be Good," about new parents trying to find stable ground amid professional pressures and a newborn baby, screens this week at the Midwest Independent Film Festival's First Tuesday event, followed by a Q&A with the director. Looby's documentary short "Lollywood" (about a 15-year-old Liberian war orphan who makes a movie) will also screen. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema. Go to midwestfilm.com.

nmetz@tribune.com

@NinaMetzNews

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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