Like last year, Shat Attack 4 actually started on the evening of March 4th when fellow Shat Attacker, Matt Constantine joined Lisa and myself in an effort to quickly transform the Apartment into an All Shatner Zone. That requires replacing all framed art with Shatner Images (new S#*! My Dad Says banner, TJ Hooker portraits, Barbary Coast Portrait, Drew Sturzan Kirk, Paul's new Shat Attack poster, etc, etc) and plastering almost every inch of the wall with Shatner photos. The effect is meant to shock and awe any new Shat Attackers not familiar with the great man's work.
As Lisa furiously prepared the next day's menu (whipping up Cappuccino Chip Muffins, chopping and tossing "The Wild" Rice Salad, prepping the dough for the Saucer Section White Pizza) and Matt & I set up the bobble-heads, the Boston Legal props, and stuffed the goodie bags, the fear freakout television melodrama Broken Angel played in the background.
Filmed between Star Trek IV & V, Broken Angel is a ridiculous after-school special in which Shatner's junkie, gangbanger daughter Erika Eleniak disappears after a High School Prom shooting. After endless refusals to listen to lackluster cop Brock Peters and Social Worker Roxanne Biggs (both of whom have considerable parts in the Star Trek universe), Shatner finally admits that his daughter might be a leader in the terrifying white gang, The L.F.N. (a small percentage of which are satanists!!!).
Broken Angel is not a good film. But it is an incredibly entertaining movie. The cheese and the dated Adults-Looking-Down-On-Youth-Culture philosophy is laughable in an MST3K kinda way, but Shatner is also loads of fun to watch. It's one of his craziest facial expression movies; his teeth constantly gritting, eyebrows scouring, voice screechingly agitated. With Broken Angel Shatner is off the leash, off the reservation, off the chain! And unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Netflix Streaming is the only place where you can track down this lost gem.
After the mad goofiness of Broken Angel, we were winding down on the decorating. Lisa was pretty much done in the kitchen, with most of the Shat Attack 4 menu having to be cooked on the day. And Matt & I were getting a little dizzy from the death defying high-wire act of photo-smearing all the nooks and crannies of the apartment. Wherever we looked, Shatner looked back.
We plopped ourselves on the couch. The next showing was that of another rare treat, The Psalms. A collection of shorts filmed in the early 60s with Shatner starring in a few, narrating the others, and spliced together with Raymond Burr in the final episode titled The Search.
The Psalms is a rather trippy excursion, experimenting with narration, animation, sound design, and surrealism. It reminded me a lot of The Twilight Zone, only more Jesusy. To go into detail about each short would ruin the experience, but I highly recommend that Shat Fans click on over to William Shatner's Shop and snag it for a measly $8.95. Oh, and BTW, George Lucas served as camera operator on several of the episodes.
And that's how the night concluded. Fell asleep watching a few Trek episodes.
Saturday was The Big Day! We started rather groggily munching down those Cappuccino Muffins, inhaling coffee, posing in Think Geek's Star Trek bathrobe, and finishing off those Trek episodes we past out to.
The first real film of the fest was another television movie, Disaster on the Coastliner. Originally aired just months after my birth on ABC in October of 1979, this runaway train flick is a by-the-numbers disaster movie like so many of that era. In fact, Lloyd Bridges totally parodies his computer-hating Secret Service Agent in the Airplane films and I think if you're truly going to appreciate those slapstick movies than you've just got to see Disaster on the Coastliner. Okay, that might be slightly hyperbolic, but you should just check it out for Shatner's fake mustache.
As Shatner describes in his autobiography Up Till Now, he plays Stuart Peters, "...a con man with a heart of gold plating..." and after he puts his villainous ways aside in an attempt to impress Yvette Mimieux's bored housewife, he quickly finds himself racing atop the train and battling the mad terrorist conductor! If there is anything remarkable about the movie, it's that final stunt sequence. Apparently, Shatner recalls this to be the most dangerous stunt he's ever attempted. Again, in Up Till Now he states, "...I had to stand on top of a speeding diesel locomotive and fight a stuntman while a helicopter was trying to swoop down to rescue me...we couldn't use safety cables. I decided to do it anyway...the director was thrilled...the wind was so strong I had to bend forward into it just to remain upright...I was supposed to be frightened. Believe me, in that situation it did not require a lot of acting ability to look scared."
So, what does Shatner do after Disaster on the Coastliner? Star Trek: The Motion Picture. His career was reborn. Again.
During the climax of Coastliner, Lisa's brother John joined the group. Lisa jumped back into the kitchen for food prep. We watched a batch of Shat TV: the Barnaby Jones episode "To Catch A Dead Man," Boston Legal's "The Bad Seed," Hawaii Five-O's "You Don't Have To Kill To Get Rich...But It Helps," and The Big Valley's Time To Kill. Somewhere in there more guests started to trickle in. And we munched down on Lisa's Saucer Section White Pizza. Taking full advantage of Think Geek's Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter. Man, that thing is sharp, just ask Darren.
The next film on tap was A Carol Christmas starring Tori Spelling. I know, I know, yer thinking for a man who claims to love William Shatner you're watching a lot of terrible movies. But yer wrong, they're not terrible movies...they're not Shakespeare or the latest David Fincher technological masterpiece, but they're fun and most importantly they're a job.
During the Lost Years between TOS and The Motion Picture, the man had to work. He took it where he got it. Just like he did before TOS and just like he seems to do now with $#*! My Dad Says, Raw Nerve, Aftermath, Weird or What, American Pickers, etc, etc. Saying "Yes" is a key ingredient to Shatner's philosophy. He's spoken about it in Up Till Now and it's a whole chapter in his upcoming book, Shatner's Rules. I'll fight ya if you tell me Shatner can't act. Watch The Search for Spock, watch any episode from Boston Legal. Heck, watch him square off with Borgnine in the desert of The Devil's Rain. Shatner throws himself into each role. And that's where I love to see Shatner work. In the muck of a rough script, doing his damnedest to make the plot and dialog work for him. That's why I love flicks like Broken Angel, Coastliner, A Carol Christmas, and Horror at 37,000 Feet.
Not to be confused with the classic Twilight Zone episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet written by Richard Matheson and Richard Donner. The Horror is set a whole 17,000 Feet higher than the Gremlin attack and deals with Druid Ghosts going all Evil Dead on a motley crew of passengers consisting of Buddy Epsen, Paul Winfield, Roy Thinnes, Chuck Conners, and France Nuyen. Shatner is withoutadoubt the highlight of the group. His fallen priest spits venomous lines at the weak, insignificant humans. And he happens then there is this utterly fantastic conversation:
By the time Horror at 37,000 Feet started the whole gang had shown up. 22 folks watching Shatner battle a mad horde, wind, and fire and I must admit, I was a little nervous that people wouldn't get it. That I'd be staring at the screen while a cacophany of snores rattling 'round the apartment. Not that I didn't have faith in Horror's great entertainment value...but it's a bootleg copy, the picture quality is terrible, and the film itself is harsh. But my fellow Shat Attackers got it. Sure, we lost four people over the course of the showing. Horror at 37,000 Feet really seperates the men from the boys. But those that got it, really got it. Yes, with the right crowd you can have the perfect MST3K viewing experience.
After The Horror at 37,000 Feet I was pretty much spent. I was pleased with myself. Witnessing 20 plus folks thoroughly enjoy that bit of Shat Madness, well, it's incredibly thrilling. And exhausting. These Shat Attacks can be incredibly stressful. I want everything to go just right, I want folks to have as much fun as I do when watching the man work. And Shat Attack 4 was an incredibly challenging program. We weren't watching the obvious classics. Absolutely No Wrath of Khan. I chose to focus on Shatner & largely unavailable television programming. Tough stuff. But it all worked...for the most part. Barnaby Jones might have put one or two folks to sleep.
The night went on for a few more hours. We watched the Thriller episode "The Grim Reaper," TOS "The Empath," and Matt & I eventually fell asleep watching The Devil's Rain.
Shat Attack 4 was probably my favorite Shatner party so far. And with our raffle we even managed to raise $300 for the Nerine Shatner Friendly House. Robert won some Star Trek Nodniks and the Mego Gremlin. Lindsey won a Diamond Select Captain Kirk. Amy won the Fan Favorites Twilight Zone pack. And Darren won that Think Geek Pizza Cutter. I hope good times were had by all.