|Poster by Miles Goodrich|
By far the most popular annual "theme night" in my long-running Thrillville B movie/burlesque series at The Parkway was SHATFEST: A Tribute to William Shatner - the real "Will the Thrill." There is so much more to this universally beloved icon than Captain Kirk. He was also an astonishingly smooth lounge singer and incredibly accomplished "grindhouse" movie star. Along with largely forgotten but timeless and priceless Shat-tastic 35mm feature films like Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), The Devil's Rain (1975), Incubus (in Esperanto! 1966), and his "spaghetti western" White Comanche (1968), wherein he portrays dual roles of two half-breed Indians - one good, one evil! - I often showed clips of his various and memorable guest appearances in classic TV shows like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and of course Star Trek; "music videos" including his infamous rendition of "Rocket Man"; the "lost" 1965 pilot Alexander the Great co-starring his fellow slow-then-sudden speaker, Adam West!; and other random "Shat-shorts" often donated by fellow Shatheads. It became quite the popular tradition. Shat always brought down the sold-out house, year in, year out.
|Poster by Miles Goodrich|
This all began many years ago when a friend showed me a video copy of Shat's obscure 1974 masterpiece Impulse, wherein Big Bill plays an outrageously psychotic pimped-out disco-dressing serial killer who suffers flashbacks to his violent childhood. It co-stars Harold "Oddjob" Sakata as his parole officer. I was simply blown away. Then I discovered that the anarchic archivists over at The Werepad in San Francisco had an ultra rare 35mm print of this masterpiece in their voodoo vaults. I immediately booked it and the rest is local history. I brought this one back on a regular basis because it was just had to be seen to be believed - again and again and agin, and even then, it defied credulity. Forget the Star Trek films - Impulse is simply the Ultimate William Shatner Movie. His hysterical histrionics are sheer genius. Or he's just a really crappy actor/singer. That's the ironic beauty and enduring mystery of William Shatner. We'll never know for sure. And it doesn't even matter. William Shatner is one of the most entertaining performers on the planet, simply by being himself. Shat's appeal crossed all boundaries of generations, cultures, sexes, and age groups. He was a perfect match for The Parkway - beer, pizza, sofas, adoring audiences, and a huge, steaming pile of vintage Shat on the big screen. It was magical match made in cult movie heaven. Or hell...
Ironically - but poetically - The Parkway closed on March 22, 2009 - William Shatner's birthday. Except more annual tributes at The New Parkway. SHATFEST LIVES! Cheers.
The many faces of William Shatner: