It’s always great to see a team which was responsible for a previous Anywhere Festival success make a welcome return with a new Show. In 2016, the B Movies Live team produced what I described as “a must-see for fans of the classic genre.” Three years on, Willem Whitfield (Director) and Kristian Fletcher (Producer) have returned, bringing an ambitious program of three triple features back from the vaults, and each for one night only at the Fortitude Valley Heya Bar: bugs (12 May), dinosaurs (19 May) and vampires (26 May). Perhaps I didn’t choose wisely enough. It may be that the 26 May Dracula-esque ‘vampires’ night would have been a better choice. However, although many of the audience got into the spirit of the triple bill of Godmonster of Indian Flats, The Valley of Gwangi, and The Lost World, it wasn’t as enjoyable (or anywhere near the same standard) as the 2016 Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.
There was much to like about the 2019 Show. The concept is great, with opportunities for entertaining send-up (identifying awful, and unsurprisingly ignored, B-Movies and bringing them back onto the stage). The goodie bags and opportunities for audience participation added to the fun (if you have a group of friends looking for an enjoyable ‘team’ event, you might enjoy it). The venue worked well, and I should imagine ensures that, whether at capacity or playing to much smaller audiences, everyone gets the same experience (drinks and food are on hand and, although there was noise from the neighbouring spaces, it didn’t distract). The costumes were suitably home-crafted (best costume of the night had to be Ghoul Shadows’ sheep monster), the retro use of the overhead projector for the silent film captions was a nice touch, and the soundtrack was well-chosen and managed (Stephanie Williams). The actors’ enjoyment kept the audience engaged and entertained—particularly with the great circus star accent by Hannah Mason, Cecile Blackmore’s various cameos (absolutely on-point, from the fantastic silent movie participation through to the entertaining old crone), Willem Whitfield’s cowboy, Kristian Fletcher’s informative narration, and Ben Kasper’s kazoo work.
However, the overall result just wasn’t to the standard of the 2016 Show. Perhaps my expectations were just too high, having previously seen Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster. On Sunday, the Show started late and finished early, and I left wishing that the team hadn’t spread themselves quite so thinly. Perhaps a return to having no more than two movies on any evening, and investing the development time to have a better result, would have led to a better experience for this audience member. Perhaps it needed to be worse in order to be more enjoyable (it was advertised, after all, as 'the worst show on earth!'). Or perhaps I should just have planned to see the 26 May vampire night. If you’re going along, let us know what you think.
Verdict: Some highlights, but I hoped for more. Certainly not to the standard of their 2016 Anywhere Festival Show.
Audience tip: Food and drink available at the Heya Bar on the night. Tickets for B Movies: Live! available on the Anywhere Festival Website ($25). Advertised as 15+ and 120 minutes (approx. 90 minutes for the ‘dinosaurs’ show on 19 May). The final B Movies Show in the 2019 Festival takes place on 26 May (7:30pm).
The reviewer attended the Sunday 19 May 2019 performance (7:30pm), Heya Bar, 351 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley.
Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography.