Sunday, February 27, 2005
With any luck I won't be stealing any of Ken Nabbe's thunder, as he runs a Hell-like show at Jacon entitled "What The?!" Fortunately, he tends to stick more to the Flash animation / funny video linked across the Internet route, so I don't expect any overlap. I'm pretty sure I pointed him to the CPF site to pick up a copy of Foreshadowing, since not only does Joe Vecchio attend Jacon, but the crowds were getting tired of seeing Corn Dog 7 every year. Florida crowds are restless and you have to keep clips as short as possible. I know Dave draws the line at ten minutes, but with these kids I'm lucky if I can keep things at about three. For the educational films like One Got Fat, I have to split those up one injury per clip.
Danno suggested I buy one of those portable DVD players with a monitor on it so I can preview my VHS footage, but it's about $150 for ones with both composite input and output. Besides, I don't even get microphones at FL cons (or volume controls or...any of that stuff listed in the manifesto aside from a panel room equipped with a projector and a screen). I'm thinking I should buy a karaoke machine just so I can have a mic connected to a speaker. Suggestions?
Friday, February 25, 2005
I'd like to remind everybody that JAPANESE ANIME HELL, the convention event, is in no way affiliated with ANIMEHELL . COM the website. The .com website is an adult oriented site, which is under the mistaken impression that adult oriented material is in some way related to fiery punishment. Well, maybe sex for those guys IS fiery punishment, in which case they should visit their family physicians. Anyway, we aren't affiliated with the .COM website. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.
(note from 2022 - animehell dot com is no longer an adult website, so I guess we win)
Thursday, February 17, 2005
But people ask me sometimes how Anime Hell got started. Actually they don't, but I'm bored at work, so I'm going to tell you anyway.
Way back in the 1980s there were no anime conventions, and there was barely any anime programming at the SF conventions. Because SF convention organizers regarded Japanese cartoons as lame and juvenile. Also because SF convention organizers had their heads lodged far up their asses - these days SF convention audiences are vanishing while anime con audiences are growing. Anyway...
I used to go to various local SF cons, and in order to promote our Atlanta anime club, we'd throw a party in our hotel room. We'd put out flyers to advertise these parties, and I don't know why, but I started advertising these parties as "Japanese Animation Hell". We'd show different anime shows and drink soda and eat chips and usually I'd show the SubGenius movie ARISE and the Pinesalad DIRTY PAIR dubs and the Corn Pone Flicks STAR DIPWADS and whatever new stuff I had that was goofy and fun. We're talking 1987-1989 here. The conventions were places like CHATTACON in Chattanooga and MOC in Greenville and even a few A-KONs in Dallas.
In the early 1990s there were two big SF conventions in Atlanta; Dragoncon and the Atlanta Fantasy Fair. Since you've heard of Dragoncon and have never heard of the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, it's safe to assume which one survived and which one didn't. I was running the anime room at the AFF and my anime club cohort Lloyd Carter was running the anime room at Dragoncon. As the Atlanta Fantasy Fair died a slow convention death, I found myself wanting to be more active in the anime room thing, so I suggested to Lloyd that I just take the Saturday night shift from midnight to whenever and I'd show parody films and comedy anime and whatever crazy stuff I could find, and I'd call that Japanese Anime Hell.
The early Hells at Dragoncon were advertised with crazy cut-and-paste flyers. They ran six hours -from midnight until 6:00am - and I ran the Pinesalad DIRTY PAIRs, the DYNAMAN dubs, whatever new CORN PONE FLICKS stuff had just been finished (this would include DIPWADS, X-23, GRANDIZER VS GREAT MAZINGER, etc), and I'd also run anime titles like PREFECTURAL EARTH DEFENSE FORCE, BLAZING TRANSFER STUDENT, and lots of anime music videos.
Every year the playlist would involve more short comedy pieces - Lenny Bruce's THANK YOU MASK MAN, HARDWARE WARS, the Corn Pone Flicks version of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, movie trailers - and fewer long pieces.
By 1995 the Atlanta Fantasy Fair was on its last legs and we'd started Anime Weekend Atlanta. Hell was continuing at Dragoncon, but several things were beginning to piss me off about the screenings there: Dragon kept shunting the anime room to a smaller and smaller room each year, the audiences were annoying, the Dragon attendees were smelly and annoying, etc. At AWA 2 I made up a tape of Hell material and let it run in a video room in an event called "Trailer Park". It was stupidly popular, and finally I realized that I could do Anime Hell at my own convention.
So at AWA 3 in 1997 what I like to think of as the first "real" Japanese Anime Hell was born; Friday night in the main events room, a four-hour set of Hell that was again, stupidly popular. After a few years of AWA Hell being awesome and Dragoncon Hell being lame and annoying, I quit doing Hell at Dragoncon. I believe my first out-of-town Hell was in 1998 at Animazement, or whenever the first Animazement was.
I would like to point out at this point that crazy clip shows have always been a part of entertainment; the film IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD is but one example of the way bizarre and out-of-context clips can be used for entertainment purposes. Joe Dante has spoken of how he used to splice together 16mm reels of old commercials, newsreels, educational films, and TV shows to entertain college audiences. For my part, the culture of anime tape trading led directly to HELL; swapping tapes with lots of different people means you're going to get lots of different clips of lots of different things, and having an anime club meant I had a captive audience to "test" material out on.
Also, credit must be given to the convention AV technicians that make Hell possible; Gordon Waters and Patrick McCullough worked with Hell in its early Dragoncon incarnations, and Gordon's audio ingenuity set the standards that Hell has used ever since.
I believe Hell is popular at anime cons because anime cons are full of people who are, in one way or another, video junkies. They are couch potatoes of a high order, and they appreciate offbeat video and juxtaposed imagery and the kind of late-night insanity that comes with being a fan in a medium that involves VCRs and DVD players and spending a weekend watching an entire TV series in one run. Part of the fun of an anime convention is getting to enjoy anime in a crowd, instead of at home by yourself, and that goes double for Hell, where enjoying the clips along with the crowd is what makes it fun for us and the audience.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
EXTREME SCHOOL BUS ADVENTURE!
Join the AV Geeks and Alamo Drafthouse as we drive a big school bus around Austin with a 16mm projector in the back and a keg in the front. Skip Elsheimer of AVGEEKS.COM will be screening a barrage of school bus safety and disaster films for your horror and amusement. The bus loads at 8 PM at Alamo South Lamar. Admission $20. Get your tickets NOW as seating is VERY limited! Click here to order online
8:00pm, Thursday February 24th, Alamo Drafthouse 1120 South Lamar
AUSTIN, TX (512) 476-1320
For this screening, the AV Geeks and Alamo Drafthouse have teamed up with Austin Voices and rented the Maplewood Elementary School assembly hall and cafeteria. Skip Elsheimer, legendary 16mm educational film collector will be presenting a collection of shorts entitled CAFETERIA CHAOS, explaining the do's and don'ts of cafeteria behavior, including the now infamous MR. BUNGLE. Included in your ticket will be a nutritious, well-balanced meal (with tater tots!) prepared by the Maplewood kitchen ladies, access to the PTA bake sale and more. Proceeds benefit Austin Voices. Call Alamo for more information about this special show! Click here to order online.
7:30pm, Friday February 25th, Sponsored by Alamo Drafthouse 409
Colorado St, Austin, TX (512) 476-1320
An evening of old school films about--interestingly enough--the hazards of going to school in the 1960s and 70s. Films include: Our Obligation, Lunchroom Manners, How Quiet Helps at School, And Then It Happened and more! Door prizes! Bring a friend or two! Admission $5
8:00pm, Saturday February 26th, Aurora Picture Show 800 Aurora St,
3:00pm, Sunday February 27th, Aurora Picture Show 800 Aurora St,
CAN"T MAKE IT OUT FOR A SHOW?
The AV Geeks has been working with the Internet Archive digitizing high-quality video files for free download or streaming - a broadband connection is recommended.
Get your favorite school film on DVD or video tape!
See ya soon,
Saturday, February 05, 2005
WHAT IS JAPANESE ANIME HELL?
Japanese Anime Hell is a free-form video presentation featuring short film clips, commercials, failed pilots, amateur films, found video, instructional and educational films, music videos, film trailers, and other miscellaneous material. Some of the material is Japanese animation, other material is not. The name "Japanese Anime Hell" is a misnomer, but one that has served well for years.
WHAT IS JAPANESE ANIME HELL *NOT*?
Japanese Anime Hell is NOT solely a screening of anime parodies. It is NOT solely an amateur film festival. It is NOT a showing of "the worst of Japanese anime." It is not a program of ultraviolent gore or porno. It is NOT a bring-your-own, all-request hour. It is NOT tightly scripted or scheduled. The spontaneous, "loose" nature of the event is part of the appeal.
WHO RUNS ANIME HELL?
Right now several people run HELL events at different conventions across the country. Until his recent passing Dan Baker ran HELL at AnimeFest, Ushicon, and A-Kon, and maintained the Anime Hell web blog. His duties have since been assumed by Dr. Mila. Ryan Gavigan handles Anime Central, and he and Jeff Tatarek run HELL at Ohayocon. Mike Toole does HELL at Anime Boston, Phil Lee has run HELL at Animazement, and Daryl Surat has run similar events in Florida. Dave Merrill thought the whole thing up and currently handles Anime HELL at Anime Weekend Atlanta and Anime North. In the past he did HELL at Animazement, Dragon Con, Sugoicon, Anime Central, and other shows.
The "clip show" event has been a part of entertainment for years and directors like Joe Dante and John Landis have worked in the field. The HELL participants share material and tips, and we reserve the usage of the term "ANIME HELL" for events that we collectively run, or at least have some way of knowing will not suck. Those wishing to run similar events at their own conventions should be prepared to offer me (Dave Merrill) airfare, hotel accommodations, and a generous per diem. Failing that, they should come up with their own crazy clip show event.
WHY SHOULD YOUR CONVENTION HOST JAPANESE ANIME HELL?
It probably shouldn't. It's 2016. Crowds of 1000+ have enjoyed HELL at conventions like Anime Central and Anime Weekend Atlanta, where it has become a popular late night Friday event. Requirements of staff and A/V equipment are small, and the returns are large. It's a fun evening that adds to the convention experience for many people, and a way to experience material that otherwise may never be seen.
WHY IS JAPANESE ANIME HELL ENTERTAINING?
We really don't know. Some of the material is amusing in and of itself; other material is amusing only because of its removal from its original context (classrooms, afternoon TV of the 1980s, European TV). Still other material is entertaining precisely because of its failure to entertain. The enjoyment level of the audience is a constantly changing factor that is always being monitored by the HELL "dj". Material that was funny one year might not be funny the next. Material that amuses in Atlanta may not amuse in Cincinnati. Every event is different.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR ANIME HELL?
Most anime conventions already have the basic ingredients: DVD players, video projectors, sound systems, meeting rooms. HELL is sometimes prerecorded, sometimes mixed live, sometimes a mixture of the two, and sometimes requires not only several video sources, but a switching system to switch between them. A microphone is necessary for explanation and commentary to the audience. Other requirements will vary according to who is handling the event. At least fifteen minutes setup time should be taken into account. Size of the room will vary according to how popular the event is at the host convention; if HELL is well known and anticipated, audiences of considerable size can be expected. A first-time HELL at an unfamiliar convention might not require the same space. The convention liaison should discuss requirements thoroughly with both the HELL organizer and the convention's AV department.
IS HELL OFFENSIVE OR DEROGATORY?
Usually. While HELL does not deliberately feature ultra-violent gore or pornography, some material that may be found offensive is sometimes included. This is why the event is usually held after 9:00pm in the evening. Other HELL material may include racist or fascist propaganda, disturbing industrial or training films, sexually oriented material, or religious programming that is either self-parodying or deliberately altered. For instance, a hentai anime title would itself not be considered for HELL programming, but a TV news report on hentai anime would definitely be HELL-worthy. It is understood that this material does not reflect the opinions or positions of HELL or of the convention as a whole. HELL feels that exposing this material to ridicule is a public service.