Full disclosure: I am not only reporting on the events surrounding the Washington Psychotronic Film Society’s Fifth Annual Psycho Awards, held last week at the Lucky Bar, I was one of the judges. Fuller disclosure: One of the filmmakers under consideration recently sent me a thoughtful gift, “Freddy Spitballs,” a tie-in from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Fullest disclosure: That filmmaker was awarded the Grand Prize.
And, yes, I’m keeping the squirt toys.
Noting that the WPFS celebrates “filmmakers from all over the universe, especially planet Earth,” Society pooh-bah Carl Cephas began by handing out trophies from the last awards, in 1996. The coveted statuettes, the Capitol threatened by a hovering saucer, were crafted by Kathy Rehak, whose philosophy in making them was: “What kind of dust collector do you want on your shelf?”
Despite the fact that the first prize has risen to $150 and the second to $100, few of the filmmakers were on hand, a trend echoed by the small, though enthusiastic, audience. And although five of the 13 films were imported from elsewhere, the judges decided that prizes would only be awarded to local talent, which was fortunate for the local talent.
With budgets that hovered around the price of a VHS from CVS, most of the films hewed closely to the Psychotronic credo of exploitation over art. Rock Savage, aka Jose Behar, aka Fanboy, turned in My Gun Is Groovy, the editing of which was so slow the audience was counting off time between scenes. Rob Parrish and Neil Rosebaum threw in an impressive array of video tricks to produce Lying Butts, an anti-tobacco diatribe. Bob Wolf’s Choo-Choo brought some All About Eve pathos to a story of a striving go-go boy and a cardboard go-go man. Aaron James Crausman’s Call Waiting was actually shot on film stock. And Kamberspotting by Jonny Mars and Chuck Anderson peered into the city’s dominant culture: cubicle life, as lived at the Kamber Group PR firm.
I and my fellow judges, Date Bait drummer and shlockmeister Brian Horrorwitz, Baltimore cinemapresario Skizz Cyzyk, and Heavy Metal Parking Lot visionary Jeff Krulik, saw only two films deserving recognition. Thus, third place went to last year’s winner, Brad Dismukes, for his snazzy computer-animated Psycho Awards logo, shown endlessly on the TV screens at the competition.
Second place went to Andrew Duncan for his COPS-inspired parody Pizza Boy. First place went to WPFS regular Alvin Ecarma for Me, an inventive short offering quick cuts of Ecarma frenetically lip-syncing the narration of the trailer for the blaxploitation film Ghetto Freaks. Simple, elegant, insane.
As the nattily attired Ecarma made his way through the tables to collect his statuette, he cheerfully summed up the evening’s atmosphere: “This is so horribly corrupt.” —Dave Nuttycombe