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For the third year running, the Washington Pyschotronic Film Society (WPFS) honored the area’s most daring, visionary filmmakers. And anyone else with access to a camcorder.
The Psycho Awards were handed out last Tuesday at 15 Minutes before a crowd estimated at 200 (Park Service figures are not yet available). Passing judgment were Drag Freak Bingo bimbettes Babette and Bettie, and WHFS DJs Aquaman and Kathryn Lauren.
Top honors (and a C-note) went to Chad Sisneros for his documentary, Al Adamson: Drive-In Monster. A kindred psychotronic spirit, Adamson created such cinematic triumphs as Blazing Stewardesses and Satan’s Sadists. At the end of Sisneros’ film, Adamson states that he’d like the chance to make one “really good film.” For better or worse, this will not happen. Shortly after Sisneros’ interview, Adamson’s body was discovered buried under his hot tub.
The $75 second prize went to M.J. Vilardi’s psychological thriller about CIA drug experiments, Artichoke. Like many efforts in the program, it is a short episode in what Vilardi hopes will be a full-length feature.
“Probably the best films won,” says Psychotronic executrix Melanie Scott, though she has her favorites among the also-rans.
“I personally liked B.A.R.F.,” Scott says, quickly decoding the acronym as “Baltimore Area Rat Fishing.” The film details a rat-fishing contest sponsored by a Baltimore bar. Eager contestants are issued baseball bats and fishing line covered with bacon and peanut butter, and sent into alleyways in search of the biggest catch. “You see rats, but you don’t see death on the screen,” notes Scott, with some relief.
“This was the year of the Baltimore accent,” says Scott. “Every film had at least one raunchy Baltimore accent.”
Noting that the D.C. film community is “still struggling” compared with the Charm City scene, Scott sees the awards as a way of encouraging a more active DIY, “zero-budget” filmmaking culture.
The coveted statuette that the winner receives depicts a flying saucer slicing through the Capitol dome. Designed by WPFS honcho Bill Owens, it is modeled after a crowd-pleasing scene in the 1956 film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Associate Psycho Braedon Getz built them, earning for his trouble a serious case of nausea after inhaling so much gold spray paint.