Note from Ben: This post is by Will McMichael, who was able to see most of the events that transpired at the Jamboree as a four-star general organizing an amazing group of Mutant volunteers while I was unclogging toilets, transporting secret documents and averting alien threats to the proceedings at the West Wind Drive-In. A better group of volunteers could not have been assembled! Will’s in the photo below if you wanna put a face to the words…
The photos are by Jonathan Ruggiero, another of the amazing volunteers without whom I likely would have become a quivering mess like what happened to that one guy in Airplane 2.
Friday at the Jamboree: BBQ, Bigfeet, Charles Band, and the highest honor ever to be rendered in hubcap
Before the rope dropped on day one of the 2023 World Drive-In Jamboree, I had already had the honor of working behind the scenes with the volunteers that would keep the wheels greased on this juggernaut. Ben Nagy (who you’ll know as your regular reviewer) had me pick up Ian McCulloch (Zombi, Doctor Who) at the airport that morning. I popped back to the drive-in to see a double line of Mutants patiently waiting to enter the Las Vegas West-Wind Drive-In. We were damn-near ready.
You know those eldritch horrors with the seemingly endless number of tentacles? That was Ben multitasking. But the tornado of action had settled into a beautiful stage, a varied and interesting collection of merchandise, and a tent full of film houses and celebrities ready to meet the fans. We were go for takeoff.
John Mull’s Meats and road kill grill were serving excellent ribs, John Brennan was belting from the stage, and we volunteers were each finishing one Hubbie award (Mine was for Satanimation). We were off to a great start.
I’m a Las Vegas local and the West Wind Drive-In is dear to my heart. It was a lifesaver back in 2020. Business here is steady enough, but I had never seen it packed until this day. I would have been overtaken with emotion if I had the time. Being the local made me an ideal errand-man and I was constantly on the move. Duty called and I missed Charles Band, but returned with some much-needed sandbags thanks to my cohorts at Majestic Rep Theatre. The sun went down, the projectors went up.
The Hubbies were touching in their earnest love and silly delivery. Each nameplate and award marker displayed proudly on a Chevy hubcap (American cars Only). The parade of (mostly) young directors, writers, actors, and techs gave my Mutant heart a bit of hope the for the future of Mutant Cinema. The films were all enjoyable, Publish or Perish was a pitch black comedy about academia that treats the first act like Oleanna and the second like MacBeth. I caught as much as I could of the films but duty did not rest this weekend. I popped out to get JB a floodlight from Lowe’s.
Saturday at the Jamboree: Heavy Metal, Heavy Beats, Heavy Hitters
I began Saturday with my favorite duty, checking in on Ginger Lynn Allen. Since her fashionable boots hit the ground here, she had been a joy. She looked up from her current signing and saw the question in my eyes.
She gave me the perfect hug and told me she was all set, I went on my rounds. From manning the ticket kiosk in front, I still had a pretty good view of the mainstage. Saturday afternoon brought with it a lineup of great acts. Suburban Resistance did some great metal with lyrics to fit the theme, Spelling Hands is a heavy electronic act that I won’t try to categorize. You look them up and tell me.
As the beautiful Nevada sunset kicked in, a heaviness came upon the air. There was greatness afoot.
The name Roger Corman is so prevalent in film, moreso at the drive-in. With 70 years in the industry and seven hundred films, the name can be used to invoke a style, an institution, a way of getting things done.
But the name belongs to a man and that man was here. Roger and Julie Corman took the stage to a roar of applause and a wonderful conversation began between the man who’s seen every film and the couple who made half of them. This led us into the first film, a personal favorite, A Bucket of Blood. Ben and I shared a look often shared by soldiers finishing out the last of many patrols. We grabbed a couple seats and started watching, chatting about the challenges of that day and the ones we should expect for the next. Then came the unexpected surprise. Ben went off to put out another fire and I got texts to standby to receive another guest.
It was the first I’d heard about it. Details weren’t given, so I didn’t ask, I simply stood patiently at one of the entry points in the event that I’d be needed. Who would it be? Someone who worked with Roger. That narrows it down to everybody.
Then, up on the stage and the screens above, it was the unmistakable face of Bruce Dern! I won’t go over the conversation too much as I believe it’ll be available to you elsewhere. Suffice to say they had quite a bit to talk about. They introduced the Wild Angels and the retro biker gang fun began! I watched as long as I could then turned in to prepare for the Final Day.
Sunday at the Jamboree: A Wrestler, a Band, a Reunion, and a Farewell
On the final day, the going was a bit smoother on the volunteer side. Most of the guests and vendors knew where they were and how the event worked. But we had two departures and seven arrivals. From the back corner of the tent, radiating forward from Felissa Rose, we assembled the largest reunion of cast members from the Sleepaway Camp franchise.
The memories flowed in along with the faces, each as lovely as the last.
The corner that Ginger Lynn and Felissa had made a delight was now a full on party. The Sunday rush was in full effect, with staff and guests alike debating which pin from Puncture Wound or which piece of jewelry from Zombie Head should join them on the way home.
But, once again, I was drawn by the sounds of a heavy guitar riff.
Fozzy is pro wrestler Chris Jericho’s metal band. If you wonder what a professional wrestler’s stage presence is like, it’s like a professional wrestler. Chris threw his studded sleeves and barbell mic stand in moves ranging from fierce to clownish, but always just right. Their cover of “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was an absolute crowd pleaser.
I expected his band to be pretty good, but I was repeatedly surprised by their musical choices and
abilities, punching well above party metal weight. Solid show, good vibes, and the screens come alive.
Joe Bob, Darcy, and Felissa took the stage, and within two minutes its Felissa’s show when the first of four Sleepaway Camp flicks started rolling. She took over the segment. Visiting actors came up throughout to tell their stories from the set. I did not view the first reel because that was when we volunteers gathered backstage to meet Joe Bob and Darcy. They came to the back tent and gathered with us and all the grace we had left.
They thanked us for everything we had done. Joe Bob told us to “Take anything we want” from the booth. While a glorious image of owning three of everything came to mind, my wife and I went with a poster and T-shirt each. Also, I got a chance to tell the big man something I’d wanted to for sometime. He appreciated it like I knew he would.
Maybe someday I’ll tell you.