Theater troupe turns horror into comedy - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Theater troupe turns horror into comedy

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Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 9:01 am | Updated: 3:53 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Mix a really awful movie with a quick-witted comedy team, and you get something akin to a local, live version of the popular old movie-riffing show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

But in the case of the abysmal B movie “Blood Orgy of the Damned,” comics from Mesa’s National Comedy Theatre aren’t just making fun of the film as it plays on the big screen — they’re providing 100 percent of the sound, live.

Mix a really awful movie with a quick-witted comedy team, and you get something akin to a local, live version of the popular old movie-riffing show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

But in the case of the abysmal B movie “Blood Orgy of the Damned,” comics from Mesa’s National Comedy Theatre aren’t just making fun of the film as it plays on the big screen — they’re providing 100 percent of the sound, live.

“This movie doesn’t have a soundtrack at all. No sound effects. No background music. No dialogue. It’s dead silent,” says Krissy Lenz, owner and creative director of NCT.

She and a team of comics will supply everything from footfalls to blood-curdling screams for “Blood Orgy” when it screens at 7 p.m. Thursday at MADCAP Theaters in Tempe. The group will sit in the front row with microphones and no script.

“We’ll watch the movie at least once before we do it live, just so we get a feel for it and assign characters,” says Lenz. “We have an idea of the basic plot, but it’s definitely improvised. We’re kind of going with whatever comes out.”

In the movie, a gaggle of inebriated co-eds hatch an ill-conceived plan to resurrect a couple of ancient vampires. But drunk magic is imperfect magic, and the ritual doesn’t go as planned, causing the vampires to arrive in 20th-century America with a few problems. Nevertheless, the evil duo embark on a quest to take a virgin bride and unleash hell on Earth, all while fighting against a third-rate band of heroes.

With cinematic gold like that, it’s hard to see how NCT could make the movie any worse.

“This movie is just awful. It’s crazy bad. When you watch the movie, there’s one part where the screen goes black and it says something like ‘This scene was deleted due to budget constraints.’ It’s hilarious,” says Lenz.

Filmmaker David C. Hayes agrees his movie — only the second in his 50-plus movie career — is no Oscar contender.

“It’s a horror-comedy, heavier on the comedy because it’s not really that horror-ish. It’s horrific, definitely, but for many other reasons,” he says.

Hayes recently rediscovered the film, which had been misplaced shortly after it was shot and edited in 1998, on an old tape. The original audio was badly degraded, and he contacted the Valley’s Midnite Movie Mamacita Andrea Beesley-Brown, programmer for MADCAP, about having NCT provide a new soundtrack. The group was already mocking movies for the theater’s Movie Mashertpiece Theater series.

Hayes will record the troupe’s Thursday-night performance and try merging it with the film for a DVD release later this year.

NCT has dubbed two other cheesy, low-budget films during live screenings at MADCAP — “The Bloody Pit of Horror” and “Atom Age Vampire.” They’ll perform the best of the three again at next month’s Phoenix Comicon at Phoenix Convention Center.

But “Blood Orgy” presents a unique challenge for the normally “clean” comedy troupe that puts on family-friendly shows in its Mesa theater.

“The first two movies we did this way were made in the early ’60s, I think, so there wasn’t a lot of risque material. Those were safely within the PG, PG-13 range,” says Lenz. “This movie is not. This movie is kind of dirty. So it’s a bit of a departure from what we normally do. The whole thing is a fish-out-of-water experience for us.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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