Every year for about 20 years, I’ve hosted a celebration of Charlton Heston’s filmography. This year was a sort of ‘best of,’ where we showed some special favorites from years past. And, as we’ve been doing for a few years, we paired the films with special foods. It’s something Brad (co-founder of In the Mouth of Dorkness) and I got into after he started hosting ShatAttack (a William Shatner film day), with Khan-dogs, Rescue 911 chili, etc.
I got the ball rolling on my own, in the days leading up to HestFest. I watched “55 Days in Peking” on TCM and popped in “Dark City,” too. And on Saturday morning, while I was doing last minute cleanup and Rebecca was doing some baking, I popped on “Behind the Planet of the Apes.” It helped be get revved up for the main event. “55 Days in Peking” was much better this time around, likely due to it being in widescreen and nicely cleaned up. It’s a bit long, but not crazy long. And then “Dark City,” one of his first films, turned out to be better than I remembered it, too. It’s a middle of the road Noir, but I like Heston. “Behind the Planet of the Apes” is a celebration/documentary about the Apes franchise. It’s a fun look at the making of the movies, and at all the madness that followed.
Folks rolled in on Sunday morning and we got the festivities started. The first film up was “Secret of the Incas.” For that, we had chorizo & egg tacos. A few of us enjoyed some Inca Cola. I gave some thought to Peruvian chicken from a nearby restaurant, but it was a little early. “Secret of the Incas” is a really fun Heston film with a great jackass performance from young Chuck. He’s all swagger and arrogance. I can’t say he’s using sexual innuendo, because it’s a bit too blatant for that. And boy he likes money (especially from women). You can see the roots of Indiana Jones in this film, including the costume, which is a pretty direct descendant.
“Touch of Evil” was the next one up. This is one of the objectively best films Heston starred in. Orson Welles’s direction is excellent, as is his thoroughly disgusting turn as the corrupt and corpulent cop. There’s so much going on in this film, and it demands repeat viewings. But it’s also visually stunning, in ways one expects from Welles. To accompany this film, we had tequila chicken skewers.
At the midpoint of the day, we started up the amazing “Planet of the Apes.” What can I say about this film? It’s one of my all time favorites. Heston plays an absolutely amazing prick. It’s a great adventure film, with lots of commentary on politics and religion. And that ending. For this, we had a snack of monkey bread. And we served peanut butter blondies. Peanut butter was a food Heston loved, and he used to take it with him when filming outside of the States, because you can’t get it everywhere.
Then it was time for “The Omega Man,” probably the film shown most often at HestFests in the past. This is without a doubt the worst adaptation of I Am Legend, but it’s my favorite. The basic premise of the novel has been turned into a Gospel allegory, with Heston in the Christ roll. The movie is bananas, with an amazing score, and plenty of great lines of dialog. For this film, we had pale ales available. And I had sardines. Nobody else joined me on the sardines. Their loss.
The final film of the evening was “Soylent Green.” This is another movie that’s been shown during a lot of previous HestFest celebrations. One of the darker dystopian futures from the 70s, it features overpopulation, ecological collapse, suicide booths, women living as essentially slaves attached to apartments, and more. To accompany this film, we went with pesto pasta, and then served some seaweed chips.
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