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Film: Cheap and Out of Control 

Two local film series are anything but highbrow

How many times have you marched into Blockbuster Video looking for a mondo bizarro film such as Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre or Japanese cartoon gross-out Urotsukidôji: Birth of the Overfiend but of course you know you won't find it in the store? You can be sure that any film starring Jennifer Aniston or Rob Schneider is easy to locate, rent and watch as you quietly acquiesce to normality, but anything with blood dripping onto bare boobs (read: interesting and perhaps disturbing) is another matter. Now that South Grand's Whiz Bam! cult-video rental shop is no more, where's a bohemian with taste to turn?

Rest easy: Two new local film events are affordable and specialize in the obscure.

The creative tribe that hangs out at Berzerker Studios has just introduced "I Spit on Hollywood," a forum for "extreme horror, exploitation, art-house, sleaze, Eurotrash, psychotronic, gore, undergound & foreign" films, according to the series' Web site. The monthly event began in November with a screening of Rites, Black Magic and Secret Orgies in the 14th Century, a 1972 Italian exploitation film that "I Spit" mastermind Jeff Carline describes as "bad, psychedelic, cheesy, easy to yell at, plotless, incoherent and fun." The second film on the bill was 1999's Junk, a Z-grade Japanese zombie flick.

Thursday's excellent double feature promises a double dose of zombies, with the uncut version of Peter Jackson's over-the-top slapstick 1992 bloodbath Braindead (known in the U.S. as Dead Alive) and Lucio Fulci's seminal 1979 gorefest Zombi 2. Future films will likely include Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS, Maniac, The Ring (Japanese version), Versus, Demonium, Cannibal Holocaust, Audition, Women's Camp 119 and the awesome Japanese film Battle Royale.

Another laid-back setting for quality entertainment is the Atomic Neon Glassworks, in the suddenly-getting-interesting neighborhood of Forest Park Southeast. Come around back, follow the tinsel and head upstairs, where they're projecting cult films on the eight-by-twelve-foot screen. On your way in, drop a dollar into the plastic bucket strapped to the armless mannequin to help pay for the complimentary barbecued potato chips, grape soda, Junior Mints and Winston cigarettes (a great combo!).

Recent movies shown in the space above the commercial neon-glass studio and teaching space include the magical Cirque du Soleil: Quidam, 1986 sci-fi spoof TerrorVision and sicko Muppet parody Meet the Feebles. Though Tom Carr and Vincent Long are in the midst of moving their glassworks to the Hill, they say they'll be taking "Atomic Cinema" night with them.

Seekers of free and cheap films should also know about the monthly screening of short academic films at Mad Art, as well as the monthly "Fant-Asia" Japanese-animation party at the Fantasy Shop in St. Charles.

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