BOOTLEG FILES 421: “Snack Bar” (2012 short film created by Moe Porne).
LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A “borrowed” music track.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely, although all of the footage used in this short is already on DVD via the Something Weird label.
This week’s column is somewhat different because I’m not tracking down older films. Instead, I am focusing on a new film – so new, in fact, that it had its premiere earlier this month at the Short Films Frenzy monthly series in Hamden, Connecticut. The film is a short called “Snack Bar” and it offers a phantasmagoric collage of bizarre and often disturbing images used to lure yesteryear’s movie audiences into eating terrible food.
In the film exhibition industry, the real money is not made at the box office. Instead, it comes at the theater concession stand. Of course, it is not difficult to miss the concession stand, since most theaters have them positioned in the space between the ticket counter and the auditorium. But back in the 1950s, 1960s and the early 1970s, theaters would present double features or road show productions that came with an intermission. To fill the time during intermission and to put more money into the theater manager’s pockets, short films (some lasting less than a minute) were shown to remind the already-seated viewers that the concession stand was still open for business.
Connecticut filmmaker Moe Porne has harvested an astonishing line-up of these concession-pushing intermission films for his short “Snack Bar,” and the result may offer some explanation as to why American society is plagued with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The depth and scope of film marketing to push crummy food was staggering, and unsuspecting audiences from years passed swallowed the bait – not to mention the hot dogs, soda, candies, ice cream and butter-drenched popcorn.
The post-World War II U.S. population was the first that incorporated junk food as a daily dietary staple, and “Snack Bar” is rich with the animated marketing that sold this crap to the kiddie viewers and their all-too-indulgent parents: An anthropomorphic frankfurter plucking a banjo, a community of Coca-Cola guzzling penguins, disembodied heads made from popcorn kernels, Peter Max-inspired butterflies sailing past funky Pepsi bottles, and other equally surreal inanities find their way into the “Snack Bar” mix.
When humans turn up on screen, they are mostly engaged in brutal acts of ravenous gluttony. One of the most amazing shots involves a young boy expanding his jaws to crocodile-worthy dimensions as he attempts to devour a hamburger that’s half the size of his head. Elsewhere, an older woman rolls her eyes in orgiastic frenzy at the prospect of a concession stand goodie while an elderly chef with an absurdly large white mustache happily prepares the pizza pies on sale at the theater.
For those moviegoers who tried to avoid temptation, the intermission films kept flashing minute-by-minute countdown updates. Thus, you had five-, four-, three-, two- and one-minute warnings to make that mad dash for the snack bar counter and get back in time for the second half of the film show.
And when the food itself is on screen…well, yuck! A Paula Deen-worthy bar of butter floats ominously in a metal container, ready to be melted in order to drown the tubs of popcorn. Hamburgers and hot dogs have a weirdly evil shine to them, while corn dogs (billed as the “new taste sensation”) look like rotted flesh impaled on a stick. A bag of potato chips empties itself via stop-motion animation, spelling out the word “Fresh.” (A more appropriate word might have been “Redrum,” but that was taken for another film.)
If that’s not enough, the theaters gave a tug at the viewer’s patriotism: the U.S. flag flutters bravely while John Wayne (naturally) turns up in his trademark cowboy gear. Thus, the viewer was reminded that it was his or her duty as an American to vacuum up as much junk food as possible!
“Snack Bar” employs Cragga’s dubstep remix of “Please Mr. Postman” for its soundtrack, and it meticulously times the repetition of particularly audacious imagery to the song’s hypnotically repetitious riffs on the classic Marvelettes tune. The result is a stunning marriage of music and visuals.
According to filmmaker Moe Porne, “Snack Bar” was specifically created – perhaps a bit haphazardly – for the aforementioned Short Films Frenzy series.
“It was a mess from the get go,” he says. “I had put about nine hours of work into it when I lost the project file, then I put in on the back burner to clear my head a bit. I started again a few days later and worked on it 18 hours straight, and finished it with a day or two to spare.”
The footage used in “Snack Bar” came from anthologies of ephemeral films gathered by the Something Weird video label. Porne is a huge fan of this label, and he co-hosts a podcast called “Something Weird This Way Comes…” that is devoted to their output.
“Something Weird videos take up the largest amount of shelf space in my movie collection,” he explains. “I’ve been a huge fan of them since the mid-90’s and it only made sense that eventually I’d start a show devoted to them.”
Porne also has two additional podcasts – “Drunk on VHS” and “No-Budget Nightmares” – and a YouTube channel that includes the recently completed “Snack Bar” along with other short film collages made from intermission flicks. It is not likely that “Snack Bar” will turn up on commercial DVD in the foreseeable future, so the best way to check it out is on YouTube. (Click here to enjoy it!)
“Snack Bar” is a wonderfully amusing celebration of movie-going protocol from previous generations. And if you can make it through the film’s rush of emetic edibles without reaching for a glass of Alka-Seltzer, you’re damn good!
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either for crass commercial purposes or profit-free s***s and giggles, is not something that the entertainment industry appreciates. On occasion, law enforcement personnel boost their arrest quotas by collaring cheery cinephiles engaged in such activities. So if you are going to copy and distribute bootleg material, a word to the wise: don’t get caught. Oddly, the purchase and ownership of bootleg DVDs is perfectly legal. Go figure!