Kevin Geeks Out About Dummy Deaths: show recap

November's installment of Kevin Geeks Out was a one-of-a-kind show, thanks to the driving force of our co-hosts’ obsession and enthusiasum. Howard S. Berger and Kevin Marr brought their A-game -- and over 50 clips from movies in every genre, covering 100 years of cinema from the first filmed Dummy Death (1903’s The Great Train Robbery) to a modern death scene with the most expensive dummies ever killed (2007’s Death Proof) Howard and Kevin run an excellent website solely devoted to this topic. (It’s much more fascinating than you might expect. Reading their essays is like hearing JFK conspiracy theories, after a while you get caught up in it.) NOTE: I hosted the show dressed as the TV Commentator from Dawn of the Dead. There’s a great scene where he calls everyone “dummies”. (I didn’t expect people to know, so I showed the clip.)

The show’s guest speakers were full of great stories. Actor Matt Mitler(who previously delighted the crowd at KGO: Werewolves with footage of his Werewolf transformation in Deadtime Stories) showed some dummy death footage from The Mutilator.
(Matt presented me with a poster from the film, see photo)

Actor Kevin Scullin (who’d previously delighted the crowd playing opposite Vincent Price in a scene from The Imporance of Being Ernest, using the LP "Co-Star with Vincent Price) talked about being replaced by a dummy during his death scene in Dead Mate.
Then Howard and Kevin continued the parade of Dummy Deaths, showing some dazzling clips from On The Waterfront, Warriors of the Wasteland, Rollercoaster, Catch-22, Death Wish 4 and a hilarious industrial training film titled Will You Be here Tomorrow? While the film’s intended message is “practice safety on the factory floor” the real message is “stay in school, kids!”
Later, KGO producer Jay Stern looked at Religious symbolism in 1928’s Joan of Arc, comparing the religious statues of the Catholic Church to the dummy immolation at the stake. We also looked at how the use of Dummy Deaths in the Monkees’ HEAD works as a critique of the false, manufactured band. And then we saw a robot blow-up a chick’s head in Chopping Malll. Always a crowd pleaser.

Soon it was time for a cupcake break. Lisa Beebe’s dummy death cupcakes were a big hit. Each cupcake featured a dead body, which could be a person, an animal, or sometimes just a decapitated head. (This cool food blog reviewed the show - and raved about the cupcakes.) What I loved about this dessert is that it’s interactive, each person could make-up the backstory of how the dummy died – whether they were thrown from the roof of a cut in half by an airplane propellor.

During our break, we called our super-special guest, a living legend in the world of dummy deaths – TOM SAVINI! Little did Tom know that I was dressed as a character from Dawn of the Dead. I should’ve mentioned that.

** In this clip, I started to mention Savini's ringtone, but then I got distracted and never revealed what it is. Now, for the first time anywhere, it can be told: bullfrogs croaking. True story.

Next up, Director Matthew Glasson talked about the secrets of crafting a dummy death scene. He showed one of the most creative dummy deaths of the night by showing a clip from his short The Family Tie. After we watched he broke down the special effects process, talking about the set-backs and success of low-budget dummy-making.

When asked about his influences in dummy deaths, Matthew showed a clip from Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling, which led to another discussion of the religious implications of dummy deaths. I can’t paraphrase it properly, but it explored Gnosticism and the spark of life, and other smart-talk.

Then it was back to the slaughter, as we watched even more explosive dummy deaths from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Scanners, The Fury, Deadly Friend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bad Taste (Peter Jackson’s first film) and Maniac.
Of course before the audience could leave, we showed a teaser for the December edition of KEVIN GEEKS OUT, it’s going to be our HOLIDAY GRAB BAG featuring 8 guest speakers, surprise clips, mystery cupcakes, holiday gifts and a tribute to Santa. Click HERE to buy tickets for the December 18th show.

Bonus material:

Deleted Scene from KGO: Dummy Deaths

Show review by Tenebrous Kate

Dummy scene in the E.T. ripoff, Mac & Me.

KONGA: the tiniest dummy death ever filmed (skip ahead to 2:10 if you’re in a hurry)

Lastly: KGO super-producer Jay Stern is starting his new feature film! Click here to find out what you can do to make it happen!

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