BILLY JACK: A look back

(NOTE: The following essay originally appeared in the 'zine "I LOVE BAD MOVIES", volume 2. You can purchase it here

BILLY JACK (1971) was a Drive-in Phenomenon that your parents will remember as that preachy hippy movie that introduced the song “One Tin Soldier”.  It’s a real period piece that reflects America’s growing pains during the end of the Viet Nam war and Nixon’s Presidency.  Part Western, part revenge film, it synergized bits of kung-fu action, Native American snake ceremonies and The Movement psychology along with some improvised scenes by Howard Hesseman for good measure.  But this essay is about the love and sex and gratuitous nudity that make the movie great.
The plot is simple enough: a lone man goes up against a corrupt group of bigots that are threatening defenseless teenagers.  (The film created a boilerplate for dozens of Steven Segal movies.)  But at the core of this New-Age Western is a love story. Billy Jack (the short-tempered War Hero) loves Jean (the hippy pacifist who runs The Freedom School).  But they’re so caught up in defending the children and Native Americans that they never get to express their love for each other. 

As the hate-crimes escalate, Bernard (one of the film’s many villains) kidnaps and rapes Jean.  (For the sole purpose of exacting revenge on Billy, who had recently pushed his Corvette into a lake.) 

When Billy finds out about the attack, he gets on his motorcycle and tracks down Bernard in a lime-colored Arizona bordello.  Billy kicks open the bedroom door and sees Bernard in bed with a naked young girl.

Billy speaks through clenched teeth, “How old are you?”

“13,” she answers.

 “Get out.” He commands, and the girl runs across the room naked.

Bernard quickly takes out a revolver, shoots and misses his target**  Billy karate chops Bernard in the throat, killing him instantly.

This one scene perfectly captures what makes the Billy Jack franchise so successful:  

We, the viewing audience, get to condemn a man for sleeping with an underage girl.  

But we also get to see her naked.  

It’s the best of both worlds.   

Throughout the film (and its sequels) Billy Jack strives to follow pacifism, but when he sees racism or sexism or hippie bashing, he… just… goes… BERSERK! And the ass-kicking begins!  Again, writer-actor-director Tom Laughlin gets to have his cake and gun it down in cold blood, too – by preaching a message of Peace while filling the movie with exciting, lyrical bloodshed.  By doing so, Billy Jack became the largest-grossing independent film of all time. (Source: back of Billy Jack DVD box set.)

Where are they now?

Writer-Director-Actor Tom Laughlin made four Billy Jack movies. He’s since written books about screenwriting, and the psychology of cancer.  In 1992 he ran for President (and received 2% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary).  Today Laughlin is developing a new Billy Jack film and is accepting donations via his website.

Update: Tom Laughlin passed away on Thursday December 12th. He was 82. 

** From a short distance that may have inspired George Lucas to say “Sure, Greedo could miss Han Solo.”



To get ready for Friday's show (KEVIN GEEKS OUT: ALL ABOUT EVIL**) here's an A-Z poem about horror films. 

A is for Alien, chest-bursting bitch

B is for Belial, makes baskets twitch

C's for Chatterer, cenobite #2

D is for Damien, this hanging's for you


8 Great Horror Movies You’ve Never Heard of (But I Have, Because I’m Better Than You) [***A PARODY***]

Looking for some scary movies this Halloween? Horror Hound Kevin Maher rounds up some of the most obscure films you've never heard of, because you don't know anything. 


Zombies are quickly spreading in the mainstream media. And yet no one's heard of this German gore-fest. It's an instant cult-classic!


Lovers of old movies will love this campy, tongue-in-cheek tribute to scary cinema.


Everybody knows the 2003 horror flick, but did you know that was a remake?!  And the original cult classic had not one, but TWO sequels. I did.



I don’t know much about this film, but my friend Tim said most people just skim these types of articles so don't worry about the descriptions.


This black-and-white baby borrows heavily from George R. Romero’s cult classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD but still has some serious scares.  


This is a wholly original tale of super-natural suspense staring super-hottie Jessica Alba. I haven't seen this one, but I came across it on imdb. 


The ultimate cult classic where an American girl uncovers evil at a boarding school.  In true Euro-horror style, the viewer is left to decide if the whole experience was just in her imagination.


Admit it: you didn’t know about this one, either. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard of it. Not like you.

        * * * 

Ha ha, get it? 

Man, I hate those list-articles that pop up this time of year. 

But seriously, if you want to see a fun show, come to KEVIN GEEKS OUT: ALL ABOUT EVIL at the Alamo Drafthouse. Get tickets here

Kevin Geeks Out All About Evil Trailer from Matthew Glasson on Vimeo.


with special guests:
Clown Matt Glasson
Comedian Rusty Ward
Filmmaker Matthew Glasson
Cult movie blogger Tenebrous Kate
Variety Show host Tom Blunt

and your host, Kevin Maher

Get tickets here.


Kevin Geeks Out joins The Alamo Drafthouse

The Kevin Geeks Out Show is teaming up with the coolest movie theater in America: The Alamo Drafthouse. 

The first show will be Saturday October 19th at the Yonkers Cinema. (Click HERE for tickets.) When you get tickets you'll choose a specific seat. The event starts at 7:30 but you can arrive at 7:00 and order some food or drinks, which are served during the show. 

KEVIN GEEKS OUT is a live video-variety show that obsesses over some of the greatest topics in pop culture. The event brings together rare videos, guest experts and trivia prizes. Since 2008, Kevin has geeked out with 26 different shows including Bigfoot, Robots, Alien Encounters, Professional Wrestling, Dummy Deaths and Visions of the Future. 

The October 19th show is ALL ABOUT EVIL and features film clips and special presentations about evil clowns, evil computers, evil rocks bands and more. 

Host/comedian Kevin Maher welcomes special guests: 
Clown Matt Wilson
Comedian Rusty Ward
Filmmaker Matthew Glasson
Cult Blogger Tenebrous Kate
Variety Show host Tom Blunt

This world-famous Alamo Drafthouse is the perfect home for the Kevin Geeks Out series. "I've had some excellent times seeing special events at the Drafthouse," Kevin Maher said during a recent press conference that really did happen and isn't something he just made up here. "I attended Phantasmania -- where they showed all four Phantasm movies over the course of three midnight shows, with cast and crew present. And I was there for Bruce Campbellpalooza. The Alamo Drafthouse was an influence on the Kevin Geeks Out show, so it's perfect that we team up now that they're in New York." 

Kevin Geeks Out: All About Evil
Saturday October 19th @ 7:30
The Alamo Drafthouse
2548 Central Park West
Yonkers, New York 

Get tickets HERE

*video edited by Matt Glasson
**poster created by Tenebrous Kate



Here's a new award-wining* film I made with Bill Scurry, from a script I wrote with Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan.

Directed by Kevin Maher and Bill Scurry

Written by Kevin Maher and Elliott Kalan
(with an additional joke by Michael Reisman)

Edited by Bill Scurry

Sound and lighting design by Spencer Moore

Title card illustration by Mike Young

The Players

Casey Jost................ Carl Denham
Mike Birch................. Captain Englehorn 
Doug Bost................. Tex
Mark Grenier............. Smitty
Ron Palais................. Ace
Brian Grosz............... Lou
Noah Tarnow............ Jake
Jon Bander............... Curtis
Christopher Dwane.... Rico
Rusty Ward............... Rusty
Matt Wilson............... Wilbur
Glen Heroy................ Bert 

Shot entirely aboard The USCGC LILAC, an authentic 1933 lighthouse tender. You can visit the historic ship at Pier 25 in New York City. (To learn more, click here.)

*King King: Deleted Scene won the audience award at the Iron Mule comedy film festival. It also played at the Gangrene film festival in Salt Lake City. The film premiered at the 92Y Tribeca as part of KEVIN GEEEKS OUT ABOUT MONKEYS (a multi-media variety show about primates in movies, television and comic books.)

Fun-fact: I wanted to make sure no one had already explored this angle, so I read some KONG fanfiction online. But everything I read was gratuitous sex scenes, often involving Captain Englehorn and female characters who don't appear in the film.
**Related Posts: Happy Anniversary King Kong

Kevin Geeks Out About Monkeys recap (Summary of the 2010 show, not the 2013 edition)


Celebrate Shark Week with Kevin Maher and Matt Glasson

Just in time for Shark Week -- Kevin & Matt Geek Out About Shark Movies returns to Brooklyn.  We're bringing the show to Videology

Click HERE for details and tickets. 


Thursday August 8th @ 8:00pm

308 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn NY 

Kevin and Matt Geek Out about SHARK MOVIES! is an obsessive look at dozens of classic (and some not-so-classic) movies from JAWS toSHARKNADO and almost everything in between. The hosts revisit the all-but-forgotten pre-JAWS films (dating back to the 1930’s). They sink their teeth into JAWSPLOITATION knock-offs, the sanctioned sequels, cable-TV documentaries and more contemporary CGI killer shark movies. Kevin and Matt also dissect the films that tried to be the next big blockbuster by substituting a Great White with a giant alligator, a man-eating octopus or a killer grizzly bear. Plus they showcase jaw-dropping clips from films that feature gratuitous shark scenes in non-Shark movies. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Shark geek-out without looking back at the hit TV show that literally jumped the shark.

Kevin and Matt were special guests at Martha’s Vineyard for JAWSFEST 2012. They’ve also presented their shark show at Boston’s Geek Week Comedy Festival, The Brooklyn Observatory and the 92Y Tribeca.


Hot Dog Eating Contest -- FOR KIDS!

Each year I wonder what it would be like it kids could be in the competitive eating contest.

This year, the dream becomes a reality.

Note: If you liked this, you might also enjoy my other sports-comedy video PUPPET RODEO:


Final KGO show at the 92Y Tribeca

The 92Y Tribeca is closing. 

The final show in the screening room will be my show on Friday June 14th. 

(Please note: there will still be a few other shows in the main space, including a chat with Paul Feig, but this is the last event in the screening room.) 

Friday June 14th @ 8pm
92Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson Street
New York, NY 

Get tickets here.  The show will sell-out. 

Kevin Geeks Out is the comedy-variety show hosted by writer-comedian Kevin Maher—a confabulation of vintage film clips and videos, new finds, guest experts, games and curiosities. To geek out with Kevin you don’t need to be a geek, you just need to love cool stuff.

This month, Kevin Geeks Out about MONKEYS. Long before cats captivated internet-users, funny primates dazzled audiences. The 2-hour show will feature dozens of clips from classic (and lesser-known) movies and TV shows, spanning 7 decades. Plus Saturday morning cartoons, pop songs and comedy shorts about apes, chimps, gorillas, orangutans, baboons and footage you won’t find on YouTube or Netflix.

Elliott Kalan (writer from "The Daily Show") observes how the “sexually aroused gorilla” has become a horrifying comedy trope.

Professor Geoff Klock examines the Gorilla as Super-Villain.
Writer Meg Sweeney Lawless shares a gallery of the best and worst examples of “Apes on Comic Book Covers”.
Filmmaker Bill Scurry recounts the online adventures of his pet chimpanzee, Chester Balonie.
Host Kevin Maher looks at the legacy of KING KONG.
With trivia from quizmaster Noah Tarnow (from the upcoming "Big Quiz Thing" TV show) 
Monkey-themed cupcakes from Sara Reiss
And a special monkey movie clip from 92Y Tribeca Film Programmer Cristina Cacioppo


Kevin Geeks Out About Rip-Off Cinema

We've got a new KEVIN GEEKS OUT show coming up. 

This month's theme is RIP-OFF CINEMA, chronicling the "knockbusters" that attempt to capture the magic of big-budget movies. Buy tickets HERE (NOTE: We're an editor's pick at Gothamist as one of the 20 Fun Things to do in May, so the show will likely sell-out.) 

Friday May 10th @ 8pm
92Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson Street, NYC
just ten bucks

Here's the line-up: 


Orwellian Clip Show

At the last KEVIN GEEKS OUT show I did a segment about how the talking-head clip-show is the most Orwellian form of media. I ended it with this video parody.

Big thanks to the cast and crew, especially Marcos Levy who did the pitch-perfect edit.


This Friday: Kevin Geeks Out ALL-STARS SHOW!


a comedy variety show featuring an all-star line-up, including:  

ELLIOTT KALAN (THE DAILY SHOW) talks about The Stout Men of Holllywood.

PROFESSOR GEOFF KLOCK (author of HOW TO READ SUPERHERO COMICS AND WHY) presents the ultimate Hamlet supercut with clips from over 70 films, cartoons and TV shows. 

R. SIKORYAK (MASTERPIECE COMICS) dramatizes comic strips on the big screen. 

DAN McCOY (THE DAILY SHOW) tells the true story that brings together twitter and USA UP ALL NIGHT.

KEVIN MAHER (that's me) recounts his year at Best Week Ever and explores how talking clip-shows could be the most Orwellian of any media. 

Plus an all-new "Kindest cut" movie by M. SWEENEY LAWLESS and a presentation by TOM BLUNT.

The show is likely to sell-out, so buy your tickets now: 


92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street
New York, NY
just ten bucks

Kevin Geeks Out is the comedy-variety show hosted by writer-comedian Kevin Maher—a confabulation of vintage film clips and videos, new finds, guest experts, games and curiosities. To geek out with Kevin you don’t need to be a geek, you just need to love cool stuff.

PLEASE NOTE: The 92YTribeca will be closing in June.  There are only a few shows left.  Use these links to get your tickets to