The men on the mics at FilmDrunk Frotcast drank in the energy provided by a small crowd at the Max Palevsky Cinema on Saturday and Sunday nights. They did not mince words, and they didn’t clean up their speech, despite the many complete strangers who were present. They had cavalier attitudes towards their would-be listeners. Right from the start, with host Vince Mancini’s first words, the show established the tone it would carry throughout the night: “Who knew that they were going to listen to a couple of idiots talk before a movie?” The audience cheered.
The cast (Vince, Ben, Brendan, and Bret) of FilmDrunk Frotcast, a podcast of the independent FilmDrunk movie news website, came to campus Sunday night to record a live episode of the show and to screen the movie The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hosted by Doc Films, the event did not draw a huge crowd, but those present brought enough enthusiasm to make up for the low turnout.
The film, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, takes place in a dystopian future where Schwarzenegger must take part in a deadly reality show known as The Running Man. The 1987 film showed its age with lots of ‘80s action movie clichés (such as bad one-liners and frequent neck-snappings) and some low-quality special effects and production values. The movie was still a hit with the crowd, who actively enjoyed watching its ill-conceived characters and script congeal into something less than a masterpiece.
The podcast’s numerous critiques of the film before and after the screening were a source of humor for the audience. “Every time Arnold talks, it seems like they gave him a time limit; he doesn’t have quite enough time to say his lines,” Bret pointed out. Bad lines, props, and holes in the plot were all fair game for the crew’s jabs both during and after the movie. Even the podcast’s notes on the film were far from serious criticism, and dissolved into pure silliness at times. Ben continued the conversation on Schwarzenegger’s dialogue, “You guys didn’t see what was on the cutting room floor. He would just pontificate on whether it was a commentary on media or on sporting in general. He just goes on and on,” he joked. “It’s actually a very well-edited movie in that the original was four hours long.”
The group recorded to a favorable crowd of the podcast’s fans. The show’s popularity was clear throughout. There was laughter, reference-making, and joking from the fans during the question and answer session. Many non-students arrived for the show and one man even stated that he had arrived from New Zealand. The KickStarter page that was created to bring Frotcast to Chicago had 209 backers and had raised $4,815, more than tripling its original goal of $1,500.
Not all audience members knew exactly what they were getting into by attending the recording. Early on, some people were apparently confused by the proceedings—they were looking around and not laughing at first. One woman clearly thought she was just there to see a movie. The cast pointed these people out early and often. “I can tell by facial expressions in the audience who has no idea what the Frotcast is and just came here to watch The Running Man,” said Brendan. “You see a lot of them checking the time, [thinking] ‘how long are these guys going for?’”
As the evening went on, the once-confused people began to blend in with the rest of the audience and seemed to have a good time regardless of their preconceived notions of the event. The show ended with a question-and-answer session that addressed pressing issues: Why the podcast is called Frotcast (consult Urban Dictionary), which funny voices the cast could do, and how to create a Halloween costume based on a minor character from The Running Man. This last question was treated with ironic sincerity.