January 25, 2007

'Bad Anthropology Film Festival' set for Jan. 30

by K.C. Jaehnig

(PRONOUNCER: "Corruccini" is "core-a-CHEE-knee")

CARBONDALE, Ill. — You can never tell what will happen at Robert S. Corruccini's "Bad Anthropology Film Festival" — one year he gave away prizes for "Best Kibbitzing" — but one thing you can be sure of: The clips you see will be "execrably," "outstandingly," "hilariously" bad.

This year's festival, which takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Faner Hall 3438, will feature bits of "Bones," chunks of "CSI"s from various locations and a gobbet of "Crossing Jordan."

"Plus, on a higher quality note, the classic old Peter Sellers 'Murder by Death,' film" says Corruccini cheerfully.

The recent spate of purported "forensic science" TV programs has led Corruccini, an SIUC professor and distinguished scholar in anthropology, to add a new twist to his long-running festival: "Bad Forensic Anthropology Videos."

"Well, that and we have just approved a 15-hour forensic (anthropology) science interdisciplinary specialization in the department," he says.

But never fear: you won't have to watch the shows in their entirety.

"I tape them and distill the particularly uproariously bad parts," he says with a twinkle.

If you detect a trace of Dan Aykroyd's Leonard Pinth-Garnell from the old "Saturday Night Live/Bad Cinema" skits in Corruccini's approach to his subject, it's no coincidence. Pinth-Garnell and his sniffy reviews of "stunningly bad," "monumentally ill-advised," "exquisitely awful" and "astonishingly ill-chosen" films inspired Corruccini to start up his own "bad cinema" festival back in 1985, "give or take a year," Corruccini says.

"Leonard Pinth-Garnell wore this tuxedo and would show brief clips of trashy bad movies and then say, 'There — that wasn't so good now, was it?'" he recalls with delight.

In the beginning, Corruccini found his films by checking out each week's "TV Guide" and taping prospective candidates. The advent of DVD and the enormous selection of material in that format have allowed him to expand his scope.

"I just sent away for 'I Was a Teenage Caveman,'" he reports with enthusiasm.

"I'm sure it's bad — how could it not be?"

These days, he also gets help with material from his audience.

"I've developed a reputation," he says modestly.

"My adoring students bring me stuff now. I have actually got quite a library, I'm afraid to say."

Students also have become the festival's beneficiaries. Members of the student anthropology group sell pizza and soft drinks at the event to raise funds for their organization.

"They have a very nominal charge, but they always turn a profit," Corruccini says.

While most festival-goers come from what Corruccini calls the campus-wide "Bone Bunch" and therefore get all the inside jokes, Corruccini says everyone is welcome, particularly at the "Bad Science Fiction" and "Bad Archaeology" festivals planned for later this semester, to accommodate all the material he has accumulated.

"Fork over your two dollars for pizza, and we won't turn you away," he says with an impish grin.