“Everything Is Terrible” [EIT] is the name of a tongue-in-cheek outfit that collates cringe-worthy clips from 70s and 80s TV shows and films and cobbles them together into “documentaries” on various themes.
Or as they put it, EIT “is the internet sensation video collective responsible for some of this millennium’s most intriguing and mind melting videos.”
Recently one of their shows at downtown LA’s Regent Theater caught my eye. “The Great Satan,” it was called
The Regent bills itself as a “vintage 1914 cinema recreated as an indie concert hall & performance space with a bar & pizzeria.”
Well I will just venture out with the hipsters, I thought. See what’s what with the DTLA “art scene.”
The show supposedly started at 8. The first thing that was terrible was that we had to wait outside for twenty minutes as if we were being granted entrance to hear Maria Callas or Glenn Gould instead of to see a B-documentary in a drafty Skid Row theater.
The doors opened at 7:50. A hulking security guard barked at us and the line shuffled forward. We went through three checkpoints and had two paper bracelets affixed to our wrists, as if being admitted to a hospital. At last we were free to enter the unheated theater and secure a folding metal chair.
I selected a spot in the back row, on the aisle for easy egress, and because the light from the merch table would allow me to take notes.
From the screen a beefy guy with fake horns leered, preened, and maniacally cackled. The soundtrack combined creepy asylum music and the roars of a rabid hyena. This loop would run continuously for the next hour.
I soon ascertained that the theater patrons were allowed to order and drink large plastic cups of beer—terrible! (that I, having been forced to put down the booze years ago, couldn’t have any).
I thought maybe the show would start at 8:15, But when 8:15 came and went, I realized with a start that I had not signed on to see a movie. I was at an “event,” the difference between an event and a movie being that an event entails inexplicable waits and extreme discomfort inflicted by people who tend to act like they’re doing you a favor.
I seized upon the opportunity to close my eyes and say a Rosary. “The Descent of the Holy Ghost Upon the Apostles”… The Assumption of Mary Body and Soul Into Heaven”…“Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.”
I figured this would take me through 8:30 when the show would surely begin. But when I finished the Hail Holy Queen, I found it was 8:45 and still, that ridiculous actor in a devil costume was leering from the screen! Still the demented hyenas moaned. Still, the show had not launched.
I almost got up and went home. But I am nothing if not conscientious, and I didn’t want to charge off 15 bucks in parking to the Archdiocese (or God forbid, pay myself) with nothing to show for it.
So I closed my eyes again and began to pray the Stations of the Cross. “Jesus Is Condemned to Death…Jesus Meets His Mother…Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments.” Jesus had just been laid in the tomb when 9 o’clock struck and the screen, to loud cheers, flickered to new life.
By this time we were packed in like sardines and the crowd had become raucous. The film itself was actually pretty funny with cheesy special effects of beheadings, blood-drinking, projectile vomiting, sex gone terribly awry, and suicide. There were several clips of apparently psychotic ex-Satanists and children being brainwashed by creepy televangelists.
The audience was clearly having a blast and the people in my row couldn’t have been nicer. I left a little early, thinking that in its way, the evening had been good clean fun. Still, it seemed like a lot of work for a few laughs.
Walking back to my car, I realized how out of step I was not to have had a better grip on the culture of LA nightlife.
Then again, I always feel a little out of step. And what’s truly terrible, as in sorrowful, were the legions of homeless and mentally ill who roamed South Main.
“The poor you will always have with you,” said Christ. But part of the cross is never knowing whether, by a couple of hours of “escape entertainment,” you’re fortifying yourself to help carry that sorrow, or deepening the suffering for others.
I do know that, as Baudelaire observed, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
So all the way home, I said the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.