KFJC's Psychotronix festival celebrates the weird world of cinema


Dubbed a celebration of the "vinyl of visuals," Foothill College radio station KFJC will be hosting its Psychotronix Film festival on Saturday, June 29.

The four-hour event is filled with a hodgepodge of shorts, old TV commercials, musical performances, educational films and trailers for movies you've probably never heard of, some so campy and bizarre that they venture into "so bad it's good" territory.

Psychotronix has been a tradition for the station for more than 25 years, showing 16mm films of varying quality to a standing-room-only audience. Though it may seem like a cult-like following at first blush, about one-third of the viewers at each event are self-identified newcomers.

The films themselves range from exceptional to hilariously bad, but each one ends with a hearty applause as the tech staff load up the next relic.

KFJC DJ Robert Emmett, who hosts the event, said a group of volunteers -- "Sci-Fi" Bob Ekman, Paul Etcheverry and Scott Moon -- help collect and curate the films, almost all of which are sure to be lost in the annals of history. Though many in the audience appreciate the oddities with a sort of reverence, they're not exactly prized possessions.

"The Library of Congress is looking to preserve movies, but these are not the movies they're looking to save," Emmett said.

Emmett's affinity for movies is hardly a secret, with his popular three-hour show on Saturday mornings devoted to movie soundtracks and tunes from old TV shows and cartoons. As a sort of teaser for Psychotronix, his show last week included a commercial for Raisin Bran and a preview for the 1935 exploitation movie "Cocaine Fiends."

Among the films played at the last film festival in March was a black-and-white commercial for spaghetti in a can that's unceremoniously dumped on a plate, and an educational film on germs and viral infections hosted by William Shatner -- who stiffly tells the audience at the end that he doesn't plan on getting sick.

Movie trailers included one for the 1958 movie "Earth vs. the Spider," with a dramatic narrator referring to the heroics of a science teacher "who knows his science," shortly before the teacher can be seen firing arcs of lightning at an oversized arachnid.

The film festival will be held in room 5015 on the Foothill College campus, located at 12345 El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Entrance is $5 at the door and parking in the campus lots costs $3. All proceeds go to KFJC, which is a community and student radio station licensed to Foothill College.

Doors open at 6 p.m., and event staff recommend getting there early, as seats tend to fill up quickly.

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