WE THE ALTERNATIVE NEWSWEEKLY MUSIC journalists don't often (read: never) get flown to fancy cities like Los Angeles to do interviews with stars. But movie people do. Though my masterfully eloquent father would say, "Well, rooty-toot-toot," I say, "Share the wealth!" which is exactly what The Stranger did. Not a few weeks back, my ass was on a plane bound for L.A., baby, and awaiting me there was a free night at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel with all the room service I could order--all in exchange for viewing the new teen slasher film Idle Hands. And as luck would have it, our own Delusions and Northwest gems Built To Spill were playing just up the street. Yahtzee!

I settled into the tub in my marble-floored bathroom and watched Oprah, then ordered up a $20 hamburger before heading downstairs to the charter-driven coach that would take us "movie people" to the advance screening of Idle Hands. A pre-show reception was held in our honor at a chi-chi joint called Moustache (say "Moo")--where they gave us all the free drinks we could swill in the 90 minutes before the film screened next-door. What kept going through my head was that line from "Hotel California" about how "the drinks will flow and the blood will spill," along with thoughts of how odd it was that the film company was getting us schnockered right before we were supposed to be thinking critically. Liquid laughing gas, perhaps?

As it turned out, yes. Idle Hands tells the story of high schooler Anton (Devon Sawa), whose right hand has a murderous mind of its own. The movie's a bit of a stinker for audience members over the age of 18, though the booze did help. Judging from the response of the premiere audience (a theater jammed with teens), "the kids" will think it's a goddamn hoot, especially because Buffy the Vampire Slayer's sensitive alterna-rocker werewolf Seth Green is featured prominently, as Anton's friend Mick--although he gets killed in the first 15 minutes of the film.

Not to worry, he comes back! As a zombie, even! This made the girls seated behind me squeal with glee. Mick and his sidekick, Pnub (Elden Hensen of Mighty Ducks fame)--another zombie, previously decapitated by Anton's hand--banter and joke like the undead in An American Werewolf in London. Anton's hand wants to kill Molly (Jessica Alba), the "girl next-door," but Anton has a crush on her. Anton finds her journal on the road and returns it, getting a little nookie in response--but in the process he ties his evil hand to the bedpost, which Molly thinks is kinky in a good way. Afterward, fearing he can't control the hand, Anton chops it off, and then mayhem ensues when the rotting fingers take off on their own. (Incidentally, the hand is played by the same hand that played Thing in the Addams Family movies.)

To make a long story short, the film is gory and kinda funny, and marijuana saves the day. Also, the Offspring's Dexter Holland gets his scalp ripped off at the school dance. Hee hee.

Directly after the film, we were shuttled back to the hotel and, having missed Built To Spill (I'd catch them the next night), I ordered up a $30 bottle of wine and a $15 plate of chips and guacamole, settling into my big, poofy bed to watch The Breakfast Club for the 45th time, happy as a clam.

The next day, hopped up on $7 coffee and the remainder of the wine, I rode the elevator down to the second floor, where I was scheduled to talk with star Devon Sawa, stoner Eldon Hensen, zombie Seth Green, love interest Jessica Alba, director Rodman Flender, and special guest star Vivica Fox. Seated at a table with some jaded local critics, I felt pale and unhip--though distinctly hipper than the dumpy, annoying, fuchsia-haired, name-dropping webzine writer next to me, who kept insisting that "Courtney" is a great gal. At one point, she dropped the brick that she was meeting "Jenna" (as in Elfman) for lunch. I almost lost mine, devoted fan of Dharma & Greg that I am.

Eldon Hensen breezed in first, and let slip two major secrets: (1) Test audiences wanted more nudity and pot smoking (hence Alba's near-nude scene, and the bong of all bongs that saves the day), and (2) Flender was not the original director. The guy next to me asked what the fake pot tasted like. "Stinky bad weed," answered Hensen. Fuchsia-head asked nothing.

Next came Seth Green, accompanied by a paperback copy of Donna Tartt's The Secret History and a very hawkish publicist. He instantly recognized fuchsia-head from the recent Marilyn Manson concert--the one where Manson fell and cut short the show--and at my request he did a hysterical re-enactment of the fall not once, but twice. In person, Green is both philosophical and intelligent, yet he hardly strayed from the subject of Idle Hands, other than to discuss the enormous notoriety of "Leo" (DiCaprio), and admit that he hadn't seen the Michael Caine film The Hand. "Last question," said the publicist. The guy next to me asked what the fake pot tasted like. "Rotten lettuce," said Green.

Sawa walked in all pimply and teen-age geeky, pleasantly enthusiastic about his first starring role. I forgot much of what he said because I was so distracted, anticipating the jackass next to me's inevitable query. "Tea and stale cigarettes," answered Sawa.

When Flender came in, all we wanted to ask about was his not being the original director. None of us did. Instead, we discussed the limitations placed upon current teen slasher films, how the references to classic horror movies are lost on kids, and how great it would be to remake The Dead Zone, if only kids would get it. (Even Hensen didn't know that the film his eternally stoned character was watching on TV was Night of the Living Dead.) Flender got his big break from horror master Roger Corman, who made him Vice President of Production after seeing his student film. I had heard that his next project was a documentary on Boston band the Upper Crust, and I got about one sentence out of him about that before the guy next to me piped up with: "Did you smoke any of that fake pot?" Flender did not.

Vivica Fox was smart. She had a plan. She said absolutely nothing about Idle Hands--a wise move, given that her character makes no sense, other than serving as a sort of superhero whose mission is to capture the hand. Basically, she interviewed herself, offering all sorts of wisdom on how to be successful in anything one might do. The guy next to me couldn't get a word in edgewise.

When Jessica Alba walked in (having a horrible hair day, I might add), I immediately mentioned the bit of trivia Henson had keyed us in on, about the test market and added scenes with her wearing less clothes. Her publicist changed the subject, and that was that. Junket accomplished.

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