TFZ is perhaps my favorite cult film (either it, or "Down by Law"). I have seen it well over 20 times, most of which have been to show it to other people. Enjoying TFZ is kinda a litmus test- it's certainly not for everyone, but the people that dig it tend to be kindred spirits.
What do I love about this film? Well, what's not to love about a musical based on Cab Calloway songs with the visual style of Max Fleischer (the Betty Boop guy), starring the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (aka Oingo Boingo back in their performance art days) and Herve Villechaize (Tattoo from "Fantasy Island") as the king of the 6th dimension? The director (Richard Elfman) was present for the screening and said that the whole idea of the film was to document the craziness that was a MKOTOB performance right before the troupe broke up. That explains alot about the disjointed, non-linear nature of the plot. It's hard to describe with anything other than "Doode, that's some pretty fucked up shit right there".
The best thing about the 35 mm print (one of two extant prints, according to Elfman) was that it had scenes cut from the video release. Imagine having seen a movie 30 times and then when you see it for the 31st time, there's new stuff in it. One of the cut scenes was part of a musical number, also left off the soundtrack, so experiencing this 14 years after first seeing the film was amazing. I was like a little kid seeing her first snowfall or something.
Before the film rolled, Ivan was well aware of TFZ's status as litmus test and that his reaction to the film would (perhaps unfairly) color my opinion of him. He teased me that I should take a survey of audience members afterwards to see if they liked the film and then get the phone numbers of those who did so I could hit on them after we broke up. I did chat with a fey boy behind me while waiting for the film to start (it was obvious from overhearing his conversation he'd seen it before), but it was strictly an informational conversation.
The film experience was transcendent. after a decade of watching an ex-rental copy on a video screen, I was entranced to see the big picture. The new scenes were worth the 14 years I waited to discover that they existed, much less actually seeing them. Oddly, they didn't make the plot any more cohesive.
Ivan clammed up after the film and wouldn't tell me what he'd thought of it. The suspense was killing me...was it even possible he didn't like it? Was I going to have to re-evaluate the relationship? Would my feeling (sic) be hurt? Then, we were in the car he told me, yes, he'd liked it, and he was just prolonging the suspense because he knew that (as Frenchy says) I'd be "zooooh curioussse" about his opinion. He said "I'll never like it as much as you do,* but it'd be impossible to hate TFZ because it has so much enthusiasm and naiveity, not to mention all the topless women running around in underwear and shackles.**"
So yeah. As the great American composer George Gershwin once penned,
I got Rhythm,
I got Danny Elfman as Satan,
I got my man,
Who could ask for anything more?"
**Second half of Ivan's movie review folded in from later conversation for comic effect.