Bionic giants! Skeleton ghosts! Demon princesses! And all in a good cause! Tonight the Alamo Village screens Inframan in a special medical fundraiser for local author Stephen Romano, who'll be there to thank everyone for helping him heal. "It's things like this that make me feel normal in the middle of all this crap."
Originally titled The Super Inframan, it was released by the Shaw Brothers in 1975 as their way to break into the lucrative tokusatsu costumed super hero market, previously dominated by Japanese series like Super Sentai and the Ultraman franchise. It was an early leading role for future Hong Kong action regular Danny Lee as the monster-smashing Inframan ("The man beyond bionics! Six thousand light years beyond believability!"), a nuclear-powered, laser-blasting, size-shifting biomechanical marvel, with a plot that precedes the future fascination with transforming nanites by a couple of decades. "It was the quintessential event movie of its day," said Romano, who first saw it when he was five. "We didn't have Pacific Rim back then."
Romano is an institution in the Austin literary and genre scenes, having translated Joe Lansdale's "Incident On And Off a Mountain Road" for Showtime's Masters of Horror series, and penning the definitive fictional history of a cinema that never was, Shock Festival. His latest novel, Resurrection Express has been optioned by producers Pierre David (Videodrome, Scanners) and Arthur M. Sarkissian (the Rush Hour franchise) the perfect melding of weirdo cerebral and high action for a book that involves bar fights, computer heists, and pre-mortem body snatching.
The local author and script writer was faced with life-threatening injuries and massive medical bills hit by a Ford F150 while walking on the sidewalk on the 3900 block North Lamar, opposite Central Market. Romano said, "When I woke up in the hospital, I didn't even know what I had done." It was only when he saw the Texas Department of Transportation accident report that he learned the details: The driver of the stolen truck was headed southbound, changed lanes, drove onto the curb, hit Romano, and then smashed into an Austin Energy Utility pole, snapping it in two. Two months of surgeries and treatment later, and, he said, "I've been better, let's just say. My head's in a pretty decent place, but my body's smashed to hell."
He's currently undergoing some pretty serious recovery. "Fortunately," he quipped, "Barack Obama saw this coming and I was actually able to get into Blue Cross Blue Shield for the physiotherapy part of this." However, he said, "It's slow. In addition to bone damage, he's suffered severe nerve damage to his foot, and is mostly confined to a wheelchair. "The rest of my body is really sick and tired of this shit."
So tonight's very special event will help pay for his ongoing expenses as he gets back on his feet and writing again. It's also a big morale booster for the film fan. He said, "I get out every so often to the cinema. I'll be there tonight, but the last time was Godzilla."
Most importantly, it will help him celebrate the long road to recovery with the friends who continue to help him. He said, "I have a lot to be thankful for."
If you can't make it to tonight's screening, there's also a giveitforward.com fundraiser now ongoing. Friends and well-wishers have donated $8,500 towards Romano's recovery and medical bills, and you can help them reach the current goal of $10,000 by donating via the campaign fund.
Stephen Romano medical fundraiser screening of Inframan, June 25, 9:45pm, Alamo Village, 2700 W Anderson. Tickets available now at Drafthouse.com.
Copyright © 2017 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.