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AMA: another year come and gone (but not quite yet!)

October 26th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Another spectacular year of 35mm classics gracing our screen. But as usual, we save the best for last!

I could tell you “Wallace & Gromit” kicks ass and takes names, but you already know that. You know we got “The Burning” and “Jack the Giant Killer” for one more weekend. You know tonight is our annual Triple Creature Feature. But what don’t you know? Allow me to hype up two new events by some of own GI staff and our close compatriots in cinematic crime: Scarecrow Video and the Sprocket Society.

This Saturday night, we have the latest installment of VHS mashups culled from Scarecrow’s collection. These events are some of the very best memories I have of the Grand Illusion over the past year, starting with VHSXMAS last year (look for VHSXMAS 2 in December!). You are guaranteed to have good time, and if “The VCR That Dripped Blood” leaves you wanting more and you can’t wait for Christmas, come back next Saturday for special 21+ PBR event with an election edition entitled “VHS for President.” Scarecrow VHS mashups two weeks in a row? I’m in heaven!

Oh the blood-dripping VCR is a-coming-down-the-street, I hope there’s some special just for me!

On the actual Hallow’s Eve we’ve got a very special offering from the Sprocket Society’s trove of treasures, “The Secret Vault of Horrors.” This means more of their 16mm collection leaping out at your eyeballs with all the aplomb of a well-timed “boo!” Pre-code horror is promised, so you know that whatever comes your way will be uniquely and precisely entertaining and unexpected.

Well, does that satisfy you? It sure damn well better! Hollywood has failed us yet another October with no original thrills or chills, so take comfort in one more week of perfectly curated bumps in the night.

—seriously Hollywood, “Paranormal Activity 4?,” dan

AMA Week 666 (divided by 222, but 3 doesn’t sound properly evil)

October 19th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Hey gang o’ thieves,

I didn’t get anything up last week, as I was vacationing in the isles (Vancouver if you must know). I hope you enjoyed our double feature of Price and Lorre, I know I did, especially the hilarious “Comedy of Terrors.” If that’s your taste we’ve got more of that goodness coming up here this week. I got a slate of four films viewed and I’m dying to give you the scoop. Here it comes.

First off, I have heard that we have not one, but two sparkling prints this week. What may very be the last and best prints to ever be made of our 40s classics “Arsenic” and “Phantom” will be doing their silver screen flickering at the GI this week, and for the price of one and a half admissions for both, you’d be doing yourself the ultimate disservice not watching these films. Do you really want to see a fourth “Paranormal Activity?” 90 minutes for 5 minutes worth of story content and cheap jump scares, or the same time spent with screen legends that both humor and fright? I think if you’re reading this blog, you want what we want, quality not sequel fatigue.

I’m pretty sure I’ve raved about “Arsenic and Old Lace” on this blog before, suffice it to say if you’ve never seen it, you are denying yourself one of the best black comedies ever made. I love you Coen brothers, but you got nothing on this beat-to-beat perfect masterpiece. And were you enjoying Lorre in his comedy waning years last week? Well, see him in his prime and at the height of his career in this movie, where he shines even brighter than in his campy 60s stuff. I’m telling you, see it.

A thinner and more energetic Lorre

The second part to our double header, “Phantom of the Opera,” plays a lot different from other adaptations I’ve seen of the classic work. A lot of time is spent devoted to making us care about the Phantom before he commits his first murder, and he is presented as very “phantomy” throughout the rest of the film. There is a fair amount of comedy at play here too, most of it derived from Christine leading on her suitors and small visual gags set to whimsical music ensues. Though my favorite comedy bits come from the inimitable character actor Steven Geray, Uncle Pio from “Gilda” that I was raving about so recently. While “Phantom” doesn’t really find its footing as a horror film (it’s played as a tragedy), it is a gorgeous Technicolor wonder that boasts “a cast of thousands.” Truly an operatic spectacle.

Two more films grace this weekend and next, and they span the day from early afternoon to late night. I speak of “Jack the Giant Killer” and “The Burning.” First, to our second family friendly matinee film. “Jack the Giant Killer” is much more entertaining in a Ray Harryhausen sort of way than our previous “Magic Sword,” with a rhyming Leprechaun and an inexplicable solo Viking. I’m sure it’s much more wacky and wild than Bryan Singer’s upcoming remake (which we can only hope is better than that awful “Clash of the Titans” remake), so you should prep yourself with this benchmark.

And finally, “The Burning.” What an interesting and unique experience that was! The movie spends time actually fleshing out all the characters! And the cast doesn’t look like they are all Abercrombie & Fitch models! A truly rare specimen of a horror movie, it is worth noting that this is the first film made by the Weinstein brothers, and it’s co-written by them as well as produced. The tension created by the film is well paced and the payoff is great. And it’s got Jason Alexander with a full head of hair in his debut role! And he’s playing a jock! A far throw from “Can’t-stand-ya!” A super young Holly Hunter is also here in a debut, and Fisher Stevens too!

Jason and Fisher

That’s it this week. I’m off to go see “The Master.” Sad to hear I won’t have the shit-my-pants-can’t-leave-my-seat type experience of “There Will Be Blood,” but I hate Scientology, so I’m going dammit!

—Halloween is almost here gotta get my metaphorical pumpkins in a row, dan

Ho-ley CRAPPPPPP!!!!! So Many Movies!!!!!

October 6th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I do believe this is a “five-alarm” (five exclamation marks) movie madness extravagance, this our first week of AMA. Not one, not three, not five, but SIX movies! I’m talking “Possession,” “The Magic Sword,” “The Thing,” “American Scream,” “The Evil Dead,” and “Without Warning,” all taking place Friday through Sunday. How do we fit so much into one weekend? We’re the goddamn GI, don’t question us again! 🙂

So which of these have I seen? Well, still haven’t had a crack at “Possession” yet (why is it never on the shelf when I come by, Scarecrow???), and “American Scream” is piping hot new, but yes I, for yours and my own edification and enlightenment, I have seen the other four, “The Magic Sword” and “Without Warning” just within the past two days to get me up to speed!

Shall I break down the weekend for you? Well, for starters, AMA is bringing you nearly entirely 35mm goodness all month long! The only exceptions being the sort of entertainment you’ll only find at the GI, including obsolete formats like 16mm and VHS! But more on that later.

Anyway, the weekend. Tonight, a reprise of “Possession,” our much talked about booking from earlier this summer. I poked my head in from the booth enough times to feel this movie fits comfortably into the weekend shared with my favorite horror film of all time, John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Equal parts tension and weird creature effects, in the theatre of my mind this movie is what happens if you put “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Ninth Gate,” and “The Thing” in a dirty, awkward menage a trois and set it on a slow boil.

Is that you, Dr. Grant?

First up on a Saturday matinee, both this weekend at next, the delightfully campy “The Magic Sword,” a truly gay romp of a movie. As billed, perfect for kids and families, but if you come only once to the GI during this month with family in tow, our must-see family surprise is “Wallace & Gromit” with the Were-Rabbit in glorious 35mm! And don’t forget the wonderful “Arsenic and Old Lace!” Ack! I’m getting ahead of myself!

Next up, the big dog! Can’t save the best for last I guess. Two special events this weekend too if you come at 6:45 on Saturday or Sunday. I’m talking 30th anniversary of my favorite horror film of all time! On 35mm! On Saturday it’s the MacGuffin podcast, on Sunday it’s Robert C. Cumbow. I can’t make Saturday, but I’ll sure as hell make Sunday!

I don’t really need to say anything more about “The Thing,” if you haven’t seen it, you must, if you have, you should be spending the rest of your life like me convincing others to do the same. I guess that’s what you would consider a “cult classic.” So be it. Anywho, moving on.

I love you “Half-Life,” but here’s the original “headcrab.”

I wish I could see “The American Scream.” I loved the awesomeness that is “Troll 2,” and I’ve put a bit of time into Halloween decorating this year. This movie sounds amazing, so if you have the chance to see it, please do and rub it in my face!

Phew, two more to go. Almost forgot that “The Evil Dead” is just Friday night only this weekend. I had the distinct pleasure of going to the stage musical in West Seattle last fall. Ask my girlfriend, I still bust out “Cabin in the woods, whoa-oh-oh-oh!” from time to time. To call “The Thing” a cult classic is one thing, “The Evil Dead” is the real deal. Genius in every sense, I recently alluded to it when blogging about “Rec 3.” Please, please see it, this weekend or next! Every time a screening of a 35mm print does well, it keeps the format alive just that much longer!

The original “Cabin in the Woods” (I love you Joss!)

This brings us to “Without Warning.” This film perfectly bookends the week’s theme of Evil E.T.s. The very best evil E.T. movie (edging out “Alien,” in my book, which we had last year) ever made side by side with one of the worst. Oh, how gloriously worst! After watching true terror at its mastery, watch Greydon Clark fumble about to try to create anything remotely resembling terror! Bring you pulse back down, then have it rise back up again in peals of laughter. Jack Palance and Martin Landau can’t save this movie, perfect for the MST3K treatment. I remember seeing another Clark film “Angel’s Revenge” get the MST3K treatment, and this film only marginally rises above that because it’s not such a blatant ripoff. Anyway, “Without Warning” must be seen to be believed, and it’s not available at Scarecrow!

If you’re not careful, this movie could suck the life from you too!

I think I’ve exhausted myself with this week, next week will be more manageable (fingers crossed!).

—-week one done and done, dan

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