Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cinematic Adventures in California

My apologies to everyone who wrote in last week and/or tried to get in touch with me, as I was sent out to California to attend a conference. Fortunately I was able to make it back in time for Gymkata . . . but just barely. For those of you who joined us for the Gymkata/Mighty Peking Man extravaganza, it was certainly an evening to remember : ) As I said before, neither of these are likely to reach the popularity level of Can't Stop the Music, but a more delirious cinematic ride you will not soon find. Rob and I (especially Rob) thank you for coming out and supporting the program, and no doubt contributing to a larger audience than Gymkata likely received during its entire theatrical run. Long live Johnathan Cabot!

Back to the subject of California, I found myself in beautiful Monterey for four days last week and it was a great trip. While my mornings/afternoons were spent learning about library technology, I did manage to sneak in some time for sightseeing in the evenings. And being one-half of Team Fantasmo, it probably comes as no surprise that I was on the lookout for cult movie happenings. Fortunately, since it was the week of Halloween, there was quite a bit going on. The absolute highlight was attending a double-feature of Dawn of the Dead/Shaun of the Dead at the Golden State Theatre (pictured above) in downtown Monterey. The theatre is an old movie palace that was built in 1926, and gloriously restored in recent years. They feature all kinds of cool shows, and have an International Film Festival coming up in November (kicking off with Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Monty Python and the Holy Grail)! If you want even more info on this extremely cool theatre, check out the Web site at: http://www.goldenstatetheatre.com/. If you ever find yourself out that way, you have to pay it a visit!

Of course, attending a horror film screening at such a venue certainly made me long for the days of old when such a thing was more commonplace. My hometown had a similar theatre which, up until I graduated from college, screened cult films at midnight every Friday and Saturday. I was able to see films like Eraserhead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Zardoz, Evil Dead, The Man Who Fell To Earth, etc. on the big screen with an audience, and that experience is sorely missed. As much as I love being able to watch pristine copies of my favorites in ridiculously wonderful Dolby Digital surround in my living room, there's nothing to match seeing those films in an old school theatre.

And that my friends is why Fantasmo exists, and why Rob and I do this. We may not be able to perfectly re-create the ambiance of a movie palace here at the library, but we do just fine I think. I knew we were on to something when we screened Count Yorga at our second Fantasmo and people were laughing, cheering, and even screaming. I'd seen the film countless times, but that was the first time with an audience . . . and it was a whole new (dare I say more rewarding) experience. Again, while I enjoy being able to watch the film at home whenever I feel like it, it's nowhere near as fun as taking it in with the Team Fantasmo All-Stars and Superfans . . . not even close : ) A perfect example of this in recent days was when we screened Halloween III at our all-night Horrorthon. Instead of quietly watching the film (which no doubt 95% of the folks in the room had seen before and often), a marathon audience riff (from start to finish) on the superhuman abilities of its iconic leading man Tom Atkins erupted. Pure gold. It's moments like these that make Fantasmo the special event that it is, and why you'll notice every Fantasmo flyer has the tagline reminder that this is the way these films "were meant to be seen." With an audience, on the big screen. Accept no substitute!

And speaking of great films to be seen with an audience, our December episode is right around the corner. This will mark our second (now annual) holiday screening of the ultimate crowd favorite Can't Stop the Music! Since it's legendary debut at our first anniversary show, it has been in such demand that Rob and I now set aside one month that it will be shown every year. In addition, we'll be pairing it with the Fantasmo debut of the 1978 musical disaster Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Beatles music + Peter Frampton + The Bee Gees = The Greatest Musical Ever! Okay that's likely overstating the case, but we think you'll be pleased (we certainly will : ) I'll be back soon with dates and details so keep watching!


Craig said...

What says ATKINS about Sgt. Peppers??? And how did you mention the film and not mention Alice Cooper without Rob knowing???

Jim Blanton said...

Oh I think Atkins would have a healthy respect for Sgt. Pepper - anything larger than life (such as this incredible film) screams Atkins!

I will definitely correct my slight of Cooper when I publish my forthcoming review of the film (apologies to Rob : )