Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: So we started this podcast—and a couple random musings

Indulge me this week as I indulge myself by addressing—in a wandering manner—a few unrelated topics instead of focusing on something specific. It may seem like a lack of inspiration, but it really has more to do with working on a couple of more elaborate Screening Rooms that have yet to have permitted themselves the luxury of being completed.

As some of you must know by now, Justin Souther and I—with the guidance and production skills of Steve Shanafelt—started a podcast on movies this week. Truly can it be said that we are moving ahead with the times, even if at a pace somewhat slower than the speed of light, especially since the goal is to ultimately go video on this. (Why am I reminded of a musician friend in the early 1970s bragging of technical abilities by noting, “Hey we even have sound-on-sound recording—like Grand Funk”?) In all honesty, this was really our second attempt at this. The first was deemed unfit for public consumption, which speaks volumes for that first attempt. Put plainly, we had no idea what we were doing. Well, I suspect Mr. Shanafelt did, but the “on air talent” bore a resemblance to that time-honored phrase about a simian attempting conjugal relations with a football.

We certainly have a way to go. There are obvious teething troubles, which I expect us to be able to overcome fairly quickly. I’m fully aware of a number of areas where I…well, where I screwed up or was insufficiently prepared. (I’m bringing a cheat sheet next time.) Even allowing for the fact that Mr. Shanafelt managed to edit to thing into something smoother than it was before he monkeyed with it, there’s certainly room for improvement. I was gratified that the initial response has been positive and supportive, but we can and will do better. And we’re certainly open to suggestion as concerns what we might want to add or delete. In fact, we’ll listen to anything—so long as it doesn’t involve a stout piece of rope with instructions.

Speaking of gratifying, we now have four screenings of the Thursday Horror Picture Show behind us, and the response and turnout for these has been very encouraging. For those who don’t know, the Thursday Horror Picture Show is a weekly (I leave you to figure out what day) presentation of a horror movie at the Carolina Asheville. There are some who probably still think of this venue as the old Hollywood 14, and may not even be aware of its revamp—or the fact that the old game room on the mezzanine has been converted into what is called the Cinema Lounge, a very comfortable and pleasant screening room with excellent video projection and sound.

It’s there that we run these films—free, gratis and for nothing—at 8 p.m. We’re averaging an audience of between 50 and 60 people a week. Some have already become regulars, but there are new faces every week. Besides the feature, we’ve also been programming vintage trailers, short movies and some very strange Betty Boop cartoons as pre-show entertainment that runs in the 30 mintes before the main film at 8 p.m.. This past week we started the 12 chapter serial Return of Chandu with Bela Lugosi in the title role of the returning Chandu. (Actually, that’s a neat trick since Lugosi was the bad guy in the 1932 feature film Chandu the Magician, but has here become the hero of the piece.) You needn’t worry if you missed chapter one. It’s not exactly hard to pick up on the story at any point. And, by the way, I misspoke on the podcast—there are only 12 thrilling chapters, not 15 as I claimed. (I still maintain that probably only two chapters are actually thrilling.)

We’ve certainly been having a good time ourselves (I think I can speak for Justin on this) and we’ll certainly be more than glad to welcome new viewers. If our viewership grows, the Carolina has offered to move us into a theater proper, so there’s no actual limit on viewers. Personally, I great a great kick out of the screenings. There’s nothing quite like getting to show movies you love to a new—or even revisiting—audience. And for me, there’s nothing at all like being able to sit back and just be a part of that audience rather than being in critical observer mode. Just watching a movie for pleasure is indeed a pleasure.

And—much like with our young podcast—we are open to suggestions. In fact, two of the films we’ve programmed to follow the original set of nine titles came from audience suggestions. One point on this, though, is it would be wiser to make suggestions here or by dropping me a note at xpressmovies@aol.com than by just telling me at a screening. What I try to remember and what I will remember when a number of people are talking to me are not necessarily interchangeable. If you haven’t come out, you should. If you have, I hope you’ll keep coming back. We have some surprises planned. But if I told you now, they wouldn’t be surprises, would they?

Where surprises are concerned, there’s a pretty big one—a very big one—that I hope to be announcing this coming week. At the moment, I can only say that it’s something that’s been batted around—more or less abstractly—among the readers of this column for some considerable time. More than that, I’m just not at liberty to say at the moment. There’s a very good chance—if all goes according to plan—that it will be the subject of next week’s Screening Room. So watch this space. In the meantime, it’s my lot in life to ready myself for going to see Queen Latifah in Just Wright—life’s like that.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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27 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: So we started this podcast—and a couple random musings

  1. Ken Hanke

    I have had several people asking to screen an Argento film. I agree

    You provide me a DVD of Phenomenon and those several people and yourself and you’ve got a deal, though it has to wait for a slot that hasn’t been taken.

  2. Ken Hanke

    How about some Bava?

    Really wanna press it, don’t you? Actually, much as I think Bava is an overrated hack, I could be persuaded on a couple titles — like Black Sunday and Black Sabbath. But let’s not turn this into the Euro-horror show, okay?

  3. Son of Rufus

    Speaking of gratifying, we now have four screenings of the Thursday Horror Picture Show behind us, and the response and turnout for these has been very encouraging.

    This sounds really cool. I admit my knowledge and experience with movies of that generation could be much improved… suggestions? I love living in FL but it is just a cultural wasteland compared to other places, like Asheville, NC. We don’t have any cool events like that, at least not in south FL.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I admit my knowledge and experience with movies of that generation could be much improved… suggestions?

    Well, not everything we’re showing is really vintage. It hasn’t happened yet, but somewhere in there I expect Midnight Meat Train will show up, for instance. It is so hard to tell someone where to start with this stuff. You could always just follow our schedule through Netflix or a local rental outlet. So far we haven’t shown anything too obscure. Or if you want to e-mail me, I could probably come up with a more personalized list for you.

    I love living in FL but it is just a cultural wasteland compared to other places, like Asheville, NC.

    There are quite a few locals who need to read that sentence.

    We don’t have any cool events like that, at least not in south FL

    It was a little better back in my era in Florida, but that was before video killed rep theaters and university showings. (Ask your dad — he saw a lot of stuff at USF, FSU and the Great Southern Music Hall.)

  5. Me

    Anybody starting a podcast could take a few tips from Chicago’s Filmspotting. Its one of the best going its not solely just a podcast its also a show on Chicago Public Radio famed for shows like This American Life (One of the hosts worked there before doing Filmspotting) and Sound Opinions. They do really incisive reviews and can make you look at films in a whole new light. They tote some pretty big fans too Rian Johnson is one of their main supporters, also Ed Burns and John Badham are fans. They get some support on the show every once in awhile from other critics like Dana Stevens and Michael Phillips.

    http://www.filmspotting.net/

  6. Ken Hanke

    I think they’ve got a bit more budget and exposure than we have access to at this point. Being a podcast of a radio show undoubtedbly helps.

    I guess we can claim Ken and Lisi Russell as fans, though. Not saying that they aren’t a little biased, mind you.

  7. Ken, this may sound like a stupid question, but where do I go to download this podcast?

    Most of the podcasts I listen to are podcasts of radio shows – Elvis Mitchell’s The Treatment programme is excellent and you can’t really beat Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews for pure entertainment value (and Gwynneth Paltrow impressions).

  8. Ken Hanke

    This is the link:

    http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2010/elitist_bastards_go_to_the_movies_the_first_podcast

    We’re trying to get a link on the movie page, but it hasn’t happened yet. They’re’ll be a link on the main Xpress page when these go up, but those move down and aff the page as new items appear.

    Don’t be expecting us to be on a par with those you’ve cited — not yet anyway. Now, if we hadn’t axed the first attempt, you’d have heard my Bela Lugosi impression. Maybe Karloff, too. Granted, they aren’t Gwyneth Paltrow, but…

  9. Ken Hanke

    I realize I may not have answered Jeremy’s actual question about downloading the podcast — only where to find it to listen to. Actually, I have no clue how to download it, but I’ll find out if no one chimes in with an explanation in the meantime.

  10. DrSerizawa

    If all else fails you can always count on falling back on the proverbial stampede of baboons to liven up the podcast. Or maybe make Justin wear a gorilla suit.

  11. Ken Hanke

    If all else fails you can always count on falling back on the proverbial stampede of baboons to liven up the podcast. Or maybe make Justin wear a gorilla suit

    That will have to wait for the video version. But thanks for a splendid idea for future reference!

  12. Dionysis

    “But let’s not turn this into the Euro-horror show, okay?”

    How about considering some early Cronenberg? Maybe ‘Shivers’, ‘Scanners’ or ‘The Brood’?

  13. doctorchuchow

    “Actually, I have no clue how to download it, but I’ll find out if no one chimes in with an explanation in the meantime.”

    i couldn’t easily see a how to do this, and resorted to recording it in real-time; there must be an easier way.

  14. Justin Souther

    Or maybe make Justin wear a gorilla suit.

    Only if we can splurge on a really nice one.

  15. davidf

    Are you going to share the extended Thursday Night Horror schedule (beyond the first nine) any time soon? I’m trying to plan my summer trips to Asheville carefully, and I definitely want to catch some of these that I haven’t seen in a theater.

  16. Ken Hanke

    How about considering some early Cronenberg? Maybe ‘Shivers’, ‘Scanners’ or ‘The Brood’?

    It’s not as early, but The Fly is tentatively on the next list. The Brood would have been if a certain party hadn’t lost my copy. (And now he has the nerve to demand a really nice gorilla suit.)

    Question is — if we run a Cronenberg will you come?

  17. Ken Hanke

    Only if we can splurge on a really nice one.

    Really nice=all the hair hasn’t fallen off.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Are you going to share the extended Thursday Night Horror schedule (beyond the first nine) any time soon?

    We’re haggling over the next six. There are no plans to stop — ever maybe. (The series I mean. The haggling will soon be over.)

  19. Justin Souther

    The Brood would have been if a certain party hadn’t lost my copy. (And now he has the nerve to demand a really nice gorilla suit.)

    I didn’t lose it so much, but rather I allowed another party to borrow it, who then may o rmay not have lost it.

  20. Dionysis

    “It’s not as early, but The Fly is tentatively on the next list. The Brood would have been if a certain party hadn’t lost my copy. (And now he has the nerve to demand a really nice gorilla suit.)

    Question is—if we run a Cronenberg will you come?”

    Great to learn ‘The Fly’ may be shown. If you wish to borrow a copy of ‘The Brood’, I have an unopened copy I’ll loan for a screening. And ‘yes’ I would like to see some of his films on the big screen. I actually had intended on making several screenings, in particular last week’s showing of Exorcist 3, but the logistics are difficult. I work in W. Asheville, but live 20 miles northwest of the city, so I either have to hang around 3 hours before the movie (still clad in suit and tie from work) or drive home, change and drive to the theatre (about a 35 to 40 minute drive each way). It’s just tough for me to do that during the week normally, with my job. However, depending on future films, I’ll just take a Friday or two off in order to make it.

  21. Ken Hanke

    Great to learn ‘The Fly’ may be shown.

    I think we’ve settled on it for this set. I’ll get back to you on The Brood. I can probably borrow it from Orbit, come to that.

    I understand your problem with getting to these, but I do hope to see you sometime soon.

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