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 email@example.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.