Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On the Big Screen :: The Great Halloween Double-Feature that Wasn't.

Well, once again, turns out I am a complete idiot. But in my defense, this time, I had help, and so, this cinematic catastrophe was not entirely my fault. To preface this tale of woe, you'll need to know that the 20 Grand Multiplex in Lincoln, NE, had been showing old school Fright Flicks all October. The first week they had multiple screenings of Carpenter's remake of The Thing, which I'd already made the 200 mile round trip to see; the second, The Shining; and the third week, Friday the 13th, which is where I came in again.

Wanting to see this on the big screen, a check of the theater's online schedule showed the last time Friday would play would be on Thursday, 10/24. And while sussing that out, this same website also claimed there would be a 12:01am showing of the original Halloween on Friday, 10/25, to celebrate its 35th Anniversary. And when an online schedule says there's a 12:01am show on Friday, you'll forgive a guy if he assumes you mean there'll be a show at 12:01am on Friday, meaning two minutes after 11:59pm on Thursday. Because, hooray, by sheer coincidence, that last Friday the 13th show was slated to start just before 10pm on Thursday, with Halloween to follow two hours and one minute later -- again, according to the online schedule. Pfffft. Yeah. Right. 

Anyways, I'm sure you all see where this is going, but, at the time, I did not. And so ... Excited by the opportunity to take in this amazing double-feature, I quickly ordered tickets online despite some heavy reservations. See, I've only done that once before, for another anniversary screening of Elvis on Tour, which was an unmitigated disaster of 'We can't find your order, sir. Sorry, but you'll have to purchase another ticket if you'd like to get in, sir. So sorry for the inconvenience, sir, please check the website, and, that'll be another $20. Enjoy the show.' Still, I didn't want to run the risk of driving that far and getting skunked out on a sold out show. The tickets were much, much cheaper, so, eh, what the hell?

When the fateful day arrived, off to Lincoln I went, with a quick stop at the delightful King Kong Burger for a Double-Kong Burger with cheese and bacon before heading to the theater, where, thankfully, I retrieved the tickets for both shows with nary a hiccup or peep from the staff. Hooray! Checking the ticket for the Friday the 13th showing, I quickly found the right theater and grabbed a seat. It was a small but game crowd. Surveying the audience, I was the only one there over thirty. Most appeared to be under twenty, and, judging by the reactions, most had never seen it before, which made it twice as fun watching the movie and watching them react to all the jump scares. 

The movie itself is no work of art, yes; the acting is uniformly terrible, the plot mere contrivance, and Kevin Bacon definitely stuffs his speedo, but the F/X hold up remarkably well and I just love the infernal thing to itty-bitty pieces. And, oh, the chorus of screams at that final surprise cameo. And what I found extremely amusing is how everybody was jumping and shrieking through the whole thing except for Betsy Palmer's climactic decapitation, which brought a roar of laughter, that got louder during the cut back to the wriggling hands and the blood-spurting stump. A strange release, really. And then blammo a few minutes later with the soggy shocker. The screening also kinda brought me full circle on the film itself, for I had now seen Friday the 13th via word of mouth from my older sister, on Betamax, on VHS, on old school Laser Disc, on broadcast TV, on basic cable, on premium cable, on Monstervision, digital streaming, on DVD, on BluRay, expanded through the novelization, three separate 'making of' texts, and countless behind the scenes documentaries, and then I saw it this spring at a Drive-In, and now, finally, under a hardtop. How cool is that? And I look forward to seeing it again whatever the next platform may be.

Speaking of late twists everyone saw coming but me, when the first screening got out and I filed back into the lobby proper, something just didn't feel right. Off. I had about twenty minutes to kill before the second feature started so I went to the snack bar for some Junior Mints but was promptly told they were closed. Odd, I thought, with another movie yet to start tonight. A quick glance at  the ticket showed it to be playing in Theater #1, which was just disgorging the audience for Bad Grampa. And once they cleared out, the large theater lobby seemed strangely deserted. And then it was quiet. Too quiet, he typed ominously. Surely I wasn't the only one going to attend this screening, right? With that, I checked the ticket again to make sure I had the right theater, and here, I finally noticed the fine print, saying the ticket was good for Friday evening, and dated the 26th, which, of course was Saturday. 

Screen-cap of the Friday, October 25, schedule.
Click to enlarge and please note the time.

E'yup, the online schedule was lying, or just confused. Like me right now. Mea culpa for not checking into things a little closer, but, dammit, I was just going by what the schedule was saying. A quick recheck of the website showed a 12:01am show on Friday AND Saturday only. Here, see for yourselves. 

Screen-cap of the Saturday, October 26, schedule.
Click to enlarge and please note the time. Again.

I can only assume that what the website was really trying to say was there would be a midnight showing of Halloween on Friday and Saturday night but assumptions is what led me here in the first place. And why the hell they couldn't just say that instead of the slightly confusing 12:01am horseshit is beyond me. I mean, I'm not crazy for reading the schedule that way, right? (I had also wrongly assumed Halloween was the last weekly holiday feature, turns out ParaNorman had that honor.) Feh. 

Judging by the crowd of one lingering in the lobby, apparently, I was the only dupe who fell into this hero trap. I was going to ask someone about this snafu but everyone had disappeared. I lingered for another five minutes but when no one else arrived I knew I had made a mistake; an honest mistake, sure, cultivated by some terribly confusing and misleading info, but a mistake nonetheless. I grumped and grumbled the whole long drive back home. It didn't help that I had rearranged my entire vacation schedule to make this work. Once I got home, I checked into a refund on the soon to be unused tickets but I scotched it, figuring it would be easier to just eat the whole $11 and chalk it up to experience. The double-feature was too good to be true for a film freak like me. Turns out it was.

Well, long story short, I did wind up going back to Lincoln the next night. The movie was totally worth it and simply could not be passed up; but the sheen was definitely off the whole adventure by then. (Especially when you consider that second tank of gas.) The second night it had become less about the movie and more about gaining a modicum of a satisfactory conclusion for this errant quest. I do not regret the opportunity to see these films on the big screen, which is why there are no angry e-mails on the way to Marcus Theaters' corporate office because I do appreciate the venue. I just regret that something that could've been perfect, and awesome, perfectly awesome, wasn't. *sigh*

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