January 9, 2016
Midnight screening at the IFC Center in NYC
HORROR OF RECLINING CHAIRS
I rarely make it out to the movies. Between my exhausting work schedule and the fact that I can rarely find company to join me in a theatre, I do most of my viewing at home. But Mike Cucinotta let me know that HORROR OF DRACULA was showing in 35 mm at the IFC Center this past weekend, as part of their Christopher Lee retrospective. So I thought it would be a nice treat for myself to get away from the business of Mexican food for 90 minutes, get comfy and watch some quality horror.
Heather Buckley’s joining us was icing on the cake. I’ve always appreciated her company and perspective on all things horror, and I hadn’t seen her in years. I met them in a McDonald’s across the street, and we mused about 35 mm prints among other things. I mentioned that I found it interesting that ALIEN and FIGHT CLUB were also showing, and they informed me that ALIEN and FIGHT CLUB are always showing there. They finished their burgers, and we headed out.
I’ve found that every time a theatre’s name sounds impressive, it’s more than a bit of a dump. The IFC Center is no exception. Most noteworthy for me was that I’d interviewed Hell of Famer Will Keenan there, one of the greatest times I’d ever had conducting one (On a sidenote,the only other film I’d ever seen there was Keenan’s THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X). I purchased my ticket, relieved myself quickly, and settled into my seat next to Heather, with Mike on her other side.
I’d been on an insane stretch of hours at work, and as soon as I realized how far that seat reclined, I knew it would be a war to stay conscious. It reclined so far back, I was almost lying flat. The combination of dimmed lights, a chair that turned into an ersatz bed and exhaustion did its best to draw me into slumber. I propped myself up several times like an attentive student, but that only lasted so long. It also didn’t help that HORROR OF DRACULA is a slog during several stretches. But I can proudly say Heather only had to jab me with her elbow three times to stir me to a wakeful state.
I was downtrodden that I’d missed CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, my favorite Hammer Film, the previous week, but I was okay with it once I found out it hadn’t shown in 35 mm. I also would have preferred a Peter Cushing marathon, but he and Lee are tied together so tightly that my man Cushing was appearing in several of the films in this retrospective. More importantly, Cushing was Lee’s co-star in HORROR OF DRACULA. As I remarked to Mike, this was the first time since I saw STAR WARS when I was 5 or so that I was seeing Peter Cushing in a theatre. And that made it something special.
Once the film ended, Heather and Mike got into a discussion about the beauty of the print. I must admit, like Joe Dante I love when theatres still show films in 35 mm; but I was more concerned with the quality of the movie than the print. They’re film geeks, and the movie wasn’t up for discussion, so I let it go.
Seeing HORROR OF DRACULA on the big screen wasn’t quite the event that seeing SLEEPAWAY CAMP or JOHNNY X was, but anytime I see Mike is a treat, and seeing the film the same way audiences saw it in 1958 was definitely cool. Maybe I’ll give GREMLINS 2 a view when it comes down the pike as part of the Lee retrospective. Oh wait…