Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|06.27.07||Alamo Downtown|| So how do I even describe the last show at the Alamo?|
My fondness of this movie has only grown since seeing it before. i was really psyched to see it again and couldn't be happier that they got Susan Tyrrell to appear with it. I'd heard some pretty crazy stuff about her so it seemed like an easy slam dunk of a farewell. For those that haven't seen the film, it's really a tour de force performance from Tyrrell that drives the thing and makes it work. Bo Svenson is great as the psychotic racist bigot cop but it's really Tyrell's portrait of a deteriorating mother figure that makes the movie memorable. So it couldn't be more perfect when she was introduced and came up in her wheelchair pushed by David Strong.
But before that, Tim waxed sadness a little bit about the last time he'd be taking the stage before handing it off to Lars to introduce the film. Lars went into how he first et Tim (sort of trying to steal some of his books he thought he'd left at the Kinko's where Lars was working), and about how he was a regular here from the very beginning before he got into programming Weird Wednesdays and eventually coming on full time (Tim commended him by saying he couldn't imagine an Alamo drafthouse now without Lars) and generally gave his send off to 5th and colorado with class. Then Susan Tyrrell came up and stuck a rose into her cleavage and waved for David, who had taken a post off in the corner of the stage away from the spotlight, to come and stand behind her before trying her best to shrug off any semblance of compliment or question Lars could throw at her. Finally, after a few minutes of explaining how her performance cae out of mornings spent in the attic with the make-up girls smoking something relaxing and coming up with ideas that she thought were funny but the director thought were serious, she rejected any more attention, threw the mic to someone in the front row, turned her wheelchair toward the ramp, and said "Mr. Strong, Do Your STUFF!" while rolling down out of the spotlight and that was the intro.
The lights went down (for the last time. you can really append this phrase to every sentence in this paragraph I bet) and Tyrrell's musical number from The Forbidden Zone played before another blast from the past adreel played featuring soe past special guests to the theater. Stuff like Phantas-mania and Bruce Campbell and a splatterbowl between Lucio Fulci films and H.G. Lewis films. It also included ads that played for the early days of rolling roadshow (time-lapse footage of the crew assembling their pre-inflatable screen. I can definitely see why they moved away from that), the opening of Alamo Village, the opening of Alamo South Lamar, and a nice little teaser intercutting Fred Astaire singing Puttin' on the Ritz with Young Frankenstein. Then another video popped up with Edgar Wright introducing himself as Peter Jackson, then panning to his buddy Peter Jackson introducing himself as Edgar Wright. The two guys kind of poked fun at eachother then mentioned their Alamo appearances with some funny anecdotes and ended with a nice joke about making out with either Harry or Quint (it's hard to tell in the dark). It was funny and pretty sweet and awesome. Then trailers, this time for Weird Wednesday classics like Devil Times Five, The Candy Snatchers, Force Four, and Wonder Women. Then the movie.
Toward the climax of the picture, Alamo wait staff handed out little cartons of milk to everyone and Lars led us all in a toast to "Susan Tyrrell and fucked up movies" during the scene where she licks milk off of Jimmy McNichol's face. I think she was back in the theater by that time (Wiley had to run after her when she fled earlier and apparently somehow talked her into returning for a short Q&A. Thanks, Wiley!) because I heard someone that sounded like her cackle with delight.
The Q&A was hilarious. I think she might've answered some questions. Jasmine's kid Liam asked her "was it was fun to be killy or something." Someone asked about her relationship with Bo Svenson which got her off on a tirade. She also talked about her (much more amorous) relationship with Herve Villechaize. Let's see, she also talked about this show she wrote all the music and perfored in but the producer absconded with all the materials... and how Verhoeven's American movies suck, and how John Waters is obsessed with murderers. You may get an idea of the tone the Q&A had... pretty chaotic. She's a real character for sure, and kept nuzzling her head back against David's midsection, which was hilarious. I can't think of a better person to be up there behind Susan Tyrrell's chair than David Strong.
After she ended the Q&A by once again forcing David to take her away, Tim said one last farewell to the place while a round of Dewars shots passed around the theater. With arms raised, Tim thanked us and invited us back to The Ritz this fall and that was that.
Pretty much immediately, people started working on taking their chairs apart. I really saw no use for one or place to keep one so I opted out of that whole struggle, donating my chair to either Kevin's home theater or Jack's home arcade setup (I did grab a menu though as well as a poster). When I left the house I felt a few seconds of guilt for not bringing a still camera or my video camera or anything like that but it was quickly washed away when I got there to see Thomas shooting away and the alamo camera out and Michael shooting and Anne shooting as well as approximately 130 people with cmaeras flashing away and taking shaky video of select events. Actually, right after Night Warning ended Shaun the projectionist manually closed the curtains on the screen (for the last time) and there were a few second of complete darkness lit only by the camera flashes from throughout the theater. It was a pretty great moment. But anyway, I'm sure there's roughly a terabyte of image data making its way onto hard drives and internets as I type so I don' feel like I missed out on anything. Instead I got to experience the last night as viscerally as I could through direct contact. With these notes to remind me, I'm hoping I can keep those memories alive for quite some time.
Nobody left too quickly though. They started doing informal interviews on the stage with anyone who had alamo memories. I took the opportunity to watch as the chairs were disassembled, talk in the lobby, explore the back stairwell and green room and step on stage once to see the perspective. I also got back up into the booth and looked out through the projector window. It's weird how the theater looks so small from up there yet so big from down on the stage. Everybody kept hanging around though, eventually falling off slowly as people finally got their chairs up and started loading their cars. An hour or so passed (making it very late considering the movie didn't end until 4AM) and Thomas said they were taking the neon sign down outside. So after that the group slowly shifted to half indoors half out on Colorado as we watched the guys (slowly) go about taking the sign down. That took about another hour where I think the finality of it really set in for me. The moment they cut the power to the hanging Alamo sign and lowered it onto the truck... that was it. people were talking about breakfast somewhere but it was taking forever and I was ready to go... Finally, around 7AM, I got in my car and headed home.
Now, I have a feeling of "now what?" This past month has sort of been on overdrive, spending as much time at the theater as I could. I remember this feeling after the end of QT6 but with even greater potency. I've spent about two years going to this place 2-5 times a week, soaking up movies and experiences and making friends and slowly but surely establishing myself within the community there. I don't doubt that the new theater will be cool, but I do have a few small fears that it will be closer to South Lamar's multiplex shine and less the unfinished concrete and brick atmosphere of 409 Colorado. No matter how good it is there, it wont be the same (although I was very glad to hear that they're saving the screen and curtains for use in the smaller theater at the Ritz. I know that's not their first screen by far and it may not even be the original curtains, but still... something about bringing a few things over like the screen and sign makes me happy). I think certain things (like Weird Wednesday and Terror Thursday) will stay in my schedule for as long as I can keep them there, but I can also see myself cutting back a bit with the new theater. I feel like with this closing it's also a great milestone for me personally as well. I've now done my homework. It's time for me to take what I've learned and try to apply it to my own work. We'll see! But for now, 409 Colorado is no more.
Here it was. That was it.
|08.31.06||Terror Thursday|| Alright... I'm finally getting some time to give this movie some attention. Of course now I've probably forgotten a lot of the great little touches but... oh well.|
The jist of it is that it's awesome.
The story is that Susan Tyrrell plays this 17 year old kid's aunt, but in the beginning scene we see how his parents were killed in a fairly awesome car accident involving... i'm not sure if it was a log or a pole or what... anyway it crashes through the windshield and takes the dad's head off, then the mom steers it off a cliff where it crashes.... ....... ........ and blows up. So the kid was raised by this aunt and we catch up on the story as the kid is 17 and a basketball star with a girlfriend and whatnot. The problem is that the aunt is completely nuts.
What I really like about this movie, as it applies to my note on Bunny Lake is Missing and several other movies involving crazy people, is that Susan Tyrrell starts off... you can see how she functions in society but you can also see how she's sort of crazy. Then as the movie goes on and she gets crazier and crazier, it's believable. it's not some discrete on/off switch that she flips when it's convenient for plot purposes. And Tyrrell herself does a really really fantastic performance with this transformation. I was particularly struck by her physical prowess... everyone talked about how great Kevin Spacey was in American Beauty for appearing so pudgy and building muscle and losing weight as the movie went on... but that's nothing compared to Tyrrell's performance... and with her all she gets is a haircut. Her face and the way she holds herself and moves completely changes as the movie goes on. She ends up looking like a completely different person and I mean that literaly. Completely different. She goes from MILF to the grinch who killed her nephew in 90 minutes. She is genuinely scary by the end, with the crowd gasping and jumping back on a few shots that reveal her looming behind whoever's in the foreground.
The other highlight in this movie is... you know him, you love him... Bo Svenson as the dick homophobic detective. So homophobic. In his intro, Zack laid perhaps the funniest joke of the week on us by saying that we'll all hear the word "faggot" more tonight than we did through our entire junior high. The other bit notable story is that when the Alamo had him here to intro the film for a Butt-Numb-A-Thon, he remembered absolutely nothing about it at all. Like he didn't even remember that it happened. His performance is great though... so condescending and reneck bullying to everyone... even other cops. Plus his office had a set of longhorns and two bullwhips up on the wall as decoration. That struck me as incredibly funny.
Actually though, the whole film shows remarkable attention to detail for being what it is. In an early scene, basketball teammate Bill Paxton (who looks like he's 15 years old here) yells "foul!" on the main kid and grabs his wrist. Later on, the team has a game and you can see that he's bandaged it up. With the director's technique as well though, he throws a few Jules and Jim-esque stop frames in the beginning to show off the main kid's sweaty nubile physique. it's funny and creepy at the time, but he'll later throw some stop frames into straight-up horror scenes to great effect. In fact, nearly everything that seemed weird or funny the first time came back toward the end of the film in some way to connect it. I'd give you more specifics but... I forgot.
So Svenson's really great at being despicable. In fact, he even refuses to see what's actually going on just because he want's to believe that the main kid is gay so much... and the ending becomes really extreme with him... unbelievable. The movie seems to walk this line where it can be funny and enjoyable in a "bad movie" kind of way but also be genuinely effective and work on its own terms. For me, they are usually one or the other. The more I think about it the more I liked it... it's really kinda cool.
Oh, and there's some incest too.
It's a great beat... Tyrrell's last moment... like she's got time to do one last thing before she dies and the thing she decides to do is just awesome. Talk about crowd reaction. Again, the whole family things are hinted at from the beginning but really escalate toward the end in a pretty chilling way. Finding out how much of a nutcase Tyrrell actually is is the movie's main thrust and it does it very well. Great time!
In fact, after walking out of the theater I was almost angry that I hadn't known about this movie years ago. Like, why wasn't this on the horror shelf of the little video store i went to in middle/high school so i could've seen it (because I saw damn near everything they did have) and love it... or why didn't i track this down just trying to fill the spots in Bill Paxton's filmography and stumble upon it with completely no context whatsoever... All these years I could've been loving this movie and I'm just starting now!
So that's the kind of movie this is. A really really great time. I loved it. Although... It really looks more like.. 78, 79, 80 instead of 83. Paxton looks SO young... like a good ten years younger than he looks in Weird Science... I think maybe they shot this and shelved it or something like that because it doesn't have an 80s look to it at all... very late 70s to me.