Next week, a new series starts at the Colony Theater in North Raleigh, NC (Yes, this is another local-centric post) entitled "Cinema Overdrive."
As readers should well know, I've been a huge fan of the theater's ongoing series "Cool Classics @ The Colony" which has long provided area movie goers with special showings of 35 Millimeter prints of long loved cult movies like ERASERHEAD, LABYRINTH, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and PURPLE RAIN.
"Cinema Overdrive" however, goes much further. As the description on their website says they present "the best in high-octane cult/horror/exploitation/drive-in and forgotten films that are waiting to find an audience."
The series kicks off next Wednesday (August 12th at 8:00 PM) with DEATH RACE 2000. Future showings will be of SHOGUN ASSASSIN, VICE SQUAD, PIECES, and LADY TERMINATOR (see the picture montage above).
I had a cool chat with a couple of the creators (the other being Adam Hulin who I hope to talk to soon) of this exciting new series: Denver Hill and Matt Pennachi. Both are 35 MM film collectors and fellow film fanatics so it was an engrossing conversation I'm anxious to share.
In this first part we discuss just what "Cinema Overdrive" is about, what was wrong with the movie GRINDHOUSE, and why everybody should make it out to SHOGUN ASSASSIN in September.
Film Babble Blog: How did “Cinema Overdrive” come together? What was the impetus for it?
Denver Hill: Well, Matt and I have been friends for a couple of years. We both collect 35 millimeter, and I’ve always been a fan of “Retrofantasma” (Pennachi’s former series at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC). That actually inspired the “Cool Classics” and we had the opportunity, I just said “hey, do you want to try this in Raleigh?”
Matt Pennachi: Yeah, well, one thing I’ll say about “Cinema Overdrive”, there’s other repertory series in the area including “Cool Classics,” but with ours we’re bringing a little danger back to movie going. All the others are kind of safe, this one - the faint of heart may not necessarily need to apply. If you have even the worry that it may not be politically correct enough for you, you shouldn’t buy a ticket. The '70s weren’t very politically correct.
DH: But that’s what we want though, we want to challenge. Like with “Cool Classics” it’s like maybe one of your favorite movies but you never saw it in the theater, but with “Cinema Overdrive” it’s probably a movie you’ve never seen before. It maybe offend or shock or just make you go “Oh my God!” you know, but we just want to bring the excitement back.
MP: I think we have the opportunity because I have enough respect and faith in film fans in the Triangle. I think there’s a lot of really savvy film people in this area.
FBB: Oh yeah, absolutely.
MP: I mean if your idea of being a real film nerd is having an in depth conversation about Tim Burton, we’re probably not for you. But I mean if you really love…you know, we’re everything that Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE was supposed to be.
FBB: What did you think of that film? That’s a movie that comes up when I think of the idea behind “Cinema Overdrive”. Was it too much that it was fake “Grindhouse”? I had a friend who said that “if only Tarantino and Rodriquez worked with real Grindhouse budgets”, you know?
MP: I feel the same way. My major problem was when I first saw it I was like well, it’s relatively entertaining…but my main problem is when I heard it was that it was a 72 million dollar film I was like wouldn’t it have been more interesting if they said we’re going to try to recreate 1974, and put it on a inflation adjusted dollar and that means, okay Jack Hill would’ve made that for $800,000 - inflation adjusted that’s 3.4 million so meaning if we can’t get Kurt Russell and have to make the movie with Ken Wahl from Wiseguy, somebody call up and find Ken Wahl.
That would’ve been a more interesting experiment to me. And the thing is, I think particularly with Rodriquez’s segment, he brought the poster to life more than the actual film. There were no “Grindhouse” movies that had people jumping on motorcycles with monstrous town-size explosions - they never could afford it.
DH: Well, I didn’t like all the fake scratches and fake splices.
FBB: The “missing reels”?
MP: First of all, the “missing reel” thing is something that never ever existed in a “Grindhouse” cinema. You know why? Because if you were in a shit-hole cinema and there was a reel missing there’s no way on earth they were going to let you know. Never.
DH: You know, the Triangle is one of the top 5 growing areas in the country. We have people from all of the country moving here so there’s definitely a demand for all these types of movies that we’re showing.
MP: Even though I don’t make it out because I have kids basically and my wife works in the evening, I love the concept of “Cool Classics”. It’s a lot of movies you know but it’s not fixated to one genre.
There might be something mega-famous and safe like LABYRINTH, and then there also might be something that’s famous in the sense that a lot of people know what ERASERHEAD is but haven’t necessarily seen it. (To Denver) Oh, Phil Blankenship, I told him about your PURPLE RAIN show, and he said PURPLE RAIN is just a home run ball – we did it out here in LA and it was the same thing. Patton Oswalt came! It’s like I said, ‘I wouldn’t have guessed it’, he was like “I wouldn’t have either, but PURPLE RAIN is still huge!”
DH: Yeah, we need to show that one again.
MP: I’ll be honest I’ve never that movie. I’ve always meant to.
FBB: Last summer was the first time I’d seen it all the way through.
MP: Did you like it?
FBB: Oh, I liked it a lot. There’s a huge cheese factor to it, but that’s what makes it great. The live sequences at 1st Avenue and the Morris Day whatnot, all of that is crowd pleasing stuff. In fact, not long ago on “Sound Opinions”, you know that show? NPR?
MP: That’s a great show!
FBB: Yeah, they were doing one of their “album dissections” on “Purple Rain”, because it’s the 25th anniversary. One of them, Jim I think, was saying “You see it once and you don’t ever have to see ‘Purple Rain’ again”, and I was like ‘are you crazy? There’s a high re-watchability factor!
MP: Maybe they haven’t watched it enough to know that.
FBB: Yeah, that’s the thing I was wondering, have they really re-watched it lately?
MP: It’s like there’s millions of people that went out and saw KILL BILL: VOL. 2, right? Well at the end there’s that touching scene where the Bride and her daughter watch SHOGUN ASSASSIN. Well, how many people have seen SHOGUN ASSASSIN? If they come here in September we’ll show them SHOGUN ASSASSIN.
FBB: I’ve never seen it. There are so many films, that as a “film guy” I am ashamed to admit that I’ve never seen.
MP: Oh my God! That movie is amazing theatrically. It’s just jaw dropping. I feel so ebullient when I run the print. I love this movie.
DH: We joked about it at first but I think we really are trying to educate people about film.
MP: It’s not like Mystery Science Theater 3000, it’s like going to church. You go to have a social experience but you also go to learn about something that you have great faith in!
Next week: Part 2 of my chat with Denver and Matt. We'll discuss their premiere showing of DEATH RACE 2000 and go off on more crazy tangents surrounding "Cinema Overdrive" and other obsessive film fodder. Please stay tuned.