Alamo Drafthouse

'Night of the Creeps' Night

Night of the Creeps at Alamo Ritz

Austin's horror fans were either at Alamo Ritz Saturday night, or lamenting how quickly the tickets sold out for a special screening of Night of the Creeps, celebrating its pending release on DVD on October 19. If you weren't there, you missed a great screening, worth even having to wade through crowds of motorcycle enthusiasts and hundreds of bikes revving loudly all night long.

Old-time Alamogoers would've easily noticed a welcome difference from the old location; no external sound bleed at all. Walking to the Alamo, I was nearly deafened by the sound on the streets. Even some of the motorcycle attendees themselves were covering their ears as they walked down Sixth Street. In the bigger theater at the Alamo Ritz, it was a different world.

Bowling for Slackery News Tidbits

Austin StudiosIt's Monday morning and we've got your hot exciting local film-related news for you! It's also too damn early for exclamation points and excitement. But, you know, some of this news is almost as energizing as coffee.

  • Austin Chronicle writer Marc Savlov asked Tim League exactly what in the world is going on with Alamo Drafthouse these days, and got some happy news. The Leagues are turning the old Salvation Army space near Alamo South into a bowling alley/private karaoke/fun space where you can wait to see a movie at Alamo or chat about one afterwards. I admit I got a little misty when I read that the bowling lanes are from the old Rock'n'Bowl in New Orleans. I assume this space will be ready in time for Fantastic Fest. Yay!

Should You Talk During Alamo Pre-Shows?

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SXSW 2009

On KGSR morning radio earlier this week, the hosts were complaining about an problem one of them had at Alamo Ritz when he saw The Hangover last weekend. He was annoyed that he couldn't hear the pre-show. For The Hangover, the Alamo Ritz pre-show consisted of stand-up comedy clips, and this guy felt that part of the Alamo experience is getting to watch the pre-show in relative peace. Instead, the pre-show comedy was drowned out by audience members were "shouting at the top of their lungs."

The morning-show hosts felt that people should keep their voices down as soon as they enter an Alamo theater -- make the minimum noises needed to get into seats and order food, but then treat the pre-show like it was the actual movie.

I have to disagree. When people go to movies in groups, they like to chat and have social time before the movie starts -- it's part of the fun of going to movies in groups. I think of the Alamo pre-show as a conversation piece, like a coffee-table book or the thing your aunt gave you that you don't know what it is. I do agree with the KGSR guys that you should use your inside voice in the movie theater, but I think that's true generally.

Weird Wednesday Rocks in July and August

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ritz-ext2 by David Hill Photo on FlickrMaybe it's because they're charging admission now, but the Weird Wednesday lineup for July and August looks even better than usual, with several "classic" exploitation movies scheduled. I was able to go to Weird Wednesday in May to see Pam Grier in Coffy -- and yes, I stayed awake for the entire movie so I feel confident I could do it again, although not every single week.

If you haven't been to Weird Wednesday before, the screenings are weekly at midnight at Alamo Ritz, and admission is a mere $1. The films I'm about to list are an excellent introduction to the ongoing series.

Psych-Out -- Wednesday, July 8
Director Richard Rush has made some very entertaining movies -- I'm quite fond of Freebie and the Bean (which incidentally you can get now on DVD through Warner Archive) and The Stunt Man. My first Weird Wednesday was Hells Angels on Wheels. This 1968 film is his entry in the psychedelic Sixties drug-movie genre, and while it's not his top work, it's worth watching as a curiosity.

Quick Snaps: Back to Back to Evil Back in 1999

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Gimme Some Sugar, BabyI was walking past this poster on the way to the bedroom and realized that it's been exactly 10 years since I bought it, at one of the big memorable movie events I've ever attended.

I wasn't seeing many movies in 1999, but when I heard that Alamo Drafthouse (then only one location on Colorado) was hosting a late-night triple-feature of all the Evil Dead movies, I actually stood in a line to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale. My friend Jay and I could not resist. The triple-feature started at something like 10 pm, and I believe that at the time, Alamo did seat assignments for special events. Alamo also printed special tickets for these events -- I found mine last week among some similar tickets for other events, and someday I will have to put all them in a collage to share.

We got to the theater and found these posters in a stack for sale -- they looked like they'd been made out of newspaper pulp. I mean, seriously, I thought they could fall apart at any moment. But I was caught up in the spirit of the event and I bought one anyway. The poster was too thick to fold, so I leaned it on one of the posts near our seats as we sat through all three glorious movies.

Bruce Campbell was a good sport and not only had he signed the posters, but he stuck around for at least two of the three movies that night, telling stories and answering questions between the films. He's returned to Alamo a number of times since then, and I even interviewed him on his last visit, but there was something especially intimate and chatty about that first triple-feature event.

AICN, Alamo and Universal Head for 'Land of the Lost'

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Marty Krofft in Austin, from Alyssa Saucedo

Austin is a popular town for sneak peeks, but usually they are simple affairs where audiences get a chance to view a film and are asked their opinion on the way out the door. Sometimes the event is sponsored, and perhaps there's a plug at the beginning, and maybe some door prizes. Depending on the venue, it may be anarchy, with kids running around and people talking during the film after spending a couple of hours in line.

When we're lucky, filmmakers and perhaps cast and crew are there to do a Q&A. But if we're really lucky, the sneak is a celebratory event. These often involve the Alamo Drafthouse, Fantastic Fest and/or Ain't It Cool News. The Alamo lends itself to these special sneaks because the theater serves food and because it has a strong relationship with AICN. Both AICN and Alamo have good relationships with the studios, enough to host events like the unofficial world-premiere screening of Star Trek earlier this spring.

Last night was no different, when an Austin sneak preview of Land of the Lost included special guests, swag and more. Since it was less of a cattle-call than the usual sneak peek, everyone had to sign in. For their patience in line, they received a free hat and a rather unsettling backpack resembling the current incarnation of Chaka, the monkey-like companion. On the way into the theater, you could get your picture taken in a special Land of the Lost setting as a keepsake.

2009 Guide to Free Summer Movies in Austin

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 Grindhouse double-feature

Check out our updated 2011 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies.

While Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are no longer free events, if you're still looking for free movies, you have plenty of options around town this summer. Recently, Jette briefly mentioned the Reel Independents series this summer at Austin Public Library. APL has two additional summer series at different libraries, so there's no excuse to miss these movies.

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Weird Wednesday Anymore

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Weird WednesdayTwo of the best deals in town have been Terror Tuesdays (formerly Thursdays) and Weird Wednesdays at the Alamo Drafthouse, where obscure, rare and just plain strange films have screened for free every week of the year. This month, the Terror and Weird are free no more. But they are still good deals.

Citing rising shipping costs, both events have joined Music Monday in charging $1 per seat. It's $2 if you buy online (those pesky service charges associated with credit card orders). When guest appearances are included, it's $5.

Going from free to fee can make some people cranky. Lars Nilsen, has a brief comment on Weird Wednesday Facebook page about the shipping costs. Zack Carlson, the Terror Tuesday programmer, explains in more detail.

"Lars and I used to just use the same prints from the Alamo's modest film archive, but with both series playing a 35mm film print each week (no DVD's!!!), that's 104 movies a year. And you can imagine that it'd be difficult to provide that many genuinely entertaining films on a constant, non-repeating basis.

Linklater's Baseball Doc Gets Alamo Screening, DVD Release

Linklater at Paramount

It's been about a year since Austin Film Society premiered Inning by Inning, Richard Linklater's documentary about Texas Longhorns baseball coach Augie Garrido, at the Paramount. I wrote about the movie for Cinematical. I'm not a baseball fan, but the profile of Garrido was fascinating. The film played on ESPN a few times, but we haven't heard much about it since.

Fortunately, Inning by Inning will be released on DVD on June 2. To promote the DVD release, Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar will show the film on Monday, June 1. Linklater will be at the screening and will hold a Q&A afterwards. The tickets aren't yet on sale. I hope this is the non-bleeped-out-for-TV version, because some of Garrido's cussing is almost lyrical.

The DVD apparently includes not only Inning by Inning, but a separate documentary about the Longhorn team's 2006 season called A Game of Adversity. I believe this documentary is directed by Inning by Inning producer Brian Franklin, shown above with Linklater. The DVD also has a 60-minute "feature" called Extra Innings with Augie. This is going to be a real treat for Longhorn baseball fans.

[Photo credit: Austin Film Society. Used with permission.]

Cine Las Americas Lineup Now Available

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Cine Las AmericasThe Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has just announced most of its 2009 festival lineup, including the opening and closing-night films.

The fest opens on Wednesday, April 22 at the Paramount with the film All Inclusive (Todo Incluido), which is about a Chilean-Mexican family taking a summer vacation together.

Tear This Heart Out (Arrancame La Vida) closes Cine Las Americas on April 30 at Alamo South. The film is about a young woman fighting for her freedom in post-revolutionary Mexico.

The Least of These, the documentary that played SXSW about immigrant families at the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, is the only Austin-related film I know that's playing at Cine Las Americas. I'm sure there are more in the lineup that I don't realize have Austin connections ... if you know of any, please share that info in the comments.

Cine Las Americas takes place from April 22-30 at several Austin venues, including the Paramount, Alamo South, Alamo Village, Regal Metropolitan, and the Mexican American Cultural Center. A full schedule is expected soon. You can buy tickets for individual films, or a film pass for all events and parties for $70.

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