Alamo Drafthouse

Ritziest Birthday Ever

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I knew we were doing something special for my birthday today (although strictly speaking, it's tomorrow), but my husband was stubbornly silent about the details. "We're going to get socks for Rufus [our cat]," he kept telling me. I was pretty sure we weren't going to Alamo at the Ritz's opening-night triple-feature, because it didn't start until 7, and he picked me up from work at 4:30. Also, it included a mushroom feast and my husband has a dire dread of any kind of edible fungus. I imagined all kinds of scenarios: we were going to Tea Embassy, we would have drinks with a bunch of friends, my sister secretly flew into town ... I love a good surprise, because the guessing can be almost as fun as whatever eventually happens.

When I got into the car, he said, "I lied about Rufus's socks. We're actually going on a birthday picnic," and headed downtown. I started to have a slight suspicion when we parked awfully close to Sixth Street. But I still wasn't sure we were going to the new Alamo at the Ritz -- after all, he could be trying to trick me -- until we walked in the door and my husband said to Lars, "Tim's expecting us." 

Alamo at the Ritz Opens Nov. 1

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The official word from Tim League has been posted to the Alamo Drafthouse blog: the new Alamo at the Ritz theater will have its grand opening on Thursday, November 1. The evening's lineup is similar in structure to the Alamo Downtown closing night earlier this year: a triple-feature possibility with a big movie feast as the first event and a bizarre midnight movie in store.

The food-and-film event is an all-mushroom feast served around the movie Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People). I love mushrooms, but they scare my husband a little, so I'm not sure I'll be there for that one. (To be fair, he tells people that mayonnaise scares me. It's one of those weird relationship things.) The second film is a sneak of the Coen brothers' upcoming film No Country for Old Men, which I've been looking forward to seeing. And the midnight movie will be the first Terror Thursday film at the Alamo Ritz, but the movie itself is still a surprise. The Alamo blog entry says that "it will jump start this signature series with an 80,000 volt electric shock," so you might be able to venture some guesses from that hint.

Tickets will be on sale starting at 5 pm on Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Ritz, and any remaining tickets will be available at 6 pm online at the Alamo site. No word yet on prices, which are supposed to be announced by Friday.

A Birthday Gift from Alamo?

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The latest entry on the Alamo Drafthouse blog tentatively gives an opening date for Alamo at the Ritz: Friday, November 2. (You may remember that Chris got a sneak peek at the new theater a few weeks ago.) This date hasn't yet been officially announced or anything -- an update to the entry notes that Tim League is actually shooting for Nov. 1. But I'm hoping that they go with the second day of the month.

The reason? Nov. 2 is my birthday. Getting to spend it at the brand-new downtown Alamo would be -- well, not the best birthday present ever, since my husband is so good at finding fabulous film-related gifts for me. But it would be a pretty damn fine way to spend my birthday, especially if they have milkshakes at the new Alamo. Yes, this is a hint. I don't even care what's being shown (as long as Chris Columbus wasn't involved), although I'll let you know as soon as details are available. 

Dismember the Alamo: Zombie Film Festival Invades Lake Creek

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Zombie lovers take note: The Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek presents Dismember the Alamo on October 23 - 25th with evening screenings of zombie flicks both new and old. The lineup so far: Pathogen (with writer/director Emily Hagins in attendance), Re-Animator, blackspoitation "classic" Sugar Hill, Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, Fido, Return of the Living Dead, and a selection of zombie shorts that will be screened free to a first-come, first-serve crowd.

That's quite a varied lineup, even for a bunch of zombie movies. ­Fido, though flawed, has some intriguing imagery and manages to make a zombie character sympathetic, while Sugar Hill should just be a hoot. (And when was the last time you think that one played on a big screen in Austin?) The Lake Creek branch of the Alamo has really been trying to step up its game, programming-wise, and this is the best move they've made so far.

(Well, that and providing a screen to the Austin Film Festival for some up-North screenings during the fest. It's worth mentioning that next week Lake Creek will host a number of genre-interest titles from AFF like Trail of the Screaming Forehead and The Zombie Diaries, as well as some other great indie fare like American Fork and Judy Toll: The Funniest Woman You've Never Heard Of.)

All screenings at Dismember the Alamo are $5 each (except for that free shorts program). See the Dismember the Alamo web site for screening times and more information.

Fantastic Fest Super-Secret Screening at the Alamo Ritz

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Evidently not content with simply running a wildly successful third iteration of Austin's premiere festival for geeks, Tim League and company held an invite-only double-secret probation screening of End of the Line at the new Alamo Drafthouse Ritz location on Monday night. Visiting filmmakers and other Alamo staff and supporters were shuttled to the unfinished theater on 6th Street, where beer, sandwiches, and a jury-rigged "Rolling Roadshow" style screening setup awaited them. League welcomed visitors with a brief tour of the facilities and let drop a few tidbits I hadn't heard before. Some of this was dropped in various blog entries earlier in the year but if you weren't paying attention, here they are again:

  • The actual completion date of the two-screen venue is uncertain but they hope to have it done in time for Halloween this year.
  • Both theaters (one 180-seat room and another, under-100 seat room) have stadium seating.

Fantastic Fest: Moebius Spiral (Day Two)

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Day Two of Fantastic Fest didn't have the partying excitement of opening night, or any secret screenings, but all that means is that I don't have a lot of photos or breaking news. All I did was to watch two good movies, each followed by interesting Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, and hang out with a bunch of film-geek friends. Oh, and I got a squishy skull that bubbles blood out of its eyes when you squeeze it -- a promotional item for Flight of the Living Dead. I'll have to take a picture.

The first movie I saw was one of the few documentaries screening at Fantastic Fest -- Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures. I met the director, Hasko Baumann, at the opening-night party, and he seemed concerned that no one would want to watch a documentary at this festival. He was wrong -- a good-size crowd was in the theater when he introduced the film.

Alamo Village Starts "Parents Night Out"

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I don't have any kids, but I think this is pretty cool. Alamo Drafthouse Village and Body Business (a gym in the same shopping center as Alamo) are starting a new event called Parents Night Out. I just found out about this and I'm too late for you to actually go -- the first one takes place tonight and no more childcare is available. Next time hopefully I'll find out about the event sooner, so you can have advance notice and, you know, actually take advantage of the event.

Parents Night Out works like this: Parents can have dinner and a movie at Alamo Village, while their kids are babysat at Body Business's childcare. (The gym has done childcare for years and has a nice setup, separate from the gym facilities, in the same shopping center.) You would buy a child-care voucher on the Alamo Village website for each child (you have to buy the voucher 24 hours in advance, so they know how many kids to plan for), and then you would buy your tickets for whichever movie you want to see. Details for tonight's event are here, if you want to read more about how it works.

I think this is a fabulous idea and I hope it succeeds and continues. I know several parents who would appreciate the chance to have dinner and a movie together without having to track down a babysitter. If anyone is actually doing this tonight, please post a comment and let us know how well it works.

Movies This Week: B-Side at Screen Door, Lasting Images, and The Unforeseen

Now that Slackerwood is back up and running smoothly, there's no reason why we shouldn't have a Movies This Week, and the sooner the better. Let's look at some of the special screenings and events you can catch around town this week:

  • Screen Door Film and B-Side Entertainment are partnering to show us some great films you probably haven't seen outside of festivals yet ... and really should. Four-Eyed Monsters (which played SXSW in 2005) is playing on Wednesday, Pirate Radio USA (one of my favorites from AFF last year) on Thursday, and The Outdoorsmen: Blood, Sweat and Beers (a favorite from AFF 2005) on Friday. All screenings are at Salvage Vanguard Theater on Manor Rd.
  • Nueva Onda is showing a feature-length film at the restaurant's Movie Night this Thursday: Lasting Images. Admission is free. The movie starts at 8 pm, but get there early for a good seat on the patio. (More movies after the jump.)

Quick Snaps: Gary Kent at Weird Wednesday

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Gary Kent: photo by Anne Heller

I missed the Weird Wednesday screening of The Girls from Thunder Strip last week that featured actor/stuntman/filmmaker Gary Kent in attendance (I am too wimpy for weeknight midnight movies, sadly). Fortunately, Anne Heller, who wrote about Kent's film The Pyramid for Slackerwood, was at Alamo on South Lamar that night. She sent me the above photo of Kent, taken by Alamo programmer Lars Nilsen during the Q&A session after the 1966 film, in which Kent plays a rapist named "Teach."

Anne also videotaped the introduction to the film by Lars and Gary Kent. Kent has some delightful stories to tell, especially about Spawn Ranch, where The Girls from Thunder Strip was shot ... and where the mechanic was some guy named Charles Manson. Thanks to Anne and to YouTube, we can all enjoy Kent's stories. (The video is embedded after the jump.)

Sunday Sunday Sunday! "King of Kong" contest culminates

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You've got the weekend to prove yourself a King of Kong on the big screen at the Alamo, this weekend during screenings of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.The whole contest comes down to a showdown at the 9:15 p.m. Sunday show when Steve Wiebe (the movie's "good guy") will be on hand to crown the winner and give away the Donkey Kong console. Click on the picture at right to see the size of the projection relative to the contestant at bottom left. (Photo credit Joe Boutros.)

The screening times and details of the contest are available now at originalalamo.com, including these tidbits about who will and won't be able to play the machine hooked up to the projector:

We realized that for some of the TRUE Kings of Kong out there, there's no way that they'd be able to finish their game while we all watched it and still started the movie on time. True Kong Kings last for days and days, right? We don't know, but we're going to make it so that we can find out. And so the theater play on the big screen will be your chance to QUALIFY to play on the actual prize machine in our lobby. If you can last for five minutes on our machine in the theater, you'll receive a coupon and a time slot to come back and play on the Official Machine. If you want extra chances to play you'll have to convince your friends to hand over their raffle tickets!

Also note that a ticket to the screening does not guarantee you the chance to play Donkey Kong on our big screen. We'll have free raffle tickets available at the box office for everyone who's interested in playing and for 20 minutes before the movie starts we'll be calling out numbers until we've either worked through everyone who wants to play or run out of time before the film's advertised start time.

Editor's update: Matt Dentler says Wiebe may be trying to set a new Donkey Kong record himself on Sunday night at Alamo. Could be an exciting night!

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