Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lucky Friday the 13th

I'm among those few people who always seem to have good luck on Friday the 13th. The stage was set yesterday while I was walking in the neighborhood and encountered a beautifully sleek and friendly large black cat that attempted to follow me home. I've long been that I have a secret superpower to charm cats. All I know is that I've always felt a certain pull toward them, and they toward me. Maybe they're just hoping I'll drop dead, so they can eat me. Don't know. We got quite a few odd looks from people along the way, man being stalked panther-like by a big black slightly sinister cat on Friday the 13th. Really though, everyone should be used to the strangeness that surrounds the weird writer in their neighborhood by now.

Ihad a fabulous night planned, very appropriate for the special date. The New Parkway Theater in Minneapolis is running a 3D Film Festival , from March 3 to March 19, and I was looking forward to a dazzling double-feature. As I purchased my ticket, and was handed the cardboard 3D glasses, I felt a nice little thrill as if I'd stepped back into the 1950s.

Parking had been a bit of a problem and the first feature, Gorilla at Large, had already started as I made my way into the old dark theater. Suddenly, a giant three-dimensional ape swung at me, clinging to a jungle vine magically suspended somewhere above and beyond the screen. Doesn't get much cooler than that. The movie was good corny fun. The gorilla suit looked great, practically bristling right in my face (and Anne Bancroft's legs were a special effect in and of themselves). During the intermission, while they changed reels, a boy about nine years old run up the aisle saying,  "This movie is so cool!", so excitedly that he was shaking.

When the lights dimmed for the second feature, House of Wax, the audience actually broke into applause when Vincent Price's name loomed at us from the dramatic opening credits. I confess to becoming a bit emotional, thinking quietly of Vincent and wondering what he'd think about still having such affectionate fans almost a decade into the 21st Century. Will movie crowds be cheering the names of Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise on the screen fifty years from now?

Next Wednesday I will return to the Parkway for 3D screenings of Vincent Price in The Mad Magician and Alfred Hitchcock's Dial 'M' For Murder. I'm especially looking forward to experiencing Grace Kelly in three dimensions.

Last evening will always be a special memory at the movies for me. I love these old films. There's something wonderful about looking back at a time when movie stars were bigger than life, before excessive gore replaced story and performance, when a guy in a gorilla suit was supposed to be scary. Somehow I really like that.

What makes me feel even better is that excited nine-year-old. I could tell the kid was having the time of his life, and that this would probably always be a special memory for him, too. At least, I sincerely hope it will be.

Suddenly, at least for the moment, I don't feel like weeping for the future.


  1. I just saw Gorilla At Large about two weeks ago. Not in 3D sad to say but I had so much fun with it. Kind of amazing that it still holds up today. At least for this kid at heart.

    Good story Martin! I'm glad to see that "some" kids still know what good fun entertainment is in today's world.

  2. Exactly how I feel, Michael.

    With most young audiences seeming so jaded and cynical regarding today's state-of-the-art special effects and colossal budgets, it was a pure delight to see this kid so thrilled by the simple fun of GORILLA AT LARGE!

  3. great story- Friday the 13th is lucky for me as well-usually-;)

  4. Speaking of Friday the 13th... When the movie "Friday the 13th Part 3-D" was released in 1982 it started a whole new 3-D craze (old and new). There were many new and mostly "bad" movies released then. Who could forget "Jaws 3-D" (yuck!) released shortly after Jason cut his way through the theatre. The great thing that happened though was they re-released a lot of old films that I had only previously seen on television. I'm really jealous Martin that your going to get to see "Dial M for Murder!" I saw it in '82 and it is the most subtle use of a not too subtle process. Hitchcock really used it to advance the story and less as a gimmick. Even better than Hitchcock, I got to see two of my all time favorite films in 3-D that year-- "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "It Came from Outer Space"! The 3-D craze even spread to local T.V. where I got to see "Bride of the Gorilla" and "Revenge of the Creature" with glasses obtained at the local 7-Eleven. I wish I had a photo of my Mom, Dad and I sitting in the living room wearing those "red and blue" lensed pieces of cardboard.

    I'm jealous...

    Scott Beachler