My mom likes to brag that she got me started on John Carpenter. The first time I was ever in a theater was when she took me with her to see The Thing. I was only a year old at the time, and I remember nothing of the experience, but according to her I was absolutely riveted to the screen and never made a peep. John Carpenter got his hooks into me early.
So it was with great excitement when our local mega theater chain offered a 35mm print of The Thing as part of their special October “Frightfest” lineup (Carrie, The Thing, Pet Semetary, and Friday the 13th) that I would finally get to see my 3rd favorite movie of all-time on a big screen. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know how many people would show up, so Steve and I got there early (Many of the other Dead Lantern crew decided to pass on the movie in favor of playing Dungeons and Dragons. Seriously. And they will be mocked on the next Splattercast). I wasn’t sure if the print was any good. All I was sure of was that this was a can’t miss opportunity (you hear that Jeff?). I was certainly excited.
We got there about 45 minutes early. I think Steve and I were the first ones in the theater. The theater was giving out free popcorn with the purchase of any size soda for anyone seeing The Thing which was rad. I got a popcorn and a drink for three bucks and the ticket was only $5. A win all around. Then Steve and I ran into a couple Lincoln sci-fi dudes who are putting on a convention here in Lincoln involving gaming and movies, so we networked Dead Lantern a bit and made some new contacts. Always a good thing. I should have told those guys that we had some friends trudging their way through a make believe dungeon and rolling dice, but I digress…
Steve and I chatted ideas for our noir film and as we looked around, we realized that the theater was packed. It wasn’t a total sellout, as there were empty seats here and there, but the place had to be 85% capacity. Some time back on a past Splattercast, we mentioned “Why don’t the studios just run their old movies. Who wouldn’t want to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in a theater again?” I have a feeling that this will become common in the future, when more and more theaters have converted to digital and the costs associated with 35mm are gone. If the attendance of The Thing was any indication, this is a totally untapped revenue source for theaters and I’ll bet they start telling the Hollywood studios “Hey, we can easily display these movies digitally and on the cheap, let’s get this goin!”
After some previews, the film itself began. The print looked and sounded a little sketchy at first. This wasn’t a remastered print or anything and the vivid, bright white of the snow setting really showcased every little scratch and tear. Fortunately, it got a lot better, and wasn’t distracting. Overall, the print was very good. It had noticeable blemishes and the blacks weren’t as black as you’d expect, but hey, for a print that is almost 30 years old, it looked pretty great. I’ve seen worse prints, for sure.
I was curious as to what kind of experience it would be with a packed theater. Would the crowd participate with the film, or would they be quiet and let the film do the talking? The answer was a little bit of both. Most of the time, the crowd was engrossed in the atmosphere and tension, but there were moments when everyone laughed at Wilford Brimley (in a loving way, not a mocking way), shouted at the ominous shots of the dog, and screamed during the jump scares as if they’d seen them for the first time. The film ended with audience applause. It was a great time and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
Next week is Pet Sematary. We’ve got an early a.m. wakeup call before we head to Tulsa the next morning but I think I’ll definitely hit up the theater to see it. I’m a big fan of PS and am excited to see Herman Munster get it on the big screen. The following week is Friday the 13th. I might go to that just because, but I’ll probably end up passing on that one (because it sucks ).
Anyway, awesome time and I got to see one of the greatest horror films ever on the big screen. Sucks for all of you who missed it!