An actor, a witch, and a werewolf walk into a bar. That’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s the first sight I saw at “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again” at Geno’s last Monday. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to see anything like this. After all, I was attending the first of a series of a cult movies at a bar that used to be a porno theater. A visual of this magnitude should have been expected.
The question on my mind was “Why am I going to watch a low budget film in a bar when I could be going to see a new Hollywood blockbuster at a nice theater?”
Tristan Gallagher (owner of The Fun Box Monster Emporium) plans to show one cult movie a month at Geno’s, each with their own special guests. In September there will be a showing of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen, as the special guest. These showings provide a unique and fun environment and a chance to meet actors/actresses from the film. If you add in the fact that there’s beer, pool, and pinball within feet of your seats, the next question you’ll be asking yourself is: “Why even bother to go to first-run theaters at all?”
Tonight’s is the sequel to “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” from Larry Blamire. It’s a throw-back to cheesy 1950s B-movies featuring a cast of scientists, government operatives and more looking for a rare mineral and finding The Lost Skeleton.
The cost of admission was $8, hardly different than a first-run theater. They offered candy in the lobby — nothing new there, either. Then I look over and see horror movie hosts Penny Dreadful (the witch) and her partner in crime, Garou (the werewolf) up from Boston and taking pictures with fans. Being able to get my picture taken with an attractive witch and a funny werewolf? That’s new.
After noticing that colorful duo, a man walks into lobby and starts talking with attendees. It’s actor Robert Deveau, who’s in the movie I’m seeing. When was the last time you were able to meet an actor from the movie you were going to see? Assuming that you’re not attending glamorous Hollywood premiers, I’m going to guess never. This showing takes an early lead over my first-run movie theater experiences, and I haven’t even left the lobby yet.
As the show begins, Penny Dreadful and Garou take the stage and welcome us to the film. These two put on a pretty entertaining performance, especially since Garou only grunted and barked. They brought up Deveau next, and he filled us in on some news about “The Lost Skeleton” movies. I don’t remember exactly what he said, I was busy stuffing my face with cotton candy. He thanked us for coming and then signaled for the movie to begin. The lights dim and a buzz rises from the crowd. The presentation itself already trumps traditional movie-going experience so far, but what about the actual viewing of the movie?
It’s hilarious. It’s a movie I would have laughed at in the comfort of my own home, but when viewing it at Geno’s, I laugh even more. I feel like I was in a room full of all my closest friends. You could cheer, stomp your feet, and whoop it up as much as you want. No one would yell at you or ask to speak to the manager. We’re all in on the joke together. We know it’s a “bad” film, and that’s why we’re here. I look over my shoulder during the film and see Deveau sitting in the crowd and laughing too. I’m not just watching a movie on the big screen, I’m taking part in a one-of-a-kind group experience.
The movie ends, Gallagher takes the stage and his satisfaction with how the night turned out is evident from the huge grin on his face. He brings Deveau back up on stage to answer questions from the crowd. I ask him what it felt like watching the movie with fans. ”It’s just so much fun, it’s great,” he said. I couldn’t have agreed more. It was a lot of fun, the most fun I’ve had at a movie in a long time.
Chad Pennell has been a Portland native for the past ten years, and plans on never leaving. He is a student at Southern Maine Community College in the New Media program, specializing in digital imaging. He also writes a comic book opinion blog for Portland-based comic shop Coast City Comics. You can follow him on Twitter @Chadventure.