January 4, 2018 at 2:25 pm #23571
Anyone have a list of their favorite movie moments at the New Bev in 2017?
Here’s a baker’s dozen of my favorite viewings:
FRANK PERRY FILM FESTIVAL: The New Beverly’s retrospective of filmmakers Frank & Eleanor Perry was a revelation, shining a light on their too-long neglected work. While the whole series was of note, two of the titles topline my year-end best-of: the notoriously difficult to find character drama Last Summer (1969), shown from an incredibly rare 16mm print flown in from Australia, with an astute post-film Q&A with star Bruce Davison moderated by Ed Wood screenwriter Larry Karaszewski, and the savagely funny marital comedy Diary of a Mad Housewife, featuring Richard Benjamin, Carrie Snodgress and Frank Langella. Housewife was particularly palpable with a Bev filled to the brim with like-minded movie maniacs. The series also prompted two of the best articles I read this year, Kim Morgan’s pieces on Last Summer and Play It As It Lays.
MARCH MADNESS AT THE GRINDHOUSE:
I cherish every Tuesday at the Bev, not just because of the way-out brain-burners that get unearthed each week but because of the faithful film-going family that has grown out of 10+ years of the Grindhouse Film Festival. But even with a decade of skull-cracking jaw-droppers, nothing could have prepared me for the perfect onslaught of exploitation hits that tore through March 2017: an Austin Stoker double, with the icon in person, featuring a fantastic print of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 paired with the underseen Combat Cops, a Pigsploitation mind-melter featuring the Texas Chainsaw knockoff Slaughterhouse (with one of the largest cast & crew Q&As ever assembled at the theater!) followed by the ’70s drive-in masterpiece Pigs, a Terror Tuesday two-fer of Spanish shockers including The House That Screamed, screening from one of the most gorgeous prints I saw all year, plus the fan-favorite, you’ve just gotta see it fun-blast Pieces, and finally the Hong Kong meets Vietnam knockout of John Woo’s carnage-filled Heroes Shed No Tears with Sammo Hung’s awesome Eastern Condors.
THE COWBOYS (1972): the John Wayne western adventure featuring a truly devilish Bruce Dern brought down the house but a surprise appearance from director Mark Rydell was one for the ages, igniting a prolonged standing ovation unlike any I’ve seen anywhere.
ELVIS IN I.B. TECHNICOLOR: 2017 was the year that I fell in love with Elvis and his swinging spark & unmistakable magnetism on screen. While I plowed through his filmography at home, catching a double bill of Clambake (1967) and Fun in Acapulco (1963) in eye-popping I.B. Technicolor was a real treat. Hearing a captivated audience swoon and laugh really highlights the magic of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
SUMMER OF ’42 (1971) & CLASS OF ’44 (1973): a surprisingly poetic sex-comedy-cum-heartbreaking-romance, Summer of ’42 was a blockbuster upon release but seems sadly overlooked today. It has held up, if not improved with age, and the nearly-forgotten follow-up is far better than its reputation would lead you to believe. If anything, I wish there had been more sequels following these characters. Plus, New Bev friend Larry Karaszewski moderated an exemplary discussion with actor Jerry Houser, who made his debut in Summer.
TRACKDOWN (1976): a relentless action thriller following a Montana cattle rancher (James Mitchum, eldest son of Robert) on a rampage of revenge, kicking ass and taking names across the gang-infested streets & crime-ridden back alleys of Los Angeles. My biggest regret of the year is not going to see this twice on screen.
SAL MINEO FILM FESTIVAL: an excellent overview of bisexual screen icon Sal Mineo’s regrettably short career, featuring his legendary work with James Dean (his revolutionary turn in Rebel Without A Cause and his brief role in Giant) to some of his rarely-seen juvenile delinquent films (Dino, Crime in the Streets). But the best of the bunch was the unforgettable descent into sleazy mid-60s NYC in the staggering psycho-sexual thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear?, which features a charged Mineo at his fiery best.
SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) & THE STEPFATHER (1987) & LISA (1989): For my birthday I got to share a triple feature dedicated to bad dads and teen heroines, sleazy slasher thrills, strained family dynamics, after school special theatrics, and hard R sex & violence. The wildly unpredictable tonal shifts in Scream for Help went over gangbusters with an enthusiastic crowd, Terry O’Quinn shined in one of the creepiest performances of the ’80s in the truly great The Stepfather, and finally seeing one of my childhood faves, Gary Sherman’s Lisa, on the big screen – projected from an archive print that had never previously been run (!!!) – made it a night I’ll never forget.
YOUNGBLOOD (1978) & COOLEY HIGH (1975): an excellent pairing of films starring Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, best known as Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Washington on Welcome Back, Kotter. The seldom seen street gang drama Youngblood, featuring excellent music from War, really made an impression but it was the legendary Cooley High that truly popped when seen with an audience. But the best part of the night was an extended, wide-ranging discussion with the star (moderated by Larry Karaszewski, making it a hat trick for him on my list!) covering everything from breaking into the movie industry to singing back-up for Rick James.
MICHAEL PARKS TRIBUTE: the New Beverly’s extensive tribute to treasured actor, iconoclast & frequent Quentin Tarantino collaborator Michael Parks was jam-packed with thrilling film surprises! From the powerhouse drama of Wild Seed (1965) to the Southern shocks of The Evictors (1979) to the ’90s thrills of Wicked (1998) and Niagara, Niagara (1997), the screen was electrified whenever Parks appeared – no matter the film, whether in a high profile starring role or a brief appearance in a small drive-in flick. A plethora of special guests also highlighted the man and his career. (Larry Cohen telling the behind the scenes stories from The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover was a hoot!)
ALL-NIGHT MARATHONS: the only thing better than watching one movie is watching a FULL MARATHON of movies! And this year the New Beverly had some great overnight endurance tests – from January’s deep dive into the depraved mind of Dario Argento to a top notch top secret lineup at October’s annual All-Night Horror Show. But the best may have been at Arnold All Night, a 70th birthday celebration for muscled action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger – when the opening credits for the first film of the night – Predator – hit the screen, the audience lost their minds and never recovered.
WICKED, WICKED (1973): an off-kilter ‘70s slasher flick that’s gotta be seen to be believed, Wicked, Wicked is a feature-length split-screen gimmick that works best on the big screen. I had read about Wicked, Wicked for years and am glad my first viewing was with a crowd of fellow midnight movie fanatics.
DER FAN (1982) & CHRISTIANE F. (1981): the downbeat double of the year! Cult fave Der Fan made it’s first-ever Los Angeles appearance in 35mm, screening from a one-of-a-kind print flown in from overseas, and the pairing of moody, slow-burn German soul-crushers seemed an appropriate ending for such a tumultuous year.January 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm #23777
I think my favorite double feature of 2017 was the Ringo Lam double feature on November 27th, Prison on Fire (1987) and Victim (1999). Prison on Fire has always been one of my all-time favorite movies and seeing it on film at the New Beverly with a packed crowd was amazing. It’s such a powerful, intense prison drama. When Chow Yun Fat drop kicked Roy Cheung in the face, the audience went nuts! It was just incredible! I really cannot stress how much I enjoyed seeing Prison on Fire that night. Plus, I got to see Victim for the first time here. Great crime thriller that takes a lot of unexpected turns. Probably one of my favorite double features I’ve ever seen at the New Beverly.
Baby Driver (2017) and Need For Speed (2014) was also amazing. I saw both films during their original theatrical run and seeing both again at the New Beverly was super exciting.
Also, gotta mention I Love Maria (1988; aka Roboforce), which was just so much fun. (It was paired with Robotrix which I didn’t get to stay for).January 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm #23780
Trackdown changed my life
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