On September 24th, Pittsburgh will participate in the first annual Art House Theater Day, a nationwide event recognizing the important role independent theaters play in bringing the arts and culture to their communities, with screenings at the Hollywood Theater, Row House Cinema, Regent Square Theater and the Harris Theater. See film details and showtimes below:
Time Bandits (1981) – Row House Cinema and Regent Square Theater
Director Terry Gilliam‘s dark, yet fanciful fantasy tale follows a young boy as he embarks on an epic journey through time with a band of dwarves who’ve stolen a magical map. The cult favorite stars John Cleese and Michael Palin of Monty Python, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall and many others. Time Bandits will screen at 12 p.m. at Row House Cinema and at 8 p.m. at Regent Square Theater.
A Town Called Panic (2009) – Hollywood Theater
In this Belgian stop-motion animated feature, plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems too. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures ensue as the trio travel to the center of the Earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mâché town, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone? A Town Called Panic will screen at 1 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater. Tickets cost $5 and are available for purchase at Showclix or at the door.
Danny Says (2016) – Harris Theater
Since 1966, Danny Fields has played a pivotal role in music and culture of the late 20th century: working for the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins and managing groundbreaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. The documentary follows the life and time of Fields from his days as a Phi Beta Kappa whiz-kid, to Harvard Law dropout, to the Warhol Silver Factory, to Director of Publicity at Elektra Records, to punk pioneer and beyond. Danny Says will screen at 8 p.m. at the Harris Theater.
Phantasm (1979) – Hollywood Theater
Newly restored by J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot Productions, this imaginative creeper from filmmaker Don Coscarelli pits a young boy against the mysterious Tall Man, an undertaker who enslaves reanimated corpses. The film defies genre conventions with its dreamy, surreal style and bizarre take on the battle between good and evil. Phantasm will screen at 10 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater. Doors open at 9 p.m. The event includes vintage 35mm film trailers, special Phantasm merchandise and a live stream with Coscarelli. Tickets cost $10 and are available for purchase at Showclix.
On May 15th, the radical Bloomfield nonprofit Big Idea Bookstore will present a double feature dedicated to cyperpunk cinema and “the corporeal human/machine and our relationship to love, mental health, and trauma.” See films below:
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Shot on 16mm black-and-white film, the 1989 cult curiosity from Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto features stunning practical effects and nightmarish imagery comparable to David Lynch’s Eraserhead. A strange man known only as the “metal fetishist” is hit and possibly killed by a Japanese “salaryman” out for a drive with his girlfriend. The salaryman then notices that he is being slowly overtaken by some kind of disease that is turning his body into scrap metal, and that his nemesis is not in fact dead but is somehow masterminding and guiding his rage and frustration-fueled transformation.
I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK
The unorthodox love story from South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Stoker) follows institutionalized mental patient Young-goon. Believing herself a cyborg, she charges herself with a transistor radio. Il-soon, a fellow inmate, steals the other inmates’ personality traits and believes he is fading and will one day turn into a dot. When Young-goon refuses to eat, Il-soon decides it’s his job to get her on her feet again.
The Cyberpunk Double Feature begins at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
On March 26th, the Ace Hotel and Reel Q will welcome filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell for an event dedicated to his beloved rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.The evening will include a screening of the 2001 cult hit, followed by a taste of Mitchell’s monthly NYC dance party Mattachine.
With writer/director Mitchell in the starring role, Hedwig and the Angry Inch follows a transsexual East Berlin rock diva struggling to achieve fame in the US. Her life story unfolds through a string of powerful musical numbers that recount her botched sex change, her failed marriage to an American G.I., her lagging music career, and the ultimate betrayal by her song writing partner and lover, Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt). The film features an excellent soundtrack by celebrated film composer Stephen Trask, ingenious set design and art direction, and lyrical animated sequences from Emily Hubley.
The Hedwig and the Angry Inch screening and dance party will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Ace Hotel. VIP tickets guarantee early entry at 6:30 p.m. for a meet-n-greet with Mitchell. Mattachine will take place in the hotel gymnasium, and will feature appearances by Mitchell, performer Amber Martin, Shortbus star Paul Dawson and Hedwig actor PJ Deboy. Tickets cost between $10 and $40 and are available for purchase at Showclix. In case you’re wondering, yes, costumes are encouraged.
For years, the Junior Chamber of Commerce Players (JCCP) have entertained Rocky Horror Picture Show fans with colorful midnight shadowcast screenings at the Hollywood Theater. On December 4th, the group and its host venue will change it up a bit with a tribute to the 1974 rock musical Phantom of the Paradise.
Directed by Brian De Palma, and starring none other than songwriting giant Paul Williams, Phantom of the Paradise rivals Rocky Horror Picture Show as one of the most innovative and entertaining spectacles in its genre. Extrapolating elements from Faust, The Picture of Dorian Gray and, of course, The Phantom of the Opera, the story centers on an egomaniacal music mogul named Swam who destroys the life of Winslow Leach (William Finley), a talented balladeer who, after being left penniless and deformed, dons a silver helmet and cape to haunt Swan’s rock club, The Paradise. Jessica Harper delivers a notable performance as Leach’s beautiful muse, Phoenix, while Gerrit Graham steals scene after scene as the spoiled glam rocker, Beef.
The Phantom of the Paradise live shadowcast screening will take place at 10:30 p.m. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. The evening includes a pre-show musical performance by Pittsburgh band The Gothees at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $8 and are available for purchase at Showclix.
Pittsburgh theaters are gearing up for another holiday season with plenty of movies and movie-related events. Whether it’s classic films, newer releases, or festive fare from the horror, comedy and action genres, local movie lovers can always find something to help them celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. See below for screening schedule:
Holiday Kidsplay – Harris Theater
The Harris Theater will show holiday short films and cartoons each weekend in December as part of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership‘s Downtown Pittsburgh for the Holidays event. Families can stop in the theater during designated hours between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to enjoy some fun holiday fare. There will also be arts and crafts and a reading room in the downstairs lobby. Holiday Kidsplay will take place on December 5th and 6th, December 12th and 13th, and December 19th and 20th. All activities are free and open to the public.
Vurray Murray Movie Night: Scrooged – Altar Bar
On December 11th, Altar Bar will drink to Bill Murray with a special screening of the 1988 comedy Scrooged. The modern twist on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol stars Murray as a misanthropic TV executive who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Attending Murray fans can enjoy drinking games and all sorts of merrymaking. Vurray Murray Movie Night: Scrooged will take place at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to RSVP at Ticketfly.
Deuce Comes to Dormont: Christmas Evil – Hollywood Theater
Horror fans will have a jolly time on December 12th when the Hollywood Theater presents the 1980 Christmas slasher film Christmas Evil. Called the “best seasonal film of all time” by director John Waters, the Troma release follows a toy-maker who, after suffering a psychotic break, dons a Santa suit and goes on a murderous rampage. Deuce Comes to Dormont: Christmas Evil begins at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available for purchase at Showclix. Guests can also arrive early to enjoy a free screening of the notorious 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special at 7 p.m.
Holiday Movie Cinebrunch – Oaks Theater
The Oaks Theater will host two festive Cinebrunch events with the 1990 comedy hit Home Alone on December 12th and the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life on December 19th. Both shows will include an extensive brunch menu, with non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, breakfast bagel sandwiches, hash browns, fresh fruit, pastries, and vegetarian options. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with the films starting at 11 a.m. Tickets are $14.50 to $16.50 for adults, $10 to $12 for kids under 12 years old. Non-brunch movie tickets are $7.
Christmas Tradition – Row House Cinema
From December 18th through December 25th, the Row House Cinema will roll out an entire week of beloved holiday films. The selections include the retro cult classic A Christmas Story, the raunchy comedy Bad Santa, the National Lampoon release Christmas Vacation, and the Bruce Willis action thriller Die Hard. Check the Row House website for showtimes and additional details.
Bad Movie Bingo: Don’t Open till Christmas – Smiling Moose
On December 22nd, Neo Trash Video will present a Bad Movie Bingo edition of the 1984 British holiday horror film Don’t Open till Christmas at the Smiling Moose. The obscure selection follows a Scotland Yard detective on the hunt for a killer who targets anyone wearing a Santa suit. The event includes giveaways and entertainment during intermission. Bad Movie Bingo: Don’t Open till Christmas will take place at 9 p.m. Admission is free.
Are you a fan of uncomfortably long lovemaking scenes? Do you enjoy throwing silverware? Do chroma keyed cityscapes fill you with glee? Then you should head to the University of Pittsburgh on November 18th for an exclusive screening of The Room.
Hosted by Pitt professor Dana Och‘s Special Topics in Film: Cult class, the event will showcase one of today’s most widely celebrated bad movies. Directed by the enigmatic, ambiguously European Tommy Wiseau, The Room debuted in 2004, and quickly became a cultural phenomenon with its warped take on relationships, American masculinity, and filmmaking in general. The surreal melodrama stars Wiseau as Johnny, a San Francisco banker whose life falls apart when he finds out his fiancée, Lisa (Juliette Danielle), is having an affair with his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). Described as a dark comedy – most likely because of the way it was received – the film became a hit with audiences amused by disconnected sub-plots, quotable dialogue (“You are tearing me apart, Lisa!”), and amateurish production.
The Special Topics in Film screening of The Room will take place at 8 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning (Room G24). Guests will receive goodie bags, and are encouraged partake in all the yelling, throwing, and other rituals enjoyed by Room fans (those unfamiliar with the practices can reference this handy guide). In recognition of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the organizers are also asking attendees to bring non-perishable food items to donate to local food banks. The event is free and open to the public (due to explicit content, only those age 18 and over are permitted).
In 1989, a group of unknown Utah actors starred in what would be crowned the worst movie of all time: Troll 2. Directed by Italian filmmaker Claudio Fragasso – who co-wrote the screenplay with his wife, Rossella Drudi – the bizarre horror comedy follows a family who, while on vacation in the mysterious town of Nilbog, are terrorized by diminutive creatures with the power to transform people into plants. The film was forgotten for decades, until an entire generation rediscovered it and elevated its status as a cult favorite.
On October 3rd, the Hollywood Theater will celebrate the 25th anniversary of this legendary cinematic disaster with a screening event featuring both the film and its 2009 companion documentary, Best Worst Movie.
Directed by disgraced Troll 2 child star Michael Paul Stephenson, Best Worst Movie follows up with his fellow castmates 20 years after their notorious big screen debuts. At the center of the film is the improbable story of a small-town Alabama dentist-turned-cult-movie-icon, and an Italian filmmaker who comes to terms (or doesn’t) with his internationally revered cinematic failure. The result is a hilarious and tender offbeat journey that pays homage to lovers of bad movies and the people who make them, while investigating a deeper story about the strange nature of celebrity, the catharsis of redemption, and the humanity that exists in making even the worst movie ever made.
The Troll 2 25th Anniversary Double Feature will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the Best Worst Movie screening, followed by Troll 2 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, $5 for Hollywood Theater members, and are available for purchase at Showclix.
Filmmaker Joss Whedon wrote and directed the musical comedy about a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to. The film stars Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day as Penny.
The event begins at 7 p.m. and includes raffles, CSTS merchandise, and a comically competitive interactive game. Costumes are encouraged. Admission is a minimum $10 donation. All proceeds go to Equality Now, an organization that advocates for the human rights of women and girls around the world.
American cinema reached a whole new level of camp when The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a cult hit. Six years after its 1975 release, the film’s visionaries Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien followed up with Shock Treatment, a sequel that, while not nearly as successful as its predecessor, still delivered plenty of equally bizarro musical numbers and characters. On July 11th, the Hollywood Theater and the The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players (JCCP) will present both films as part of a special Rocky Horror midnight matinee.
Shock Treatment continues the misadventures of Rocky Horror lovers Janet and Brad (played this time by Jessica Harper and Cliff De Young). The now married couple compete on a TV game show, only to discover they’re part of an insane, drug-fueled plot involving a fast food magnate and a mental hospital run by two wacky siblings. The film features many cast members from the original film, including O’Brien, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell Campbell.
The Hollywood Theater will screen a rare 35mm print of Shock Treatment at 10 p.m. followed by The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 11:45 p.m. Individual tickets are $5 to $8 for a single film, $12 for both films, and are available for purchase at Showclix.
On April 24th and April 25th, the Riverside Drive-In will present eight classic films for its annual April Ghouls Drive-In Super Monster-Rama. Their ninth spring program will highlight Italian horror (including works from Lucio Fulci), zombie fare, and timeless masterpieces. See schedule and details below:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
In 1974, director Tobe Hooper redefined the boundaries of horror with his seminal slasher film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Shot and set during a scorching summer in rural Texas, the classic work follows five young people who become victims of the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and his backwoods clan.
The Evil Dead
Five young people travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unwittingly unleash an evil presence related to a mysterious book. The 1981 independent horror film launched the careers of director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell.
Night of the Demons
A Halloween party in an abandoned funeral home turns deadly for a group of teens in this 1988 cult favorite.
Ravenous demons kill and possess humans trapped in a West Berlin movie theater in Italian director Lamberto Bava‘s 1985 film.
Dawn of the Dead
The 1978 sequel to Night of the Living Dead follows a group of people who take shelter in a mall in order to survive a zombie apocalypse. Director George Romero shot the film in Pittsburgh’s own Monroeville Mall.
A doctor searches for the cause and cure of an undead epidemic in Italian director Lucio Fulci‘s beloved 1979 work. The unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead goes by many titles, including Zombie 2: The Dead are Among Us, Zombie Flesh Eaters, and Woodoo.
The House By the Cemetery
A family moves into a New England home, unaware of the hell that awaits them in the basement. The 1981 film was the third installment of Lucio Fulci‘s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy.
A government pesticide transforms pot farmers into zombie-like creatures in this 1980 film from director Charles McCrann. Also known as Bloodeaters.
Gates open at 7 p.m. with films starting at dusk. Each evening will also include an array of vintage monster and exploitation movie trailers, cartoons, and concession stand classics in between features. Admission is $10 per person each night, free for children 12 and under with parent or adult guardian. Overnight camping is available on both nights for an additional $10 per person. Breakfast and access to restroom and shower facilities are provided.