Cheapskates' Guide to Film: Five Free Weekend Movies

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For all its flash and bling, Dallas is a pretty easy city to do on the cheap. Take this weekend: With the Oak Cliff Film Fest in town, cinematic scavengers can feast on five freebie scraps at both outdoor and indoor viewings. Over at Strauss Square, you're invited to RSVP for a seat, or simply sprawl in the grass and catch Basquiat, it's this month's pick as the monthly free Sunset Screening put on by AT&T Center and the Dallas Film Society. (And since Strauss Square is now BYOB, you can bring wine and snacks with you and look like a total gentlemen, rather than "a seedy dude who brings booze where he shouldn't.")

Here's a free movie schedule for this weekend:

Friday 6.15 Matango (1963), Poolside at the Belmont (9 p.m.) Tuesday Night Trash is always free at Texas Theatre, and during the film fest it's popping up poolside at the Belmont for extra screenings on Friday and Saturday. I went last night for the 1984 belly flop, Monster Shark, and it was more fun than Sharktopus and Jaws IV (Jaws does the Bahamas!), combined.

Friday's screening is Matango and here's a patchy breakdown of plot points: A Japanese yacht goes all "three hour tour" during a violent storm. Now, it's island time. There's little to eat, aside from fields of possibly poisonous mushrooms; eventually, some people try 'em. Those who do discover that the fungus carries a shape-shifting quality, turning humans into MUSHROOM PEOPLE! I'd say I just ruined it for you, but the alternative names of this film are Matango: Fungus of Terror and Attack of the Mushroom People, so I sense you would have figured it out. You're sharp.

The bar is open and takes both cards and cash during these screenings. A few chairs are available, but bringing a blanket isn't a bad idea. Also, mosquitoes. If those little suckers love you, pack heat with a deterrent.

Saturday 6.16 Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel, Oil and Cotton, (5 p.m.) Escape the punishing sun and duck into this Oak Cliff artist nook for a free doc about a cornerstone of American film culture, Amos Vogel. Paul Cronin directs this work, giving us needed background on Vogel, who ran the most influential film society in New York from 1947 on, until founding the New York Film Festival in 1963.

Basquiat (1996), Annette Strauss Square, (8:30 p.m.) Ladies, you get to see David Bowie play Andy Warhol. I'm just going to let you enjoy that art/music nerd fantasy for a minute.... Okay. Enough.

This biopic about the life of our most famous homeless street artist/post-expressionist is the perfect excuse for a picnic. (Check out the rules regarding cooler size, etc. here. Bevies are also available for purchase, should you be feeling flush.) I think you should shell a little dough to get into the Nasher before the screening; they have one of Basquiat's pieces in the downstairs permanent gallery. Look smart, be cheap, have the best date ever.

The Seducers/Top Sensation (1969), Poolside at the Belmont, (9 p.m.) This Eurotrash shirt-ripper has been described as "an orgy of violence and terror." So... you're in.

Carrying the water-theme of Tuesday Night Trash's special poolside offerings, this sleazy Italian thriller puts a bunch of terrible humans on a boat then leaves them to their own devices. Spoiler alert: things get all racy and murdery. You'll laugh, drink and applaud.

The Cynic, The Rat and The Fist (1977), Bishop Arts Theater, (10 p.m.) Directed by low-budget Italian crime flick guru Umberto Lenzi, this goodie has all necessary components of a great smash-'em-up from Europe: New York gangsters wrestling for control of Rome's organized crime scene, an amoral escaped convict, and -- you guessed it -- a police officer with a personal axe to grind.

Need more free stuff to color your cultural life? Don't forget that East Dallas Gallery Day is this Saturday, the 16th. Nine of our favorite hotspots will have open doors from noon to 9 p.m., and they'll have free beer. You're welcome.

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