Film and TV

Here's One Hint for Alamo Drafthouse's Next 'Secret Screening'

Every movie goer knows the pain and anguish of having to shell out money for a movie and realizing that the cash would have been better spent if they threw it into a fire. The modicum amount of heat that burning the cash could produce would give more to a just and fair society than Corky Romano ever could.

Such movies wouldn't be so bad if the guy at the ticket counter just blindfolded you, threw a dart at the marque and sold you a ticket instead. Sure you might still get stuck in a movie that sucked but at least you wouldn't have to wrestle with the fact that you voluntarily paid to see a movie like, I don't know, Corky Goddamn Romano.

The Alamo Drafthouse is offering an interesting solution to this all too common problem. They started screening free secret movies in which you don't learn what movie you're watching until the opening credits start rolling. Another "secret screening" is scheduled to roll out at 7:30 p.m. this Monday. It better not be a certain movie starring a certain guy who played a certain title movie character called Corky "Why Am I Allowed to Still Have Eyes After I Paid To See This in a Theater?" Romano.

The free, secret movie screenings started back in November and all of the movies come from the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit group founded by Drafthouse overlord Tim League that strives to collect and catalog rare and forgotten movies abandoned by studios and distribution centers.

"There is literally everything in there from the super obscure to huge genre films," says James Wallace, Alamo's creative director. "Tim started this foundation and got some huge people on board like Nicolas Winding Refn [the director of Drive] and Paul Thomas Anderson."

Wallace wanted to share some of these almost-lost gems with his legions of movie buffs but he wasn't sure if they would always draw a crowd. So turning the screening into a free, unannounced show gave the whole experience a sense of adventure and mystique. It also picks up the spirit of other traditional Alamo screenings that started in the chain's first Austin theater like Terror Tuesdays and Weird Wednesdays.

"The reason I started this series was to showcase some of the best that the AGFA has to offer and it's some of the weirdest stuff that people have never heard of who wouldn't know how to get it and seek out for themselves," Wallace says. "That's part of the fun of making it a secret. Part of the fun is not knowing what you're going to see. It's like a grab bag thing."

The series officially started in November but it's become a monthly traditional for the Richardson theater. Past secret screenings include the bizarre Asian horror film Raw Force (aka Kung Fu Cannibals), the 80's zombie classic Night of the Comet and an early action vehicle for a young John Stamos, Never Too Young to Die.

"The way we promote these is we give a couple of hints leading in and we leave them vague so people who know their stuff can get it," Wallace says. "Part of the fun is you don't know what you're going to see until you get up there and show them. Sometimes I don't even have an intro and I just let the credits roll. There's nothing cooler than being in an audience and not knowing what you're going to watch until the title comes on the screen and it's something that some people know. It's a cool moment."

Wallace says this month's secret screening hint is "If you hate spiders, you're either going to have or love this AGFA secret screening." Does anyone remember if Corky Romano had spiders in it?

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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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