An Interview with the team behind Coolidge @fter Midnight
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 14:10
The @fter Midnight series at Coolidge Corner Theater may feature the most diverse film programming in all of Boston. Screening films (normally more than one, and almost always in 35mm, an increasing rarity in this city) every Friday and Saturday night, every week, the Coolidge contingent has spent the past years programming films from all over the history of cinema. Not content to simply program ‘canon' midnight classics (though they certainly don't shy away from them; you would be unwise to miss one of their incredibly fun "Evil Dead II" screenings), you can see everything here from art house hits ("Oldboy", for example) to touring phenomenon's ("The Room" and "The Human Centipede") to grindhouse classics ("Rolling Thunder" and various works of Italian genre masters like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento) to teen movies ("Clueless").
And they have also began to group their programs together as repertory series', with programs like Summer Camp movies ("Wet Hot American Summer" is always a big hit) in June. It can sometimes be tough to find films like "The Beyond" on dvd, and the Coolidge is the only place in Boston you'll find programming of this manner. They have filled this repertory void in Boston for over ten years, and it may be on its hottest streak yet.
And this weekend could be one of their very best yet. There's really no better way to celebrate Halloween than by watching classic horror films with a fully costumed crowd, and the Coolidge is ready to let you do that all night long. Friday night kicks things off with a perfect primer, with John Landis' best film (sorry, "Blues Brothers") "An American Werewolf in London". Quite honestly one of the finest American films of the past three decades, "Werewolf" gleefully mixes comedy, horror, surrealism (Landis marks Bunuel as an influence, for those keeping track), gore, and Landis' impeccable editing style to create a true masterwork. On 35mm, this is a must see for any films fans.
But that's just the start, as from midnight Saturday Night to noon Sunday the Coolidge will present their 11th annual horror marathon. The schedule is literally dense with classics throughout the night, with films coming from all different countries and eras. Kicking off with Dario Argento's hallucinogenic "Suspiria" and continuing through "Return of the Living Dead", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (the grindhouse classic, not the unfortunate remake), "Hardware", "Demons 2", other surprises, this year's Horror Marathon will undoubtedly satisfy every taste you have for scares.
In anticipation, @fter Midnight programmers Jesse Hassinger and Mark Anastasio sat down with me to discuss the series, the marathon, their favorite (and least favorite) midnight crowds, and all the film goodness they're putting together for the future of the series. Compiled are our discussions about the series itself.
What are your movie tastes like, specifically?
Jesse Hassinger: What we do is a pretty good representation of what my interests are.
Well then, are there any films you program that you don't like?
JH: Ya. I'll get to that. In terms of stuff that I like programming, all the classic horror films are a lot of fun. I enjoy those quite a bit. But I really love the old cult stuff too, "Eraserhead", "Pink Flamingos", Jodorowski's films. The series that we did this past spring was probably the closest to my heart; where we played all of those and "Maniac".
So pretty much the kind of film that invented the term ‘midnight movie'.
JH: They did! I mean, "El Topo" was really the first one, and "Pink Flamingos". The films that really were passion projects for the directors, or at least just directors who were strange enough to be making these wacky films and finding funding for them.
Now, do we ever show anything we don't like…. "The Room" is not something that we are fans of.
Mark Anastasio: The crowds have gotten better for that. Those first few "Room" crowds were very rowdy. It's fun to see rowdy crowds at midnight, but it wasn't the right kind of rowdiness. It would get to be like a Patriots game. Guys were yelling hateful, misogynistic things at the screen. It would turn it into a bummer, for everybody. So that's a crappy midnight crowd. It's a guaranteed box office…
JH: At this point we don't even need to advertise it. We probably don't even have to put it up on the website in advance with a date. Within a week, 200 people show up…. Mark has been great doing introductions for the midnights, and creating a rapport with the "Room" crowd.
MA: I've almost got them tamed, ya know? I know what to say to make them second-guess being shitty…. That's a crappy crowd. But something like "Evil Dead II", when they're laughing, quoting along, making fun of Ash in a way that makes the audience laugh… that stuff is fine with me. Talk during the film, just as long as it's –
JH: About the film.
Are there any films you've always wanted to play, but can't track down?
JH: I guess there are a couple on our list.... "Predator" and "Point Break" are two.
MA: There are two prints that we know of (in regards to "Point Break"), and their not giving them up. The HFA has one.
JH: They just won't give it to us. And it's being remade now, so it'll be impossible. And "Predator", no 35mm prints exist. They all got junked.
I know you guys are starting up new series, like the ‘Hey Ladies' midnights aimed at women. I have to ask… are you going to play "Mean Girls"? And of course, what else do you guys have coming up in the next months?
JH: We are gonna be playing "Mean Girls". We don't know when, but that will be one of the next three ‘Ladies' Nights' shows. Were kind of striking out in November to do quote-a-thons. We're doing "Dumb and Dumber" November 4th, that'll be the first one we do. We'll see how it goes. Also in November we're doing something called ‘Analog Awesomeness'.