First Friday Fright Nights at the Colonial Theatre

Just because Halloween has come and gone doesn’t mean that the local horror film screenings will stop.  Setting the always reliable 14-year-old Exhumed Films group aside, there’s a younger trio of genre programmers that have been operating out of Phoenixville’s historic Colonial Theatre, a venue perhaps best known as a shooting location for the 1958 horror classic The Blob.  They don’t have a collective name, but they’re responsible for both the Cult Cinema and First Friday Fright Nights programs, the latter of which is the theater’s best-attended regular program that attracts horror fans from all corners of the Delaware Valley.

“First Friday Fright Nights started back in 2008.  It was actually started by Bob Trate who moved to California,” explains co-programmer Joel Rickenbach [pictured right, alongside Chuck Francisco, left, and Nick Lombardo, center].  “He would pick the films and introduce them and we’ve taken over those duties since he left.”

“I always said during the first year of FFFF that it was like Exhumed Films year one where you had a lot of the big films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Reanimator,” adds Lombardo.  “Since all of those titles have been shown, these days we’re getting more into the stuff that doesn’t get run as much.”

The group take turns suggesting films, which leads to a great deal of diversity in programming.  “I wanted to run Pieces, which we ran in September.  Chuck was down for The Warriors and Joel was responsible for Nightbreed.  Exhumed, since they’ve been around for 14 years, have much more of a built-in audience.  We’re still building ours, title-by-title.”

Like Exhumed, the FFFF crew insist upon screening their selections on actual film.  “I’m a total film purist,” says Lombardo who, like his collaborators, has a vast knowledge of genre film history, but, unlike said collaborators, is the proud owner of a full Phantom of the Paradise costume.  “There’s something about going out and seeing a real 35mm print that played drive-ins and theaters in 1978 or whenever it was released.  We want these films to be shown the way that we, as fans, want to see them.”

With a successful year behind them, 2012 promises some exciting expansions for FFFF attendees.  “We want to do double-features so that we can play one thing that will draw people and then follow it with something more obscure,” says Francisco.  An additional night of monthly programming focusing on beloved ‘80s films is also a possibility.

This Friday sees a screening of the Walter Hill gang classic The Warriors followed on Saturday by a screening of MST3K’s Manos: The Hands of Fate.  Future screenings are listed below.

First Friday Fright Night:
Friday, December 2 : Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Friday, January 13 : Friday the 13th Part VII (1988)
Friday, February 3 : My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Friday, March 2 : Night of the Creeps (1986)

Colonial Cult Cinema:
Friday, November 11 : The Warriors (1979)
Saturday, November 12 : MST3K: Manos The Hands of Fate
Friday, December 30 : Die Hard (1988)
Friday, January 20 : The Big Lebowski (1998)
Friday, February 17 : MST3K: Time Chasers
Friday, March 16 : Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *