My girlfriend and I made our first trip out to Cinema 16:9 last fall for a Troll 2/Best Worst Movie double-feature (the former of which we would see again shortly [though on film] at December’s Exhumed show while the latter was a real treat since Cinema 16:9 was the only theater in the Philadelphia-area to show the documentary, which Cinedelphia highly recommends). We were both impressed with theater manager David Titus’ hospitality and Katie was especially psyched about the fancy snacks at the concession stand.
Two weeks ago I returned to the theater to interview David and attend his weekly Terrible Tuesday screening in which attendees are encouraged to verbally mock the surprise cinematic atrocity of the week. That week’s selection was a spaghetti western from the director of Zombie Holocaust entitled Between God, the Devil and a Winchester (aka God Was in the West, Too, at One Time). Post-interview I killed time in the lobby with a flight of Fentimans sodas, a line of specialty fizzy beverages with recipes that date back to 1905 and tastes to match. But regardless of my picky palate, the concept was creative and well worth my $3.50. I wasn’t really up for a bad movie considering that Katie and I had just sat through twelve hours of exploitation madness three days earlier so I stepped outside for a few minutes in order to prepare for the oncoming storm.
What follows is a transcription of my furiously scribbled notes from the evening, slightly edited for cohesion’s sake. Enjoy.
Theater owner David Titus’ backwards fitted baseball hat reads “This movie is great”. He ominously turns it around as the crowd files into the theater, the opposite side reads “This movie is terrible”. Everyone settles in as one of my fellow fifteen attendees asks “So who’s beaten Portal 2?” and I immediately realize what I’m in for.
Cinema 16:9 shows the same amount of pre-show “entertainment” as your average mainstream theater. The parade of pre-show commercials/trailers features the historic Lansdowne Theater, Terrible Tuesdays, the aforementioned Fentimans, something community-related that I forget, Cinema 16:9 thongs, Rubber, and a film starring Ryan Phillippe as a combat photographer in South Africa. The crowd talks through them, but are strangely silent during the latter. These are followed by a vintage educational short that David referred to earlier as “the boring Night at the Museum.” An unconvincing statue of Archimedes comes to life and learns the wonders of modern agriculture and printing presses. “They could have at least frozen him in carbonite,” says one of the attendees prior to Archie’s animation. “Is this Mein Kampf?” asks another, referencing something that I’m apparently missing. “No, it’s your kampf,” replies another. Archie is taught the wonders of the modern telephone. “Did long distance exist back then?” “Long distances didn’t exist back then.” “That guy is so high.” I turn around to make sure he was referring to the glossy-eyed scientist on screen. “He’s wearing a cape and a toga so he’s, what, Supergreek?” A woman pulls a book from a shelf. “Haha, she’s gonna read a book.” “Girls can’t read,” responds one of four females in attendance. Archie gets the last word: “All these people, different as they may be, are mechanical engineers.”
The main feature is a dull Spanish/Italian co-production shot primarily outdoors. An attendee reacts to the film’s top hatted flim flam man: “Back then he was just a skuzzy hatter.” Another comments on the comment of another: “He actually does look like the sixth Doctor.” The title card appears: “Well, Pedro, where are we going on a date? The Winchester?” The most inexplicable joke of the night comes courtesy of an attendee in a Phantasm t-shirt in reference to an onscreen man who stands in front of a log cabin: “I was born in 37 log cabins.” I’ve started to notice that all of the attendees have their own style. One woman poses comedic inquiries designed to spark conversation, an expert at the set-up. Another specializes in risque, Speedy Gonzales-like impersonations of the Mexicans onscreen. My personal favorite attendee deals solely in jokes revolving around posteriors. “Dora the Explorer, how does that rhyme?” asks one of the attendees quite randomly. “It’s Dora the Assplorer,” replies my fave. The film goes on forever as does the crowd’s references to Indiana Jones, The Office, Michael Bay, and Metal Gear. “There’s Juan Valdez.” “And there’s two Valdez, three Valdez…” “Remember our agreement,” advises an onscreen cowboy. “Remember our penis?” questions a falsely confused attendee. Some of the jokes should go over my head, but instead remind me of just how hopelessly entrenched in the popular culture I actually am. Comment: “I saw Crystal Skull.” Reply: “Best X-Files movie I saw that year.” My favorite guy keeps falling asleep, but occasionally awakens to recite a gem or two such as when a character references their destination of Estacado and he chimes in “Estastikit up yours.” Sometimes the crowd gets sidetracked, entering into deep discussions about Man vs. Wild or Mario Bros. “Give me graph paper and I can draw Level 1-1 of that game.”
The film itself is indeed terrible, its only highlights include a hero with a metal hand and a horse that’s pushed off of a cliff (not that I condone that, but it’s a real jaw-dropper). Cinedelphia highly recommends those of you that can’t imagine talking over a film to grab your one-hitter and head out to 16:9 for a Tuesday night to remember.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com 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.