If you have followed me on Twitter for any period of time, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain based in Austin, Texas. I fell in love with the company as an undergraduate student in Texas and continue my unwavering devotion to them while in New York, counting down the days until they open their new location at 99th and Broadway. Normally, the fact that I will soon have my very own Drafthouse is enough to get me through the day; however, every now and then, my college or Paracinema friends will talk about an event they are attending and I will go into a jealous rage. This was the scene yesterday morning when a friend asked me for some ideas to help them put together their Ultimate Movie Party pitch. Help them brainstorm party ideas for an event half a world away from me and that I have practically no chance at attending?
I actually did throw out a couple of ideas, but I was grumpy about it.
This got me thinking, though. Ok, so maybe there won’t be a New York City Drafthouse until 2014, but what’s preventing me from putting together my own Ultimate Drafthouse Party just for the fun of it? The answer: absolutely nothing.
The LabSplice Ultimate Movie Party
John Carpenter’s The Thing
The Pre-Event: A Big Ol’ Game of “Mafia”
If you’re not familiar with Mafia, it is a party game that involves secret roles and group deliberation, which is a perfect match for the tense uncertainty and group dynamics of the 1982 film. Instead of mafia members, you have two or more people who have been replaced by perfect copies of the civilians, and it is the job of the group – with the help of Dr. Blair (the Wilford Brimley character) and “sheriff” R.J MacReady (Kurt Russell) – to figure out who lives and who dies. As the basic game of mafia allows for a great deal of customization, you could also change the rules so that people are not killed during the night but are instead replaced by alien replicas. Imagine the host leading that session – “Ok, everybody wake up! Nobody was killed during the evening, but you did find a bundle of bloody clothes. You can’t read the name badge.” If the main group of 50 people is too many, then you can break off into five groups of ten. It may not be quite as much fun as tying your friends to a chair and testing their blood with a hot needle, but you stand a better chance at having them talk to you again.
The Meal: Turducken
If you ask anyone about The Thing, the main image that probably sticks in their head is the shot of the creature rearing up at the end, featuring aspects of every person and animal it has replaced up to that point. So what better food to represent this unholy monstrosity of fusion than turducken, a dish made of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck stuffed into a de-boned turkey? Just like the creature in The Thing, turducken is an amorphous blob of flesh that features recognizable parts of the things that it used to be. And just like the creature in The Thing, its ridiculous premise would be much more appealing if explained in the gruff voice of Wilford Brimley. Though it probably wouldn’t help him at all with his diabetes.
The Clips: Assorted Clips From Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, The Faculty, Screamers, Virus, The Thing From Another World; the South Park parody of The Thing; clips from other John Carpenter/Kurt Russell movies
Whenever you sit down for an event at the Alamo Drafthouse, instead of advertisements before the film, you usually will watch a series of movie and television clips that tie into the theme. So I’m stealing that idea too. Each of the movies featured under the assorted clips is both a science fiction film and a little bit on the campy side, so it’s the perfect assortment of clips to get people in the mood for some pure science fiction/horror brilliance. Particular emphasis would be given to The Thing From Another World, the source material for Carpenter’s version of the movie. Meanwhile, the South Park parody of the blood testing scene from The Thing remains one of my favorite movie gags the show has ever done and would be the perfect transition point to the PSA and/or the beginning of the credits. To round things out, you can throw in some clips from the other works of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, giving everyone a chance to remember their favorite Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China scenes. My personal favorite is a supercut someone put together of why Kurt Russel didn’t have a script during the shoot of the latter.
Post-Screening: Group Play of 2002’s The Thing; cocktail reception and dessert
In 2002, the video game design company Computer Artworks released a video game sequel to The Thing under the same name – which means that there is The Thing, the movie prequel to The Thing called The Thing, and a video game sequel to The Thing also called The Thing. At any rate, the game received strong reviews as a mixture of action and psychological horror and even features an extended cameo by John Carpenter as a secondary character (one only needs to follow John Carpenter on Twitter to see how much he loves video games). While the game looks slightly dated now, when projected up on the big screen, the atmosphere and the sound effects should be plenty to create a nice creepy environment for the group. Meanwhile, those who have no interest in the game could enjoy their cocktail receptions and their dessert – cherries jubilee serve in petri dishes and lit on fire using the same blowtorch/needle combination from the movie. Yes, you did read that right. Flaming petri dish desserts.
On second thought, I’d be willing to give up on everything else as long as I got that last bit.
So there you have it! My Alamo Drafthouse Ultimate Movie Party, if I were lucky enough to live in a city that had an Alamo Drafthouse that was more put together than just a banner on a marquee. For those of you in an Alamo Drafthouse city, I hope you will be formally submitting your own party ideas – but for the rest of us, if you had your very own movie theater at your beck and call, what kind of a screening would you put together?