The Alamo Drafthouse has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the greatest movie theaters in the history of mankind…or at least the history of movie theaters. With their signature events, ample food and drink selection, and strict no-talking policy, they make obsolete all tawdry multiplexes and completely redefine the movie-going experience. Here’s what they’re up to this week!
Summer of 1982: The Thing
Alamo Ritz 6/22-6/25 (Check Daily Times)
Sometimes I think I moved to Texas, to winters devoid of ice and blizzards, was to unequivocally avoid finding a frozen space monsters capable of adopting the forms of my friends. John Carpenter’s The Thing is a legitimate classic down to the last fiber on the last jacket of the last survivors. One of the rare occasions in which a remakes surpass the original, The Thing is a terrifying and beautiful exploration of isolation and paranoia that proved once and for all that there is nothing cooler than Kurt Russell holding a flamethrower.
Rolling Roadshow: The Unknown w/Live Score
Laguna Gloria 6/22 7:30
The Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow events are among its greatest inventions. So much of the appeal of film is experiential and goes far beyond the images on the screen. This week, the Alamo invites you to experience one of the most unusual and oddly captivating silent films from the dawn of cinema in arguably the best possible setting. You get to see Lon Chaney, the man of 1,000 faces, ply his trade with a live score by Les Freres Meduses and enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by Alamo head chef/food wizard John Bullington. Well worth the price of admission.
Bob Dorough Presents: Schoolhouse Rock
Alamo South Lamar 6/23 4:00pm
If you are anything like me, you probably learned more from Schoolhouse Rock than you did from actual school. Even growing up in the late 80s, my Schoolhouse Rock VHS tapes were prized possessions and so vital to my understanding of things like The Revolutionary War, electricity, and especially conjunctions. The Alamo Drafthouse is actually bringing out Bob Dorough, the former musical director of the show, to play the songs we all know and love. Even if your name isn’t Bill, don’t pass on this golden opportunity.
Summer of 1982: The Sword and The Sorcerer
Alamo South Lamar 6/24 9:50pm; Alamo Village 6/27 10:00pm
Not all the movies that were released in the summer of 1982 scored high on the various criteria of film school quality scale. However, that’s not to say that The Sword and The Sorcerer isn’t great, it just exists in a universe where quality has a very different definition. It’s just as sweaty and sword-and-sandal-y as Conan, but features a production design that rivals the album covers of the most talentless 80s metal bands. Say what you will about the cheesy, half-assed, sinfully entertaining mechanics of The Sword and The Sorcerer, at least you get two sword blades for the price of one.
Weird Wednesday: Surprise Title
Alamo Ritz 6/27 10:00pm
Weird Wednesday represents what I love most about the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s a weekly series in which the most bizarre, indescribable, and long-forgotten genre films are celebrated and adored. It’s like a drive-in film school where your degree is printed on a reel of dusty, beautiful celluloid. Programmer Lars Nielsen is a living encyclopedia of every subgenre in the book, as well as all the off-branching subgenres for which the books have yet to be written. Therefore most weeks’ titles are surprises, glorious hidden gems waiting to be discovered. This week’s film is an even greater mystery as its title is being kept secret. If history has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t afford not to be there.
Best of Houston
Zzang!!!: Rocky IV
Alamo Mason Park 6/21 7:30pm
In Rocky III, the character and the franchise went from being a scrappy, underdog sports hero to a cape-free superhero capable of facing down all manner of evil mutant threats. In Rocky IV, the Italian Stallion, still not wearing a cape for some reason, battles supervillain Dolph Lundgren and, in grand comic book style, they beat each other to within an inch of their respective lives. Not only that, but Rocky saves the world from Communism singlehandedly! He may have been trading blows with Drago, but he might as well have been punching down the Berlin Wall. Eye of the Tiger!
Badass 101: Tombstone
Alamo Mason Park 6/24 6:30
Westerns are not everyone’s cup of sarsaparilla, and I totally understand that. But there’s something so invitingly blockbuster-y about George P. Cosmatos’ Tombstone that makes it the perfect gateway drug for the genre. Kurt Russell, armed with a six-shooter and one of cinema’s greatest moustaches, takes on the loathsome Cowboy gang alongside his brothers and Wyatt Earp, played with career-defining poise by Val Kilmer. The shootouts, the music, the glossy production design, and the cast list as long as the Rio Grande all contribute to making Tombstone a truly badass piece of filmmaking.
Weird Wednesday: Lady Terminator
Alamo Mason Park 6/27 10:00pm
I’m all for the protection of intellectual property, but sometimes I miss great knockoff movies. Sure, we got that Asylum crap now, but there was a time when computers could not bail out the untalented, they had to fail far more gloriously in their quest to emulate for profit. Enter Lady Terminator…at your own risk. This Indonesian rip-off of James Cameron’s seminal sci-fi actioner feels like it was written by someone who never saw Terminator, but rather played charades with someone who pantomimed the whole movie and then wrote down what they saw. Prepare to have your funny bone, and your faith in late 80s international copyright, terminated.
Best of San Antonio
Alamo Westlakes 6/21 7:30pm
What really bothers me about M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, apart from the whole “let’s run from the wind” bit, is that for a while it managed to convince the whole world that Mark Wahlberg had never before committed anything that stupid to film. I direct them back to 1996 and a little film called Fear. Wahlberg manages to make psycho boyfriends a little less scary by presenting one who is also almost completely brain dead. Beat your chest all you want, Marky Mark, you’re still years away from that Planet of the Apes remake.
Operation Comfort Benefit: Saving Private Ryan
Alamo Stone Oak 6/21 7:00pm
Seeing a truly great movie at the Alamo is fantastic, doing so for the benefit of our armed forces is phenomenal. Operation Comfort provides support for the recreational rehabilitation needs for wounded soldiers as well as financial assistance for their families. All admission proceeds will be donated to Operation Comfort. I can think of no better film to remind us of the selflessness and sacrifice of our armed forces than Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.
Blazing Saddles Quote-Along
Alamo Stone Oak 6/27 7:00pm
Great comedies are often measured by their quotability; by how readily we can spout the jokes and one-liners long after the credits roll. Mel Brooks is an absolute master capable of constructing pitch-perfect punchlines we all love to repeat. Blazing Saddles is definitely among his very best films and, having attended a quote-along of this film a couple of months ago, I can guarantee there will be no shortage of hilarity for you to belt out in a room full of like-minded Brooksphiles. Don’t be a pawn in the game of life; go see the Blazing Saddles Quote-Along.