"Just so we're clear, I don't intend to write a sentimental history about Retro's 20th birthday or an introduction to one, if that's what you're thinking. All I mean to do here is share some of my best lies.
But the fact is it all started 20 years ago when a group of criminally-handsome guys (including myself, Matt Pennachi, and Adam Hulin) ran a midnight screening of Friday the 13th Part 2. There was no science fiction double feature in those days, no Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' singing "how something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong", and there were absolutely no door prizes. About the only thing in common on that night--- then as it is now--- was our James Cameron-like ability to never begin a movie on time. Advertised start times were for places like Cannes, I'm only saying.
This July-December season is a "Greatest Hits" edition of our past twenty years. The line-up speaks for itself. From Dune to The Thing and Night of the Hunter to Clue, these are the movies that successfully transformed that first screening starring a machete-wielding psychopath into the beloved, nostalgia-soaked, mother-of-pearl, "you-are-there" film series we know today. Let's add "wickedly entertaining" to that above-written sentence. It's not like there's an adjective shortage.
Since that first night in 1998, you've seen my hair turn from mostly brown to mostly gray, and probably helped the process along in any way you could. You've seen the fall of 35mm and the rise of digital cinema. Older movie stars have passed the torches to newer ones, even though the older torches were just fine. Siskel and Ebert died. And my love for Haunted Honeymoon remains ironclad. Once upon a time there were also dragons.
Retro celebrates 20 years by returning to the gravesite of the movie that started it all. Hard to believe, but we've never re-screened Friday the 13th Part 2 since premiering with it. A voice deeper than any of us tells me the time for that service has come. And this unassuming little horror movie which changed the course of this historic Theatre once by drawing a midnight crowd, perhaps changes it again by staging a comeback in 2018, in spite of anyone who never cared much about watching old movies in downtown Durham until Retro came calling.
And there's no need to remind everyone on the planet about ancient times when movies played on silver screens and pterodactyls skulked round our watering holes because, if you've read thus far, you already realize why Retro continues to endure. As Jack Nicholson learned in The Shining, no matter wherever you may roam, you leave a ghost of yourself behind. And in that place the party runs on and on and on...
Happy Birthday, Retro.
RetroFantasma(Horror, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction from 1920-1998)
Genre movies should be fun to watch, plain and simple. For that, they need to have all the other ingredients of a good movie. A compelling story to pull us in. Intriguing characters whose fate we must know, and movie makers who respect their audience and have something to say. Just when we think we have the plot all figured out, a good genre movie throws us for a loop and leaves us gasping. A new revelation is exposed, with startling implications. Or a character is not what he or she appears to be. Even directors whom aren't really considered as genre directors have contributed some of their best work in the form of the genre movie. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Steven Spielberg's Jaws are not only some of the best genre films ever made, but also some of the best movies ever made, period.
RetroClassics(Dramas, War, Westerns, and Action-Adventure from 1920-1998)
Some of the best movies ever made don't contain a single moment of special effects. It's all about a good story that can make you think, reflect, feel, and react emotionally. If the movie doesn't have a juicy, complex, emotional, heart-wrenching, personal, intelligent, connectable theme for the audience, it's dead in the water. The human adventure has illuminated films that sometimes make us laugh, tremble or nod in recognition. Whether set in the Old West, a deserted island with ten strangers, or a simple Chicago suburb, there's something commercial about these films; something that connects instead of detracts. And this is what a good dramatic movie should do.
RetroTreasures(Comedies, Musicals, Cult and Animation from 1920-1998)
The old adage is true: Drama is easy, but comedy is hard. Moviegoers love to laugh, but not everyone has the same sense of humor. Not everyone likes it when someone bursts into song in front of them, either. A good comedy or musical has characters people can relate to and come off as genuine. They can range from the light-hearted satires to the absurd. While comedies can gain material from serious life situations, most end happily and resolve any conflicts that arise throughout the film. What's the purpose of this series? To leave the theatre feeling happy.
RetroNoir(Crime-Thrillers, Potboilers, and Melodramas from 1920-1998)
Film Noir means "dark movie, indicating a sense of something sinister and shadowy, but also expressing a style of cinematography, and with a dark twisted wit. Often adaptations of American crime novels, the classic era of film noir dates between the early 1940s and the late 1950s and contains roughly 300 or so movies in its canon. So, brace yourself. Here enters the private detective---a scarred, brooding fella who for his considerable flaws is sympathetic. And the ladies? They're brazen, sexual femme fatales, more often than not smarter, and more powerful, than the guys. Later editions will explore "Neo-noir" (Body Heat, LA Confidential), but this season will focus mainly on classic films with dark, pessimistic themes and alienated antiheroes, rain slicked streets, dark shadows and seductive dames. If you like your films hard-boiled, this is the series you've been searching for.
Jim CarlSenior Director
Special Thanks January-June 2018 to Waheeda Ali, 20th Century Fox, Sean Bednarz, Funimation Films, Brian Belovarac, Janus Films, Bret Berg, AGFA, Chris Chouinard, Park Circus, Jesse Chow, Universal Pictures, Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures, Charles M. Fries, Fries Films, Inc., Kelvin Gardner, Lionsgate Pictures, Harry Guerro, Jonathan Hertzberg, Kino Lorber, Michael Horne, Sony Pictures Repertory, Chance Huskey, GKIDS, Sharon Lester, Rainbow Releasing, Tiffany Greenburg, Swank Motion Pictures, Tracey O'Brien, Criterion Pictures, Wyatt Ollestad, MPI Media Group, Leah Rubin, Warner Brothers, Juliette Spinner, Paramount Pictures, David Szulkin, Grindhouse Releasing.
Special Thanks July-December 2018 to Waheeda Ali, 20th Century Fox, Bret Berg, American Genre Film Archive, Dennis Chong, Universal Pictures Repertory, Chris Chouinard, Park Circus Repertory, Ben Crossley-Marra, Janus Films, Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures, James Dudelson, Blairwood Entertainment, Jack Durwood, Paramount Pictures Repertory, Tiffany Greenwood, Swank Motion Picture Repertory, Harry Guerro, Garagehouse Pictures, Jonathan Hertzberg, Kino Lorber Repertory, Robert Hiltzik, Sleepaway Camp Productions, Andrew Jacobs, Lionsgate Pictures, Dave Jennings, Sony Pictures Repertory, Kristy Jett, Popcorn Productions, Russ Meyers Estate, Tracey O'Brien, Criterion Pictures, Wyatt Ollestad, MPI Media, Brian Sturgulewski, Flicker Alley, Imani WiIlkinson, Warner Brothers Repertory."