What would it take for you to get up, leave your house, spend a few dollars ... all to enjoy a film that you already own on DVD? Put another way, would you fly halfway across the country to see a brand-new 35mm print of your all-time favorite movie? Well I did last weekend! As it stands I only need the flimsiest of excuses to visit Austin, Texas, but last week I had a chance to see a friend's film in front of a packed, horror-hungry crowd (it was The Collector, and I dug it) -- followed only a few days later by an Alamo Drafthouse sold-out screening of (wait for it) Ridley Scott's A L I E N. The near-flawless* sci-fi horror film that still resides at #1 on my lifetime list.
So I sat down with a bunch of great friends (and a huge batch of wonderfully well-behaved audience members) to see a film I've gone over ... about 25 times. So what new stuff did I see? First off, I was struck by how much the audience loved Yaphet Kotto as the ever-griping space mechanic known as Parker. He's the only real source of light humor in the film, and virtually all of his dialog was met by appreciative chuckles from the audience. Especially when he keeps warning Dallas and Ash to "freeze it, freeze the damn thing! Why don't they freeze it?"
I expected this seasoned movie crowd to hoot and holler through the little alien's dinner table debut, but nope ... a theater packed with hardcore A L I E N fans and they all sat stock-still, either frozen by the scene's impact (yet again) or choosing to remain dead silent out of respect for their co-viewers. (THIS is why you watch old movies at the Alamo, people.) I did notice a few unexpected giggles when nasty old Ash flips his lid, but I suppose that's inevitable for such a strange and shocking scene. But things got serious again in a hurry.
But of course the true highlight of seeing this sort of film on the big screen is this: It looks like an actual movie. I don't care how big your TV is and it matters not one whit how blu your discs are: Home video is an approximation of the theatrical experience, and as far as A L I E N goes, there's nothing like the sweat, the steam, the sounds, and the strobe lights pounding on you from a big-time movie screen.
Plus, Sigourney Weaver just looks prettier on the big screen.
Big thanks to the Alamo for the awesome evening. I even had cheese fries and a milk shake while I watched Harry Dean Stanton chase that darn cat into the jaws of a space monster. Now that's a fun night.
* This was the "director's cut" of A L I E N, which lessened my geekiness by only about 1.5%. I truly prefer the theatrical cut of the film, for many nerdish reasons, but this version still brought me back to my beloved childood nightmares.