Monday, April 09, 2007

Great Moments in Projectionist History

Remember how in David Fincher's film Fight Club, Brad Pitt's character Tyler Durden got a gig as projectionist and inserted porn loops into mainstream feature films? A great subversive moment in film projectionist history.

Locally, Baltimore's own film and art provocateur tENTATIVELY a. cONVENIENCE (Michael Tolson) had a gig working on Baltimore's Block, where he would carefully edit footage of his own grinning face into the "money shot" climaxes of the 8mm porn reels - perhaps the ultimate erotic buzz kill. Another great moment in film projectionist history.

Now word comes from Ghoul a-Go Go's hunchbacked co-host/projectionist Creighton, that a projectionist accidentally screened the horror splatter platter The Hills Have Eyes 2 in place of family film The Last Mimzy. How great is that? Here's the scoop:

Theater apologizes for horror film mixup
(April 6, 2007, 10:03 PM EDT)

The operator of the Holtsville theater that showed the graphic opening scene of a horror movie to an unwitting family audience apologized Friday and said it would work with the theater's managers to prevent a reoccurrence.

National Amusements, operator of Island 16 multiplex and 1,500 movie screens in the United States and abroad, said the R-rated "The Hills Have Eyes 2" was "started in error" at 8 p.m. Thursday instead of the scheduled PG-rated movie, "The Last Mimzy," but declined to elaborate on the nature of the error.

The Wes Craven horror flick was scheduled to play in the same theater at 10:25 p.m.

"National Amusements extends its deepest apologies to the children and families in the audience," spokeswoman Wanda Whitson said in a statement. "We are working with our theater's managers to correct this situation and ensure that it does not happen again."

Island 16 moviegoers criticized National Amusements Friday for not going into further detail and said the company had a responsibility to disclose what happened.

"That's not even something I would go see by myself," said Frank Doll, 31, of Mastic, who was in the audience with his children when the opening scene started without warning, before the film's opening credits.

The real problem, he added, was the sequence's lingering effects on his 3-year-old son, Frankie. "The Hills Have Eyes 2" opens with a shot of a nude, chained woman giving birth to what appears to be a mutant creature with clawed hands.

"My wife is eight months pregnant and he's been asking, 'Is that what mommy's going to have?'" Doll said. "We've been trying to explain that all day."

Alan Bieler, 62, of Medford, said he would excuse the theater for unexpectedly showing part of a G- or PG-rated movie to a family audience.

"But PG to R," he said, then paused. "That's too much."

The film ran for about 10 minutes before theater employees located by some parents turned it off. They gave customers movie vouchers and started the scheduled film a half hour late.

Former projectionist Brian Frankel, now a business agent for a Long Island stagehand union, said such errors were rare and that more common mistakes include scheduled movies being shown upside down or out of order.

Despite the mix-up -- and the television crews stationed outside the theater -- attendance seemed strong at Island 16 Friday. Shortly after 11 a.m., a group of small children accompanied by their parents thronged in the multiplex's main hall.

Anthony Rizzo, 38, of Holbrook, said he was concerned a similar mix-up could occur in front of his three young daughters, who waited to watch "Meet the Robinsons."

But, he said, "If it happens in the first 10 seconds, I'll be out the door."


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