Greetings, movie lovers. Thanks for dropping by.
Those of you who read last week’s Film Scene know that two of the area’s recently reopened, single-screen historic cinemas have just launched their own separate series of second run (and older) kid- and family-friendly features, geared toward providing an inexpensive entertainment option during the hottest (and most fetid) months of our year here in the Coastal Empire.
That means for the next several weeks, there is more than ever to cover in this space. So let’s get right to it, shall we?
If you haven’t yet visited the lovely, unpretentiously restored and modernized Tybee Post Theater, I suggest you plan a trip to the (somewhat) sleepy beach community of Tybee Island as soon as possible to do just that. It took many years and a ton of donations and loans to get that nonprofit venue functioning again after decades of abandonment, and it needs all the support we can give it.
Their ongoing schedule of “Family-Friendly Summer Movies” continues June 9 with the 2015 live-action feature “Tomorrowland,” starring George Clooney and Hugh Laurie and directed by Brad Bird, the man behind the animated gems “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.” (And, seriously, who doesn’t love that last movie?) Inspired by a decades-old Disney script about an alternate universe filled with idealistic inventors and engineers, it’s an ambitious, uplifting fable.
The following night, June 10, and then again June 12, the Tybee Post offers a welcome second chance to catch the most recent installment of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Force Awakens,” on the big screen. Viewed by some devoted “Star Wars” fans as a near pitch-perfect follow-up to the first three released films in that series (including “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”) and by others as a disappointing retread that followed the story arc of the 1977 original installment far too closely for comfort, there’s no denying “The Force Awakens” was both moderately refreshing and exceedingly familiar.
Kinda like an ice-cold Mexican Coke.
On June 14, the Post will screen 2015’s “Hotel Transylvania 2,” the CGI fantasy-comedy about a hotel for overstressed monsters which is run by Count Dracula. And yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Co-written by Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel (who’s helped create, among other things, many of SNL’s cult classic cartoon shorts, including The Ambiguously Gay Duo, and the greatest TV cop show of all time, hands-down, “Lookwell”), it features the voice talents of Sandler, along with a wide variety of top comedic names, including Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Keegan-Michael Key, Mel Brooks, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. It was named Favorite Animated Movie at the 2016 Kids Choice Awards. Beat that!
The following day, June 15, they’ll offer an encore of “Tomorrowland,” which is followed June 16 with “Zootopia,” the 2016 CGI animated comedy-adventure starring the voices of Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk and pop star Shakira. At this point, I’d like to take a moment and suggest that Hollywood start casting live-action films the same way they do animated features. Just imagine how bizarre (and possibly entertaining) a live-action movie could be made utilizing those same eight voice actors listed above.
Seriously. Think about that for a minute. Maybe some sort of a murder mystery? Or a drama about teen suicide, with a subplot about fleshy-headed mutants? I’m totally serious.
Anyhoo, “Zootopia” was criticized by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army as being a particularly insidious piece of propaganda, designed to instill Western morals around the world. Perhaps that’s part of why it wound up as the second highest-grossing film of this year. The tale of anthropomorphic cops and robbers has already generated a worldwide gross of $1 billion (so you probably know more about it than I do). The Post will screen each of those three movies twice, at both 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on their respective dates. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger, with popcorn and soft drinks only $2 each. Beer and wine will be available as well for those of age.
Now, if you start out in downtown Savannah and drive in roughly the opposite direction from Tybee, it takes approximately the same amount of time to get to the tiny hamlet of Springfield, where the recently restored Mars Theatre is showcasing “Kids’ Movies” every Tuesday through the end of July. These “2 For Tuesdays” feature second-run films shown once only (at 2 p.m.) for the low admission price of — dig this — just $2.
On June 14, they’ll screen 2014’s “The LEGO Movie,” which was the first film produced by the Warner Animation Group in over a decade. It’s the story of a workaday toy LEGO person who leads a resistance movement against an unscrupulous businessman bent on fundamentally altering the world as they know it, and features the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Will Arnett. Critics and audiences alike loved this movie and its positive and inspirational storyline. So much so that it wound up grossing almost half a billion dollars worldwide in theaters alone. It also won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Animated Film and the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.
As with the Tybee Post, the beautiful Mars Theater is well worth your time and your support. So consider making the scene for this or one of their other notable film engagements or live concert events.
And finally, shifting gears to slightly more esoteric cinema fare, June 15 at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society salutes the great independent moviemaking partnership of producer-director Roger Corman and producer Samuel Z. Arkoff with a rare public screening of their oft-maligned (yet slyly subversive) low-budget sci-fi shocker “The Beast with a Million Eyes,” which was released 61 years prior on that exact same day.
Made for the paltry sum of less than $30,000 and shot over a few days in the California desert near what is now the site of the Coachella Music Fest, this B&W howler suffers from ludicrous dialogue, amateurish acting and stilted pacing. Plus, the entire budget for special effects is purported to have been only $200!
It’s a tale of aliens in a flying saucer that crash-lands near a remote farmhouse. Soon these beings begin to take over the minds (and thus, the bodies) of all manner of animals and humans alike, turning them from kind and docile creatures into raving, violent maniacs. Sounds scary, right? Well, turns out it’s not. However, it is thought-provoking, and was clearly an influence on numerous later films which found ways to improve upon this basic premise.
So, from a historic standpoint, it’s clearly worth a look. And, for those who enjoy laughing at (and being bewildered by) movies that are “so bad they’re good,” it’s something of a minor classic, comparable with the unbelievably out-of-touch drug scare film “Reefer Madness” or the campy sci-fi/zombie mashup “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Showtime is 8 p.m., with $6 admission. Organic wine and craft beer will be on special during the screening.
If this sounds like your kind of film, it probably is.
Until next week, see you at the movies, and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
What: “Family-Friendly Summer Movies”
When: Throughout June
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
Cost: $7 for adults or $5 for children 12 and younger
Tybee Post schedule
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 9: “Tomorrowland”
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 10: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 12: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 14: “Hotel Transylvania 2”
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 15: “Tomorrowland”
3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 16: “Zootopia”
What: “The Lego Movie”
When: 2 p.m. June 14
Where: Mars Theatre, 106 Laurel St., Springfield
What: “The Beast with a Million Eyes”
When: 8 p.m. June 15
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
The Danish Lego Group has made and marketed sets of interlocking toy bricks since 1949. In addition to “The LEGO Movie,” a half-dozen Legoland amusement parks have been built around the world, and to date, more than 600 billion Lego parts have been produced.
“The Beast with a Million Eyes” was distributed by American Releasing Corporation, a company formed by Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson, which later became American International Pictures. AIP would go on to become one of the most successful independent motion picture companies of all time, in great part by concentrating on cheaply made exploitation flicks geared to the teen and drive-in theater markets.
Together, Corman and Arkoff collaborated on such action, horror and psychedelic biker movie gems as the original “The Fast and the Furious,” “It Conquered the World,” “House of Usher,” “The Terror,” “Dementia 13,” “The Wild Angels” and “The Trip.”