The midnight movie was a wonderful phenomenon were people would go out to the pictures to go and see a film which was improved by being off your face.
The actual run of films that fit the genre and did well, i.e, played for months in the same flea pits is actually quite small. People imagine they are common, but it takes a certain kind of barking mad to work. Running through the 70s and into the 80s the thing that bound them was a sense of event. People knew what was coming and would go every weekend of weeks on end to join in the fun and cause a little trouble.
So, I recommend if you’re going to use this mixtape you follow their lead. Get some booze, wait until late and watch some films right into the next morning.
To start with I’m picking a film that is actually good on its owns terms. Yes I could include a film like Pink Flamingos (a cult midnight movie and a half) but it’s hard going to watch, in truth. Plus. I’m not convinced your friends will enjoy you bringing them around to watch a film that’s quite so in awe of its own disgustingness.
So, to start, we’ve got George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead. A film ignored originally on its release in the States back in 1968 this black and white B Movie started to get some notoriety when French critics picked up on it. Slowly the ball started to roll and the story of a group of people stuck in an abandoned farmhouse for the night, while being attacked by zombie,s grew into far more than just a cult classic.
A big reason it works so well for a midnight movie is that its story covers over one evening. You feel locked in that home with the those people and its claustrophobia. It also helps that you learn little of the reason for the sudden influx of undead. This means that you’re right at the heart of the action as it grows.
Add to that the documentary feel that Romero gives the footage and some great effects work done on the cheap and you have a film that fills a very good role for the witching hour. Much has been written about the film on an intellectual level, with its bravery of having a black lead actor, but it’s easy to forget that it’s also just a great DVD to bang on late on a Saturday night.
On to the middle trailers and to show just how nuts some of the films from this genre are we’ll throw in El Topo. Incidentally, this trailer actually makes it look tamer than it is.
Second up we’ll go all out and throw in a trailer for the awesomeness of Eraserhead, It’s a great film, but hard to watch with a gang of mates with the benefit of serious medication so we’re just going for the trailer
Assuming that you’re all a little drunk now we’ll jump to one of the best party movies ever made for our second feature, Rocky Horror Picture Show.
A mix of good time music, dressing up and bizarre homage to American horror films this entire thing is filled with (accidental) call and response moments. It also benefits from the fact it’s surprisingly easy to watch while leathered on booze and affords itself well to being laughed at and with.
It’s also a classic midnight movie creating a phenomenon as people would queue up for hours on end week after week to enjoy it. More than 35 years on it still manages to generate huge amounts of devotion.
It’s good to see that the genre isn’t dead yet either. Over in LA showings of the utterly terrible melodrama The Room feature similar kinds of barmy devotion. Plastic spoons are thrown at the screen and people play American Football in the aisles. It doesn’t make the cut because it’s more of a so-bad-its-good type of affair, but that doesn’t stop it carrying the spirit of this communal party/riot viewing experience on. You just don’t get sports played in your local multiplex enough.
Take a quick look here