My Take by Jim Carl - August 29, 2013

Did I always want to program film series like Retro?  Was it always my passion?  Of course to answer these questions, I need to tell a story about my woebegone days growing up in West Texas and let the readers come to their own conclusion.  It goes like this:

When I was about twelve years old, I put a stack of Fangoria and Starlog magazines in my lap and cut out some of the pictures with scissors. Then I took a roll of Scotch tape and, heart pounding, laboriously began hanging the pictures onto the walls of my bedroom at my grandparent’s house in Sweetwater, Texas. It wasn’t a big room, probably a third of the size of my current office at the Carolina Theatre, but it was big enough to suit my needs that particular day. When I finished sticking adhesive to the dark blue-colored wallpaper---adorned with tiny X-Wing Fighters that I’d personally hand-picked out of the TG&Y catalogue---my room resembled that scene in crime movies where the weary detectives creep into the serial killer’s lair and discover a skull-shaped collage of gory Polaroids depicting screaming victims. If they ever build a museum dedicated to horror movies, my bedroom would have been its main attraction.

Staring down at me were Norman Bates from Psycho, George C. Scott standing in front of that haunted mansion in The Changeling, blood-splattered zombies chowing on human entrails in Dawn of the Dead, Linda Blair puking split-pea soup in The Exorcist, and more than a few suggestive images of Caroline Munro, Adrienne Barbeau, Lynda Carter, and Erin Gray. All of them wearing tight-fitting Spandex, of course. Jack Nicholson hung on my bedroom door, screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” Above my headboard was a special place of honor reserved for that greatest of scream queens the universe had ever known: Jamie Lee Curtis. In the photograph, Jamie Lee was fending off an attack from Michael Myers toward the end of Halloween, but it wouldn’t have mattered if she were fending off Michael Jackson. Jamie Lee was my idol. It was as if Rodin had sculpted her in flesh-colored steel.

My grandmother came in, surveyed the room like an Allied soldier entering occupied territory, then turned to look at me as if I had just slapped her in the face. I fully expected her to plunge into an impassioned sermon about how the immorality of Hollywood’s wanderlust was seeping into Sweetwater, how Satan wanted to drag all the children into hell and how hard she prayed every single night of her life to keep my ass from being deep-fried in fire. But here she showed her true class: She could have demanded I take down those nightmare-inducing pictures and scrub the Scotch tape off the baby X-Wing Fighters with a can of Ajax, but she never said a word. Instead, she walked back to the living room, plunked down in her favorite overstuffed recliner, and caught up on her Bible reading. Hallelujah, it was a miracle.  When I think back on this memory, I sometimes wonder if my grandmother was predetermining or anticipating that I would someday end up working in the movie business.

So is it any surprise nowadays that I find myself programming Retro?  I doubt my grandmother would disagree.  What do you think?

P.S.  I still have all those back issues of Fangoria and Starlog.  They’re sitting on a shelf here in my office at the Carolina Theatre.  Those things are worth money, you know.  Except, of course, for the ones missing a few pictures.


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