Friday, September 24, 2010

The Fun House Days of the Cinema

I've never been able to experience a drive in and I'm pretty sad about it. When you consider the experience of watching a B-movie like “The Return of the Creature” from your car, compared to watching it from your couch, the former is so much more appealing.  Although 3D movies are now the big expensive gimmick, I am still not a fan. This type of theater experience was attempted a bit in the 50s, with a smattering of movies here and there, but now it’s a fad like slap bracelets- and often just as useless.

Before the time when a moviegoer had to spend an arm and a leg for admission, a man developed an idea about how movies should be shown. His movies were not particularly good, but his gimmicks to get people into the theater and make the experience fun, were nothing short of genius.  This man was William Castle. Some of his best gimmicks included: A glow in the dark skeleton that would float over the audience; joy buzzers installed in the seats to give the audience a shock; and $1,000 life insurance policies given out in case you should die of fright. Novelty items like magic coins and cardboard axes were handed out during the movies in an attempt to make an effort to connect to the audience. Castle truly was a champion of promoting his movies.

​Castle wasn’t the only one to use these types of ploys.  Often, theaters would hire actors to portray characters, or even the monsters, in the films being shown.  They would then run up to the screen and create the illusion of someone being pulled from reality into the film, or vice versa.  The only time I ever saw anything similar was during the Star Wars Special Edition opening night when a guy came dressed like Darth Vader to give out door prizes.  Sadly, I don’t think you’ll be seeing much of that anytime soon.

The reality is that admission prices are rising; people continue to see movies in droves despite the high price.  It would be awesome if theaters took a look back at when going to a movie was a trip to a fun house. Where the audience came to experience a movie on a whole new level, and film venues put effort back into giving the crowd a more entertaining experience, instead of just making it a forgettable night that could’ve been spent at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment