Friday didn’t go all that great. EACH time I needed to get somewhere on the bus, there was some delay or problem: I missed a connection in the morning and was late to work, had a late bus on the way home, and the #70 I’d planned to take halfway to the Bagdad Theater and Pub that night never reached my stop because the bus broke down somewhere south of it. When a replacement bus had to be driven down to wherever the broke-down bus was waiting, I finally thought Forget it, I’m walking and worked my way over from 17th and Center to 26th and Powell so I could get the #9. Like my dad, I hate being stuck. Work hadn‘t been great, either; ’nuff said. So I arrived later than I like to arrive at the monthly screenings (run by KUFO, hosted by Cort and Fatboy, you know the drill) and had to work to get into the right mood. The Terminator Stout chocolate milkshake may or may not have been a good idea towards getting to that. (Hrmph.)
That said, this was a really fun screening, even experienced through my tired haze, so for attendees who were there without my issues, they probably had a blast! It was close to a sell-out, and before the theater opened for the Beetlejuice screening, the front of the pub was pretty crowded, too. For the second month in a row, it was an international show, as Cort and Fatboy’s #1 Swedish fan anno_superstar was there. She’s spent the past several weeks visiting the West Coast -- Vancouver, B.C. for Battlestar and Caprica-related sights, Seattle, L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland -- and made it a point to get to last month’s Stand By Me screening. And was able to make it to a second one, ’cause she’s hardcore committed to Cort and Fatboy goodness, yo. She sat back and stayed amused by us Americans. She was (and still is) cool.
The pre-film music inside the theater was inspired, too: not just obviously Halloween-y stuff like Danny Elfman’s “This Is Halloween,” but some of Bear McCrary’s more classical and surging Battlestar Galactica score (for the imaginary opera house with The 5 Cylons on the balcony; that scene), bits of Eric Serra‘s score to The Fifth Element, and the grinding-at-your-mind sound design-style music Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard created for The Joker in The Dark Knight.
The clip reel (preceded by a Taco Bell ad of which Cort and Fatboy do not approve; could Taco Bell sponsor by giving samples or gift cards, please?) included a G.I. Joe/Sgt. Slaughter commercial, the episode of The Real Ghostbusters about how Slimer the Ghost came to live with the Ghostbusters, a jaw-dropping anti-crack cocaine PSA by Pee-Wee Freakin’ Herman (Mike Russell asked “Was that a condition of his probation?”), and the “Skeletons in the Closet” segment of the early-90s Beetlejuice Saturday morning cartoon. That cartoon really had to damp down Beetlejuice as a character, beyond making him not be a pervert with a yen for underage Lydia. (Oy with the innuendo. Oh, and the “NICE F***ING MODEL!!!” I‘d forgotten that moment.) By the way, Beetlejuice the film, if it came out today or even in the Nineties, would probably be a PG-13, not a PG.
Wandering the theater before the film were actors from Baron Von Goolo’s Fright Town haunt, which was opening Saturday night. One of them was a hovering, silent clown, just looking around with a disturbingly wide-eyed expression that never completely made eye contact with anybody else. Oh, and he was wearing a not-hooked-up straitjacket. Maybe to make you wonder what he might -- might -- do with his arms… Baron von Goolo himself held court -- suit, waxed moustache and all -- and gave out Fright Town passes right before Beetlejuice started.
Less creepily wandering the theater were the Atomic Arts actors, the people who did “Trek in the Park” back in July. That show’s Spock was there as Beetlejuice; that show’s Kirk was dressed as Alec Baldwin. (See? Mike Russell did, and photographed them. He also saw a Lydia.) They were pitching their next show, a stage adaptation of the vampire classic Nosferatu starting Oct. 30 and running Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 21 at Portland’s Shoe Box Theater. Meanwhile, the actor playing Beetlejuice reminded me: it’s really fun and satisfying to speak like Beetlejuice. That fast, clipped, gravelly, growl-with-an-evil-grin voice. You surprised I like speaking fast?
The DJs announced the November movie, to approval (a film with the line “With the benefit of hindsight, maybe it wasn‘t such a hot idea“), shouted down a second showing of that Taco Bell ad, and then cleared the stage as the film started.
Film Observations What Are Random:
* Catherine O’Hara? Kind of hot here.
* It’s creepy watching Jeffrey Jones in anything now.
* Beetlejuice was probably the first Danny Elfman soundtrack I ever got (thanks, parents!). I still have it. And that score still gets me: the unexpectedly fast music over the slow opening credits images, some classical-with-a-twist moments, and even surprisingly sad, emotional, and lovely scoring when the ghosts are summoned to the séance and start rotting.
* The ending reminds me how hard it is to do Completely Random-Ass Plotting in a film. A few of the moments at the end have always made me go “Huh? Where’d they come up with that?” And I still don‘t know why the ghosts start de-rotting and getting back to normal. An early sign of Tim Burton and the people around him not really being sure how to end a movie. (Burton and his various writers may not have nailed an ending until Ed Wood and not again until Big Fish. And I say that as someone who loves Edward Scissorhands.)
* Was that a tiny Jack Skellington head on top of the circus-tent hat Beetlejuice wore to the séance?