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Grimmfest: They Live Review

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 8:20 AM

The first screening as part of Grimmfest's 'Classic Carpenter Season' 

It’s 7pm on the Friday before a Bank Holiday weekend and I’m drinking coffee in a well known tax dodging establishment on Manchester’s student dense Oxford Road alongside 60+ twentysomethings on their “Friday night out”. Ten years back, as a twentysomething, I would have been found in a popular rock pub across the road getting beat at pool with a Diet Coke in hand. How the times have changed to see the bars empty and the coffee shops bursting at the seams. Part of these changing times is the current resurgence of “replay cinema” and “guerrilla film clubs” in and around UK cities.

Grimmfest started back in 2009 and the team have been bringing classic movies, alongside new horror and sci-fi, to the medium screen with increased success ever since. Throughout the summer Grimmfest are showing four classic 80’s action movies as part of their “Classic Carpenter Season” projected on a silver screen just as they were around 30 years ago.

As I began my walk across the four lanes of bus heavy traffic I spotted a tweet from Grimmfest advising that there was bubble-gum waiting in the bar … ok, now I’m officially excited for tonight’s “kick-ass” presentation of “They Live”. The bar slowly began to fill with fellow people from the big box generation all significantly more excited by the bubble-gum than the restricted bar offerings. But we are the big box generation and we should be proud. We are the children born during the advent of the internet, when movies played on a choice of two reel-to-reel formats, and as a rebellion to the Conservative system and The Bright Bill our parents left us 8 year old children watching Cronenberg, Raimi, and Carpenter classics, with newly designed 18 certificates, in the comfort of our homes on 14” tube televisions. Ahh to be 1988 again, Hogan/Macho Man tag team anyone?

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For the past five years Grimmfest have been bringing these classic movies of our childhood to the medium, certainly not multiplex size, silver screen taking us back to our childhoods and giving us a chance to see something we never had the chance to before. There is a demand and guerrilla film clubs like Grimmfest are fulfilling our desires with the support of local establishments like The Dancehouse Theatre. The screen and theatre is located on the second floor in the old building situated under the Mancunian way. The Dancehouse is run in the vein of a co-op, and despite some obvious in house failings, is something that more people should get involved in and support. In the past couple of years The Dancehouse have made significant investments; not to the squeaky floor but to the internal sound system and projection. A state of the art Bose sound system booms a sound quality that far outperforms the slightly blurred projection which becomes crystal clear once your eyes adjust. Chatting with some of The Dancehouse staff they have experimented recently with projecting real film but after a number of failed attempts have resorted to projecting from Blu-Ray discs and internet streams. Given the last time we all saw They Live was on a television the size of an iPad from a VHS that more than likely was chewed in multiple places the projection was adequate and appropriate for the movie being played.

"In the past couple of years The Dancehouse have made significant investments to the internal sound system and projection. I highly recommend you support Grimmfest." 

They Live is a classic genre film with the typical single finger Carpenter soundtrack and Carpenter styling’s. The movie tells the tale of a future world where aliens have invaded the earth and frequently travel between Earth and Andromeda for what appears to be pure amusement. Ex-WWF, now WWE, superstar “Rowdy” Roddy Piper plays the lead muscle bound role out to save the world. With more one liners than a Michael McIntyre stage show John Carpenter raises some key questions about consumerism and immigration aimed at the era of the Yuppie and casting an ironic nod at today’s hipster culture of teens dressed in Shepard Fairey’s “Obey” clothing line. Arrow’s widescreen presentation, which I believe was on display, is a perfect tribute to the 80’s classic and is one I highly recommend you purchase.

As for the Grimmfest events I highly recommend you find one and book some tickets. Cinema etiquette is pretty much left at the door, prepare to get snuggly close to the stranger in the seat next to you, and don’t get upset with the constant flow of people rocking the squeaky floor to visit the loo. Make the trip, get out of the coffee shops, and remind yourself why your childhood was so great!

Words: Jason Hearne 

For tickets and more infomation about Grimmfest's Carpenter Season click here

For a crashcourse in the genuis that is John Carpenter, Steve Holding's piece is just what you need. 


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