Friday, Oct. 17
Midnight AdrenalineFor a certain kind of filmgoer, one’s primal tastes were formed on balconies with sticky floors and threadbare seats, munching stale popcorn, watching scratchy old prints—colors faded, frames missing, the reels sometimes spliced out of order—of pictures that no snooty critic would call classic. Camp, gore, bad acting, cheesy effects, ludicrous dialogue, unscary monsters, and whopping continuity errors—these are treasured by the connoisseurs of midnight movies. The tradition began with the college film societies and repertory houses frequented by baby boomers in the ’60s. There was no VHS or cable, so going out late to see a favorite bad movie, an underappreciated good movie, a cult movie, or a just plain weird movie was an event, something you did with friends. (And yes, dope was often smoked in the alleys before the show.) Sadly, for a generation weaned on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the tradition has nearly died in our age of Netflix and streaming. Landmark Theatres tried to entice the midnight-movie crowd to the Egyptian, but attendance was dwindling even before the theater went dark last year. But now SIFF is reviving the tradition, with the added lure of beer and wine, during the first month of the theater’s relaunch. Programming begins tonight with the funny, underrecognized creature-com Slither (2006), with Michael Rooker as a villain who messes with the wrong alien parasite. Saturday brings the tremendously enjoyable Jaws-on-dry-land comedy Tremors (1990), with Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as desert yokels battling giant, man-eating underground worms. The Friday-Saturday programming continues this month—and beyond, we hope!—with Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, Cabin in the Woods, Zombie, and the inevitable Rocky Horror Picture Show. SIFF Cinema Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 324-9996, siff.net. $7–$12. 11:55 p.m.
By Brian Miller
Three siblings (from left): Owen, Reed, and Wright. Photo by John Cornicello
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and SpikeChekhov and comedy don’t really go together. You’ll find a thread of wry, sometimes rueful humor in his plays, but nothing aimed for belly laughs on the order of this 2012 farce by Christopher Durang. He essentially takes a Chekhovian situation—a pair of thwarted siblings still living in their dead parents’ house—and gooses it. Vanya (R. Hamilton Wright) and Sonia (Marianne Owen) are the shut-ins whose routine is disrupted by the arriaval of sister Masha (Pamela Reed), an egotistical actress. Her trade allows Durang to send up both Chekhov and Hollywood. And to explain the names: The siblings’ parents were theater nerds; but Spike (William Poole), boyfriend to Masha, is the outlier. Durang laces the comedy with many lifts and themes from Chekhov (there are cherry trees, if not quite an orchard), and he playfully considers the Russian playwright’s relevance to modern-day neurotics like these. Says one, “If everyone took antidepressants, Chekhov would have had nothing to write about.” (Previews begin tonight; opens Oct. 23; ends Nov. 16.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, act theatre.org. $55 and up. 8 p.m.
By Brian Miller
All Monsters Attack!The countdown to Halloween begins in the U District’s favorite nonprofit cinema with this annual series of fright flicks. First up is Jacques Tourneur’s influential 1942 Cat People, where sex is displaced into horrific folklore. Our heroine (Simone Simon) believes that if she sleeps with her husband (Kent Smith), she’ll turn into a panther and eat him. So naturally he sends her to a shrink, but the therapy doesn’t quite go as planned. Tourneur had no stars and a tiny budget for the picture, constraints he ingeniously resolved by almost never showing the dread cat; instead, all the menace is masked yet implied by the shadows. The movie gains its eerie power by almost never revealing its selling point; and that withholding strategy has a long legacy in Hollywood, most famously employed in Jaws. Following titles in the series include I Walked With a Zombie (also by Tourneur), the ’70s stag movie Sexcul
a, Little Shop of Horrors (with the young Jack Nicholson), and the excellent Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In. (Through Oct. 31.)
Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grand
illusioncinema.org. $5–$8. 7 p.m.
By Brian Miller
Saturday, Oct. 18
Don GiovanniYou’ve seen the bus ads; you’ve seen the TV spots, all abs and motorcycles; so you know Seattle Opera is going for the boom-chick-a-mow-mow in this revival of director Chris Alexander’s coolly decadent 2007 production of Mozart’s dramedy. Nicolas Cavallier and Mark Walters share the title role, and Lawrence Brownlee, one of today’s busiest and most acclaimed bel canto tenors, returns as the cuckolded Don Ottavio. In Italian with English supertitles. (Through Nov. 1.) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 389-7676, seattle opera.org. $25–$223. 7:30 p.m.
By Gavin Borchert
Tuesday, Oct. 21
Matt BaiAs political writers go, Bai is kind of a big deal. You don’t score two cameo appearances on the second season of House of Cards—playing yourself—unless you’ve accrued some serious D.C. cred. And with a career that spans multiple presidential campaigns, a stint as the chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, and now a gig as the national political columnist for Yahoo News, the 46-year-old Bai is flush in that department. Bai’s at his best, however, when he’s writing books—as his latest, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid (Knopf, $26.95), makes crystal-clear. It’s a candid and captivating look back at the demise of Gary Hart, the presidential hopeful done in by an alleged 1987 affair with 28-year-old blonde bombshell Donna Rice. But the book is about far more than what transpired between Hart and Rice on a yacht named Monkey Business; it’s about how the affair, and the coverage it garnered, forever altered journalism and the world of politics we know today. “The story of Hart and the blonde didn’t just prove to be Hart’s undoing,” Bai writes, “it was the story that changed all the rules, a sudden detonation whose smoke and soot would shadow American politics for decades to come.” Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhall seattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.
By Matt Driscoll