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Elgin Theatre

Related: American cinema - Ben Barenholtz - cinema - midnight movies


A nameless hippy sits in the balcony of a decrepit 600-seat New York City theater called The Elgin and lights up a joint without worry. He ain't alone - the joint is filled to capacity with other head cases waiting to have their minds blown. The lights dim, darkness envelopes the rabble and the projector beam slices through the reefer smoke to splash the first scenes of Alexandro Jodorowsky's surreal opus, "El Topo", on the screen. It's playing at midnight because, as a poster announced, it's "too heavy to be shown any other way".

The Midnight movie craze is born, the cult film reigns supreme.--Jack Stevenson via http://hjem.get2net.dk/jack_stevenson/cult.htm [Nov 2005]

LATE 1972

... NEW ORLEANS ...John Waters, now broke and living in a squalid flat in New Orleans with 2 of his actors, is standing at an outdoor telephone booth making the nervous hand gestures of someone in an aggitated state. With the help of a fraudulent credit-card number he's making another desperate phone call to his distributor in New York, New Line. He's trying to light a fire under their ass to get his recently completed feature, PINK FLAMINGOS, shown. A disasterous "premiere" has already taken place at the South Station Cinema in Boston, a renegade gay porn house, where their was more action reported in the toliets stalls than in the theater.

After a number of such calls, Waters gets New Line to convince The Elgin to give him a one shot slot at midnight on an upcoming weekend - with no advertising included. "El Topo" is fading out and they could use another "hit", although nobody is yet convinced that this might be it.

Waters drives straight up to New York City without sleeping, piloting his junkheap through a bad blizzard. Once there, he camps out at a friend's flat and tries to convince everyone he knows to attend the Elgin show. He manages to half-fill the old barn and response is good. The Elgin gives him another weekend ... Waters arrives to find lines around the block - all by word-of-mouth. The Elgin has found its next big hit. --Jack Stevenson via http://hjem.get2net.dk/jack_stevenson/cult.htm [Nov 2005]

Jonas Mekas [...]

In December 1970, Jonas Mekas was organizing one of his periodic festivals of avant-garde films at the Elgin, a rundown six hundred seat theater, not unlike the Charles, on Eighth Avenue just north of Greenwich Village. Although the program was laden with major avant-garde figures, the most widely attended screenings were those on the three nights devoted to the films of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Elgin management took advantage of the hippie crowds to announce an added feature-Alexandro Jodorowsky's El Topo to be shown at midnight because, as the first ad announced, it was "a film too heavy to be shown any other way." --Midnight Movies (1983) - Jeffrey Hoberman

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