The Midnight Screening: A Contemplation on Failure
Last Saturday night, I went out to see a 25th anniversary midnight screening of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan at the New Beverly Theater. It was a good time, but in the hours leading up the event, I became overwhelmingly concerned that I might fall asleep in the theater. Let's be clear here. I am a very old person. I am aged and withered and wizened. I struggle to operate beyond 9:00pm most nights. So midnight screenings in general are tough to manage.
I had previously made an ill-fated attempt to sit through a double-feature of Friday the 13th Part IV and Part V a couple years back, which went well into the next morning, so on Saturday night as I walked down Melrose, I was thinking only of the struggle of keeping my eyelids in their upright and locked position. As I'd had a long day, failure to accomplish this task felt possible. More than possible... imminent.
It was 11:45 when I met my friends. The crowd was pretty decent -- plenty of people, but also plenty of available seats. I was pleased with the opening Q&A because it allowed us to glean some insider perspective on the movie and its subsequent failure at the box office. The guest panelists included Peter Bracke (author of the collector's book, Camp Crystal Lake Memories) and V.C. Dupree (who played the amateur teen boxer named Julius who gets decapitated by Jason).
V.C. was the best. He, like the filmmakers, had come to terms with Part VIII's shortcomings, so he addressed the audacious violence and cheesy dialogue in the movie with a good sense of humor. He seemed to still appreciate the experience of filming up in Vancouver (which subbed for Manhattan due to budget constraints), and it didn't seem to matter much to him that the movie had been considered a failure. I suppose that a quarter century will put certain things into perspective.
Speaking of quarters, I became acutely aware that we'd trucked right past the first quarter of the hour, and I was still going strong. I had boosted my strength a bit by buying candy, so maybe I was riding high on a sugar rush at this point. In any case, the movie started, and I was not fatigued in the slightest. In fact, having already heard V.C.'s behind-the-scenes stories about the weird issues plaguing the movie made the viewing experience even more interesting. It seemed that their failure would lead to my triumph.