A-List: Midnight Movies
By Sean Collier
November 10, 2008
Utterly stupid, frequently offensive, and gorier than Eli Roth's career output, Pieces may well be the Plan 9 of slasher flicks. Marketed as a cheap Texas Chainsaw knockoff, the blissfully simple plot follows a maniac on a path of poorly shot vengeance across an unnamed college campus. Clothes are removed, limbs go with them, bad actresses emote, at one point a kung-fu professor attacks our protagonist because of bad chop suey. Under absolutely no circumstances should even one frame of Pieces be viewed alone, but I don't think I've ever heard a theater laugh harder than they did at a midnight showing of this utter train wreck of a film. Only a couple prints of this still exist, so bug your local arthouse to track one down.
Pink Floyd's The Wall
Dark Side of the Moon aficionados be damned; listen to The Wall from beginning to end and try to deny that it's Pink Floyd's finest hour. The overly lionized British rockers had to have been out of their heads when conceiving this blend of narrative, animation, and highfalutin music video, but the result is legitimately impressive: an impressionistic, haunting film that more than lives up to the album. While myself and everyone I knew as a teenager loved hiding in our bedrooms and watching The Wall on a loop, it's best viewed in the theater, where the music gets oppressive and the film can really wash over you.
The Dark Crystal
Unlike the vastly more imaginative Labyrinth, Jim Henson's kiddie puppet opus doesn't stand on its own too well 20 years later. If we're being honest with ourselves, it's slow, the story is dull, and the protagonist is pretty damned annoying, when you get right down to it. However, mix in a Mystery Science Theater like audience and get a few drinks in everybody, and The Dark Crystal is suddenly a great time. There were plenty of '80s kid flicks like this, but most of them were just too ridiculous to even make fun of (Return to Oz, anyone?) At a good midnight showing of Dark Crystal, though, you'll make fun of every frame but still feel all warm and fuzzy at the end. That's some trick.
Pink Flamingos was part of the original slate of midnight movies, but if I'm leaving the house at 11:30, I'd rather be headed to a showing of Crybaby. Often overlooked even by Johnny Depp obsessives, John Waters' musical follow-up to Hairspray is irresistible fun, driven by a smirking cast and a better '50s send-up than John Travolta could ever provide. Iggy Pop, vastly underutilized as an actor, helps things along, and the catchy, vaguely Rocky Horror-esque musical numbers are irresistible. It's a shame that Hairspray took off on Broadway while the Cry-Baby stage show flopped; John Waters' forgotten musical is a shamefully underappreciated movie.