Sofa Spuds And Couch Potatoes

The idea for Wednesday Movie Night crawled out of the primordial ooze earlier this year when someone stated the obvious.

“Shane has a lot of cool movies we’ve never seen. Or heard of for that matter.”

“Maybe we should get him to bring one over every week,” was the next bright idea forwarded.

So began a series of film screenings at a venue known far and wide as “Eric’s Place.” People gather, food is served, movies are endured.

As I try to broaden the cinematic tastes of people who would prefer to have their experience with film narrowly focused on the occasional Star Wars prequel and whichever Ben Stiller comedy came out this week, I try to make somewhat entertaining choices. Often I cart along a selection of titles I’m in the mood to defend, and then put it to a vote, so that the audience itself bears some of the responsibility when the choice of entertainment edification tanks horribly. This democratic process has been put on hold for the month of October, and already there’s dissent at the polling stations.

The Hallowe’en fest began in earnest this past Wednesday after we got some preliminary short material out of the way. The trailer for Water to Wine was streamed from the net to a confused crowd who only understood why I was showing them this after they took a second look at the opening shot. As I pointed out, in only a few months time we will be celebrating an important anniversary. 2005 will mark twenty years since Harrison Ford made a good movie. Considering the state of his career, I think his appearance in a shitty snowboarding home video is a step in the right direction.

Following up on a bit of unfinished business, we screened what I had originally meant to show as a companion piece to Zatoichi a few weeks back. Episode VII of Samurai Jack had a blind samurai motif to it that I thought would complement the feature nicely. Sadly, I forgot my season one set at home the night Zatoichi unexpectedly won the “let’s watch that” vote, so I was caught with my pants down. Those in the room who were Samurai Jack virgins seemed genuinely impressed with the design of this quintessential episode.

And then there was the feature. After so many weeks of skipping over my horror collection for the sake of the self-professed wimps in the audience, it was time, at last, to take off the gloves. The horror festival of October had been announced well in advance, word of which movie we’d be watching was on the street, and everyone should have been well forewarned. The turnout was encouraging with a record number of attendees, and one who travelled an extra 5000 miles to get there (I’ll pretend it was specifically for movie night). The movie was Haute Tension, winner of this year’s FantAsia top prize for international film, and it wasn’t meant for the faint-of-heart. Since there’s still no Region 1 DVD to be had, this was brought to us through the miracle of internet piracy.

Allow me, for a moment here, to make no apology whatsoever for partaking in this kind of blatant film theft. I would be delighted to buy a legitimate copy of any and all films I want to screen at movie night. Have a look at my collection and you’ll notice it doesn’t take much to get me to plunk down the cash for a disc. But if the slack-jawed yokel distributors can’t get an interesting film into my hands in a reasonable amount of time (as in the same year of release, not three years later like Hero) then I’m going to find another way to get it. And if that means surfing a bittorrent site or greasing the palm of some eBay bootlegger, so be it. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but at least I’ll die having seen the movies I wanted to see. And on a side note, I’d like to add that someone better release Cypher in Region 1 soon, or we’ll be watching a rip of that too. I’ll still buy the legit copy when it comes out like a good little movie buff, but I would prefer to show a proper DVD come the inevitable Vincenzo Natali fest. And so, I’m sure, would the folks who own the rights. Rant ends here.

I skipped the usual introduction I give for our feature presentations because I couldn’t talk about Haute Tension without blowing the whole film. Besides, what was I to say?

“Ultimately, this film is an abject failure, but it’s an interesting failure and therefore I think you should see it.”

Not terribly encouraging, particularly to a crowd who has illustrated to me in no uncertain terms that they have zero academic interest in film. Still, I think Haute Tension works wonderfully for a whole hour. Then it starts to fall to pieces, and finally, desperately, makes a wholly unnecessary turn into twist-ending land. Ironic how the surprise twist has become such a cliché in film lately, it’s now utterly predictable. Too bad, because while this horror flick was simply about a girl being terrorized by a relentless serial killer who doesn’t actually know she exists, it’s quite a pleasant variation of the familiar stalking-slasher genre.

Ultimately, however, the fact that the movie doesn’t hold water all the way to the end mattered little to our squeamish crowd. Many of them were driven away from Movie Night en masse following the very first killing. Haute Tension isn’t misnamed. It’s quite a tense film experience, to be sure. But apparently the release of that tension — in the form of decapitation by credenza — proved too much, and the body count in the room decreased faster than the film’s body count could rise.

“See you in November,” was the parting sentiment expressed by many as they reached the door. November, I assured them, would be strictly G-rated.


Up until now, the very moment of this posting, Movie Night was discussed online solely at Eric’s own private domain (a site protected by more security features than most internet banking transactions). I decided to move the discussion here, to my own site, for several reasons.

One: There are other people out there, friends and strangers alike, who might like to read about our ongoing film series (even if they can’t attend) and maybe weigh in with an opinion.

Two: Actual discussion, meaningful or inane, has ground to a halt over at Eric’s forum.

Three: Ditto for my own forum. At least now I’ll have something regular to post on the board to give it purpose and some much-needed traffic.

Go here to read the first post, which will give you a quick checklist of what we’ve sat down for so far. Jump in if you like. You don’t even have to register to post, so you’ll be free to mock us in complete untraceable anonymity. And isn’t that what internet forums are all about?

When I said paint the car, I meant the OUTSIDE.

“No, Shane! Not another horror movie!”

One thought on “Sofa Spuds And Couch Potatoes

  1. I, for one, submit my humblest apology for leaving. I will not offer any excuse, nor will I defend my early departure, but simply hang my head in shame. I ask only that you remember the glee with which I watched Ichi the Killer, or my squeamish delight at Audition, and give me the benefit of the doubt before discarding me as a pussy, or a high-strung, low-tolerance woman…

    Next week, I will do better.

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