Fond memories of films, friends, and Kansas City’s coolest place to catch a movie
The Alamo Drafthouse is first and foremost an Austin institution, and in our remembrance today my Cinapse colleagues are sharing some of their fondest memories of the Alamo Ritz.
The news making the rounds this week of the Alamo Drafthouse’s financial restructuring and closure of the Ritz also came with other casualties — including my own local Drafthouse, the Alamo Mainstreet in Kansas City.
In 2012 I celebrated the announcement that the famed cinephile-friendly theater brand was coming to town, and my first time sitting in a Drafthouse was for one of the location’s earliest events, Van Dammage, a JCVD quadruple feature culminating in a midnight drop of Expendables 2. I was hooked.
My theatrical viewing has slowed down after having kids, but for a few years I was a familiar regular, taking in as many repertory screenings as possible from the most revered of cinema classics to, well, Blood Freak.
I’ve been able to attend lots of awesome events like the Fantastic Fest Tour, the KC Japanese Film Festival, and the Raiders Roadshow, and see live appearances of a couple of my favorite real-life heroes who have had a profound impact on my life, TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and the eternally foxy action queen, Pam Grier.
I got a chance to see so many of my own all-time favorite films theatrically, most of them for the first time on the big screen (The Life Aquatic, The Fountain, TMNT, Sunshine, Children of Men, Ghostbusters, Hot Fuzz, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Predator, Point Break), and found some new ones too, like the unassuming but incredible Race with the Devil. Many of these screenings were in 35mm — after all, the Drafthouse was one of the last places to still see films on film and I leaned hard into that.
I was able to experience the full majesty of the science fiction of Blade Runner, Gravity, and especially the revelation of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was completely transformed by the theatrical experience.
I visited the weird wonders of Brazil, The City of Lost Children, The Wicker Man, and Rosemary’s Baby.
I rocked to Pink Floyd’s animated opus The Wall, the soulful proto-punk documentary exploring A Band Called Death, the L.A. punk-infused Repo Man, and a faded pink print of the Ramones-starring Rock & Roll High School (with a live cover band playing their hits).
I basked in the classical grandeur of Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Ikiru, M, Charade, and Black Narcissus.
I was dismembered on Friday the 13th, unmasked on Halloween, and on more than one occasion dreamed A Nightmare on Elm Street dressed as Freddy Krueger.
My first time watches of cult classics Alligator, Beastmaster, The Deadly Spawn, Candy Tangerine Man, The Visitor, Mighty Peking Man, Point Blank, and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, all took place within these storied walls.
It’s even where I viewed the screening that became my first Cinapse review (The Lego Movie).
Perhaps best of all, my son’s first time attending a movie was a Drafthouse-hosted outdoor showing of my own favorite film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a film that challenges me to be a better dad. He was too young to remember, but I’ll always treasure it.
The Alamo wasn’t perfect and certainly had some issues (a recent article in The Pitch highlighted some of these problems), but I’ll always appreciate the theater and my experiences there, not only onscreen, but with my wife and friends, and also with new friends made from among the theater staff and other film enthusiasts and regulars who make up the local film community.
I remember the Alamo.
Photos in this article are the author’s unless otherwise noted.