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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #525  (Vol. 11, No. 16)  This edition is for the week of April 12--18, 2010.

"Death At A Funeral"  by Mike Smith
Forgotten Horrors: Equinox  by ED Tucker
The World of Wrestling  by Chris Woods
G2: Attack of Legion  by Jason Fetters
Interview With The Projectionist, Part 1  by John Miller
Movie Notes .... Remake City .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
Lampin at the 6th Borough by John Miller

Interview With The Projectionist, Part 1

Part of why I sit down to write this column is the great joy it brings me to expose readers to the people, places and things that I find fascinating, to tell stories that will never be told anywhere else.

My subject this week is a man I have a great deal of respect for as an elder fanboy not only for his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, but his desire to share both his collection and time with anyone who ask. Thanks to this guy I was able to provide my father with DVD's I couldn't previously find anywhere else with exception to the Internet where copies where going to laughably high prices.

In what I hope will be a series of insightful interviews, we will cover such subjects as life in the projection booth, backstage life at movie theaters, bootlegging, collecting and the now defunct cultrararevideos.com.

Without further ado, here is part 1 of my conversation with a true renegade. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. John Petrey!

John Miller: I guess my first question would be. What got you into cinema, where did this all begin?

John Petrey: When I was about 6 years old my Mother was going through a tough time with the divorce from my father. She had to take 2 jobs just to support us and would get various weirdos to babysit us. So this one night she had my cousin Larry and his stoner friends volunteered to take us to the movies. I remember sitting in the back seat on the way to the Drive-In Theatre and would see marquee after marquee go by. They were all Disney titles like The Love Bug.

Well, we pulled into the South Park Drive-In (No I'm not making that name up) and the first thing I noticed was the ALL NIGHT TRAUMA-RAMA sign along with the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD poster. We pulled into the front row and Larry immediately jumped into the back seat with his friends. While they doing each other I started becoming aware what was unfolding on the big screen. None of that stuff they were eating in NOTLD looked remotely familiar with my happy meals. So I was rushed out of the Drive-In painting the car's interior with puke. I shook all night while staring at the bedroom door.

Two weeks later they send me out with my father and his friends to see BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES at the Kenwood Drive-In. Well, back in those days the trailers were not regulated so when Intermission rolled around I was on my way back to the car with my Co2 soda and Mounds candy bar. Yeech! I sat down to look at the previews and the trailer that started up was THE WIZARD OF GORE. Damn! Talk about not being able to win, this trailer alone has tongue removal, disemboweling, decapitation, etc. Screamed my ass off to get out of that place with everyone yelling “It's just ketchup and macaroni'! That didn't help so it was therapy time for a while. After that I stuck to movies like glue, especially Horror! Go figure that one out.

JM: You've spent a lot of time over the years hanging around movie theaters. What is the strangest thing you have witnessed inside of one?

JP: When I was manager of the Britton Theatre in 1991 there was a woman who was, get ready for this....a theatre manager groupie! She actually got off hanging around different theatres, hugging the managers and rambling about Hollywood. I had to get rid of her by going up on to the roof and hiding out one night. She knew I was there so she got the hint and she was never seen again.

JM: As a fan has there ever been a film you felt compelled not to show audiences? I don't think I could sleep at night after showing a Tom Hanks or Tim Allen movie. If I did I'd probably have to pull a Tyler Durden and splice the reel with pornography.

JP: HA! We've joked about splicing in 35MM porno frames in to our features. No, but seriously, as bad as I have hated a film we've run over the years, I can't think of one that I didn't want to run for the audience. I guess it goes along with my movie collecting theory at home. If I don't care for it, I'll still collect it because someone else may like it.

JM: Speaking of Tyler Durden splicing kids movies with porn. What type of hijinks take place behind the scenes of movie theaters that audiences are oblivious too?

JP: Let's just say a good number of children were conceived behind the screens, in the booths, offices, etc. The theatre office has a restroom that doesn't work however we noticed that under the sink you could look in to the Ladies room. We sealed it up with “Great Stuff” Also riding the motorcycle around the hallway upstairs in the projection booth. Dropping TVs, VCRs and anything that would bust in to a lot of pieces off the roof!

JM: How many years did you spend working for the Britton?

JP: Off and mostly on about 20 yrs.

JM: It has been said that the Britton is haunted. I remember going to see Hostel 2 in the middle of the day and sitting in the theater almost a half hour before the film by myself and kept hearing a bunch of weird sounds. In retrospect I think it may have just been rats. What are your thoughts / experiences with hauntings at the Britton?

JP: You probably heard the building crumbling apart, just kidding. When I first started working at the Britton January 1988, a woman named Edith had died in the Ladies restroom. Some female co-workers over the years swear the stall that Edith passed away in always has the door swinging open. I have never experienced that on the many nights I did maintenance in there. While I'm not big on ghosts and the like, there are two extraordinary things that happened to me at the Britton. One was while I was showing EVIL DEAD on DVD upon the screen at about 1AM and a ceiling tile started flipping like crazy. I had just started eating my lunch and it pissed me off so I screamed at it to stop! It did and I resumed my showing.

The wildest thing that happened was when I and a co-worker were watching “1408” late at night and right when John Cusack puts a bat through a picture with the sea in it, water started pouring down right in between us on to the aisle carpet. Any other time in the film would have been like "whatever", but that was some crazy timing, LOL!

JM: To me you are a legend for your underground after hour showings of classic films and movies that fans would otherwise never witness on the big screen. First allow me to say thank you for this, watching Suspiria at an abandoned Britton is a memory I will always cherish. When did you start doing these shows?

JP: A Legend? That's very kind of you. I'd have to say Fall 2006 was the first of the after hours DVD showings. I've always been a showman or a low budget entertainer, starting with Super 8mm. I just want to make people happy with my movies OR whatever they wanted to watch. I'm very saddened that the project I had started recently involving a piece of property and building secured to view our movies whenever has been hit with roadblocks. You as well as everyone else that made it to the showing of SUSPIRIA are very welcome. I'm glad I was able to help create your moment/memory of seeing that on a big screen in an abandoned 50+ yr. old theatre. What people don't see when they are viewing one of my presentations is the tear or tears that well up in my eyes some times because I feel like I'm creating a type of magic. Every time a theatre screen plays a different movie it's like being in a different world for me. It's pure satisfaction. When POLTERGEIST was ran in October of 2007, I ran the DVD upstairs for everyone.

Probably about 35 people showed up for that one. THE LOST BOYS also was a blast, especially since we cranked it full blast!!

JM: You're notorious for walking around armed with your gun. I'm sure you have used cardboard cut-outs and promotional materials from crappy movies as target practice. Any films or actors in particular you thoroughly enjoyed blasting to smithereens?

JP: In 2000 Eddie Murphy came out with the KLUMPS. All 4 of his characters were sitting on a couch in a huge standee. The district manager wanted it displayed near the office so when the regional manager came by it would look good. I decided to drag it upstairs the night before and a buddy of mine brought his Glock, (which shook my wrist to pieces) I had my Colt .380 and we laid in to that standee because it had good, clean head shots!

Well, the next morning I had a phone call from the manager telling me I was fired and she wanted to know why I shot up the standee because the District manager now wanted me in jail. I told her it was all politics. The District manager wanted to date me and was in her 40's at the time, I was dating a concession girl and I didn't want the chicken that had sat out under the heat lamp, I wanted my meat fresh. Anyway getting back to the question. We've brought shotguns, pistols of all sorts and I think we may have just about taken that load-bearing wall out, ha ha!

Next week: PART 2!

"Lampin' @ The 6th Borough" is ©2010 by John Miller.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.