Midnight movie

The term midnight movie is rooted in the practice that emerged in the 1950s of local television stations around the United States airing low-budget genre films as late-night programming, often with a host delivering ironic asides. As a cinematic phenomenon, the midnight screening of offbeat movies began in the early 1970s in a few urban centers, particularly in New York City with screenings of El Topo at the Elgin Theater, eventually spreading across the country. The screening of non-mainstream pictures at midnight was aimed at building a cult film audience, encouraging repeat viewing and social interaction in what was originally a countercultural setting.

The national success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the changing economics of the film exhibition industry altered the nature of the midnight movie phenomenon; as its association with broader trends of cultural and political opposition dwindled in the 1980s, the midnight movie became a more purely camp experience—in effect, bringing it closer to the television form that shares its name. The term midnight movie is now often used in two different, though related, ways: as a synonym for B movie, reflecting the relative cheapness characteristic of late-night movies both theatrically and on TV, and as a synonym for cult film.[2]

A classic midnight movie in every sense of the term, Tod Browning's Freaks (1932) is the sort of (then) obscure horror film shown on late-night TV beginning in the 1950s; in the 1970s and early 1980s it was a staple of midnight screenings at theaters around the U.S.[1]


On television

In 1953, the Screen Actors Guild agreed to a residuals payment plan that greatly facilitated the distribution of B movies to television.[3] A number of local television stations around the United States soon began showing inexpensive genre films in late-night slots; these late-night slots were after the safe-harbor time, meaning they were largely exempt from Federal Communications Commission regulations on indecent content. In the spring of 1954, Los Angeles TV station KABC expanded on the concept by having an appropriately offbeat host introduce the films: for a year on Saturday nights, The Vampira Show, with Maila Nurmi in her newly adopted persona of a sexy bloodsucker ("Your pin-down girl"), presented low-budget movies with black humor and a low-cut black dress. The show—which ran at midnight for four weeks before shifting to 11 p.m. and, later, 10:30—aired horror pictures like Devil Bat's Daughter and Strangler of the Swamp and suspense films such as Murder by Invitation, The Charge Is Murder, and Apology for Murder.[4] The format was echoed by stations across the country, who began showing their late-night B movies with in-character hosts such as Zacherley and Morgus the Magnificent offering ironic interjections.

A quarter-century later, Cassandra Peterson established a persona that was essentially a ditzier, more buxom version of Vampira. As Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Peterson became the most popular host in the arena of the TV midnight movie. Starting at L.A.'s KHJ-TV in 1981, Elvira's Movie Macabre was soon being syndicated nationally; Peterson presented mostly cut-rate horror films, interrupted on a regular basis for tongue-in-cheek commentary.[5] Some local stations aired the Movie Macabre package in late-night slots. Others showed it during prime time on weekend nights; after a break for the local news, another genre film—a literal midnight movie—might follow, resulting in such virtual double bills as Dr. Heckyl & Mr. Hype and The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.[6] USA Network launched a midnight movie package in 1989—Up All Night, which showed mainly horror and soft-core sexploitation films, ran until 1998. In 1993, Buffalo's WKBW-TV began airing a late-night hosted mix of low-budget genre movies, foreign art films and eventually well-known classic films; Off Beat Cinema later became nationally syndicated (currently through Retro Television Network) and, as of 2013, originates from WBBZ-TV. In the 2000s, horror-oriented late-night movie programming has disappeared from many broadcast stations, though B pictures, mostly of a melodramatic nature, are still widely used in post–prime time slots. The small America One broadcast network distributes the Macabre Theatre movie package hosted by Butch Patrick, known for his portrayal of Eddie Munster on the 1960s show The Munsters. In 2006, Turner Classic Movies began airing cult films as part of its new late-night series, TCM Underground.[7]

In the United Kingdom, the BBC launched a regular late night movie slot on Saturday nights on BBC Two. From Saturday August 20 1966, BBC Two started to air a "Midnight Movie" every Saturday night on the channel. The first "Midnight Movie" was "Blind Date" starring Hardy Krüger. The Midnight Movie would air every Saturday night on BBC Two, and would continue through the 1970s. The Midnight Movie was an attempt by the BBC to provide a late night alternative, when the two other channels BBC One and ITV would normally end their Saturday programming at around 12-midnight. This was partly due to the restrictions imposed on the broadcasting hours of both BBC and ITV by the British government, normally no more than 8 hours in a given day. As BBC Two did not broadcast a large amount of daytime programming, they had plenty of hours to spare to remain on the air late into the night, especially on a Saturday, thus the creation of the "Midnight Movie" strand was started. Most of the films aired were at least a decade old, but from 1967 nearly all of the films broadcast were made in color, as BBC Two became the first UK channel in 1967 to transmit color television. It is also noted however, that the "Midnight Movie" never actually started at Midnight. The movie was designed to air "through" the midnight hour, and could start as early as 11.15pm. By 1983 the "Midnight Movie" strand was abandoned by BBC Two, with BBC One airing a late night movie on a Friday night instead, usually a horror film. The "Midnight Movie" slot on BBC Two would be replaced with late night sporting coverage or different genre of films on occasions, which would not use the "Midnight Movie" strand.

In the cinema

Since at least as far back as the 1930s, exploitation films had sometimes been presented at midnight screenings, usually as part of independent roadshow operations.[8] In 1957, Hammer Films' The Curse of Frankenstein set off a spate of midnight presentations.[9] What film qualifies as the first true midnight movie in the sense of the term that emerged in the 1970s remains an open question. Critic Jennifer M. Wood points to the Palace Theater in San Francisco's North Beach district where, in 1968, San Francisco Art Institute graduates Steven Arnold and Michael Wiese, after a sellout screening of their Dalí-esque thesis film Messages, Messages, were invited to program offbeat films at midnight.[10] Author Gary Lachman claims that Kenneth Anger's short Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), a mélange of occult symbology intercut with and superimposed on images from a Rolling Stones concert, "inaugurat[ed] the midnight movie cult at the Elgin Theatre."[11] The Elgin, in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, would soon become famous as a midnight venue when it gave the U.S. premiere of a very unusual Mexican movie directed and written by a rather Dalí-esque Chilean.

The movie generally recognized as igniting the theatrical midnight film movement is Alejandro Jodorowsky's surrealist El Topo, which opened in December 1970 at the Elgin. Playing with the conventions of the spaghetti Western, the film was described by one newspaper critic as "full of tests and riddles" and "more phony gore than maybe 20 years of The Wild Bunch."[12] El Topo regularly sold out every night for months, with many fans returning on a weekly basis. It ran at the theater through June 1971, until at the prompting of John Lennon—who was reported to have seen the film at least three times—Beatles manager Allen Klein purchased the film through his ABKCO film company and gave it a relatively orthodox rerelease.[13] The Elgin soon came up with another midnight hit in Peter Bogdanovich's spree-killer thriller Targets (1968), featuring one of the last performances by horror movie mainstay Boris Karloff and a tale that resonated with the assassinations and other political violence of recent years. By November 1971, four Manhattan theaters beside the Elgin were featuring regularly scheduled midnight movies: the St. Marks (Viva la muerte, a blast of surrealism in the Franco-Spanish tradition of Luis Buñuel and another Lennon favorite), the Waverly (Equinox, which had just replaced Night of the Living Dead), the Bijou (both Freaks and Night of the Living Dead), and the Olympia (Macunaíma, a Brazilian political black comedy).[14] Equinox (1970) and Night of the Living Dead (1968), both low-budget horror pictures, demonstrate the ties between the old, TV brand of midnight movie and the newer phenomenon. George A. Romero's zombie masterpiece, in particular, highlights the differences: produced completely outside of the organized studio system, it has a subversive posture evident throughout and especially in its conclusion, an unmistakable allegory of a racist lynching.[15]

Shot over the winter of 1971–72, John Waters's "filth epic" Pink Flamingos, featuring incest and coprophagia, became the best known of a group of campy midnight films focusing on sexual perversions and fetishism.[16] Filmed on weekends in Waters's hometown of Baltimore, with a mile-long extension cord as a power conduit, it was also crucial in inspiring the growth of the independent film movement.[17] In 1973, the Elgin Theater started midnight screenings of both Pink Flamingos and a crime drama from Jamaica with a remarkable soundtrack. In its mainstream release, The Harder They Come (1972) had been a flop, panned by critics after its U.S. distributor, Roger Corman's New World Pictures, marketed it as a blaxploitation picture. Rereleased as a midnight film, it screened around the country for six years, helping spur the popularity of reggae in the United States. While the midnight-movie potential of certain films was recognized only some time after they opened, a number during this period were distributed to take advantage of the market from the beginning—in 1973, for instance, Broken Goddess, Dragula, The White Whore and the Bit Player, and Elevator Girls in Bondage (as well as Pink Flamingos) had their New York premieres at midnight screenings.[18] In 1974, midnight opener Flesh Gordon evidenced how the phenomenon lent itself to flirtations with pornography.

Around this time, the black comedy Harold and Maude (1971) became the first major Hollywood studio movie of the era to develop a substantial cult audience of repeat viewers; though apparently it was not picked up by much of the midnight movie circuit during the 1970s, it subsequently became a late show staple as the phenomenon turned more to camp revivals.[19] The midnight screening phenomenon was spreading around the country. In Milwaukee, it began in May 1974, spurred by the sales manager of a local radio station who had already successfully sponsored such screenings in St. Louis. By the following February, four Milwaukee theaters were regularly showing midnight films, and the Marcus chain, the owner of one, had brought the concept to its theaters in four other Midwestern cities. "Films that feature rock concerts draw big", Boxoffice reported, "as do those dealing with outer space and fantasy". The trade paper noted one popular midnight film by name: Alice's Restaurant (1969), a comedy with political overtones starring folk singer Arlo Guthrie.[20]

Liquid Sky (1982) was one of the last independent films to become a midnight hit during the movement's most influential years. As critic Emanuel Levy describes, like many midnight classics, this "perversely beautiful sci-fi movie...appeared out of nowhere."[21]

On the midnight following April Fool's Day 1976, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which had flopped on initial release the year before, opened at the Waverly Theater, a leading midnight movie venue in New York's Greenwich Village. Midnight screenings of the film soon became a national sensation, amassing a cult following all over the United States. Every Friday and Saturday night, audience members would talk back to the screen, dress up as characters in the film, and act out scenes complete with props.[22] Where the social aspect had always been a part of the midnight movie's attraction, with Rocky Horror in an exaggerated way it became the attraction. By summer 1979, the film was playing on weekend midnights in twenty-odd suburban theaters in the New York region alone; 20th Century Fox had approximately two hundred prints of the movie in circulation for midnight shows around the country.[18] Beginning in 1978, the Waverly developed another midnight success that was much smaller commercially, but more significant artistically: Eraserhead, originally distributed the previous year. David Lynch's feature debut, a model of shoestring surrealism, reaffirmed the midnight movie's most central traditions. Additionally, concert films, such as Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972), The Song Remains the Same (1976), The Grateful Dead Movie (1977) and The Last Waltz (1978), became popular midnight screening selections during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The commercial viability of the sort of big-city arthouses that launched outsider pictures for the midnight movie circuit began to decline in the late 1970s as broad social and economic shifts weakened their countercultural base. Leading midnight movie venues were beginning to fold as early as 1977—that year, New York's Bijou switched back permanently to the live entertainment for which it had been built, and the Elgin, after a brief run with gay porn, shut down completely.[23] In succeeding years, the popularization of the VCR and the expansion of movieviewing possibilities on cable television meant the death of many additional independent theaters. While Rocky Horror soldiered on, by then a phenomenon unto itself, and new films like The Warriors (1979), The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), Forbidden Zone (1980), The Evil Dead (1981), Heavy Metal (1981), Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982), Stop Making Sense (1984) and UHF (1989)—all from mainstream distributors—were picked up by the midnight movie circuit, the core of exhibitors that energized the movement was disappearing. By the time the fabled Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge, Massachusetts, shut its doors after a fire in 1986, the days of the theatrical midnight movie as a significant countercultural phenomenon were already past.

In 1988, the midnight movie experience was institutionalized in a new manner with the introduction of the Toronto International Film Festival's nightly Midnight Madness section.[24] In the years since, new or recent films still occasionally emerge as midnight movie "hits" on the circuit of theaters that continue to show them. The most successful of the 1990s generation was the Australian drag queen road saga The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). One of the theaters to show it regularly at midnight was New York's Waverly (also now closed), where Rocky Horror had played for a house record ninety-five weeks. A celebrated episode of television's The Drew Carey Show features a song-and-dance battle between Rocky Horror fans (led by Drew Carey) and Priscilla fans (led by Mimi Bobeck).

Since the turn of the millennium, the most notable success among newly minted midnight movies has been Donnie Darko (2001). Older films are also popular on the circuit, appreciated largely in an imposed camp fashion—a midnight movie tradition that goes back to the 1972 revival of the hectoring anti-drug movie Reefer Madness (1938).[25] (Tod Browning's 1932 horror classic Freaks, the original midnight movie revival, is both too dark and too sociologically acute to readily consume as camp.) Where the irony with which Reefer Madness was adopted as a midnight favorite had its roots in a countercultural sensibility, in the latter's place there is now the parodoxical element of nostalgia: the leading revivals on the circuit currently include the crème de la crème of the John Hughes oeuvre—The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)—and the preteen adventure film The Goonies (1985).[26] As of late 2006, Rocky Horror itself continues to play on a weekly basis at thirty-two venues around the country, and at least once a month at about two dozen others.[27]

Two popular midnight movies made during the phenomenon's heyday have been selected to the National Film Registry: Eraserhead (inducted 2004) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (inducted 2005). Midnight movie staples Freaks (1932) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) were inducted in 1994 and 1997 respectively. Harold and Maude, a cult film before it was adopted as a midnight movie, was also inducted in 1997.

See also


  1. ^ Patterson (2007).
  2. ^ See, e.g., Conrich (2006).
  3. ^ Heffernan (2004), p. 161.
  4. ^ The Vampira Show Archived 2006-08-18 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 11/14/06.
  5. ^ See Gibron (2006) for a detailed analysis of the Elvira persona and Movie Macabre.
  6. ^ See, e.g., Elvira's Movie Macabre Archived 2006-11-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 11/14/06.
  7. ^ See TCM Underground: Films—Archive Archived 2007-04-10 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12/19/06.
  8. ^ Schaefer (1999), pp. 124–125.
  9. ^ Heffernan (2004), p. 61.
  10. ^ Wood (2004).
  11. ^ Lachman (2001), p. 305.
  12. ^ Greenspun (1971).
  13. ^ Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), pp. 80, 95. For a detailed synopsis of the film, see El Topo Archived 2006-04-27 at the Wayback Machine (note the film's Elgin premiere is misdated).
  14. ^ Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), p. 95.
  15. ^ Hutchings (2004), p. 112.
  16. ^ Waters (2006).
  17. ^ Pink Flamingos Production Notes. Retrieved 11/15/06.
  18. ^ a b Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), p. 13.
  19. ^ See Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), p. 298.
  20. ^ "Midnight Shows a Big Success in Milwaukee." Boxoffice Feb. 3, 1975, p. NC-3
  21. ^ Levy (1999), p. 185.
  22. ^ See History of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Rocky Horror Timeline. Retrieved 11/14/06.
  23. ^ Bijou Theatre; Elgin Theatre. Retrieved 11/15/06.
  24. ^ Corliss and Catto (2007).
  25. ^ See Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), pp. 261–262. For their consideration of Freaks as part of the early midnight movie phenomenon, see pp. 3, 95, 99, 295–297.
  26. ^ Beale (2005).
  27. ^ Rocky Horror Showings List. Retrieved 06/27/08.


  • Beale, Lewis (2005). "A New Time for Midnight Movies," International Herald Tribune (June 22) (available online).
  • Bryant, Edward (2005). "Fantasy and Horror in the Media: 2004," in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Eighteenth Annual Collection, ed. Ellen Datlow, Gavin J. Grant, and Kelly Link (New York: St. Martin's Griffin), pp. lxxiii–xcii. ISBN 0-312-34194-6
  • Cagle, Jess (1990). "Video News: News & Notes," Entertainment Weekly (August 3) (available online).
  • Canby, Vincent (1972). "Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers: Holly Woodlawn Cast as Small-Town Girl," New York Times (March 17) (available online).
  • Conrich, Ian (2006). "Musical Performance and the Cult Film Experience," in Film's Musical Moments, ed. Ian Conrich and Estella Tincknell (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp. 115–131. ISBN 0-7486-2345-0
  • Corliss, Richard, and Susan Catto (2007). "The Freaks Come Out at Night," Time (September 12) (available online).
  • Greenspun, Roger (1971). "El Topo Emerges: Jodorowsky's Feature Begins Regular Run," New York Times (November 5) (available online).
  • Heffernan, Kevin (2004). Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953–1968 (Durham, N.C., and London: Duke University Press). ISBN 0-8223-3215-9
  • Hoberman, J., and Jonathan Rosenbaum (1983). Midnight Movies (New York: Da Capo Press). ISBN 0-306-80433-6
  • Hutchings, Peter (2004). The Horror Film (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). ISBN 0-582-43794-6
  • Kaufelt, David A. (1979). Midnight Movies (New York: Delacorte). ISBN 0-385-28608-2
  • Lachman, Gary (2001). Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius (New York: Disinformation). ISBN 0-88064-278-5
  • Levy, Emanuel (1999). Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film (New York and London: New York University Press). ISBN 0-8147-5123-7
  • Patterson, John (2007). "The Weirdo Element," Guardian (March 2) (available online).
  • Schaefer, Eric (1999). "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!": A History of Exploitation Films, 1919–1959 (Durham and London: Duke University Press). ISBN 0-8223-2374-5
  • Waters, John (2006). "The Kindness of a Stranger," New York Times Book Review (November 19).
  • Wood, Jennifer M. (2004). "25 Great Reasons to Stay Up Late," MovieMaker no. 55 (summer) (available online).

External links

B movies (exploitation boom)

The 1960s and 1970s mark the golden age of the independent B movie, made outside of Hollywood's major film studios. As censorship pressures lifted in the early 1960s, the low-budget end of the American motion picture industry increasingly incorporated the sort of sexual and violent elements long associated with so-called exploitation films. The death of the Production Code in 1968 and the major success of the exploitation-style Easy Rider the following year fueled the trend through the subsequent decade. The success of the B-studio exploitation movement had a significant effect on the strategies of the major studios during the 1970s.

Blood Drive (TV series)

Blood Drive is an American science fiction action television series that aired on Syfy from June 14, 2017 to September 6, 2017. On the same day that the finale aired, series creator James Roland announced that Syfy had decided to cancel the series after one season.

Cinema Insomnia

Cinema Insomnia is a nationally syndicated American television series presented by horror host Mr. Lobo.

Commander USA's Groovie Movies

Commander USA's Groovie Movies is an American movie showcase series that ran weekend afternoons on the USA Network.The show premiered January 5, 1985 and ran through 1989. It was hosted by Jim Hendricks as "Commander USA" (Soaring super hero! Legion of Decency - Retired), a wacky but slightly seedy blue-collar comic book superhero who occasionally displayed powers such as "microwave vision" (usually to prepare a mid-movie meal of fish or eggs).

Creature Features

Creature Features was a generic title for a genre of horror TV format shows broadcast on local U.S. television stations throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The movies broadcast on these various shows were generally classic and cult horror movies of the 1930s to 1950s, the horror and science-fiction films of the 1950s, British horror films of the 1960s, and the Japanese "giant monster" movies of the 1960s and 1970s.

Elgin Theater

The Elgin Theater is the former name of the building now known as the Joyce Theater, located on the corner of 19th Street and Eighth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The theater showed films from its opening in 1942 until 1978. It is credited with inventing the midnight movie. After a gut renovation, the building reopened in 1982 as the Joyce Theater, a 472-seat dance theater.

Exploitation film

An exploitation film is a film that attempts to succeed financially by exploiting current trends, niche genres, or lurid content. Exploitation films are generally low-quality "B movies". They sometimes attract critical attention and cult followings. Some of these films, such as Night of the Living Dead (1968), set trends and become historically important.

Horror host

A horror host is a person who acts as the host or presenter of a program where horror films and low-budget B movies are shown on television or the internet. Usually the host assumes a horror-themed persona, often a campy or humorous one. Generally there are breaks in the film where the host comments on various aspects of the movie. Many horror host shows also include skits involving the hosts themselves, sometimes with a sidekick or other supporting characters. Some better-known horror hosts include Vampira, Zacherley, Ghoulardi, Sinister Seymour, Dr. Creep, The Ghoul, The Cool Ghoul, Svengoolie, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Invocation of My Demon Brother

Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) is an 11-minute film directed, edited, and photographed by Kenneth Anger. The music was composed by Mick Jagger playing a Moog synthesizer. It was filmed in San Francisco at the Straight Theater on Haight Street and the William Westerfeld House (the former "Russian Embassy" nightclub).According to Anger, the film was assembled from scraps of the first version of Lucifer Rising. It includes clips of the cast smoking out of a skull, and the publicly filmed Satanic funeral ceremony for a pet cat.

Invocation of My Demon Brother won the tenth Film Culture award for Kenneth Anger.Author Gary Lachman claims that the film "inaugurat[ed] the midnight movie cult at the Elgin Theatre."

London After Midnight (film)

London After Midnight, (also known as The Hypnotist in the UK), is a 1927 American silent mystery film with horror overtones directed and co-produced by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney, with Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall, and Polly Moran. The film was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was based on the short story "The Hypnotist" also written by Browning.

The last copy of the film known to exist was destroyed in the 1965 MGM vault fire, making London After Midnight one of the most famous and eagerly sought after of all lost films. In 2002, Turner Classic Movies aired a reconstructed version, produced by Rick Schmidlin, who used the original script and film stills to create it.

Midnight Movie (film)

Midnight Movie is a 2008 American slasher film directed by Jack Messitt, who also co-wrote the film, and produced by Kacy Andrews.

Off Beat Cinema

Off Beat Cinema is a two-hour hosted movie show that airs on television stations throughout the United States in late-night time slots. It originated from WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York from its launch on Saturday October 31, 1993 until July 2012. It shifted to local competitor WBBZ-TV on August 4, 2012.Off Beat Cinema features a broad range of films described by the show's staff as "the Good, the Bad, the Foreign..." but mostly cult movies such as Night of the Living Dead, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and even more art house fare such as The Third Man in a format not unlike the Creature Double Feature of the 1970s and 1980s. On occasion, a clip show will air featuring episodes of short features (the annual Christmas special follows this format, with another example being the “Night of Superheroes” that included Flash Gordon and Commando Cody serials and the Fleischer Studios Superman shorts). As with most hosted movie programs of its kind, a large portion of Off Beat Cinema's film catalog consists of films that lapsed into the public domain.

Oriental Theatre (Milwaukee)

Oriental Theatre is a theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin operated by Milwaukee Film. The theater was built and opened in 1927 as a movie palace with East Indian decor. It is said to be the only movie palace to incorporate East Indian artwork. Designed by Gustave A. Dick and Alex Bauer, the theater has two minaret towers, three stained glass chandeliers, several hand-drawn murals, six bigger-than-life Buddhas, dozens of original draperies, eight porcelain lions, and hundreds of elephants.

The Oriental Theatre has been showing independent and art films, as well as a few blockbuster Hollywood films.

The theater is the world record holder for continual showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has hosted the film as a Saturday midnight movie since January 1978.

In 2005, the theater was dubbed one of the "10 Theaters Doing It Right" by Entertainment Weekly.

TCM Underground

TCM Underground is a weekly late-night cult film showcase airing on Turner Classic Movies. Developed by former TCM marketing director Eric Weber, it was originally hosted by industrial rock/heavy metal musician and independent filmmaker Rob Zombie. The movies were programmed by Eric Weber until 2007 when TCM programmer Millie De Chirico took over the role.

The series was launched in an attempt to attract more young viewers to Turner's older-skewing audience. TCM began airing a new program titled Friday Night Spotlight and, in effect, TCM Underground was moved from its Friday time slot to Saturdays beginning April 6, 2013 (a TCM broadcast day runs from 6am-5:59am EST the following day, making Underground, in fact, airing on Sunday), but as of March 10, 2018, the series has returned to its original Friday night time slot. Promotional bumper material and opening credit sequences were created by Raygun. The series is periodically pre-empted by special month-long or seasonal scheduling themes, such as February's "31 Days of Oscar" film series and the month-long "Summer Under the Stars". When it does not conflict with a special theme, TCM Underground airs in its usual slot early on Saturday morning.

The cult films featured in TCM Underground belong to a number of genres, including but not limited to blaxploitation films (Coffy, Darktown Strutters, The Mack), horror, slasher, and giallo films (Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Black Christmas, Hatchet for the Honeymoon), and counterculture films (An American Hippie in Israel, Ciao! Manhattan, Blue Sunshine).

The Rocky Horror Picture Show cult following

The Rocky Horror Picture Show cult following is the cultural phenomenon surrounding the large fan base of enthusiastic participants of the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, generally credited as being the best-known cinematic "midnight movie", if not the first.

The Vampira Show

The Vampira Show was an American variety show hosted by Vampira. The series aired on the Los Angeles ABC television affiliate KABC-TV from April 30, 1954, through April 2, 1955. The series was produced and created by Hunt Stromberg, Jr., and featured the Vampira character created by Maila Nurmi.

Though the show was unseen outside of the Los Angeles area, The Vampira Show has become a cult classic, spawning fan clubs all over the world.

USA Up All Night

USA Up All Night (also known as Up All Night and Up All Night with Rhonda Shear) is an American cable television series that aired weekly on Friday and Saturday nights on the USA Network. The show aired from 1989 to 1998.

Video nasty

Video nasty is a colloquial term in the United Kingdom to refer to a number of films distributed on video cassette that were criticised for their violent content by the press, social commentators and various religious organisations. The term was popularised by the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (NVALA) in the UK in the early 1980s.These video releases were not brought before the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) due to a loophole in film classification laws that allowed videos to bypass the review process.

As a result, this produced a glut of potentially censorable video releases, which led to public debate concerning the availability of these films to children due to the unregulated nature of the market.Following a moral campaign led by Mary Whitehouse and the NVALA, local jurisdictions began to prosecute certain video releases for obscenity. To assist local authorities in identifying obscene films, the Director of Public Prosecutions released a list of 72 films the office believed to violate the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and another list of 82 titles which they felt may not achieve successful prosecutions but could nonetheless be forfeited under the lesser 'Section 3' obscenity charge. This list included films that had been acquitted of obscenity in certain jurisdictions or that had already obtained BBFC certification. The subsequent revisions to the list and confusion regarding what constituted obscene material led to Parliament passing the Video Recordings Act 1984, which forced all video releases to appear before the BBFC for certification.The implementation of the Video Recording Act imposed a stricter code of censorship on videos than was required for cinema release. Several major studio productions were banned on video, as they fell within the scope of legislation designed to control the distribution of video nasties. In recent years, the stricter requirements have been relaxed, as numerous films once considered video nasties have obtained certification uncut or with minimal edits. Due to a legislative mistake discovered in August 2009, the Video Recordings Act 1984 was repealed and re-enacted without change by the Video Recordings Act 2010.

Welcome to My Nightmare (film)

Welcome to My Nightmare is a 1976 music concert film of Alice Cooper's show of the same name. It was produced, directed and choreographed by David Winters. The film accompanied the album, the stage show (also produced, directed and choreographed by Winters) by the same name and the TV special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare, the first ever rock music video album, starring Cooper and Vincent Price in person. Though it failed at the box office, it later became a midnight movie favorite and a cult classic.

In 1975, Alice Cooper released his first solo album, Welcome to My Nightmare, and a huge theatrical stage show was created and put together by Winters to 'tour the album'. While in the past the Alice Cooper stage show was semi-improvisatory, with confrontational elements of violence and satire (see Good to See You Again, Alice Cooper), the new production was purely horror-themed and professionally choreographed and performed to the split second (Winters had a long history of choreographing and directing big celebrity films, stage and TV shows starring in the cast of West Side Story and choreographing 4 films with Elvis Presley and 5 films with Ann-Margret). With the edginess removed (gone were the bloody guillotine, the spit and the skewered baby dolls, although "Only Women Bleed" presented a drunken, physically abusive side to the character), the Welcome to My Nightmare show was part a carefully planned move toward a more mainstream-friendly 'Alice'.

Welcome to My Nightmare was a phantasmagorical exposition of music and theatre themed around a nightmare experienced by a young boy named Steven. Costing US$600,000 to produce, the show was a grand visual spectacle with an elaborate stage set, pre-filmed projections, four dancers, and elaborate costumes. Set in a graveyard/bedroom, a well-drilled band ran through the new album and a selection of older hits, while Alice encountered giant spiders, dancing skeletons, faceless silver demons and a 9-foot 'cyclops'.

Concert footage was taken from a series of London shows at the Wembley Arena on September 11–12, 1975, but the film was a box office failure in its original 1976 release. However, like Phantom of the Paradise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and others, Welcome to My Nightmare found a low-volume but dependable audience on the midnight movie circuit. The film is out of sequence with the live show, and the final Department of Youth segment has some post-production inserts.

The film was first issued commercially on VHS in 1981, with numerous reissues since. A DVD issue was released in 2002, with the US version featuring commentary by Cooper.

Before "Some Folks", a short medley was performed as the dancers danced in their skeleton costumes. The medley consisted of "Halo of Flies" (from Cooper's Killer album), "The Black Widow", and "Didn't We Meet" (which would be released on Cooper's next album, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell).

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