Saturday, August 4, 2012

Phil attends the MIDNITES FOR MANIACS "DISCO 4-EVA" triple feature at the Castro Theatre-August 3, 2012

Hello again folks! Last night my good friend Jennifer and I were at the historic Castro Theatre to attend the Midnites for Maniacs triple feature show! Hosted by the great Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, the theme was "DISCO 4-EVA", which kicked off the weekend long 90th anniversary for the theatre! Jesse screened three far out disco themed movies complete with some groovy vintage trailers! So let's get down tonight, shall we?

Theatrical Movie Poster (1979)
The first film of the night was ROLLER BOOGIE, starring the great Linda Blair as Terry Barkley, a prodigious flautist on her way to Juilliard who is also tired of being ignored by her rich, prestigious, and oblivious parents. So she runs away to Venice Beach for the night and meets Bobby James (real life rollerskating champion Jim Bray, who had won about 275 trophies before the making of this film), the king of the disco-driven roller skaters. Terry hires Bobby to teach her some cool moves so they can compete in the Boogie Contest at the local roller disco rink Jammer's. But when they discover that the owner is being threatened by a powerful mobster who wants the land and is willing to take it by any means, it's up to them and the rest of their friends to stop him so they can save their beloved roller rink.

The film has been touted as the "CITIZEN KANE" of the roller disco movie trinity (the other two films were SKATETOWN USA and XANADU, which I will discuss next). Blair was only 20 years old when she made the film, and she is so smoking hot in the picture! Those eyes, those legs, those skin-tight leotards and cleavage revealing tops! Blair tries to channel Terry's youthful angst is the most outrageous fashions! This film made me fall in love with Mrs. Blair all over again. And Bray's rollerskating is just out of sight man! The man was born with roller skates on his feet! Both leads have great on-screen chemistry, and Linda was no slouch on the skates! This film is filled with numerous scenes of kneee-high stripped socks, really short shorts, and enough crotch and cleavage shots to fill the pages of a smut magazine! God I miss the 70's! This "groovy" 33nd anniversary 35mm print came courtesy of Park Circus. The film was originally released by United Artists on December 21, 1979. Before the feature, Ficks screened three trailers from next month's M4M show: 1999's THE IRON GIANT, 1986's LABYRINTH, and 1977's THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1980)
The next film up was the other rollerskating film of the aforementioned roller disco movie trinity, XANADU. The film's about a frustrated artist named Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) who meets an out of this world chick named Kira (Olivia Newton-John). She inspires his new friend Danny McGuire (the legendary Gene Kelly) to open up a new club, to which he makes Sonny his partner. But there is more to Kira than meets the eyes, and Sonny will stop at nothing to prove his love for her.

The film is such a great example of "being ahead of its time." There were no other fantasy musicals being made like this. With it's lavish costumes (including leg warmers), disco soundtrack, the combination of old 40's and 80's art design and dance numbers, abstract transitions and, of course, rollerskating scenes, it looked so different than anything else that came before it. The "Don't Walk Away" animated sequence in the film was done by Don Bluth, who directed animated classics like THE SECRET OF NIMH, AN AMERICAN TAIL, and ANASTASIA. Olivia made this film hot off the heels of the hugely successful musical GREASE. The film's soundtrack was provided by the rock group Electrical Light Orchestra (or ELO as they are affectionately called) as well as songs by Olivia, who scored such smash hits like "Xanadu", "Suddenly" and my favorite "Magic." This was also the last film that Gene Kelly ever made and he proved that he still had all the moves, even at the age of 68 (his age when he made the film). Directed by Robert Greenwald (now famous for making political and social documentaries such as OUTFOXED, WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE, and IRAQ FOR SALE: THE WAR PROFITEERS), the film was a bomb at the boxoffice, but since then it has gained a huge cult following! After all these years, XANADU is now getting its long over due praise! This "far out" 32nd anniversary 35mm print came courtesy of Universal Pictures, which released the film on August 8, 1980. Four righteous trailers were shown before the film: 1979's SKATETOWN USA, 1983's STAYING ALIVE, 1978's GREASE, and this year's MAGIC MIKE.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1976)
The last film of the night was the Blaxploitaion classic CAR WASH. The film is a snapshot of a day in the life of a tight-knit group of employees working at a car wash in Los Angeles. Featuring a great ensemble cast that included Franklyn Ajaye, Bill Duke, George Carlin, Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Clarence Muse, Lorraine Gary, The Pointer Sisters and the late, great comedian Richard Pryor, the film is told in a one-day-long episodic fashion, which we would see later on in mainstream films such as AFTERHOURS, DAZED AND CONFUSED and CLERKS.

Words fail to describe how funny and groovy the film is. It's eclectic cast of black, Indian, and white actors really brought that sense of realism to the screen. They looked, acted, and sounded like real people! Like the people in my old neighborhood over on 14th Street on the eastside of San Jose during the 70's! In fact their was even a car wash that looked like the one in the film. Now that's realism at its finest! Carlin was great as the New York transplanted can driver and Richard Pryor was on fire in his role of the Preacher Daddy Rich! Throw in the Pointer Sisters and a funky soundtrack with the main song sung by Rose Royce, and you my friends, have one outrageous comedy! Now believe it or not, the screenwriter for this film was none other than Joel Schumacher, the man responsible for making films like FLAWLESS, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, PHONE BOOTH, and the abysmal BATMAN AND ROBIN. This "solid" 36th anniversary 35mm print came courtesy from Universal Pictures and was originality released by them on October 22, 1976. Before the film, three classic Richard Pryor film trailers were shown: 1976's SILVER STREAK, 1980's STIR CRAZY and 1982's THE TOY.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

And that is it for this edition of Midnites for Maniacs! The next M4M show will be on Friday, September 14th at the Castro Theatre. Then there's two shows in October: Friday, October 5th at the Castro and Saturday, October 13th at the Roxie Theater! So make sure you mark these dates on your calender and come out here to the City by the Bay for some movie magic and fun! To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs, visit their website at To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!


  1. I love XANADU. Olivia Newton-John is gorgeous. Wish I could have seen this. Sounded like a lot of fun : )

  2. It was so much fun!! The very next day I went out and bought XANADU on DVD. I've been watching it like once a day since!!When you come out I'll take you to a M4M show!!