The Austin Chronicle

To the Max

The Alamo Drafthouse Portals to the summer of '82

By Richard Whittaker, May 18, 2012, Screens

Australian bikers and sword-wielding barbarians. Possessed houses imploding. Aliens mimicking us and making bikes fly. The summer of 1982 was pretty fricking awesome, and the Alamo Drafthouse is re-running it for all you children of Reagan, with 20 of the best, most bizarre, and brilliant from the greatest summer of cinema ever.

For Drafthouse booker Zack Carlson, that year marked "the apex of our entertainment culture." It may be the only year when, weekend after weekend, there was at least one universally acclaimed release, and that's something that even the self-proclaimed "grumpy grandpa of the Alamo programming team" wants to celebrate. He said, "I'm usually the one that slips a whoopee cushion under more recent films, but with this one it was decided that we would make it an entirely upbeat, noncondemning celebration." The sure sign of that summer's genius is that Hollywood likes remaking hits like The Thing and Poltergeist, "and is doing this staggeringly terrible job of it."

The series kicked off last weekend with Conan the Barbarian and runs right through August. The backbone is eight iconic flicks, including Rocky III and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but Carlson and company have spent months hunting down 35mm prints of lesser-known gems like The Secret of Nimh, Class of 1984, and The Last Unicorn. (See for full lineup.) Carlson said, "Even though you can't place them in the recognizability pantheon of Conan or Tron, these are movies that people should be recognizing and celebrating."

The series reaches explosive heights this weekend with The Road Warrior Rolling Apocalyptic Roadshow (and take explosive literally). The Alamo will invade the Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, and it's bringing the next best thing to Lord Humungus' wasteland-wrecking dogs – a demolition derby. The Alamo figured, if it were going to host possibly the last ever 35mm screening of the greatest high-octane Australian wasteland movie ever, "We should really have people trying to destroy each other with their cars," Carlson said. Forgetting that there's no scheme too crazed for the Drafthouse, he pitched his smash 'em, bash 'em plan to CEO Tim League and Rolling Roadshow manager Josh Jacobs. "For some ill-advised reason, they said yes to this terrible idea." The carnage will be serenaded by punk wrecking crew Rockatansky, who "are going to dress like the feral desert-waste monsters in the movie." Righteous.

The Road Warrior Rolling Apocalyptic Roadshow takes place Friday, May 18, at the Thunderhill Raceway, 24801 N. I-35, in Kyle, Texas.

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