The Scariest Things Public Service Announcement: Save Our Independent Cinemas!

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Horror fans, unite behind a cause! Support the great independent theaters that cater to the little horror films that we love, that nobody else will put on the big screen. If we don’t help them now, some of them may not be back after we escape from this virus nightmare.

Our Portland podcasting friends David Day and Bryce Hanson at Horror Movie Talk came to us with a proposal. Team up. Get the word out. Save our local cinemas that provide us the terrifying films that we love so much. There are a number of theaters in our community that deserve our support, and knowing it will be a while before they can open their doors and receive guests again, we have joined the cause to get the word out as how we can support our independent cinemas.

We then reached out to our friend Lee Despain at Dread Fright and Brew and wondered if he and his team would be interested, and they were up for it. You can check out the Brewligan’s message right Here. So now, it’s your scary movie podcasters on a rescue mission!

As would be natural, we’re starting close to home. We’ve got a bunch of great small theaters in Portland that need support. This is also in recognition that we have a lot of Portland listeners, so our target demographic… head’s up! The same can be said for our own Liz William’s home town of New Orleans, which has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. Tourism is big in both of our towns, and now they could use our help. Damn you dirty plague! Leave us alone!

But, why stop with our home towns of Portland and New Orleans? That’s where YOU come in. Send us an email at info@scariesthings.com and nominate a theater that is near and dear to you. We’d love to be able to try and bring attention to your favorite neighborhood cinemas. Some of them are offering advance ticket sales. Some of them are donating full proceeds to their staff. Some are creating movie links and access to screeners.

We tried to identify which key independent cinemas that support the horror genre. We looked at a number of the great horror film festivals in the country and looked at where they hosted their events. These never happen in multi-plexes. These festivals are usually hosted by theater operators who get what we like. They’ve got a little bit of the weird about them, and that’s good. Underdogs for underdogs.

You will forgive us if this feels a bit like an NPR beg-a-thon. But it is unclear if these businesses will be here when we come out of this economic drop. So, we’ve given some proper history behind these great entertainment houses, and if you click on the name of the theater it will take you to their website. I will state it again in the body of this article:

Even if you can’t afford to give now, consider going to the little local theater to assist in their recovery. The big cinema complexes like AMC, Cinemark, and Regal have deeper pockets, they will be fine eventually. Plus, you will never see a movie like Satanic Panic, Dave Made a Maze, or The Lighthouse at the multiplex. You know where you belong. It’s at the independent theater.


The Hollywood Theater, Portland

Home base for Portland Independent horror movies is The Hollywood Theater, which annually hosts The Portland Horror Film Festival and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, two of our favorite festivals in the country. The Hollywood also boasts series such as Kung Fu Theater, B-Movie Bingo, and Queer Horror. The 1926 building has been lovingly restored to a state of the art movie house and is now a non-profit institution dedicated to the preservation and celebration of film.

The Hollywood, ever the innovators, have decided not to let the stay at home proclamation hold them down. They are still doing movie presentations, curated by them, calling “Hollywood at Home”. As of this writing they have three films: The Perfection (2019), Dead End Drive-In (1986) and Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) I’m not sure if Hollywood gets a cut or not, but what a great idea! Behold!

The Bagdad and Kennedy School, Portland

Perhaps nothing is as emblematic for Oregon businesses than the funky and artful McMenamins chain of brew pubs and theaters. These eccentric restored facilities just ooze Northwest vibe, and when you get a chance stay at one of their Inns… which also have great pubs and theaters inside! Two of the best theaters are the Bagdad and the Kennedy School. Just a couple of blocks from where Mike lives is the Bagdad, which has a HUGE hall with an active balcony! This still feels like going to an old movie palace, and now you can get fries with it. And beer. McMenamins has a big roster of microbrews that they make as well.

The Kennedy School uses the old gymnasium and has turned it into a theater, one that USA Today called one of the 10 best places to watch a movie in the country, since you can lounge on sofas and eat burgers while in the hall. Alas, the abrupt downturn has been brutal on this company, and almost everybody got laid off. McMenamins will need some serious assistance getting back on its feet when this is all over, so go support them when they open their doors.

Cinema 21, Portland

Northwest Portland’s landmark independent movie theater embodies much of the city’s ethos. Specializing in American independent films, foreign language, documentaries, and classic films since 1926. This cinema hosts the Portland International film festival and the Portland Queer Film Festival.

The Laurelhurst, Portland

Built in 1923, for many years this four-plex was the best place in Portland to see second-run movies, but as streaming technology and bigger televisions sent second-run theaters perilously close to the fate of drive-ins and video rental stores, the Laurelhurst Theater now shows first-run films, but still cheaper than your big cineplexes, they also don’t just have four theaters playing the Avengers… they fall between your art-house and your mega-movie cinemas. A big advantage is that they serve beer and pizza. If this is your preferred movie haunt, they do sell gift cards.

The Roseway Theater, Portland

The Roseway is a lovingly restored neighborhood theater that is one of the few remaining single screen theaters in the city. It had a massive restoration that brought their house to be full digital with upgraded seating, and is one of the best

Cinemagic, Portland

No theater is more at risk in this environment than the mom and pop little independent single-screen theater. This neighborhood theater has stated that they don’t have a set game plan during the shutdown, as their wish is that when the distancing requirements get lifted that they would really appreciate your attendance. Cinemagic has made its reputation for showing first-run films at a cheaper entry point, and they will turn a blind eye to food coming into the theater as long as you buy a pint of beer or a glass of wine. DEAL!

The Bijou Art Cinemas, Eugene

Eugene’s premiere source for first-run, foreign, and independed films, as well as second run and classic cinemas. The Bijou was once a church, and then a monastery before becoming the movie house that it is today. This is where Mike, Robert, and Eric found a shared love for independent horror movies, when at the University of Oregon.

The Whiteside Theater and Darkside Cinemas , Corvallis

The Whiteside was Eric’s theater growing up. I saw the Empire Strikes Back here, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is a big hall, with 800 seats, but the multiplex forced its fate, having been closed down in 2002 by its parent chain, Regal Cinemas. It has been something of a Phoenix, re-emerging in 2006 as a not-for-profit arts center that shows classic movies and live performances ranging from the charming Corvallis Folklore Society to the tawdry Girls Night Out – Magic Mike Experience. (Hey now!) It would be a shame to let this Phoenix come crashing back to Earth.

The Darkside is a small, distinctly art-house theater mini-plex playing independent, foreign, and hard to find films. Every college town has one, right? You have to love their attitude “We never forget we’re in this together. Because We Suck Less. Every Day.” Their cheeky attitude by playing preferentially to the historic monument a block away is a testament to their spirit and hopefully will carry them through this rough patch. There is a donation link for advance tickets on their site.


The Broad Theater, New Orleans

This is Liz’s go-to horror film location. Opened in 2016, this independent theater is already hugely popular with the locals, and part of that may be due to the terrific snack selections and excellent popcorn and cocktails. (Hey, it’s NOLA, it has to have good food and drinks!) The Broad specializes in first-run American Independent films. Note that their COVID-19 gift certificates will go straight to their employees. And, like the Zeitgeist theater, The Broad has made arrangements with an independent distributor that allows them to screen Extra Ordinary, Zombi Child, and other movies not available yet streaming on iTunes or Amazon!

Chalmette Movies, Chalmette

Head out to da Parish for a show at Chalmette Movies! Screening both independent and Hollywood films, all screens are 100% digital and yet the prices are all under $10 and the nachos are the best in town! The independent Chalmette Movies survived a horrific flooding after Katrina, and now faces the uncertainty of the Pandemic.

Zeitgeist, New Orleans

Zeitgeist Theater has been bringing alternative art to New Orleans since November 1986. It is an entirely volunteer, artist-run organization that does not receive grants or public funds. It showcases a mix of film, video, performance art, visual art and literary events seven nights a week, all year round. They have a selection of nostalgic candy at the concession stand as well as signature cocktails! They have a Pay-Pal donation link to support them in the rough times ahead or you can become a member for discounted tickets. What’s more, zeitgeist has pared up with a number of independent film distributors and you can stream movies you can’t get anywhere else! Right now, The Scariest Things is happy to announce that the hysterically great rom-com horror film Extra Ordinary is one of the films they have for rent. WATCH THIS MOVIE! THROUGH ZEITGEIST!

Prytania Theater, New Orleans

This 100-year-old theater is the longest continually running cinema in the South. The Brunet family that runs this facility has been operating theaters in New Orleans for 130 years, so I’m betting that they are going to survive this economic shutdown. They cater heavily to the film industry providing special services to filmmakers like 4-wall screening, post-production and dailies sessions, and premier parties. This is the definition of a local cultural institution.


The Garland, Spokane

What was once an X-Rated girly theater and a movie house that the Spokesman Review opined “…there is nothing like it on the Pacific coast, even in Los Angeles, it is 20 years ahead of Spokane” the Garland Theater is a bonified grande dame! Parked on the northside of Spokane, Washington, the Garland has been in place since 1945. The Garland also serves up some delish drinks and some heady trivia at the Bon Bon lounge. Help keep this theater trucking on in to the 21st century by purchasing their gift cards. Long live the Garland!

Magic Lantern, Spokane

Originally opened in 1973, the Magic Lantern has had a checked open/closed past. Largely serving as Spokane’s beatnik, midnight movie, and art house cinema, the Magic Lantern continues on to this day — just in a different location. Reopening in 2007, the Magic Lantern is now located at at 25 W. Main Street. Take a trip in to Spokane’s freaky cinema past and truck on down to the Magic Lantern.

The Majestic Bay, Seattle

With many of Seattle’s independent theaters disappearing, the Majestic Bay is thriving as the Ballard neighborhood’s great restoration. I went to see Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker here, and this is a fantastic setup, with state of the art technology and comfortable seats and a quirky concessions stand. This is a new building, that replaced the dilapidated Roxy Theater back in 1998, and thankfully, it remained a theater, better than ever. Unlike many of the other independent theaters listed here, it does lean more to major studio releases, but it is a three-plex which allows them to show some classic films, and it really is a stand-alone gem.

The Admiral, Seattle

This is a beloved old 1919 cheeky classic small three-plex cinema in West Seattle, and was saved by its neighborhood in 2016. Hand-painted murals of nautical themes enliven each theater, and little flairs like seahorse light fixtures and wave motifs abound. This was not one of the old downtown palaces (Those are all gone in downtown Seattle) and probably that saved this little complex. The venerable theater has had many lives, but it is a community landmark, and likely needs a little support from its community now. The image below was titled “Group hug for The Admiral” and the billboard reads “Loving our Landmarks”. I think the old seahorse could use a financial hug right now.

Cinema Uptown and The Egyptian, Seattle

And here are your Seattle art-house theaters. Owned and operated by the Seattle International Film Festival, these theaters run independent, foreign, and limited release features year-round, and hold the large SIFF and a number of other festivals including the Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival. In their press release, SIFF had to notify its followers that they had to lay off everybody but a skeleton crew, and posted a request for help to get them up and running ASAP.


The Frida Cinema, Santa Ana

The Frida Cinema is a not-for-profit arts organization, dedicated to enriching, connecting, and educating communities through the art of cinema. Opened in 2014, this is the home of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. They are gladly accepting memberships and tax deductible contributions, so if you’re an Orange County indy film lover you may want to consider helping them out!

The Fairfax Cinema, Los Angeles

Los Angeles’ newest space for the arts, featuring a book store and a cafe inside. The Fairfax Cinema has a proud legacy of showing vaudeville and Old Time Movies and has a wide range of classic films on its roster. It’s great to see a little cinema like this survive in the cut-throat landscape of LA cinemas.

The Los Feliz Theater and the Vista Theater, Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a bunch of great historic theaters that have remained active, and this one has been lovingly kept up to date with a 4K projector for their theater. This is our Patron, Sharon’s neighborhood theater. When I went by, I was thrilled that they were showing The Lodge which was one of last year’s great independent horror films. The Los Feliz, and its sister cinema the Vista, share the same loyal crew, and it’s great to see the employee page that shows how long they’ve been working at these theaters. The Vista is on Hollywood Blvd. so it gets to participate in the Hollywood star walk of fame hand casting. (Ray Harryhausen, John Landis, among others). As of this time they are just saying “It’s Intermission Time”. But these gems are theaters that should be propped up before the AMC’s of the world, once the doors open again.

The New Beverly, Los Angeles

The house that Quentin Tarantino (re)built is one of the coolest places to catch a movie in Hollywood. Tarantino himself programs the theater schedule. Kung Fu. Horror. Grindhouse. Foreign Films. This is the apex art house cinema, and yet it still has a fairly modest profile given its stature. Film junkies all over Hollywood come to watch rare films from Quentin’s vast collection. With his kind of power backing, the New Beverly is certain to survive this pandemic, but keep an eye on their site for any updates on the New Beverly’s status.


Savor Cinema, Fort Lauderdale

Our friends at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival have taken up residence here in Broward County, in this lovingly restored 1940’s Methodist church (Formerly Cinema Paradiso) is also the permanent home of the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. It is a self-proclaimed hotbed for culture and independent film of South Florida. Savor did their part to help out the Bahamas following the devastating hurricane. If you are a Floridian, please consider returning the favor and help the Savor out, if you can. Since PFFF moved its festival to October, I am hoping to be able to check out the lovely and unique setting of the Savor.


7 Stages Theater, Atlanta

Home to The Buried Alive Film Festival, this cool little Art Deco theater is a non-profit theater that most of the time is housing live stage productions. But it has provided a fantastic venue for the creative visual arts, including the bloody mayhem that Buried Alive brings to the screen. Since that festival is a huge proponent of local independent film, the vibe for this matches the character of the venue.

New York

The Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

This newly remodeled theater in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn is one of the lead venues for the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. They pride themselves of being a neighborhood cinema, and right now, with New York under considerable pressure from COVID-19, they have a public plea for assistance. If you’re a NYC native and want to prop up one of the leading lights in Brooklyn Cinema, please help out these folks.

Palace Theater, Syracuse

The Salt City Horror Fest was originally scheduled to take place on April 18, 2020, but has since been postponed to the more Halloween friendly (and hopefully corona virus free) date of October 16-17. This is the festival for you to see some of your favorite classic horror films on the big screen for the first time (or maybe 20th time… all depending.) The Palace Theater once again will be the host of this event, and this independent theater has a huge 1300 seat hall, ready to accept hordes of horror fans when the time arrives.


The Brattle, Cambridge

Right in the heart of America’s intellectual capital is the quaint and elegant (how very Boston) Brattle. The Boston Underground Film Festival is held here, though the 2020 festival was postponed as it was supposed to go on last week, and we all know how that went. The Brattle already has a bunch of films to consider for your streaming needs, taking the tongue firmly in cheek attitude with some fun recommendations. If you click on the link above to the theater, you will find their donation page.


Stateside Theater, Austin

The sister cinema to the famed Paramount Theater in downtown Austin, the Stateside Theater plays host to the film-side of SXSW, the Texas Giant arts celebration. The State won’t go under… it’s too big and important a venue, but when one of the biggest festivals of the year gets cancelled, and the house goes dark… the staff for this facility will certainly need some help.


The Colonial, Phoenixville

If you are a monster movie fan, you will recognize this theater. This is the theater that The Blob engulfs in the 1958 classic. They celebrate this movie today, with Blobfest where classic horror movies from the atomic age get center stage. The highlight, of course, is the Run Out: a reenactment of the famous scene where a young Steve McQueen flees the theater and the creature pours out. Check out the authenticity and detail of the banners and marquee titles… straight from the movie! The Colonial has already put out a plea for donations as they try and gut through the downturn.


The Music Box, Chicago

The Music Box has gotten creative. They have streaming exclusive movies on their website that if you rent, a good percentage of the proceeds will go to the Music Box Theater. Why rent a movie from Amazon or iTunes when you could support a great institution like this? The big Chicago genre festival Cinepocalypse calls this its home. As of now they have not moved their June 4-7 festival date. The Music Box has legitimate claim to being Chicago’s venue for independent, foreign, cult and classic films. Like many of the independent movie palaces, this 700 seat theater was built in the 1920’s.

So, rally around your beloved movie houses, horror fans. Once again, if there is an independent cinema near you that you think needs our community support please send us a message at info@scariesthings.com !

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