Double Feature of 80s Nostalgia Comes to Town
Many a horror fan has a soft spot for those campy VHS-bound classics of the 80s. Mike McGraner—Emmy award winning director of Fritz the Nite Owl—certainly does. He’s indulging this interest with the monthly double feature series, Terror from the Eighties.
“There is something about 80s horror specifically that keeps calling to me,” McGraner explains.
“When I was a kid I used to cut newspaper advertisement movie posters. It was so cool to see pictures of these movies that I would never be allowed to see as a kid,” he says. “So many of these movies get lost. This is the way to celebrate that, to remember when you would walk through a video store and see that awesome cover art for some of these movies. You may not have even seen the movie but you remember the video art or you remember the poster.”
Each episode of Terror from the Eighties connects two undisclosed but thematically linked horror films, presented like aged prints — “kind of like Grindhouse,” he says.
“I originally set out to make it feel like an 80s drive-in. I just liked the whole Grindhouse idea: An A picture followed by a B picture. There are so many titles in 80s horror, if we did just one film a month, I felt like we would never even scrape the surface.”
McGraner developed a methodical process for culling the candidates for his series.
“I actually picked from a list of about 4,000 films,” he says of his first exploration of the decade’s worth of horror output. “I narrowed it down to 400. From those 400 I narrowed it down to 80.”
“Going from 4000 – 400, that was the tedious part,” he says. “Then I started whittling that down.”
Then McGraner paired the films to create workable themes.
“I looked up the box office for each to determine which would be the A film and which B,” he says. “I’ll see which one did better financially. That picture plays first, the other plays second.”
What McGraner came up with was a set of mystery double features.
“You won’t know the titles of the movies but you’ll know the theme of the month,” he says.
The theme for September: Sneak Preview.
“Those films deal with cinema or cinema obsession,” he says.
The fun of the surprise is part of the draw, but for McGraner, the real pull is the opportunity to share this common fondness.
“It’s a chance to gather with other horror fans and – good or bad movies – see them on the big screen,” he says. “If you think something’s cheesy, feel free to laugh. It’s a big party.”
In fact, McGraner’s bringing the party favors. Certain tickets come with Fright Flick trading cards.
“You trade your cards with others in the theater until you can recreate the whole series.”
McGraner’s goal is to create an authentic, fun, retro feel.
“It’d be great if it felt like you were walking into your bedroom in the 80s,” he says.
Terror from the Eighties is on the second weekend of each month. It plays Friday and Saturday nights, rotating between Grandview Theater and Drafthouse and Studio 35 Theater and Drafthouse.
“I’ve always wanted to secure the second weekend of every month, because, if there is going to be a Friday the 13th in a month, it will be that second weekend,” McGraner says.
Then, the third weekend of every month, McGraner takes the show on the road, screening the episode at London’s State Theater.
“It’s on Main Street,” he says. “It’s really beautiful. They have big Gone with the Wind murals and Casablanca and Wizard of Oz murals. It’s a pretty awesome place.”
Columbus episodes begin at 11 p.m.; London’s at 10:30 p.m.. Each episode runs about three and a half hours.
The Columbus premiere is Friday, September 15 at Grandview Theater, with a repeat screening Saturday at Studio 35.
- Standard ticket run $8
- Deluxe tickets go for $15 and include admission as well as a souvenir ticket designed exclusively for each episode with artwork from the films, and a pack of Fright Flick trading cards.
- Uber-Eightes tickets are $30. That price nets you the collectible ticket, the pack of cards and a Terror from the Eighties tee shirt.
Tickets available at squareup.com/store/terror-from-the-80s