"Staying at home and watching a movie is great, but there's another way to do it," Matt Martin says. The Black Lodge Video owner, together with Memphis underground movie guru Mike McCarthy, is gearing up for the third season of the Time Warp Drive-in. Once a month, the Malco Summer Drive-in will play host to an all-night extravaganza of classic (if you define "classic" loosely) movies.
"There's been a resurgence in interest in retro-cinema, especially among millennials," Martin says. "The drive-in allows people to go back in time and see some great movies they might never have heard of. At the same time there's this cinema-drenched environment. Mike likes to call it 'free-range cinema.' We invite the audience to be part of a night that's not just about the movies. You can get out under the stars, interact with people, have a picnic with cinema all around you."
This year's series begins Saturday with Dark Urban Worlds: The Films of Martin Scorsese. For one ticket, audiences will get four films: Scorsese's 1990 organized-crime epic Goodfellas; then The Departed, which tackled the story of gangster Whitey Bulger a decade before Johnny Depp's Black Mass; Taxi Driver, the 1976 masterpiece that made Scorsese and Robert De Niro legends; and After Hours, the 1985 comedy where straight-laced Griffin Dunne tries to escape from bohemian New York.
"The drive-in always was a home for the bizarre," Martin says. "It's been synonymous with weirdo genre movies, exploitation, and strange horrors. I wanted to get a couple that represent that theme — for example Goodfellas takes inspiration from exploitation — but then throw some more obscure stuff in there, like After Hours, because so few people have ever seen it. The drive-in audience is tricky. It's not like a regular movie theater, because attention doesn't work the same way. The environment is more conducive to hanging out and interactivity and fun. We tried to pick things that have a certain pace, a certain energy to them. The drive-in is more about the entire experience than about the individual storylines."
Other programs in the 2015 Time Warp series includes Sing Along Cinema!, the April set of musicals including the contrasting 1980 films The Blues Brothers and Xanadu; Comic Book Hardcore! in May, with Sin City and The Crow; Return of the Burn with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Half Baked; Martial Arts Mayhem in July, with Enter the Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle; Paranoid Visions, a tribute to John Carpenter with They Live and The Thing; and Bride of Shocktober!, horror comedies including Young Frankenstein and Shaun of the Dead.
On another front, Martin says Black Lodge Video has been without a physical building for more than a year, but that is about to change. "We've finally found what we think is the new and best home for Black Lodge, and our enormous collection, and we can hopefully make some announcements at the end of the month about where that will be. We're going to take it up a notch, and hopefully we'll be able to branch out into other directions, like theme nights and workshops. My hope is that the Lodge will be, by summer, ready to reclaim its position as Memphis' leading film archive."