Karrie Laughton, headmistress of Lux Lounge, is a rabid movie buff who counts among her favorite filmmakers men like Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch. Yet despite quality taste in film, she readily cops to a soft spot for B movies, or flicks “so over-the-top ridiculous that you can’t help but chuckle.” Laughton doesn’t think that B movies get proper exposure, so on Wednesday evenings she spreads the gospel with Lux’s B Movie Backyard Bonanza.
Laughton used the land behind Lux to screen films for friends even before it was officially Lux, and those showings proved to be so popular that she decided to continue the practice once Lux opened in September of 2002, and she peppered the backyard with picnic tables. Admission is always free, but the social lubrication ain’t (though there are drink specials).
As in days of yore, the 11 p.m. feature presentations are preceded by a half-hour of shorts, which have recently included episodes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Weather permitting, movies screen in Lux’s backyard until around mid October, and once winter makes its presence known, Laughton projects eye candy inside the bar.
So here’s a quick overview of August’s five Wednesdays:
August 3 – Cannibal! The Musical
Trey Parker (South Park, Team America) was still a student when he made his resourceful and hilarious first feature, and I’m now compelled to make this potentially controversial statement: Parker will prove to be this generation’s Mel Brooks.
Oh, hear me out before you grab your pitchfork and light your torch. Both men make broad, profane comedies with just the right amount of infantilism, innuendo, and clever song. And Parker may even have more of a social conscience than Brooks ever exhibited. Cannibal! The Musical stars Juan Schwartz as noted Colorado man-eater Alferd Packer, and if you’re wondering who the hell “Juan Schwartz” is, your question will be answered by a scene that ends with Juan clearly saying “Cut!”
August 10 – Rock ‘n’ Roll High School
Long before three of the four original Ramones landed a gig at that great CBGB in the sky, punk’s Fab Four starred in this silly teen flick about good girl Kate and really-not-that-bad girl Riff fightin’ the system at their high school. One scene that always takes me out of this movie, however, is the scene where Riff fantasizes about gangly Joey Ramone to the tune of “I Want You Arou-ound.” No disrespect intended, but that’s pretty yucky.
August 17 – A Dirty Shame
One of the things that set me apart from other humans is my total lack of patience for John Waters. He’s obvious, simplistic, and really dull, following the same formula in nearly all of his films. Shame stars Tracey Ullman as a woman who becomes a wanton sex fiend following a conk on the head, setting up the classic Waters conflict of Prudes v. Non-Prudes. Having said that, a couple of mojitos and the cherry spot in Lux’s hammock just might make Waters a little more tolerable.
August 24 – The Endless Summer
For the second consecutive year, Rochester surf rock king Duke Galaxy gets his own night at Lux to show surf movies. Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer is arguably the granddaddy of all board flicks, with its exotic locales and massive waves. The surfers in the film come across mighty wooden on land, but all is forgiven once they leave their good sense on the beach. Not interested in surfing? Doesn’t matter — The Endless Summer is campy, innocent, gorgeous fun, whether you salivate at the sight of a wall of water or not.
August 31 – Wet Hot American Summer
Alumni from MTV’s now-defunct sketch comedy The State (who would go on to craft Comedy Central’s Reno 911! and Stella) are the minds behind one of filmdom’s newer cult classics, a parody of the summer camp genre. The last day at Camp Firewood finds shy nerds trying to get laid, nutjobs working out their issues, and comeuppance aplenty. Plus it’s 1981, so you gotta keep an eye out for chunks of Spacelab.
At the bottom of her B Movie Bonanza flyers, Laughton has traditionally suggested that attendees “BYO popcorn and makeout date.” But she recently told me that Lux will soon feature a Pop Your Own Popcorn Station, and I have personally… um… observed that it is not completely necessary to bring someone to smooch, as there are often a few spare someones perched on the picnic tables, refreshing libation in hand and at least one eye on the screen.
Lux Lounge is at 666 South Avenue. Movies are free. Weather permitting, B movie features start at 11 p.m., shorts are screened at 10:30 p.m. 232-9030