Monday, April 09, 2007

Review of "Grindhouse" as well as my grindhouse memories!

On Saturday Night, April 7, I went to see the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez movie, "Grindhouse" at the Regal Cinemas "City Centre Stadium Cinemas 16" in Downtown Stockton, California. Excellent Movie! It sure replicated the old grindhouse movies of the 70's and 80's though the atmosphere of the cineplex didn't match the atmosphere of an actual grindhouse. Of the double feature, I preferred Rodriguez feature, "Planet Terror" over Tarantino's "Death Proof". Of course, the highlight of the whole movie were the fake trailers shown before and between the features. As for grindhouses in general, though few exist today, there were many all over the country in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. The most famous were located in New York's Times Square but there were plenty in Northern California. In San Francisco, they were along Market Street (St. Francis 1 And 2, The Strand, etc.), In Sacramento there was the Esquire and The Star Theatres on K Street. And in my home town of Stockton, in the 1970's, The historic "Fox California Theatre" at 242 East Main Street as well as the "Ritz Theatre" at 420 East Main Street (demolished in 1987) showed Grindhouse movies. Many times they were triple features for 50 Cents. But the grindhouse I fondly remember is the "Stockton Royal Theatres" located on the Miracle Mile in Stockton at 1820 Pacific Avenue. The main Auditorium was built in 1945. It was mostly a second run house. In 1976, The Stockton Theatre expanded and added 3 more auditoriums.Westland Theatres Chain operated the Stockton from 1945 until 1983 when it was sold to the CinamaCal Enterprises Chain out of Concord, California. From 1976 until 1983, The Stockton Royal Theatres was a combination Mainstream/Grindhouse Operation. At least 1-2 of those screens were used to show then first run Grindhouse Features. The main feature was First Run while the second feature was always Second Run. Among the double features I remember were: ("Zombie" and "Tender Flesh"), ("Death Ship" and "Screams Of A Winter Night"), ("The Fog" and "Phantasm"), ("Emanuelle Around The World" and "Emanuelle In Bangkok"), ("Blood Beach" and "They Came From Within"), ("The Big Brawl" and "Enter The Dragon"). On one occasion, they even had a triple feature of ("Death Valley", "Venom" and "Night School").Other movies I had seen included "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein", "Dawn Of The Dead", "Barbarella","The Evil Dead", "Food Of The Gods", "Future World" even "Friday The 13TH Part 3 In 3D". After CinamaCal took over in 1983, the days of the grindhouse double features were over though they did continue to show many genre flicks like the rest of the "Friday The 13TH" movies, "Phantasm 2", "Robocop 3" and much more. In 2000, Signature Theatres took over and converted The Stockton Royal into a Art/Foreign Film House but it was not successful and it closed later that year. A year after that in 2001, Northshore Theatres reopened the Stockton Royal to First Run Films again but in 2003, Signature Theatres opened a brand new state of the art All Stadium, All Digital "City Centre Stadium Cinemas 16" to help revitalize Downtown Stockton. (In 2004, Regal Entertainment Group bought out Signature Theatres). On April 20, 2004, The Stockton Royal Theatres closed for good. Today, The main auditorium is now called "The Stockton Empire Theatre" and is now a live theatre/concert hall with an occasional film. The other 3 auditoriums were gutted and converted to Restaurant Space. The Lobby Of The Stockton Royal is a Coffee House and no, it is not "Starbucks" but "Java Aroma". If you have never ventured into a grindhouse theatre, I highly recommend that you see the movie, "Grindhouse". It is the next best thing!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Happy birthday Bob!

I've been a fan since my older brother dared me to watch your show when I was a kid. Wish I had known about the thing in Sacto last month. Saw many a movie at the Fox Theatre in San Mateo as a kid. Phantasm being my all time fave, well, behind Night of the Living Dead.