'Tis the season for horror movies, none better than the one considered the first ever made.
Silent Music Revival was showing the 1920 classic, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," with improvised musical accompaniment by Bermuda Triangles, the only quartet I know of with three drummers and a sax player.
Interestingly enough, I'd already seen the film at a Silent Music Revival years ago as well as having seen Bermuda Triangles perform many times, including at a SMR when "Poor Mrs. Jones" was shown back in 2010.
Even so, the combo of the crazy doctor and the pulsing drums was just too tempting, perhaps all the more so since it was at Gallery 5 a few blocks from my house.
With a history of going to the SMR that dates back to 2007, I know the drill: it starts at 8:00 sharp so don't be late. Accordingly, I stopped by Gallery 5 about 7:20 to deposit my bag on a chair in the front row, knowing full well that the place was going to be filled to overflowing tonight.
Seat procured, I chatted with Jameson and Laney who put on the event, all of us asking how it was possible that we'd not seen each other in months. Our conclusion? There are so many things to do on any given night these days that friends can be scattered all over town at multiple places.
It's a great problem to have, we agreed.
Promising I'd be back, I wandered down the street to Tarrant's back door, planning to score a big slice of pizza for dinner. Approaching the back door, I saw a trio of kitchen employees on a smoke break, so bored that they chatted me up on my way in.
"How's your night going so far?" one inquired. Can't complain.
Looking at the chalkboard, I revised my pizza plan and ordered a couple of fish tacos instead. Waiting for them to be made, I overheard the counter girl tell one of the servers that she was letting her go because they were so slow tonight ("Already?" the cut staffer asked). Neither had any idea why the entire week has been deadly. Umm, summer-like weather perhaps?
Dinner in hand, I returned to G5 and my front row seat. Tucking into the tacos, I was pleasantly surprised to find each filled with a tortilla-length piece of grilled mahi mahi under a flurry of corn relish and guacamole. Tarrant's isn't my thing, but this was a better than expected, inexpensive back door meal.
The place kept filling up with more unfamiliar than familiar faces, but you want new people. Besides, I had plenty of people to talk to.
The friend I'd seen at Monday's show but hadn't spoken to, the world traveler thinking of finally making the leap and buying a house here, a guy from Bread and Puppets, in town from Brooklyn working on Halloween parade puppets (and wearing a fabulous black and gold sweater).
So many people came that the floor became the only seating option and I was gratified to see a guy who'd arrived as early as I had to secure a front row seat offer it up to an older woman on the hard, concrete floor in front of him. Somebody's mother raised him right.
When Jameson introduced the film, he talked about its lasting influence on movies and the horror genre, saying we'd see a lot that influenced Tim Burton. It was even obvious in the crazy, angular sets with shadows as much a part of the scenery as objects.
He also said he'd edited out some of the movie to bring it down to under an hour. Excised had been scenes where they think they've found the murderer but they haven't. "So, nothing that changes the story, but that took them like 16, 17 minutes," he said about an era when everything wasn't quick cuts.
As usual, he'd chosen the absolute perfect band for the movie, with Bermuda Triangles' relentless soundtrack only increasing the tension as the story unfolded and dead bodies began stacking up. Three drummers make for a whole lot of intensity.
When the movie ended, the screen was pulled up so we could finally see the band, who'd been hidden behind it, playing for another few minutes. One musician, Jason, appeared to be running a drumstick against the metal grate of a grill, a small mic held up against it to capture the sound. Crazy.
There really is nothing like seeing a band improvise music for a silent movie as they watch it along with the audience.
Or if there is, it's happening somewhere other than where I am. Now, that doesn't seem very likely.