Victor Moreno grew up watching movies and rending B-list flicks from a shop across the streets from his paren't house.
He comes from a family of lawyers, but broke tradition after graduating from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU (which he paid for by designing websites for big-name bands). He met fellow Phoenix film nerd Andrea Beesley, who was programming films at the now-defuct Paper Heart in downtown Phoenix. Moreno followed Beesley to MADCAP Theaters in Tempe and then to The Royale in Mesa.
When The Royale closed in December, Beeseley-Brown took a break and Moreno took his operation back to MADCAP, and then Pollack Cinemas in Tempe where he currently heads up Cult Classics, a monthly screening of a cult film, with entertainment and limited-edition prints. This month he's screening 80s classic WEIRD SCIENCE. We checked in with him to see what he's been watching.
What are you watching?
Right now, I'm watching a 1987 Mexican action revenge movie called "La Venganza De Los Punks" (Revenge of the Punks). It's like a Mexican version of Charles Bronson's Death Wish that stars Juan Valentin, who was a popular Mexican actor/singer in the 1980's, playing a cop whose family is murdered by a gang of satanic punk rock bikers led by a luchador named Tarzan and his girlfriend Princess Leia. He swears revenge and the movie turns into something like a cross between Predator and Die Hard. It's pretty awesome. We're cleaning it up and subtitling it for a possible Cinco De Mayo Cult Classics event along with some other cool Mexican cinema oddities.
Where do you think the best place to watch film is in town?
There's a few I'd recommend. I think Harkins Camelview 5 is probably the best place to catch a new release indie movie in Phoenix. You don't have to worry about people texting and being disrespectful to the cinema experience as much as you would at other locales in town. Not tomention, they get a lot of events there with talent, so you can meet the filmmakers and occassionally have a Q and A. The Harkins Valley Art has one of the nicest auditoriums in town as well and hands down the best old school film marquee in the state.
For new release mainstream "tentpole" studio films, if its offered, go watch it at the Harkins IMAX at Arizona Mills. It's the only real IMAX in the state where you can see big budget films like The Dark Knight Rises or Prometheus earlier this year projected in 70mm at 76 feet by 97 feet and makes films that much more engrossing and awesome.
For the budget film fans and cinema purists out there, I'd also recommend Pollack Tempe Cinemas - you may have to wait a few weeks for a title, but pretty much every film they screen there is still played on a platter in 35mm which is a claim not a lot of cinemas in most states nowadays can make.
Who is doing something new and different in film in Phoenix?
I think Cult Classics is taking a lead in doing something different here in town. As film becomes more and more accessible, I think taking a older film and building an event around it to celebrate its influence or give fans a chance to see their all time favorite on the big screen as it was meant to be seen really does a service in creating community, like our yearly Ninja Turtle Pizza Party. It gives an opportunity for cinephiles that might not have otherwise gotten the chance to meet to hang out, meet and socialize which can be hard in Phoenix given how large and sprawled out the Valley is. We've also tried to give a spotlight to indie films that wouldn't have might not have gotten a release in Phoenix, like when we held the Arizona premiere of the Cuban zombie film Juan of the Dead alongside a screening of Shaun of the Dead and promoted it as a mini zombie film festival. In the end its about building a sustainable film community.
I also think the Phoenix Fearcon does a great service in this same vein. By building a convention around the screening of films that might not otherwise draw a crowd on their own in Phoenix or might fly under the radar like the 2012 UK horror film Inbred they promoted for their festival this year. Phoenix has a huge genre fan community and its one that is hungry to support unique or marquee level events that can pique their interest.
What is different about the Phoenix film scene?
One of the things that is actually pretty unique about the Phoenix film scene is accessibility. Phoenix is served by AMC one of the nation's largest theater chains, but they almost never bring independent features to town. Harkins Theaters, our local chain here, does a great job of bringing a wide diversity of film to Phoenix, especially indie film. Camelview 5 and Valley Art pretty much exclusively plays indie film and the Shea 14 and Scottsdale 101 are also becoming home to films that don't play at the Valley Art or Camelview. Plus, we have multiple film festivals in Phoenix like the Scottsdale International Film Festival and the Phoniex Film Festival that bring in a great variety of film into town on top of what independent exhibitors like Cult Classics bring in monthly that isn't necessarily a new release.
How many movies do you watch a week?
On a good week, maybe between 15 to 20, I'm a pretty voracious cinephile, so my queue is usually always pretty long.
Have you ever walked out of a film?
Yes, a few times. The one time that really steps to mind was an early screening of Inland Empire in 2006 I believe at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. I'm a huge David Lynch fan, but this was Lynch's first film shot digitally and its self indulgent, inane and just drags on forever. After 2 hours (of what I later learned was a 3 hour film) I tapped out and left.
How has Cult Classics changed since you started it?
When Cult Classics started, it was originally one of multiple programming tracks at small theater in Mesa. It eventually came to be the big drawing event there selling out monthly. We moved it to MADCAP Theaters and it became more of a draw there, selling out 160 seat auditoriums per available showtime until we needed to grow even more and we moved over to Pollack Tempe Cinemas. So its rewarding to see the community we've built around the Cult Classics brand follow us and our for events continue to build to where we can take more chances with film programming and grow the variety of events even more in 2013.
Moreno will screen WEIRD SCIENCE this Saturday, January 12 at Pollack Tempe Cinemas. Tickets are $11, but there are a few VIP ticket options that include original movie poster designs by Moreno, including:
- VIP Option #1 - Lisa Package - This option gets you regular admission and an 11×17 print that features Lisa! This is $20.
- VIP Option #2 - Chet Monster Package. This option gets you regular admission, plus an 11×17 print that features Bill Paxton's Chet Monster from the end of the movie in a send-up of a classic John Hughes poster. This is $20.
- All-Access VIP - This gets you admission, PLUS both of the prints. This is $35.
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Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets and the movie starts at 9:30 p.m.. Get there early to catch the pre-show, which includes vintage trailers, 80s clips, Zia Records giveaways, and some great people watching, as attendees are encouraged to dress in their favorite 80s outfits.