Best Grindhouse Cinema - 2008
Chandler Cinemas - CLOSED
We were chatting up the Valley's Midnite Movie Mamacita a couple of years ago, back when she was still throwing occasional slasher slumber parties at the old Paper Heart, and she told us about her dream of dreams: She wanted a place of her own, somewhere she could slather the walls in aesthetic blood and semen. "Ultimately, I want to be a small-business owner," said the Mamacita, a New Zealand native whose real name is Andrea Beesley-Brown. "I really want to have my own place where I can show crazy movies and people can come and drink and eat and just laugh at — and appreciate — these crazy old films."
Wish granted. While she doesn't hold the lease at this mid-'80s-vintage second-run cinema in suburbia — that's the domain of her business partner, Matthew "Matteo" Yenkala — the Mamacita's been handed the license to do something that, for her, is even better than printing money: filling movie screens with her beloved alternative repertory of B flicks, indies, slashers, camps, and left-field classics. She and Yenkala also provide a home base for the Valley's Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd and frequently book guest appearances by cult filmmakers.
All well and good, but this is Chandler. Isn't there a conflict with offering Roger Corman fare and naughty-schoolgirl contests in the proud home of the soccer mom? No, say Beesley-Brown and Yenkala, who insist that their cinema's dual mission of programming family-friendly fare as a second-run dollar theater and alt programming at night and on weekends has worked like a charm. They add that they'd love to have a rep house in downtown Tempe or Phoenix, and that's one possible future if their Chandler experiment continues to bear fruit.
In the meantime, see that familiar-looking décor in the lobby? The Mamacita snagged it from — ding! — the final liquidation sale at the late, great Paper Heart.