Remember the Alamo!

No, this isn’t a reference to THE Alamo in San Antonio. Actually, we didn’t make it there on this trip – I have a cunning travelling plan that involves deliberately missing out on interesting places so that I always have something to go back for (and a second Texan experience is already being planned in my head). People may think it’s a foolish idea, but it’s the reason why I still, despite two trips down under, haven’t been to New Zealand’s South Island.

The illuminating exterior 
& the joys of unlimited Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea and a box of Sour Patch Kids
The Alamo I did make it to and will forever remember was the Ritz Alamo Drafthouse, which provided me with a cinematic experience that will take some beating. And to think, I nearly let jet lag and an adverse reaction to mosquito bites overcome me!

Regular readers will know that I am a film fan but a cinema hater, the latter owing much to two significant factors:
1. The price of cinema going in London
2. The behaviour of people in the cinema

The Alamo overcame both these issues with aplomb. Firstly, the tickets to the late night, B-movie screening we attended were $2 – that’s like a 10th of what a central London ticket would cost. Secondly, they have very strict rules about behaviour…

The film we watched was the so-bad-it’s-good The Sword and the Sorcerer, which was introduced by a real-life person before it began. As he ended his intro, he recited the penalties for talking during the movie – which included physical violence – and the procedure patrons should follow should someone near them break the no talking rule. I had a sudden epiphany – I had heard of this place! It had certainly featured on Wittertainment during formulation of their code of conduct and hadn’t there been some brilliant story of a woman who’d fallen foul of the rule?

Later investigation revealed the details…
The discovery of the video below [NSFW by the way] brought it all back – I’d definitely watched this somewhere last summer. I love the attitude of a cinema chain who takes a situation like this and simply says “You know what? We don’t actually need customers like you, because most people want to watch films without talking, or light pollution from phones!”

Honestly, in no uncertain terms is this rule taken seriously. In the trailers that followed the film’s introduction (which were hilarious and featured everything that was bad with 1980’s mythology based film) our Austin hosts murmured something and were immediately called out – and it was on the trailers! I then resorted to note passing – using the paper provided for waitress service – in order to get the odd bit of info across to my neighbours. The guy in charge was sat behind us and sporadically moved into the aisle, watching our group like a hawk. Did he not realise that we were excellent film goers?!

It has to be said, it’s amazing just how difficult it is not to talk, especially in a film as ridiculous as the Sword and the Sorcerer. Here’s a sample of the dialogue: 
“My sword stands poised, Miss.” 

“My sheath is not a place I want you putting your sword in, Sir.” 
“But my sword is very very long… and I want to put it in your sheath for I am worried about it injuring someone if I leave it out.” 
“How long did you say your sword was?”
See, utterly ridiculous! (If you’re intrigued, I’ve checked and the entire movie’s available on YouTube.)

The other thing that makes the Alamo is the waitress service. Yes, waitress service, during a movie –
which requires no talking. The seats have a bar-like table running in front of you, on which are sat menus, paper and pens. Your waitress greets you at the start and explains the system – which boils down to choosing what you want (unlimited hibiscus iced tea, a bucket of beer, frozen margaritas or sour patch kids…), writing it down on a slip of paper, sticking it in a slot on the table, and waiting for the waitress to collect it. Genius. Even the payment at the end isn’t obtrusive.

Having endured many a miserable film experience, and knowing that the closest London gets to this kind of quality (the ‘Sceen on the…’ and Curzon chains) are still way, way behind, I’d like to begin a campaign to get something akin to the Alamo over here. Who’s with me?! At the moment I’ve got a select band of London friends and one in Oxford, but surely more would love to join?

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