I would never have guessed that of all the Cool Classics @ The Colony I've attended, Jim Henson's 1986 musical fantasy LABYRINTH would have the biggest turn-out. A large crowd of moviegoers of all ages packed into the North Raleigh theater and cheered when David Bowie's name hit the screen. They also applauded Henson and Monty Python alum Terry Jones who co-wrote but booed producer George Lucas's funnily enough. I think I was one of the few that had never seen the film before. Not sure how I missed this film over the years - I was a Muppets kid and always loved Bowie but somehow this slipped through the cracks. To catch up by seeing a 35 MM print with a full audience is truly ideal as I found out Wednesday night.
Maybe it wasn't ideal to everybody in attendance though as a friend on Facebook wote this as his status shortly after the showing:
"While you win points for the booing of Lucas and the cheering of Henson... those points quickly slipped away at the consistent and childish giggles each time the Glass Spider appeared in tights. I mean, you would think that if you are going out to see it at a theater the laughs would come at all the classic lines..."
Well said, but the laughter and much singing didn't get in the way of my enjoyment. The overall vibe was fun and full of life. It's very amusing that a film that flopped big time back in the day has become such a crowd pleaser 23 years later. The story is simple, a 15 year old Jennifer Connelly wishes away her baby half-brother away: "I wish the goblins would come and take you away...right now" and is challenged by Jareth, the King of the Goblins (David Bowie in tights and with gigantic teased hair) to solve the enormous maze of the title in order to get the kid back.
It was easy to see why this film is so beloved - the 80's are alive in every inch of LABYRINTH. The soundtrack is catchy even if it's hardly in the realm of Bowie's finest work and each set piece is filled with invention - especially the Escher inspired sets. It might be a bit too long and yes there is a heavy cheese factor but I think most in the audience that night would agree that its flaws are just as endearing as its strengths. I have a feeling that had I seen it as a kid I may have been bored by it - probably prefering TIME BANDITS for my childhood fantasy needs but then, I dunno - I may have just as easily fallen for it too.
The Colony Theater appears to be building a faithful following with the showing of these cult films. A "bicycle contingent" is always present as many folks ride their bicycles to the shows. The theater has indoor bike parking in the area in front of the screen. That's just one of many comforting sights on the nights of these screenings. Others are the marquee, the original one sheet poster of the film presented, and, of course, there are the vintage trailers.
Not surprisingly the trailers (of SHOGUN ASSASSIN, THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKOROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION, and MONSTER SQUAD) that were shown before LABYRINTH were greeted with much enthusiasm. They are films coming soon in the next few months as the Colony is starting a new series to run alongside Cool Classics: "Cinema Overdrive". As their website states: "CINEMA OVERDRIVE (from the creator of the popular Retrofantasma) showcases the best in high-octane cult/horror/exploitation/drive-in and forgotten films that are waiting to find an audience." Their first film in the series: DEATH RACE 2000 (starring David Carradine) is on Wednesday August 14th. Hope to see you there.