Monday, March 27, 2017

Ode to the Carmike James Island 8 movie theater

R.I.P.

Posted by Kevin Young on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 12:16 PM

click to enlarge Weird Al's 'UHF' was the first movie Kevin Young ever saw at the Carmike James Island - FILE
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  • Weird Al's 'UHF' was the first movie Kevin Young ever saw at the Carmike James Island
"Oh gross" were the first words Nightmare On Elm Street's Nancy Thompson muttered when she saw iron bars affixed on her home by her drunken, Freddy Krueger-fearing/murdering mom. The change to her house was done under the guise of progress. In the end, it wasn't. It only made things worse. Nancy lost her sanity, her parents, and her Johnny Depp look-alike boyfriend. I muttered Nancy's words to myself when last Friday a friend sent me a Post & Courier link stating that the Carmike James Island 8 cinemas, a seventh home of sorts, had abruptly closed the night before.

One of the last films to show at Carmike James Island that night was Get Out. There's an ironic witticism lurking in there somewhere. I muttered Nancy's words to myself again when I read another P&C article hours later. Carmike had sold the property to a firm planning to "build between 100 and 150 multifamily units on the site in two- to three-story structures." One of the development firm's described it as an "appealing opportunity" particularly since it's "very centrally located."If only the paper had quoted him sinisterly muttering "Excellent" while making a steeple out of his hands like Monty Burns from The Simpsons Movie (which, incidentally, played at the Carmike James Island 8) it would at least be morbidly humorous.

I could appropriate terms like "infrastructure", "gentrification" and ,heck, appropriation" for my own selective blissfully unaware socio-political argument but to do so would be disingenuous. My vexation is temporary and is actually just rooted in celluloid nostalgia.

I've seen many movies with many friends James Island's Carmike. I've become friends with some of the employees over the past couple decades. Like most of the other theaters, it had it's flaws but it was, for me, a movie nerd's safe space. I'll whittle down the many memories down to a few. To twist the immortal words of Alyson Hannigan from another film that showed at the Carmike James Island 8... and one time at the James Island Carmike 8.

Forrest Gump
I've gone on a few dates with actual women here and there. This was one of the first ones. We had a chance meeting at a record store and bonded over ‘90s alt rock. She was super-cool and somehow I worked up the nerve to ask her out. Later that night we met up at the theater. I was extremely nervous with butterflies and whatnot. Apparently there was a very uplifting movie about a slow witted man with a golden heart playing but I didn't notice.Those butterflies were doing enough of a number on me that as I was walking her to my car, I vomited. I wanted to die of embarrassment at that point. The look of horror on her face said it all. Even though a kiss didn't happen that night, a few more dates did occur. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know when you're going to barf.

Halloween/It's Alive
At some point in the mid 90's the theater showed midnight movies. One Saturday, they showed a horror double feature — Larry Cohen's killer baby flick It's Alive and John Carpenter's original Halloween. I somehow persuaded my best friend and a couple others to go. I think I was the only sober one of the 20-plus people in the audience. To hear one member loudly mock one character's stupid escape choices was like being immersed in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

UHF
It was 1989, the first year of the theater's existence. Sure, in that first full month they had Batman, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Karate Kid III, and Weekend at Bernie's but, I told myself, the movie everyone will be clamoring for is obviously "Weird Al" Yankovic's debut, UHF. Only cool people listen to Weird Al. I was one of those cool people there for the first showing on opening day to see Al subvert the dominant paradigm. I was meeting up with another not-nerd to get our Al on. We got there 30 minutes early. After paying for our tickets, popcorn, and Cokes, no one else had arrived so we got the best seats in the house. Damn it felt good to be so lucky. The movie was amazing. It had everything going for it except one thing ... we were the only cool people in the theater.

My Bloody Valentine 3D
It was a cold weekend in January, me and my girlfriend at the time were trying to find something to do that didn't involve a bar or staying outside. We could have seen movies she was curious about but she was kind enough to indulge me. My Bloody Valentine 3D was an alright remake of an okay early 80s slasher flick starring two guys from the Supernatural TV series. It had lots of blood, some gratuitous nudity, and an "oh give me a break" twist. I walked out of the movie not loving it but instead with the epiphany that you know you've met someone special when they willingly don bulky 3D glasses and watch ridiculous tripe with you.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Not every James Island Carmike 8 experience has been a pleasant one. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, maybe it was the timing since I came to the theater with my own baggage. Trump had just been inaugurated the day before and the election had me feeling a little perturbed. Maybe it was all the trailers that showed beforehand — all were for sequels, remakes, or were based on a TV show or a toy. One was even a sequel to a movie based on a toy. That soured me a little more. Then the movie started. We're in an era where the probability of having a movie like Star Wars that isn't called Star Wars is becoming glaringly apparent. It seemed to underscore how nostalgia trumps content nowadays. Even though I didn't like it, I wish Rogue One had made the Carmike James Island enough money that it would have dissuaded them from selling the property.

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