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The Red Vic Movie House is Closing

Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco to close.
The already endangered repertory movie scene in San Francisco is taking yet another hit.

Later this month, 31 years to the day after it became an instant landmark in the Haight-Ashbury, the Red Vic Movie House will close. (via SFGate.com.)

On July 25, the Red Vic will show its last movie, bringing to an end a wonderful 30 year run as one of the funnest and funkiest rep movie houses in the land.

All of our friends love to watch movies. So in 1980, a group of us decided to collectively run our own cinema. Hence, the Red Vic Movie House. For almost 10 years, Red Vic’s first home was at the corner of Haight and Belvedere Streets. Here, we introduced our now legendary couches to offer our patrons a funky, yet comfy, place to watch their favorite films.
via RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE

It’s the end of an era in more ways than one. The Red Vic is one of the last independent neighborhood cinemas in San Francisco. And it is one of the last rep cinemas in the Bay Area – one of the last real movie theaters showing old movies. When it closes, in less than two weeks, there will only be a couple of places left to see classic films as they were meant to be seen – on the big(ish) screen, rather than on DVD and flat screen. And there will be one less place to see films other than big chain multiplexes in malls.

Among its many contributions to film culture in the Bay Area, the Red Vic gave us couches instead of individual seats, long before the lounge-style seating in deluxe theaters. In the original Red Vic, these were literally couches – mostly cast-offs and second hand items scrounged as cheap seating. And there was the popcorn – with real butter, of course, and nutritional yeast as an added topping. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast on your popcorn, do it now – it’s brilliant.  With a glass of unfiltered apple cider, it made a really tasty and healthy movie treat.  They also had great coffee and brownies. All in all, the best snack food I’ve had at a movie theater.

And to remind you to bus your own damn dishes, they had one of the funniest cinema shorts since the UC’s “no smoking” message with John Waters, featuring one of the Red Vic staffers getting dragged under one of those couches by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The last three movies showing at the Red Vic are Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, showing Sunday and Monday; one of the greatest rock concert films ever, The Last Waltz, on Tuesday and Wednesday; and lastly Harold and Maude, playing Friday through Monday.

Harold and Maude is an interesting choice for final film. It’s been a cult favorite at rep cinemas in the Bay Area for pretty much as long as I’ve been going to movies. I remember seeing it for the first time at Berkeley’s UC Theater in the late 70s and it was already a cult thing then, only a few year after its release. But I guess if I’d been scheduling things, I’d have been to tempted to go with another cult film, Marat/Sade. This used to sell out pretty regularly at Red Vic, and people would even come in costume – it was one of those “only in San Francisco” experiences. Well, actually everything about the Red Vic was a bit that way.

I’ll see you there tomorrow, and Tuesday and again for Harold and Maude. I’ll be the sad one with the big, big bowl of popcorn with nutritional yeast.

Filed under: Movies, San Francisco, , , , ,

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zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, film buff and occasional reviewer, and former private detective. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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