When aliens invade, remember the Alamo.
Following our long-standing Halloween tradition, when the darkness descended with an ominous silence and small voracious creatures crawled from their lairs with masks and bags, The Woman and I turned off all the lights, locked the door and headed to the movies.1 The Woman is an Xmas-aholic but I am thankful she has no love for Halloween. I don’t think I could endure the incessant ringing of the doorbell and kids screeching “Trick or Treat!” as I labor over my next attempt at the great American novel. (Coming to stores near you in a year or two.)
It’s enough to drive a teetotaler to drink. Which is why we headed to the Alamo Drafthouse. Now this is the way to watch a movie. The only thing that could make it better would be if you could pause the show for a bio break.
You buy your ticket out front like any other movie theatre, but when you walk in, the first thing you notice is that the concession stand, like the curious incident of the dog barking in the night, is conspicuous by its absence. It’s the first movie theatre I’ve entered that has no smell of popcorn.
If you cross a movie theatre with a microbrewery restaurant, you get the Alamo Drafthouse. First run movies with a full menu. Appetizers like red pepper hummus, falfel, pork, spinach and shrimp quesadillas, fried pickles and more. Or you can choose from 8 salads, 13 sandwiches, 11 pizzas, pasta, fish tacos or chicken enchiladas. Plus 24 beers on tap, 33 bottled 16 red wines, 12 white wines, soda and tea. You can even get regular movie candy and popcorn if you really want it.
Here’s how it works. Each row of seats has a shallow bar in front of it with menus, blank paper and pencils. You write your order on the paper and stick it in the metal strip lining the front edge of the bar. The waiter comes by occasionally (Ours came in a Darth Vader helmet without the mask. Probably for Halloween. I don’t think that is a regular occurrence.) and grabs the paper, verifies it with you and disappears. After a while he comes back with your stuff and you scarf it down while watching the show. If you want more, you stick, another paper in and it all happens again. (I’m thinking of training the grandkids to do this trick so I can have the same convenience in the comfort of my own home. The helmet will be optional. I’d even be willing to tip.)
As might be expected, the Alamo Drafthouse is a strictly Texas phenomenon. There are four locations in Austin, one in San Antonio, one in Houston and one in Katy (west of Houston). In addition to first-run movies they do other things, like silent movies with live orchestra, the John Lennon sing-along (shoot me now!), the old school and golden age hip hop rap-along (shoot me yesterday!!), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all-you-can-eat pizza (do I still have a pulse?) and the Lord of the Rings Feast. (Uh oh, I think I know what I’m doing for Thanksgiving. Seriously, you have to check this one out. Twelve hours of entertainment, including 9+ hours of movie and a six-course feast, including Smeagol’s course: Atlantic Cod Sashimi, Tuna Sashimi, and eel in a maple-sesame glaze.)
OK, I know you’re wondering what we saw. I was partial to “The Science of Sleep" but The Woman is allergic to weird movies. (I had to see “Being John Malkovich” on a business trip to Albuquerque.) So we compromised on “Man of the Year.” I’d give it a miss if I were you.
1. You may be wondering how a Halloween review made it on October 29. It’s a combination of the miracle of modern technology, the Internet, and Blogger allowing you to back-date posts.