I’ve made my love of the Alamo Drafthouse and their special screenings fairly obvious in the past. For years they have found new and creative ways to show films on top of their already impressive catalog of screenings. The chain features monthly chick flicks for Girlie Night, action movies for Tough Guy Cinema, Quote-Alongs for such gems like Clue and Airplane! and for us horror fans, Terror Tuesdays, which are weekly showings of horror films of all styles (heads up: the Terror Tuesday on July 4th is I Know What You Did Last Summer!). The Alamo Drafthouse leaves no movie fan ignored. One of the more innovative things the Drafthouse does is what they refer to as their Rolling Roadshow: outdoor screenings of films new and old projected onto an enormous inflatable screen. To celebrate the release of Ana Lily Amirpour’s (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) sophomore feature, the cannibal love story The Bad Batch, the Alamo Drafthouse decided to hold a screening during an outdoor pig roast. (don’t worry, no humans were on the menu).
The screening took place at Stunt Ranch, a popular venue bordering the Texas cities of Austin and Dripping Springs. Owned by Steve Wolf, President of Wolf Stuntworks Inc. and the founder of Science in the Movies Inc., Stunt Ranch positions itself as “a 22-acre event, experiential education & filming venue 17 minutes from downtown Austin.” What sets it apart from many other event venues in the area is the sheer number of attractions available to event-holders. The venue offers a wide variety of activities, including but not limited to:
- High Falls
- Learning Circuits & Detonating Fireball Explosions
- Squibs (Bullet Hits)
- Zip-lining (and Targeting off Zip-lines)
- Combat Pyro Paintball
- Rock Climbing
Some of the attractions that distribution company Neon included before their screening of The Bad Batch were a high-wire trapeze course, zip-lining and my personal favorite: a highfall jump. A highfall jump is exactly what it sounds like: jumping off of a ledge and onto a giant airbag. I was fortunate enough to capture my jump on film, so feel free to give that a watch if you would like to see my terrified face.
Upon arriving at the venue at 6:30pm, patrons were greeted with two drink tickets and a meal for the barbecue that was being served (they even had seitan for any vegetarians that were attending). From there we were encouraged to grab a seat in front of the screen (we were told in advance to bring our own chair or blanket to sit on) and then we were let loose to go explore the attractions that the venue had to offer. The film wouldn’t start until 9pm, so I had plenty of time to walk around and check things out. My first stop was to grab a beer, but then I made my way over to the photo op, which was set up in front of an exploding van with some of The Dream’s (Keanu Reeves’s character in the film) concubines.
The highfall jump was next and then I went to the food, which was provided by Mickletwhait Craft Meats. Pig roasts are becoming a popular event trend in Austin, so it’s no surprise that Neon and the Drafthouse decided to capitalize on that trend here. The line, which stretched across the length of the venue, moved at a steady pace but I had a friend hold my place in line while I went to go try out the tomahawk throwing practice (I know! That is poor line etiquette.). Unfortunately, I learned that that particular skill was not for me. I always hit the target but failed to make one stick. I came to terms with my defeat by eating an enormous plate of barbecue (it was delicious, by the way).
Around 8:45pm we were all encouraged to find our seats for the screening of The Bad Batch, which was introduced by Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League and Amirpour herself. Having seen The Bad Batch at Fantastic Fest back in September, I already knew what I was in for. While I did appreciate the film more on a second viewing, I was still left fairly disappointed with it. This was particularly crushing for me since I am a huge fan of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. The Bad Batch is a gorgeous film with some excellent sound design that just doesn’t have enough narrative material to sustain it’s two-hour runtime. There are a few interesting ideas on display that don’t feel fully realized, making the film feel hollow. That may be what Amirpour was going for, but it made for a frustrating viewing experience. After the screening the audience was treated to a Q&A with Amirpour and Suki Waterhouse, the film’s lead actress. Both commented on the difficult (and hot) shooting conditions and provided some interesting insights into the film.
While I was lukewarm on the film, it was made up for by the fact that Neon and the Alamo Drafthouse put on one helluva pre-show and further illustrates why I will only go to an Alamo Drafthouse if I am going to the theaters. Regular theaters just don’t cut it anymore!