Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

Operation Condor

Jackie Chan meets Indiana Jones —Andrea Birgers (review...)

Chan borrows from Raiders

" Failure is not quite so frightening as regret "
The Dish

MRQE Top Critic

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Peering out from the comfortable womb of his pillow fort, armed with a bowl of chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream, he anxiously awaited the monster in It Came from Beneath the Sea.

So recalls Pablo Kjolseth, the Director of the International Film Series and the man behind Boulder’s first Haunted Carnival, a month-long series of classic and modern science fiction, fantasy, and horror films.

Kjolseth had been toying with the idea of a sci-fi/horror film festival in the fall to coincide with the Denver International Film Festival. But since the Boulder Public Library series has been showing sci-fi/horror movies in July for five years, it made more sense to add to the already-existing showcase.

Pray shoots and leaves
Pray shoots and leaves

He contacted the organizers of other film series in Boulder, and everyone he spoke to was interested. So this year, for the first time ever, five Boulder film series — IFS, the BPL Series, the Chautauqua Silent Film Series, the Almost-Free Outdoor Cinema, and the Boulder Theater Film Series — will join forces to bring over two dozen horror films to Boulder in July.

The highlight of the festival will no doubt be on July 10, 11, and 12, when legendary animator Ray Harryhausen, whose work includes King Kong and Clash of the Titans, will appear in person. On July 10, he will attend the BPL showing of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. After the movie, Harryhausen will take questions from the audience. On July 11, Harryhausen will present a demo reel of his work and an exhibit of some of his models at IFS. On July 12, Harryhausen will attend the IFS screening of Jason and the Argonauts, after which he will take questions from the audience. (You can also join Kjolseth for the big-screen showing of It Came from Beneath the Sea on July 11 and 12.)

The newest films at this year’s festival will play at IFS. Habit (1995) is a convincing modern vampire story about a man whose life spirals down as much from a vampire drinking his blood, as from his own drinking problem. Mute Witness (1995) is a cat-and-mouse thriller/horror film. Its director, Anthony Waller, has been praised for his technical prowess in bringing tension and fright to the screen. Both of these films are Boulder premieres.

The oldest films will play at Chautauqua. French film pioneer George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) is probably the first science fiction film ever. As the title implies, it is the story of early fantastic astronauts on a journey to — and on — the moon. Juve Contre Fantômas (1913) is the second chapter from a series of five films that follow Juve the policeman and Fantômas the villain. Juve and Fantômas are archetypes of good and evil, and have been interpreted as surreal representations of two opposing sides of human nature.

In addition to the movies and the special guest, two venues unique to Boulder summers are worth checking out, regardless of what movie happens to be showing.

After a day of hiking above Boulder, you should take in a silver screen classic with live musical accompaniment at Chautauqua auditorium. Because the movies are accompanied by live musicians, the experience is interactive. Audiences often cheer the hero and boo the villain at Chautauqua movies.

On breezy summer nights, the rustic airy auditorium is the perfect complement to these early silent films. The planks that make the walls of Chautauqua auditorium have weathered and warped, admitting slivers of moonlight and cool mountain air into the hundred-year old building. After the movie, stick around for a while, because Chautauqua’s grassy park is beautiful at night, offering a wonderful view of the lights of Boulder.

On Saturday nights, bring your own seating to the Almost-Free Outdoor Cinema (suggested donations are $5.00). The Outdoor Cinema shows movies at dusk in the parking lot behind the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, just east of Central Park. Between reels, you can win prizes for Best Costume or Most Creative Seating. Come on July 18 for a 3-D presentation of The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The open-air setting and sense of community at the Outdoor Cinema creates instant nostalgia. It’s a great place to sow future halcyon memories for your kids.

There is sometimes even an ice cream truck at the shows so remember to bring your chocolate sauce and your pillow fort.