The Red Vic
1727 Haight Street
While some of the nicer San Francisco single-screen theatres have been ruthlessly maimed in recent years by bullying multiplexes, the reps still remain strong, offering a variety of odd, quirky programming to perplex the senses and enchant the soul,
The Red Vic is one of the more interesting rep theatres. Run by a co-op rather than businessmen hiding beneath the gauze of bona-fide film freaks, the staff at the Red Vic really have a genuine love for movies and offer a good mix of traditional fare with a couple of surprises.
The Red Vic first came to my attention when they managed to book Canadian Bacon. While not a great film by any means, it was a movie that had gotten the shaft by its distributor, Gramercy. For that, I sympathized with it. Playing only in five cities, I figured there was no chance in hell on seeing it on the big screen and awaited a rather dismal video release. But, sure enough, the Red Vic came through and offered it for a one-week run. Other offerings over the years at the Red Vic have included the 1995 Gamera movie made by the good folks at Toho, Decline of the Western Civilization Part III, and other endless cult offerings (recently, they played the underrated Peter Cook-Dudley Moore film Bedazzled; that's truly cool). In short, the Red Vic is a welcome haven for four-walling filmmakers who can't get distribution elsewhere.
As a guy who has a taste for film fare ranging from The Magnificent Ambersons to Phantom of the Paradise, that's a damned fine way to run a movie theatre.
The interior of the theatre boasts some rather personable couches, a far cry from the sleek love seats at the 1000 Van Ness that dictate the way an audience is supposed to enjoy a movie.
Then there's the home-cooked popcorn and the optional yeast. You won't get that icky styrofoam nonsense that other theatres pass off for popcorn. And, hey, you get a killer brown bowl instead of a cardboard tub put out by the same kind of paper product company that packages Happy Meals. And without whipping out the Visa. A mere ten quarters separates you from the buttered popcorn behind the counter. There's also a selection of baked goodies that are a welcome alternative to the prepackaged Landmark muffins.
The cost of a Red Vic movie? Not eight, not seven, but six! Count 'em. Six George Washingtons. For an evening show, that ain't bad, particularly when you're paying for something a little on the odd side.
Now if only you could smoke. Well, that really isn't fair, is it?
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