Alamo’s First Annual Kurt Russell Marathon



A friend who had attended an Avengers movie marathon at the Alama Drafthouse told me that while he had a fantastic time–he’d never do it again.

After experiencing it for myself, I have absolutely no idea why he felt that way. But then, I used to get together with a buddy back in the 80’s and 90’s and do 24 hour movie marathons several times a year, so a wimpy 12 hour movie-fest was a piece of cake. A larger-than-life, tasty, testostorone-filled slice of cake. And I’m lucky enough to have a husband who wanted to share it with me!

Alamo’s decision that it was time to celebrate 50 years of Kurt Russell movies was a great idea because HE’S NOT DEAD YET! Which means there will be new movies to add to the list for the second annual Russellmania. Not that there aren’t already over 90 of his movies to choose from. (Heh… Steve and I were ‘politely disagreeing’ all week about which movies we wanted to see, even though we agreed that there were a few that they couldn’t NOT show during the marathon.)

The day began with eye-patches and candy cigarettes for everyone, moved to a special Russellmania menu designed just for this event, and then really got started with the announcement that the super secret special guest star that was not Kurt Russell, even though they tried very hard to get a hold of him.


Between each of the movies, there were trailers for Russell movies that we wouldn’t be seeing. This helped to rule out what we were going to see fairly early in the day (each title was a secret until it was time to start the movie). Steve was disappointed that Tombstone wasn’t included, and I was hoping for Miracle (not that I don’t already watch this one at home on an annual basis prior to the start of the hockey season).

The hosts, who all dressed up as various Kurt Russell characters, started each movie with an explanation of why that particular movie was selected for this marathon. And I have to admit that I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by a few of the movies they chose (in order of viewing):

Captain Ron – Eye-patch Comedy! (With a lead-in that made it sound like it was going to be Escape from New York.) I’ve never seen this one because the trailers made it look like a slap-stick comedy with way too much Martin Short in it. And right now I’m willing to publicly admit that Martin Short was much less annoying in it than I had expected. In fact, I kinda liked his character. And… we’re going to leave that at that.

Escape from New York – Eye-patch Action! Everyone expected to see this movie, so I think that’s why they decided to get it out of the way. I enjoy this movie, but it’s not one of my favorites.

Dreamer – Drama! (Two of the hosts even admitted to shedding a manly tear when they first saw this movie.) I had never heard of Dreamer. I have no idea how I missed hearing about Dreamer… I mean, come on! It had Kurt Russell and lots of horses! Obviously I really liked this one.

Breakdown – Thriller! The hosts said they were very surprised with how many people requested to see this one during the marathon. They decided to go with it because it was one of the few movies where Russell portrayed a man who was pissing-his-pants-scared throughout the entire movie. This was another one I hadn’t heard of before.

Big Trouble in Little China – Action Comedy! This was one of the movies that we actually expected to see during the marathon. It’s also one of my three favorite Kurt Russell movies (the other two being Miracle and ahem….*cough*Overboard*cough*). And after seeing it again, I have to say that Big Trouble just keeps getting better and better every time I see it.

Throughout the event, everyone was repeatedly reminded to stay all the way through the credits of the final movie, which meant that there was a good chance that the secret guest star was somehow linked to Big Trouble in Little China. While I was kinda hoping that it would be John Carpenter (squeeeee!), I was thrilled to see that the super secret guest star was James Hong (Lo Pan)!

James Hong as a Super Secret Special Guest

Mr. Hong’s in town to host another Alamo movie event on Wednesday for a movie he directed in 1979. I have no idea if they tacked that on to the schedule to convince him to come to Austin for Russellmania, but it doesn’t matter because he’s a perfect fit for an Alamo event either way (he’s got both movie AND geek cred these days).

We stayed afterwards to have Mr. Hong sign a photo and a shoe (I’ll explain about Steve’s shoe collection some other time), as well as have a picture taken (we had to quickly switch shirts so Steve could wear the Lo Pan shirt in the photo with him).

Overall, we had a great time, we were introduced to some great Kurt Russell movies that we had never seen before, and we got to meet James Hong.

I can’t wait to see what happens at the second annual Russellmania marathon.

PHASE IV, the Movie

Even if my unnamed body part was still having major issues – I wouldn’t pass up tonight’s event at the Alamo Drafthouse.


“A box office disappointment in its initial release, PHASE IV is one of those underappreciated sci-fi gems that is only now being reappraised by modern audiences. In partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Film Archive, we at the Drafthouse are proud to present a brand-new 35mm print of PHASE IV created specifically for this event!

This once-in-a-lifetime presentation will also include a rare screening of a new high-definition digital transfer of film’s original psychedelic end sequence, long rumored not to exist at all!”

Ellen Harrington, the Director of Exhibitions and Special Events for the Academy will also be there to introduce the movie and share the story of the original ending.

I’m excited because I’ve always loved Phase IV (named after the fourth phase or stage–of something or other that I’ve already forgotten–triggering the ants’ development of intelligence…wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve seen it). While I hate to call this movie a thinking man’s version of the animals-suddenly-evolving-and-attempting-to-attack-man genre, in a way that’s exactly what it is. And while I’ve seen so many of the other movies of this sort (I’m a bit masochistic in my movie choices), Phase IV really IS one of the better ones.

And I can’t wait to see the original ending.

Mini Movie Review: Grindhouse

If you can ignore the women talking and acting like men; deep down at its heart, Grindhouse is a chick flick.  A fast-paced, foul-mouthed, violent chick flick… with zombies and cars (and the best car chase scene EVER!).  I liked it.  The downside is that the only way to really enjoy this movie is at a theater that caters to your comfort, which in Austin would be one of the Alamo Drafthouses.

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