Requested by Jana

THAT TIME I WANDERED INTO THEATER 80…

Just a little story about a movie. Thanks for the list request, Jana!
  1. Back when I was young and poor and had lots of time on my hands, I used to spend my afternoons at a film revival house in Greenwich Village — Theater St. Mark's/Theater 80. You could watch a double feature for just a few bucks.
    I forget why, but there was some confusion about what the place was actually called.
  2. They used to play all the greats — Welles, Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman, Rossellini, Polanski, Resnais, Bertolucci, you name it.
  3. One day as the lights went down and the film flickered onto the screen, I realized that I had mixed up the day and had come to the wrong movie!
  4. I had intended to see The Rules of the Game … or maybe it was The Earrings of Madame de… One of those droll films about the European upper class.
    The Earrings of Madame de… is great, by the way.
  5. Funnily enough, the movie I was at seemed to be of exactly the same type. Late '50s/early '60s, I figured. It started out with a group of wealthy and cultured people arriving at a mansion for a posh dinner party.
    The nobles were all a bit stiff and silly, of course, and naturally the servants were more earthy and real. The whole upstairs/downstairs thing — you know the drill.
  6. "Well," I said to myself, "I came all the way down here from 78th Street, and a movie is a movie, so I guess I'll just watch this one instead."
    Totally content.
  7. And it all went more or less as I expected.
  8. Except the servants ran away before the party started.
  9. Other things were peculiar as well … the dialogue was your typical cocktail party chat, but every once in a while the subtitles made me do a double-take.
    Wait, did that woman have chicken feet in her purse?
  10. Regardless, the movie went on. Rich people doing rich people stuff.
  11. And then something strange happened.
  12. I began to have a creeping, uneasy feeling.
  13. It was like that moment when you're walking in the forest and suddenly everything gets too quiet.
  14. And before your conscious mind even registers that someone is standing behind you, the hairs on the back of your neck start to prickle
  15. And an honest-to-god chill ran down my spine.
  16. Because I suddenly realized that something was wrong with this movie
  17. REALLY wrong.
  18. This wasn't some clever, civilized tale of manners.
  19. This wasn't Rules of the Game
  20. This wasn't ANYTHING.
  21. All this time it had fooled me into thinking it was an ordinary little story
  22. And it was just fucking with me.
  23. It was…
  24. THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL
  25. My mind was blown. I've never had a more intense experience at the movie theater, and I doubt I ever will again.
  26. I guess the moral of the story is, sometimes you gotta just go into things blind and let yourself be surprised. That's when the magic happens.