Thrillema + Girlfriend = Article.

My dear ladyfriend Kristin Slaney just wrote an article for The Dalhouse Gazette on Thrillema, which can either be read below or @ Thrillema keeps 35mm alive Kristin Slaney Arts Contributor


Local filmmaker Jason Eisener, hosts Thrillema - a cinematic experience for movie lovers. Glen Matthews Photo.

Jason Eisener stands in front of a sold-out audience at a movie theatre in Dartmouth. They have all come to see Jim Henson’s Labyrinth in 35mm format.

“How many cigarettes does David Bowie smoke every day?” Eisener asks the crowd.

A young man in the front row immediately shouts out “fifty”, and then runs to the front to collect his prize.

This is all part of Thrillema, an event that happens once or twice a month at Empire 6 Cinemas on Portland Street. Eisener, a local filmmaker whose short film, Treevenge, was the only Nova Scotian film featured at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is one of the organizers of Thrillema. Adam Perry, from The Last Game Store and Empire Theatres, also helps to put on the event with Eisener.

It started in October 2008, when Friday the 13th was playing. Since then there have been screenings of Army of Darkness, John Carpenter’s The Thing, My Bloody Valentine, Clockwork Orange, and Robocop. But Thrillema isn’t just a movie screening – it’s an experience complete with trivia, trailers programmed by Eisener, and die-hard movie fans.

Shelley Thompson, who plays the stepmother of Jennifer Connelly’s character in Labyrinth, came out as a special guest to officially introduce the film. Thompson, now residing in Halifax, admitted she had never seen the movie, much to the shock of the crowd, who cheered loudly as soon as she came onscreen during the film.

“The idea kind of comes from Austin, Texas, and the Alamo Drafthouse – seeing how they present movies,” says Eisener, who has had Treevenge and his Hobo with a Shotgun trailer screened at the famous theatre. “They treat showing movies as an art. So they would program really cool trailers to the theme of the movie, or they would have the star of an old movie come in. And they would have someone get up and talk about the movie, or talk about the history of this film. I kind of wanted to bring that sort of feel to Dartmouth.”

Eisener is from Dartmouth, and says he is happy to be hosting the event in the place where he grew up.

“I love this city, and I want to give back to it. If we had Thrillema in Halifax, people think we could do better there, but I don’t know. I think it creates an adventure for some people in Halifax who don’t come to Dartmouth too often,” says Eisener.

The trip to Dartmouth didn’t seem to keep people away from this screening. More than an hour before it was scheduled to start, there were only 65 seats still available in a theatre that holds 287 people. The lineup to get in stretched throughout the lobby.

A few fans even came in costume as characters from the Labyrinth, with one of them fully dressed as Bowie’s character Jareth, spandex and all.

Eisener says 35mm films might not be around for too much longer, so it’s important to get them screened now.

“Soon it’s going to get to the point where everything will be digital. You’re going to see them not making film prints anymore,” he says.

Eisener wants to continue having Thrillema events introduced by big fans of the movies. Matt Amyotte helped Eisener emcee Labyrinth, telling the crowd that he first saw the film when he was three and it’s still his favourite movie. Eisener hopes to find more people like Amyotte.

“If there’s anyone out there who has a superman appreciation for one of these films, or has a suggestion, let us know, and we’ll try to get it. Then they can present the movie and talk about how it affected them growing up.”

The next movie to be featured in Thrillema will be Aliens on March 26, followed by Jurassic Park on April 16. Aliens was one of Eisener’s earliest encounters with genre film.

“I remember coming down the stairs and my parents were watching Aliens, and I snuck down,” says Eisener. “I was looking behind the railing, and it was the scene where Sigourney Weaver dreams about having an alien burst through her chest. That scene came on and I saw that, and I freaked out. I ran upstairs, and didn’t tell my parents. I had trouble sleeping for days. That kind of always stuck with me.”

Tickets are $6.99 plus tax. More info can be found through the Thrillema Facebook group.