Welcome to the Basement Cinema

Hello – Dr. Sinestro here to welcome you to the first post of the Saturday Night Freak Show. The Freak Show is what I’ve taken to calling movie night in the basement of our house, on account of the wild and weird films from our DVD collection that we screen on a semi-weekly basis.

As an obsessive cinema nut, having people over just to watch DVDs isn’t good enough.

It’s all about the presentation.

Things generally start out with a dinner that’s “themed” to match the movies (ex. Japanese cuisine to accompany a Miike Takashi double header of Audition & Ichi the Killer; New Orleans-style gumbo & jambalaya for screenings of Cat People & Angel Heart). I also try to load up the discs with obscure trailers and odds & ends before each of the movies.

Every October we run a Halloween marathon of horror movies we’ve taken to calling our FrightFest, for which we pull out all the stops – we give out compilation CDs, have a trivia game, and prizes. One year top prize was a small box containing a real dead (chicken) body.

What you can expect to find in these posts are chronicles of these events; dinner menus, email summons, a strange and unusual stories about our guests, impressions and commentary on the movies themselves, and generally anything else that comes to mind.

The theater itself was constructed shortly after we moved in, in early 2004. We built risers to give us a height differential between the front and back row of seats - and also a platform for the television itself, a 47” HD-ready Panasonic unit (PT-47WX49). One day I hope to replace it with a ceiling mounted DLP projector.

Two columns on either side of the platform hold both the front surround speakers and the sconce lighting. The rear surrounds are cut into the walls. All wiring for lighting, sound and A/V equipment is hidden under the platforms or in the walls. The equipment cabinet itself is behind the seating area, by the bar at the back of the room, and once the door is closed on it, it becomes camouflaged to match the walls. The lights are on a remote control-operated dimmer.

Currently, we’re using a Pioneer VSX-D514 AV receiver (with both Dolby Digital and DTS decoding); JVC’s XV-N410B DVD player connected via component jacks to the television for progressive scan playback; a seldom used Pioneer laserdisc player / 5 CD changer; an old Hitachi VHS VCR; and an Xbox. We also have an infrared 3-D system that allows us to watch 3-D movies using the field-sequential shutter glasses, found at

The theater seats six in the first two rows, with accommodation for another three on swivel stools at the bar. We picked up the back row chairs from Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. They’re faux leather swivel recliners, and are pretty nice for the price. We were initially going to go for a full compliment of six of them, but could only find two more in town. After calling around to all Wal-Mart stores in the region, I located the last one in a store in Dekalb. But once we arrived, my wife and I decided on a black futon for the front row instead. This is a decision that’s haunted me ever since, as the futon’s frame bends easily and doesn’t offer much support.

There’s usually an attendance of eight at any given Saturday Night Freak Show, including my wife, Satanica Pandemonium, and myself. Sometimes we have more, sometimes less. This weekend is Satanica’s birthday, so there will be no movie night to write about.

Until next time…