Cinemapocalypse at the Music Box


Trash-cinema connoisseurs, take note: Starting this Friday, the Music Box will play host to two nights of infamously atrocious exploitation fare. Cinemapocalypse, as it's been dubbed, is the brainchild of Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson, curators who earned their movie-marathon stripes programming for the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Having thrown mini-festivals in L.A., San Francisco and Seattle—among other cities—Nilsen and Carlson have now lined up a slate of obscure oddities for the B-movie enthusiasts of Chicago.

Anyone who's ever attended a midnight movie at the Music Box knows that such cult-leaning screenings are usually heavy on audience participation. If the thought of sharing elbow room with hooting-and-hollering fanboys and amateur MST3Kers makes your blood boil, avoid this one. If, however, you regard such active spectators as kindred spirits, Cinemapocalypse could be the communal bad-movie event of your year. I can't speak for the quality (or "quality") of the featured films, as I've seen none of them. Based on reputation alone, though, Nilsen and Carlson seem to have selected some primo stinkers from the annals of zero-grade genre cinema.


The festivities kick off Friday at 7pm with a collection of trailers, followed by an '80s-tastic double feature. In Vice Squad (9pm), a psychotic pimp (Wings Hauser, last seen on the big screen in 2010's Rubber) stalks a businesswoman-turned-prostitute (Season Hubley) through the streets of Los Angeles. Hauser, who had yet to acquire his reputation for volatile supporting performances in junky actioners, also sings the film's hilarious theme song. Next up is Lady Terminator (midnight), which TOC film editor Ben Kenigsberg assures me is fitfully funny—mainly when it's cribbing blatantly from James Cameron's movie.

On Saturday, slasher fans can fill in the holes in their genre education with Tourist Trap (7pm), about vacationing teens who wander into an isolated roadside museum after their car breaks down. Reviews of 2005's agreeably nasty House of Wax remake noted this film as an influence, for whatever that's worth. Then comes Miami Connection (9pm), in which the martial-arts-performing members of a rock band take on motorcycle-riding, drug-selling ninjas. (Enough said on that one—we're there.)

Cinemapocalypse ends with a secret midnight screening, tickets to which will be released a half-hour before start time, presumably on a first-come, first-served basis. If the other films in the marathon are any indication, the movie will probably be another forgotten, low-budget grindhouse picture from the '80s. Don't rule out a premiere—though anything more reputable than a new Troma film would feel out of place.

Admission to the opening-night Trailer War program is $5. All other Cinemapocalypse screenings are $10. A $25 festival pass can be purchased; it provides admission to every movie except the secret midnight screening on Saturday.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)

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