Friday, August 17, 2012

Alamo Drafthouse DFW Magical Mystery Bus Tour Part 2

Let me say that I've been an Alamo Drafthouse fangirl every since my first experience a few years ago. The love of the film going experience is evident by everyone who works for the company down to the bartenders. Anytime they announce a new special event or series, I feel a stab of jealously that I don't live down in Austin. But now in eight short months, we don't have to worry because we will get one of our very own!

Javi wrote an amazing part one to our Mystery Bus Tour. You can catch up with it here. And now, onto part 2....

Once our tour of Slaughter Lane was over, we were ushered into a theatre to experience one of Drafthouse's signatures, their pre-show entertainment. Unlike most corporately owned theatres, the Drafthouse doesn't show any advertisements. Instead, they cater their pre-show to accompany the specific film. We were greeted to a smorgasbord of clips ranging from the auto-tuned Bob Ross video to an 80's dating reel. Lars mentioned that Drafthouse goers will make time to see the pre-show. So no more showing up right when the lights go down. Also, instead of individual previews, they make a compilation of special events/upcoming films that the theatre will be showing. So you'll see something like this:

Right before the film begins, a Drafthouse staple will play...a video to remind you of their no tolerance to disrupting the film policy. They have very specific rules set in place to make sure you do not disturb the film-going experience for everyone in theatre, so they will play a reminder. Here is one of everyone's favorites:

(contains R-rated language)

Since the Drafthouse experience is so different from other theatres that serve food, the staff always makes sure you know how the ordering system works before the film starts. You need something like more food or beer? You write it on a piece of paper and place it upright on the stand in front of you so they'll see it. They're warm and welcoming and will answer any questions you might have about the menu or the theatre, but once the film starts, they're like ninjas weaving in and out of the isles delivering food and drinks as quietly as possible.

During these presentations, we were treated to a trio of special appetizers. There was Lembas bread that accompanies THE LORD OF THE RINGS marathon feast. Next was goat cheese with peppers and an orange reduction sauce which was created for a special menu for the premiere of THE HUNGER GAMES. Finally, there was strip steak wrapped in bacon with pablano peppers, which is a speciality of 400 Rabbits, the bar attached to the Slaughter Lane theatre.

All theatres have the staple menu that features typical theatre food (popcorn, soda, candy) and dinner food (pizza, sandwiches, burgers, salads). However, what makes the Drafthouse so unique is their specials they will run to accompany a signature event, movie premiere, or my favorite, Food and Film. In Food and Film, the executive chef makes a menu that caters specifically to the movie.  One of these events that always sells out within five minutes is THE LORD OF THE RINGS extended edition marathon where patrons are treated to a nine course meal throughout all the films, including breakfast, second breakfast and elvensies.

 LOTR food.
After appetizers and the pre-show, we just a short period of time for a Q&A. A fun bit of trivia Lars shared with us was owner Tim League originally wanted the name "Austin Drafthouse", but he wanted to keep the same red and white logo design. Austin wouldn't fit in that design, so he decided to change it to "Alamo", thus Alamo Drafthouse was born. Other signature events were described such as Girlie Night where slumber party type movies are played and accompanied with fun, unique cocktails. There's also an Afternoon Tea event where period dramas, like JANE EYRE and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, are shown and accompanied by hot tea, tea sandwiches, and petit fours.

After the Q&A, we were ushered off to another Drafthouse location, The Ritz located in the midst of 6th street. The Ritz is tiny compared to all the other theatres. It only houses two screens, but this location always has a specialty showing of some sort like Terror Tuesday, Girlie Night, or the event we experienced, Master Pancake. Master Pancake is a Mystery Science Theatre 3000-esque show where three or four comedians riff a film. We witnessed the riffing of CONAN THE BARBARIAN. This was our first Master Pancake, but I was familiar with Rifftraxs and MST3K, so I had an idea of what to expect. In fact, watching a bad movie while someone is making fun of it helps me because then I can say I saw this awful film, but I don't feel like poking my eyes out during it.

Before CONAN, comedians came out to introduce themselves, and said that we were in for a treat. One interactive feature they wanted to put in was a drinking game. Anytime we saw two snake heads facing each other, we had to yell out a phrase and take a drink. They took suggestions from the audience, and we ended up voting on the phrase, "SNAKES!" when we see two snakes facing each other. Creative I know. The whole experience was amazing. I laughed until I cried, and it made what would have been a mediocre film that much more enjoyable. So, an appetizer, dinner, warm cookies, and three local beers later, we were back on our party bus on our way back to Dallas.

On our trek back, we asked Bill if there were plans for the Master Pancake guys to come up to Dallas for some shows. He said they do travel, so it's a real possibility for them to come up. I'm looking forward for this Dallas location to feature specialty programming similar to Austin. There is still plenty of time for local voices to get their opinions heard. So if there is anything specific you guys hope to see at our new location please let us know!

Cheers to an April 2013 opening!


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