The First Friday Lowbrow Cinema Explosion began in October 2013. The Nickelodeon invited Bickel to curate a “B movie” series, and he enthusiastically ran with it. Bickel says, “Rather than do straight ‘B movies,’ I wanted to have the series profile movies which fit a loose set of parameters that I like to call ‘lowbrow.’ We’re mostly dealing with horror and exploitation titles, all with elements that I’d describe as ‘over the top.’”
Past films include Rats: Night of Terror, Pieces, Black Christmas, Hard Ticket to Hawaii, Dolemite, Maniac, Cannibal Ferox, Blood Feast, Bloodsucking Freaks, Pink Flamingos, and MS 45. Of these films, Bickel says, “Pink Flamingos was the biggest crowd we had. Black Christmas creeped people out the most. Hard Ticket to Hawaii had the audience laughing the most.”
While these are all films that Bickel loves, he selects the films in the series “for their authenticity of execution as well as their over-the-top content.” He tries to pick “the most mind-meltingly oddball films from the golden age of splatter and exploitation.” Upcoming films include Ilsa She Wolf of the SS, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, Cemetery Man, Silent Night Deadly Night, Sleepaway Camp, and My Bloody Valentine.
Screenings take place at 11:00 pm on Friday nights, and the audience is fairly warned about what they are getting themselves into. While the films undeniably push multiple boundaries, the series has been incredibly well received. Bickel says, “After the movies I am generally thanked for bringing something to the screen that someone had only ever heard about or showing something someone remembered renting on VHS when they were a teenager and thought they would never get to see in a crowded theatre.” Bickel would like for attendees to learn something new about this type of cinema that’s most likely quite different from what they’re used to, but he mostly hopes people enjoy the film and have a great time. The films do go “too far,” but the audience seems to appreciate them for this very reason and be willing to go “too far” along with them. “Columbia is suddenly more open-minded than we all thought!” says Bickel.
- Abby Davis
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS will be playing at the Nickelodeon Theatre on Friday, September 5th at 11:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.nickelodeon.org.