Sunday, September 4, 2011

Worcester Movies on the Common III: Spaceballs

The final show of the inaugural season of Movies on the Common was Thursday night. Movies on the Common was a series put on by Worcester Film Works which featured three free movies on a big screen behind Worcester's City Hall during the Summer of 2011. The first two shows featured "Grease" (1978) and "Back to the Future" (1985). Thursdays show featured the Mel Brooks "Star Wars" spoof "Spaceballs" (1987).

To read more about the first two installments of the series check out my blogs on them: Movies on the Common 2011 (Worcester, MA) and Worcester Movies on the Common II: Back to the Future.

The shows were scheduled to run on the last Thursday night of each summer month (June, July and August). Unfortunately, Thursday August 25 looked like it was going to be a rainout, so the final show was re-scheduled to September 1. Still, about the only negative thing I could say about the show was that it seemed to have had the smallest turnout of the three. I was impressed by the numbers who showed up for the first show in June--especially seeing as how it was the first show and word hadn't really gotten out about the series yet. The second one had an even bigger crowd, estimated at 400 people. At least part of the reason for Thursday's smaller turnout had to be caused by the postponement and the fact that it was pushed into the beginning of September (on what was a school night for many).

All in all, it would seem that the series would have to be considered a big success (and I very much hope that Worcester Film Works will put on a second season of films next year). They really seemed to get the hang of putting on a show like this very quickly. I talked to some of the members of Worcester Film Works on Thursday and it seems that they were formed specifically to get this series off the ground--meaning that they were starting off on the ground floor. The wife and I talked with a member on the first night and it seemed obvious that they weren't really too sure what to expect. By Thursday night though they all seemed like old pros at putting on an outdoor movie show like this. Now, onto the show itself...

For the second time in a row there was a band playing before the movie. This little touch adds a lot to the event and really makes it worth showing up for the 6:00 start time of the event, especially since the movies generally don't start until at least 8:00-8:30 (or whenever it becomes dark enough to be able to see it on the screen). Last month's show featured the band The Flock (aka Flock of A**holes)--a Worcester-based 80s cover band. Thursday's pre-show entertainment was provided by the band Hey Now, Morris Fader. I missed the beginning of the set, as I wasn't able to get to the Common until around 6:30, but they sounded very good. Providing emcee duty was the Worcester radio station WORC FM-98.9. They also gave away a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert by The Fabulous Thunderbirds!

Hey Now, Morris Fader playing during their set
98.9 WORC-FM's table next to the stage/screen

Image Production Services of Worcester provided the stage

Finz, the mascot of the Worcester Sharks hockey team also made an appearance. He ws supposed to be at last month's show, but didn't make it--disappointing my Little Monster who had brought along her stuffed Finz doll for the occasion. Unfortunately, The Little Monster stayed home on this particular night and missed out on seeing Finz once again!

Here's a little video of Finz messing around behind the screen during set-up between the band's set and the start of the film

Worcester Film Works had their table set up as usual. This time they didn't have their popcorn machine with them though. They had it for the first two shows...and it malfunctioned for the first two shows. They decided not to take a chance and simply went ahead and sold Smartfood popcorn rather than taking a chance with the popcorn machine again. to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was becoming a tradition to see the popcorn machine and wonder if it would work--ultimately finding out that it didn't. Oh well. They more than made up for that with another nice touch--they sold soda from the Worcester based company Polar Beverages along with the Smartfood!

The Worcester Film Works table
(complete with Polar soda, but minus the popcorn machine)

Steve, Eric and Jim of Worcester Film Works

The Sweet Sister ice cream truck and Theatre Cafe have both been at all the shows--with Sweet Sister selling all the varieties of ice cream you'd expect from an ice cream truck and the Theatre Cafe selling pulled pork sandwiches, their L-O-V-E wraps (lettuce, onion, veggies and egg salad), hot dogs, drinks and chips. This time I went ahead and ordered one of their pulled pork sandwiches and enjoyed it very much.

Sweet Sister's ice cream truck

The Theatre Cafe's table

Pulled pork sandwich from the Theatre Cafe

In addition, there was one new vendor selling food for the third show: Sol of Mexico. They had a number of Mexican snack foods available, which made for a different take on movie food! I got a bag of Duros from them, but unfortunately didn't indulge in the Mexican corn on the cob.

Sol of Mexico's table

Bag of fried Duros (with a little lime sauce spritzed on it)

Mexican corn on the cob

After a short film about Green Energy use in Worcester it was time for "Spaceballs" to start (a little after 8:00). Despite being a fan of many Mel Brooks films and being a HUGE science fiction fan, I hadn't seen "Spaceballs" in many, many years. It was fun to get to experience it again outdoors on a very large screen with a bunch of people who seemed to really get the humor of it.

Darkness falls on Worcester Common and City Hall

Getting closer to showtime!

And now, our Feature Presentation!

A Spaceball

The imposing Dark Helmet makes his first appearance

Our heroes on the desert planet

It's all about the merchandising:
Yogurt demonstrates Spaceballs: The Flame Thrower!!!

And one of the best-loved gags of the movie...

...Combing the desert!

Speaking of science fiction, here's a neat little tidbit I learned while researching this blog. As mentioned above, I bought a bag of Duros from Sol of Mexico at the show. I didn't realize until finding it online that there was a race of aliens in "Star Wars" (which "Spaceballs" parodies of course) called...Duros! Pretty cool huh? Where the heck would we be without the interwebs?

One of my Duros with "Spaceballs" in the background
A couple Duros in the Cantina scene of "Star Wars"

Well, that about does it for the 2011 season of Movies on the Common. It was a great series.  Hopefully I'll be able to report on a 2012 season next year (hint, hint). Until then...

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