by Stephen Krock
Oh, the 80s. Nary has an era evoked such vibrant, hot pink laser light imagery. It was a truly decadent decade. There was a VCR in every home and a sprinkle of cocaine in every nose. It was a time when it would be perfectly acceptable to leave the house in earrings made out of Tangrams and green eye shadow up to your temples. The decade all but created the high concept film; there were babysitters on adventures, dead bosses starring in wacky comedies, and robots as far as the eye could see. And they could be cops, terminators, or even love interests for Ally Sheedy.
This summer, Philadelphia tackles the challenge of giving the 80s a fully comprehensive homage by way of the return of The Awesome Fest. It is a ten week film and music festival featuring our favorite sights and sounds from this most tubular ten years. In a word, it will be… awesome. What is even more awesome? The festival’s renowned outdoor screenings remain 100% FREE, thanks in no small part to presenting sponsor Parx Casino.
“Our team is working tirelessly,” says Awesome Fest creator Josh Goldbloom. “I think it’s safe to say, we’re all very excited. Expect anniversary screenings, many new feature films/Philly premieres and all the awesome 80s titles that you can handle.”
The fest kicks off on June 14 with a live concert by the Psychedelic Furs at the Trocadero. As the awesomeness continues through the summer, you can expect to find the following flicks screening at the Troc: a stellar documentary on the power of the VHS called Rewind This!, with special appearance by Director Josh Johnson and Producer Carolee Mitchell (6/17/13), Downloaded/ Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, with special appearance by Director/Actor Alex Winter (6/24/13), I Am Divine, a biopic of the world’s most notorious drag queen /Polyester (7/11/13), Valley Girl /obscure holiday slasher April Fool’s Day with special appearance by Actress Deborah Foreman (7/15/13), They Live, with Roddy Piper in attendance (7/21/13), UHF (7/22/13), an evening of Swayze versus Seagal in the double feature of Road House/ Above the Law (7/29/13), Cruising / Interior. Leather. Bar. (8/5/13), and the Molly Ringwald standard Sixteen Candles (8/12/13).
Landmark Ritz Theaters will house several of the Philly premiere films, such as V/H/S/2 (5/23/13), sequel to the acclaimed 2012 fright fest and hailed as “one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on” by the Oakland Tribune. On 5/29/13, you can catch The Kings of Summer, a nostalgic look at a childhood summer three friends spent in the woods, followed by one of the classic films that inspired it, Stand by Me. 6/25/13 sees the Philadelphia premieres of Prince Avalanche, a buddy comedy starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and Computer Chess, which chronicles two software engineers’ experience at a chess tournament, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence. On 6/26/13, you can catch the classic Escape from New York. And lastly, a double feature of The Spectacular Now (another premiere) and Can’t Buy Me Love on 7/24/13.
For those famous free screenings, be sure to head to Drexel Park for: Revenge of the Nerds (6/20/13), Adventures in Babysitting (6/27/13), Spaceballs (7/11/13), Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (7/18/13), Die Hard (7/25/13), Batman (8/1/13), A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors (8/8/13), and The Neverending Story (8/15/13).
Liberty Lands: The Princess Bride (6/21/13), Robocop (6/28/13), The Goonies (7/5/13), Howard the Duck (8/2/13), The Lost Boys (8/9/13), and Over the Top (8/16/13).
Eakins Oval: E.T. (7/12/13), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (7/19/13), and don’t miss seeing Kevin Bacon as he should always be seen, dancing on the big screen in Footloose (7/26/13).
Don’t forget to show your appreciation to sponsor Parx Casino by attending these screenings and events: Pretty in Pink Event, including a screening of the film and an 80’s Prom Night @ 360 Lounge (6/15/13), Child’s Play / Fright Night, with director Tom Holland in attendance (6/22/13), Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, with the voice of Roger Rabbit, Charles Fleischer in attendance (6/29/13), Top Gun (7/6/13), for a veritable selection of 80s music in the movies, don’t miss the Labyrinth / Purple Rain double feature (7/13/13), Ghostbusters (7/20/13), Back to the Future (7/27/13), Rocky III / Conan the Barbarian (8/3/13), Raiders of the Lost Ark (8/10/13). Parx Casino also hosts the fest’s official closing event, an anniversary screening Killer Klowns from Outer Space, accompanied by its creators, the Chiodo Brothers, in their first Philadelphia appearance.
For a more musical taste of the decade, you can find the original hair band that isn’t actually a hair band, Flock of Seagulls, at the Trocadero (7/14/13). And as an extra special treat, the English Beat, featuring songs of General Public, will be at Eakins Oval on 7/19/13, in an outdoor concert, completely FREE, preceding the Ferris Bueller screening. Just imagine it. On your way to this event, running frantically to the music of that classic climactic chase scene that concluded Mr. Bueller’s day off. Totally awesome.