Blog Posts

Blog Posts

Nothin' Like The First Time - Part 1 Of 2

As Valentine's Day approaches, one's thoughts gravitate to mushy moments, long-ago crushes, enflamed passions, and youthful milestones reached in the world of physical intimacy.  But this blog is no Hallmark card, so we won't be discussing any of that crap here.  I do want to talk about "first times" …but in an entirely different context.

First, before we get to that, I've got something special to give you.  It's our twisted version of a Valentine's Day gift - from all of us at Wicked Pixel Cinema to all of you demented horror movie fans.  Our recently-completed feature film Ratline now has its first official preview trailer.  Only about a half-dozen people have seen it yet.  This month, on Valentine's Day, will exclusively premiere this very first Ratline trailer to all of you.

So grab your significant other, cuddle up in front of your web browser, and treat yourselves to the horror and insanity of the first Ratline preview trailer, exclusively unveiling at!  (Please, no hanky panky until after you watch the trailer.)

Okay, on with the show… Today I'm going to talk about something very personal and intimate.  I'm going to detail some "first times" I've experienced in my life.  Not with the ladies - but as a fan of motion pictures.

Movies are a mechanism-dependent art form.  As in, a film will only exist so long as the mechanisms designed to play it back exist.  And those mechanisms have changed a lot since the birth of cinema. 

A stage play today is, more or less, the same as it's been since around 2500 BC.  Literature made the big jump from scroll to bound book around 300 AD, then settled in for a long run in that format - only to be challenged recently by audio books and e-books.  Music has jumped technology tracks more often, maneuvering its way from wax cylinder to Mp3.  The commercial film industry was born in 1894 in the world's first Kinetoscope parlor at 1155 Broadway in New York City.  Since then, the hardware needed to watch films has changed a lot too.

A lot of these changes have happened in my lifetime, leading to multiple "firsts" in my movie-watching experiences.  I'll tell ya what I mean… and maybe you too can remember when and how you experienced these various technologies.

According to my mother's memory, the first film I ever saw in a movie theater was Disney's first animated feature, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.  The film has some pretty scary sequences in it - a fact that roused protests upon the film's original release in 1937.  In addition to being a masterpiece of animation and a much-loved classic throughout the world, Snow White influenced the avalanche of horror films spilling out of Italy beginning in the 1950's.  Until this time, horror films were banned in Italy.  So, for many Italian filmmakers who would later achieve success in the genre, Snow White was the first "horror film" they likely saw on the big screen growing up.  The animated Disney film was a stylistic influence on the films of Mario Bava (Black Sunday, 1960), Antonio Margheriti (Castle Of Blood, 1964), Massimo Dallamano (What Have They Done to Solange?, 1972), Dario Argento (Suspiria, 1977), and Lucio Fulci (City of the Living Dead, 1980) among others.  I wonder if seeing Snow White as a child planted a seed in my own imagination, and influenced me to gravitate toward horror as both a film fan and a filmmaker.

I am not old enough to have experienced them in their hey-day, but I absolutely love drive-ins.  The first film I saw at a drive-in theater was Star Wars (1977).  My parents took me to see it at the Pevely Drive-In (officially named The Sixty One South Drive-In) in Pevely, Missouri, a half-hour south of St. Louis.  My mom was concerned the movie would frighten and upset me (I was only 5 years old) but after that initial experience, I demanded to see Star Wars about a dozen more times over the next two years. 

In 1983 my family and I moved to Pittsburgh.  Later, around my 16th birthday, we moved back to the St. Louis area.  Shortly after that, the Pevely Drive-In stopped playing films and became a big, lively flea market.  Later, in my 20's, a lot of movie props and set dressing items were purchased by either me or my art department guys at the Pevely Flea Market.  The mono channel speakers that were hooked on all the poles were taken down long ago, but the screen that Star Wars blazed across when I was a small lad still towers over the flea market hustle and bustle today.  Some years ago I purchased two of the vintage Pevely Drive-In speakers, and they are now perched on the wall in my edit suite.

After seeing Star Wars at the drive-in, my next "first" would come with the commencement of home video. 

To be continued in next week's blog.

Thanks for reading.

-Eric Stanze