'Who doesn't love a vampire movie?" asks Jennifer Tallon, 28, of Bellmore.
That's a good question at Brett Sherris' Summer Camp Cinema, held Saturday nights at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. Tallon, an assistant professor of psychology at Dowling College in Oakdale, is sitting in the cinema's Sky Room Café, waiting for an 11 p.m. screening of "30 Days of Night."
"You really can't go wrong with vampire night," she says.
Each week fans gather for a double bill assembled by Sherris, of Northport, a title officer and a film preservationist and archivist. Sherris' criteria: "I put together films which I think complement each other." That philosophy has led to pairings that range from subtle, such as "The Dark Knight" and "A Clockwork Orange" (anarchy was the common theme, Sherris explained), to naturals - the classic monster comedies "Young Frankenstein" and "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein."
Sherris combs private and public film archives across the nation for 35 mm prints of double-features that he wants to see - and hopes others will also enjoy.
Tallon enjoys the nostalgic ambience of a midnight show. "It's a throwback to '70s grind house or '60s drive-in movies," she says.
In midnight movie tradition, a number of showings include audience participation - beyond the occasional joke cracked in the dark. Pat Fitzgerald, 43, of East Meadow, played "Dr. Scott" at a showing of that interactive classic, 1975s "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"You don't get to see these movies on the big screen," says Fitzgerald, who likes mixing with other film fans. "It completely makes my summer," he says.
There are contests, too. On July 17, fans are invited to imitate Bette Davis singing a song from "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Prizes in the "Baby Jane Does Daddy Contest" will be awarded to imitators who are "creepy enough." The 1962 movie, which also stars Joan Crawford, will also be screened.
A recent Saturday show began with classic movie trailers, and a rarely shown 1949 Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Which is Witch?" Sherris said the cartoon has been banned from network showings because of "racial stereotyping." However, challenging material and occasional complaints don't limit his movie choices, he says. "Anyone who comes to the Cinema Arts Centre knows they are going to be challenged."
"30 Days of Night," with its bloody effects and spooky Barrow, Alaska, setting, ends after 1 a.m. - to a round of appreciative applause. The cinema café stays open until the second feature begins. The second feature, 1987s "Near Dark," is a cult film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Oscar-winning director of "The Hurt Locker," which also won this year's Best Motion Picture Academy Award. Sherris, who introduces the films, describes "Near Dark" as "very highly regarded and very seldom seen film."
They're not your average multiplex popcorn munchers.
Frank Pascuzzi, 51, and his daughter, Rachel, 11, of Copiague, were seeing "30 Days of Night" for the third time, but the first time on the big screen. While the rest of their family stayed home, they were indulging their mutual love of movie horror.
"It's a dad-daughter thing," Pascuzzi says of their overnight at the movies.
Rachel says she was pleased with the vampire doubleheader, "It's cool because they're scary movies."
July 3: "The Big Lebowski" and "Kingpin"
July 10: "Jaws" and "Black Sheep"
July 17: "Night Warning" and "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?"
July 24: "Cat People" and "Carnival of Souls"