Scavenging the cinematic wastelands with Trailer Trash
Calling Chris Grap a movie fan would be a gross understatement. A programmer specializing in non-mainstream films and event screenings at the Theatres at the Mall of America, Grap has been fixated on movies for as long as he can remember.
In pursuing his passion, Grap has worked at video stores and as a projectionist at a three-screen theater, spent seven years in California doing production work, and served on the Minnesota Film Commission. But as Grap elaborated to City Pages, it's his current role as a programmer that allows him to share his love for unique movie-going experiences. Furthering that goal in outlandish fashion is tonight's Trailer Trash: The Greatest Night Ever.
Collaboratively created and assembled by Grap and fellow film enthusiast Tim Holly, as well as the Theatres at the Mall of America team, Trailer Trash offers two hours of rare 35mm trailers promoting some of the most deranged visions ever committed to celluloid. Filmed with cheap efficiency, these were movies that lured audiences to the seediest of theaters by promising a sensationalized supply of unsavory pleasures involving homicidal maniacs, wanton women, and enough grotesque FX to please even the most debauched of imaginations.
The inspiration for showcasing such trailers was provided, fittingly enough, by exploitation cinema champion Quentin Tarantino.
"During the promotional push for Django Unchained, I read an interview with Tarantino about having shot on 35mm, and being pissed Django wouldn't be projected on 35mm," Grap explains. "At his own theater in Los Angeles, the New Beverly Cinema, they were projecting Django in 35mm with vintage trailers from Tarantino's collection."
Taking Tarantino's example to heart, Grap set about to replicate the director's approach on a local level.
"I worked with our booking agent to track down a 35mm print, and with some friends to make a DVD of the trailers Tarantino selected," he says. "I wanted to create a unique experience for our guests, and to honor the director's wishes as best we could."
The search for 35mm trailers, of course, proved to be an ongoing scavenger hunt, one in which Grap and Holly made tireless inquiries with film bookers, retired theater managers, and other industry connections. They even perused eBay and Craigslist in search of discarded treasures. The end result? "As of now, we have over three-hundred 35mm trailers from as far back as 1953 through today," he says.
While the crew have contributed a handful of their collection to special events (including a recent Mall of America screening of the Evil Dead remake wherein the film's director, Fede Alvarez, personally selected the trailers from the group's archive), Trailer Trash is their first production consisting exclusively of the materials.
Noting that surprise is a key component of the program, Grap is reluctant to give away the names of any of the included trailers. "Trailers these days tend to spoil too much of the movie, so we're doing a night of all trailers and not spoiling anything," he says. "The poster gives you some hints, but I don't want to give out specific titles. I will tell you some of the content is so rare it can't be found online and it will probably be the only time you can see it projected on 35mm."
What Grap can promise is a hysterical presentation that revels in gloriously dated excesses and shameless clichés from the squalid side of cinema.
"One of the reasons we put in an intermission was because we needed a break from laughing so hard," he says. "It's crazy to see what was used to sell an audience on a movie -- those voiceover guys must have never slept."
The screening even allows audiences the opportunity to vote on special packages of trailers, adding another element of participation to this singular celebration of cult cinema.
Even as Grap anticipates the audience response, he and Holly have already started to pull together material for future events. Those with any appreciation for the history of cinema shouldn't be too surprised that a proposed sequel has already acquired the too-perfect working title, "The Bride of Trailer Trash."
IF YOU GO:
Trailer Trash: The Greatest Night Ever
7:30 and 10 p.m. Thursday, May 9
Theatres at Mall of America
More information and tickets can be found online.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.