Cedar Lee’s Cult Film Series caters to the quirky crowds

Ben Wolford

Incoming Kent State freshman Jeremy Murray, far right, strikes a pose for his friends outside the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland. CAITLIN PRARAT | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

T.J. and Suzy Dotson of Middleburg Heights were at the second installment of Cedar Lee Theatre’s 2007 Cult Film Series to see Friday the 13th last Saturday.

But it wasn’t the first time they had seen the 1980 horror classic.

“A hundred would be conservative,” said T.J., who was sporting a Friday the 13th T-shirt. “We grew up watching horror films.”

“It’s actually how we fell in love,” Suzy said. “Horror films were our common ground when we met.”

It wasn’t a long walk on the beach looking at stars, but Friday the 13th does have its charms.

If you don’t think bloody axes and decapitations are charming, Cedar Lee Theatre, located in Cleveland Heights, did its best to make the experience delightful.

One way it did this was giving away bacon.

Yes, bacon.

The Cedar Lee Theatre had a drawing for a pound of the thinly sliced pork product in reverence to the deceased character Jack Burrell played by Kevin Bacon. A promotional flier in the theater lobby read, “See Kevin Bacon get killed! Win some bacon!”

Cedar Lee also gave away a plastic machete signed by Betsy Palmer, who plays the vengeance-driven antagonist in the film, with an accompanying letter of authenticity.

The machete, the bacon and the resulting show of horror film aficionados are a small part of Cedar Lee Theatre’s annual Cult Film Series that is in its second consecutive year and happens the first Saturday of every month. This summer’s theme is summer camp.

“Summer camp’s done better than previous cult themes,” said manager Aaron Spears. In 2005, the Cult Film Series took a year hiatus because of poor attendance, but variables such as the weather can also affect turnout, he said.

The selection of films also has an influence. Not all of them are horror flicks.

The movie for June was Meatballs, the 1979 comedy staring Bill Murray.

“We try to do different genres,” Spears said. “Comedy seems to work the best. Friday the 13th is our first horror, so we’ll see.”

David Huffman, director of marketing and concessions for Cleveland Cinemas, Cedar Lee Theatre’s parent company, said Friday the 13th hasn’t been shown in the area for 20 years.

Not only is Cedar Lee trumping the competition in showing rare films, the Cult Film Series will include Friday the 13th Part 3 shown in 3-D this Friday (the 13th) at 9:30 p.m. and at midnight. For technical reasons, the 3-D show will be at Hickory Ridge Cinemas in Brunswick.

“The gimmick for that is that it’s in its original 3-D format,” Huffman said.

Also shown last weekend was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is screened there the first Saturday of every month at midnight. But screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show aren’t your typical movie screenings – guests dress like characters from the movie and bring props, such as squirt guns, rice and newspapers, to interact with the movie.

For Cedar Lee, power is in the promotions.

For Meatballs, there was a hot dog eating contest. David Wain, the director of Wet Hot American Summer and a native of Shaker Heights, will give a personal introduction for the movie in August. In September, anyone wearing a toga to see Animal House will receive free popcorn.

Sometimes there doesn’t need to be an incentive to dress up to go to Cedar Lee.

“We showed The Big Lebowski,” Spears said. “It’s not a Cult Series film, but we had about 50 Walters come.”

Moviegoers can find out about shows by visiting ClevelandCinemas.com or by reading Cedar Lee’s newsletter, “Sprockets.”

Contact features correspondent Ben Wolford at [email protected].