Thrillville is the name of a monthly theater event in Oakland, California dedicated to showcasing B-movies, Cult movies, Science Fiction films, and Exploitation films. The event features a film (from one of those genres) combined with special guests and a live stage show, typically a musical or Burlesque act. Thrillville is hosted by Will "the Thrill" Viharo (son of B-movie actor Robert Viharo) and his wife, Monica "Tiki Goddess" Cortes.
Oakland is the largest city and the county seat of Alameda County, California, United States. A major West Coast port city, Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the third largest city overall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth most populated city in California, and the 45th largest city in the United States. With a population of 432,897 as of 2019, it serves as a trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area; its Port of Oakland is the busiest port in the San Francisco Bay, the entirety of Northern California, and the fifth busiest in the United States of America. An act to incorporate the city was passed on May 4, 1852, and incorporation was later approved on March 25, 1854, which officially made Oakland a city. Oakland is a charter city.
A cult film or cult movie, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following. Cult films are known for their dedicated, passionate fanbase, an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings, quoting dialogue, and audience participation. Inclusive definitions allow for major studio productions, especially box office bombs, while exclusive definitions focus more on obscure, transgressive films shunned by the mainstream. The difficulty in defining the term and subjectivity of what qualifies as a cult film mirror classificatory disputes about art. The term cult film itself was first used in the 1970s to describe the culture that surrounded underground films and midnight movies, though cult was in common use in film analysis for decades prior to that.
A burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which, in turn, is derived from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.
In addition to one-time showings, regular themed events include "Shatfest: A Tribute to William Shatner," "Elvis D-Day," "Zombie-Rama" and "Horror Host Palooza." In addition movie trailers, short films, and theater concession advertisements have been shown before feature presentations.
Beginning as a weekly Saturday night series in 1997 at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater in Oakland, California.In 1999 the series changed to Thursday evenings and has continued for eight years under the name "Thrillville."
Speakeasy Theaters was an independent movie theater operator. Closed in 2009, they once operated two theaters, the Parkway theater on Park Boulevard in Oakland, California and the Cerrito on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, California. Both theaters showed late first-run movies and various special event programs in a casual, living-room-like setting. Due to the serving of beer and wine, attendance at most films was restricted to age 21 and over; weekend matinees and some special events were open to people of all ages.
In addition to the main film, the event features special guests and a live stage show, typically a musical or Burlesque act.
Thrillville's guests over the years have included Cult movie icon Ray Dennis Steckler, women from Russ Meyer films, Creature Features hosts Bob Wilkins and John Stanley, Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig, Gary Lockwood (from 2001: A Space Odyssey ).
Ray Dennis Steckler, also known by the pseudonym Cash Flagg, was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and actor best known as the low-budget auteur of such cult films as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. In addition to Cash Flagg, Steckler was also known by the pseudonyms Sven Christian, Sven Hellstrom, Harry Nixon, Michael J. Rogers, Michel J. Rogers, Wolfgang Schmidt, Cindy Lou Steckler, R.D. Steckler, Ray Steckler, and Cindy Lou Sutters—the last being his "porn name".
Russell Albion Meyer was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, film editor, actor, and photographer. Meyer is known primarily for writing and directing a series of successful sexploitation films that featured campy humor, sly satire and large-breasted women, such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Creature Features was a generic title for a genre of horror TV format shows broadcast on local U.S. television stations throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The movies broadcast on these various shows were generally classic and cult horror movies of the 1930s to 1950s, the horror and science-fiction films of the 1950s, British horror films of the 1960s, and the Japanese "giant monster" movies of the 1960s and 1970s.
Musical and entertainment acts have included various Neo Burlesque acts and live music from the Phenomenauts, Kitten on the Keys, Pollo Del Mar, Apocalypso Now and many more.
Pollo Del Mar or Pollo DelMar born as Paul E. Pratt, and alternately known as The Notorious P.D.M. or The Glamazon is a San Francisco-based American drag queen performer, professional wrestling personality, comic, emcee, magazine cover girl, journalist, activist/philanthropist and recording artist. Within the Imperial Council of San Francisco, she is the reigning Empress of San Francisco.
In addition to rotating between the two Speakeasy Theaters, Thrillville has occurred as a road show at locations that include:
In December 2001, Thrillville protested the 2001 remake of the 1960 film Ocean's 11, calling the actors "impostors" and stating that the remake was "an insult to the (Rat Pack's) legacy." This protest involved a group picketing outside Oakland's Jack London Cinemas and was featured by various nationwide news sources.
Thrillville resurrects both famous and obscure cult films for big screen revival in a Grindhouse type atmosphere with an old fashioned Ghost show format. Each Thrillville features a theme centered around a Cult, Exploitation, or other B-movie. Some randomly chosen film samples:
Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 horror comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, co-written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg plays Shaun, a directionless Londoner who is caught in an apocalyptic zombie uprising. The film was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for two BAFTA Awards, including for Outstanding British Film. In a 2006 Channel 4 poll it was ranked third on their list of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films.
SuicideGirls is an online community-based website that revolves around pin-up photography sets of models known as the Suicide Girls.
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies is a 1964 American monster movie written and directed by Ray Dennis Steckler. Steckler also starred in the film, billed under the pseudonym "Cash Flagg". Upon release, the film received negative reviews, and is regarded by some critics as being one of the worst movies ever made.
A grindhouse or action house is an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films. According to historian David Church, this theater type was named after the "grind policy", a film-programming strategy dating back to the early 1920s which continuously showed films at cut-rate ticket prices that typically rose over the course of each day. This exhibition practice was markedly different from the era's more common practice of fewer shows per day and graduated pricing for different seating sections in large urban theaters, which were typically studio-owned.
The Grand Lake Theatre is a historic movie palace located at 3200 Grand Avenue and Lake Park Avenue in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland, California.
The term midnight movie is rooted in the practice that emerged in the 1950s of local television stations around the United States airing low-budget genre films as late-night programming, often with a host delivering ironic asides. As a cinematic phenomenon, the midnight screening of offbeat movies began in the early 1970s in a few urban centers, particularly in New York City with screenings of El Topo at the Elgin Theater, eventually spreading across the country. The screening of non-mainstream pictures at midnight was aimed at building a cult film audience, encouraging repeat viewing and social interaction in what was originally a countercultural setting.
Jamie DeWolf is an American film director, writer, slam poet, spoken word artist, and circus ringmaster from Oakland, California.
Commander USA's Groovie Movies is an American movie showcase series that ran weekend afternoons on the USA Network.
Bob Wilkins was a television personality, from the town of Hammond, Indiana. Wilkins was best known as the creator and host of a popular television show named Creature Features that ran on KTVU in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1971 to 1984, and which premiered with Del Tenney's infamous The Horror of Party Beach. The programming on Creature Features featured science fiction and horror films, ranging from classics such as Bride of Frankenstein to B-grade obscurities like The Vulture. More often than not, the films were good, and sometimes the show hit benchmarks: George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead had its world television premiere on the show, only a few years after its original theatrical release. Wilkins' style of wit was very dry, and fit very well with some of the "schlockers" he was forced to air, which was a big part of his appeal to his fans. As host of the show, his droll humor and omnipresent cigar became his trademarks.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is a 2006 black comedy musical-horror film from Troma Entertainment, directed by Lloyd Kaufman and co-directed by former long-time Troma editor Gabriel Friedman from a screenplay by Friedman and Daniel Bova. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead was released in 2006 in theaters and in 2008 on DVD.
Watch Horror Films, Keep America Strong! is a 2008 documentary about the popular television series Creature Features televised out of Oakland, California 1971 to 1984.
Cinema Insomnia is a nationally syndicated American television series presented by horror host Mr. Lobo.
Kubrilesque:Or a Musical Parody with a Tease is a burlesque rock musical set in the late 1990s. The music is by Al Mack with lyrics and book by Crystal Swarovski. The story is a conspiracy of a man making a film about the most elite Cult in the world, and the concept is parody of the characters in the films of Stanley Kubrick. The musical is based on the Burlesque show of the same name, conceived by Crystal Swarovski and Polly Peabody and The Cherry Kiss Burlesque Troupe.
The Plaza Theatre is an Atlanta landmark and the city’s longest continuously operating movie theatre.
Christopher "Chris" Ryall is best known as the current President and former Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing, and as a writer in the comic book industry. In February 2011, his Eisner Award-nominated series, Zombies vs. Robots, co-created with artist Ashley Wood, was optioned by Sony Pictures for Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes with Mike Flanagan as director.
Will Viharo is an East Bay/Seattle-based author who has published nine novels. Seven of his novels are neo-noir works which blend elements of surrealism, gore, violent sex, and horror.
Robert Viharo is an American actor. He made an early appearance in 1966 as Harry in Dark Shadows. He is known for his role in Valley of the Dolls (1967) in the part of a Broadway Director. He had the starring role as Zachary Kane in the action film Bare Knuckles (1977). He also played the part of Col. Ernesto Dorio in the film Romero (1989).