Summer’s just begun. And already you’re sick of the summer blockbusters.
You fight the traffic for parking, you battle the masses for tickets and popcorn, and when you’ve finally flopped down in your seat, you’re rewarded with an all-out assault on the senses: bad acting, over-the-top pyrotechnics, and ear-bleeding sound.
The antidote to megaplex fatigue? The little-known world of revival houses.
The Bay Theatre in Seal Beach rewards you for the trek with revivals (lately Carnal Knowledge and Dr. Strangelove) and silents accompanied by a giant Wurlitzer organ. Also worth the trip is the Warner Grand in San Pedro, a lavish art deco palace with a recently restored 50-foot screen. The Rialto Theatre, a Pasadena landmark in its 75th year (you may remember it from Altman’s The Player), runs a midnight cult and revival series. (Check out the red-eyed gargoyle peering out over the audience — perfect for the monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings.) Once a month the Alex Theatre in Glendale, known for its deco neon tower, tropical terrazzo floor, and Greek and Egyptian flourishes, screens classics the old-fashioned way: with a short, cartoon, or newsreel. The prize for the most unusual location goes to the Starlight Studio, which shows rarely seen Paramount classics in an ancient Hollywood glamour-photography studio.
Okay, so you still really want to see Spider-Man 2. (We understand.) Skip the crowd and watch it from the safety of your own car at the Vineland Drive-in, which shows first-run movies on four screens and broadcasts Dolby audio directly to your FM stereo.
For once you won’t have to worry about parking.
Bay Shore Theatre, 340 Main Street, between PCH and Electric Avenue, Seal Beach (562-431-9988 or baytheatre.com); Warner Grand Theatre, 478 West Sixth Street, between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street, San Pedro (310-548-7672 or warnergrand.org); Rialto Theatre, 1023 Fair Oaks Avenue, between El Centro and Oxley Streets, South Pasadena (626-388-2122 or landmarktheatres.com); Alex Theatre, 216 North Brand Boulevard, at Wilson Avenue, Glendale (818-243-2539 or alextheatre.org); Starlight Studio, Granada Buildings, 672 South La Fayette Park Place, between Wilshire Boulevard and Seventh Street (213-383-2448 or thestarlightstudio.com); Vineland Drive-in, 443 North Vineland Avenue, between Moccasin Street and Temple Avenue, City of Industry (626-961-9262 or drive-ins.com).