The Four Most Popular Movies Screened in Hotel

Our cinema history and Hollywood connection

Guest’s 8 1/2 Favorite Movies and Why suggestion lists…

A Warning: Careful of the Crazy Eyes

Film Commission Office

Silent Cinema Seances…


Adam Blai upgraded our movie nights!  With all of us being movie fanatics, film aficionados, filmmakers, and/or once film students in college, a movie screening room surfacing here in the hotel was absolutely inevitable. One day Adam Blai showed up at the hotel with a magnificent projection screen device! The next day he added an incredible wrap-around state of the art sound system! So we boarded up the windows and rewired the lighting for the room to resemble an old in-house movie theater. We hung a large white wall-size screen. We arranged several long sofas in rows pointing toward the screen. Add to this the cozy fireplace heater, smell of buttery popcorn, theater candy, movie posters and stacks of DVDs, and the enchantment level became suddenly overwhelming. This screening room has brought great delight to the hotel experience for all.  Thanks buddy.



Three of the movies that we’ve returned to over and over as a group since the screening room has been set up, for whatever reasons, have been The Life Aquatic -2004, Gothic -1986, and A Mighty Wind -2003. We’ve screened hundreds of great films here, but I would say The Life Aquatic has played the most. Bill Murray’s character Steve Zissou throughout the film takes a real beating, but, gloriously, he’s got a lot of heart.

The Life Aquatic




A Mighty Wind


And now a forth movie recently brought to our attention has taken on instant legendary status within the hotel among guests, The Wild Hunt -2009, out of Canada.

The Wild Hunt


That’s not to say everyone visiting loves these four films.  Some people hate them.  Sarah Ireland couldn’t stand how much we screened The Life Aquatic.  We force screen it on people at just about every holiday, becoming a tradition like turkey at Thanksgiving. Below is Adam Blai and I wearing our handcrafted official Life Aquatic Team Zissou hats given to us by the one and only Margaret Bashaar.  We love them!



I always loved movies.  My grandfather was an early movie projectionist in the Philadelphia area.  My father was a big time home filmmaker.   In my late teens I landed a job at the Theater of Living Arts on the 3rd and South Street in Philadelphia.  It was a cinema then and they screened two new movies per night!  So I got to see hundreds of independent masterpieces projected.  This was perhaps the most romantic summer of my life.  Punk and New Wave music was everywhere on the streets.  The TLA upgraded its seats so after “work” (which meant I worked the popcorn stand and then watched the great flicks) I spent night cleaning the better used seats they purchased from some other karate theater and installing them into the TLA.  There was a backstage dressing room behind the screen where I even slept a few times, waking the next day to the matinee already rolling.  The calender of films offered was like a fold out poster, and to see it was just enchanting to a then teenager ripe to devour so many classics.  Ray, the cool owner and manager, would speak of all these films as a sort of TLA style…people just knew all the movies from Rocky Horror to Eraserhead to early John Waters’ movies were embraced and celebrated there.   John Waters even came there and spoke one night.  Eraserhead was even filmed a few blocks away.  I was in Heaven.

I followed this incredible summer with four years of film school at the University of Bridgeport where my fellow UB film student maniacs and I studied the whole of the 100 or so years of film culture and then began to make our own movies.  My classmate John Travers won a Student Academy Award for his movie Jenny, which we all worked on.

We next all relocated like a wave into Hollywood.  My Bridgeport fellow students were all out there in the trenches of the Hollywood film industry.  Fellow student Paris Patton did so well he bought himself a house with a view of the Hollywood sign.  Philadelphia bud Shaun Irons, and later Courtney Ford, and I base-camped in the more bohemian Venice Beach, which was Jim Morrison’s old stomping grounds.  Here’s a photo of me eating dinner at Dick Clark’s house that first season…

(Dick Clark, my first boss in LA!  1929-2012, Rest in peace.  This was taken in his beautiful Malibu home as he hosted a huge end-of-season dinner for our crew working one of his shows. I loved working for him. In this photo he was just telling me how he overnight ships in once a year hundreds of steak sandwiches from Phila to California for an annual Philadelphia-themed party.)

Feature filmmaker pioneer D.W.Griffith said film would become the greatest spiritual art the world would know.  The Dalai Lama of Tibet even noted in his recent book how at one point in his teens motion pictures were more interesting to him than his path as the Tibetan spiritual leader!  Motion pictures are no trivial mere side distraction for entertainment.    Motion pictures are a force of pure magic.  Inner lightning made manifest.

Way back in the TLA days my friend Courtney Ford and I were just kids.  Courtney was friends with the young Cameron Crowe, who had just written Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Above photo of Courtney and a young Cameron Crowe in 1982.  I filmed a scene of my student film STEPS on the roof of the TLA of people tar sunbathing up there.  Cameron loved the film and later created a similar scene in his movie Singles.  Cameron created a character in his movie Say Anything based on Courtney.  My student film STEPS started winning awards, including special mention for drama at the New England Film festival.  I studied the cinematography of Baird Bryant in film school, Easy Rider and Gimmie Shelter, and then became great friends with Baird, who then went on to shoot my first feature film, Jugular Wine , while meanwhile I helped Baird on his documentary about Tibetan monks and the Dalai Lama, and then we both met the Dalai Lama!  Punk legend Iggy Pop came on board for a little while to star in Jugular Wine as the head vampire and Cameron coached me on what to say to his agents.  Paris Patton, another hotel heavyweight guest and old fellow UB film student, started working for the pop superstar Prince.  Then he got me a job working for Prince.  Then Courtney started working for Prince.  Then lead actor Shaun Irons of my student film STEPS and I started working for the legendary one and only Stan Lee at Marvel films.  So then Stan Lee appeared in Jugular Wine .  Countless fun stories started springing up for all of us as we swam deeper and deeper into current creation process of film culture.  We started appearing in movies, names in the credits, cameos on the screen.  I got to be in the movie Phantoms with Peter O’Toole, of Lawrence of Arabia ! Stars started showing up at our bbq parties in Venice Beach.  It was crazy fun.

We purchased the Pennsylvania Grand Midway Hotel as a side project feeling like a distant magical Hearst Castle and all of that movie culture started to come out here.  Guests like Baird started coming out.  Actress Maggie McOmie, star of George Lucas’ THX 1138 , visited.  Jon Davison, producer of the Robocop films, and Corinna Harney, Playboy Playmate of the Year, and Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, among others, all wrote and said they wanted to visit.  (Henry Rollins wrote hate mail because he didn’t like Jugular Wine .)  Roger Corman’s production company was in talks with me about producing the first feature film set in the hotel, based on the novel Wintergrave .  I was flying back and forth for meetings.  As hotel residents we would watch our hotel guests appear on paranormal national television shows as we sipped our morning coffee in the hotel kitchen.  It was such a trip.  Before long the hotel started appearing in these shows.  Butch Patrick, AKA American Icon Eddie Munster of The Munsters, has become a regular favorite.  Our fist official hotel feature Zombie Dream is just about out.  The wonder of all of it percolating within these walls has been amazing.

So, to say film and all this modern cinema culture pounds like a heartbeat throughout the Grand Midway Hotel would be an understatement.  The building, like myself and several of my peers, is soaked in it.  We are producing our own feature films here now using the hotel itself as a set.  It is probably fair to say that the particular films that the worker bees here adore will play an influence in the works that come out of here, throbbing in their creation process with each film lovers own influence on what goes on here.  Long ago I remember a Hollywood girlfriend of mine’s favorite Disney movie was Bambi. She explained how she had lost her mother when she was very young and this movie just worked for her in that Bambi experienced the same pain, thus she gravitated toward this film. We are a creative group. The films one loves are a real signature. It would be interesting to hear a quick list of everyone’s favorites, or favorite movie moments, and why.  So as an experiment I asked fellow hotel inner circle movie-watching guests to list 8 and 1/2 movies they gravitate toward. Not the best movies of all time, simply 8 and 1/2 movies they particularly appreciated.  (The 8 1/2 is a reference to the Fellini film.)

If I had to list one of my own favorites, I’d start with the original King Kong (1933) which I saw as a little kid and heard the the imagination-blazing line of dialogue about filmmaking which probably set my life path, “It’s money and adventure and fame!  It’s the thrill of a lifetime!  And a long sea voyage that starts at six o’clock tomorrow!”


SKOT JONES: (Only known photograph of the necromancer resting on the steps of a mausoleum, preparing to do his unholy work…)

1)  Naked Lunch seems like a good place to start. To me Cronenberg is one of the best yet most unsung of living directors. This movie is a good reason why. The combination of classic Cronenberg “horror of the body” mixed with Burrough’s imaginative mythological and literary landscapes makes for a film that is disturbing and humorous. The cast is great. Howard Shore’s score is great. The dialogue is smooth. Insect typewriters as correspondents from Interzone and Mugwump are as good as Weller’s Bill Lee.

2)  Angel Heart is like a Satanic Maltese Falcon. Mickey Rourke is at his best. The story is just so wonderfully perverse with the Robert Johnson soul-selling motif and erotic voodoo elements. Although certainly not the first movie to use this “trick” plot structure, to me it is certainly the best. Music is great with blues and gospel and Johnny Favorite’s dark crooning. What is the story with the use of fans?

3)  Viva Las Vegas!   (these aren’t really related, I’m cheating in fact)

4)  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  is a weird surreal spectacle of how film can be exceedingly effective in its superficiality. Acid-vaudeville of Icarus. Meaningful plot is a side note. Viewer must have come with context. You either love it or hate it I guess for having been or not been there. Acting is perfect. Dialogue is perfect thanks to being almost exactly as it is in the book.

5)  Leaving Las Vegas   Nicholas Cage is brilliant and haunting. This movie is so good it hurts.

6)  Mulholland Dr.  David Lynch is my favorite living director. His movies are beautiful and ineffable. The acting is eerie and precise. One of the scariest moments in any film was in Lost Highway when Robert Blake approaches Bill Pullman at the party.”I’m at your house right now. Call me.” “What do you mean call you?” And by the way, it’s Robert Blake!

7)  A Clockwork Orange   This movie is too loaded to really get into. Best acting performance of all time for me is Malcolm McDowell as Alex. Kubrick is a master. Perhaps nobody labored as much as he on how the film would look. His films are like watching living Magical Realist paintings.

8.) Hellraiser  is like de Sade’s vision of hell. Beautiful, mad, exquisitely painful. There is a significant following of women that find Pinhead incredibly sexy. I think that is great.

9)  The Big Lebowski  just gets better and better every time you watch it. “Shut the fuck up Donny!”

9 1/2)  The Exorcist  is one of the scariest movies of all time for so many reasons. Visually well done and the effects are of course brilliant and not CGI. But it is the modern rational in opposition with the irrational and unexplainable that makes it so compelling and perverse. Whether you are in, out, or in the act of falling in either direction in respect to Christianity, this movie will shove you in a different direction. It is like a horrific summary of the Western psyche’s battle between faith in faith and faith in science. The direction is so masterfully dry and bleak that the feeling is that there is none in either.

So it seems this is a very masculine list… Tomorrow it could have been something completely different.


JAMES ELIA (Mr. Elia joined our group as a Beat fan, kept peace as a godfather, and recorded several films -including the hotel’s Zombie Dream– as a cinematographer):

1)  The Godfather ,  hey im italian, i could get killed if i dont praise this one, LOL. Seriously, a Coppola masterpiece. The baptism scene showing the pure of the faith and the horror of the mafia is classic. Coppola’s daughter, a director in her own right( ( Lost in translation) was the baby in that scene.

2)  To Kill a Mockinbird  a powerful message dealing with racism and prejudice that still stands today. The courtroom scene where the lawyer leaves and all the afro-american folks who had to stay up in the balcony, stand to honor him is very moving. I also like the way the director used simple shots and techniques showing shadow and emotion with close ups of hands as in the fight scene with jim , boo and mr yuell and with boo and jim as he lays in the bed.

3)  Ben Hur   ive always liked big storys where the little man is wraped up in a major historic event. The power of Rome and the life of Christ all intertwined in Ben Hur’s struggle in life. Again along with spectacular camera work as in the chariot scene, the director uses simple yet very powerful angles to convey very powerful emotion, as in when ben is marched off to the ships and encounters jesus and when in turn Ben hur meets christ on his way to calvary. Simple shots , close up of hands , low camera angles.

4)  The Searchers  considered the greatest and most classic western ever made. John Wayne and John Ford and Utah’s monument valley— enough said.

5)  Staying with John Wayne, True Grit and The Quiet Man , sometimes you just need a hero and Wayne is it. Also in the quiet man director John ford also does a masterful job in bringing the townspeople in that little irish village alive.

6)  Kundun   a masterful zen movie on the life of the Dali Lama. That other italian director, oh yeah martin produces this film like a zen koan, with artsy style and grace, yet very moving and powerful. Only our boy martin could show the devastation of Tibet at the hands of the chinese with peaceful floating musical pieces and slow camera movements.

7)  Full metal Jacket  One of the most realistic war movies ever produced showing how war always leaves some kind of a mark, whether it is negative or positive to the human spirit and how when individuals are thrust into that environment, right and wrong are put aside in favor of survival.

8)  Horror flicks, im not a blood and guts guy although I like a really done well one like Dawn of the Dead I like Hitchcock when it comes to horror and suspense. I can take the time to watch any of his stuff. His total creativity in camera movement and angles is an art form. I also like those B 1950 Edgar Allen Poe films, like  The Raven  cause they are all Poe masterpieces dealing with horror within the mind.

8 1/2)  Forrest Gump , putting aside all the tricky computer photography. it tells the simple yet most basic aspect of life. We all want to be loved , by our friends , our family and our romantic interests, and by being a best friend , caring family member, and never giving up on your romantic dream you can achieve it all. Forest does this by simply being himself, showing compassion, being a friend and staying true to his heart for the woman he loves. For him life is simple and straight forward, he liked to run and cut grass, when he was tired he slept, when hungry, he ate, when he had to go, he went, LOL, very very zen in cutting through lifes complications and seeing what is truly important to us all. Well that’s all i have to say, I guess by now you see a pattern with me and the simple quiet lay back aspects in life .


RIDLEY SCOTT (A director we love):

1) Lawrence of Arabia

2) Citizen Kane

3)  Seven Samurai


BILL EGGERT (AKA the hotel’s Silent Cinema Bill filmmaker, film historian, and star of Zombie Dream):

Difficult to pick only 8 & 1/2 (I have my Top Twelve broken down into these Genres: Top 12 US Silents, Top 12 US Talkies, Top 12 Foreign Silents, Top 12 Foreign Talkies. Rather than bore younse guys with a list of 48 titles, I’ll try to just pick 8 & 1/2 from each list.  In chronological order:

1)  Phantom of the Opera (1925)- Lon Chaney’s defining role; the atmosphere, the sets, the story, the Chaney…

2)  Metropolis (1927)- Art Deco gone mad; the story, the sets, a very hot Brigitte Helm, the Robotrix…. Has influenced everything from Blade Runner to Dark City…

3)  Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)- one of Keaton’s greatest comedies: the cyclone sequence, the steamboats, the story, Buster pulls out all
the stops in this silent classic. (And being a Pisces I guess the water played an effect on me choosing thsi one as well…

4)  Casablanca (1943)- Bogie’s best. Great story, great cast, great sets, great music, great lines. Not a weak spot in this film; have watched it countless times, never get tired of of it.

5)  Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer (1947)- One of the great screwball comedies of all time (won Oscar for best screenplay that year).
Cary Grant & Myrna Loy go one-on-one in this romantic comedy, with great support from a teen-age Shirley Temple & former ’20’s crooner Rudy Vallee. Great lines, great scenes, great performances. Grant is an artist with women getting him in trouble, & Loy is a judge & guardian to her teen-age sister (Temple) who develops a crush on Grant. (She’s chasing him; he’s running from her…).

6)  The Third Man (1949)-Carol Reed’s immortal classic of the mysterious Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who is supposedly dead (but is not). Set in post-WWII Vienna, with great cinematography, scenes (like the ferris wheel scene), & performances by Welles & Joseph Cotten….

7)  The Quiet Man (1952)- John Ford’s classic film of a transplanted Yank (John Wayne) returning home to Ireland, courting Maureen O’Hara, & mysteriously avoiding fighting her bullying brother, played by Victor McLaglin (ex-European Heavyweight champ). Great story, great cinematography, beautiful countryside, great supporting cast (Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, & the rest of Ford’s stock company…).

8)  Wings of Desire (1988)-Wim Wender’s ethereal musings of two angels & one who becomes human (Bruno Ganz). Also starring Peter Falk (as himself…) & Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Great cinematography, great story & performances. (German classic remade with Nick Cage as “City of Angels.”)

8 1/2)  Cinema Paradiso (1989)- A movie for movie-lovers. Italian classic about a filmmaker who returns to his old hometown for the first time since he left as a young man, to attend an old friend’s (the projectionist at the town’s only movie theatre) funeral. The ending will knock you out.

After looking this list over I realized that I have not really addressed Blair’s followup question (“& why?”) although I thought I did. While they are great (& I do not use that term freely) films on their own & highly regarded by most cinephiles, I guess the reason they are on my favorites list is because they speak to me emotionally, aesthetically, artistically, & cinematically. Sorry for being long-winded….(Not really sure why the Emoticon is appearing by “Wings of Desire”…it just popped up on its own; maybe its a ghost in the machine….)


ERIC ROBERTS (Star of the hotels, Zombie Dream, above in Bob Fosse’s Star 80):

1.  Harold and Maude, because of the way he used music and the way he made two unattractive people, and their love affair, completely romantically attractive.  It works.


BAIRD BRYANT (legendary cinematographer who visited the hotel often):

Hello, Baird here. Blair asked for a list of my favorite movies, so here goes:

1) Les Enfant de Paradis (Children of Paradise), Marcel Carne
2) Citizen Kane
3) La Strada, Fellini
4) Sunset Boulevard, Billlie Wilder

5) Au Bout de Souffle (Breathless), Godard
6) The Wild One, Laszlo Benedek
7) Casablanca, Michael Curtiz
8.)The Maltese Falcon, Roy del Ruth
9) 2001, Kubrick
9 1/2)  Apocalypse Now, Coppola


MARTIN SCORSESE (an American treasure):

1)  8 1/2 (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
2)  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
3)  Ashes And Diamonds (1958, dir. Andrzej Wajda)

4)  Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles)
5)  The Leopard (1963, dir. Luchino Visconti)
6)  Paisan (1946, dir. Roberto Rossellini)
7)  The Red Shoes (1948, dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
8)  The River (1951, dir. Jean Renoir)
9)  Salvatore Giuliano (1962, dir. Francesco Rosi)
10)  The Searchers (1956, dir. John Ford)
11)  Ugetsu Monogatari (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)
12)  Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)


ROSEMARY ELLEN GUILEY (Author of The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, & Wicca, and one of our favorite hotel guests)

Ok, here they are, not in any particular ranking order:

1) Murnau’s Nosferatu – Comes the closest to portraying real vampires

2) Space Odyssey: 2001 – Clarke and Kubrick were visionaries way ahead of their time. FX were amazing and still dazzle

3) The Exorcist – Still the creepiest demonic film ever made

4) The Blues Brothers – Can’t beat Aykroyd and Belushi

5) It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World – The humor never ages

6) Gone With the Wind – Gable, Leigh and a cast of larger than life characters capture a turning point in America that changed the nation forever

7) Wishmaster – Nails the real deal with Djinn

8) Original Invasion of the Bodysnatchers – True terror

8 1/2) Psycho – Hitchcock at his twisted best


FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA (an American treasure):

1) Ashes And Diamonds (1958, dir. Andrzej Wajda)
2)  The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946, dir William Wyler)
3)  I Vitteloni (1953, dir. Federico Fellini)
4)  The Bad Sleep Well (1960, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
5)  Yojimbo (1961, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

6)  Singin’ In The Rain (1952, dir. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly)
7)  The King Of Comedy (1983, dir Martin Scorsese)
8)  Raging Bull (1980, dir. Martin Scorsese)
9)  The Apartment (1960s, dir. Billy Wilder)
10)  Sunrise (1927, dir. F.W. Murnau)


AIMEE KAST (the ‘Coffee Girl’ of the hotel’s film Coolsville):

When Aimee lived here in the Grand Midway she played Tom Green’s 2001comedy Freddy Got Fingered over and over and over on re-loop, sometimes for days!  So that counts as her entire 8 films.

The 1/2 would perhaps be the Disney film The Cat From Outer Space.


DAMIEN YOUTH (singer, songwriter, and hotel royalty):

1)  Holy Mountain
2)  Bedazzled (The original with Cook & Moore. Avoid the remake!)

3)  Wicker Man (Again… The original… Avoid the horrid remake!)
4)  9th Configuration
5)  Salo
6)  One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
7)  The Graduate
8)  Phantom Of The Paradise
8 1/2)  When You Coming back Red Ryder?


ISAAC BONEWITS (American Magician, wrote the breakthrough textbook Real Magic, almost visited the hotel to conduct a legendary Samhain ceremony but plans fell with his unfortunate sudden passing)

Writes his bride Phaedra Bonewits, “The only one I can remember off the top of my head is Independence Day. We’d watch it whenever it came on. He used to say that it was nice to be able to cheer for the American president for once. Wicker Man, of course. Beyond that, don’t really remember anything special. I watched a lot more movies than he did!


CHRISTIAN DAY (the original Grand Midway Hotel Dumb Supper host  and world’s most famous warlock):

1)   Auntie Mame

2)  The Color Purple

3)  Serial Mom

4)  Elvira Mistress of the Dark

5)  Silence of the Lambs

6)  The Wizard of Oz

7)  Aliens

8)  Labyrinth

8 1/2)   Raiders of the Lost Ark


MANUEL IBARRA (Venice Beach legend and star in Zombie Dream):

My best wishes, sex , love and money and wine.

1)   Deer Hunter, for the friendship in the war and after between friends.

2)  The Great Escape, because the rebel character of Steve Mcqueen.

3)  Apocolipse Now, Special effects and the superb delivery by Marlon Brandon.

4)  Scar Face, an all americana 20th century movie, gangsters , drugs and sex.

5)  Gangs of New York, after slavery had been abolished New York still was the biggest slavery market.

6)  E.T. , a funny way of portraying a more advanced culture from outer space.

7)  Blow, an enterprise way to become rich out of the commerce of drugs.

8)  Fahrenheit 9/11, the real truth of 9/11 events, cover ups and players.

8 1/2)   Taxi driver, because I drove a taxi before.


WOODY ALLEN (an American filmmaker legend):

1)  Bicycle Thieves (1948, dir. Vittorio De Sica)
2)  The Seventh Seal (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
3)  Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles
4)  Amarcord (1973, dir. Federico Fellini
5)  8 1/2 (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
6)  The 400 Blows (1959, dir. Francois Truffaut)
7)  Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

8)  La Grande Illusion (1937, dir. Jean Renoir)
9)  The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972, dir. Luis Bunuel)
10)  Paths Of Glory (1957, dir. Stanley Kubrick)


RACHAEL DEACON (Pittsburgh independent filmmaker…i told her she is the next Maya Deren.)

1) Possession (andrzej zulawski, 1981) a random vhs rental i took a chance on in baltimore when i was sick with mono, this is my favorite movie of ever. i never know what to say about it because i love it too much. everything that i have ever wanted out of art and film happens here. too perfect for everything. i can’t even.

2)  Nekromantik (jorg buttgereit, 1988) made with nothing and for nothing, every frame is like a sucker punch of DIY resourcefulness and awesome. for me, this wins out over other movies that pulled off that same thing like night of the living dead or the original texas chainsaw massacre because it is so much WEIRDER than any of those. the protagonist is an impoverished employee of some sort of corpse removal company who is like SORT OF into necrophilia but his trashy girlfriend is REALLY into necrophilia and fucks everything up. this is one of the most creative, psychotic things ever made, from the bed frame made of chicken wire to the part where you watch the main character masturbate in the bath tub while a dead cat positioned on the shower shelf drips all over him and somehow it’s all so CLASSY. useless trivia: my dog Nekromantik 2 is named after the sequel, Nekromantik 2.

3)   Lord of the Flies (peter brook, 1963) probably my second favorite book in the world, the film adaptation of this is flawless, and delivers exactly the same “i feel heartbroken and sick because mankind is so inherently evil that we probably SHOULD just be left on islands to kill each other as children” yucky feeling that one experiences reading the novel. aesthetically, the movie is a gorgeous exercise in minimalist horror. every frame is flawless despite a crude, sort-of-documentary atmosphere that i don’t think was ever pulled off again to such an effect, except for maybe moments in cannibal holocaust.

4)   Midnight Cowboy (john schlesinger, 1969) THIS MOVIE. again, i can’t even.

5)  Anatomy of Hell (catherine breillat, 2004) a woman slashes her wrists in the bathroom at a gay bar, a gay man (played by straight male porn star rocco siffredi who can A-C-T) saves her life, she pays him to come over to her house at night time and “watch me where i’m unwatchable” IN OTHER WORDS look at her vagina for a few nights, so he does and they have a lot of really depressing conversations, then he ends up wanting to have sex with her vagina so he rubs lipstick all over it and does, then she disappears, then he hates himself. the end. clocking in at a lean 77 minutes. so good.

6)  Blood of the Beasts (georges franju, 1949) -very old, very beautifully shot documentary exposing the terrible conditions for animals and employees of parisian slaughterhouses in the 40’s. you don’t watch this unless you have an unexplained penchant for vintage slaughterhouse footage. but i do so i did and it’s incredible. georges franju later went on to direct the insanely beautiful and sad and terrifying “eyes without a face”.

7)  I Stand Alone (gaspar noe, 1998) this was gaspar noe’s first feature, and it is a doozy. lacking even a shred of the optimism that padded his later efforts like irreversible or enter the void (yes i did just call “irreversible” optimistic, yes i did), this movie follows an ugly, fat, mean butcher around after just having been released from prison for having sex with his mentally handicapped teenage daughter. we are given access to his hateful internal monologue as he unsuccessfully looks for work, punches the woman pregnant with his unborn child in the stomach, and ultimately decides to find his daughter again. before the UNBELIEVABLY FUCKED UP final scenes, a siren blares and a warning flashes across the screen, letting you know how much time you have to opt out before the shit hits the fan. i love this movie for being an absolute assault on anyone who would dare watch it, and a perfectly written and acted and executed one at that. it feels DANGEROUS, because it is, and that is delightful.

8)  Repulsion (roman polanski, 1965) if there’s one statutory rapist that understands women, it’s roman polanski. it’s like if you distilled the most terrifying parts of rosemary’s baby and shot them in black and white with catherine denuve instead of mia farrow and the most incredible cinematography you can possibly imagine and surreal visual effects that rival any of the early german expressionist films or even cocteau’s beauty and the beast. it’s fucking criminal how good.

8.5 )   Alucarda (juan l. moctezuma, 1977) MEXICAN MAYHEM. basically an hour and a half of nuns covered in period rags screaming, naked teenage lesbians screaming, satanic rituals (with screaming), satanic possession (more screaming), predatory priests (who scream)… just so, so much satan and screaming. so much.


FORREST J. ACKERMAN (creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine)

1) Metropolis, Fritz Lang 1927


DEANNA KANE (the Grand Midway Hotel’s queen for years):

8 and ½ Movies – by Deanna Kane.  Not in any particular order…I love them all pretty much equally….

1) The Exorcist: Hands down scariest movie ever made. I remember walking through our living room when I was little & my parents were watching this. I saw the part where Regan’s head was spinning around and had nightmares for a week. I couldn’t watch it the whole way through until I was about 17-18.

2)   Romeo & Juliet: Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions both! I watched the original in 8th grade, I believe & fell in love with love. I had a girl crush on Olivia Hussey and her lovely flowing long hair. Then later when the Baz Luhrmann version came out I was enthralled again. (loved Claire Danes from her “My So-Called Life” days) I think this later version was again beautifully well done, a visual feast for the eyes.

3) The Dark Crystal: Classic tale of Good vs. Evil, fantastically done by Jim Henson & Frank Oz. This is one of the most enchanting movies I’ve ever seen. I love it as much now as when I first saw it. I love Augra’s crazy dog Fizzgig in this too, he’s a total scene stealer!

4)   It’s a Wonderful Life: by Frank Capra. It’s a staple on nearly every channel around Christmas! I resisted & resisted, until one day I sat down and watched…..wow! Truly a classic, I was charmed by Jimmy Stewart, I thought he was fun to watch. Must admit, I’ve often wondered myself what would life be like if I had never existed?

5)  Goodfellas: I’m pretty much a sucker for any mob movie, but this one is hands down my favorite. Got some heavy hitters here, DeNiro, Pesci, Liotta, all brilliant. Awesome story. Action packed. Great music. This movie is just so freaking good, I can’t find any flaw whatsoever. A true gem.

6)  Heathers: I loved Winona Ryder in this, and had a huge crush on Christian Slater so this one was a win-win for me! Wicked, fun, dark & twisted high school comedy.

7)  A Christmas Story: Another Christmas one makes my list! This is another I so avidly dodged every time it was on! I finally sat down one day & watched & realized hey!, this is an incredibly fun, smart, endearing movie! So ahead of it it’s time too, I think anyhow, with addressing the camera directly. I can still hear the Santa at the mall with the bellowing “HO….HO….HO….” & the boot to the face to push the kids down the slide.

8)   Pretty Woman: Don’t care if I get crap for this one. I loooove it! Guilty pleasure indeed! Modern Cinderella story, period. And…..I can recite every line.

8 ½)  Gia: I count this one as my half movie, since it was an HBO movie. Sex, drugs, models, glamour, it is all here. Based on the life of Gia Carangi, a model from the 70s, Angelina Jolie is so utterly captivating and breathtaking, you too would go anywhere with her.


TOM LESLIE (computer genius who maintained the hotel web page for years):

1)   American Graffiti – I come from a family that has always been into classic cars. This movie was one of the first movies I remember seeing. With a cast of people like Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, and Harrison Ford it tops my list of favorite movies.

2)  Bullitt – This is easily my second favorite movie. Im a HUGE fan of Steve McQueen, oh and Ford Mustangs.

3)  The Outsiders – I had to read this book in my freshman year of highschool, the movie was just as good.

4)  2001: A space Odyssey – Science Fiction freaks me out.

5)   Red Dawn – Being and 80’s child, I remember seeing this movie a long time ago.. I finally bought it about 3 years ago, and have watched it many times. While some might think its subject is a little extreme, it displays some of the worst fears of the 80’s and the Cold War.

6)  Kelly’s Heroes – I absolutely love this movie, if you havent figured out by now, im kind of a war buff and a history buff for that matter. Clint Eastwood, Telly Salavas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’connor, and Donald Sutherland are some of my favorite actors of all time, especially Sutherland (Oddball)

7)  Ben-Hur – Just a favorite, I remember seeing it as a kid, probably one of the most played movies on TV around easter.

8)  Top Gun – As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. After spending years in the Airforce Aux. I have come to love this movie.

8 1/2)   Soylent Green – Not really a reason why.. Just like Charlton Heston Films.


BUTCH PATRICK (AKA Eddie Munster, star of the classic American television show The Munsters, and star of the Grand Midway Hotel’s Zombie Dream) 

1) Wizard of Oz just cuz!!

2) It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World cuz of the CAST!!

3) Dr Strangelove or how I learned to love the bomb. Peter Sellers characters

4) 2001 60’s LSD and soundtrack

5) Fantasia animation at it’s best

6) She Wore a Yellow Ribbon gotta have a western

7) The Grapes of Wrath, Mr Fonda as Tom Joad!!

8) Casablanca the Bogie man

8 1/2) PLUS hundreds more TV the Twilight Zone , Honeymooners, Dobie Gillis, Beverly Hillbillies


COURTNEY FORD DEL PONTE (Hotel guest and character inspiration for Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything side character)

Thank you for including my opinion in this survey of yours. It was fun.

1)  Betty Blue – Beautiful, tragic, light and dark combined to play out some of the demons the artistic are meant to battle. And adapted so seamlessly from the book, which I do not find happens all that often.

2)  All That Jazz – I really should just encompass all films Fosse as the list would be full of those anyway. This one in particular was such a phenomenal, flawless, epic management of subject matter and mentality that will endlessly inspire and fascinate me. But add to #2 Jesus Christ Superstar and Cabaret.

3)  Diner – Endless wit and incomparable characters. A masterpiece of the art of a good storyline and good actors.

4)  Local Hero – Timeless charm, humor, characterization and quirk combined to offset a gorgeous back drop.

5)  Casablanca – Humphrey Bogart – have LOVED him for a lifetime. This classic piece of perfection never grows old for me. The old Hollywood studio factory production styling, actors, suggestions, subtle nuances. A rare and unique treasure.

6)  Breakfast at Tiffany’s – I know I know – how predictable. But please see above referenced Casablanca for the same timeless perfection description.

7)  Fight Club – Too many reasons to even begin to list the love I have for this film and book. Mind blowingly intricate and clever and challenging and boastful and real and gritty and just LOVE LOVE LOVE. And i don’t care much for Brad Pitt – but he redeemed himself for me in this (and Twelve Monkeys I guess).

8)  Hair – I don’t care what anyone says. Twyla Tharp and Central Park will FOREVER have my heart. Plus, the songs man…the SONGS.

8 1/2)  Barefoot in the Park – For which I was named and will forever find delightful.


CAMERON CROWE (American director and writer of Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

 1) The Apartment (Wilder)

2) La Rue du jeu (Renoir)

3) La dolce vita (Fellini)

4) Manhattan (Allen)

5) The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler)

6) To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan)

7) Harold and Maude (Ashby)

8) Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)

9) Quadrophenia (Roddam)

10) Ninotchka (Lubitsch)


LEILAH WENDELL (curator at the New Orleans ‘House of Death’ art gallery) :

Oooo! Intriguing!  Okay-

1) Death Takes a Holiday– Because I had NEVER EVER seen nor heard of it until I was in my 30’s, many years after writing The Complete Books of Azrael. It is still a socially poignant tale even though it was made in the 1930’s. Corny costumes and all, still a paragon on the “intellegent film” genre.

2)  LadyHawk- Well, not only was it a beautiful/visual movie, but it was impeccably acted, and the storyline speaks to me on so many levels. Forever together…always apart…

3)  Poltergeist– The original, NOT the crummy sequels. Mainly because I worked on the actual ASPR case that this was “loosely” based on, and it is just a damn good intellgent, scary, funny, REALTISTIC flick. Good cast, damn good effects!

4)  Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders)- What a great socially poignant film and a most unique film statement. Just get lost in it…NOT the crummy American remake that came later which is rife with superficial nonsense and romantic fluff!

5)  The Mummy (Boris Karloff edition)- Just the epitome of a classic creepy film that will withstand the test of time. NO ONE but Karloff could have ever played it better! It needs a fitting sound-track, however.

6)  Cemetery Man (aka, Dallamore, Dellamorte) Italian film. Just plain strange…and wonderful at the same time. Unique, sad, funny, beautiful, nihilistic…..best with a bottle of wine!

7)  Metropolis. Come on MAN! This is a beautiful film and what an achievement for its time, and timeless still to this day!! I also like the version they redid with the Queen soundtrack!

8.) Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things– Yup! Campy 70’s film…but it brings back fond memories

1/2) ??? Flatliners…GREAT movie idea…horrid secondary storyline. What could have been a great film achievement…was wasted on Sutherland being kicked around by a kid with hockey sticks and this whole p.c. “repent for your childhood sins” schtick!

I have an addition that you may or may not have ever heard of with Donald Sutherland called “The Lifeforce Experiment” EXCELLENT film…IF you can find it anymore. It was one of the very first make for TV movies when the SCI-FI channel DIDN’T SUCK!

NaMaste!  -Leilah


KELLY MACABRE NOIR (beloved hotel guest and Pittsburgh’s cutting edge dark artist):

That was extremely difficult. I really wanted to toss Perfume in there too.

1) What Ever Happened To Baby Jane

2) Cabinet of Dr. Calgari

3)  Spider Baby

4)  Trick R Treat

5)  Metropolis

6)  Quay Brother’s Street of Crocodiles

7)  Jan Svankmajer’s Alice

8)  Death Becomes Her

8 1/2)   Addams Family/Addams Family Values



1) The Bride of Frankenstein 1935


ROGER CORMAN (“The” American B film producer, above on left)

His list from the Criterion Collection:

1) L’avventura by Michelangelo Antonioni.  Never has “waiting around” been so glorious. Postwar ennui meticulously staged and photographed, a fin de siècle troupe of the idle rich, such empty lives and their inconstant echoes. But Antonioni really had the last laugh, for this “adventure” film is more a solemn nod to Godot than any real outing or frolic.

2)  Bicycle Thieves by Viittorio De Sica.  All you need is a camera and a great story. Of course, finding even professional actors with that kind of gravitas and measure is difficult. But there are greater things behind it all: that scene, with the never-ending stacks of sheets piled high, that scene is everything—it attests to all the tiny, hidden tragedies of the everyday that occur around us, that we ignore in our own search for life and place, that we forget in our own hunt for the bicycle thieves.

3)  The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie by Luis Bunuel.  We all know the deal: a group of people want to get together and do something simple—see a movie, drink some coffee, eat some dinner. But it never works out that way. That’s what Buñuel did here, but with greater stakes/steaks on the table. Levity and seriousness, the intrusion of the surreal into the upper crust, forcing a single question at the end: would anyone portrayed in the film actually watch the film? After all, each oneiric explosion in it is something the politesse class doesn’t speak of at the table: sex, death, religion.

4) 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini.  Perhaps all directors only make films about themselves. If so, this film is the apex, the zenith, of all narcissistic or self-reflexive endeavors. It’s Freud gone Italian: alienation in autos and a screaming ascent into some rarified atmosphere, then, of course, what goes up must come crashing down. And then it peels another layer off to ask: what does a filmmaker do in midlife creative crisis? How does one reinvent authenticity? I think most directors ask themselves that daily.

5)  Ivan the Terrible, Part 1 by Sergei Eisenstein.  Potemkin is taught in film schools worldwide, more like a fossil than a real, breathing animal that must be dissected. Watch it because it’s important. So budding filmmakers are taught about formalism and montage, and they rarely get to watch Eisenstein’s later works, like Ivan the Terrible. They’re missing out: imagine a biopic run through the meat grinder of German expressionism, with every image connoting the pitfalls of absolute power, with cutaways of faces that are thankfully forever captured in celluloid marble, with a sense of mounting state paranoia and ever-crumbling artifice. Potemkin may have the classic scenes, like the dish, the lion, the guns, but Ivan has taken all those early lessons and boyhood feints and given us a masterpiece.

6) On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan.  Brando and Kazan. If there is some pearly gates studio, many of the films being shown at the Angelic Cinematheques will have these heavyweights working together. Urban poetry, raw and unrestrained masculinity, a heightened method of “real” acting. The kind of picture that really pulls you in, forces all the senses to work in tandem. Hypnotic and earthy, the real stuff of cinema, electrolysis of the rough and the holy.

7) Paths of Glory by Stanley Kubrick.  Pick one Kubrick—tough. Pick one of Kubrick’s films about war—still tough. But there is a unique quality of Paths of Glory that speaks not only about the power of war films as antiwar vehicles but also about the issue of war in general. That despite how much the methods men use to murder, maim, and mutilate have changed over the years, the truth of man’s inhumanity to man has been a sick constant, that barbed wire and bureaucracy are equal methods to delay and destroy, and that giving a face to the mounting numbers is as important now as it was in the past.

8) Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa.  Narrative films will never grow stale as long as filmmakers have tricks like Rashomon structures in their bag. Not only filled with fantastic acting, tremendous cinematography, and a haunting soundtrack, Rashomon attempts what great films always strive for—to express an inexpressible . . . in this case, the nature of truth, or . . . the nature of humans’ inability to realize the fallibility of their own perception, their own stories.

9) The Rules of the Game by Jean Renoir.  If the game is a film, then what are the rules? According to Renoir, who like Hoyle could load a deck with the best of ’em, you take a cast that presages Altman’s later operatic ensembles, you take an upstairs and downstairs at war through manner and subterfuge, you take a manor house with a camera that has an omniscient sweep—and you get one very fine film that can tell you more about social politics and film in a single two-hour period than Emily Post or a textbook can in a month or a lifetime.

10) The Seventh Seal by Igmar Bergman.  After a life of watching silver-screen idols and debonair ne’er-do-wells, this film came out like a punch to the sternum. It showed that film was not simply a convenient vessel for story and adventure but could say much deeper things about us, as if we were shifting pieces on chessboards . . . but also about death, about the Crusades, about fighting or playing for one’s soul. And what comes after it all: a credit scene, starring everyone important in your life? There’s more to it, more to this film than it lets on—and I’ve been thinking about it for years.


JIM JARMUSCH (American Filmmaker)

1) L’Atalante (Vigo)

2) Tokyo Story (Ozu)

3) They Live by Night (N. Ray)

4) Bob le flambeur (Melville)

5) Sunrise (Murnau)

6) The Cameraman (Sedgwick)

7) Mouchette (Bresson)

8) Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)

9) Broken Blossoms (Griffith)

10) Rome, Open City (Rossellini)



1) The Brothers Karamazov (Brooks)

2) Casablanca (Curtiz)

3) Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)

4) High Noon (Zinnemann)

5) King Solomon’s Mines (Bennett)

6) North by Northwest (Hitchcock)

7) The Quiet Man (Ford)

8) Repulsion (Polanski)

9) Touch of Evil (Welles)

10) The Tales of Hoffmann (Powell, Pressburger)


KEVIN SMITH (American director)

1) The Departed

2) Little Children

3) Half Nelson

4) Clerks II

5) Inside Man

6) V for Vendetta

7) The Last King of Scotland

8) United 93

9) Perfume

10) Borat


STEVEN SPIELBERG (American filmmaker)

As listed from Empire Magazine:

1) Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – D: David Lean

2) Fantasia (1940) – D: Walt Disney

3) Citizen Kane (1941) – D: Orson Welles

4) It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – D: Frank Capra

5) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – D: Stanley Kubrick

6) A Guy Named Joe (1947) – D: Victor Fleming

7) War of the Worlds (1953) – D: Byron Haskin and George Pal

8) Psycho (1960) – D: Alfred Hitchcock

9) Day For Night (1973) – D: François Truffaut

10) The Godfather (1972) – D: Francis Ford Coppola


CHEF THOM PULLIUM (hotel chef and star in Zombie Dream):

1)   Zombie Dream…..me and my son are in it……

2)   Gone With the Wind…..love the story line…

3)  Star Wars….same…….

4)  300…..they fight even tho they cannot win……

5. 6.7.8.)   Any spaced sci fi….like Aliens, Star TrekSpaceballs….etc


THE JOE BOB SMITH (lived in hotel on third floor and encountered many ghosts…is a heavy metal aficionado)

Here is my 8 1/2 for today. These 8 1/2 could change and do change depending on my mood. I don’t know if I have a favorite anything though.

8 1/2)  Dutiful But Dumb.  Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz (A.K.A. Curly Howard).   Scene: Curly shoots the soup.  Why:  First Curly fights a bottle of liquor, then he fights his soup. It’s violent, it’s funny and no matter  how much life squeezes your nuts or twists your tits, this is a reminder that laughter destroys depression.

8)  Mannequin 1, 2, Pretty in Pink.  Andrew McCarthy/ James Spader.  Scene: Doesn’t really matter.  Why: For some strange reason, the hotel blessed us with a marathon of movies one night which all seemed to have these two together in almost every movie we watched. They’re not master pieces by any means, in fact they are far from it, but the oddities of life said, “today, you’re going to watch these guys all night.” Having other people around watching a string of absurdity was fun. Sometimes it’s better to watch shitty movies with great company than to watch a great film in solitude.

7)  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  Marisa Tomei/ Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Scene: The opening sequence.  Why: Blair, Swindler and I just sat down with some booze one night, the opening previews just came on and like clockwork, Swindler passed out. It’s perhaps a magic trick of sorts. To have a magician disappear just add previews. Blair and I sat there and watched the opening sequence in the movie room and as we did, a great quandary had occurred. Marisa Tomei was naked and lovely. Our heads were fixed to the screen like children watching the superbowl. The door  just outside the movie room which connects the dining room to the hallway by the artist gallery decided to open on it’s own ever so slowly and squeaky as ol’ hell. Blair and I both were perplexed. Our bodies turned to look at the door as slow as the door was opening but our eyes were glued to the screen. Naked beauty trumps all other interruptions I guess.

6)  Pulp Fiction.  Christopher Walken.   Scene: The Watch.  Why: It’s just Walken being Walken doing what Walken does best. Plus it’s sort of a MacGuffin which Alfred Hitchcock would have loved and who doesn’t love a good MacGuffin.

5)  Good Will Hunting.  Matt Damon.   Scene: Will turns down a job by the N.S.A.  Why: It’s a simple scene but the dialog used to break down a complex situation was not only funny but serious as well.

4)   Dead Poets Society.  Robin Williams/ the class.    Scene: the end sequence.  Why: Insignificant triumph over opporsision of thought. I love a good Triumph scene. Most of the people who were moved by one guy stood up on their desks in tribute. It’s a punk scene.

3)  Enter the Dragon.  Bruce Lee.    Scene: A Finger Pointing To The Moon.  Why: It’s profound lesson which I don’t want to explain, the scene explains itself to the viewer in different ways. My explanation of the scene would only do a disservice to the lesson.

2)  The Breakfast Club.  The “Brat Pack”?   Scene: All of them.  Why: It’s simplicity. It’s minimalism. It’s collective arrangement of flawed characters trying to make the most out of their shitty situations. Isolation and Reflection.

1)  Back to School.  Rodney Dangerfield.   Scene: Thorton Melon reads Dylan Thomas’ Do no go gentle into that goodnight.  Why: Things have different meanings to different people. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”   Never. Never. Never Give Up!



1) The Third Man


TOMMY AMOEBA (fabulous hotel guest and Pittsburgh punk musican):

1) 2001: a space odyssey: the most profound cinematic statement of man’s place in the grand scheme of things. ponderous and unwieldy yet oddly compelling.

2) the wizard of oz: the very definition and practically the starting line of imagination in cinema.

3) the graduate: where irony and ennui meet on the battlefield of cross generational betrayal and lust to the dulcet sounds of silence and one word, plastic.

4) blue velvet: lifts up the rock in the well kept suburban lawns of the 80s and finds a surreal festering world teeming with ether-fueled slugs and candy colored clowns.

5) blade runner: atmospheric future noir that is still visionary.

6) repo man: densely packed punk sci fi/comedy hybrid that never fails to yield new details and insights on repeated viewings.

7) duck soup: satire, slapstick and anarchy reign supreme in freedonia

8) logan’s run: i saved the guiltiest pleasure and my most personal choice for last. it inspired one of my favorite songs, city of domes. always loved the look of the city and admired the concept.


STANLEY KUBRICK (Created film The Shining)

List from from Cinema Magazine in 1963:

1) I Vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953)
2) Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1958)
3) Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
4) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948)
5) City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
6) Henry V (Laurence Olivier, 1945)
7) La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961)
8) The Bank Dick (W.C. Fields, 1940)

9) Roxie Hart (William Wellman, 1942) claimed was his favorite
10) Hell’s Angels (Howard Hughes, 1930)


CATHERINE COX (hotel guest and professor at local UPJ, here seen as “Professor of the Year”):

This was so hard! Lol, and lots of fun – thank you for asking!  Favorite (not what I think are ‘best’, but favorite – ones I know by heart practically and watch over and over again)

1) Walle (painfully existential, upbeat yet mitigated ending, so well done)

2) Pan’s Labyrinth (fascinating and challenging, the reality worse than the dreams)

3) His Girl Friday (best dialogue/script, ever)

4) Annie Hall (a modern masterpiece of narrative, perspective, transitions)

5) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (pacing, soundtrack, intensity)

6) Beauty and the Beast [Jean Cocteau] (loved it since I was a kid, his voice is mesmerizing)

7) Law of Desire [Pedro Almodovar] (gets at what ‘want’ truly is)

8.) True Grit [Coen Bros] (surreal yet oddly absorbing, snappy dialogue)

1/2)  Terminator (I stop watching at the dumpster reunion, a happy ending!) This is my “1/2” choice


ANDY WARHOL (American painter from Pittsburgh):

1) The Creation of the Humenoids


KATHERINE RAMSLAND (Author of Ghost, first person to do a paranormal investigation in the hotel, good friend,  and Professor at DeSalles University)

1)  Sneakers

2)  Lord of the Ring (first one)

3)  Pirates of the Caribbean (first one)

4)  Angel Heart,

5)  9 and 1/2 Weeks

6)  Road to Perdition

7)  Adaptation

8)  Fargo

9)  Kalifornia

10)  The Usual Suspects

11)  Thunderheart

…and so many others I can’t make a list of 8.   …and Tombstone!  How could I forget that one? It’s at least 4th on the list.


BRIAN CANO (Star of The Haunted Collector and star of the hotel’s Writer’s Jail)

1) The Empire Strikes Back Even though I was three when it came out, I do have hazy memories of my parents taking me to see Star Wars and being present at the theater. Beyond that, my first actual Star Wars recollection was ESB – I was six. I remember hiding under my chair during the scene where the wampa attacked Luke. That, and it set the tone for my outlook on life…there aren’t always happy endings, but you have to soldier on anyway.

2) Rocky Now I speak of all six of these as a whole, because they really feel that way to me. As corny as the later movies got, in the final movie, there was a quote that I use myself almost daily as a mantra…”It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about hard hard you can GET hit, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning’s done!” Say what you want about Stallone, I could assemble a Tao of Rocky around these movies.

3) Fight Club This movie was awesome because I didn’t know anything about it when it came out. I had no intention of seeing it, I had heard no advance press about it – I ended up in the theater almost by accident. But, without giving the ending away, I found the movie to be brilliant, different, truthful, inspiring and mind-altering, all in a gritty packaging. This is a movie I can watch over and over again and each time I discover something different. Go rent it NOW!

4) The Shawshank Redemption I love this movie. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” This is another movie that I can watch over and over again. I get totally sucked in to the story and when it is over, it’s like I took a trip…it was more than a movie, it transported me somewhere else and it need not be fantastic or filled with CGI to have that impact. It’s a human story and it touches everyone in their own way.

5) Dogma By writer/director Kevin Smith…don’t let the dick and fart jokes fool you, this is a classic tale of good versus evil, a rediscovery of faith and is seriously a pro-God movie, despite all the protests to the contrary. My most poignant memory of the movie was passing a film festival at Lincoln Center where Dogma was playing – a Christian protest group was camped outside behind police barricades. When I asked what they were protesting, they said, “Dogma – Kevin Smith is going to go to Hell because he makes fun of God.” I raised an eyebrow and asked what in the movie offended them, to which the reply was, “…I haven’t seen it. I would never go see one of his movies.” Game, set, match. Thanks, fanatics. I love this movie.

6) Lord of the Rings I include all three in this one evaluation. Visually stunning. Heartwarming, fantastic, with moments of despair and sacrifice – this shows humanity at it’s best and worst in a fantasy setting…we all have our favorites, we all identify with one of the characters and for an 11 hour movie (extended edition is awesome) you take a trip to Middle Earth and truly forget the outside world exists for those 11 hours. My hat is off to you, Peter Jackson. Very well done!

7) Forrest Gump Speaking of movies that take you on a trip, this one did the same for me. Even though I have never met a president, or been to Vietnam, when this movie ends, you really feel as if you have been all those places, done all those things and been by Tom Hank’s side throughout the whole thing. The soundtrack is great too, as it offers up the tunes from the times and makes you feel right at home. This also appeals to my love of movies that show characters never giving up, despite overwhelming odds.

8) Lost in Translation Every time I watch this film, I see a different nuance emerge, as I get older, I identify with different characters…and when it is over, I miss Tokyo, even though I’ve never been there. There are no crazy special effects, there are no car chases but you are drawn in and held by the culture shock, the introspection and often the loneliness.

8.5) Evolution This is truly a dark horse, wild card addition, but since we are assigning a half value to it, it made it here in front of many other movies. Starring David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, this pseudo-Ghostbusters remake always has me laughing. It’s quotable and it’s a DVD I find myself popping in often. I guess I just enjoy being in that place and time for a little while. I know its a favorite of mine because when it’s over I’m sad that it’s through and I consider letting it play again. Is it a film? No. Is it one of the great comedies of all time? No. But it’s like hanging out with friends. They are who they are and that’s all they need to be.



This list was compiled by Dan Heching for the Sundance Channel under “Top 10 Wes Anderson Influences”:

1)  A Charlie Brown Christmas  The fun of Anderson’s films is that they are somewhat hard to place, in that they borrow a little bit from everywhere and every time, but most would agree he dabbles in decades from the 60s to the (early) 80s. And with his brilliant saturations and bright monochromes, no wonder this 1965 animated TV classic is found here: the wistful and melancholy youths of Charles Schulz’s world could be not-so-distant cartoon relatives of those in Anderson’s. And doesn’t Linus Van Pelt sound like it should be the name of an Owen Wilson character?

2)  Submarine   It would be remiss not to also recognize just how influential Wes Anderson has become after his 6 previous films, as is evidenced by this sometimes-shameless British knockoff from last year. Oliver, the lovelorn and resourceful protagonist, does feel like a blander version of any Anderson-conceived Jason Schwartzman character, and the best part of this film, Yasmin Paige, channels Margot Tennenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) as she would have been in high school. Basically, if you’re going to make a film about disillusioned euro ingenues in love, you’re breaking into Anderson territory.

3)  Pierrot Le Fou   Another gem from the 60s, and an international one at that; it’s obvious that a number of French films would appear on this list, if for nothing else than Anderson’s propensity to slip in bombastic old school French tunes in his work (and then of course there’s the much-debated but still skillfully done HOTEL CHEVALIER short film/prologue to DARJEELING LIMITED, which has the French New Wave written all over it). As mentioned in The Wrap’s review of MOONRISE KINGDOM, this Godard classic shares several similar plot points with Anderson’s new film, both dealing with young lovers on the lam. Of course, the influences and parallels between the Nouvelle Vague and Wes Anderson run much, much deeper, but this is a good jumping-off point.

4)  The Magnificent Ambersons   It also makes perfect sense to include Orson Welles in this list: try watching this 1940s classic followed by THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and try not to notice how both lovingly tragic portraits of once-illustrious and many-tiered American families use similar storytelling techniques, like a novelistic narration by a rich baritone (yes, Alec Baldwin is the closest we get to a modern-day Welles).

5)  Holy Mountain   Alejandro Jodorowsky’s seriously wacky 1970s religious tale of an interstellar cult in the wilderness shares some pretty strong visual similarities with Wes Anderson, both in the diorama-like construction of shots (symmetrical, self-contained environments spanning the dimensions of one cross-section camera angle) and their popping, high-contrast color. Scenes like the introduction of the different planets’ representatives in MOUNTAIN are pretty evident as hallmarks for Anderson’s rhythm, with their economic presentation of everything from nifty knick-knacks like ‘psychedelic shotguns’ to exceedingly ornate and lavish interiors. Campy as it all is, everything seems worn-down but still somehow very impressive and relevant. This frank presentation style with voice over is something Anderson also uses frequently. HOLY MOUNTAIN’s nautical scene also all but directly inspires much of Anderson’s aesthetic in LIFE AQUATIC —think the red Zissou caps.

6)  The Graduate  On a surface level, RUSHMORE can almost be considered a deadpan riff on the central plot point of Mike Nichols’ pivotal (and again, 1960s) classic, namely a May-September relationship slated for failure from the very start, mixed in with The Catcher in the Rye. Additionally, THE GRADUATE’s remarkably subtle but nonetheless grand tonal shifts between searing drama (Elaine learning of Benjamin’s secret) and madcap comedy (their climactic wedding escape) seem like a trail map for Anderson, who expertly mixes these polar feelings to make his buoyantly bittersweet films. Additionally, the extremely commanding presence of Simon & Garfunkel’s music here is a definite Anderson pre-cursor—and trailblazer—giving Wes the confidence to be similarly bold in his trademark use of soundtrack.

7)  Harold and Maude   If disillusioned and precocious youth is Wes Anderson’s territory, then Hal Ashby’s 1971 cult favorite—still revolutionary after all these years—is a definite and major influence (talk about May-September romance, this is more January-December). Many story elements appear again and again in both Anderson’s films and this list: an obsession with the past and ‘how things used to be’, a fascination with the secrets our elders and their bygone eras can bestow, not to mention more quaintly existential crises involving mortality and self-worth (look at practically any Wes Anderson character, and these things can be applied). And they’re all here as well, in Bud Cort’s Harold. Plus, Ashby’s exclusive use of Cat Stevens’ music here gets the same cred as the music in THE GRADUATE in item #6.

8)  The films of Martin Scorsese  Marty S. is often quoted as loving Wes Anderson deeply as a director, perhaps recognizing a kindred spirit in how both filmmakers are famously controlling and detail-oriented due to their crisp and clear visions (a trait they share with Orson Welles). But Matt Zoller Seitz for The Museum of the Moving Image calls attention to another spot-on reason these two auteurs can be likened to “a street-tough dad and his college-bound favorite son”—their much loved use of the cinematic device known as slow-motion. This might sound very film buff-y, but it doesn’t take an expert to recall how slo-mo works in to some of the more decisive moments in both men’s works: De Niro’s slowed-down entrance into the bar in MEAN STREETS, for example, and Paltrow’s painstaking exit off the bus and approach toward Luke Wilson in TENENBAUMS—the shots are constructed identically. There are also a fair share of cigar smoking slo-mo shots in the pair’s films, like GOODFELLAS and BOTTLE ROCKET (one of Scorsese’s noted favorites by Anderson). In an overview on Anderson’s influences, Seitz claims how these two filmmakers use slow-motion “to italicize emotion.” And right he is.

9)  Paper Moon   Here we have yet another precocious child caper, this one featuring Oscar-winning Tatum O’Neal as the snarky sidekick to (off-screen dad) Ryan O’Neal in a Depression-period piece (retro for the 70s just like the 60s are retro for Anderson’s films now) that deserves its place on this list. An interesting side note: PAPER MOON’s production designer Polly Platt was later a producer on Wes’ first feature, BOTTLE ROCKET.

10)  The films of Francis Truffaut  If we mentioned Godard, then we must mention Truffaut as well, since this godfather of the French New Wave has influenced countless younger filmmakers, Wes Anderson very much among them. Anderson’s films all boast a fascination with childhood, and how wrongs committed by the innocent are somehow still just; or rather, when the intentions are noble (like Max’s undying love for Miss Cross in RUSHMORE, the quasi-incestual young love affair in TENENBAUMS), ethics can be ever-so-charmingly compromised. He seems to be trying to examine just where the boundary lies between innocence and experience, right and wrong, childhood and adulthood. These are things so beautifully crystallized in both THE 400 BLOWS and JULES AND JIM, Truffaut’s homages to the loss of innocence and the question of sexual ethics, films that are still able to bring a sense of ennui and nostalgia to even contemporary young audiences. Maybe the same will be said of Anderson’s work in the next generation.


MICHAEL KERBEL (Our film history professor at the University of Bridgeport, where hotel investor Paris Patton and I attended, Michael now the director of film study at Yale University.  We learned so much from him!)

Blair, thanks for asking.  In turn, I’d like to ask you — and everyone — for favorites.  May I make it a top ten?  For me, there have been five top films for a long time:


2)  8 1/2



5)  LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.    I doubt that these five will change. The other five keep changing, but right now they are



8)  THE 400 BLOWS



What are everyone else’s top ten? p.s. I realize that I haven’t given reasons, which I can do subsequently. One interesting point of reference — and controversy — is the Sight and Sound poll of critics and directors, done every ten years. As probably most of you know, in the 2012 poll, VERTIGO “beat” CITIZEN KANE for #1. So, everyone, what are your ten favorites?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sight_%26_Sound


LINDA BLAIR (from The Exorcist)

I still like the old movies. I really love to watch the old black and white horror movies. I love

1) Frankenstein,

2)  Dracula,

and 3) The Wolfman,

and I don’t think I’ll ever change. I just really enjoy them, because I know it’s just a monster and it’s not really going to get you.


ADAM BLAI (hotel resident for years and celebrity Catholic demonologist):

1) Conan the Barbarian. I saw this film as a young man and it was my first introduction to the archetypal hero’s journey story. I had read Gilgamesh and other things in school was it wasn’t tractable and I never “got it”. Seeing this movie appealed to that go forth and conquer your challenges as well as the mystical and subconscious drives that are far more powerful than worldly concerns. I know this movie is considered juvenile by most, and in a way it is, but it was also my introduction to the oldest story in the world.

2) Koyaanisqatsi. I first saw this film with my late uncle John. Later I held John’s hand along with the minister as his heart finally stopped. John introduced me to a lot of music (David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Phillip Glass, etc.) and art (Andy Warhol, classic sculpture, etc.). I had never heard minimalist music before and really appreciated it. There is certainly a presence of the mystical in the music. My primitive environmental concerns at that time were pointed to in an obtuse way I couldn’t understand at the time. Later in life I got a degree in earth science and sat on the board of a landfill…so this film has run a sort of course of completion in my tiny life.

3) Star Wars. My father and I saw Star Wars 13 times in the year that it came out. Seeing Darth Vader step toward you for the first time through the smoke of the door breaking is a powerful thing for a child who has never seen such images. The mystical journey of Luke from bumbling child to semi-competent adept with no sense of his true connection to the force is also the hero’s journey, with a more Eastern sensibility. I think this film tapped into that and also issues of meditation and the potential of magic in the human state. I wouldn’t understand until much later in life that magic in the form of prayer and the response of the force (God) to intention is actually real and happens.

4) Prince of Darkness. This John Carpenter film explored the other side of the mystical coin and it came after the other films I’ve listed above. This film is cheesy and simple in some ways but the ideas behind it are not at all. In a sense this is more of a Lovecraft film to me than any cheesy attempts to make lovecraft stories into movies. The horror of the ideas behind this movie are far worse than the present dangers the characters are in. The greater fear of the side of evil “winning” and the implications of that are summed up in the woman’s face before she throws herself through the mirror toward the end. More recently I’ve been working with a high energy physicist to understand the dimensional theories that might explain some of the data we gather in our work against the demonic…and that same kind of edgy fearful awareness that there is something on the other side of the mirror of our perspective all the time, good and bad, is back.

5) Urga – Close to Eden. This amazing film is from Mongolia. I saw this in college on one of our weekly “Thursday foreign film nights” where foreign grad students from many countries would come and crowd our beat living room. This movie was one of the best and most touching from that year. I loved living with people from all over the world as roommates to get a sense of the world and this movie was so strong that it gave me that same benefit in a way. There is no easy way to sum up the value of this movie or why it’s worth watching. I still feel complex emotions and see images shifting in my mind just thinking about it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urga_(film)

6) Constantine. Since an ever expanding part of my life is taken up with helping people of all faiths with demonic problems I relate to this movie. There are actually many hints and clues to some of the rules and realities of dealing with demons in this movie. It is certainly over the top and hollywood but the basics of the issues are there. I don’t think someone would be able to pick them out unless they were in the work but for those of us that are there are some neat moments.

7) The Life Aquatic. This very dry comedy is brilliantly written. For me this film is about the struggle of people to relate and interact in spite of and because they are being themselves. It is also about the struggle to be intimate with the world while being honest, a difficult and scary thing to do as the constant rejection can beat one down to the condition we find Zissou in…still valiantly himself but almost despondent for the worlds lack of appreciation, faith, and trust in what he offers…himself, honestly.

8 1/2) The films I’ll appear in. On my own hero’s journey, in art and spirit, the world seems to be taking an interest. I hope that when the key plot points are met and something is shown or said about this oldest story I walked through that there is something of value there. Perhaps encouragement, perhaps hints and clues about what’s to come for that child sitting there, perhaps a warning or example that keeps the next generation on a long and fruitful journey of their own as opposed to a life slept through and through or wasted in fear. God, let me not waste mine!


TIM BURTON (American filmmaker, on right in photo)

Movies that inspired Burton screened at Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Saturday Monster Matinee, described by Susan King:

1) The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958): Directed by Nathan Juran, the film was the first of three “Sinbad” movies Columbia produced that special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen designed and animated with the dazzling stop-motion technique he called Dynamation. It took Harryhausen 11 months to complete the painstaking work on the film, which features creatures including a cyclops and a cobra-woman; Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) even has a sword battle with a skeleton. The late Bernard Herrmann, who is the subject of several centenary celebrations this year, penned the score. Three years ago, Sinbad was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

2) Fantastic Voyage (1966) Directed by Richard Fleischer, this thriller finds a group of doctors, assistants and a CIA agent miniaturized and injected into the body of a scientist who escaped from the Soviet Union. (The scientist is comatose after an assassination attempt and this experimental effort is believed to be the only way to save him.) Stephen Boyd, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasance and Raquel Welch, in her first major film role, star. The movie won Oscars for art direction (color) and for its then-cutting-edge special effects.

3) The Thing From Another World (1951) Produced by Howard Hawks and directed byChristian Nyby (though for years it has been contended that Hawks actually directed the classic), “The Thing From Another World” is set at a base in the North Pole where six scientists find evidence of a crash by an unknown flying object. A U.S. Air Force re-supply crew is sent to the base where a frozen, tall alien creature (played by a young James Arness) is discovered.Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey and Dewey Martin are among the stars. Time Magazine named the movie, which was remade in 1982 by John Carpenter, as the greatest sci-fi film produced in the 1950s.

4) Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) James Mason, Pat Boone, Diane Bakerand Arlene Dahl headline this film, based on the novel by Jules Verne. The sci-fi fantasy revolves a professor in Edinburgh who leads an expedition to the center of the earth after he receives an unusual rock from one of his students. Bernard Herrmann also penned the score for the film, which earned three Oscar nominations, for art decoration-set decoration, effects and sound.

5) The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) The great sci-fi writer Richard Matheson opened the film, which is based on his novel; Jack Arnold, who helmed the 1954 3-D hit “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” directed. Grant Williams stars in the title role, playing a businessman who is hit by a radioactive cloud while sailing with his wife. Six months later, he begins to shrink due to the radiation and pesticides. A hit with both critics and audiences, the film won the 1958 Hugo Award for the year’s best science fiction or fantasy dramatic presentation.

6) Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Ray Harryhausen considers this to be his best film, and it does feature his memorable stop-motion sequence in which Jason (Todd Armstrong) and two of his men battle an army of skeletons. The sequence took Harryhausen nearly five months to complete. Bernard Herrmann also penned the evocative score.

7) Mothra (1961) The female creature first appeared in the serialized novel “The Luminous Fairies and Mothra” before she made her film debut in this Japanese feature. A giant lepidopteron with butterfly-moth characteristics, Mothra has been an ally with Godzilla but often the two square off in combat — with Mothra winning most of the bouts. When the film was released in the U.S. in 1962, it ran on a double bill with “The Three Stooges in Orbit.”

8) This Island Earth (1955) Shot in Technicolor and featuring innovative special effects for its time, the film, directed by Joseph M. Newman, stars Jeff Morrow as the intellectual alienExeter who recruits Rex Reason as scientist Cal Meacham and Faith Domergue as Dr. Ruth Adams for a “special” research project.

9) Horror of Dracula (1958) The first — and arguably the best — in a long line of Dracula films from Hammer, the film cast towering Christopher Lee as the vampire count and Peter Cushing as his nemesis Van Helsing. It was released in the UK as “Dracula” but was renamed for the U.S. so as not to be confused with Tod Browning‘s 1931 Universal classic starring Bela Lugosi.


NICOLA TESLA (and some other scientists)

From Moviefone: Hollywood loves to portray scientists as either the insane Frankenstein type or the absent-minded, time-traveling Doc Brown. Interestingly enough, both of these characters tropes were inspired by real-life researchers, some of whom were so amused by what they saw on the big screen that they actually became involved in the movie-making process.  Sure, scientists may be leagues smarter than your average person, but at the end of the day, much like our Presidents and dictators, they love movies just as much as we do. So just in case you ever need to buy a last-minute DVD for a Nobel Prize winner, check out which movies were beloved by some of the world’s most famous scientists.  Pop culture loves Nicola Tesla, and to be honest, it’s pretty hard not to. The man was an incredible genius who experimented with dangerous concepts like electricity and weather control, and he often presented his inventions as if they were some type of magic act. Tesla’s life is essentially the source material for every borderline insane, mysterious scientist ever created by Hollywood.

1) Frankenstein   Hollywood’s interest in Tesla’s life began while he was still alive. He even got to see some of the movies that were inspired by his experiments, including his favorite movie, Frankenstein.  The movie was released in 1931, when Telsa was more or less retired from public life, too old to conduct the experiments he had become known for. Still, he agreed to construct a Tesla coil when approached by the film’s electrician. The director wound up using the coil, which shot live electricity, in the film’s most famous scene, in which the monster is brought to life. Since then, every mad scientist’s laboratory had to have one.

2)  City Lights  Another pop culture icon, Albert Einstein has been depicted in dozens of movies and even appeared in scenes of the ‘Red Alert’ strategy series, which were left on the cutting room floor.  Of course, when he wasn’t busy sticking his tongue out in photos, or, you know, revolutionizing the world of science, Einstein enjoyed a good laugh. He is said to have been a great fan of the puppet show ‘Time for Beany’ — so much, in fact, that he even interrupted meetings by saying, “Pardon me, gentlemen, but it’s ‘Time for Beany!'”.  As for movies, Einstein’s favorite was City Lights, from legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin, who was close to Einstein, invited him and his wife to be the guests of honor at the film’s opening. He later said he knew his movie was a success when he saw Einstein’s positive reaction.

3)    Star Trek   Following in the footsteps of Einstein, Stephen Hawking has conducted groundbreaking work in astrophysics, especially in the area of black holes. He’s a member of a number of prominent academic societies, and has won more awards and honorary PhD’s than just about anyone else alive. And he did it all despite suffering from a neuro-muscular dystrophy, which has rendered him almost fully paralyzed and unable to speak without the help of a computerized chair.  To top it off, Hawking is also a writer and somewhat of an actor. He’s been featured on numerous television shows about science, and his books on the universe are bestsellers. Overall, he’s the kind of guy who makes you feel bad for sleeping in on a Sunday.  So what does Stephen Hawking like to do in his spare time? On the TV side, Hawking enjoys ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Futurama,’ two shows he appeared on as a guest. And speaking of guest appearances, Hawking is the only person to have played himself in the TV series ‘Star Trek.’ However, ‘Star Trek’ isn’t his favorite sci-fi series. That elusive title is reserved for two shows: ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Red Dwarf.’  As far as movies go, Hawking is supposedly a fan of Marlon Brando.  He is known to have said at one point, “Marlon Brando is maybe the greatest actor of the last two centuries. But his mind is much more important than the acting thing. The way that he looks at things, doesn’t judge things, the way that he assesses things. He’s as important as, uh … who’s important today? Jesus, not many people …”

4)  Birth of a Nation   Thomas Edison worked on countless inventions during his heydey, from the telephone and radio to movies and electricity distribution. He’s also one of the few scientists who turned out to be a great businessman as well, founding companies that built him a significant fortune.  Maybe it’s because of his capitalistic outlook on life, or maybe because he often “borrowed” inventions from those who worked for him, including Tesla, but Edison is definitely a controversial character. Let us give you an example of what we mean by controversial: At one point, Edison had his men bribe cinema workers in Europe so that they could steal the movie ‘A Trip to the Moon’ and show it in the States without paying any royalties. (Ironically enough, Einstein was also the person who established the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to prevent others from stealing the movies he produced.)  This kind of paradox surrounded Edison throughout his life. He claimed to be a pacifist and hated any kind of violence, yet he invented the first electric chair. He created the world’s first phonograph, but he hated movies with sound. In fact, he declared that sound ruined acting, making everyone focus on the words instead of the action.  So it should come as little surprise that his favorite movie, the controversial Birth of a Nation, was from the silent film era. Despite its positive depiction of the Ku Klux Klan, the film, released in 1915, was screened at the White House and became the highest-grossing film of its time. The movie has been often described as an innovator in cinematography, with its use of camera angles and special effects. Unfortunately, the movie’s reputation is tarnished by its overtly racist content.

5)  Tarzan Jane Goodall is known around the world as the chimpanzee lady, probably because she spent 45 years living among them, studying their behavior more thoroughly than anyone before her. She’s the world’s top expert when it comes to primates, and has been featured in many documentaries and comics. Even ‘The Simpsons’ based a character on her. (Sure, she’s also won a bunch of medals for promoting peace and advancing scientific understanding, but who cares about all of that when you’ve been featured on ‘The Simpsons’?)  Predictably enough, her favorite series growing up was ‘Tarzan.’ She loved the books and enjoyed watching the films, at one point declaring, “I fell in love with Tarzan and I was very jealous of that wretched, wimpy Jane of his.” In fact, it was her passion for the ape-man that convinced Goodall to dedicate her life to studying primates — and now has us afraid of what the girls who grew up watching  Twilight  will do when they’re adults.

6) The Matrix  Like Sagan and Hawking, Neil deGrasee Tyson has hosted science shows and appeared numerous times on television, during which he spoke about complex subjects in an easy-to-understand manner. For his efforts, he has received about 10 honorary PhD’s, NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal and has earned enough high-ranking positions to make any scientist feel humble.  As for his taste in movies, well, it’s a little strange, to say the least. When asked what his favorite science fiction movie was, he chose Deep Impact as one of them, arguing that the movie depicted the science of asteroids pretty accurately. (While that might be correct, it’s hard call a movie that has the tag-line “When heavens and earth collide” your favorite film.)  Tyson also said that he loved The Matrix and would like to be in there, in bullet time, which we can totally understand and support. (For the record: He also mentioned that the second and third ‘Matrix’ movies didn’t make the cut. Talk about a smart guy.)

7)  Cool Hand Luke   Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo became well-known in the world of psychology for their studies on the darker side of humanity, showing how easy it is to convince someone to hurt another person. You might know them better from the shock study conducted by Milgram and the Stanford prison experiment, in which a handful of college students replicated conditions inside a prison. Within just a few days, the students turned from average undergraduates to hardened guards who inflicted psychological abuse on the prisoners.  What makes the study even more interesting is the fact that Zimbardo, who oversaw the whole experiment, is passionate about the classic Paul Newman prison movie Cool Hand Luke, the one with the famous tagline “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Zimbardo even said that he wanted the study to turn out more or less like the movie, with the prisoners resisting the guards until they eventually had to give up.  Ironically enough, that didn’t happen. If anything, the Stanford prison experiment proved that a solitary resistance, as seen in ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ can only be found in the movies. We guess that’s science for you — even when the researcher loves something, they will still dissect it until its dead.



39  films listed on Amazon plucked from a larger list made by King of his personal favorites:

1)  Alien

2) Black Sunday

3)  The Brood

4)  Carrie

5)  Creature from the Black Lagoon

6)  Curse of the Demon

7)  Dawn of the Dead

8)  Deliverance

9)  Dementia 13

10)  Duel

11)  Quatermass 2

12)  The Exorcist

13)  Frenzy

14)  Halloween

15)  The Haunting

16)  I Bury the Living

17)  Invasion of the Body Snatchers

18)  It Came from Outter Space

19)  Jaws

20)  Lady in a Cage

21)  Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

22)  Martin

23)  The Night of the Hunter

24)  Picnic at Hanging Rock

25)  Psycho

26)  Rabid

27)  Repulsion

28)  Creeper

29)  Rosemary’s baby

30)  The Seventh Seal

31)  Sisters

32)  The Shining

33)  Suspiria

34)  The Texas Chainsaw Masacre

35)  Them!

36)  The Thing from Another World

37)  Wait Until Dark

38)  What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

39)  X – The Man With The X-Ray Eyes



Note: You can get the “crazy eyes” from watching too many movies over too many nights, which hotel residents skate close to that danger often in big summer movie marathons which can go on for days.  Here is hotel resident Joe Bob Smith thoroughly relaxing in the Screening Room.  He’s got the crazy eyes.

 Here is a photo of regular hotel guest Skot Jones with the crazy eyes:



A film commission office generates press and cultivates relationships between local locations and the film industry itself. Approached by local State Rep Frank Burns with the vision for establishing a local film commission office to bring distinction to this area, we used our Hollywood connections and put some work into it.  Nearby Pittsburgh has a fantastic film commission office already in full swing.  Ours would have been more of a mini-mini side branch office bowing to them. This office was almost established here in the Grand Midway but State funding fell through.   So the meantime, our enthusiasm poured into making local feature films to keep the ball rolling.  This is how the feature film Zombie Dream began, to celebrate and show off many of the great local locations via a vehicle.  Below is the early local Film Commission Office promotion reel we had fun creating:



We open to the public once a month an evening of film and spiritualism…

Step back in time into old Hollywood and enjoy a unique evening in the haunted Grand Midway Hotel. Film historian Bill Eggert will conduct an hour Hollywood history class on the individual.  Next we will screen one of their movies in the Midway’s screening room. The experience of silent a silent film on the silver screen is like that of tapping into an ancient forgotten ocean. And finally we will conduct a Midway seance to reach out to them. Seance hosted by medium Sandy Anderson Robertson. Not just for mere entertainment, these evenings reach for the genuine article. Serious attendees only.

(We are going to offer these screenings, classes, and seances regularly once per month here the Midway, open to the public, screening a different Hollywood silent film each month, with a class, followed by a seance to explore the legendary artists behind these works.)

Starts 8pm / ends midnight. $20 entry. Free popcorn provided.

Fifteen seats available (give or take one), with reservations suggested ahead of time for first come first serve.

William Desmond Taylor /                                            Jan 31, 2014

Max Schreck / Nosferatu Feb 21, 2014

Nina Wilcox Putnam / The Mummy  March 10, 2014

Merian C. Cooper / King Kong  May 12, 2014

Mary Pickford / Sparrows  June 1, 2014

Brigitte Helm / Metropolis  June 13, 2014

Michael Gindlesperger, who attended last month’s seance, wrote: “I had the opportunity to attend the first meeting and it was an incredible experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’m not at all familiar with this era in Hollywood history. Owner Blair Murphy welcomed us all in to his home while Bill gave us a quick introductory lesson on Mr. Taylor and his life/death. Sandy then took charge and guided us through the seance. This was a very safe and controlled environment, no Ouija boards or anything of a dangerous and dark nature. Sandy is very experienced and has been doing this her whole life so it was a great relaxing session. We possibly made contact with our intended spirit. Combined with a whole series of things that taken individually might have been a coincidence, but together seemed to lend credence to something greater, everyone felt we had been in the presence of spiritual energy. Afterwards, Bill went into more depth on the events surrounding Mr. Taylor’s death as well as to the creative environment found in Hollywood at that time. He was an incredible source of information and our entire group loved his presentation. We then discussed our own theories about the murder along with our impressions of the rich history we were beginning to understand. The grand finale of the night was a screening of the movie “Nurse Marjorie”. Blair has an entire room of the Grand Midway converted specifically for movies so instead of seeing this on a tv screen, the film was projected onto the big screen in the room. While we relaxed on the couches and chairs and snacked on the food and drinks, we continued our discussion as the film played. As a first time silent movie viewer, this was a lot of fun. While I certainly enjoy most modern movies, this was something very unique and a treat to watch. Anyone who has the opportunity to attend this event, or any of the many to follow, will not be disappointed. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the Roaring 20s of Hollywood and experience a bit of the paranormal, surrounded by great friendly people, all wrapped up in a 130 year old hotel.”

Dustin Bones, who also attended, wrote: “I couldn’t say it any better than Michael Gindlesperger has. It truly was a magical evening on all accounts. From the brand new screening room to the intriguing discussions shared amongst party goers. William Desmond Taylor proved to be a fantastic theme and guest… But now you offer Max Schreck’s Nosferatu!!! Mark yr calendar for that one.”