Is there anything worse than Fourth of July weekend? Yes, we love cookouts and days off and fireworks as much as anybody, but boy does it come with some serious side effects. The Fourth this year is on a Tuesday, so plebeians like us have to schlupp to work on Monday and then get a Tuesday off, completely fucking up the schedule that week. Secondly, traffic is a nightmare, with all of the street closures in every part of the city. Thirdly, the Fourth is the reason we’re not getting a new episode of Twin Peaks this week, and if you watched the last installment, you know why a two-week break might be the worst possible thing to happen right now. And finally, the beaches. The crowded, miserable beaches.
Luckily for all of us malcontents, the Brattle’s serving up a platter of amazing aquatic horror for your enjoyment this Fourth of July weekend in a series called “Just When You Thought it was Safe to Go Back in the Water!” so that you can enjoy all of the fun of the beach without having to get a sunburn or, you know, get eaten by a goddamn shark.
First up is a trip to Camp Crystal Lake, where the weather’s hot, Jason Voorhees is unkillable, and the sweaty terror’s palpable in 1984’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which is actually the fourth installment of the franchise, but hey, who’s counting? This movie features the best aquatic kills in the slasher series (and no, we won’t hear arguments for that one awful kill in the 2009 remake), and some spectacularly campy work from a young Crispin Glover, who was a year away from being scared beating the hell out of Biff Tannen and winning the heart of Lea Thompson in Back to the Future. That’s showing on Friday (June 30), and it’s sure to be a hoot to see on the big screen with a solid crowd.
Second is the 1981 camp buried treasure Blood Beach, which basically came about by a coked-up producer saying “Hey, you know how everybody was scared to go into the water after all those aquatic horror movies? How about instead of marine life making everybody scared to swim, they’re all gettin’ killed by a monster in the sand? Ain’t that grand, guys? Ain’t it?” And funding was found, and the movie made. It’s most definitely the least likely out of the bunch to screen in the area again, so if you’re interested in bloodless horror, blurry cinematography and weird-ass monster designs, you should totally see it, or at least that’s what the Wikipedia page tells us.
Next, they’re showing master director Joe Dante’s first major solo feature, Piranha, which you might know from that Pretty Decent remake they put out seven years ago, back when Adam Scott needed schlock work in order to make his mortgage payments. If you’re a fan of Dante’s work, you already know that he’s the shit, and this tale about genetically-altered piranhas causing all sorts of chaos at a resort town is no exception. It’s an intentional parody of the film next up in the Brattle series, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which nearly caused Universal to sue producer Roger Corman for an injunction against the film’s release. Also, did we mention that it’s written by John Sayles? Though known for his own indie directing work later on in the century, Sayles made a name for himself by writing impressively funny scripts for campy Jaws riffs (his screenplay for Alligator being one of our all-time favorites), and this is probably his best known and most-beloved out of all of them.
Finally, we hit the aforementioned Jaws, which needs an introduction about as much as Aly Raisman needs a pervy comment about her legs from Marcel Dionne, which is to say that it needs no introduction at all. You should totally see this on the Fourth (it’s playing the day before, too), at the daytime screening, which is just perfect scheduling and is sure to attract a great crowd. Sneak in a six-pack of ‘Gansett and, if you’re really ballsy, some crab legs.
‘JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER!’ :: Friday, June 30 through Tuesday, July 4 at The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St. in Cambridge, MA :: Various times, all ages, $11 per show :: Brattle event page