Screamfest was a Suckfest

Last night Caryn and I closed the gallery a little eary and rushed home to meet Michael #1 in hopes of beating traffic on our way to Screamfest. As she mentioned the other day we had prepurchased tickets to the back to back showings of Land of the Dead: The Directors Cut and a new zombie flick called Severed. The films were showing at Universal City walk at 7PM and we were heading out from Culver City at rush hour so we were planning the route all day – and looking forward to the night for almost a month since we found out about the showing. Additionally since the theaters there don’t have reserved seating like my beloved Arclight we wanted to get there in time to get decent seats. That’s where things started going downhill.

We parked around 6:00 and went directly to the box office with our printed out receipts and was told that we had to go take those inside to the customer service desk where they would give me tickets. Let point out here that tickets were $12.50 a person, per movie, so I had $75 worth of tickets to pick up. We go inside the front door to find a rope and a ticket taker who won’t let us get past him without a ticket, of course the customer service desk is past him. He says we have to go back to the Box office. We do. They deny us again. At this point we’re noticing other people with printed out receipts scratching their heads having the same problem as us. We go back to the ticket taker who was luckily talking with a manager who says “We don’t have anything to do with Screamfest, and the people who set it up aren’t here so we can’t let you in. Come back later and there will probably be someone around then.” That’s not good enough for me so I ask for a time to come back because I don’t want to miss the film and am told “6:30 should be fine”, I point out that it’s 6:25 right now and the manager says… “oh.”

He says he’ll see what he can find out and takes off. We then see another manager and plead our case to her, she also says no one is around but the movie is starting at 7PM and if no Screamfest people are there by 7 she will let us in. I notice that on my printed receipt there is a number for one of the organizers that is to be called if there’s any questions or concerns about the event. I call, it’s disconnected. Great. We keep waiting.

And waiting…

Just before 7 the Screamfest people show up. Lots of hustling and mix ups and craziness and we finally get out tickets and head to the theater. Since we were one of the first 25 people there we get a free DVD of Land of the Dead: The Directors Cut which is pretty cool. Did I say first 25 people? I meant only 25 people. Anyway, we find seats and are excited when the first trailer is for a Land of the Dead XBox game. Caryn and I decide we must own an XBox just to play this game. The trailers end and rather than the movie starting, the main menu of the DVD shows up on the screen. So I guess we’re watching the DVD. Which doesn’t fit on the projected screen. And no one is pressing play. So the menu loop is just looping. for about 5 minutes. Finally someone hits play and the movie starts, it’s about 7:20 at this point.

As a bonus we don’t just get the movie opening credits, we get subtitles too! The movie starts to play and there’s no vocal track. Background sounds yes, no people talking. This goes on for 10 minutes or so before they finally stop it and bring back up the house lights. Someone apologizes and says they are working on it. Lights go down and the movie starts again, from the beginning, with subtitles. This time the subtitles are in spanish. And there’s still no vocal track. There’s obviously people in the projector room messing with something but nothing is working. Light come back up, then go dark and it starts from the beginning again, with the same problems. It’s now almost 8PM and the next movie is supposed to start at 9:30 so we’re wondering how they are going to deal with this. After the fourth false start they give up and say we will all get refunds and they are sorry but they don’t know what the hell is wrong. I hear someone with a Screamfest badge say something about “they must have given us one of those boxes of messed up promo DVDs or something” – I look and yep, the free DVD we were handed on the way in is promo stamped. Fun! He then goes on to say that “with all these different formats and versions today there’s no way to know what will work and what won’t, so what can people expect?” What can people expect? I paid $75 I expect someone to spend 10 seconds and make sure the movie actually plays PRIOR to me sitting there waiting to see it!

The manager and the Screamfest guy tell everyone to head out to the box office where we will get refunds. The whole theater piles out. Things start getting really cool here because no one bothered to tell the kids at the box office they were to refund anyone so they are refusing and telling people to step to the side so they can deal with the next customer, completely ignorant to the fact that the next customer was also there for Screamfest and wants their money back. We demand the manager. He shows up and starts apologizing and handing out refunds. I give him my receipts and he hands be a refund receipt… for $22 bucks. Hold your fucking horses. I point out that I paid $75 for 6 tickets so $22 doesn’t quite cut it. He looks and says “Oh! You bought tickets from Screamfest directly not from us, I can’t give you anything back” and rips up the $22 credit. He says I have to take it up with the Screamfest people directly because he and the theater have nothing to do with it.

By this point Caryn has taken off and is standing far across the courtyard because she’s so pissed/disappointed and I’m not taking kindly to this new info. But a guy from Screamfest shows up and apologizes and swears they will be refunding my money first thing this morning and I will get an e-mail to confirm that. He also goes on to apologize about the movie saying “They refused to give us a print and we’d already sold tickets so we were lucky the DVD came out on Tuesday…” UM… is that even legal?? I’m pretty sure it isn’t. This goes on for a while and it’s finally clear that there is no way I’m getting anything back tonight and my best chance is to hope they actually refund my money in the morning. As we’re about the leave the guy comes out and says “We started Severed early and it works fine so you are welcome to stay for the rest of that and watch it for free. “It’s already started?” I ask. “Yep, it’s been playing for about 20 minutes so you can go right in and catch more than the last half of it!” No thanks. We bolt.

And, just because I know you want to know… I haven’t gotten a refund yet. I’ve finally gotten a refund on all the tickets.

10 thoughts on “Screamfest was a Suckfest”

  1. Yeah, what Sean said…… The good news, I watched the DVD when I got home and it was great!

    Hey Sean, where is my $12.50. Don’t try any of that sending me to sixspace to get a refund and then Caryn will send me to your house and then I’ll get sent back to sixspace and then the dogs will tell me to meet them at the dogpark type B*LLSH*T

  2. Holy suck. That’s like one of my worst nightmares. These are the sorts of things that keep me from trying to go out in public too much.

  3. I like how Sean said “we” decided about the Xbox – as if he didn’t immediately just decree it himself. Hilarious.

    Honestly, the whole ordeal was so upsetting that I couldn’t even read this post. I am a HUGE horror fan, even bigger zombie fan, and to find something like Screamfest just seemed so perfect. So, I’ve decided I need to team up with House of Monsters (Chicago), Rob Zombie (anyone have a contact?), and the Arclight to do a real, and professional, horror film fest. Any takers??

  4. screamfest sounds like something yoda set up to make you both patient zen jedimasters. sorry to hear.

    i would heartily recommend the shock-o-rama a go-go fest, if they are still doing it…and i think they are. i went to this thing in 2002 and it was freaktastic. 72 hours of weirdness, b films, disgusting films, director Q&As, punk bands and oddball characters. BYOB and come and go as you please.

  5. IF they had gotten the proper permissions, then they could publicly exhibit the DVD, however, I really really doubt they had all the requireds out of the way. The movie theater could also be exposing itself to some legal liability for allowing the illegal exhibition of the DVD, but from their behavior that was related in the post, it sounds like their (sure to be a losing) defense would be “You have to blame those Screamfest guys, we’ve got nothing to do with it”

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