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IN this day and age of Netflix and illegal downloading, it may come as a surprise that people are still willing to pay to watch a movie - especially one that isn't a latest release. But judging by the reception The Projector received since it opened about a year ago, there is an audience for quality films no matter how old or freely available they are.
"I would say that there are still people who treat movie-going as an occasion despite the accessibility of various films online," notes Jerome Chee, who handles The Projector's Marketing and Outreach, "We merely try to provide an alternative experience from the commercial theatres - providing beanbags, special treats, and overall good vibes - and I think people appreciate that."
Located at Golden Mile Tower where the historic Golden Theatre used to be, The Projector is Singapore's first alternative cinema and its offbeat programming means it screens foreign arthouse, classics, cult favourites and just about everything else in between that isn't playing at a multiplex.
For the upcoming Halloween season, it has put together a line-up of horror films that will do more than make its audience jump out of their seats. "I wanted the selection to be unconventional and also provide a variety," explains assistant programmer, Viknesh Kobinathan. "Horror on film has many different forms of expression and we wanted to celebrate that; so each film was selected for its unique qualities."
Among them is The Devil's Backbone (2002), an early Guillermo del Toro film that mixes thriller, horror, romance and comedy. "Hopefully, those who are watching or intending to watch (del Toro's latest Hollywood blockbuster Crimson Peak, which opens this week) might be intrigued to catch this early gem by the same director," says Mr Kobinathan.
Also in the line-up are two iconic slasher flicks - Scream (1996), which satirised the genre's cliches; and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Tobe Hooper's original which went on to spawn many imitators.
More recent films making a comeback on the big screen for those who missed it first time round include the erotic arthouse sci-fi thriller Under the Skin (2014), starring Scarlett Johansson as a man-eating alien; and The Conjuring (2013), James Wan's low-budget haunted house scarefest which smashed box offices worldwide.
Rounding up the Halloween specials are The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), a campy musical that was banned in Singapore for almost three decades; and The Corpse Bride (2005), Mike Johnson and Tim Burton's family-friendly stop-motion hit.
"The chance to programme something for our audiences to experience a genre like horror in all these different facets is something that we feel could be quite special, especially since (Halloween only) happens once a year... (and it's) a celebration that has been really picking up among Singaporeans in the past decade or so," says Mr Kobinathan.
The themed screenings are also in line with two new regular series The Projector has rolled out - a weekly one called The Kids Are Alright, where family-friendly films are screened on weekend afternoons; and Freaky Fridays, where a midnight screening of a cult horror film is held on the first Friday of the month.
Since April, admission for screenings of classic and cult films has been by donation and the same will apply for the upcoming Halloween specials. "The idea is exposet as many people to these good films as possible - you don't usually think twice when it is pay-as-you-please," explains Mr Chee. "It has been doing OK so far - there are those who have been generous and supportive and there are also cheapskates - so it balances out for now!"
He adds that the lean team of five behind The Projector does everything from "excavating clumps of hair from toilet pipes to marketing, accounting, selling tickets, and even being the occasional punching bag" so he considers it a miracle everybody has managed to stay sane and things have been sustainable for the most part.
"We're just happy and privileged to be able to provide an avenue for not just good and enjoyable films, but many other creative projects as well... (but the challenge is) finding that balance between paying the bills and keeping that dream alive," he says.
The Projector's October Halloween Special takes place from Oct 27.
For more information, go to theprojector.sg
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