If you thought Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving, when deal-crazed shoppers drop elbows and bare teeth in a clamor for discounted merchandise - was undesirable, Chandler Cinemas is offering something just as scary.
The independent movie house kicks off its own Black Friday events this week, hoping to lure patrons with a dark and freaky menagerie of musicians, artists, performers, merchants and movies.
"It's kind of like Phoenix's First Fridays, but with a bizarre bend to it," says Chris McLennan, co-owner of Trash City Entertainment, the local talent and promotional agency that's organizing the events.
This week's Black Friday begins at 6 p.m. in the theater's courtyard and lobby, where visitors will find a tarot card reader, a display of roadkill taxidermy, a pin-up art show, a tattoo artist, a belly dancer, several bands and street performers. One particularly gruesome draw is "The Cut Throat Freak Show."
"He (performer Jeremy Kinison) is really, really, severely freaky," says McLennan. "He eats light bulbs and jumps on glass with his bare feet and puts hooks in his eyeballs. He's literally a walking freak show who's been on all kinds of TV shows but happens to live right here in the Valley."
Also on the card are three special Black Friday movie screenings. Each month, a costumed "shadow cast" will perform live stage spoofs of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Repo! The Genetic Opera" while the movies play in the background. They'll involve the audience with bits like the customary "hazing of virgins" - first-timers who have never seen "Rocky Horror." Black Fridays will also feature the theatrical premiere of a different Brain Damage film each month. The Tempe film company deals in horror, goth and shock titles. This week's movie is "Death of a Ghosthunter."
Black Fridays are planned for every second Friday of each month indefinitely. Black Friday festivities are free to check out, but tickets to Black Friday movies will range from about $5-$8 each. Other movies showing in the theater cost $2 each.
"We're really hoping this will become a community event. The shopping center where the theater is located is pretty empty; there are almost no stores left, and the theater has been struggling. It's one of the only places in the Valley to see really independent stuff. We just want to get people out there and bring the neighborhood back to life," says McLennan.
Chandler Cinemas is known for showing weird, gory, so-bad-they're-good indie movies and cult classics, as well as some newer, more mainstream releases. Though dated and verging on shabby, the movie house garners high marks from patrons on online review sites like Yelp.com for low ticket prices, interactive programming, rare and throwback titles, and a fun atmosphere with lounge areas, arcade games and pool tables.