Raleigh, N.C. — There is a theater in west Raleigh where Lee Van Cleef — the spaghetti western legend — is an A-list movie star. Where John Carpenter is a properly feted genius. Where slasher and blaxploitation films are the equal of film noir.
Mission Valley Cinema presented Van Cleef’s The Big Gundown (1966) and then a late night screening of Friday the 13th a few days later on Friday May 13 amid big studio releases like Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book and Money Monster. About 70 horror fans howled at the 1980 slasher classic — 95 minutes of blood, POV shots and Harry Manfredini’s screeching score.
“There’s just something about watching a movie late at night,” says Denver Hill, business manager for Ambassador Entertainment and curator of Mission Valley’s Late Night series. “It’s just different than during the middle of the day.”
The Late Night series is presented on the second and fourth Friday of every month, while the theater’s Cinema Overdrive series screens on the second Wednesday. Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) is set for this Friday at 11:30 p.m. Admission is $5.
The theater’s Late Night and Cinema Overdrive series are retro movie-watching — a pre-CGI refuge for cinephiles and fans of rough, tough drive-in movies from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The kind of place that the two private investigators in The Nice Guys might frequent.
“For most of us, it’s about seeing these movies for the first time on the big screen,” says Adam Hulin, who runs the Cinema Overdrive series. “They weren’t meant to be seen at home on TV. It’s just different.”
For more on the history and evolution of Late Night at Mission Valley, read this article on Raleigh & Co.