random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Monday, February 25, 2008

National Lampoon's Animal House 30 year Reunion screening!

Animal House Reunion lobby banner

I was reading the Friday newspaper yesterday and I came across an local event taking place this weekend that I realized I just had to experience. No, it had nothing to do with the Oscars but it did have to do with the movies. It was a cast reunion and screening of "National Lampoon's Animal House", the classic comedy film from 1978. I had never seen it in a theater, I think my first time seeing the film was on Betamax with my father and cousin. they loved that movie to the point of memorization. So, I thought it'd be cool to see the movie that introduced me to characters like Otter, Boon, Neidermeyer, D-Day and of course John Belushi as John 'Bluto' Blutarsky.
Stephen Furst and Mark Metcalf sign for fans

Karen Allen arrives!

Karen Allen signing: 02-23-08

Karen and ME: 02-23-08

Karen Allen signing for fans

For those of you unfamilar with the film, it's basically a college party film that takes place in 1962. It's about a misfit group of Delta House fraternity boys who take on the system at their Faber College. The movie was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Christopher Miller and Harold RamisAlpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth College, Ramis's experiences in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, and published in National Lampoon magazine. It was directed by John Landis.

The film starred: Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, Tom Hulce, Belushi, James Widdoes, Stephen Furst, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Mark Metcalf, Martha Smith, and introduced moviegoers to Kevin Bacon and Karen Allen. And that's why I just had to attend this event today! I just had to meet Karen Allen in person. Why? Because the next big movie she was in after this one happens to be one of my all-time favorite "Raiders of the Lost Ark"! There's no way I could pass up meeting Marion Ravenwood in person! She and five other cast members: Peter Riegert, Stephen Furst, Mark Metcalf, Martha Smith and Otis Day were gonna be at the Hollywood Blvd. movie theater in Woodridge, IL (a suburb of Chicago) all weekend. Before the screening of the film, they would appear for signings in the lobby and then for a Q&A in the actual theater.

My friend Mike and I went to the 4pm showing that cost only $6.00. Pretty nice. The actors showed up around 3pm to a packed house for their for signing. all I cared about was meeting Karen Allen. She was the last to arrive and let me tell you that her smile is even more wonderful in person. There were three photos to choose from for her to sign on the table in front of her. each signature cost $20 (that's for any of the actors! Sheesh!) but Allen is well-worth it to me. I had her sign a photo of her as Marion from "Raiders" and she singed it "To David, All the Best, Karen Allen" which made me gush.

As she signed, I told her I really enjoyed a movie she was in back in 1993 called "King of the Hill" a little-seen film directed by Steven Soderbergh. She stopped writing and her eyes lit up as she shared that that was one of the favorites as well. Mike took some pics of her at the table (as did I) and she was kind enough to agree to have one taken with me. I'm blurry but who cares....it's Karen Allen. She doesn't look 54 at all! As I left, I thanked her and told her I was looking forward to May 22nd!

This theater is kinda original in that it is one of the few that serve food and alcohol in both the lobby and in the theater. Inside the theater, there are office lounge chairs positioned in rows in front of long bar-like tables, some also suround round tables. Servers come by before the film starts to take your order from a menu that has just about any kind of food or drink imaginable. We sat down in the second row with a bucket of beer while we awaited the Q&A. The theatre was very decorative (a lil too gaudy but that's the look they're going for I suppose) and had vintage movie posters all over the walls.

The Jungle Trap Angels with Dirty Faces

Dark Passage

The Phantom of the Opera

Once the actors arrived, they sat down in chairs below the screen and answered audience questions. They started out with all of them going around answering the host's question. He asks them all what their favorite line from the movie is. Karen Allen stated hers was, "I think I'm in love with a retard." All of them seemed happy to be up there for the Q&A, they seemed to be enjoying themselves with Riegert and Furst being the funniest. As they closed, the Q&A, the host had all of them go around and tell us what they were currently working on. Mark Metcalf (Neidermeyer) runs a restaurant called Libby Montana's near Milwaukee, WI. Stephen Furst (Flounder) is producing a film based on a Jodi Piccoult novel starring Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin and Abigail Breslin. Martha Smith listed off some forgettable direct-to-DVD film she was in recently. Karen Allen mentioned her own textile company called Karen Allen Fiber Arts and of course she mentioned her reprising role as Marion in the new Indiana Jones movie (for which they crowd cheered). Peter Riegert stated he was in between jobs and had directed a film not too long ago. And Otis Day said he is still touring and he has a film coming out called "Otis Day and the Nights: Band on the Run".

Karen Allen takes the stage

Karen Allen is the first to take the stage!

The cast of Animal House

The cast is seated for the Q&A (from left to right: Mark Metcalf, Stephen Furst, Martha Smith, Karen Allen, Peter Riegert, and Otis Day)

Are those pledge pins?

Metcalf gets help from Furst re-enacting

his favorite line from the film, "Are those pledge pins?!?!"

Allen & Riegert 4

Allen & Riegert 3

Allen & Riegert 2

Allen & Riegert

Reunion cast of Animal house

martha Smith & Karen Allen

Mark Metcalfe & Stephen Furst

Neidermeyer and Flounder together again!

The crowd at the Hollywood Blvd. Theatre

After the Q&A was over, it was time for the cast to leave for the theater next door for another panel and screening. I clapped with everyone else and watched as that Karen Allen smile walked right past me, knowing that the next time I see her she'll be with Indiana Jones. Sigh. So, we watched "Animal House" which was fun to watch in an evironment where everyone knew it by heart and were singing and shouting out lines. Overall, it was just a very cool experience to watch a movie 30 years-old right after seeing some of the cast. I was totally geeked to meet Karen Allen....can ya tell?

Holding an Autographed Karen Allen







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