The Great Horror Campout originated in 2012 as an interactive, overnight horror adventure, where attendees are immersed in a real-life horror experience, complete with nightlong games and strategy-based scavenger hunts. Since then, the event has grown in popularity, and this year they’ve introduced a series of outdoor screenings in preparation for The Great Horror Campout.
Outdoor screenings seem to have become a staple of Los Angeles life in the spring and summer months. Being able to watch The Exorcist as part of this tradition, put on by Ten Thirty One Productions (the same company that puts on the Great Horror Campout) seemed to be the perfect way to kick-off the warmer months ahead. So, I packed up my blankets, and headed down to Griffith Park.
There are so many good things about outdoor screenings, especially in the case of those organized by Ten Thirty One. Being able to watch a beloved film under the stars is clearly a win. But, TTO puts a lot of heart into their screenings. They have monsters (they’re pretty nondescript- a general werewolf, demon, creepy doll mask, etc…) roaming around before the film, but also during. Every once in a while you could hear a shriek coming from somewhere in the audience, a situation unique to Great Horror Campout film events.
Before the film started, there were a number of activities: they had someone from the audience perform an exorcism, we played Headmaster Says (the Headmaster is the host of The Great Horror Campout, who also hosts GHC movie nights), and watched some video clips from previous years of The Great Horror Campout. While I appreciated their efforts in organizing the pre-show entertainment, it seemed like they were stalling due to technical issues, and everything felt really drawn-out and forced.
Once the film started, I noticed that there was a bold white line running horizontally through the center of the screen. I was so disappointed. However, you have to go into an outdoor screening like this not expecting a 35mm print projected onto a pristine screen, but with the expectation of a mediocre digital projection onto a giant inflatable screen that probably has some damage that isn’t controllable. Yet, I was still disappointed.
The worst part about the entire event was the crowd, which clearly cannot be controlled by Ten Thirty One or anyone involved with putting the screening together. Throughout the entire film, people were texting and scrolling through their social media pages, using bright flashes to take photos on their phones, and walking in front of the projector. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but what the heck? I thought people attended these events to actually watch a film, especially one as legendary and brilliant as director William Friedkin’s ’73 classic.
Overall, despite the glaring technical issues and horrible crowd, I still had fun. Why? Because this event is clearly put on by a group of people that appreciate the genre and want to share it in a fun, interactive way. Plus, I got to watch The Exorcist under the stars. How cool is that?
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