The first week of June marked my (brief) return to my one-time home of Austin, Texas, where I was fortunate enough to visit the Alamo Drafthouse in its last month of operation at the current downtown location. On June 27, after the final screening (which includes a ratcheted wrench in the price of admission), patrons are encouraged to take their seats home with them—I’m so jealous.
This screening featured the return of Odorama, John Waters’ ingenious homage to Smell-O-Vision, in the form of a scratch and sniff card that audiences are encouraged to scratch at certain points in the movie, to enhance the viewing experience. The scents, in traditional John Waters fashion, are appropriately repulsive—for instance, farts, dirty sneakers, gasoline, and glue. The use of Odorama in Polyester is particularly fitting, as the protagonist, Francine Fishpaw, has an acute sense of smell, and is constantly sniffing about for evidence of her husband’s affairs, the presence of her wild teenage daughter Lulu’s unsavory boyfriend (played by Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys), and so on (this special skill of hers proves both an asset and a burden). Highlights include Francine’s son Dexter (known by the media as “The Baltimore Footstomper”) and Waters veteran Edith Massey as Cuddles Kovinsky, Francine’s best friend and former cleaning lady who has recently inherited a large sum of money. (She’s absolutely precious in her tennis outfit, complaining about all of the lowly commoners.)
The Odorama card was a tad bit disappointing, as most of the odors were pretty similar—I had intended to keep mine as a souvenir, but once all of its scents were released, it proved a little too stinky and ended up in the trash. Still, the evening was quite enjoyable, despite my soaking wet clothes (I had to dash from my car to the theater through a torrential downpour). 1950s heart throb Tab Hunter, one of the stars of Polyester, was in attendance, signing copies of his book and answering audience questions.
I now look forward to my next visit, when I get to visit the new Alamo downtown at the Ritz Theater, which has in the past been a vaudeville theater, a porn theater, a punk venue, and sports bar—despite the unfortunate 6th Street atmosphere (re: loud, obnoxious, drunk people), I’m excited to see the Ritz return to its movie palace roots.
There appears to be a Hollywood remake in the works, with Brad Pitt attached to the project. Sigh.