Why The Royale fucking rocks and you can, too!

ramblings

I love going to the movies. There’s something about the atmosphere- the popcorn, the dim lighting, the Coke products that flow like wine- that worms itself into my brain’s naughty bits and sets up shop. As my wife and I were sitting in the Harkins Theater on Saturday evening, sitting in our primo mid-center seats waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2.0 to start, I couldn’t help but compare the experience I’d had just the day before. The Royale

The Royale had its grand opening on Friday night, so I drove out there by my lonesome (Who needs friends? Fuck you, Michael!) to get my first taste of this place I’ve been anticipating for months. It’s very nondescript, sitting there across the street from Evermore Nevermore and the Nile Theater, like that serial killer who ends up being that neighbor of yours with the immaculate rose bushes. The first thing you see upon entering the building is the glassed in display cases in the front, which The Royale crew dolled up with movie posters on one side and cult classics-inspired paintings on the other side (including a pretty goddamned awesome Clockwork Orange canvas). The whole thing had an indescribable charm, like you were about to walk into someone’s house rather than someone’s business. It was obvious, even before walking through the door, that this place was loved.

That charm didn’t dissipate once inside the lobby, either. On the one side, you had the place where you buy tickets and snacks (soda in glass bottles and retro movie candy), and on the other you had retro arcade games. It was as if I stepped out of twenty-eleven and into nineteenfuckingawesome. Unfortunately for me, I had no quarters; I will not make that mistake twice. I wasn’t totally out of luck, though, as I waited for my movie to start. In the lobby, there’s a television that constantly plays VHS tapes. At the time, Star Wars was on, and, while that franchise isn’t my cup of tea, it was fitting. This place was like another world. I took advantage of the comfortable seating and waited for the movie to start.

There’s only one screen at The Royale, so you have to wait until your movie’s right about to start before you can go in. This sounds like a pain in the ass, but, I assure you, it is not. What better way to set the mood for the evening than seeing the happy, animated faces of the folks from the previous showing? I bought my Coke, cheesy popcorn, and m&ms and made my way into the theater, then plopped down and watched the place fill up.

The theater itself is something that needs to be experienced. It is an intimate area that really makes you feel like you’re sitting in the private viewing room of an eccentric millionaire. It’s comfortable, but minimalist at the same time. You’re there to see a movie and the theater seems to respect that. It is the kind of place that would be perfect for a grindhouse double feature, though, oddly enough, nothing in there was the slightest bit gross. My feet didn’t even stick to the floor, for crying out loud!

The first movie I watched was Trollhunter, a Norwegian horror/fantasy/adventure film that followed a film crew as they proved the existence of trolls. I highly recommend taking the time to see this one even if you can’t do it at The Royale. It’s fun and clever and there are a bunch of giant fucking trolls.

I stayed for a second movie that night- Army of Darkness. How could I not? It was the first time I was able to see it on the big screen and it was an experience. It was so much different than what I’m used to. Typically, I have to force people to watch the Evil Dead series with me (What can I say? People are fucktards.), but that night, I was in a theater packed full of people who wanted to watch it -again. They laughed at all the right parts, they knew all the lines. I found my people.

When the credits finally rolled and it was time to bid The Royale adieu, I felt good. Not because I wanted to leave, but because I was right about the place. I will always enjoy my trips to Harkins for the occasional blockbuster movie I have to see, but for a truly enjoyable experience, I have a new go-to venue.

Do yourself a favor. Take a trip to The Royale. Take a moment to let Andrea know how awesome it is. Then just sit back and enjoy the trolls…or 70s exploitation films…or killer clowns…or Robocop (August 26 @ 9pm).

Review: Scare-izona: A Guide to Arizona’s Legendary Haunts

book reviews

Scare-izona: A Guide to Arizona's Legendary HauntsScare-izona: A Guide to Arizona’s Legendary Haunts by Katie Mullaly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love haunted shit. Well, not really shit. Well, maybe. I’d have to encounter it to really be sure. Can you imagine being chased around the room by some haunted shit? Man, that’d be nuts. And gross. And kind of awesome. I’d totally watch that movie.

Places, I guess. I like haunted places. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s never difficult for me to repeat myself ad nauseam concerning topics I get kind of fucking thrilled about. And, right now, I’m kind of fucking thrilled.

Let’s see…

Jerome. The last time we were in Jerome, Arizona, we stayed at the Connor Hotel. My father-in-law was playing da blues downstairs in a bar beneath the hotel. My wife and I used his gig as an excuse to visit our favorite little ghost town. We’d stayed in the big, bad motherfucker (the Jerome Grand- perhaps the hauntedest building in the Southwest) before, so we weren’t too scared. I even harbored hopes that the Connor would allow us to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

While there, I was looking around the gift shop. I happened upon a DVD that detailed the ghostly happenings of the town. As I was buying it, I asked the woman at the desk if the Connor was featured on the DVD. She said she didn’t know, but stated rather definitively that there were no ghosts in the hotel. This, I knew, was bullshit. Why the fuck would I book the place if I didn’t first know that there were dead people roaming around? Did she take me for an idiot? As it happens, the Connor was featured on that DVD. So she was probably just being an asshole. But I digress…

Our night in the hotel was uneventful. I didn’t get that restful sleep I was looking for, but that was just because we were staying in a hotel. I just don’t sleep well away from home. There was something rather odd that happened, though. Allow me to explain.

Kristin and I decided to have some hot chocolate in our room. As I was mixing it (oh the horrors of packaged hot chocolate!), some spilled. I quickly and efficiently mopped up the spill with a towel from the bathroom. A white towel. I am sure the poor maid thought the room had been hit by that haunted shit we were talking about earlier.

Yep, that’s it. You didn’t expect me to go somewhere with that, did you?

So the folks who wrote this book? They visited at the Connor, too. And the Jerome Grand. And Big Nose Kate’s. Basically, they hit most every haunted place worth mentioning in my neck of the woods. Which is a rather daunting prospect considering that fact that this whole damned state seems to be haunted by miners and cowboys and shit. Heh. Shit again.

The book itself is very informative and well-written. It’s very engaging, not dry at all. It’s done in a conversational, he said/she said style which is quite satisfying. I like the way this group performs its investigations. They’re adamant about not knowing about the place they visit until after they’ve done their investigation. Which is cool. They also insist on (big shock) being sober during the investigation, unlike these people from another local ghosthunting group.

These folks also place a lot of stock in dreams had while staying in an allegedly haunted place, which was different. I hadn’t heard of anyone doing that before. It makes sense, though. It’s just one of the smarter things to be done. Trying to prove that ghosts exist is like trying to prove god exists- it just ain’t gonna happen. As such, sticking solely to scientific bullshit, such as video, audio, etc is probably a bad idea. These guys also do said bullshit, but they emphasize that these investigations are more for understand the world you live in rather than trying to prove anything to anyone else.

Great book. Probably the best I’ve read on the subject. I’m very much looking forward to their other two. And that haunted shit movie. That’s gonna be awesome.

View all my reviews