Posts Tagged ‘Alamo Drafthouse’

Modesto Murders: Spooky Hitchcockian Twists?


Ghost of Hitchcock Haunts N. Calif. Crime Scene?

By Glenn Lovell

You need look no further than this week’s grisly headlines – “Five Dead in Calif. Home,” “Man Arrested for Killing Lover, Their Child, Three Others” — to be reminded of what Alfred Hitchcock never tired of saying: Evil resides where yBatesou least expect it; it bubbles forth from the seemingly normal … everyday. It’s as American as pie a la mode — and tract-house suburbia.

This is certainly the case in Hitch’s sinister “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Psycho,” both set in northern California. “Shadow of a Doubt,” about an avuncular serial killer, takes place in Santa Rosa; the rundown Bates Motel in “Psycho” is located on a lonely stretch of highway leading to the fictitious Fairvale, situated (if you follow the film’s markers) somewhere outside Fresno.

This week’s mass killing, the latest in an alarming increase in multiple homicides, took place in an innocuous, beige-and-white two-story home in Modesto, 90-some miles north of where the Bates Motel and mansion would be located. Santa Rosa is a bit farther: depending on the traffic, maybe a 2 ½-hour drive.


Martinez and crime scene

Obviously the killers’ M.O.s. and their crime scenes are very different. And yet, the mother-fixated Norman Bates, and the alleged Modesto killer, Martin Martinez, share spooky similarities. Both are 30ish, dark-complexioned, disarmingly boyish. Also like Bates, Martinez is suspected of matricide, which, according to the psychiatrist in “Psycho,” is the “most unbearable crime of all.” Besides Martinez’s physician girlfriend and their six-month-old daughter, the Modesto victims included the the girlfriend’s six-year-old daughter … and Martinez’s mother.

In a macabre twist worthy of a Hitchcock thriller, Martinez was arrested in his hometown of San Jose, exiting a mall theater. He was with his father. No word on whether they saw “Ant-Man” or a horror film titled “The Gallows.”

When told of Martinez’s arrest, his Uncle Ernie recalled a “kind, good-hearted person,” adding, “He didn’t even have a parking ticket.”

Sound familiar? It should. The jailed Bates, finally eclipsed by Mother’s personality, coos in voice-over, “Why she wouldn’t even harm a fly.”

Memo to AMC: Block Phones!


Memo to AMC Theater Management:

Hey, guys, thanks for those new cell phone PSAs ‒ the ones using the Muppets and those cute flying apps.

They’re funny and creative. I love seeing Fozzie Bear talking on a banana as Miss Piggy shushes him.

One problem: The spots are next to useless.

After sitting through “Footloose” at one of your San Jose houses and watching cell phones pop on one after another like Christmas lights, I’d go further ‒ your new spots are not only useless, they encourage cell phone use during the movie by making a joke of the practice.

Cell Phones: No Laughing Matter

The thinking now among repeat offenders: If management thinks it’s funny, it’s obviously no big deal.

In other words, you’re contributing to a problem that’s grown to epidemic proportions and caused a noticeable drop in movie attendance.

What you should be doing is taking a tougher, less conciliatory stance, like the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin. Management there lays it out, plain and simple: “If you talk or text during a movie, we kick you out.”

And they do, as an angry voicemail — turned into a hilarious Drafthouse PSA — attests.

Why don’t you follow suit? I’ll tell you why. You’re afraid of offending your worst customers and losing their business. You’ve capitulated by accepting cell phones as a minor nuisance.

Worse, you’re in bed with the cell phone companies. That Kermit and Miss Piggy PSA, besides being a promo for Disney’s new Muppet movie, is brought to us by Sprint, the very folks who profit from cell phone use in theaters.

You need to get control of this problem. Fast. A while back the National Association of Theater Owners petitioned the FCC to follow France’s lead and block cell phone reception in theaters. That effort went nowhere as NATO yielded to pressure from special interest groups. Their tired argument: We need our cell phones with us at all times, in case of an emergency. Phone jammers, they also protested, infringe upon our First Amendment right to act like jerks in public.

If you want to do something worthwhile, AMC, scrub the lip-service PSAs and make your theaters no-reception zones. Sure, you’ll lose some customers. But you’ll win back better ones.