Adam Hulin, who programs the offbeat and eclectic Cinema Overdrive series at the Mission Valley Cinema, once owned a drive-in theater in the tiny town of Rule, Texas, where he would occasionally come up with unconventional pairings – like the time he played a Harry Potter film and Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” on the same double bill.
An Asheboro native and graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, Hulin is a filmmaker who shoots and edits industrial films. He’s been involved with local programming since the late ’90s, and started Cinema Overdrive in 2002, when it ran for a short period at Durham’s Starlite Drive-In. After his 2004-2008 sojourn in Texas, Hulin found a home for Cinema Overdrive at the Colony Theater, and when that venue closed last year, moved it to Mission Valley.
The films he shows are “underappreciated,” says Hulin, “but the desire to play these movies is because I wanted to see them on the big screen, and fortunately there are a lot of other people who want to see them.”
We asked Hulin to tell us more about Cinema Overdrive.
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Describe your series: A monthly series that is a collection of underseen, underappreciated and completely unknown films often classified as B movies, obscurities, underground films. The one criteria I use is audacity. We play everything from “In Cold Blood” to “Lady Terminator,” which is an Indonesian “Terminator” ripoff.
What’s your audience? It’s pretty eclectic, everyone from college kids to people in their 50s and 60s. We have a core group that will show up for pretty much anything. This is a very sophisticated audience, they have seen lots and lots of movies, they are basically cinephiles. They are interested in seeing something they haven’t seen, or are excited to watch it on the big screen.
Favorite films you’ve programmed: “The Telephone Book,” a 1971 New York-made sex comedy that’s very underground, very obscure. It’s a very subversive comedy that looks like a Warhol film from that era. I don’t think anyone in the audience had ever seen it before, and they loved it. We actually built up a word of mouth on that title, which I like a lot.
“The Visitor,” a 1979 Italian-made horror/sci-fi mashup, was released here in a 90-minute version and I found a version with an extra 25 minutes. If you took “The Omen,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Fury,” “The Birds” and “Close Encounters” and mixed it into one movie, this film ripped off all those movies. It’s this collection of amazing scenes that barely make any sense.
Films you wish you hadn’t programmed: I’ve been really lucky, playing these out-of-left-field things. A couple movies like “Cut-Throats Nine,” a Spanish movie, it was an outrageous Western, very divisive. It was very gory and graphic, some people did not have fun with it. “Possession,” (1981) it involves the worst marriage ever onscreen, it starts off on a bad note, and gets more and more bizarre. It’d dark and uncompromising, the movie is definitely not fun.
What are your “desert island” films? “2001: A Space Odyssey” – I’ve watched it dozens of times, I can always find a new wrinkle. “Persona” (1966, Swedish) – it’s one of the best experimental films of that period, trying to break down what narrative cinema is. “Two Lane Blacktop” – it’s an existentialist road movie, it’s a time capsule; if you want to know what the country looked like circa 1970, “Two Lane Blacktop” is a good way to see it. These are movies I saw as a teenager, and that made a big difference.
Cinema Overdrive runs the second Wednesday of every month at the Mission Valley Cinema in Raleigh.
Screening March 9 will be the 1971 film “Billy Jack.”
Info: 919-834-2233 or visit ambassadorcinemas.com and click “Features.”