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Best Cult Movie Night: Weird Elephant

Writer's pick: Best of Tacoma 2018

Dudeists gather for The Big Lebowski’s 20th anniversary at Weird Elephant. Photo credit: Weird Elephant

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Movie nerds are a strange bunch; while they will always turn out in support of unabashedly good films, there is a pocket of moviegoers that find themselves drawn to films that are offbeat, grotesque, inscrutable, wholly unique, and sometimes stunningly bad. This affection for cult films was, to a certain generation, likely ignited due to shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000. While obscure oddities are now more readily available than ever, thanks to an abundance of screening services and a renewed investment being made to preserve works that otherwise would be lost to time, there's still nothing like seeing these movies on the big screen. For those movie nerds, Weird Elephant is here for you.

The cult movie series began its life at the Grand Cinema as a monthly event, just a couple years back, with an eye toward mostly screening new genre fare that wouldn't quite play so well during daylight hours. Since then, it's expanded to weekly showings, presenting classics of the cult film canon, as well as newer entries.

"It became a bit frustrating, because when you run a series monthly, you just don't get to play as many movies as you'd like to," says Wade Neal, assistant executive director of operations and festivals for the Grand Cinema. "There's an enormous catalogue of cult, horror, sci-fi, and weird stuff in general that you can program from. When we went weekly, it opened up the palette to quench the thirst of the throngs of cult movie-loving people in Tacoma. People can always look to each other, on Saturday nights, and say, ‘What's going on at Weird Elephant tonight?'"

With Weird Elephant now showing movies weekly, there becomes a lot more room to play around with themed runs (like showing Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Pink Flamingos in celebration of Pride Month) and capitalizing on milestones (like showing The Big Lebowski to honor its 20th anniversary). There's also a greater opportunity to bring legendary works to town, as Weird Elephant did by showing Alejandro Jodorowsky's singularly insane The Holy Mountain, which Neal believes was the first time the movie's ever played in Tacoma. Now in a comfortable groove, Weird Elephant is introducing its own MST3K-style movie-riffing event, called The Filmtastic Four, Aug. 25, with local improvisers making fun of Point Break.

WEIRD ELEPHANT, 11 p.m., Saturday, The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $6-$10.50, 253.593.4474,

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