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Grave Robbers Event 1

Event Recap: See It On 16mm & Trash Mex’s Grave Robbers Screening/Mexican Movie Poster Exhibition

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On September 2nd, The Frida hosted Michael Aguirre of See It on 16mm and Armando Hernandez of Trash-Mex for the US theatrical premiere of Rubén Galindo Jr.’s 1989 film, Ladrones de tumbas (Grave Robbers). The event was a smash hit, with over 160 people packing the theater to see the recent remaster of the B-movie, and it even caught the attention of the OC Register who wrote about the event prior to it taking place. While waiting to purchase tickets and concessions, guests were treated to a wide variety of Mexican music, everything from traditional ranchera sung by some of the most legendary voices of Mexican music to the pop/rock of artists like Luis Miguel, curated and played just outside the theater entrance by La Cosecha Internacional. They were also treated to the final day of an exhibition that displayed dozens of original Mexican movie posters and lobby cards from Mexican B-movies, all from the personal collection of Armando, who has dedicated over ten years of his life to writing about these forgotten films over at his blog, Trash-Mex.com. A handful of such cards for Blue Demon and Santo films dotted The Frida’s walls, reminding attendees of this lost aspect of moviegoing culture that has since become a niche market for collectors such as Armando. In passing, I spoke briefly with him about a well-known Mexican B-film, Federico Curiel’s Las momias de Guanajuato (The Mummies of Guanajuato), which has a cult following and legacy in the Mexican city in which it was filmed, where murals for the films populate the walls of buildings.

Once most everyone was able to shuffle into their seats, Michael and Armando stood at the stage at the front of the theater to introduce the movie. Their brief speech held a number of fascinating tidbits, such as how the two hosts and friends met a number of years ago at the famous WHAMMY! Analog Media. The pair also gave a large thanks to the crowd for coming out to support the event and how much it meant to them that so many people supported the preservation and distribution of Spanish-language and Mexican cinema. They also noted how important it was that such an event was taking place at The Frida, since the theater was once a Spanish-language theater in the historically Latino area of Calle Cuatro.

Once the lights went down, the audience was treated to a lineup of seven restored trailers for various Mexican B-movies, such as AR-15: Comando implacable and Los gatos de las Azoteas. Throughout the trailers and the film itself, the audience was extremely animated as they laughed at ridiculous moments and kept the atmosphere lively. On the way out, I was able to ask the two hosts, Michael and Armando, a few questions.

Armando Hernandez and Michael Aguirre, the event’s organizers.

Bobby:

So, I’m here with…

Michael:

Michael Aguirre.

Bobby:

Hello Michael. Thank you for coming here with this film because it was fascinating.

Michael:

Thank you for showing up. We were happy with the turnout and happy that it delivered for the audience, first of all, and this was the US theatrical premiere of this [film]. I was excited that it was a good turnout for this.

Bobby:

That’s a milestone, and there was a huge crowd. The seats were packed!

Michael:

Yeah, we had – I think – 167 tickets sold for the night and everybody enjoyed the poster exhibit and everything like that. Very happy with this.

Bobby:

Yeah, this was awesome. You know, the print looked amazing. I was wondering if you know anything about the history of the preservation of this.

Armando:

Digital Sprockets and then Vinegar Syndrome handled the coloring, I believe. So it was from Mexico, Digital Sprockets and then Vinegar Syndrome took over.

Bobby:

And it has a Blu-ray release, right? For the people who really enjoyed the movie.

Armando:

Yes, the Blu-ray came out two years ago, I believe, so it’s out there already.

Bobby:

I think it’s amazing that you two are here as friends collaborating and bringing this forgotten cinema back to theaters so people can watch it, because there are people who want to see it. There were people here tonight who wanted to see it.

Michael:

I was surprised how many people raised their hands because three-fourths of the theater had not seen this movie before.

Bobby:

Yeah, it’s an obscure one. And these vintage posters, I’m just in love with these. I’ve been looking at them for three weeks straight, and it’s just amazing. How did you start this collection?

Armando:

Whenever I couldn’t find a DVD or a VHS of the movie, I would come across a poster and be like, “Oh cool, I’ll just buy that, I guess,” and so I just accumulated it from there. And sometimes I would even buy lots, so the lots would have a lot of good stuff, so it would pile up.

Bobby:

Thank you guys so much for coming. I really appreciate it, and everyone here appreciates it because the community was out for it, and I love that you brought up the fact that this was a Spanish-language theater in a very Latino area, so it’s very important to the legacy.

Michael:

Absolutely. I was very happy with the support from the community and seeing everyone come out and want more afterwards too […] was the best part of it for me.

Bobby:

Are there any further screenings?

Michael:

We’re hoping, with the response and everything, that The Frida would love to have us back, maybe in October. If people can reach out to The Frida and demand it, that would be awesome.

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