What A Spectacle: Inside Williamsburg’s Most-Williamsburg Movie Theater

I first heard of Spectacle Theater last week. Spectacle, a volunteer-run community theater in Williamsburg, operates in a single, grungy room, formerly occupied by a bodega. The movies are all a practically unheard of $5, so I decided why not? I headed to the Brooklyn to check out the tiny theater.

For three years now Spectacle, created by a group of friends who would rather remain anonymous according to the manager-figure at the door, has been acquiring unique films and screening them at this location. There are only 30 seats at the venue and almost every one of them was occupied for a screening of Hymns of the Golden Bat, a live-action Japanese film based on a 1960s anime TV show. Spectacle screens only one film a day and I—tragically—wasn’t able to make it to the showing of Satan’s Blood the night before.

The theater, which only has one room, is small and rustic-looking. The walls are intentionally painted badly, the lightning is weak, the seats are uncomfortably close to one another and the place smells of cheap beer—generic brand, of course—but this is the Spectacle experience.

But the highlight of the night was the audience. Tristan, a 25 year-old Brooklynite (Brooklyner?), was celebrating his birthday and brought his entourage to watch the film. One of his friends, a young filmmaker who sat next me, told one of her friends about a “sexy” movie she was making about “lesbian cat-burglars.” Another of Tristan’s friends was describing his job managing assets for a small video game company. They were all wearing jeans skinnier than mine. Happy Birthday, Tristan!

When the lights finally went out and everyone in the party was seated, the trailers came on. There was one about a guy whose eye falls out, and another about the 1918 German Revolution, and a couple more I’m sure I’d understand if I were artsier. I think I was ready for Golden Bat.

The movie is about a group of scientists who enlist the help of Golden Bat, a golden skeleton who can turn into a bat, and their attempt to stop a planet from crashing into and destroying Earth. It’s presented in black-and-white and is extremely low-budget — laughably so. The dialogue, with lines like “I will destroy you with my scepter of justice” is absurd in the most brilliant way—the same could be said for the whole film.

Still, what I enjoyed most, and what I assume Tristan’s posse also enjoyed most, was just being in a place that wholeheartedly embraces films of all kind. They might be ridiculous, cheap-looking and horribly dubbed—but watching it with a bunch of people who expect this is what makes Spectacle so great.

Spectacle is located at 124 S. 3rd Street, Brooklyn NY.
[Image 1 via, image 2 by author]

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