by Ellen Case
Blow-up swords waved through the air as sounds of the princess-inspired dance video echoed through the Alamo Drafthouse. Guests made their way to the seats, checking to make sure they were in the right place late Saturday afternoon. Waiters went from seat to seat, punching the waiting audience members’ drinks and food orders into their pads, taking cards and showing what special drinks were an option that day.
The guests made themselves comfortable as the next video played, a combination of the classic 1980s films “Legend” and “Willow.” The distinctive smell of popcorn wafted as more bowls came in. In the upper row, two customers started a play fight with the plastic swords. Then the lights came down and the trailers played.
A screen came up and the host came in. He waved his sword and welcomed the audience to the Alamo Drafthouse “The Princess Bride” Movie Party. He described to what to do with the props on the table. The swords were there to fight with friends whenever there was a fight on screen or when the famous line was uttered. The small bells were to be rung in the “mushy scenes” and when a character said “true love.” Finally, the tiny bottles of bubbles were to be blown at the happy ending.
For two attendees, it was their second time at the Princess Bride parties. It had become a Valentine’s Day tradition for them.
“The movie is fantastic from start to finish,” attendee Ryan Vermillion said. It was his girlfriend’s beloved childhood film.
Before the film started, the medieval garbed host called audience members to the front. He challenged them to a duel. The winner would receive a free movie as a prize. One of the dueling women started to quote the iconic lines from the film. Then the movie began.
Alamo Drafthouse movie parties started with the beginning of the theater chain 20 years ago. According to Alamo DFW event coordinator James Wallace, they were modeled on the Rocky Horror Picture Show event. The movie parties are chosen to fit with the theme for that month. For February, the movies were chosen on a romance theme for Valentine’s Day.
“The Princess Bride” and “Moulin Rouge” are some of the yearly staples put on by Alamo. According to Wallace, they are two of the greatest on-screen love stories of all time that many attendees have come to expect every year.
Alamo movie parties are designed with many staples in place. The theater chain’s infamous policy of no talking/texting brings many guests, but the parties also add a new flavor to the films through fun interactions.
Alamo’s rule was easily broken by the audience throughout the movie. The cinema was filled with the sound of ringing when Wesley and Buttercup embraced; the solid plastic thumb was heard with each epic fencing duel. One woman knew every line by heart and softy quoted her favorites. She yelled out with the rest of the theater as Inigo Montoya finally got revenge on the six-fingered man.
At the end of the movie, the lights came up and the audience filed out, leaving empty bubble bottles, tips and empty bowls behind, filled with the promise of love and adventure.