The Old Mill Multiplex was a combination of Kid Heaven and Yuppie Hell. There were eight theaters (a lot for that time) and an indoor-outdoor mall of sorts, with the best pizza parlor and video arcade and a number of freaky-boutique-y shops, such as the place that sold huge fiber optic “brush” lamps and ceramic fireplace cats with eyes that followed you. There was also a pool hall, which is where Paul headed after dropping us at the front of the theaters. We never checked out what flicks were playing or when, we’d just go down there and expect that something would be starting sometime soon.
“Look!” My friend John’s eyes were bugged out. “Evil Dead is here!” John was an avid horror film fan after surviving a trip to see Alien a few years back with only a few weeks of nightmares.
“We’ll never get in. Old Stony is on ticket duty.” said Bruce. ‘Old Stony’ was the hundred-year-old guy who ripped tickets and snarled “Teater tree, onyer left, teater shix, onyer right” at everyone passing through the turnstile and he was absolutely ruthless about the ratings and Evil Dead was rated R. We couldn’t even go and get Paul to buy us the tickets because Old Stony would kibosh the deal as soon as he got a load of David, who was 14 but looked about eleven. Not even my more-than-budding bosom was going to get us past Old Stony.
“But we HAVE to see Evil Dead!” wailed John, “It’s supposed to be awesome and super bloody!” David, who may have been short but was very sharp, said “Look, that dumb Disney thing is starting about the same time, we’ll just buy tickets to that and sneak into Evil Dead once we’re around the corner.” This idea had not occurred to any of us, probably because just saying the words “One ticket to (insert any Disney title)
We shuffled up to the turnstile and one at a time handed Old Stony our tickets and were each told “Teater two, onyer left, teater two, onyer left, teater two, onyer left, teater two, onyer left.” We got up to the candy counter and Bruce said “Oh crap, Evil Dead is in theater SIX, that’s on the right!”
David was unmoved by this fact. “Come ON, nobody’s gonna notice. You are SUCH a pussy!” Bruce’s mother was a teacher at the grade school and Bruce was the youngest of six, the other five of whom were girls.
“Check it out, it’s easy!” I had just noticed something pertinent. “The women’s bathroom is on the right. I’ll go in the bathroom, you guys hang out over there by Galaxian and once I come out, we’ll all just drift that way. Old Stony won’t even see us!” We had a plan. We needed Milk Duds. Bruce was chosen for Dud Duty while I went in the bathroom and cooled my heels for five long minutes. Bruce had our Duds and was headed for Galaxian, I wandered out looking aimless and feeling like grifters, we all went straight into Theater Six and hit up the middle row, parking David on a pile of sweaters so he’d appear taller just in case anyone decided to shine a flashlight around in there. The theater was filling up fast with couples on dates and groups of teenagers, the lights dimmed and we had done it! We were going to see Evil Dead!
Given that our previous horror-flick experience was limited to what played on Channel 8 late on Friday nights and John’s Amazing Alien Adventure, Evil Dead blew us away. We stumbled out of there weak-kneed with utter joy, both from the film and how we got in to see it.
I've been a horror-film junkie ever since.