Tuesday, September 11, 2012

“40 Before 40” checklist -- No.4 -- Watch a movie in the Hollywood Cemetery


On my 39th birthday, I made a list of "40 things to do before turning 40." Each time I check an item off the list, I'll write about it here. This is item No. 4, watching a movie at the Hollywood Cemetery.


--by Josh Suchon


Watching a movie in the Hollywood Cemetery is similar to attending a football game. It’s more than a game (or movie). The movie is almost an after-thought. This is an (almost) all-night event, similar to tailgating. Except you’re not in a car and there’s definitely no BBQing. This is picnicking around the dead.

I felt right at home.

Thanks to my friends Emilie and Tyler, I was invited to join them last Saturday to see the Woody Allen movie “Manhattan” projected against a big white wall, surrounded by a bunch of really expensive tombstones and caskets.

Emilie and Tyler made sure we got there early. Very early. The movie started at 8 pm. The gates opened at 6:30 pm. Emilie and Tyler were there about 4:30 pm, making sure we were near the front of the line. I got there around 5:30 pm.

What do you do for an hour? Duhh. You drink. And eat. And play games. We had no shortage of any of these items. I did learn that certain games are better than others. The hosts made it clear they prefer games that involve “yelling out the answers.”


Don’t unpack all your food right away. Save the bigger items for when you get inside the cemetery. Start with the finger foods that are easy to put away because, all of a sudden, everybody suddenly stands-up and heads into the cemetery. You don’t want to be putting away your food as others trample past you.

Once you walk inside the gates, you want to mark your turf. As the seasoned professionals they are, Emilie and Tyler had blankets to spread out on the grass. You’re not supposed to bring those tall beach chairs. That makes it tough for the people behind you to see. You want the chairs where you barely sit above the ground. Or just lay on your blanket with a pillow.

To our left, we saw a guy bring the hugest pillow/bed hybrid ever. It looked very comfortable. It looked so comfortable, in fact, I can’t imagine how he stayed awake through the movie. Turns out, most people end up falling asleep. Maybe it’s the wine. Maybe it’s because you get sick of hearing Woody Allen’s whiny voice.

Hollywood CemeterySince the movies are all classics, it’s not always a typical movie-watching crowd. On this night, people were pretty quiet (or asleep). I’m told that when they showed "Purple Rain" recently, it turned into an outdoor karaoke concert, with people singing along and dancing to Prince’s songs.

Bringing a lantern is a good idea too. After the sunset, you can’t see much. It’s pretty much pitch black. The most amusing part of the evening is watching somebody go to the bathroom, and then struggle to remember where their group is located. 

The amusement stops when they eat your food, trip over your feet, or block your view for more than a few minutes. The lantern is a good landmark to find your friends, and to make sure you don’t forget anything afterward. 

Tickets are a $10 donation. Buy them in advance online.

Parking is $15 at the cemetery (starting at 6:30). Other nearby lots charge about the same. We lucked out and found a free spot in the neighborhood.

Only two shows remain this summer – True Romance on Sept. 15, and The Exorcist on Sept. 22.

I highly recommend doing this. Very glad I put this on my list, and checked it off quickly. I’ll definitely be back and make this a regular staple of my summer time activities.

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