The Reel Less Traveled – December 2021


A Bit of Creature Comfort

    As the days grow shorter, so does this column. The International Film Showcase will sit out the month of December so as not to compete with the major Christmas releases. There is still, however, the Chiller Diller Theatre to anticipate. Also, a special event happening shortly after Christmas will go beyond the standard fare at the Orinda Theatre.
    The third Saturday of every month has been set aside for the Chiller Diller Theatre. It is then that Lord Blood-Rah and gang present a wide variety of memorable horror and science fiction movies.
    For the month of December, Gremlins will be the film du jour. Released in 1984, the movie proved if you push the envelope just a little bit you can come up with a truly original piece of art. Gremlins takes an unlikely, little-used concept, subverts it, dials it up to 11, and then dumps it into our laps wholly without warning.
    This is one of those films, which, even after multiple viewings, always offers something new. The devil is in the details and there are just so many details that one can’t decide whether to laugh or gawk in wonder.
    Another marvel is that no computers were harmed in the making of this movie. Most of everything you’ll see is a practical effect. No reacting to a green screen. Here actor and creature are in the same space at the same time. If acting is reacting, then there is some darn fine acting, both by the humans and the Gremlins.
    To say more would be revealing too much, do make your way to the Orinda Theatre Dec. 18 at 5 p.m. and prepare yourself. For further info, visit, or the Theatre’s Facebook page:
    While you’re there, it would be a good idea to keep the website bookmarked. There will be an important event still in the early planning stages you will not want to miss on Dec. 27. Owner/Manager Derek Zemrak will be thanking those who contributed to the theater’s GoFundMe account which helped keep the Orinda Theatre open these past 18 months. It will also mark the 80th anniversary of that august edifice’s opening back in 1941. For more information, see the article.
    And now comes the time when I would like to wish one and all the very best this season has to offer, and to remind you, once again, to always veer towards that wonderful light – filled with images and sound – for that’s where the reel magic lies.

Tom Westlake can be reached at

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