I was finishing up touches on a "Tribute" to Herbie Hancock, when I noticed an e-mail communication wormed its way into my mailbox.
Regency Theatre apologized for the short notice, then proceeded to jog my memory about a midnight screening of the horror film - "Shaun of the Dead" - later in the evening.
The mention of a potential surprise guest piqued my curiosity!
Although I was scheduled to attend the play - "Third" - at the David Geffen Playhouse, I surmised I could wangle a quick exit and head over to the Fairfax District to take in the cult film.
What the heck, I'd gulp down a couple of Red Bulls - if necessary - to get me wired!
For a back-up, I'd make a pact with a filmgoer in the seat astride me to give a nudge in the ribs, if I dozed off.
At the theatre, I plucked up my ticket.
As I grabbed a juicy hot dog - only a buck at the Regency - I casually asked the usher:
"Who's the surprise guest?"
The server's eyes went wide; then, he shrugged awkwardly.
Ah, had the Theatre enticed me into the turn-of-the-century movie house on a false premise, to rustle up late-nite tickets sales?
I'd know soon enough.
I slipped into the half-lit room and found a cozy seat up-front on the aisle.
The Regency was packed with enthusiastic young film buffs, bubbling with small talk, and with a bad case of the munchies!
A couple of 'em wore white shirts, splattered with red, which caused a stir here and there in the packed movie house.
Go see the movie, you'll figure it out!
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a man trotting down the aisle behind me.
Suddenly, he turned on his heel and plunked down in the seat across from me, a mere three feet away.
Although I am somewhat jaded, I was inclined to do a double-take nonetheless, when I turned to give the guy a nod and found myself staring into the face of director Quentin Tarantino!
In one dizzying moment, other audience members spied him too.
At this juncture, excited fans simultaneously turned sideways to friends - and either mouthed or whispered his name - "Tarantino".
There was a definite buzz in the room!
The night manager sauntered up on the stage at this point and announced he'd like to introduce a very special guest.
What an understatement!
As we held our collective breath, he paused for dramatic effect, then bellowed out:
"Here's the Director of the film - "Shaun of the Dead" - Edgar Wright!"
The audience went wild.
Mr. Wright was a slim hip-looking dude with a sexy English accent and a personable manner.
The famed auteur filled us in on the events.
According to his account, he was driving by the Theatre a couple of days just shy of October 31st, when he spied a notice on the marquee announcing a screening for "Shaun of the Dead".
"I was happy to see that 'cause we made this film for Halloween," he noted gleefully.
He thanked us for coming out, then hit us with another surprise.
Yup, another show-biz guest was lurking in the wings!
"Here he is, Simon Pegg," he shouted out excitedly.
Ah, the star of the horror film!
Lucy Davis - an actress who also worked on the ghoulish project - was in the Theatre as well; subsequently, she took a perfunctory bow.
Boy, did we hit the jackpot!!!
The crowd was ecstatic.
When the lights fell - needless to say - the audience was quite attentive.
Of course - occasionally there were stolen glances in the direction of Tarentino - who was now sitting with his famous buds in tow.
During the screening, Mr. Tarantino took me by surprise.
Over the years - perhaps due to his body of work - I imagined him to be cerebral at best.
On the contrary, he roared out loud in the seat next to me, and demonstrated a healthy down-to-earth sense of humor and a glaring sensibility about the cinema.
In fact, for the most part, the award-winning director and I tended to laugh the longest and the hardest at the same sight gags, lines, and awkward oddball moments on screen.
Clearly, Mr. Tarentino would fit right in with my own set of zany friends!
By the way, it did not escape my attention that at the close of the entertaining film, the audience patiently sat through all the credits.
Out of respect to the filmmakers who remained in their seats 'til the end of the crawl, I expect.
Just maybe, there was an ulterior motive, though.
No doubt, a handful of fans were pining to walk up the aisle with Tarentino, so they could maneuver an up-close look - or in the alternative - land a hand-shake or two in the lobby?
No surprise, because that's what unfolded.
Mr. Tarentino was gracious, in good spirits, and mingled with the crowd all 'round.
The screening of "Shaun of the Dead" was part of the "Insomniac Cinema" series at the Regency which starts up like clockwork at the stroke of midnight every Friday night at the Theatre.
Check the Theatre's listings for upcoming must-see features!
Teaser at "Shaun of the Dead" website: