Another cult movie draws its following as teens latch on to 'Dazed and Confused

November 05, 1994|By Kim Wesley | Kim Wesley,Contributing Writer

It's midnight and there's a din of talking and laughter in the movie theater. On the screen, an actor playing a high school burn-out looks around in desperation when he sees his friend's parents coming into the room where he's smoking marijuana.

"Hide it under your shirt!!!" the audience yells at the screen. And the actor does it. Cheers go up in the theater.

The movie is "Dazed and Confused" and some of the people in the theater have seen it four, five, even eight times. Like the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Dazed" fans yell lines at the screen but they don't throw rice at each other. At least, not yet.

" 'Dazed'hasn't replaced 'Rocky Horror,' " says 17-year-old Ian Efrom of Brooklandville, "but it definitely has a cult following."

A retrospective glance at teen-age angst in the '70s, "Dazed" has been on the midnight movie circuit nationwide for at least four months, according to the film's distributor. In Baltimore, it was shown at Towson Commons General Cinema for more than 30 weekends before being pulled in late October. However, it continues to thrive in major college markets in Illinois, Michigan, Texas and Florida.

Recently, the movie's second album was released -- "Even More Dazed and Confused," by the Medicine Label, distributed by Warner Brothers. (The first album sold more than 650,000 copies in the United States.) And the film, with actors wearing tight bell-bottom jeans and skimpy T-shirts as they portray high school freshmen, is available on video.

But seeing "Dazed" that way, just isn't the same.

"It's not just watching a movie," says 16-year-old Lee Aisner of Towson, "it's an event."

"I was mortified when I went to Towson Commons and they weren't showing the movie," says Don Mahanna, 21, a record store manager from Fallston. "My friends and I went every Saturday for the past three months and it was always packed."

He says he's going to protest to get the movie back. "There was so much in the movie to relate to my own experience in high school. We might not have listened to the same bands as back then and we don't play 8-tracks in our cars, but it's still the same."

People head to the movie in groups. They laugh and nudge each other like they just came from a party. Inside the theater, they scream out lines in unison and sing along when "School's Out" by Alice Cooper plays. They count out loud the times an actor makes the same gesture in a minute.

At the Vic Theater in Chicago, fans in their mid-20s flock to a bar-cinema for a brew-and-view.

"It's mostly a nostalgia type of thing," says manager Matt McDonald. "I think people get a kick out of going back to their high school days. They know all the lines, they sing all the songs. They really get into the whole frenzy of the experience."

"Hide it under your shirt," and "Don't step on the plant!" are Ian Efrom's favorite lines. The Brooklandville teen saw "Dazed" about five times before it was taken off the Towson Commons screen. His hair is shaved on the sides and long on top with a tinge of blue. He wears jacket pins that say "Anti-Hero," "Metallica," and "Led Zepplin." For him, the midnight movie was a communal experience.

"It's the same kind of social event as a concert, only cheaper," he says.

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