On Saturday, May 21st Black Lodge is presenting its first open-and-free-to-the-public ‘ShitFest,’ a small screening of movies that founder Matthew Martin deems terribly entertaining. It will be hosted outside at 706 S. Cox St.
For the past two decades Matthew Martin, founder of Black Lodge Videos, has been collecting and archiving movies to his vast collection, which exceeds over 30,000 films.
Black Lodge, which opened in its former location on Cooper St. in 2000 and closed in 2015 due to problems with the building, served not only as one of the only video rental stores in the city, but also as a unique getaway and private screening theater for people across the city.
With the hundreds of masterpieces in Martin’s collection, there is an equal and opposite number of disaster-pieces, terrible movies that have been forgotten by most. During the fifteen-year reign of the former Lodge, these movies made an appearance every Sunday night at midnight, thus forming Black Lodge’s ‘Shit Fest.’ What started as a joke among friends, turned into a tradition.
“A few years ago, some of the lodge guys and myself were hanging out late on a Sunday night and there were a lot of people hanging out. We were wondering when everyone was going to go home, and I was thought, ‘I’m going to put on something really awful until they left, which I though was funny at first. I went to my collection and picked the worst movies I could find. Everyone thought it was funny and ended up staying the whole time, so it became something we did on Sunday nights and people just fell in love with it. At some point just deemed it ‘Shit Fest’ and it stuck,” says Martin. “It didn’t take long before every Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. you would see people roll in with their PJ’s on and blankets, with bottles of wine and snacks like they’re going to a picnic in the middle of the night. It was something special.”
Though Black Lodge is no stranger to public screenings, they host Time Warp Drive-In at the Summer Drive-in and have also hosted several concerts and parties at their former location and across the city.
Since closing the doors to the old location in Spring of 2015, Black Lodge’s more private events had been put on hold. Martin and his collection have been looking for a new home.
“There have been people over the last year who have asked me to host the event at other places, but I just wasn’t ready for it. ShitFest was a part of the collection and the Lodge, and I thought they should come back at the same time,” says Martin. “Plus, I’m one of those people who think you should go hungry so you can remember how good something tasted.”
Black Lodge was once a very tight knit underground community and preferred it that way says Martin, but he adds that now just renting movies to the public isn’t enough to stay afloat. Video rentals store are having to evolve into micro cinemas, cafés and venues, and so, Black Lodge follows that path.
“Renting movies is just not enough, and will never be enough again. You see a lot of these places turning into micro-cinemas, cafes, and doing lots of screenings, like Time Warp and Shit Fest. It’s the natural order of things in this line of business and it is the direction we are heading. When we decided to do these changes we wanted to upgrade and offer more, we wanted to sell beer and food,” says Martin. “We want to be able to evolve. The old lodge was so off the grid and underground, which was part of its charm, but over time as it grew and just got so large, now we just want to give everybody a better place to go do something different.”
Martin is unable to disclose the new location of Black Lodge Video, but says it should be reopening in mid-August.