Event Report: “BLUE SUNSHINE” in 4K & Jeff Lieberman Q&A at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers!Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As many horror fans in New York and New Jersey can tell you, the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers can be one hell of a horror hub. From first run frights, macabre movie marathons and screenings of vintage scare fare, including Michael Gingold’s own PRINTS OF DARKNESS screening, Alamo offers all sorts of horror all the time. Yet sometimes, Alamo Drafthouse pulls out all the stops for horror hounds, as it did last Friday when the venue offered the very first true 4K screening of Jeff Lieberman’s BLUE SUNSHINE with the director in attendance!
Now for those unfamiliar with the cult classic, BLUE SUNSHINE is a twisted tale about a seemingly random string of crimes that are oddly connected by the victim’s uncontrollable psychosis, headaches and loss of hair. However, a man falsely accused of the crime takes matters into his own hands, and learns that each case was connected by a bad batch of acid nicknamed “Blue Sunshine.” On the run and on the radar of a potentially nefarious political bigwig, this man races against time to clear his name, prevent more murders and reveal the truth about “Blue Sunshine” to the world.
Before the screening began, this writer and Lieberman took to the front of the theater for a quick introduction in giveaway. To a solid crowd of mostly newcomers to the film, Lieberman recounted the process to finding the film and that the film had previously never been screened in a 4K-capable theater. After turning over the microphone, this writer offered a quick round of BLUE SUNSHINE trivia, from which one lucky fan took home a fantastic prize pack that included Blu-rays, swag, digital downloads, DVDs, comic books and THE I IN EVIL. Then the lights went down, and BLUE SUNSHINE took over…
At first glance, BLUE SUNSHINE’s 4K restoration is jaw-dropping, with clarity and vibrant colors that would rival that of the most impressive modern means of filmmaking. Add to that the fantastic personality that the film gives off, from the intense and off-beat lead performance from Zalman King to the unique set pieces to the quirks on display (including a shockingly relevant moment of improv when a villainous politician promises to “Make America Great Again”), as well as the technical skill that accompanies Lieberman’s productions. And the 4K transfer is in perfect company with Charles Gross’ bombastic score, which, when paired, gives the sights and sounds of the theatrical experience much more value.
Following the screening, the lights came up as this writer and Lieberman sat down for a post-screening Q&A. The chat with Lieberman covered many eclectic topics, including the genesis of the film, the false report of it being “based on a true story,” the performance from Zalman King, scaring off child actors, the film’s relation to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and the future of the 4K print in both theaters and home media. The chat was then turned over to the audience, who asked about the work of Mark Goddard on the film, the in-development remake of BLUE SUNSHINE from the team behind the upcoming PATIENT ZERO and more. After the Q&A, Lieberman then made his way outside the theater to sign exclusive merchandise, including Blu-rays of REMOTE CONTROL and SQUIRM and the limited edition Mondo vinyl soundtrack to BLUE SUNSHINE.
Overall, it was a genuinely great experience seeing BLUE SUNSHINE as it had literally never been seen before, alongside many fresh faces as well as the man who put this all together. Seeing the cult of BLUE SUNSHINE (and for Lieberman in general, one of the few underrated NY-based horror maestros) grow before this writer’s eyes is fantastic, and Lieberman’s frequently funny Q&A was one for the books. Yet if there’s anything to be taken from this event, it’s that the 4K version of BLUE SUNSHINE is the special kind of fright film that one should go out of their way to see on the big screen in a room full of strangers; if it comes to a town near you, don’t hesitate to take a hit of BLUE SUNSHINE.