Our theme for the month of October is “This Day in History.”
One year ago today, I watched Jennifer’s Body. A moment of pure October delight. In middle school, I judged this film by the trailers and TV spots. I was under the impression that Jennifer’s Body would be a typical horror movie, complete with a sexualized Megan Fox. I was wrong. It is a horror movie, but more importantly a horror comedy. A bloody good one, too. The crème de la crème was that the movie was showing at my favorite theater: Wealthy Theatre.
Wealthy Theatre was one of the highlights of my eight years of living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My obsession with seasonal movie watching was stoked by its weekly screenings, and I made it my personal movie mecca.
For those out of the know, Wealthy Theatre sits on Wealthy Street across from Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop and has shown culturally relevant, out of the box, and cult classic movies ever since its establishment in 1911. For me, this means that they show movies I want to see in theaters—movies I wasn’t able to see at the time (often because I wasn’t born yet).
Pretty much, Wealthy Theatre would be the perfect venue to see the cult classic Jennifer’s Body. A match made in heaven! The tragedy is that I did not, in fact, watch Jennifer’s Body at Wealthy Theatre. I watched it in the comfort of my tan couch about one and a half blocks away. Because my wife is a nurse and worked twelve-hour shifts that ended around 7:30 p.m., going together to an 8-p.m. Wealthy Theatre showtime was always a game-time gamble.
On October 18, 2022, it was not meant to be. So, instead, I am going to describe how I imagine my experience would have been elevated if I could have viewed it there. I’m practically a modern day Emily Dickinson, imagining exhilarating awareness while staying inside:
Upon entering, I would have been greeted by the buttery scent of freshly popped popcorn. In line, I would share the excitement for a unique screening with the others waiting while scrutinizing the neck tattoo on the gentleman in front of me. After giving up, I would smile at the volunteer ticket-taker and share a warm exchange about whether I had seen the film yet (I would have not).
I would have walked into the main room and, after taking in how long the line is for drinks, would have realized that I needed to pee. On my way, I would admire the artistry of the dynamic movie posters from films they’ve screened in the past. Walking out of the bathroom, drying my hands on my pants, I would look closer at the Die Hard poster, remembering that the Christmas season is only a couple of months away.
I would wait in line, looking over the shoulders in front of me, craning to see what drinks they have. “Oh!,” I think to myself, “I might get the cocktail titled Jennifer’s Victim, which has a delicious combination of grenadine, black cherry juice, and vodka.” After getting my concessions, I would admire how reasonable the portion size is for their popcorn. Just enough.
I would walk into the auditorium, looking for a seat in the well-attended room. Thankfully there’s one on the far left side, where you would swear there’s a few more inches of leg room. As I settle in, I would happily watch the ironically edited trailers for future Wealthy Theatre showings. During these, I would look up the runtime of Jennifer’s Body. “An hour and forty-two minutes!” I would think, fist-pumping at the director’s restraint.
I would soak in every scene of the movie: seeing Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox’s sexual chemistry and reveling in the clever and ridiculous dialogue. I would treasure the fact that I get to watch this film with like-minded people, enjoying the movie as a collective. I would marvel at Diablo Cody’s writing and Karyn Kusama’s directing while the crowd erupts in laughter. In the end, I would wonder why more people don’t know about this movie.
After shuffling out, I would awkwardly stand for a little bit by the chalkboard sign and chat with some friends about the movie for a tight two and a half minutes. After saying our goodbyes, I would walk home along the streetlights, content.
I live in Holland, Michigan, now, so walking over to Wealthy Theatre on a Tuesday night is no longer an option for me. But I still see movies there, from time to time. Out of respect, their spirit lives on in my heart.
Isaac graduated Calvin in 2019 studying English, secondary education and recently finished being an English teacher for the past few years. He’s currently a resident director at Hope College while also taking classes so he can become an art teacher. Isaac loves movies and lighthouses more than most things.