Roaring laughter filled room 119 of the Communication Building on the evening of April 5 as audience members watched the punk rock sci-fi comedy “Repo Man,” the ninth film of the Wednesday night WICKED! Film Series this semester.

While the audience usually consists of NAU students and faculty members, Flagstaff residents are also welcome to attend the screenings. Oscar Duke is not a student but joined the screening of “Repo Man” after learning about the series from their friend.

“A friend invited me to this first film,” Duke said. “I thought it was a good precursor to the following films.”

“Repo Man” was the first film in the comedy phase of the screening series titled, “This is Funny to You?” Directed by Alex Cox, “Repo Man” was released in 1984 and depicts a young man in Los Angeles who enters the dark and intense world of car repossession, and the extraterrestrials that come with it.

The film features a classic ‘80s punk soundtrack with music from Black Flag and Circle Jerks, as well as a main theme song from Iggy Pop. The high-energy music matches the film’s car chases and subversive themes. 

“Repo Man is a cult masterpiece,” Duke said. “Making fun of consumerism, ‘80s masculinity and poverty in Los Angeles, its ingenuity with using black comedy and just zany, ridiculous comedy is amazing.” 

The screenings occur weekly at 7 p.m. and feature a wide cinematic spectrum. Topics range from psychological thrillers like Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 film Burning,” to classic horror like Georges Franju’s 1960 film “Eyes Without a Face” and goofy comedies like David Wain’s 2001 film “Wet Hot American Summer.”   

Senior Lucas Lehman is the host and coordinator of the film series which he introduced in fall 2022. Lehman said after seeing a series of Jean-Luc Godard films screened in homage of the late director’s groundbreaking work, he was inspired to conduct a similar project.

“I’d always loved having people over to watch movies and doing movie nights with friends, but it was always on TVs,” Lehman said. “I thought it would be a great idea to do it on the big screen for free where everyone can come.” 

Room 119 is a lecture hall with a large projector screen and a strong speaker system. Lehman said he chose films from either his own personal DVD collection or from what is available in the library.

The series began with a concept surrounding femininity and horror with the French-Belgian cannibal film “Raw.” The 2016 film depicts a young woman entering into veterinary school, where she goes through a process of horrifying self-discovery.

However, as he planned the spring programming, Lehman decided to depart from this theme and bring in more variety. Instead of showing one genre, Lehman split the series into four weeks of one category at a time, with psychological thrillers, then Japanese horror and ending with comedies. 

“I wanted to have not more people come at once, but more people in general wanting to come,” Lehman said. “Showing one genre would bring only people who like that genre. I wanted to add variety and then get variety.”  

The genre was not the only shift Lehman made since last semester. In spring, he began an independent study course which allowed him to earn class credit for his work on the film screenings. Lehman said this motivated him to expend more resources into promoting the series, including printing brochures and creating a social media account. 

Lehman edited his own trailers and pre-show videos to entertain audience members who came early. He also reached out to professors to request they offer extra credit to students who attend. 

“I think it’s really cool that I could do that,” Lehman said. “It makes me wonder if other students who have a side project going could do something like this.” 

Although Lehman is graduating this year, the film series will continue with a new host. Sophomore Austin Lopez said he will continue the thematic aspect of the series and would additionally like to introduce his own twist. 

“I want to keep a theme in place for the different films I show,” Lopez said. “I would also like to have mystery screenings where I show films that are unannounced until the day of the screening and have others choose certain films to watch during certain weeks.” 

Lopez said he would like to pair his chosen films with a related short film that he would screen before the movie, which he previously did when screening films at his high school. 

As he was interested in screening movies as well, Lopez said he approached Lehman during the early stages of the WICKED! Film series. After that, Lehman guided Lopez through the process of promoting the series and getting approval for the films. 

“I know I’d love to keep the ball rolling with this incredible opportunity,” Lopez said. “Providing the public with experiences that they may have not otherwise known about if not promoted or held for free in a convenient way, such as an on-campus screening, is one of the many things I want to do to leave an impression on either film students or students in general.” 

The WICKED! Film Series will continue on April 12 with “Hey, Stop Stabbing Me!,” a low-budget horror comedy from 2003, which will be followed by “Be Kind Rewind” the next week. On April 26, “Wet Hot American Summer,” a 2001 teen comedy about camp counselors and their chaotic last day of summer, will be the final screening of the series this semester.

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