At The Sentient Bean coffeehouse, the little-known film “Delinquent School Girls” was recently screened.
“It was as bad as Jim said it would be,” said Bonnie Terrel, a regular at the Psychotronic Film Society meetings.
Terrel is referring to Jim Reed, the spiky-haired, bespectacled “psychotronic man” who has created a community for weird movie-lovers in Savannah, where none had previously existed.
“If Jim wasn’t putting this on, I would have never seen this movie,” said Donald Jarvis, Terrel’s boyfriend and fellow attendee.
At age 42, Reed is no stranger to living in a place where movie options are limited. Born in the small Appalachian town of Kingsport, Tenn., he grew up in a highly religious community of 40,000 people.
“We didn’t get anything remotely peculiar or risqué at all,” Reed said. “When Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ came out in 1979, there was a massive protest where hundreds of churches came out and picketed the theater where it was showing. I got to see it before they got rid of it.”
The only place where young Reed could see the kind of movies he liked was at the local Bays Mountain Nature Center, oddly enough. Located at the top of a dark, winding mountain, it housed a planetarium where Reed worked as an assistant.
“The guy at the planetarium realized that there were no cool movies that came to town,” said Reed. “He loved old science fiction movies, so he said, ‘Lets have a science fiction film festival.’ For several years, I was his helper. I was only 12 years old and this guy was asking for my input on what movies we should choose.”
On a few Saturdays every summer, all science fiction fans within 70 miles would descend on the planetarium. They came at night after the park closed. Then, using twin 16-millimeter projectors, Reed would play the movies on the planetarium dome.
“It warped the image but nobody cared,” he said. “Everyone would just sit back and stare at the ceiling. It was super cool and very strange.”
Many years later, Jim Reed still picks films for the public. A not-for-profit film organization, the Psychotroic Film Society has been screening both the good and bad of fringe cinema since 2003. Usually his word alone is good enough to bring people through the door.
Check out the Psychotronic Film Society’s screenings Wednesdays at the Sentient Bean at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 – $7.
For more information, contact Jim Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page.
Contact Max Glaessner.