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'The best movies are the very weird ones': Halifax cult film screening series celebrates 15 years

Thrillema is celebrating its 15th anniversary. (Source: Facebook/Thrillema) Thrillema is celebrating its 15th anniversary. (Source: Facebook/Thrillema)
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Fifteen years ago, Mark Palermo packed into a theatre in Dartmouth, N.S., alongside other movie aficionados to watch John Carpenter’s horror classic “The Thing” on a 35mm print.

The evening, organized by local director Jason Eisener (who would later go on to make “Hobo with a Shotgun”), was Palermo’s introduction to Thrillema, an ongoing monthly movie screening event in Nova Scotia that is still going strong after more than a decade, on and off, in business.

“That (version of Thrillema) lasted for about 13 screenings and then Jason went off to do different things and there was no Thrillema for several years,” Palermo said. “The Strange Adventures owner decided to revive it at the (Museum of Natural History). Thrillema has gone through many people, now it’s myself and (three other people).”

Palermo and his partners organize a screening once a month, often showcasing obscure or cult movies for dedicated fans and newbies alike. For Palemero, the screenings allow people to connect in a shared community.

“Movies were my first passion in life,” Palermo said. “Until I was 25, the only thing I wanted to talk about were movies. We’re in an age where movies are less dominant in our lives. TV shows are bigger than they used to be and people could stay home, but there’s something exciting about bringing people together.

“A lot of the Thrillema crowd are university age and that’s inspiring. They’re discovering movies.”

Palermo said Thrillema went into a slight hibernation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but since their return they’ve had consistent sell-out screenings.

“We’re a Halifax institution now,” he said. “Since the pandemic, people have become less social, so it’s nice to socialize again. It feels more like a community we’re bringing together.”

Thrillema is celebrating its 15th anniversary on Thursday with a screening of David Cronenberg’s psychological horror movie “The Brood.”

“It’s fun bringing things to people,” Palermo said. “I feel the best movies are the very weird ones.”

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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