Spoilers: People ran a lot. We drank accordingly.

I think I may have found one of my new favourite events in Toronto: Drunken Cinema. Have you ever played one of those ridiculous movie drinking games? Every time condition x or y is met take a drink, etc etc? Same thing, but instead of being crammed into a sweaty dorm room you can be crammed into a noisy bar full of drunken louts. The rules are simple: Follow the convoluted rules. See? Easy.

Last night’s event was 1987s The Running Man, a classic Arnie film I’d never been fortunate enough to discover as a child. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that if I had, I would’ve seen it at least 30 times by now. Instead I saw it at the age of 30, but with enough alcohol to imbue me with a childlike sense of wonder. It all comes out in the wash, it seems. One of my new to Toronto friends came out with me and we managed to squeeze into the last two available chairs. We sat at a table of friendly strangers all looking to get the most out of the experience. The dude sitting next to me was a little boorish, but got his comeuppance in the end. The crowd in general had the right attitude. Everyone was raring to go and, while loud, people were rarely dickish. There was a moment when the host was trying to explain the rules to the bar, only to be faced with drunken murmurs. It really brought home how similar drunkards are to children.

The rules (as far as I can remember) were as follows:

  • Whenever someone onscreen is running, everybody drinks.
  • Each table was assigned a Stalker (bad guy). Whenever they appeared onscreen you had to cheer your lungs out for them. Ours was the quick-to-perish Sub Zero.
  • One player at each table is designated the Cup Master. At any point they can drop a chocolate coin in the cup and everyone has to start “climbing for dollars” (it’s a film in-joke). Whoever the last person to climb is (miming a climbing action) has to drink. Whenever a Stalker appears on screen, the Cup Master gets passed to the person on their left.

There were also individual rules on each table. A stack of cards were face down and got randomly distributed around the table. If you had a Personal Rule, you flipped it up and let everyone see. When your condition was met, you had to drink. If you didn’t, anyone else could press the buzzer and remind you to do it. Some of the rules I saw were:

  • Take a drink whenever ICS (evil agency) appears on screen (pretty damn often).
  • Take two drinks whenever “Bakersfield” is mentioned.
  • Take a drink whenever a “code” is input.
  • Take a drink whenever Arnie has a cheesy one-liner.
  • Take a drink whenever someone dies onscreen (fucking brutal).

There were also a subset of Secret Rules. These ones you didn’t show to the group, but whenever their condition was met you pressed the buzzer and made someone drink. You didn’t have to reveal why, they just had to trust you that they’d fucked up. My secret rule was making someone take two drinks whenever they referenced another Schwarzenegger movie or role. I caught surprisingly few people, so by the end I resorted to entrapment techniques of making my own Arnie references, causing others to burst into their own.

I can’t tell you much about the movie, because I spent most of it drinking. It was rad seeing other tables all going through the same experiences in their little microcosms. Seeing who had gotten which conceit and how their responses reflected your table’s. There was a sense of camaraderie with the communal drinking cards. Every once in a while you’d catch other tables “climbing for dollars” or laughing uproariously. The boorish dude ended up getting the “drink when someone dies” rule and wound up passed out face down on our table. The movie was violent and the game, accordingly, left few survivors.

My friend and I had a total blast and I won a spot prize of store credit to a video rental place. So shout out to Queen Video, I guess? I half-wish I had any home video technology that could play your rentals, just to get use out of my win. It was a messy night of good (not so) clean fun and if you’re in Toronto, you should check out their I Know What You Did Last Summer double feature next month.

Because what good is a liver you don’t regularly test anyway?


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