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Best Late-Night Movie Series 

Midnites for Maniacs at the Castro

"Even the past isn't worth living in," snarled Graham Parker on his blistering 1980 record The Up Escalator. He was right, of course, which makes us respect the remarkable sacrifice of Jesse Hawthorne Ficks that much more. The genial but obsessive movie hound behind the regular Midnites for Maniacs triple bills at the Castro devotes himself to mining the culture-challenged decade Parker jump-started so furiously. Diligently unearthing forgotten chunks of celluloid detritus — campy comedies and cult faves, flicks both cringeworthy and cause for celebration — Ficks revives our repressed memories of sub-Reagan-esque pop culture. It takes a certain courage to explore this morass, delving into nightmares from big hair to computer geekery to Corey Feldman to the Cold War. Like a 21st-century alchemist, Ficks transmutes these ill-advised commercial forays into laugh riots that double as healthful exorcisms. All in all, Midnites for Maniacs allows us to recognize the wisdom of another '80s Parker song, "Life Gets Better."

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