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Andrew's Video Vault is a series of free old movie screenings chosen by movie lover Dr. Andrew Repasky McElhinney. Credit: Isabella Gong , Isabella Gong

For those who grow tired of the Rave movie theater, there is a dramatically alternative cinematic option just a few steps away.

Every second Thursday of the month, Andrew’s Video Vault screens films that are nearly impossible to encounter elsewhere.

“The Video Vault is definitely not competing with the Rave, or even the Ritz, which shows more underground stuff,” said Jason Neugent, venue manager at the Rotunda. “These films aren’t shown anywhere.”

Andrew Repasky McElhinney, the series’ eponymous founder and director, agrees.

“We spotlight works that have been neglected, are obscure or otherwise marginalized,” he said.

At last night’s screening, for example, the Video Vault presented a triple feature of lesser-known 1970s and 1980s psychological thrillers.

McElhinney — a Philadelphia-based filmmaker and educator — provides a broad survey of film history with the series, representing many different periods and genres. Such an approach enables viewers to “not only travel in time, but also visit different locales,” McElhinney said.

Neugent said the program seeks to attract both neighborhood locals and Penn students.

Larry Roberts, a West Philadelphia resident, has not missed a Video Vault showing for years. Like most frequenters, he attends for a free dosage of arts and culture.

He said older movies compare favorably with today’s Hollywood blockbusters, adding that “back then, you really had to be able to act.”

Few Penn students attended, however. Neugent believes that they are mostly interested in socializing with friends and drinking alcohol. However, if Neugent catches a student with illicit drinks at one of his events, “he gets the boot.” Neugent added that he has had to make good on his pledge during past screenings.

The series, supported by Penn’s Cinema Studies department, attracts anywhere from 10 to 70 audience members weekly.

For next month’s Video Vault, which will occur on Valentine’s Day, McElhinney expects a strong turnout. He is set to screen two films centered on great opera composers.

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