Grind Fu Cinema wraps up 6th season

It’s back, the little film showcase with the funny name, for the final month of its sixth season.

Grind Fu Cinema, the film showcase event from the dynamic Shuffle Function duo Tim Lind and Shelley Pierce, takes place tomorrow at Minnesota State University. This year’s Halloween version of Grind Fu — the film series actually takes place several times each year — features the films Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell,” and Adam Wingard’s “You’re Next.”


Never heard of Grind Fu?

Well, here’s the deal: If you’re into the “weird,” into films that are obnoxiously bad, films off the beaten path, films that have earned “cult” status because they’re either really, really well done or really, really violent — or really, really ... just ... odd — then Grind Fu is the place for you.

Six seasons on, the film showcase has maintained a respectable base of fans, many of whom come directly from the Shuffle Function radio show that airs every weekday morning on KMSU (89.7, “The Maverick.”) Shuffle Function has a strong following among southern Minnesota audiophiles.

With its picky song selection and seemingly relentless devotion to quality, you can always count on the music you hear to be solidly vetted (perhaps curated?) in a way that rarely leaves you wishing you hadn’t tuned in.

Because of this, it seemed natural to segue into a film, another area where it’s easy to, as they say, “geek out” over great art.

Grind Fu Cinema began in 2008 as a premium for fall pledge drive donors. But it quickly graduated to a general audience event (not general as in “rated G for general audiences,” because films such as “Susperia,” “Seven” and “Female Trouble” are far, far from appropriate for general audiences — but general in the sense that anyone could attend.)

One of the great things about Grind Fu is coming together of a listenership that, until then, had only gathered in spirit. Individuals at breakfast tables or in mid-commute tune in regularly, on their own, reveling in the informed musings of two people with encyclopedic knowledge of all that is cool about music. But at Grind Fu that scattered audience, on a small scale, sheds that layer of distance and experiences things — and the hosts — together.

David Ulcini has been to just about every Grind Fu event. He says he wishes more people knew about it.

“I’ve met people I would have never met because of (Grind Fu),” he said. “I think more people, if they gave it a chance, they’d really like it.”

Ulcini says part of him sees Mankato as a kind of “cultural wasteland.” Having said that, he also has found people with the same sensibilities about art as him. Listening to Shuffle Function gives him a sense that there are other people like him out there, and coming to Grind Fu is a great opportunity to meet them.

“Tim and Shelley put in a ton of work,” he says. “It’s so convenient, and it’s free.”

Chantill Kahler-Royer has attended the now-famous Halloween Grind Fu events. Part of what makes the Halloween events special is the cake that accompanies them. 

Amber Rahe, genius cake maker from Hy-Vee, has developed a reputation for jaw-dropping creations that embody (or, perhaps, disembody?) the spirit of the films being show. (A cake with a head that swiveled and spewed vomit for a showing of “The Exorcist,” or a painstakingly detail sasquatch for a “Big Foot” movie theme.)

<\z186666660308838>”The cakes are epic,” she said. “I am so amazed, and each year they get more and more elaborate.”

<\z186666660308838>Kahler-Royer said she was a big fan of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” when she was in college, and the Grind Fu vibe takes her back to those days. No, there is no talking during the films. But the raw, well, geekyness of it all is in the same vein as that famous show.

<\z186666660308838>”I’ve seen movies there that I’d never even heard of much less seen on the big screen,” she said. “The people are fun. And it’s not always the same.”

<\z186666660308838>The name Grind Fu is an amalgam: “Grind” comes from the term “grindhouse,” which refers to horror films. And “Fu” refers to the kung-fu film genre. Over the years, Kahler-Royer says, she’s seen a lot more grind and not much fu. But she’s OK with that. She’s there for the people.

<\z186666660308838>”The community aspect is actually way more important than the movie itself,” she said. “This is an awesome way to get to see and meet the people you’ve been listening to. This is a way to make that connection.”

<\z186666660308838>Adds Pierce, “It’s really a fun group of people to see movies with.”

Over the years they’ve presented both films that are free to show — or what is known as “in the public domain” — and films they’ve had to pay for. They recently obtain some funding via the state’s Arts and Cultural Heritage fund to purchase some of the spendier films. Something such as “The Exorcist” is not in the public domain, but it’s a popular choice for a film showcase, especially during October.

They’ve also shown “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” some of Ed Wood’s greatest masterpieces, and racier fare such as “Boogie Nights.”

Lind says he hopes they expand their reach a little.

“You want people to go to this stuff because, like ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,’ you never get to see something like that,” he said. 

Grind Fu season run April through October and fall on the last Saturday of each month. They are always free and open to the public.

If you go

What: Grind Fu Cinema, featuring Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell,” and Adam Wingard’s “You’re Next”

When: 7-10:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Minnesota State University’s Wiecking Auditorium

Cost: Free

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