In an age when you can buy Legolas’ prosthetic ears from “Lord of the Rings” or spend hours in line for a glimpse of Harrison Ford at ComicCon, it takes a lot to be considered a super fan.
But North Carolina’s Kenny Caperton took the idea of fandom to the extreme: Earlier this year, he introduced On Set Cinema, a series of film screenings in the actual locations where iconic scenes were shot.
Following screenings in Wilmington, Burgaw, N.C., and Florence, S.C., On Set Cinema premieres in the western part of the Carolinas Friday, when the 1981 slasher flick “Final Exam” returns to the classroom on the campus of Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C. — where much of the film was shot.
This new venture, by the way, isn’t the only example of Caperton’s superfandom.
For nearly 20 years, he has planned vacations around horror-movie landmarks from classics like “The Shining” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and spent weekends hiking through the forest where “The Blair Witch Project” was filmed. Along the way, he shared his adventures with fellow fans on social media, realizing that he wasn’t the only one interested in this sort of sightseeing.
But perhaps the most extreme example? In 2007, he built a replica of the Myers house from John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” on his property in Hillsborough.
“People ask what it’s like to live in the house,” says Caperton, who manages the box office at Durham’s Carolina Theatre. “It’s different from day to day, but when I watch ‘Halloween’ there it’s really bizarre. It’s tough to explain a feeling like that. I try to always pull up a scene on YouTube when I go to a movie location because that’s basically as close as you can get to the movie without being there as it’s filmed.”
As for On Set Cinema, it all started because Caperton wanted to watch the 1995 cult hit, “Empire Records,” in the Wilmington restaurant that once doubled as the record store in the film. He got his chance when a new restaurant called Rebellion took over the spot.
“I’m a crazy fan nerd, and this is what I do,” he says. “I didn’t know if other people would get it. People love their reclining seats and their full meals at their movies these days.” Yet the event received a lot of support from local businesses. “Wilmington put me on the morning news, and a guy who owns a record store there brought a bunch of records and set up a booth.”
While On Set Cinema may be a hard sell for some filming locations, much of the planning has been serendipitous. The owner of the downtown Burgaw department store where Sarah Michelle Gellar is chased in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” actually found the Shivers Department Store sign used in the film and placed it atop the building for the screening, which attracted fans from as far away as California. Caperton was elated to have fans like him who were willing to travel for the experience.
“It’s less about meeting the celebrity,” he says. “It’s about being with fans and watching a movie, and being as close to it as you can to it.”
He’s since watched “The Strangers: Prey At Night” with fans, cast members, and local crew in rural Falmouth, Ky., while floating in the pool from the film; screened “Halloween” in the gallery now located behind the original Myers house in Pasadena; and co-hosted a screening and overnight party in Stu’s house from the finale of “Scream.”
“I ate a piece of pizza in Stu’s kitchen and did a Q&A with Ghostface,” Caperton says, with a laugh.
“Final Exam” is On Set Cinema’s seventh event this year. An eighth — set for March at the Portland, Ore., high school where Bella and Edward meet in “Twilight” — sold out in three days.
“The school is being reconstructed next year, and this is the only time it will ever be screened there,” says Caperton, who expects fans from 25 states and four countries. “People are flying across the world to watch a movie they’ve seen 1,000 times in a high school cafeteria. Only a ‘Twilight’ fan will get it. You’re going to feel like you’re in that moment. For me to be able to do that for (other) fans, there’s nothing more rewarding.”
On Set Cinema Presents ‘Final Exam’
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Hamrick Hall, Room 127, Limestone College, 1115 College Drive, Gaffney, S.C.
For details, or to reserve your spot: www.myershousenc.com/onsetcinema.