News / Arts & Entertainment

Every Night is Fright Night at Elegant Theater

The restored KiMo Theatre, quite an attraction in downtown Albuquerque, frightens many theatergoers, but not because of the movie. (Carol M. Highsmith)
The restored KiMo Theatre, quite an attraction in downtown Albuquerque, frightens many theatergoers, but not because of the movie. (Carol M. Highsmith)
Ted Landphair
In many American cities, one can find beautifully restored movie houses from the Golden Age of Motion Pictures in the 1920s and ’30s.

Many boast classical décor, complete with crystal chandeliers, velvet draperies, statues and urns, and gilt-leaf molding.  

There’s an elegantly restored theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but it has quite a different look.

So unusual that throughout New Mexico you can find people who share a stark memory of being scared out of their skulls there - and not by the movie that was showing.

Landphair for 10-15 Only in America-Indian Movie Palace
Landphair for 10-15 Only in America-Indian Movie Palacei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


In the early 1900s, a local businessman named Oreste Bachechi was making a fortune selling liquor, some of it to the movie stars whose cross-country trains stopped to refuel outside of Albuquerque.
This illuminated cow skull decoration can be seen in darkened KiMo Theatre. (Carol M. Highsmith)This illuminated cow skull decoration can be seen in darkened KiMo Theatre. (Carol M. Highsmith)
x
This illuminated cow skull decoration can be seen in darkened KiMo Theatre. (Carol M. Highsmith)
This illuminated cow skull decoration can be seen in darkened KiMo Theatre. (Carol M. Highsmith)

He fell in love with films and decided to build the city’s first movie palace.  

And he wanted something different - something that would reflect the unique influence of New Mexico’s native American culture.  

So he built a movie house filled with Indian rugs, light fixtures shaped like war drums, and walls decorated with thunderbirds and backward swastikas - American Indian symbols of happiness, life, and freedom.  

But here’s what would later scare his young patrons in particular: He lined the walls with steer skulls, whose empty eye sockets glowed a spooky amber when the auditorium lights went down.

Bachechi called his theater the “KiMo,” which in the Tiwa Indian tongue broadly describes anything that is “king of its kind.”

Like many U.S. movie palaces, the KiMo’s financial fortunes declined with the coming of television. 

Its owners even resorted to showing pornographic films for awhile. 
The KiMo Theatre's outside lobby gives a hint of the American Indian touches to be found inside. (Carol M. Highsmith)The KiMo Theatre's outside lobby gives a hint of the American Indian touches to be found inside. (Carol M. Highsmith)
x
The KiMo Theatre's outside lobby gives a hint of the American Indian touches to be found inside. (Carol M. Highsmith)
The KiMo Theatre's outside lobby gives a hint of the American Indian touches to be found inside. (Carol M. Highsmith)

But the theater closed in 1968 and remained shuttered for 15 years until a fundraising drive led to its glorious restoration. 

Today, the KiMo screens classic movies and offers its stage to regional theatre and musical groups.

And the steer skulls glow eerily once again.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures