Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

As my regular readers (hi honey!) know, I’ve been a longtime devotee of the annual horror marathons that have been hosted here in Columbus at various venues by Bruce Bartoo, Joe Neff, or both. However, for the past few years, some of the magic has been lost due to the abbreviated schedule imposed on Bruce and Joe by their most recent overlords, the Drexel Theatres group. Running 12-14 hours rather than the traditional 24, the recent ‘thons have been fun, but there’s nothing quote like settling in for a whole day’s worth of horror. For one thing, the timeframe makes it something of a challenge, since it’s easier (at least for me) to prepare myself for the marathon beginning at noon than one starting at 10 PM, especially if it comes at the end of a long day’s activity.

But more importantly, the longer timeframe allows for a more diverse lineup of horror fare. For the past few years, the film lineups have felt somewhat thin, with a handful of area premieres and some classics, but precious few of the sort of curiosities that really make the Marathon special. And not only does a full 24-hour marathon give Bruce and Joe more time for extra-filmic goodies, but it also is much more appealing to the sorts of fan-favorite guests that graced the marathons of yore. Take this year’s guest…

None other than Mr. Stuart Bloody Gordon, ladies and gents. A marathon favorite and former guest at the ’92 marathon- which was before I came to Columbus, alas- Gordon will be coming back again this year to introduce a couple of his films as well as a title of his choosing (more on these later). Sadly, they won’t be playing his kerfawsome 2007 film Stuck, which I saw at its TIFF premiere, but that won’t stop me from asking him a question about it.

As I said before, two Gordon films will be playing here, the first being his cult favorite From Beyond, which I’ve never seen. However, I dig Re-Animator, and supposedly this throws off a Re-Animator vibe as well, so I figure I’ll be down with this too. The second Gordon film at the Marathon will be his Masters of Horror episode The Black Cat, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth.

In addition to Gordon’s take on the story, Bruce and Joe have also booked a rare 35mm screening of Ulmer’s 1934 adaptation, starring icons Karloff and Lugosi. I can’t help but flash back to Lugosi ranting against Karloff in Ed Wood, which ought to make it extra fun.

Along with the two films he directed, Gordon was also offered a chance to select a film for this year’s marathon, and he chose the 2002 masterpiece Irreversible. Personally, I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I think it’s an inspired choice, and one that should jar most of the horror buffs in attendance out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, Angela will be attending again with me this year, and judging by her tastes in movies, I’m pretty sure this won’t be up her alley. She isn’t normally spooked by horror movies unless they deal in real-world kinds of situations, and I’d say this one qualifies. And if the content doesn’t get her, the style almost certainly will. So I’m thinking we may duck out for something to eat when this plays.

Another one we might forego for much the same reason is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Which is a pretty great movie to be sure, but I don’t necessarily think it needs to be seen on the big screen or anything.

On the other hand, I bet that as a lover of vampire fare, she’ll be all about Daughters of Darkness. And honestly, I’m pretty curious about it myself, not least for the lead performance by Delphine Seyrig. Seyrig has long been a favorite of mine, but I’m familiar with her mostly from her turns in more arthouse-friendly fare such as Jeanne Dielman and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. So it’ll be interesting to see her in a part she can really sink her teeth into (sorry).

Another intriguing inclusion in the lineup is another Poe title, Corman’s Masque of the Red Death starring Vincent Price. I’m woefully underversed in both Corman and Price, so this should be fun. Right?

Along with Gordon and Poe, this year’s Marathon is also paying tribute to the late David Carradine this year, with a screening of his cult favorite Q: The Winged Serpent. Not having seen this before, I wouldn’t dare miss this one.

And under the heading of “curiosities” is this year’s selection Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman. Should be better than Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, I’m guessing.

Given the hit-or-miss nature of the horror genre as a whole, Marathon premieres tend to be wildly inconsistent. However, this year’s premiere, I Sell the Dead, sounds pretty kind of okay. Besides, it’s got Ron Perlman, which at least puts it a head on the likes of, say, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

One of the drawbacks of a 24-hour Marathon is that I’ve usually seen more of the titles than I have at the shorter ‘thons. This year’s Marathon is no exception, since along with Henry I’ve seen three of the other titles selected. However, they’re all pretty darn awesome, I think you’ll agree:

Of these, I’m naturally most excited about The Thing, especially the prospect of seeing it with a big Marathon crowd. However, The Host ought to be a blast as well, and I’m curious to see how well Day of the Dead.

So if you’re interested (and local), don’t be afraid- come to the Horror Marathon, which is being held from noon on Saturday, 17 October, through noon-ish the next day at the newly refurbished and under-new-management Grandview Theatre. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. More information can be found at the Marathon web site . Hope to see you there.


Jason_alley2 said...

Man, I wish I could go to that, too! Have a great time, dude (I've been doing a month-long horror marathon myself!)

Hope you like "From Beyond" - it's no "Re-Animator", but it's pretty fun.

Steve C. said...

If Re-Animator is Lovecraft + splatter, From Beyond Lovecraft + S&M. It's pretty neat, actually. Gordon's The Black Cat is also unexpectedly awesome, and possibly the single best episode of "Masters of Horror." Jeffrey Combs as Poe is ridonkulously inspired.

Daughters of Darkness is probably the best of the myriad Countess Bathory/"Carmilla" films. Haven't seen it in forever, but I remember liking its perverse, dreamy beauty quite a lot.

And I respect Gordon, but Jesus does Irreversible seem like the wrong film to watch in that context.

Steve C. said...

Also, I just saw I Sell the Dead. It was pretty damn good. Larry Fessenden is full of win.

AJ said...

Angela here -- I enjoyed "I Sell the Dead" quite a bit. It had me in fits of giggles quite a few times. Paul slept through most of it. I told him he missed a pretty good time.

For overall gore and horror, "Day of the Dead" fit the bill. We skipped Irreversible; judging by the reactions of the crowd after the showing, it was not received very well.

Jason_alley2 said...

I love "Day Of The Dead". It gets discounted a lot, and it's true that it's ultimately no "Night..." or "Dawn...", but it's still damn good.

Grim and pessimistic, it's not an easy movie to love, but it's full of the bracing social commentary Romero is famous for, has a interesting group of characters, and some great zombie action sequences.