Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If this picture doesn't make you scream... you're already dead. (edited 21 August)

If there’s a theme for this year’s 2nd Annual Shock Around the Clock! 24-Hour Horror Marathon, it’s anniversaries. Fully half of the scheduled repertory schedule for this year’s marathon consists of movies that are celebrating some round-number anniversary or other. The biggie, at least in terms of historical import, is the centenary of Frankenstein on film.

Yes, Mary Shelley’s enduring horror story first appeared onscreen in 1910, the subject of a short film produced by Edison Studios, and Marathon gurus Joe Neff and Bruce Bartoo have booked the film for this year, along with the classic 1931 James Whale version. And while I personally prefer the 1935 follow-up Bride of Frankenstein- currently celebrating its 75th, come to think- I certainly won’t complain about this one playing instead. Beats the hell out of the Branagh/DeNiro version of the story- and the Sting version, for that matter.

However, Filmic Frankenstein’s impending birthday salutation from Willard Scott is far from the only big news at this year’s marathon. After all, there’s another horror masterpiece that’s turning 50. That’s right, folks- William Castle’s 13 Ghosts has its golden anniversary this year, and Bruce and Joe have booked a 35mm of the film, which will of course be shown in Castle’s patented gimmick cinematic breakthrough Illusion-O, to get the full ghostly effect. Should be fun.

Oh wait, you thought I was referring to another 50th Anniversary? Like, say, Psycho? Never fear, folks- the Marathon has booked Hitchcock’s masterful thriller/shower deterrent too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in 35mm, so that ought to be a treat.

Where there’s Hitchcock, you know that DePalma can’t be far behind. Not just any DePalma either, but rather DePalma’s most Psycho-esque film, Dressed to Kill. As an unapologetic DePalma fanboy, I believe Dressed is almost the equal of Psycho, so I’m excited to see it included on this program, especially if they’ve booked a nice clean print. Oh, who am I kidding- I’d watch this one projected through cheesecloth if need be.

Like Dressed to Kill, Dario “Monkey Bite!” Argento’s Inferno is turning 30 this year. I’ve only seen this one once, on a beaten-up VHS from the library, and I know enough about Argento to know that this antiquated format couldn’t come close to doing justice to his famed use of color and light. So seeing it on the big screen promises to be pretty eye-opening.

In addition to being a 25th Anniversary screening, this year’s marathon showing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 also represents Joe and Bruce’s tribute to the late Dennis Hopper, who of course passed away this year. I for one plan on hitting the Grandview’s open bar, grabbing a drink (they sell Pabst Blue Ribbon, by the way) and raising a toast to Hopper, although I’d understand if you’d prefer using a nitrous inhaler for the same purpose. Hey, I’m not here to judge.

The last and perhaps most monumental marathon anniversary this year is the Platinum celebration of that eternal marathon favorite, Kevin S. O’Brien’s Night of the Living Bread cycle. For those who don’t know, O’Brien is a longtime Marathon attendee who decided to make a short spoof of Night of the Living Dead, and has since gone on to make several follow-up movies, all of which have become Marathon traditions. Bruce and Joe have hinted at special Bread-themed gifts for all attendees this year, so if you’re looking for a reason to come, there you are.

Of course, there are plenty of other goodies on the agenda beyond the requisite yeasty goodness. 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, featuring the dream pairing of Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi, will be making a rare 35mm screening here. That’s especially good news since the movie has yet to see an honest-to-goodness domestic DVD release. Personally, I’m eager to see this story done well in a way that doesn’t involve Marlon Brando playing piano duets with a little person.

And speaking of weirdness, word on the street is that Nobuhiko Kobayashi’s House is a classic head-scratcher. I wasn’t able to make it to the Wexner Center screening this past spring- I know, bad bad me- so I’m stoked that Joe and Bruce booked it for this event.

A few days ago, the one and only Vern wrote a characteristically whacked-out review of Slugs in which he impugned the titular creatures’ lack of scare potential. Well, I think this year’s Marathon would beg to differ, since they’ve booked a double feature of creepy-crawly chillers. First off, there’s the 2006’s super-gross Slither, featuring a veritable army of slugs that besiege a small town, and Michael Rooker as a local bigwig whose fate is particularly grisly.

The slightly more cerebral half of the pairing is David Cronenberg’s They Came From Within (aka Shivers), in which nasty, slug-like monsters infiltrate a high-rise apartment. This is another one I’m looking forward to seeing in 35mm, especially now that I know more about Cronenberg than I did the first time I saw it.

So let’s see- Whale, Hitchcock, Castle, DePalma, Argento, Cronenberg, Hooper- what other big-name horror directors could Bruce and Joe have shoehorned into this year’s lineup? Why not John Carpenter? This year’s Carpenter selection, Prince of Darkness, isn’t one of my favorite films of his, but it’s pretty fascinating in that he basically makes a horror movie out of little more than some menacing props, some colored-mist effects, and a cast that’s basically called upon to react to these two things. I’m curious to see how well this has aged.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a marathon without a handful of local premieres. So far, there have been some rumors floating around- A Serbian Film, Tuckers and Dale vs. Evil, the I Spit on Your Grave remake- but there’s only one title confirmed as yet. That would be the notoriously brutal French film Martyrs. Much like last year’s screening of Irreversible, this isn’t exactly a “premiere” since both films were already available on DVD by the time they played the Marathon. However, in both cases the Marathon screenings representing their first big-screen showing in Central Ohio. And like Irreversible, Martyrs promises to be polarizing in its violence, albeit in a way that’s slightly more palatable to genre fans.

All in all, this looks to be a Marathon to remember. I only wish Ang was able to come with me this weekend. Alas, she’s got some family business to attend to that supersedes her desire to accompany me. Although considering Martyrs’ rep, maybe that’s for the best.

The 2nd Annual Shock Around the Clock! 24-Hour Horror Marathon runs from noon on Saturday, October 23 through noon the next day. It will take place at the Grandview Theatre, located at 1247 Grandview Avenue, in Columbus. Ticket purchase information and more can be found at http://www.horrormarathon.com/. Hope to see you there!

Update! The Marathon powers that be have announced a second area premiere for this year's Marathon- the cult-ready Japanese exploitation flick RoboGeisha. Yeah, me neither, but having watched the trailer I'm guessing this will be... interesting. Hopefully it's more Lady Terminator than Arthur Golden, if you know what I mean. Here's the trailer:

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