Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Return of the Curse of the Incredible Two-Headed Marathon

In my younger days, I wasn’t much of a horror-movie fan. Having come fairly late to my movie love compared to some cinephiles out there, I made it a point to gobble up canonical classics in the course of my cinematic education. But in the process of doing so, I missed out on a lot of genre favorites, especially in the more populist genres such as Westerns and particularly horror films.

Consequently, it comes as something of a surprise to discover that this year represents my tenth trip to Columbus’ annual horror marathon, which in its present incarnation is known as the Incredible Two-Headed Marathon. And while the younger me might not have considered this his idea of a good time, I can confirm that it’s a blast, so much so that I’ve started taking my wife with me. Having missed a lot of the classics, the marathon affords me the chance to enjoy them for the first time on the big screen.

But the fun of the marathon goes beyond the movies themselves, as any marathoid will tell you. Naturally, some of the movies go over better with a crowd than others (one of my first marathons included Don’t Look Now, which isn’t exactly a crowd pleaser but is certainly more welcoming than Irreversible, which played two years ago). Beyond that, however, there are the selections from co-host Bruce Bartoo’s vast library of vintage trailers, the short films, the costume and scream contests, the de rigeur audience participation, and of course the experience of holing oneself up in a movie theatre for twenty-four hours, healthy diet and proper hygiene be damned.

Over the past decades, many a movie lover and armchair pundit has bemoaned the diluting of the “audience experience” as a part of going to movies. Whether it’s discussing the increasing ease of getting top-quality presentation in the comfort of one’s own home or bitching about those damn kids and their yelling and cell phone usage during the show, going to the movies has, for most people, lost a lot of the magic it once had. But to those people, I’ll just say this: if you want a communal moviegoing experience, the Marathon delivers.

This year’s lineup, roughly in order:

Bruce and co-host Joe Neff always begin with an oldie-but-goodie, and horror doesn’t get much older than this year’s lead-off hitter, 1919’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It’s great, of course, but what makes this even more exciting is that it’ll be accompanied by a new score performed by Columbus favorite Sue Harshe.

My introduction to the cycle of Roger Corman’s big-screen Poe adaptations came two years ago at the marathon when I saw the gorgeous Nic Roeg-lensed Masque of the Red Death. This year brings another Corman/Poe film, The Pit and the Pendulum, which doubles as a tribute to horror icon Vincent Price, who stars in the film and would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

Ti West’s House of the Devil was one of the better horror films of the past decade, more for the slow-burn style of the first two-thirds rather than the relatively prosaic payoff. Still, it’ll be nice to see this one with a crowd.

Another one that should benefit from the Marathon experience is Bride of Frankenstein, still one of the hallmarks of the genre. Most of the time, Golden Age Hollywood horror feels a bit slow and stodgy for this crowd, but what sets Bride is that the laughs don’t feel out of place since it’s actually supposed to be funny and bizarre. Also, Ang hasn’t seen this yet, so it’ll be fun to introduce her to it.

Meanwhile, the one I’m probably looking forward to most here is Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein, which I’ve somehow missed out on so far. I know very little about the particulars of this, except that it has something of a reputation…

And speaking of reputation, few horror films nowadays are as notorious as A Serbian Film, which has its Columbus theatrical premiere at this year’s marathon. Neither Ang nor I are big fans of so-called “extreme” horror movies (for example, I didn’t cotton to Martyrs, which played here last year), so we might duck out during this to check on the dogs and grab a bite to eat instead.

This year’s other premiere is Midnight Son, which I actually hadn’t heard of until it was announced as part of the lineup. Ang is a big fan of vampire movies, and I’m also curious to see what wrinkles this one has on this well-tilled ground. I for one am hoping this is more Martin than Twilight (sorry hon).

It just wouldn’t be a horror marathon without a gonzo Asian thriller on the bill. Bruce and Joe set the bar high last year with House, and this year’s inclusion is the allegedly strange and “ultra-rare” Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell. How can you go wrong with a title like that, he asked with a hopeful smirk on his face.

Along with Pit and the Pendulum and Flesh For Frankenstein, the third movie I’m most looking forward to at the marathon is The Hitcher. This is another one of those I haven’t seen yet, but I’m a fan of Rutger Hauer in steel-eyed baddie mode, so this should be right up my alley.

Giallo films have generally been hit-and-miss with me, but I’m willing to give The Beyond a shot this year. I’ve yet to really enjoy a Lucio Fulci film, but what the hell, right?

Bruce and Joe have announced James Gunn’s slugfest Slither for some previous marathons, but somehow it’s always been one of those that gets cut when the marathon is running behind. Still, it’s a lot of fun for those with strong stomachs for gross-out gags and should be fun with the marathon audience- provided it doesn’t get cut, that is.

The final film on this year’s marathon schedule is the original Hellraiser. This one, unlike a lot of eighties horror favorites, is one I’ve actually seen. I’m not a huge fan of this, but admittedly I haven’t seen it in years, and I’m perfectly willing to give it another chance, if I make it through everything else first.

The Incredible Two-Headed Marathon takes place at the Grandview Theatre, beginning at noon on Saturday and running through noon-ish on Sunday. Tickets are $40 at the door. For more information, check out the web site.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Sherlock Holmes was a pimp!"

Cold Weather is a treasure because it’s not ashamed to be modest of scale. To the contrary, writer/director/editor Aaron Katz relishes in the very smallness of his movie, and the movie is all the more pleasurable for it. Everything about the movie feels modest, beginning with the ambitions of its protagonist Doug (Cris Lankenau), a twentysomething who’s recently dropped out of college but might, y’know, go back, like, eventually. For now, he’s content to shack up with his slightly more career-minded big sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), work nights at the local ice factory, and hang out when he’s off the clock.