by Aaron Einhorn
Hey everyone, Aaron here to bring you the report from the 3rd Annual Shock Around the Clock, The 24-Hour Ohio Horror Movie Marathon. I’ve been attending this event – by whatever name it’s currently using – for over twenty years now, and in fact sat down and realized that this is my 34th Columbus Movie Marathon, and we decided it was worth covering here, as we gear up for a spooky season in comic books and superheroes.
We had a pretty awesome line-up of films, including two premieres and several classic films. The line-up we expected going in consisted of:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Pit and the Pendulum
The House of the Devil
Bride of Frankenstein
Flesh For Frankenstein
A Serbian Film
Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell
Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and no movie marathon schedule survives contact with the realities of contests of variable lengths, random amounts of trailers added between the films, unreliable deliveries and the like.
The Marathon began at noon EST on Saturday, October 15, 2011 and ran until noon(ish) on Sunday, October 16. So, without further ado, here’s my recap of the event.
First off, the event took place at the newly restored Grandview Theatre, which had its’ Grand Re-Opening two years ago for the first Shock Around the Clock. The theatre has undergone serious work, and is now one of the nicest single-screen theatres you’ll find in the Midwest.
Before we began the event, our gracious host organisms Bruce Bartoo and Joe Neff appeared, and shared some bad news for the event. Apparently the prints for both Bride of Frankenstein and Slither were somewhere in Columbus on a UPS truck – but not at the event. This drew great laughs from long-time attendees, who knew that the marathons have had a history of booking Slither and not being able to see it. The decision was made to show Bride of Frankenstein from a DVD, and something would be figured out in place of Slither if we had time – but considering the event often runs late, we reserved the right to skip a film in that slot, and that was a wise move.
Several marathons in Columbus have been blessed to have a classic silent film with a live music accompaniment. This year, we were going to get the double blessing of an archival print of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari along with music from Columbus musical artist Sue Hershe. Despite some projection issues with the sound, Hershe did an amazing job with the electronic music, creating a score that was haunting and matched the action on-screen nicely.
I don’t know how much Sue does ad-hoc, and how much she pre-composes, but it was a heck of an experience. Even without the music, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an amazing piece of film, the German expressionistic style catches you, and the work that went in to creating the skewed world of Caligari is evident. This remains one of my top five favorite silent films, and I am really grateful for the chance to see it in this format.
Trailers that preceded The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari included a “Welcome Back to the Drive-In” piece, The Thrill Killers, Strait-Jacket, The Snake Woman, Sugar Hill, Mumya Firada (Runaway Mummy), The Evil of Frankenstein, Girls School Screamers, a piece for the “Saturday Matinee” at the Drive-In, Flesh For Frankenstein, The Hitcher and Hellraiser.
Vincent Price was many things and appeared in many, many films. Had he somehow still been alive today, he would be celebrating his 100th Birthday this year. With that in mind, the organizers decided to show one of his classic films, and the film was preceded – and followed by – trailers for Price’s films. The Pit and the Pendulum appeared where it would have shown up in all those trailers when seen chronologically.
The list of trailers follows below. But the film itself was a real treat. Sadly, we didn’t get the archival print we expected, and actually had the same print that had shown at this marathon in 1989, so the print was very pink-tinted. That said, Price eats the screen, and The Pit and the Pendulum gives him the ability to win our sympathies before he becomes the evil villain of the film, and it’s kind of nice to root for Price for a change.
I still maintain he isn’t much of an actor, but he plays Vincent Price like nobody else, and I will always be happy to watch a Vincent Price film, especially The Pit and the Pendulum.
Trailers that preceded The Pit and the Pendulum included another drive-in bit for the “Marathon of Fright”, then going in to the trailers for House of Wax, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler and The Return of the Fly.
I knew very little of Ti West’s The House of the Devil going in to the film, other than that it was a throwback to the 1980s, despite being made much more recently (2009).
While generally speaking, The House of the Devil delivers, it suffers from pacing problems. Ti West takes so long to build atmosphere that it actually works against him. Almost an hour in to the film, the action was slow enough that my wife and I decided to skip out on the remainder of the film and go get dinner during The House of the Devil instead of during Bride of Frankenstein.
I’m told by folks who stuck around that the movie did ramp up and the action was great, so I may need to revisit this one on Netflix.
Trailers that preceded The House of the Devil finished off the tribute to Vincent Price, and included The Pit and the Pendulum, Theatre of Blood, Confessions of an Opium Eater, The Tower of London, The Raven, The Haunted Palace, The Last Man on Earth, The Masque of the Red Death, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, House of 1,000 Dolls, The Conqueror Worm, The Oblong Box, Madhouse, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Edward Scissorhands, and a German-language version of Vincent.
I managed to get back to the theatre in time for Bride of Frankenstein, but not in time to see the costume contest. I’m told that entries included Dr. Caligari, Zombie Gumby, The Bride of Frankenstein, Python Gumby, Indiana Jones, Laura Palmer, Future Fake Joe Neff, Ghost Steve Jobs, and the Shooter from The House of the Devil.
As for Bride of Frankenstein itself, the movie is unquestionably a classic film. It’s brilliantly made, and well acted. Sadly, the audience was getting a bit on the wild side by this point, and so there were a few too many snarks, especially during the classic scene with the blind monk, but that doesn’t change the fact that I dearly love this movie.
The Universal classics take a turn towards the silly shortly after this one, but Bride of Frankenstein is one of the best sequels that has ever been made, carrying on the tones and characters from the original perfectly. I could’ve lived without a DVD presentation – any 35mm print would have been an improvement, but it was still a treat to share this film with the marathon audience.
Trailers that preceded Bride of Frankenstein included Lady Frankenstein, The She-Creature, It Conquered the World, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock,
Hatchet for the Honeymoon, The Bride Wore Black, The Brides of Fu Manchu, The Corpse Bride and The Bride.
Way back when, in the days when Blockbuster was still where most people got their home movies, I first saw Flesh For Frankenstein (going under the name Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) during a New Year’s Eve I spent home alone, watching bad movies. I’ve never revisited the film since, and I was really looking forward to seeing this one on the big screen.
Sadly, I was a little disappointed with what we got. The cut was really badly edited, with huge jumps occurring for many of the goriest and sexiest scenes. Later throughout the night, it was referred to as the PG-13 rated version of the film, and that’s not far off.
It was still a lot of fun to experience it with the Marathon crowd, but as badly cut up as it was, I would have rather had a lot of different films take its spot. That said, the “chemistry” between the Baron and his Sister-wife is awesomely hilarious, the children are disturbing, and the assistant Otto is creepier than ever Igor was.
Before we get in to the trailers that preceded Flesh For Frankenstein, a note about Marathon history. It’s worth noting here that we traditionally always show one trailer or short upside down and backwards, a tradition begun years ago when the third reel of Terminator 2: Judgment Day was loaded in that way. By the time the mistake was noticed, it would have caused a significant delay to the marathon schedule, and upon watching it, the audience generally agreed it improved the experience. And so a tradition was born. Often, the retrograde trailer comes with an editorial comment, and this year was no exception.
The trailers before Flesh For Frankenstein included Devil, I Saw the Devil, a retrograde presentation of the The Hitcher remake, Hatchet II, Igor, The Gates, Slither, The Beyond, Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell and American Horror Story.
The time slot that A Serbian Film has been reserved for what we will politely call “extreme horror” ever since the resurrection of the Ohio 24-Hour Horror Marathon. It began with Stuart Gordon presenting Irreversable, and was followed up in that slot last year with Martyrs, and this year it was filled with the highly controversial A Serbian Film.
I kind of hope the tradition ends this year.
No film had been as hotly debated about including in the line-up as A Serbian Film, and with good reason. There was an over 12-page discussion about this film on the message board for the event, and although I was one of the people who argued for its inclusion, having now seen the movie, I kind of wish I hadn’t.
A Serbian Film is a deeply disturbing film about how people are reduced to instruments of amusement and enjoyment by the powerful. This is a profound message, and one that resonates – especially in war-torn Serbia. It was made through the story of a former porn star who is sucked back in to the world of porn, and as the film progresses, it gets increasingly violent and disturbing. Simulated rape is a big part of the movie, along with necrophilia and pedophilia.
It was brilliantly made, and I can’t deny that it was compelling. It is a film I never would have sought out for my own viewing, and if I were going to see it anywhere, the marathon was the right audience. That said, I can think of no other film where I actively wish I hadn’t seen it before. Oh, there have been plenty of bad movies I wish I hadn’t bothered with, but they didn’t actually make me feel like a worse person. A Serbian Film had that effect, and drove my wife home – and added the decision that she wouldn’t be returning in the morning to watch The Beyond or Hellraiser.
I’m never going to recommend that anyone watch A Serbian Film, but I will give full credit to the filmmakers for accomplishing exactly what they set out to do in the making of the movie.
No trailers preceded A Serbian Film.
Midnight Son was the perfect palate cleanser after the previous film, and was one I really enjoyed. A delightful tale about a young man who suffers from a severe reaction to the sun, we first meet Jacob as he realizes that no matter what he eats, he is always hungry. An accidental exposure to animal blood teaches him what he needs, and just in time for Jacob to meet Mary, Jacob begins to realize that he’s a vampire.
The film is as much a tale of addiction as it is one of vampirism, and while there is gore and scares and sexy scenes to be found, it’s really more about Jacob’s psychological transformation and journey. We have a nice subplot involving Jacob’s “dealer,” his budding career as a painter, a local cop investigating a murder, and Mary’s own issues with addiction and abusive boyfriends.
Midnight Son won’t change anyone’s life. It isn’t the best vampire film ever made, but it’s a solid viewing experience, and was perfect for getting A Serbian Film out of our heads. This was the Ohio premiere of Midnight Son, but the film is available for home viewing, and I definitely say check it out.
No trailers preceded Midnight Son.
We have also developed a tradition of showing something weird and offbeat from Japan during the marathons, and this year’s entry was Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell. I knew very little about it going in, and sadly the clock and my general exhaustion, and emotionally drain from earlier films all conspired to knock me out for most of the movie. So, although I did see glimpses here and there of an airplane going down, and mercury-foreheaded-alien-possessed corpses, I couldn’t tell you much about what occurred during Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell. Here’s a link to the recap of the movie from Wikipedia.
Those who did stay awake said that they had a lot of fun with Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell, and I wish I’d been able to be a part of that group. It may be something I try to track down in the future, to watch in a different context.
We had already seen a retrograde presentation of the trailer for the remake of this film, and by the time it aired, we were ready for some good old-fashioned mayhem.
Well, we got what we asked for. This HBO-produced film starring Rutger Hauer as a mysterious hitchhiker who terrorizes, stalks, and sets up a poor young student is both full of psychologically tense moments, over-the-top mayhem and action, and some great performances. After it aired, there was a lot of discussion about why this proves that remakes in Hollywood are rarely a good idea. While The Hitcher is firmly rooted in the 1980s, the film holds up perfectly today. Our young leads are solid, and are easy to sympathize with. Hauer is terrifying in his quiet menace – and even more frightening when emotion slips on to his face, and the effects are really, really solid.
There is no reason for The Hitcher to be remade, but there is every reason for genre fans to seek out a copy. We were fortunate enough to have a new archival print to see, and it was really one of the best ways to ever watch The Hitcher.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve watched it, go and see it again.
Trailers that preceded The Hitcher included Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, a drive-in bit for “One Free Gallon of Gasoline,” Christine, The Car, Maximum Overdrive, another drive-in bit discussing their state-of-the-art (by 1970′s standards) heaters, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an animated message warning you to stop your car in school zones, with surprisingly brutal animations about the consequences, and finally Thumb Tripping.
Hall of Fame Inductee: John Carpenter
Each year, we get an inductee in to the Ohio Horror Marathon Hall of Fame, chosen by ballots from the audience. Previous inductees include David Cronenberg, William Castle, Frankenhooker, Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon, Barbara Steele, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Joe Bob Briggs, Bruce Campbell, George Romero, Bread and Alfred Hitchcock. Narrowly beating out Frankenstein’s monster, this year was the year for John Carpenter – and ironically, one where we didn’t show any of his films.
Lucio Fulci is a genius Italian filmmaker, and this marathon we were treated to his “opening the gates of hell and resurrecting the dead” film, The Beyond.
The plot is somewhat simple – a book tells the story of where the seven gates to hell exist, and when a mystic/painter is murdered in that hotel, the gates are weakened. Enter our protagonist, who inherits the hotel from her uncle, and in the process of rehabbing the hotel, further opens the gate. Enter the walking dead, a blind mystic, and more eye-gouging shots than I’ve ever seen in any other movie. (Seriously, Fulci has a history of doing terrible things to eyes.)
The Beyond moves a little slowly by modern standards, and the hero boyfriend-doctor is the worst shot I’ve ever seen (seriously, you’re forgiven for shooting the first corpse in the body several times, but once you realize that only shooting them in the head drops them, why do you waste multiple bullets on the bodies moving forward?). It suffers from some pacing problems, and even more so it suffers from some plot holes and extraneous characters. But it’s a classic film, and it reminds us that the Italian horror masters were creating stuff decades ahead of the Americans.
Do you need to see The Beyond? Not at all. But you won’t be unhappy that you did so.
No trailers preceded The Beyond.
It’s easy now to forget that there was a time that we didn’t all know Clive Barker as a master of modern horror. And the reason for Barker to become a household name is largely wrapped up in the success of the film adaptation of Hellraiser.
Based on the novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser is a moody, disturbing film about a man who uses a puzzle box to open the gates to hell. When his brother and sister-in-law move in to the house where he died, he starts to come back, using his sister-in-law as a mistress, and ultimately sacrificing his brother’s life. The couple’s daughter, Kristy, solves the same puzzle box to summon the Cenobites, the demons who took him away in the first place, and a brand new fetish scene was born.
Seriously, as effective as the horror story about Frank and Julia and Larry is, we all know these films for the Cenobites – especially their leader, Pinhead. The looks for the Cenobites are amazingly striking, and it’s kind of funny how much we think of them when they actually have only a very small direct role in this film. Later movies used them a lot more, and I don’t always know that this was the right choice.
Sadly, by the time Hellraiser aired, my soul had already been torn apart, and I left a few minutes in to the film. But had I been a little less worn out, had my friends and family not all already left several movies earlier, and had I not had daughters back home waiting for me, I think it would have been a perfect film to wrap the event up with.
Trailers that preceded Hellraiser included
the very bizarre short film The Legend of Beaver Dam, Detroit 9000, Blood Feast, Deep Red, I Dismember Mama, The Offspring, Cannibal Ferox, Duke Mitchell’s Massacre Mafia Style, Evil Dead, Lord of Illusions, which sadly suffered a film break in the middle, Nightbreed, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and Hellbound: Hellraiser II.
So, what did I think about the 3rd Annual Shock Around the Clock? Overall, I had a really good time. We had some serious film delays, and it is unfortunately true that A Serbian Film will probably remain the defining element of the marathon. Which does a disservice to the rest of the line-up. There were some amazing classics, a great live-performance by Sue Hershe, and the constant buzz of the audience. I worry about what A Serbian Film may have done to drive some audience members away – and to prevent new audiences from forming, but I also think that it is to the credit of the hosts and organizers that we were able to cover so many different varieties of horror during the event, and I know I’ll be looking forward to coming back next year.
The contests were fun and enjoyable, everyone who wanted one walked away with a poster and a lanyard, and horror was well served in Ohio.
As always, many thanks to hosts Bruce Bartoo and Joe Neff, and owners of the Grandview, David Nedrow and Jennifer Stancel, for putting on one of my favorite annual events. If you are in Ohio around Halloween and are a fan of horror films, then check out the Marathon. Incidentally, the same group of lunatics also put on a Science Fiction movie marathon every Spring at the Drexel Theatre.
Which reminds me, if you’re in Ohio and want to support local, independent theatres, then go check out a film at either the Grandview Theatre or the Drexel. You’ll enjoy the intimacy of the experience, you’ll be supporting a local business, and you’ll get the chance to see a film that you never would have seen at your local AMC megaplex.
Until next time, remind yourself that the terror begins the moment he stops. And get some sleep.