Month of Horror 2019 – Surviving a 24 Hour Horror Movie Marathon

A truly intense experience all horror nerds should seek out!

What: the 11th Annual Shock Around the Clock Marathon

Where: The Drexel Theatre, Columbus Ohio

When Saturday October 12th 12pm- 12pmSunday October 13th

Survival – a Matter of Planning

Traveling out to Columbus Ohio for their annual horror marathon has been a tradition of mine for over 10 years now. This past weekend marked my 11th thon and wanted to share the experience and some tips for surviving an experience.

The night before – Getting as much sleep as possible seems obvious but also the amount of sleep before going to the thon and sitting through it should be factored. As a resident of central Pennsylvania, I made sure to get a room out in Columbus to be able to wake up with minimal driving to do before the marathon began. Friday afternoon I picked up some friends in western PA and we arrived at our hotel in Columbus around 6 leaving plenty of time for a chill, relaxing evening with driving taken care of.

Timing- Saturday morning we arrive at the theatre a little after 11am and already the place is packed. Meeting up with another friend out there the 5 of us were able to still find seats together. Having a good group either with you, or a good audience in general can make all the difference! The Shock Around the Clock’s audience knows how to have a fun time without ruining it for others.

The Lineup

  1. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) Starting with a fun black and white Universal horror was a good decision to help everyone get into the spirit of things. The movie mostly focuses on the resurrection of Lawerence Talbot from the first Werewolf movie and his struggling once again with the curse. This time the search for help leads him to the dilapidated castle of a former controversial scientist… Running under 90 minutes the film has pretty good pacing and while not among the top tier classics definitely ranks among a fun entry in the Univeral franchise.
  2. The Birds (1963) – this is a horror movie I have only seen a few times, so seeing a good looking copy on the big screen was a great way to revisit this one. Some side characters get moments to be more than one-note characters and while this is a story more about plot than people, the people definitely get a chance or two to feel like humans. Almost never talked amongst Hitchcock’s top tier works, but one of his many many films that’s still remembered to this day and for good reason.
  3. Creepshow (1982)– Anthology films have always been a bit of a novelty since as a category of films go, it’s never been immensely popular but never goes away completely either. I’d definitely rate this one inspired by the works of Stephen King with an EC comics color stylization is among the upper echelon of horror anthology flicks. This was introduced by Michael Gornick the DP who worked on this, another film viewed and was an excellent guest at the thon (more on that shortly). One could definitely tell how much he used his eye to capture a lot of shots that had a distinct comic book feel (dramatic angles, heightened close ups of faces, etc). A fun Romero flick despite some stories being much stronger than others.
  4. Michael Gornick Q&A
    1. Without getting much into specifics this was a fun part of the marathon. This is a guy who worked a lot with Romero early in their respective careers and I was probably most interested in hearing about their shoot for Martin (decades later still one of the most original vampire films I’ve ever seen). Link to his IMDB:
  5. Day of the Dead (1985) – sadly considered the lesser of the OG Of the Dead Trilogy but a movie I almost find something new to appreciate on rewatches. While the movie can be pretty bleak about humanity’s chances once the zombie apocalypse has reached its peak, the narrative still deals with ways humans (both good and bad) try to cope and possibly make a new world for tomorrow.
  6. Mandy (2019) – now it’s starting to get later (a lil before 10) and the lineup is gonna get a little more intense. Regardless of how you may feel about Nicolas Cage, I will defend that the man does manage to end up in some pretty damn decent slices of cinemas and when it comes to slices, Mandy is a high in a career often derided for its lows. Glowing, trippy, dripping with style and some wit, Mandy is a horror movie designed for people who love badass 80s imagery on the side of vans. Very entertaining and quite fun to watch with a crowd.
  7. Crash (1996) – Cronenberg’s film that can make different people uncomfortable in different ways! I had seen it before and with a slew of newer movies coming up that I had not seen yet, I took this as a time to get some napping in during this one. Sometimes with movie marathons, one must pick their battles wisely.
  8. The Wretched (2019) – another crowd pleaser and the first of the Ohio premieres. Taking a lot of familiar elements to horror: family is having troubles, parents getting divorced, moving to a small town to start over, etc- The Wretched is able to subvert a cliché or two while not covering much new ground overall. The monster/creature is well designed, even if its lore could have been better explored. Essentially the kid of recently separated parents is spending the summer with his dad when he suspects a creature is impersonating local women and stealing their children along with peoples’ memories of the kids as well. I liked it and would recommend people looking for a fun, creepy story to check it out.
  9. Body Melt (1993)– This one was an unexpected delight. Not knowing much about this Aussie horror comedy going in probably helped because what starts out as potentially decent satire quickly devolves into narrative tangents, wacky over the top characters, and yes, indeed bodies will melt. Not for everyone , and the half-baked story might not be endear some, but this gross weird funny film with a funky soundtrack (linking a track below) is def worth a watch for those who like their horror on the fringe.
  10. Bliss (2019)–  The second of the thon premieres. Violent, intense passionate and hella bloody. This movie focuses on a younger artist struggling selling her work and keeping her head above water financially. Her network of friends leaves much to be desired and turning to some harder drugs may not lead to the type of help she’s looking for. Let’s just say she manages to find some inspiration even as other parts of her life start to further spiral. Already available on release in certain outlets, check it out but try not to learn too much before watching!
  11. The Dark Red (2019)– the 3rd of 3 Ohio premieres and another solid one. Detailing the story of a young institutionalized woman who believes a group has stolen her baby this movie has a feel that crosses Rosemary’s Baby with Firestarter. Really solid acting all around in this one helps ground a story that involves creepy drawing, paranormal powers some humans possess, and cults with nefarious purposes. This was darn hard to stay awake during (probably watched it around 6:30am) but glad I managed to manage consciousness for the majority of the film.
  12. Opera (1987) – One of my personal favorites from Argento. This movie may not have the same critical love that Suspiria does, but I find this movie on some levels more engaging. The plot is pretty standard (killings around an Opera production? In a horror movie? What will they think of next?) but the style, the music (both operatic but also some rock too) and the pacing creates a pretty entertaining experience. There’s some of the better uses gore in the giallo flick mostly coming from some ingenuous uses of sharp objects and tape. Also, if looking for a movie to introduce someone to a specific kind of Italian horror, I’d strongly suggest Opera.
  13. Shaun of the Dead (2004) – as the 24 hours comes to close and personally having around 6ish hours of driving in the day ahead of me for my return, my friends and I decide to peace out at this point a little early. A fun movie, but one we’ve seen so many times that we have decided to prioritize sleep and safety over the umpteenth rewatching of it. We shamble out of theatre a new, bright day awaiting us but the memories in that dark room will linger for years to come.


Final Survival Tips

-Keep the blood pumping: standing, stretching and walking around the neighborhood were excellent ways to feel active and alert at times when otherwise spending the majority of the day with my butt in a (very comfy) cinema seat.

– Caffeine is good but so is water- staying awake as much as possible is obviously ideal for these types of events. Being hydrated so you don’t feel crappy while forcing your body to do also so really helps!

-Have fun! Try to get to know at least one random horror nerd there and say thanks to all the hard working people who make such events possible.