HAPPY HALLOWEEN ONE AND ALL!
Welcome friends to my one and only Cine-ween post for this year, 2022! We decided this year to not blitz the site with an endless flow of content in celebration of Halloween, but to instead encourage our awesome podcasts (the lifeblood of this community) to focus on the season and celebrate it on each show as it worked for them! Considering I am writing to you while only just recovering from a two week long battle with bronchitis (fingers crossed my lungs improve soon), I do not regret this decision at all. I had planned, though — besides the three episodes of Horror Business, two episodes of Cinepunx, and our special Halloween episode of Cinema Smorgasbord coming out ON Halloween — to take the time to write SOMETHING, if not a few things, for this spooky season. Alas, besides the responsibilities of parenting, recording, and slinging awesome shirts, the specter of illness has swooped in and killed my productivity for this, the final gasp of our spooky time. Still, this idea of a streaming Horror marathon is one I have thought about for some time and I knew, even in the midst of the death rattle that is my lungs, I would be able to get done.
The idea here is simple: I wanted to scour some of my preferred streaming sites to offer you a possible marathon of spooky movies. You can watch these in true noon to noon fashion over a 24-hour period, or you can watch them at your leisure. I will say some of my programming choices might make more sense if one keeps in mind that certain time slots would — in a 24 hour marathon — be times when folks are at various levels of awake and thus, I might be taking mercy on my audience, or, perhaps, quite the opposite. Often, I am not taking pity on them, to be honest, but that is on theme.
This idea is, of course, in some ways born out of a sense of mourning. This year was the first year in over a decade I was unable to attend the Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon. It was not a decision I bore lightly, and seeing their programming this year — which I found very interesting, challenging, and perhaps unexpected — I was inspired. Now, I have done for both Cinepunx and Horror Business prospective horror marathon ideas, but those were all blue-sky marathons. They were born simply out of thinking about the horror movies I love and would want to share. For this one, I was limited by what is available to stream — although, I must admit, far less limited than I thought going in! There were a few films I wanted to add (like Der Fan, Alucarda, or Scream for Help) that were unavailable to me on any streaming platform. For the most part, I did not feel limited, though. I focused not on what I wanted most, but what was available to me, and in so doing, was reminded in some cases of movies I really love that I might have missed otherwise just blue-skying it. Now, some of these films have been screened at Horrorthons past, others not so much. I will be honest — the idea of trying to either completely mimic OR completely avoid the choices Exhumed has made over the years was just too much pressure for my cough medicine-addled brain to handle. This is simply the best I could do whilst also attempting not to cough myself to death!
The streaming services I focused on were Shudder, HBO Max, and The Criterion Channel, and when I could swing it, I tried to incorporate Netflix and Tubi for a broader reach. I left Amazon alone because I find navigating their current set-up a real headache and I wanted to focus on films available for free, and I ignored Hulu cause the selection there is bad. I also tried to include alternates for each spot so you could actually mix and match if you wanted to. They are chosen more for my perceived vibe than anything else. If you think they are bad alternates, go tell your mother ’cause I don’t care.
The Gate (alt: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Brood, Alligator)
I wanted to open with what is, for me, a certified banger. I know not everyone vibes on The Gate, but it is such an interesting combination of fun but also kind of disturbing that I thought it would be a good way to open any marathon. The world of kids suddenly put under threat, the forces of order and safety feeling so far away, and some of the most interesting stop motion and camera tricks of the time, this movie really has a lot to offer. It keeps it moving, but still has some moments of real dread. I wanted to start serious, but not so serious I bring down the whole vibe. For me, The Gate is the perfect combination of a movie that demands respect but is a ton of fun to watch.
Knowing though that it might not fit for everyone, I chose three different alternate flavors. NOES is of course for the marathon in which you are trying to keep things familiar. Very popular film, but also still effective and scary. The Brood is a better fit for your more cynical crowd that might want to start somewhere a bit darker. Alligator is not given the respect it deserves and I think could really win over a group who is unsure if they should be taking this marathon seriously or not. Basically the best Jaws rip off there is, but also not that at all, this movie will impress anyone unfamiliar.
Eyes Without a Face (alt: Bride of Frankenstein, City of the Dead)
After giving the folks something that, by my estimation, will go down pretty easy, it is time to immediately ask something of them. Not everyone will find any of these suggestions off-putting just because they are not in color, but some will. For my money, the most effective at what I want — which is to be slightly off-putting while also still entertaining — is Eyes Without a Face. It is so beautiful and masterfully directed but also so deeply unsettling, I think it will be a fitting introduction to any gathering. Yes, this will be fun and artful what we are doing here, but it might stick with you. I also think this early in any marathon folks are awake enough to appreciate any of these movie, though feel free to choose your more refined choices here as well. Anything that will not halt the proceedings but has a slightly higher bar for entry. This was shown at a Horrorthon early on and it killed, and I feel similarly here. The two alternates simply represent my taste in older horror, but I trust the discerning reader to also make their own choices for this slot as well. I don’t think this is for the kind of slow burn that feels like an endurance test, later is much better for that level of cruelty to your audience.
Frankenstein Conquers the World (alt: Destroy All Monsters, War of the Gargantuas, 100 Monsters)
This is one of only a few parts of my marathon that are a direct homage to the Exhumed films event I miss so much. For whatever reason they often schedule a Kaiju film at this point in the day. There have been some awesome choices and some I was not so excited about, but this is unfortunately my relationship to kaiju films. Since this is my marathon, I chose 3 of my favorite Kaiju films, not counting the original Godzilla. I think you could go for the OG in this slot, but that felt to me like starting the very much on a serious note that it might be more difficult to recover from than you think. The ones I chose do not represent a particularly deep knowledge of the genre because I don’t have one, I am still a novice but one who is excited and open to learn more.
There is of course one choice here that does not fit, because 100 Monsters is a yukai film. I recently caught this film on Shudder and I really loved it, and I realized that this kind of smaller monster story would also fit the bill. There are a ton of these yukai movies and if these are more interesting to you than Godzilla and his friends, that is fine! Give this or one of it’s many genre mates a go, I picked this one because I enjoyed it so much.
The House on Sorority Row (alt: Stage Fright Aquarius, The Slumber Party Massacre, The Hitcher, The Fifth Cord)
Ok, we are well into the marathon at this point and I feel like while I haven’t done anything too out of pocket yet, now is a good time to return to something easy and familiar. This is also a pretty good place for some folks to take a dinner break, so by choosing things that I think are fun but don’t require a ton of attention I am allowing people to either dip out and come back, or eat while they watch. The House on Sorority Row also functions for me as a kind of celebration of Exhumed as it is a film I first saw at a Horrorthon and assumed would be boring, but was actually surprisingly compelling for a standard ’80s slasher film. Playing in a familiar genre while being a surprising entry in that genre, something either comforting for those familiar or maybe a total surprise for those going in blind, fits as a description for a few of my alternates as well. THOSR is different in that I think it is more traditionally in its lane than these other films but still, I think it is way more competent than many of its contemporaries. The Hitcher might hit some as a surprise, but I don’t think of it as a traditional slasher, but definitely a film combining horror and action into one of the most compelling and exciting genre films of the decade. Another choice which, some will simply be excited to return to while others, if they give it a chance, I think will be pleasantly surprised by what they find. The outside choice here is The Fifth Cord, which is more of a gripping giallo than any traditional horror film. I added this for two reasons: the first being some folks might want something more refined than my other choices — which, while great, are a bit mainstream. The other is that I saw it recently and was blown away and just wanted to include it somewhere cause I was so amazed I had never seen it before.
Brain Damage (alt: Basket Case, Torso, The Blob ’88)
At this point, if you are experiencing this list as a marathon, we are moving solidly into the night-time hours. No better time to shift the vibe, and start to establish that while we are still in a very entertaining space, things are getting weird. For me Brain Damage really fits my plan for the flow of this marathon the most. It is mind melting, funny, but also deeply melancholy in a way that will affect most audiences. Is it a goofy NYC urban film, or a depressing allegory for addiction? Yes, yes it is. I included Basket Case because it still allows us to shift focus to the city, an important moment for me in any horror marathon, but is perhaps a bit more traditionally a horror film and I suspect easier for some audiences to relate to, while still having something inexplicably serious about it as well. Torso and The Blob ’88) might seem like choices that miss the brief but let me briefly explain: Torso is a film that I think so gradually raises the tensions that for an audience who maybe is not familiar with it, it can be a real surprise. The Blob is a surprise in that it is so utterly gross and upsetting considering the film that is is remaking, and I think is just generally underrated.
Raw ( alt: The Wind, His House, The Wailing, Glorious)
This choice is perhaps the least “organic” and the most influenced by the format of this piece. The first aspect of that is simple. I am way too inclined toward a certain era of horror, specifically the ’70s and ’80s. So, I set a challenge for myself to attempt to include at least a couple more modern films in this list. I also realized that I was relying HEAVILY on Shudder and Criterion Collection so I wanted this slot to have at least a few Netflix movies as well. Raw is very possibly my favorite movie on Netflix at all right now, but it is certainly a film that I think fits the vibe of the marathon, and by that I mean DISRUPTS the vibe of the marathon. At this point I want to head toward something unsettling but not yet a real “fuck you” moment. Raw is excellent but also deeply unnerving, and in fact I feel that about three of these alternates as well. The one outlier of that norm is also a Shudder selection, and that is Glorious. Consider this counter programming, maybe you don’t want to bum out your crew yet and you would prefer something fun and easy going down, but still a modern selection? Glorious is light, fun, a bit gooey, but still will leave you a discussion moment as to whether it works for you or not.
Messiah of Evil (alt: The Beyond, Cemetery of Terror, The Hunger)
Ok, so now is the moment when my programming starts to get a bit…mean? You see if this is truly a marathon situation, then folks have been watching movies for 11-13 hours at this point, and chances are they are just starting to get tired. So, lets give them something that feels like a living nightmare! Messiah of Evil is to my taste the perfect choice for this spot. It is slow and meandering enough to lure some of your guests into a sense of peace, but it also has some truly beautiful and upsetting imagery. It is a masterpiece of mood, but it is none the less a horrifying experience to watch. This might be a time when some folks are less invested and that is ok, any marathon has ebbs and flows. However, the ones willing to experience this film in this slot will I think appreciate it. The alternates are themselves nightmare films but in different directions, accomplishing a similar vibe but having a much different effect. The Beyond is a nightmare, but perhaps a lot easier digest than MOE. Cemetery of Terror is a standard narrative, but with the kind of choices that will make many audiences doubt their sanity. The Hunger is another masterpiece of mood, but is a better choice for a party that is ready to be both sad and horny. Perhaps the horniest meditation on dearth and dying there is, this will also mess with your audience but in a much different way.
White of the Eye (alt: Maniac, Scream for Help, Tenebrae/Deep Red)
This is an interesting position because after the sleeper of the last section I want to add a little adrenaline, something that is a bit more immediately engaging, but I still want to maintain a bit of the feeling of the surreal. I feel each of these choices do that, but none more than White of the Eye. This film is new to me, and thanks to the Criterion Channel for making it available. If they had not included it in their 80s horror selections for this month I am not sure when I would have made time for it, but I am so glad I did. This melding of psychological thriller, experimental art film, and traditional slasher is both exciting and utterly a mind-melter. I found it gripping from beginning to end, but also surprising at so many turns and confused by the aesthetic of it all in a way that was ultimately completely satisfying. This is still a dream film, but one that moves at a grip. The alternates on this one are less this vibe exactly, but each has it’s own aspects that, while raising the drama level in the room, will still also add to a feeling of not being sure what is real and what is not. The slash for Tenebrae and Deep Red is simply indecision on my part, these are my two favorite Argento films that are not supernatural in nature. Go with whichever you prefer and I think they will function similarly in this slot.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (alt: New York Ripper, Flesh for Frankenstein, We Are All Going to the World’s Fair)
When I was mapping out the flow of this hypothetical marathon this slot only had one very brief description: “FUCK YOU”
This is, for me and my sort of internal clock, the true point of no return. This is where I have likely lost a lot of will to live, and whatever happens now I might sleep through or I might be fully engaged by, but I have given up hope really. This slot, this is where you unleash some true insanity. Unfortunately, there are limits on us with this activity. The streaming services have limited choices that I think would truly work in this slot. I think I would prefer a Night of 1000 Cats or a Lady Terminator or maybe a Possession in this slot. The simple fact is that I am also not as cruel as I could be. Maybe a Der Fan would work here as well to be honest. Regardless, Tetsuo The Iron Man seemed like a sufficiently insane movie for this slot, one that would either lull some to sleep while haunting the nightmares of others. Really will depend on the individual. The alternates are for the most part a bit desperate, just other things that I think of as weird or upsetting, but I will say if you would like to work in some more new films, We Are All Going to the World’s Fair is a real fucking odd film that would really upset an audience, but they would have to be open-minded to its weird vibes.
Eyes of Fire (alt: The Eyes of My Mother, Dead Ringers, Matango, The Alchemist’s Cook Book)
In my headcanon for this event, this is when some folks are waking back up or perhaps just falling asleep. I wanted to choose something that would, if they were floating in and out of sleep, fill their dream-addled mind with some real nightmare imagery. I think Eyes of Fire is the best choice for this because it is a not film that is particularly loud, but it does have some real upsetting imagery in it that will stick with some folks. I also think it is a severely under rated film that deserves more respect, and it has a much different vibe than anything else on my main list thus far. The alternates ate each films that have moments that, if you were to just wake up to those, might actually give you some horrendous nightmares and I appreciate that. I also realized I had returned to the theme of new films in awhile so I included two which I think are interesting but if you were to sleep through, it would be ok.
Blacula (alt: Daughters of Darkness, Cronos, Thirst, Vampire’s Kiss)
I think anyone paying attention will guess this is another slot determined more by this exercise than by the structure of a marathon. The Criterion Channel has a very interesting collection of vampire films right now, many of them outside the expectations of your average vampire tale. I chose Blacula as my primary choice here because it allowed me to inject some color into a line up that is perhaps too white for it’s own good. However, each of these choices add some new layer, context, diversity, or perspective to one of the oldest tales in our culture and would work here wonderfully. If the specific concerns of this slot do not work for you, no worries — maybe now is the time for an action horror like The Hidden, or something real dark and upsetting like The Last House on the Left but for my vibe, inserting an outsider take on a classic theme really works.
Satan’s Slaves (alt: Dearest Sister, The Medium)
This slot allows me to accomplish two important things to me. One is to signal that it is definitely time to wake up, and these three choices, I think, would be difficult for even the most sleepy of your participants to nap through. I also wanted to feature some modern Asian horror. That does not mean that one could not pick some classic Hong Kong or Japanese horror to fit here — those would often work as well. Streaming services are limited though, and for me, all three of these movies need more eyes on them, especially my primary choice, Satan’s Slaves.
Dream Demon (alt: Nightmare City, The Changeling, Lemora)
This selection is mildly inspired by the recent marathon those Exhumed fiends had which I could not attend. They chose Dreamscape as one of their films, and Charles on The Twitch of the Death Nerve podcast recap of the event mentioned how neat it was for them to feature a movies about dreams toward the end of the night. I love Dream Demon and feel like it is an underrated film. It is not the explosion of gore and violence some horror hounds prefer, but I do find it interesting and haunting and think it is a good fit here. You might sense though in my alternates a bit of insecurity because I am aware that Dream Demon is not universally loved, so perhaps you would rather inject the non-stop action of Nightmare City which is oddly also very dream like, or the solid banger haunting of The Changeling, or maybe you just wanna make the whole room feel weird with the strange beauty that is Lemora. Dealers choice I guess.
Evilspeak (alt: The Omen, Demons, Night of the Demons)
This one was easy for me, I want to make sure we get evil before we leave and all these selections are a celebration of old nick himself. Evilspeak I chose as my primary because it is a bit unexpected as to how great it is, and I appreciate how often folks who have missed it are surprised by how great it is. The alternates are all old reliable demonic classics, just total crowd pleasers in my mind, especially Night of the Demons as a very specifically Halloween film.
Society (alt: Prince of Darkness, Nightbreed, Demon Knight)
Last film of the event, haters be damned! This is a spot where you want to send folks out on a great note, a real thank you to them for enduring this trial with you. I think all of these films are awesome in their own way, but they are a bit divisive. Why choose something divisive? Some folks are going to wanna head home early. Now way around that, this is a long long time you have taken from your audience. Let them decide if they want to do that 15th film or no. However, I think all these choices, though divisive, are awesome. Someone in your audience might never have given one of these a chance, so why not really turn someone’s mind around on something great? Yeah glad we agree on this one.
Ok that is it. I am embarrassed both by the length of this piece and the fact that it took me till HALLOWEEN to post it, but this is life as an ADHD dad with severe bronchitis, huh? THAT OLD CHESTNUT! Keep it spooky.