Friday, June 15, 2018

24 Hours of Movies: Father's Day Horror!

by Patrick Bromley
It's Father's Day this weekend, and there's nothing I'd rather do than watch 24 straight hours of horror movies. And spend time with my family, of course. Maybe I can talk them into watching 24 straight hours of horror movies?

Inspired by a recent episode of Corpse Club I recorded with my #HorrorBFF Heather Wixson, I thought it would be fun to program 24 hours of Father's Day-themed horror movies. It's something Heather asked me to do on the podcast, but like a dummy I was winging it instead of preparing my lineup ahead of time; here's my opportunity to right that wrong.

Full disclosure: I'll be using the same titles here as I named on the podcast, but also adding about twice as many titles. Gotta go the full 24!

10 am - The Funhouse (1981, dir. Tobe Hooper)
I want to start things off with a bang, so of course I'm going to program my favorite movie from my favorite director first. I love this movie's energy, its colors, and the way it never quite goes where you expect it might. I've talked about it so much at this point that I probably don't need to explain its placement any further, except to say that the father/son relationship between Gunther and his father (Kevin Conway) is very much at the center of the whole conflict.

11:45 am - It's Alive (1974, dir. Larry Cohen)
There may be no better horror movie ever made to deal with what it means to be a parent. The Omen tries, but The Omen can't touch It's Alive. John P. Ryan plays the father of a mutant baby that's killing everyone in its path -- the doctors in the delivery room, the milkman, you name it -- and is at first horrified and repelled at what he has sired, but eventually realizes it's his kid and he loves it unconditionally. Larry Cohen is the best because he's able to layer all of this humanity inside what should be a ridiculous high-concept horror movie, even though he still leans into the ridiculous high-concept-ness of it all and manages a bunch of social commentary, too. He makes it look easy, but that's because he's able to mix this stuff in a way no other filmmaker can. He's one of a kind.

1:15 pm - Frankenstein (1931, dir. James Whale)
What is Frankenstein if not the story of a father who creates life and then is unwilling or unable to deal with the responsibility of that? It's good to mix up subgenres and tones and even periods when programming an all-horror marathon like this one, so I'm glad to find a spot for Universal classic.

2:30 pm - Pumpkinhead (1988, dir. Stan Winston)
Time for an all-out creature feature. The tragic story of a father (Lance Henriksen) whose son is accidentally killed by a group of teenagers and who summons a demon to take revenge is, in the words of Shock Waves/Pure Cinema host Elric Kane, one of the great modern folktales. As one of only two features directed by effects legend Stan Winston, it stands to reason that Pumpkinhead has one of the coolest monsters and some of the best creature effects of the 1980s. It's going to make for a pretty dark afternoon, but we've got plenty of time to turn things around.

4 pm - Eyes Without a Face (1960, dir. Georges Franju)
The lengths some fathers will go to for their kids. In this case, it's a plastic surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) whose daughter is disfigured in a crash, so he works tirelessly to perform a successful face transplant on her. But he's got to get those new faces from somewhere... This French classic is creepy and spare and incredibly macabre, with a terrifying, expressionless mask worn by the daughter for most of the film and a surprising amount of gore for a movie made in 1960. I think it will play well in this slot, when we're not yet too tired for subtitles but also enough movies along to let something weird burrow its way in.

5:30 pm - The Woman (2011, dir. Lucky McKee)
Let's go ahead and get suuuper fucking ugly before we bail out of this nosedive into despair. Sean Bridgers plays one of the vilest horror movie dads of all time: a guy who beats his wife, rapes his daughter, and keeps a feral woman locked up in the shed so he can beat and rape her, too, all while keeping a "normal" public face as a pillar of his community. I've said a number of times that this is one of my favorite horror movies of the 2000s, with incredible performances from the entire cast (in particular Pollyanna Macintosh as the titular Woman), a great off-kilter soundtrack, and a savage screenplay by McKee and Jack Ketchum (RIP). It's not an easy watch, though. Better to get it out of the way before dinner.

7:30 pm - Creepshow (1982, dir. George A. Romero)
The centerpiece around which the entire marathon is built, because no horror movie is more synonymous than Creepshow thanks to the opening segment, called -- you guessed it -- "Father's Day." This will be a really nice palette cleanser after a pretty dark afternoon, as Creepshow is one of the single most entertaining and fun horror movies ever made.

9:45 pm - Frailty (2001, dir. Bill Paxton)
Ok, break's over. Let's get back to the dark shit. Bill Paxton's directorial debut (RIP) is an intense, gothic family drama until it isn't. I actually haven't revisited this movie since I saw it opening weekend, so this marathon is the perfect chance to check back in on a movie that a lot of people (especially Mike) have been praising for years.

11:30 pm - Pet Sematary (1989, dir. Mary Lambert)
Holy shit, horror movies about parenthood tend to be really upsetting. This one is more upsetting than most, and not just because of Zelda. Dale Midkiff is a day trying to keep his family together after losing the family cat and then his son Gage (Miko Hughes), even if it means bringing them both back from the dead. It doesn't go well. I have such a weird relationship with this Stephen King adaptation, which is both really sincere and trying to be about something while also being kind of trashy and exploitative. The weird mix is what makes it special, I guess. That and Zelda. Fucking Zelda.

1:30 am - City of the Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell) (1980, dir. Lucio Fulci)
Ok, this one is a stretch, but we have to work in some Italian horror. I'm positive there are a number of Italian horror films that more clearly address issues of fatherhood, but I'm going to program this one because it's a) one of my three favorite Fulci films and b) the hellish events are kicked off by a priest -- or a "father," if you will -- hanging himself. See? It works.

3 am - Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985, dir. Danny Steinmann)
Let's keep the crazy train going and watch the most ridiculous entry in the Friday the 13th franchise. Those of you who have seen it will know why it's the perfect movie for this marathon's theme, and those of you who haven't are being introduced to it in exactly the right way: at three in the morning after watching a bunch of other horror movies. It's the sleaziest, goofiest Friday film and a movie I enjoy despite having to constantly apologize for it.

4:30 am - The People Under the Stairs (1991, dir Wes Craven)
Everett McGill and Wendy Robie are one of horror's most demented couples, and it's got nothing to do with noise-free drape runners. Playing murderous slumlords who sometimes dress up in full Gimp gear and refer to each other as "mommy" and "daddy" (it's Ron and Nancy Reagan!), they are some of the most entertaining villains in all of '90s horror. I love messy Wes Craven, when he's got some big ideas he wants to work through and does it in a movie that's constantly threatening to go off the rails. That's The People Under the Stairs.

6:30 am - The Loved Ones (2009, dir. Sean Byrne)
Sean Byrne's 2009 debut is one of those horror movies that has taken the better part of a decade to really catch on among genre fans, but is now being fully embraced as something really special. On one level, it's a movie about the worst high school dance anyone has ever attended this side of Carrie; on another, it's a really, really dark movie about the relationship between a father and daughter (Robin McLeavy). It might be the most inappropriate Father's Day movie programmed in this marathon, but only because I'm not programming The Mist.

8 am - The Lost Boys (1987, dir. Joel Schumacher)
After long day and night of watching movies, I usually like to end with something light -- entertaining, but mostly mindless. Enter The Lost Boys! I've seen this movie so many times I can probably recite it, but I like the idea of putting it in the lineup because it takes almost its running time to reveal why it belongs. Ultimately, it's just a movie about a guy who wants a family.

Happy Father's Day!

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