Since back problems stopped me from doing the 24-hour horror movie marathon held annually at Chicago's Music Box Theater years ago, I've been doing them at home -- sometimes with Doug, sometimes alone, and since 2019 with my beautiful wife Erika. Programming these marathons and watching all the movies with her is the highlight of October, so much so that I became deeply sad the day after we finished because it was over despite still having 2/3 of the month left to look forward to.
Last year, we realized that staying awake all night was neither healthy nor very much fun, so we started breaking the marathon up over two days, going late on Saturday and continuing all the way into Sunday night. Because of that, I won't include times as part of our lineup because I only remember the order, not the schedule.
Because of life and parental duties, we got off to a later start than I intended, cueing up the first film around 1 instead of 10 am as I had originally planned. First up was Mark of the Vampire from 1935, a Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi collaboration that isn't Dracula but is still very entertaining. I wanted to see it ever since it got talked about in David Skal's Monster Show and did check it out a few years ago, but, to be honest, remembered very little of it so this Blu-ray viewing might as well have been my first. The bad news: I was already falling asleep during the very first movie. The soundtrack hiss gets me every time.
Next up was an Elric Kane recommendation from one of my Pure Cinema Podcast appearances a few years back: 1962's The Witch's Mirror (El Espejo de la bruja), hard to see for years until it was released as part of Imprint's recent Mexico Macabre box. This was one of my only two first-time viewings in a marathon full of familiar titles, and it was easily the discovery of the weekend. A husband murders his wife to be with his new lover, but the ghost of his ex returns through a mirror to take her revenge. It's got Gothic horror trappings, body horror, and elements of Eyes Without a Face. It's such a special movie, one that I'll be revisiting for years to come, and you owe it yourself to track it down. It's great.
I picked up the 1977 Dan Curtis-directed, Richard Matheson-scripted TV movie Dead of Night on DVD for $5 at Flashback Weekend in August for the sole purpose of showing it as part of our marathon this year because I wanted Erika to see "Bobby," the third and best segment in this anthology. The first two segments are just ok. "Second Chance," in which Ed Begley Jr. travels back in time to find a classic car and prevent an accident, has real "Kick the Can" energy, while "No Such Thing as Vampires" has more teeth -- literally -- even if it doesn't totally come together. "Bobby" makes the entire 70-minute runtime worthwhile, though. It's one of the scariest things ever put on broadcast TV.Brian De Palma's 1978 telekinetic horror The Fury. Kirk Douglas plays the barrel-chested ex-special forces soldier trying to rescue his telekinetic son (Andrew Stevens) from the clutches of the great John Cassavetes with the help of Amy Irving, another telekinetic teenager just coming into her powers. There are so many great set pieces on display here, with De Palma using every tool at his disposal to create tension and horror, and the last five minutes are some of the best ever committed to film. I became a De Palma nut in the '90s thanks to a nudge from Quentin Tarantino and reading Pauline Kael and this has long been one of my sneaky favorites, so I was really happy to be able to introduce it to Erika. This was one of her favorites of the whole marathon.liked the movie a lot when I saw it two years ago, but it played even better on this viewing. Everything just worked for me, maybe because this time I knew where it was all going and could give myself over to the craft of it all instead of constantly being knocked over by twists and surprises. If I hadn't started nodding off again near the end, this would have been my favorite watch of the marathon. Oh well. It gives me an excuse to revisit it again this month!I Am Not a Serial Killer, which I first saw as part of the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest and went on to be one of my favorite horror movies of 2016. I hadn't seen it in the seven years since, but it's just as good as I remember it being. Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) gives a great performance as a potentially sociopathic teen who discovers a serial killer living in his snow Minnesota suburb. The 16mm photography rules and the story takes some genuinely interesting and moving turns. Charlie even joined us for this one and seemed into it. Too many people still sleep on this one.
Thank you, Erika, for watching all these movies with me and being such a good sport about my choices. I love you and I promise not to show Lust for a Vampire again next year. Speaking of which, how much longer until next year's marathon?