24 Hour Marathon… of Terror

In these days of bleak recession, humanity has split into two camps: the employed, who run around working insane hours in order to eat, thus having little to no free time; and the unemployed, who, apart from e-mailing tear-stained resumes and sadly masturbating, have nothing but free time. All of this presents a problem for dedicated horror fans like you.

Working stiffs need some way to get a lot of horror in one burst – a brutal and direct way to get a feel for an entire genre in a single session, whilst the miners and so on need a horror consumption method that occupy their copious spare time, while making them feel like they’ve maybe achieved something. The answer to both these quandaries is simple: a 24 hour horror film marathon, covering the gamut of the genre. So get some friends together, put on your pre-shat pants (so nobody can tell) and start your screaming.

Noon – Jeepers Creepers (2001)

We begin slowly, the banal mutterings of our protagonists sitting well with us as we decide on whether fried chicken for lunch is classy enough. The initial build-up of this oft-maligned classic is masterfully done, and even when it starts to get silly (I’m looking at you, fortune-telling old lady) it will serve to get us in the mindset of enjoying the less serious offerings as the hours pass.

13:30 – A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Wiping the remnants of a bargain bucket from our lips and giggling slightly at the ending, we are in a perfect place to sit back and wallow in the glorious atmosphere of this Korean masterpiece. Not so much an overt horror as much as a deftly-executed ghost story, the slow pace will aid lunch’s digestion and the conclusion will help it come out the other end.

15:30 – Profondo Rosso/Deep Red (1975)

Speaking of deft executions, we continue our examination of foreign frights with one of Dario Argento’s best works. Rather than the supernatural chaos of his witchtastic Suspiria, this is some tense stuff that, if we can overlook the quality of the fake blood, should give us a taste of the murderous joy that will be keeping us company later.

17:30 – Last House on the Left (1972)

I’m not going to lie, this is a horrible movie and was banned for a reason. The scenes of sexual torture and degradation are made far more unpleasant by the bizarre comedy scenes that accompany them, following the antics of two bumbling lawmen. Forget the attempted grittiness of the remake, nothing makes you as uncomfortable as realising you’re humming the rapists’ theme song to yourself (you’ll see what I mean).

19:00 – Horror of Dracula (1958)

Breathe a sigh of relief, it’s Dracula time! There are so many excellent Draculas to choose from… Bela Lugosi created the role, Gary Oldman redefined it, but our Count for the evening is the inimitable Christopher Lee. In the single greatest Hammer Horror film of all time, Lee battles Van Helsing in the form of Peter Cushing (before his promotion to Grand Moff). Garlic and Stakes at the ready.

20:30 – The Thing (1982)

And speaking of garlic and steaks, you probably want to order the pizza and get it eaten before you get too far into this one. John Carpenter’s magnum opus is a joy to behold, but one not to be done while eating. Kurt Russell, Antarctica, flamethrowers and the best twisted alien animatronics this side of LV-426: you gotta be fuckin’ kidding.

22:30 – Carnival of Souls (1962)

We start a double-bill of black and white weird with this oddly disturbing ghost story. The director, Herk Harvey, only made this single feature film in a lifetime of documentary and educational film-making, and it’s a strange one. From most objective points of view it’s simply not a good film: the twist is predictable, the pace all over the place and the acting sub-par, but if you watch it and tell me it doesn’t send a chill down your spine, then I call you a liar.

Midnight – Freaks (1932)

The oldest entry in our roster of fear, Freaks is not in itself a horror film. It is what you need for the midnight movie, however: a massive mindfuck. You’ll feel bad for gawking at the genuine carnival performers on display, but if you can look past that and truly appreciate what Todd Browning has done, you’ll be one of us. One of us. One of us.

01:00 – Evil Dead 2 (1987)

What? Did you think I was just going to bombard you with monochrome misery for the next twelve hours? Come on, there’s still some cold pizza left, so munch down on that, have a Red Bull if your eyes are drooping and watch Bruce Campbell hack his own hand off with a chainsaw. Then watch him fight that hand. Groovy.

02:30 – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

I know, I know, it’s ‘mainstream’ and I’m well aware you’ve all seen it already, but you know what? You can watch it again. It’s in the DVD player already, after all. Yes, I know you have it on Blu-ray. Yeah? Well you can kiss my arse in HD. Now shut up and watch the film, Anthony Hopkins is talking, and he’s brilliant.

04:30 – Braindead/Dead Alive (1992)

Hopefully you’re staying awake without a problem, because we need zombies and this offering from Peter Jackson (which he later shamelessly ripped off in The Lord of the Rings) is a slow starter. If you can power through, though, you will be rewarded with a gore-fest the likes of which you cannot dream. Zombies graphically slaughtered with a lawnmower? Check. Zombie baby ripping out of a woman’s head? Check. An unrelated head in a blender? Check. Our hero being attacked by homicidal internal organs? Don’t be stup- oh, wait, check. 19,000 litres of fake blood is a wonderful thing.

06:30 – Three… Extremes (2004)

We’re back in Asia for a film showcasing three of the best horror directors the continent has to offer. Park Chan-Wook, Takashi Miike and Fruit Chan (heh heh… “Fruit”) have all made excellent horror films individually, but put them together and you get a concentrated explosion of everything excellent about what I racistly think of as “oriental terror”.

08:30 – Scream (1996)

As we approach the end it becomes apparent that, aside from a brief Argento-shaped dalliance, we’ve barely touched on the slasher movie. Not to despair, in Scream Wes Craven has handily distilled the entire sub-genre into one easy-to-swallow form. A satire so brilliantly subtle, an entire series of films has come into being because someone didn’t realise. Funny, scary and just plain good; now would be the time for that breakfast burger.

10:30 – Session 9

Our last chance to get genuinely freaked out, this overlooked gem deals with a clean up crew getting rid of asbestos from an old mental asylum. I’ll warn you, it isn’t cancer that starts killing them off. One of the most efficiently chilling films of the last decade, it doesn’t waste a second of potential fear, bringing you back to midday with a shudder.

Bonus – Theatre of Blood (1973)

Wow. We really did it. I thought it was touch and go there for a second, but well done on the whole not-crapping-yourself thing (and we’ll just ignore the terror-boner). You’re probably asking the obvious question: “where was Vincent Price?” Well, your patience has been rewarded. If we’re still awake enough, let’s sit back and recover from the ordeal by watching this gloriously silly revenge flick. Not scary in the slightest, but it’s a joy to watch Price go from large ham to killer luvvie (while still remaining a large ham).

Enjoy! You’ve earned it.

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