Oct 19

CUFF Presents the 12 Hour Halloween Horror Movie Marathon!

by CUFF · 0 comments

When approaching a 12-hour movie marathon, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. It isn’t like training for a real marathon—but it’s not nothing, either. You’re going to get tired. You’re going to get hungry. There’ll come a point, maybe at 3am, maybe at 5am, where you won’t be quite sure if you’re awake or asleep, and the line between reality and the movie you’re watching gets a little too blurry for comfort. You’ve got to be ready.

It’s important to keep your wits about you, because the movies that CUFF’s (Calgary Underground Film Festival) programmers have picked are vicious. The night opens with the brand new HELL FEST, a slasher set in a horror-themed amusement park—think Scream Fest, but deadlier. It’s a high-energy start to a night of terror, but it’s also a way to ease into the evening, as it’s more about the jumps than anything genuinely unsettling.

The second film comes from two masters of horror: CHRISTINE, from the novel by Stephen King, and directed by John Carpenter, who essentially created the slasher genre with 1979’s Halloween. This time around, the embodiment of evil is a cherry red 1958 Plymouth Fury, and the mix of impressive practical effects, a killer Carpenter score and a storyline that includes a duel with a bulldozer is just too good to pass up.

CHRISTINE keeps a pretty straight face even as it revs up the ridiculousness. The third film, Jeremy Saulnier’s MURDER PARTY, has no qualms about indulging in gallows humour. Saulnier is better known for razor-sharp thrillers like Blue Ruin and Green Room, but his debut is a ruthless takedown of art-school culture, with a bitter sense of humour to go with the gore.

The marathon’s midway point is also probably its biggest challenge: HIGH TENSION, part of the “New French Extremity” film movement, and it certainly lives up to that name. This is a nasty movie—violent, cruel and unrelenting. If you can make it through this one, the rest will be a breeze.

Team Troma’s contribution to the marathon kicks off at just before 2am. Troma dominated the ’80s and ’90s underground with cult classics like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High, and while GRADUATION DAY isn’t quite that absurd as those flicks, it’s still an impressive mix of early ’80s camp and surprisingly effective horror. Lighthearted isn’t the right way to put it, but any movie with a musical number at a roller boogie can’t be that grim.

By 3:30am, you’ll be struggling to stay awake, so it’s lucky for you that the best way to see HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES is in a half-asleep, horror-fuelled daze. Like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre viewed through an acid flashback, Rob Zombie’s directorial debut is a colourful, campy, and utterly sadistic tribute to all things grind-house, and the only thing it doesn’t have is a sense of restraint.

The last film of the night is Sam Raimi’s DRAG ME TO HELL, which marked the Evil Dead director’s return to horror after over two decades away from the genre. Given the mix of sleep deprivation and twisted content you’ll have taken in up to this point, it’s a mercy that Raimi’s film is all about straightforward thrills. Ancient curses, evil demons and a promise to do just what the title says—that’s the core of this smart, fun, and grisly return to form.

If you can make it through to the end, you’ll be treated to breakfast, if you can scare up an appetite. It won’t be easy, but between the films, the bragging rights and the company of fellow film fanatics, this 12-hour marathon is well worth the effort.

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