This was my second attempt at All Night Horror Madness. Attempt does seem like the most appropriate word here, as whilst great fun, it is a bit of an endurance test. In a previous outing, I only managed two of the four films – Nightmare on Elm Street and I Drink your Blood. I therefore approached this year’s event with little confidence that I could go the distance, considering there were now five films on the bill, and booze and caffeine were out, as I have my own little monster growing in my belly. But I’m pleased to say that I made four out of the five, calling it a night at 6.30am.
The entire evening had a fantastic vibe – it may seem like an anomaly but horror film fans are known to be some of the best behaved and genial audiences out there. Armed with snacks, comfy clothes and an open mind, we all hunkered down for an evening of gore, thrills and chills. The films were interspersed with raffle draws, chats to neighbouring new friends and vintage trailers, which were very comical indeed.
Like a mix tape, the line-up and order of a horror movie marathon must be meticulously composed. The right balance of lightness, humour, serious gore, bat-shit crazy, knowing tropes and shocker moments must be struck to keep the audience from entering lulls and considering the cosy bed that awaits them at home.
Here’s the line-up for last month’s All Night Horror Madness at the Grosvenor Cinema and my thoughts on what I saw:
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) – A hugely entertaining opener. Awkwardly dubbed from Italian to Mancunian, the film included, comical displays of 70s sexisim, zombies, your standard unsympathetic police, a begrudging hero and *spoiler alert* an ending stolen straight from pivotal horror film Night of the Living Dead.
Brain Damage (1988) – Director Frank Henenlotter’s follow-up to Basket Case (if you haven’t seen it seek it out – it’s one of the best in the schlock horror cannon). A young man awakes to discover that a friendly phallic-shaped monster has taken up home in his central nervous system, administering him with an almighty high that comes with a deadly price. Deranged, 80s synths and neons, crude death by blow-job scene, chatty little creature, Basket Case cameo = ideal second choice.
Sleepaway Camp (1983) – Painfully shy Angela attends her first camp, only for a murderer to start picking off youths and staff who do anything immoral. Angela and her protective older cousin Ricky should be safe, as they are the good guys, right? Ideal mid way movie, delivering on the horror and comedy in equal measure and a shocking closing shot that resulted in quite the audible reaction from the crowd.
Fright Night (1985) – This was a favourite of mine on VHS as a young teen, so I was looking forward to revisiting it. William Ragsdale stars as the teenager who no one believes when he accuses his neighbour of being a vampire. It still stands up as an enjoyable horror romp and you can see why it was chosen to be remade with a stellar Hollywood cast in 2011. However, I felt it was too straight and lengthy to be movie number four on the bill, resulting in me bowing out at the end. Oh come on – no booze and caffeine, remember?!?
Demons (1985) – I didn’t make it this far, but it does sound like a perfect closer to All Night Horror. Produced by Italian horror master Dario Argento, Demons sees a group of teenagers trapped in a cinema alongside some, you guessed it, demons. This was also the only film of the night to be screened in 35mm print, with the graininess and authentic feel of print often adding to the horror viewing experience.