Fantasy Halloween Revival Theater

I made this a list on my letterboxd account, but I kind of want to take a moment to hit it up as an actual Motorbreath post like I feel something with this much care to it deserves. After all, I hope I’m not alone in having a couple of movies that are annual Halloween watches. Otherwise, I’m gonna feel pretty damn awkward and weird over it.

“You are programming an all-night Halloween horror-thon for your favorite old movie palace. What five movies make up your schedule?”

These words are the final question in Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rules’ Halloween survey and while I obviously answered this question before, I think it’s already pretty obvious that my opinions are always evolving and changing, which comes with growing as a person – hell, I suspect that the day will come when Blade Runner is not my top favorite movie anymore. And besides that, I obsess enough over making a good impression of cinema with people (I am the same dude who made TWO POSTS about ideal double features) that I would totally relish the idea of curating a Halloween night marathon, especially with a genre I love as much as horror.

Another thing that inspires me is the fact that my friends in the two-man 35mm revival miracle that is the Secret Celluloid Society will be putting together their own all-night horror movie marathon Up All Night (featuring The ThingNight of the Demons, Eraserhead, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) at the Coral Gables Art Cinema on Halloween night and if you live in or around Miami, you ought to come by and check it out. I’m probably going to have a couple of Halloween Quickies screen there as well, so you can actually jeer my work in real time. Order your tickets ($7 per movie) and stay up with us. It’ll be a blast.

But that’s all the shilling I’ll do now, as I get to the meat of this… what movies do I personally think embody the spirit of Halloween (or at least through watching them back-to-back-to-back on Halloween) to the point that I could arrange them into a marathon from 7 pm to 6 am and be proud even if it plays to an empty theater?

OK, so here’s the thing, though… even though SLIFR asks for five movies… I’m gonna be a little bit of a cheater and put technically six (or really five and one miniseries with every two episodes playing between movie), but defend this by stating that I totally looked at the running times of each selection and arrangement of order and figured how it could be at once feel like a narrative progression in a manner and how it all will still fit with even a couple of spare minutes before 6:00 am and the sun rises…

So leggo…

Over the Garden Wall (2014/crea. Patrick McHale/USA)

This miniseries on Cartoon Network was aired over five nights in the form of two 10 minute episodes each night. I really love it and I really think it fits the autumn mood so I feel it’d be a treat for the folks who really stick around all-night to have each two episode segment play right before each film. Especially great since I think the cartoon really works best with that span of time between its episodes.

Now this might not be feasible since in the end, you have an hour messed up. But it’d also give those 20-minute intervals as intermissions between movies for theatergoers to get fresh air and shit like that. Yeah…

I think this’d be great.

7:20 p.m. – Night of the Living Dead (1968/dir. George Romero/USA)

This one is absolutely due to sentiment and nostalgia from me. Night of the Living Dead is a never faltering choice to watch on Halloween. I’ve done it every year since ’10 and it’s still running strong in me here (but then again, it is a top 10 film for me).

It’s sort of as essential an appetizer as I could ever think of anything else. Partly because why not give the audience a huge muthafucking shot of paranoaic fear before diving into the main course. Partly because THIS movie to me is the single biggest landmark in horror cinema anywhere in its history or the world for going between atmospheric terror in the air around the characters and not much event and aggressive horror by having violence force itself on the screen for the viewers to witness.

And especially as the first feature because it begins in the daylight and slowly segues into the titular night. I mean, House (and possibly Sleepy Hollow and Nosferatu – I’d have to watch those again) begin in the day too, but it’s quaint to me to have Night just have itself at that cuff of dusk in its opening (featuring a graveyard which is a big damn yes for Halloween) and then slowly fading into us being shrouded in the darkness of night without us even realizing that it occurred, just as I felt I kept witnessing nightfall as a child… an invisible leaving of safety in light to the nocturnal unsettling silence.

9:20 p.m. – House (1977/dir. Obayashi Nobuhiko/Japan)

If you’re gonna have the crew stick around all night, you gotta have a party and House is crazy enough to bring that party and one. Return of the Living Dead could also do this, but it ain’t half the movie this is.

If you’re gonna have a Halloween flick, you gotta have a real motherfucking haunted house flick and House is maybe one of the finest haunted house films in existence (I’d say The Haunting and The Shining are in the running as well; House on Haunted Hill wouldn’t be a bad pick either but… it wouldn’t feel right unless I had a shitty falling apart skeleton entering at the climax).

Two slots filled thanks to Obayashi Nobuhiko and his daughter Chigumi’s crazy minds.

12:00 am – Halloween (1978/dir. John Carpenter/USA)

Because fucking duh…


And particularly third in the slot so that it can be right at midnight that Michael Myers returns home.

2:00 am – Sleepy Hollow (1999/dir. Tim Burton/USA)

You say whatever the fuck you want about Tim Burton now, but I tell you hwat, he knows how to really make fall surround us in a visual sense. Or at least he use to be that kind of brilliant stylist. The mighty have fallen.

But Sleepy Hollow does stand as that film that warrant a tip of the hat for its very worthy return to the mythic lore of early spook stories to tell children, like a bedtime come to life in a most bloody fashion. It’s an essential Halloween fixture for me, the one that maybe actually feels like a dream without being in on it like House does.

And a movie as brisk and speedy and fluff as this one, with its overtones of detective story and Johnny Depp once again providing absent-minded frivolity and humor to the somber and grave tone that the rest of the cast very gamely puts on, it would definitely keep folks up and ready for more past midnight.

4:15 am – Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922/dir. F.W. Murnau/Germany)

Nosferatu is just something I really think a kick could be got out of seeing on a Halloween night. Unfortunately, I do feel it is quite a lot to demand from an audience by having them watch a silent film as their very last movie of the night, considering their potential fatigue by that time (especially one as painstakingly dedicated to adapting Stoker’s novel as to make it kind of slow). This is definitely the one I doubt most people will stick with,

But there is still a reason I made it last. While all these other films (except Halloween and Over the Garden Wall) end during the dusk, Nosferatu is the one that makes it MATTER – the way the sunlight shines out and the roosters crow rears Count Orlok for his final disappearance in the rays of hope after a night of death and terror. Hell of a considerable use of light from the master F.W. Murnau himself. Bow to him, bitches!

Some Honorable Mentions I Thought Long and Hard About:

Frankenstein (1910/prod. Thomas Edison/USA) – A short film that could fit, but I think I’m already pushing it with Over the Garden Wall.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935/dir. James Whale/USA)
House on Haunted Hill (1959/dir. William Castle/USA)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982/dir. Steven Spielberg/USA) – It is my favorite Halloween scene in a movie, if you must know the reasoning.
Suspiria (1977/dir. Dario Argento/Italy)
Alien (1979/dir. Ridley Scott/USA)
The Shining (1980/dir. Stanley Kubrick/USA)
Return of the Living Dead (1985/dir. Dan O’Bannon/USA)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993/dir. Henry Selick/USA)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006/dir. Scott Glosserman/USA)
Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007/dir. Michael Dougherty/USA) – which I expect I’d have been tarred and feathered if I hadn’t at least mentioned it.
Beyond the Black Rainbow (2009/dir. Panos Cosmatos/Canada)

And that about ends my perfect idea of a Halloween Horror Movie Marathon. Have you guys any particular movies that pop into mind when you think about movies you’d watch on Halloween or like to show friends on Halloween? Any of these movies in my list turn ya off? Any of you enticed by that idea of Up All Night? Well, comment below with your opinions and I hope to see you all there Saturday Night!

Happy Halloween, sucka MCs.

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