Movies: 24-hour horror movie marathon

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A week before it opens its doors again for a special event, the Grandview Theatre looks like a good location for a horror movie.

A plastic-covered popcorn machine sits like a sentry at the entrance to the building. The curtains that lined the walls of the auditorium are half torn down and construction debris fills part of the floor space designated for seating. Everything's covered in dust.

Once you get past the sunlight streaming through the front doors, the darkness inside is broken only by pools of harsh flood light.

For Bruce Bartoo and Joe Neff, this is the perfect place to be.

Co-organizers of Columbus' annual horror movie marathon for over a decade, they've held their event each October at the Grandview since 2004, and decided not to let new management or an unexpectedly lengthy renovation dictate a change of venue for '09.

In fact, the circumstances have allowed the team to return to a 24-hour "Shock Around the Clock" program, their first since the 2003 marathon at Studio 35. It starts at noon Saturday with 1934's perennially creepy The Black Cat, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

"As soon as we started doing the 14-hour event we said, 'When are we going to do 24 hours again?' " said Bartoo, a veteran of 25 years of horror and sci-fi movie endurance tests in Columbus and Boston.

"We really feel there's a limited shelf life to the shorter events," Neff explained. "You can never [afford] a really good guest unless you have a lot of seats or raise the ticket price. There are certain things you can't show [in the shorter time frame]. And attracting people from out of town is hard with just an all-nighter. At the last 24-hour marathon, we had people coming from seven different states and Canada."

The time expansion, along with improvements in the theater like a new projection system approved for archive prints, has paved the way for a very strong line-up (see sidebar) and a planned visit from Stuart Gordon. The director of the cult classic Re-animator will present two of his own works and another filmmaker's movie of his choosing, Irreversible.

Grandview proprietor David Nedrow confirmed that the theater will be ready for marathoners by the time doors open on Saturday. Re-padded seats will be installed, new acoustical fabric will cover the auditorium walls and the concession stand will be set up to handle round-the-clock dining needs.

Bartoo added, "David was the solo projectionist for probably the first five or six marathons [at the now-defunct Drexel North location], except when he fell asleep and I took over, so he's been through it."

Must-see mayhem

This year's program features hours of classic trailers from Bruce Bartoo's personal collection, a selection of favorite marathon shorts and 13 features, including the Columbus theatrical premiere of the grave-robbing saga I Sell the Dead. Also in the mix, a number of essentials for the die-hard horror fan, such as these.

"From Beyond" (1986)

In his follow-up to Re-animator, Stuart Gordon trades in some gross-out humor for genuinely effective horror and a mechanically sexed-up version of favorite leading lady Barbara Crampton.

"Irreversible" (2002)

Purists suggest that Gaspar Noe's visceral, backwards-moving revenge tale isn't horror, but there's no better word to describe the sensation of watching Monica Bellucci's nearly 10-minute rape scene.

"The Host" (2006)

Hands down, best monster movie of the past decade.

"Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" (1986)

Inspired by two notorious real-life murderers, John McNaughton's portrait of mindless evil in everyday existence still shocks over 20 years later.

"The Thing" (1982)

John Carpenter broke new ground in special makeup effects and helped cement Kurt Russell's standing as a genre icon with this extra-juicy update of the 1951 sci-fi classic.

Shock Around the Clock

When: Noon to noon, Oct. 17-18

Where: Grandview Theatre, Grandview