Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Incredible 2-Headed Marathon review!

So, last year I did a minute by minute account of my time at the Nightmare at Studio 35.
No such luck this year, kiddies. I'm tired, I'm cranky and I ain't that ambitious.
Besides, with TWO compteting horror marathons this year (on the same night!), CBus seems to be the hub of marathon geekdom in America, at least for today.
This year, after some backstabbing by the new owners of Studio 35, marathon organizer Joe Neff joined forces with Bruce Bartoo, the brain behind the annual Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon and the two threw together a mini-marathon on short notice that simply kicked ass. With the help of Jeff Frank from the Drexel Theaters, they were able to secure four Ohio premieres and a couple unusual picks that brought the marathon faithful to the upstart event instead of the competing event with Tom Savini across town.
The crowd lined up in the rain two hours before the doors opened. Why? Because suffering is part of a marathon. In fact, it's pretty much ALL of a marathon.
My buddy Scott and I were secure underneath a bigass umbrella behind some people we nicknamed The Druids because of the form of their raincoats. Being chatty fanboys, we talked them up and spewed propaganda at Geoff Glass, the marathon videographer.
When they finally opened the doors (ten minutes after the marathon was due to begin -- delays are a marathon staple), most of the people were more moist than Sara Jessica Parker in a Prada boutique. Didn't dampen anyone's spirits, though. I grabbed a marathon t-shirt and a commemorative poster (both glow in the dark!...sweeeeeeeeeet) and found what I thought was a good seat.
Heh. My choice was semi-faulty. Or at least, the chair was. My seat was only bolted down on one side, and swung from side to side like Chubby Checker was teachin' me the Twist. It dawned on me pretty quickly that it was gonna be a long, strange trip through cinematic hell.
When the movies finally rolled an hour late, Saw began whupping the shit out of the unsuspecting audience. I'd seen a screening of it before, so I knew what to expect. But most of the folk were entranced by its intricate set-up and mean philosophy. James Wan has created something semi-unique out of familiar elements, taking the serial murderer genre, disassembling it and rearranging it so that the killer forces his victims to off themselves. The deathtraps are creative, but if you pay attention, the movie offers zero surprises for you.
Cary Elwes veers between smart, lean acting and being more wooden than Herr Hasselhoff. Co-story writer/screenwriter Leigh Whannell is adequate as Adam, the other guy chained up in the shithole room. Danny Glover sleepwalks through his role as a cop who has more issues than answers. All of these guys could be the killer. And all of them are keeping secrets that could come back to bite them in the ass.
There's a sort of morality to the actions of the Jigsaw Killer. He doesn't actually kill anyone, for instance. And, the ultimate aim of his plots it to force people to appreciate life again. He's kind of like an evil social worker. Check it out when it opens wide this weekend.
After that, we changed things up and watched Gozu, one of the more recent efforts from mad genius Takashi Miike. Two yakuza, one an older senior brother and the other his friend/driver. Minami (the driver) is told by their boss to take Ozaki (big brother) to a dump where he'll be retired. Ozaki conveniently disappears. Minami then has to interact with a town full of characters that David Lynch would consider fucked up in an effort to find his missing buddy and get him to the dump. Being Miike, things get weird. It's not nearly as violent as Full Metal Yakuza or Ichi the Killer, relying instead on general oddity and insanity to plunge Minami into his strange new world.
Any more than that, and I'll be spoiling all the fun. Let's just say Gozu ain't for everyone. But if you're open to it, it's hella fun.
After that, a quick break and Brad Anderson's The Machinist rolls. I've been looking forward to this for over a year because of two things: 1) Brad Anderson (I loved Happy Accidents and Session 9) and 2) Christian Bale, who is continuing to prove himself one of the most interesting actors in showbiz each and every day.
Bale's insanely extreme weightloss will get loads of ink for the movie. But it's really nothing you haven't seen before. The mystery and psychological elements are old hat. It's just in the hands of an expert craftsman like Anderson, which makes it definitely worth a looksee.
A performance by all-girl noise band 16 Bitch Pile-Up woke the crowd back up afterwards. They had a loop of moments from movie trailers behind them, accompanying their sonic chaos with stobing shots of killers, victims and ominous skies.
We got another peek at Kevin S O'Brien's legendary "Bread" cycle with a quick screening of his animated short Sandwich. Since Kevin was sitting in front of me, I got to harangue him about the 3 minutes of credits on a 2 minute short. It may be outright theft of Bambi Meets Godzilla, but it still makes me giggle. I'm so damn easy.
Allegedly, we watched Argento's Deep Red afterward, though the print was so washed out it may as well have been called SHALLOW PINK.
Then, because animal mutilation is so much fun in the early morning, we were subjected to Cannibal Holocaust, the notorious 1980 cinematic atroucity with stock footage of real executions and some hacking up of innocent wild things in the name of shock value. The doofy soundtrack begins driving the audience mad and people begin spontaneously calling out "BoooooooOOOOOoooop"s at all sorts of inopportune moments.
Return of the Living Dead at 10 am after being up all night...
Hmmm. One word.
The final film of the ordeal was Julian Richards' The Last Horror Movie. I honestly have no idea who Kevin Howarth is, but he plays a damn fine psychopath. His Max is an amoral bastard, a serial killer who's making a documentary about his crimes. Sure it's a gimmick movie, but it's fairly well-done low-budget goodness.
After the credits rolled...the survivors shambled out. Sure, fourteen hours is ten hours less than last year's marathon at the other theater...but it's long enough. Particularly when you're operating on next to no sleep. Grabbed one-sheets for The Machinist and Hellboy on my exit, and made my way back to my tiny apartment to's been a long damn day and a half, dammit.
I'm going to sleep.

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