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I Keep Coming Back For More: My Experience at the Calgary Underground Film Festival’s 12 Hour Halloween Movie Marathon

By Jocelyn Illing, October 29 2019 —

You know the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is doing something right when someone comes back to endure 12 hours of horror movies two years in a row. This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the CUFF’s 12 Hour Halloween Movie Marathon for a second time. I ended last year’s screenings feeling a little rough, but it’s light-hearted atmosphere and stellar line up of films convinced me into staying up for 24 hours once again to sit in a dark room with dozens of strangers and watch some movies. This time around the films were surprisingly funny, leaning towards the Halloween genre versus the horror genre but, nevertheless, it was a great time. Here is a play-by-play of how the night went. 

7:00pm – Extra Ordinary (Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, 2019)

It was announced that the marathon would be screening a new film. Although I had no idea what it was about, I was pleasantly surprised. Popcorn and drink in hand, I made my way into the theatre, fully awake and eager to start this wondrous journey with my friends. From the beginning of the film, it was evident that this would not be your average horror film. Rather than slasher killers and scary monsters, the film centred around three average people in extraordinary circumstances — a driving instructor, a dad and a struggling musician get caught up in a deal with the devil involving a young girl, a keyboard and some questionable white goo. Although it was not particularly scary it had me and the whole room curdling over in laughter. 

Level of awakeness (my state of aliveness):  10/10

Level of wokeness (how much I enjoyed the film): 10/10

8:25pm – The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1981)

This was the only film on the roster that I had previously seen. It’s a classic horror film. I hadn’t watched it in a while so I was pleasantly surprised to find how funny it actually was. Although it has the formula of a more classic horror film, the campiness could not be ignored and you could not help but laugh. Give me some monsters, Bruce Campbell and a creepy forest and I will be happy as a clam. 

Level of awakeness: 9/10

Level of wokeness: 8/10

10:15pm – Bubba Ho-Tep (Don Coscarelli, 2002)

Okay it embarrasses me to say this but I fell asleep during the third film. I couldn’t help it! The film was boring as hell. I think I made it through half an hour of the movie before I clocked out. Bruce Campbell played Elvis? There was a black JFK? It really didn’t make any sense and I’m not too upset that I fell asleep. 

Level of awakeness: 3/10

Level of wokeness: 1/10

12:15am – Friday the 13th Part 2 (Steve Miner, 1981)

After an adequate power nap during the last film I was ready to watch another classic. This was definitely my favourite traditional horror film that was screened during the evening. It had everything you could ever want in a horror movie: wonderfully clichéd young people, sex, a creepy lake, a killer backstory and a semi-sympathetic murderer. It was pure, horrorish fun. 

Level of awakeness: 8/10

Level of wokeness: 9/10

1:45am – The Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Holden Jones, 1982)

At this point I’m kind of fading again and my bladder is screaming at me. Pro tip ladies: as soon as the ending credits start rolling RUN TO THE BATHROOM. The line is too long and your bladder is too precious to stand there and wait. Once I had relieved myself and grabbed some more sugar to wake me up — bless the employees at the concession stand at the Globe Cinema for staying up all night with us. You are the real MVPs — I was ready to watch some female-directed horror. Jones did not disappoint! Most notable scene: when the girls repeatedly open and close the fridge door, not realizing that their murdered friend has made a cozy home inside. 

Level of awakeness: 7/10

Level of wokeness: 8/10

3:15am – Idle Hands (Rodman Flender, 1999)

So it’s three o’clock in the morning and there’s only so much I can put up with. This film was a special kind of misogynist garbage. Although the idea of stoner heroes is charming, and Seth Green was great, it couldn’t take the attention away from how poorly females were depicted on screen. Around three quarters of the way through the film I kind of gave up again and had a quick catnap. When I awoke, Jessica Alba’s dress had been torn apart and she was strapped to the roof of a car. She deserves so much better. 

Level of awakeness: 5/10

Level of wokeness: 4/10

5:00am – Creepshow (George A. Romero, 1982)

The end of the line! I wish I could say that the marathon ended with a bang. Maybe if it wasn’t five a.m. and I had some actual sleep it would’ve been better? Honestly, I did not think this film was worth my time. I watched the first two episodes and then slept through the rest of the film. You let me down George. However, I did get to try some tasty chocolate cereal. 

Level of awakeness: 1/10

Level of wokeness: 3/10

Was it worth the cold and sleep deprivation? Probably not. Will I attend the screening next year? Definitely.

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