FilmScene — Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.
This Friday the 13th, pack your sleeping bag, head to FilmScene and steel yourself for 12 hours of horror.
Part of Late Shift at the Grindhouse — a weekly series celebrating movies “off the beaten path,” according to organizer Ross Meyer — the second annual FilmScream all-night horror movie marathon will take place from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday at FilmScene.
FilmScream isn’t a horror endurance test, although six straight scary films may test viewers’ sanity; there are plenty of snacks, surprises and interactive experiences to keep things lively.
The cost of a ticket — $40 for the public, $30 for FilmScene members and $25 for UI students — earns one access to the six screenings, two Q&As with film directors, a bottomless cup of coffee, a commemorative keepsake and breakfast.
The evening’s first feature has been kept a secret — the title will be announced at 10 p.m. Wednesday during a sneak preview of Happy Death Day — though FilmScene offered the hint, “He’s not human … he’s a monster … an immortal warrior.”
“It’s sort of a supernatural genre film from a very veteran director of all kinds of genres, but particularly horror, samurai and action,” Meyer said. “It won’t be released until November, so to get a screening this early is exciting.”
Taking over the Scene 1 screen in the last hours of Friday the 13th is, appropriately, Friday the 13th Part 2, released in 1981 and considered by some critics to be superior to the original Friday the 13th.
“We love the idea of showing Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th,” Meyer said. “The first one was one of the first FilmScene events before the theater was open to the general public, on Friday the 13th in 2013.”
Audiences at that showing were given free Jason masks, as were those who attended screenings of Friday the 13th Part 3 and Jason X over the years. FilmScream 2017 audiences will receive masks of their own.
“We thought it would be fun to show Part 2 at the second FilmScream,” Meyer added.
The second installment of another classic horror franchise will follow: 1986’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. This sequel takes a comedic left turn from the groundbreaking 1974 original, but its revenge plot still yields plenty of bloodshed.
Meyer said the screening is a tribute to director Tobe Hooper (also the director of The Poltergeist and the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre) who died on Aug. 26.
The evening will delve into the surreal with Todd Sheets’ Dreaming Purple Neon, a rollicking grindhouse film saturated with drugs, nudity and demon queens. Sheets himself is travelling from Kansas City to introduce his own film and lead a Q&A session after the credits roll.
“Sheets has been making low-budget stuff since the mid-80s,” Meyers said. “He started off doing kind of like backyard horror movies with hardly more than low-grade film equipment, and is still at it.”
Another secret screening will take place as the sun prepares to rise, teased as a “new fright film” likely not to premiere until 2018 or later. Meyer said the film’s director will also hold a discussion after the screening, but his or her name remains a mystery.
“It is so secret we can’t announce it at all, even the night of,” Meyer said. “It’s pretty exciting, and I think will have a lot of local appeal … I love the idea of secret screenings, of having people not know what they’re going to see until the images hit the screen.”
The marathon will wrap with 1985’s Re-Animator, which was recently restored. The most critically-acclaimed feature on the docket, this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation follows a college-student-slash-mad-scientist developing a serum to revive corpses.
“We want to send people home happy with a pretty fun-filled movie that has a sense of humor to it, that is fast-paced and entertaining,” Meyers said.
If pulling an all-nighter sounds like a tall order, participants are encouraged to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows so they may rest up in FilmScene’s Screeming Room reanimation lounge.
The cinema will be decorated in vintage snack bar advertisements, and vintage trailers will be screened. Door prizes will be given out throughout the night, as well as free coffee and gifts from sponsors Wake Up Iowa and Cobra Verde. Regular concessions are available for purchase, including midnight pizza. Beer, wine and specialty drinks will be served until 2 a.m., and again starting at 6 a.m.
Between the food and films, Meyer said the interactions between fellow movie fanatics is his favorite aspect of FilmScream.
“At the beginning of the night, it’s a lot of strangers sitting in a theater. But after 12 hours of watching movies together and eating breakfast together, friendships will be made,” he said. “It’s a way to make [movie-going] an interactive experience. You stay long enough to get to know the people in the darkness.”