Posted: 10/18/2007


Music Box Massacre 3

by Jef Burnham

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From October13-14, 2007, the Music Box Theatre in Chicago hosted the 3rd Annual 24-hour Music Box Horror Movie Massacre. From noon Saturday to noon Sunday, they screened 13 horror films (plus two shorts), spanning 80 years. My wife, two friends and I braved all 24 hours of the event (with the exception of grabbing a quick bite to eat during “Abbott and Costello”—after all, one can’t live off popcorn and candy alone).

The lobby was lined with vendors selling DVDs, posters, books, T-shirts and all sorts of imaginable miscellany. There were free posters, postcards, masks and DVDs, featuring local short films, being dispersed throughout the event. Also, a charity auction was held, benefiting people suffering from AIDs. Plus, there were guests!

In attendance for the screening of her first film, Demons 2, was Italian actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. She has done numerous films with Italian horror master, Dario Argento, including my favorite Argento film, Opera. My wife and I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Coralina before the Q&A. She was a very sweet woman—very appreciative of her fans. She had set up a table in the lobby where she signed free 8x10s for her fans, as well as sold copies of her CD, Limbo Balloon.

Director Fred Dekker was also in attendance for the screening of his film Monster Squad. Dekker also participated in a Q&A after the film. This part of the event felt slightly awkward to me, as Dekker has only done three films and seemed to have a lot of reservations about his other two (Night of the Creeps and Robocop 3).

Dekker said that the audience at the Music Box was one of the best three audiences the film had ever had. This is no surprise. Horror audiences seem to be the most loyal. At any time, there were up to 500 people in the audience cheering and screaming throughout the night. The audience went into an uproar whenever a character was killed, someone on the screen said, “I need a drink,” or for no real reason at all. The energy stemmed from the fact that everyone there understands and is excited by horror films. It was great to be riding out the 24-hours with like-minded people.

The highlights of the event were the screening of my personal favorite, Videodrome, as well as the screenings of Equinox and Peeping Tom, which I had not seen. Equinox was made in 1967 by three 19-year-olds, who were doing such impressive work that film legend Ray Harryhausen gave them some assistance. Equinox was the inspiration for the cult classics Evil Dead and Phantasm.

The 1960 British horror film Peeping Tom all but ruined director Micheal Powell’s career. The film’s realism and story about a man obsessed with filming women as he kills them stirred up a large controversy. Accustomed to the melodramatic films of Hammer Horror, the world was not yet ready for the film which may seem tame by today’s standards. However, the horror films of today rarely have the emotional power or psychological depth of Peeping Tom.

The Music Box Massacre will return for a fourth year next October and they will also be hosting another 14 hour sci-fi marathon next May, both of which I will be happily attending.

Finally, here’s the list of what they showed:

Cat and the Canary (1927 silent film w/ live accompaniment)
Freaks (1932)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Equinox (1970)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Monster Squad (1987)
Demons 2 (1986)
Vidoedrome (1983)
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
The Raven (1963)
It’s Alive (1974)
Deathdream (1974, one of two horror films by A Christmas Story director Bob Clark)
The Demonology of Desire (2007 short film)

and to top it all off…

The Shining (1980)

Jef Burnham is a writer and film critic living in Chicago.

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