The 11th Annual Shock Around The Clock 24-Hour Horror Marathon

For the third year in a row I made the trip to Columbus, OH to attend the Shock Around The Clock marathon. This has become a trip that I look forward to every year. It was a bit disappointing to learn that there might not be another one. I hope that the organizers are able to find a way to keep it afloat.

The event itself is exactly what it sounds like. Every October, for the past 11 years, a group of people have gathered together and taken up residence inside a movie theater to watch horror movies for 24 hours straight. The marathon starts at noon on Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday. During that time there are lots of laughs and fun conversations, in addition to a line-up of 12 movies that are worth seeing on the big screen. In the three years that I have gone to Shock Around The Clock the programming has had a consistent mix of old favorites, cult classics, new festival films and a classic or two. On paper, I was a tad underwhelmed by this year’s schedule but in practice it played out perfectly. There were a lot of great movies selected and, top to bottom, this may have been the strongest line-up of the three that I have attended. Let’s take a look at how my experience played out.

11:35AM – SATURDAY

I arrived at the Drexel theater about 25 minutes before things were scheduled to kick off. After getting my ticket stamped, I immediately went into the theater to claim my seat. With that taken care of, it was back out to the lobby to hit the merchandise table. The first thing I want to get is my coffee mug. This guy is going to be my best friend and keep me going over the next 24 hours, so it’s important to secure it as soon as possible.

It remains to be seen what will become of this year’s mug. I lost the one from the 9th annual marathon and last year’s was dropped and chipped within a week of getting it home. In a way it seems fitting, they were good soldiers and helped me fight the good fight against sleep. Once the event is over, maybe it’s best to let them retire.

After getting the mug secured I attempted to get a t-shirt. This is a fool’s errand at this event. I managed to get one last year but struck out the other two years that I have attended. My guess is that at some point the organizers ordered a bunch of shirts and wound up stick with boxes of extras taking up space in their garages because they tend to under order now. I was pretty disappointed because the design this year was really nice and I would have loved to have it on a shirt. I get it though. I’m guessing these guys aren’t getting rich on this event and spending money on shirts that they aren’t sure will sell isn’t a smart move.

NOON – SATURDAY – FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)

I have to admit, much to my shame, that I am not as well versed in the classic Universal monster movies as I should be. Every time I see one I tell myself that I need to watch more of them but I never seem to actually do it. I’m not sure why either because I always enjoy them. They aren’t really scary anymore but they are usually well crafted stories and genuinely good films. These characters laid the foundation for the horror genre that we all know and love. This was a first time watch for me and Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man lived up to the high standard set by the other Universal movies I have seen. Seeing this film makes me want to journey deeper into these classics.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

1:44PM – SATURDAY – THE BIRDS (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock is the greatest director of all-time. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. I think very few people would argue with that statement (except Bobby, who would try to convince me that Rob Zombie deserves that title, but he’s insane). The Birds perfectly illustrates his greatness as a director. It starts off as a romantic comedy and stays that way for quite awhile. Slowly things start to turn and eventually we end up in a full on man versus nature horror movie. It had been at least a decade since I last saw this film and I was happy to get to see it on the big screen. It doesn’t get the praise that some of Hitchcock’s other films do but The Birds is pretty damn great.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. The Birds
  2. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

4:24PM – SATURDAY – CREEPSHOW (1982)

Creepshow is an absolute classic. You have George Romero and Stephen King coming together to make an anthology film that is both scary and hilarious. This movie is such a good time. The film’s Cinematographer Michael Gornick was in attendance for the screening and he did a brief introduction to the movie. They screened the recent 4K restoration of the film, which Gornick worked on, and it looks absolutely beautiful. After Creepshow there was a Q&A with him but I ducked out because I needed to head to the ice cream shop down the block. A visit to this place has become a part of the tradition as well. I got a double scoop of the cinnamon and it can’t be beat.

After eating my ice cream I went straight for the meet and greet line to meet Mr. Gornick.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. The Birds
  2. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  3. Creepshow

7:09PM – SATURDAY – DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

Not only did Michael Gornick handle the cinematography on Creepshow but he also did Day Of The Dead. This is one of my favorite movie posters of all-time and I was happy to get him to sign a mini-poster of it for me. That will be framed and on my wall soon. I love Day Of The Dead. It’s in a constant battle with Dawn Of The Dead for my favorite Romero film (Martin figures into that discussion too). Dawn seems to be the one that gets the most praise but Day is such an interesting film and (in true Romero fashion) it tackles such interesting subjects. It had been awhile since I watched it and I want to encourage everyone to watch it again because it’s remarkable.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. The Birds
  2. Day Of The Dead
  3. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  4. Creepshow

9:34PM – SATURDAY – MANDY (2018)

In my notes I simply wrote “Mandy on the big screen. HOLY SHIT” I stand by that sentiment, holy shit. This was one of my favorite movies of last year and I couldn’t wait to see it in a theater. Mandy is a colorful, crazy ass movie and watching it in a theater with that huge screen and that great sound system makes it even better. If you haven’t seen Mandy, you’re missing out on something special. This film is Nicolas Cage with the insanity turned up to 11, not to mention the LSD crazed biker demons, the cult and the Cheddar Goblin. I’m still not sure if it’s a trashy film that wants to be an art film or an art film that wants to be trashy but I know that I love it. Holy shit.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Mandy
  2. The Birds
  3. Day Of The Dead
  4. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  5. Creepshow

11:57PM – SATURDAY – THE WRETCHED (2019)

Every year they program a few brand new movies that are playing the festival circuit. I’ve come to look forward to these films because I can’t recall ever seeing one that I didn’t like. The Wretched kept that streak alive. This is a highly entertaining movie. It’s about a teenage boy who has gone to spend the summer with his father. He’s soon faced with the fact that there is a witch living next door and she is feeding off of the children in the area. That’s a pretty basic summary but it gives you the idea. As soon as you get a chance to watch The Wretched, do it. You won’t be disappointed.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Mandy
  2. The Birds
  3. Day Of The Dead
  4. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  5. Creepshow
  6. The Wretched

I would like to point out that we are now at the halfway point of this marathon and there hasn’t been a single bad film in the bunch. The fact that The Wretched is at the bottom of this ranking is not a reflection of it being a bad film, it’s a reflection of the stellar job the organizers did of selecting the movies.

1:45AM – SUNDAY – CRASH (1996)

I praise the organizers, just to slap them back down. My first reaction to Crash being on the schedule was that it’s not a horror film. I gave it a pass though because it has the horror pedigree and a case could be made for it. I’m not sure it’s a great case but it’s a case. This is my third viewing of this movie and I’m not a fan. Beyond whether it constitutes horror or not, I just don’t think it’s very good. It’s provocative but it’s not good. About halfway through this one I realized that I was fading fast and that I had consumed so much coffee that my stomach kind of hurt. In short, it was time to eat. This seemed like the perfect time to slip out of the theater and hit the McDonald’s not far away, which is exactly what I did. I enjoyed waiting in that drive thru and dealing with the employees horrible customer service skills much less than I would have enjoyed watching this movie but it was something that had to be done.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Mandy
  2. The Birds
  3. Day Of The Dead
  4. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  5. Creepshow
  6. The Wretched
  7. Crash

3:58AM – SUNDAY – BODY MELT (1993)

Once this movie started I began to worry about the rest of this marathon. The first half had been incredible. It did not take me long to realize that I was going to hate this film. It is essentially about a group of people who are being used as test subjects for a new vitamin without their knowledge. As you can imagine, the vitamin comes with some horrifying side effects, none of them are as bad as sitting through this movie. There were a few fun moments but mostly I just hated it.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Mandy
  2. The Birds
  3. Day Of The Dead
  4. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  5. Creepshow
  6. The Wretched
  7. Crash
  8. Body Melt

5:36AM – SUNDAY – BLISS (2019)

Bliss proved that I needn’t be worried about the direction the marathon was heading. This is the film I was most looking forward to seeing because I had heard a ton of positive things about it. It did not disappoint. Writer-Director Joe Begos hits  it out of the park with this drug fueled, hallucinogenic vampire story. I don’t want to say too much more about Bliss. Just see it. The acting is fantastic, it looks beautiful (the visuals seemed rather similar to Mandy) and it’s an interesting look at how vampires might function in our modern world.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Bliss
  2. Mandy
  3. The Birds
  4. Day Of The Dead
  5. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  6. Creepshow
  7. The Wretched
  8. Crash
  9. Body Melt

7:04AM – SUNDAY – THE DARK RED (2019)

Confession time: I fell asleep. This is the first time in three years that I have fallen asleep during this marathon. I made it about 30 minutes into The Dark Red, and was quite enjoying the film, and then the next thing I knew I was waking up when it ended. I’m pretty disappointed that I missed out on this one because it was off to a great start. I’ll be sure to catch up to it soon. I’m going to leave it off of the ranking.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Bliss
  2. Mandy
  3. The Birds
  4. Day Of The Dead
  5. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  6. Creepshow
  7. The Wretched
  8. Crash
  9. Body Melt

8:46AM – SUNDAY – OPERA (1987)

After grabbing a couple of doughnuts and a coffee it was time to settle in for Dario Argento’s Opera. This is another I was looking forward to coming into the marathon. It is widely hailed as the last great Argento film and it’s one that I hadn’t seen before. It plays out like most of Argento’s other movies. It’s a good film but not a great one. It was nice to check one off of my must see list, I just wasn’t overwhelmed by Opera.

MARATHON RANKING SO FAR:

  1. Bliss
  2. Mandy
  3. The Birds
  4. Day Of The Dead
  5. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  6. Creepshow
  7. The Wretched
  8. Opera
  9. Crash
  10. Body Melt

10:33AM – SUNDAY – SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)

The final film of the marathon. Shaun Of The Dead is a movie that I have seen roughly a million times. It’s also a film that seems to only get better, I had a great time watching this in a theater full of people who were just as exhausted and disheveled as me. There is a weird feeling watching the final movie at this event. The crowd has thinned out and you’re one of the final people standing. There is also a sense of relief that it’s coming to a close but a sense of sadness that it’s coming to a close. You’ve been in this theater for a long time and you’re ready to go home but you also know that you won’t be back until next year.

FINAL MARATHON RANKING:

  1. Bliss
  2. Mandy
  3. The Birds
  4. Day Of The Dead
  5. Shaun Of The Dead
  6. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
  7. Creepshow
  8. The Wretched
  9. Opera
  10. Crash
  11. Body Melt

As I said, I hope they find a way to keep this event alive because I have come to enjoy it. However, if it’s just not something that they can do, they have gone out on a high note. The line-up worked perfectly. If there is a 12th Annual Shock Around The Clock, you need to make sure you get to Columbus, OH.