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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Road Trip to 12 Hours of Terror 2019 at the Capitol Theater


Well it is October again and that means it was time for my annual pilgrimage to the beautiful Capitol Theater for my favorite horror movie marathon. Last year we had some crazy weather-related shenanigans, but this year it was beautiful out and things were looking up.

Frequent wingman Dustin headed up with me this year. We had to get an even earlier start than usual since the show started at six this year instead of eight. There was some event that was going to shut the street down Sunday morning, so I guess they needed all of us weirdos to clear out before then. Works for me since I never get more than four or five movies in before heading home. An earlier start meant maybe more horror for me and I’m always down for that.

Arriving a couple hours early we got very lucky and found an empty parking spot right next to the theater. It is always an awesome thing when that happens because as much as I love the Capitol finding somewhere to park can be a pain in the butt. After that we headed across the street to grab some food at a nearby bar. I discovered this place last year and it had some great pizza. This year I got the “Cleveland” Cheesesteak Sandwich, which I guess is the local take on the classic Philly Cheesesteak. It was pretty damn good with some spicy cheese melted in a pile of meat. Fortified with a hearty meal I was ready for a marathon of movie watching.

Tickets were purchased and seats found we settled in for some fun. In between the flicks they were showing the old Elvira MTV Halloween special with some fun trailers and commercials mixed in. This is what was playing as we were getting comfortable and getting our snacks. We also got to meet our “neighbors” for the evening and chatted them up a bit. One of the best parts about an event like 12 Hours of Terror is hanging with likeminded fans. Living out in the sticks it is hard to find people who dig this stuff as much as I do, even this time of year. It is always much appreciated to get some horror talk in.

Movie one was Nightmare on Elm Street. Okay I need to be honest here and admit that I’m not a Wes Craven fan. This is especially true of the Elm Street series. Even when it was new, I never liked it. Something about Freddy getting you in your dreams and his eventual wisecracking persona just never did it for me. I was always a Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers kind of dude, so I wasn’t thrilled with either of the first two movies showing, the other being Scream. But I have to say I enjoyed Nightmare way more than I thought I would.

For me seeing it with an audience made all the difference in the world. I had found and watched the series on VHS back in the day and had never seen any of the Elm Street movies in a theater. Seeing how it played to other people made all the difference in the world and in spite of my longstanding dislike for the series I ended up having a pretty good time. Not sure if I never got the humor or if it just works better for me now that I’m older but I might be a fan. I’m going to have to check out the other movies in the franchise soon.

The second move was them doubling down on Wes Craven by showing Scream. Now here is a movie that I did see in the theater when it first came out. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with this one. When it originally was released I was hoping to get a new slasher movie and of course that isn’t what we got at all. More referential of the genre than reverential to it I’ve always been bugged by Scream. I had the feeling that on some level Craven was sort of making fun of the fans. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it is funny, scary at times, and iconic in its own way. This is another instance of me enjoying the movie even more because of the shared experience of watching it with an audience. I think that this is going to be a common theme for the night.

This year we got not one but two mystery movies! First up was Girl on the Third Floor, a new release that has been getting a lot of buzz at different festivals. I’m not a wrestling fan so I had no idea who C.M. Punk was but didn’t expect much of him as an actor. The guy ended up being really good in what is at its core a haunted house movie. Very spooky with some decent gore and a twist ending that I rather liked. This was a very good movie that I’d recommend people track down. I know it is hitting a VOD release soon.

Movie number four was Bloody Birthday. This fit in nicely with the theme of the evenings events as it was the 10th year and they were serving birthday cake during the break after this movie. If you haven’t seen Bloody Birthday, and you really should, it is a fun killer kid flick. Not much in the way of gore, but the child actors chew up just enough scenery to make this a blast to watch. Seeing people react to it and the amount of humor, intentional or not, was one of the highlights of the night.

After getting some free cake and ice cream I headed back to my seat for the Parasite 3D. This “gem” from Empire Pictures (Charles Band’s company) stars a very young Demi Moore and has to do with a lab experiment gone wrong, a futuristic hitman, and some weird gang of hooligans. Honestly the movie doesn’t make a bit of sense, but it does have a fun creature designed by Stan Winston. Plus, they pull off some good gags with the 3D effects. I wouldn’t recommend watching it in 2D, but if you get the chance to see it in the third dimension do so.

In the past I had never made it past the fifth movie, but this year I decided to at least see what the second mystery movie was. As soon as I saw the word Wingnut on the screen, I realized that I was not going anywhere. One of my favorite splatter movies of the nineties Dead Alive (aka. Braindead) is an early effort from Peter Jackson and features some of the craziest zombie related action that you will ever see on the screen! This was the first time I’ve had the chance to see it properly in a theater and it was great. The gore, the dialogue, the over the top acting, it all plays so well. I’m not sure but given the reaction of the audience it appeared that this was a first watch for quite a few people as well so that added some extra energy to the room.

There was one more movie to go after this. Was this going to be the first year that I made it to the end? No, it was not. It was getting very late and the last movie of the night was the Dawn of the Dead remake. While I like that movie there was little motivation for me to sit thru it. I saw it in the theater during its first run, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Dustin and I decided to head home before it started. Even calling it a night with one left to go I still got to see the sun rise before I stepped foot on my porch.

To sum things up the 10th annual 12 Hours of Terror was a blast. In spite of not being too excited about the lineup I ended up a ton of fun. This event has become something that I look forward to all year long. Getting to see old favorites on the big screen with other fans makes me feel like I’m experiencing them as they were meant to be seen. In the case of this year’s show it might even have changed my opinion on a franchise that I was never enamored with. That is why I don’t miss the chance to attend this and many of the other great events put on at the Capitol Theater. If you live anywhere near Cleveland you should make the effort to check them out at https://www.clevelandcinemas.com/location/20340/Capitol-Theatre.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer


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