Newly crowned Mr. Horrorthon Steven Wong made his way up to the stage of the Aero Theater to receive his prize: A wearable cardboard box covered in Funyun chip bags, a DVD of 1997’s “Dangerous Ground,” a soda cup and an ear of corn on a string. A first dance with the Corn Gorn was in order.
This bizarre scene was the epitome of the Aero Theatre’s 7th Annual Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon. The event attracted everyone from die-hard horror movie fans to people who just want to do something unique for Halloween.
The movie line-up for the night had something for everyone. If you like inanimate objects coming to life and killing people, 1983’s “Christine” is for you. If it makes you giddy to watch the undead use blood of the innocent to regenerate, 1987’s “Hellraiser” is a good choice. Ancient Indian medicine men being birthed out of a woman’s back catch your fancy? You needn’t look any further than 1978’s “The Manitou.”
Grant Moninger, creator and organizer of Horrorthon since 2006, is a programmer for the American Cinematheque, which owns the Aero Theater. He decides what movies are going to be played during the marathon every year.
“It takes me hundreds of different line-ups until I find the right balance of spooks and scares, laughs, freak-outs, gore, chills and magic,” Moninger wrote in an email. He also made sure the films were available in their release print.
Even though the movies are the main event of Horrorthon, Newt Calkins gives a different reason why he likes coming back every year.
“The crowd is very vocal. They’re chatty, they’re really hyped up and by the end of the night, it’s like we’re all friends,” he said.
Short films comprised of various clips from movies, commercials and other sources are shown before each feature. Horrorfest veterans yell out certain lines from shorts they were familiar with, including an old Red Roof Inn commercial and a video of a gopher that repeats the name “Alan.” Moninger collaborated with his brother David to program the short films.
“We find odd bits from movies we see, things we discover online, things we remember from our past–we find them all over,” Moninger said. “We don’t edit it together until the evening before.”
To introduce the short films and rile up the crowd, Moninger came out and yelled “Who wants candy?!” and tossed various types of treats out into the crowd. Other giveaways consisted of movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, books and costumes.
Costumed volunteers from the Aero also helped to keep the crowd awake during the 13-hour movie marathon. Randy Wyatt, who was in charge of candy distribution, heard enthusiastic “candy from Randy” calls from the crowd.
Another volunteer was dressed as a Gorn– a creature from the Star Trek television series–who’s job was to hand out candy corn and edible ears of corn. He was aptly nicknamed “The Corn Gorn,” a new addition to this year’s Horrorthon, Moninger said.
Horrorthon first-timer Chris Johnson stayed awake through all six movies, saying he maintained good energy throughout and didn’t nod off once.
“It was awesome,” said Johnson. “I’d do it again.”
When the final film ended, half of the original audience was still in attendance, proving how far true horror fans will extend themselves for their love of the genre.