There comes a point in any 24-hour movie marathon when you’re bleary-eyed, you reek of jet-black coffee and unnatural foodstuffs, and you’re dreaming of nothing more than a hot shower and the soft embrace of a down comforter. You’re thinking to yourself, “Why the hell did I do this?” And you have no answer.
But that’s about the time someone’s eyeballs are pushed out of their head from the inside, and you find the strength to go on.
All movie buffs—especially aficionados of horror and/or general low-grade entertainments—owes it themselves to commit, at least once, to a movie marathon, and preferably a 24-hour one. Given Halloween’s arrival, ’tis the season for pros nationwide who pull this off as the movie gods intended: inside real movie theaters in Chicago, L.A., Boston, and even my beloved Columbus, Ohio.
But okay, yes, I understand that you’d prefer not to leave your house, what with your RedFlixing and NetBoxing and Hulu Primes and whatnot. Now, you COULD get motivated and just program a gory gorge session yourself, but one of the true joys of a marathon is ceding creative control to a well-curated plan, and there’s an under-the-radar resource doing just that.
Got a Roku? Add B-Movie TV. This little throwback plumbs the depths of dreck to bring you an ever-rotating daily smorgasbord of lost low-budget action, martial arts, sci-fi, cult, and horror. It’s a delightfully old-school experience: a movie every two hours, trailers and oddball commercials in between, no pausing, and only an occasional published schedule, so much of the time you don’t know what’s on until you see the title.
Call it CrapRoulette, and for those of the proper mindset, it can be glorious. Which is why I, in the name of experiential journalism, embedded myself with B-Movie TV from 8 a.m. Oct. 3 to 8 a.m. Oct. 4. (Note: I watched a normal programming day, and thus got the whole stylistic gamut of its offerings, but all this week it’s an all-horror selection on account of, well, you know.)
Okay, let’s do this.
8:10 a.m. And I’m already failing. Five bearded dudes are trapped in a cave; I missed the beginning and don’t know what this is, but one dude just got his arm lopped off. More arms are lost. I Google “cave in” and “severed arm.” It’s called The Severed Arm, because of course it is.
10 a.m. We’ve got Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star. Kids stuff? WTH? Well, I guess it is 10 a.m. This is just another post-ET ’80s friendly-alien movie, except if Eliot wanted to bang ET and the sidekick looked like an electric shaver covered in hair. Wait, this was directed by Peter Hunt? Goldfinger Peter Hunt? Holy crap. Poor Peter Hunt.
Noon. We move to the martial-arts portion of the menu with Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger, in which a Bruce Lee lookalike and disciple investigates his mentor’s death. Lots of pictures of Lee on the walls, plus a pic of a nude gentleman using a jackhammer. The set design is ON POINT. Romantic quote: “If I can mean as much to you as Bruce Lee did, I’ll be very happy.”
2 p.m. NOW WE’RE TALKING. Savage Dawn. These are the first faces I recognize faces: This biker-gang-takes-over-small-town flick has George Kennedy, Karen Black, William Forsythe, Sam Kinison, and, best of all, a bleach-blonde Lance Henriksen as the badass hero. Not only does he kick a dude off a moving motorcycle, HE STABS A MAN IN THE NECK WITH A FUCKING SNAKE.
A quick word on those commercial breaks: They play like public access, for better or worse. Vintage trailers are always fun; I could do without the short films, but you’ve got to fill time somehow. I did get to see this music video.
4 p.m. Class Reunion Massacre (aka The Redeemer: Son of Satan). Whoa, lots going on with those titles. There is a class reunion. They are massacred. There is some religious stuff, and there is a half-ass Damien rip-off of a devil kid. Not sure how it all goes together, but it keeps going.
6 p.m. ColdFire. A Wings Hauser joint about a killer drug that makes users “insanely hyperactive.” Sounds cool, right? It isn’t, due to an insane lack of actual ColdFire hyperactive freakouts.
8 p.m. Progeny. An icky Brian Yuzna-Stuart Gordon movie about a woman who is probably impregnated by aliens. It’s gross in all the ways you’d expect from the braintrust behind Re-Animator; some genuine creepiness here, including Wilford Brimley as a gynecologist. (“Have you been using any special douches or suppositories?”)
9 p.m. The first pangs of sleep begin to hit me. I activate the coffee pot.
10 p.m. Hell of the Living Dead. There’s a zombie-fying gas. Suddenly people are in a jungle. This white lady goes topless and paints herself to fit in with a native tribe of non-whites. IT WORKS. But then, zombies. Everyone dies. Fucking Italians.
This is about when my wife comes in the room. She has many questions about my behavior. So do I. Our marriage remains intact, but it’s early.
Midnight. B-Movie TV’s signature event is dubbed Saturday Night Sleaze. Tonight, that means Angel, which is shockingly tame for a story about a 15-year-old prostitute hunting down a necrophiliac serial killer.
2 a.m. Roller Blade. It’s futuristic L.A. There’s a gang of warrior-nuns who travel via roller skates. There’s a weird hand-puppet monster thing, too. Quote: “The longer thou skateth, the less thou falleth.” For real.
3:15 a.m. (approximately). I fell asleep. No clue what happened in Roller Blade. Not sure I would understand even if I’d stayed awake.
4 a.m. I’m back, and feeling awake and lively enough to fully grasp Bruce’s Fist of Vengeance. Guess what? This is about another Bruce Lee lookalike and pupil. Punches and kicks happen.
6 a.m. Grave of the Vampire. Guys, it’s just cruel to put a movie this plodding on at 6 a.m., but I can handle it. Plot: A woman gets impregnated by a vampire; she has a baby and raises that baby on bottles of her own blood (GROSS). He grows up and wants to meet Pops. Tidbit: This was written by David Chase. Yes, that David Chase. The final half-hour is hazy. I crawl over the finish line. Everyone dies. And then, mercifully, so do I.
Dan Eaton writes about other things for other people, but they don’t let him swear.
Lead image by Sam Woolley.
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