As the night approached, I couldn’t believe it’d been a whole year since the last All Night Horror Madness at the Cameo. What’s more, I was reminded earlier in the day that I had press tickets for Erasure at the Usher Hall that very same night and now had to cram the gig in before attending an all night movie marathon!
The line-up was as follows: An American Werewolf in London, Troll 2, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a SURPRISE MOVIE, and House on Sorority Row. I took some comfort at American Werewolf being on the list as it meant I could take a snooze during it given I’d seen it so many times already. I dashed out of Erasure on the final chords of A Little Respect and found my friends in the queue (clearly showing how little respect I had for everyone else by pushing in).
As we secured our middle-centre seats to set up camp for the next nine-and-a-half hours, I saw the lineup: American Werewolf was last! It didn’t start till 7am. It was 11pm now. Bah. That meant I had to stay awake all night, although I made a conscious decision to leave at 7am and go get some sleep then. Obviously that didn’t happen.
Once everyone had settled down, our hosts for the evening, Ian Hoey and Matt Palmer, talked us through each film. Hoey attempted to probe Palmer’s rationale for choosing the lineup amidst some delightfully awkward banter that has us all laughing. Then the lights dimmed and we began!
The first film, House on Sorority Row, was a well-made slasher that managed to avoid the nudity you’d expect in a film with that title. It featured some relatively restrained, gore-free, kills and went down well with the crowd due to it playing first and for having the common decency of having a plot, story and characters. In a slasher horror film! Can you believe it?
The second film, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, had stirred up a bit of debate already. Is it a horror film? Doesn’t it stick out like a sore thumb in that lineup? Well, yes. That’s the point. I haven’t seen Henry since maybe 1994 and while time has dampened some of its qualities, there are still moments of pure brutality that make everything Eli Roth has ever touched look like Bambi. Specifically, there’s the scene where they watch their latest kill on a TV, having filmed it all on VHS. The matter-of-factness is what turns the stomach and haunts.
In the interval, Hoey and Palmer held the raffle, where they gave away some custom movie posters, tickets for the next All Night Horror Madness, and a lifesize get-that-the-f**k-out-of-my-house Facehugger model from Aliens. I felt a rush of relief that I didn’t win.
Third came the SURPRISE MOVIE which was one I’d never heard of: The Kindred. It was a bonkers movie about human experiments, cloning and weird monsters. It was exactly the kind of delightful rubbish I had been hoping for and certainly provided light relief after Henry and the threat of winning that Facehugger.
It was now four-something in the morning and we were surprised so many people were still here. In the past, the audience had usually thinned out around the third and fourth film, but the fantastic lineup kept the vast majority in their seats. Next up was the frankly unbelievable Troll 2. At 5am in the morning, watching something as mind-meltingly insane as Troll 2 is an experience I wholeheartedly recommend. It was the film of the night by miles. One I will cherish for all time. Somehow, they had it on 35mm which just made it even more perfect. The delight ran through the cinema as the chaos of both plot and over-acting reached fever pitch. I lost my breath laughing at one point, tears streaming down my face.
The sun was coming up at 7.30am, and I considered catching a bus home and bailing on the last film like I’d promised myself. I thought I’d be sleepy by now but the unstoppable madness kept my brain more active than during the last three Paul Thomas Anderson films. My bus wasn’t for another twenty minutes and after only ten minutes of American Werewolf In London I embedded myself in my seat knowing that I was gonna see this through.
Staggering into the wreckage of Sunday morning, I came out of the Cameo and checked my watch. It was 8:37am. I’d headed out of the house at 6.30pm on Saturday night to go see Erasure and had been up a full fourteen hours. I’m too old for this s**t, I thought, whilst also deciding that I’d stay up all night to watch the Superbowl that evening.