Above, a scene from David Cronenberg’s ‘The Brood,’ one of six horror films to be screened on Aug. 27. Photo courtesy of Cinema Arts Centre

By Kevin Redding

Summoning all horror lovers!

As summer creeps to a close, the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington — in collaboration with Retro Picture Show — sets its sights on the Halloween season and revs up the scares in its 12th annual Pay to Get Out Horror Movie Marathon.

Saturday, Aug. 27, starting at 10 p.m., moviegoers will be treated to six vastly different and obscure horror films from the ’70s and ’80s, which will get increasingly more and more deranged as the marathon goes on, until those in the audience who have “survived” the whole experience emerge from the theater at around 6 a.m. the next morning.

The whole night will be an endurance test of sorts: How much blood and guts and horror can you handle? And, how long can you stay awake? In fact, anyone who stays for all six films will receive a refund of $10 back and a free breakfast courtesy of the theater’s Sky Room Cafe.

For further incentive, all films and accompanying trailers will be shown in glorious 35mm, there will be free giveaways and raffle prizes and one of the six films has purposefully been kept a mystery to the public.

'House by the Cemetery' is part of the line-up this Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Cinema Arts Centre
‘House by the Cemetery’ is part of the line-up this Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Cinema Arts Centre

“If this is your genre, I recommend you come down, absolutely,” said Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions for the theater. “I think when we’re talking about classic cinema and movies that stand the test of time, horror often gets left out of the mainstream. Horror movies are just as important … the people who come are really passionate and care so much about these movies and that’s why the horror marathon has lasted so many years. They’ll come and stay up all night.”

This year marks the theater’s first Pay to Get Out collaboration with newly formed Retro Picture Show, a Long Island-based revival screening series focused on classic genre films. The two groups have worked together before, most notably in bringing “Friday the 13th” and “Friday the 13th Part 2” to the big screen for the original film’s 35th anniversary in May. Following the success of that screening, Retro Picture Show was asked by the theater to co-present the marathon.

“The response from the horror fans in the area has been overwhelming to say the least,” said Michael Ciani, founder of Retro Picture Show. “They come out and spend their hard-earned money to watch films that they have probably seen and most likely own on Blu-ray, so it’s an amazing thing. We truly appreciate it.”

“Our events offer genre fans the opportunity to experience the films they love on the big screen in 35mm,” said Ciani. “I use the word ‘experience’ because that’s what it is: an experience. We encourage people to get there early, choose their seats, meet with friends and other horror fans in the cafe before the film begins. Drink a few cocktails, discuss old horror films. It’s very social.”

Ciani, who has loved horror for as long as he can remember, says that finding good film prints takes a lot of hard work and research.

“Some of these prints are old, over 30 years old,” he said, “so a lot of them are in bad shape. We try to find the best ones available. Sometimes you have to find 35mm print collectors, sometimes the studio [and original distributors] will have it.”

But for him, it’s all worth it.

“I love old films. I feel like there’s nothing quite like sitting in a theater packed with like-minded fans watching a print of a film we all love,” said Cinai, adding “It’s really an amazing experience for everyone. I’m looking to re-create what it was like in the theater watching these films back in the ’70s and ’80s. I want everyone to have a great time. I love the cheering, the screaming, the laughing.”

The marathon’s selection of films cover all the bases of horror, from mutant children to werewolves to scary basements and more. But in true Cinema Arts Centre style, the choices are obscure and less heard of than, say, “Halloween” or “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

The event’s lineup includes “The Hidden” (1987), David Cronenberg’s “The Brood” (1979), “The Company of Wolves” (1984), “Vampyres” (1974) and Lucio Fulci’s “House by the Cemetery” (1981), plus the sixth mystery pick — which has been kept so secret that not even Tawney knows what it is.

“We spent a lot of time selecting this year’s mystery film and put a lot of thought into it,” said Ciani. “The goal is to make the audience ‘lose their minds’ with excitement the second it begins … something immediately recognizable. I definitely think we nailed it.”

Tawney says that even though Retro Picture Show will eventually branch out and do these types of programs at different theaters, he’s beyond pleased that they’re getting their start in Huntington.

“Right now we’re currently giving them a home to really prove themselves and test ideas out,” he said. “Most of the time they handpick the films, curate the events and they bring in a lot of personalized promotional materials and posters and prizes, which they create themselves. They give a real personal touch to the event.”

In terms of the prizes, Retro Picture Show will certainly deliver for horror fans.

“For the raffle prize … I’ll be giving away three of the “House by the Cemetery” soundtracks on vinyl, so there will be three winners for that,” said Ciani. “And the free giveaway will be at the end of the night. I’ll be giving away a coupon code for an all-access pass to our Shocktober events that we have every weekend in October. People can buy tickets for all 5 events and get a free poster.”

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. Tickets for the 12th annual Pay to Get Out Horror Movie Marathon are $40 per person, $30 for Cinema Arts Centre members. To order call 631-423-7610 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org. For more information on upcoming Retro Picture Show events, including its Shocktober events, visit www.retropictureshow.com.