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They Live

The audience at Cinema Arts Centre enjoys a scene during the horror movie marathon. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Living corpses, seductive vampires, hungry werewolves, mutant children, body-swapping aliens, a book that unleashes demons and evil spirits, and a whole lot of blood. 

Projected on the big screen in beautiful 35mm prints, all these things brought great joy and camaraderie to a roomful of strangers last Saturday night, Aug. 27, at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington.

A total of 115 eager horror fans packed the theater — fully equipped with pillows, blankets, snacks, and plenty of caffeine — ready to take on the 12th annual Pay To Get Out Horror Movie Marathon that started at 10 p.m. and didn’t finish until a little after 8:30 a.m. the next morning. Five movie titles are released to the public, with the sixth kept a secret until you’re in.

People from all walks of life were huddled together with an instant, unifying bond: a love for all things scary.

At 10 p.m., there was a buzz in the air as everybody settled into their seats. Just before the marathon started, Michael and Nina Ciani of Retro Picture Show, co-presenters of the marathon, announced three raffle ticket winners and presented each of them with a vinyl soundtrack for Lucio Fulci’s “The House By The Cemetery,” one of the better and more intense entries of the night.

The movies ranged from schlocky and ridiculous fun with “The Hidden” to a little bit dull ‘The Company of Wolves” to downright scary David Cronenberg’s “The Brood”, and I loved every second of it. When there wasn’t laughing and hollering at cheesy acting and unintentionally funny moments, there was cheering when the protagonists escaped their monsters’ clutches and gasping at grisly kills. We, as an audience, were treated to a reel of classic trailers that ran before the movies, pertaining to the theme of each one. Before “The Hidden,” we got John Carpenter’s “They Live;” before “The Brood,” we got “Videodrome;” and before “The Company of Wolves,” we got Joe Dante’s “The Howling.”

The big question of “what the final mystery film would be?” hung over the theater all night.

As we took our seats one last time at around 7:10 a.m., we were all quiet with anticipation.

As soon as the black screen filled with fog and a few seconds of musical score blared, the theater erupted, instantly recognizing the Sam Raimi classic “Evil Dead II,” perhaps the greatest movie choice to be experienced by this kind of crowd in a theater. Bruce Campbell’s demon-induced pratfalls were never more exhilarating.

Throughout the marathon, the film prints were scratchy and crackly in the best ways possible, only enhancing the atmosphere. But no print was more fitting than the one of “Evil Dead II,” which warped and fizzled out a few different times early on as characters were undergoing the wrath of the Book of the Dead. An audience member put it best when he shouted out, “This film is possessed!”

It’s a testament to the love and passion for the horror genre that almost everybody in attendance,  including myself, stuck it out to the end of the marathon with a healthy dose of energy and excitement intact.