(Editor’s note: Anyone who’s had the pleasure of meeting our friend E already knows what a brilliant, creative mind she has. That’s why I was ecstatic when she reached out to us to grace our sophomoric website with actual beautiful writing. Be sure to give her a follow on Twitter and check out her work on Bright Nightmares. On to E’s coverage of 12 Hours of Terror at the Belcourt.)
Hello friends, E here! Local Nashville creep-at-large. You know what us spooky people enjoy more than endless reruns of Hocus Pocus and The Craft, or listening to “Dead Man’s Party” and “Black No. 1” on repeat for hours? Nothing! But, another popular event during the Halloween season in the city is The Belcourt Theater’s annual 12 Hours of Terror. I would have invited y’all, but it… sold out.
How do you sell out a 12 hour movie marathon? Not sure, but the event has had a pretty strong showing for the past couple of years. It’s gone from low key cult event to “yeah, I can do that for a few hours” for even the normiest of the normies. It’s still a kept secret just not that well kept. Definitely not for everyone. This year was especially perilous because rather than the usual hints and blurred screen caps of what is to come, the Belcourt staff didn’t give us a single clue as to what we were going to be seeing tonight.
But, Halloween season at the art theater is my family bonding time – literally! I’m a third generation horror hound and this is the only time of year my father and I stop arguing over indie wrestlers and which version of the nWo was better and bond. And not just my biological family, but my chosen family is here as well! And lastly, I’m not NOT going anywhere that has a food truck (this year was Burritos la Mina). So, October 20-21 with knapsacks and contraband snacks in tow, here we go.
The evening is ostensibly hosted by local mad scientist Dr Gangrene, but if you stay long enough you’ll find out that the real MVPs of the night are the dedicated Belcourt staff.
Right, inside the theater. Slam packed and yet somehow as theater goers, we can’t figure out that whole thing about not leaving every other seat open so people can see the layout. Figures. The musical guest this evening, as it has been for several years, is… wait a second. Those aren’t the Boo Dudes. Some poseurs called The Graveyard Guys that sound suspiciously just like the Boo Dudes are up here on stage singing about the joys of cannabis! This is very gray legal ground, I must inform the law.
(Nashville lore #1: The Boo Dudes are a horrorpunk group that play around town during the happiest season, are apparently embroiled in legal troubles with The Graveyard Guys. They’re forced to play ska.)
Ten o’clock. As the ghost with the most would say, it’s showtime. Each movie comes with a nice introduction and as the night goes on we get games and giveaways preceding some of them. Maybe you just get up to stretch your legs and aimlessly get more popcorn and wine, too. More on that. But now, the top secret films this year! We are in for 7, 7.5 total if you count shorts. Hey, y’all like arbitrary ratings?
#1: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Kicking off a pretty strong lineup tonight, announced by a pretty rockin’ version of the title track by the Graveyard Guys and their manager (?). Dream Warriors is one of my least favorite Freddy movies despite featuring a ton of pros like the soundtrack, a neat concept, the hottest version of Nancy, AND a very “friend”shippy relationship between her and final girl Kristen. Despite all this, though, this entry in the franchise never did too much for me. But for getting the night started off right with some cheesy ‘80s lulz, it gets 6 Dokkens out of 10.
After the movie, we are informed that there is a “zombie” drink special in the lobby for the duration of the next film. Dear god, that can mean one of three things…
But first, the costume contest! You can imagine not a ton of people sit in costume for twelve whole hours. I commend these people. We had a pretty big selection of entrants this year including a John Cena, Nola Carveth from The Brood, Sniffles the Funeral Clown, and my personal favorite: Sexy Iñigo Montoya and Kinky Dread Pirate Roberts! Alas, Sniffles the clown won, but I think the true winners are the American People.
Say, what was movie #2?
#2: Zombi 3
Oh boy. A hodgepodge “sequel” to the Lucio Fulci classic Zombi 2, Zombi 3 was shot in the Philippines for $1.50 and went through at least two directors (Fulci and the infamous Bruno Mattei) with a screenplay by Claudio Fragrasso (Troll 2, Monster Dog). Zombi 3 isn’t really that bad and has some cool story elements, but… man. Those special effects and that dubbing, doe. 4 mondo canes out of 10.
The intermission is an interesting short by Maya Deren called “Meshes of the Afternoon.” At this point, I pop out to get some air and stretch the ol’ hammies, and check out the sweet haunted house set up outside. By the time I get back, I’m in tears for movie #3.
#3: Tales from the Hood
Dear god, the Belcourt is too good to us for this one. Tales from the Hood 2 is currently streaming VOD, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t seen the original. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think the complexion of this audience was quite ready for the number of N-bombs dropped or Joe Torry. But, if I can have a decent conversation about race and social constructs and be scared of demons at the same time, that’s time well spent. 9 Terrordomes out of 10.
We didn’t deserve that chunk of goodness, but we also definitely didn’t deserve movie #4 as chosen by staff Cody after a little serial killer trivia game.
(Nashville lore #2: Never look up Cody’s Instagram unless you feel spicy with your life.)
Angst is a highly experimental German film based on true events, which alone makes it terrifying beyond mere “horror”. But, as a film experience, didn’t do too much for me. When I was young, I watched films like this and Man Bites Dog and so on to justify a nihilistic, misanthropic world view. But as an adult, I’m kind of over it. Napped on this one. 4 method actors out of 10.
We’re draining down to the real gangstas now. Being cooped up in a theater with your fellow weirdos after eight hours of minimal sleep will degrade your mental state, which is the only reason I can think of for the people bobbing for apples for VHS tapes. Anyway…
#5: Born of Fire
Weirdo pick of the night number 2, this is a very atmospheric movie described as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” with elements from Islam, and whatever that means I agree. I enjoyed what I saw of it, but at this point my body temperature was pretty low and I was running on Earl Grey fumes. Still, 7 djinn out of 10.
Linnea Quiggley monster exercises and the Horror Brunch!!! short means we’re at the home stretch! Two movies to go. Who will survive and what will be left of us?
I get up for a few minutes and talk to some family. Man, you ever realize that you’re going to be at a good friend’s funeral one day and still not know their name? Business cards, my friends. Get some!
Don’t talk to me about this one. Do. Not. 6 freaky alien gang bangs out of 10.
Last short of the night (day at this point), a locally shot feature called “Queens of the Highway”. It’s aight. We have one last give away for 2 tickets for a seminar at the Belcourt. (Womanhood in Horror, check it out except it’s sold out.) The first two people to run up front wins! Props to the woman that completely wiped out for the ticket.
After free coffee and donuts, our long day’s journey into night ends with…
#7: Slumber Party Massacre
Directed and written by two of the women that Jason Blum can’t seem to find, this fantastic campy feminist slasher feature is a great cap off to a night of timely, socially conscious (yes, even Xtro) movies and a great send off for the few and the proud that made it through this night. 8 pretty things dying out of 10!
Another year, another 12 hours down. I was both thrilled and enthralled by a strong line up of films and a lot of good fun. We blew that popsicle stand for a long nap right after, but with Rocky Horror Picture Show coming up, Halloween isn’t QUITE over in Music City just yet… ‘Tis the season to ascend, my friends!