With seats for 800 and 1920’s décor that includes towers, organ chambers, and a ceiling full of twinkling stars, the Music Box Theatre is the kind of place that you might dress up for. They are known for showing upscale art films, foreign films, classics, and documentaries. But every October, for a full twenty four hours, the Music Box Theatre goes berzerk.
A twenty four hour film festival isn’t just about being allowed to consume Junior Mints and Dr. Pepper at three in the morning; sitting through an entire day and night of horror films is a challenge. Admittedly, one I have never completed. Though I have gone to the Music Box Massacre five years in a row my record is five films (and after that year I had to detox myself from popcorn and masked killers). If you are indeed planning to sit through a full day of blood, guts, and screaming, I commend you. But, if you would rather catch just enough of the horror to enjoy yourself without having to be committed, here’s my usual schedule.
I always arrive at noon sharp to watch the old silent horrors accompanied by a live pianist. This year they are showing Waxworks followed by Burn Witch Burn. Around 3pm it’s break time (for me anyway) and I walk back to my apartment in an attempt to shake off the creatures from the black lagoon lurking inside my head. I arrive back a few hours later, refreshed and ready for terror just as the main movie of the night begins at 8:45pm. This year they are going classic 80’s with John Carpenter’s Halloween followed by Poltergiest. The enormous theatre is stuffed full of horror fans who know every knife jab by heart, the old fashioned lobby is filled with posters, signed books, and monster make-up. Boxes of pizza suddenly appear and everyone from teenagers dressed in Chucky costumes to 30 something couples with baby-sitters at home are grabbing a slice. It’s crazy exciting!
After the 10:30pm movie ends I find myself starting to wane. My seat is getting more difficult to stay awake in and my peanut M&M’s have long ago lost their appeal. But the crowd is pumped for more horror and the 1988 supernatural horror sensation Pumpkinhead is playing next, and I’ve never seen it….
Sometime in the early morning hours I relinquish my seat to a kid wearing a Dario Argento T-shirt. I nudged over my friends who are determined to make it until the noon deadline and decline their offer of breakfast nachos. The pizza is long gone, but the smell remains, the is crowd now rowdy, exhausted, and delirious. As I head home, jumping at every little sound and shadow I ponder on the experience. To sum it up? The Music Box Massacre is daunting, brutal and fabulous, just like a good horror film.