“I Survived All Freakin’ Night”
All Freakin’ Night was born in 1989, during the 6th annual Olympia Film Festival[OFF] OFF just turned 30. This year and last year, the all-night horror and gore marathon kicked off the Capitol Theater’s largest annual event. Evergreen alumnus Kenrick Ward hosted All Freakin’ Night 2013, throwing candy out to the audience and dispensing raffle prizes provided by Darby’s.
The six movie selections for this year separated the night into two sections: three recent films (released 2012-2013) and three early ‘80s films (1980-1981). In contrast to previous years, the marathon was in full color. Although attendance was not at its famous ‘sold-out’ levels common before 2010, the heckling-to-audience member ratio remained high. Underlying themes of dark comedy and creepy sexuality filled in for less sci-fi and fewer monsters in this year’s selections.
At midnight on Nov. 9, 2013, the 25th All Freakin’ Night began with a 18-minute gore-comedy “Tumult.” In “Tumult,” a busload of British tourists found what appeared to be the last remaining Vikings in Scandinavia. About nine minutes in, a closing bus door crushed a Viking’s skull and the audience went crazy. The credits rolled over the image of an Arthurian grave site. Everyone clapped.
After the tour guide and bus driver “accidentally” kill two out of three Norsemen, the script touched on social commentary, addressing urban progress versus ancient tradition. A tourist confronted her tour guide with the murder that she had just committed. The tour guide responded, “They were on their way out anyway.”
“Sightseers” continued the audience’s journey into the dark side of travel and tourism. The faux-artsy opening credits inspired a chorus of heckling and comedic commentary throughout the theater. One audience member yelled, “He’s going to fucking murder him!” Paul Malleck, who has attended all but two All Freakin’ Nights since 1995, sat behind me through “Tumult” and “Sightseers.” He responded, amongst his own numerous comments, “Shut the fuck up: this is art!”
As the event’s second film, “Sightseers” came close to perfection. It harnessed and sustained audience excitement by keeping up on equal parts dramatic comedy and absurd murder. The story follows a late-bloomer leaving her elderly mother’s house to live with her newfound boyfriend in an RV. As the couple travels around Britain’s natural and historic tourist sites, she realizes her love interest is a serial killer.
Next, “The Drifter” brought out the “Olympia mocks art-house film” side of All Freakin’ Night unlike any other movie shown that evening. The circular plot twists and continuous nightmare quality of the evening’s midpoint put about a third of the audience asleep. A barely-legible comment from my reporter’s notebook sums up the movie’s best quality: “More head explosions than ‘Scanners’!!!!!”
“Hotel Hell” marked the transition from newer films to pure 35mm campy horror. The story of a family-owned farm and hotel worked with some uncomfortable pig/human parallels. Motifs of sharp blades(lots!), incest, sexism, cannibalism, and country-versus-city people at 3 a.m. woke some people up and sent others home to bed. Several people still alive and active made serious attempts to bring back an All Freakin’ Night tradition by yelling “Banister!” when a banister or anything like it appeared on screen.
Around 5 a.m., the 1981 Italian zombie classic “Burial Ground” started. The plot follows a group of rich vacationers staying at a country villa who encounter rotting, undead monks as well as a series of unsettling sexual situations. Imperfectly-dubbed English and grainy 35mm film paired perfectly with copious use of live worms or maggots and a cast of naive characters who had clearly never seen a zombie movie.
The Oedipus Complex made several cameos around the relationship between a sexy female character and her eight year-old son, played by a very petite man. Audience commentary on this film ranged from jokes about the low-budget makeup in the movie (“Oh okay, so the zombies only decompose on top of their hands?!”) to deranged encouragements for the mayhem on the screen (yelling “Get it!” when a zombie ate a human breast).
After a second zombie classic, “City of the Walking Dead,” rounded out the nine and a half hour-long event. Those remaining in their seats straggled out onto 5th Avenue looking much like the undead in All Freakin’ Night 2013’s last two films.