31 Lists of Horror: The Halloween 24-Hour Movie Marathon (Part Three)

We’ve had a good time thus far—I have, anyway—putting togeth­er a top-notch list of hor­ror films for a 24-hour Hal­loween marathon. In part one, we took the first six hours to acquaint our­selves with some clas­sic hor­ror films. In part two, we cen­tered on slimy, goopy, ecto­plas­mic mon­ster mash­es.

Now, for the third quar­ter of the night of the beasts—covering the hours of 9pm (Oct. 31) to 3am (Nov. 1)—I want to take your no-doubt-addled-by-now brain to brave new places with­brain-twist­ing hor­rors that toe the line between fan­tas­ti­cal ter­ror and sci­ence fact

October 19, 2017

Corey Redekop’s Gory Bledalot’s 24-Hour Horror Movie Marathon (Part Three)

9pm, October 31 — 3am, November 1 — The Quatermass Quarter!

Bernard Quater­mass (in Quater­mass and the Pit)

By Quater­mass, I refer of course to Bernard Quar­ter­mass, leg­endary British sic-fi/hor­ror char­ac­ter and all-around smart guy. As Wikipedia puts it, Quater­mass is “an intel­li­gent and high­ly moral British scientist…heading the British Exper­i­men­tal Rock­et Group. He con­tin­u­al­ly finds him­self con­fronting sin­is­ter alien forces that threat­en to destroy human­i­ty.”

The Quater­mass films were few in num­ber but far-reach­ing in influ­ence. With­out going to much into it, Quater­mass films are about the ratio­nal, sci­en­tif­ic mind com­ing up against the super­nat­ur­al and the fan­tas­tic. Appro­pri­ate­ly, the films are a heady mix of sci­en­tif­ic tech­nob­a­b­ble, occult goings-ons, and creepy hor­ror tropes, all revolv­ing around main char­ac­ters who strive to com­bat the irra­tional with the ratio­nal.

All set then? Here we go!

Quatermass and the Pit (1967, dir. Roy Ward Baker — 97 min.)

Again, it’s late into the evening at this point and you’ve sat through twelve hours of film and eat­en a fair amount of choco­late. This means your mind should be more sus­cep­ti­ble to the frankly absurd cir­cum­stances of my favourite Quater­mass film, Quater­mass and the Pit (released as Five Mil­lion Years to Earth in the U.S.). The plot cen­tres on the dis­cov­ery of a mys­te­ri­ous object and the remains of ear­ly human ances­tors. Quater­mass grows to believe that the object is an ancient space­craft, and deduces that alien beings once helped to influ­ence human evo­lu­tion. The movie veers wild­ly into some crazy places involv­ing ghosts, mil­i­tary inter­fer­ence, reli­gious beliefs, and the poten­tial destruc­tion of human­i­ty. It all makes some kind of weird sense, espe­cial­ly if you’ve had a fair amount of high-fruc­tose can­dy before­hand.

Prince of Darkness (1987, dir. John Carpenter — 102 min.)

John Car­pen­ter wrote his screen­play for Prince of Dark­ness as Mar­tin Quater­mass, and the Quater­mass influ­ence is obvi­ous. Tech­nob­a­b­ble such as “Say good­bye to clas­si­cal real­i­ty, because our log­ic col­laps­es on the sub­atom­ic level…into ghosts and shad­ows” does epic bat­tle with the­o­log­i­cal non­sense: “It’s your dis­be­lief that pow­ers him. Your stub­born faith in com­mon sense. He lives in the small­est parts of it.” The plot revolves around an aged con­tain­er of sick­ly green liq­uid that con­tains Satan him­self. Right smack in the mid­dle, a reli­gious tome reveals to the sci­en­tif­ic team research­ing the liq­uid that Jesus Christ was an extra-ter­res­tri­al who tried to warn humans about the dan­gers inher­ent in the liq­uid, and no one bats an eye. That is some cold ana­lyt­i­cal sci­ence hap­pen­ing right there.

Lifeforce (1985, dir. Tobe Hooper — 116 min (director’s cut.)

The infa­mous sci-fi/hor­ror flop Life­force is per­haps the most epic Quater­mas film ever. An amal­ga­ma­tion of thought­ful British sci­ence-fic­tion and Amer­i­can hor­ror, direc­tor Tobe Hoop­er and Alienscreen­writer Dan O’Bannon cob­bled togeth­er one of the cinema’s most bizarre achieve­ments. Osten­si­bly a tale of inter­galac­tic vam­pires dis­cov­ered in Halley’s Comet (embod­ied by the always-nude Mathil­da May), Life­force switch­es tones at will, trans­form­ing from space opera to vam­pire flick to chase film, then going absolute­ly bugnuts to become a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. It makes lit­tle sense, but no one involved phoned it in; Hooper’s direc­tion (nev­er bet­ter) cap­tures the style and dry wit of clas­sic Quater­mass, the score by Hen­ry Manci­ni (!) is appro­pri­ate­ly bom­bas­tic, and John Dykstra’s spe­cial effects are superb — the des­ic­cat­ed zom­bie design is won­der­ful, and the alien space­craft is a thing of beau­ty. No CGI here, just craft and skill. Life­force ain’t par­tic­u­lar­ly scary, although it has a share of “Boo!” moments. But when you add up its ele­ments — vam­pires, zom­bies, mad sci­en­tists, astro­nauts, sex, space­ships, psy­chics, aliens, Love­craft­ian under­tones, Patrick Stew­art — you have one utter­ly sui gener­is film.

And so part three comes to a close. Take anoth­er quick break, warm up some microwave nachos, and pre­pare your­self for the fourth set (com­ing soon!).

To whet your appetite: Hours 3am thru 9am, being the final six hours of a mas­sive­ly hor­rif­ic marathon, will be on the lighter side. Let’s end on a joke. Even if it’s a sick, gory, depraved joke.

Vis­it Part One here.

Vis­it Part Two here.

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