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Giant Monsters Overrun Drexel Theater

Hope Madden Hope Madden Giant Monsters Overrun Drexel Theater2001: A Space Odyssey - Photo via IMDb
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The apocalypse is coming! Despite what you may have heard, it’s not viral. It’s mechanical (mainly) and this year’s 24-hour SciFi marathon at Drexel Theatre aims to prepare you.

For one full planetary rotation, Bruce Bartoo and Joe Neff will, once again, fill your eye holes with movies—some classic, some engaging dumpster fires—that look at how we have imagined a machine/animal/alien uprising from 1925 to today.

Neff handles the majority of the programming duties for this, the 37th annual event, as Bartoo transitions toward retirement.

“Looking for a new equilibrium,” Bartoo says. “Joe has a full head of steam with his visions for the ‘Thons. And now that I’m 70, I’m thinking that I might finally be old enough to run for President.”

Bartoo says he will “ still be adding a few touches to the proceedings here and there,” but plans to let Neff do the lion’s share of the work this year.

For the 2020 event, Neff’s landed a handful of special guests to add a little panache to films. The program’s classic, a restoration of Harry O. Hoyt’s 1925 silent adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, boasts the accompaniment of Jeff Rapsis.

“Jeff Rapsis is one of the most prolific silent film accompanists in the game today,” Neff says. “He’s traveled all over the world to perform his rousing scores to a whole host of titles. And he’s as enthusiastic an evangelist for the form as you’ll find.”

Premieres receive just as loving a tribute, with filmmakers Phillip and Chloe Carroll introducing their brand new film, The Honeymoon Phase.

“It’s a Black Mirror-esque thriller about a married couple who agree to live under surveillance for 30 days,” Neff explains. “The Carrolls have been barnstorming around the country promoting the film, and they’re looking forward to meeting our audience. We’ve had many big name guests, but the indie filmmakers we’ve had out are often the biggest treats.”

From The Lost World to The Honeymoon Phase, the marathon dips into films covering nearly 100 years of filmmaking. Neff says programming also reflects a wide range in tastes.

“As we’ve always said, it’s the mixture of sub-genres, tones, and moods that make any good Marathon lineup,” says Neff. “Balancing them all can be tricky. Too many serious titles can drag the audience down, while too many goofy ones can overwhelm the serious fare. It’s always good to have two to three classics that might draw in newcomers, while also still delighting our veteran attendees with a few underseen gems like Colossus: The Forbin Project and Annihilation, and a nice sampling of action and goofiness. Maximum Overdrive is a bad film by most standards, but also a fascinating piece of history that should play like gangbusters with our loony crowd.” 

In fact, Neff thinks Maximum Overdrive might be the weirdest film in the lineup.

“It’s probably a toss-up between the giant killer bunny rabbit epic that is Night of the Lepus or Maximum Overdrive,” he says. The latter is also one of the films Neff is most excited to watch.

Overdrive should be a hoot with this crowd,” he says, although there is another film he is especially thrilled to share.

2001: A Space Odyssey is perhaps the ultimate big screen experience, so seeing the gorgeous 4K restoration, which was overseen by Kubrick’s longtime personal assistant Leon Vitali, should be a treat,” Neff says.

But both Neff and Bartoo stress, again, it’s the crowd itself that makes the marathon such a great time year after year.

“This audience,” Bartoo muses. “A quirky bunch who come from all over the country for our odd little diversions into the dusty corners of the genres. We’ve warped their minds over the years, and they just keep coming back. So now we feel responsible to put together an event worthy of that twisted devotion. I’m looking forward to this one.”

The 37th annual Science Fiction Marathon runs noon, Saturday March 21 to noonish Sunday, 22 at Drexel Theatre.

Full program:

  • The Honeymoon Phase (2019) (Ohio premiere)
  • The Lost World (1925) (restoration)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (4k restoration)
  • Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
  • Brazil (1985)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
  • Annihilation (2018)
  • Maximum Overdrive (1986) (35mm)
  • Shocking Dark (1989)
  • Night of the Lepus (1972)

Tickets are going fast! $45 in advance, $50 at the door. Pick them up while you can at Drexel Theatre (2254 E. Main St.), Laughing Ogre Comics (4258 N. High St.) or online.

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her horror movie podcast, FRIGHT CLUB.

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