SciFi Marathon Time Travels to Bexley Drexel this Weekend
Springing ahead for daylight savings can leave you feeling groggy and out of place, like you’ve been in some kind of time warp. For some, that experience can be less than stellar. But if time travel, confusion and bleary-eyed mayhem are to your liking, the Drexel Theatre has such a weekend planned for you.
The annual SciFi Marathon takes over the usually-elegant Bexley movie house this weekend. Programmed once again by dynamic duo Joe Neff and Bruce Bartoo, the weekend offers a full slate of time travel films, as well as shorts, cartoons, costumes and contests. Everything but sleep.
This year’s lineup offers a wild mix of way-back classics, 80s and more modern fare—plus a double dose of Bruce Willis. Do you look to balance eras when you program?
Joe Neff: Yes. Since the beginning, a balance of eras, sub-genres, and tones has been the bread and butter of the marathons. That’s become more challenging the longer the event has existed. We’re always trying to balance the deep love for the classics that some of the veteran attendees have with the ever-evolving tastes of the younger audience members. And there’s a whole generation of attendees who’ve never seen some of the classics on the big screen. When we screened Alien, Aliens, and Blade Runner in 2015, they received some of the warmest receptions of the evening, in large part from those younger audience members.
How did you land on The Spierig Brothers’ Predestination?
Neff: Aside from its appropriateness to our time travel theme, we’ve wanted to sneak Predestination into the lineup for a few years now. It barely received a wide release in the U.S., and it struck us as one of the best time travel films of the modern era. And we have a long history of rediscovering recent films with the Marathon crowd.
What about Time After Time?
Neff: This is one of most oft-requestedflyers in the history of the Science Fiction Marathon. We actually advertised it on the flyer for the 1999 Time Travel Marathon, but a lack of screenable materials prevented it from happening. It’s such a wonderful film, with a great cast and a charming sense of romanticism and adventure.
How is the crowd for this marathon? Besides sleepy?
Neff: The evolution of the audience over the years has been interesting, to say the least. In the early days, they tended to be a much rowdier bunch (for a variety of reasons). These days, they’re a bit more subdued, though still very enthusiastic. Part of this is probably due to the infusion of younger audience members, who’ve been raised in an online era and tend to be a bit less extroverted. Part is probably to do with some of the veterans becoming tired in their dotage…although we won’t name names! But, we’ve also noticed a growing sense of the audience just loving to appreciate some great films on the big screen, which can leave them a bit more enthralled than talkative. Although they usually have plenty of not-so-great films to howl through as well. We always send plaudits their way, but they’re truly a one of a kind crowd with which to experience a whole bunch of movies.
What’s your favorite film in this lineup?
Neff: 12 Monkeys is easily my favorite film in the lineup. Terry Gilliam has long been a hero of mine—read into that what you will—and I love how he turned what could’ve been a very anodyne, mainstream film into a gripping existential drama that is genuinely moving as well. Most people don’t know this, but I get very teary during parts of this film every time I watch it. Total waterworks action.
Tell me about some of the “extras.”
Neff: There’ll be the usual assortment of 35mm trailers and shorts from Bruce’s [Bartoo] amazing library, including some of the longtime Marathon favorites. This will probably be the only opportunity many attendees will have to see Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 35mm, as well. We’ve had a real resurgence in the annual costume contest lately, so the competition will be fierce for the $100 first prize (and the big check).
What else makes this year special?
Neff: We’re expecting attendees from at least nine different states, including the greater tri-state region, Florida and Texas. We’re also happy to welcome two of the long-timers from our sister Science Fiction Marathon in Boston for their first time here. It all adds to what is a truly unique moviegoing experience, not just sitting in a theater for 24 hours, but bonding with people from all walks of life who share a common passion for films. And for caffeine-induced dementia.
The annual SciFi Marathon runs from 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 to 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 11.
Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 day of and are available at Drexel Theater (2254 E. Main St.), Laughing Ogre Comics (4258 N. High St.) and at scifimarathon.com.
Full 24-hour line-up:
The Time Machine (1960)
Time After Time (1979)
12 Monkeys (1995)
La Jetee (1962)
Back to the Future (1985)
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
World Without End (1956)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988)