The Halloween All-Nighter was something of a snap decision for me: with deadlines looming and after the debaucheries of Fright Night, staying up ‘til dawn watching horror films wasn’t all that enticing.
But peer pressure can sometimes draw you out of your ‘I’d-rather-have-an-early-night box’ and into some brilliant experiences – and for me, the All-Nighter was one of these. It saw Bar 2 become a monster-bedecked Crypt, and Bar 3 become a Mad Scientist’s Lab, complete with PS3s for those wanting to sit out some of the more terrifying films. There was even a Meat Locker with the severed heads, limbs and other appendages from Fright Night.
The six films of the evening where El Orfanato, Wolf Creek, Sinister, Carrie, The Woman, and 28 Days Later. On Crypt’s Screen 2, there was the slightly lighter-hearted selection of Nightmare on Elm Street, Black Sheep, Gremlins, Corpse Bride, Tucker and Dale, and Slither. This was a great night as well a terrifying series of films.
El Orfanato was an unsettling start to the evening – a psychological ghost story with little of the bloody sadism of modern horror films, poignant and eerie in equal measure. It was admittedly a little overwrought at points, but so is del Toro’s signature style. This was followed by the slasher Wolf Creek; I was left a little disappointed by the graphic violence after the promising opening, and the psychological elements of ‘the Stalker film’ of the evening were somewhat lacklustre. By the time we finished Wolf Creek at 00:55am, morale was starting to fall. Thankfully by that point one of the main features of the All-Nighter – the Zombie Apocolypse initiated by the resident Mad Scientist – was getting interesting.
At the start of the evening, we were greeted by a Lab with empty tables – after El Orfanato, the tables had been occupied by two ‘willing volunteers’ tied up, the Mad Scientist gleeful. Following Wolf Creek, it was evident from the Scientist’s despair and blood splattering the Lab that something had gone wrong; after the third film, the Scientist was lying dead, and the ‘volunteers’ had become the walking dead, white face-paint and all.
Sinister was up next, taking advantage of the spare hour which I’d intended to spend in bed. It was only the most terrifying spectacle I’ve ever witnessed. Worse than that Christmas my family never speaks of. Okay, so it relies upon some rather pastiche horror-film stupidity – but hell, was it a jumpy merger of the serial-killer and the haunted-house. Well worth a watch. This was followed by the classic horror Carrie – sheer brilliance, both disturbing and gruesome; and, let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to burn down our High School prom at some point.
By this point, 04:05am, we were all flagging a little – by now Earth was being overtaken by the undead, so the projections on the wall of Bar 3 were telling us. Next up was The Woman. An ugly and deeply unpalatable film about the attempted ‘civilisation’ of a feral woman with a conclusion requiring a thick skin, we were all glad to be out into the pre-dawn, 6am darkness afterwards. By this point the Zombie Apocalypse had enveloped the whole Earth, including the Union Films staff. Girding ourselves, we entered the Cinema for the last time for 28 Days Later. By this point we were prepared to laugh our way through anything – and this startling and chilling zombie film was perfect.
And then, out we stumbled into the daylight, Survivor t-shirt in hand, and Zombie Apocalypse resolved. All in all, a fantastic evening with much to offer beside the films – many of whom were a hit – and something everyone should try at least once at Southampton. Looking forward to next year, Union Films!