Oct. 24--Joe Neff loves a good horror film.
He has watched plenty of them alone in the dark.
Add an audience and a day's worth of scary movies, however, and the real fun begins.
Neff and co-organizer Bruce Bartoo will unveil their latest creation, the Fifth Annual Shock Around the Clock 24-Hour Horror Marathon, beginning at noon Saturday at the Drexel Theatre.
Although high-definition television and Blu-ray discs have made home viewing almost theater-quality, sharing the experience with like-minded people enhances the enjoyment, Neff said.
"Having that communal experience is great. It's what kept the marathons alive."
Since 2004, Neff and Bartoo have organized both the horror-movie marathon and the springtime science-fiction-film marathon. The October event has taken place at several theaters during its 17-year run. ("They're all slightly different monsters of their own creation," Neff said in explaining why the 2013 version is called the "fifth annual" event.)
The 2013 event is planned for the Drexel after four years at the Grandview Theatre -- a move Neff attributed to the Drexel's digital and reel-to-reel projection capabilities as well as the personnel advantages of staging both shows at one theater.
"From an organizational standpoint, it would be great to have the same crew working on both," Neff said.
Regardless of the location, the attraction remains the movies.
Neff thinks the 2013 standout is Suspiria (1977), director Dario Argento's story of a ballet dancer who learns that her dance troupe consists of a coven of witches.
"It's one of my favorite horror films -- one of the greats in many ways," Neff said, citing the music and colorful presentation.
"Seeing it in a theater, on film -- it's an exercise in sensory overload," he said. "Anytime you can see something like that in the theater, it's pretty great."
Also on the schedule is The Exorcist, the 1973 tale of a demonic possession that stirred controversy upon its release.
"It seemed to be the first blockbuster modern horror film -- something that touched the cultural zeitgeist that heavily," Neff said. "It's almost become respectable these days, but if you watch the newsreel footage from those days, people were walking out and fainting."
Other movies to be shown: The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Candyman (1992), Fright Night (1985), The Lords of Salem (2012), The Night of 1,000 Cats (1972), Phantasm (1979), Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), Trick of Treat (1986) and The Wolf Man (1941).
Neff expects to add one more movie, with shorts and trailers rounding out the schedule. Audience members can participate in contests for best costume and scream.
The viewers, Neff said, are the reason that he and Bartoo keep staging the marathons.
"It's corny, but it's the audience," he said. "They're a really fun group, and we often jokingly call them the best audience in the world. But they are.
"What kept it alive is people getting together -- the twisted-family-reunion aspect."
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