Few movie theater experiences can match feeling an audience’s shared fear during a horror film on a chilly autumn night.
The atmosphere horror movies provide is unlike any other genre and sharing that experience is a crucial step in getting into the Halloween spirit. As the temperature drops and leaves begin to fall, The Logan Theatre’s sixth annual “Horror Movie Madness” marathon should be on all Chicagoans’ radars.
The Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is an indie movie house located just off the “Logan Square” stop on the CTA Blue Line. A champion for classic Hollywood and under-seen independent films, the theater offers a unique movie-going experience with its old-school appearance and cozy lobby.
The PHOENIX sat down with Jennifer Zacarias, director of marketing and events for the theater, to talk about its upcoming “Horror Movie Madness” marathon.
Zacarias and her team loved to run late-night movies — mostly horror and cult films — when they reopened the theater after renovations in March 2012. They would show a diverse range of films from “Eraserhead” (1977) to “Troll 2” (1990) and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” (1978). This was the genesis for the idea of a horror movie marathon.
“We started doing a late night movie series,” Zacarias said. “But by the time we got to October we decided to blow it up and do a late night movie every night. We saw there was a demand to show these cult films.”
There was still room for the idea to grow, and that’s when Zacarias and her team decided to focus the new marathon around Halloween.
“The owner, as well as myself, are really into Halloween in general,” Zacarias said. “It started with how much can we decorate in here, and what programming can we build around that to bring people in to just enjoy the Halloween spirit, because we love it so much.”
The next step for the team was choosing the actual list of films. The horror genre has left a massive footprint on the history of cinema, and Zacarias knows there are certain movies that have to be a part of any horror movie marathon.
“We want to show those movies that people love, the must-haves like the original ‘Halloween’ (1978) and ‘Friday the 13th’ (1980),” Zacarias said. “But we also want to bring back some of those movies that might be lost or not remembered and put them on the big screen to give people that experience to see them as they were meant to be seen.”
One of the films Zacarias is most looking forward to is F.W. Murnau’s hugely influential silent film, “Nosferatu” (1922). The horror masterpiece will be screened with live musical scoring by organist Jay Warren. During last year’s marathon, “Nosferatu” played to a sold-out crowd — an experience that Zacarias insists is an absolute “must” for horror movies fans.
“‘Nosferatu’ is without a doubt a must-see,” Zacarias said. “It’s magical when you see it on the big screen with live accompaniment.”
Since its inception, The Logan Theatre’s “Horror Movie Madness” has become a staple of Logan Square’s Halloween festivities. Zacarias said the marathon screenings maintain a “minimum 60 percent occupancy throughout the week.”
In addition to the films, “Horror Movie Madness” offers other unique attractions including a family matinee screening of “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” (1966) with activities for children in the lobby and a trivia night with a pajama dress code and full cereal bar. There’s also a costume party and contest, which is followed by a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980).
The Logan Theatre knows how to celebrate Halloween in style, and its upcoming “Horror Movie Madness” marathon is poised to make this October significantly more exciting with most of the major horror films available to watch on the big screen. For fans of horror and Halloween, this movie marathon should be mandatory.
The full list of films includes:
“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
“The Birds” (1963)
“Young Frankenstein” (1974)
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
“The Omen” (1976)
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
“The Exorcist” (1973)
“The Shining” (1980)
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
“Horror Movie Madness” runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 31 every night of the week except Mondays. Tickets are $8.50 per showing. For exact show times, visit www.thelogantheatre.com.