Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
The advent of streaming channels has changed a lot about the way we watch television. From having immediate access to the ability to easily rewatch our favorite shows, TV viewing today is way different than it was even five years ago. The biggest change is the ability to binge watch. It has become a marketing tool, a descriptor, and an event.
Before there was binge TV or even Donna Reed all night on Nick at Nite, there were horror movie marathons. The first of these is lost to history, but their roots can be traced back to drive in theaters. Hitting their peak during the 1950s and 60s, drive ins were a great place to spend the entire night watching movies. Beach party films had their moment in the sun, but the most popular double features were scary movies.
There is a popular theory that horror flicks are great for dates since fear will cause the couple to huddle together for protection. When the drive in became the place to have a romantic tryst, horror were the date movies of choice. It became a cliche to go to the drive in and watch something spooky. In a frightening bit of irony, it turned into such a standard the location would be the setting of movies.
The grindhouse movies of the 60s and 70s were a haven for horror movie marathons. Exploitation films were all the rage and no decent movie theater would show them. They were too violent, too sexy, and just too much. Midnight features showed double bills of some of the most gory and graphic movies of all time played to packed theaters, however.
As television became more ubiquitous in homes so did horror movies. Names like the Vampira and Elvira became icons with shows dedicated to horror movies. Teenagers could now huddle around their televisions and see what they used to have to go to the theaters for. This would continue into the 80s and 90s with USA’s Up All Night and even exists today with The Last Drive In.
Eventually, cable television swept the nation. With it came marathons of old television shows The most popular seem to be The Twilight Zone. The Rod Serling classic would play on numerous holidays throughout the year. It was a hit and soon this would morph into marathons of movie franchises like Halloween and Friday the 13th on their namesakes.
Horror movie marathons still exist to this day. Here, and various locations around the country, the Alamo Drafthouse hosts Dismember the Alamo. It is an homage to years past. There is also the aforementioned The Last Drive-In whose popularity has broken the internet. There are also various horror movie conventions around the world where part of the festivities include watching a block of scary movies.
Today, streaming services allow viewers to binge watch practically any television show they like. It is a wonderful advancement that allows fans of television and movies to catch up on all the things they always wanted to watch. But before binge television became a part of everyday nomenclature, horror movie marathons created the template.