Film & TV

The Secret Celluloid Society's Up All Nite! Proved a Tiring, Worthwhile Experience

In celebration of Halloween, the Secret Celluloid Society planned an evening full of movies picked with the plan to keep you up all night. Starting at 11:30 p.m. at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, The Thing was up first, followed by Night of the Demons, Eraserhead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — all screened on 35mm film.

After prepping for a night of no sleep, here is what ensues — timestamps, delirium, and all. 

10:38 p.m.: I reach the theater. I'm in costume as Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. A few folks are already around: mostly the SCS crew and regulars hanging out in the lobby and filming loads of fun things.

10:56 p.m.:
Tickets acquired. I've got all four. Nayib, the awesome man who runs this whole wild Secret Celluloid Society shindig weekly, scans one to test things out. We're good to go.

11:03 p.m.:
Where the hell did that line come from outside? There are so many people. Too many people. Are they gonna fit? Is it sold out?

11:07 p.m.:
It's sold out.

11:15 p.m.:
Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks is hanging around the lobby. So is Henry Spencer from Eraserhead. So is some terrifying being in all black robes and no face. And some guy who's wearing a greaser jacket but doesn't consider himself a greaser. What did I get myself into?

11:25 p.m.:
I've managed to sit myself comfortably smack in the middle of a row. My mini-cooler's in front of me. I've got half a row saved for too many friends. They show up in waves. More of my friends show up in the row behind me. A few more many rows ahead of me. Everyone is weirdly chill about the fact that we're holding seats. Regular movie theaters where people will fight you about placing a sweater over seats be damned! Up All Nite's crowd forever.

11:41 p.m.:
Things are starting late tonight, but who cares. Gotta get that Red Bull. Gotta get that coffee. Everyone's lined-up and getting their food and drinks before the event starts.

12:07 a.m.:
The pre-show begins.

12:08 a.m.: HDMI: No Signal. The audience is dying of laughter. So am I. Oh, there it is. Is this Dr. Hook's "Sharing The Night Together" playing? Is that the music video? Intercut with movies from tonight's event and movies from the past? This is ridiculous. Holy shit: there's an SCS logo flying through the screen. Now there's more. What's happening? Aw, event footage too. That's sweet. Look at everyone dancing at the Rocky Horror Picture Show screening. This is good stuff. I wonder what new people are thinking right now.

12:12 a.m.:
Another pre-show video: it's "Tame" by the Pixies set to a ton of clips from horror movies. Lots of gore. Lots of brains. Lots of blood. It's a party.

12:15-1:05 a.m.:
 The Thing. The clock's set back during the movie and everything feels terrible knowing that an extra hour of sleep was lost due to Daylight Saving Time ending. But, y'know what? The Thing on 35mm with a huge audience was amazing. Kurt Russell is the most majestic thing to exist on this planet. His face, his eyes, his beard: I want to die in his arms tonight even if it means being absorbed or murdered by some alien. In all seriousness for a second though: rewatching The Thing is ten kinds of fascinating. The tension is always high,

1:15 a.m.:
Do people still trust each other after The Thing? I'm convinced everyone here is out to kill me.

1:40 a.m.:
A tequila shot makes everything less terrible. I've had two Red Bulls and an espresso laced with Kahlua too. Am I allowed to admit I'm drinking? Who cares. I'm watching genre films in the middle of the night. I do what I want.

2:05 a.m.:
I meet Night of the Demons director Kevin Tenney, who turns out to be a super cool guy and I admit to him it's the only film in the lineup I've never seen. He says, "I hope you still respect me by this morning." I laugh.

2:31-4 a.m.-ish: Night of the Demons is so much fun! I totally respect Tenney post-viewing. Loads of folks are chatting him up by the back of the theater while I digest what I just saw. The film has rad opening credits, a lot of great shots littered throughout (including some awesome POV work), lots of T&A (which was gratuitous at times but totally appropriate in other moments), amazing dialogue such as "bodacious boobies", a self-awareness and humor that's refreshing in a movie that still abides by the usual tropes, and, most importantly: an awesome strobe light dance sequence. Compared to the dead silence of the audience during The Thing for the most part, Night of the Demons had an audience of folks laughing at every beat they were meant to laugh at, and no one being mean about it.

4:30 a.m.: (I guess?) Eraserhead is starting. I run into where my cooler is right when it's starting up. It's loud, but it's just right. If you've never seen Eraserhead, there's a lot of noise and not a lot of dialogue. The theater is pretty much dead silent throughout the whole thing. I held this guy's hand at some point. Eraserhead is a date movie? No, that's crazy. Eraserhead can't be a date movie. Man, every sound in this movie and every frame has so much going on. You can feel Lynch engrossing the audience minute after minute while simultaneously presenting a blueprint of ideas he's going to explore over the upcoming decades. But that all already happened because it's not 1977 anymore. But it sure feels like it with how hypnotic this movie is. What a perfect follow-up to our last party movie.

7:00 a.m.: (Probably?) Oh look, it's the pre-show videos again. "Sharing the Night Together" has a whole new meaning. We did it kids. We did it. Except there's still one movie left. I want to murder whoever made this great Pixies "Tame" video because it's so loud right now. I wonder if anyone walked in here expecting Family Day at Aragon. Can you imagine? Walking into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? That'd be great. I hope that happened. It probably didn't.

7:06 a.m.: (I assume?) Nayib joked about how the people who have been around all night are the equivalent of the dirty hippies at Woodstock that have been out and about all night. Yeah, sounds about right. Oh look, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is starting.

Some point between 7:10 a.m. and 8:25 a.m.: I see people falling asleep. I closed my eyes a few times. I'm dozing off. The guy I'm with and I are trying desperately to keep each other awake. Well, not so desperately because we've both shut our eyes and snapped awake a few times. Other people are doing the same. When was the last time I had something to eat? I should have had more water.

The editing in this movie is so good. There's so much screaming. I'd scream too if I could, but I just want a bed. No. I can do this. I can stay awake... It's true daytime now. I don't deserve to be awake. I'm going to listen to Mariah Carey's first Christmas album while I drive home because Thanksgiving is a sham of a holiday and Halloween is over.

8:30ish a.m.: "Are you gonna stay for breakfast?" asks Nayib, to which I respond: "Nayib, I love you, this was great, but screw breakfast, I'm going home."

Follow Juan Barquin on Twitter @woahitsjuanito
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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.