2018 Music Box of Horrors Serves Up a Marathon of Scares, Special Guests

For the fourth year in a row, the 24-hour horror movie marathon known as the Music Box of Horrors is programmed and hosted by Will Morris, Assistant Programmer at American Cinematheque in Los Angeles. His never-ending search for the most obscure and mind-bending scary films from around the world has landed this pre-Halloween event a few choice doozies this year, which are booked alongside choice modern classics and a few special guests scheduled to attend to discuss their freaky titles.

This year events takes place from noon on Saturday, Oct. 13 and runs until noon the following day, Sunday, Oct. 14. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and can be ordered online via the Music Box Theatre here.

Music Box of Horrors Music Box of Horrors

For the duration of the event, attendees can check out vendors and other guests in the Music Box Lounge, as well as food trucks that will take up residence in the lobby and outside the theater. This year's marathon lineup includes:


12:00pm — Goke, Bodysnatcher from Hell—Dir. Hajime Satô, 1968, 35mm

Survivors of a plane crash contend with a blob-like alien that turns them into bloodthirsty predators.

1:40pm — The Mafu Cage—Dir. Karen Arthur, 1978, 35mm

Ellen, an astronomer (Lee Grant), stays close to her strange sister Cissy (Carol Kane) who likes to torment primates in a cage. When Cissy's pet ape dies in their mansion’s dungeon and Ellen finds a boyfriend, Cissy’s incestuous desire for her sister turns deadly.

3:40pm — Lord of Illusions—Dir. Clive Barker, 1995, 35mm (with actor Kevin J. O'Connor in person)

Private eye Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) travels to Los Angeles and meets with a new client, Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen). Swann reveals that she and her husband—famed magician Philip Swann (Kevin J. O’Connor)—have been targeted by a religious cult experimenting with reincarnation. After Philip dies on stage in the midst of a dangerous trick, D'Amour must struggle to protect Dorothea from the ruthless cult members and their newly reanimated religious leader, Nix (Daniel Von Bargen).

6:15pm — The Lodger—Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1927, DCP (with Live Score by False Gods Trio)

When a landlady (Marie Ault) and her husband (Arthur Chesney) take in a new lodger (Ivor Novello), they're overjoyed: He's quiet, humble and pays a month’s rent in advance. But his mysterious and suspicious behavior soon has them wondering if he's the killer terrorizing local blonde girls. Their daughter, Daisy (June), a cocky model, is far less concerned, her attraction obvious. Her police-detective boyfriend (Malcolm Keen), in a pique of jealousy, seeks to uncover the lodger's true identity.

8:15pm — Blame It on Toby—Dir. Richard Knight, Jr., 2018, DCP (Midwest Premiere)

Arthur Prentiss-Wilcox (Kevin J. O'Connor), one of the world's wealthiest men, is also one its most eccentric. For starters, he is never seen in public without his closest confident, Toby, the doll that was given to him for his sixth birthday and is rumored to be responsible for the death of dozens. Despite his infamous reputation, a young gay couple, Calvin and Edward, become ensnared in Arthur's world, with horrifying consequences.

9:15pm — The Children—Dir. Tom Shankland, 2008, DCP

Two families gather at an upscale English estate in late December. Elaine (Eva Birthistle) and her sister, Chloe (Rachel Shelley), along with their husbands and children, are set for a weekend of family bonding and winter fun. But when they arrive, one of the children becomes sick, and all of the children exhibit strange behavior. The adults don't realize the disturbing truth until it's too late: The children have contracted a disease that has turned them into brutal, psychotic killers.

11:00pm — Child’s Play—Dir. Tom Holland, 1988, 35mm (with co-writer Don Mancini in person)

Gunned down by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), dying murderer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) uses black magic to put his soul inside a doll named Chucky, which Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) then buys for her young son, Andy (Alex Vincent). When Chucky kills Andy's babysitter, the boy realizes the doll is alive and tries to warn people, but he's institutionalized. Now Karen must convince the detective of the murderous doll's intentions, before Andy becomes Chucky's next victim.


1:15am — Opera—Dir. Dario Argento, 1987, 35mm (Uncut, Italian Version - Chicago Premiere)

The staging of an opera of the famously cursed Macbeth becomes a springboard for some of Argento's biggest, most brazen, aria-like set pieces, filmed with an unchained camera, which at one point is seen to soar through a cavernous theater on the wings of a raven. With the interference of a lunatic on a backstage killing spree, understudy Cristina Marsillach's immersion in the role of Lady Macbeth turns still more intense, in this ultra-rich, rococo nail-biter.

3:15am — Freddy vs. Jason—Dir. Ronny Yu , 2003, 35mm

Two horror icons face off in this supernatural movie. Disfigured serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who attacks his victims in their dreams, has lost much of his power since citizens of his town have become less afraid of him. Enlisting the help of fellow violent murderer Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), Freddy orchestrates a new killing spree. However, when the hockey-mask-wearing psychopath won't stop chopping up Freddy's intended victims, the two ghouls start to battle each other.

5:00am — Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers—Dir. Michael A. Simpson, 1988, 35mm

Angela Baker (now played by Pamela Springsteen, Bruce’s little sister), a psychotic transsexual, escapes from a mental hospital and surfaces at a summer camp as a counselor who lectures her teenage charges on proper moral behavior. Those teens who break her strict rules—from the camp chatterbox or a sex-obsessed girl to the boys who are peeping Toms—are murdered by the impostor in various gruesome ways. As more campers go missing, intrepid counselor Molly (Renee Estevez) begins to piece together the truth.

6:45am — Body Melt—Dir. Philip Brophy, 1993, 35mm

A mad scientist’s (Ian Smith) vitamin pill causes horrific side-effects in its suburbanite consumers.

8:20am — Wicked, Wicked—Dir. Richard L. Bare, 1973, 35mm (In Duo-Vision!)

Simmons (Roger Bowen), the manager of a seaside hotel in California, has a problem: Guests are turning up dead, and Sgt. Ramsey (Scott Brady), the hotel’s detective, has no information as to the identity of the murderer. The only thing anybody knows is that the killer wears a strange mask and has a fondness for blonde women. As Ramsey tracks down a list of suspects that includes the hotel handyman, Lisa (Tiffany Bolling), the hotel's lounge singer, finds herself in danger.

10:10am — Fright Night Part 2—Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace, 1988, 35mm

Three years after the vampire was destroyed in Fright Night, his sister—in the guise of a mysterious performer (Julie Carmen)—seeks revenge on the heroic duo (Roddy McDowall and William Ragsdale) who carried out her brother’s staking.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.