One of the best things about being a horror movie fan is that a timeless fascination with the terrifying and macabre means that there’s no shortage of scary movies. Horror has fascinated humans for centuries and there have been monster movies for as long as there has been a silver screen. This means that seeing where it all began is an essential right of passage for any scare fan. Thankfully Horror Channel is here to help.
Whether you’re coming in fresh to do your fright homework or quite fancy a walk down terrifying memory lane, Horror Channel’s Classic Horror Marathon on the 3rd of April is vital Easter viewing. Here you’ll find Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and Mummy, and even Lon Chaney. Jr’s Wolf Man.
But perhaps you’re less into vampires and more into threats from the unknown. The Classic Sci-Fi Marathon on the 4th of April is a 5 film celebration of everything extra-terrestrial.
Kicking off with It Came From Beneath the Sea, this is a trip back in time with no need for a Delorean and a perfect chance to revel in the work of special effects legend Ray Harryhausen.
With 10 films over two days this is a perfect classic film festival where all you need to do is supply your own snacks. Settle down with an, err, monster bag of your favourite popcorn and prepare to enjoy some phenomenal practical effects. Here are the movies you won’t want to miss and when they’re on over the weekend.
You’ll find Horror Channel on Sky 317, Virgin 149, Freeview 68, and Freesat 138
The Classic Horror Marathon - April 3rd
3rd of April at 13:00
The Classic Horror Marathon kicks off, quite rightly, in bat-filled Transylvania as Jonathan Harker finds himself in the lair of Bela Lugosi’s iconic bloodsucker. Universal’s first classic monster movie, Dracula, is directed by Tod Browning whose career in silent cinema means this 1931 treat is steeped in purposeful atmosphere and menace. This was the first official adaptation of Bram Stoker’s gothic masterpiece - after the illegal version reflected in 1922’s Nosferatu - and was based largely on the Broadway theatre production from 1927. Bela Lugosi, Edward Van Sloan, and Herbert Bunston all reprised their roles for this iconic, but interestingly fang free, classic.
3rd of April at 14:30
After the stratospheric success of Dracula, Universal was suddenly savvy to the blood lust for horror and quickly set the bolts of electricity in motion for another classic gothic adaptation. Another masterpiece was born as director James Whale brought Mary Shelley’s book to life with the exceptional Boris Karloff as the Monster. Frankenstein doesn’t just deliver a bold and haunting experience as the titular Doctor rejects his creation but is the entire basis for the modern iconography around these characters. It’s time to see where the obsession with neck bolts, mysterious castle laboratories, and lightning with the power of reanimation all began.
The Mummy (1932)
3rd April at 15:55
If you just can’t get enough Karloff, it’s time to settle down for his next classic role as the titular Mummy. The Mummy was the first of Universal’s monster line-up not to be based on a book but with Tutankhamun’s tomb being opened only 10 years before in 1922 there was a serious hunger for all things Egyptian. Those familiar with the Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz remake will be no stranger to the story of the discovery and subsequent reawakening of high priest Imhotep, cursed for attempting to resurrect his lover. The 1932 version has less CGI sand and a much darker sprinkling of horror. You could say it’s tomb much fun.
The Wolf Man (1941)
3rd of April at 17:25
Skipping on a few years, The Wolf Man is another definitive Universal Classic. This werewolf yarn stars Lon Chaney Jr. as the titular unfortunate, Larry Talbot, cursed to be a lycanthrope after a bite from a wild beast. In some nice inside Universal nerdery, this beast is actually the animal form of a character played by none other than Bela Lugosi. With incredible painstaking transformation make-up techniques and a strong performance from Lon Chaney Jr. this is another vital horror movie that pioneered the werewolf genre we know and love to howl about today.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
3rd of April at 18:50
And this wouldn’t be a true classic horror marathon if Jack Arnold’s cult-hit Creature from the Black Lagoon didn’t rear its ugly head. If we found fossilised proof of a human fish hybrid, we probably wouldn’t be first to head on an Amazon expedition to find the rest of the body but that’s exactly what Dr David Reed and his crew do. Things turn awry when they discover that the rest really isn’t fossilised yet. This is a marvel of a monster movie with deft constant teases of the creature to keep tensions high. Excitingly too, it’s important to remember that the movie was shot to be shown in 3D in black and white, making this another key moment in cinematic horror history.
The Classic Sci-Fi Marathon - April 4th
It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)
4th of April at 13:00
The tentacle-based joy of It Came From Beneath the Sea has to be seen to be believed. This ‘tidal wave of terror’ sees an octopus the size of a skyscraper decimating not just the Golden Gate Bridge but also the streets of San Francisco. Those who hate just how CGI monsters have become will bask in Ray Harryhausen’s incredible practical effects as he animates suckered tentacle after tentacle. Despite this only being his second movie in charge of technical effects, Harryhausen is the reason this is a firm sci-fi classic.
This Island Earth (1955)
4th of April at 14:30
Rather than trimmed into satire in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, it’s important to experience This Island Earth in all its technicolour glory. As Universal’s first full colour sci-fi movie, Joseph M. Newman’s flying saucer filled experience is full of vibrant green glows of traction beams and extravagant explosions. And if you’d been missing It Came From Beneath the Sea’s Faith Domergue, she returns here alongside Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason while an alien species demands earth’s help in building planetary defences. Space opera has never been quite the same since.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
4th of April at 16:10
If you didn’t get your fill of cartoony spacecraft in the previous film, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers will absolutely fix that. A return to black and white is more than made up for with even more of Ray Harryhausens’s incredible special effects as spinning flying saucers chase cars, melt cities, and crash into national monuments. Starring Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor, this is an intergalactic battle on a grand scale as humanity goes to war with the invaders in the sky. Essential for those with penchant for glorious destruction and, err, high frequency disintegrators.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
4th of April at 17:50
Who needs Ant Man when you’ve got The Incredible Shrinking Man? Another classic from Creature from the Black Lagoon director Jack Arnold, this is the atmospheric tale of Scott Carey, played by Grant Williams, who, as the title suggests, starts to gradually shrink. Nightmarishly, Scott ends up so small he calls a dollhouse home and the family cat is suddenly the apex predator. It might sound amusing but given that this was the first screenplay from I Am Legend and Hell House author Richard Matheson, there’s an existential dread here that’s inescapable.
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
4th of April at 19:25
In a slew of seriously unfortunate events, a US Spaceship makes it all the way to Venus but crashes on return to Earth, killing most of the crew on board and releasing a gooey blob that eventually births a horrific monster. 20 Million Miles to Earth is yet another chance for Ray Harryhausen’s skills to shine as the monster grows in size, terrorises the world and even beats a zoo elephant in a brawl. This is ludicrously good fun and revels in every single shot of the monster. Old school creature features don’t get any better than this.
The Classics Marathons Weekend starts on Horror Channel on April 3rd. You’ll find it on Sky 317, Virgin 149, Freeview 68, and Freesat 138