Friday, January 15, 2016

The 41th annual CWRU Film Society Science-Fiction Marathon falls to Earth Jan. 15-16

I suggest that last weekend's Golden Globes were the last straw that sucked away the life of David Bowie (and/or, for you horror fans, Angus Scrimm). Anyone with me?

Truly, there's only about one reason I look forward to January in Cleveland anymore, and it has nothing to do with congratulatory award shows. No, my only light in darkest winter is the Case Western-Reserve University Science-Fiction Marathon, a customary kickoff to the semester of the CWRU Film Society, right here in University Circle.

It is 24-hours-plus of nonstop mind-breaking sci-fi/fantasy features, short subjects, cartoons, trailers, giveaways, contests and more, selected from up and down movie history (and quality). The Marathon has been a CWRU tradition for an amazing 41 years. Spawned by the campus student-film society - but with attendance open to anyone who can take it - the CWRU Sci-Fi Marathon has a national reputation as an endurance test for fans of SF and fantasy.

It all starts on Friday night at 8 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium. Ticket-bracelets go on sale at 6 p.m. for $30, and if you keep yours on you can enter and leave throughout the marathon, right up to when it ends early Sunday morning.

Otherwise, if you just want a taste of what it feels like to be among punch-drunk sci-fi fans, student-loan-crippled-for-life college kids and Trekkies otr Jedi in full uniform, the charge to attend an individual feature is $4. If you wish to stay for additional features, management says, they can work something out, but the maximum fee is $30.

A number of people do indeed last through the entire marathon, and a handful repeat the torture-endurance test year after year. Sometimes it helps to revive in the lobby with xBox and Playstation videogame tournaments that are projected onto a handy wall. Sleeping bags are permitted, as are snack foods and personal computers. No glass bottles, no alcohol, no campfires.

An advisory this year, however, is that the area directly under the screen in Strosacker is currently occupied by classroom and A/V equipment that could not be moved out. So that formerly premium sleeping-bag space is unfortunately a forbidden zone.

Because of the mix of family and R-rated material, any viewers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. While many audience members at the tech-happy college bring their wireless laptops and devices to help get through the weekend, laser pointers, once a highlight, remain banned. I suspect the same thing of drones.

Legend has it that every year the programmers group the movie selections around a specific secret theme, or is that just to keep everyone awake guessing? The 2016 schedule, subject to change, goes as follows:

(2015) Friday at 8 p.m.
Surprise movie #1, Friday at at 11 p.m.
STARSHIP TROOPERS Saturday at 12:30 a.m.
THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (2011) Saturday at 2:45 a.m.
RE-ANIMATOR (1984) Saturday at 4:45 a.m.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) Saturday at 6:30 a.m.
ATLANTIS - THE LOST EMPIRE (2001) Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Surprise movie #2, Saturday at 10:15 a.m.
TIME AFTER TIME (1979) Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
THE THING (1982) Saturday at 2:45 p.m.
Surprise movie #3, Saturday at 4:45 p.m.
THE MARTIAN (2015) Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) Saturday at 9 p.m.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) Saturday at 11 p.m.

For full rules, regulations, directions to free parking, photos of past Marathons and other and inside tips, log onto the website of the CWRU Film Society, at

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