clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Music Box of Horrors takes over Pilsen drive-in this October

This year’s fest will feature “Black Christmas,” a tribute to Chicago native Stuart Gordon and other fan favorites counting down to Halloween.

Expanding Music Box of Horrors makes room for “The Exorcist” and other more mainstream fright films.
Warner Bros.

When the COVID-19 pandemic spelled doom for the Music Box Theatre’s annual 24-hour horror marathon this October, General Manager Ryan Oestreich was determined to see the event rise from the grave with a vengeance, in the proud tradition of Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers.

“I kind of knew at the middle part of July that I had to cancel it, but I said to myself, ‘I can’t just cancel this thing, no, it’s got to become something,’ ” Oestreich said. “If I’m canceling my thing, then every other horror thing is going to cancel their thing, and now suddenly the entire horror community has nothing to look forward to in the month of October, and that just can’t happen.”

This year’s Music Box of Horrors will be reborn as 31 nights of screenings at the ChiTown Movies Drive-In in Pilsen, with single or double features planned for every night in October. Along with the onscreen kills and thrills, fans can expect the eclectic mix of shorts, retro trailer reels and filmmaker Q&A’s that have become marathon tradition.

The monthlong format will allow Oestreich to screen more well-known titles, which he usually leaves out of Music Box of Horrors to make room for offbeat movies audiences may not have heard of.

“I know that sounds crazy to say that I’m excited to show things like ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Exorcist.’ But we just don’t normally do it, so I’m excited to be able to envelop those movies that everybody knows and loves into Box of Horrors, [without] taking away from all the other Box of Horrors films that harder-core fans are expecting from us,” Oestreich said. “I just feel like I get a bigger canvas this year.”

While they’re still finalizing the lineup, the Music Box fear merchants plan to use themed nights like Grindhouse Fridays, Ripoff Saturdays and Sequel Sundays to mix some deep cuts in with the marquee titles.

“People should open their minds to Ripoff Saturdays,” Oestreich said. “They know and love movies like ‘Alien’ and ‘Carrie,’ but they don’t know and love the Bollywood ripoff, or the German remake, or people who made the movie without clearing the rights and did their own take on it.”

“Bones,” with Pam Grier and Snoop Dogg, will be part of the Music Box of Horrors lineup.
New Line Cinema

Other highlights will include “Bones,” a 2001 supernatural slasher starring Snoop Dogg as a resurrected gangster seeking revenge on those who wronged him. One double feature will pair 1974’s “Black Christmas” — widely regarded as the first slasher film — with “Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker.”

“It is a perfect f- - -ing pairing and people just have to trust me on this one,” Oestreich insisted.

He also plans to pay tribute to the late Chicago native horror icon Stuart Gordon, but said he’s still trying to decide between Gordon’s iconic “Re-Animator” or a new restoration of his 1995 direct-to-video cult classic “Castle Freak.”

The first slate of titles for Music Box of Horrors at the Drive-In will be announced Sept. 3, with the rest revealed Sept. 11.