A Horror Day’s Night – Matt Palmer and ‘All Night Horror Madness’

The Grosvenor Cinema’s ‘All Night Horror Madness’ is a red letter day in the calender of all Glasgow horror fans. Claire Murray caught up with the man behind the madness, Matt Palmer, to get an insight into what its like to organize such an event…

“My day, if you could call it that, for the ‘All Night Horror Madness’ nights  I run actually begins around three months before. By the time the event itself comes around I’ve been working on it for such a long time, gathering a collection of great horrors together, finding a venue and doing the marketing. It is intense. I try to get up at midday and keep calm but being a control freak, that’s not always possible.”

“Thankfully I’ve moved on from cooking food at the nights. In the beginning I decided I would do bacon rolls for people. The day of my first all-nighter I slept in, vastly underestimated how much bacon I would need, spent six hours in the kitchen cooking bacon and was totally spaced out. I had to bring everything down to the cinema, got blind drunk and stunk of bacon, missing the first film,  which was a bit of a disaster all round. The “bacon adventures” as I called them carried on until the third night when I realised it was getting ridiculous and people could bring their own food.”

“All Night Horror Madness sprang from my own personal love of cult films so the night of back to back movies is a social affair. My friends gather at my house and we have a couple of drinks to get the night started and calm my ever increasing nerves. We head down to the cinema about 10pm and meet everyone we know who is coming, then help out making sure everyone has a ticket for the raffle and a drink. My job tends to be part organiser and part host.”

“Just before 11pm, the people who have bought tickets file in. Everyone takes their seats and I do a short intro. Disliking public speaking, I then get a guy I know, Ian Howie, to do a longer talk about the films. His intros are really funny and it lets me sit down and sink into the crowd.”

“I’ve usually spent weeks watching and re-watching horror films to pick out the ones I think will fit best with the night so the experience is not exactly relaxing. There’s a definite feeling of responsibility and you can start looking for faults in the film and worry that those who have paid to come to your night won’t like the choices you have made for them. I try to dismiss this and just enjoy the evening but I often feel a bit like I’m having an out of body experience, especially during Edinburgh nights as I work in the cinema anyway. It’s a pretty intense situation and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening.  I often have the event in Glasgow, a week or two later and I get to really experience it there as the first one is always such a blur.”

“Sitting in the auditorium can be such a nerve wracking experience. I’m a bit of a, well, a cinema purist.  I try really hard to get hold of 35mm prints in order to add a bit more authenticity to the event. However it can be really hard and expensive to do this so we often show two DVDs or BluRay and two prints.  I also feel that when something goes wrong with a reel or the print snaps or something then it is an act of God, whereas digital and DVD feels like my fault. I sit there and hope that no mishaps occur and then worry that my negative feelings will cause something to happen, like I’m sending weird brain signals out. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s not something I can help.”

“Getting a bit older, I’m starting to find it difficult to stay awake the whole night. When I was younger me and my mates would go to all-nighters in Manchester and I could stay up through all the films but I imagine it will get even harder now I have a baby. My son is ten weeks old and it’s hard enough getting sleep in at the best of times. I tend to have quite a few drinks on the night so I’m often a bit drunk too but, I mean, I feel like if I’m putting everyone through the experience then I need to stay up myself.”

“When it all ends my emotions are unbelievably mixed. As the credits on the final film roll in I feel a mix of pleasure, disappointment and emptiness. Pleasure that the night has went to plan and there have been no hitches. Disappointment that it’s all over and I have to wait another few months to do it again and emptiness that something I have spent so long working on has been and gone. There’s also a bit of excitement in there, I get to start planning the next one.”


Claire Murray in conversation with Matt Palmer

The Grosvenor Cinema will be hosting ‘All Night Horror Madness’ on Saturday March 16. For ticket booking and other information visit grosvenorcinema.co.uk or call 0845 166 6002.

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