One of my favorite things to do is have friends over for an evening of socializing. Whether it’s for a social gathering with copious amounts booze, or a low key game night, I love to play host and let people have a good time. My specialty is hosting horror movie nights. Here are my top ten tips for pulling off a successful movie night:
1) Choose an Optimal Date/Time – This might seem like a “duh” thing to suggest, but adults have busy schedules. Getting people over your house to watch a stupid horror film is something that needs to fit snuggly into someone’s schedule or they’ll politely decline. Try to give folks a few weeks notice minimum. My advice is to send out a couple of “feeler” dates and see what works best. Also, be cognizant of events in your area that may conflict with your movie night. There might be a local beerfest or big sporting event on TV. Think like a major movie studio and don’t pit your little horror movie up against The Avengers, Star Wars or NFL Playoffs.
2) Send Out a Great Invite - This is a step that often gets overlooked or not given enough attention. If I'm hosting a horror movie night, I conjure up an entertaining email/invite for my guests. I will hype the crap out of the event and make it sound like something people will DREAD missing out on. The invite will clearly spell out what to expect from the horror film and what the food/booze situation will be. Also, I will usually send out teasers to build up hype for the event. I might post a ridiculous movie trailer or a picture of some alcoholic recipe I'm creating for the movie night.
3) Pre-screen the Film – I’ve made this blunder before. Make sure what you’re watching has content matter that doesn't veer into uncomfortable territory. Don’t make the mistake of showing some film that has the brutal slaying of a dog or some unsettling torture scene. That shit isn’t fun and really just sours everyone to the experience. Also, don’t invite people over to watch Cannibal Holocaust or something equally messed up.
4) Select a Film That Works in a Crowd – For me this usually means finding a truly absurd movie that is so AWFUL it makes the night a rowdy event full of laughter and fun. Rarely, do I ever choose a serious film that is genuinely creepy or scary because frankly those work best alone or with one other person. I’ve had great luck with dumb gems like Terrorvision, Jack Frost, The Gingerdead man, Blood Diner etc…
5) Don’t Just Invite Horror Movie Buffs – The people that tend to enjoy my movie nights the most are the ones that never experience these bizarre and trashy films. I actually go out of my way to invite a few friends that aren’t even horror fans at all. I just forewarn them that they might see some blood and/or boobs and that it will be more silly than scary. Most of them are usually asking when the next movie night will be before they leave.
6) Be a Hell-of-a-Host – For me the enjoyment of the evening comes from experiencing the crap-tacular film with my friends. However, in order to hook a few fish you need to bait the line. I use the promise of excellent food and booze to get people over. If you put out a memorable spread people will come. Me and my wife always put out enough grub so that you can show up empty handed and eat/drink to your hearts content. A pizza and chips are the bare minimum. I try to cater the food to the film or genre we're watching if possible. What? I'm like the Martha Stewart of horror hosting!
7) Don’t Overbook the Room – Know the layout of your movie room and how many people can comfortably sit in it. I will always invite 12-15 people, but I know that only 4-10 will usually show up. If all 15 people decided to come it might be a problem. Luckily, these things are like weddings where certain percentage are guaranteed to reply “no”.
8) Set a Drink Minimum – I try to get everyone socially lubricated with food and alcohol before we settle in for the main event. Once everyone has had a couple of drinks it’s time sit down and subject everyone to whatever piece of cinematic trash that you’ve dug up. Again, like the food, I try to make a punch that is thematic to the film we're watching. If you're watching some crappy vampire movie make sure there is some blood red alcoholic concoction to serve to your guests.
9) Check Your Sound System – When I host these movie nights, things tend to get raucous and loud. Many times you’re showing a crummy film with terrible audio clarity and that can get annoying real fast. Try to make sure that if you have seven or eight loud, semi drunk, humans in a crowded room that the they can still hear the movie. When you pre-screen the movie make sure it will be loud enough.
10) Have fun! – Any time you’re having friends over it should be fun. Don’t stress out and sweat the small stuff. Someone is bound to spill red wine on your couch, one person might hate the movie etc… Just roll with the punches and try to make sure that no matter what everyone enjoyed themselves. Because that is the key to having them come back. You might have had horror movie night this month, but next month it might be Kaiju night, or Kung Fu night. If people have a good time they’re more likely to come back and experience these movies with you and your friends.