Nov 15, 2017

Boo Halloween Special (1980)

Halloween may be gone but that doesn't mean you have to wait another year to celebrate it!

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television posted the below video to their YouTube page last week. This Canadian Halloween variety show/special was produced in 1980 and aired on WGN in 1982. And like any good variety show, a couple of celebrity guests drop by: Dionne Warwick and Rip Taylor.

It's just as weird and cheesy as you'd want anything from the 80s to be. Plus, there's a healthy does of nostalgia because all the commercials are intact. There's even a Foods International Coffees one with Lea Thompson.

But maybe my favorite part of this whole thing (aside from Rip Taylor because how can you not love Rip Taylor?) are the Star Wars knockoffs. Around the 25 minute mark, the scene moves to The Spook Easy, a monster bar that I guess in in the castle? Even monsters need a place to kick back, right?

It instantly made me think of the cantina from Star Wars. There's a band playing and the monsters look more like Star Wars aliens than creatures of the night. The band looks kinda sorta familiar which only solidifies the Star Wars connection.

And then there's these two bar patrons who are trying to pick each other up, only they're not sure what sex the other one is...awkward.

A big shout out to the Plaid Stallions Facebook page for bestowing this gem into my life.

Nov 1, 2017

Salem Halloween 2017

Well, it's November 1st which means it's time for the annual PHSAD - Post Halloween Season Affective Disorder. The good news is I've got some pics from Salem last night, thanks to my mom and wife. I can't exactly work anything in costume.

Also, Creative Salem has a TON of photos of people in costume round Salem and from the Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel. Absolutely worth checking them all out!

Nightmare was well represented this year.

There were also quite a few Beetlejuice costumes out there.

One of my favorites. Simple but looks great.

This homemade Gremlin is wild!

And an amazing homemade Alien.

This Gomez Addams should be dressed as John Cleese!

There were about 6 of these dinos traveling in a pack having a grand old time chasing each other and bumping into themselves.

It wasn't as crowded as previous years, but maybe that's because it was a Tuesday night. There was a huge police presence and some intersections were blockaded with school buses but I never really thought about it until seeing them. Sadly, these are the times we live in. But despite that, I'd say I had an above average night. No costume issues and plenty of people wanting to take pics with the Salem Creep made for a fun time!

There's more pics over on Flickr
I'm going to go enjoy the last day of my mini-vacation.

Oct 31, 2017

Monthly Movie Recap - October 2017

Happy Halloween!

Tossing this out in case you're looking for a flick or two to entertain you tonight. There are plenty of treats to pick through here, as well as a couple of tricks.

If you have Prime, I also recommend the series Lore which covers the real life strange and weird from history. It's very appropriate for Halloween viewing.

Saw this last night at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops playing the soundtrack live. Simply incredible! Boys and girls of every age came dressed in costume and there was trick or treating throughout the building.

Bloody Birthday (1981, Shudder)
First off, if you plan on watching this one, skip the trailer. It pretty much gives all the good parts away. It's kind of a fun flick because the killers are three 10 year olds, all born on the same day during an eclipse, suddenly becoming homicidal. I don't know if it's better or worse that the kids aren't even creepy looking. On the other hand, nearly everything about the movie is...not great.

Cool: What's not to love about murderous children? Topless (Just Say) Julie Brown
Lame: Some of the most awkward looking teen make out scenes ever. There is in fact, no blood, on the birthday...what the heck?

Rating: 5/10

The WNUF Halloween Special (2013, Shudder)
It took my eyes awhile to adjust to the 3rd gen VHS look of this. I totally get what they were going for and I love them for it but it's just a bit too long. Anyone that grew up in the 80s should see this at least once.

Rating: 6/10

Prom Night (1981, Amazon)
Pretty much a snooze fest for the first hour. It's about 66% teen drama, 33% slasher, and 1% Saturday Night Fever. If you could cut about half the movie out that's after the first 10 minutes and when the killer shows up, it would be better.

Cool: The victims give the killer a run for their money which almost never happens
Lame: I must not have been paying close enough attention because I wasn't sure exactly who the killer was when they were unmasked. Awkward.

Rating: 4/10

Tragedy Girls (2017)
I had the joy of seeing this at the New England premiere as part of SalemHorror's programming. This is a wickedly fun time! It's a little like Mean Girls/Heathers mixed with social media plus a swirl of Scream. It managed to keep me guessing how things would play out.

Cool: Great gore and fun kills
Lame: My biggest problem: Jack Quaid (the main dude) can't pull off high schooler.

Rating: 8/10, find screenings on the film's website and go see it!

Boys in the Tress (2016, Netflix)
The trailer makes this look like a very different film than it actually is. While that was disappointing in one way, it was a nice surprise as I discovered what the story would be. Can't really talk about it too much without giving away the good stuff.

Cool: Some wonderful Halloween shots; 90s soundtrack
Lame: Growing up can suck

Rating: 7/10

The Babysitter (2017, Netflix)
Of everything that you might watch from this list tonight, this is my Numero Uno pick. Once it gets rolling, it doesn't take it long to go over the top. The main characters are a treat to watch and are great together.

Cool: Some great kills
Lame: The ending might be a little too over the top but it is so right on the money for the movie

Rating: 8/10, definitely a good time!

Cult of Chucky (2017, Netflix)
No horror franchise should still be this entertaining by its seventh go round. Not only is it a solid slasher but it's damn gorgeous to look at.

Cool: Great kills and some weird stuff going on
Lame: If you're not up on the series lore, you might be a little lost

Rating: 7/10

Phantasm Ravager (2016, rented via Amazon)
This movie is like a band you thought was cool in the 80s that's looking to make a quick buck by pumping out the hits with minimum effort. Maybe it's because it's been awhile since I watched nay of these but I was hoping for it to go out with a bigger bang.

Cool/Lame: The "real world" stuff is more interesting than the fantastical horror stuff.
Lame: The 90s era video toaster effects

Rating:  4/10

Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972)
I picked up this Something Weird Video DVD years ago and finally remembered to watch it this year. I knew it wasn't going to be great but wow, this is a new level of terrible. Who sets a story about the Headless Horseman at an Old West tourist trap?

Rating: 2/10

Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 (2015, Amazon)
Didn't see the first two? That's okay, they don't exist but they'll catch you up anyway! I think most people will either find this ridiculously stupid or entertaining, and a few people will go with both. It's a send up of 80s slashers with gallons of blood.

Cool: Creative kills with plenty of gore. I actually like the killer's backstory, it's fun.
Lame: Drags a little in places because the jokes aren't enough to keep it interesting.

Rating: 5/10, probably better with a group

Month Total
 New: 10  Rewatch:1

Year Total
 New: 53  Rewatch:5

Oct 30, 2017

Salem's Bizarre Bazaar

Salem's tourist season starts ramping up in September and then goes all out starting with the annual Haunted Happenings parade. Every weekend in October, there is the Haunted Bizarre Bazaar which is a fantastic street fair with all sorts of vendors. The fair is held in the Essex Pedestrian Mall downtown.

My usual tradition is to visit on the first Saturday of October, which is when most of these were taken. I also generally get some hot cider but since temps were close to 70 this year, I skipped on that.

Being such unusually warm weather, there were a lot of people out.

There are all sorts of vendors set up along the Mall. Even the Salem PD have a booth selling shirts and patches to raise money.

Others sell "normal" tourist-y things like witch hats...

and some sell things you might find in a witch's cupboard.

Holy Crow art
As you might expect, there's no shortage of regular shops in downtown Salem that sell jewelry, stones, charms, and other magical things. One of the booths that really caught my eye had glass gourds.

I talked to the woman running the stand while I was taking photos. She told me all about the young guy, who is an MIT student, and the process of creating these works of art. I sort of wish I'd recorded everything she told me because it would be a fascinating post all on its own. The graphic ones, like the pumpkin and skeleton hands next to it, require a crazy amount of work which is why they are priced around $500!

There are also a lot of art vendors. When I went back last weekend, I got to meet/chat with Jeff Stones, author/artist behind 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire. It's a really fun book, and it was great to talk Star Wars with him.

On Salem Common, there are plenty of food vendors and kiddie rides.

Also on the common is a trailer showing off the annual pumpkin decorating contest.

And even though it's only October 7th, quite a few people are dressed in costume!

The snowman was a lot of fun to watch. He mostly just stood still, waiting for the right time to scare someone that got too close to him. The zombie waitress actually works for a local business and was handing out pamphlets.

Speaking of handing out pamphlets..

This is "Jesus guy." He's sort of a local "celebrity" as we've seen him at different events over the past few decades. If nothing else, I have to admire his commitment.

It being Salem, the store fronts also get "dressed up" for October.
This one is from Witch City Consignment, which is right across the street from the Witch House, the only standing structure in Salem with direct ties to the Witch Trials.

Sadly, or maybe luckily for my wallet, the blow molds are not for sale.
This next one is a barber shop and I love it so much!

I picked up a few things which I normally don't do.
The first "thing" is a group of postcards by Maryann Piro.

Some of them are whimsical, some creepy. I think they have a real story book feel to them.
You can get a better look at them, and more, at Maryann's Etsy site.

The other thing is a little book called A Love Letter to October by Susan Farrington.

She has a really unique style using mixed media.

There's a lot more pics from Salem and the Bizarre Bazaar over on Flickr. If I'd put more planning into my posts, I would have split this up to show everything off. Oh well, it's almost Halloween!

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers by clicking the link below!

Oct 29, 2017

The Headless Horseman Song

No Halloween season would be complete without mentioning one the most famous ghost stories of all time.

There's no shortage of things to talk about regarding the horrific Hessian but I wanted to focus on the song from Disney's version. I really enjoy this song and was surprised there have been so many versions over the years.

Below is the song that you hear in The Adventures of Ichabod sung by Bing Crosby.

And then there is a version by Thurl Ravenscroft. If you're not a Disney fan, you might know him better as the original Tony the Tiger or the villainous voice behind You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch. I think you'll agree his booming voice is a bit more sinister than Mr. Crosby.

Here's another cover by Kay Starr paried with a classic Betty Boop cartoon.

Here's a fun video by Jonathan Kruk.

The final version I'll leave you with is by New England's own Dr. Gasp (aka Dan Blakeslee). I've seen him a few times live and it's always quite a show. I highly recommend his Halloween Special album.

If you want a few more versions, I put together a quick YouTube playlist. There's also a version I found on Amazon released last month by Annie Marie Lewis & Danny B Harvey that has more of a country twang to it.

See all the Halloween goodness by clicking the link below!

Oct 28, 2017

Halloween Web - Scott H.

We had a last minute final addition to the 2017 Halloween Web interview series! He's the husband of Kristen from the Life After Midnight podcast.

Please introduce yourself to the folks.

My name is Scott Harris, I'm a tour guide for Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours. I also work as a museum teacher at the Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell MA. I focus on labor history in culture, as well as public history. At the moment, I am knee deep with October in Salem as a tour guide!

What was Halloween like as a kid for you?

I remember Halloween being a big event for us and the neighborhood. All the kids would meet up with their costumes, and everyone would kind of trick-or-treat at the same time. People would really get into it, with the big costumes, big candy, and yes even haunted houses. In fact, it sort of became a tradition to make haunted houses as elaborate as possible.

Any special memories of past Halloweens?

When I was very young, a huge part of my family went all out making a haunted house. We had the garage set up, and even had people coming through the front door, and hid under a table that had a huge bowl with dry ice (in retrospect a terrible idea). But a kid from the neighborhood came up the driveway, and we had so much set up that he was intimidated, and my uncle scared him so bad that he just screamed and started running away. I mean this was like Forest Gump, he just kept running down the street. For the longest time, we would joke that the kid was probably still running.

What about favorite costumes?

I would say that my favorite costume was when I dressed up as a creepy scientist/guy that tortures people. The whole ensemble made absolutely no sense, but it was very scary. That or I had a mask of a creepy clown that I would pull out once in awhile called "cuddles" and it was terrifying. (Not my image, this was found on Google)

How do you celebrate today?

I celebrate every year in Salem, where I get to be a guide and go people watching! Sometimes my wife and I dress up for different events here as well. 

Any annual rituals to get in the holiday spirit?

Every year we try to watch as many old horror movies as possible. It just isn't Halloween without watching Halloween, or Creature from the Black Lagoon (my personal favorite). Every year I have to listen to Misfits "Halloween" or Iron Maiden "Fear of the Dark". Candy is an absolute must! Also, nice fall beers and apple cider.

Why do you think we still love Halloween as adults?

There's a sense of nostalgia, that child like innocence and being able to dress up like some of your favorite characters from either horror or other genres. There's also a bit of the macabre with it too, the celebration of the things that go bump in the night as well as death. You know, the scary things!

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Good and Plenty. That's not candy, it's cough medicine with colors.
My favorite thing to get was my bag filled with candy. Nerds, Hershey bars, laughy taffy, Reese's cups. 
My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula, forever.

Where can people find you online?

I don't have a site besides my Facebook, but do follow my wife's podcast Life After Midnight: Strange History Salem Style.

Thanks for stopping by, Scott!
That will wrap up out interviews for this year.

Be sure to visit all the Halloween houses by clicking the link below!

Oct 27, 2017

October Awfulness - Winner

I don't think there's a big shock here...

Religious Pamphlets are your worst thing to get when Trick or Treating!

The Orange and Black Peanut Butter Kisses didn't even put up a fight. Of course, in my head, I was expecting more than a handful of people to vote every week. Maybe some lost interest along the way? Running a new type of contest is always a learning experience.

The winner of the Halloween goodie box is Beverly, final scores are below.
Thanks to everyone that played along!

22 points

20 points

18 points

16 points
Jolene, Shad

15 points
Sam, Scott, Vanessa

14 points

12 points
Amber,  Hellen

11 points

8 points
Chris, George

3 points

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers by clicking the link below!

Oct 26, 2017

Halloween Video Mixtapes

I recently discovered The Horrors of Halloween blog which is devoted to horror flicks set during Halloween or the Fall season.

A few years back I somehow stumbled into Skeleton Farm's Halloween Horrorshow and absolutely loved it. When I went to look it up this year, that's when I found Horrors of Halloween and their amazing list of Halloween and Christmas horror video mixes. What? There are MORE of these beautiful things?

This video features clips from horror movies and is totally NSFW!

If you venture over to the blog, be prepared to lose a lot of time as there is just an incredible amount of stuff there to keep you busy until Halloween. If you head over there today, you can see the short Helltown which mashes up cinema's horror icons into one crazy video.

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers by clicking the link below!

Oct 25, 2017

2017 Halloween Hot Wheels - Muscle Tone & Zotic

The 2017 Halloween Hot Wheels line crosses the finish line today with the final two vehicles.

Leading things off is Muscle Tone.

I don't know if it's the paint job or the word drift on the car but I could totally see this one in a Fast & Furious movie. That, of course, leads me back to thinking about a monster/horror version of the film. In case you're looking for Smiley (the Halloween logo), he's barely visible at the back.

I really like the way the lighting (and lightning) came out on this shot. Muscle Tone may be the "oldest" model in this run, first released in 2000. It has been featured in the Age of Ultron series as Vision and in the Batman v Superman series as Superman.

Bringing up the rear of the pack is Zotic.

I don't know what is it but I'm just not a big fan of lumping aliens in with Halloween. Sure they can be creepy and scary but I just don't associate them with the holiday. I'd like this one a lot more if it didn't have Halloween written on it because it does the alien vibe so well. If it said Area 51 or Roswell, or anything more alien-y, it'd be great!

Maybe I'm being specie-ist in presuming the big eyed head is an alien? Could be an insect or even a gas mask if you squint. The overall sci-fi look is what makes me think it's an alien.

The photos don't do the shininess of the silver justice. The translucent green they used for the wheels and windshiueld is a perfect alien color.

With that being the last in the series, here's my rankings for 2017, best to worst.

Great Gatspeed
'49 Ford F1
Muscle Tone
'71 Plymouth Satellite
Ratical Racer
Olds 442 W-30

See all the Halloween goodness by clicking the link below!

Oct 24, 2017

Halloween Web - Halloween Special

Out possibly last Halloween Web interview features Karen from the blog Halloween Special.

Come on in and introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m just a regular Halloween freak. My friends think of me as a Halloween queen, but to everyone else, I’m just a quiet, pleasant blond girl. I like being incognito. 

What was Halloween like for you growing up?

The first Halloweens I remember were in Danville, CA, in the east bay. It’s a pretty ritzy burb now but back then it was just a one horse town with an old west-style main drag. We’d work on our costumes all month and then at the last minute my mom would make us wear sweaters over them. Not kidding. But it was still magical. I think the idea of being out at night with my friends but without my parents had a lasting euphoric effect. Plus, you got to dress as something scary and get candy! I’m still not over it. 

Once we moved to Sunnyvale in the south bay, I was old enough to spend the night at my friend Brienne’s house and trick or treat as late as we wanted. It was this feeling of intoxicating freedom. You’d run into other kids but you weren’t sure if you knew them because of the costumes. This was mysteriously thrilling. This local family called the Flaglers went all out with their decorations. That year they had a very realistic coffin laid out in the front and they were performing some kind of ritualistic service. I think it really freaked some kids out, but I LOVED it! Then we went home to Brienne’s house and I got to watch Halloween for the first time! I don’t think I slept much that night but it was worth it.

Any memorable costumes from past Halloweens?

I was a gangster when I was 11. It was ridiculous. I wore a newsboy cap with my blond hair spilling out and my nerdy glasses on. I wore a suit and tie and a pencil thin moustache. The crowning achievement was that I stuffed my cheeks with cotton balls because I’d heard that Marlon Brando had done that in the Godfather. Such a bad idea - it kept getting caught in my braces. Am I painting a completely dorky picture? 

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

Some years I dress up, some years not so much. But every year my boyfriend and I swing by Belvedere St. in San Francisco. They block it off to traffic and every house is over the top! Kid are literally losing their s***. (Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.) It’s hysterical. Then we’ll barhop around the city and soak up the atmosphere. It’s a bit like trick or treating, but with booze. This year, I’m dressing up as Valak from the Conjuring 2. It’s the perfect combo of scary + comfy + warm + not overplayed. 

Every year I go to LA at the beginning of October to see some friends and do Knott’s Scary Farm and whatever else we can find. This year, we watched Halloween on a big outdoor screen with a bunch of other like-minded souls and ate lobster rolls from a food truck. We also swung by the Cecil Hotel and the Blade Runner building downtown.

One year we found a monster movie exhibit at the Max Factor museum in Hollywood. They had the real set of Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell. In this photo, you can see me pretending to be Clarice.

Do you watch anything special to get in the spirit of the season?

My Halloween movie/TV list is constantly growing but in general, I’d say my faves are: Halloween (of course), The Shining, Trick r Treat, Young Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein, Conjurings 1 and 2, and pretty much any Treehouse of Horrors.

Why do you think we keep Halloween with us as we get older?

I think it’s just that excitement we remember from being a kid. When I saw those first decorations go up or masks in a store window, I’d gasp like a spaz. I still kind of do. And I think Halloween is the first step in making friends with the stuff that scares you, which is a good life-long lesson. 

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was those orange and black wrapped candies with no labels on them. I actually never tried them until recently, only to find they’re not bad.
My favorite thing to get was sweet tarts and pixie sticks. Have no idea why. 

Where can people find you online?

My Halloween blog is Halloween Special, because I loved nothing more than Halloween specials when I was kid. Oh, and now too. The best are Roseanne and the Simpsons, of course!

Be sure to visit all the Halloween houses by clicking the link below!


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