HALLOWEEN’ING 2016 Day 31: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Here we are! The Big Day itself! HALLOWEEN! We made it through another month of Halloween’ing, and now we get to celebrate by whatever means possible. For many, it may be the tried and true tradition of trick or treating (if that hasn’t been supplanted by the whole “trunk or treat” thing that’s big nowadays). Or perhaps a gathering with friends, either a blowout or a more intimate get together. Or perhaps, like myself, you just like to stay in, and play a marathon of movies to cap off the evening. However you do it, have fun and remember that Satan sucks and doesn’t deserve this or any day. Hail the Reanimator, Christ Jesus. Now, here’s a bit of Alice Cooper to send off all into the night, and the inevitable post-Halloween depression that follows on November 1st…

HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 30 – BOO! (Rosanne)

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The television sit-com Rosanne ran from 1989 thru to 1997, and had one recurring thing in almost every season of its run: the annual Halloween episode. Sure, other television shows would have Halloween-themed episodes, but Rosanne seemed to genuinely revel in the holiday, generating a kind of excitement that was kind of infectious.

“BOO!” was the first of many Halloween episodes, airing in the show’s second season (the first season didn’t have one, for whatever reason). Here, the family is getting ready for the big night by turning their entire house into a haunted attraction, while Rosanne is trying her best to scare Dan while he’s waiting to hear about an important business deal, and trying to get their moody eldest daughter Becky back into the Halloween spirit.

While it’s not my favorite of the Rosanne Halloween episodes, “BOO!” is the first, and is the template for which was to come, so it bears first mention out of all of them.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 29 – Halloween (1978)

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As we draw close to the end of October, and thus the Big Night, it seems inevitable that I should finally put the spotlight on the classic John Carpenter slasher flick named after the night of all nights. I mean, sure, last year I posted about the third entry in the series; this one, though, is the classic that started it all, and remains the best one nearly 40 years later.

Despite having actually enjoyed the Rob Zombie remake (I seem to be one of the few), I prefer this one, simply because the mystery that is Michael Myers is one that isn’t explained, and thus much more chilling. There’s no rhyme or reason behind Myers’ insanity, even after fifteen years of being incarcerated and studied by one Doctor Loomis since he was six years old. Myers escapes and returns back to his old homestead, dressed in a jumpsuit and a modified Captain Kirk mask, and makes with the stalking and the stabby-stabby, making a certain babysitter’s night a living hell.

After all this time, viewing this classic still holds up, and is very effective with building the tension with a minimalist style that adds to the effects. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you must watch it at least once. In the dark. Preferably with the wind howling outside, the trees scratching against the window panes.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 28 – Ranch Of Terror

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Just south of Omaha, outside of the adjacent city of Bellevue, lays the Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch. Which is your standard attraction for picking various fruits and pumpkins for the whole family. Wholesome autumn fun, there. But, between late September and through the month of October, on the weekends, between the hours of 7:30pm and 11:30pm (9:30pm on Sundays), this normally family-friendly location transforms into the RANCH OF TERROR! Bwa-HAHAHAHAAAAAA!

*ahem* Sorry. Kind of a reflex I have.

Anyway, the attractions at this here Ranch of Terror boasts not only a Haunted House, but also a Haunted Hayrack Ride, which features a trip through the standard pumpkin patch after it’s been transformed into a horrific scene of…horror, presumably after it’s swallowed by The Upside-Down. There’s also some haunted caves and a zombie jail.

For those with the younger types, they do offer a “no-scare” version during the daytime hours, and also on Halloween night. Which…okay, whatever. Just get yourself a babysitter and head out to the night-time terror that we so very much crave.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 27 – Ghostwatch

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Last year, I wrote about the infamous “War Of The Worlds” broadcast, and all the wackiness that ensued therein. While a lot of the fallout has now, over time, been more folklore and hyperbole, and we can look back and laugh at the alleged gullibility of a simpler time, it took a more modern television special from Britain to remind us all that gullibility transcends generations.

Ghostwatch was a 90-minute special that was essentially one of the first documentary-style horror movies made, only it was for television, and nobody in the viewing audience was in on the joke. It was played as a live news report on the paranormal experiences of a family plagued by a malevolent poltergeist. The realism was enhanced with the use of four recognized BBC presenters, and little to no hints as to the true nature of the program. Everyone thought this was the real deal. The result? Several thousand phone calls, thousands of angry letters, and at least one report of an induced labor while watching the show.

What’s even more impressive is that Ghostwatch was released on Halloween of 1992. That’s right. It wasn’t done back when television was still a novelty; this was a time when televisions were ubiquitous, and most viewers the most jaded we’ve ever been. This got such a reaction that, according to this article on Mental Floss, the UK’s Broadcasting Standards Council ruled that the producers of Ghostwatch had deliberately set out to “cultivate a sense of menace”.

In other words, the BBC had been found guilty in scaring the crap out of 11 million people. For that, I salute you, gentlemen. And women, I’m sure.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 26 – A Nightmare On My Street

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“A NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET”

D. J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Before he was an “actor” starring in “movies”, Will Smith was a “rapper” that went by the moniker The Fresh Prince, because it was the 80s. Along with his cohort D. J. Jazzy Jeff, he released the album He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper in 1988, which featured as its first track a curious little exorcise in copyright infringement titled “A Nightmare On My Street”.

To be fair, “A Nightmare On My Street” was entered for consideration to be included in the soundtrack for the fourth installment of the Nightmare series, The Dream Master…but that was turned down in favor of the much more tasteful “Are You Ready For Freddy” by The Fat Boys [/sarcasm].

As a choice for inclusion in any Halloween mix, “A Nightmare On My Street” is a no-brainer, really. It’s campy as only The Fresh Prince can do, telling the tale of his own wacky encounter with Freddy, with a chilling ending that, if taken in contextual reality, can only mean that the Jazzy Jeff (D. J. or otherwise) since then was a reanimated corpse brought back by means of voodoo to keep kicking out those jams at an 87% efficiency level.

Note: The version that appears on the original LP and cassette releases are over 6 minutes, while the CD and single versions are only 4 minutes 53 seconds long. This is because CD technology back then sucked, and could only hold a truncated version of the song. Try and find the original 6 minute version, if you’re so inclined.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 25 – House of Secrets: Foundation (Vertigo)

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During the heyday of the DC Comics imprint Vertigo, there was a short-lived but rather intriguing title House of Secrets that ran from 1996 through 1998. While it shared the same title as that of the long-running Silver Age anthology comic, it really was its own entity.

The first five issue of the Vertigo series was collected in a trade paperback in 1997, which is the format I bought in 2000 after reading about it in an issue of Wizard Magazine. I miss Wizard Magazine. Anyway, the story follows disaffected Gen X Grunge trope Rain Harper as she arrives in Seattle (of course) and eventually holes up in a derelict house with another street waif, a house that has the tendency to transform into a haunted mansion presided by the ghostly, otherworldly Juris, which is like a supernatural courtroom for souls who are harboring secrets.

This being a Vertigo series, obviously this isn’t for the squeamish. This is really more dark, psychological horror than visceral body horror, which goes more for a slow cold crawl into the psyche. Think Turn of the Screw for the Nirvana crowd.

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