HALLOWEEN’ING Day 24: The Monster of Walnut Grove

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halloween'ing 2017
TheMonsterOfWalnutGroveOne of my favorite childhood prime-time television shows was Little House On The Prairie. It was one that I would sit and watch along with my family, and while it was one of the more schmaltzy television shows on at the time, I have some rather fond memories associated with watching the adventures of a young Laura Ingalls and her prairie home outside the town of Walnut Grove.

Anyway, this particular episode, “The Monster of Walnut Grove”, was the first Halloween-themed episode, which was part of the show’s third season in 1976. I was just a month shy of the age of three when the episode originally aired; thanks to the magic of syndicated reruns, I was able to watch several times in the early 1980s.

It’s Halloween night in the town of Walnut Grove, and the Ingalls girls are out doing whatever they did back in settler days, when Laura sees local general store owner Mr. Olsen behead his wife with a sword. Of course, this was a mannequin head that Mr. Olsen lopped off, with the real Mrs. Olsen out of town for a few days, but Laura doesn’t know this, and has a devil of a time convincing anyone of the possible murder of one of the town’s more memorable characters. And while the general shenanigans involving the Olsen children playing with their heads does ensue, the best part of this episode happens to be the completely wacked-out dream sequences Laura has, some very EC Comics-level horror sequences that, for a family show, were very scary and effective for this grade schooler. That bit where Mr. Olsen serves up his wife’s head, and she opens her eyes and starts screaming? Yeah, nightmare fuel right there. Oh, and the Headless Horseman makes a cameo in the last place you’d expect.

It might be overlooked, but “The Monster of Walnut Grove” is a good old-fashioned American Gothic style story for a series that was more Hallmark Channel style.

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HALLOWEEN’ING Day 23: The Simpson’s Treehouse Of Horror

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simpsons halloween special
If you’re anything like me (in which case, you have my pity), the yearly Simpsons Halloween episode Treehouse Of Horror are something you look forward to every year, despite the drop in quality of the show overall, and sometimes having to wait until after Halloween to watch the episode. Being a Halloween geek isn’t easy sometimes.

The very first Treehouse Of Horror aired early in the show’s second season in 1990. It centers around Bart, Lisa and Maggie sitting in their treehouse, telling each other scary stories. Homer is outside eavesdropping, and imagines the tales in his head, which of course segue into the segments:

“Bad Dream House”, where the Simpsons move into an Addams Family style old house that happens to be possessed by a poltergeist that tries to scare them off. Marge is having none of it…

“Hungry Are The Damned”, as the Simpsons are enjoying an outdoor barbecue in their back yard, they’re abducted by aliens (Kang and Kodos in their first appearance ever) and find themselves in a possible “To Serve Man” situation…

And finally, “The Raven” has Homer imagining himself as the lead character in Edgar Alan Poe’s famous poem, Bart as the titular Raven, while the whole thing is narrated by the legendary James Earl Jones.

This episode is classic. It’s the first in what would become a long-running tradition of EC Comics style horror fun. If you haven’t seen this one yet, remedy this oversight.

The SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR

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HALLOWEEN’ING Day 22: Trunk Or Treat (A Rant)

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trunk-or-treatOne of my co-workers is starting to talk about some places around Omaha to take her kids “trunk or treating”. I’ve heard of this practice: Instead of taking the kids around the neighborhood, door to door to get candy handouts, the kids are now taken to a parking lot, where people have parked their cars and filled their trunks (or unmarked windowless vans) with candy for the kids to wander around to. The idea is that doing this instead of the traditional practice of trick-or-treat is safer for the kids.

I’m calling B. S. And not because I’m some sentimental traditionalist when it comes to Halloween…although, I do tend to be.

No, what bothers me about this practice is that we’re assuming the point of Trick-or-Treating is getting the candy. It is not. Well, that is a nice perk, but the point of Halloween is to dress up, pretend you’re something or someone you’re not normally all the other days out of the year, and then go pay visits to your neighbors at an hour that you normally wouldn’t be caught dead outside. Bad pun intended.

The big thing we’re losing here is community. We’re giving the impression that it’s dangerous to go around even your own neighborhood, and should avoid everyone at all times, because MONSTERS of the REAL KIND! But…what takes away that fear? Getting to know your neighbors, maybe? And what really brings the community together, mingling in a way that the adults can know each other better, for the safety of their children?

TRICK OR TREATING, PEOPLE. You can’t get that same sense of community by driving several miles out of the way to a parking lot to get candy from people you’ll probably never see again for the rest of the year. If that. You might as well just take your costumed kid to the grocery store, buy a bag of fun-sized whatever, and go back home and sequester yourself in the safety of your locked house and call it a night.

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Uncle NecRo Watches: HAPPY DEATH DAY

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happy death day
Episode 2 of Uncle NecRo Watches, and this time he’s joined by Brian from the Will Code For Beer pubcast with watching the horror slasher comedy Happy Death Day. Is it what they expected? Well, yeah…but that’s not necessarily a good thing, mind…

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necrosarx@gmail.com

HALLOWEEN’ING Day 21: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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rocky horror picture show
This movie. This movie, right here. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of those rite of passage movies that you are required to watch, at least once, late at night, preferably with friends who have seen it hundreds of times and will not only sing along to the music, but will flawlessly act out the scenes in front of you.

The plot of the movie…isn’t that important. Yeah, it’s about a clean-cut couple who are stranded one night in a castle inhabited by a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania and his minions, and the musical wackiness that does ensue. But trust me, if you try and think about things, it’s just going to lead to a world of hurt. It’s best to just let the movie happen, and then try to sort things out after.

The ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW

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HALLOWEEN’ING Day 20: Hotel Transylvania

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hotel transylvania banner
There’s been a lot of animated stuff I’ve been posting this year for the Halloween’ing months. Maybe I’m reverting back to my childhood, maybe I’m just a connoisseur of the art of animated story telling. I don’t know. I’ll get back to you about that.

I skipped watching Hotel Transylvania when it first hit the theaters, mainly because of Adam Sandler voicing the main character, who happened to be Dracula. Same reason I gave a pass to the sequel a couple of years later. But, recently, I recanted my personal ban on Adam Sandler movies, and gave Hotel Transylvania a watch.

If you’re looking for something that’s not that scary, and decent enough for the entire family to sit together and enjoy and get into that Halloween Spirit, Hotel Transylvania would be a good choice to go with. Here, Dracula is a good-hearted vampire that just wants to protect his daughter from the angry humans that hate him and other monsters unfairly. And so he builds a hotel as a safe haven for all those creatures that go bump in the night. But when a backpacking human shows up at the hotel and (gulp) falls in love with Dracula’s daughter, the wackiness does ensue.

So, yeah, Hotel Transylvania is decent, kind of like a mix of The Munsters and Monsters Inc. in tone. Worth a watch some night during this Halloween season, along with the sequel.

Rent or Buy on Amazon

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HALLOWEEN’ING Day 19: Silent Hill

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silent hill
As survival horror video games go, the first installment in the long-running Silent Hill franchise was something of an innovator when it was released in 1999. This one was different, as it relied less on the big monster horror elements (though they were there as well), and really went for the psychological style of horror. The atmosphere, the world-building mythos that borrows heavily from Lovecraft and the movie Jacob’s Ladder, the music cues and visuals, along with a story that messes with your mind…this game gets under your skin and stays there long after you’ve shut off the Playstation.

I’ve had the pleasure of playing the game while visiting some friends in Denver years ago. I’ve seen copies of the original Playstation game going for over $100 on Amazon and Ebay, though; if you’re like me, that’s a bit much to own and play the game. Instead, there are many Let’s Play videos of this game if you just want to watch the story unfold, the one I’m recommending is Cyborcat’s Game Den play-thru. Mainly because she’s awesome and on my YouTube list. Nepotism? I’m not sure if that’s the correct term to use…

CYBORCAT’S GAME DEN

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