HALLOWEEN’ING Day 24: The Monster of Walnut Grove

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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 9: Ash Vs. Evil Dead

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When it comes to Halloween, most of the time you get maybe a special Halloween-themed episode from the “normal” television shows. Once in a while, though, there comes a show where Halloween is pretty much every day, or at least every episode. And thus I introduce you to Ash Vs. Evil Dead.

This is an official continuation of the original Evil Dead movie trilogy, with an aged Ash once again having to deal with the Deadites, demons and general evil that the pesky Necronomicon keeps bringing up. This time, though, he has two sidekicks with him as they hit the road.

There have been two seasons, and a third one is on its way. I consider the first season better than the second, but even at its worst, Ash Vs. Evil Dead is good, quality horror comedy gold.

SEASON 1
SEASON 2

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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 23 – “Mirror, Mirror” (Amazing Stories)

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Halloween Television Of Doom:

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MIRROR, MIRROR (Amazing Stories)

Say what you will about the 1980s, but some amazing stuff came out of that era, especially in the realm of fantasy, science fiction and horror television and movies. It may be due to nostalgia glasses, sure; but it’s hard to argue otherwise when you remember that the 80s was the height of one of the most creative directors to ever be part of molding my childhood imagination, one Steven Spielberg. Who, as it turns out, created the one anthology programs I watched pretty much religiously as a tween.

Of these episodes of the two-season series, the First Season episode “Mirror, Mirror” is one of those that sticks out in my brain. Mainly due to the fact that this episode, unlike many of the other previous ones, was straight up horror. It even came with that disclaimer that this episode has some very intense and possibly disturbing content…let’s face it, seeing that at the beginning of any fantasy-based television show is pretty much guaranteeing me to watch it. It tells the tale of a writer of horror novels that, while extremely popular, is rather jaded when it comes to actual supernatural happenings and such. Then, after an encounter with a rather enthusiastic fan, he begins to see a shadowy phantom man stalking him whenever he looks into a mirror or any reflective surface. I won’t tell you how it ends, but it will stick with you, I can tell you that much.

At the age of 12, I didn’t really care that this episode was directed by the great Martin Scorsese, or stared the likes of Sam Waterson, Tim Robbins, or…okay, maybe I did geek out a bit at Dick Cavett playing himself on his own show. Only because I was a weird kid. But the point is, “Mirror, Mirror” is a great television episode that you can watch with all the lights off this Halloween season, for just the right amount of skin-crawling terror.

AMAZING STORIES, Volume 1 on Amazon

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2016: Day 6 – Stranger Things

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Yes, I realize this is still fresh in the minds of everyone who raved about this Netflix original series. I don’t care. This 8-episode series came out of relative nowhere, and showed us that an original story can be visibly told that has elements of science fiction, horror and a certain whimsical nostalgia that hearkens back to the halcyon days of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. Stranger Things will enchant you while simultaneously scare the crap out of you.

No, I’m not going to tell you what the story is. Personally, I had my doubts about watching the show, and held off until long after it made waves. But, when I did manage to watch it, I was hooked.

Stranger Things is perfect Halloween binge watching. And at only eight episodes, an hour or so each, it’s only half a day. A half day well spent. Go to it.

And yes, I got this year’s HALLOWEEN’ING font from the Stranger Things generator. You’re welcome.

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HALLOWEEN’ING 2015: Day 27 – “The Boogieman”

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quantum leap the boogieman Quantum Leap was one of those shows I have rather fond memories of from my youth. I remember first discovering this show back in the fall of 1989, my mother being a fan of it at the time; a prime-time sci-fi drama about a guy who “leaps” into the bodies of various people in different points of time to make things right. I found it to be brilliant. I was also 15 at the time; I thought the mullet hair-style was brilliant. The point I’m trying to make here is that, no, Quantum Leap didn’t necessarily age well, but it’s still an enjoyable piece of sci-fi escapism I like to revisit once in a while. But I digress.

One of my favorite episodes that I remember watching on its first broadcast run was the Halloween episode “The Boogieman”. In this episode, our protagonist–Sam–leaps into horror novelist Joshua Ray, described in the episode as a kind of second-rate H. P. Lovecraft. Sounds like someone I’d want to check out. Anyway, there be weird things a’brewin’ in the House of Ray, as the people associated with him begin dying. And Sam’s future guide, Al, can’t seem to give him the information in time to save them in time. As a matter of fact, Al seems to be acting kind of odd, even for Al.

For a Halloween episode, “The Boogieman” is a nice neo-Gothic style spine-tingling mystery that hits a good many of the tropes associated with these kind of stories, especially the “It was all a dream…OR WAS IT?!?” kind of resolution. Oh, um…spoilers, by the way. And the throwaway twist at the very end is still chuckle-worthy, methinks. Overall, “The Boogieman” would make a great addition to any kind of Halloween-themed marathon for the telly.

WATCH ON HULU

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Sunday A’La Carte’: October 26, 2014

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padidington bear zombie apocalypseHere it is, the final Sunday A’La Carte before Halloween. Not that I’m going to stop sharing all of the lovely dark things that are percolating inside my festering skull every week. It’s just that this is the last one I can get away with while using Halloween as the theme. As such, tonight’s soundtrack while I write this comes courtesy of the Blair Witch 2 soundtrack that came conjoined with the DVD of the movie. Had the CD on the other end, it seemed. And it looks like there are only three band songs that appear on the official soundtrack sold separately; the rest of it is the film score. Which makes some rather interesting ambient background for writing.

jason and crocksThree episodes in, and Supernatural seems to have reset itself back to the business-as-usual mediocrity. This season had possibilities, what with a “brother against brother” angle that just begged to be explored. If I had my way, for this “final” season, I would have brought back Adam Milligan (aka the Lost Winchester) as the grand orchestrator behind the wackiness of not only this season, but every one after Season Six (being left in Hell and all), with Lucifer stepping back in to reclaim his domain from Crowley (possibly disposing him once and for freaking all) and restoring Adam back to life, or something like that; then heaven finally regroups properly behind a re-graced Castiel, Metatron having been banished to the earth as a powerless homeless guy tormented by constant visions of Revenge Of The Nerds on a continuous loop inside his head, and then we end up back at the Winchester household in Kansas back in 1993, discovering that the entire series has been a dream John Winchester had after falling asleep in front of the television the night of the pilot. The end.

october accessorizeI also managed to watch the pilot episode of the Constantine television series that aired this past week. Not too bad, really. It has some potential, and it looks like they have the right set of blokes producing the thing. I mean, it’s a far cry from the movie (which I did like on a certain level), which is a good thing. Here, you can tell care was made to stick as close to the source material as possible. It will be interesting to see what develops. If NBC doesn’t go about cancelling it before it could find its feet, that is.

non sequitur - this time of yearJust FYI, I switched to a 58-minute Dark Ambient thing I found on YouTube. Seems much more appropriate.

For a good Halloween-themed time-waster, meme-style, check this site out. One of my daily favorites.

Looking for some good ideas for movie watchin’ this Halloween? The Huffington Post has got you covered.

adorable ghoul kidSTUFF I’VE WRITTEN: Mostly HALLOWEEN’ING stuffs, as I post the Muppet Show that had Vincent Price, write about the Halloween staple that is candy, posted a prank the Ford motor company pulled with a car wash, shared a blog piece about Halloween from an Orthodox Christian perspective, rocked one of my favorite Halloween anthems, mused on the goodness that is Hammer horror movies, and talked about the greatest animated Halloween special, ever.

That’s it for this week. Bit exhausting. Got a lot of work to do this coming week; rather thankful that Halloween falls on a Friday this year. By next week, the Post Halloween Depression should be settling in. Until then, I leave you with some nightmare fuel. Cheers, my wonderful freaks.

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