Monday, October 31, 2011

Vintage Halloween Specials - Disney's Halloween Treat

Disney's Halloween Treat first aired in 1982, and was one of my favorite parts of The Halloween Video. It features a series of clips from various Disney films and cartoons, vaguely centered around the theme of Halloween parties.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

5 Spooky Songs You May Not Have Heard Yet

There are plenty of good Halloween songs out there, and plenty of songs people think are cute to play at Halloween parties and club nights. However, if you're like me, you are sick to death of hearing the same rehashed playlists: Thriller. Ghostbusters. Monster Mash. That Ministry song. Here are some lesser-known spooky, creepy, or just plain weird songs that will make the night's entertainment a bit more interesting. You can thank me later.

Sonata Arctica - FullMoon (1999)

To be fair, if you are even remotely into power metal, you probably have heard this song. Um...I'm pretty sure it's about werewolves, but I could be wrong. Anyway, this is an amazing and very catchy track. I've seen Sonata Arctica live 3 times, and it's so electrifying to hear the audience chanting "Run Away! Run Away! Run Away!" along with them.

Janne Da Arc - child vision ~ Ehon no Naka Kirei na Majou (Pretty Witch in a Picture Book) (2000)

Janne Da Arc was one of the first Japanese bands I got into, and I still think they're pretty damn good. This was always one of my favorite songs by them. It has heavy guitars, a catchy melody, and a spooky story: a child pleading with his parents, referring to a pretty (but scary) witch that seems to be tormenting him. Here's a fairly accurate (as far as I can tell, anyway) English translation of the lyrics.

Alice Cooper - Wind-Up Toy (1991)

The entire album (Hey Stoopid) is incredible, but this song really stands out. Joe Satriani guests on guitar (!), and the lyrics are sad and strange, reviving the character Steven, who is now locked in a mental hospital, being subjected to tests, pills, and ECT, among other things.

Bôa - Duvet (1997)

Most people (if know, everyone) familiar with this song recall it as the opening theme to the weird 90s anime Serial Experiments Lain. Melancholic and haunting, this was the first single from the British band Bôa. It always seemed odd to me that it was paired with a sci-fi/horror anime about how the internet was scary, but every time I watched it, I became entranced by the melody. In fact, it's entirely possible I remember Serial Experiments Lain so fondly because of how good this song is.

Gary Numan - Down in the Park (1979)

I will admit (from behind this panel of bullet-proof glass) that the first version of this song I heard was Marilyn Manson's cover (which, I maintain, is still quite good! /shot) It's not really my fault I didn't hear the original first. Gary Numan is largely represented in media as being a one-hit wonder, and it didn't occur to me until recently to seek out the rest of his (amazing) body of work. This song is crazy-good, and a fan-favorite that was also covered by Foo Fighters. The lyrics are chilling: they tell the tale of a dystopian society where machines are gradually taking over. "The Park" is an arena where spectators watch machines kill (and do other atrocious things to) lower class humans.

Pick up these tunes:
Sonata Arctica - Ecliptica (album) (Amazon)
Janne Da Arc - D.N.A (album) (cdjapan)
Alice Cooper - Hey Stoopid (album) (Amazon)
Bôa - Twilight (album) (Amazon)
Gary Numan - Replicas (album) (Amazon)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surprise Pumpkin Patch Visit & Baby Ghostie Halloween Craft!

I had to get dental x-rays done this afternoon, and while I'm pretty familiar with the area the office was in, I managed to completely overshoot on the train and ended up a couple miles away. There was no inbound train in sight, so I walked all the way back. Thankfully the office was cool with me showing up 45 minutes late, and when I got out, I realized I was just a few steps away from The Great Pumpkin Patch across from Stern Grove!

I used to live nearby, and visited this same pumpkin patch in October 2007 (it also doubles as a Christmas tree lot in December.) They really go all-out: giant inflatable slide, bouncy castle, mini (free!) haunted house, plus lots of random things scattered throughout the patch. They were even selling Krispy Kreme donuts for some reason.

The haunted house was only two rooms, and I'm pretty sure it was exactly the same as it was 4 years ago. That said, it's pretty darn cool. It's hard to see, but the first room features an eerie fireplace with spooky portraits and a skeleton dangling from a rattling chandelier. The next room contains a corpse in a coffin and this mummy guy.

This was the pumpkin I picked out. I've always favored long-stemmed pumpkins, and I needed one small enough to fit in my lunch bag for the bus ride home. It was somewhat in-between the $4 and $5 sizes, but the girl at the checkout table let me have it for $4. :D

It was cool and foggy out, and I still had a smidgen of energy left from my earlier trek, so I took a walk through Stern Grove with my new pumpkin! It's a pretty spooky park at night, with huge, dense trees and lots of dark paths. Since I only like pretend fear of monsters and not real fear of being mugged, I stuck to the shallow, somewhat lit paths until I got to my bus stop.

I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago that I made a tiny ghostie plush, so here is a picture of him, finally. His right hand was in a horrible accident shortly before he died...of mutilation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Haunted Movie Marathon - Week 3

I think week 3 is my favorite so far. It was mostly new viewings, and while it was tough to find films that were both new to me and readily available (that is, on Netflix instant watch), I think I found some gems. Again, first viewings are in orange, rewatches are in black. (May contain light spoilers.)

October 15th

Videodrome (1983)
Videodrome is one of those movies that gets better every time you watch it. It's also one of the few (okay, probably the only) movie where you get to see James Woods whipping a television.

October 16th

Black Death (2010)
I'm really interested in the bubonic plague, and adding Sean Bean just sweetened the deal. I kinda wish it had delved into more historical stuff, but I think that's a bit too much to ask from a film like this. That said, it was pretty enjoyable, and a nice change of pace from the splatter and demon crap I'm usually into.

October 17th

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
I have to admit, I really enjoyed this movie. It reminded me of Saturday afternoons watching Tales from the Darkside and other "twist"-laden fare. It was really fun to watch the plot unfold, and there was enough spooky stuff to keep me happy. I'll definitely revisit this one again.

October 18th

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)
I was really surprised at how good this was! Most adaptions of Lovecraft stories lean towards the (at best) bizarre, but this was serious, slow, quiet (it was silent, after all), and I feel like it really captured the atmosphere of the original story. I highly recommend this!

October 19th
Cinnamon Toast Crunch!
Intruder (1989)
Rather than say that I was misled into watching this by the promise of Bruce Campbell action, I'll just say, this IMDB forum post sums up my feelings pretty well. Overall not a bad film, but I was expecting something I could fap to later, so I was a tad disappointed.

October 20th

Disney's Halloween Treat (1982)
The third offering from The Halloween Video! This really deserves its own write-up, so I'll leave commentary on this for later.

October 21st

Creepshow (1982)
I'm pretty sure I have seen some of this weird film at some point in my childhood, but I think this counts as a first full watch. I enjoyed it, and it was what I was expecting: Tales from the Crypt short stories with some spooky moments and cheesy effects. I think my favorite segment was Something to Tide You Over. It had everything I like in cheesy horror stories: unnecessarily elaborate murders and gory creatures rising from the dead.

I'm going to try to focus on some more Halloween-themed films for the rest of the month (I still have Trick R Treat tucked away). Suggestions are still welcome!

Check out the rest of the marathon!
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 1
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 2
Haunted Movie Marathon Finale

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Haunted Movie Marathon - Week 2

This past week was mostly rewatches (I was determined to consume the Evil Dead trilogy before any more time passed), with the one first viewing being the scary-as-fuck The Orphanage. Again, first viewings are in orange, rewatches are in black. (May contain light spoilers.)

October 8th

The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead trilogy is one of the few examples of a film series that gets better as it goes on. Not that the first isn't great, but there is somewhat less of Bruce Campbell being a badass in this one.

October 9th

The Evil Dead II (1987)
Evil Dead II is fucking brilliant. I will never, ever, ever get tired of blood-soaked, chainsaw-armed Bruce Campbell.

October 10th

Army of Darkness (1992)
I don't really have to say anything more about this, do I? This movie is perfection.

October 11th

Hellraiser (1987)
Hellraiser...really gross and a lot of fun. Great effects, and the cenobites are some of my favorite horror characters. I never watched any of the sequels (I just assumed they were horrible), and I was traumatized after watching the trailer for the 2011 "remake", but this is a film I will always come back to.

October 12th

The Orphanage (2007)
This movie almost killed me. It was recommended by many people, and I've been meaning to watch it for a long time. I was warned that it was "really scary", but of course I was like, pfft, whatever, scary things don't scare me. Yeah, I was wrong. This was the first film in ages that actually made me scream out loud (several times), and by the last 20 minutes I had to turn all the lights on and stand 10 feet away from the screen in order to finish it. And then it made me cry.

October 13th

The Lost Boys (1987)
Such a great film, and probably one of the best "teen" horror movies ever made. I wish I had seen it when I was younger, though (I was born in 1984, so I missed out on being in the target audience when it first came out, and it somehow stayed off my radar until just a few years ago); I feel like I missed out on a lot of time I could have been fantasizing about Kiefer Sutherland's character.

October 14th

Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985)
I was going out that night, so I needed something short to watch while I got ready. This is one of my all-time favorite cartoons, and the second offering from The Halloween Video. It's clever, funny, and actually a bit scary. When I was a kid, I used to hide behind the couch when the ghost pirates showed up.

What do I have in store for the rest of the month? Eh, not sure yet. I have some DVDs I plan to watch, but most likely I'll be scouring Netflix for random horror/gore porn before the week is out.

Check out the rest of the marathon!
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 1
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 3
Haunted Movie Marathon Finale

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Haunted Movie Marathon - Week 1

Happy October! We're a full week into my favorite month, and I've been continuing my yearly tradition of watching at least one spooky, scary, or Halloween-themed film every night. I try to mix in old favorites (there are several Halloween specials I *have* to watch at least once a year) with new films, as well as classics I haven't seen yet. Here's the first week of October 2011's films! First viewings are in orange, rewatches are in black. (May contain light spoilers.)

October 1st

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
I love this movie. I used to watch it all the time as a kid, and I'm happy to know that it's still a great watch today. Vincent Price is a god.

October 2nd

Let the Right One In (2008)
All my tears. I heard a lot of acclaim for this film, but I didn't really know what it was about (other than a vampire tale.) I was not expecting that sweet, beautiful love story at all. I really, really enjoyed it. I plan to watch the remake as well, so I'll report back on that eventually.

October 3rd
this was the least offensive screencap I could find.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
I really wish I could unwatch this. It had been on my list for awhile, mostly because my interest is piqued whenever a movie is called out as being sick and disturbing. And it was, and while I can appreciate its cinematic importance (I guess), I was mostly distracted by the terrible, terrible attempts at slapstick humor, horribly awkward music, and the overall reminder of how ridiculous the 70s must have been.

October 4th

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)
Another childhood favorite, I needed to watch this to remove the remnants of the previous night's viewing from my brain. I've adored Elvira since I was a kid, and I used to watch this movie often (though the version I had was taped off of TV, and had the "picnic scene" edited mostly out.) I'm really glad I had her as a role model growing up! She's hilarious, smart, sexy, and confident (and I am so envious of her wardrobe!)

October 5th

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
A classic, and the start of what is hopefully an eventual complete (well, as complete as my internet scouring will allow) viewing of The Halloween Video. Even though I must have seen this at least 1,000 times, I doubt I'll ever get tired of it.

October 6th

The Book of the Dead (2005)
This was a random Netflix find while I was looking for something short and spooky (it was midnight already and I needed to be at work early today.) The Book of the Dead is a Japanese stop-motion animated film set in the Nara period (AD 710-784) when Buddhism was first being introduced. If you are at all interested in Japanese history or (gorgeous, impressive) stop-motion animation, I definitely recommend it. It's a little subdued (that is, slowly paced), but I found it really engaging!

October 7th

The Machinist (2004)
Oh man, I loved this. Another film that's been rotting in my queue, I'll admit it wasn't my first choice tonight. I wanted to watch Black Death (a bubonic plague demon horror film with Sean Bean??) but I couldn't get it to stream properly on Netflix (I can't seem to watch about 75% of the streaming content on that site. I'd certainly complain if I was the one paying for it.) So when that proved unwatchable, I decided on this. I'm really glad I did! Normally I can take or leave Christian Bale (except for his roles in Velvet Goldmine or American Psycho, in which case I would take him forwards, backwards, and sideways), but man, he really killed this time around. I love films that mess with the perception of reality, and I think this did a really good job. It was a tad predictable (and there were plenty of "clues"), but it was still engaging, and complex enough to be suspenseful. The carnival ride scene in particular was fantastic.

I have some of the rest of the month's viewings planned (including the Evil Dead trilogy and Hellraiser), but I'd love some suggestions! I'm open to just about anything (with the possibly exception of most remakes and/or anything American from the last 15 years.)

Check out the rest of the marathon!
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 2
Haunted Movie Marathon Week 3
Haunted Movie Marathon Finale