Saturday, October 31, 2009


The Halloween Countdown, HALLOWEEN!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The True Meaning of Halloween

The Halloween Countdown, Day 30

Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The relevant passage begins at 6:33.

You may be wondering why I keep referencing a B-movie that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Halloween franchise and which many critics denounced upon release. One of the gentler reviewers at the time accused it of "being anti-children, anti-capitalism, anti-television and anti-Irish all at the same time."

Screw 'em; they missed the point. Oh, sure, there are plot holes galore, but I LOVED the damned, misbegotten thing for a number of reasons. Here's one:

This is my friend Pam (cute as can be, isn't she? Why, oh why did I never take advantage of her?). In October of 1982, when Halloween III was released, Pam had just been dumped by her boyfriend du jour and was feeling a little... out of sorts. I sympathized, empathized, and suggested a movie might be an appropriate distraction and since I was going to Halloween III anyway, she might want to tag along. Hey! Free movie, free popcorn, free drinks, a bit of catharsis, the pleasure of my ever-charming company [sic], what could be better? I raved about the fact that this film was different from the two Halloween films that preceded it and she agreed to go, albeit reluctantly.

Unfortunately, Pam was not a big fan of of trashy, non-classic blood-'n'-gore horror flicks. When the "misfire" sequence finished (if you've seen it you know what I'm talking about) she walked out for a cigarette and took her sweet time in returning. To her credit, she made it through the rest of the movie, but was obviously unthrilled with both it and me.

A few days later I found a message on my answering machine: Pam singing "(X) more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween..." This continued once a day, EVERY day, for the rest of the month and every October for several years thereafter... just in case I hadn't fully comprehended her intent and meaning.

I love my friends and I love Halloween III.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just For (Halloween) Fun

The Halloween Countdown, Day 29

(spotted on Boing Boing)

(also from Boing Boing)

( spotted on io9)

In case you had any doubts...

Quote from Warren Ellis: "On Halloween, I make people pay me not to dress as Sean Connery from ZARDOZ and sit around on their furniture with my legs open.

A bit of youthful indiscretion here--my friend Sam and I were both inveterate horror film devotees, so when Sam got a Super-8 movie camera one Christmas no one was surprised when we and our friends went to work making horror films. I play a dual role as the gravedigger and the guy in the corpse make-up. Sam, thanks for (painfully) transferring this (and several others) to YouTube!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spooky Tech

The Halloween Countdown, Day 28

Spotted on Boing Boing, Creeper 2, "a robotic spider to pass out candy at Halloween" (or terrify your household pets and children).

"It runs C on an Axon microcontroller. It uses all digital servos and can lift over twice its body weight. The software (soon to be given out open source) allows for 6 synchronous degrees of motion. Future additions will include foot sensors and a remote control option."

Wish my soldering-fu was stronger!

Original post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Spooky

The Halloween Countdown, Day 27

Halloween is not merely about tricks and treats and silly-ass costumes; it's about lifting the veil between the living and the dead and scaring yourself half to death... if you're lucky.

There are ways to do this.

You could go visit buildings where the walls are lined with human bones:

You could whip out your soldering iron and construct a Cylon Jack-O-Lantern or a Brain That Wouldn't Die prop (lots more fun projects at Make magazine's Halloween Archive), but those things are merely cool and not particularly spooky. For sheer awesomeness, you're gonna need a Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio:

And finally (yes, I am horribly ashamed I know such things exist), the spookiest item I've ever encountered, made by the people who invented The Fleshlight, just in time for Halloween, a... uh... sex toy for men in serious need of intensive therapy, "The Fleshlight with Bite," Succu Dry Sex in A Can, the vampire version.

Dear, sweet Jeebus; what has our world come to?

Or you could say the hell with it and watch a Roseanne Halloween rerun:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Miscellanea

The Halloween Countdown, Day 26

Let's get this out of the way first: Twilight fans (for us old fogies, that's the obscenely successful vampire/fantasy/romance young adult series sweeping the nation)? LISTEN UP!

We clear on this?

Okay, on to other things.

First up, should there be any skull aficionados out there (you already know about my fetish), you might want to take a look at this:

That's a cast bronze skull from Art Skulls ("skulls for the discerning collector") at around $1200, not that you can whip out the plastic and buy one--it has to be commissioned.

Next, if you're going to spend Halloween watching movies while passing out treats to the kiddies, you could do a lot worse than picking up recently released The William Castle Film Collection (review here). It's pricey--$77.99 on you get "{e}ight tales of tongue-in-cheek terror from one of the movies' masters of ballyhoo..."

I confess to having a deep, abiding love for Castle's films, partly because they were an integral part of my demented childhood and partly because they're a lot of fun even now. Obsessive types might also enjoy reading Castle's memoirs, Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America (1976).

And speaking of ballyhoo, add this link to your favorite web browser: Scared Silly: Classic Hollywood Horror-Comedies. Starting Oct. 31, author Paul Castiglia will start blogging about, well, classic Hollywood horror-comedies. It's the companion piece to his as yet unpublished book of the same name (he's hoping to build a large enough fan base to entice a publisher).

That's enough for now; my friends JSam and Erica reminded me yesterday that Re-Animator is darn close to the perfect Halloween Comedy/Gore-Fest and I want to watch it now!

Cat-lovers take heed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And Yet ANOTHER Zombie Walk Video!

The Halloween Countdown, Day 25

They. Just. Keep. Coming!
(future ex-wife makes brief appearance at ~1:02)

Another Richmond Zombie Walk 2009 Video!

The Halloween Countdown, Day 25

Not mine (still waiting for someone to donate a video camera to my cause) and this time "in lively black and white" (if that phrase resonated within you, well, your age is showing).

My future ex-wife makes her appearance at about 2:09.

Oh, and now's a good time to mention the RZW2009 flickr Photo Pool.

Richmond Zombie Walk 2009 Video!

The Halloween Countdown, Day 25

Not mine, unfortunately. Anyone want to buy me a digital video camera for next year?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Richmond Zombie Walk 2009, Part 2

The Halloween Countdown, Day 24, Continued

(click the pic to embiggen)

Zombie Jeebus (is that redundant?) is a regular Zombie Walk attendee.

Well, it was lunchtime!

This year's candidate for Future Ex-Wife.

Walk well, zombies! See y'all next year!

Richmond Zombie Walk 2009, Part 1

The Halloween Countdown, Day 24

So I went to the Richmond Zombie Walk pre-walk meet-up this afternoon (because it's a lot easier to get pictures of stationary zombies than walking ones). 'Twas unseasonable warm and humid, a bit overcast with occasional droplets of rain; however...

(click the pic to embiggen)

My friend Jason and pals.

This guy won the prize for "Goriest Costume."


I found Waldo-OOOOOOOH!!

You can't see it from this angle I shot it, but they're holding hands (and later skipped--literally--down the street still holding hands). There was a bit of a disagreement about logistics between them, the one on your left saying, "Wait, I wanna be dominant!"

Let's See A Movie!

The Halloween Countdown, Day 23

As I've gotten older my ability and opportunities to engage in Halloween shenanigans have diminished considerably--I'm pretty much limited to a big bowl of popcorn, a Roseanne Halloween episodes marathon on TV Land/Nick At Nite if I'm lucky, some Addams Family reruns...

...and scary movies.

My friend Alex, aka damiankarras (who often describes himself as "a horror whore and a comedy snob"), just posted A Decade of Horror on his blog: mini-reviews and personal commentary about Fifty Horror Films Worth Seeing From the Last Decade. Go read it; it's well worth your time, especially if you're staying home this Halloween and would like a few movie suggestions.

"As for what's made the list so far, they may not be classics. They may not be seminal works in the genre. Some of them probably aren't even really horror films in the classic sense of the phrase, but it is some of those classic elements of the horror film which make them at the very least, fun to watch. A few are genuinely frightening. More than a few are genuinely disturbing, a trait they share with a number of the classic films of the seventies. I'm tempted here to go into a longer discussion of the similarities between the decades in terms of social upheaval, and the inevitable connection between those things and the disturbing nature of the horror films we're seeing, but that's for another time."

"Fun to watch." See, that's what it's really all about, assuming the proper frame of mind. JSam, my oldest horror film compadre (one may take that several ways... and they would all be correct), once said, "Since a lot of horror films tend to be pure, unadulterated, exploitative pieces of crap, if you go to one expecting to find nuggets of gold you're going to be severely disappointed; true horror fans learn to settle for flecks of color."* Okay, JSam, it's not an exact quote, but it's close enough (we were both floating from an excess intake of Dr. Pepper... or something... at the time).

So I started a mental list of underrated films appropriate to The Season. "No thinky thoughts, no grand proclamations, no fifty cent words," as my friend Anne S. says on her LiveJournal, just a weird old guy with a Blogger account and two flecks of color to share.

The Exorcist III
After the abortion that was Exorcist II: The Heretic, I was surprised anyone was willing to risk making another sequel, but risk it they did and I loved it. Eerie, spooky, and, at times, decently frightening.

The Company of Wolves
I don't know why this film always seems to be forgotten; it's creepy, evocative, has a fantastic look and feel with a little gratuitous Angela Lansbury. Plus, it's every bit as good as the trailer makes it out to be.

As St. Joe Bob Briggs of the Eternal Drive-In would say, "Check 'em out!"

* I'm reminded of the opening to Student Bodies, a 1981 film parodying the Slasher Flick movement of the times, which opened with a black screen and the following text:

This motion picture is based on an actual incident.

Last year 26 horror films were released...

None of them lost money.

There's also a lovely moment in the middle of the film where, for no immediately apparent reason, there's an abrupt cut to an announcer behind a desk:

"Ladies and gentlemen, in order to achieve an 'R' rating today, a motion picture must contain full frontal nudity, graphic violence, or an explicit reference to the sex act. Since this film has none of those, and since research has proven that R-rated films are by far the most popular with the moviegoing public, the producers of this motion picture have asked me to take this opportunity to say 'Fuck you.' "
(the MPAA R-rating logo appears on the screen)

The entire film is available in ~10.5 min. installments on YouTube here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"They're Coming to Get You..."

The Halloween Countdown, Day 21

Zombies a-comin'! Lots of 'em! 200+, maybe! Here in Richmond, VA! It's the 5th Annual Richmond Zombie Walk (benefiting the American Cancer Society) in Carytown at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 (event info here). Oh, my; it's GREAT fun!

By the way, I babbled about and posted a few pics from the 2007 Zombie Walk here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Bela Lugosi's Birthday!

The Halloween Countdown, Day 20

Hey! Today is Bela "Karloff did not deserve to smell my shit!"* Lugosi's birthday, but I'm not about to attempt a tribute; I ain't that good a writer. Instead, let's honor him by talking coffins.

Semi-obligatory "Bela in a coffin" pic (from The Corpse Vanishes, 1942)

Real coffins, aka "toe-pinchers," mind you; none of these overpriced, tarted-up, glorified pieces of furniture. This is what I think of when I think "coffin":

And that's what a true horror/Halloween fan wants to be buried in; in fact, a true horror fan wants one right damn now while he/she can enjoy it!** Unfortunately, you'll have a helluva hard time finding one for purchase in the US. The ABC (A Better Casket) Casket Factory in LA used to sell a lovely one called the "Count Dracula"...

...but recently turned it into this:


If you've got the money, Bert & Bud's Vintage Coffins will be more than happy to custom-make one for you, but who's got that kind of disposable income, especially if all you're looking for is a nice-but-durable Halloween prop?

Solution? Make it yourself. There are plans and tutorials all over the 'Net and here are three of the better ones:

It Came From the Garage of Evil!! Toe-Pincher Coffin
ScareFX: $25 Full-Size Toe-Pincher Coffin
Devious Concoctions: Full-Size Toe Pincher Coffin

Have at it!

* Bela probably never spoke such a line--then again, he might have--but Martin Landau certainly did when he portrayed him in Ed Wood. Classic monster movie fans the world over nearly lost bladder control at that bit of dialogue.

** No, seriously! Check out Other links here.