Oct 31, 2012

DAY 31: IT'S TIME!



Is this overused?

Maybe.

Does that make it any less awesome?

No way!

Happy Halloween, readers! Watch out for those bugs and fire in your skulls!

* To those affected by Sandy, I hope your recovery is speedy.

Oct 30, 2012

DAY 30: SHITTY FLICKS – JACK-O

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


Jack-O is as dumb a movie as they come. It’s about a pumpkin monster that comes back from the dead and stalks a bunch of random suburbanites. And we’re not even talking about a movie like, say, Pumpkinhead, which had the same plot, but was reasonably entertaining, and starred the cool-as-hell Lance Henriksen. We’re talking about a movie called Jack-O.

The movie begins, and believe me, if you’re already laughing at how incredibly cheap and cheesy the opening titles are - quivery orange font punctuated by a roaring cartoon pumpkin that flies at the screen - then grab your candy corn and settle on in, because you’re going to love this movie. I'd compare it to an elementary class video prepared for Halloween by Mr. Fletcher, the weird English teacher, but I'd hate to offend him.

The fattest man in the world sits opposite a roaring campfire and entertains a measly boy with tales of spooks and things of Halloween past. Who this man is, or what his relationship is to this boy, remains unknown, but the amount of overacting the man commits against the audience is matched only by the amount of underacting coming from the small boy. The fat man carves a jack-o-lantern and hands it to the small boy, who actually looks genuinely terrified of it.

Note to small boy: You've been on-screen for less than one minute and already I want to break your glasses.

The fat man continues to assault us with creeps and boos. And then he hits us with this limerick of terror:
Mr. Jack will break your back,
and cut off your head with a whack whack WHACK!
The pumpkin man will steal your soul,
snap it up and swallow it whole.
Then just as quick before you die,
the pumpkin man will steal your eyes.
As the fat man continues his scaretastic tale, a hooded figure, a woman, appears in the woods, listening as the fat man oozes fatness and spook.

We take a quick break from all the fear to let the credits roll, and despite how the incredibly low budget gives the movie the look of a cheap family film you might stumble upon one night at your local library, the presence of Linnea Quigley’s name should assure that you, if nothing else, you’re gonna get some titties.

The credits end and we're right back to having to deal with this fat bastard who looks to be a pencil-thin mustache away from being Jon Polito's long-lost brother.

According to legend, long ago, an old wizard/killer (John Carradine, who had died several years before this movie was even shot, but whose footage was still shamelessly utilized) was hunted by some local townsmen for his unwarranted use of magic, or something.

The wizard cursed the town and summoned a demon monster called Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man (which is what I am going to call him every single time he shows up during the movie, because that’s just too wonderful not to say every five minutes). Well, Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man came ‘round and started earning that rockin’ nursery rhyme. One of the cursed men had been an ancestor of this pathetic little boy, and this is important to note, because it will make the plot about Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man coming back from the dead that much more cogent.

We’re then forced to watch a flashback where we learn that this descendant of the little wormy kid had successfully thwarted Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man’s murderous ways, thus cursing his family forever.

The next day, Sean Kelly, descendant of the dead Kelly clan and all around nerdlinger, walks home with a little prick boy, who teases Sean about Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man’s imminent arrival in their sleepy town. I guess everyone knows who he is. He must have a twitter.

goin back to cursed town 2nite, gonna eat some bones, 
holla @TheGreatPumpkin

Suddenly, the hooded figure we saw earlier in the movie drives past the kids. The bully shouts that she is a witch, and they duck and hide behind a tree. The bully begins throwing rocks at the witch’s car, which according to him, was something done to witches (but not their sedans) in the old days. Sean stops the bully from throwing rocks at the witch’s car, and they have a brief hugging fight.

The witch breaks up the little fight and drives Sean home, stopping to admire Sean’s father’s sign advertising his haunted garage.

“I’d love to see your spook house,” says the woman.

Wouldn’t we all?

The witch woman, real name Vivian, says she is researching a book on the town, and that’s all this family needs to hear in order to welcome this stranger into their home for hours on end.

Sean has a nightmare about John Carradine, old-timey people dying, and the titular Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man. It’s so scary that I have to stop the movie and lean on one knee to steady my breathing and count slowly back from ten. Finally my beating heart subsides and I hit play, promising to pace myself throughout the rest of this mercilessly terrifying film.

We are then introduced to three teenage kids, who are snapping open beers, trespassing, and wearing plaid.

-"This is what you picked out for mom, dude?"
-"Oh, like she'll even care, dude. She's DEAD."

“This used to be the Kelly farm!” says one of the boys. “I saw it on a map in the library!”

They find the grave of Daniel Kelly, who died in 1915, along with several other tombstones. They then snap open another beer, and their scene ends (for now).

Back at home with the Kellys, Sean watches a creepy film hosted by Dr. Cadaver. The filmmakers go out of their way to make the fake movie-within-the-movie schlocky and absurd, but honestly, it doesn’t hold a candle to the movie that is book-ending the fake movie-within-the-movie. The movie Jack-O.

Before you can say, “Tits? Where?”, we get tits: Linnea Quigley’s Caroline slowly massaging her tits in the obligatory shower scene. It’s a nice break from all the non-horror and non-intrigue that has been prevalent in the movie so far. And once the tit-soaping is done, we get inner thigh-soaping, and we stay on this for a long time, for this film was made by a true artisan of our time.

Sean Kelly’s mother calls Caroline, trying to recruit her babysitting services on Halloween night.

As soon as Caroline begins talking, it becomes terribly obvious why Linnea Quigley strips naked and massages her tits in every movie she’s in: she’s good at it (but not acting).

Caroline says she will recommend a friend of hers to help with the babysitting duties. Let’s hope it’s not Mrs. Jack, The Pumpkin Broad! (LOL)

Across the street from Caroline, a bunch of upright Christians watch TV and complain about their busty neighbor. They seem plain, annoying, and without personalities, which is supposed to be the writer’s idea of the uptight Christian archetype, but if that’s the case, then every single person in this movie so far has been an uptight Christian.

Back with the annoying teenagers, they fuck with some graves and cause thunder and lightning, which to me means they have woken up Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man. A large pumpkin-headed man with glowing orange eyes, blue shirt, and a gaunt, nonthreatening stature climbs out of the ground. He looks as if he should be standing outside an A.C. Moore during the autumn season, inviting folks to buy some pumpkin beads at 30% off.

As the teens snap open beer after beer, and trade too-loud kiss after too-loud kiss, Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man crawls out of his grave, retrieves his handy scythe from wherever it was, and does some teenage face-slashing.

The girl manages to escape, which is good, because now she can run for a little bit, scream, fall, and then die, having prolonged her death roughly seven seconds.

Up until her shocking death, I can assure you, the tension was palpable. So palpable I got up to take a leak and follow that weird chirping noise that I think was coming from behind my radiator.

Vivian, who had been walking through the woods, stumbles across the dead bodies, and then retrieves a shovel to, I assume, cover up the dead bodies.

Why?

The alluring mysteries of Jack-O are too complex for this world.

The next morning, Caroline shows up to the Kelly residence with her baby-sitter replacement, Julie. Caroline spies Mr. Kelly positioning a skeleton in the yard, so she walks over to say hello, all the while looking haggard.

“You’re like a little boy with all this stuff,” she says.

“I guess it makes me feel young,” he sheepishly responds.

“I like little boys,” she says, as I laugh out loud.

As Mr. Kelly disturbingly makes eyes at Caroline, Sean wanders over to check out Caroline’s friend’s motorcycle. Jim, the cyclist, tells Sean to hop on, and the trip they take around the block is slow, safe, and responsible. The Kellys flip out, anyway, and make Sean go inside.

Thank God for that scene.

Later that night - HALLOWEEN NIGHT - the witch Vivian brings over a book of old things and shows the Kellys a picture of some “creepy looking old guy,” aka John Carradine. Sean says that he’d seen him before in his dreams. The witch glares at him in response, as Mr. Kelly waves away the boy’s fear. He’s also dressed as Dracula, which makes the scene even that much more fantastic.

As Halloween continues, some trick-or-treaters show up to the uptight Christians’ house with their goodie bags open, awaiting delicious treats.

“Does this look like a candy store?” asks the uptight husband to the kids.

“That guy’s creepier than Dr. Cadaver!” states the boy emphatically (although this would be an appropriate remark if "creepy" meant "an asshole". And if Dr. Cadaver had previously been "an asshole"). No matter, however, as a good old-fashioned toilet-papering of the uptight Christians' house will settle all matters.

Meanwhile, at the Kelly haunted garage of horror, Mr. Kelly prepares his various Halloween props for the night's festivities. “We aim to spook!” he says to his fog machine in his best Dracula voice. It’s so convincing that I bundle my Slanket around me in fear.

Just kidding.

I spend my money on Jack-O. Not Slankets.

The doorbell rings and Mr. Kelly goofily lunges into the scene. “Sounds like our first batch of trick-or-treaters. Everyone try to look spooky!” But it’s only Caroline and Julie, who show up to take Sean trick-or-treating.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man finally decides to be in his own movie, and scythes the uptight Christian husband through his cream-colored sweater. Uptight Christian wife sees her husband’s dead body and grabs a knife off the counter, which she then jams into the toaster after slipping and is attacked by terrible blue-green lightning bolts, which turn her into a quivering muppet.

"Sean, your babysitter is here. You be nice to him
and don't stare at his rind."

Caroline and Sean trick-or-treat at the house of the fat man whom we met in the beginning of the story, and we see that he has dressed up as The Fat Asshole Phantom of the Opera. He makes joke after joke and he loudly guffaws in Sean’s face, as Sean and Caroline look completely disinterested in the current goings-on of the scene.

And before you can say “obnoxious close-up of tits” we get just that, although for just a few seconds. Julie and Jim canoodle in the woods, but Julie quickly covers up, having heard a woodsy-noise in the woodsy environment they are in, and Jim drives off, bitter, and blue-balled.

As kids run shrieking from Mr. Kelly’s spook house claiming to have seen a monster, and despite the fact that that’s the FUCKING POINT, Mr. Kelly goes in anyway to see if there is something else in there more terrifying than just wet spaghetti and mummy hands. Seeing nothing, he successfully spills every paint can he owns and is forced to shut down his spook show.

Meanwhile, Julie’s boyfriend comes back to get her and runs afoul of Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man, who promptly decapitates the kid with his scythe. Julie runs, coming across a cable guy, and she pleads for his help. Well, help her he does: by dying.

Thanks cable guy, aka Steve Latshaw, the film’s director.

Also, fuck you.

Mr. Kelly, out looking for Sean, thankfully runs into the fat man, who is out walking his dog.

“HA HA HA,” says the fat man after everything line of dialogue he delivers. “HA HA HA.”

Soak it up, kids—this is the last time fat man will appear.

Mr. Kelly then heads back to the house, unsuccessful, and is yelled at.

“Where have you been?” cries Mrs. Kelly.

“I went out looking for Sean,” responds Mr. Kelly. “Didn’t Vivian tell you?”

They both look over at Vivian, who sits stiffly on the couch, looking at them out of the corner of her eye.

Seriously, Kellys, why did you even invite her over?

Vivian finally succumbs to peer pressure and spills about her quest to defeat the pumpkin demon, and of Sean’s ties to the demon as well. She reveals that not only are the Kellys descendants of the family responsible for putting Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man to rest the first time around, but that Vivian herself is a descendant of the evil wizard that was killed. She hopes, with the aid of the Kelly family, to put Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man to rest for good.

And you know what? The Kellys don’t believe her. Not at all.

Then, they find a head.

Then, they do.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man bonks Caroline on her bean with his tool and knocks her out, and then proceeds to chase Sean through town.

Sean makes it to his front door, but Mr. Jack-O is hot on his feels, and for two seconds, the film cruelly suggests that Sean has been eviscerated, as blood-like goo sloshes against the front windows.

“It’s just juice,” Vivian claims.

Thank God.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man takes Sean out to the old Kelly farm in the woods to sacrifice him. He lies down in one of the open graves as Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man shovels dirt on top of him.

“Nooo,” Sean barely manages, unable to depict what “scared” must be like. Sean stops moving, and while I wish for death, Vivian shows up with a magical pendant and commands Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man back to hell.

And it works!

Wait, no it doesn’t. Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man vivisects Vivian and tosses her painfully-obvious dummy body off-screen.

As the Kellys fight for their son, Sean crawls out of the grave, grabs a wooden cross made out of branches, and holds the pointy end up.

“Come get me, pumpkin man!” Sean mutters, and Mr. Kelly lunges at Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man from behind, impaling him on the very-pointy cross. Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man explodes into a sea of really bad mid-'90s neon special effects and vanishes.

As the Kellys walk home, Julie (remember her?) crawls out from her hiding space and helps up an awakening Caroline. Then they reunite with the Kellys and they all walk down the street together.

“Do I have to go trick-or-treating next year?” Sean asks.

Yeah Sean, you do.

Get over it.

Oct 28, 2012

DAY 28: RECOMMENDED VIEWING – SUPERNATURAL DOUBLE-BILL


Deplorable seventh season aside, “Supernatural” will always be one of my favorite shows.  Perhaps unable to fully achieve its proper due thanks to its affiliation with the CW, it’s a show that pushes the boundaries of what network television can get away with—but never think the inclusion of spurting blood and flying limbs equates to a lack of proper story telling or development. It doesn’t. In turns of organically growing an ongoing saga, the first five seasons of “Supernatural” tell one story, as it was meant to. It has a beginning, a middle, an end…and unfortunately a completely depressing epilogue, which lets us know the show ain’t as dead as we thought (and hoped). A show that was meant to end after its fifth season is currently airing its eighth. Sadly, and in spite of all the many in-front-of and behind-the-scenes people saying they preferred to see “Supernatural” end before it suffered from “The X-Files” syndrome (overstaying its welcome), unfortunately its revolving door cast of show runners believe otherwise.

But I digress.

For a show that delves into things that go bump, it was only natural that they tackle Halloween from time to time. Two episodes in particular help to scratch that Halloween itch with quick and breezy viewings.

Episode 1x11 – “Scarecrow”

 


Right off the bat I should state this isn’t a Halloween episode per se. There are no trick-or-treaters, no pumpkins, and it doesn’t even take place in October. But what it does include is a small town of folks making offerings to the pagan god of harvest named Vanis, who possesses the scarecrow in the local orchard and comes alive once a year to take the lives of any unfortunate and hapless couple that have unknowingly been sent to their deaths. The town’s reward for these offerings is one full year of good crops and good luck. If that’s not appropriate for Halloween, I don't know what is.

Set in the fictional town of Burkitsville, Indiana (perhaps a nod to The Blair Witch Project), it would seem a small collection of people – including the local sheriff – have been doing this for years, and good fortune has been their reward for being loyal, god-fearing worshippers.

The first season of “Supernatural” is centered around the brothers Winchester (Sam, played by Jared Padalecki and Dean, played by Jensen Ackles) attempting to locate their missing father, all the while investigating murders across the country that reek of their specialized kind of work. A cryptic phone call placed by father John to Sam orders the brothers off to Burkitsville to investigate the semi-regularly disappearances of couples. This pisses Sam off, as he feels that John is once again giving them orders but not letting them in on the big picture. For those unfamiliar with “Supernatural, this is a heavy and reoccurring theme during the first season. As a warning, first time viewers who want to give this episode a watch upon my recommendation (all of “Supernatural” is currently on Netflix Instant), should know that they’ll have to wade through a bit of backbone mythology to get to the otherwise standalone adventure the brothers find themselves in.

Although there's a cameo appearance by “The X-Files'” Cigarette Smoking Man, so there's that!

“Scarecrow” is directed by Kim Manners, a longtime director for both “The X-Files” and “Supernatural, who unfortunately passed away during the latter show’s fourth season. Manners has consistently proven to be one of the best directors for both series, and “Scarecrow” is infused with a healthy amount of creepy but subtle scares. Scarecrows are inherently creepy based on both their association to Halloween and their general creepy appearance. The scarecrow featured here is especially creepy, and proves a worthy foe to Sam and Dean.

After going back in time to watch this episode specifically and falling out of the current loop, it was easy to forget just how much of the episode is dedicated to moving that season’s overall arc forward – nearly half the episode focuses on the scarecrow story while the other half focuses on Winchester drama. I could see this being a deterrent for folks not terribly interested in “Supernatural” in general as much as they’re looking for a fun, gory, 40-minute romp. But give it a chance anyway, nerds. What have you got to lose?

Episode 4x7 – “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”

 


Now this is why we’re here. This episode of “Supernatural” is in full-on Halloween mode, and there’s a general helping of all things creepy and undead – zombies, ghosts, witches, demons – to enjoy. In addition to that we’ve got a dude ingesting razor-blade-infested candy, a fatal game of bobbing for apples, and a really hot cheerleader. What’s not to love?

That aforementioned razor blade death brings Sam and Dean to town to investigate. A hex bag is located in the dead man’s home, but it’s not just your usual bag of tricks – some of the items inside are several hundred years old and can’t be found at your local new age store. Witchcraft isn’t something the boys haven’t investigated before, but those cases in the past dealt with a plain mortal out for revenge. This case, however, seems to have a purpose, and Sam realizes that in conjunction with the legends of Halloween, someone out there is looking to offer "three blood sacrifices over three days, the last before midnight on the final day of the final harvest." It would seem that someone is trying to resurrect the god Samhain, who possesses the ability to raise all manner of ungodly things from Hell to destroy the living.

Naturally, the brothers must stop it.

Like the previously recommended, a bit of season 4 mythology is married to this episode, and while it’s a little more fantastic (we’re dealing with angels at this point), it dedicates less time to the mythos and more to the Halloween murders. So, again, to first-time viewers here only for some Halloween jollies, you’ll have to deal with a bit of on-going season 4 backbone story, but it’s not all that intrusive.

“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” is nice and bloody, and the show’s use of humor is ever-present here. By now both actors have really grown into their roles – Padalecki has left behind his pretty boy look from the earlier seasons and is on his way to becoming gigantic, and Ackles allows a bit more darkness and anger into his iteration of Dean. And the episode itself is just a fun time. Ignore all the angels and demons mythology if you so wish, because those who are interested in the Celtic beginnings of Halloween should find the episode a satisfying watch.

Plus, again…that cheerleader is insane, crazy, wicked hot.

Mmm...

Oct 26, 2012

DAY 26: THE OCTOBER GAME

THE OCTOBER GAME

By Ray Bradbury 


He put the gun back into the bureau drawer and shut the drawer.

No, not that way. Louise wouldn't suffer. It was very important that this thing have, above all duration. Duration through imagination. How to prolong the suffering? How, first of all, to bring it about? Well.

The man standing before the bedroom mirror carefully fitted his cuff links together. He paused long enough to hear the children run by swiftly on the street below, outside this warm two-story house, like so many grey mice the children, like so many leaves.

By the sound of the children you knew the calendar day. By their screams you knew what evening it was. You knew it was very late in the year. October. The last day of October, with white bone masks and cut pumpkins and the smell of dropped candle wax.

No. Things hadn't been right for some time. October didn't help any. If anything it made things worse. He adjusted his black bow tie. If this were spring, he nodded slowly, quietly, emotionlessly, at his image in the mirror, then there might be a chance. But tonight the entire tonight world was burning down into ruin. There was no green spring, none of the freshness, none of the promise.

There was a soft running in the hall. "That's Marion," he told himself. "My little one". All eight quiet years of her. Never a word. Just her luminous grey eyes and her wondering little mouth. His daughter had been in and out all evening, trying on various masks, asking him which was most terrifying, most horrible. They had both finally decided on the skeleton mask. It was “just awful!” It would “scare the beans” from people!

Again he caught the long look of thought and deliberation he gave himself in the mirror. He had never liked October. Ever since he first lay in the autumn leaves before his grandmother’s house many years ago and heard the wind and sway the empty trees. It has made him cry, without a reason. And a little of that sadness returned each year to him. It always went away with spring. But, it was different tonight. There was a feeling of autumn coming to last a million years. There would be no spring.

He had been crying quietly all evening. It did not show, not a vestige of it, on his face. It was all hidden somewhere and it wouldn't stop.

The rich syrupy smell of sweets filled the bustling house. Louise had laid out apples in new skins of toffee; there were vast bowls of punch fresh-mixed, stringed apples in each door, scooped, vented pumpkins peering triangularly from each cold window. There was a water tub in the centre of the living room, waiting, with a sack of apples nearby, for dunking to begin. All that was needed was the catalyst, the impairing of children, to start the apples bobbing, the stringed apples to penduluming in the crowded doors, the sweets to vanish, the halls to echo with fright or delight, it was all the same.

Now, the house was silent with preparation. And just a little more than that.

Louise had managed to be in every other room save the room he was in today. It was her very fine way of intimating, Oh look Mich, see how busy I am! So busy that when you walk into a room I'm in there's always something I need to do in another room! Just see how I dash about!

For a while he had played a little game with her, a nasty childish game. When she was in the kitchen then he came to the kitchen saying, “I need a glass of water.” After a moment, he standing, drinking water, she like a crystal witch over the caramel brew bubbling like a prehistoric mudpot on the stove, she said, “Oh, I must light the pumpkins!” and she rushed to the living room to make the pumpkins smile with light. He came after, smiling, “I must get my pipe.” “Oh, the cider!” she had cried, running to the dining room. “I'll check the cider,” he had said. But when he tried following she ran to the bathroom and locked the door.

He stood outside the bathroom door, laughing strangely and senselessly, his pipe gone cold in his mouth, and then, tired of the game, but stubborn, he waited another five minutes. There was not a sound from the bath. And lest she enjoy in any way knowing that he waited outside, irritated, he suddenly jerked about and walked upstairs, whistling merrily.

At the top of the stairs he had waited. Finally he had heard the bathroom door unlatch and she had come out and life below-stairs and resumed, as life in a jungle must resume once a terror has passed on away and the antelope return to their spring.

Now, as he finished his bow tie and put his dark coat there was a mouse-rustle in the hall. Marion appeared in the door, all skeletons in her disguise.

“How do I look, Papa?”

“Fine!”

From under the mask, blonde hair showed. From the skull sockets small blue eyes smiled. He sighed. Marion and Louise, the two silent denouncers of his virility, his dark power. What alchemy had there been in Louise that took the dark of a dark man and bleached the dark brown eyes and black hair and washed and bleached the ingrown baby all during the period before birth until the child was born, Marion, blonde, blue-eyed, ruddy-cheeked? Sometimes he suspected that Louise had conceived the child as an idea, completely asexual, an immaculate conception of contemptuous mind and cell. As a firm rebuke to him she had produced a child in her own image, and, to top it, she had somehow fixed the doctor so he shook his head and said, “Sorry, Mr. Wilder, your wife will never have another child. This is the last one.”

“And I wanted a boy,” Mich had said eight years ago.

He almost bent to take hold of Marion now, in her skull mask. He felt an inexplicable rush of pity for her, because she had never had a father's love, only the crushing, holding love of a loveless mother. But most of all he pitied himself, that somehow he had not made the most of a bad birth, enjoyed his daughter for herself, regardless of her not being dark and a son and like himself. Somewhere he had missed out. Other things being equal, he would have loved the child. But Louise hadn't wanted a child, anyway, in the first place. She had been frightened of the idea of birth. He had forced the child on her, and from that night, all through the year until the agony of the birth itself, Louise had lived in another part of the house. She had expected to die with the forced child. It had been very easy for Louise to hate this husband who so wanted a son that he gave his only wife over to the mortuary.

But - Louise had lived. And in triumph! Her eyes, the day he came to the hospital, were cold. I'm alive they said. And I have a blonde daughter! Just look! And when he had put out a hand to touch, the mother had turned away to conspire with her new pink daughter-child - away from that dark forcing murderer. It had all been so beautifully ironic. His selfishness deserved it.

But now it was October again. There had been other Octobers and when he thought of the long winter he had been filled with horror year after year to think of the endless months mortared into the house by an insane fall of snow, trapped with a woman and child, neither of whom loved him, for months on end. During the eight years there had been respites. In spring and summer you got out, walked, picknicked; these were desperate solutions to the desperate problem of a hated man.

But, in winter, the hikes and picnics and escapes fell away with leaves. Life, like a tree, stood empty, the fruit picked, the sap run to earth. Yes, you invited people in, but people were hard to get in winter with blizzards and all. Once he had been clever enough to save for a Florida trip. They had gone south. He had walked in the open.  But now, the eighth winter coming, he knew things were finally at an end. He simply could not wear this one through. There was an acid walled off in him that slowly had eaten through tissue and bone over the years, and now, tonight, it would reach the wild explosive in him and all would be over!

There was a mad ringing of the bell below. In the hall, Louise went to see. Marion, without a word, ran down to greet the first arrivals. There were shouts and hilarity.
He walked to the top of the stairs.

Louise was below, taking cloaks. She was tall and slender and blonde to the point of whiteness, laughing down upon the new children.

He hesitated. What was all this? The years? The boredom of living? Where had it gone wrong? Certainly not with the birth of the child alone. But it had been a symbol of all their tensions, he imagined. His jealousies and his business failures and all the rotten rest of it. Why didn't he just turn, pack a suitcase, and leave? No. Not without hurting Louise as much as she had hurt him. It was simple as that. Divorce wouldn't hurt her at all. It would simply be an end to numb indecision. If he thought divorce would give her pleasure in any way he would stay married the rest of his life to her, for damned spite. No he must hurt her. Figure some way, perhaps, to take Marion away from her, legally. Yes. That was it. That would hurt most of all. To take Marion.

“Hello down there!” He descended the stairs beaming.

Louise didn't look up.

“Hi, Mr. Wilder!”

The children shouted, waved, as he came down.

By ten o'clock the doorbell had stopped ringing, the apples were bitten from stringed doors, the pink faces were wiped dry from the apple bobbling, napkins were smeared with toffee and punch, and he, the husband, with pleasant efficiency had taken over. He took the party right out of Louise's hands. He ran about talking to the twenty children and the twelve parents who had come and were happy with the special spiked cider he had fixed them. He supervised pin the tail on the donkey, spin the bottle, musical chairs, and all the rest, amid fits of shouting laughter. Then, in the triangular-eyed pumpkin shine, all house lights out, he cried, "Hush! Follow me!" tiptoeing towards the cellar.

The parents, on the outer periphery of the costumed riot, commented to each other, nodding at the clever husband, speaking to the lucky wife. How well he got on with children, they said.

The children, crowded after the husband, squealing.

“The cellar!” he cried. “The tomb of the witch!”

More squealing. He made a mock shiver. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here!”

The parents chuckled.

One by one the children slid down a slide which Mich had fixed up from lengths of table-section, into the dark cellar. He hissed and shouted ghastly utterances after them. A wonderful wailing filled dark pumpkin-lighted house. Everybody talked at once. Everybody but Marion. She had gone through all the party with a minimum of sound or talk; it was all inside her, all the excitement and joy. What a little troll, he thought. With a shut mouth and shiny eyes she had watched her own party, like so many serpentines thrown before her.

Now, the parents. With laughing reluctance they slid down the short incline, uproarious, while little Marion stood by, always wanting to see it all, to be last. Louise went down without help. He moved to aid her, but she was gone even before he bent.

The upper house was empty and silent in the candle-shine. Marion stood by the slide. “Here we go,” he said, and picked her up.

They sat in a vast circle in the cellar. Warmth came from the distant bulk of the furnace. The chairs stood in a long line along each wall, twenty squealing children, twelve rustling relatives, alternatively spaced, with Louise down at the far end, Mich up at this end, near the stairs. He peered but saw nothing. They had all grouped to their chairs, catch-as-you-can in the blackness. The entire program from here on was to be enacted in the dark, he as Mr. Interlocutor. There was a child scampering, a smell of damp cement, and the sound of the wind out in the October stars.

“Now!” cried the husband in the dark cellar. “Quiet!”

Everybody settled.

The room was black black. Not a light, not a shine, not a glint of an eye.

A scraping of crockery, a metal rattle.

“The witch is dead,” intoned the husband.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” said the children.

“The witch is dead, she has been killed, and here is the knife she was killed with.” He handed over the knife. It was passed from hand to hand, down and around the circle, with chuckles and little odd cries and comments from the adults.

“The witch is dead, and this is her head,” whispered the husband, and handed an item to the nearest person.

“Oh, I know how this game is played,” some child cried, happily, in the dark. “He gets some old chicken innards from the icebox and hands them around and says, ‘These are her innards!’ And he makes a clay head and passes it for her head, and passes a soup bone for her arm. And he takes a marble and says, ‘This is her eye!’ And he takes some corn and says, ‘This is her teeth!’ And he takes a sack of plum pudding and gives that and says, ‘This is her stomach!’ I know how this is played!”

“Hush, you'll spoil everything,” some girl said.

“The witch came to harm, and this is her arm,” said Mich.

“Eeeeeeeeeeee!”

The items were passed and passed, like hot potatoes, around the circle. Some children screamed, wouldn't touch them. Some ran from their chairs to stand in the center of the cellar until the grisly items had passed.

“Aw, it's only chicken insides,” scoffed a boy. “Come back, Helen!”

Shot from hand to hand, with small scream after scream, the items went down, down, to be followed by another and another.

“The witch cut apart, and this is her heart,” said the husband.  Six or seven items moving at once through the laughing, trembling dark.

Louise spoke up. “Marion, don't be afraid; it's only play."

Marion didn't say anything.

“Marion?” asked Louise. “Are you afraid?”

Marion didn't speak.

“She's all right,” said the husband. “She's not afraid.”

On and on the passing, the screams, the hilarity.

The autumn wind sighed about the house. And he, the husband stood at the head of the dark cellar, intoning the words, handing out the items.

“Marion?” asked Louise again, from far across the cellar.

Everybody was talking.

“Marion?” called Louise.

Everybody quieted.

“Marion, answer me, are you afraid?”

Marion didn't answer.

The husband stood there, at the bottom of the cellar steps.

Louise called, “Marion, are you there?”

No answer. The room was silent.

“Where's Marion?” called Louise.

“She was here,” said a boy.

“Maybe she's upstairs.”

“Marion!”

No answer. It was quiet.

Louise cried out, “Marion, Marion!”

“Turn on the lights,” said one of the adults.

The items stopped passing. The children and adults sat with the witch's items in their hands.

“No.” Louise gasped. There was a scraping of her chair, wildly, in the dark. “No. Don't turn on the lights, oh, God, God, God, don't turn them on, please, don't turn on the lights, don't!”

Louise was shrieking now. The entire cellar froze with the scream.

Nobody moved.

Everyone sat in the dark cellar, suspended in the suddenly frozen task of this October game; the wind blew outside, banging the house, the smell of pumpkins and apples filled the room with the smell of the objects in their fingers while one boy cried, “I'll go upstairs and look!” and he ran upstairs hopefully and out around the house, four times around the house, calling, “Marion, Marion, Marion!” over and over and at last coming slowly down the stairs into the waiting breathing cellar and saying to the darkness, “I can't find her.”

Then… some idiot turned on the lights.


Oct 25, 2012

DAY 25: TRICK-R-TREAT

“There where hundreds of graves. There where hundreds of women. There were hundreds of daughters. There were hundreds of sons. And hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands of candles. The whole graveyard was one swarm of candleshine as if a population of fireflies had heard of a Grand Conglomeration and had flown here to settle in and flame upon the stones and light the brown faces and the dark eyes and the black hair.”
Image source.

Oct 24, 2012

DAY 24: RECOMMENDED VIEWING – SLEEPY HOLLOW


When a character dramatically rolls his eyes at Ichabod Crane’s emphasis on adhering to facts over superstitions in regards to solving a case and says, “This is the only book you’ll need,” and drops a gigantic bible on the table, you'll know you’re not exactly seeing a subtle take on the classic Washington Irving tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But then again, Tim Burton has never made subtlety a part of his repertoire.

Right off the bat I should say that I do not think the filmmaker’s 1999 adaptation of the tale is a great film. For me it hovers somewhere around good. Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker gets points for taking a fairly simplistic story – which spends more time describing the sights, sounds, and foliage of Tarrytown, New York, rather than trying to creep anyone out – and turning it into something layered and intelligent…almost too much. It’s so far removed from the original source that the only things they eventually have in common are the names of characters and the love triangle between Ichabod, Catrina, and Brom Bones (the best name in literary history).


Johnny Depp actually makes for a great Ichabod, a character described as gangly, almost sickly looking, and awkward. He ups the handsome factor a little bit, but this is Hollywood, folks, where pretty people reign supreme. The chemistry between he and the eerily unaging Christina Ricci is serviceable enough, and the actual iteration of the Headless Horsemen is perfectly intimidating. Not to mention the score by Danny Elfman, one of the best as far as the duo's collaborations go.

Visually, Sleepy Hollow is Burton’s best film as a director. For a classic tale long associated with our favorite holiday, Burton crams in all the dead leaves and twisted trees that you can stand. And if that’s not enough for you, how does witchcraft sound? And fields of corn? Ghastly jack-o-lanterns? Scarecrows? The movie comes as close to achieving the look and feel of Halloween without actually being about the damned holiday.

Although maybe it is?

Halloween has traditionally always contained all of those earlier stated iconography: witchcraft, jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, dead leaves, cold winds, things that go bump, and beautiful autumn. This one straddles the line between ya or nay, but it's a film that I love to revisit every year around this time, so I will certainly allow it.

When I think of Halloween, I think of small towns in rural areas. I think of farms and cabins and isolated areas. I think of the past, with its antiquated celebrations in the town square complete with wooden masks and jolly fiddle music. For me, Sleepy Hollow – overly complicated plot or no – captures that.

Plus it’s got pumpkins!

Oct 23, 2012

DAY 23: PUMPKIN FACE RUM

 

The Story 

The pumpkin is a symbol of celebration to people around the world. The origin of the pumpkin can be traced to North American seeds dating back to 7000 BC. The word pumpkin comes from the word "pepon", which is Greek for "large melon" and later changed by American colonists to "pumpkin". Colonists would often slice off the pumpkin top, remove the seeds, and fill it with cream, honey, eggs and spices. They cooked the pumpkin in hot ashes until blackened then enjoyed its contents. Pumpkin Face Rum honors the spirit of this tradition by filling the bottle with the finest ultra premium rum in the world. Continue the tradition and celebrate the pumpkin! 

The Rum 

Pumpkin Face White - Beautiful, delicious, and naturally smooth. 
Pumpkin Face Reserve - A blend of decades old hand selected aged Dominican rums. 
Pumpkin Face 23 - Made in 1980, aged 23 years in Oak barrels, and rested for over another decade in Dominican Republic, this rum shows extraordinary elegance with complexity. 

A very classy rum brewed by some very classy folks. I have sampled of the white and it is delicious. Have yet to crack open the green (I almost don't want to), which was aged 23 years.

Click the image above to read more about Pumpkin Face Rum, check out their Facebook, and order your bottles today. (And as a tip, if you live in one of the lame states that forbids the receipt of alcohol, Liquorama has found a wonderful loophole around that and ships to 45 states.)

Oct 21, 2012

DAY 21: TRICK-R-TREAT

"When I was growing up Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays. Trick or treat we use to say. Of course back then we always expected a treat and if we did play a trick, it was always funny and harmless. But tonight there were no treats, there were no tricks, there was only death."

Oct 20, 2012

DAY 20: RECOMMENDED VIEWING – KENNY & COMPANY

 
When it comes to Halloween, you should know that it’s not just about the scare. While that’s a huge part of it, Halloween – like many other holidays in life – changes meaning the older you get. So when you are a child, Halloween is obviously married to the idea of childhood. Your Halloweens past were not about the costumes you wore (I myself could probably only name three without the aid of old photos), but about the kids you went trick-or-treating with. It’s about your friends, and the random memories you created that night as you walked your neighborhood streets. It’s about the misadventures you got into, and the trouble you avoided (or nearly did).

It’s reasons like this that Halloween is the purest holiday we have, because under its gothic d├ęcor, it stresses community, bonds, and friendships. And though these things may snuff out after a while, they’ll never be forgotten.

Don Coscarelli’s sophmore effort, Kenny & Company, is about these very same things. The director, most famously known for the Phantasm Series, as well as Bubba Ho-Tep and his newest, John Dies At the End, once again writes, produces, and directs this slice-of-life nostalgia piece about a small, nameless community in the Southern California suburbs. Our main character is Kenny (Dan McCann), a precocious kid experiencing all the same things we did as kids: bullies, crushes, life lesson, etc. Luckily he has his best friend, Doug (Michael Baldwin), to get him through it.

Kenny & Company takes place in the few days leading up to Halloween, and with it comes costume planning for the big night. But that’s not the only thing they’re up to. They’re constantly getting into mischief, usually on their own, but sometimes along with Doug’s dad, Big Doug, who has definitely bequeathed his more playful side to his son. All during the boys' misadventures, Kenny provides narration, sometimes in that “Wonder Years” type way where it sounds like reflection, but other times in a happening-in-the-moment way.

To summarize Kenny & Company is somewhat difficult, because the film doesn’t really have a plot—and that’s not a knock against it. Not at all. Kenny & Company plays less like a traditional movie that contains an inherent conflict, but it’s more about a snapshot consisting of 3-4 days between two friends. They get in random adventures where consequences would definitely present themselves and serve as some kind of catalyst for conflict, but then nothing happens. The film at times often feels like a collection of short vignettes. For instance: kids build a soapbox racer, kids test drive soapbox racer down steep hill, kids nearly die, kids throw soapbox racer off an overpass and never mention soapbox racing again. Fin. There are numerous examples like this which occur throughout.


The first time I watched Kenny & Company was due to nothing but curiosity. At that point I had seen nearly every one of Coscarelli’s films (except for The Beastmaster, which I believe he’s since disowned, as well as the ever-elusive Jim, the World’s Greatest). I was intrigued to see what an early effort from Coscarelli – a family comedy, no less – looked like. I expected to laugh once or twice and appreciate the film in a time capsule sort of way, but nothing beyond that. I was quite honestly surprised to see that while the film isn’t consistently laugh-out-loud funny, it’s most assuredly a good time.

The biggest selling point of Kenny & Company is that it's definitely a product of its time. The 1970s are known for having produced an onslaught of dark and bleak movies, and that goes for every genre. Most people point to the futileness the country was feeling in response to the Watergate scandal, and the needless and unending Vietnam War. And this dark mood extends to Kenny & Company as well. Not to say that the film is dark, but when compared to your typical kids’ films, it tackles a lot of serious themes—including death.  After all, Kenny’s dog, Bob, is slowly dying, and the family has no choice but to put him to sleep. This is Kenny’s first (but not last) exposure to death in the film, and it affects him in a big way. A lot of people believe that the best way to teach your children about death is to get them a pet while they’re young, so they can experience growing up with this companion by their side and witness the aging (and dying) process firsthand. This idea is provided and utilized to maximum effect. There’s an especially well-blocked and uninterrupted shot where the family takes their dog into the veterinarian’s office to put Bob to sleep, and the camera slowly pans around the entire waiting room as you see many other people holding their aged pets and looking sad, and as we, the audience, figure out that they’re all there for the same reason, we end up back on the closed vet’s door again and the family leaves, their eyes wide in shock, tears streaming down Kenny’s face. This kind of thought and dedication to serious themes are nearly absent from family films today. Instead, Bob the dog would be voiced by George Lopez and make joke after joke about enchiladas or bad Mexican water.

What also makes the film work is that the kids act, talk, and think like kids. They aren't unrealistically intelligent or perceptive, but they're not stupid, either. They're just kids, presented the way that kids should be. They like trouble, so they find ways to get into it. They make fun of each other, hit each other, and pull pranks on each other. And it all works to the intended comedic effect because it feels very real.

As a director, you can see Coscarelli finding his voice, and so the film contains that awkwardness prevalent in budding filmmakers. Some scenes could certainly have used some tightening, as they go on for too long and become a little awkward. But you also see the genesis of what’s to come in the first Phantasm, including shots of the kids riding their bikes down the street as the camera trails just in front of them. Also, the score by Fred Myrow alternates between generic '70s synthy cheeseball filler to genuine, nearly dreamlike music. Scenes that could have been played for laughs come off differently with this music, especially in the third act where Kenny faces off against his bully inside an old, eccentric woman’s house. The music is downright menacing, and it changes the tone of this scene drastically.


Kenny & Company is also a little less PC, both in front of the cameras and behind. Our characters constantly cuss, and they even teach the foreign kid to say “asshole,” who does so with extreme glee in his eyes. But behind the cameras, Coscarelli allowed his kid actors to do most of their “stunts.” Doug, especially, tucks, rolls, tumbles, crashes, and does almost every other manner of bodily harm to himself. I can’t explain why, exactly, but this adds to the movie’s charm.  Maybe it’s because kid actors during the '70s weren’t coddled and handled like newborn chicks as they are today, and this adds a slight edge.

Several Phantasm folks are present, including the aforementioned Michael Baldwin as Doug; Reggie Bannister as Kenny’s favorite teacher, Mr. Donovan; Ken Jones as the boys’ football coach (who would go on to play the caretaker who attempts to capture Mike Pearson in the Tall Man’s mausoleum and gets a sphere drill to the noggin for his troubles); and Terri Kalbus, who plays Kenny’s crush (as well as the fortune teller’s granddaughter). Much of the behind-the-scenes crew, including Coscarelli’s parents, and his producing partner, Paul Pepperman, would also carry over.

And yes, the reason while we’re all here: the sequence in which the kids put on their Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating is certainly fun. It leads them to a house where its occupants have turned their own garage into a house of horrors (and also concludes a mystery that’s established in the second act). It is during this sequence where the kids are pursued by a costumed man in the dark that inspired Coscarelli to go on to write and direct Phantasm, citing his extreme lack of enjoyment in watching his audience become fearful of the events occurring in that haunted garage.


Is Kenny & Company a Halloween film? Not really—at least not in the traditional sense. But it does take place in the week leading up to it, it is very funny at times, and it certainly nails that nostalgic look back at childhood, of which Halloween was a very big part. It wouldn’t be the first film you would think to watch as we approach that late October day, but to do so wouldn’t be unheard of.

Oct 18, 2012

DAY 18: SHITTY FLICKS – HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes! I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil..."
– Great

"TRICK-OR-TREAT, MOTHAFUCKA."
– Not

To chart the regression of the Halloween series, one must compare it to a symbolic reversing of human civilization in its entirety. We must demote the human race from technologically advanced, intelligent, and mostly rational beings to hairy, misshapen, farting gorilla-men who smash bananas all over their straw beds and/or gorilla-wives.

If the original Halloween was to be personified as a valedictorian of his senior class in Yale who effortlessly scores with hot chicks, tells witty jokes to large laughing crowds, and manages to cure cancer all while singing a Latin aria, then Halloween: Resurrection would be the slow fat kid with thick glasses and a lazy eye who randomly shits himself and licks the window.

The series has had its ups (Halloween 2 [written by a drunk John Carpenter for shit's sake], 4, H20), its downs (5 and 6), and its black sheeps (Season of the Witch), but never has any franchise delivered such a hard, collective kick in the proverbial balls to its beloved fan base than Halloween: Resurrection. (The less said about Rob Zombie's abominations, the better.) Whoever thought this concept was a good idea should have their head and asshole joined in perpetuity until that fateful day when the waves rise and demolish the entire planet.

Michael regretted his infidelity, and vowed to stay on the
front porch until he was forgiven.

The movie immediately opens with narration from Jamie Lee Curtis, talking about “the tunnel” (aka death). The words are chilling, and warm thoughts of the surprisingly good Halloween: H20 dance like sugar plums in our heads, so we falsely think we’re in for another thrilling ride with Michael Myers at the helm.

We’d be wrong, though, as we so often are.

Two nurses in an insane asylum discuss the plight of Laurie Strode, who has been committed ever since beheading the man she believed to be her brother. See, because during the climax of H20, Michael Myers apparently decided to stop trying to kill his sister and instead think far enough ahead to capture some random dude, crush his larynx, and put his mask on him, all because his telepathic powers told him Laurie would believe that poor man was her brother and kill the fuck. This kind of cunning coming from the guy who walks through glass doors instead of opening them.

It’s bad enough when a sequel is shitty. It’s even worse when that sequel rewrites the ending of the previous film. But when your shitty sequel entirely retcons the last 20 minutes of that previous film, rendering the most exiting act as completely inconsequential, well that just fucking sucks. That’s like a sequel to Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles intimating that they were actually bears.

Even though we’re all here watching a movie essentially called Halloween 8, and should know what the deal is by now, Short Old Black Nurse annoyingly dictates the events of the past movie to Plain Young White Nurse anyway, providing exposition for the kind of audience who came to see a horror movie starring an obnoxious rapper and the kid from Rookie of the Year: people with awful taste and nothing better to do.

"Stay with me, George."

Jamie Lee Curtis, former godmother of the series, was contractually obligated to appear in this installment, a previous stipulation of making H20, and boy is it obvious, because she's only on screen for about five minutes before she is unceremoniously killed off. After the last stab that Michael's blade would ever inflict upon her person, her body slowly tumbles down through the foliage of the autumn trees (spoiler), as does the quality of this movie, only much quicker.

We then meet our Laurie Strode replacement, Sara (Bianca Kajlichcihchci), as she wistfully rides her ridiculous Vespa through her community college campus, which is the most development her character will receive: she has a Vespa.

She hooks up with her blond stereotype, Jen (Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Gallactica"), who mugs for the camera and embodies the type of girl you jerked off to in high school, but never considered marrying.

They go and meet Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas). He's chopping veggies because he wants to be a chef. He'll reference food nonstop throughout the movie.

Character development for Rudy: chef.

The kids all provide additional exposition by discussing the "contest" they have entered – that of spending a night in Michael Myers's former home, now an abandoned house – for a grand prize of an anonymous sum of money.

Sara goes back to her dorm and chats with her online "mate," Deckard, a fifteen-year-old boy pretending to be older. Deckard's friend, who remains one of the most annoying actors I have ever seen in film, continues to over-enunciate every last syllable of his dialogue, spastically freak out over Deckard's lack of attention to him, and fail to keep his Parkinson's in check. All at once!

We finally meet Freddie (Busta Rhymes, in a performance so terrible that shitted-up toilets were offered their own web series). Freddie owns Dangertainment, some sort of entertainment company that the filmmakers don't even bother to explain.

He lives in a motel and watches royalty-free karate films.

His sideburns don't come close to symmetrically matching.

He smiles pretty much constantly.

Character development for Freddie: human cartoon.

"You know what, man, one day you won't have that fucking knife,
and then we'll see whose turn it is to mow the lawn."

We then meet the rest of the cast, who I won't even bother describing because they're all as vapid as the would-be love child of Kim Kardashian and a dick-shaped can of beans. I will, however, briefly detail Rookie of the Year's character: he's constantly thinking about boobs, and sex, and is supposed to come off as a jovial horn ball, but actually comes across as the creepy sex offender your mother warned you about. He'll spend the entire movie licking his lips and staring at skirts.

Deckard and his giant ball of nerves he calls his friend attend a Halloween party. Deckard, being the nerd that he is, immediately finds a private room with a ginormous computer monitor and tunes in for the Myers House online broadcast. Soon, the room is full of curious party-goers, all who would rather watch stupid kids wander around in the dark than drink, fuck, and listen to hip hop (and this takes place in America!).

So they all enter Michael's house, but…unsurprising twist…so does the homeowner. While the gang is exploring the house and "discovering" planted bullshit, Michael takes his good old time, dispatching each victim one by one.

By the way, what's with this musical score? This simple, brainless plucking of guitar strings that sounds like it should be complementing footage of old cowboys sitting around a fire and bitching about life?

Michael pops up and whacks off (LOL) Jen’s head, and as it bounces down the steps, I wonder when this series descended into nothingness.

Mm. Movies.

The talentless get stabbed, their heads get crushed, and their perfect bodies get impaled on rusty gates. Soon only Sara and Freddie remain (trapped inside by some apparently inescapable twenty-year-old boards nailed over the windows).

Deckard, watching the Internet broadcast, tries to warn Sara and Freddie of their impending doom via Sara's Palm Pilot, as the director lamely references Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Michael pops up to fool the audience into thinking this movie is the least bit frightening, but Busta karates him right out the window and he gets hung in some power lines.

But he comes back, though, you know. Because of that whole “three times” thing.

Though Sara attacks Michael with a chainsaw, she manages to barely hurt him. And because Sara doesn’t look quite stupid enough, with each saw swipe she blurts out, "This is for Rudy! This is for Jen! This is for all of them!" Then she falls, and heavy Foley board equipment falls on top her.

Surely this is the end of Sara and the movie...or this is the part where Busta pops in and really tries to act like a hero, but all he does is make a sour face. He swats at Michael with a shovel, and instead of beating his head with the metal part, he figures he'll just slap Michael's shoulder with the wooden part. Way to go, hero.

After doing "karate," Freddie is stabbed once and thrown aside. Why only once? Because idiotic 16-year-olds from the Bronx who test-screened this mofo wanted Busta to live.

Thanks, kids.

Halloween: Resurrection goes down the list of ways Michael hadn't yet been killed, picks the most ridiculous one, and utilizes it: electrocution of his dingle-thing.

With Michael as referee, Mortal Kombat would now begin.

After Michael's temporary demise, Busta realizes he has seen the error of his ways. Upon being asked by some reporters about his encounter with Michael Myers, Busta nobly responds, "Michael Myers is not a sound byte...Michael Myers is a killer shark in baggy ass overalls who gets his kicks from killing everyone and everything he comes across."

Mm.

But hey, it's finally over.

Or is it?

Well, since nearly every single Halloween flick has ended with promises of a sequel (except the previous one, which unfortunately led to this sequel anyway), why should this one be any different?

Yes, much like the ignorance of test screen audiences, the Halloween franchise will never die. Had the filmmakers book ended this film with Jamie Lee, still not giving her much to do during the bulk of the film, yet having her inexplicably show up at the end to kill Michael – and fine, die in the process – it would have made this film feel less unnecessary. Fans would have been happier and Jamie still could have honored her required 30 seconds of on-screen presence. The creators of Hypercube and The Birds 2 felt otherwise. And thus ends a series that started off brilliantly and ended with the cock-whip of a travesty called Halloween: Resurrection

…until Rob Zombie came along. But that’s for another time.

Oct 17, 2012

DAY 17: TRICK-R-TREAT

"I love Halloween. The one time of year when everyone wears a mask... not just me. People think it's fun to pretend you're a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I'm not. Brother, friend, boyfriend - All part of my costume collection. Some people might call me a fraud. Let's see if it will fit. I prefer to think of myself as a master of disguise."

Oct 12, 2012

DAY 12: HOLLOW

"All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mind that walk in darkness; and though he had seen many spectres in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in his lonely pre-ambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was - a woman."
And how, brother.

Oct 11, 2012

DAY 11: YOU ARE THE MANIAC! — THE ULTIMATE HALLOWEEN PARTY CARD GAME


Now this is cool.

Remember that scene in Friday the 13th: Jason Lives, when Sissy begins laying out the rules for a card game called Camp Blood? As she begins to describe (vaguely) the rules of the game in order to determine "which cabin Jason is in," the scene cuts away and the audience never hears the rest of the rules.

How many horror movie obsessers would have adopted such a game into their usual repertoire of things to do when friends come over, beer caps are popped, and everyone is around the table?

That's where Camp Blood is no longer necessary. Because now there's You Are the Maniac.

Taken from its creator Mythos Labs' publicity materials:

The Ultimate Card Game for Horror Fans

YOU are the Maniac! is a horror movie themed card game where you play as The Maniac. Gameplay is fast-paced with a surprising mix of strategy and dark humor. Slash your way through a horror film trilogy with 2 - 4 players, complete with a familiar cast of slasher movie stereotypes we hold dear to our bloodthirsty hearts.

A game consists of 3 movies. During each movie, 13 Victims, including 1 Final Girl, are lined up on The Wall. Players take turns playing Maniac Cards and capturing Victims. After the third movie, players tally up the body count. The Maniac with the most points wins!
 
YOU are the Maniac! is played with 4 game decks, featuring 120 unique cards

The Victim Deck contains 5 classic horror stereotypes: Bimbo, Athlete, Fodder, Suspect, and Nemesis.

The Maniac deck is where the game’s horrific scenes unfold. It also contains Instant Play cards which equip weapons and conceal your hideous deformities.

The Plot Twist Deck contains cards that alter the direction of the movie, in unexpected ways.

Saved for last, the Final Girl must confront The Maniac at the end of each round.


From a design point of view, You Are the Maniac is the tops. The artwork utilized on each card is beautiful, and those of us with an observant eye will see the classic Friday the 13th font utilized to full effect here. Additionally, the Final Girl cards are nice homages to Sidney from Scream and Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. (No Laurie, though?)

Further, the Victim Cards also contain a bevy of homages to other films. Special attention must be called out to the psychiatrist Dr. Hooks, who is very clearly based on Dr. Loomis, right down to the tan trench coat collar peeking up from the bottom of the card. And I laughed at "Pete the Wonder Llama" - probably the first purposeful reference to Jason Goes to Hell I've ever seen. I selfishly wish each card could have been an exact character from a famous franchise, but obviously care was taken to ensure that trademarks were not infringed upon.

When it comes to game play, and once you master the directions and can play without them, this game is a real hoot. Think of it as a very very expanded version of the classic card game "war" where the high card takes the win, mixed with the interactive play of Monopoly. The idea is to possess all the Victim Cards to win, but hurdles will be thrown your way during game play, thanks to the various Plot Twist cards players must endure from time to time.

Because I am working with a preview deck here, and the game is still being fine tuned, my only real point of contention would be with the actual directions. I'm not the brightest bulb in the class for idiots, but it took me several read-throughs of the directions before we could even start the game, and even then I was still a little confused. (How is it the very first step in the game is optional?)

But who knows - could've been just me, folks. I'm usually the guy pushing on the door that says "pull."

Mythos Labs began a Kickstarter fundraiser to help bring this game to fruition, and as I write this, they are insanely close to their goal.

Check out the campaign for yourself, see more pictures of game play, and get more info. If this is something you'd love to play with your friends one Halloween night (it really is a perfect party game), then show some love and support. This was a game made, literally, for you.