Countdown to Halloween: You know what to do. Now do it.

Posted: October 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’ll be on the road today, so I thought it would be a good time to get reacquainted with The Hitcher (the 1986 original). And no, I will not be picking up any hitchhikers on the way.


Countdown to Halloween: Special anniversary edition

Posted: October 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

I’ll be honest with you — Needful Things is not a scary movie.

Sure, it’s based on a Stephen King story about the Devil himself coming to a small New England town, offering people what they want and exacting a little murder and mayhem as the price of doing business. There are some “Boo!” type jumps here and there, and Max von Sydow delivers a cheeky performance as an appropriately devil-may-care Satan. For the most part, though, there isn’t much scare there.

But I will always have a soft and treasured spot in my heart for this film because it was the first movie I went to see with my then-future wife. Today is our 16th wedding anniversary, and those years together have been anything but a horror movie.

Closet Surprise

Needful Things


Countdown to Halloween: Where … ?

Posted: October 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It gives us a lifelong love for things that can be shared passions or complete crap to other people. Sometimes that love is reinforced by being re-experienced – watching a favorite movie over and over, or faithfully showing up for 80s night at the club.

But sometimes it makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking.

I was lucky enough to see 1976’s Food of the Gods in the theater (I was six — my parents had a very open-minded view on kids and movies). Naturally, it scared the cheese out of me. Giant rats, giant bugs, giant chickens … have you ever been chased by a chicken? I have, and I can tell you that as a fairly high-strung kid, this wasn’t helping.

But looking at it now … well, Food of the Gods is kinda charming, what with its trying-as-hard-as-it-can special effects and goofy dialogue (and the ending, which I won’t spoil, is still killer). Speaking of goofy dialogue, be sure to stick around until the end of this clip — it’s worth its weight in giant rubber chickens.

Countdown to Halloween: It’s a real good thing you did, Anthony

Posted: October 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

Growing up in El Paso at a time when cable was still a relatively new thing, I was lucky that one of the small number of channels we got was KTLA, a longtime and fairly well-known station broadcasting out of Los Angeles. At the time I didn’t know anything about KTLA except that it was more than happy to give me regular fixes of the Three Stooges, Little Rascals and old Popeye cartoons.

Most importantly, though, it was the first pusher responsible for my lifelong addiction to The Twilight Zone. So many of those iconic episodes are the reason I got into sci-fi and horror in the first place, giving me a solid foundation in the weird. Of course, Twilight Zone also creeped me right out and I learned to look sideways at talking dolls, ventriloquist dummies and signposts up ahead warning that the next stop might be an ironic comeuppance.

This series of clips from “It’s a Good Life” stars the kid from Lost in Space (another show I watched thanks to KTLA) as a nearly omnipotent brat with a cruel streak who terrorizes the people still left in town. The episode is peppered with icky bits — three-headed gopher, anyone? — but the part that got me was the “jack-in-a-box.”

You’ll see what I mean.

Countdown to Halloween: Not a speck of light is showing … so the danger must be growing …

Posted: October 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Without hesitation, I can say 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of my all-time favorite movies, of any genre or era or whatever. It’s just a great, true-to-the-spirit-of-the-book film that is also Gene Wilder’s best performance ever.

But it was a movie I had to grow into. The first time I saw it — really, the first few times — Willy Wonka left me feeling … disconcerted. It is unrepentantly weird, and fat with the apparent deaths or disfigurements of kids who are, undoubtedly, asking for it. From the first fun house-door and Oompa Loompa song, to sending little girls to the juicing room and hurtling into ceilings in the great glass Wonkavator, Willy Wonka is kind of fucked up (in all the best ways).

This scene, though, is the one that literally gave me nightmares. The first time I saw it, I was seriously shocked: Was that a chicken? Did that just happen? What the hell is that?! For years I would try to find a reason to be out of the room if the movie was on TV and the scene was coming up. Luckily I got over it, and it’s now a part of the film that I make sure not to miss.


Countdown to Halloween: Now, fly! Fly! FLY!!

Posted: October 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

I think this scene from The Wizard of Oz can rightly be called a classic – it’s been traumatizing children deep into adulthood for decades.

I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who wasn’t at least a little creeped out during the flying monkeys scene, and who could blame them? Blue-faced chimps in jolly little organ grinder gear fill a gray sky, hooting and grunting on their way to snatching a young farm girl from a haunted forest. And, just for good measure, they literally tear apart one of her friends.

Ugh – I just gave myself goosebumps.


Countdown to Halloween: Now shall you deal with me, O Prince

Posted: October 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Hey, when you’re five or six years old and watching this on the big screen, this is scary.

Countdown to Halloween: This is Halloween

Posted: October 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Every year around this time, something amazing happens.

It’s not the way weakening day slowly starts giving up its dominance to longer nights, or the brightly changing colors of leaves flaring like rustling supernovae. No, instead it’s something bordering on the diabolical, something twisted and perverse.

This is the time of year people start crabbing about Halloween.

Specifically, about a week ago I started seeing people complaining about Oct. 31, and all the things that go with it. It always seems to follow a template of, “Ugh, well, I don’t understand what all the excitement is about. I’ll just stay home and watch my box set of The Wire and drink bourbon. Halloween.” You can almost hear the dismissive sniff. Hell, you can almost hear the eye-roll.

(Nothing against The Wire, by the way. But you know what I’m getting at.)

I don’t get this attitude, because it’s really pretty simple. Halloween is fun. Watching scary movies is fun. Eating candy is fun. Even dressing up in a ridiculous costume is fun, if you want to get that into it. And why not? One of the things that surprises me is a lot of the grousing I hear comes from comic book folk, who apparently still have trouble sometimes with wanting to look cool. Reminder: This is a group of people (of which I am a part) who are geekily enthusiastic about something and are known to dress up like fictional characters. Just sayin’.

As someone might’ve guessed by now, I’m a fan of Halloween. And with that in mind, I’m going to revive something I did on Facebook a couple of years ago – every day until Oct. 31, I’ll be posting a short clip from various horror movies or spooky TV episodes that I get a kick out of (or, just as likely, freaked me out at some point).

I haven’t mapped out the whole month so if you have any personal favorites you’d like to see, just let me know!

And finally, since today is Oct. 1 I thought it’d be a good idea to reintroduce the reason for the season. And hell, feel free to help yourself to some bourbon.