Oct 31, 2016

Monthly Movie Recap - October 2016

Well, we made it to the end of the month! Whether you're out for tricks or treats or waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, have a great night! If you're staying in, maybe you'll find something on my list to watch tonight. Just about everything this month would be worth your Halloween night viewing.

Did you discover any great flicks this month? 
Let me know in the comments!

Quick reminder: any linked titles go to Amazon where you can buy the movie (or anything else) and drop a couple pennies in my pocket at the same time.

The Witch (2015, Amazon Prime)
Sometimes when I go into a horror movie, my brain has expectations of what the horror will be. This was nothing like I thought and it kind of blew me away! I was expecting a lot more witchy horror. It's there just not in the way I imagined. It focuses more on the Puritan family dynamic and the suspicion of witchcraft.

Cool: Black Phillip! When I think of historical witchcraft, this is pretty much what I envision
Lame: I didn't like the ending at first but the more I went over the movie in my head, the more I came around to it.

Rating: 7/10

Fun Size Horror: Volume 1 (2015, Amazon Prime)
I feel like I give the same review for horror anthologies: there are good parts and bad parts. I have to say I was surprised that the good outweighed the bad. There are over 20 shorts so if you don't like what you're seeing, it'll change soon enough. There is one short about dueling wizards that's pretty funny. I'm looking forward to Volume 2 where Karen Gillan will direct and star in a segment.

Cool: The awesome Halloween inspired animated opening sequence.
Lame: That opening is the only Halloween to be found

Rating: 6/10, worth a watch! You'll probably only remember the ones you like.


Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014, Netflix)
I've had this on my Netflix list for over a year and I'm glad I finally gave it a shot. It's nice to find a zombie movie that isn't the same old same old and tosses in some new ideas. Toward the end it gets like a Mad Max comic book with zombies.

Cool: Good balance of gore and giggles
Lame: When is the sequel coming???

Rating: 7/10

Monster in the Closet (1986, Amazon Prime)
Who would have thought you'd ever see a mostly kid friendly horror comedy from Troma? It's a horror parody but OMGP (Oh My Great Pumpkin) the humor is mostly humorous because it's so stupid.

Cool: Early roles for Paul Walker and Stacy Ferguson; Neat-o monster design (even though it looks like a Rancor's little brother)
Lame: Felt like it draaaaaaaagged quite a bit

Rating: 4/10

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: LDTTWA (2016, TV)
If you want something visual that's not too abysmal, watch pretty much anything else. I had a knee jerk reaction of "nononono" when I first heard about this and then I cooled off and decided to give it a chance. I was ready to check out after "Sweet Transvestite" but I stuck it out hoping it would get better...it didn't. Who knows, maybe this will get a younger crowd to seek out the original.

Cool: Oddly, Brad and Janet were my favorites. I kind of liked the theater crowd gags.
Lame: Mostly it feels like people playing dress up and aping what came before but they don't really know why they're doing it only that this is how they're supposed to do it.

Rating: 3/10. take me back to Transylvania!

Spirit Camp (2009, Amazon Prime)
This is a decent throwback slasher with a bit of funny throughout. It checks every cliche on the "How to make a slasher movie" checklist and it's supposed to.

Cool: Uncanny night time forests with amazing lighting
Lame: The final girl boss battle totally drops the humor and tries to become more serious than it has any right to be up to that point.

Rating: 5/10

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1980, YouTube)
Watch it right here!
Who better to play a live action Ichabod Crane than 80s Jeff Goldblum? This made for TV movie is pretty light on the Horseman but dammit if there isn't something so charming about it that kept me watching. The ending deviates from the original story for a more happy ending but it works here.

Rating: 6/10

Christine (1983)
Finally got around to this one because Now Playing podcast was covering it. In my mind, there's something wrong when I'm watching what's supposed to be a movie about a killer car and I'm more interested in the high school stuff and the dude-bros. It doesn't help that there's not a lot of car killing going on either.

Cool: Christine is pretty bad to the bone; Cool car effects
Lame: Too many time jumps skip over the parts I want to see

Rating: 5/10

Ghostbusters (2016, Extended Cut)
Long story short: it was fun, I was entertained. Would I have been as entertained if this were the first ever Ghostbusters movie? Maybe not because there are a lot of call backs but it's still a good ride. I really enjoyed the villain too.

Cool: Kat McKinnon is the best live action Real Ghostbuster Egon ever! Ok, maybe she's the only one, but still! Melissa McCarthy finally wasn't playing the same type of character she seems to in every other movie.
Lame: Chris Hemsworth's dumber than a rock receptionist. Stupid can be funny but this was way too much stupid.

Rating: 6.5/10

Month Total
 New: 9  Rewatch: 0

Year Total
 New: 59  Rewatch:3

Oct 30, 2016

Halloween Safety

When you go out Trick or Treating tomorrow night (or whenever it may be where you live) remember to stay safe!

1977 Safety video

1985 Safety video

And if you can't be safe, at least make sure your morals are in good standing by watching this 1969 Trick or Treat film from the Value Film Series.

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 28, 2016

Halloween Web - The Sexy Armpit

I am pleased as a grinning Jack-O-Lantern to be winding up the 2016 Halloween Web interview series with Jay from The Sexy Armpit! I always tell my interviewees not to worry about going long because I can always edit if needed but I just couldn't cut anything. Plus, he lavished me with plenty of great costume pics. It's pure Halloween!

Pull up a Pumpkin Spice chair and introduce yourself!

I hope you're all having a ghoulishly good time this Halloween season! This is Jay from the New Jersey Pop Culture blog and YouTube show The Sexy Armpit and you may also know me from The Purple Stuff Podcast that I do with Matt from Dinosaur Dracula.

Let me tell you a bit about myself: I'm obsessed with horror movies, KISS, Batman, Sammi Curr, Doritos, Randy Savage, Monster High, and Blair Witch 2 among so much other stuff. As always, Halloween is the greatest and busiest time of the year for me. This month, I premiered the 5th installment of The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special which is available NOW on our Youtube page. If you dig a little comedy in your horror then these specials are right up your alley. There's lots of special guests who you know from around the Internet and many surprises along the way. If you dig it, tell a friend because that's the best help you could give us! In addition to that, my blog has been around since 2004 and there's a ton of great Halloween and horror content on there that's there waiting for you to devour it.

What was Halloween like for you as a little spook?

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, mere minutes from New York, it was a perfect blend of the suburbs with little hints of a city-like atmosphere. I loved my surroundings and I still do, which is one of the reasons why I never felt compelled to hightail it out of this insanely expensive state. One thing was for sure, it was a perfect place to Trick or Treat and experience Halloween in.

Looking back on Halloween during my early years makes me think of so many simple aspects of the holiday. One of the early signals of Halloween in our household were those old school cardboard decorations. I knew that when my Dad started hanging that witch, the skull, and the black cat with the Happy Halloween greeting on it, around the house, that we were so close I could taste the candy corn. We also used to have the melted plastic popcorn Pumpkin which I have hanging in my kitchen right now! From there I always looked forward to singing Halloween songs in my elementary school music class with Miss Hayes. She made those songs POP. She used her facial expressions and the lighting in the room to enhance the atmosphere. I remember us all closing the window shades to make it dark in the room. My two favorites from that class are "Skin and Bones," and "I've Been Working on My Costume." Those gave me such a rush.

In terms of costumes as a kid -  I used to be bent on dressing as Dracula every year. I had to convince my mom a couple of years because she would have to put on my makeup. There were times when she would encourage me to switch it up. Eventually, I did when I became a Masters of the Universe fanatic. I got the Ben Cooper costume and loved it. Only problem with that is it didn't last very long because I wound up using it for everyday He-Man role playing adventures around my house on Saturday mornings.

In school, we'd have a Halloween parade every year. We had the chance to go home and change into our costumes and come back to the classroom with a grand entrance. I remember every kid in class always trying to guess who everyone was underneath their masks or makeup. Not telling your friends who you were going to be was part of the fun. Every year there was always one or two kids who never got figured out, but finally revealed themselves toward the end of the day. This is the origin of why I never reveal my costumes even as an adult. I think it's way more fun to make it a surprise. After all, that can be considered part of the "Trick," in my estimation.

Whether I was Drac or He-Man, I recall those sweet, crisp Halloween nights where it seemed like we'd be out until 10pm even though it was just the sun vanishing earlier that made me feel that way. We swore knocked on the door to every house in the entire neighborhood. After getting home, my sister and I would rush upstairs to her bedroom and dump out multiple giant bags of candy and then divvy stuff up and trade off the candy each of us didn't like. It was so much fun. I remember almost having a mini-stroke when I found my first full size Snickers bar. It was like discovering a block of gold.

Any special Halloween memories?

Every Halloween I wind up getting myself into some ridiculous hi-jinks. There's so many stories I can share here, but I'll try to keep it brief so you can go back to your horror movies and pumpkin coffee.

1. Going back many years ago, a very early memory that I love recalling is when I somehow got roped into going to my sister's girl scout Halloween event somewhere in a cabin in the woods. There were a bunch of scary stories told and then a lady went around doing those classic gimmicks like the peeled grapes that were supposed to be eyeballs. That whole thing never left my mind since. I couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years old. It still sticks out in my mind so vividly.

2. Two years ago I dressed up as my all time favorite Scooby Doo Villain, the Diabolical Disc Demon and I won first prize in the costume contest at the Trenton Monster's Ball. This was very fulfilling to me because I put a lot of work into my costume. Now I have a life size Disc Demon in my condo greeting people as they go into the bathroom. It creeps everyone out. 

3. Getting ejected from a line to get into a night club in Atlantic City for a Masquerade party while dressed as Barnabas Collins because I refused to let the security guards confiscate my Barnabas walking stick. IT WAS PLASTIC. We took our party elsewhere...to a place with scantily clad women. We were better off anyway.

What about other favorite costumes?

In terms of favorite costumes I have way too many to mention. Once I reached my teens I basically became a cosplayer before it was a thing. I would consistently create costumes and do makeup for my favorite characters like Gene Simmons, Goldust, Steve Austin, Undertaker, Randy Savage, Indiana Jones, and even Green Hornet at a time when that property was totally dormant. I had to make my own mask and Hornet sting gun...times were tough! But later I started getting way more elaborate.

I've dressed as rock stars like Alice Cooper, Nikki Sixx, Billie Joe from Green Day, Billy Idol, and as I mentioned, The Demon, Gene Simmons. I also dressed as a cartoon character I used to love on Disney XD called Kick Buttowski. That one was fairly easy to create but it was fun. Nobody knew who I was and I didn't give a crap. I dressed as Randy Savage numerous times and even the Dynamite Comics version of The Lone Ranger. But with all those mentioned, my favorites have been Prime Evil from Filmation Ghostbusters, The Diabolical Disc Demon, and last year's was a big one: The Kenner "Grim Reaper" aka Death figure from their Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure toy line. Nobody was expecting that one and it had been one of my favorite action figures since I was a kid.

What do you do to celebrate these days?

Nowadays, the way I celebrate Halloween is by writing and producing our Halloween Specials. Those videos exude every drip of Halloween spirit that I have in my soul. Then, after I premiere that, I set my sites on making costumes for the masquerades I go to with my girlfriend and our friends.

What do you do to get in the Halloween spirit?

As far as annual rituals, I start my Halloween music playlist in early September and I don't go back to regular music until November 1st. It's nothing but macabre music in my car and at home until the big day. I also watch a ton of horror, which I do all year round, but I go heavy on Halloweens 1,2, and 3 as well as Trick or Treat 1986 and Trick R Treat 2009. There's a lot of other stuff such as Entenmann's Halloween cupcakes too! Those are a major component of Halloween.

Why do you think Halloween stays close to us as we get older?

I think Halloween offers a similar personal nostalgia in the same way that Christmas can elicit such profound memories. Plus, Halloween has never been more popular than it is right now and I think it's still creeping up on any of those people out there who still don't care for it. Even though Halloween is still treated like the black sheep of the holidays, I do feel like it's become so much more mainstream and acceptable compared to when I was growing up in the '80s. There's no doubt in my mind that Halloween the way we know it today has actually been dictated and re-created by '70s, '80s, and '90s kids. Not to say other generations didn't love Halloween, it's just that it feels like it belongs to us since we have such a love affair with it. We wouldn't even be doing this post together right now if we were luke warm on Halloween. 

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was people will kill me on this one, but I hated Sugar Daddy Pops. They always got stuck in my teeth and it wound up being more of a pain in the ass picking it out than it was worth. (I'm with you there!)

My favorite thing to get was (I'm going to cheat and say a few) Full size Snickers, Whatchamacallits, Baby Ruth and the 2-pack Reese's Peanut Butter cups. McDonad's coupons were pretty awesome as well.

Where can people stalk you online?

If you want to follow my often whacked out exploits, you can head over to www.SexyArmpit.com and on Twitter and Instagram. If you are a Facebooker, www.facebook.com/ArmpitNJ

Hope you had a fun time reminiscing about Halloween!

Thanks! I enjoyed being a part of this, I hope you and your readers have a blast this Halloween!

A King Kong sized thanks to Jay for stopping by! If you haven't checked out The Purple Stuff Podcast, you really should! It's a hoot and a half!

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

2016 AEIOU Halloween Mix

Here's a little treat for you to kick off your Halloween weekend.
It's the 2016 AEIOU Halloween Mix!

Click on the album cover to drop it in your treat bag and enjoy!

Tune in tomorrow for the final Halloween Web interview, it's a great one!

Oct 27, 2016

Pop Culture League - Halloween

The Pop Culture League has been posting seasonally appropriate things all October but this is the first week where I've had space to fit a topic in!

Here comes Halloween!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

 There are certain things that always herald the Halloween season like leaves changing and Halloween merch in stores. For me, there's always one thing that really gets me in the Halloween mood and that's Salem in October. I wasn't able to get there as early or as often as I would have liked this year but I did manage to go this past Sunday.

It was a pretty perfect autumn day: sunny, not too cold but with a slight chill wind. I grabbed a cup of hot cider and took a little walk around downtown to snap a few pics to share the experience. Having done a few of these posts in previous years, it was a little challenging to find new things to share.

There is a pedestrian mall where every weekend all sorts of vendors set up to sell their crafts. If you come to Salem outside of October, you'd maybe see a handful of people in this area.

There's many street performers ranging from an a capella group to a juggling unicyclist to musicians to characters like Frankenstein's monster, a Minion, and Michael Myers who are happy to take a photo with you in exchange for a tip. There is one guy that has been doing this for years called Steve the Vampire. He is amazing.

You'll also come across many costumed visitors of all ages. This is one of the things I love, seeing these people come out during the day to celebrate really gives you a warn fuzzy Halloween feeling.

Seeing this older Dynamic Duo put a huge smile on my face. And what great costumes!

Even pets get in on the fun!

Where else but a convention would you run into Sweetums from the Muppets?

There are all sorts of delicious things to be smelled and tasted!

I saw this house just off of Salem Common. You'll have to view it larger to see the wonderful decorating job they did. See if you can spot the demon clown child in the front door.

During October, there are all kinds of food vendors set up on the Common along with some kiddie rides. They also have a pumpkin decorating contest and show off the entrants.

Although I only spent a couple of hours in Salem, it really helped put me in the Halloween mood. The festive mood all around town is great for lifting your spirits.

You can see more photos from around town in these Flickr albums.

Here's a few more Pop Culture bloggers take on the topic.
You can check out all the participants at Cool and Collected.

Alexis' Universe gets spooky with some decorating.
A sad tale of a Halloween that wasn't from Spyda-Man.
AFB talks about some Halloween tunes.

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 26, 2016

2016 Halloween Hot Wheels - Blvd Bruiser & 16 Angels

Here we are at the fourth and final Hot Wheels Wednesday. Where did the month go?

The first half of today's pair is Blvd Bruiser.

Blvd Bruiser is a relatively new model in the line having first been released in 2011. This is only the 8th version to roll off the assembly line.

While it lacks any spooky Halloween deco aside from the pumpkin logo, I really like this one. The orange really pops on the purple metalflake paint job.

And our last Halloween Hot Wheels of the year is 16 Angels.

Last year's lineup also had 16 Angels in it. You might think 16 Angels is an odd name for a car and I'd agree with you. The 16 comes from the number of cylinders and the angels come from Biblical angels being as strong as many men.

This is another one where the colors really work well. The body has a smoky translucence which makes the electric purple stand out. And check out that bat on the hood.

For the heck of it, here's my ranking of this year's cars from most Halloween-y to least.

Bone Shaker
Ryura LX
16 Angels
Blvd Bruiser
Deora II

Be sure to visit all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 25, 2016

Halloween Web - The Windesphere Witch

Here's the second witch interview I promised a couple days ago. 
Let's meet Beth Schreibman Gehring.

Hi Beth, please introduce yourself.

My name is Beth Schreibman Gehring and I’m affectionately known as The Windesphere Witch. You also might know me from my Outlander themed facebook page – My Outlander Love Affair, also home of  Milady’s Magical Pantry & Stillroom. It’s 11,000 strong and we have a wonderful time discussing all things Herbal and Scotland!

I'm a good old fashioned greenwitch/herbalist/aromatherapist/life-coach. I’ve written a book that I’m very proud of Called “Stirring the Senses” that can be found on Amazon. My next book titled Milady’s Pantry - Garden Spells, Kitchen Alchemy and Other Sexy Secrets from the 18th Century and Beyond! will be coming out this holiday season!

Yes…I really am a witch. I’m a good witch though…I’ve got no time for troublemakers.  I believe in the words “Harm None!”. If you want manipulations and curses, I’m not your girl! What I teach is a holistic way of looking at your life. I love nothing more than to spend long days in my gardens tending my healing herbs, fruits and vegetables, promoting healing through herbalism, flower and gem essences, aromatherapy and Reiki, cooking gorgeous, healthy and delicious meals for my family (4 legged and 2) and friends while brewing delightful herbal potions to help keep you healthy, gorgeous and sexy all over, inside and out! That's what I love to do and I've learned over the years how to create the life where this is possible.

I believe that in designing powerful rituals for your life, healthy and satisfying food to eat and beautiful environments to live in, that we can begin to create a life that you will love no matter your financial or cultural means. Clearing the emotional and physical space to have a life big enough to be filled with incredible joy and celebration will supply all of the magic necessary to create any possibility that you could ever dream of!

If you’d like to work with me I do offer a 30 minute, free of charge gift session so you can discover what's possible through your participation in this program. I’ll answer your questions one on one and explore the specific dreams you have been yearning to bring to life. There’s no obligation to work with me further after that, but we’ll have fun, I promise! Sign up for a gift session here.

What was Halloween like for you as a child?

I grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio and we just didn’t have a lot of Trick or Treaters which made me so sad. Very early on I knew that I was a witch, but I had to wait to grow up and get married to celebrate the season the way that I wanted to. My husband and I bought an old century farm (1848) out in Burton Ohio and named it Windesphere, hence the Windesphere Witch! It turned out to be very haunted which was definitely a plus! We spent every Samhain with our neighbors and we threw wonderful parties, complete with hayrides , bonfires and midnight walks to go owling . Sadly, I don’t have pictures of those, but the memories are locked forever in my heart.  When we moved back into Cleveland Heights several years ago, (Cleveland Heights LOVES Halloween!) I found myself immersed in a wonderful neighborhood full of children.

To get to know my neighbors, I decided to throw a huge Halloween party and now I do it every year. Autumn in Ohio is wonderful, fall leaves, pumpkins and a real harvest experience. It’s also spooky too, because as I said, Cleveland Heights really loves Halloween so on Trick or Treat evening the entire neighborhood for miles is filled with spooky sounds! I cook all day, huge copper cauldrons full of pumpkin soup, Chili and a spicy witches brew for the adults. The kids get root beer floats dyed black with scoops of homemade black vanilla ice cream and the parents get root beer flavored vodka in theirs! There’s lots of candy corn, homemade caramel apples (dipped in real homemade caramel!) and always a skeleton piƱata. I make platters of barbecued drumsticks and lots of salsa and guacamole.

Come Halloween eve, I can be found sitting on my front porch, with Halloween radio blaring out lots of music and a TV screen playing old  shows like Dark Shadows , the Munsters and the Addams Family. Because it’s usually freezing cold on Halloween here I’ve always got hot adult beverages for the parents! This year I’m going to load up the Yamaha piano in the basement with a creepy soundtrack that will shake the house. I can’t wait!

Do you have a special Halloween memory you'd like to share?

My favorite year of all time was the year that I dressed up as a witch…well to be fair I always dress up as a witch but this was different. I’d just gotten back from Salem and I decided to put on simpler cloths and my cape as usual, but instead of decking myself out with glitter, I rubbed dirt all over my face and put leaves in my hair.  I’m naturally very pale and I used a blue urban decay lipstick and eye shadow. The whole effect was a bit like the corpse candle, the strange electric blue fungus that creeps onto dead bodies that’s never seen anywhere but on a battlefield. To complete the effect I put a rope around my neck and had a friend tie the 13 knot hangman’s noos . Then I drove to work. I walked in the door and my mother screamed and fainted. My aunt, with whom I had a difficult relationship with said, “That looks good on you dear”. My next customer said “Well hello Miss Salem…I just got back from  Boston and I saw your picture in a museum.” I tell you...my day was made!

What about a favorite costume? Although that last one sounds great!

I wish I had a picture of my favorite. I wore a lion costume from the time I was 3 until I was 12. I love lions…and I used to love Halloween so I could put on my costume. I just knew that I was really a lion trapped in a human body. Sometimes I still think that I am!

How do you celebrate Halloween these days?

Like I mentioned, I always have a wonderful party. Not too scary, but just enough! Then because my parents have both passed, I drive to where their ashes are scattered and I leave a wee dram of my father’s favorite single malt and my mother’s favorite Bristol Cream sherry under the tree while making a wish for the New Year..Samhain is after all the Witches New Year…our Highest Holy day….the greatest and most powerful of our Sabbats and of course I read Tarot for the New Year.

What other things do you do for the season?

I always watch Practical Magic at least once and definitely Bell Book and Candle! Definitely “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” I adore Interview with the Vampire and the Lost Boys.. and sometimes The Omen. Never the Twilight Series…I’m old school that way. In my witchy world Vampires just don’t sparkle. (Amen!)

I generally re-read Anne Rice’s Vampire Series from start to finish and of course lots of Edgar Allen Poe. I listen to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein on Audiobook, because no matter how many times I hear it I love it! I always go to the small family cemetery in Burton Ohio where Lucy, our resident ghost is buried. There are lots of children buried in the cemetery with her so I always decorate the graves with pumpkins, candy corn and Indian corn. I will usually get up at 5:00 in the morning on the second weekend of October to drag out the copper cauldrons at the Century Village in Burton to stir apple butter over open flames and watch the apple butter spirits dance around in the fragrant steam. I always love to listen to Halloween Radio, and of course there are a million wonderful symphonies composed for the season such as Saint Saens,  Danse Macabre and Berlioz’s Dreams of a Witches Sabbath. How about Franz Liszt’s Totentanz?  Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead is pretty compelling too!

What makes Halloween special for you?

I can’t speak for anyone else but I love a season where I get to be myself and quite open about it! I love to play dress up, I always have. Halloween gives us the opportunity to try on different personalities that we wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with, so it’s a fun excuse to role play! Besides, there’s the possibility of all of that leftover candy!

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Reeses Peanut Butter Cups! I know that’s sacrilege, but I’m just not a peanut butter and chocolate kind of witch!

My favorite thing to get was a Heath Bar! Any Size! And Malted Milk Balls!

Where can people find you online?

They can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and of course at www.thewindespherewitch.com

Thanks for joining in, hope it was fun for you.

I had a blast! Thank you for including me!

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 24, 2016

Mansion Monday - Tales from the Haunted Mansion Review

When I was at DisneyWorld a few weeks back, I found this book that had somehow slipped under my radar. I picked up the Kindle version and gave it a read. The actual physical book is gorgeous and is almost worth the price just to have it sitting on your shelf.

From Amazon:
"Welcome, foolish mortals, to Disney Press' spookiest chapter book series yet: Tales from the Haunted Mansion! Based on the attractions from the Disney Parks, each new book tells the story of one of the Haunted Mansion's 999 ghosts. With eerie illustrations throughout and a beautiful three-piece cloth cover, the books are designed to look like they came straight from the library in the Haunted Mansion."

First off, the main thing you need to be aware of is that this is aimed at the grade school set. If you still enjoy Goosebumps, you should find this entertaining. The second thing to know is that although the summary states these are tales of the Mansion's 999 ghosts, they are not any ghosts you've seen on the ride. No Bride, no Hatbox Ghost, not even Hitchhiking Ghosts. Maybe they'll get to the more "famous" ghosts in future volumes.

The book is about four grade school kids who like to tell spooky stories and call themselves The Fearsome Foursome, sort of like The Midnight Society. One day, they receive invitations to the Caribbean and become Pirates. Kidding, I'm just checking to see if you're actually reading! No, they are invited to a dilapidated old mansion. After venturing inside, they encounter a ghostly librarian who traps them in a room with no windows and no doors. He insists on reading them tales from one of the library's books. Tales that feature each of them!

The first 20 pages or so when the kids go into the Mansion are like you're going on the ride. There's plenty of description and dialog lifted directly from the attraction. Unfortunately, they only get as far as the library. I mean, if you need a room to tell stories in, there you go, but I wanted more Mansion in my Haunted Mansion book! If you're a big Mansion fan, you'll find a few Easter Eggs, mostly in the form of characters names that are in tribute to the Imagineers.

Amicus Arcane, the spirited librarian telling the tales, acts as a classic horror comic anthology host. Some people will find him annoying as he interjects his own comments while tells the stories. And some of the puns are as groan worthy as the Cryptkeeper.

I don't want to get into the stories, I'll save that surprise for you. Fans expecting to uncover the history of their favorite attraction characters will no doubt be disappointed. I think as long as you're okay with a few short Goosebumps-type stories sprinkled with a little Mansion flavor, you'll be fine.

You can get Tales from the Haunted Mansion Vol 1 from Amazon.

Oct 23, 2016

Funko ReAction Pumpkin King Figure

I do a pretty good job of resisting buying a lot of the awesome stuff Funko puts out. But when I saw this guy in Toys R Us recently, I took it as a sign from the Great Pumpkin and had to get him! Plus I will usually buy pumpkin-headed people anyway.

The best and worst thing for me about the ReAction figures is the card art. The cards always look great and I never want to open them! But there's no way I"m going down the "buy one to open, one to keep carded" road.

In case you're not familiar with the ReAction figures, they're designed just like the figures you had as a kid...if you're a kid that grew up in the 70s/80s. They generally have 5 points of articulation and sometimes come with an accessory. Very retro.

Ol' Pumpkin King Jack comes with a torch. I kind of wish they'd given him something more Halloween-y. Or maybe the Halloween Town sign. But I'm not complaining, I would have been just as happy to have him with no accessory. He is the Pumpkin King after all!

If you're craving a new Halloween mix (and really, who doesn't?) head over to Halloween Hot Sauce and grab their 2016 mix: Songs for Seance.

Don't forget to visit all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 22, 2016

Halloween Web - Krystal F

As far as I know, Krystal has the distinction of being the first witch that I've interviewed for the blog!Must be something in the air this year as we have another coming up soon.

Welcome, Krystal. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Krystal, and I run the blog Bat N' Kat. I am participating in the latest Countdown to Halloween for 2016. I have participated in this Countdown since 2012. I freelance. For the Spooky Season, I am offering tarot parties via Skype or e-mail, spooky collages, letters, and abstract paintings through About.me via consultation. On Bat N' Kat, I will be having a drawing for a spooky zine. This drawing will happen in the middle of October. To enter, find the sticky tab about the Spooky Zine, and enter your name, e-mail address, and your favorite Halloween memory. 

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I celebrated Halloween in several different places as a kid. The first was in my birth state of Washington around the Tacoma Junction. My neighbors did not skimp on the candy. My pillowcases and pumpkin buckets were stuffed full. My first Halloween costume I wore was a bunny costume, because my Mom insisted on it. My second Halloween costume was a Barbie costume. The mask for the Barbie costume would probably induce nightmares in the present day. The next place where Halloween was celebrated was in Meridian, Idaho near the Nampa borderline. Before some of the coolest neighbors I knew moved away, my neighborhood was a Halloween paradise. There were haunted houses found on every block decked out in full scary effects. Kids my age were everywhere. Our subdivision was a party.

Do you have any particular memories you'd like to share?

One of the fondest memories from the past has to be when my parents' neighborhood in Meridian, Idaho put on a Halloween block party. There were activities galore: scary movies projected onto ginormous cloths that anyone could watch, fresh caramel apples served up, trick or treating at every participating house, pumpkin carving, along with other things. The first year that happened, I dressed up as a witch. Dressing in a witch costume became a tradition every year because I loved that costume and variations of that costume. I thought witches in fiction and in real life were the coolest. Some of the best houses on the block were owned by real witches and Pagans.

What about a favorite costume?

My favorite costume was my first witch costume. Sorry, no photos this time around. We lost a bunch of photos when my parents first renovated their house.

What do you do to celebrate Halloween today?

Being a Syncretic Witch, I celebrate anything that feels right for myself spiritually. I celebrate Halloween, Samhain, and The Festival of the Dead. Halloween was always cool because it had Pagan roots, yet is secular in this day and age. Samhain is celebrated to honor my ancestors and other dead loved ones. The Festival of the Dead goes back to my Catholic roots. I continue to pay respect to my dead loved ones, continuing from the night before, and also make offerings to Santa Muerte. My grandma's (paternal) birthday and deathday were also close to these dates, so she gets extra love, prayers, and offerings.

What sort of things do you do to get into the spirit of the season?

One of the things I love doing every year is find the AOL Halloween Radio station. That has some amazing tunes. 8tracks and Pandora are also excellent to look for music that fits the mood. Specific favorite songs will be brought up on Bat N' Kat throughout the month of October, so I don't want to spoil those. I love watching Trick 'r Treat, Hocus Pocus, and Zombieland to get into Halloween mode. Definite places to visit in Idaho around the Spooky Season is The Farmstead (features a corn maze and other goodies), Haunted World (haunted maze and haunted house), The Berry Farm (for pumpkin picking), and Witches Night Out at The Village at Meridian. I used to full on trick or treat, but now I take my kids trick or treating.

I think the best way to keep Halloween in our hearts as we get older is to create traditions. Some of the traditions I took part of in the past are now passed on to my two daughters.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was a used condom. Yes, that totally happened! *shudders* Nothing else topped that.

My favorite thing to get was a freshly made candied apple from my awesome neighbors.

Where can people connect with you online?

If you want to say hi, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and at my blog, Bat N' Kat.

Thanks for joining in the fun, Krystal!

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!

Oct 21, 2016

Dennison's Bogie Books

I can't believe I've been doing this countdown for so many years and have never mentioned Bogie Books before! These books were published for Dennison Paper Company in Framingham, Massachusetts in the early 1900s.

As you might imagine, Dennison Paper Company made...paper goods. Things like party supplies and decorations. These Bogie Books included ideas for party planning and costumes while doing double duty as a Dennison's catalog.

The books were published between 1912-1926, with the exception being 1918 due to a flu pandemic which put a damper on Halloween social activities. The books were a whole nickel when they started and were up to a dime by the time they stopped. That's about $1.25 - $1.36 in today's money.

The books are the things vintage Halloween enthusiasts dream of. Getting your hands on one of the original printings won't come cheaply, luckily there are many places offering reprints at a more reasonable price.

You can grab the 1920 book from the Internet Archive
And I have a PDF copy of the 1923 book that I'm happy to share!

Be sure to Trick or Treat at all the Countdown to Halloween houses!

Oct 20, 2016

Halloween Web - Margie C

In the tens of Halloween Web interviews I've done, Margie is only the 3rd person that I've actually met in the real world! She and her husband were my first intro to podcasts and I've been listening to them ever since.

Tell the folks a little about yourself.

I had one parent who love horror/sci-fi/comedy movies, etc and one who was sure that all of that would destroy the earth. Despite that, I grew up loving movies, tv and toys. I married my best friend (Mr. Nesbit from health class was right!) and we took our love for Star Wars, Marvel and movies and created some podcasts - Star Wars Action News, Marvelicious Toys and Now Playing (all of which I highly recommend!). I have a book coming out late this year - Underrated Movies We Recommend, with my Now Playing co-hosts.

My favorite horror movie is Halloween, and I love the Rob Zombie remake. I also love House of 1000 Corpses and Profundo Russo.

I live in Illinois (no where near Haddonfield or Crystal Lake) with my husband and 3 dogs.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I don’t remember this at all but apparently when I was a toddler, I demanded to be a mean plant. I also remember being a robot. My dad made me a crazy awesome costume out of boxes, silver paint and duct tape. It wasn’t really articulated so my dad had to pick me up and carry me up and down stairs because I couldn’t really move my legs well enough.

We always trick or treated. I don’t recall a lot of decorating other than pumpkins. But in my neighborhood, all of us kids did go door to door. We usually had a 3 block radius that we hit. We were always terrified because Michael Myers was allegedly from Illinois. And there is a Crystal Lake in Illinois so Jason was always a threat.

And I have a distinct memory of playing jump rope with the grand daughter of a neighbor. She was a few years older than me. She taught me the Freddy song. One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. We sang that and jumped rope to that a lot. I didn’t really know about Freddy at that time. My monsters were Jason and Michael Myers. My mom always let me watch those and she likely shouldn’t have.

Do you have a particularly fond/funny/scary Halloween memory?

One year, a much older neighbor wore a mask during the day. He kept jumping out of the bushes and scaring us. The girls across the street were terrified. They didn’t just scream, they squealed. I kept telling them it was our neighbor and they didn’t believe me.

This is kind of Halloween related in that it’s horror. My mom was an avid horror movie fan, even though she was often terrified of the movies. That’s likely why I was allowed to watch them with her, because she had company. Every single time she watched the first Jason movie, she shrieked when he busted through the glass.  Every. Single. Time. When my  mom was pregnant with me, enough weird things happened that she was convinced I was the anti-christ or a demon because she had seen Rosemary’s Baby too many times. She said she was very worried and often wondered what she would do with a demon baby. She said she would have loved me the same. 

Any favorite costumes from Halloweens past?

I do remember my robot costume. And I remember in grade school, I wanted to be Cyndi Lauper. My mom wouldn’t let me. I could be anything but Cyndi Lauper. Apparently, my mom thought it would make me a girl with loose morals.

What do you do to celebrate Halloween these days? 

Sometimes we will go to a haunted house. But usually i buy a big bag of candy (with Almond Joy, my fave!) and hand out candy to kids. I like to see the kids in the costumes. I dress up my dogs and they hate it. On October 1, my ringtone changes to the Halloween theme song. Michael Myers is my favorite.

Why do you think we keep Halloween in our hearts as we get older? 

The nostalgia and the fun. It’s utterly ridiculous that kids I don’t know will come to my door and ask for candy. In a costume no less. It’s a weird community event.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was any peanut butter candy, a bible pamphlet or Tootsie rolls.

My favorite thing to get was carmels, Almond Joy

Where can people find you online?

I'm on Twitter as @MargieC

Huge thanks to Margie for dropping in and if you like Star Wars/Marvel toys and/or movies, check out the podcasts linked at the top of the interview.

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers!