Oct 31, 2019

Monthly Movie Recap - October 2019

Here we are folks!
As usual, I'm posting the October recap on Halloween in case you're looking for something to watch after the kids have gone to bed. As I'm writing this Halloween morning, we're predicted to have some rain tonight which may (may!) keep me from Salem. So if you've got any good suggestions for something spooky to watch tonight, let me know in the comments.

American Horror Story 1984 (FX) - Okay, so not really streaming but how could I not mention this? They are absolutely killing it (and lots of people!) this season. I wasn't sure where they were going to go after the first half but it's looking pretty interesting.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
I had to rewatch this to prep for the below movie. I tried to revisit it with an open mind and while this isn't my favorite of the series, I don't think it's as bad as a lot of people do. Sure, it doesn't "fit in" but it could easily have been an average 80s horror flick if it was released by itself. Now that I'm older and more aware of the not so subtle subtext I have a bit more appreciation of the story they were telling.

Rating: 5/10

Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)
I now have a whole new appreciation for Nightmare 2. Whether or not you like that movie, I highly recommend this doc about its star. Mark has had quite the life and his is a great human story. Plus, there's a cast reunion and some behind the scenes stuff.

The Addams Family (2019)
I should have tempered my expectations from day one but I hard a hard time not getting excited about the Addams Family returning to pop culture. Maybe it wasn't the movie I would have made but I enjoyed it! The Addamses have plenty of time to be themselves and that's really all I want.

Rating: 7/10

Girls with Balls (2018, Netflix)
After figuring out the dialog/lip sync wasn't matching up because this was dubbed in English, I settled in for some dumb fun. It's about a 60/40 mix (dumb/fun). I mostly kept me entertained and I'll bet it's the best movie you'll see this year about a girls volleyball team being terrorized in the woods.

Rating: 5/10

The Barn (2016, Amazon Prime)
The trailer absolutely sold me on this one. If you're up for an 80s retro horror flick, this one has you covered. Despite the low budget, bad dialog (intentional?), and not so great dialog looping, there is something about it I just love to bits. The baddies are great even if the Miner isn't as "Halloween" as the other two.

Rating: 6/10

The Terror of Hallow's Eve (2017, Rent on Amazon)
Another 80s style throwback. It reminds me of the Full Moon movies I used to gorge myself on, you know back when they put out fun stuff that didn't involve weed? The "bullied kid gets supernatural revenge" story may not be original but the way it's carried out, and the fantastic practical effects, make this one you should put on your watch list!

Rating: 7/10

Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977)
You can read my thoughts on this in yesterday's post. Or don't, maybe the less said about this the better.

Rating: 2/10

Haunt (2019, Rent on Amazon Prime)
Had to squeeze at least one more in before October ends and I really liked it! There's not a lot of gore but it's got plenty of suspense and that perfect level of physical horror that makes me squirm in my seat. The bad guys are so well designed, I want action figures!

Rating: 8/10

New: 7  Rewatch: 1

Year to Date
New: 62  Rewatch: 3


If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 30, 2019

Halloween with the Addams Family

Who better to spend Halloween with than the Addams Family? The answer is both nobody or anybody depending on when you visit them. Let me explain...

Released 55 years ago today, "Halloween with the Addams Family" is the seventh episode of the first season of the classic TV series. Hijinks ensue when a pair of robbers try to hide out from the police in the Addams' home on Halloween night. As you might expect, they have no idea what they've gotten themselves into!

Released 42 years ago today, "Halloween with the New Addams Family" reunites the cast in color for a made for TV movie when some crooks come up with a ridiculously convoluted plot to steal the family's riches. Whoa, hold up! "New" Addams Family?!

I had a hard time making it through this one and couldn't do it in one sitting. It just doesn't feel like the Addams Family I know. Sure, it's in color but the characters feel off even though all the major players are back. It feels more like any Saturday morning kids' show in the 70s.

We're introduced to Gomez's brother, Pancho who has the hots for Morticia (I mean, I don't blame him!) but she continues to let him smooch her hand and arm with verbal warnings while Gomez is away. I wouldn't think she'd stand for it for a second.

Then there's Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr. who don't really do much. The crooks have a pair of strong men that look like they're cosplaying Rocky from Rocky Horror, barely dressed with metallic shorts.

While it was good to have the gang back together, it never feels quite right. One thing I did really like about this is the family tradition of trimming the scarecrow on Halloween night with the youngest child getting to put the head on top, like a Christmas tree star.

And if you don't have a lot of time, you can just do The Lurch. This was the best quality video I could find online so I apologize for the text on screen.

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 29, 2019

Halloween Web - Jason Gross

We're wrapping up the 2019 Halloween Web series with Jason Gross!

Halloween 1982
Come on in and tell us about yourself.

Most people know me from my Rediscover the 80s website. My latest venture is The Retro Network, a multimedia collaboration with the Retro Rambler Mickey Yarber. We, along with an awesome team, are providing daily retro pop culture content including podcasts and articles.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in rural central PA. We lived on a dead end street and my friends and I would venture down our street and the next street over to collect candy. In our teenage years, we hung up our costumes and became tricksters, playing pranks on neighborhood homes instead of taking candy from them. 

Are there any Halloween memories that stand out for you?

I believe we all experience that Halloween year, usually in our teens, when we are maybe getting to old to go trick-or-treating. That year is pretty vivid to me. It started out great, collecting a bag full of candy from our neighborhood houses. Back then, there always seemed to be people who tried to be different, handing out bag of pennies, fruit, or pencil erasers. We hit one such house at the end of our night which was giving away Little Hugs barrel-shaped drinks. I loved drinking them and my grandmother specifically stocked them for me on visits. Well, this night I received one which at first was exciting until I realized walking home that my candy bag was leaking. When the neighbor tossed it in, a blow pop stick punctured the thin foil lid and soaked my candy haul. I remember my dad laying a towel on the floor in the living room and dumping my candy out to salvage what we could. After that experience, I decided I guess I decided to make my own fun on Halloween night.

What about a memorable costume?

My mother entered me in the Halloween parade costume contest one year. A friend of the family made me this lion costume that I did not want to wear. It became more of a pink bunny experience, sweating profusely and trying to breathe through tiny nose holes. I didn't win anything that year but at least the mask covered my head to avoid too much embarrassment. (I wish I could find a picture now!)

How do you celebrate today?

Our neighborhood kinda sucks for trick-or-treating so we mainly take the kids to a local church fall festival with games and candy. Occasionally, my wife and I will dress up to join in the fun. Recent years have found us as Bat-dad and Robin-mom and me as the Cobra villain Firefly.

Do you have any "must sees" on your Halloween to do list?

My holiday season always begins with watching It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Garfield's Halloween Adventure. My wife also insists on watching Hocus Pocus. Over the last several years, I seek out as many retro specials I can find on YouTube to watch with the kids. 

What do you like most about the season as an adult?

For me, it's the beginning of my favorite time of the year when the weather cools and we start getting into the holiday spirit going into Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Chick-O-Stick. It was like biting into a peanut butter tree branch and it stuck to your teeth for hours.

My favorite thing to get was fruit flavored candy over chocolate. Stuff like Nerds, Skittles, and Pop Rocks.

My favorite monster cereal is probably Frankenberry with Booberry a close second. 

Where can folks find you online?

You can find Rediscover the 80s on Twitter and Facebook and The Retro Network on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Jason for stopping by and all our Halloween Web participants!
There's still a little more Halloween left so stay tuned!

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 28, 2019

Halloween Web - Charles P

Please introduce yourself to the readers.

My name is Charles Potomac. I am the creator of a lot of things, including the sadly defunct web-comic "Geek to Me" that I hope to someday re-post the archives of online. GTM was a comic I did in the late 1990's putting a fictionalized spin on my years working in a comic shop. I currently am working on season two of my podcast The Last Hometown and a couple comic projects that I hope to release in early 2020. In October I will be putting a spin on the annual Inktober event and trying to draw a panel of a comic called "Captain Grilled Cheese" every day of the month. These panels will be posted to my Instagram and The Last Hometown page on Facebook.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in the town of Anoka Minnesota, which is the Halloween Capital of the world... seriously, it is! Go google it. Growing up I never really understood what made us the Halloween capital, but I was always proud of it. In Anoka there were a lot of different events for Halloween, including the annual children's parade where the kids from all the elementary schools would be brought to main street in costume and marched through the town. This was a loved tradition by everyone, except for the kids. it basically amounted to a four to five mile hike in costume, usually with winter gear on underneath it, after all this is Minnesota and late October so it was usually pretty cold already. (for example, the Halloween Blizzard of 1991) So you would either be freezing or covered in sweat, or sometime both at the same time... I don't think it was coincidence that there would be a high level of kids out sick the next week!

One of the other traditions in Anoka is that every year High School art students were allowed to submit design ideas and local businesses would pick the one they liked best and then the artist and a couple of friends would get to take a day off school and go paint the image on the store window. My Junior year my design was picked and I tried to find some pictures of it but sadly could not. It was always fun walking through downtown in October and checking out all the Halloween paintings on the store. Sadly I have not really seen much of this happening in recent years.

Did you have any favorite costumes?

I grew up poor, which meant that the idea of store bought costumes were pretty much out of the question for us. Our childhood was dominated by costumes my mother could make by sewing or putting odds and ends together. There was no cool Ben Cooper costumes in my childhood.  Some of the costumes turned out great, The Cowboy and Train Engineer come to mind. My favorite would have to be the cowboy. It was part homemade, and part hand me down parts. I always thought it was the one that turned out the best.

There was also an awesome Han Solo and Princess Leia costume that she did for us. Sadly  I could not find photos of those. The biggest failures would have been the Mummy (you can hear the story of that in The 2018 Retroist Halloween Special Podcast.)

Do you have any outstanding Halloween memories?

I previously mentioned the Halloween Blizzard. The year of the Halloween Blizzard I was working at a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop. Early in the afternoon it started to become obvious that we were in for some significant snowfall, but the owner was very worried that if we closed early we would be losing out on business. Being the shift lead at the time and seeing no customers coming in I let the rest of the staff that was on that day head out and stuck around to man the shop myself. One by one I watched every shop in the shopping center around me close. The Walmart and McDonalds were the last to go, but even they shut down... Not us though. The owner insisted that we stay with it all the way to normal closing hours... by the time that finally came around, it was too late for me. The snow was to high for my little Chevette to drive in, not to mention the fact that a snow plow had gone by at some point and buried the parking lot entry so deep in snow that it was higher than the roof of my car! I ended up stuck at the shop for the entire night. Thankfully I had had the sense to grab a pizza from the place next door before they closed so I had food, and I always have a book with me even to this day... so I spent the night reading on the couch in the back room!

I only ever did have one customer that day. A plow driver stopped by early in the afternoon just as things got started and grabbed a waffle cone with a scoop of chocolate, a scoop of orange sherbet, and another scoop of chocolate on top... He thought my boss was a fool to have me there as well!

How do you celebrate Halloween these days?

Our church puts on a large, and I mean large!, party for the area children. Average turn out is right around 3,000. Being a kind of rural area we like to give them one centralized location that they can go and celebrate and go home with lots of candy. We have already started to accept donations of candy for this years event! As an employee of the church my time is split between being with my own kids and also serving on the security team that makes sure that all of the children stay safe and secure.

Do you have any particular music or movies you revisit for the season?

Of course the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack gets a lot of play around that time of year. Halloween is also one of the two annual rewatches of John Carpenter's The Fog, which means the soundtrack ends up in heavy rotation as well. The opening narration of the film is a fun little spooky tale for the season.

Why do you think we still enjoy Halloween as we get older?

I think it is a combination of things. First I think it is a love of being scared. Horror movies are popular for a reason, we tend to like the feeling of getting our heart racing and being on the edge of our seats from time to time. Halloween is a great big celebration of that fear. In addition it is a time of dreaming and pretending. The kids are allowed to dream of things they would love to be and the parents are allowed to pretend that they don't sit behind a computer clicking buttons all day. It is a time of year when we are allowed to dream and live in the reality we want, even if it is just for a night.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was religious pamphlets and pennies.

My favorite thing to get was those peanut butter taffy things in the orange and black wrappers. I know I am a rarity in the world!

My favorite monster cereal is Franken Berry

Where can folks find you online?

They can find the soon to be relaunched podcast The Last Hometown on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Charles for stopping by to chat!

If you decide to visit the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers, bring your Death Certificate and click below.

Oct 27, 2019

Ghost - My First Ritual

The band Ghost has been putting out music for almost 10 years but somehow they've been under my radar until earlier this year. When I saw pictures of the band, I presumed they were a death metal type band so I never checked them out. Then one day, Spotify graced my mix with the song Rats and I immediately bought its album, Prequelle. It only took a couple more weeks before I grabbed their entire catalog.

Probably my favorite shot of the night
Sometimes when you hear a band for the first time, it's magic and just clicks with something in you. There is no doubt they'll become one of your favorites. I couldn't accurately describe their style of music if you asked me. Sure, I'd toss out styles like metal, gothic, psychedelic and their occult/Satanic lyrics. I'd mention they remind me in different ways of Black Sabbath, Queen, and even Kiss among other bands. You really have to hear them to get the vibe.

Everything about them just hits the right buttons for me. When I heard they were coming around, I actually didn't jump on it right away. I watched a few of their concert videos and decided there was no way I could miss this type of performance.

For those not familiar with the band, they are currently fronted by Cardinal Copia who succeeds the previous three singers: Papa Emeritus I, II, and III. The rest of the band are Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes hidden behind silver masks. This whole mythos behind the band is one of the things I really like about them. They are definitely a great band for Halloween! Fans will even dress in costume, see the Faith video below.

I'm not going to get into a song by song breakdown of the concert. Suffice it to say it was everything I hoped it would be and more!

Although the Ghouls and Ghoulettes don't speak (other than to sing) during the show, some of them do play off each other and Copia.

Copia has enough costume changes to make a pop diva jealous.

During the song Mummy Dust (which is about greed), air cannons shoot gold confetti and "Papa Dollars". I wasn't in the front to catch any but there were plenty behind the front barrier and the security guys were nice enough to grab them and hand them out.

If you want to check them out, here's a few of my favorite songs. Not only will these give you a good idea of their sound but I think seeing them really gets their vibe across.

Rats (obviously)
Cirice (Great video!)
Danse Macabre
 Square Hammer
Faith (concert video)
He Is (tiny bit NSFW)

And I've got lots more photos on Flickr. I took around 120(!) but out of those I think only 30 or so were worthy.

2019.10.19 - Ghost

If you want to see all the participants in the Countdown to Halloween, don't fret just click below.

Oct 26, 2019

Halloween Web - Vic Sage

I've never met today's interview guest but I feel like I know him, having spent a lot of time listening to him talk about pop culture. Let's welcome Vic Sage!

Have a seat and tell folks a little about yourself.

I am a writer, podcaster, and fan of Pop Culture - be that movies, comic books, toys, video games and so on. For nearly a decade I have had the pleasure of being an Author and Editor for the Retroist site - which has led to my own site - Pop Culture Retrorama. Named after one of the podcasts I produce, currently I have four shows with a new one in the works - besides the Pop Culture Retrorama show there is Diary of An Arcade Employee, Projectionist's Sinister Tales of Terror, and the Saturday Frights Podcast.

What was your childhood Halloween like?

Well, first of all I want to say I have always LOVED Halloween - there is something pretty magical about not just the day but the season itself. The beauty of the changing colors of the leaves - at times a little chilly but everything is a warm orange and red. The season is almost as exciting as picking out that perfect costume - something I still spend a considerable amount of time trying to choose. I grew up in a small town but the neighborhoods really did get into the Halloween spirit - so I can remember being driven around for hours by my Father to fill a pillowcase with my sugary haul.

Do you have any special Halloween memories?

I have shared a pretty funny story in the past, on the second Retroist Halloween Special podcast I believe. The town I grew up in... is rightfully described as being rural. So for a time, since my Father was a single parent, after school I was watched over by neighbors who had two children of their own. In the afternoon we would frequently go for a walk, down a dusty road that was known as Wolf Holler - during our walks we would pass by an old dairy barn. The windows had been knocked out long ago but it's slowly decaying state with the vines that had begun to grow over it - gave it a rather ominous appearance.

So one October as Halloween approached, Sheila, Steve and their parents and myself were walking down that road - that is when Sheila and Steve's Father asked if we knew the dairy barn was haunted. Then their Father proceeded to tell us the story about how a farmer when reaching for the milk bucket had been killed when the cow kicked him in the head... an action that resulted in the Farmer's Wife taking an axe to the animal. As we were told of how it had been said no cow ever produced milk again in that dairy barn... their Father rang a bell behind his back - thinking it was an angry spectral bovine we kids ran for the safety of my house.

I also would be lying to you if I didn't admit that when I'm walking at night in October and I hear a lonely mooing from a cow, I don't begin to walk just a little quicker. Ha, Ha.

What about a favorite costume?

While I can remember a lot of the costumes I wore, I would have to say that a handful of favorite outfits include Casper, Boba Fett, Admiral Ackbar, Ash from Evil Dead, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, and  recently The Riddler. I still dress up every single Halloween - generally I am working at the arcade and it's always fantastic to see what the Players are dressed up as when they come in that night. I do my best to share some of those on Instagram.

How do you celebrate today?

Actually this year might be the first where my Wife and myself are not taking our Nieces and Nephew trick or treating - I think they've become too old for their square relatives walking around with them.

Any particular music or movies you enjoy for the season?

Oh boy... There is a lot here so I'll cherry-pick some of my favorites - I always listen to Elvira Presents Haunted Hits, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Trick 'r Treat, and a new one starting this year will be Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. As for movies, I watch horror films constantly - it is easily my favorite film genre. So I try to show some of my favorite films after we close the arcade at night during October, a small gathering of friends and fellow co-workers.

What about spooky places to visit?

For places to visit, of late my Wife and myself have begun taking a vacation at a wonderful place called the Crescent Hotel - "America's most haunted hotel".  While I do love to be scared and I can't get enough of the creepy and macabre... I will admit I am not brave enough to spend the night in their morgue. Brrr!

Why do you think we still enjoy Halloween as adults?

Well, like I've already mentioned the entire season itself feels special - an electrical charge almost as the 31st of October draws near. Sure, it's because of being a Monster Kid that I can look around at stores and such and see decorations and a celebration of what I love most. But perhaps it is also the Holiday itself that allows us to channel our inner child - no matter how old we might be.

Plus, as Ray Bradbury said in The Halloween Tree:
"The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats. Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked."

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was pennies... maybe more than toothpaste and toothbrushes.

My favorite thing to get was Sweet Tarts and miniature comic books.

My favorite monster cereal is Boo Berry - I will fight anyone that says that is not the greatest monster cereal of all time. (Ed.: Glad someone champions the underdog!)

Where can people find you online?

I guess the easiest link to me would be the Pop Culture Retrorama site or Facebook. You can also find my other shows at Saturday Frights and Diary of an Arcade Employee.

Thanks for joining us, Vic!

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be part of this, my friend.

Don't stretch yourself thin to find other Countdown blogs, just click below!

Oct 25, 2019

Haunted Mansion Class Room Record (1976)

Welcome foolish mortals, to the haunted...class room?

Back in 1976, Disney released a Haunted Mansion See Hear Read set. No doubt, spooks of a certain age will have fond memories of these cassette or record and book sets. This one was a little different than your average Read Along, as it was sent to schools.

The original Haunted Mansion Read Along was narrated by Robie Lester, who did the voice of Karen on The Song and Story of the Haunted Mansion album. The classroom version had the dialog redone by Marvin Miller, who was also the announcer on Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl and the voice of Filmation's Aquaman in the late 60s. (Not to be confused with Norman Alden who played Frank on Electra-Woman and Dyna Girl and was the voice of Aquaman on the Super Friends!)

Unlike the original, there are several tracks on this class room edition. The first is a non-reading walk through of the mansion to meet it's inhabitants. The second is a standard read along with the narrator. Both version have you turning the page when you hear Tinkerbell. The last track is only 30 seconds long with a proposed activity for the class after they finish the book.

Some of the information here, came from Doombuggies.com. If you're a Mansion fanatic, definitely stop in for a visit, but make sure you've got time to spare, you may stay awhile.

Click on the Trick or Treaters to get the audio tracks and a pdf copy of the read along book. It's got some great art in it!

Don't lose your head if you want to check out the other Countdown bloggers, just click below!

Oct 24, 2019

Halloween Web - Mason A

Another fellow Countdown blogger from DI Treasures joins us for an interview.

Come on in and tell us about yourself.

I'm Mason and I have always liked cool things like cartoons, cereal, sci-fi, fantasy, and action figures. I later found out that this means I'm a "nerd".  I just always thought I naturally like awesome things. I'm from Utah, where there is a Deseret Industries thrift store around every corner, loving known as the "DI" for short. Remember that thrift store were Napoleon Dynamite finds all that sweet stuff? That was a DI! I grew up shopping at the DI with my family. It was, and still is, a great place to put together a Halloween costume on the cheap. I decided to start a blog showing off all the amazing treasures I would find at the DI, and DI Treasures was born. My blog has since evolved to include just about anything that I find interesting, such as movies, VHS, board games, puzzles, video games, candy, cereal, and more. I was heavily inspired by X-Entertainment (now Dino Drac), and Bogleech. I have since made many blogging buddies. Some of which have stopped blogging, but are still active on Instagram. My blog "rises from the grave" every Halloween and Christmas season.

How is Halloween in your neck of the woods?

I live in Salt Lake City, UT.  Halloween is BIG here!  It may be all the big families, or the film culture, what with the Sundance film festival in Park City, UT.  It' is just such a fun holiday for the childrens!  We are also known for our haunted house attractions.  Nightmare on 13th is pretty well renowned as one of the biggest and best haunts in the US.  I remember visiting in the 90's.  It has been a long time since I have gone to a haunted house! 

Do you have any special Halloween memories?

Years ago I tagged along with my kid sister going door to door in my standard nerd costume.  I joked with everyone that I wasn't in a costume and that this was how I normally dressed.  I got a lot of laughs and really embarrassed my sister and her friend.

What about a favorite costume?

Here I am trying to look scary as a simple Doctor, some time in the late 80's. I think I'm about 6 years old in this picture, so Halloween of '89 methinks? My older cousin is the Dracula, and my brother is the Skeleton. My Mom is on the far left. We're in my grandparents' living room.

Do you have any yearly Halloween rituals?

SO MANY HALLOWEEN RITUALS!! Monster cereal of course, any Halloween themed food and cereals I can find, and the lesser known True Moo Orange Scream milk. It is getting harder and harder to find every year!  In fact, it has been a few years since I last had some. Of course, I always go Trick or Treating with my kids. We always try to visit Pioneer Village. Every year they put out these witch statues for "Witchfest". It's a lot of fun, and they use the same statues they used when I went as a kid! The wear and tear is really starting to shown on some of those witches.

What about Halloween albums or music?

I also select songs from my favorite artists to compile "Mix Tapes" playlists I out together on my YouTube account. I also do this every year for Creepmas too, and it has been a fun way to discover new songs. YouTube playlists are pretty much the modern version of mix tapes.

Why do you think we hold on to Halloween as we get older?

The costumes and masks are a big part of it, becoming someone, or something else for one night, the spookiest night of the year! The Trick or Treat aspect has drawn in a lot of kids. It's nice to walk around the neighborhood at night. Also, people get a rush from being scared.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Circus Peanuts!

My favorite thing to get was Reese's Pumpkins of Ghosts!!!

My favorite monster cereal is Monster Mash! (mix all 3 together)

Thanks to Mason for dropping by today. You can check out his blog at DI Treasures.

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 23, 2019

Scooby-Doo - Shaggy & Headless Horseman Figures

Quick programming note: Yes, I know it's Wednesday. No, this is not an Addams Family post. It's pretty much the Wild West from here on out!

A couple or three years ago, Character Ltd released two series of Scooby-Doo figure two packs. Each pack had one of the Scooby gang and one of their villains. At the time, I passed on the Scooby/Headless Horseman pack and have been kicking myself ever since because now it's "hard to find" aka pricey.

Thankfully, Walmart recently released figure repacks for Scooby's 50th Birthday.

For around $6 you get two figures. Obviously they're not amazing quality but for the price, I think they're pretty great. They've got more articulation than I'd expect for "cheap" figures.

My biggest "problem" with Shaggy is that he's got a mouth but they didn't color it in. So he looks a little weird from a distance. I mean if you're going to put the beard lines on his face, would it kill you to color in the mouth?

Note to self: next time get matte finish backdrops not glossy
Ol' Headless has the same points of articulation as Shaggy but his cape (I guess it's a cape?) gets in the way of his full range of movement. At first glance, it looks removable but has a large peg fixing it to his back.

His hands are oddly positioned so that if his arms are anywhere except by his sides he looks like he's doing the robot. His head may not come off but at least he knows how to party!

These should still be available in your local Walmart and for the price they'd make a great Halloween gift for Scooby fans of any age. The girls have been hard to find in my area but Velma has Frankenstein's Monster and Daphne comes with Wolfman, for you classic monster fans.

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 22, 2019

Halloween Web - Sam Heimer

Today we've got the other half  behind The Order of the Thinned Veil (OTV), someone whose art perfectly captures the mix of wonder, magic, and creepy of Halloween, please welcome Sam Heimer.

For those that don't know you, tell us about yourself.

I'm a freelance Illustrator and Toy Maker based out of Philadelphia. I don’t have a specific market I work within, but my work is almost completely Halloween & Horror based. In the wild my work can be seen on various breweries beer cans (Abomination being the most recent), a few albums a year, lately the bulk being from Cadabra Records, and a mix of t-shirts, spot illustrations and book covers, promo and ad work, and other odds and ends like Monster themed Beef Jerky to limited edition Halloween Coffee.

I’ve got a few aces up my sleeve for the upcoming High Holiday, as well as Mythos In My Pocket Series 2 (Lovecraft inspired mini-figures) probably dropping in October, my art on the label of ‘Red Rum’ from Rowhouse Spirits in collaboration with OTV (Jason McKittrick’s and my Halloween ‘club’) and a handful of gallery openings and other Halloween events.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in any town America, Lansdale, PA, an older suburb of Philadelphia, and I wouldn’t trade having grown up there for all the bourbon in Kentucky. A main street with a handful of businesses and a regional rail running through the middle, then hemmed in by farmland, now garish developments and town homes. At the time, Lansdale was kid-filled, with large tree-lined streets, populated with folks that would decorate and leave the porch light on for trick-or-treaters, and older houses that with the aid of nothing more than a flickering street lamp would inspire legends about hauntings or a ghoulish owner. Lansdale at Halloween is a feeling I try year after year to recreate in my art.

Do you have any special Halloween memories?

I was six or seven and was amped up on candy even before going out to Trick-or-Treat, and did a swan dive off a couch into the corner of a coffee table, splitting open my eyebrow. The scar has shrunk, but at the time, it was hanging down over my eye. I was flailing and screaming so violently that they tried to put me in a strait-jacket to stitch me up, but low-and-behold, they don’t make them to fit a six year old, so I squirmed right out. My dad, at the time a Gym teacher, had to brace my head between his knees while they stitched me up.

Later, after moving away, I would return to Lansdale to hand out candy. My childhood neighbor across the street was an asshole. Lights off for Halloween, and at Christmas, so many lights the house could be seen from space. Every few groups of kids I would ask “hey, did you try across the street?”, perplexed, they’d mention the lights being off, to which I would reply “It’s a SECRET”, crouch down to their level and whisper “If you ring the doorbell 31 times, you’ll be given a KING SIZE candy bar!”. An hour of that and the dickbag was on his porch with a screw-driver disabling his doorbell. The directions then switched to knocking 31 times.

What about favorite costumes?

One year I could finally afford a bottom-shelf latex mask of a ghoul, but having just seen Jurassic Park, on a whim before setting out to Trick Or Treat I put on a construction hat with a JP logo, work overalls, sprayed myself with blood, and tied a severed hand dangling from my hidden forearm, and went as a Jurassic Park employee post outbreak. I thought I was pretty damn clever.

Also my sweet grandmother one year sew me a felt Christmas Tree costume. I do not think I wore it beyond the family photos.

Do you have any annual rituals to get into the spirit of the season?

I’ve got a laundry list. Some, more personal that I won’t mention. Every year I do a First Friday art opening of Halloween work at Atlantis; The Lost bar. In addition to that, I usually have work in several other Halloween themed art shows around Philly and the country. This will be the third year Order of the Thinned Veil has it’s big Halloween event. Like last year it’ll be an art show and Halloween party complete with liquor tasting, tarot reading, food, music and more, at The Convent Philly.

October is also when I tend to release the bulk of my more personal art. Every year I try to put a few new editions out into the world, with the subject always being Halloween in one form or another. The last few years on the Holiday I’ve had an open house; cooked a feast, open the doors to all, bowls of candy for the kids that sadly don’t come to my block, and a few horror movies for background noise. I have a few other rituals and things I try to meditate on that go deeper into my Halloween beliefs, but I’ll save sharing those for another day.

What about music, movies/TV, or places to visit?

Tom Waits’ ‘Blood Money’ to me is October in an album. As far as movies, I run down a list of the classics, as well as Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents plays on loop in the studio for the month. Places to visit, not so much. But if you’ve never been to the Castle Halloween Museum in central PA, drop your candy corn and get driving. It’s the most complete collection of Halloween ephemera out there.

Why do you think we hold on to Halloween as we get older?

As a kid we’re drawn to the magic, the role reversal, being impish and the candy. As an adult, I think we, or I at least, start to appreciate the finer elements of Halloween more; the frail nature of life and how it connects to the harvest, looking to those who have passed on for protection in the form of guidance, and simply getting through dark periods with hard work, stewardship of the land (or in this case friendships and community) and a lil’ bit of magic and luck.
Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was handmade goodies. Not because I didn’t appreciate them, but because they would be thrown out by my mother thanks to Halloween Sadism Hysteria and Candy Tampering.

My favorite thing to get was Reseses Pieces. Boston Baked Beans. Good and Plenty.

My favorite monster cereal is I was not allowed to eat sugary cereals with cartoon characters growing up. Is the Quaker Oats man a monster?

Where can folks find you online?

The best spot to follow what I’m doing is on Instagram at @sam_heimer and @HH_Toys_INC. Any new print edition, gallery opening, or WIP of projects will be posted there. I also have an Etsy shop.

A huge thanks to Sam  for joining us this year! I was thrilled to be able to get him and Jason as these guys have a huge hand in keeping Halloween going all year for me.

If you check out the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below, a ghost may follow you home!

Oct 21, 2019

Halloween Web - Jason McKittrick

I'm beyond thrilled to be bringing you this interview. Jason is someone that keeps Halloween alive all year. I was introduced to Jason and his work through his Jackling figures (pic below) which I immediately fell in love with because he's crafted lore to go with them.

Thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Jason McKittrick. I own Cryptocurium which is a maker of "handmade horrors" that launched in 2010. My work is mainly sculptural and my subjects are horror themed with a focus on Halloween and Lovecraft. I have two subscription services; The Parcel of Terror and Cryptocasts plus a year round Halloween society that I run with Sam Heimer (Ed.: interview coming tomorrow!) called The Order of the Thinned Veil.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in the Pine Barrens of NJ. My neighborhood was very rural but still had plenty of Trick or Treaters. The town that I currently live in now has the country's second largest Halloween parade and as a kid we used to come see it most years. The cool thing about it is that because of the parade, they trick or treat the night before Halloween so we'd come here and on the 30th and trick or treat and then the next night do it again in my hometown. It was pretty great and it's a tradition that I've carried on with my own children.

Halloween was always a big deal in my house so every year was great and I was allowed to trick or treat on my own with friends at an early age. Times were different! Some of my fondest childhood Halloween memories include: Sneaking into the local abandoned house and being terrified by what my friends and I still swear was a ghost, carrying two masks with me so I could double dip on candy at the neighborhood houses and carving Jack O'Lanterns every year.

Do you have any favorite costume memories?

My earliest Halloween memory was of being dressed as a black and white harlequin clown that matched my Mom's costume. My Mom is a professional seamstress so growing up I never wore a store bought costume so from a very early age, I equated Halloween and handmade.

Above is a picture of myself at age 9 and my oldest daughter also age 9. We both dressed as the grim reaper at the same age. Proud dad moment!

How do you celebrate today?

Celebrating Halloween is huge here in my home. I'm a husband and father of three so it's always a blast and we go all out. We decorate inside and out like crazy, keep an eye out for the best new Halloween stuff in stores and go pumpkin picking. Carving Jack O' Lanterns and taking my kids trick or treating are my die hard traditions. Without those two it just isn't Halloween for me. A yearly reading of Norman Partridge's "Dark Harvest" is also in order.

 Anything else you do to get in the Halloween spirit every year?

Disney's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is my all time favorite. I also love Trick r' Treat, Carpenter's Halloween, WNUF Halloween Special, the ghost episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, Hocus Pocus, and the Halloween episodes of Roseanne. Music wise, I listen to the "All Hallows" EP by AFI every year on Halloween Day.

Why do you think we hold on to Halloween as we get older?

Halloween stays in the hearts of the those who have preserved the spark of childhood creativity in their souls. You can always tell who those people are too. They get that tell tale grin on their face when you talk about Halloween or they see Halloween decorations no matter what time of year it is. People who don't like Halloween should be avoided as a general rule! Haha!

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was loose change. It shows that the people who lived there put forth zero effort into celebrating All Hallows.

My favorite thing to get was full sized candy bars. Finding houses that were giving them out was always a highlight of the night.

My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula although they've changed the recipe and all the Monster Cereals taste like cardboard now!

Where can folks find you online?

They can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And you can see my work on the Cryptocurium website and in my Etsy store.

A monster sized thanks to Jason for joining us. If you're reading this, you obviously love Halloween so go check out his stuff!

If you decide to visit the other Countdown to Halloween bloggers, bring your Death Certificate and click below.

Oct 20, 2019

2019 Halloween Hot Wheels - Altered Ego & Power Rocket

Believe it or not, we've already come to the end for this year's Halloween Hot Wheels. Hopefully this down shift from 8 cars to 6 isn't a sign that they're going away.

Anyway, let's have a look at the final two.

Altered Ego was first released in 2012 and this is only the sixth version. I usually like my Halloween hot rods to have more color to them but even though it's mostly green, it's a lot of shades of green. It works really well with the flames.

It's definitely got a unique body with the elongated front section. I'm not a car guy so I'm not even going to pretend like I know what to call that. But it does kind of give it a dragster look.

Lastly, we have Power Rocket.

This one got its start in 1995. It originally had an opening canopy until it was retooled in 2015. It sticks to the Halloween basics (black & orange) and does it right.

The sleek form and jet turbine definitely remind be of the Burton Batmobile.

Here's my rankings for 2019 (best first)
Rigor Motor
Power Rocket
Torque Screw
Rocket Box
Altered Ego

What will next week bring?
Tune in to find out because even I don't know right now!

If you want to see all the participants in the Countdown to Halloween, don't fret just click below.