Saturday, October 26, 2013

Different Flicks for Halloween Night

Well Folks, the Halloween season has just a week left as of starting this article. I gotta say I'm pretty satisfied with how it's turned out so far. I've accomplished just about everything I wanted to do and I still have one more week to pack in more fun. Let's face the facts though. For all the various activities available, most people will end up settling in with a few scary movies to wrap up their celebrations. With that in mind I've decided to offer up a few suggestions that are a bit different from the usual recommendations. They're not really in any order, but each one fills a different style.

The Kitchen Sink party flick: Waxwork.
There are very few horror flicks that go for a kitchen sink approach yet each one that does usually becomes a classic like “The Monster Squad” or “Cabin in the Woods.” Waxwork has a lot in common with that idea of let's just throw in as many different scary things as we can and see what sticks. You've got werewolves, Vampires, Mummies, Mutants, Zombies. Even the Marquis de Sade pops in to whip some bitches. The whole affair moves along quickly and doesn't require too much attention so you and your friends can talk during it making for a nice party flick. Bloody fun the whole way through.

The Newer Hidden-gem: Altered (so hidden, I forgot to put it in the picture)
Oh my god yes. This has got to be one of the best Alien movies around. It's a lean and mean flick that begs the question What if people abducted an alien? The answer is some wild shit happens. It's dark, dramatic, and unforgettable with some surprisingly good performances and some of the nastiest lil bastard E.T.s you'll ever see.

Something Classy: The Sentinel
A supernatural thriller from the 70's. This one takes a little while to get to the goods but it wraps up with a sweet climax. The best part has to be the cast. There's Chris Sarandon, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith, Jerry Orbach, John Caradine, and so many more. You even get to see Beverly D'Angelo play with herself! I guarantee that will change the way you look at Christmas Vacation.

I did not see that coming. Deadly Blessing
A lesser known Wes craven flick with plenty of atmosphere to spare. It resolves around murders near a crazy Amish community (actually, the movie claims they're Hittites). The big reasons to indulge in this one are Ernest Borgnine's bonkers performance and the last twenty minutes that bring in some crazy shit you couldn't have imagined when the flick began. The ending will either have you applauding or threatening to huck the movie out the nearest window.

How did I never hear about this?: The New Daughter.
Kevin Costner plays a single father who moves his kids out to the countryside. The results are not what he envisioned as his daughter turns into a cold-hearted little bitch. Believe it or not this is actually a pretty nice creature flick with fairly strong dramatic elements. It reminds me of something M. Night Shyamalan might make. That should be enough to let you know if you'll be interested in it or not.

The Big One you Never Noticed:Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Despite being part of one of the most well known horror series around it seems like a lot of people haven't seen Season of the Witch. It's a shame since few films embody the spirit of Halloween so well. While all the Michael Myers installments happen to take place on Halloween, this one is fully wrapped in the holiday itself. Plus it stars Tom Atkins! He's the manliest man who ever manned!

Nutty and dramatic: Night of Dark Shadows
The Second movie based on the classic soap opera, ditches the usual vampire nonsense for a mind screw story involving witches and reincarnation. This one is just right for those of you who like a movie to leave them feeling puzzled.

Holy shit is this for real?: God Told me To
If you're looking for a movie to shock you with ideas more than gore, than this is the one for you. There's a rash of violent crimes happening across New York, and the perpetrators claim that god told them to do it. I'd love to tell you everything that makes this movie awesome but it just needs to be experienced without prior knowledge of the twists. It's crazy! But a good kind of crazy.

Something for the whole family: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Not sure how well known this one is but it came from a time when Disney wasn't afraid to try new things. Based on the novel by Ray Bradberry, it concerns two boys dealing with the threat an evil carnival poses to their town. Watching this is a yearly tradition for my family as we used to rent it every Halloween (usually paired with Watcher in the Woods). If you've never seen it, do so this year. It'll make ya feel great.

Hopefully a few of these will help to brighten your celebrations. In case I don't post again before the 31st. Have a Happy Halloween everybody!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Quest!

I'm not the type who usually has adventurous weekends. More often than not they boil down to some nachos and a three movie mini-marathon. Luckily the best quests are frequently the ones you didn't plan on.
I'd already felt decent enough about a Friday on which I'd crafted up some crosses for the front yard, saw a local band downtown, did some proper socializing, and bungled through my lil groups first game of Elder Sign (good game btw). Honestly that was all enough to keep the weekend from feeling like a waste but come Saturday, everyone still seemed to have some extra energy to throw around.
In truth, our adventure didn't start out with any grand design. We were simply bored, which lead to us visiting a cemetery just outside of town that we'd never gone to before. Now, Ususally a smaller graveyard has a pervading theme. Some I've been to are filled with longest passed folks you can think of, while others are still prepping rows for newcomers. This one here was an odd streatch from the 19th century to people who aren't even dead yet. I wouldn't be that surprised by the spread but this was a fairly small spot so it's wide array of dead folk was at least unique. Still; this wasn't a big enough outing to satisfy our little group so we continued on.
It's generally a golden rule that you can follow an old country road and eventually a cemetery will pop up. Now it did take a while, but we found the smallest damn graveyard I've ever seen. A tiny hill, parked next to a corn field with just two markers to list the bakers dozen or so folks who where laid there. I must admit, they had a good view at least.

Continuing down the road, our needs still unmet, we realized that we weren't far from a haunted trail that we'd visited some years back. I imagine that veering in that direction had been an unspoken goal of the driver since the moment we had first hopped in the car. We got turned around on the back roads and stumbled upon a bar in the abso-fucking-lute middle of nowhere. The joint went by the name of Kaptains, and while we only stopped in the parking lot to check our maps, I will not feel fully satisfied until we make a return trip to eat there. It just seemed like the sort of place you have to visit.
Finally, we neared our destination. All the better that there was a dive (and god do I mean dive!) general store on our way. Now I totally adore shitty hole in the wall party stores and this bitch ranks amongst some of the skaniest I've ever been in. Every rack smelled of desperation and a complete and utter lack of anything resembling effort. Best of all; the windows had the veneer of grease generally reserved for Chinese buffets. Just look at it!

This must be Heaven!
This really marked a high point on our journey as we grabbed some drinks. The main girl working the joint had the line held up until she was done making a pizza, that as far as I can tell was mostly for here co-workers. After getting out with our junk, a couple of us dared to return for a trip to the pisser. My friend got in first while I was waiting in line behind two teenaged girls. Unfortunately I can't remember a pittance of the conversations the employees where carrying on, I just know that they where a gold mine of inbred lunacy. After my friend got out of the bathroom, he kept me company in line as the first girl went in. Her friend decided to use this time to, and I am not exaggerating this, take at least three selfies a second for over a minute and a half as she moved her phone closer and father from her face.. Luckily her friend returned before she got bored (slaps face). At last it was my tame to drain the snake. Upon entering the unisex bathroom, I notice that the spot for the employees to hang their coats is directly over the bathroom trash. Also; there was a sign over the toilet asking me to return the handle to it's upright position after flushing. I did them one better and simply didn't flush. Of course there was no hand dryer in the joint. Only a ragged metal beam that was presumably meant to support paper towels. Suffice to say, that bar is failing miserably in its career pursuits. Shaking my wet hands off in all directions as I exited the store, I beheld the final glorious sight. All three girls who worked the place where eating breadsticks....after they squirted enormous amount of hidden valley ranch on them. As a ranch man myself I would normally support their cause. Sadly I heard the large one remark disgustedly about their small size with the phrase, “Fuckin five-inch bullshit.” Magical.

At last we arrived at our destination. Sadly, I was unable to get any good photos of the Duck Lake haunted trail to share with yall but I feel secure in telling you that if you're around Duck Lake MI over the next few weekends, pop on by the place. It's not a large professional haunt, but they give you more than enough value for your five dollar entry fee. I will note that this years layout was not quite as good as the 2009 variant. Still; any place where a guy can jump out at ya with a chainsaw for five bucks is all good in my book.

That thing in the glass is what happens when you add coke. Beware.
Our Journey complete. We returned home, though not without grabbing pumpkin pie cream liqueur and chipotle pumpkin salsa. Both are quality finds for any pumpkin fans out there though I would prefer that less of the recommended mix drinks for the liqueur involved Kahlua as it is not a friend to me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to spend this weekend trying to hear more crazy shit from fat girls...or maybe just watch The Monster Club...haven't decided. Ta!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Book Sale!

For the past few years my local library has held its annual book sale right in the midst of October. I have of course capitalized on this as my own tradition to go blindly searching for some obscure horror novels to keep me entertained for the rest of the month. Usually I walk away with just two or three books but this year I did same pretty major damage. No joke; I actually had to leave a few things behind, including the novelization of Robocop 2 which I might have to go back for. Let's get on to my treasures shall we?

My first acquisition of the evening where these two beauties. Honestly I should have know I was in for a good sale as soon as they popped up. Confession time. I am a big Jaws fan. I don't just mean the first one either. I adore the entire man vs shark saga that spawned form such humble beginnings. I've never really owned any collectibles relating to the franchise so these just fill that little hole in my heart. Of the two, I'm most excited about reading the Jaws Log. Mostly because of the nice collection of photos, but also because the title makes me think of a turd with teeth.

This is what I aim for every year. Simple, often forgotten horror novels. The Brownstone was the last thing I spotted before editing down my pile and boy does it look like a hoot. The description on the back is a pretty standard people need a place and they find a great one but maybe the rent is so cheap for a reason blah blah blah. However; for as generic as it all sounds I can't help but think that it's just going to be a goldmine of spooky fun. Just something I've got a feeling about. And I've learned to trust my feelings from previous book sales.
Watchers on the other hand is something I would otherwise avoid. Simply put, I'm not a Dean Koontz fan, but I couldn't resist this one thanks to the movie series it inspired. I've you've never encountered it, here's what you need to know. Cory Haim finds a dog, names it Fur Face for some reason, finds out that the dog is super smart and mentally linked to a monster, both boy and dog must than escape from aforementioned monster as well as Michael Ironside. It's absolute crap, and I can't wait to see how it works in its original form.

Yet another gap in my life is that I have yet to read any Clive Barker. Obviously that will now be remedied. I wish I knew more about this particular book though. If anyone can give me a heads up I'd love to know whether I'm going into some top form Barker, or just standard issue stuff.

The Michael Crichton three novel collection demanded to be snatched up for one reason. Eaters of the Dead served as the bases for possibly my favorite Crichton flick (The 13th Warrior). I'm not planing on reading this until November in the hopes that that it has the proper mixture of horror and adventure to help lift my spirits from post holiday depression. Nothing wrong with thinking ahead sometimes.

Meg by Steve Alton is one I've actually read before, yet I wanted to have it so I can force others around me to read it. This is honest to god, one of the doofiest fucking books I've ever read. It's like a syfy channel original movie without the limitations of budget and censorship. I've you have any interest in shark attack stuff, dig up a copy of this hot mess of a book.

Finally we have my pride and joy item. Some time back, I decided that it would be cool to own some of my favorite spook flicks on a multitude of different formats. Until today, I'd only ever gotten The Beast Within on CED. Now that lonely antique has a friend in the form of a Halloween II VHS. The sale also had copies of the first and 4th movies and a different edition of this with the actors floating around the pumpkin while it shot green lasers out of its eyes, but I could not be swayed from picking this one above all others. I've always loved the skull pumpkin art in that it says everything and nothing about the movie at the same time. Fact is, most of the books I bought will be sold/loaned/donated after I'm finished with them, but not this. This is gonna stay with me as a proud addition to my mountain of horror movies.

Now just think, I got all of the above for a mere $5.25. If you're looking for something to do this weekend, I suggest you go find a used book store and just browse the aisles until you find some old dusty tome of a scary story to take home and savor. You wont regret it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ghosts! The board game

October is finally here my friends! We're now into that glorious month where the leaves crackle under your feet, shadows grow larger, cool winds chill our bones, and we all fear the ghouls & goblins of the past coming out to snatch us away into the night. Honestly I shouldn't be this dramatic seeing as this is just an intro for my experiences with a Milton Bradley board game but it's the season of Halloween and we're all allowed a little embellishment.
Ghosts! Is a nifty little item I stumbled upon just a few months back. It's a simple little two player chess/checkers game with a lot of bluffing. The first version was apparently published in Europe in 1980 with Milton Bradley stepping up to bring it stateside in the year of my birth (1985 woot! Woot!) The game was designed by a guy named Alex Randolph who seems to be a little legend in the tabletop game world. After a little study, I can see why. Plenty of his games look very fun. I'm especially interested in one he created called Casablanca. Of course if you're still reading this I assume you want to wrap up the history lesson and move on to the important stuff. Then let's move on shall we?

Look at that beauty. Possibly the biggest thing that lured me to this game was how it just screams Halloween. The theme, cover art, board art, etc is all soaking in the things we love about this season. You might not be able to make them out but there's snakes and bats moving about the castle just for additional flair. Oh Christ, I was hoping to have explained the gameplay by now but who can really blame me for getting lost in something this cool looking.
Ok so gameplay is quite simple. Each player set up their 8 ghosts (you can choose your own starting layout) on their side of the board with the little colored marks facing them. You see the blue ghosts are good spirits while the orange ones are pure evil. Each turn, you move one ghost a total of one space up, down, left, or right (no diagonal shenanigans here.) Naturally you can knock off your opponents ghosts which finally allows you to see whether you took out a good natured spook or a demon from the depths of hell. This is important for how you win the game. You see one way to win is to get one of your good ghosts to one of your opponents corners so that little guy can escape the castle. The other way to win the game is to capture all of the opposing good ghosts. However; if you capture all of the opposing evil spirits you lose it all. Thous bluffing becomes a major element of the game as you taunt your enemy by sending a ghost into danger while they decide wether to take the risk of capturing it. It's a brilliant little system that provides for a lot of different strategies.
So far I've only had the chance to play this three times. First I won by sneaking a good guy out. Second I lost by not noticing a good one slip past my defense until it was too late. Third I lost by getting greedy and slaughtering all my foes evil spirits. Each playthrough has been quick fun. I know I'm going to pull this out more than a few times before the month is over. In fact I'm thinking of keeping it nearby on Halloween night to fill those gaps between large groups of trick-or-treaters.
If you're at all interested in getting a copy for yourself it shouldn't be too hard to get your paws on it as several version have been produced over the years. Apparently there was even a Jekyll and Hyde variant at some point. The current version is called Phantoms vs Phantoms but I can't say as I like the looks of it very much as it doesn't have the great packaging or board that my old MB copy does. Of Course you could always just get some dollar store ghosts and lay out a 6X6 grid of Halloween napkins as well.
Well I'm gonna get back to work. I've been decorating for the past two days and I haven't even started working on the outside. So far the holiday season is off to a good start folks. Get out there and enjoy those dead leaves.