01 November 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (thirteenth)... Halloween

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (thirteenth)

Tales from the Crypt: "Spoiled" (1991)
Twenty-five minutes of waiting around for a 10-second zinger at the end. (5/10)

d. Andy Wolk

Tales from the Crypt: "Yellow" (1991)
This big big-budget tale of the horrors of World War I, though not exactly a traditional TftC story, was a great finisher for season 3. (7/10)

d. Robert Zemeckis

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (trailer)
Bad Channels (trailer)
Looney Tunes: "The Case of the Stuttering Pig"

The Shining (1980)
It's feels like a horror movie made by someone who'd never watched a horror movie in his life, or intentionally tried to ignore the traditional conventions, or thought he could create new conventions. (9/10)

d. Stanley Kubrick

The Return of the Living Dead (trailer)
Evil Dead (trailer)
Happy Tree Friends: "Remains to be Seen"

Masters of Horror: "Sounds Like" (2007)
What if Daredevil was a fat, bald guy who could see and hated his wife? (6/10)

d. Brad Anderson

The Exorcist (TV spot)
Class of Nuke 'Em High Part II: Subhumanoid Meltdown (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror: The Raven"

Masters of Horror: "The Washingtonians" (2007)
Everything outside of the Washintonians themselves was played far too seriously to match the utter goofiness of the cannibal cult. (5/10)

d. Peter Medak

Halloween (1978)
Still the greatest slasher movie of all time. (9/10)

d. John Carpenter

This Halloween, I was joined by Mrs. K and C. Once again, the upstairs lights were kept off. Sorry kids: movies are more important than handing out free candy. A feast of pizza, Beck's Oktoberfest and Halloween cupcakes were enjoyed by all (well, Mrs. K had to stick to that god-awful O'Doul's).

I saved the three glass bottle flavors of Jones Soda's Halloween flavors for Halloween night. Monster Mojito still tastes to me like the alcohol drinks served in college that make you vomit. It's not really a flavor I crave in a carbonated, stand-alone form. Dread Licorice tastes exactly, exactly like liquid red licorice. It's not bad. If you've ever used a red licorice whip as a straw when you were a kid, the experience is similar. It's fraternal twin, however, is awful. I knew Black Cat Licorice, the black licorice-flavored drink, had the potential to be pretty bad. It was. Even though I'm one of the rare people on the planet who actually likes black licorice candy, I couldn't even finish this one. I addition to the liquid black licorice flavor, it leaves the distinct aftertaste of skunky beer on your pallet once you swallow. Not pleasant. Of this year's seven flavors, it's the only one I couldn't drink. Compared to other years, this is actually an improvement for the Jones company. Maybe they can make 7/7 good ones in 2008?

I decided to dress as Mirror Universe Spock for work this year. I know, I know. Evil Spock didn't wear that type of uniform shirt. You can dock me 10 points from my geek account. No one would've ever have figured out who I was suppose to be if I tried to duplicate Evil Spock's weird, shiny blue shirt-with-sash thing. In fact, no one did figure out the whole evil part. Despite the goatee and that one South Park episode that emphasized the idea of evil facial hair, no one guessed that I was the evil version of Spock. Ah well. I knew.

It's always interesting to hear what people will say to you when you're dressed up. Especially since most of the people at work don't wear costumes. Those of us in disguise were in an exclusive club; we acknowledged each other's shared experience when chatting in hallways, lamenting everyone else's lack of holiday spirit. Memorable comments from the non-dressed-up folks included:
  • called "Dr. Spock" four times
  • called "Captain Kirk" three times
  • delivery guy: "Hey, why aren't you teleporting?" me: "I need the exercise"
  • lady in elevator: "Do you have your translator chip in?" she asks, pointing to spot behind her ear. "We could really use those here." (no idea what show this she's thinking of here)
  • guy from India who apparently wasn't aware of what day it was: "If you don't mind me asking, what's with the outfit?"
There were also many Vulcan salutes directed my way, plus many smiles as people recognized who I was dressed as. All in all, it was fun. And, damn, those uniform shirts are comfortable.

And, that's it! My Six Weeks of Halloween celebration is over. I didn't watch as many movies, nor eat as much candy, as I did in years prior. That's fine. I had fun and maximized my enjoyment of this, the last child-free Halloween of my life. Next year: making a goofy costume for the kid, and reading kid Halloween books as bedtime stories are what I'm most looking forward to.

31 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (twelfth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (twelfth)

Tales from the Crypt: "Deadline" (1991)
The only thing of interest here is the out-of-nowhere expressionist set in the framing scenes. (5/10)

d. Walter Hill

29 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (eleventh)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (eleventh)

Masters of Horror: "We All Scream for Ice Cream" (2007)
Surprisingly well-executed despite the ridiculous premise. (7/10)

d. Tom Holland

Tales from the Crypt: "Mournin' Mess" (1991)
Mrs. Tom Hanks, no! (6/10)

d. Manny Coto

Tales from the Crypt: "Split Second" (1991)
I don't think this was supposed to be about gay lumberjacks, but it's fun to look at it that way. (7/10)

d. Russell Mulcahy

28 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (tenth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (tenth)

28 Weeks Later (2007)
Though there are several excellent horror movies scenes, the movie overall is plagued by people making unnaturally stupid decisions. (6/10)

d. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

27 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (ninth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (ninth)

The Munsters: "Herman the Rookie" (1965)
I theorize that the movies for Frankenstein and Dracula never came out in The Munsters' universe, which is why everyone just thinks they're accident victims and mutants. (6/10)

d. Jerry Paris

28 Days Later (2002)
Though I'll never be a huge fan of fast zombies, they make for effective scary monsters (judging from the wife's constant covering of her eyes). (8/10)

d. Danny Boyle

26 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (eighth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (eighth)

Terror Train
What nice old man the conductor was, not minding a frat party on his train and making smart decisions when the bodies start to pile up. (6/10)

d. Roger Spottiswoode

25 October 2007

SWH07: Week 6 (seventh)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 6 (seventh)

Masters of Horror: "Valerie on the Stairs" (2006)
I loved the Barkerian Valerie and the Beast (played by Candyman himself) and I'm impressed that Clive's story got Garris to finally grow a pair, but everything else from the acting to the story was subpar. (6/10)

d. Mick Garris

Tales from the Crypt: "Undertaking Palor" (1991)
I had a lot of fun with this perfectly casted Goonies-esque horror adventure. (8/10)

d. Michael Thau

19 October 2007

SWH07: Week 5 (sixth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 5 (sixth)

Beneath Still Waters (2005)
The orgy at the town's anniversary showed small signs of old school Yuzna, who was barely detectable in the dull and poorly plotted remainder. (5/10)

d. Brian Yuzna

Masters of Horror: "The Black Cat" (2006)
An excellent adaption, capturing the spirit of Poe and his work near-perfectly. (9/10)

d. Stuart Gordon

Baby shower 2/2 was the main focus of this weekend, again, rather than Halloween. Though, driving through Michigan at this precise time of year is incredibly beautiful.

I gave two Jones Soda flavors a day in court: Strawberry Slime and Gruesome Grape. They taste almost exactly like their equivalent Faygo flavors (which, I'd like to state, was good drinkin' long before utter idjits started promoting it). What this means to me is that they're completely drinkable. Unbelievably, I found all 4 of the half-can Halloween flavors to be tasty this year. Jones is getting better at this. Of course, next weekend I will be experimenting with their new licorice-flavored drinks. That may change my opinion.

Silent Hill 4: The Room was about as bad as I was expecting. A dull game full of bad choices. One of the worst ideas from the Resident Evil series -- the item box -- was imported and made even more annoying. Rather than multiple boxes that magically teleport your items between each other, there's only one box with which to manage your limited inventory. Accidentally pick up too many bullets and have no room for that key item? You'll have to make a trip all the way back to the apartment, dump some stuff in the box, and walk all the way back. There's no way to simply drop items where you stand. In the universe I live in, this is not remotely close to fun.

About half of the game is an escort mission, essentially. Making sure that a dumb AI-controlled character doesn't get itself killed is rarely more than frustrating (though I did get into it in the excellent Dead Rising). Herding Eileen through levels isn't too bad. You can run faster than her, making it easy to trap her in a room by exiting it before she's close to the door (the AI being too stupid to using doorknobs). Still, during my playthrough, she got wounded enough to get me the worst of the four endings.

There are no bosses, really, to speak of until the end of the game. There aren't really any puzzles outside of collecting items. The areas are the same old stuff: the requisite hospital, a subway, a prison, a forest, an apartment building. To play the game, you shuffle from area to area, occasionally batting down a mutant dog (also a requisite) while picking up items to unlock the path ahead. That's about it. It's as tedious as it sounds.

Play mechanics were never the series' strong suit. The storyline is supposed to be where SH shines. Not so much, here. A serial killer -- who happens to come from Silent Hill, though the game takes place in a different town altogether -- everyone thinks is dead isn't really and he's trying to finish a black magic ritual by killing 21 people. Also, he thinks your apartment is his literal mother. Outside of that bit of psychosis, SH's trademarked psychological horror is largely absent here. You're the hero: you save your pretty neighbor and the world from a bad guy. The end. It's a complete disappointment. I hope the Americans making the next two games can rescue the series from this low point.

14 October 2007

SWH07: Week 4 (fifth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 4 (fifth)

Masters of Horror: "The Screwfly Solution" (2006)
I'm a sucker for a post-apocalyptic movie and, wow, Jason Priestley lives in town? (7/10)

d. Joe Dante

An even more barebones Halloween this weekend. Real life is pushing my normal non-stop horror movie fest to the side this year. Ah well, that'll happen. Others are picking up the slack for me, and I appreciate it.

I did manage to read a pair of horror-themed graphic novels over the weekend. My advice is that you stay as far away as possible from Papercutz's Tales from the Crypt #1: Ghouls Gone Wild. I haven't read such a pathetic horror anthology comic since the disappointing days of Flinch. This book does not contain reprints from the classic '50s series. It's all new material with modern-style art in a digest-sized book. None of this is the problem. The problem is that the writing is awful. The stories all follow the same pattern: asshole does something evil, something supernatural punishes him. Granted, the original series was the creator of this pattern, but, 50 years later, it's tiring to see it resurrected. Why can't anyone do horror anthology comics right these days?

I had exactly the opposite reaction to The Walking Dead, Vol 7: The Calm Before. This series never fails to blow me away. What would real people -- not people trapped in a 90-minute movie -- do if the dead came back to life? How would they interact with other survivors? What problems, both internal and external, would they face? Which problems would they conquer and which would best them? The Walking Dead lays it all out in a stark, realistic, humanistic terms. Vol 7 was no exception. It's telling of the series that the "calm" of the subtitle of this volume involves a doctor-free birth, an amputation, an exploding building and a suicide. For a Walking Dead book, this was all practically relaxing. I'm actually afraid of what terrors volume 8 will visit upon the characters within.

As for what occupied me all weekend, I'll say that if all goes well, next year I'll be Six-Weekin' from here:

10 October 2007

SWH07: Week 3 (fourth)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 3 (fourth)

Prom Night (1980)
Ah, that's what every other slasher movie I'd ever seen has been missing: tons and tons of disco music. (7/10)

d. Paul Lynch

08 October 2007

SWH07: Week 3 (third)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 3 (third)

Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe (trailer)
Werewolves on Wheels (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror IX: Hell Toupée"

From Beyond (1986)
Though somewhat flawed in its execution, I've always loved the idea behind the story. (7/10)

d. Stuart Gordon

A busy couple of days squeezed the weekend Halloween celebrating down to barebones. Did you know that people will give you stuff just for deciding to breed? It's true. To be honest -- rather than attempt to wrangle people into some horror movie watching amongst the post-shower litter of tiny, pink outfits, stuffed animals and books made of thick cardboard -- I decided to play a massive amount of legendary co-op Halo 3 with the brother-in-law. For shame: not very seasonal, I know.

Upon returning home, Mrs. K. and I watched the above. I gave Jones Soda Lemon Drop Dead a day in court as the movie unfolded. This is another repeat flavor from last year, though it has received a demotion. Previously, it was one of the "prestige" glass bottle flavors; now it's relegated to the kid-friendly mini-cans. The shape of the container isn't the only difference: it now tastes a helluva lot like its namesake candy. Last year, its flavor was more like that cheap, powdered lemonade elementary schools tend to serve at lunch. It wasn't worth the glass it was bottled in. This year's version tastes like a can full of pure citric acid. Interesting. Not something you'd drink after running a mile in the desert, but kind of a fun thing to try.

Speaking of H.P. Lovecraft, I've only reached 1916 in my chronological reading of his stories and poems. So far, he's an arrogant racist whose poetry is mostly stiff and tedious. He's not a likable guy in the least. Hopefully, he'll mellow as he ages. I haven't even gotten to his first adult short story, "The Tomb," yet. Judging by his impressive skills in this area at the age of 15, I'm expecting it to be a much-welcomed relief from the unending onslaught of poetry he wrote preceding it.

30 September 2007

SWH07: Week 2 (second)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 2 (second)

Night of the Living Dead (1960, colorized) (trailer)
Night of the Living Dead (1990) (trailer)
Night of the Living Bread

Masters of Horror: "Family" (2006)
Very little happens until the last few minutes, but at least Landis' trademarked smarminess was largely absent. (6/10)

d. John Landis

The Omega Man (trailer)
I Am Legend (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror VIII: The Homega Man"

Cabin Fever (2002)
I wanted to like this as a serious horror movie, but it kept making faint stabs in goofy directions that just didn't fit. (7/10)

d. Eli Roth

The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide (trailer)
Man with the Screaming Brain (trailer)
Looney Tunes: "Hyde and Hare"

Masters of Horror: "Right to Die" (2006)
Abby's burned up ghost crawling around was pretty cool in a Julia Cotton sort of way. (7/10)

d. Rob Schmidt

C came over this weekend to enjoy the above, as well as our traditional Pizza House. And, Mrs. K stuck around for both the first Masters of Horror episode and Cabin Fever before retiring for the night. Both of them enjoyed the shows more than me, but that's not unusual.

I also tried my first Jones Soda Halloween flavor of the season. I picked Candy Corn, as it's the one flavor that's been duplicated from the past two years and it's the one I've always liked the least. In fact, I've always found it undrinkable. Last year, I poured my remaining cans into the sink after a few sips of just one. Adding candy corn flavoring to what is already essentially just a can full of corn syrup is beyond overkill. This year, though, Jones has switched to pure cane sugar in all of their drinks. Huge difference. No longer is the candy corn flavoring amplifying the corn syrup sweetness. Instead, the cane sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness to the candy corn flavor. It's still not the greatest soft drink in the world, but I easily finished this can for the first time and I kinda liked it.

We also employed my new popcorn maker during the movies. Chef gave this to me last week. He found it in disrepair, ready to be thrown out. Using his engineering background, he fixed it and got it working and looking great. It's pretty nifty, just like a for-real movie theater. I did learn one lesson: close the lids on the kettle! Butter-flavored sunflower oil is now spattered all over the inside of the thing. That ain't gonna be fun to clean. The popcorn was good, though.

23 September 2007

SWH07: Week 1 (first)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 1 (first)

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (trailer)
Sexy Adventures of Van Helsing (trailer)
SNL: "Consumer Probe: Unsafe Halloween Costumes"

The Monster Squad (1987)
Best remembered as teaching us all a valuable lesson on werewolf anatomy, this is also a damned fun kid adventure. (8/10)

d. Fred Dekker

[Why don't they make movies like this anymore? The closest modern kid films I can think of are the Spy Kids movies. Those lack the cusp-of-puberty edge that films like The Monster Squad, The Goonies and Explorers have, however. There doesn't seem to be anyone making movies with realistic kids going on fantastic adventures anymore. Or I'm just too old to notice?]

Trick 'r Treat (trailer)
Two Thousand Maniacs! (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror V: The Shinning"

Masters of Horror: "The Fair-Haired Child" (2005)
A classically-constructed horror tale containing Crowley-esque demonology, excellent photography and a touch of extreme gore, among other pleasures. (9/10)

d. William Malone

Frailty (trailer)
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (trailer)
Merrie Melodies: "Pigs is Pigs"

Near Dark (1987)
Still my favorite vampire movie of all time; I'm a complete sucker for a horror-romance movie. (9/10)

d. Kathryn Bigelow

The Company of Wolves (1984)
A big stew of sexually-charged symbolism masquerading as a werewolf take on "Little Red Riding Hood" that my brain will be chewing on for a while. (8/10)

d. Neil Jordan

Capping off a weekend of old-schooling hanging out -- probably the last before my baby is born -- Chef Gregory and I enjoyed the above. It had been twenty years since my dad popped in a tape of The Monster Squad for us to watch during a sleepover. I remember the ten-year-old Chef being nervous at the time as the loud, introductory flashback played. "I don't usually watch movies like this," he explained. I was sure to bring this up two decades later. "You all right? Not too scary, is it?" I ribbed. He replied with a curse. We both were surprised at how well the movie held up. It has all of the elements necessary for a cool kid movie: a secret club, an absolutely bad-ass tree house, BMX bike transportation, a vague interest in the opposite sex, an adventure only the kids -- definitely not the adults -- can go on. Good stuff.

Grolschenstein Approves

20 September 2007

Six Weeks of Halloween: 2007

Six Weeks of Halloween

  1. 20 Sep - 26 Sep | first
  2. 27 Sep - 03 Oct | second
  3. 04 Oct - 10 Oct | third - fourth
  4. 11 Oct - 17 Oct | fifth
  5. 18 Oct - 24 Oct | sixth
  6. 25 Oct - 31 Oct | seventh - eighth - ninth - tenth - eleventh - twelfth - thirteenth

My halloweenish goals for the season:

I should drag myself to the theater to see Rob Zombie's Halloween. I only venture into cinemas about once a year; other than the giant screen, there's not a lot to like about the experience these days. I like Rob Zombie -- both as a musician and as a director -- and John Carpenter's Halloween is my favorite horror movie, but I'm not looking forward to seeing this. It seems unlikely this movie falls into the tiny minority of remakes that are actually worth the effort.

I need to play through Silent Hill 4: The Room. I've only owned it for 3 years... it's time to get around to finishing it. From what little I've played, I can already tell it's the worst of the series and it's clear that it started life as something other than a Silent Hill game. Still, it needs to be completed before I can pick up the upcoming Origins and part 5.

I'm going to start my chronological H.P. Lovecraft read. Having finished the works of Poe, HPL is next on my list of the giants of horror literature. Cthulhu fhtagn.

I've gotta try the official Jones Soda Halloween 2007 flavors, as I do every year. I'll be interested to see if I can taste the difference in the repeat flavors, now that they've switched to cane sugar from HFCS. I can't say the concept of a black licorice pop sounds appealing, though.

A trip to the Dexter Cider Mill is in order. I'll acquire my seasonal supply of apple cider there, and maybe a resupply of cider spice mix.

Horror movies and TV shows, the anchor of any good Six Weeks of Halloween, will abound. I expect discs containing episodes of Masters of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, The Munsters, and The Simpsons to spin often. I see movies containing killer babies, Japanese torturers and young monster hunters -- among others -- appearing on my TV in the near future.

And, as always, I will watch John Carpenter's Halloween on Halloween. This would've been the 9th year in a row I've done this, except an unexpected death interrupted my streak. I'll count this as 9, anyway, as I did watch Halloween with the commentary track turned on at the start of last year's six weeks.

Six Weeks of Halloween is Go!

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