31 October 2014


Tales from the Darkside 2.05: "Halloween Candy" (1985) directed by Tom Savini
Another Savini episode, and, bonus, one that is specifically about Halloween. Not a bad kick-off for the day. If only the episode were more interesting than it was. A grumpy old man refuses to give out candy on Halloween and is visited by a pissed off troll. It's slow and predictable. It's not even a very good example of Savini's F/X work, with the corpse of the old man looking very fake (the TV lighting on it did not help).

Tales from the Darkside 2.06: "The Satanic Piano" (1985) directed by John Harrison
More interesting than the previous episode, a musician runs into some writer's block when composing a new album. A nutball with a fancy synth that can read the creative bits of your mind offers his help. But, yep, he's a satanic priest and it's all an evil plot. The musician's burned hand at the end has got to be one of the goriest things ever broadcast on network TV in the 1980s.

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) directed by Tom McLoughlin
I always want to watch something comfortable and familiar on Halloween day itself, and that most often leads me to the horror films in the '80s. I hadn't watched a hockey mask Jason movie in quite a while and I could not remember a thing about this one outside of the scene in the cemetery, so it seemed like a great choice to pop in.

And it was. Jason 6 is a completely fun film, mixing just the right amount of goofiness with the always serious threat that Jason poses. I love the hammy cemetery caretaker. The lightning bolt bringing the very decayed Jason back to life is really cool. The otherwise pointless scene with the idiot paintballers always make me laugh, especially when the nerdy one shoots Jason in the chest. I think the shot of Jason underwater, floating vertically and chained by the neck to a rock, is my favorite image in the entire series.

My only real complaint is that the effects of the MPAA on this movie are very apparent. Most of the kill scenes demurely cut away, showing very little of the actual violence Jason visits on the teens. It gets to be a little annoying.

The Real Ghostbusters 2.15: "Ghost Busted" directed by Marek BuchwaldMasakazu Higuchi
I convinced daughters to watch my favorite '80s cartoon with me when they got home from daycare and school. This turned out to be a nicely gentle introduction to the show, with nothing too scary. Having busted all of NYC's ghosts, the Ghostbusters become the Crimebusters and begin to capture criminals instead. Yeah, I'm not so sure about the legal implications of this either...

The Real Ghostbusters 2.16: "Beneath These Streets" directed by Marek Buchwald & Masakazu Higuchi
A more traditional episode, it which something weird and supernatural threatens NYC. The characterization of Ray is great in this episode. He's geeking out about everything -- hoping there's a water ghost to fight, wondering if a new demon is the cause of the troubles, exploring the sewers by himself. Fun.

Trick 'r Treating

Betrayal at House on the Hill (2004) designed by Rob Daviau & Bruce Glassco & Bill McQuillan & Mike Selinker &  Teeuwynn Woodruff
Friends Jack, Casey, and Brent came over to help celebrate the day and we plopped this board game on the table. In Betrayal, you take turns moving through a spooky house, drawing new room tiles as you walk about in order to expand it. Some of the tiles have you draw cards, which can be useful items, events, or omen cards. Collect enough omen cards and the probability of a dice roll causing "the haunt" goes way up. When the haunt is activated, you look in the instruction book to determine which of 50 different scenarios you have activated. One player then become the betrayer and reads his evil scheme in his own scenario book while the rest of the players read the good guy scenario in the other book.

We activated haunt 45, and Brent became a mad bomber who bombs at midnight. He had somehow strapped bombs the the three of us. We had to disable those bombs and attempt to kill Brent before he finished building the big bomb that would blow up the entire house. It was challenging. The game is very random, and the haunts have secrets in them. I painfully discovered that if Brent rolled an 8, the person to his left -- me -- would instantly blow up. With me out of the game, it was up to Jack and Casey to take him out. They got close, but eventually Brent rolled well enough to kill them as well.

Better for storytelling fun than as a strategic game, I think.

Tales from the Crypt 6.07: "The Pit" (1994) directed by John Harrison
Coincidentally directed by the same man who directed "The Satanic Piano" episode of Darkside I watched. Not really a horror episode, as it's about two pit fighters whose wives really, really hate each other. Amusing, but that's about it.

The Beyond (1981) directed by Lucio Fulci
Being sleepy is always a great state to be in when watching an Italian horror movie. This Fulci classic is no different. I don't think I'd be able to relate the plot with any sort of detail. It's something about a hotel sitting on a doorway to hell, zombies, and lots and lots of close-ups of bad things happening to people's faces.

But, you don't tend to watch these things for the plot. I'm interested in the beautiful images, the over-the-top gore, and the weirdness that Fulci can show me. The Beyond delivers.

Halloween (1978) directed by John Carpenter
For the 16th year in a row: Halloween. You know what struck me as really weird this time out? Michael Myers tooling around Haddonfield in a station wagon. Generally, in the post-Halloween slasher films, you don't see slasher villains driving. In fact, their stereotypical mode of transport is a slow and determined walk. Freddy does drive a bus in Part 2 (and I guess is the car at the end of Part 1), but that's just a part of a scheme to trick kids in a nightmare. Even Myers abandons his driving passion in all of the follow-ups. I think that once you establish the villain as a supernatural entity -- as the very end of this film does -- it's then impossible to show them doing such a mundane tasks as driving in a car in the middle of the afternoon. That would be truly odd.

The Simpsons 26.04: "Treehouse of Horror XXV" (2014) directed by Matthew Faughnan
This was the best "Treehouse" in many years. "School is Hell" was full of creative demon designs and amusing Hell puns. "A Clockwork Yellow" tickled my inner Kubrick fan (Comic Book Guy: it was Barry Lyndon!). "The Others" was a fascinating nod to the old Simpsons of the Tracey Ullman Show with the cast deftly doing both their old and modern voices for the their characters. A fun close to my Halloween celebration.



  1. Happy Halloween!

    October was kind of rough for me but Halloween was awesome, so it evened out.

    You're right about slashers and cars. I'm imagining Jason driving a car and its hilarious. I think Myers drove a car again in "Halloween 5?" You're right though, out of context it's a really weird image.

    "Jason Lives!" should have a better reputation then it does. The hardcore slasher fans tend to enjoy 1 through 5 more, saying 6 is the turning point of the series. I can't agree with that, as six is, in my opinion, on a similar level to other great eighties horror/comedies like "Return of the Living Dead" or "Re-Animator." I mean, it's not as good as those two but I think that was the tone they were going for.

    I haven't seen "The Beyond" in years but remember loving it. Maybe I should do a Fulci retrospective next October...

    This was a great Six Weeks! Here's to many more. Cheers.

  2. Happy Halloween! The six weeks are always a blast, and I love following along on both this blog and Film Throughts:)

    My impression is that among F13 fans, Jason Lives had a pretty good reputation - the top 3 installments typically include some combination of part 1, part 4, and part 6. But I could be completely wrong about that and just substituting my own preference. 6 is definitely my favorite of the bunch, though maybe 1 or 4 is "better" (my ranking would be 6, 1, 4). I love the self-awareness of it, and while the story of horror in the 80s is that the sequels gravitated more towards comedy and self-parody, this movie had a good balance. It's got lots of funny moments, but also plenty of effective horror sequences (I believe it's also the only movie where actual kids show up at camp, which is interesting). I mean, come on, how can you not love the James Bond credit sequence!

    Myers driving the car in Halloween is indeed kinda funny, but if you think about the movie by itself (without the baggage of the sequels), it works out fine. You don't actually see Michael in the mask in the drivers seat, you just see the car and know that he's driving it. So when Loomis first arrives in town and is looking at the camera and you see the car drive past him, it works because you don't actually see Michael, but you know he's there. Same for when the girls yell "Speed kills!" and so on... It's organic enough in that first movie, perhaps because as you mention, he's not quite supernatural yet...

    Top 10 Fulci eye gouging gags - a list I want to see after that Fulci retrospective.

    A great six weeks, indeed. Already looking forward to next year.