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Showing posts from 2019

Wishing You A Scary Christmas

Thank you for visiting my blog and Halloween site. May your night be a silent one and may Krampus be nowhere in sight. via GIPHY

FX's A Christmas Carol is Bleak & Beautiful

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FX’s gritty take on A Christmas Carol is neither a holiday classic reborn, nor meant for audiences fond of the heartwarming adaptations based on Charles Dicken’s novella. This is a new story about the cost of being good. It’s relentlessly bleak & grim with problematic moments that will distress many audiences at the peak of the yuletide season. There’s also some unexpected nudity & gore including scenes with a ripped off jaw, a mouse beheading, and bloody explosion. The movie presents an unpleasant reality of life and it’s a world far away from a Norman Rockwell commemorative dinner plate. So the question is why take a well-known story and push it to such dark corners? There’s definitely some counter programming from the FX network for those oversaturated with saccharine holiday fare. More pointedly though, is the vexing need to understand our monsters. Our world is full of them from the White House to the mall shootings. It’s not simply enough to know that someone is bad.

Nightmare Before Christmas Village 2019

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Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect inspiration to bridge Halloween with the yuletide season, especially for someone who like to keep things scary year-round. This year I finally also made a Man Eating Wreath that appeared only a few seconds in the film but utilized prominently in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday. If you're a fan of the film, you must get to Anaheim, CA during the autumn to see Jack Skellington's takeover of the Haunted Mansion ride. The imagineers dress up every corner of the spooky house ride with whimsical, Burton-esque flair (see below for ride through video of the 2019 version from LMG Vids).

Quick Takes: Wounds, The Nightingale, NOS4A2

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Wounds spirals an earnest cast down a dark tunnel of compounding dread. The anxious sound design & bizarre effects cast a harsh, unsettling spell. It’s confounding niche horror with a Lovecraftian touch that will leave some unsatisfied & others unspeakably terrified. The Nightingale is a somber, grueling & enraging piece of artwork with deeply realized characters overcome with vengeance. Its paper thin story reveals an aimless third act that struggles to get to a peak. But well-crafted filmmaking & relevancy make a bold & impactful statement. NOS4A2 , Joe Hill’s take on vampires and metaphysical psychic abilities was a wacky, weird ride in book form with rich characters, a twisty & episodic plot, and an undeniable thin vein of humor. The TV series based on the book was not as much fun, retained the darker elements with a simplified plot, and inexplicably added heaps of bland melodrama. This drama wasn’t organic. It felt like the show crea

AHS: 1984 Keeps It Tight & Wicked

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Have I discovered the secret to enjoying American Horror Story , or was it just a good season? I went into 1984 with less than zero expectations after the abominations of Cult and Apocalypse . I assumed it would be tiresome affair of ostentatious turds hitting a bejeweled fan, and thus relegated it to a laundry folding show. After the first episode, I was frightened at how amused I was. There were callbacks to beloved 80s slashers and a cast of dumb teens that couldn’t make a good decision to save their lives. Then I continued having fun with episodes 2 and 3. Surely a fluke, or perhaps a flu. What the fresh hell was going on? Did they change showrunners? Writers? No. AHS decided to give up its portentous nature and just have fun. 1984 took a campy approach with a killer serial vibe, chock full of delightful genre nods, radically self-conscious acting and often terrible dialogue. But it’s set in the 80s so it totally works. Also, it stuck to its main conceit, kept it simple, no

Halloween 2019 Wrap Up... Almost!

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And that's a wrap on Halloween 2019... almost... we have two more nights of our Dia de los Muertos display since today and tomorrow are the actual Mexican holidays. We ended with a record-breaking night of 423 trick 'r treaters and an additional estimated 800 spectators. And we DIDN'T run out of candy! Note to self: we used about 7 bags of candy. Much like the Macy's Day Parade heralds in the Christmas season, the Midsummer Scream convention in Long Beach  ushers in the wicked Halloween season. I attended this year and I met the lovely Miranda from SpookyLittleHalloween.com , Mike from AllHallowsGeek.com , and even hung out with my idol, Sam from the 2007 movie  Trick 'r Treat . Next year the convention expands to THREE days so book those rooms now and see you there. Something wickedly colorful came this way and right onto my lawn with a DREAM collaboration with Britta Peterson and Ghoulish Glen of EerieElegance.com . We created a second incarnat

New Music for Your 2019 Halloween Playlist

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As the darkest day of the year draws nearer I'm listening to Halloween music round the clock. While I love the classics, it's always great to find some new terror tunes to add to the playlist. Here's a few recommendations and links to my personal Apple Music playlists. Lovecraft "This is Halloween, Volume 1" Dance music gets a wicked overlay in this fun, bouncy full-length album chock full of fun beats for your Halloween party. Standouts include Awooo, Take it to the Graveyard, First Blood, Skeleton Sam, and Voodoo . The mood shifts halfway through with a much more creepy vibe so everyone can likely find something lo love. It's also oddly available as an instrumentals only version. Sharon Needles "Spoopy" America's favorite horror drag superstar is back with a 6-song EP of classic Halloween covers. Dripping with nostalgia and an vintage sound, this collection will be a crowd-pleaser. Sharon's voice has never sounded better than it

Target Disappoints Fans Looking for Ghoulish Garden

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Every year Target seems to screw over Halloween fans one way or another. They are the last retailer to put spooky goods on shelves and when stuff is finally available, it's rarely well-stocked. The shelves this year were Exceptionally (note the bold, capital "E") sparse, with many items displayed on their site as "not available online" turning out to be not available in stores either. For example, the Ghoulish Garden was advertised well in advance by Target and they even listed release dates on items. Fans across the internet chatted about these wicked plants and waited patiently for the items – to never show up in stores. When I contacted customer service a couple weeks after launch, they said the entire line was sold out. The management at the store I usually go to was very apologetic, indicated many irate customers and that corporate remained rather mum on the whole affair. So, it was poor planning and buying decisions. I took one look at those plants

Mexican Chocolate "Pan de Muertos" Pudding

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I've been looking for Mexican-inspired treats to make for a Dia de los Muertos party. Since Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead) is staple in Mexico this time of year, I thought a bread pudding might work. I tweaked this recipe into a dark, chocolatey, spicy treat that goes great with whipped cream or dulce de leche ice cream. I plan to make a batch and then spoon it into skull cups. Mexican Chocolate Pan de Muertos Pudding 1 cup milk 1 cup half-and-half 3 ounces Guittard semisweet chocolate bar 1 tbsp Guittard Cocoa Rogue powder 1/2 tsp. King Arthur Viennese cinnamon 1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 (16oz) loaf Thomas cinnamon-raisin bread 2 large eggs, room-temp 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract Whipped cream, for serving 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter an 11-by-7-inch baking dish; set aside. 2. In a medium saucepan, combine milks, chocolate, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder,

Podcast of the Month: Scarred for Life

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I'm so excited for the SCARRED FOR LIFE podcast and its fascinating concept – revisit older films that traumatized you and see how they hold up. It launched this week and available on podcast services everywhere. Hosts Mary Beth and Terry sound relatable and down to Earth – the kind of friends you'd want to hang out with for a movie night. Mary Beth is an exceptionally seasoned writer with more bylines than gawd and a fantastic site Much Ado About Cinema , and Terry has built a large following as Gayly Dreadful on Twitter and his eponymous website . I'll always show up to support queer and women's voices in horror! The first episode tackles the icky Arachnophobia and Terry's lifelong struggle with eight legged freaks, and Mary Beth takes on Poltergeist 's gravity defying horror. The hosts really reveal a personal tidbits about how these films affected them and why. It is this personal approach that really sets the podcast apart as being something very

Apple Cider Sangria

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Sangria is a Spanish cocktail made with red wine, fruit and some type of cordial. It's usually associated with summer, but Sangria translates as "bloody" making it perfect for Halloween! This is a variation on that classic drink that can be made well ahead of time in large batches – ideal cocktail for Halloween get-togethers! Apple Cider Sangria 2 apples (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Envy or Jazz) 1 orange 1 lemon 2 cups fresh-pressed Barsotti apple cider 1/2 cup Jack Daniels Apple Whisky 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc white wine 1/3 cup sugar 2 cinnamon sticks 1 (12.7 oz) bottle Bundaberg ginger beer 1. Wash fruit well and core apples. Dice apples into small pieces and place in a large pitcher. Cut orange and lemon into thin slices removing seeds. Add to pitcher. 2. Add apple cider, apple whisky, wine, sugar into pitcher. Stir well crushing fruit with spoon. Add cinnamon sticks, stir again, cover and set in refrigerator overnight. 3. Add in ginger beer right

Winchester Mystery House Goes Fully Unhinged

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Times have changed. When I moved to San Jose in 2005, I lived down the street from the Winchester Mystery House. I was instantly captivated by its Victorian charm and the rumored haunting. For many of those early docent-led tours nothing about the ghostly matters was ever acknowledged, even when asked directly. Then 14 years later, ghost busting shows are a staple on pay cable TV, and run-down mansions and hospitals with heinous histories everywhere are selling tickets for tours. The Winchester House finally got on board with several variations of candlelit tours, then a fantastic haunted maze created around the perimeter on the house! That has all changed with their latest and greatest attraction, Winchester Mystery House Unhinged ! Created by ThemeDream Productions , these wicked masterminds have created a haunted maze using the interior house's existing maze-like structure, added a few spooks, performance pieces, and some great special effects. The haunted docents tell us

Quick Takes: Tigers Are Not Afraid, High Life, Head Count

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Tigers Are Not Afraid is devastating. The horror across the border in Mexico is very real and this fantasia captures the spirit of children left to defend themselves against monsters in all forms. Director Issa Lopez has a remarkable vision, imagination, and restraint that narrows the focus to a pinpoint of pain and sorrow, and her incredible young actors fulfill the mission. This a masterpiece. Currently on Shudder. High Life is a quietly bleak, psychosexual, sci-fi anomaly that tackles themes of isolation, redemption and the inevitable surrender to the horror of deep space. It will be challenging for some audiences with its strangely assertive sexual overtones and undefined ending but it stands alongside some of Stanley Kubrick's best work. Robert Pattinson’s stellar performance embodies the weary lost soul and the results are a transcendental meditation on hope. Head Count is deviously clever & creepy, making you second guess what you’ve seen. The

Ghoulish Garden Blooms at Target

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Target stores are dropping their Halloween goods this week, and by far my favorite items are the Ghoulish Garden monster plants. They are all teeth, tongues, and eyeballs and so darn eerie and delightful. They remind me somewhat of the singing flowers in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, or Audrey II from The Little Shop of Horrors.  Sadly, they are all out stock around my stores and online so not sure if I'll get one this season but my stems are crossed and rooting for good luck.