Adventure in Hauntober 7: This time with a little more slash

Does a fascination with sociopaths make me a sociopath? Golly, I hope not. It’s the complete lack of empathy I can’t wrap my head around. And THAT’s what I find entirely fascinating. So, here’s a list of my favorite legends about fictional killers or movies based on actual killers.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Serial Killer/Legend: Leslie Vernon
This is shot as a documentary. A film student explores a man as he starts his life as a killer. A legendary killer like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. He shows her his whole plan except for one teeny tiny detail. Also I recently learned there’s a sequel to this. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’d like to.

The Burning (1981)
Serial Killer/Legend: Cropsey
Cropsey is a real legend. Mostly in New York. Though you may remember his brief mention in an episode of Full House. Cropsey is camp legend. The Cropsey Maniac. Some would argue he’s a cautionary tale for campers to stay in their cabins after dark and stay on trails. But according to many New York residents he doesn’t just strike at camp. If you find yourself intrigued by the legend of the Cropsey Maniac, you should also maybe look into “Cropsey.” A documentary. An eerie documentary.

Halloween (1978)
Serial Killer/Legend: Michael Myers
What’s interesting to me about the original Halloween movie is that it, by Hollywood standards, was very low budget, but it made millions. Makes millions. John Carpenter’s legend is about Michael Myers, who kills his sister when he is 6-years-old. 15 years later he breaks out of a mental institution and starts stalking Jamie Lee Curtis and killing off her friends. If nothing else, this movie should teach you never to babysit.

Child’s Play (1988)
Serial Killer/Legend: Charles Lee Ray (The Lakeshore Strangler) in the body of a Chucky
Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is a serial killer on run from the law when he goes into a toy store to hide out. Knowing he’s trapped Charles puts himself around some Good Guy dolls and does a little voodoo. Now he’s locked in the body of a doll. The doll is given to a little boy and Charles Lee Ray introduces himself as “Chucky.” It doesn’t take much longer before Chucky starts killing everyone. Normal stuff.

From Hell (2001)
Serial Killer/Legend: Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper. You may have heard of him. He killed prostitutes in London in 1888? No. Well, he was never caught or identified. He operated with taunting letters. This movie follows the detective trying to catch the killer.

Monster (2003)
Serial Killer/Legend: Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos, played by Charlize Theron, was a prostitute turned killer who was tried for the murders of six men. A seventh murder never stuck. She was a real life killer who was executed in 2002. Her murders took place in the 1980s and ’90s. One murder was seen as self-defense. Hard up for money she takes to prostitution with the intent to kill her Johns and rob them. If you’ve ever watched a video of interviews with this woman, then you understand that she is genuinely horrifying and bonkers. If you haven’t, I suggest you don’t.

M (1931)
Serial Killer/Legend: Peter Kürten
Now, this is Fritz Lang’s first “talkie,” so be gentle. It’s a film noir piece about a man called Peter Kürten who killed children, so that’s a warning. The movie is more about the detective work and the reaction of families than the murders themselves.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Serial Killer/Legend: Sweeney Todd/Benjamin Barker
Now, I love me some Sondheim. A lot. What I don’t LOVE is good actors pretending they can sing just because Tim Burton doesn’t look outside his usual cast of characters anymore. I have a lot of issues with stage musicals turned film musicals, so I won’t get into that. But Sweeney is an interesting character. Even more interesting is Mrs. Lovett. It’s important I think to note too that Sweeney Todd was first a legend and then a play by George Dibdin-Pitt then a movie in 1928 based on the play then a musical by Stephen Sondheim and now we have this.

Dirty Harry (1971)
Serial Killer/Legend: Scorpio
Dirty Harry Callahan is looking for Scorpio. He’s just killed a young woman, and if he doesn’t get his money he’s killing a priest or a “nigger.” Murders commence and Harry has to get himself ahead of Scorpio. Scorpio, unlike other killers, seems driven by money rather than a need to kill or in the case of Sweeney or John Doe…point proving and lesson teaching.

Se7en (1995)
Serial Killer/Legend: John Doe
Morgan Freeman has a new young partner, Brad Pitt. And they’re assigned to catch “John Doe” who is killing people for their sins. The seven deadly ones. John Doe is taking that deadly part literally.

Because I care about you, I’m going to tell you not to watch Dear Mr. Gacy. Just don’t do it. Please.

And that’s my last installment of Hauntober.

Or is it?

 

No. It is.

Adventure in Hauntober 6: Costume edition

I’ve decided to take a break from the movie rundown for a moment. Don’t worry, the next post is all about serial killers and slasher films, so this is the break you need. So I’m offering you costumes of years gone by. Not all from Halloween, actually most of them are from theatre parties. You’ll see. It’s really one of my favorite things about Halloween. To take a break for one night to be anyone I want. Or someone I’ve always wanted to be.

Up first we have me as Carmen San Diego. This was for a Halloween party a few years ago. A costume so good that people who walked passed me without even noticing me knowing full well I was there in this costume. I sadly never got a full shot of the costume, but I managed to find a full length red trench coat to wear over black pants and a black shirt. Topped off with a Red Hat Lady’s hat I altered.

This is my Breathless Mahoney. I’m pictured here with my friend Emily who was Kelly Kapowski. Sadly I don’t think photographic evidence exists of me with my friend Chris dressed exactly like Dick Tracy. But we were perfect. We just were.

Prombie. In college, as I’ve mentioned before, a friend of mine asked me to write a screenplay for a zombie movie. This is one of my many costumes as an extra in this. I felt a prombie was essential for any and every zombie movie.Alright so this is (left to right) Trey, lazily wearing Melissa’s Death Eaters shirt, me as Tonks, Melissa as Bellatrix, and Dustin as Neville for the opening of the final Harry Potter installment.On a similar note this is my house, the House of Fisher, dressed as characters for class. The back row left to right Ashley as Luna, um…kid? as Fred, Ryan as Harry (obviously), Joanna???? as Umbridge (what a choice), other kid as George, me as Ginny, (middle row) Alf as Hermione, Abby??? as Tonks, (in the front) Katie as Trelawney, and Julie as Fleur.. We were pretty great. Sort of the perfect house.The Stance is a Huntington tradition. It takes place on the night before the first day of classes. It’s sort of casual welcome back to school. And the joke is that since dancing was forbidden for so long at Huntington we had a party just about standing around to music. Well, the other tradition was the theatre girls dressed like idiots. This is from senior year.This is from junior year. I’m not sure where the pictures from sophomore year went.In the costume shop there are these unexplained costumes. Three of them are sheep. And every now and then they come out. Suddenly there are just sheep. This was our day. This is Cara and me.Oh did I mention there’s also an alligator? And yeah, that’s Matthias dressed as the Shope (See: sheep pope)My sophomore year my RA came up to me and said “Would you please be our teams female belly flop contestant?” I looked at her for a while and said “alright, but only if I can dress as a robot.” This clearly was not a problem. I put together this horrible robot costume, and my roommate put together a mad scientist costume. From the side of the pool she had a giant remote control. As I reached the end of the board Cara hit the flop button on the remote and smashed into the pool. I won. Obviously.At the last minute for the Masquerade Blade I pulled together a Velma Dinklage costume. Moments later Lauren wanted to go to and pulled together a Freddie Jones. With even less time Cara came through declaring she wanted to go to and was suddenly Daphne Blake. Well, then we need a Shaggy. And Josh already looked like him so we told him to put on a green shirt. We didn’t eve care that he wore jeans.One day in the winter Kristen and I decided we wanted to play in the snow. I drove up to Fort Wayne and we went over to the old fort. Oh, did I mention we wanted to play in the snow because we wanted to make a snow TARDIS? So she dressed as Rose Tyler, and here I am as Donna Noble. That’s right, Kristen and I were costumes to hang out.

Oh, did you want to see it? It’s pretty bad. We clearly overestimated our abilities and got lazy. And cold. Snow is cold, guys.

For the Golden Wienies (read: theatre awards) we always dress in costume. If we do it correctly anyway. Well, my senior year I just didn’t even care if no one understood. So I cut up an old skirt that I can’t explain why I owned and a a shirt (pictured in the stance from senior year). Mostly my bangs made me look like DJ Tanner, and only Patrick knew who I was.Junior year for Wienies I fulfilled a life-long goal. So here I am as Red Fraggle, which isn’t that big of a stretch. That’s my real hair. I should say that. It’s always my real hair. I’m really proud of this costume though. 

Sophomore year we all got really into Firefly. We tried to get a whole cast, but only managed to get the main characters from Serenity. I’m pretty proud of this too, because I dyed Josh’s coat and made some alterations. Transformed that skirt into a dress for Cara, and found all the perfect articles for my Zoe outfit. (You’ll note I’m not black).

Ok, brace for some tastelessness. My freshman year Amber and I were sitting aroudn trying to think of something for a redhead, black chick and a blonde girl. We really wanted to be Josie and the Pussycats, but couldn’t track down leotards. We talked about being the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. And while flipping through a magazine I joked “We could be Saddam and Osama.” “What about Maria?” Amber said. “Hmmm.” “George W!” Amber yelled, “We’ll be terrorists!” Look, I said it was tasteless, but it was really funny. The town hated us. So this is me as Saddam. (I bet you didn’t know he had red fingernails.

This is one of two Cyndi Lauper costumes. One was in high school. This is better. The hair isn’t as good. But this is what I wore to an airport Halloween party a couple of years ago.

Here’s the hair.

Growing up Halloween wasn’t a big deal in our house> i wasn’t allowed to watch Hocus Pocus. I couldn’t go trick or treating. My costumes were things like cats and cheerleaders. One year (clearly, I’m a cat here) my grandparents wanted to take us to their friend’s house. Their friend was a clown. I’ve never been the same.

And finally, this year, I got lazy and it was last minute so here I am as Hipster Ariel. I wish I could have gotten my hands on some suspenders. 

But the good news is this. If you come to YoYo this Halloween you’ll find me and two of my coworkers fulfilling another dream of mine. We’ll be dressed as the Sanderson sisters.

Adventure in Hauntober 5: Let’s get weird

This is a group of movies that you can probably get away with watching in October, and people won’t think you’re deranged. Just a little creepy, but totally great.

The ‘Burbs (1989):
This is one of my all-time favorite movies of all time. That’s right. I love it so much it makes me repetative. Tom Hanks and his neighbors take begin to suspect something suspicious and perhaps murderous is going on at the Kolfak’s house. While his wife, Carrie Fisher, is away the boys get right to work on spying and problem causing.

 

Addams Family Values (1993):
The television classic comes to life again in this sequel. Personally, this is my favorite of the three Addams Family movies. Joan Cusack plays a serial killer who marries Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley are away at a miserably cheerful summer camp, while Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) are trying to figure out what’s wrong with Uncle Fester.

 

Rear Window (1954):
In the same way that Dial M for Murder is unsettling because she’s stuck in her room, so Rear Window is unsettling because Jimmy Stewart is stuck in a wheelchair. Even worse his only companion is Grace Kelly who was an invalid herself in the aforementioned. As things get more and more suspicious and foul play is suspected the music gets faster and the lighting grows dim and you know what that means!

 

Coraline (2009):
In this Neil Gaiman graphic novel adaptation Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) isn’t quite loving her new house without her friends, the weird neighbors or how neglected by her parents she feels. So when she finds a key that opens a secret door into a parallel world she thinks she’s really made it. Until the other mother wants her to stay. Forever. In a land of eyes made of buttons. Everything is perfect until it is absolutely NOT.

 

Corpse Bride (2005):
Victor and Victoria are not quite sure about their betrothal until they meet. Victor still has the jitters and goes to the woods to practice his vows only to accidentally marry a dead lady. Whoops! (Be gracious. We’ve all done it.) And now he has to decide whether he wants to be dead and married or married til death.

 

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985):
Pee-Wee comes to the big screen in search of his stolen bike. His perfect bike. He’s on a cross country adventure to find it. And Dottie isn’t invited, because he’s a loner, a rebel. Brace for Large Marge. That’s all I can say.

 

Black Swan (2010):
Natalie Portman stars as the Black and White Swans in this psychological thriller. The backdrop is ballerinas putting on Swan Lake. The movie is Swan Lake. If you know the story of the ballet, or have even so much as seen the Swan Princess, and understand the way Greek choruses work then you’ll get a chance to see the ballet without having to watch the whole thing.

 

Bug (2006):
Michael Shannon reprises his stage role in this play turned movie. An Army vet is on the run from the government and makes friends with a lonely and abused woman (Ashley Judd). When her ex-boyfriend (Harry Connick Jr.) is released from prison she’s afraid and welcomes Shannon’s company. But her friends quickly become concerned when the couples convinces themselves that they have aphids in their flesh and start mutilating themselves to get rid of these government plants.

 

The Dark Crystal (1982):
Jim Henson offers something different than his typical muppets, mostly to show off just what he is capable of, and that capability is a beautiful thing. The last two Gelflings seek the dark crystal to restore the Skeksis and the Mystics to their natural state, together. It’s a little like that episode of Buffy (The Replacement) in which Xander is split in two: One half his best qualities and one half his worst. Both Xander.

 

Ghostbusters (1984):
You thought I forgot it, didn’t you? Please, I’m no fool. As a rule, if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, call Bill Murray. If there’s something normal in your neighborhood, and you have Bill Murray’s number, you should call him then too. Also, if you have Bill Murray’s number, I’d really appreciate it. Or Dan Aykroyd.

 

Mystery Men (1999):
Alright, I admit I’ve picked this one because of all of the costumes. But this movie is probably in my top 50 favorite movies of all time. It might be high on the list; it might not. The point is it’s wonderful. If you’re the type of person who loves quoting movies, than this is for you. If you’re the type of person who loves Kel Mitchell, then this is for you. If you like watching Dane Cook get rejected, then go watch it. Just…just do it. Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Ben Stiller, Jeneane Garofalo, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchell, Greg Kinear, Geoffrey Rush, Eddie Izzard. Red Eyes, Red Eyes, Red Eyes, I was expecting to see you again so SPOON.

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975):
Meatloaf, guys. Meatloaf. The guy who wrote it stars in it and then was never in anything ever again, because this is so weird. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing I’m including an alternative for you. But if nothing else it’s worth it for all that Tim Curry goodness. Also, watching this alone in your house is actually probably weirder than watching it with a horde of people dressed in drag.

Your alternative:

 

Sleepy Hollow (1999):
Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane in this retelling of the Washington Irving story. With Christina Ricci as his plucky girl companion and a young boy assistant Crane has rid himself of “schoolteacher” and become a pathologist with all sorts of crazy new forensic ideas. Meanwhile, Christopher Walken (the horsemen) is tromping around stealing heads, but who is controlling him? Spoilers: It’s not me.

Adventure in Hauntober 4: The Monster Mash

For you a list of my favorite monster movies. The creature features that get me through the year. Some of them may frighten you. Some of them are supposed to frighten you, but absolutely won’t. And some of them are just wonderful.

Gremlins (1984):
Monster: Gremlins
I feel like it’s a solid kick off to the list. They’re precious until you break every single very simple rule you’re given. Life lesson don’t break rules, unless there aren’t tiny monsters involved.

Dance of the Dead (2008):
Monster: Zombies
I personally call this movie “Prombies.” Who knew what zombies love more than anything is the soothing sound of really awful garage band music? It’s a zombedy about prombies. You really can’t go wrong.

The Blob (1958):
Monster: Blob
Steve McQueen and company are being attacked! By a large black garbage bag full of what appears to be shaving cream.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986):
Monster: Man-eating plant. Sorry, singing man-eating plant. My mistake. Singing, alien, man-eating plant.
It’s important that you know this is my favorite musical of all time. Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. You in yet? A snarky man-eating plant from outer space is going to seduce you into his plant stomach by singing to you! Hold you hat and hang onto your soul! Something’s coming to eat the world whole. I admit, I don’t like the movie as much as the stage production. The ending in the movie is a little too rewarding for the audience.

The Wolf Man (1941):
Monster: Werewolf
With Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi this flick has “serious monster movie” written all over it.(serious monster movie not actually written on packaging).
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Hobgoblins (1988):
Monster: Hobgoblins (Dummy)
Low budget b-movie. Hobgoblins is sort of the b-movie answer to Gremlins, except without the weird rules. Oh wait. I remember the rule. DON’T OPEN THE VAULT! You’ll never guess what happens. The good news is you can avoid watching this one the old-fashioned way and watch it with the crew from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d recommend it. Ah! They’re rubbing puppets on us!

Tremors (1990):
Monster: Giant worms
Burt! Cut it out! That’s really my favorite part. Reba yelling at Michael Gross. Fear not, Kevin Bacon is here. Earthquakes are scary, huh?

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monster: All sorts
Didn’t see that one comin’ did ya? You really should have. Some times you just need more levity when it comes to monsters. Family friendly monsters. And it’s Pixar so you’re going to cry, and not from fear.

An American Werewolf in London (1981):
Monster: Werewolf
Disturbing dream sequences. Moors. Werewolves. A pub called “the slaughtered lamb,” why would you even go to there? Nazis. Zombie friend. This movie is everything you’d expect in a werewolf movie, plus all the stuff I listed.

Teen Wolf (1985):
Monster: Werewolf
Just because it’s a monster movie doesn’t mean it’s scary. Teen comedy about Michael J. Fox as a werewolf. Pardon me, a basketball playing werewolf.

Godzilla (1954):
Monster: A giant lizard
After the U.S. douched it up and tested the H-bomb on Bikini Atoll director Ishirō Honda and Takeo Murata put together a film that felt just as likely. We laugh at it now, because it’s pretty silly and feels poorly made. But think about it. If you look at Godzilla from the perspective of its intention, it’s really very compelling.

Shaun of the Dead (2004):
Monster: Zombies
There’s a very common misconception about my life. That misconception is that I love the zombie craze. The truth is a friend once asked me to write a screenplay for him when another friend fell through. I did it. I actually researched it. I wrote something I loved. Then had to completely rewrite it into something that I did not love. Since then people send me all these zombie things. I just don’t care. What’s weird is, when I wrote the first draft of the poorly titled short “Zombies!” which I titled “Zombies a-go-go” I had never seen Shaun of the Dead. When I finally did see it, I learned I’d essentially written a crappier version. With a dance break. This is better.

The Evil Dead (1981):
Monster: Zombies
It’s Sam Raimi so this one actually has some creep factors. For all of the camp that came out of the 80s this one is a real win. If you actually care about zombie movies and not zombedies I really do recommend it. And maybe don’t just play a tape if you don’t know what’s on it.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935):
Monster: Frankenstein’s monster and wife
Boris Karloff is sort of the king of the monster and horror movie genre, or he was for a time. Targets sort of changed that. BUT in this one he’s in his prime as Frankenstein’s monster. The monster so influential in Henry (yeah that’s his first name) Frankenstein’s life that even though old Hank has given up the monster biz the monster gets Henry to make him a mate.

Young Frankenstein (1974):
Monster: Frankenstein’s monster
Like the last one only with singing and jokes. And Gene Wilder.

The Thing (1982)
Monster: Alien parasite
Alright, you’re in Antarctica. It’s cold. And you find an alien. Essentially what we’re dealing with here is a parasite that turns you into a murderous fool. A murderous fool who makes sure the company is COMPLETELY isolated before all the death and destruction. And just when you think you’ve trapped the infected, you’ll find that’s not all. You can’t trust anyone. If you feel inclined to watch the recent remake of this, I’d like to discourage you. It’s slower and more convoluted.

The Fly (1986)
Monster: Fly man
Yeah, I’m recommending the Jeff Goldblum version. My reason for this is simply Jeff Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum is working on teleportation and when he goes to test it a fly is in the other pod, and WHOOPS crossbreed.

Night of the Living Dead (1968):
Monster: Zombies
You know what I love about this movie? They never use the zed word. It was innovative and groundbreaking, and I think you need to watch it. It’s one of the many turns from the Karloff generation.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992):
Monster: Teenage Vampires
Because I feel that until I make a list of the best Buffy episodes ever, I need to squeeze her in. This is lower class Buffy, but it may lead some of you to watch the show. If it does then prepare to be super pleased when you see how much better the show is.

Fright Night (1985):
Monster: Vampires
The only reason I’d recommend the remake to you is David Tennant and Anton Yelchin, otherwise this is the superior movie. Plus, Roddy McDowall.

Dracula (1931):
Monster: The Vampire
In all the annals of living horror one name stands out. Bela Lugosi didn’t even speak English when they made this movie, which is fitting for a character from Transylvania. You can watch all the Dracula remakes and reboots you want, but if you want to see it done right, this is the one.

The Lost Boys (1987)
Monster: Teenage Vampires
And you thought the Coreys were bad news before! Now they’re dealing with vampires. Teenage vampires in a gang. With Jack Bauer. Step off, son.

The Mummy (1959):
Monster: Mummy
I’m not going to explain a mummy movie to you. Mummy. Curse. Blah blah. You know it. But this one stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And really drives this monster category.

Adventure in Hauntober 3: Hauntober with a Vengeance

Well, see, now I just can’t stop. In this installment of Hauntober I’ll be looking at my personal favorite (not best) horror/scary movies out there. Again these are not the best, nor likely the scariest. Unless you’ve never seen a horror movie before then shoot dang, you’ll probably poo yourself. I won’t apologize for soiled trousers. Ready?

Scream (1996):
So we’re clear this is your second day of a Neve Campbell movie from 1996. I won’t apologize for it. I will however rave about how I love Kevin Williamson (you may remember him as the man who brought us Dawson’s Creek). This movie isn’t just about attractive high schoolers in the ’90s being chased by a psychopath. Arguably it isn’t about attractive high schoolers at all. You will get to see Courtney Cox and David Arquette spawn their love (that’s not a euphemism). This movie is so incredibly self-aware even some of my most fearful movie-viewing friends have admitted they like this movie.
Bonus Feature: (It’s my favorite line in the movie) My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me.
Scare factor: You can’t trust anyone anymore. Even strangers who call you.

Scream 2 (1997):
Oh that’s right. A sequel. Kevin Williamson does it again. (He does it two more times, and while I’ve seen and enjoyed all of them the first two are my favorites). This time high school students are replaced with college students. And bra-less murders are replaced with racist ones.
Bonus Feature: Sarah Michelle Gellar being weak.
Scare Factor: Seriously, just stop answering phones.

Urban Legend (1998):
We’re just powering through the late ’90s, huh? If you don’t know this about me yet, it’s time you learned. I loved urban legends. I love them. Some day I’ll tell you all about my favorite ones, but for now let me tell you the kidney heist tops the list. What isn’t an urban legend is that Joshua Jackson bleached his hair for this movie, and it is disgusting. More importantly Jared Leto’s eyes will still burn through your soul in the only way they can. Plus a mash of college urban legends and deranged friends.
Bonus Feature: “Fat” Tara Reid. (By fat I mean, looks like a person)
Scare Factor: You’ll never be able to sing in your car at night again. That’s a promise.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997):
Don’t worry. Kevin Williamson is here again, and he’s brought Sarah Michelle Gellar along. In fact, this movie brings long lots of three namers. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr. (Yeah, I just considered Jr. a name), and Sarah Michelle Gellar. And Ryan Phillippe who is now ashamed he only has two names. Nerd.
Bonus Feature: Did I mention Freddie Prinze Jr. yet?
Scare Factor: You can’t hit a guy in the road with your car and then drop him in the ocean without repercussions anymore. What is this world?

Psycho (1960):
You know what’s creepier than a black and white movie? A black and white movie when color was an option! Chocolate syrup blood. Creepy music.
Bonus Feature: By the end of it I honestly said “What a psycho.” *beat* “Oh. Yeah. I get it.”
Scare Factor: Never trust a taxidermist.

Cabin in the Woods (2011):
That’s right a recent one. And I admit that part of my love is because of Joss Whedon, but then there’s also Tom Lenk. And Chris Hemsworth. No, that’s not the kid from Cousin Skeeter. And a wonderful satire of what has become a very formulaic torture porn genre. It really does a good job of making you laugh just when you want to cry, and then making you cry for laughing. Oh. Just me?
Bonus Feature: No. Really. It’s Tom Lenk.
Scare Factor: Remember the Truman Show? Well now you’re dead.

The Grudge (2004):
Sarah Michelle Gellar is back for a third visit. I can tell you’re happy. I will warn you not to get too attached to Bill Pullman’s existence in this. I did the first time.
Bonus Feature: It’s Bill Pullman.
Scare Factor: I no longer look in crawl space-style attics. Ever. EVER.

The Faculty (1998):
It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers in a high school! Baby Elijah Wood. Josh Hartnett. Drugs. And aliens that crawl into your ear and remind me of the yeerk from Animorphs. Oh, was that too ridiculous of a comparison? Tough!
Bonus Feature: Jon Stewart. Agent Doggett as a football coach (not a stretch).
Scare Factor: Everyone who suddenly starts acting funny is to be untrusted. Everyone.

Final Destination (2000):
The villain here is death. Not the Grim Reaper. Dying. Dying will kill you. Don’t forget.
Bonus Feature: Devon Sawa
Scare Factor: Everything is going to kill you. Everything.

Session 9 (2001):
This is a really slow, not scary movie. UNTIL IT ISN’T! If you hand me a movie with psychopaths or an insane asylum, I’m set. Forever. And asbestos. It’s really a pretty stupid movie. It is.
Bonus Feature: Lobotomies. Frontal lobe ocular lobotomies.
Scare Factor: Lobotomies. Frontal lobe ocular lobotomies.

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003):
Okay, I’m warning you now. This is not in English. It’s in Korean. In my mind this makes it scarier. I watched this movie near the beginning of college. Maybe freshman or sophomore year with my friend Elise. We were really into watching things no one had heard of. She might still do that. I did it because I was a jerk and wanted to feel superior. Alright, here comes the racism. East Asian girls are scary. No that’s unfair. They’re creepy. They’re damn creepy. Two East Asian girls. tapped. I’m out. I’m crying in horror.
Bonus Feature: Ghosts.
Scare Factor: Two Korean girls.

Friday the 13th (1980):
This is my favorite of the Friday the 13th movies, because it’s the original. Also because Jason is really just a mcguffin. I can get behind a movie where the “scariest factor” is something that never matters.
Bonus Feature: Rain coats. KEVIN BACON.
Scare Factor: Creepy groundskeepers. Summer. Camp. MOMS.

The Haunting (1963; 1999):
Watch them both. I mean it. They both scare the snot out of me, but the ending of the 1999 one is so unsettling. Ghosts, guys. Ghosts.
Bonus Feature: In the 1999 one you get Owen Wilson.
Scare Factor: Everyone thinks you’re nuts, except the house!

House on Haunted Hill (1959; 1999):
Again, both. The twists are good in both, and one gives you Vincent Price. Okay, if I’m honest I think the old one actually only had one moment that truly bothered me. Everything else was just me going “oooooh Vincent Price.” But the new one, it’s actually, I think it’s the cast I love so much in the newer one. It just doesn’t make any sense. Chris Kattan, Taye Diggs, Geoffrey Rush, Peter Gallagher? Ali Larter? No. Just. Just watch it.
Bonus Feature: Seriously, Vincent Price. AND MONEY
Scare Factor: If you’re ready to pee your pants, hold out a little longer. Money is probably worth death.

1408 (2007):
John Cusack. I really wanted to make that my summary, but this movie confirmed one very important thing for me. Curling up in the fetal position until it all blows over does actually work. It does!
Bonus Feature: John. Cusack. Samuel L. Jackson
Scare Factor: Vents are not to be trusted, and certainly not to be looked in.

Jeepers Creepers (2001):
I know where you blossomed, Justin Long. I know where you scrounge for money, Eileen Brennan. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but the idea of someone preserving himself forever by stealing parts of other people (and also killing them) and sewing them onto himself it just doesn’t sit right with me. Also the idea of a boy with a flower tattooed around his bellybutton. That’s vom making.
Bonus Feature: If you haven’t heard the song “Jeepers Creepers” before, you’ll get to.
Scare Factor: If you have heard it before, you’ll never watch the Parent Trap or Good Morning, Miss Bliss the same way again.

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948):
If you don’t have the patience to listen to a radio drama, then I suggest you watch this movie version of one creepy story. Whiny and demanding invalid wife overhears two men plotting to kill a woman. Thinking it’s crossed wires she calls the police to report what she’s heard, but it doesn’t take long before she realizes she’s the intended victim.
Bonus Feature: Barbara Stanwyck
Scare Factor: This time the phone is your only ally. And even that’s a lie.

Adventure in Hauntober: Part 2! The Return of Hauntober

After the first installment of Hauntober, I decided it was important than I did two more installments. So today I offer you the autumnal movies that get me through October. I will say, none of them are notably haunting, well that’s not exclusively true. It’s mostly true though. These are the movies that put me in front of a fire or curled up in bed in a pair of leggings and leg warmers. Some knee high socks and an over-sized sweatshirt. (As a rule this is also my go-to laying around the house outfit). (Also, as a rule, this is not a leaving the house EVER outfit, because I care about you as humans).

So here they are my autumn movies, for no other reason than they feel like autumn to me:

Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968):
This is classic ’60s Disney. The ghost of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov) himself is called on by accident when Dean Jones reads a spell out loud. The old captain must redeem himself and help out a pack of old ladies who happen to be his ancestors. Zaniness ensues. Drunk pirate zaniness. Ships on the land? With wheels? This is unheard of! Oh did I mention that no one except Dean Jones can see Blackbeard?

The Canterville Ghost (1996):
Sir Simon de Canterville (Sir Patrick Stewart) is condemned to haunt his old home thanks to a gypsy and a family curse. He can only be released from the curse and forgiven of his sins when a young girl (Neve Campbell, that’s right. It was the ’90s and the height of Neve Campbell season) prays for him. This isn’t the first of the TV specials you’ll see on my list, but it is the only Oscar Wilde retelling. Plus! There are two younger brothers in this movie (Adam and Washington), who get along better than young brothers are supposed to. They act as one human being. It’s really creepier than the ghost.

The Cider House Rules (1999):
An all-star cast with Michael Caine, Tobey Macguire, Charlize Theron, and Paul Rudd deal with abortions and apples (this is not an accurate summary. well kind of) in this Academy Award-winning film adaptation of John Irving’s novel of the same name.

Chronicles of Narnia (1988-1990):
C.S. Lewis’ famous series told by none other than the BBC. In the ’80s. So brace yourself for camp, but if you can look away from the poor production value then you’ll see a pretty darn accurate depiction of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treder, and The Silver Chair. Not to mention you’ll get to see the Doctor (Tom Baker) play Puddleglum. The music from these movies still haunts my head and my heart. And by movies I mean mini-serials.

Clue (1985):
A zany list of what are now B-listers take to the screen for a romp through a favorite board game. Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Michael McKean, and Lesley Ann Warren bring the board game to life as they try to figure out who killed Mr. Body and several other people. Puns and mayhem fill the screen. Not to mention this movie has three endings, son!

Dead Poets Society (1989):
Alright, if you have seen this movie, then I’m sorry. You weren’t even warned by Robin Williams having a beard, so how could you have known in advance that you were going to cry? You couldn’t, so I’m warning you. Brotherhood, poetry, suicide, theatre. See? You’re sad already. Just watch it.

Donnie Darko (2001):
I reckon I could qualify this as a Halloween movie as well. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhall) isn’t anything special. Unless you consider schizophrenia and time travel notably special. They’re pretty common place in my life. (awful jokes) If you can keep yourself from having nightmares about Frank and completely ignore the fact that there is a nonsensical sequel out there then you’ll be fine.

Eulogy (2004):
This is a movie that comes from a time in the world where I didn’t want to punch Zooey Deschenal. That time is over now. Long over. Grandpa has died and the family is coming together for the first time in a long time. I promise, you’ll even learn to tolerate Ray Romano by the end. Dysfunctional families are always funny right? Right? Especially when you hand them suicidal tendencies, marijuana, an over abundance of sexuality, and self-loathing. Right? Okay, so it’s a dark comedy.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009):
Wes Anderson’s first movie on the list. It’s a vague retelling of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. Really vague. But it’s star-studded cast in, easily, the most beautiful claymation I’ve ever seen. As always Anderson’s team bring together a beautiful soundtrack that echoes with autumn. And the colors, oh the colors. It’s a real clustercuss of autumn. Did I mention it’s funny? Yeah. It’s that.

The Four Seasons (1981):
Alan Alda, Carol Burnett. You in yet? Three married couples on vacations through the seasons, so I guess just watch the part that takes place in autumn. Or all of it. Oh watch it all.

Funny Farm (1988):
Chevy Chase plays Andy Farmer who buys a place in Vermont with his wife. The Farmers buy a farm, but the Farmers aren’t farmers. I don’t think that’s the tagline. It should have been. Best movie ever? No. But watch it anyway! Because Chevy Chase.

Good Will Hunting (1997):
This is the movie that taught us that Ben Affleck is at his best (acting-wise) when he is writing for Ben Affleck. But the movie warns you. Robin Williams has a beard. So brace for that. The Afflecks and Matt Damon in their home of Boston. A genius from Southie as a janitor at Harvard. Take it. Love it. The Academy did, back when the Academy meant something. The whole thing makes me think of the color orange. Just a big pile of orange.

Harry Potter (2001-2011):
Specifically Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban. I think as the stories get darker the movies feel colder to me, so they begin to feel more like winter than autumn. I’m not going to pretend to sum this up for you.

O, Brother Where Art Thou? (2000):
A modernized retelling of the Odyssey. Yeah, I think I’m allowed to consider the ’30s modern compared to ancient Greece. Ulysses Everett McGuill (George Clooney) may not be bonafide, but he’s going to get his wife back. With the help of two other inmates (Jon Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson) the three embark on a journey to seek the treasure. If by the end of the movie you’re mad at me, I’ll only tell you to go back and listen to the music again. This, not ER, not anything else, made me fall in love with George Clooney.

October Sky (1999):
Come on. OCTOBER Sky. What was I supposed to do? Ignore it? Plus, Sputnik 1, space travel dreams, coal miners, fathers who want to dash dreams. The whole thing. If I’m really honest, which I disgustingly am, then I’ll have to admit I’ve only seen this once. Nonetheless it feels like fall. Right?

Penelope (2006):
A new fairy tale! An actual one. With the twist having some actual value, and not a kiss from a prince or something stupid! A family curse. All that. Plus Catherine O’Hara being a horrible mother. It’s always a win. Christina Ricci looking stunning with a pig face. James McAvoy being precious as always.

A Prairie Home Companion (2006):
If you love the radio program, then the movie will delight you. If you had no idea it was a radio program, then the movie will delight you. A group of friends doing the same radio show they’ve been doing for decades puts on one last performance as a ghost guides them through the night. With some of the stars of the real show and some stars who steal the show.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001):
Wes Anderson, part 2. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), his family of genius children, his wife (Anjelica Huston), and some friends try to come to terms with each other for the first time in 22 years. Alec Baldwin narrates.

The Skulls (2000):
This is not the best movie ever. But secret societies are always a win. Especially at colleges when life, honor, friendship and reputation are on the line.

Adventure in Hauntober

That’s not a thing, by the way. Well, it kind of is. In Hayley Land. To the best of my ability during the month of October I try to watch a horror movie, a Halloween movie, or simply a movie that smacks of Autumn. As I’m sure you can imagine this builds up to Halloween, a night I’m sure I’ll be working, so I’m just trying to get it all in now. Halloween and the time surrounding it is one of my favorite times of the year. Costumes, candy, ghost stories, urban legends. I love it all.

The good news? I’ve got a list for you! Here is a list of my favorite Halloween movies:

Casper:
Devon Sawa. Christina Ricci. Bill Pullman. Eric Idle. ’90s nostalgia.


E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial:
Aliens. Kindred spirits. “Penis breath.”


Hocus Pocus:
As you can imagine I love this movie for a lot of reasons. Let’s think about it. Bette Midler. Kathy Najimy. Bette Midler singing. Urban legends. Tiny Sean Murray (NCIS). Talking cat. “Yabbos.”


It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown:
It’s a classic, Charlie Brown. You simply have to.


Ernest Scared Stupid:
Who doesn’t love some quality Ernest? Honestly, there are things in this movie that still scare me. Let us never speak of them. Bonus: Eartha Kitt


Halloweentown:
Alright, I admit. It’s cheesy. It’s a Disney Channel Original in all possible ways, but you know what? It’s fun, and I’m a fan of fun.


The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad:
Bing Crosby and classic Disney bliss.


Spaced Invaders:
Dimwitted aliens. War of the Worlds. Get on it.


Beetlejuice:
Okay, technically it isn’t a Halloween movie, but it is pretty great for this time of year. It’s got the creep factor and ghosts and hauntings. Plus! Young Alec Baldwin and Michael Keaton. In fact, Michael Keaton in a pretty disgusting, un-Michael Keaton role. And Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones.


Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School:
Okay, I admit it. It isn’t a Halloween movie. You could add Scooby-Doo meets the Boo Brothers for the same reason. But it’s quality. As long as you ignore the fact that Scrappy-Doo made it in on this adventure.


The Nightmare Before Christmas:
Now if I’m really honest with you, I only vaguely consider this a Halloween movie. I’d argue for it being closer to a Christmas movie, but the joy is that you get to watch it from Halloween until Christmas! It takes place from the end of Halloween until Halloweentown tries to put on Christmas.


And if you really care, then you’ll watch every Halloween episode for the shows you love! I’m looking at you, Buffy fans. Yeah, sorry. You’re just going to have to listen to it twice.


Things you won’t ever see on my Halloween movie list:

Edward Scissorhands. Because it’s a Christmas movie. In the same way that Die hard is a Christmas movie. How can a movie that takes place at Christmas be considered a Halloween movie? It happens every year, but it always makes me mad.

Adventure in Becoming Okay

I hesitate to say it publicly. I don’t want to somehow condemn myself, but I thought you might be interested to know. I’ve only said it to a few friends lately, but over the last month or so the damnedest thing has been happening. I dare say I’m becoming healthy. Mentally and emotionally well.

Almost two months ago now I started a new job. I’ve been working as a team leader at a local frogurt shop. The self-serve kind. It was just a series of opened doors. I went to church with my parents, and some old family friends were there. And we just asked “Do you have a job?” They own this yogurt place and Ty instantly said “Yes. Just apply.” By the end of service he came back up to me and said “Be there at 8 tomorrow. Your life is your interview.” 25 years. Longest interview ever, but totally worth it.

I work with mostly high school students. Everyone there is at least three years younger than I, but it doesn’t matter. I love them. Even the ones I want to punch. They’re funny. They’re so chill. No one is terribly dramatic. They’re just cool, and I love working with them.

My job is growing. Almost daily Ty sends me something new to work on. I get to use my pop culture knowledge on projects. And I’m doing some writing for our product descriptions. Is it a lot of money? No. It’s not. But my heart is calm. My sleep is returning. I worry about nothing.

I don’t spend a lot of time with people away from work, and I think that’s what I’ve been needing. I don’t feel compelled to entertain or appease anyone. I’m not trying to live up to anyone’s expectations. Sure there are people I miss, and I’ve made some exceptions, but mostly, I work and I watch TV and I sleep. It’s sort of perfect. All I have to focus on is God and my brain getting better. And my brain is getting better.

These crushing emotions I’ve been feeling for the last two or more years are not so crushing anymore. Sure they’ll wave in, but they don’t stay as long. I haven’t unnecessarily burst into tears in a month, and that’s sort of a big deal for me.

In about a month I’m looking to go to Chicago for a weekend to see some of the people I’ve been truly missing in my life. My heart has been pining for them. A whole weekend of seeing some of the funniest women I know. I really can’t wait. And seeing them in capacities I’ve never been able to see them before. In their homes. In their married lives. With their children. In their city. I’m excited, and I hope it works out. Because my heart could stand be surrounded by 10 hilarious women for 72 hours. (And some cool dudes if I can manage it) Sadly I find myself thinking, “But I want more of them. 10 isn’t enough. I want every funny woman I know in one room for 72 hours. Probably five with survive, but it’ll be hilarious while we last.” But I won’t get greedy. I’m grateful for what I’m getting.

Oh that I could see all of these women.