Halloween Decorations and Viewing Have Begun

I pulled out the Halloween decorations yesterday. Last year I didn’t decorate the house interior at all so I’m doing much better this time around.

I also finished my DIY Halloween wreath. I wasn’t able to find black feathers so I used red instead. I like it – but at the same time I don’t. It’s hard to explain.

Halloween Wreath

I do like my DIY spider, though. Just painted a couple of differently sized Styrofoam balls black and then covered that with glitter glue, joined them with a wooden dowel, stuck in eight black pipe cleaners (cut in half) and voila! Sparkly Spider.

I was going to dye the gauze black but found that it works the way it came. Looks like bloody spider webs, bwa ha ha ha!

We have started our Halloween horror movie viewing. Last week my husband received a review copy of Scream 4 and while we didn’t think it was the best of the franchise we thought it was still a lot of fun. So, we picked up the first three (real cheap) on blu-ray and watched all of them on Friday night.

Scream Franchise

That third one was pretty weak but they were all enjoyable. And man, were they ever so careful with continuity. I was really impressed. I especially liked the fact that Sidney was wearing her boyfriend’s fraternity letters from the second film throughout the entire third film and it wasn’t even commented upon. It was a nice detail for all the fans of the series.

Last night we watched the Amicus film The House That Dripped Blood, starring three of my famous brits – Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Jon Pertwee. The first time I saw it years ago I only vaguely knew who Jon Pertwee was. I enjoyed watching the film  much  more this time because Pertwee happens to be my favorite Doctor Who.

Pertwee and Pitt
Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt

I am beginning to wonder if I’ll ever see a performance by Jon Pertwee in which he does not wear a ruffled shirt and a cloak. 🙂

Jack ‘O Lantern Ideas for 2011

Every year I scour the internet looking for good, simple and effective Jack ‘O Lantern patterns. I always find way too many and choosing can be very difficult.

Here’s a ‘few’ that I’ve found this year:

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

October is only a few days away and you know what that means, right?

October Sky  The Hunt for Red October
Um, well, no, but good try.

No, what October means is HALLOWEEN!

October means Halloween!Since before I could remember I have always loved Halloween. My favorite costume was in 1984. My dad made it. It was a white sheet with the Ghostbusters logo drawn on the front with ‘Ghostbuster in Disguise‘ written underneath. It was nifty.

Nobody got it.

No one would take the time to read it so everyone just thought I was a ghost with the Ghostbusters logo. *sigh* Brilliance is so often unappreciated.

Happy Jack
Happy Jack

Halloween happens to occur during my favorite season of the year.

Autumn Field...with Dog
Autumn Field...with Dog (Photo by me)

Fall is the perfect season for me. Cooler temperatures, low humidity, beautiful foliage – and assuming it’s not debris, buildings or humans, I like it when things fall to the ground. Leaves fluttering in the wind are one of my favorite sights and I get to see this in abundance during the month of October.

Future Jacks
Future Jacks

So, this weekend I will be pulling out the Halloween boxes and choosing what decorations to hang. I hope to finish up my door wreath and maybe make a second for the kitchen door. I normally hang our Pirate Skeleton there but it may be time for a change.

Ah! For the love of FSM! Not that! Anything but that!
Ah! For the love of FSM! Not that! Anything but that!

What have you got planned for the month of October?

It's the most wonderful time of the year...
It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Halloween Wreath

October is almost here and I’m already getting ready for Halloween. (Yes! Really! It’s not like last year when I didn’t do anything until three days before. Booyah!)

I haven’t finished yet – I’ll post pictures when I do – but my first project is inspired by this awesome Halloween wreath from The Art of Doing Stuff. I love her work and this was one of the first things I saw on her blog.

I have yet to find any black feathers so I bought some red feathers and black Halloween garland. Mine won’t really look much like hers at all (except for the skulls – I was able to find sparkly skulls) but this is my inspiration.

In a ‘Horror’ble Mood

It’s October again and for the husband and me, that means it’s time for horror movies galore! We watch them year round, but in October we try our best to watch one a night when possible.

We started a little late this year – we didn’t watch our first until the 2nd of October (we’re such slackers) but we’ve stayed on target ever since.

It wasn’t intentional, but we stumbled upon a theme for our two movies this past weekend – the consequences of fear and ignorance in extreme situations.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Bubba Ritter...he's all messed up

We started out pretty low key with a made-for-tv movie from 1981. Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) leads a group of weak-minded characters who are literally looking for any excuse to torment the local mentally deficient man-child, Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake).

After brutally shooting Bubba down while he is hiding inside his mother’s scarecrow, they find out that Bubba is innocent of the crime they were chasing him down for – the death of his only friend, little pre-pubescent Marylee (Tonya Crowe).

But that doesn’t really matter. They weren’t chasing him down for what he did – just for what he was – something they didn’t understand or, in Hazelrigg’s case, something they envied.

At the trial, where all four men are found innocent of murder, Bubba’s mother warns them that there are different kinds of justice and that someday, they will pay for what they did.

They find out that Momma Ritter is right when one by one, they are tormented by the presence of a new scarecrow in their fields – one that disappears when they gather their friends to check it out. Tension levels and panic rise as each are struck down in turn until only one is left and running for his life.

Being made for television, there is very little gore in this movie amounting to a little blood and some gunshot wounds. All violence is implied except for the brutal killing of Bubba and by today’s standards even this is pretty tame. However, the emotional impact has a chilling effect.

This kind of movie just doesn’t work without a strong cast and this movie definitely has that. Charles Durning, a steadily working actor from the 1960’s to the present, will no doubt be familiar to almost any viewer and his performance makes this film.

I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys atmosphere, a little mystery, strong characters and a solid story.

The Mist (2007)

The Mist
On the run from monsters

Sunday night we re-watched The Mist for the first time since purchasing the DVD back when it first came out. Remembering how good the movie was, I wondered why we hadn’t watched it more than once. Halfway through the movie I remembered why.

This movie pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie. It’s a very good adaptation of Stephen King’s novella by the same name, and even improves on some plot points that I really didn’t like from the original source material. The cast is top-notch and the direction superb.

I’ve just gotten to a point in my life where I can’t sympathize with ignorance any longer and especially the use of ignorance to generate fear and even more the use of religion to perpetuate that ignorance and fear. The character of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) is a loathsome woman who does more damage to the survivors of the mist than the actual monsters now roaming the world.

I realize that this is the point of the film – that letting others use fear to control us is even more dangerous than letting the unknown frighten us out of our wits. By the end of this movie, the few rational people left dare to face the very real monsters outside the store rather than deal with the even more dangerous monster that is now human society.

Perhaps this is why my husband has such a problem with the movie’s ending – which does differ from the source material and not in a necessarily better way. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I think I have to to make my point here. Our few heroes brave the unknown but it still ultimately destroys them. The only survivor has to kill all that he has left, including the personification of innocence, only to find that it was completely pointless.

So, yeah, if they had kept the original ending from the book, my analogy here would have been much more uplifting. And maybe that’s ultimately why I’m not going to be able to watch this movie more than once every few years.

The Mist
Less scary than fanatics

Still, I highly recommend the movie. So many of King’s horror stories have been butchered by Hollywood and director Frank Darabont does a marvelous job adapting this tale for the screen.

If you get the special edition, I do recommend watching it as intended – in black and white. We watched it in color this time and while it still works, the black and white photography lends more to the alien atmosphere outside the store and reinforces the metaphor of opposing factions inside the store.

Purchase Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Purchase The Mist on Blu-Ray

Almost Here…

Changing Leaves
Changing Leaves

We’ve been having some REALLY sucky weather this past week – mid-to-high 90’s, muggy, ugh. So, I’m really looking forward to this weekend. The temperature will drop twenty degrees between today and Sunday. Yay!

I’m ready for Fall this year. Last year, it took me by surprise and I didn’t want it. Last year’s Summer was so pleasant I never wanted it to end. So, Fall came too early (not really – it was right on time) and Winter seemed to last forever (which it didn’t, Spring came a little early this year.)

This Summer hasn’t been awful but it’s been the second worst since we moved to Maine (the worst was our first Summer). And actually, I’m glad the Summer was a littler rougher than last year. I was starting to lose my appreciation for winter. Last year, I didn’t even enjoy Halloween and didn’t do much decorating at all. This year, I’m already planning to convert the vegetable garden into a graveyard complete with a Grim Reaper.

But first, we have to get through the next two days of heat, humidity and rain…oh, and a possible hurricane.

Halloween Movies 2, 3 and 4

Over the weekend the husband and I watched three October-appropriate films – An eighties slasher flick Happy Birthday to Me, an eighties horror-comedy House II: The Second Story and the more recent The Batman Vs. Dracula animated direct-to-video movie.

Let’s start with the animated movie:

Movie 2:  Saturday October 2, 2009
Film Title: The Batman Vs. Dracula (2005)
Starring (voice actors): Rino Romano as The Batman/Bruce Wayne, Alastair Duncan as Alfred Pennyworth, Peter Stormare as Count Dracula/Alucard, Tom Kenny as The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot, Kevin Michael Richardson as The Joker and Tara Strong as Vicky Vale
Written by: Dave Capizzi
Directed by: Michael Goguen

This movie is part of The Batman animated series that was on the WB for a while not too long ago. My husband and I are huge Batman fans but never had much interest in this version. After watching this movie I’m glad that we never wasted our time.

The movie isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t something I would recommend anyone seek out.

For some unknown reason (even to the story writer, apparently) Dracula’s coffin was removed from Transylvania post-heart-piercing and dumped into a Gotham city underground crypt. After breaking out of Arkham Asylum The Penguin (who sounds and acts more like the animated Beetlejuice than any incarnation of The Penguin I’ve ever seen or read) stumbles across this crypt looking for buried treasure. Mr. Cobblepot escapes the fangs of Dracula but falls prey to Drac’s hypno-gaze and becomes The Count’s new Renfield.

Meanwhile, Vicky Vale is interviewing (and hitting on) a young Bruce Wayne but he’s too distracted by the new rash of strange disappearances and she’s pretty much out of luck.

But so is The Batman. Due to witnesses seeing a ‘batlike’ creature when these Lost Ones disappear, the city starts hunting down The Batman believing he is the one kidnapping all the missing persons.

The Batman figures out who Dracula is – but really, it’s not that hard. Drac even gives his name as Alucard to Bruce Wayne at a party. This has become so common it’s positivily cliche. What’s really sad is that ol’ Brucey had to write out the letters and hold them up to a mirror to figure it out. I know, I know – that was more to let the audience in on the joke, but really – it just made Bruce look stupid.

By the time the story ends, the Joker’s been turned into a vampire, cured by The Batman, and Vicky Vale has been kidnapped and nearly turned into Drac’s vampire queen. Fortunately, Batsy is able to defeat The Count with Wayne Industries’ newest technological feat.

There are many problems with this movie, the biggest being that it’s just plain dull. I did not like the character designs, Alfred Pennyworth seemed quite out of character (he did a spit take for goodness’ sake) and the voice actor they cast for Batman – ick. He sounded like almost all Hollywood men today – boyish and boring. Batman needs a deep, commanding voice. How can you strike fear into the hearts of men when you sound like a teenage boy?

I will say this for it though – The Joker as a vampire is pretty damn creepy. What’s even creepier is that while a vampire and as The Batman’s prisoner, he dined on Bruce Wayne’s blood nightly.

Okay, so moving right along. Don’t worry – I actually liked the other two movies we watched this past weekend.

Rating: Three Screaming Pumpkins out of ten

Purchase The Batman Vs. Dracula from Amazon

Movie 3: Saturday October 2, 2009
Move Title: House II: The Second Story (1987)
Starring: Arye Gross as Jessie, Jonathan Stark as Charlie, Royal Dano as Gramps and John Ratzenberger as Bill
Written by: Ethan Wiley
Directed by: Ethan Wiley

The first House movie is a lot of fun and sometimes genuinely scary. The sequel – which has nothing to do with the first movie aside from the fact that it centers around a haunted house – is just fun.

When Jessie moves into the house his parents – who he never knew – left him, he starts exploring and finds that the strange mantlepiece on his fireplace is missing something rare and valuable – a crystal skull. After even more research he deduces that this skull might just be buried with his great great grandfather, with whom he shares his name.

He convinces his best friend Charlie to help him dig up the old codger and lo and behold – there’s the skull – and along with the skull is ol’ gramps. He’s decayed and very, very old but still kicking.

Jessie and Charlie take Gramps and the skull back to the house but is is almost immediately stolen – by a barbarian from a prehistoric alternate universe that anyone can get to just by going into the upstairs study.

And that’s how this movie goes up until the end. Jessie and Charlie visit three alternate universes trying to keep their hands on the skull and therefore keeping Gramps alive. In the end, Gramps’ old friend-turned-enemy shows up demanding the skull but Jessie shoots it out with him until only one of them is left.

Along the way Bill Maher shows up as a smarmy record producer and a few non-descript women look pretty on the screen for a few minutes but are never developed past a two-dimensional shell. However, a cute little pterodactyl and dogerpillar make up for lack of female character development.

Rating: Five Screaming Pumpkins out of ten

Purchase House II The Second Story from Amazon

Saving the Best for last :

Movie 4: Sunday October 4, 2009
Title: Happy Birthday To Me (1981)
Starring: Melissa Sue Andersen as Virginia Wainwright, Glenn Ford as Doctor David Faraday, Tracey Bregman as Ann Thomerson and various other Canadian youths
Written by: John C.W. Saxton, Peter Jobin & Timothy Bond
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Although a slasher flick, this movie is very short on gore. The kills are quick and the camera never lingers on the aftermath.

However, the interesting story that keeps you guessing right up until the end makes up for it.

Virginia is a popular girl in her (high school? College? – it’s very unclear) and is even in what the locals call ‘The Top Ten’ – meaning the top ten most popular people in the school.

However, all is not perfect in pretty little Virginia’s world. Three years prior she had been in an accident that left her in a coma. After experimental brain surgery, she recovered but with very little memory of the accident itself or what led up to it.

In the meantime, members of the Top Ten slowly disappear. The viewer knows they are dead – we see each kill although we never see the killer – but the townspeople don’t know if they’re dead or alive. None of the bodies turn up.

By the end of the movie we find out exactly where those bodies went along with how and why.

As with most slasher movies, this film has a female lead performed adequately by Melissa Sue Andersen of Little House on the Prairie fame. A few other familiar character actors from early eighties films pop up along with Glenn Ford.

Rating: Seven Screaming Pumpkins out of 10

Purchase Happy Birthday to Me from Amazon

A New Start…just in time for Halloween

Since it’s October, the husband and I have decided to try to watch at least one horror film a night. The exception to this would be Fridays upon which we have been watching the James Bond films in order – including the ones not part of the ‘official’ film series (Casino Royale, Never Say Never Again).

So, what better time to resurrect my long-neglected Myriad of Reflections blog? It was this time last year that I started the blog and then failed to keep it going on a regular basis. Let’s see if I can do better this time.

Movie 1 – Thursday October 1 2009
Film Title: Infestation (2009)
Starring: Chris Marquette as Cooper, Brooke Nevin as Sara, Wesley Thompson as Albert, E. Quincy Sloan as Hugo,  and Ray Wise as Ethan (a Myriad of Reflection favorite – he was in Twin Peaks, how could he not be a favorite?!)
Written and Directed by: Kyle Rankin

I had never heard of this movie before my husband received his review copy yesterday in the mail. I noticed that the male lead on the box (Chris Marquette) was someone that I have liked in the few movies I’ve seen him in – Fanboys and Freddy Vs. Jason – so I wasn’t adverse to watching it.

The plot in a nutshell: Almost immediately after being fired from his telemarketing job, Cooper (Marquette) and everyone in his office are bombarded with an earsplitting sound that renders everyone unconcious. The next thing he knows, he’s waking up in a web cocoon. After fighting off a beetle the size of a Boxer, he rouses several people and pulls them out of the webbing, including the daughter of his boss.

The group ventures outside and finds that in addition to the beetles, there are huge flying bugs that tend to swoop down on anything that makes noise and either carries them off toward an ominous cloud or stings them in the back.

The group takes off to find relatives and help, fighting off the bugs along the way and coming to terms with their new seemingly-post-apocalyptic life.

The movie is fun, the characters deep enough to evoke some feeling when they die and the special effects convincing. By the end of the movie not all questions are answered (including where these bugs came from in the first place), but I believe this is on purpose. Especially from the last scene of the film, I’m certain the filmmakers are hoping for a sequel and I, for one, would definitely enjoy watching a second movie in this world.

Rating: Seven Screaming Pumpkins out of ten.

Purchase Infestation from Amazon