For Halloween this year I finally answered the question what would it be like if Michael Myers went on a Florida vacation? No way he’s wearing the mask in this humidity. I don’t need it anyway—I’m pale and shapeless enough.
The aerobic figure to the right is actually Laurie Strode herself (click here for proof), though her appearance here is coincidental. My roommate is involved in legitimate theater and as such has an enormous print of Jamie Lee Curtis from Perfect. We stuck it on the side of the fridge a long time ago for reasons I fail to remember. Forgot she was there when I snapped the above pic.
Hope y’all had a spooky ooky Samhain. I sat around the house listening to Slayer and eating pierogies, because I’m an American and that’s my right.
The chilling climax of Assisted Living Dracula, which did not make the list.
Since I wrote a book about a horror punk band maybe people care to know my favorite horror movies. Emphasis on “maybe.” It’s understandable if you’re only here killing time until the next dumb cat video.
AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
So close to perfection you can barely talk about it. Seems like the most accurate portrayal of what lycanthropy might be like (see: uncontrollable gore, psychological fraying, corpse humor). David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are genius together, the Hope and Crosby of onscreen bloodshed.
THE BAT (1926)
Bob Kane copped much of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego from this story, and it’s not hard to see why. Such striking imagery, thick atmosphere (particularly for a movie that takes place almost entirely in one house). The Bat is the best pre-Burton Dark Knight, though this flying rodent has no heroic intent.
THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Lugosi. Karloff. A torturous secret. Great suspense. Delicious turns from two spook masters. Should be up there with Dracula, Frankenstein, et al.
EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
Gonzo horror at its finest. Could you breathe the first time you watched this one? Bruce Campbell delivers a career-defining performance. Makes Elm Street look like “Sesame Street,” Friday The 13th look like Nancy Drew.
Bonkers carnival movie that also succeeds at skewering our country’s sick tabloid culture. Funny, sardonic, but I can’t stand to even glance at Alex Winter in that mutant bat makeup. Also, those giant sentient eyeballs with arms and legs (that are also Jamaican for some reason) wig me out.
The ultimate power trip: harnessing the fury of the atom to capture evil spirits for profit. Only bureaucracy stands in our heroes’ way. Even when it does, they still have that boss car and an endless stream of wisecracks.
The first time we realized William Shatner’s pasty visage could be an instrument of evil. What’s more horrifying, though: the anonymous killer hunting teenagers or the fact these teens have no grasp of local history?
Frightening beyond belief because there is no supernatural element. Sharks are real, and there’s nothing fantastical about them nibbling on a human.
Max Schreck’s makeup is amazing and his movements are hypnotizing. On top of that, Murnau’s direction is wonderfully feverish. None of it seems real. Sticks in your craw like the best kind of haunting.
It’s a testament to this film’s genius that so many decades and parodies later you can still watch it and hope against hope that Anthony Perkins is innocent. The score might be the greatest in horror history. The entire score, that is, not just the “ei ei ei ei!” part.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)
Everything is sort of romantic and intriguing until Lon Chaney’s mask comes off. Then the fur starts flying. Unlike most modern horror movies where the titular evil is allowed to escape in case of sequel, here we get to watch a zealous crowd beat their ghoulish tormenter to death. Cathartic.
“The Simpsons” made a joke out of “can’t sleep, clown will eat me,” but in Poltergeist that terror is all too real. Ground zero for the movement against all grease-painted jesters. Not that I’m downplaying the movie’s bigger theme: manufactured communities are evil, as are those who develop them.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Not traditionally in this genre but sneaks in thanks to its bleakness. Two robots fighting over the seed of the only woman who has foreseen the apocalypse. Of course no one believes her, so they have her committed. Also, one robot is comprised of an indestructible liquid. Any way we can downgrade to evil clowns?
Please feel free to bombard me with angry comments and angrier e-mails concerning the lack of Leprechaun movies on this list.
Another lean year, but hey, it was the first. I had no idea what was going on. Nobody did. It was 2008! Justin Bieber hadn’t even been invented yet!
Restricted Words, Phrases, & Names During Meal Time
Crazy-Ass Dream: Curly Audition
Unsolicited Review of The Nine Leaked Guns N’ Roses Songs
Corey Feldman Has Issues (With Michael Jackson)
Fake George McFly Speaks!
Unsolicited Dark Knight Review
Steak & Ale: 1966-2008
Four Very Useless Photoshops
“I Want Him To Sound Like Truman Capote.”
Crazy-Ass Dream: Nirvana Kiddie Concert
Memorable Customers I Encountered During My 2 Year Stint At Taco Bell
Indiana Jones & The Oh Man, They Taste Like Old Cocoa Puffs
Sarah Palin Shoots Chewbacca’s Father Just To Watch Him Die
Uncensored Pictures Of Hot Steamy Greasers
Halloween ’92: Epic Fail
Commenting Upon Various Time Magazine Covers
“Speak Of This Not.”
No spirits or spectres made their presence known to me this year on 10/31. Wrote for most of the day, keeping an eye on my e-mail accounts for virtual poltergeist. No dice. Does Hook Hand not have my Gmail address? Need to update my undead contacts.
Went to a party that night dressed as Richie Ramone, the third drummer from that legendary band and the Ramone I most look like in my everyday life. Driving in the leather jacket wasn’t an activity I’d describe as carefree or fun. I guess that’s why the Ramones lived in New York City. You don’t have to use your arms on the subway that much.
The party was a hoot and a couple people even got my semi-obscure costume. Somehow abstained from drinking the candy corn-flavored soda in this couple’s fridge but I did eat a white chocolate Kit Kat. Note to Nestlé: if it ain’t broke don’t pour white chocolate all over it.
Came home and ate a bunch of Reese’s cups. Surprised scientists haven’t figured out a way to mine the oil outta those bastards for our nation’s fuel needs. Breaking free from our dependence on the Middle East could just be a peanut butter cup away.
All in all, a fine Hallow’s Eve. Not as exciting as the year my minivan was egged, oranged, potato’d, cheesed, and greasepainted with inside jokes by my friends but also not as dull as that string of Halloweens in my teenage years when I was too old to trick or treat but still too young to go to parties.
Last year I answered the door for a trick or treater. He was a boy of maybe eight, dressed as a Transformer or some kind of Power Ranger. I gave him a couple of bite-sized (“fun”-sized, as some call them) pieces of candy and this was his response:
“Thanks! See you at Christmas!”
Can you imagine if they encouraged trick or treating on Christmas Day? That might actually be a good idea, considering how many candy canes I see still cluttering up people’s houses in March.
Maybe this kid was in a group of holiday carolers and he meant he’d see me at Christmas when he came around to sing “Deck The Halls” dressed as Tiny Tim. If that happened I missed it, which is a shame because I love Dickensian-themed events.
Whatever he meant, I LOL’d pretty hard. Thanks, kid. Hope you bust more funny bones and get even more candy this year.
Yes, my mother has seasonal pool toys. For Christmas it’s inflatable candy canes. And you aren’t seeing a ghostly apparition to the left there—my legs really are that white.
Working on a book about the Misfits has sort of desensitized me to Halloween. I’ve been staring at pictures of guys in spooky costumes all year, trying every day to make a little more sense of their blood-soaked, cobweb-tangled, sharply pumpkin-flavored punk rock oeuvre. Life will probably seem vaguely normal tonight when I go out and see homemade zombies and d.i.y. vampires dashing around the streets.
This is how I imagine long term Disney employees feel when they go on vacation to Paris and catch a glimpse of someone wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt. It barely even registers.
Still, I should try to get into the spirit. So here’s Florence Henderson performing “That Old Black Magic” on Paul Lynde’s 1976 prime time Halloween special. Finally, Carol Brady enters the Satanic plane, satiating the Noseless One and preventing a global undead apocalypse.
Hard to believe this didn’t become a radio staple of the season.
Halloween is a mere fifteen days away, and for some harried folk, that statement really means Christmas is a mere sixty-nine days away. Oy gevalt! Why not kill two birds with one stone by listening to Yuletide-themed Misfits tribute act the Chrisfits? Finally, the melodious punk rock of Glenn Danzig without all that stomach-churning gore. In its place? Candy canes and mistletoe and other cheery crap.
The only info I have about the Chrisfits is that they’re from Canada and they’re awesome. Slightly more material here, including a tender retelling of the Christ child’s birth set to “Last Caress.”
Something I neglected to mention in my unsolicited review of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure—for a long time, that particular movie was my favorite post-Ghostbusters cinematic property of the 1980s (despite its complete lack of boobs, gremlins, or John Candy). I must have rented it every weekend the first two or three months it was available on VHS. Why my parents didn’t buy me my own copy, I have no idea. They were kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.
I remember completely losing my shit the afternoon I found out a second Bill & Ted was on the way. I was errantly flipping through a stray issue of Time Magazine underneath my parents’ coffee table in the family room when I suddenly spotted an alien photo of Alex Winter and Keanu Reaves.
“Bill & Ted Go To Hell,” the pre-name change caption read, going on to say something to the effect that Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was the stupidest movie to ever yield a sequel. Ouch. My first taste of Northeast elitism. Hey, Time Magazine, I’ve got your Ingmar Bergman right here.
I was all about Bogus Journey in ’91 (even though I didn’t actually see it until January of 1992) and I was determined to dress up as either Bill, Ted, or the film’s Grim Reaper character for Halloween that year. In my sick, delusional mind, a homemade Grim Reaper costume seemed much easier and less stressful than an attempt at either Bill or Ted. I wish I could tell you what I thought was so challenging about a backwards hat and a green flannel shirt. Remember, we’re talking about the same kid who thought the best way to get rid of a stolen copy of Penthouse was to flush it down the guest bathroom toilet.
Anywho, the d.i.y. Reaper outfit. My theory was a black hoodie, some cheap Halloween make-up, and a toy hockey stick wrapped in tin foil would get the job done. Oh, how wrong I was:
This picture just screams, “Beat me with a shovel.” Thank god my mom did a pretty good job on the make-up. Otherwise, I probably would have looked like the poorest (and least Asian) ninja in all of Japan. Actually, I kind of look like one of those Scandinavian Death Metal guys. Burn the churches, praise to Odin!
I was pretty happy with my homemade costume at the time…until Matt Salyer showed up to the Halloween party I hosted that evening in a far superior Grim Reaper costume. He had gone all out, buying a long, flowing robe from Spencer Gifts and fashioning his scythe out of a large piece of driftwood. It also didn’t hurt that Matt was about six feet tall and weighed nearly two hundred pounds. His Grim Reaper was a large and imposing collector of souls. My Grim Reaper was some kind of misshapen hockey troll foraging the wastelands for discarded fast food wrappers and day old coffee.
You will notice in the following photo that a significant portion of my make-up came off before the night was over. This was due to the fact that A) I bought the least expensive clown crap I could find, B) one of my guests thought it would be funny to spray me directly in the face with a shitload of shaving cream before he was even out of his mother’s car, or possibly C) a combination of both. Clearly, I should have picked up whatever greasepaint Ed “The Joker” Charlesworth was using.
From left to right: Suburban Commando Jim Raymond, Jake Hallam as John Shaft (coolest honky at this vanilla-fest), Me, Ed, Matt “Superior Reaper” Salyer, Josh Wyatt in The Most Elaborate Batman Costume Ever Constructed By Someone Outside Hollywood (Josh and I were actually kicked out of a local hardware store a week earlier while he was searching for Bat-materials), the politically-minded Jim Rumpf as Reagan’s Iran Adviser (a costume only my parents understood), and Colin Reinhardt as that notorious comic villain the Clock King.
One of these guys recently got engaged. One of these guys appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” a few years ago.* One of these guys impaled his thumb on a fence while attempting to steal a couple cans of twenty-five cent soda. Two of these guys had a falling out because the one guy made a bunch of 1-900-909-SEXX phone calls from the other guy’s grandparents’ house (awkward!). One of these guys has a blog none of the other guys read (weak sauce).
But I digress. Though certainly not the worst costume in the history of JG2 Halloween – that would probably go to my atrocious Omen-related 2001 garb (for some reason, I thought Damien wore a cape) – the Grim Reaper is definitely up there. I give this one a solid 8 on the Shitty Costume Scale. May God have mercy on my thirteen year old soul.
* – Apparently I was wrong about this—see below in the comments.