Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Scream Concert

Although I ended my contribution to the 2008 Halloween countdown with a cover of a Frank Zappa song, it hadn't dawned on me how appropriate it was to do so until now. At the time, I just wanted to use it since I'm a Zappa fan and wanted a video that ended with someone saying "Happy Halloween." But now that I think about it, the choice was doubly appropriate, as Zappa was known for his yearly Halloween concerts and the mask-wearing musician with a KFC bucket on his head would have undoubtedly appealed to FZ's love of the bizarre.

In fact, that love of his resulted in the creation of "Cheepnis." The song is a loving tribute to the low budget monster movies, with a title which both refers to the budgets of many such films and his name for the cucumber-looking monster from It Conquered the World (said creature was dubbed "Beulah" by its creator, Paul Blaisdell). It was also this love of both monster flicks and general weirdness that led to him trying to make a musical tribute film about a giant spider with Best Brains, the company behind Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently, Mr. Zappa was so impressed by the weirdness of a particular sketch he had stumbled across that he immediately contacted the company. Despite the Brains being big FZ fans, the project was sadly never realized (although I seem to recall that the songs prepared for it were eventually released).

Since GdL shares that love, I thought I'd post a video of the song itself. Like last year, it's a cover, but it isn't an ordinary cover song; it's done by Frank's eldest son Dweezil and some of FZ's old friends/band mates. So, thanks to zappaplayszappadvd, here's a little "Cheepnis" for you all:

My other reason for posting this is that I wanted to pay tribute to another band known for Halloween concerts and for a love of the bizarre: Oingo Boingo. I only got into them fairly recently, but here's what I know: Originally founded as "The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo" by Danny Elfman (yes, that Danny Elfman) in 1972, the band eventually changed their musical style and shortened their name (along with band size) in the 1980's. After many hits and membership changes (along with a brief change of name to "Boingo"), the band left the music world after a "Farewell" concert held on October 31st, 1995.

Here's a homemade music video for "Dead Man's Party" (the song that first got me into Boingo), created and uploaded by vash81888:

I don't know if Oingo Boingo ever tried doing a concert with Frank Zappa, but I doubt it. It's a shame, as I think they'd both appreciate each other's love of the weird. Boingo's cult film Forbidden Zone would definitely be up FZ's alley. But since Zappa passed away in 1993 and Oingo Boingo probably won't ever reunite officially due to Danny Elfman's concern over hearing loss, such a team-up can only exist in our minds. To aid in the process, here are some quick Halloween-themed song lists I came up with for each band (in no particular order):

Frank Zappa:

Goblin Girl
Zomby Woof
The Torture Never Stops
Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

As Zappa often did numerous versions of each of his songs, I'm going to recommend my favorite versions to you (with the exception of "Cheepnis" since I've only heard the "Zappa Plays Zappa" version). I enjoy the live version of "Zomby Woof" and original version of "The Torture Never Stops" from Cheap Thrills, the You Are What You Is version of "Goblin Girl," the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 3 version of "Drowning Witch" and the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Volume 6 variant of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance." I know that last one might seem like an unusual choice for a Halloween tune, but I've always felt that particular version of the song has a "harvest dance" quality to it.

Oingo Boingo:

Weird Science
Dead Man's Party
Heard Somebody Cry

As I'm a bit of a Boingo newbie, I can't really make any recommendations on any song versions. I do know that their Dead Man's Party album has all three songs on bit, but I've heard that they might use a different version of "Weird Science" than the one heard in the film. Oh, and "Heard Somebody Cry" totally needs to be the theme for a Ghost Hunters parody.

Now that I think about it, we've been making an awful lot of music recommendations this year. Maybe Gravedigger's Local 16 could make a Halloween song list for the next countdown. In the mean time, be sure to keep visiting the site come November.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

From all of us here at Gravedigger's Local #16, we wish each and every one of you out there a safe and Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stay tuned! (and Oh boy! A bonus, Billy!)

Well, tomorrow is the big day. I imagine that many of you readers will be too busy to read any GdL posts made on Halloween, which is why I'm posting this notice now. I want to stress to you all that Gravedigger's Local 16 will stay open (and active) after October 31st ends. We won't post every single day like we do for the Halloween Countdown, but we won't vanish into thin air like in 2008.

Returning readers might remember that we had attempted to do this last year, but this was cut short due to certain issues keeping the gravediggers from posting. By the time everything was resolved and I was doing several updates a month, most of our audience was gone and many of the new entries went more or less unnoticed. So if you're wondering why so many posts made for the 2009 countdown reference (and link to) older GdL entries, now you know. My sincerest thanks goes out to those of you who stuck with us doing those times.

So please keep visiting come November. At the GdL, the spooky stuff doesn't stop after October. We've got a lot of cool stuff waiting in the wings and you definitely don't want to miss it. See you then!

Horror Trivia

Some prints of Tombs of the Blind Dead were given a new title card (Revenge of the Planet Ape) and opening narration in an attempt to pass the movie off as a Planet of the Apes-style science fiction film!

Not unlike how Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster was initially written as a vehicle for Toho's version of King Kong, Mind Ripper was originally intended to be the third entry in the original The Hills Have Eyes franchise, with one of the Jupiter clan wreaking havoc at a government installation (instead of the suicide-turned-bioweapon we see in the finished version).

Similarly, Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor originally went into production as a sequel to The Deadly Spawn called The Deadly Spawn 2: The Transformation.

C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. is rumored to have originally been a rejected sequel script for Return of the Living Dead. It certainly would explain why the C.H.U.D.s suddenly look and act like comedic zombies in it.

Pamela Springsteen, who played the murderous Angela Baker in Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, is Bruce Springsteen's sister. Not only that, but she currently works as a still photographer.

Fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 will undoubtedly remember the twisted character that is Chop Top. Chop Top was supposed to appear in a short spin-off film called All American Massacre, but the project has been languishing in development hell for years.

Abbott and Costello actually met The Creature from the Black Lagoon in a television comedy sketch.

The costume used in The Monster of Piedras Blancas was reused in an episode of Flipper called "Flipper's Monster."

The female protagonist in Night of the Demons was originally supposed to have a black boyfriend. That aspect of the script, along with a planned gay couple, were removed for being "too controversial." Remember: the film was made in 1988!

Inspired by the success of their Mr. Vampire franchise in the 1980's, Hong Kong film company Golden Harvest started production of a remake targeted at English-speaking audiences called Demon Hunters. Jack Scalia and Michelle Phillips were hired to act as the American "name actors," but the project fell apart after a few days due to their difficulties working in a non-Hollywood studio environment (The differences between making movies in Hollywood and Hong Kong are more than just a change of languages). I can only hope that the shelved footage will be made available one day, either as an extra on a DVD for one of the Mr. Vampire films or included as an injoke in another film (such as having the footage appear in a theater or on TV).

Some of you might be aware that Attack of the Mushroom People is based on a story by William Hope Hodgson called The Voice in the Night. However, I bet that most of you don't know that the same story was adapted as an American made-for-TV movie long before Attack of the Mushroom People went into production.

Have you ever wondered why Frankenstein's monster is usually depicted with green skin? You see, Boris Karloff had to wear green makeup in order to achieve a pale-skinned look on black and white film. However, there were some behind-the-scenes publicity photographs of Karloff in costume that were taken in color. As soon as those pictures were released, the idea of the monster having green skin was cemented in the mind of the general public. The fact that the monster’s skin was colored green on the first Universal Frankenstein film’s poster and how some reissue prints were tinted green didn’t hurt, either.

DEAD (Milkmen)

Correct me if I'm wrong. Not a lot of songs out there for guys named 'Jason.' There was the blow-up in the eighties (there's like, a MILLION of us just walking around) of the name, but it's not a name to inspire. You have Jason and the Argonauts, Jason Priestley. But there's the big one, the main man - Mr. Camp Blood himself.

Growing up, it was always 'Jason,' not 'Jason Voorhees.' Freddy Krueger had the scary-sounding last name. Jason was entitled to the single-word moniker. Don't know how it happened, but it did for me. Perhaps you got a kick out of going 'Voooorheeeeees' but hey, you dig your own grave.

Thankfully, the Dead Milkmen decided to do the un-do-able and write a song about Jason. Could be about me(no), could be about the Camp Crystal Lake legend (yes). It's a song for Jason everywhere (like Moose, the plural of Jason is like the singular. If someone named Jason Moose RSVPs to a party, you can't be sure if he is coming by himself or is bringing a guest.)

Off of 'Not Richard but Dick," the song 'Jason's Head' is a catchy beat. The bass-line reminds me of 'Boys Don't Cry' by the Cure. Jason vs. Freddy vs. Robert Smith. Coming Summer 2011.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Attack of the Anime Adaptations

Animation is not always for children, and the two films I'm going to discuss are definite proof of this.

The slice of insanity you just witnessed is from an anime called Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, a Japanese adaptation of Marvel's Tomb of Dracula comic book. In fact, it was produced as part of the same Toei/Marvel deal that was responsible for Battle Fever J and the infamous Japanese Spider-Man series. You can find out more (and see proof that Dracula loves burgers) at the Anime Bargain Bin's highly informative review. The Anime Bargain Bin also covered Toei's Frankenstein anime, which was put into production due to the success of Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned. Despite rumors to the contrary, this was not an adaptation of Marvel's The Monster of Frankenstein series.

It came from Wikipedia II

According to this article, Godzilla made a licensed appearance in an audio drama spin-off of the Idol Defense Force Hummingbird OVA series.

Color me surprised: Dracula's Daughter was created as a result of Universal getting the license to adapt Dracula's Guest.

As many of you all know, King Kong Lives was the sequel to the 1970's remake of King Kong. But you probably didn't know that it inspired two Japanese video games: King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch and King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu. That movie would've been so much more tolerable if it had Kong battle giant robots and blobs like he did in King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch.

Speaking of King Kong, the old "Kongfrontation" ride once had a crossover of sorts with Darkman and the now-defunct "King Kong Encounter" ride will be replaced with a new Kong ride in 2010.

While we're on the topic of amusement attractions based on horror movies, the UK-based "Alien War" attraction (based on the Alien franchise and once featured a cameo by a Predator) has since been rethemed as "Alien Wars." The use of xenomorphs has been dropped in favor of a generic "extraterrestrial attack" theme, presumably in order to save money on licensing fees.

Here's a shocker: the movie A*P*E was originally advertised as The New King Kong in America, in a presumably desperate attempt to sucker people eager to see the then-current Kong remake into seeing the shoddy Korean rip-off. Unsurprisingly, RKO sued and the title had to be changed. I'd love to know how the hell they thought they could have gotten away with that. As a special bonus, here's an older version of that Wikpedia entry where they link to a picture of the original poster.

If this is to be believed, William Peter Blatty once said that he considered The Ninth Configuration to be the true sequel to The Exorcist.

Wow, Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon musical attraction sounds awful. The article has plenty of spoilers, although I can't see how one could "spoil" that piece of crap.

This claims that one of the entries in the Bloody Murder series is set at the same camp as the other two films, but doesn't mention Trevor Moorehouse or any of the killings from the other films. That's almost as surprising as how the filmmakers weren't sued over their blatant Jason Voorhees rip-off.

Mystery on Monster Island is advertised as being based on a Jules Verne novel. What they don't tell you is that the novel in question didn't have any monsters in it!

Finally, check out this article on the great and noble profession of grave digging.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's a countdown without a count?

Count von Count, that is.

I know these mildly NSFW videos are old news, but I immediately thought of the "censored Count" videos after chancing upon a Sesame Street segment parodying Mad Men (what's next, a Breaking Bad parody?).

According to uploader mrmagoo312, Lemon Demon (aka Neil Cicierega) was responsible for the audio while wattamack4 provided the video for the following:

As is the case with other successful Youtube videos, the popularity of "The Song of the Count - Lemon Demon Version" led to a slew of imitators. In my opinion, the vast majority of them "ran out of steam" fairly quickly due to the weakness of the material used. However, there is one video which didn't fall victim to that pitfall:

According to creator MrNick01, the vacation video was based on an idea by one noodles347. It's almost frightening just how well the innocent songs about counting become hilarious songs about an insatiable sex drive with only some choice bleeps. To quote Strange Jason, "the Count's prowess is unrivaled!"

Doo Wop and Ghoulish Things

Poor weather to be working outside these past few days in this part of the world. In the break rooms of life, it’s good to have something warm to drink, eat and listen to while waiting for the rain to fade.

Two releases that seem to work best when the weather isn’t working at all are ‘These Ghoulish Things’ and ‘Do Wop Halloween is a Scream.

Released on ACE Records out in the UK, ‘These Ghoulish Things’ is a collection of some noted and forgotten songs. Ace Records has spent the last twenty-five years dealing with licensing and releasing old recordings. Weird Jon would have better ideas about legal copyrights regarding international law. The way Ace present themselves, they look like that Ace might be on the up-and-up. Buyer beware, always.

‘These Ghoulish Things’ is a collection of fun songs, and you can tell when you get to The Verdicts “The Mummy’s Ball.”  The mock Dracula breakdown shows that this record was really to make someone laugh, get a few plays on the radio and make the group some money. Novelty records, but more innocent in nature. The release has some ‘serious’ songs, like a cut from Zacherley the cool Ghoul and Buddy “Boris” Pickett’s ‘Monster Mash.’ 

‘Screaming Jay Hawkins is on here with ‘Feast of the Mau Mau’ as well as Virgil Holmes with “Ghost Train” and Bo Diddley’s “Bo Meets the Monster.” The whole record has a throwback feel to it, harking to the heyday of the classic monsters. It’s light listening, making for a good pick-me-up when your bones are soaked and heavy.

Similarly, ‘Doo Wop Halloween is a Scream,’ a release on WANDA and that’s as much as I can tell you right now. Might have been a release effort to collect more novelty singles, getting cuts like Chotalls’ ‘Queen of Halloween’ and Pete & the Bloodsuckers ‘My Baby Likes Scary Movies.’ Anyone with more information is invited to contact me here. Would love to get more info on this release.

Consider it a short rest before the big night. Three days and counting. Ha-ah-ha-ha.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maximum Carnage

The time was October 2002. Universal Studios Florida had decided to integrate their "Islands of Adventure" into their "Halloween Horror Nights" celebration. Not only that, but the event would be moved to the islands for several years. To play off this, the event's theme for the year ("Islands of Fear") was that each island would be "taken over" and altered for Halloween (with one exception).

So, who would be taking over Marvel Super Hero Island? Traditional Marvel supervillains like Dr. Doom or Magneto wouldn't be scary enough and the gliders used by Halloween-themed villains like the Green Goblin and Jack O'Lantern would be too difficult (and dangerous) to utilize realistically. Eventually, somebody hit on the idea of adapting the "Maximum Carnage" story arc that appeared across several Spider-Man comic books in 1993. The idea of a super-powered serial killer and his freakish helpers inciting riots across a city certainly must have sounded like a good idea for a haunted attraction on paper. In practice, it was a very different story.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Witch Dungeon Museum

Location: 16 Lynde Street Salem, MA (Directions)
Dates/Times: April - Nov: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Extended in Oct)
Admission: $8 per adult, $6 per child (4-13) and $7 per senior aged 65 or older.
Phone: (978) 741-3570

No, this isn't the similarly-named horror movie museum in Connecticut. Instead, it's a Salem, MA-based museum devoted to the Salem Witch Trials. I visited the Witch Dungeon museum as part of a school field trip back in the early 2000's, probably since my English class had studied The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible. All I knew about the museum at the time was that it had a reenactment of one of the infamous Salem witch trials, using an actual transcript from 1692. Little did I know was that it would be one of the oddest museums I would ever go to.

The Witch Dungeon Museum is the only museum I know of which doesn't have any "artifacts" on display (or placards, for that matter). Even the now-defunct "Terror on the Wharf" haunted house in Salem tried to live up to its "Museum of Myth and Monsters" subtitle by having some horror movie memorabilia in the waiting area and some placards placed in the first few areas of the haunt itself.

I remember being surprised both by this and how my classmates and I were immediately herded into a small theater. I expected that the reenactment would be the last part of the of the museum, not the first. After all, it would be a natural climax to an hour or so of looking at old historical items about the trials. But there were no such items, just a small theater with a courtroom set up onstage (and some static supporting cast dummies). Soon the costumed cast came out and performed their little five minute reenactment. It wasn't destined for rave reviews, but it wasn't terrible either.

After the trial ended, we were ushered into the "dungeon" located in the basement of the museum by our factoid-dispensing tour guide. The winding dungeon contained displays showing things like Giles Corey being pressed to death, the incredibly small cells the accused witches were kept in (complete with dummy captives) and innocent people being tortured and hung. There was much surprised muttering amongst the group upon passing a display where some people in Spanish Inquisition-style pointed hoods were uncomfortably close to the hanging victims. This brought uncomfortable thoughts of racial prejudice and the Klan to mind. All of the previously-mentioned displays were rendered using the same type of (as far as I could tell) papier-mâché dummies from the play. Thankfully, the dark lighting and moody atmosphere made them slightly less laughable than they would have been in regular lighting.

While a friend and I were debating whether or not a figure in a dark cell was a live person waiting to jump out at us, we heard a piercing scream from a girl in the group ahead of us. Word quickly spread that she had seen some kind of ghostly figure; the consensus being that it was just part of the museum and not a "real" ghost. This would be eclipsed later in the day during our trip to the House of Seven Gables, where someone caused a screamfest by making a joke about a bat attack when a long line kept us stuck in a dark hidden staircase.

Later in the tour, not long before the exit, I (barely) noticed another ghostly effect going on beside me. Or perhaps it was a repetition of the same effect from before, I'm not 100% sure since I never got to ask the girl what she saw. Due to the limited nature of those scares, I am not going to spoil anything for potential visitors by telling what I saw. If you walk slowly and keep your eyes peeled, you should have no trouble seeing the dungeon's ghosts. Although those effects would not make the basement tour "hack it" as a standalone haunt, it was a neat little surprise for a haunted house junkie like myself. After the tour ended, we were cleverly dumped into the gift shop. I remember a lot of knick-knacks, postcards and books, along with hilariously named "Witch Balls" (standard hanging glass ornaments with a new name and back story slapped on to cash in on Salem's reputation).

Not having been to any other witch museums, I can't say where the Witch Dungeon ranks among them. I'd definitely like to check them out before seriously vouching for visiting the Witch Dungeon Museum. Although if you're a teacher looking to give your students a little surprise while you're all in Salem, a trip to the Witch Dungeon Museum isn't a bad way of going about it. As for non-academic trips, I can't recommend going there solely for the dungeon tour. There are much better haunted houses (in my opinion) in Salem to spend your money on (Hint hint).

It's nothing personal against the museum itself, as it's not like they're in business as a haunted house. In fact, I greatly appreciate their throwing some haunt-style touches into the mix. It's just that the museum doesn't really impress me enough to recommend it highly. If the museum was longer, the effects/dummies were upgraded and/or the prices were lower, I would feel differently on the matter. Being a fair man, I won't rate it using the system I use for haunted attractions. Having said that, it is worth visiting if you get an off-season urge to visit a haunt or if you purchase the special combination ticket. Said ticket is good for the Witch History Museum, the New England Pirate Museum and The Witch Dungeon Museum and the savings works out to a discounted savings of about $5 per person. You can find more information about the ticket here.

UPDATE: UPDATE: It turns out the dummies I had thought were papier-mâché are actually wax figures! Although considering how amazing papier-mâché figures can look, maybe I would have been more impressed by the museum's figures if they actually had been made of papier-mâché. Final verdict: Exempt from rating

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dub Like A Zombie

There’s a moment of parity ‘tween us here at the Local and the world of Hip Hop in the movie ‘Scratch,’ a documentary about Turntablism and the rise of such hip hop mad scientists like Q-bert, Kool Herc. DJ Shadow stands in an underground reserve of vinyl stacks, talking about the importance of ‘digging,’ or searching for the perfect beat. Digging for DJs involves a constant search for the next beat, seeking out the next great hook, the right sample.

If yours is the romantic eye, you can see them as urban Templars always seeking out the next Grail. Or, if you adhere to a different philosophy, these are the evolved insects in human-suits, rifling through the mountains of discarded plastics to make something worthwhile. What eyes you sport matters most when digging dirt. Only worms dig without eyes.

Similarly, I keep digging for new spooky music (as should you.) I came across something different than usual – Tino’s Breaks Vol. 6.

Released on the Tino Corp. label, “owned” by the mythical Tino, the releases are developed by Ben Stokes (Dimensional Holofonic Sound) Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto) and Mike Powell (Bo Square). While they create albums full of sounds and beats for other turntablists to use, sample and build, there have been a few Tino’s Breaks that have been dub albums. Instrumental reggae. Or in this case, instrumental hip-hop.

I fell into some dub something in 2004, finding it more enjoyable than reggae itself. Living in an old industrial providence somewhere outside the capital region, there was Sir Walford broadcasted on the college radio every Monday and Saturday. Driving around to grab a cheeseburger, playing some dub while the sun shone down on a cold Fall afternoon remains a constant and favorite memory. He’s still out on the air, every Saturday afternoon. If he ever played from this album, wouldn’t know.

Vol.6 is the Halloween release. You’ll find on this release some really laid back music, as is the case with dub. It’s a lot of funky beats, deep bass; definitely much different than death rock or psychobilly. My favorites on this are ‘Wolfman is Everywhere Dub’ and ‘Zombie Walk Dub.’  The music is very playful. It’s easy to groove to it, while doing what you need to in preparation for the big night. It could also be a good way to break up some monotony of your evening’s music if you need something a little low-key. Check it out here and wherever you can.

Links I like

Interest of fairness, I'm only going to be covering links that I haven't highlighted on this blog in the past:

Teleport City - Yesterday's Tomorrow Today. I've been a fan of this movie/literature/travel review site for the better part of a decade. The reviews, which often mix information about a movie with anecdotes about the reviewer's life, have been a big influence on my writing style. I can't say that I'm all that good at mimicking the style of a Teleport City review, but it's still an influence.

Lost in Schlock - A blog devoted almost entirely to prop-making, be it for Halloween or movies.

Retroslashers - News and reviews of slasher films from the past and present, along with an insanely awesome title banner.

Weird Boston Events - A must-read guide for any resident of Massachusetts who's into the weird and wild.

Joe Bob Briggs - Film critic. Drive-in king. Horror host. Just click the link already...

Bogleech - Home of one of the lesser known Halloween countdowns. There's also some very interesting articles on insects and monster/insect-related toys. Oh, and the webmaster is probably the only person on Earth besides me who's ever heard of "Scratchees."

Head Injury Theater - Movie reviews, hilarious articles and a Halloween countdown full of cool paintings by the guy behind the site. What's not to love?

Bleeding Skull - An excellent site that reviews films (on both DVD and VHS) and contains numerous in-depth articles about various things pertaining to horror movies. Trust me, the site is much better than my description.

The Agony Booth - Home of some of the most in-depth movie reviews I've ever seen. I especially like how the KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park review details the various differences between the original American version and the extended European cut.

Gorillamen - A website devoted to the oft-neglected art of gorilla suits. I love it!

Monster Kid Online Magazine - Cool online magazine devoted to old-school horror. Be sure to check out the article about the Three Stooges and monsters.

Laff in the Dark - Everything you ever needed to know about dark rides.

1,000 Misspent Hours and Counting - Tons of well-written (and often humorous) movie reviews. I especially like the fact that, even when he tears the film apart, the writer always makes the most meager of awful movie seem exciting.

The Astounding B Monster - Home to numerous interviews with the people behind the old horror movies we know and love.

The B-Masters Cabal - Your guide to (most of) the premiere bad movie review sites on the planet.

Tomb of Anubis
- NSFW movie reviews, for both vintage and recent films. The screencaps (done in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000) never fail to make me smile.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Your Face

Facebook fast becoming the way that old boyfriends and classmates track you down, it might be safe to go back onto MySpace so that you can follow your favorite independent band. Or not. Who cares? Here's a bunch of bands currently on there who you could easily add if you still had an account. 

List after the break.

Click the post title for further details.

News to me

Fearnet is showing the unrated director's cut of Return of the Living Dead 3 both online and on its cable TV service until November 30, 2009. Why is this a big deal? Back in the days of VHS, there were two versions available: the rated version (R) and the gorier unrated version. However, the DVD release only contains the R-Rated version.

It has come to my attention that a British horror magazine called "The Dark Side" has been accused of numerous acts of plagiarism. In fact, the webmaster of has made a website devoted to providing evidence for the allegations of literary theft.

The people behind Winterbeast are currently working on a new horror movie called Hooked. I even managed to find some cast and crew hiring information online. I sincerely hope that the filming goes much smoother than it did during the making of Winterbeast and that this won't be a "bad on purpose" film.

AD Vision, often known as ADV Films, has announced it is going to sell all of its assets to Japanese company Sentai Filmworks and a group of corporations registered by their former senior vice president of business and legal affairs. One of said corporations, Section23 Films, seems to be getting the most attention in the stories on the sale.

Although primarily known for their anime releases, I'm sure that many readers will remember when ADV had quite a library of live-action science fiction and horror films, from classics like Destroy All Monsters and the 90's Gamera trilogy to relative obscurities like Pulgasari and Lady Battlecop. In fact, I had always hoped that library would have carried them through the recession and the (in my opinion) eventual crash of the anime market. Especially since they survived what many viewed as a "near death" experience by selling off their old office supplies. "After all," I had thought at the time, "if they can survive that, they can survive anything!" ADV will be missed.

UPDATE: It turns out that I was mistaken and ADV isn't technically dead. Go here for more details.

The Fright Haven (previously mentioned on GdL) is closed for 2009, but will reopen in 2010. Happily, another Connecticut-based haunt called Rails to the Darkside appears to still be in operation.

Music Choice has recently started playing Halloween music on their "Sounds of the Seasons" channel. FINALLY!

Finally, there's a company called "Frankenstein's Recycling." It's not major news, but I thought they had a cool name and needed some more recognition.

Friday, October 23, 2009

All Hail the King

My memory can be as rusty as an old shovelhead sometimes so forgive me if I retread old ground here.


Ah, Metal.  Metal Documentaries have covered why metal is the music most likely to lend itself to darker themes (tuning, the perfect fifth, Black Sabbath etc.) and I encourage you to seek them out on your own for further explanation. Metal is the music that I listen to when I want to feel like I am made up of broken glass, atomic explosions and righteousness. It appeals to a different chemical balance.

I haven’t covered much metal on site. Partially due to that I don’t listen to much metal on a regular basis, partially because a lot of that I listened to during my metal wasn’t spooky. Spooky music like The Crimson Ghosts, Lugosi’s Morphine and The Cramps are of a different flavor of fun than Iron Maiden. 

And, I don’t listen to that much metal all that often. Even when my hair was at its longest, I was never that deep into the Metal sphere. I was the casually dressed at the headbanger ball while my teenage friends blasted out the heavy from car stereos and bedrooms alike. I picked up two albums that I sincerely enjoyed: the live Emperor release and ‘Beneath the Remains,’ by Sepultura (which I find appropriate for a gravedigger, no?) 

Emperor is as black metal as I go. I try to keep to the Americas and the classic UK bands if I ever listen to them now. Mastadon. Strapping Young Lad.  Sabbath. Call it some hometown pride.

But, if there’s someone who I can say is king of spooky metal, it’s the great Dane himself, King Diamond.

From my novice perspective, Metal takes its horror seriously. A lot of bad metal takes its horror way too seriously.  But for my tastes, Diamond gets the balance of sincere horror, spooky and theatrics down right in his music. From his opus ‘Abigail,’ to 2007’s ‘Give Me Your Soul…Please?”, Diamond’s flair for dramatic storytelling in his music makes him a good  addition to your spooky library.

Problems I can immediately see with having him as an addition to your Halloween mixer: No singles and his falsetto. Chances are that King Diamond album you just bought is a concept album, each track a different piece of a longer story. The first Diamond record is more like the traditional album, home

Plus, though he has relied less on it over the later releases, Diamond is known for one of the stronger falsettos in Metal.  King can hit a high pitch.

Can’t say I know him personally, but from posted interviews and interaction, he comes off as a humble and gracious person. It’s a strange life to live when you make your living wearing make-up. I get the impression that he knows that. There’s a visible gratitude for each and every fan that helps him continue with his art.

Throwing on a King Diamond record in between the Misfits or your Psychobilly comp is a nice way to keep your ears feeling fresh. I highly recommend it.   ‘Abigail,’ ‘Them’ and ‘Give Me Your Soul…Please?’ are my suggestions for this season. ‘The Puppet Master’ is a good album but it’s more for Christmas. Seriously.

If you have any metal recommendations, post a comment.

Son of shameless cross-promotion

As was the case last year, our friends at URBMN have put together a humorous article devoted to oddball costumes and masks. I'm bringing this up both to let readers know that "Costume Crazyness" wasn't a one-off article and that the series is continuing despite URBMN's shift of focus toward television reviews.

Speaking of cross-promotion, I want to give credit to some sites that have given our readership a boost as of late:

Monster Rally
Countdown to Halloween
Secret Mountain Laboratory

Thanks for all of your help!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tales of Uncialle

Back when I originally started looking for Halloween stuff online, Uncialle's Halloween Darksite was one of the first few of my discoveries. I was both intrigued and amazed by her instructions on making a homemade pond monster and mummy and faithfully visited the site every month hoping for new prop instructions. But one day, the updates stopped coming. Disappointed, I eventually moved on and mostly forgot about the site.

Years later, I was thrilled to find that Uncialle had merely switched over from Geocities to her own hosted domain rather than abandon the site and that all of the my favorite how-tos were still there.

To celebrate my rediscovery, I thought I'd share Uncialle's "Tips for Fast Haunting" and some directions on making two fairly easy props with you all. They're perfect for any "Oh no, Halloween is almost here and I haven't done anything to prepare" moments you might experience in the week to come. Happy haunting!

Headstone City

Gravedigger's Local 552:
n. Based in North Carolina, Local 552 was first formed in 1826. Originally consisting of 5 members, the union has reached over 50 members throughout the 19th and 20th century. Gravedigger's Local 552 is responsible for all graves that are dug in and around Kill Devil Hills. In 1926, Local 552 celebrated its centennial. To mark the occasion, the members held an anniversary party at the first cemetery the union first dug, back in 1826. The members drew straws and whoever drew the short straw would spend the night in the cemetery alone. Henry Walker was the unlucky winner and slept on the grave that was first dug 100 years prior. The following morning, the other members arrived at the cemetery and found no sign of their friend. Instead, Henry Walker's name was carved on the tombstone and Henry was never seen or heard from again. There have been claims that Henry's ghost still haunts the local cemetery and you can hear him laughing among the tombstones.

Great shirts on their main site. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't discount these deals!

GdL favorite Barrett's Haunted Mansion is once again offering a discount admission coupon on their official website. However, some restrictions apply (see coupon for details).

Visit Borders is the official coupon site of Borders Booksellers. The coupons change regularly, so don't fret if the coupon you see today doesn't suit your needs. I was at Borders a few weeks ago and they had some markdowns on many horror DVDs, including Phantasm for $8.99. Slap a coupon on top of that and you've got an even better deal!

Speaking of Halloween sales, Amazon has an entire section of their website devoted to their various Halloween promotions.

For any New Englanders reading this, I highly recommend subscribing to the various Newbury Comics online newsletters if you haven't done so already. Not only will you get a lot of cool news and contests, but they often throw in some handy coupons. Of particular interest is the "20% off any Halloween item" they sent out this week. Well, 20% of any Halloween item that isn't on sale and isn't a CD or DVD. See coupon for further details.

Finally, Union Fellow Halloween Forum has an entire folder devoted to various sales, discounts and coupons. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Sometimes, I just love my town.

The Grove Street Cemetery has a wonderful entrance, with the words "The Dead Will Be Raised" carved across the gate. It adds a little spooky to the town, which can be kind of a bore. 

Of course, the locals also contribute. This is a husk of bark that bears a resemblance to a horned demon (or you could see your favorite uncle) that one of the locals decided would look great hanging off of a steel bolt from a telephone pole.


Mask-Making 101

Ah, latex masks. Halloween and horror movies simply wouldn't be the same if they didn't exist. In fact, it was once thought that such masks could replace makeup entirely! But although many of us drool over such masks, sometimes the price of one is scarier than the creature it depicts.

So why not make on yourself? If you (or someone you know) can make a good-looking clay sculpture, you're already part of the way there. Although the initial investment in obtaining all the necessary materials might seem expensive now, the end results could potentially save you money normally spent on masks in the long run. To learn more, please visit the mask-making tutorials at the following linked sites:

Haunters Hangout Mask Making
Spooky Blue's Halloween Haunt Projects
The MonsterMakers: How to Make a Monster!

Pages 14-21 of the Google Books preview for The Monster Makers Mask Makers Handbook by Arnold Goldman also give some great mask-making tips.

After you finish making your own latex masks, you're going to need to know how to store and care for them. Thankfully, the Mask Dr has a handy online guide available.

Or if all that seems too complicated and time-consuming for you, there's always paper masks.

As noted in yesterday's "How-To" post, Gravedigger's Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on those sites (or constructing a project that's detailed on them). Attempt at your own risk.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to make a monster

No, this isn't a review of the classic AIP film of the same name. Instead, this blog entry is intended to point you in the direction of some handy how-tos in case you need something extra special for your Halloween display, haunted attraction or costume party.

The online preview of Dan Reeder's Papier-Māché Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash Into Magnificent Monstrosities is a great place to start. The materials are fairly inexpensive (and easy) to come by and the results look really neat. Sadly, said preview doesn't contain any information about creating fake eyeballs. Thank goodness Haunters Hangout has a tutorial on the matter (along with other cool Halloween projects). Similarly, the Monster Page of Halloween Project Links has a wealth of information about creating your own monsters (and other cool Halloween props). Who says you need to be a mad scientist to make your own monsters?

Like Haunters Hangout and the Monsterlist, Gravedigger's Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on those sites (or constructing a project that's detailed on them). Attempt at your own risk.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Linger longer III: Legion

Depending on your sense of humor, the following is either the greatest or worst Linda Blair interview ever recorded:

For those of you that would prefer a horror-related Opie and Anthony video with just a bit more substance:

Surprisingly, only the first one is NSFW. And if that "imbalance" bothers you, well, just look through the rest of the videos on the uploader's channel. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No tricks, just a treat

Back when I reviewed Pieces for GdL, I wasn't very annoyed with how it was hard to remove the overlapping DVDs from the case since I could just switch them (along with the cover art) over to a new case. Seems kind of odd, right? After all, wouldn't that mean I'd have to spend extra money on an empty DVD case?

Not necessarily.

"Eddie, what kind of movie is this?"

Got to give it up for capturing a mood. Right from the start, 'End of the Beginning,' the newest album from Lugosi's Morphine sets the tone. 'The Year Without a Halloween,' a title invoking the Rankin-Bass specials from a different holiday, perfectly expresses a bad case to any spooky/scary aficionado - horror fatigue.
"Not feeling like dressing up/and I don't mean to be rude/ I've got a mountain of eggs and toilet paper/but I'm just not in the mood."
Been there, done that - horror fatigue gets the best of us. Singer D.F Lazarus doesn't try to rationalize it. It just is. A ghoul can't see black everyday without getting the blues. But what follows, the "I Like It Spooky," is an anthem for any spook-show citizen. The pairing of the unenthusiastic in 'Year Without' with the affirmation cry in 'Like It Spooky' indicates the intelligence behind this band.

The whole record is fantastic. 'Evil Urge,' 'Bucket of Blood' --hell, 'Graves' might as well be the theme song for us here at the Local. This record has fun and aggression; there's a party in the guitar work and the thud control in the bass and drums keeps things rocking forward.

The music on this album is so good it pisses me off. In the same vein how Lemmy took umbrage at anyone tacking on the qualifier "for a girl band" whenever talking about Girlschool, I'd get pissed if someone said, "You know, this band is good for a horror punk band." I'm not surrounded by anyone who would, but to think that someone might pass up this record without giving it a fair shake--that's a damned shame.  Lugosi's Morphine is a good band. The music on could should reward them a greater notice. If it has, good. They've earned it.  But damned  be the ignorant masses that dismiss any band as a comedy act or a seasonal flavor to be played once on a October broadcast at a college radio station.  

It's not like that they decided to not suck one day. Lugosi's Morphine has always been on top of the ball. Their release '5 Shots to the Head' shows they know their shots and allow you to experience both their influences (They cover Roky Erickson's "Bermuda" and "Night of the Vampire") and their live set. If you need evidence why to check this band out, get a hold of that release or sleep with someone who does. Make use of your body's heat while it's still warm. When you're done, introduce yourself to Lugosi's Morphine and be happy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Transylvania TV: ON THE AIR

One of the related YouTube videos to Spook House Dave's channel led to 'Transylvania TV' (or TVTV), a puppet show from Minneapolis. More adult themed in nature (language, content, nothing too graphic) it's not for kids despite being very similar to your Sesame Street/Muppet fare.

They have a DVD of their first season out (as well as t-shirts, which run rather cheap for some designs) but you can view the whole season for free on their You Tube account. Season Two is on their site, though it's a continual process. Subscribe to their newsletter to stay in touch. 

First Episode Below.

Creepy cocktails

Since we covered food and nonalcoholic punches last time, I thought it would be a good idea to devote today's entry to "hard" drinks not suitable for minors.

Getting back to Lesley Pratt Bannatyne's A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations from yesterday's entry:

Spiked Halloween Punch and Blood-Red Cocktails
Spicy Bloody Mary and Halloween Schnapps

The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris by Colin Peter Field offers a pumpkin-flavored cocktail which goes by several spooky names.

Knack Bartending Basics: More Than 400 Classic and Contemporary Cocktails by Cheryl Charming and Susan Bourgoin contains the following drink recipes:

Devil's Blood and Rotten Pumpkin
Ghost Aura and Berry Scary-tini

Moving on to Wikibooks (some scrolling may be required):

Ectoplasm (Two variations)

Hangman's Blood

Invisible Man


There's also a separate entry on the Zombie that has a more detailed history of the drink, along with some alternate Zombie recipes.

Please drink responsibly!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ghoulish gourmet

What to serve at your Halloween party? It's an age-old question. Although some take the easy way out by stocking up on pizza and chips, a true Halloween lover takes the time and effort to make some specially-made creepy cuisine. Just as we offered up printable Halloween decorations last year, here are some free recipes:

Britta Peterson, author of Eerie Elegance: How To Host A Haunt And Other Fabulous Frights offers up lots of great recipes on her website, good for both Halloween and Harry Potter-themed parties. My personal favorite is the bleeding heart recipe, as it seems like a tasty treat and great special effect.

The Google Books preview of Brekka Hervey Larrew's Wormy Apple Croissants and Other Halloween Recipes offers up the title recipe, Witchy Wands and Edible Eyeballs.

The preview for The Halloween Handbook by Bridie Clark, Ashley Dodd and Janette Beckman offers many recipes. Said recipes include (but aren't limited to) Meat and Vegetable Vertebrae, Witches' Hats and Dirt and Worms Pie.

For those serving very young guests, Baby & Toddler Meals for Dummies by Dawn & Curt Simmons (along with Sallie Warren) might be a worth a look. Recipes like Frightful Brownies and Green Witch Punch await you.

Donata Maggipinto and Richard Jung offer up a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds in Halloween Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family.

Halloween: Customs, Recipes, Spells by Silver RavenWolf has material that' should I put this...a bit metaphysical. Still, one can easily ignore all the "new age" parts of the recipes to make old fashioned Samhain goodies like All Souls' Day Bread and Divination Doughnuts, or modern goodies like Witches' Brew and Sugar Snakes in Graveyard Dust.

For those looking for more than just sweets, Ed Morrow's The Halloween Handbook has recipes for Jack-o'-Lantern Pizza and Witch Handwiches.

Finally, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne's A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations provides a wealth of recipes. So much so, that I've decided to just link you to the first page of the recipes chapter and let readers scroll through by themselves to find stuff that interests them (but I will give a few suggestions). Although this is true for many of the other links in this entry, A Halloween How-To went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to recipe ideas. It's got everything from variations on pumpkin seed recipes to Halloween Jell-o and Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for some Halloween cocktail recipes...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spook House Dave

Puppets. Funny puppets. Or, so I think. Some of the jokes are corny but I like Umberto. Kind of has that 'Edwardo' from 'Foster's Home' vibe going on.

They're doing a full 31 Days of these short clips over at 'Spook House Dave' so head over and check them out.

Kagaku no Daikaiju

My Japanese language skills are slim to nonexistent, but the title of today's entry should roughly translate as "(The) Science of Giant Monsters."

Anyone who's drooled over imported official guides devoted to Godzilla, Gamera and co. should be familiar with pictures of Japanese movie monsters showing the internal structures of said beasts. Although I can't tell you what those diagrams actually say, I can link you to some online scans of those pictures.

As if that wasn't enough, here's an article written by an honest-to-goodness scientist which discusses how Godzilla would function if he actually existed. How cool is that?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Full Moon Direct

Anyone who haunted the horror section of their local video store will no doubt be familiar with Full Moon and their low-budget (but often high fun) films. The following video was posted last year to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary and includes clips from various movies by Full Moon and Full Moon’s predecessor, Empire Pictures.

What makes this video particularly interesting is that it comes from Full Moon's official Youtube channel, which also hosts movie trailers, classic "VideoZone" behind-the-scenes segments and full movie uploads!

Ken's Dead

Confession time: I like pro-wrestling. There. It's off my chest. I like the spectacle, the goofy convoluted story-lines and mainly the acrobatics. Lucha Libre like CMLL. Indy wrestling in particular, like Chikara, PWG, ISW or DDT and Triple6 from Japan.

Also, video games. Used to like them, not terribly alot but enough to head over to a local blockbuster rent a game. Back in 2004, I made a poor choice, renting a poorly, poorly designed wrestling game from Japan called 'Rumble Roses.'

Women wrestling video game from Japan. Chances are, if the game has nothing but women in it and it's from Japan, it's not going to be very progressive in female roles. Chances are there's going to be some degradation and that game didn't disappoint (actually, yes. I was very disappointed, not just with Japan but myself.) If you want sincere, authentic women's wrestling that doesn't make them out to be strippers sans poles (which, in their own right, is quite the athletic achievement) then you'd want to check out SHIMMER.

So, in the game, there was this character named Candy Cane (ugh) who came out to a song by The Killer Barbies. Did a search and found that they were this punk band from Spain. And that was it until recently, when I was able to get a listen.

Despite there being a gap with a band singing in English as a Second Language, they're not bad. Nothing you absolutely need to get first off but good supplemental material for your library. Can't really go wrong with a band who wrote a song called 'I Wanna live in Tromaville.'

They have a spooky punk element to them, with songs like 'Chainsaw,' 'Love Killer.'Plus, they pulled a 'Rock n' Roll High School' and starred in two movies - 'The Killer Barbys' and 'The Killer Barbys vs. Dracula,' both directed by Jesus Franco.

They've broken up and it looks like their lead singer Silva Superstar is parlaying herself into a solo career as an edgier Gwen Stefani (hot girl from an underground band going a bit mainstream) but here's hoping there's success for her and all the other bandmates.

Along with the Misfits 'Skulls,' 'Then He Kissed Me' by the Crystals, the band does a cover of 'Candy' by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson. An odd choice, seems it seems like one of those uncoverable songs. Listen for yourself.

Note: you can tell there are some dedicated fans on Wikipedia when the entry on Iggy Pop's 'Candy' is amended to include a detailed account of the KB version.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talk about creepy...

After finding the material for yesterday's entry, I decided to mess around with Google Books some more. I was hoping to find material on haunted hayrides (especially if there were any books devoted to creating and running one), but what I found was so much more bloggable.

You see, I found a page from Guy Gets Girl, Girl Gets Guy: Where to Find Romance and What to Say When You Find It by Larry Glanz and Robert H. Phillips. Not only does it more or less suggest that you sit near someone you're attracted to in the hopes that they'll get scared and grab onto you, but it actually offers up some sample pick-up lines. Said pick-up lines range from painfully bland to some of the most awful, cringe-inducing attempts at humor I've ever encountered. I even skimmed through some of the other sample pages and found that the lines only get worse. I'm honestly shocked they didn't suggest doing the old "hole in the popcorn tub" trick during the section on trying to pick up someone at the movies.

The book itself seems to be a 2003 reprint of their 1994 book, How to start a romantic encounter: where to go to find love and what to say when you find it. To me, this makes description of a haunted hayride as a " type of hay ride" to be particularly bizarre. The last time I checked, haunted hayrides have been around since at least the 1980s. There is simply no excuse for a 1994/2003 book to refer to them as being a "new" type of attraction.

Would Gravedigger's Local 16 be setting itself up for potential legal trouble if I recommended that the proper response to someone using any of the lines from this book would be a shift kick to the nethers? Probably? Well, then I didn't just type that.

Calling All Ghouls

Have you been listening to Ghouls Night Out? I hope you discovered this band on your own from my post about Gein and the Graverobbers and The Crimson Ghosts. I know you would have checked out Necro-Tone Records and saw that Myra from Gein and the Graverobbers has a band called Ghoul’s Night Out.

Hopefully, dear reader, you have a copy of ‘The Mourning After,’ the record GNO put out. On that release was Amy Von, who would leave to pursue her own career. And proving that being a possible undead psychopath that could flay the skin off your body and feed it to her cat (allegedly) doesn’t mean being without principles, Myra decided to work on some new songs.

I saw GNO back in May and they played the new songs. I tell you, they’re fucking. fantastic.  I hyperbole you not, reader.  The arrangements are incredible and the new songs showcase the range of Myra’s vocal talents. They describe themselves as ‘if the Misfits ‘spent the night’ with The Trashwomen,’ but I think GNO has taken the best elements of their influences to produce something better.

Lucky for us, GNO will be recording their second album this fall. But we shouldn’t rest, oh no. Reader, if perchance you haven’t, go over to their website. Listen to the ‘The Mourning After,’ as they have a free stream of it. If you like it, buy a copy. Send an email and say ‘This is fantastic, and we look forward to the new album.’ Go to their Myspace page and listen to ‘The Rage,’ one of those new songs. If you’re in the area, make the trek to Worcester, Massachusetts on the 30th to see them play with Creepin’ Cadavers and the Cretins. If you like rock, if you like spooky, if you are either dead or alive or both and in that plane of existance there is a modicum of good taste inhabiting your physical or corporeal presence, then show some support and spirit for GNO.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vampires are Cheap

Growing up, the vampire was the fall-back costume when it was too expensive to be anything else. Both me and my next-door neighbor/best friend would sport the costume two or three times in a row. Ninety-nine cents for a pair of plastic fangs, some leftover white grease paint, the old black plastic cape and a small tube of fake blood was the extent of the costume. All else I needed could be found in my closet – white shirt, black dress pants. After fifteen minutes, bam! Instant vampire. Just add water.

That might explain why I don’t think vampires are anything special. Yeah, it's fashionable now to be all anti-vampire to be cool but anyone who knows me can say that even before the teenage fever gripping the world thanks to Twilight and other YA novels/movies, vampires have inspired that ‘blah’ feeling in me. Somewhere along the way of growing up, sucking blood and fearing the sunlight never stopped being lame.

Could also be something geographically inclined. I came from Arizona and moved to Upstate New York at a young age. I left a state that’s 4/5th sunshine to a place that is cold and damp for nine to ten out of the twelve months. I was living away from sunshine (or the intensity I had come to know). Outside of going chupacabra on the plenty of dairy cows you can find in the area, I pretty much had the vampire schtick down and it wasn’t making me feel any better.

Now there is this revisionist history going on to make Vampires totally down with the ultraviolet. Oh, they just sparkle. They’re weakened but the sunlight doesn’t destroy them. I do not buy that one bit, man. That’s a bunch of BS from brats who want to be able to have tans but walk around with fangs. It’s a case of a kid wanting to have all the superpowers so he or she always wins – s/he’s the fastest, strongest and toughest. Forget that, man. Either you get straddled with the equalizing weakness of the mythological creature or you don’t play. Overcoming those weaknesses make for the better character.

And this nonsense - if vampirism is a disease, then I want it to be a STD. I want it on the same levels of syphilis. Get some action from some hot goth on a Saturday night – wake up on Sunday and find that holy symbols and sunlight give you the heebie-jeebies. Go to the doctor on Monday, get a shot, EAT SOME GARLIC. Fantastic. This whole trope of having zombism, vampirism and lycanthropy as some disease like AIDS is a ridiculous fad in fiction when someone can’t come up with a farfetched idea of how to get the creatures to walk. 245 Trioxin did that nearly twenty five years ago, people. Don’t pull this ‘some mysterious disease’ crap. Who needs realism when you have goddamn vampires, zombies and werewolves running around? How about a disease that causes mummification? The layers of skin thickening to human wrapping? Man, I should be pitching these to Hollywood – anyone know an agent?

You want to know the only vampire I ever liked? Bunnicula. Suck on that.

More vintage Halloween insanity

Before I begin, I want to give some credit where it's due. This post (and several of my other recent entries) would not have been possible if I hadn't learned the joys of Google Books from Atomic Mystery Monster's link-filled JREF posts.

Long-time readers will likely remember an entry from the first GdL Halloween countdown where I linked to dangerous Halloween ideas from an old issue of Modern Mechanix. After discovering that Google Books offered complete scans of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, I decided to see if I could find any other oddball Halloween tips similar to the ones from 2008.

At first, it seemed liked the old dangerous and lawsuit-baiting ideas I discussed last year were a one-time only thing. This three page article on mask-masking from 1931 seems fine, as does this article about making a Halloween-themed rocking chair. Although many of the tricks noted here are quaint, they're pretty safe for the most part.

But once I started reading scans from a November 1934 issue of Popular Mechanics, things started to go downhill. It starts off pretty well, but soon lapses into over-complication once they wheel out the smoking robot and tent costumes. Sure, the robot costume looks neat, but don't expect any easy time getting out of it to use the toilet. As far as I'm concerned, the only really useful (and fairly easy) idea to be found in the article is the part about giving a costume glowing eyes.

But things got really crazy in the November 1935 issue, both in terms of the layout and suggestions. If you think tricking people into biting cakes of soap and electrically-charged nails sticking out of a chair are bad, wait until you hear this: The article actually suggests making "secret messages" appear using a hidden curling iron and sulfuric acid! I don't care that they told people to use caution when handling it or that the acid should be diluted, why the hell did they think telling people to use sulfuric acid at a party would be a good idea? Did they forget that children and alcohol consumption tend to appear at parties, Halloween or otherwise? Did they forget that writing messages on paper with lemon juice and holding them over a lamp provides the same basic effect with much less effort and much greater safety? Then again, these are the people that recommend wiring up a Ford coil to a tin strip over a light bulb or creating a burning alcohol mixture in order to produce strange lighting effects, rather than simply using colored bulbs (or fireproof colored coverings placed over bulbs). Unsurprisingly, the simplest and safest ideas are saved for the end of the article. It's amazing that people managed to survive Halloween in the thirties.

Now that I think about it, why on earth are they giving Halloween advice in their November issues? My first guess was that the magazine was bi-monthly, but the existence of October issues from that period prove that theory incorrect. Did Halloween used to occur in November back then? It would certainly explain why the protagonist of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn went trick-or-treating around Thanksgiving. Does anyone out there in readerland have an answer for me?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The truth behind The Exorcist

Thanks to years of documentaries and TV specials, many people are at least vaguely aware that The Exorcist is was based on a true story. But, just as how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is only loosely based on Ed Gein, the truth about The Exorcist is stranger (and far less exotic) than fiction.

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's website has an article which reveals some interesting details about the original "exorcism" (such as how the allegedly possessed youth was a male). On top of that, offers up a detailed and well-researched timeline of the events and an interview with a man who was present at the exorcism.

It's both sad and strangely comic just how obviously non-supernatural the whole incident was in retrospect. The boy in question had been a troublesome, nasty youth prior to his "possession." The "moving bed" had wheels on it and strange marks only appeared on the boy's wrists after his hands were near them. Instead of projectile vomiting pea soup, the boy just spat without opening his mouth. Oddly enough, that's actually one of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck" jokes!