Yesterday was busy, as far as Halloween festivities go. First thing, my mother and I carved our Jack-o-lanterns. She made a surprisingly gruesome puking pumpkin that turned out surprisingly well. I carved a more traditional jack-o-lantern. I wanted to cut a Jason mask design but that proved a little more complicated then I had time for.
That night, after working all afternoon, I headed directly to the Apollo for a midnight screening of "Rocky Horror" with my hetero-life-partner JD, which you will read about below.
“Kolchak: The Night Stalker” “The Knightly Murders”
This is a very dense episode. They pack a lot of characters and conjecture into this one. John Dehner is hilarious as a grandiose speaking police captain. He makes a nice contrast with the usually antagonistic police captains that butt heads with Kolchak. Carl also bumps into a flamboyant fashion designer (who name-checks David Bowie for some reason), a noisy butler, a jittery museum curator, an old man far too willing to talk about his younger days, and a couple running a store that sells family crest. (that name-checks Queen for some reason. Lots of seventies rock references around this one.) That’s a lot of guest stars and tails for Carl to talk to and follow. Maybe they were just trying to stuff up a flimsy story but I enjoyed following the mystery, convoluted as it might be. As for the mystery itself… The animated suit of armor has always been an odd horror cliché for me. I think the only reason you see it every once in a while is because people like to trot out maces and lances as modern day murder weapons. That certainly seems to be the reason it was chosen for this episode. I like the gag of Kolchak stinking of perfume for the entire second half of the episode. Despite some obvious flaws, I liked this one a lot. It builds and builds to an intense final confrontation, where Kolchak finds himself completely outmatched against a physical threat. The way the monster is dealt with is the only disappointing aspect here. (8/10)
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”
Faith is on my mind a lot this Halloween. Considering how Schultz used the Linus character as a mouth-piece for his religious views before, it’s hard not to view some subtext into this special. It’s been denied, but you can clearly interoperate this as being about atheism vs. faith. (Or a mocking of the devoutly faithful. Or, as Kindertrauma put it, conformity vs. nonconformity.) Watching this for the uptenth time, I noticed how episodic this is. It’s clear that the writer is better versed in writing daily comic strips then a half-hour special, because this is clearly broken up in skits with clear set-ups and punch lines. Only one or two sequence feel extended enough not to fit into a daily comic strip. Though, when each strip is this cute and funny, you can’t really complain. This is a traditional for so many for a reason. (8/10)
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”
Last night was my first time experiencing a midnight screening of this. (I got branded with a “V” and marched up on stage for my troubles. At least I didn’t get spanked on the ass like my friends.) I was a big fan of RHPS a few years ago, and still love the music, but grew out of my fandom, mostly do to my feelings concerning the Rocky Horror crowd, who I’ve come to find overly cliquey and kind of sadly pathetic. However, I can’t say any of those thoughts bothered me last night. Standing in a long line, in the middle of the night, in the cold, with a bunch of like-minded, clearly nuts people, you just get caught up in the feeling of fun. That I managed to convince some young hottie dressed as Columbia to stick a plush toy dolphin into to her cleavage for me really made the night. Anyway, this was a complete blast, no lie. You can’t even really compare watching the movie at home by yourself with the midnight experience, in a cramped theater, full of people, yelling, laughing, throwing crap, fully interacting with the movie on-screen. I understand now that’s its not the movie itself so much as the midnight experience that causes such a devout fan following. People, especially lonely people, must be eager to revisit that feeling of belonging and unspoken brotherhood that permeated this event. I can’t blame him. The two become inseparable after a while. One by itself is never as good again. Probably because of all this, I ended up enjoying the movie a lot more then I usually do. It’s pretty much a given that I’ll be back next Halloween. (9/10)
“Kolchak: The Night Stalker” “Legacy of Terror”
I’m sure viewers of the series back when it was new were all wondering when “Kolchak” was going to get to The Mummy. It was the one major horror icon it hadn’t covered yet. The use of Aztec mythology instead of Egyptian adds an interesting variation to the idea. Of course, the mummy doesn’t even show up until the very end of the episode, probably also a wise decision. The opening murder is certainly a striking set piece. Having watched so much of this show in such a small time period, I’ve come to realize that just watching Kolchak go about the business of investigating the story, bumping into the guest stars of the week, and then fighting the monster at the end, is really effortlessly fun. Darren McGavin was so incredibly good in this part. Maybe “Legacy of Terror” isn’t the strongest episode but I can’t say I enjoyed it any less then the best episodes of the series. It handles the story in a really entertaining way. The sports stadium make is a great location for the final scene and, surprisingly, Erik Estrada actually does some acting in his guest role. The Mummy make-up, sparingly used, is actually one of the better creature design of the series. (7/10)