Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Halloween 2014: Preamble

"HELLO!" shouted the skull.

Last November, after the Halloween festivities were over for another year, I buried my jack-o’lanterns in the moss garden under a tree in my front yard. Throughout this year, I have watched those seeds, fully unexpectedly, bloom into an enormous pumpkin plant. A plant that has, thus far, produced something like twenty different pumpkins. Watching the vine grow has become a suitable metaphor for how Halloween looms over my entire year. I write about horror films frequently here at Film Thoughts. I even published a collection of horror stories back in June. Yet Halloween is special. Once a year, for six weeks, I devote myself fully to my favorite of all holidays. It is the closest thing horror dorks have to a religious celebration and I look forward to it with baited breath all year round.

But it’s not like a religious celebration because it’s actually fun. Halloween makes me happy for a whole bunch of silly reasons. Watching as many horror movies and TV shows over the course of forty-four days is one of those reasons. Last year’s Halloween was one for the books, as I accomplish everything I set out to do. As 2014’s season rolls towards us, there’s no way of knowing if this year will be as good as last year. Let’s leap into that pumpkin patch together and find out.

I can’t leap ahead without a plan though. Earlier this year, I watched and reviewed all of the Godzilla and Gamera movies. Turns out covering 42 giant monster movies over the course of two months was not enough to satisfy my Kaiju Kraving. I found myself wanting to talk about some of Toho’s other kaiju flicks, earlier giant monster examples, and off-brand stuff I’ve never even heard of before. Even though it threatens to occasionally take me out of the horror genre, September and October seem like the right time to do this. Thus, a large portion of this year’s Halloween Horrorfest will be devoted to KAIJU-A-THON. Much Tokyo stomping, off-sync dubbing, and rubber suits await.

There’s other stuff too. I try to coordinate my Blog-a-Thon watches with what we’ll be talking about on the Bangers n’ Mash Show. There are actually several other film series I want to rewatch and explore this year but I won’t reveal which ones. It’s a dancing demon, tall men and little monsters filled surprise. In addition to that, I plan on continuing last year’s reviews of “Tales from the Crypt” and “So Weird.” I might even make some time for a few spooky shorts. My plans are jammed-packed and I’m rearing to go.

My growing pumpkin plant.

Beyond film watching, there are other creepy and kooky things to look forward to. At the start of October, my podcast co-host and I will venture once again to Monster-Mania in Baltimore. Monster-Mania 29 is a bit light on quality guests but Robert Englund and Billy Dee Williams are the big ones. Amazingly, I’ve never met Freddy or Lando before so I’m looking forward to that. I didn’t make it out to Apolloween last year but I plan on correcting that in 2014, including a midnight screening of the much-loathed “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I did run through a corn maze and a haunted attraction last year. I definitely want to do those things again.

As for the rest of the world… Movie studios and theaters took it easy on horror releases last October. This year, things are swinging back. Middling horror fare like “As Above, So Below” and “No Good Deed” are still stinking up theaters. “The Conjuring” prequel “Annabelle” is the first major release of the season, despite not looking very good. Also not-looking-very-good is “Dracula Untold” – Universal’s latest attempt to retro-fit their classic monsters as big budget action entertainment – and “Ouija,” a bizarre cross between mall-horror and board game marketing. The remake of “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” is probably the most promising of the major releases this October, despite a subpar trailer. Lucky for us, the indie front is much stronger. Kevin Smith’s oddball “Tusk” opens tomorrow, as does Adam Wingard's much-buzzed about "The Guest." “The Babadook,” with its fantastic festival reviews, is easily the most anticipated release of the season. Alexandre Aja’s long-awaited “Horns” and “The ABCs of Death 2” are also coming. I can’t say if “Where the Devil Hides,” “Housebound,” or “Stonehearst Asylum” will be any good. I’m just happy to see October loaded with so many horror movies. Heck, there’s even some mildly spooky stuff ahead for the kiddies, like “The Boxtrolls” and “The Book of Life.” In all of that, surely there will be something worth seeing.

As the leaves begin to fall, the candy corn self-generates in our treat bags, and pumpkins prepare to be carved, I ask myself a question: Why do we Six Weeks?

The answer: Because we love horror, as it speaks to something deep inside us, whatever that might be. Because we love Halloween and feel one day of celebration isn’t enough. Because it helps us mark the passing of another year and the changing of the seasons. Because it connects us with the good times and friends and happy holidays we’ve experienced in the past. We Six Weeks because we love Halloween, we love horror, and we love to write about both. 2014’s Halloween Horror-Fest Blog-a-Thon: It has begun.



whitsbrain said...

This may come as a shock, but I'm a big Kaiju fan, so I'll be following your combo-platter Halloween Horrorfest/Kaiju-Thon.

Kernunrex said...

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

Happy Halloween, my fellow Six Weeks-er! Did my first Halloween shopping of the year yesterday, and man it felt good. Little new decorations here, little candy there, and even a pumpkin pie-scented candle. I'm now officially in the spirit of the season.

I am so burying the pumpkins in the yard this November. Can't believe I never thought of that before.

Bonehead XL said...

Whit - Great to hear it. The Kaiju-Thon is cool since I'll be watching so much stuff I've never seen before.

Kernunrex - As always, great to see you again. Last year in my part of the country, we didn't get much of an autumn. It was summer right up until the middle of October. This year, however, we've had perfect autumn weather for the last week. That's when the Halloween spirit really first hit me this year. I'm hoping it sticks around for a while.

whitsbrain said...

I watched "Varan the Unbelievable" last night. It's a 1958 black and white kaiju flick by Ishiro Honda. I can't say it's very good, really. It has all of the tropes you'd expect from an early giant monster flick.

It largely consists of the military's numerous attempts to destroy Varan. The monster doesn't destroy a whole lot, there's not any village smashing to speak of. The Varan costume looks good when it walks on all fours but kind of dumb in flight. The movie is something a kaiju completist has to see.