|Nevermore and some friends|
It seems like Halloween creeps up on me sooner and sooner every year. I don’t mean today, September 18th, the day I start my Halloween Horrorfest Blog-a-Thon. I also don’t mean the day itself, October 31st, which sometimes seems lost among the six week celebration. I mean that special Halloween feeling. Those without the autumn fever or a love for the macabre might not understand. When the signs of the season – the dead leaves, the autumn breeze, pumpkins, candy, black cats and more – start to blow in, it’s the culmination of a longing I feel all year round. Halloween fever usually hits me in the middle of July, when the days are long, hot, and miserable. (It doesn’t help that this is usually the time when stores start to trickle out the decorations.) By the end of August, I’m chomping at the bit. I need it to be Halloween immediately. But then the 18th comes and I remember to relax. Everything is more special during the next month and a half. Six weeks is more then enough time to take it all in.
Every year, I try to figure out why I love Halloween so much. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Halloween has always been about remembering. The death of the leaves coincide with the ancient pagan rituals commemorating the dead for a reason. Our modern rituals of trick r’ treating, carving Jack o’lanterns, and pinning paper skeletons to our doors are rooted in older traditions, designed to remember our loved ones. More personally, Halloween is the day that connects me the most with my childhood. I loved Halloween as a kid. It provided a safe way for me to explore the horror films and books I was too timid to dive into at the time. As every new Halloween comes, I unavoidably look back on the Halloweens of years past. Inevitably, I reflect on the good times I’ve had with those I love and those I’ve lost. These reviews are documentations of my Halloweens, making my recollections especially vivid.
Is this a pretentious way to open a movie marathon? Sorry about that. Obviously, I try my best to make each Halloween season special. Since I love horror movies, and Halloween is the best reason to watch a bunch of horror movies, I attempt to squeeze in as many as possible. Unlike the Kaiju-Thons or Universal Monsters Megathons of previous years, there’s no defined theme for 2015’s Horrorfest. The Bangers n’ Mash Show, my weird podcast/Youtube show hybrid, has become a part of my seasonal experience. The Blog-a-Thon is a good excuse to prepare for upcoming themed episodes of the podcast. Three in-coming episode topics include unusual horror movie threats, the late nineties resurgence of slasher flicks, and alien invasion movies. Expect movies fitting these themes to be featured here soon. Beyond that, I’ll just watch whatever strikes my fancy. Hopefully, this will produce a nice mixture of classic, retro, and modern horror films.
|The first leaves of autumn|
As I’ve been doing the Halloween Horrorfest Blog-a-Thon in one form or another for seven years now, other traditions have emerged as well. In addition to movies, I’ll also be watching more episodes of “Tales from the Crypt” and “So Weird,” the third year I’ve done so. Hopefully, I’ll sneak in some spooky seasonal shorts as well. There are other things to do besides watching stuff. Something else I’ve made a tradition of is journeying to a local horror convention. Podcast co-host JD will join me on our annual trip to Monster-Mania 32 in Baltimore. The big guests this year are George A. Romero, Keith David, and Matthew Lillard, all of whom I’m pumped to meet. Beyond the con, there’s Apolloween and the dreaded midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Last year, I enjoyed Dismember the Alamo, the all-night horror movie marathon at our local Alamo Drafthouse. Hopefully, they’ll do that again this year. Samhain willing, I’ll make it out to a local haunted attraction, corn maze, or pumpkin patch. There’s so much spooky, kooky stuff to do. I can’t wait.
Horror movies aren’t just playing at home. What’s in the theaters this September and October? The hottest recent horror release is “The Visit,” which has been getting surprisingly good reviews for a late period M. Night Shymalan movie. The most exciting horror release of the fall, if not the whole year, is “Crimson Peak.” A review of that for my Guillermo del Toro Director Report Card will come in time. Besides that, the studio offerings are typically weak. The “Paranormal Activity” franchise reportedly releases its long overdue final entry, “The Ghost Dimension.” “The Last Witch Hunter” looks like another one of those lame horror/action mash-ups that roll out every few years. Who knows if Satanic Panic-themed thriller “Regression” will be any good. “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” sounds a little too jokey for my taste and I’m sick of zombies anyway. Even the two kid-friendly releases, “Hotel Transylvania 2” and “Goosebumps,” look like weak sauce.
It’s been a good year for indie horror and it looks like that’ll continue into the fall. “Hellions” and “Cooties,” both about malevolent little kids, look excellent. The season brings two new Eli Roth films, long delayed cannibal throwback “The Green Inferno” and the Keanu Reeves-starring “Knock Knock.” Roth is a wildly uneven talent so it’s hard to say if either will be good. “Deathgasm” looks like a blast. “The Final Girls” has a fun premise. Anthology “Tales of Halloween” has assembled an inconsistent collection of talent. Among the directors though are Film Thoughts favorites Neil Marshall and Lucky McKee, so you know I’m excited for that. I’m even excited for the new “Tremors” movie, even if it’ll probably be terrible. It’s not all good news. The AfterDark Horrorfest is back after several years of thankful absence. The latest line-up seems as middling and generic as ever. That's only a fraction of the stuff coming out. How many of these will I even see? Who knows! Maybe none! But it always warms my heart to see lots of horror films being released in October.
Halloween is the best time of the year. This is why I, and the masters I’ve learned from, stretch it out for six weeks. So let’s indulge in the things we love. Let’s watch lots of spooky, scary, grotesque, gory, beguiling and creepy things. This includes movies, TV shows, shorts, and anything else that fits the definition. Let’s eat too much candy and drink too much cider. Let’s smell too many pumpkin-spice scented candles. Let’s jump in piles of leaves, walk down foreboding forest paths, and search for ghosts. Let’s trick and/or treat. Let’s have lots of fun. It’s time for the Halloween Horrorfest Blog-a-thon. It’s time for Halloween.
|Suddenly, the pumpkin has a face|