I just wanted to take a second to thank all the other blogs who were keeping the spirit alive this season (as well as giving me the inspiration to keep my month long post-a-thin going). I’d also like to thank everyone who stopped by and read some of the articles or posted comments, as this also helped. I think I’m going to have to take a break from posting for a few days, but I’ll be back next week with my one year anniversary Peel Here as well as some new installments of Cartoon Commentary! For now I’ll leave you all with some left over pictures, stuff that I just didn’t get around to talking about…
So, I wanted to announce the winner of the season’s Audio Ghost Story. There was some deliberation between the dog and cat, but in the end it we all agreed that Douglas Gonnelly and friends deserved to take home the prize.
Here, for everyone’s listening pleasure is the story, The Witch of Saratoga…
…and I urge everyone to also check out Doug’s site Preying Mantis Productions for some other great stories.
Also, before I forget, there are still four or so more hours to get in any entries into this year’s Halloween create your own audio ghost story contest.
Well, it’s the last week in October with Halloween right around the corner, so it’s time for my last spooky themed Peel Here of the season. This week’s post is a short one, but one that should be welcome to any fans of some of Hollywood’s more modern monsters (in particular Freddy Kruger.) The following stickers come from the 1988 Topps Fright Flicks sub set. I remember picking up a few packs of these cards and if I’m remembering correctly, they were a lot like the You’ll Die Laughing series, just updated for the 80s.
I’m pretty sure the cards were similar to the stickers in that a fair number of them must have featured the incorrigible Mr. Kruger as he fits so well into the whole concept of cards with bad puns plastered all over them…
What’s really interesting to me about this set of stickers (and the cards as well) is that the licenses for these characters come from multiple studios. It seems kind of weird that Topps managed to finagle them all into participating in a single piece of merchandising, but apparently they did.
Like most good Topps sets there is again a card-back puzzle poster, though this time it’s pretty ugly, what with the whole cut and past job that had to be done in order to get all these characters together.
Anyway, next week officially marks the 1 year anniversary of Peel Here, and I’ve got a pretty fun post planned. Now I’m off to bake Halloween cookies and start carving our pumpkin. I can almost smell the roasting pumpkin seeds now…
One of the things that I haven’t really written all that much about this Halloween season are all the movies I’ve been watching. I guess there are only so many hours in a day. To make up for that a bit I thought I’d mention this awesome box set of Vincent Price flicks that MGM put out recently (which is made up of a good portion of their previously released Midnite Madness double feature discs.) I’ve been slowly getting into the Price’s work over the past year or so after watching his awesome turn as Dr. Robert Morgan in The Last Man on Earth. I’ve been stumbling through his body of work hitting a House on Haunted Hill here and an Abominable Dr. Phibes there. Well my local Hollywood video went out of business and was selling off all their DVD stock, so on a whim I picked up The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. I really liked both and wanted to see some more of the Roger Corman Poe adaptations, so after doing a search on Amazon I found the very reasonably priced Vincent Price: Scream Legends Collection…
Over the last few days the wife and I found some time to sit down and watch a couple of the flicks which I think managed to show the range (quality-wise) of flicks Price has worked on, as well as what’s offered in this set. The first flick we took in was Madhouse, released in 1974.
Madhouse is basically a horror infused send up of Price’s own film career. He plays an actor named Paul Tombs who is best know for staring in a series of gruesome horror flicks all surrounding the character Dr. Death. At the height of his career as the gruesome doctor, Tombs finally decided to settle down and marry one of his leading ladies, the announcement of which he made at a gala New Years party with all of his friends and colleagues. Unfortunately not everyone is so happy with his impending nuptials and ends up killing his bride to be (beheading her in fact), though the question is raised, did Tombs kill her himself. After a lengthy hiatus from film making (not to mention a stay in an asylum) Tombs decides to re-embark on his film career at the behest of his best friend and co-creator of Dr. Death Herbert Flay (played by the ever awesome Peter Cushing.) Of course, straight away the bodies start piling up again, as do the questions as to who is killing all of these people.
At then end of the day I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the film, but it really suffered from an almost incomprehensible climax and resolution. It didn’t help that the film was filled with plot holes and some questionable directing (way too many red herrings, a fact that is actually celebrated in the final act with an actual dish of red herring.) Price and Cushing do their best with what they have, even though their effort barely rescues this film from complete disaster. At a time when the modern horror landscape was drastically changing, and surrounded by the likes of Black Christmas, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, and Last House on the left, flicks like Madhouse with their questionable effects work (many obviously rubber spiders abound) and poorly written scripts just a little past their day.
The second film we caught was the much better and down right disturbing Witchfinder General (though American audiences might know it as The Conqueror Worm), released in 1968.
In this flick Price plays Mathew Hopkins, a lawyer and professional witch finder/executor, a character that’s based on an actual witch inquisitor. While making his way through England torturing and executing "confessed" witches (whether they are guilty or not), Hopkins is summoned to a small town at the behest of the populace to look into a local priest. It just so happens that the priest is the uncle of Sarah Lowes, whose fiancé (Richard Marshall, played by Ian Ogilvy) is a Roundhead fighting against the Royalists. After Hopkins tortures and executes Sarah’s uncle Richard comes back to find his soon to be wife in quite a state (she had offered herself to Hopkins in exchange for her uncle’s safety and was inadvertently raped by Hopkins’ assistant in the process.) Richard vows revenge on Hopkins, stopping at nothing to see him pay for what he’s done.
The film was very well made with a startlingly non-camp performance from Price (a feat which young auteur director Michael Reeves accomplished by constantly questioning Price’s acting choices unexplained to a point where Price ended up reeling in his typical black humor.) The film was pretty brutal for the time, and much more so than Price seems to typically make. I think it’s because the material was handle very realistically and straight forward with no actual witchcraft or crazy plot devices. I was also surprised by the very downbeat ending, also a rarity in Price’s oeuvre.
I can’t wait to make my way through the rest of the set which include five more films, Theater of Blood, Tales of Terror, Twice Told Tales, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (which I have seen and love), and Dr. Phibes Rises Again. This set also includes four biographical featurettes (including on that focuses on the Witchfinder General in particular) that though aren’t quite as in depth as one might like, do offer a nice staring point into the work of an amazing man. All in all, it’s well worth the $30 price tag (though currently you can find it on amazon.com for around $22.)
Last year during Halloween I found a bunch of fun stuff at my local dollar stores, a lot of which I blogged about at the time, but there were a couple of items that I never got around to scanning and sharing. Well, this weekend I aim to right that wrong. I was kind of skeptical when I picked up a thin bundle of Halloween coloring books at Dollar Tree, figuring that the art inside would be utterly terrible, but I happened to be going through a Creature from the Black Lagoon kick and he just happened to be gracing the cover of one of the books so I couldn’t pass it up (besides, it was a dollar.)
I’m not a huge an of the cover art, though I do really like the wraith that was included in this weird trio (in particular the fact that she has one good leg, and if you look at the bottom left you can see the other poking out of the dirt.) When I got home and cracked the books open I pretty found exactly what I was expecting, which was some pretty bad cutesy (think Precious Moments cute) artwork. There were a handful of really cool pictures here and there though, including the following three. I’m not sure who the artists are (they never seem to credit artists in coloring books do they?), but this guy or gal did an awesome job with some really fun designs. I really liked this muck monster, complete with plastic pumpkin pail (and jack-o-lantern face), and "…all drippings with goo…" (as Peter McNicol would have said in Ghostbusters 2.)
I also really dug (conceptually) this below graveyard scene, complete with re-animated punker skeleton and his rat (with a real skull for a mask no less.) I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the snake and the skull in the background though…
This was just a very rockabilly addition to the coloring book (which was printed in 1996 by Landoll’s), which seems kind of weird, yet very cool.
Last but not least is the addition of a more intergalactic celebration of Halloween in space…
I’m pretty sure the same artist is responsible for all three, and as we’ll see tomorrow in the second coloring book from the same company, this artist did some more interesting pictures. For now though, might I suggest printing these out, breaking out the Crayolas, sticking your tongue out of the side of your mouth, and bringing these drawings to life.
I figured, since we’re getting down to the wire with only a handful of days between now and the big day that I’d sort of round up the rest of my Halloween food haul for this year. First off though, I’d like to point to I-Mockery’s great rundown of 2007 candy offerings, it’s a great list and way more exhaustive than I had the energy to do, so if you get a chance take a second to look at his write up and make his impending sugar coma a little more worthwhile.
I thought I’d start off with a fun new version of pretty much the only cereal I ate on a regular basis growing up, Cap’n Crunch. I’m not sure if this is new for this year, or if it’s popped up in the past, but it’s the first time I’ve ever spotted a box of Halloween Crunch on my local store shelves…
Basically, this is a variation on the Crunch Berries variety except instead of berries you get berry flavored ghosts. To add a little more zing, the ghosts (which are sort of an orange-ish red) turn a green-ish orange in milk (or I suppose any other liquid, but what else are we really eating our cereal with), and in turn they sort of turn the milk green. The whole color change wasn’t nearly as astounding as I’d hoped, but I guess concessions have to be made to keep the stuff edible.
Even though I love the idea of it, I’m not a big cereal eater as I’m really not into sweet stuff. I do however love all of the pageantry surrounding the sugary breakfast food, in particular the mascots and artwork. In this respect Halloween Crunch is pretty darn awesome in my book as I’ve never seen the Cap’n so weirdly animated. I love the whole mummy gag, and the idea that he all of a sudden has the mystical power to summon forth color-changing ghost berries is pretty wild.
Cereal without milk (click to see an up-close picture of the bowl)
Adding Milk (click to see less than astounding color-changing effect…)
I know some other brands have gone hog wild during Halloween in the past, but this year there weren’t that many other cereals getting into the spirit so to speak. Besides the trio of monster cereals hitting shelves again (Franken-Berry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula), the only other season box I saw were these Lucky Charms. There was nothing special about the cereal, but there was a fun bat mask that you could cut out of the back of the box. (Click picture below to see the Lucky Charms box close-up.)
There were also a few other bags of candy I picked up this year, though I tried to stick to stuff that was doing something a little more interesting than your normal Halloween candy offerings. First up we have one of my favorite finds this year, Ghost Dots.
Basically, these are just like the normal dots, except they come in an awesome translucent green (that looks a lot like your basic glow in the dark coloring) and they’re all mystery flavors. I love the concept on these, I mean the whole idea that candy would have spirits is pretty crazy, and now kids all over the world get to send them to the after life again like so many scared Pac Man ghosts.
Another confection that I found in my local Dollar Tree which ended up doing something a little different were these Mr. Yummy Skeleton Pops.
I love the idea of replacing your basic boring paper stick with a plastic skeleton. It’s just genius. Unfortunately the candy skulls are pretty much tasteless and even at a dollar a bag (you get five) it’s a sort of a waste. I do have to give them points on creativity though. I’ve also seen another variation on this concept that had skeleton parts (arms and legs mostly) in a much larger bag (that was also around $6 so I decided to skip it), not to mention the build-a-skeleton pops that are reviewed on the I-Mockery site.
The last candies up today are the Jolly Rancher Creepy Pops…
At the end of the day there isn’t anything ground breaking about these except that they taste awesome and just happen to be molded in the shapes of ghosts, vampires, skulls and jack-o-lanterns. You usually can’t go wrong with Jolly Rancher.
I’ve been meaning to post this ad for the Vincent Price Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture kit for awhile, but I kept putting it off.
I guess I wanted to try and make a shrunken head of my own, but I’ve been lazy on the crafts front this month. Last night I decided to run out to the store before it was too late (and it might already be) and start my own little shrunken apple head. Though I don’t have one of the awesome looking Vincent Price certified sets (which you can still find on eBay), I found a set of instructions on the interweb (via Make Magazine.)
All you need is one decent sized apple…
…some lemon juice (1/2 cup), some salt (2 teaspoons)…
…a knife (or potato peeler), and a small bowl.
Start by mixing half a cup of lemon juice with two teaspoons of salt to make one heck of a noxious anti-browning mixture. I broke down and bought the lemon juice from concentrate, though I’m sure fresh squeezed is probably better. Then peel the apple. I’ve always been envious of the folks who can peel their apple in one go, resulting in one long springy piece of apple skin. I guess as long as the job gets done though…
Next, place the apple in the salty lemon juice, making sure to coat all of the peeled areas.
Now using a potato peeler or knife, carve out your shrunken head’s face. Concentrate on the larger features (eyes, nose, and mouth) as smaller details will probably wilt in the drying process. The site where I found the instructions suggested some possible accoutrements, like sticking a couple whole cloves in the eye sockets, and using large whole grains of rice for teeth, but I think I’m going to go strictly natural for my first go round.
Now that you have your apple peeled, semi-preserved, and carved, it’s time to find a nice dry and warm place to let your shrunken head develop. I chose my cupboard as it’s the only free place where my pets won’t be able to get at it. I propped mine up on an up turned plastic storage container, though the site suggest a wire rack. This morning I found my head in a small pool of lemony apple juice, so I suggest trying the rack method as well (making sure to place some paper towels or something underneath to catch any liquids.) Let the apple head dry for two weeks, checking it every once in awhile and making any adjustments to the face that seem necessary.
As an alternative to the two week drying process, the site also suggests placing the apple head in the oven on the lowest setting for two days. I’ll check back on it with more pictures as it progresses…
Earlier on in the season when I first stumbled into the Wal-Mart Halloween section as it was being put up, I noticed what has quickly become my favorite find of the season (their packaging mascot for this year.)
What’s kind of funny is that all I wanted that day was to buy one of these little Frankie tags, but everything that he was attached to was either too much to justify buying the product just for the tag, or something that would have been a total waste to justify buying it for the tag alone. I hate wasting money, but I hate throwing out perfectly good stuff just because I wanted to own the box it came in (yeah, I know I have some issues.) So the question became what I could buy that was branded with this awesome Frankie design, while spending the least amount of money while also getting the most mileage out of the product. I had it narrowed down to a tiny felt bag that was $2 and a cheap $1 rubber mask (the entire set of which I already bought last year.)
While I was driving myself nuts trying to figure out this monumental problem, I was walking up and down the few aisles Wal-Mart had set aside for season stuff and my flitted across a package of paper cut-outs that I think I’ve seen on shelves for as long as I can remember. It’s a set that I’ve purchased a few times in my life, mostly in a last minute effort to decorate my mail room at work. What caught my eye though was that like practically everything else in Walls-Mart this year it was branded with the Frankie illustration. Though it was a little more expensive, coming in at a whopping $2.84, I figured that if nothing else I could throw up the cut-outs at work again this year.
When I got back to work I opened up the package and for the first time I took a real good look at the set and was surprised at just how long some of these paper cut-outs had been around, and I figured why not hit the interwebnet and try and find out a little bit more about these. Though I’m sure everyone and their mom already knows this, these paper cut-outs are made by the Beistle Company who have been in the market of novelty decorations since 1900. In fact, I think they’re responsible for most of the paper cut-out designs (across all holidays) that most people have fond memories for since they license out their designs to practically everyone making these types of decorations.
Unfortunately, only a few of the designs in the package I bought would fit on the scanner, but they are some of the really cool ones…
For cheaply produced quick holiday fare, there really is a lot of artistry to these drawings and designs. I love all of the multicolored detail on the flaming skull, which has some really great line work to it.
Beistle has a website where you can order direct from them, and recently (as seen over at the Secret Fun Blog) they’ve been reproducing more of their more vintage fare (I tried to get direct links to the various products but their website always re-directs back to the home page so if you do a search for the following product numbers you should find what they have available, 01008, 01015, 01063, 01193, 01315, 01318.) Spookshows.com also has a nice write up about the company here.
My only problem now is that Wal-Mart has an alternate version of their Frankie Halloween mascot tag on some of their seasonal clothing that is twice as cool as the tag above, but what am I going to do with a child’s size t-shirt, which I’d have to buy in order to get it. I think I need a shrink.