31 Days of Halloween Day 15 and 16 – HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

31 Days of Halloween – Day 15

House of 1,000 Corpses (directed by Rob Zombie, 2003) Where do I start? Do I start with Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen? The sadistic Firefly family, who prey on travelers and cheerleaders? A physician who goes by the name of ‘Dr. Satan’, who performers experiments on unwilling participants all in the hopes of creating a race of super-humans? There are so many bizarre, yet memorable characters and insane situations in House of 1,000 Corpses that it is hard to keep track of. A group of young adults (including a then unknown Rainn Wilson from The Office) are on a cross country trip, in search of off-beat roadside attractions. The stumble upon the Museum of Monsters and Madmen, and become intrigued by the local legend of S. Quentin Quale, aka Dr. Satan. After receiving directions from the proprietor Captain Spaulding, the group head out in search of the “Satan Tree”. On the way, they pick up a hitchhiker who claims she can take them right to their destination. What they find instead is a house full of murder and mayhem, occupied by the Firefly family, and things do not go well here on out for the travelers. From top to bottom, this film is insane, and very entertaining. Taking inspiration from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as 1970’s Grindhouse features, there is an abundance of gore, plenty of violence, and a lot of exploitation going on. Rob Zombie’s typical gang of actors, Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Bill Mosley are all present and are all disturbed. Zombie’s first feature will not be for everyone, but House of 1,000 Corpses certainly leaves an impression.

31 Days of Halloween – Day 16

The Devil’s Rejects (directed by Rob Zombie, 2005) The sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses continues the carnage but takes a different approach than its predecessor. The Devil’s Rejects continues the story of the Firefly family months after the events of House of 1,000 Corpses. The family is cornered in their house by the authorities, and are out numbered and out-gunned. Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Otis Driftwood (Bill Mosley) manage to escape and flee the standoff, and meet up with clown-faced Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). The twisted family are on the run from hard-nosed and equally as terrifying Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe). Wydell seeks revenge upon the trio of killers for the murder of his brother who fell victim to the family. While on the lam, the murderous Firefly clan cannot subdue their thirst for violence, so they leave another trail of carnage in their wake. Think Bonnie and Clyde meet Natural Born Killers. Devil’s Rejects takes itself more serious than House of 1,000 Corpses, and it works. The tone is grittier and more intense. Zombie does a great job in creating a gang of anti-heroes out of characters that we should hate. The final scene in this film is beautifully done, complete with Lynard Skynard’s ‘Free Bird’ as the background song as our “heroes” make their last stand. This Halloween, give yourself a double dip of mayhem, and make it a back-to-back Rob Zombie night with House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects

31 Days of Halloween- Day 14 -SLEEPY HOLLOW

31 Days of Halloween – Day 14

Sleepy Hollow (directed by Tim Burton, 1999) What would Halloween be without the tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? I am sure most of us have seen the old Disney cartoon based upon Washington Irvine’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in which Mr. Crane comes face to face with the ghoulish Headless Horseman. In 1999, Tim Burton took the legend, made a couple changes to the story (minor changes), and brought us his version, Sleepy Hollow. If anyone in Hollywood can take a classic American ghost story and make it great, Tim Burton (Batman, Edward Scissorhands) is that someone. After being labelled as eccentric by his peers, Constable Ichabod Crane is sent from New York to the village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate some mysterious and grisly murders. Someone is decapitating victims, and keeping the evidence. The town’s people are convinced that a local legend, a Headless Horseman is responsible, but Crane at first does not believe in their theory. Ichabod soon realizes that Sleepy Hollow is a place steeped in lies, deceit, and supernatural occurrence. He must now uncover the mystery of the Horseman and find away to send the Hessian back to hell. Like the vast majority of Tim Burton’s projects, the attention to detail is amazing. The turn of the eighteenth century costumes and sets are brilliant. The cast, led by Tim Burton mainstay Johnny Depp (Ichabod Crane), Christina Ricci (Katrina Van Tassel), and the great Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman. Depp is great as the smart, yet often terrified Crane, and Walken is menacing as the antagonist. Sleepy Hollow is actually very violent and bloody, which is different from most of Tim Burton’s other more whimsical films. The color tone of the film is very grey and neutral that when the blood starts flying, it stands out that much more. As far as films go, you cannot find one that is more entrenched in Halloween lore than Sleepy Hollow. The Horseman even throws a flaming jack-o-lantern at Ichabod Crane’s head at one point, proving that everyone celebrates the eve of all Hallows in their own special way. If you are looking for a fun, spooky popcorn movie to watch tonight, Sleepy Hollow might just fit the bill.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow

Riff of the Day 10/14/15 Slayer – Raining Blood

Slayer – Raining Blood (from the album Reign in Blood, Def Jam 1986) A bonified thrash metal anthem, Raining Blood is one of those songs that when you hear it, you can’t help but think “Oh hell yeah!”. The riff was written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and Kerry King, and thirty years later it is still as heavy as it was then. From the haunting rain storm intro until the last note, Raining Blood is mean and blistering, everything that Slayer represents. I will never forget the first time I saw Slayer perform.  There was three inch layer of beer on the ground, and my brain stopped working. That was the night I saw the devil, and it was beautiful.

Make sure you listen to Slayer’s brand new record REPENTLESS (Nuclear Blast), available now wherever you might buy your music.

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 13 – CHILD’S PLAY

31 Days of Halloween – Day 13

Child’s Play (directed by Tom Holland, 1988) Do you remember when you were a kid, and you wanted that special toy more than anything in the world? I bet that when you received the toy, it wasn’t possessed by the soul of a serial killer. After being cornered by the police in a toy store, psychopathic murderer Charles Lee Ray, the Lakeshore Strangler, transfers his soul, using black magic, into a ‘Good Guy’ doll before he dies of gunshot wounds. After purchasing this doll from a street person, Karen surprises her son Andy with it as a gift. It is not long after until Andy discovers that his doll “Chucky” has bad intentions. First off, I will say that if it was not for the acting/voice talents of Brad Dourif, Child’s Play would not be half the film that it is. Dourif (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Exorcist III) brings Chucky to like, and makes him the little menace he is. Chris Sarandon (Fright Night, Princess Bride) plays the detective who first track Charles Lee Haley, then tries to protect Andy and his mom (Catherine Hicks) from Haley after he becomes Chucky. Usually child actors annoy me, but Alex Vincent is really good as the boy Andy, who is the target of Chucky’s homicidal intents. I remember wanting to see Child’s Play in the movie theatre, but I was not old enough. I had to wait until it was released on home video, which seemed like it took forever. This was the first VHS movie that I “pirated” (did the old VHS-to-VHS copy), and watched the crap out of it for a year until I taped over it with some Stampede Wrestling. I understand why the movie was rated R at the time. There is some very strong (and humorous) language that flies from Chucky’s mouth. The movie is pretty short for a full length feature, clocking in at around eighty minutes, but perhaps more would have seemed like too much. Director Tom Holland (writer of Fright Night) has done some off-beat horror films, and Child’s Play is well done considering it is based on a possessed doll on a kill spree. The effects are good, and the animations for the Chucky doll are pretty believable, but like a mentioned before, Brad Dourif makes Chucky entertaining. Child’s Play will always have a special place in my heart (even though the sequels never live up to the original). Maybe you could find it in your heart to give Child’s Play a viewing this Halloween.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play

T.

Riff of the Day 10/13/15 – White Zombie THUNDER KISS ’65

White Zombie – Thunder Kiss ’65 (from the album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One, 1992 Geffen) Easily one of my favorite bands from the 90’s, I saw White Zombie perform in Vancouver in 1996. The stage performance was visually insane, Zombie-style. This band was truly an original, not really fitting into any typical mold as far as music goes, and this album crushes. Muscle cars, monsters, and go-go dancers; what else could you ask for out of band?

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 12 – THE LOST BOYS

31 Days of Halloween – Day 12

Lost Boys (directed by Joel Schumacher, 1987) If you are looking for a film that represents the 1980’s, look not further than The Lost Boys. The movie plays like a ninety minute music video, with enough sizzle worthy of its MTV era audience. Although, this stylistic tale of vampires is not only flashy, it has some good substance. During the 80’s, the cinema was chalk-full of teen coming of age melodrama. These included Breakfast Club (John Hughes) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling). So hey, why not take this idea and translate it over to the horror genre? Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), along with their mother, move to Santa Carla, California to live with their grandfather. The boys soon discover that there is something unnatural and strange about the sunny coastal town. Besides being the murder capital per capita of North America, and having an abnormal amount of missing persons, Santa Carla is also home to clan of teenage vampires. Older brother Michael falls into league with this clan, and Sam has to race against time to save his brother and destroy the vampires. There are many memorable characters in The Lost Boys. Kiefer Sutherland is David, the charismatic leader of the fang gang. Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander are the Frog Brothers, vampire hunters and the only residents of the town that believe in Sam enough to help him on his mission. The film also stars Edward Hermann (Gilmore Girls), Diane Wiest (Parenthood), Alex Winter (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), and Bernard Shaw (as the eccentric grandfather). From the cast, to the soundtrack, to the overall feel of the movie, this is the archetypical 80’s popcorn movie. I think The Lost Boys also had a lot to do with the renaissance of the vampire in pop culture. Director Joel Schumacher made this gang of vampires look young, and hip. They were the town bad boys, and not just the local ghouls that murdered the residents. Along with Goonies and Ghost Busters, The Lost Boys is at the top of my list for essential 80’s viewing. The last entry to my 31 Days of Halloween, I recommended Near Dark for viewing. Why not add The Lost Boys, and make it back to back blood-suckers for you Halloween festivities. If you still are not convinced, just watch it for the sweet saxophone solo during the concert scene during the first part of the movie. You will not be disappointed.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 11 – NEAR DARK

31 Days of Halloween – Day 11

Near Dark (directed by Kathryn Bigelow, 1987) Country boy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar, Top Gun, Heroes) meets a pretty, young stranger, May, which he has an instant connection with. What Caleb does not realize is that May is a “vampire” (although the term is never mentioned in the movie). After being turned into a creature of the night, Caleb also discovers that May comes with some baggage; a marauding “family” of blood thirsty maniacs who have no regard for human life. Caleb is not reading to accept his new way of life and crosses the gang, which results in a violent game of life and death. There are many similarities between Near Dark and Lost Boys, which I think are purely coincidental because they were released within months of each other. Where Lost Boys had a comedic element and has a more “Hollywood”, Near Dark is more dramatic and has an independent feel. This does not mean the film lacks style, because it does not. Near Dark takes itself more seriously. If you are looking for scares, Near Dark is probably not going to satisfy you. But if you are looking for a cool spin on the vampire genre, with some good gore, violence, and atmosphere, Near Dark is a safe bet. Veteran horror mainstay Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead) plays Jesse, the leader of the “family”. Bill Paxton (Weird Science, True Lies) is Severen, a psychotic vampire, with a quick wit, and a desire to watch people suffer. Paxton’s dialog is worth the price of admission alone. Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) is an academy award winner and an amazing writer/director. This is only her second full-length feature, and you can see why she has gone on to an incredible career. She gets a lot out of the actors in Near Dark, which makes it believable and entertaining. The film fires on a cylinders; action, violence, characters, and even has an element of love story. It may not be the typical Halloween film, but typical can get boring, and Halloween should not be boring.

Cool Fact – In the background of one of the early scenes, you can see a movie theater marquee with “Aliens” now playing. Near Dark stars Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein are also stars in Aliens (1986). Director Kathryn Bigelow is also married to Aliens director James Cameron.

Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 10 -THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

31 Days of Halloween – Day 10

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993) The fact that this film is twenty-two years old blows my mind. After two plus decades, this wonderful animation has not lost any steam. The characters are still as cool, the soundtrack is still one of the best ever, and the merchandise is everywhere. I think I know why. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one hell of a film. Not only is by far my favorite animated feature, but probably in my top ten loved movies of all-time. The Tim Burton written story is fun, emotional, creepy, and lovely all at the same time. The stop-motion animation is whimsical, and endearingly imperfect. All of the voice work fits the characters, and the songs, written by Danny Elfman, make the film complete. Halloween Town is celebrating another Halloween, anchored by the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington. Jack is to Halloween as Santa Clause is to Christmas. He runs the show. But the Pumpkin King is becoming bored with the same old routine. He wants to do something fresh. While Jack and his “dog” Zero are out lamenting Skellington’s complacency one evening, they stumble across a place in the forest with strange doors built into the trees. Jack decides to venture through one of these doors, and discovers something that takes his breath away; Christmas! Jack falls in love with Christmas, and hatches a plan to bring Christmas to Halloween town. The venture goes wrong, and Christmas is in real danger of being destroyed by the over-zealous Jack and fellow misfits, which include a trio of devilish kidnappers, a much feared entity called Mr. Oogie Boogie, a senile old mad scientist, and a cast of other assorted ghouls, vampires, zombies and werewolves. The only person who can see that this will go wrong is Sally, Jack’s sweetheart. Nightmare can also be categorized as a Christmas movie, but it feels more like a Halloween treat because of the Tim Burton factor. It is twisted and dark, but in a fun way. The whole family can take something away from this film. This soundtrack always makes me happy when I hear it. Danny Elfman is brilliant, and this is some of his best work. He even does the singing parts for Jack, and the voice bits for a few other characters. Director Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach, Coraline) does a fine job putting it all together, and like Burton, has an eye for the bizarre. Whenever I hear someone say “I’ve never seen that movie”, it almost baffles me as much as hearing someone say the same words regarding Star Wars. Viewing this film will make you happy, and make you fall in love with Halloween. Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, for Halloween, because it will make you a better person.

Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas

T.

31 Days of Halloween *Day 9* – PET SEMATARY

 

31 Days of Halloween – Day 9

Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert, 1989) The first time I was Pet Sematary, it was sort of by accident. A friend and I went to the drive-in with his mom and her boyfriend. We begged them to take us to see the main feature, Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. We were, and still are, big fans of Jason Voorhees. The second movie on the bill was a film we knew little about; Pet Sematary. These were times before internet, so we were in the dark about this film. We only knew that it was a novel by Stephen King. We decided to stay and watch the second half of the double feature. What we saw next haunted us for some time to come. Mind you, we were thirteen years old, but I am not afraid to admit that Pet Sematery scared the crap out of me. I watch it now with only fond memories of being frightened, because it has lost some of it’s effect over the years. The story is of the Creed family, who move from the big city of Chicago to a cottage in the country. The couple and their young daughter and son arrive, and from the start are concerned by the highway that runs right in front of their property. Day and night, the road is traveled by fast moving tractor-trailers. Numerous dogs and cats have perished to the road, so down the path from the house is a make-shift cemetery dedicated to the fallen pets. The family is befriended by neighbor Jud Crandall, an old gentleman who takes a shine to the new residents. After tragedy strikes, Jud introduces Mr. Creed to an ancient Micmac burial ground, just beyond the “Pet Sematary”. After abusing the power that the ancient grounds hold, life really begins to unravel for the Creeds. Like many of King’s stories, Pet Sematary has more than one element at play; the horror that is at hand, and the memories of the past that haunt certain characters. Mr. Creed and the daughter are visited by a ghost warning them of the future. Mrs. Creed is tormented by the memories of her crippled, invalid sister, and the the neighbor is tortured with guilt over the hell he just opened up on his new friends. Not to mention a zombie cat named Winston Churchill, and a soulless toddler running around with a scalpel. Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) is great as Jed, and has some pretty good lines of dialogue. Things like “Christ on his throne, no!” (when asked if a man had ever been buried in the burial ground) or “Sometimes dead is better.” He’s like a poor man’s prophet, and seems to always have a beer in every scene he is in. I have since read the source novel by horror scribe, and legend, Stephen King, and it is frightening. The book translates very well to the big screen. The story deals with death, and grieving, and the desperation of a devastated father. Desperate men go to dangerous lengths, even if the consequences are deadly. If resurrection is possible, does the soul return from the dead along with the body? Pet Sematary answers that question with a resounding NO! Even cute little kids return as blood thirsty ghouls. Along with The Exorcist (1973) and The Changeling (1980), Pet Sematary is a film that truly frightened me, and certain scenes still can make my skin crawl. And if all of that is not enough, legendary NYC punk band The Ramones perform the title track for this movie.  I highly recommend this film for some truly chilling and spooky Halloween viewing.

Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary

31 Days of Halloween *Day 8* – THE PROWLER

31 Days of Halloween – Day 8

The Prowler (directed by Joseph Zito, 1981) There is nothing sheepish about The Prowler. First, the death scenes are bloody and gruesome. When the main instrument of murder is a pitchfork, you are not going to find a neat and tidy crime scene. Secondly, there is no shortage of of gratuitous nudity. That era of horror film and the bare female form went hand in hand. Third, the production team did not skimp on amazing make-up and wound effects. From slit throats, to punctured skulls, every death looks convincing. Veteran F/X maestro Tom Savini brought his ‘A’ game for The Prowler. This standalone, underrated murder-fest knows what it is, and delivers. A small New Jersey town is terrorized by a maniac dressed in WWII army fatigues (simple and effective, not mention creepy). It is also to the thirty-fifth anniversary of an infamous double-murder, and the pitchfork wielding butcher is celebrating by targeting teens, who are attending their high school graduation dance. Director Joseph Zito (Invasion USA, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) delivers a no-nonsense slaughter festival. As much as it pains me, I enjoy The Prowler more than the first Friday the 13th Films (I still love them). If you are looking for wonderful gore, buxom ladies in distress, and a violent psycho dressed like a soldier, add The Prowler to your Halloween viewing index. It’s bloody good fun.

Recap

  • Day 1 -The Conjuring
  • Day 2 -You’re Next
  • Day 3 -Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 -Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 -Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 -Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 -John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 -The Prowler

T.