Monthly Haiku Corner – August

Happy August! 30 days til the ‘Ber months and then, the real fun starts! I just returned from a great weekend at Midsummer Scream in Long Beach, where the Halloween spirit was alive and well! Stay tuned for my mini review and pics.

Here at Halloween Horror Haiku, we celebrate all things spooky every day, but this is the time of year where Halloween takes front and center. With that said, the theme this month is Witches’ Halloween Spellbook. Do witches truly have a spell for a great Halloween? I believe they do.

tattered book binding
witches Halloween spellbook
unlock the pages

Werewolves Within Movie Review

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Werewolves Within 2021
Director: Josh Ruben
Ubisoft Film and Television

Newly appointed Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) heads to Beaverfield, a small scenic town whose residents are currently divided by a pipeline proposal presented by a slick oilman Sam Parker. Finn meets the sweet and helpful postal worker Cecily, who helps him navigate his first day and introduces him to the town’s most eclectic residents, including estranged couple Trisha and Pete, wealthy transplants Devon and Joaquim, blue-collar besties Gwen and Marcus, activist environmentalist Dr. Jane Ellis, isolated hunter Emerson, and local lodge owner Jeanine, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared recently.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

When a blizzard knocks out all power, the residents take shelter in the lodge. The next day Finn finds a generator ripped wide open and a mutilated body under the lodge porch, which could be Jeanine’s husband. Tensions over the future pipeline continue, as Finn investigates the mystery beast terrorizing the town. Does Forest Ranger truly have a sinister werewolf on his hands or is there a more down-to-earth explanation for these heinous crimes?

Veep alumni Sam Richardson leads an all-star cast in this campy horror-comedy based on the hit video game of the same name. While the video game was set in a medieval village, this movie takes place in modern times. The plot may not seem entirely original but entertains nonetheless. It’s funny, quirky, spooky fun, not chainsaw terrifying blood splatter, and it works perfectly with the witty banter between the characters. Filmed just before the pandemic hit, Director Josh Ruben shot on location in Hudson Valley, near Woodstock in New York, and used mostly practical effects and make-up for the monster and scares. Ruben, known for his successful meta horror-comedy Scare Me for Shudder, makes the most of a low-budget creature feature and impresses audiences with his creativity and wit.

Much in the way of Bruce Campbell’s legendary hero Ash from the Evil Dead series, Finn is not your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary everyday man who finds himself suddenly dealing with an extremely dangerous supernatural problem, maybe. The always solid funnyman Sam Richardson has built an impressive resume playing affable, offbeat characters and he aces the assignment yet again.

Sam Richardson, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The town residents are basically a who’s who in television comedy. There are a lot of familiar faces here, including Groundlings and American Dad star Michaela Watkins, What We Do in the Shadow’s Harvey Guillen, American Horror Story heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson, and Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Thing’s comedienne Catherine Curtin, just to name a few. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is a potential victim. And, they all equal parts funny and annoying in their own way, viewers aren’t sure if we should root for their survival or their slaughter.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The real treat here is Milana Vayntrub though. Best known as the AT&T spokesperson Lily, Milana once again uses her charm and girl-next-door likeability to keep viewers guessing whether she’s a misunderstood postal worker or a wolf under sheep’s clothing. I’ve never seen her in anything but a phone commercial so it was delightful to see her get a chance to shine a little and show off her comedic chops.

Milana Vayntrub, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

All in all, Werewolves Within is better than most horror movies based on video games. It’s a smartly written whodunnit that keeps the twists and turns going all the way to the end. This is a great date night or just staying home on a Saturday night movie.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews

After missing my own self-imposed deadlines in January and February, where I was to present a movie review for the month, I am determined not to miss March! Thus, I decided to triple down and do three movie reviews in celebration of our legendary creatures theme.

The truth is, earlier this March, I watched Dawn of the Beast, but it was only when I started writing the review did I realize the movie was actually the third cryptid monster film, following Monstrous and The Retreat, all directed by Bruce Wemple. Naturally, I had to watch the other two films.

Armed with a great love for campy horror films and his trusty cast of relative unknowns, New York director Bruce Wemple creates fresh horror that makes the socially conscious Gen Z crowd proud. All boxes checked. Wemple knows all the horror tropes, and these films felt like proper indie horror movies. There was decent acting, strong female characters, and lots of action. The camerawork makes good use of those shadows, close-up shots, and practical effects to perpetuate the scares and despite the low budget, the production quality was pretty good. I was even forgiving of the few man-in-a-monster-suit shots, which were super cheesy, but hey look, considering the third film was entirely developed during the pandemic, all of us should be impressed by that. I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to Adirondack mountains before watching these films, and whatever location Wemple chose to shoot on location is some damn beautiful country. If I wasn’t so scared of the real Wendigo, I’d run out and buy a Winnebago.

The Retreat, 2020 (377 Films)

There’s a lot of good psychological horror here too, especially in the second film, The Retreat. The biggest flaw of this cryptid trilogy was the films suffered from having too much story. I guess having too much story is better than having no story, right? It’s just these long drawn out or overly heavy exposition scenes take away our monster time, and when you make a feature film starring these two legendary creatures, you have got to have more monster!!

I should also mention upfront, each of these movies is stand-alone. You’ll understand each of them on their own just fine, but movie marathons are so much more fun.

Continue reading “Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews”

Halloween/Horror Gift Ideas for 2021

Unlike most Halloween fans, I do not get immediately sad after Halloween because there’s still so much spookiness going on to carry us through Thanksgiving, through the holidays, all the way into next year. What a fabulous time to be a horror fan because there are some incredible apparel, collectibles, products, and amazing box sets of the greatest films in history out there, and, for the next 5 weekends, I’m going to post my gift-giving guides for your favorite Halloween and Horror fans.

The Bela Lugosi Collection at CreepyCo. ($10-70)
https://www.creepycompany.com/collections/bela-lugosi
Lugosi Enterprises is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the man forever associated as Count Dracula. They’ve been quite savvy, selective, and tenacious about their licensing agreements in recent years and that’s more apparent than ever with their deal at Creepy Co. This holiday, you can find some awesome apparel, including button-up shirts, t-shirts, PJs, socks, enamel pins, and much more.

Custom designed Bedding and Bathwares – There will be Cute at Society 6 ($17-$120)
https://society6.com/therewillbecute
Artist and illustrator Caley Hicks brings her world-class spooky cute to Society 6 with these Halloween baths and bedding sets. Normally, I’d include Caley’s works in an upcoming Artist gift-giving guide, but I’m in love with the idea of having a Headless Horseman decorated bathroom.

Magnetic Poetry – Edgar Allan Poet Kit ($12.95)
https://magneticpoetry.com/collections/themed-kits/products/edgar-allan-poet
Is your horror fan a haunting, witty wordsmith with a gothic heart? Well, here’s their chance to shine with this unique and fun way to create original refrigerator poetry, inspired by the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe.

Dead Sled Coffee ($18-$20)
https://deadsledcoffee.com/
Why we don’t have coffee bars filled with coffee, horror, and heavy metal music on every corner is beyond me. For the people who don’t care where their coffee comes from, or, at the very least, trust that their favorite musicians and horror icons have lawyers and management that have already scoured Dead Sled’s ethics and ability to produce good-tasting environmentally friendly coffee.


Bloody Good Fake Blood Apron ($21)
https://www.redbubble.com/i/apron/Bloody-Good-Fake-Blood-by-nerdchild/32528424.6ZXWR
Whether you’re a dynamo chef with a macabre sense of humor or cosplaying as Ghoulish Ramsey, this 100% polyester machine washable bloody cooking apron will entertain your next gruesome dinner party.

Godzilla Jenga/Godzilla Monopoly ($22-40)
https://toywiz.com/godzilla/diecast-microman-miscellaneous-toys-figures/
I don’t talk about Godzilla enough. He is the King of the Monsters after all, which is why I got so excited when I found a Godzilla version of Jenga and Monopoly from USAopoly. Why play Jenga when you can play Godzilla Jenga! Finally, a reason to be excited for family board game night. Just don’t let Grandma play as King Ghidorah.

100 Horror Movie Scratch-off Chart ($25)
https://popchart.co/products/100-horror-movies-scratch-off-chart
Whether you’re watching for the first time or revisiting old favorites, this is a cool way to keep track of the which classic horror films you’ve watched.

Elvira Meets Vincent Price Comics (($1.99 and up)
https://www.comixology.com/Elvira-Meets-Vincent-Price-1/digital-comic/943748
Dynamite Entertainment brings the Mistress of the Dark together with the Merchant of Menace to save the world from Apocalyptic doom! In a madcap mix of comedy and horror, the Hollywood star spector and horror hostess with the mostess pair go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital subscriptions start at $1.99, regular comics are $5, but special limited edition variant covers are for collectors only.

Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection ($26-47)
https://www.uphe.com/movies/frankenstein-complete-legacy-collection
If for some reason the giant 30 film collection of the Universal Monsters Legacy Collection isn’t your jam, then consider getting The Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection, which, in my opinion, contains all the best films of the Universal Monsters collection. including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Horror Movie Figure Collectibles from NECA ($39-70)
https://necaonline.com/2020/12/12-days-of-downloads-2020-day-9-ultimates-visual-guide/
Start a yearly tradition of giving the gift of a horror movie 7″ scale action figure with accessories, officially licensed, made with high-quality materials, packaged in beautiful boxes. These are not toys, these are collectibles and horror fans should own them all. Well, at least one, your favorite one.

Halloween/Goth Shoes ($45-$120)
https://strangecvlt.com/
I’ve heard it said if you’re gonna join a cult, then, join a shoe cult, and there’s no better place to start than Strange Cvlt shoes. From sandals to flats, Mary Janes to platform boots, this is the only socially acceptable fetish a girl can have without getting burned at the stake.

Friday the 13th Blu-ray Collection – Deluxe Edition ($129-159)
https://www.amazon.com/Friday-Collection-Blu-ray-Betsy-Palmer/dp/B07GNV288V
Bring Jason Vorhees home this holiday! Finally a worthy Blu-ray collection of the most successful, long-running slasher series in film history. All 13 movies, some digitally remastered in 4K and featuring a booklet, behind-the-scenes, commentaries, interviews, and special features in the most incredible packaging I’ve ever seen from Scream Factory.

Season’s Screamings Tickets – December 17-19, Pasadena Convention Center ($30-60-95)
https://midsummerscream.org/seasons-screamings/
This one-of-a-kind holiday horror convention promises just as many chills and thrills as its parent-con Midsummer Scream, which was canceled earlier this summer. This is the place to find dark holiday gifts and spooky stocking stuffers. The event includes special ghoulish guests, over 200 exhibitors and vendors, and the Hall of Yuletide Spirits, a “dark showfloor of holiday themed haunts and yard displays, created by Southern Californias most talented haunted house creators.”
Did I mention Pasadena is simply lovely this time of year?

Amazing Pre-order Gifts: Every penny is worth the wait!

Dying Light II Stay Human – Feb 4, 2022 ($60-80)
https://dl2.dyinglightgame.com/
Techland’s sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Dying Light could be the dream of every gamer and zombie fan alike. Trailers and early play-throughs show a creative, technical, and visual feast. The first Dying Light game featured hours of gameplay, multiple DLCs, great customer and technical support, and developed a strong community of fervent players (like me) anxiously awaiting this new gaming adventure.

☆Mezco’s Monsters – Tower of Fear Deluxe Boxed Set – March-May 2022 ($95)
https://www.mezcotoyz.com/5-points-mezcos-monsters-tower-of-fear
Delight your inner child with this fabulous-looking multi-level diorama playset featuring 5 highly detailed poseable classic monsters and a host of accessories, all packaged in a collector-friendly box to bring your own favorite horror stories to life! This product is for collectors, not children.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula by Infinite Statue & Sideshow – June 2022 ($300-355)
https://www.sideshow.com/collectibles/dracula-bela-lugosi-infinite-statue-909742?var=909743
Sideshow and Infinite Statue teamed up with Kaustic Plastik to give us the Dark Prince himself, Bela Lugosi! This handpainted, incredibly detailed sixth-scale figure features two different sculpted heads, ten poseable hands, fully costumed, accessories, and captures the beauty and essence of the most recognizable horror icon ever created. The Deluxe version features a spooktacular coffin for $355. This is the ultimate tribute to both the character of Count Dracula and the beloved actor who embodied him.
A must-have collectible for vampire fans.






My Favorite Vintage Halloween Ads

**This was the planned post for Throwback Thursday, but real life problems kept me away from computer. Sincerest apologies.**

Let’s visit the amazing yesteryears of Vintage Halloween advertising.

Jell-O Vintage ad circa 1920s

Jell-O has been around for a long time and was big into promoting its brand during the holidays. This is one of my favorites because it includes this awesome Hallowe’en poem.

Colgate ad circa 1920s

Another favorite from Colgate because of the Hallowe’en poem. Note the use of the old spelling of Hallowe’en, which dropped the apostrophe over the years.

Edison Phonograph ad circa 1920s

“No amusement of modern times equals it.” If makers only knew how successful their product would be. Phonographs were instrumental in helping Halloween become one of the biggest holidays in American history,, if for no more reason than their popularity at parties.

These ads reflect the dark orange and black style, which was popular back in the 1930-1940s.

Curtiss Candy Company owned Baby Ruth and Butterfinger among many others, when it was bought out by Standard in 1964, who later merged with Nabisco in 1981. Nabisco then sold off Curtiss brands to Nestlé in the 1990.

Brach’s has been making candy since 1904. They’re most famous for Candy Corn, but once upon a time, Brach’s was the go-to candy store for Halloween goodies. Their ads were simply amazingly drool-worthy, appealing to both adults and kids. Look at all that candy!

Speaking of adults, with Halloween parties all the rage well into the 1950s, beer makers made some nifty ads for Halloween.

During the 1950s, some ads featured lots of graphics and were quite wordy. What some may consider serious advertising fails today, make for some awesome vintage Halloween ads.

Crayola ad circa 1950s
Scotch Tape ad circa 1950s
7-Minit Fluffy Frosting ad circa 1950s

7-Minit was owned by 6 O’Clock Foods, Inc. and that’s about the only history we know about either.

More random vintage Halloween candy ads circa 1940s-1960s

It’s always been fashionable to make punch bowls outta pumpkins!

Sunkist Fruit Punch Halloween ads circa 1960s

Back in the day, people could trust drinking and eating right there on the front porch.

Kool Aid Halloween ad circa 1964

Okay, I’ll admit, I only love this ad because of the Headless Horseman. Is this too scary for advertising? Some might think so. People don’t like reminders of violence and disembodied heads is about as gruesome as it gets. Absolutely my favorite! BWAHAHAHAHA….

M&Ms Pumpkin Patch Mix candy ad circa 2007

Happy Halloween!

Sinister Saturday: Mummy Pizza Heads

We’re back with another great kid-friendly recipe for working parents on Halloween night.
The only sad thing about Halloween is how fast the day goes by. You’re working, cleaning, doing errands, running around getting the costumes together, trick-or-treating starts at sundown, but wait, the kids are hungry… Now, you could let them eat candy for dinner, that’s what a proper witch would do…or you could be a somewhat responsible parent and actually make a meal, behold the ancient power of Mummy Pizza Heads!


INGREDIENTS:

Pillsbury Grand Flaky Layer Biscuits
1 Mozzarella slice
1 tbsp of Pizza sauce
Choose your own pizza toppings

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Start by following the baking instructions of Bake Pillsbury Grand Flaky Layer Biscuits but only bake on cookie sheet or pizza pan for half the time (about 8 mins)
  2. Remove from oven and add mozzarella cheese slice, pepperoni slices (or desired pizza toppings), and1 spoonful of pizza sauce on the top of the biscuits
  3. Put pan back in the oven and cook for the remainder of time or until biscuits are golden brown
  4. Garnish with olives for eyes and face
Mummy Pizza Heads with pepperoni

Throw in a nice garden salad and call it a night. This recipe is super easy, super fast, and super fun for kids to make and to eat. If your kids are older, you can call them Bloody Mummy Pizza Heads and yes, the ingredients are premade cuz that’s how we roll around here. If you’re not cool with that, go ahead, knock yourself out and make something from scratch, be sure to send us the recipe. For the rest of us, we got more time for trick-or-treating!

Happy Halloween!

Sinister Saturday – Halloween Pasta/Monster Pasta

Every year, I see recipes for Halloween pasta using black squid ink pasta. It always looks so fun for this time of year. Pasta is typically a fast and easy meal to make, so, after years of thinking about it, I finally found a place that sells black squid ink pasta (Cost Plus) and decided to make my own version of Halloween Spaghetti Monster. The results were delicious, even if my pictures were complete fails. (Please don’t tell me it looks like a dog.)

Halloween Spaghetti Monster

Black Squid Ink Pasta is made from durum semolina wheat, water, and 1% squid ink. I was always nervous that it would taste fishy, but that’s not the case. Instead, it tastes just like bland wheat pasta. The creepiest thing about black squid ink pasta is the boiling water turns a deep charcoal color and look like slimy worms once drained.

Ingredients:

1 pkg Plain Spaghetti
1 pkg Black Squid Ink Pasta
1 jar Traditional Marinara or Pasta Sauce
Black Olives (1/2 cut for monster nose and mouth)
Green Olives (for monster eyes)
Dash of Parmesan Cheese

Sauce Instructions:

  • For best results, follow instructions on jar
  • Add sauce to crock pot along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Cook for 3 hours on high/1 hour on low

Pasta Instructions:

  • For best results, follow instructions on pasta packages
  • Cook both pastas in separate big pots full of lightly salted water
    1. Spaghetti for 12-14 min
    2. Black squid ink pasta for 7-9 min (takes slightly less than regular pasta)
  • Drain water and return to the pots
  • Serve in bowl and add pasta sauce
  • Use olives to make monster face
Classic Black Halloween Spaghetti

All reheats nicely with a little tab of butter. Happy Halloween!

Happy Caturday – July

This month’s theme is campfire creatures.

How much do you really know about the creatures lurking from deep in the forests?

Remember to always practice good camp and fire safety and the ghosts of careless campers won’t lead the monsters straight to you.

Campfire Cats by B.Kliban

Trick or Treat Tuesday: Come visit the graveyard

Will you get a treat or a trick?

Click on each tomb for a spooky surprise! (Some have sound, turn up your speakers.)

I hope you had fun sprinting through in the graveyard. I’m new at making these little videos. Self-taught. I promise I’ll get better at it. 🙂

HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEK!