Poe Sundays – Extraordinary Tales

Every Sunday in October is Poe Sunday, the day we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. This year, I’ll suggest the best movie adaptations of Poe’s work.

Images from

Raul Garcia writes and directs this dark animated anthology of Edgar Allan Poe’s most beloved gothic tales, featuring both new voiceover and original pre-recorded narration from horror’s most legendary actors and directors. It’s colorful surrealist animation and perfectly ghastly for Poe lovers to watch on Halloween night.

Throwback Thursday – Visiting Haunted Attractions

Will haunted attractions be a Halloween tradition that survives the apocalypse?

Past:

The mention of real haunted houses dates back to First Century A.D., when Roman author and politician, Pliny the Elder, wrote a letter about a man haunting his house in Athens, ever since then, people have been telling stories of ghosts and haunted houses. That’s its own topic for another day. This post is about haunted attractions, live entertainment inspired by haunted places and things.

In 1802, Madame Marie Tussaud opened the first wax exhibit, which took the public by storm, depicting gruesome decapitations of public figures such as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Her permanent museum on Baker Street in London featured what she called the Chamber of Horrors, wax figures of notorious murderers and villains. This is thought to be the very first horror attraction. Sadly, Tussaud’s closed in 2016.

Madama Tussaud Chamber of Horrors Guillotine

Over 100 years after Tussaud’s, the first-ever electrified haunted attraction ever recorded was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House, at the Edwardian Fair in 1915, as part of the steam collection, in what would become known as dark rides, moving vehicles, trains, and boats that took passengers through scenes, like a spooky house or the tunnel of love. It didn’t take long before attractions featuring dark rides popped up in carnivals, world fairs, and exhibitions worldwide.

The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland

In 1969, Walt Disney opened The Haunted Mansion featuring groundbreaking technology and audio-animatronic ghosts. This is when commercialized haunted attractions were thought to have become a cultural mainstream. The idea was born in 1951 between Walt Disney and his Imagineers, when early illustrations created by the Legendary Harper Goff, of the proposed park featuring a church, a graveyard, and a “run-down manor perched high on a hill that towered over main street”, but Walt didn’t like the idea of a rundown house in the middle of his brand new park. It’s said that after a visit to the Winchester House in San Jose, CA, with its creepy deadends and stairs leading to nowhere, Walt was inspired to fashion the mansion in a similar way. It originally was going to be a walkthrough too, but Walt and the team decided on making it a dark ride that would carry passengers through their animated “Museum of the Weird” and christened their vehicles “doom buggies.” During the planning years, The Haunted Mansion grew darker and stranger, and took on several iterations, not to mention several years to build. Sadly, Disney died in December of 1966 and never even had the opportunity to experience one of his most popular creations.

Since The Haunted Mansion’s opening in the late 60s, there have been hundreds of commercialized haunted houses or carnival dark rides, too numerous to count. Haunts popped up in abandoned buildings and farmhouses across the USA, People capitalized on both rumored and actual haunted places, offering tours, mazes, hayrides, and festivals in honor of legendary ghosts and American haunts. According to AmericaHaunts.Com, there was even a book written on the subject authored by Jim Gould and Tom Hilligoss, who detailed makeup FX, scene ideas, and marketing strategies. Over 20,000 copies were sold and Gould and Hilligoss became known as the first Haunted House experts. They would go on to create the Haunted House Company, one of the first outfits to sell FX, masks, lighting, costumes, etc.

Present:

After Hollywood’s horror boon during the 1970s and 1980s, horror movies became more mainstream and an entire industry of itself. Bigger theme parks found a way to offset seasonal attendance by offering haunted mazes and attractions. In 1973, Knott’s Berry Farm turned part of its fairgrounds into Knott’s Scary Farm. Today it boasts 160 acres featuring haunted mazes, spooky characters, scary rides, and scare zones. Universal Studios would cash in on the craze during the1990s, using its extensive film history with classic monster films and newer horror franchises as inspiration for haunted mazes and attractions. Soon after, all haunts everywhere featured popular characters from horror books, movies, and television. These days, I’ve heard there are something like over 4000 amateur-made, professional, or commercialized haunts every Halloween.

Future:

No people, no haunted attractions. We’ll all become ghosts. Every place will become haunted. Simple as that.

Poe Sundays – House of Usher

Every Sunday in October is Poe Sunday, the day we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. This year, I’ll suggest the best movie adaptations of Poe’s work.

Atmospheric and spooky, House of Usher may be the best most faithful Poe story adaption that director Roger Corman ever created. Vincent Price, Mark Damon, and Myrna Fahey, earnestly chew through Richard Matheson’s screenplay so well, gothic drama oozing out of their pores in every scene, until that thrilling legendary cinematic end.

Tuesday Terror – Stakeland

Every Tuesday in October 2022, we celebrate scary movies!

“Cults spread like wildfire across the southern states. Waitin’ for the messiah, but… he never came. Death came in its stead. And it came with teeth.”

2010’s Stakeland, directed by Jim Mickle is one of the best post-apocalyptic horror movies I’ve ever seen. Set in the near future, society collapses into religious zealotry and militia-run feudal terroritories when monsterous vampires take over the world.

Gossip Girl star Connor Paolo stars as a young man who finds a mentor in writer-producer Nick Damici’s mysterious drifter and expert vampire hunter, simply named Mister. Mister isn’t exactly a charming anti-hero, but he is totally badass and we’ll be so lucky if we find a teacher like him during our own dystopian journeys.

Poe Sundays – The Tell-Tale Heart, 1953

In 1953, United Production Artists produced an 8-minute animation based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. This surreal psychological horror short film, narrated by James Mason and distributed by Columbia Pictures, became the first animated film to earn an X rating in the UK. The reason? Well, that’s just what old stuffy white dudes do when someone makes a film about killing old stuffy white dudes for no reason.

Click here for more information on The Tell-Tale Heart from 1953.

Friday Fright Nightcaps – Ode to the Mummy

Every Halloween season I make it a point to revisit the classic Universal monster films. These are the films that cemented American’s love affair with horror. Watching my favorite old classic horror films is one of my biggest Halloween traditions. This week, I created spooky cocktail to honor Karl Freund’s classic The Mummy, starring the legendary Boris Karloff, with a drink I call Ode to the Mummy.

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz. Coffee
1.5 oz Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Monkey Liquer
1.5 oz. Vodka
1 oz. French Vanilla Creamer or Cream
Splash of Cream of Coconut

Tuesday Terror – Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Every Tuesday in October 2022, we celebrate scary movies!

“There’s other justice in the world besides the law!”

Kicking off the Halloween season with Dark Night of the Scarecrow, starring the late Charles Durning, Lane Smith, and Jocelyn Brando, about a mysterious being seeking vengeance on a group of murdering bigots.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, 1981, Amazon

This supernatural thriller first aired on Halloween night in 1981 and is scarier than any Made-For-TV movie has any right to be. Despite having zero blood and no gruesomeness, this chilling film still holds up today with timely themes such as bigotry, bullying, and injustice.

31 Days of Halloween 2022

Happy October! After starting late this Halloween season, I’m now ready to post the schedule of this year’s 31 Days of Halloween Celebration. The theme this October is dystopian Halloween. With the doomsday clock ticking down, due to savages like Russian dictator Vladamir Putin and gun-crazed trump-loving jesus-freaks, it’s probably way past time to think about how humankind plans to survive the apocalypse, in particular, how we’ll preserve our traditions and holidays, like Halloween.

Part of the month, we’ll have some fun with the dystopian Halloween-horror theme, but I have decided to mix in some good old-fashion Halloween traditional themes as well, cuz, I just love talking about those Halloween memories.

Have a safe and happy Halloween season!

31 Days of Halloween Schedule

Monday Macabre
Mondays are always dedicated to Haiku, but every Monday in October we’ll explore a dystopian Halloween.

Tuesday Terror
Every Tuesday, I’ll share my favorite scary movies that I believe make great Halloween season viewing.

Wicked Art Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, I’ll share some spooktacular Halloween art with an apocalyptic twist. I might even post some my own original Halloween pencil stencil art.

Throwback Thursdays
Preservation of Halloween traditions is important for several reasons. Every Thursday, let’s explore the origins of some Halloween traditions and muse over whether these traditions might survive the apocalypse.

Friday Fright Nightcaps
Ghosts aren’t the only ones who like to get sheet-faced on Halloween. Check back every Friday for Halloween season-inspired cocktails.

Sinister Saturdays
In the past few years, Sinister Saturdays have always been dedicated to food and Halloween recipes.  The problem was, besides my being the worst cook in America, people are simply reluctant to let you share their recipes online, even if you give them complete credit and link back to their website. So, in the true spirit of Sinister Saturdays, we’re just going to let the demons loose that day and see what they come up with.

Poe Sundays
This year’s tribute to the master of macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, will feature my thoughts on the best Poe adaptations on film.

4th Annual Halloween Haiku Challenge 2022
#Halloweenhaikuchallenge

Share your most original or scariest visual Halloween Haiku photos during October for a chance to win some prizes.

More details about the haiku contest will be announced on October 18th.

Join in the fun, and follow me @Halloweenhorrorhaiku on Instagram and @Halloweenkristy on Twitter

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”