Just Can’t Get Enough

What to watch for Halloween with children (if they like things a little bit spooky)

halloweenkids

An American in America age 6 with some ghoul.

My parents were probably the worst at keeping me in check when I was young. They certainly didn’t care about what sort of mind-ruining things I’d see on television. Like when I was barely seven and I watched the opening of Scream 2 while on a trip up north. I still feel a bit terrified in movie theatre bathrooms. And until about a year ago I couldn’t sleep in any position that left my back exposed in case the Ghostface killer came into my bedroom and decided to stab me in the back.

When I was even younger I was subjected to Leprechaun 3 and watched a man get sawed in half by a wicked-looking mythical creature. I still can’t sleep on my back. And don’t even get me started on Mars Attacks! I was constantly terrorised by my two older sisters and my father with their masks and plastic creatures. But in a way, I’m a bit thankful for all those nightmares. For one, I was always queen of Halloween.

I suppose that’s where my little affection for everything spooky came from. Though I really don’t recommend showing your children I Know What You Did Last Summer (whether they be 6 or, well, ever because that movie is crap). But there is thankfully plenty of age-appropriate things for children to watch for Halloween. Or, you know, for those with a weaker constitution who want a scare but only like the volume at 4.

Horror really isn’t for everyone. But I do think it’s good to scare children and give them some gentle nightmares. If even just a little. So I’ve compiled my favourite picks for some gentle Halloween scares:

1. Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)

I still get the creeps watching this. Perhaps it’s that peculiar Seuss rhyme, or the surrealist animation, but really it’s that song. I revisited Halloween is Grinch Night last year, and the words to that haunting song came back to me instantly, “Euchariah! Euchariah! Grinch is gonna get ‘cha! Grinch is gonna get ‘cha!” It’s perfectly spooky. There isn’t much to the plot: Euchariah goes to face the Grinch on Grinch Night, the night where the Grinch likes to terrorise the Whos in Whoville. It’s simple, but certainly effective.

2. Coraline (2009)

Besides being one of the most beautifully animated films of the last decade, Coraline is a tale of warning and love. Young Coraline and her family move to a new town where she isn’t allowed to do anything while her parents are busy trying to get their work done. She wishes for a better place to live where her parents pay her more attention and the local neighbours a little more tolerable. But when she thinks she gets what she asks for, things certainly aren’t what they seem.

Coraline packs plenty of magic into the story while still making it terrifying. I think this is a better alternative to watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (both of which were directed by Henry Selick).

3. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

I’m so biased with this one, but I absolutely adore this TV special to the point where I watch it nearly every other month or so. It’s a classic. Charlie Brown gets rocks for trick or treats. Linus spends all night in the pumpkin patch. Vince Guaraldi’s score here is on par with the classic Christmas special. Perhaps I’ll stop writing and watch it now…

4. Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost (1999)

It’s like the Blair Witch Project but for kids! Okay, not really, but the late 90’s were some excellent times for witch stories. Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost is one of the more mature and thus more tolerable of the Scooby Doo movies. It’s not as scary as the previous year’s Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, but I personally prefer the style of this one. And it’s a great place to start kids off on a classic cartoon character.

Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang travel to New England after being invited by a popular horror writers. The town has a local ghost, who is rumoured to be a witch from the 16oo’s. The movie is just filled with great imagery that is perfect for October.

“Baaaaad dreams, sisters.”

scoobywitch

5. The Groovie Ghoolies (1970-1971)

This is hardly scary, but it has monsters AND Sabrina. This spin-off of Sabrina (also known as Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies) is rather looked-over as far as Archie franchises. But a few episodes of this show are worth a little laugh. Many of the episodes are available to watch for free on YouTube.  The show follows a group of stylised Universal monster characters that live in a house together and sing pop songs. That’s about it. But it’s pretty cute and gentle.

But there’s plenty of monster-themed goodness from the 60’s and 70’s that are family friendly, including The Munsters which is possibly one of the more better-aged shows from the era.

6. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)

This show is terrifying based on Binky the Clown’s appearance alone. But Garfield is so lovely (and so is Lorenzo Music’s voice). Garfield and Odie go trick-or-treating together on Halloween night. They hop into a boat, which leads them to an old house. An old man is sitting in a chair by the fire, who tells the two pets to stay while he tells them a story about a group of pirates who vow to return for their treasure on Halloween night, 100 years after they buried it.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure is a bit darker than Garfield usually is, but that’s all you can hope for in a Halloween special. The old man builds up the story just great, and it balances well with the typical silliness of Garfield and friends.

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Hey, it’s the first of October!

Soooooul Dracula! 

In Wisconsin, Halloween season traditionally began August 1st when the seasonal Halloween store in town opened. My dear best friend and I were always on top of that. Halloween for us was always an event we loved to plan for weeks. But since I now live in the world’s #1 country for sucking at celebrating holidays that aren’t Christmas, I have to wait until it’s “appropriate” to put up Halloween decorations and go into Central wearing a dress covered in bats and cobwebs.

Oh, the growing pains of becoming an adult.

October is the one month of the year where we don’t have to explain why we watch horror films every other night. Where we can get a bit spooky and people will actually join in. This is our season. THIS IS OUR TIME!

So happy first of October! Enjoy the, er, questionable lovely choreography of the Spanish dance troupe Ballet Zoom. I’ve got lots of great stuff planned for this month. Let Halloween season begin!

Josie and the Pussycats Issue #1


Josie and the Pussycats issue #1
Archie Comics
Story by Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio

Art by Audrey Mok
Colouring by Andre Szymanowicz
Variant cover art (as pictured above) by Francesco Francavilla

To say I’m enjoying the revamped Archie universe is an understatement – I’m absolutely in love with the contemporary Riverdale. The two horror series have really been something wicked, but I love the wholesomeness of the main line. So when I saw there was going to be a Josie and the Pussycats series, I squealed like a school girl because despite being 25, I still want to grow up to be Josie.

And thankfully, issue #1 from Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio doesn’t disappoint.

While Betty and Veronica are possibly Archie Comics’ most iconic female characters, they are also still the most problematic. While many series have tried to update their relationship (Adam Hughes did a fab job in his first issue of Betty & Veronica), the girls still play second fiddle to Archie.

Josie and her band are female power through and through and it’s a comic based on female friendship, and the first issue plays out like an origin story.

Small-town folk singer Josie is a girl stuck in the wrong time, and her only fan is bartender Pepper (who was in the Pussycats as an original member until Valerie was introduced in 1969). Josie lives with her roommate Melody, a blonde with a healthy social life – one far too busy to join Josie on her music career.

When Melody finds a stray cat in the street on one of her dates, she joins Josie in volunteering to help out at the local animal shelter at a concert benefit. Here is where they meet Valerie, who works at the shelter and can calm the little kittens and puppies with her magical voice. Josie immediately procures Val for the band and they decide to play at the benefit.

So with six hours to rehearse as a band, the girls are a total bust.

And of course Alexandra is around the stir up trouble for her ex-friend Josie. She tells Val that Josie is only interested in playing solo and tells Melody that Josie only wants to make Mel look stupid on stage when she doesn’t know any of the songs.

Though Alexandra’s plan backfires, and unites the girls together for the first time. Josie admits that she’s not used to playing as a band, and decides to reshuffle the girls around so the trio can work together. The second half of the show goes without a hitch, and the audience loves it (plus the animals at the shelter – too!).

What always pleases me is how well these new series seem to grasp onto the spirit of the original spirit. This issue was so cute, fun, wink-wink, nudge-nudge and so wacky that I’m already counting down the days for the next issue.

Lady Killer 2 Issue #2

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Story and Art: Joëlle Jones
Colours: Michelle Madsen
Letters by: Crank!
Cover by : Joëlle Jones and Michelle Madsen 

I don’t know why I didn’t re-read the first five issues of Lady Killer before the sequel miniseries came out, but as soon as I opened issue #2, I regretted not doing so.

As soon as you reach page one, you are re-introduced to Irving Reinhardt, an ally of Josie’s found in issues #4 and #5 from 2015’s run. Good ol’ Irving has been looking for Josie, and has a new proposition for her. Since he’s old and “retired” – he wants Josie to do all the, er, laborous work while he helps her out with the cleaning up (which for a 60’s housewife, is ironically the one thing she’s really horrible at as seen with last issues tub troubles). Despite her hesitation, she eventually agrees.

After accumulating a business partner, Josie returns to her average life and goes to a Christmas party at the beach for her husband Gene’s work. All at the party is Gene’s super sleazy boss, whose dressed like a rather sun-caught Santa, and his wife from last issue. In a rather sweet move, Josie wears a rather unfashionable suit to the party. She’s self-conscious that all the other ladies are donning their new bikinis.

But of course the party wouldn’t be any fun if something potentially dangerous happened to Josie, and Irving shows up and throws himself into her family life. He knows the twins by name and introduces himself to Gene as Josie’s Uncle Irving. And Josie’s partner has officially muddled in her personal life in a big way. But at the party, Josie finds a note telling her to go to the Surfside Playhouse.

Awaiting her is an unnamed man playing bingo. He knows all about Josie and her work – and what happened at the World’s Fair. He also has a proposition for Josie, which I guess that’s what happens when small businesses start to become successful. He tells her that he can provide her with the type clients that will be more of a challenge than the current work she’s been doing on her own.

He does warn her that there are “dues to pay”, but without telling her what those dues are, Josie agrees.

Josie’s rule #7 is to trust her instincts. It’s plenty obvious that going into business with Irving isn’t going to make Josie’s life and easier. And that’s not even taking into account the mysterious bingo-man’s ominous warning. Safe to say that Josie Schuller has once again got herself into a bit of a bad spot. Shame she didn’t following her own rules, though it is a bit more fun for us.

On a final note, it goes without saying that Jones’s cover art is also on-spot, but I do with there were some variants to pick up. Issue one did, but it wasn’t a particularly interesting one. This is a series that pretty much sells itself on style, and how I wish it would exploit that more.

2016 Autumn playlist

I love early autumn. I’m pretty unashamed about that (despite very much falling into that white girl “I love fall” thing – I was here first). There’s just this tiny bit of summer left right before we’re stuck with long months of miserable weather. Granted every time I think Britain is about to give us a taste of that autumn weather, it quickly changes its fickle mind and hands us another heat wave. But anyway, I’ll just ignore the ridiculous island weather.

I’m very much in the school of thought that my tastes in music change with the season. Just like the type of clothes I have to wear or the kinds of films in the cinema and the books I choose to read. There’s those ~~~fall vibez~~ ya know and I’m always a sucker for them.

Each early September brings with it a renewed sense that I’m going to do something great with the coming year. Despite the fact that I haven’t had a “first day of school” in two years now, I still mark the beginning of each year as the school year, and not the 1st of January. There’s always something a bit uplifting about this time of year. A genuine sense that the cool air will bring with it some great things.

And this feeling, especially that I’m no longer in Wisconsin (which is really home to a spectacular show every fall), escapes me a bit more every year I live in England. But thanks to Ms Aretha Franklin’s “Say a Little Prayer,” that mood instantly hit me. A bit of a breezy, loving, warm song that led to my immediate creation of a new fall playlist. I like to curate a number of songs that appeal to me over the season. It’s always interesting to compare what I was into each year and to see what remains a constant.

And I’ll give you a hint: it’s always Vince Guaraldi.

And mixes aren’t the only thing that I like at this time of year. As far as full albums go, I like to include my favourites and the new:

  • Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends by Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete
  • Aretha Now by Aretha Franklin
  • Dead Poet’s Society OST by Maurice Jarre
  • On Seven Winds by Kornog

But the most important thing is that as soon as we get September out of the way, October is here and the real fun begins.

Just Can’t Get Enough Pt. 17

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know it’s no secret that I really, really love 80’s music. Growing up, it was always playing: on MTV, in the car and in so many movies I watched. When I hit my pre-teens my oldest sister urged on my learning by testing (and occasionally chastising me) my knowledge. Despite the fact that I was definitely born in the 90’s, growing up in rural Wisconsin in the early 90’s was more like growing up in the tail end of the 80’s.

My love spreads from British indie to the best of American power ballads. When I visit home, I make sure ever Wednesday we go to a bar in the city that hosts an 80’s night (which includes music so loud you can’t talk to anyone all with accompanying music videos). So if I’m being completely honest, I get a bit miffed when I hear a song for the first time and I learn that it’s a hit that somehow managed to escape my knowledge.

Please welcome the newest song in my 80’s affection: Steel Breeze’s 1982 single, “You Don’t Want Me Anymore.”

Embarrassingly, I first heard this song on my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist. This is a feature of the app that I usually only find useful for remembering songs, not actually “discovering” anything. But as soon as that excessively-loud synth hit, I knew I was in love. God, nothing gets me like a cheesy synth line.

The single, which reached #16 on the Billboard, war apparently was the last single to be produced by The Kit Fowley. Wikipedia even says so. Though, you’d think a man with that career would maybe know to tune down the synth a touch, but I’m glad he didn’t. And as far as Steel Breeze goes, the Sacramento band went a more independent route after their debut. Wherever they are now, I hope they’re living the dream.

But just watch that music video. If the synth wasn’t enough, it’s that incredibly strange, nonsensical (and apparently popular) music video that gets to me. I have no idea what the hell it means, but I sure someone will one day write the story behind this little beauty.

Are they running away from fans after a show? Then why is the driver so confused? Are they stealing that limo? Do Victorians help us understand our own contemporary lives easier? When was bowling invented?

Anyway, I miss the days when no one knew what to do with music videos. Precious, more innocent times.

Need to read: The Shadow Glass


As some of you may or may not know, my real adult-style job involves a whole lot of books. Books about witches, magic, alternate histories and since this is Britain – countless books set in historical London. Even my own free time is filled with books mostly from the fantasy realm. When I first spotted The Shadow Glass on Dark Horse’s website back in March, I knew it was a series that I needed to read.

Rose is a student of the Queen’s occultist, Dr John Dee. She lives with her elderly father and her mother passed away when she was a young babe. When she finds out that her father is not her biological father, she runs to her old teacher for a place to stay. Unknown to her, Rose’s real father is in league with the Devil and has just arrived at Doctor Dee’s home as well. From there Rose sets off on an adventure filled with the occult and the Shadow Glass.

While I was visiting my family in America, I fell behind on most things, including comics. I kept an eye on the releases as much as I could, but I couldn’t help but notice a delay in the release of The Show Glass’s fourth issue. When I finally returned to Britain, I learned that the series had been tragically cut short of it’s six-issue run.

 

If you think The Shadow Glass sound good to you, you’ll need to be acting on it pretty sharpish if you want it in sing-issue form. You can buy issues 4-6 through writer and artist Aly Fell’s personal website. I received my copies of issues 4 and 5 together in a pack for £10. Fell was quick with the sending and I was very pleased to see that both issues were signed! The final issue will be available in August.

Fell has brought Elizabethan England to life that mixes a strange world. The Shadow Glass is a dark, magical fantasy that will appeal to those who love a great historical fantasy novel. It’s also worth noting that Fell has some of the most beautiful and unique artwork I have been in a comic book in a while.

The Shadow Glass is certainly a bit different than the typical fare offered today, but it’s well worth seeking out.