Wicked Wednesday: The Haunting of Hill House ep. 1 (2018) at the Welsh Chapel

I rarely win things in life. I once won a Princess Diana Beanie Baby in a school raffle, and I was pretty chuffed because I knew it was going to be worth a fortune one day (still waiting on that to happen).

But when I received the email saying I’d won entry for two to an exclusive screening of The Haunting of Hill House, I knew this was a step up from purple bears filled with beans. Plus it took place in the fabulous and freaky Welsh Chapel.

So Husband and I attended a fabulous event last night hosted by Netflix, including a Q&A with the new show’s cast. Turns out Netflix throws one hell of a bash. There was even a supposed ‘set recreation’ that you could wander about, but it was really a ploy to have an actor jump out at you.

And for someone who loves horror movies so much, I’m a massive baby. So having someone jump out at me didn’t exactly bring out the, er, gracefulness in me.

While it was pretty easy to be dazzled by the free cocktails and canapes, the screening of episode one was the highlight of the night. I have to admit, the trailer for the show is pretty underwhelming and slightly confusing. But I can confirm, this skeptic is completely converted after watching episode one.

Even my husband (who enjoyed Wise’s version 0%, and thought we were watching a remake of Burnt Offerings) liked enough to ask when we could watch the next episode.

For those familiar with the Shirley Jackson’s world of Hill House, the TV series revolves around the Crain family. In Jackson’s book, the group are supposedly haunted by the Crains, some of who met tragic ends in Hill House.

In Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House, the Crains have five children, all of whom deal with the trauma of their childhood in different ways. The show flits between modern day and decades before when they were all children in Hill House. It’s clear from

the first episode that the mystery will revolve around Mrs Crain and her supposed suicide.

There are a lot of nice touches for those who love the book and the original 1963 adaption (keep an eye out for the iconic spiral staircase).

In the Q&A, actors Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Kate Siegel and Oliver Jackson-Cohen joined the stage. They only could hint at some of the terror to come, but it all sounded promising. They even had a few cute stories to share about the child actors in the show. Turns out five-year-olds can be great actors, but not-so-great at being patient.

Now, sure, I may have been persuaded by the champagne and funny ghost photobooth, but I feel pretty confident in saying that The Haunting of Hill House is destined to be great. If you love family drama mixed with talking corpses and ghosts, we’re both in for a treat.

All episodes will be available for streaming on Netflix on October 12th.


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My most anticipated things this Autumn

Helloooo, autumn!

Today is the autumnal equinox, which means I woke up to rain and cloudy skies. In both Britain and the States, I love this season. Wisconsin is my preferred between the two, because there is more crunchy leaves and happier people. But nevertheless, this time of the year is absolute magic. And I mean ‘magic’ in both a figurative and literal sense.

This is still a time of year that feel more like renewal than death. And most importantly, this is the time of the year that I get to be queen. Horror movies become socially acceptable again. Spooky TV shows come out. Other people start talking about Halloween. It’s all happening.

But there’s plenty of amazing things coming up this autumn. These are just the handful I’m looking forward to most:

1. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is by far the best horror comic to come out of the Archie Horror imprint. It is absolutely brutal, and SO much fun. When this show was announced, I was infinitely more excited than the news about Riverdale. Sabrina was always my favourite Archie character as a kid (I grew up at the height of the MJH and cartoon era), and I’m excited to see another, darker version of her.

This Netflix adaptation looks fabulously cast and seems to have encapsulated the feeling of Robert Hack’s art work. This take on the classic teenage witch promises to be dark and (hopefully) terrifying. Bring it on, Salem!

Available for streaming on October 26th.

2. Halloween (2018)

Sure, everyone is sick of remakes and sequels (see numbers one and three on this list). But this latest addition to the Halloween franchise looks genuinely good. It looks like a lot of love and care went into making it, which already sets it apart from many of the other installments in the franchise. This Jamie Lee Curtis film will actually be a direct sequel to only the first film, which means it will disregard the other films. This probably angers a lot of fans, but I think it’s certainly more interesting than any other direction they could have chosen.

Plus Carpenter is doing the score, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.

In cinemas in the US and UK on October 19th.

3. The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix

Admittedly, after watching the first trailer for this show, I’m significantly less excited for this one. I was hoping for a more detailed, intricate adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel, but instead this looks like…well, I’m not sure what it is. The trailer bares zero resemblance to anything about the book. Though I guess I had to expect some major changes if they were going to expand a 250 page novel into 10 episodes of television.

But Netflix and Mike Flanagan have worked well in the past before, so there’s plenty to be positive about. This will be the third adaption of Shirley Jackson’s iconic novel. While I love the Robert Wise adaption, I’ve always loved the book more and was really looking forward to a contemporary take on the work. So hopes up and fingers crossed.

Available for streaming on Netflix on October 12th.

4. Reading all the books

I’m naturally a slow reader, but I like to over-stuff my TBR every autumn. It’s wishful thinking to imagine that I’ll read everything I want to this season, but I will try. This month, the paperback version of Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic was released in the UK. I’m currently devouring it and crying over some of the best magical realism I’ve ever read.

Also, I do love to reread a childhood favourite of mine, Gooseberry Park. While technically set in early Spring, this book is so cozy, it always screamed autumn to me. My copy has been through a lot, so each read is nearing the book’s last.

5. Two Evil Eyes (Due occhi diabolicion Blu-Ray from 88 Films

This British film distributor KILLED IT with their release of Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball (Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro). 88 Films are easily one of my favourite companies, so I was overjoyed when they announced a Blu-ray release of this 1990 film directed by my two favourites, George Romero and Dario Argento. They’re sure to do great things with this release.

You can pre-order now from 88 Films’ website for a release date of October 15th.

6. Horroctober at the Prince Charles Cinema

The PCC is my home away from home. They take 50% of my paycheck every month (sadly, that’s not much of an exaggeration). Each October, the cinema curates a fabulous selection of Halloween and horror movies to show. Horroctober pretty much offers something for everyone, so guard your wallets wisely.

What are you looking forward most to this season? Thanksgiving? Christmas nearing so you can start playing Mariah Carey?

Treasure these few months because it will be 2019 before you know it, and we’ll be entering the bleakest part of the year. Cheery thoughts, ya’ll!

Wicked Wednesday: The Night Dracula Saved the World (1979)

I caved into Halloween mania early this year. I say ‘early’ but really, Halloween season always begins on August 1st. But around the Brits I have to pretend to be sensible when really my whole house is decked out.

It’s been a super manic week, so watching something like The Night That Dracula Saved the World was exactly what I needed.

The made-for TV short film originally aired on ABC as The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t. It’s a much-more apt name than the VHS title, but a name will sell anything these days, right?

The story is a strange mash-up of everything you’d find at a cheesy Halloween party and a lesson about the origins of the holiday. Dracula has called a conference at his castle in Transylvania with all the other monsters. Before they arrive, he and Igor watch the news together, in which a newscaster claims that Dracula wants to end Halloween.

Dracula is offended (“Halloween is my national holiday!”), but he allows the conference to go forward anyway. When all of the guests arrive, they learn that Dracula called them together to warn them that they are no longer scary to children.

The other guests seem pretty offended, but the Witch reveals she simply doesn’t give a crap. She announces to the group that she quits, and will be refusing to fly across the moon on Halloween night – the action that sets off Halloween (apparently). She tells the others that she’s tired of the ugly girl jokes, and she really just wanted to be the leader of the monsters.

Dracula refuses, and the witch flies off to her home. Dracula and the other monsters follow her the next night, and break in believing she doesn’t have any magic.

But she’s a witch, so of course the lady has magic. She sends the others running in circles before locking herself safely in her room. Dracula tries to reason with her, offering to agree to her conditions: her face will be on the monster posters, she’ll have shared leadership of the monsters, and to go disco dancing every night.

Dracula agrees, but the Witch immediately redacts her agreement to fly over the moon. But when a pair of local children arrive, they tug at her heartstrings, reminding her of the true meaning behind Halloween: candy and costumes.

The Witch agrees to the children’s pleas and flies over the moon to mark the start of Halloween. Afterwards, the monsters all have a disco. And why? Because this short is clearly insane.

The Night Dracula Saved the World is a really cute piece of nostalgia. The costumes are a bit hokey, as if they were bought from a costume shop, but it’s all really sweet, weirdly. It’s apparently a holiday staple for a lot of kids who watched it on the original ABC run and later on the Disney Channel during the 80s and early 90s. And I can see why, the random-ass disco in the end might be my favourite thing I’ve ever seen in a Halloween movie.

This is the perfect little 25-minute movie to put anyone in the Halloween spirit. Watch it, disco, and keep on thinkin’.

Horror movies to watch for the Halloween season

Only the uncivilised believe that any horror movie is appropriate for Halloween. Who watches Friday the 13th at this time of the year? These people are amateurs.

But seriously, we can’t consider every movie with snow a Christmas movie, so why make exception for Halloween? I’ve collected some of my favourite movies to watch at this time of the year. Some are on-the-nose, yes, but I like to think they best celebrate what this time of the season really feels likes.

I personally like to enjoy classics of the genre, but that isn’t to say there aren’t others worth mentioning. My list isn’t the most inspired, but sometimes it’s worth just revisiting the traditions. So whether you watch horror movies all year round, or just this week – maybe you’ll find something here:

1. Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s classic should be a staple for everyone’s Halloween. Growing up, I was constantly renting this movie from the rental shop. But it wasn’t until I watched it on the full screen at the Prince Charles Cinema in London that I realised how truly incredible this movie is.

Rent it, watch it, continue the tradition. But if you have the opportunity to see this in a cinema, you absolutely need to.

2.  Night of the Demons (1988)

On the surface, this movie looks like pretty standard fair: kids go into haunted house on Halloween, kids become possessed, kids die. But Night of the Demons is so much more than an average slasher film. Like many of the late-80s slashers, there’s a lot of style influence from the American hardcore scene (see number 5 on the list). It’s ascetic and memorable characters (including great performances from Amelia Kinkade and Linnea Quigley) make this a slasher a head above the rest.

This is one of the few films that I actually enjoy the sequel to (actually, any 90’s horror movie with Christine Taylor is a win), so I also will throw that one in as a bonus rec.

3. House of the Devil (2009)

This Ti West-directed beauty is more than just a nostalgia trip. While the film looks and feels very much like an early 80’s thriller, it offers a much more contemporary take. The tale is of a young woman who agrees to a babysitting job on the night of a lunar eclipse. Only the job isn’t so average, instead of a unruly group of kids, it’s to watch an elderly woman. It’s certainly a slow burn, but West does an incredible job at building suspense.

Also, arguably the best use of The Fixx in any movie.

4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

It’s fabulous, stylish and just everything a gothic stunner needs to be. Bride of Frankenstein picks up precisely where Mary Shelly’s original tale ended. This is Universal Horror at it’s height.

Arguably, any of the Universal Monster Movies is perfect for Halloween, but the story of Frankenstein and his monster is very special. And Bride of Frankenstein might actually be better than the original. Elsa Lanchester’s Bride character doesn’t come to life until towards the end, but she’s so iconic, you’d think the movie is about her.

And as always, anything where Boris Karloff is the monster is necessary viewing for Halloween.

5. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Like Night of the Demons, this Dan O’Bannon-helmed zombie movie is full of style and Linnea Quigley’s boobs. It has a fantastic soundrack, talking zombies (well, they can say “brains”), and the fabulous Don Calfa. The story isn’t exactly inspired, but it’s done in such a way that everything feels fresh. It’s enough to inspire your own picnic in a graveyard.

If not this one, just go with the classic Night of the Living Dead. That one never gets old.

6. Mad Monster Party? (1967)

I only watched this stop-motion animation movie for the first time back in September, but it made such an impression I feel compelled to share this strange, zany film. Sure, it is terribly dated, but how many animated movies really stand the test of time.

Answer: Charlie Brown.

But this little Rankin/Bass movie (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) is a literal monster mash of characters. It’s corny, yes, but anything that is willing to use King Kong alongside Dracula is going to be.

7. The Haunted Castle aka The Devil’s Castle (Le Manoir du diable) (1896)

My first proper introduction to Georges Méliès was in a media studies class at university. Our professor was completely enamored with the magic that the French director was able to create on film. And that affection was infectious. I’ve loved Méliès work ever since.

Many of his films contain sinister undertones, but none quite like Le Manoir du diable. Two men encounter Mephistopheles’ castle, which is haunted by bats, skeletons and spectres. It’s only three minutes, but this black-and-white silent film manages to create some seriously chilling imagery. Completely astounding for something created in 1896.

This is often considered the first horror film ever made. So if you haven’t seen it, be sure to treat yourself to a viewing.

8. The Omen (1976)

The 70’s was a truly golden era of horror cinema, especially the kind interested in religion, demons and Christianity. The Omen is often paired with the slightly-superior The Exorcist, and arguably, both of these films could make the list. But the first time I watched The Exorcist I was in a farmhouse in July – so I’ve ruled it out. But The Omen is about an adopted child that ends up being the Antichrist. Can it get more seasonal than that?

Just watch the graveyard scene.

9. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story, this is a dark and brooding tale of lose and obsession. It’s certainly the most harrowing movie on this list, but it’s also the most stunning. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a couple of parents who leave for Venice after the accidental drowning of their daughter. But they don’t find the escape that they desire in Italy. Sutherland’s character begins to see visions, which includes a lot of red rain coats.

Don’t Look Now is filled with cold, dark places perfect for the short, dark days. It’s also terrifying.

10. Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night is everything I love about 80’s movies: it’s a bit wacky, the main character is a lovable goof, THE MONSTERS ARE REAL, KIDS, and there are a lot of great, memorable lines! It’s like Goonies meets Lost Boys meets Monster Squad with a bit more thrills. Oh, and a lot of great lines.

When Charley realises that his next-door neighbour is a blood-sucking fiend, he sets out with a motley group of friends to get rid of him. It’s a comedy of errors, but one that includes a late-night horror TV show host. The idea of horror movie actors helping you destroy a servant of darkness has to be a dream for most horror fans.

There is also a documentary available on Shudder called You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night, which I will need to watch…as soon as I make it through this list again.

Favourite reads for the Halloween season

October, kids. It’s OUR season. The season where we can wear our pumpkin dresses without glares, be incredibly morbid and just be called “festive”, and pretend to be one of those “seasonal readers”.

So maybe it’s just me. But I’m getting into the spirit of things here.

I have to admit, I don’t read much horror or thriller novels in October. Shock, horror, but summer is typically when I gorge myself on trashy books where characters meet their grime demises. I don’t only watch horror movies in the autumn, so why save reading certain books just for October?

That being said, there are certain books which feel a bit more seasonal than the average book. These are stories that are a little bit more old school, whether they’re classics of the genre or just take on the style.

But just warning you now: there will be no Stephen King on my list. I know he’s meant to be one of those ‘staple’ authors, but it’s my not-so-deep and dark secret that I really don’t like him. Or at least I have yet to read one of his books that I enjoy. But I’m going to keep trying (if you have any recommendations, please share).

So grab your pumpkin spice arsenic teas, everyone! These are my recommended reads for Halloween:

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Is there any haunted house book that’s better? That’s a rhetorical question and the answer is no.

Shirley Jackson is the queen of twisted, psychological tales. The Haunting of Hill House shows Jackson in perfect form. If you’ve seen the classic 1963 version of The Haunting, you’ll know the gist of this one. Four people go to stay in a supposedly haunted house where strange and horrible things begin to happen. Is it real? Or is it all in their heads?

This is one of the few books has actually managed to terrify me. Don’t read it when you’re home alone (or do, and scare the crap out of yourself).

2. How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

I have a real love-hate relationship with ol’ Seth. On one hand, he’s written this hilarious in-joke of a book, but on the other, we have him to blame for that Dark Shadows script.

How to Survive a Horror Movie is exactly what it says on the label: a step-by-step guide for navigating your way through a horror movie. Each page packs in as many Easter eggs as possible, making it a hunt for references. I read and re-read the shit out of this book as a teenager. Perhaps it’s time for adult me to give it another try.

3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 “The Crucible”

Archie Comics have been killing their revamped series. I think the jewel in their crown is this dark and horrifying version of Sabrina.

All of the original ingredients are here: Harvey, Salem, the aunts. Only Sabrina meets a nemesis with vintage Archie character Madam Satan. Don’t expect too many jokes with this one. Think more along the lines of blood-rituals, possessed trees and face eating.

It was announced last month that the Riverdale creators are working on turning this into a television show. You have all of my attention and all my love.

If you can’t wait, the Jughead one-shot The Hunger from last spring has been turned into a new full-length series. Issue #1 will hit comic book shops on October 25th.

4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Just give me a chance with this one.

Jane Austen often has a reputation she doesn’t deserve. The woman was fierce and clever, and wrote one heck of scathing book when she wanted to. Northanger Abbey is a parody of the gothic novel that was incredibly popular at the time. Her heroine Catherine Morland is silly and naive girl who has lived most of her sheltered life in the country. She goes to Bath and is whisked off on a journey full of ‘haunted’ homes and ‘murders’.

Northanger Abbey is, yes, a romance novel, but at heart it’s really about a girl becoming a woman. Catherine as the lead heroine is an absolute gem. She spends so much time dreaming that she’s in a Gothic romance novel that she forgets she actually doesn’t live in one herself.

This is certainly the most unusual choice on this list, but if you’re not into reading this, try watching the 2007 adaption starring Felicity Jones and JJ Field. It’s that perfect balance of Gothic imagery, sweetness and sick muslin jokes.

5. Spell on Wheels vol. 1

This limited-run series published by Dark Horse is absolutely brilliant. It’s full of feminism, witches, and mystery. And hilarious mythical monster romances.

Three witches go on a road trip throughout New England to look for their magical items that have been stolen from them. They try to track down their items while thwarting evil along the way.

The style really couldn’t be better for this time of the year. It’s a seriously good-looking comic. But also: witches.

6. Dark Entries by Robert Aickman

Aickman, for me, is incredibly dated in ways that male authors often are. He lacks all ability to write fleshed-out female characters. That being said, the short stories in this collection are pretty great. More than anything,  they’re appropriate for Halloween. “The School Friend” and “The Waiting Room” are stand outs amongst the six stories included.

Most people prefer Lovecraft (there isn’t much in the way of similarities here), and I won’t argue that. But Aickman macabre stories are definitely worth checking out if you have yet to be exposed. He’s well worth experiencing.

Wicked Wednesday: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a film with a pretty abysmal reputation. What’s a Halloween film without Michael Myres, eh? Well, it turns out, it’s all okay, folks. This is a movie that can stand on its own two legs.

As someone who is not personally attached the masked man, it doesn’t bother me that the great oaf doesn’t make an appearance. Though, in my mind, it’s a film that should be approached as a separate entity. It certainly can’t even touch the glory of John Carpenter’s original (but then again, not much can).

Eight days before Halloween, a man trying to run away and hide from a car. He manages to escape from the men pursuing him and ends up in a gas station, where he seeks help. While waiting inside, a Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play. The man begins to shout “they’re coming” and collapses to the floor.

That night, Doctor Dan Challis visits his ex-wife and his two children. He gives them the gift of two plastic masks, but they tell him that their mom already bought them Silver Shamrock masks, which they show off to him. Before he can feel too bad, he gets a call that brings him back to the hospital.

The patient awaiting his care is Harry Grimbridge, the man who fainted in the gas station. Dan examines the patient when Harry grabs him and says, “They’re going to kill us.” After the little episode, Dan has Harry moved to a private room.

Later in the night, a man goes into the hospital and presses his thumbs into Harry’s eyes. The nurse catches the murderer before he can leave the room. But the murderer manages to escape. Dan chases after him, but the man gets into the car and blows himself up before anyone can get near to him.

The next day, Harry’s daughter Ellie arrives to identify the body. She later follows Dan into a bar to question him about her father’s last moments. He finally tells her the truth about the vague “going to kill us” statements. He also tells her that Harry was holding onto a Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask.

Ellie drags Dan into the investigation of her father’s death. Together they go to Harry’s shop, where she tells Dan that her father had gone to a town called Santa Mira to pick up an order of Silver Shamrock masks.

Together, the pair head off to the Californian town. When they arrive, they find that the locals are super strange (they like to stare) and they’re all gushing with praise of Conal Cochran – the founder of Silver Shamrock.

While checking into their hotel, Dan sneaks away and looks at the log book, quickly discovering that it is the same hotel where Harry had stayed. As they finish their check-in, another shop owner and a family arrive, all having with business with Cochran.

The shop owner, Marge, finds a silver button that has fallen off the back of one of the Silver Shamrock masks. While examining it at night, a beam of light from the button strikes her, and her face begins to peel open.

Dan and Ellie (who apparently are having sex now because romance) hear something outside their room. Outside, a group of men in white coats are gathered around. Marge’s body, covered in a sheet and on a gurney, is removed from her room and put into a van. Ellie begins to become distressed, but a man, introduced as Cochran, says that Marge will be receiving good care.

The following morning, Dan, Ellie and the other family in the hotel all go to the Silver Shamrock factory where the popular masks are produced. Cochran hints that there is a “final process” that happens behind closed doors, but no one is allowed to see it due to the volatile chemicals involved.

When the group leaves their tour, Ellie spots her father’s car. She eventually leaves it alone, but not before catching the attention of the supremely-stoic black-suited men hanging about. It’s no surprise that the girl goes missing that night.

After realising that Ellie is gone and that he cannot connect any calls, Dan goes back to the factory. He’s obviously never seen the never-been-made classic Don’t Go in the Factory… Alone! This is clearly a bad idea, and he gets caught by Cochran and his robot lackeys.

Dan’s taken to the “final process” room where a stone from ancient sacrificial site Stonehenge sits. Men are slowly chipping away at the rock. Cochran explains that they use the stone in their masks.

Dan’s attention is then drawn to a video of the family from earlier. They’re all dragged into a testing room where the Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play on the television. The little boy tugs on a pumpkin mask, but struggles to take it off once it begins to hurt him. The boy collapses and his head turns to bugs, worms and snakes. His parents are then killed by the creepy crawlies emerging from their son.

Children all over America are waiting to wear their Silver Shamrock masks. As it’s Halloween, they’ll be everywhere. The twisted company plan a giveaway at 9 that night. Cochran’s plan is for all the children to gather around to watch the commercial, and then die. In his mind, it is merely celebrating Halloween in the old, pagan fashion: with lots of scarifies! Oh and to bring back the age of the witches.

He’s an ambitious fellow.

Dan is then tied up and left in a room wearing a mask. He’s placed in front of a television where the countdown to his death begins. But when he’s left alone, the doctor manages to smash the TV in. He uses a shard of the broken glass to cut himself free. When he manages to escape through a air duct, he calls his ex-wife to warn her about the masks. She refuses to believe him, and thinks he’s drunk.

So the man moves on to saving Ellie, who has been tied up inside the factory. The two manage to dump a box of the Silver Shamrock’s computer chip/Stonehenge bits around the computers, which end up killing the workers when the commercial is triggered. Even Cochran himself is killed by the power of the stone.

Ellie and Dan seemingly escape together, but Ellie attacks him while they’re driving away. The two crash into a tree when Dan discovers that Ellie has been replaced by a robot. He manages to fight her off and go to the gas station from the beginning of the film. He calls the television channels and manages to convince channels one and two to take the commercial off. But he watches in horror as channel three goes away with airing the commercial – seemingly to kill all the children.

It’s a wonderfully chilling ending. Sure the robots don’t make any sense (why wasn’t a coven written into this?), but Halloween III is a deliciously wicked movie. I mean, the evil plot revolves around sacrificing children to a television commercial!

I can’t really see why this film is slatted so much. It’s certainly a flawed film. The soundtrack is abysmal, and the plot is a bit convoluted, but the imagery is great, it’s pretty sick, and it stars Tom Atkins! I recently watched the excellent Profondo Rosso, and if there’s one thing I can swear by, it’s that a creepy children’s song will always make me uncomfortable in a horror movie.

Halloween III should be regarded as a separate entity from its predecessors. Judge it on its own merits. Hate it or love it for the right reasons.


How to nurse a Halloween hangover

What? What’s that? Halloween is over?

No it isn’t. Of course it’s not. I mean technically Halloween occurs on the 31st of every October, but I’m not willing to admit to myself it’s over.

I love Halloween season for many reasons. I love that people get dressed in costume. I love that children get to trick-or-treat and share in that excitement. I really love that this is the one time of the year where people allow themselves to get a bit spooky; shops are done up in (fake) spiderwebs, normally weak-kneed people watch horror films, and shops sell bat socks.


And it’s really a damn shame when it’s all over.

But this year, I’m not letting it die. Instead, I’m going to fill my life with the bits that allows me to relive Halloween every day. Since the UK doesn’t have Thanksgiving, there isn’t a buffer time between Halloween and Christmas (though not many people in the States believe in Thanksgiving anymore either, apparently). I’ll gladly cling on to the fact that Autumn is still here and Christmas is very, very far away.

How to help get through the post-Halloween season:

  1. Read something really good

I read a lot for my job. I read a lot in my real life. Unfortunately, I suffered a rather prolonged reading slump after readingimg_2119 an excellent string of novels in September. Though there were many plans to read some novels that fed into the Halloween spirit, it simply didn’t happen.

But that doesn’t mean that ghost stories aren’t great year-round. And I even think that November may be a better time. While October is beautiful and crisp, it’s really the month of November where things get cold, and things, well, die. The trees stop being gorgeous, vibrant warm colours, but become brown and soggy because there’s no such thing as crisp leaves in England.

This year, Penguin Classics have released a new series of books called Penguin Orange Classics. These books look like the original Penguin Classics with the iconic orange covers, but they’re a bit more detailed with drawings inspired by the book. I’m digging into We Have Always Lived in the Castle by America author Shirely Jackson. I read The Haunting of Hill House back in January. So good.

Also, I just finished the sixth and final volume of Locke & Key by Joe Hill illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. So good. If you haven’t read this graphic novel series yet, stop everything and do it now.

2. Buy everything horror-themed and do it now.


One of the best things at MCM Comic Con last weekend was this excellent stand that sold some horror movie related gifts. They were one of the very few stands that did, and they certainly did it in style.

Alleycat Graphics do a load of excellent horror movie themed items from posters to pins to a Ghoulies sticker for your toilet. Everything you need to fill the small parts of your life with everything horror.

I picked up a couple cards from their stand at Comic Con. One is a They Live! birthday card and the other is a Basket Case birthday card for a loving brother.

Do I have a brother? No. Does it matter? No it doesn’t.

Another company I have discovered over the course of the last month is Creepy Co, a collectibles-based brand out of Chicago. I did have to pay a bit for international shipping, but look at these two babies. How could anyone resist? The pins are really high quality. And while the pumpkin has been retired for the season, my Final Girl pin remains on my jacket opposite to my Jason Voorhees hockey mask pin. Subtle, but it makes the point.

img_01173. Reminisce the fuck out of the past Halloween

After the hectic weekend of Comic Con, I was not willing to go anywhere if I didn’t have to. Plus I had a week-long of horrendous headaches that made me useless to writing, reading or watching anything. So my husband and I had an incredibly low-key holidaimg_2112y.

But if there’s anything that helps you get over the Halloween-blues, it’s remembering the Halloween you had. We had to miss the Prince Charles Cinema’s viewing of Halloween, but we did watch Insidious for the first time. I’m a big fan of James Wan’s Conjuring films, this was one of my less-favourite of his films I’ve seen. Though it did cause my husband to have nightmares that night. So that’s pretty great.

Oh and we made bat-themed cupcakes and blew up ghost and pumpkin balloons. There may not have been any trick-or-treaters, but we did live it up on Halloween. And though the day itself might be over with, I can at least eat the cupcakes.


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


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.”


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.


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!

American of London Halloween (the most wonderful day of the year)

IMG_0019Isn’t this the best day of the year? Halloween has always been my favourite day of the year, especially when I was super young. I loved dressing up and always loved picking out what my costume would be (for a solid number of years, it was always Jasmine). There’s something so special about this day of the year: one part nostalgia, two parts scaring the crap out of yourself. It’s a day that works for kids and adults unlike any other holiday. It can work as being as light-hearted or as menacing as you’d like.

Now being an American immigrant in Britain, I have to constantly pull my husband and friends to get into the spirit of things. It’s really not that big of thing here. That’s pretty strange considering the origins of the holiday. This is my third Halloween in the UK, and I can already tell there is a growing following for everything Halloween.

That being said, I forced my poor husband to go all-out this Halloween. This, of course, included splurging on all the horror-related DVDs anyone could want. Eventually I had to stop myself before grabbing everything, so the selection is about as typical (or “classic) as you’d expect. With all the horror movies being on sale for the holiday, it took a shit load of restraint not to buy everything, including those I had never heard of. Hands down the worst thing about today was finding Suspiria for £18. Way to rain on my parade.



Another new annual tradition is the Halloween ComicFest. Like Free Comic Book Day, publishers release a selection of free comics for readers to take home. I always find this pretty interesting because there can be all sorts of interesting and quirky stories coming out of the woodwork. There were quite a few available this year, but I have to take pride in being fairly-well restrained.

I love old horror comics and those inspired by them like the Archie Horror comics “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” It was great to see Sabrina make an appearance as well as the usual Archie comic. There were loads of really cute little books as well like the Vampire tale “The Garlicks.”


So even though I’m often the odd one out on today, I will always continue to be the crazy lady obsessed with Halloween. Maybe one day I’ll even invest in a nice Halloween tacky jumper? Today my husband and I went to see John Carpenter’s Halloween at the Prince Charles Cinema and it was really fun to watch a great horror film on the day. Plus the night showing has been sold out for days. Maybe there are fellow Halloween-obsessed peoples running amok somewhere.