Halloween regrets

Remember how excited we were when September yielded to October and Halloween was 31 days away? Now it’s November 2nd and hard to believe another All Hallows Eve has come and gone. But I think it is a perfectly good use of All Souls’ Day to reflect not only on what we accomplished during the month of October but to lament the missed opportunities. To that end, I have gathered a few of my fellow HorrorDads for an informal chat about the spooky movies they thought they’d get to during October but for whatever reason did not.

JEFF ALLARD: I actually got around to watching most of the movies I meant to get around to but there’s always a few that slip by. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) was one I hoped to fit in but didn’t. It’s been years since I’ve seen it but I think the Blind Dead themselves are just the coolest monsters ever. They have those funky, moldy old cloaks that they wear, they ride on horses in slow motion, and best of all because they can’t see, they track their victims by the sound of their heartbeats so the more fearful someone is, the quicker they’ll find them. And if I remember right, they even sport soul patches to boot! Why no one has ever tried to mount a US remake, I don’t know. It’s probably for the best that no one has but I hate to see such excellent monsters permanently retired.

I had also hoped to watch HABIT (1997), the Larry Fessenden vampire movie. I was thinking at one point that it would be a contender for my hardcore fan spot on our Halloween triple-bill but I just didn’t get around to screening it in time to see what I thought of it today. I know that when I saw it back in ’98 or so, I thought it was terrific. There had been a couple of artsy, New York-set vampire movies released at about the same time - THE ADDICTION (1995) and NADJA (1994) – and I thought both of them were pretty insufferable and expected the same from HABIT but I ended up loving it. While I’ve liked some of Fessenden’s stuff since then, like THE LAST WINTER (2006), HABIT is still my favorite of his films. The other movie I wanted to get to by Halloween but didn’t was BONES (2001) — yes, the Snoop Dogg movie. I don’t know why it came to mind – maybe because of director Ernest Dickerson’s current work on THE WALKING DEAD – but I really enjoyed that movie back when it came out and thought it was time to revisit. I remember it being put together with much more care than one might’ve expected from a movie that had Snoop Dogg trying to sell himself as the next Freddy Krueger. It wasn’t a perfect movie by any means but it bought my affection with the Looney Toons-style (or maybe Itchy & Scratchy style) moment where Bones slays a pair of street thugs off-camera and what looks like every drop of their blood splashes against an alley wall side by side in a perfect outline of their bodies.

DENNIS COZZALIO: Regrets? I’ve had a few. For starters, I wasn’t able (wasn’t willing?) to continue my string of greasepaint-oriented Halloween costumes into a third year. Two Halloweens ago I haunted the neighborhood as a bald guy in a cape with white makeup covering the entirety of my orb— Humpty Dumpty-ula— and last year was the occasion of my triumphant, costume-contest winning appearance as Satan—bald head covered this time in red, but with horns! I had great plans as we plowed into September of going green for Halloween this year but, frankly, I just couldn’t find Martian antennae that lived up to my exacting standards—glitter-covered emerald pom-poms attached to a girl’s headband would have been just so beneath me. And I remembered the fallout from having to scrub my crimson sphere with a bar of Lava in order to get all that makeup off last year—which, of course, left the landscape of my skull a whole different sort of red, cratered and very Martian, for sure. So I wasn’t eager to relive that. This year I settled for Man in Shorts and Oregon T-Shirt accompanying my Cute Ninja and Scary Devil Doll with Cracked Face as they scoured the neighborhood in search of scares (and Skittles, and Snickers, and…) But now that it’s all over, I kinda wish I’d felt a little more into it, like I have the last couple of go-rounds. My girls only have one or two more honest trick-or-treat runs left in them before they start getting all self-conscious and worried about whether or not they’re old for this sort of fun, and I wish I’d been a little more gung-ho for their sakes. Next year, the Martian invasion of Glendale is on!

But more importantly, and again despite my best intentions, this was a Halloween that was for me curiously lacking in a steady influx of the Universal classics. Instead, we did Hammer around our house till the undead shuffled home—THE GORGON (1964), PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966), CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964), FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969), X: THE UNKNOWN (1956), HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967), and of course other non-Hammer titles like CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957), HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959), FRANKENWEENIE (2012) and DEAD OF NIGHT (1945). But nothing from the studio that Carl Laemmle built. I don’t have to tell you but a Lugosi- or Karloff- or Chaney, Jr.-free Halloween feels like Thanksgiving without thanks, Arbor Day without trees. It’s not that I didn’t try. MAD MONSTER PARTY (1966)was roundly rejected by the girls and their buddies after about 20 minutes— they actually thought the animation was sort of fascinating, but Emma couldn’t abide Phyllis Diller. In its place, I put on my double-feature disc of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN (1942) and HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) just as the pizza and the grandparents arrived. I saw a smidgen of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN before it was time to hit the streets. We got back from raiding the neighborhood for its supply of sugary handouts just in time for HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN to provide an atmospheric soundtrack while I pulled door duty and shoved cold pizza into my maw. Twenty minutes later Grandma and Grandpa needed a ride home. I returned just in time for the end credits, but by then I was too pooped to start the movie over. I took down the front yard decorations and called it a night. I even missed seeing FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN in an honest-to-goodness movie palace this year. Last weekend it showed at the glorious Alex Theater as their annual featured Halloween attraction, and I’d planned on seeing it for months. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan on being sick and sidelined on the couch on the day it played. But as great as it undoubtedly would have been to see this wonderful movie on that giant screen, attending the screening had its own built-in price to pay beyond the admission charge. As part of the pre-show festivities, two actors were slated to show up on stage, in full Wolf Man and The Monster costumes, and stage a mock presidential debate. This didn’t really sound like a good idea to me, and though I obviously can’t say with first-person certainty reports in the local newspaper covering the event made me suspect my initial instincts may have been good ones. According to the Glendale News-Press:

“Frankenstein assured voters he was a man of the people. ‘In fact, I am a man of 10 people!’ he screeched. Wolf Man wasn’t convinced. ‘I hope you can prove with a birth certificate that every one of those 10 people was born in the U.S.,’ he snarled.”

Okay, then… I still wish I’d seen the movie there though. Next year I promise my home will be awash in Universal horror and my head slathered in green paint for the holiday. And no threat of Election Day comedy mucking up the bog water wither!

PAUL GAITA: Jeez, what didn’t I see this Halloween? The closest I came was watching the MAD MONSTER PARTY disc two weeks prior to the 31st. But it’s my own fault – I didn’t set aside any time to watch stuff and just barreled through the holiday with my focus on making sure that our daughter didn’t abandon her costume after thirty seconds of wear. Had I slotted in some creature features, I would have probably chosen NIGHT OF THE DEMON. Writing about M.R. James for WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU (1968) and A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972) last week piqued my interest in seeing it again. It’s been a while since I’ve watched NIGHT OF THE DEMON but there are several scenes that immediately leap to mind: the windstorm conjured by Karswell at the children’s party (and his satisfied smile upon seeing their terrified reactions); the rune-marked paper that leaps out of Dana Andrews’ fingers after opening it; Andrews’ flight through the woods from Karswell’s mansion, with the demonic ball of light in pursuit; and of course, the appearance of the demon itself, which manages to look atrocious and the stuff of nightmares at the same time. I’d also like to have seen the television version of its source story, “Casting the Runes,” which was made for ITV in 1979 and is currently available on DVD from Acorn Media. And while I’m at it, it would have been interesting to see the more recent version of WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU with John Hurt, which was made for the BBC in 2010. Oh, well… next year?

NICHOLAS MCCARTHY: Almost every Halloween in recent memory, I’ve failed at my goal of watching classic horror movies. This year, I changed that. I was able to catch a whole bunch of favorite horror movies in the week before Halloween. It was my absolute pleasure to revisit THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), the original THE MUMMY (1932), Jose Ramon Larraz’s SYMPTOMS (1974), and THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974), which I programmed for a Halloween party where we all drank the classic 40s cocktail “The Corpse Reviver” … get it? I even caught the original HALLOWEEN (1978) again. So I had an exceptional run for the season, but I didn’t watch the single movie I was aiming for: the original DRACULA (1931). There is still time.

RHS: Thanks to our kids, we got a lot of juvenile Halloween viewing in this year. Unlike Dennis’ brood, our kids love MAD MONSTER PARTY and we feathered in (sometimes multiple) viewings of BARTOK THE MAGNIFICENT (1999), THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1950), IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN! (1964) and MONSTER HOUSE (2006) — halfway through trick-or-treating Vic even struck a hunched pose on some neighbor’s property and bellowed “You kids get off my lawn,” just like Old Man Nebbercracker. By and large, though, my kids don’t care for black and white movies, so I tended to watch for my own enjoyment after the entire family had gone to bed. That meant I caught a lot of movies in progress or in fragments – THE GORGON, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932), THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, DEAD OF NIGHT, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1932), NIGHT OF THE DEMON and THE BODY SNATCHER (1945). TCM programming was not my friend this year – I missed out on HORROR OF DRACULA because it aired at 5pm Pacific time, an hour when I’m picking my kids up from after-school care, but I did get to see THE ZOMBIES OF MORA-TAU in its entirety. Gyp! That’s too bad because HORROR OF DRACULA has such a perfect autumnal palette and I haven’t sat down with it in years. I’m still grateful as all Hell (all of it!) that Turner still devotes so much air time to classic horror. Though I have 90% of their horror library on DVD and can watch any time, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of putting on the TV to find Frankenstein, Dracula, and their beastly brethren waiting for me.

Unrelated to Turner Classic Movies, there was a host of spooky films I thought I might be able to load onto my plate… but didn’t. High on the list was Alejandro Amenábar’s THE OTHERS (2001), a film dripping with atmosphere and boasting nuanced yet full-speed performances from its entire cast. I would love to have seen CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) this year or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) and the recent DVD release of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) would have been a great occasion to catch up with that much-maligned but beloved-by-me second sequel to HALLOWEEN (1978). I did screen John Brahm’s THE LODGER (1944) for myself and Nick’s THE PACT (2012) for my wife, Barbara, who rewarded me (and Nick) by curling up defensively on the couch early on and diving under a throw blanket for fear of what she might see.  As seems to be my habit, though, I found myself writing more about horror movies than actually watching them. On Halloween night itself, after trick-or-treating and the kids were bathed bedded, I told Barb I had obtained a copy of the recent THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) for our evening’s viewing but she said “No, let’s watch one of your old-timey movies.” As THE WOLF MAN (1941) was on TCM and fairly near the beginning, that’s just what we did. It was wonderful seeing the Larry Talbot story on our big 50″ monitor. And after Barb retired for the evening, leaving me alone in the orange glow of pumpkin lights, I sat through THE MUMMY (1932) and THE MUMMY’S HAND (1941), fulfilling the Universal quotient that was so sorely missing in Dennis’ holiday. I guess Halloweenman’s reach is bound to exceed his grasp… or what’s next year for?

What are your post-Halloween regrets?

0 Response Halloween regrets
Posted By Bunny Moreno : November 2, 2012 4:55 pm

Oh gosh what a great post-I will start by saying that. You all are just too cool. Okay I put in a few this season myself but its challenging when you have three little ones and my daughter doesnt want to leave my side ever. I dont want to give her nightmares with some of the movies I watch LOL

I managed to see many classics and with my hubby too which is a double treat bc he wks two full time jobs. We saw “The Invisible Man”. “Dracula”, “The Wolf Man”, “Frankenstein”, “Bride of Frankenstein”, “The Return of Dracula” (really liked that one), and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”

I do regret not watching my annual “Night of the Demons” the original of course. Lucky for me I own all of my favorite 80s horror films so I can see them anytime. Horror movies for Horror fans are for anytime of the year!!! xox

Posted By Bunny Moreno : November 2, 2012 4:55 pm

Oh gosh what a great post-I will start by saying that. You all are just too cool. Okay I put in a few this season myself but its challenging when you have three little ones and my daughter doesnt want to leave my side ever. I dont want to give her nightmares with some of the movies I watch LOL

I managed to see many classics and with my hubby too which is a double treat bc he wks two full time jobs. We saw “The Invisible Man”. “Dracula”, “The Wolf Man”, “Frankenstein”, “Bride of Frankenstein”, “The Return of Dracula” (really liked that one), and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”

I do regret not watching my annual “Night of the Demons” the original of course. Lucky for me I own all of my favorite 80s horror films so I can see them anytime. Horror movies for Horror fans are for anytime of the year!!! xox

Posted By Bob Gutowski : November 2, 2012 7:51 pm

What with following the news of the storm, and having a houseguest due to same, I once again did NOT get to watch TRICK OR TREAT (2009). On the other hand, with our guest, I finally got to watch the restored WHITE ZOMBIE, and saw, for only the second time, the TCM version of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. He and I also stayed up late and watched the burn-on-request LADIES IN RETIREMENT (such a tight, creepy film). Alone, I got to see the (surprise!) disappointing Rob Zombie take on HALLOWEEN, which I think of as MY BULLIED LITTLE PSYCHO FILM WANTS TO BUTT INTO YOUR CLASSIC! We had no local parade due to Sandy, but a neighbor got us organized to have old fashioned trick or treat for the kids in our three buildings, and it was delightful.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : November 2, 2012 7:51 pm

What with following the news of the storm, and having a houseguest due to same, I once again did NOT get to watch TRICK OR TREAT (2009). On the other hand, with our guest, I finally got to watch the restored WHITE ZOMBIE, and saw, for only the second time, the TCM version of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. He and I also stayed up late and watched the burn-on-request LADIES IN RETIREMENT (such a tight, creepy film). Alone, I got to see the (surprise!) disappointing Rob Zombie take on HALLOWEEN, which I think of as MY BULLIED LITTLE PSYCHO FILM WANTS TO BUTT INTO YOUR CLASSIC! We had no local parade due to Sandy, but a neighbor got us organized to have old fashioned trick or treat for the kids in our three buildings, and it was delightful.

Posted By TIMEWARP : November 3, 2012 4:52 am

NONe!!!!! I never have any regrets, let alone post-Halloween regrets:). I have no NYD regrets either. I’d do everything I’ve ever done in my life the same way, jus that the next time around (if I have a next time:)), I’d do it slightly different, nut regrets? NONE…never:)!!!

Posted By TIMEWARP : November 3, 2012 4:52 am

NONe!!!!! I never have any regrets, let alone post-Halloween regrets:). I have no NYD regrets either. I’d do everything I’ve ever done in my life the same way, jus that the next time around (if I have a next time:)), I’d do it slightly different, nut regrets? NONE…never:)!!!

Posted By TIMEWARP : November 3, 2012 4:53 am

Oooops, sorry for the spelling errors above….I regret that:):):)!!!!

Posted By TIMEWARP : November 3, 2012 4:53 am

Oooops, sorry for the spelling errors above….I regret that:):):)!!!!

Posted By Robert Hubbard : November 3, 2012 11:57 pm

To Paul, re the recent version of WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU with John Hurt – sit back and relax, you haven’t missed a thing, sad to say…

Posted By Robert Hubbard : November 3, 2012 11:57 pm

To Paul, re the recent version of WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU with John Hurt – sit back and relax, you haven’t missed a thing, sad to say…

Posted By swac44 : November 5, 2012 10:54 am

Funny that I should be posting after TIMEWARP, but we had a pre-Halloween Rocky Horror Picture Show party on Oct. 27, complete with props and a bit of dress-up (no one went all-out, but there was some ornamentation like dollar store feather boas and a few wigs), with the next day spent watching the original Halloween and its immediate sequel on blu-ray. Unfortunately, my ordered copy of the new BD of Halloween III never arrived in time, but on Halloween proper we finally got around to watching the new BD of Horror Express with Lee, Cushing and Savalas. Dream cast!

This weekend we kept the feeling going by watching Scott Spiegel’s Intruder, Joe Dante’s Piranha, and the icky French shocker Martyrs. Now I think I need some comedy to chill out with.

Posted By swac44 : November 5, 2012 10:54 am

Funny that I should be posting after TIMEWARP, but we had a pre-Halloween Rocky Horror Picture Show party on Oct. 27, complete with props and a bit of dress-up (no one went all-out, but there was some ornamentation like dollar store feather boas and a few wigs), with the next day spent watching the original Halloween and its immediate sequel on blu-ray. Unfortunately, my ordered copy of the new BD of Halloween III never arrived in time, but on Halloween proper we finally got around to watching the new BD of Horror Express with Lee, Cushing and Savalas. Dream cast!

This weekend we kept the feeling going by watching Scott Spiegel’s Intruder, Joe Dante’s Piranha, and the icky French shocker Martyrs. Now I think I need some comedy to chill out with.

Posted By Richard : November 6, 2012 10:42 am

I revisited some old favorites (Curse of the Demon, 1932 Mummy, 1951 The Thing), found one old film that I had somehow missed, Haxan – Witchcraft Through the Ages which was stunning visually and a narrative hot mess. My regret is that I did not find a “modern” (meaning less than ten years old)movie to view. I think I am going to give The Pact a try next weekend. I saw the review in Morlocks a while back and it sounds promising.

Because of your posting I can add Tombs of the Blind Dead and Zombies of Mora-Tau to my list of never before seen older films. Thanks to you guys I can already start looking forward to next Halloween.

Posted By Richard : November 6, 2012 10:42 am

I revisited some old favorites (Curse of the Demon, 1932 Mummy, 1951 The Thing), found one old film that I had somehow missed, Haxan – Witchcraft Through the Ages which was stunning visually and a narrative hot mess. My regret is that I did not find a “modern” (meaning less than ten years old)movie to view. I think I am going to give The Pact a try next weekend. I saw the review in Morlocks a while back and it sounds promising.

Because of your posting I can add Tombs of the Blind Dead and Zombies of Mora-Tau to my list of never before seen older films. Thanks to you guys I can already start looking forward to next Halloween.

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