Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween 2015!

The big night is finally here! Happy Halloween one and all!

Boy, real life hit me much harder than I expected this month. I didn't get to post nearly as many great things as I wanted to. Oh well, no use crying over spilled pumpkin beer. It was still a great Halloween season. It always is!

Thank you for joining me throughout the Countdown to Halloween .I hope yours has been a safe and happy one. And of course, I hope we're all back together in October 2016 so we can do it all over again!

Here are a last few tidbits that I like to share every year that summarize the Halloween experience for me. Consider it a Me and You Halloween tradition. This year, I'm including one of the songs that started off this year's Countdown, "Ten Thirty One" by Billy Polard !

And that's a wrap on the Countdown to Halloween 2015. Happy Halloween!

Fear not--another great holiday is on the way!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween TV Commercials 2015 Edition Part 2

I promised at the beginning of the Countdown when I posted my first collection of commercials that I would be back with more. I just made it under the wire! Here are more fun commercials for your last minute enjoyment.

Here is a commercial from the 60s featuring the mascot for Sugar Crisp in which the Bing Crosby-sounding Sugar Bear gets trapped in a haunted house. This commercial is over a minute long, showing how much time and effort was put into commercials back then.

This is an awesome commercial from 1981 promoting the release of Halloween II in theaters. It does a great job of creating tension and curiosity for the movie with virtually no actual footage of it. Besides, I can't let a Countdown to Halloween go by without acknowledging the movie franchise at least once!

I love this next commercial. This is a DIY commercial made for a local cable TV system promoting a locally owned and operated video game store, Video Game Underground. This was created in 2006, when creative software was really becoming prevalent. The thing I love about this commercial is that it seems high tech and low tech at the same time. A lot of fun!

Speaking of local commercials, here's one for the 2012 Baton Rouge Halloween Parade. It's local, features a parade, encourages people to dress in costumes, and helps those in need--all things I love. What more can you ask for?

Here's a fast but wild promo for Spike TV's Halloween programming from 2009. Pretty gory at the end for a commercial!

Finally, a commercial from the 70s and 80s for the late and lamented Jersey Shore boardwalk attraction, Brigantine Castle. I've featured them here before, but this commercial is just as creepy. Everything about this commercial works: the castle itself, the grainy footage, and the amazing narration. Love it!

The big night is almost here! Get ready!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October's Underappreciated Music: Glass Prism, "The Raven"

As is appropriate for the "hallowed" month of October, this month's Underappreciated Music is a musical interpretation of Edgar Alan Poe's classic poem "The Raven" by the late 60s pysch band Glass Prism.

Glass Prism's first two albums were devoted to songs based on Poe's works, a perfect fit for their Procol Harem-ish brand of rock. I first heard the song just a couple of years ago and have included it in my Halloween playlists ever since.

Take a a listen for yourself and you may do the same. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: And Now The Screaming Starts

I'm afraid I didn't get to post an official installment of Tuesday's Overlooked Film last week, so I wasn't able to keep to my promise that I feature a crawling hand film every week like I wanted to. But this is a new week, so here I present to you the 1973 shocker And Now The Screaming Starts!

The story is set in England in 1795, and the main character is Catherine, an aristocratic young woman who visits the home of her fiance Charle to be married. While strolling through the premises, she takes interest in the portrait of Charle's grandfather Henry. Suddenly, a hand seemingly bursts through the portrait for Catherine. Things get far creepier and macabre from there.

Although not a Hammer Studios film, it's very much in that vein, even featuring Peter Cushing in a key role. If you like your horror British, gothic, and don't mind killer severed limbs, you may enjoy And Now The Screaming Starts.

In fact, you can enjoy the entire film right here and now! Thanks!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Attack of the Muppets!

The Muppets are in the spotlight in pop culture again due to the launch of their new primetime series (which I haven't seen yet, unfortunately). However, there are moments from their history that are appropriate for Halloween viewing. I have a few of these moments below.

First, two spooky ghosts do an interesting take on the Beatles tune "I'm Looking Through You" from the original Muppet Show.

Also from the Muppet Show, a Muppet News Flash reporting the spontaneous morphing of inanimate objects into monsters!

This next clip really proves how creepy and weird the Muppets can get when they want to!

From Sesame Street, we learn that the Count is a union buster against his bats.

Finally, while not an actual Muppets project, the Jim Henson Company produces PBS's Sid the Science Kid, featuring CGI preschoolers learning various science lessons. Here, they sing a song about the decay of various organic items, including autumn leaves and a jack o' lantern.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

"A Ghost for Halloween" Animated Short

There are only two weeks left of the Countdown to Halloween. Time to get serious and go on full alert!

Today I offer a cute animated short called "A Ghost for Halloween." A lonely ghost wishes he could join trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. When a real witch grants his wish, he dons a costume and joins in on the fun. This cartoon was created by RPR Studios, and you can learn more about them here.

This is a fun cartoon for all ages, so feel free to show the kids if you have them. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors

The late 80s and early 90s were a good time for Will Vinton's Claymation Studios. The California Raisins commercials had made the characters household names, and their popularity enabled Vinton to make several prime time TV specials to meet audience demand for his style of animation. I've discussed Vinton's Christmas special before; now I bring to you his Halloween special, Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors.

Although I knew about a couple other specials of Vinton's, I only learned about this one earlier this year. I can't believe I missed out on this when it first debuted in 1991! It has all of Vinton's trademark style and whimsy, but this time with a playfully Halloweenish twist.

Here for your enjoyment is the special in all its glory, and in a high quality format. Enjoy!

We're now slightly over the halfway mark of the Countdown, and boy has real life given my Countdown a hit! A thousand apologies. I'll be putting out posts at a steady clip to make up for lost time. Please be sure to check out as many articles as you can--I really appreciate it.

Have a great weekend! Go on a haunted hayride! Carve a jack o' lantern! Make a Halloween mixtape! Put the finishing touches on your costume! Do Halloweeny things!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Beast With Five Fingers

For this year's Tuesday's Overlooked Films during the Countdown to Halloween, I've decided to go with a theme--crawling hand movies! Last week I brought you 1963's The Crawling Hand; this week, it's the 1946 film The Beast With Five Fingers.

The Beast With Five Fingers is about a renown concert pianist living reclusively in the Italian countryside with his nurse, secretary (played by Peter Lorre at his creepy best), and the nurse's paramour (Robert Alda, father of Alan Alda). When the pianist dies and his estate is in dispute, murders begin to happen. Are they at the literal hand of the dead man's severed left hand?

The film is lush yet gothic, with fine performances by all. It has the distinction of being the only horror movie produced by Warner Brothers in the 1940s. I saw it this past weekend on TCM and recommend it should you come across it.

Below is the film's trailer. Thanks!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Walking Dead Theme Music by Player Piano

As I write this, I just finished watching the first episode of season 6 of The Walking Dead, and a great episode it was! The episode opened up as every episode of the show does--a cold open, followed by the great theme music written by Bear McCreary.

Recently I found a version of the theme performed almost solely on piano in classical style by a group named simply Player Piano. They do classical piano adaptations of many geeky theme music pieces, and they're all great. Check out the Walking Dead theme now! For more of their awesome videos, check out there YouTube channel here.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Casper Saves Halloween 1979 TV Special

My, it looks like I've fallen behind in the first week of the Countdown! Sorry about that! Fortunately, I have a great offering for the weekend--the 1979 animated TV special Casper Saves Halloween!

On Halloween night, Casper disguises himself as a trick-or-treater to blend in with the living, but it doesn't work out so well. Despite this, it's up to Casper to stop his ghostly friend Hairy Scary and his gang from scaring the costumes off of everyone. Spoiler alert--Casper stops them.

Enjoy the first weekend of October, and thanks!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Crawling Hand (1963)

Tuesdays in October are always interesting ones here at the blog because I get to be a part of not one, but two great cross-blog festivities. Not only do I participate in the Countdown to Halloween every October, but every Tuesday (well, not every Tuesday, but when I can) I participate in Tuesday's Overlooked Film/TV/Audio/Video, hosted by my friend Todd Mason and his blog Sweet Freedom

About 20 to 30 bloggers spend Tuesdays discussing a movie, TV series, or other audio/visual product that they feel deserves a closer look. On Tuesdays in October, I make it a Halloween or horror-related item. This week, it's the 1963 film The Crawling Hand.

The Crawling Hand belongs to an astronaut who falls victim to an exploding space capsule, but not without his severed arm being possessed by an alien being. The arm lands to Earth and is found by a med student, who takes the arm for himself because he's an idiot. Soon, the alien-possessed arm starts to control the med student's mind, using the young man to lure victims for the arm to strangle to death.

Oh, the town sheriff is played by Alan Hale Jr. You know, the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!

Any other time of the year, I would NOT select this film as a movie that deserves greater attention. but for Halloween, such schlock is perfect. I remember watching this movie as a kid in Philadelphia on WKBS-TV's Creature Double Feature and being amazed at how weird it was. It's still weird today.

You can find out for yourself now, as the movie is available on YouTube. Have fun! For more overlooked items, head on over to Sweet Freedom here. Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Halloween Safety Public Service Film from 1977

As fun as Halloween always is, it's necessary to take some precautions to ensure that your Halloween is a safe one. The following public safety film from 1977, titled simply "Halloween Safety," aims to help you in that endeavor. 

This film has developed a bit of fame among Halloween bloggers, and in fact even features a blogger. One of the children that appear in this film is former blogger Jason of the defunct but legendary Scar Stuff blog. Read about his involvement here.

Generation X readers should have fond memories of Halloweens such as the one depicted here. If you're a millenial, please forgive the fashion sense.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Halloween TV Commercials 2015 Edition

One of the first types of articles I like to post at the beginning of the Countdown is a collection of fun and spooky TV commercials. That's how you know a holiday season is upon us. And just when I think I've exhausted the supply of available commercials on the Web, items come along at just the right time for me to discover. Here is this year's collection!

Directly from my childhood, here is a great commercial for Hershey's chocolate from way back in 1981. Watching this clip really is like time travel for me.

Even earlier is this Hershey's commercial from 1972. The quality of the video is poor, so you can barely tell the kids are wearing Halloween costumes, but it is definitely about the holiday.

Wicked witches are bad enough to deal with, but a wicked itch? It's time to get Lanacane!

For a much more recent commercial--2014--here is one promoting the well received Cheetos Bag O' Bones. Short but sweet.

There are many stories about the loss of a loved one and attempts to reconnect with them in the afterlife. This next commercial is the first one I've seen about a beer!

The owner of this local furniture store thinks he's really funny.

Speaking of furniture, this awesome commercial for Ikea does a great job parodying The Shining!

As usual, you can always get some great Halloween finds at Goodwill!

I haven't heard of Value Village before, but I'd buy my Halloween costume from there!

Kmart has fallen on VERY hard times the last ten years or so, but they may still be an option for your Halloween needs.

Finally, this one's on the gross side, but it is entertaining. Online is always a fine option for Halloween costume shopping. It's better than the lengths the poor fellow in this commercial went to!

I have so many commercials left over, I'll post them later in the month. Until then, I hope you enjoyed these.

Have a great weekend! We have a whole month of Halloween goodness ahead of us!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Countdown to Halloween!


Welcome one and all to the Countdown to Halloween! It's my favorite time of year to blog, and I'm thrilled to take part in this fantastic event once again. This is my seventh year participating--wow!

For those of you returning to my blog this year, thank you! And if you're new to my blog, thank you too! Here's how it works:

Nearly 200 great blogs, all available at the event's host site (click here) will be counting down to Halloween starting today, October 1st and, ideally, posting one article with a Halloween/horror/spooky theme every day until October 31st. Of course, if you can't blog every day, that's cool! This is meant to be fun, not a job, so anything you can post is awesome. I usually post Monday through Friday, with a break on weekends.

Please be sure to check out as many great participating blogs as possible. And if you have a blog that you want to join in on the fun, by all means! See the Countdown to Halloween site for details.

Happy Halloween! Let's get started!

Here are a couple of music videos to get you warmed up for the season. First are clips from the awesome, funny, yet gory, movie Zombieland set to Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls," followed by the other end of the Halloween spectrum, the sweet, wistful tune "Ten Thirty One" by Billy Polard. These clips represent the alpha and omega of Halloween: the fantastical, horrific side of the holiday, along with the realistic, fun, memorable part of the day that we experienced as children. Both totally different from one another, but both very much indicative of everything we love about Halloween.

Here's to 31 great days. Thanks!