Happy Friday the 13th!

It’s a big day, everyone.  We have a Friday the 13th in October, and I’d hate for anyone to waste it.  It’s been 11 years since we’ve been able to celebrate one of these bad boys in the month of Halloween, and we won’t have another one until 2023.  Let’s make the most of it.

So what should you do?  Let me give you some options:

1. Carve a jack o’ lantern (or at least buy your pumpkin if you haven’t already).

2. Go to a haunted house.  Yes, the lines might be long tonight, but they’re only going to get longer the closer you get to THE BIG DAY, so why not go on Friday the 13th.

3. Watch a scary movie.  Happy Death Day is in theaters today, and it’s getting pretty good reviews,  I might go tonight to see this one myself.  Or if you don’t want to go out to watch a movie, just watch the original Friday the 13th in the comfort of your own home. You own it, right?  Of course, you do.

4. Have fun with some Halloween crafts.  Check out some tutorials on YouTube, or check out some of my past posts about corpsing a skeleton, making your own hanging reaper, making a giant spiderweb for your front yard, or playing around with some cheap Dollar Tree skulls.

5.  Take a walk around a dark cemetery.  Or a forest.  Or a dark road.  Just do something creepy.

There you have it.  No matter what you do, just make sure it’s fun.  Have a Happy Friday the 13th!!!

2017 Halloween Merchandise Review: Walmart

I’ve gone over the fun Halloween merchandise to be found at Home Depot and Lowe’s this year, so let’s move on to the next store on my list: Walmart.

Love it or hate it, I’m sure you have a Walmart near you, and I’m pretty sure you spend a buck or two here each week.  I, myself, spend many bucks, but that’s beside the point.

I might not love the place, but it still makes me happy to walk in and see their display.

No. It’s not spectacular or anything, but just look!  There are costumes, big bags of candy, decorations, orange, and black everywhere!  Really, anything Halloween gives me the warm fuzzies.

Walmart’s decorations are pretty run-of-the-mill, but they’d still be enough to really spookify your house inside and out.  Hanging ghosts, skeletons, tombstones, lighting, cobwebs – you’ve got all you need right here.

And they did have these two little skeletal garden gnomes that I was quite taken with.  I haven’t seen these anywhere else, so Walmart definitely wins the Halloween garden gnome race.  That should be a thing if it isn’t already.  Just look at these cool, little things.

They have a small selection of skeletons and skeleton animals.  Because who doesn’t these days?

Walmart also has a great selection of Halloween-themed hats to keep your ears warm when you’re trick-or-treating.  You know.  If you’re lucky, and it’s not still 80 degrees by the end of the month.  Cross your fingers, folks.

And Walmart also has a nice selection of non-costume Halloween makeup and nail art.  Here’s some of my favorites.

So, no, Walmart might not be crazy innovative in the Halloween department, but if you’re looking for crazy animatronics, go to Spirit Halloween or Halloween Express.

Next up on my review is Target, so check back soon.

2017 Halloween Merchandise Review: Lowe’s

Home improvement stores have really stepped up their game in the Halloween area these past few years.  I’ve been pretty impressed, and Lowe’s has a really nice assortment of yard decorations and lighting to choose from.  Let’s check out their offerings.

Just check out all the pretty things.

They’ve changed this display since they first started putting out Halloween items, but I really enjoyed the skeleton’s setup.  It’s like he’s saying, “Finally, it’s my time of year.”  Love it.

They have a few animatronics to choose from.  I especially like the American Gothic skeleton couple.

I actually got a video of the vamp lady doing her thang:

They also have some pretty awesome inflatables:

 

2017 Halloween Merchandise Review: Home Depot

I had the pleasure today to go to the clear front-runner in this year’s Halloween merchandise race.

Home Depot is just killing it again this year with their stuff.  Just look at this spread:

See that?  I couldn’t even get it all in one pic.

Of course they had your normal stuff: pumpkins, silly dancing toys, skeleton dogs, cats, and dinosaurs.

*Record Scratch*  Dinosaurs, you say?

How cool is that?  You can also see from the pic that they have a skeletal pony.  What you can’t see (because they didn’t have it in the store) is that they are also selling an 8-foot-tall T-Rex to go with the babies.  Yes, you can see them in museums, but now you can have one in your home.  That’s pretty sweet.

They also had this cool gargoyle:

These hanging ghouls:

And this creepy, thin, animatronic werewolf:

For value, I think this 3-pack of skulls for $9.98 is a steal.  Less than 4 dollars for a realistic-looking, good-sized skull is too good to pass up.

And this full-sized poseable skeleton for $29.98 is an excellent deal, too.

 

I also have to give Home Depot props (no pun intended) for bringing back the peeper decorations.  There were a few angry, easily-offended people that called from these to be removed from the shelf this year, and Home Depot decided to bring back – not only the original – but a few different versions.

They also had quite a few great animatronics.  Just check out the videos below:

Pretty cool, huh?

So there’s my rundown of what Home Depot has to offer this year.  I feel like it’s got a definite lead over the other home improvement store this year, which I’ll go over tomorrow.  Be sure to check back then!

October Is Here!

It’s here, guys!  My favorite month and yours: OCTOBER!!!

My celebratory breakfast this morning consisted of a pumpkin walnut crunch bagel from Einstein Brothers’ Bagels and an iced pumpkin spice coffee, leftovers from Dunkin‘ Donuts.

Delicious.

Then, I followed that up with my yearly tradition of creating my haunted cemetery.  It was a little tougher this year because I’m currently about 7 months into growing a little monster of my own.  Needless to say, my growing belly didn’t help with all the bending and lifting I needed to do, so I got a little creative with my decor.  Some old monsters didn’t make the cut, and some new ones were created with what I could find in my most easily accessible tubs.  It might not be as much as I usually do, but I’m pretty happy with the results.

The rest of the day was spent watching some horror movies.  All in all it was a pretty excellent day.

Since we’re getting close to the big day (that’s Halloween if you weren’t sure), I’ll be posting my reviews of the Halloween merchandise I’ve played with this year so far, and I also hope to post some new project updates.  Check back soon!

And Happy October, everyone!!!

 

It: Movie Review from a Lifelong Fan

I just came from the 7 o’clock showing of IT, and I almost don’t know where to start.  I’ve been waiting for this movie since they announced it way back before even Cary Fukunaga was attached to direct.  If you’ve read any of my blog, you might already know I’ve been a fan of Stephen King’s It (1990) since it came out when I was 5.  Tim Curry’s Pennywise has forever earned a place in my heart.

So what did I think about the reboot?

I.

Freaking.

Loved it.

This. This is my face right now.

There were so many ways to go about this movie that, while I was excited, I was also worried that someone would butcher it.  Yes, the 1990 TV miniseries was a little cheesy with it’s extremely era-specific thumping horror beat and somewhat off-putting acting (IMHO) from the adult “Losers,” but I still loved it for what it was and for bringing so many of the scenes from the book straight to the screen.

This movie took a different path, keeping the spirit of the book while updating it for a new audience.  It might not have been scene-for-scene from the book or even close to that, but the changes they made were actually things that made since.

WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS

  1.  The Setting:  This adaptation set the young losers in 1989 instead of 1958.  I really enjoyed this aspect of it because as someone born in the 80s, this helped me relate more to the characters and time.  It also kept it interesting for the original TV miniseries audience because it gave us a different spin.  The book itself came out in 1986, so the 50s to 80s settings made perfect sense when the TV movie was first made.  If they did that here, it would have felt stale.
  2. The Monsters:  Everyone who knows It, whether from reading the book or just seeing the 1990 movie, knows the titular character turns into whatever scares you to get the most fear for its feast.  That being said, the monsters used to scare the kids were much different from the source material to capture the tone of the time.  After all, how many kids are just straight-up scared of teen werewolves and mummies in this day and age?  Instead, we were given zombies, headless ghosts, and a sorta cameo from another Andres Muschietti movie (cough*spoiler*cough*Mama*).   I thought this was a smart choice because they were definitely scarier than any werewolf in a letterman jacket could ever be.
  3. The Characters: Although essentially the same, some of the characters themselves got a bit of an update in terms of their origins, which were a little different but for good reasons that made sense within the scope of the movie.  I didn’t care that Mike was being raised by his grandfather instead of his parents on a vegetable farm or that Bev’s mom was missing from the picture.  It worked in the story and gave us a little fodder for some of the creepier/unsettling moments.
  4. The Interactions:  Since the time period was updated, the interactions between the characters were updated to match.  I really enjoyed all the snarky jokes between friends and less wholesome overtones than that of the original.  I did not expect to laugh as much as I did, but all the mom jokes and name-calling really cracked me up.
  5. The Rating: Being a made-for-tv movie in 1990, there wasn’t a lot of gore and swearing they could get away with back then.  Well, with it’s R rating, we’re treated to a whole different ball game with this movie.  The kids cussed like sailors through the whole thing (which I very much enjoyed), and they were actually able to bring some of Pennywise’s nastier kills to the big screen.  My favorite addition because of this: THEY SHOWED GEORGIE’S ARM GETTING RIPPED OFF.  That made my day, not because I enjoy seeing children getting eaten (for the record, I totes don’t), but because it was just how I imagined it should be and made me realize the direction the rest of the movie would take in terms of gore.  Talk about a good set-up.

Those are the major differences between the book/1990 movie and this new adaptation, and I think they really were thoughtfully done and made so much sense with what they did with the movie.  In addition to these differences, another way this movie separates itself from the 1990 version was by actually bringing things in from the book that were skipped over in the tv movie: the house on Neibolt Street, the leper, and the Paul Bunyan statue to name a few.

And, speaking of that last thing, I’m really interested to see if they tackle adult Richie’s Paul Bunyan scene in Part 2.

Now, let’s talk acting.  I’d heard than Finn Wolfhard stole the show, and let me tell you: he got skills, son.  His delivery of Richie Tozier’s motor mouth was fantastic and hilarious.  Jaeden Lieberher as young Bill Denbrough was so engaging in dealing with the loss of his brother and his desire to bring down It, and Jack Dylan Grazer’s portrayal as hypochondriac and chronic worrier Eddie Kaspbrak was both funny and realistic.  Really, everyone in the ‘Loser’s Club’ did a great job in this movie.

As for Pennywise…?

Bill Skarsgard killed it. No pun intended.

It’s hard for me to say he even got close to being as good as Tim Curry, but *ahem* he got pretty close.  His goofy voice, creepy laugh, and dead eyes just brought the character to life in a very different way.  I was really happy he made Pennywise his own instead of trying to copy Curry’s performance because I think that would have fallen a little flat.  And I’ve got to give some credit to Muschietti for this, too, because he really made Pennywise a more dynamic character on screen.  He definitely drove the more terror-filled moments on screen.

I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop here.  If you couldn’t tell, I totally recommend this movie.   Go see it tomorrow night or this weekend. Or both.  I might.

 

60 Days Until Halloween!

We’re finally in the -ber months, and that means it’s my favorite time of year.  September 1 marks 60 days until Halloween, so if you haven’t started planning, you better get at it.

Since this month ushers in the return of fall, and the whole month of September is basically Halloween Eve (for those of us that celebrate Halloween all October long), it’s a great time to start talking almost exclusively about the big day.  I’ll be posting my reviews of Halloween merchandise, creepy project tutorials, and other Halloween-related fun.

But don’t be surprised if I throw a movie review or two in.  There are a lot of great horror movies on the way (can you say IT?!?!?!?!?), so I know someone who will be busy at the theater.

Me. That’s who.

So check back soon for some new posts! I’m ready to start talking my favorite holiday of all time, so I hope you’re ready to read.

Annabelle: Creation – Movie Review

You are my sunshine, 

My only sunshine.

You make me happy,

When skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear,

How much I love you.

I’m going to take your soul away.

That’s how it goes, right?

I guess.

So the universe created in The Conjuring continues to expand, this time with a spine-tingling origin story of the wonderfully creepy porcelain doll, Annabelle.  If you’ve seen every installment in The Conjuring “series,” you should already be well-prepared for this movie.

The Annabelle doll, first introduced in The Conjuring and further expanded on in 2014’s Annabelle, finally gets her own horror movie worth a few screams.   I wasn’t too impressed with the first movie.  It just was a little too predictable and boring, but this one – oh man, this one.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers

We start with the actual making of the doll by Mr. Mullins, played by Anthony LaPaglia, and a too-cute version of hide and seek with his daughter, affectionately called Bee and played by up-and-coming child actress, Samara Lee.

Side note: If her parents aren’t fans of The Ring, I’ll eat my keyboard.

Ms. Mullins, played by Miranda Otto, joins in on the fun, and we’re shown how happy life is in the Mullins household.  This being a horror movie, we know this little love fest won’t last long.  Sorry to break it to you, but Bee (whose full name we later learn is – you guessed it – Annabelle) ends up getting killed.

Flash forward 12 years later, and 6 orphaned girls are on their way to stay at the Mullins’s home until they’re able to be adopted.  They’re given almost full run of the house except for the Mullins’s bedroom and the locked bedroom of little Bee.

One of the girls is enticed to come inside Bee’s room by an unseen entity.  Of course, this is where the doll lurks, locked in a secret room lined with pages from the Holy Bible.  The girl opens Annabelle’s chamber, and that’s all she wrote.  The evil is released, and terror befalls the house.

We learn from Ms. Mullins that she and her husband had bargained with whatever force would allow them to have their daughter back in any way.  They invited what they thought was their daughter’s spirit into the doll, but what entered was actually a demonic presence.  Ms. Mullins ended up getting half her face along with one eye carved up and charred.

Don’t mess with a demon, people.

Who? Me?

We’re treated to several jump scares, some gruesome injuries/deaths, multiple appearances by THE demonic presence, and the lurking shadow of Annabelle throughout the movie. And yes, I said treated to jump scares.  I know a lot of horror fans hate when movies rely on these, but I have to say they’re very well-balanced with actual horror in Annabelle: Creation.  It’s just enough to keep us jumpy and invested in what’s going on.

I was very impressed with the effects and very happy with how they tied the movie to the 2014 version.  I don’t even want to go into details on it.  You should just see for yourself.  I love a good tie-in/movie connection.  It’s probably why I love the Saw franchise so much with all its interconnected craziness, and I love that this movie ties into not only 2014’s Annabelle, but The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

Oh?  How does it tie into The Conjuring 2, you ask?  Well, the demon nun makes not one, but two appearances.  Two!  One in passing in a photograph and then with an after credits scene.  I was wriggling in my seat, I was so happy.  If you’re not already aware, the demon nun is another expansion of this universe with the release of her own movie, The Nun, coming in 2018.  I know. Exciting stuff.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the acting in this film.  Everyone does a great job. Talitha Bateman plays Janice, and she’s the lucky girl that both releases Annabelle and gets possessed by the demonic presence later in the movie.  Bateman gets a huge point for the sinister portrayal of her character’s possessed self.  She’s supposed to be creepy, and is she ever.

Lulu Wilson, playing Linda, Janice’s best friend, also does a wonderful job, and I wasn’t surprised.  She was great in Ouija: Origin of Evil, so I knew I’d like her in this.  And this time, she got to be the one on the other side of the possession, so that’s nice.  I say she’s 2 for 2 in her horror movie origin story run.  I thought it was pretty funny that she was in both this prequel and the prequel to Ouija, which both far surpass their originals.  Keep ’em coming, Lulu.

So should you go see this one?  If you enjoyed The Conjuring 1 and 2, I say go for it.  Hell, if you enjoyed the 2014 Annabelle, I say definitely go for it because you won’t be disappointed after that train wreck.

Oh!  And bonus, they put in a little Easter egg concerning the REAL Annabelle doll.  You’ll like it.  Trust me.

Summer Chillout: The Shining

It’s still damn hot outside, and I don’t know about you, but unless I’m in a pool, the outdoors are a no-go for me right now.  I hope everyone took my advice and watched The Thing last week to cool down.  Ice and snow are just very appealing to me right now.

So this week’s Summer Chillout is kind of a no-brainer: The Shining.  

And I’m talking about the 1980 classic, not the poorly-received 1997 miniseries.  It might have been more true to the book, but it just didn’t translate as well as the Kubrick version on screen.

Kubrick’s version is dark and depressing.  The snowy setting is beautiful but bleak, and it’s such a great movie that even Toy Story paid homage to it.  Check out these huge pros for watching this one again.

The Direction:  I mean, how many great scenes come to mind when you see this movie?  Danny’s run-ins with the hallway twins and Room 237.  Jack’s makeout session with a ghost.  His conversations with good ole’ Lloyd and Grady.  Red rum. Wendy finding Jack’s repetitive manuscript.  Jack walking menacingly up the stairs toward a baseball bat-armed Wendy.  An axe-wielding Jack tearing into the bathroom.  The death of poor Hallorann.  The maze chase.  I can’t even right now.

The Performances:  Shelley Duvall’s performance gets me every time.  She was basically tortured by Kubrick to get the right shot, but you can definitely feel her frantic panicky terror while her husband follows her up the stairs threatening to bash her brains in.  Jack Nicholson is always awesome, and his iconic performance as Jack Torrance is so hard to top.  His descent into madness was conveyed perfectly by Nicholson.

Three words: Elevator. Blood. Waterfall.  Just classic.

And the cons are…nothing.  I can’t think of any.

I really hope you’ve seen this one already because if you haven’t, I don’t know what to do with you.  Just get it, watch it, and cool off. Simple as that.  Fin.

Summer Chillout: The Thing

Well, summer is officially here, and I couldn’t be sweatier.

Seriously.  It’s frickin hot around here.

There are many ways to cool down in the summer time – crank up the AC crazy high, swim, cover yourself in ice – but each of these is either expensive, requires you to be in the sun and/or around sharks, or might result in some light hypothermia.  So my favorite way to cool down is with a horror movie that reminds me of nicer (i.e., colder) times.

And my favorite movie to do this?  John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The Thing (1982) is not only my favorite movie for a summer chill session; it’s also one of my favorite horror movies period.  It’s even on my Top 20 list.

Although the movie was initially met with criticism, both it and its score are now considered classics in the movie world.  It’s even watched at British Research stations in Antarctica as part of their Midwinter celebration held on June 21.  There are so many great things going for it.

The cast is awesome.  Ultra-80’s coiffed Kurt Russell, always cool Keith David, Wilford “I have diabeetus” Brimley, and the rest of the ill-fated group of research scientists struggle to survive an attack from an other worldly being and their own paranoia, and they just make it all so believable.

The score is haunting and identifiable.  Although movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th have very recognizable themes (and good ones, too), the theme and score for this movie is probably one of my favorites.  It just sets the bleak and hopeless tone of the movie perfectly.

THE EFFECTS!  Sorry for screaming, but I freakin love the effects in this film.  I’m not totally against CGI, but practical effects are my jam.  They just look so much cooler, and the monsters in this movie, crafted by the so-talented Rob Bottin and crew, are so creepy and unique that I just can’t get over it.

I just don’t have any bad things to say about this movie.  And for a bonus, try watching the prequel released in 2011, which is definitely not a perfect movie,  but has its moments.  CGI is used pretty heavily, but I really appreciated how they tied everything together.  Watch it immediately after the 1982 movie, and you’ll see what I mean.

If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor and introduce yourself to it today.  Turn down the lights, set the AC to an acceptable temp, and just imagine yourself in the snow and ice.

It’s only a few short months away from fall and cooler temps, so keep checking back with me each week for another chillout session.