Archive for the Halloween Category

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Herbert West – Reanimator by HP Lovecraft (1922)

Posted in books, Halloween, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to look at a short story by one of horror’s most celebrated writers, HP Lovecraft. I’ve not really read any of his stuff before, so I thought this would be as good a chance as any to rectify the situation. I found a collection of his stories on Paperbackswap.com last year. That collection is called The Road to Madness: The Transition of HP Lovecraft.

The collection includes Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness which Guillermo Del Toro has been trying to set up as a film adaptation for many years.  But the story I was actually looking for was Herbert West – Reanimator.  It was this short story on which the classic 1985 horror film The Re-animator starring Jeffrey Combs is based.

I, for one, love that cheesy horror film from 1985.  So, I thought that since I was doing zombies for my Halloween theme, I’d not only revisit the awesome Re-animator movie but I’d also read and review the original Lovecraft short story.

And now I’ve read it.  To be honest, the story isn’t the best.  It’s not terrible, it’s just sort of fast paced and feels more like an outline of a larger story.  The short story is broken up into 4 parts.  While reading, it really felt like Lovecraft was repeating himself across the four parts as he continually describes Herbert West’s looks (slight in build, glasses, blond hair) and the events of the previous part of the story.  In action that only takes place in about 50 pages, it gets a little annoying.  I assumed while reading that this must have been originally serialized in a magazine and Lovecraft was just “refreshing” the reader’s memory from last time.  And after some research I see that I’m right.  The story was originally published in four parts in the amateur magazine Home Brew in 1922.

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The story is very clearly based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A brilliant but single-minded and unorthodox scientist, Herbert West, conducts arcane and taboo experiments on human bodies trying to reanimate dead tissue.  The story is told by a narrator who has been Herbert West’s assistant/apprentice for many years.  It starts off with experiments while the youths are in medical school and each part tells a different time in their lives when they begin their experiments anew.  The story is told by the assistant from some unknown time in the future as he’s looking back on the events which led to Dr Herbert West’s disappearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story, I guess.  There is potential there and this story is much more serious in tone and dark in nature than the movie which infuses lots of humor into the story.  I guess, for better or for worse, that I just know the Re-Animator movie so well that the original story just seems odd to me.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 starts tomorrow!

Posted in Halloween, holiday, Jones Soda, soda with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2013 by Paxton

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Well, AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: ZOMBIES!! officially begins tomorrow. You can expect an article every weekday throughout the month of October.  I’m excited for Halloween this year, I think I have a lot of good, fun articles for you so I hope you enjoy it.  As you can see, I’ve already decorated for the season!

Today, as sort of a pre-game show, I thought I’d look at a few of the Halloween retail items I’ve found lurking in the local store. Some interesting stuff.

Jones Halloween Soda 2013
First and foremost, Jones has returned this year after an absence with more Halloween sodas.  The flavors this year are Blood Orange, Red Licorice, Caramel Apple and Candy Corn.  Two of these flavors I’ve already had in the past.  If we look back at AWESOME-tober-fest 2008 I reviewed the Candy Corn flavor.  I don’t think I liked it.  I believe I said it tasted like “…spoiled maple syrup poured through a dirty sweat sock…”  I tasted the Caramel Apple the year before in an article about oddly flavored sodas like Dr Brown’s Cel-Ray and Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge.  I believe I said that flavor tasted like “…sun tan lotion mixed with burnt maple syrup…”  So, Jones isn’t necessarily hitting it out of the park with these so far.  Blood Orange is a tangier orange flavored soda and red licorice is way too sweet and thick to be described as anything but “sugar coma inducing”.  So while I love the effort and the packaging, Jones, I’m not loving the execution.

Halloween Big League Chew
Big League Chew is one of my childhood favorites. And I love this Halloween themed packaging.  Howlin’ Original and Gruesome Grape flavors aren’t new or formulated for the holiday, but I like the Halloweeny makeover.  I believe there’s another one with a vampire/Dracula character, but I couldn’t find it.

Kool-Aid Ghoul Aid Jammers
Ghoul-Aid has been around since the 80s. Usually only offered in certain markets and usually only around Halloween. I have some of the original mixes but it seems the flavor is making a resurgence. You can find single packets on shelves again and now Kool-Aid Jammers have their own Scary Blackberry flavor.  I was so excited to finally find this.  I’ll be sucking these things down all month.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 is coming.

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , on September 11, 2013 by Paxton

WTF, guys?! We are already almost half way through September. How did that happen? I welcomed my daughter into this world back in December and next thing I know I’m prepping for my son’s third birthday with my daughter’s FIRST birthday coming up fast. The hell?!

So, my annual Halloween celebration is creeping up on me like an undead ghoul looking to take a tasty chomp out of my backside. Behind the scenes I’m trying to get everything written. I have over half of next month’s articles written, at the very least in first draft form. I think I only need to do the last week and a half of articles. But I’ve sort of taken longer than I should have doing those.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ve announced it here, but the topic for AWESOME-toberfest 2013 is ZOMBIES. Here’s the banner.

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I’ve already done vampires, werewoves and the Frankenstein monster, so zombies seemed the next logical step.

And here’s a sneak peak at the creepy header I’ll use starting October 1st.

zombies_header

I had previously posted an image of my notes for this year which should have given you guys an idea of the types of zombie media I’ll be covering. Books, movies, TV shows and comics featuring such genre luminaries as HP Lovecraft, George Romero, John Russo, Robert Kirkman, the Smurfs…..wait, wha-?! Yep, the Smurfs. I can’t wait to show you guys that one.

So stay tuned, starting October 1st, I’ll begin daily updates for my AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 celebration.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: It’s HALLOWEEN, baby!

Posted in Halloween with tags , , , on October 31, 2012 by Paxton

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It is time. What I and everyone at Countdown to Halloween have been building up to all month.

Today is Halloween.

Happy Halloween

Hope everyone has had a fun month. I’ve enjoyed following the blogs on the countdown and reading along with everyone else. It’s been another blast this year. In fact, I’m already in the planning stages for AWESOME-tober-fest 2013.  Hope you’ve had a great holiday.  And remember to check out the Countdown to Halloween blog for the final day of Halloween!


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Finishing up The Astounding Wolf-Man

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by Paxton

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Since this final week of AWESOME-tober-fest is a short week, I’m straying from the movie maniac theme and doing updates to previous Halloween reviews. Yesterday I reviewed the final book in The Strain trilogy which I had previously reviewed the first two books last year.  Today, I’m going to talk about the comic series The Astounding Wolf-Man.

The Astounding Wolf-Man

Two years ago for AWESOME-tober-fest 2010, I reviewed the first 18 issues of the comic that were collected in Volumes 1-3 of the trade paperbacks.  The final fourth volume collecting issues 19-25 had yet to be released.  However, I acquired the final collection earlier this year and read the concluding story.

The last and concluding story arc was called Legacy.  It’s a five-parter that takes place in issues #21-25. So much happens in this concluding story.  Seriously, it’s packed with a lot of action.  We see the main character reunited with his daughter, we see the end game of the Elder Wolf’s plans and we see the final confrontation between Wolf-Man and Zachariah (which is awesome, btw).

Astounding Wolf-Man #20 Astounding Wolf-Man #22 Astounding Wolf-Man #23
(Via Newkadia)

In short, I loved this series. So many great characters written so well. Kirkman really does a great job with so many characters to juggle.  It was actually this series that led me to Kirkman and had me checking out his other work like Invincible, The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies.  But that’s only half of the whole. Jason Howard’s amazingly dynamic art really sells it. I love the dynamics of Howard’s action and how he designs the look and feel of the universe. Plus, his 2 page action spreads are breathtaking. It really adds a lot of character to the story.

Speaking of characters, several of them are standouts. Gary Hampton/Astounding Wolf-Man is great. Zecariah the vampire is also a great villain. The Elder Wolf is BAD ASS. And in this final run of issues, we really see some good character work with Mecha-Maid. I really enjoyed her character and I want to see more of her.  You can see her in the second comic cover above.  Btw, that scene on the cover never happens.  But it’s a great cover, nonetheless.

Anyway, like I said, I want to see more of these Astounding Wolf-Man characters. I think he and Mecha Maid may pop up from time to time in Kirkman’s Invincible, but I want to see more.  This series was just too much fun not to continue.  However, like I said, as of today, issue #25 was the final issue.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Review of the final book in Guillermo Del Toro’s Strain Trilogy

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2012 by Paxton

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This is the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2012. And it’s a half week, as Halloween is on Wednesday. I’m sad to see it all end. So, since we are on a short week this week, I’m going to stray from the movie maniac theme today and tomorrow and do a couple of updates to previous AWESOME-tober-fest entries.

Last year for AWESOME-tober-fest 2011, I reviewed the first two books in The Strain trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  I said they were very good vampire novels which made the concept of the vampire scary again.  As of that writing, the third book wasn’t released yet.  I was going to wait until paperback, but earlier this year I was able to find the third book in hardback at a used library sale for less than $2, so I picked it up.  And as of now, I have read the final book in the Strain trilogy, The Night Eternal.

The Night Eternal

So, the story picks up a few months after the second book. The Master has destroyed the other Ancients and the world has been overtaken by his vampire horde.  It’s pretty dark stuff.  Society is in shambles.  Abraham is dead.  The world is covered in a thick cloud cover that only allows about an hour or two of sunlight each day.  There’s constant acid rain.  Blood farms are setup to harvest blood for the ruling vampires.  As long as you are obedient, you aren’t sent to these farms.  Vampires are also breeding people on these farms in order to create more people.  It’s pretty horrific post-apocalyptic stuff.

So our group of heroes must regroup after The Master’s destruction of the Ancients and the vampire usurping of society, with the help of a vampire that was created by the Master many centuries ago, and take down the ruling vampires and restore humans as the dominant life form.

I thought the second book was dark, but this book is darker.  We learn more of the Master’s plans, and it’s very interesting to see how society has adapted to the new vampire rule.  It’s also interesting to see our heroes coming back together after a few dismal months of vampire rule and, essentially, a losing battle.  The action is good and Chuck Hogan’s writing style is dark and brutal.  The finishing arc for our heroes is great and really feels like they aren’t going to make it at times.  Plus, we learn some very interesting information about the formation of the Ancients as well as The Master himself.  Honestly, I didn’t see it coming, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy.  It’s was dark and hard to read in spots mainly due to the situations presented.  But the journey was worth it and I really felt like the authors earned their ending.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: A review of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot

Posted in Halloween, holiday, Leatherface, movies, pop culture, Texas Chainsaw Massacre with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by Paxton

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In 2003, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes released a “reboot” of the 70s classic horror movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

TCM reboot

The movie was co-produced by Tobe Hooper, the director of the original movie.  It was directed by Marcus Nispel and starred Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour and Erica Leerhsen.

I’ve heard mostly good things about this reboot.  However Rotten Tomatoes gives it less than 40%.  I re-watched it recently for this review and I still say I enjoy it.  I thought the set design and the tone of the film were perfect.  Everything seemed grungy and dirty.  The Chainsaw family were fairly creepy and scary.  The house they lived in was horrifying.  I just loved the “look and feel” of this movie.

As for the cast, they were okay.  Easily the standouts were Jessica Biel as Erin and R Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt.  But Mike Vogel as Morgan was good as well.  Not only did Biel look pretty hot in her midriff showing top, but she actually believably played her character.  And Ermey was wickedly dark and funny as the sheriff.  The scene in which he wraps up a dead body’s head in cellophane in the back of the van is amazing.  As is his interrogation of the character Morgan in the van about said dead girl.  It’s intense as hell and totally envelops you in the scene.  Really well done.

Leatherface

Other things I liked about this movie, they got John Larroquette to return to do the bookend voice overs.  I thought that was a nice touch.  He delivered the prologue and epilogue very nicely.  I enjoyed Leatherface.  He was only a small part of the movie, but he was pretty good.  Not the star of the show, but he wasn’t really the star of the original either.  I like that you see some of the underbelly of the house.  You can see where they store some of the “meat” as well as you can watch Leatherface prep a victim for skinning.

One thing I didn’t like?  In one scene you get a glimpse of Harry Knowles’ head on Leatherface’s workbench.  Not a big deal if you don’t know who he is, but if you do, it sticks out like a sore thumb and completely brings you out of the movie.  Terrible choice by the filmakers.  TERRIBLE.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this remake.  I thought they modernized parts of the movie while still keeping a nice look and feel.  It’s definitely a modern version of the 70s “look and feel”, but I enjoyed it.  To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the original 70s Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, so it’s probably no surprise that I was willing to accept this movie as it is.

Give it a shot, if you are open minded about it, I think you’ll like it.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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