Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Favorite Halloween-themed VHS Tapes!

It’s been many years since I have done anything Dumpster Diving for Gold related, but that doesn’t mean I’m not always out looking for a good deal. Be it on the internet or in the dreaded real world, I am still hunting hard for deals on VHS tapes, Blu-rays and the occasional DVD. Seeing as it is indeed the season of scary, on top of the fact that I have a sizable VHS collection of Halloween-set films and television specials, I thought it would be fun to share with all two, maybe three of you some of my very favorite Halloween-themed VHS tapes!   

The Midnight Hour (1985)

VHS The Midnight Hour VHS releases

Originally airing on ABC in 1985, The Midnight Hour is one of the very best Halloween movies and certainly a favorite of mine. I’m lucky enough to own three VHS copies of The Midnight Hour: the Anchor Bay clam, a German release and a sealed Vidmark screener. If you haven’t seen this one, and are even remotely into Halloween, then you need to get on that joint ASAP!


 Hack-O-Lantern AKA Halloween Night (1988)

VHS Hack o Lantern Halloween Night VHS releases

Two names, two releases, one film, Hack-O-Lantern was released by Legacy Entertainment under the Hack-O-Lantern title in 1988. In 1990, the film was released by Atlas Entertainment Corps under the title Halloween Night. Both releases are quite hard to come by, especially Halloween Night, so owning these two tapes makes me want to throw up a set of awkward grandpa devil horns.


HauntedWeen (1991)

VHS Hauntedweek VHS release

While I adore all of the tapes featured in this post, I would have to say my favorites have to be these two copies of HauntedWeen. Self-distributed under the one-and-done label Consumer Video Distributors, HauntedWeen was a long-time holy grail tape for me, so to own not only one copy, but TWO copies is pretty rad. Furthermore, as you can see from the image, one of my copies was signed by director Doug Robertson, while the other copy is factory sealed, making things all the more rad.



 Hollow Gate (1988)

VHS Hollow Gate VHS release

Both of these copies of the supremely silly and equally entertaining Halloween-set Slasher flick, Hollow Gate, were released by City Lights Home Video in 1988. As expressed in my review from a few Chucktobers ago (link below!), I have a HUGE soft spot for this movie, and owning both of these VHS releases makes me so happy that I would almost consider not drinking alone in the kitchen while my pussy son embarrasses me with his lack of apple bobbing skills.



Halloween (1978)

VHS Halloween Original Media Meda VHS release rare

Seeing as Halloween is my all time favorite horror film, this final Halloween-related VHS tape holds a very special place in my heart. It’s also a bit of a conflicting one, as the slipcover of my copy is the 1979 MEDIA release – which is the second ever official VHS release of John Carpenter’s masterpiece – whereas the actual tape itself is the original (also 1979) MEDA VHS release.

Both releases are hard to come by, but the MEDA VHS is definitely the rarer of the two. Both the MEDIA and MEDA releases are longtime holy grail tapes for me, so sort of having both is pretty cool, but it’ll be a lot cooler when I actually own the MEDIA tape and MEDA slip to complete the Halloween package. Who knows when that’ll ever happen, but the hunt for such things is always a huge part of the fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

SlashDance: Nightmare City (1980)

Banner SlashDance final

There was a time in the ‘80s where aerobics was so popular that the fashion and rhythmic aerobic moves integrated itself into anything and everything one could imagine. Naturally, this would eventually lead to aerobics making its way to film, specifically the horror genre. While there are plenty of examples of aerobics in horror (Death Spa, Aerobicide, Murder Rock, Slash Dance, etc), one of the most memorable comes from a small but incredible dance scene in Umberto Lenzi’s pseudo-zombie opus Nightmare City.

Nightmare-City-1980 city of the walking deadThis scene in question takes place in a television studio, where a number of beautiful women adorned in powder blue leotards erotically erratically dance in a fashion that, despite their best efforts, lacks any sort of synchronization. I would assume the standards would be higher for TV, but then again, the fact that people actually watch a show where women wearing blue spandex perform aerobic inspired dance moves on a set designed by Milton Bradley only proves that people will watch anything. Considering that shows like MTV’s The Grind actually existed, I probably should have never even questioned it.

In any event, the song used for this moment is titled Sustain, and is provided by legendary Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani. The tune is gleefully upbeat in a fashion that makes one want to put on a pair of roller skates and glide through the streets of 1980’s New York while eating an ice cream cone. Of course, a bunch of nice looking ladies in blue onesies is innocent enough, therefore the song is quite fitting; however, things take a frightening turn when the dead body of one of the aerobiciders (that’s a fake word… feel free to use it) is discovered. At this point all hell breaks loose, as a gang of radioactively infected zombies come bursting into the studio, violently attacking everyone in sight and in a variety of grisly ways.

This scene works for a number of reasons, the main one being the fact that it’s so completely ridiculous. Regardless, it has a way of tapping into a fear; a fear of being overwhelmed by madness without any warning; a fear of being suddenly vulnerable in a place that should be safe, which in this case is at work. Sure, the “infected” are wearing bad suits and their makeup looks like puked up breakfast cereal smeared on their faces, but the dance sequence and subsequent attack scene are a highlight of a film that, despite my enjoyment, is a little uneventful.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bad Trick or Treat Ideas: Leaving Your Lights on and Not Answering the Door

bad trick or treat candy ideas
Of all the many egregiously awful things one can do to a child on Halloween night, none is worse than leaving your front porch light on and not actually answering the door. Like, at what point in your day did you think to yourself, “hey, fuck Halloween and making kids happy with delicious treats, let’s skip it this year. In fact, let’s not only skip it, we’ll go ahead and leave the lights on so those little bastards think we are actually passing out candy!”

Listen, every single second of Halloween night is precious, and the fact that you are wasting a solid 3 minutes of a child’s time by tricking them into coming to your house, for no reason at all, when they could be at the “cool” house, makes you a turd of the worst kind. For your sins, I hope you suffer the worst that Halloween has to offer, including but not limited to: your house being toilet papered, egged, peed on, and burned down to the ground. With you in it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Salute Your Shorts: The Closet (2014)

the closet halloween short film

After spending yet another Halloween night all alone, a young girl (Marlena-Marie Grubl) begins having vivid nightmares. When she awakens and hears noises coming from her closet, she fears that something may be out to get her.

Written and directed by Michael Winiecki, The Closet is quite short – coming in at about 4 minutes minus credits – and simple, focused on little more than a girl hanging out in her bedroom on Halloween night. While being simplistic in terms of narrative, the film succeeds through solid execution, conveying a level of professionalism that is always welcome with these types of short movies.

A notable element of The Closet comes from the ‘80s gothic punk tone it gives off. This comes through most obviously with the music choices and both the costume and set design. With her slightly pale makeup and penchant for striped clothing, the lead character, who is credited as “Goth Girl,” has a look that would indicate she's into Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and other bands of that nature. Plus the fact that her bedroom is adorned with punk band posters certainly cements the style of character the filmmakers were going for.

The gothic overtones – which vibe in a fashion similar to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – adds a lot to the success of the short on a personal level. It makes the short feel as if it defies a specific time period. And that, mixed with strong camerawork, editing and sound design, make The Closet an enjoyable, albeit brief, Halloween treat that is more than worthy of your evening.

Salute Your Shorts 4


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 2016 Halloween Party Music UBER MEGA-MIX!

halloween party music playlist

The darkest clouds are up ahead, as the season of sorrow hangs overhead.

The spookiest sounds pulsate oh so light, but grow they will throughout the night.

The skeletons dance with little care, as witches cackle and let loose their hair.

Listen closely my little dear, as the sounds of THE 2016 HALLOWEEN PARTY MUSIC UBER MEGA-MIX IS HERE!!!

It simply wouldn't be Halloween without my yearly hand-curated Halloween party music playlist. Well, I guess it would be Halloween, but it would be a whole lot less uber, and that's really just not, uh, uber.

Anyway, as I do every Halloween season, I've made some minor tweaks to the playlist, adding a few new tunes, changed the order, etc. Basically doing whatever it takes to make this the only Halloween party playlist you, your friends and your family will ever need. You're welcome.

Jump on in, kiddies, because the water is warm! With pee.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Scary Movie (1991): House of Bore-ors

scary movie 1991 halloween horror 2

When a paranoid young man attempts to enjoy an evening of fun and frights at a local haunted attraction, he soon comes to believe that an escaped lunatic has found his way into the house of horrors and is now killing off the patrons.  

Written and directed by Daniel Erickson, 1991’s Scary Movie is a lesser-known Halloween set horror film that has an interesting concept but struggles to execute it in a satisfying fashion. Much of the film takes place outside of the haunted house, where seemingly every single person living in the small town is in attendance, patiently waiting for the attraction to open. This includes Warren (John Hawkes, in his very first role), a skittish and socially awkward young man trying his best to keep up with the cool kids and, more so, the girls. Specifically one girl who carries a salt shaker, a cucumber and toilet paper in her purse (don't ask).

scary movie 1991 halloween horror 1

Meanwhile, a mental patient escapes while being transported from one hospital to another. The local police begin their search and become quite concerned that the escaped lunatic might be making his way to the haunted house to wreck havoc on unsuspecting patrons. Simultaneously, Warren catches wind that mental patient has escaped and, much like the police, comes to believe he has actually made his way into the haunted house. This causes Warren’s level of paranoia to skyrocket, and when he finally finds himself inside the haunted house, he has to do whatever it takes to try to make it through with his life and, more importantly, his sanity.

What is most notable about Scary Movie is in fact the character of Warren, as he is the major focus of the film. However, despite a solid performance by Hawkes, Warren is, to say the least, an extremely tedious character, and this is just simply due to how annoyingly skittish he is. This is compounded by the fact that much of the first act focuses almost solely on him being both awkward and paranoid in his social surroundings. As a result, throughout the course of Scary Movie, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel any sort of sympathy for Warren. Worse yet, it’s hard to not outright hate him.

scary movie 1991 halloween horror

One undeniably successful element of Scary Movie, however, is the atmosphere, specially all the scenes outside of the haunted house. With the party like ambience, the fog, the chilly fall night, and the haunted house as the backdrop, it brings about memories of going to haunted hayrides and other such Halloween attractions growing up. Sometimes the wait and build up to an attraction is just as enjoyable as the actual attraction itself, and that is fairly well represented in this film.

With Warren being the one weak spot in the film, albeit a major one, I can't help but think Scary Movie may have worked better if it were simply focused on the usual group of stupid teens getting hacked and slashed, as opposed to resting on the shoulders of such a repulsively obnoxious character. I appreciate the attempt at doing something a little different character wise, but in this case, it ends up hurting the film more than it helps, regardless of its atmospheric Halloween setting and clever ending.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Salute Your Shorts: Trick and Treat (2013)

trick and treat halloween horror short film

A man spends Halloween evening waiting for trick or treaters to show up to his secluded farmhouse. Things take a strange turn, however, when all the Halloween candy begins to mysteriously disappear.

Written, directed and starring Cameron Chaney, Trick and Treat is a no-budget, Halloween-set short film that, as most shorts of its ilk, features a simple but fun premise. The short is primarily set on the front porch of the man’s home, which is clearly far from any sort of neighborhood where kids would normally be trick or treating. As the day grows into night, and with still no trick or treaters in sight, the man begins eating the candy out of boredom.

Shortly thereafter, and with a belly-full of sweets, the man runs into the house to “relieve” himself. When he returns, however, he discovers that the candy bowl is completely empty. As he begins looking around to see who may have taken the candy, he notices that there are a handful of empty candy wrappers right near the mouth of a jack-o-lantern. Is the jack-o-lantern somehow actually eating all the candy, or is the man’s mind playing tricks on him?

Trick and Treat succeeds because Chaney delivers on the basic story in a way that is, quite simply, fun. The short is genuinely earnest, and that comes with being made by a young filmmaker who clearly enjoys making movies. Granted, there's certainly nothing about Trick and Treat that stands out beyond your typical 5-10 minute Halloween-set short, but the fact that it is so earnest and, more so, fairly entertaining makes it worth 7 minutes of your time.

Salute Your Shorts 3.5


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