I was running out of time this Halloween season and I wanted to comment on more Halloween-y content so here’s a quick look on some random good entertainment!
Seed of Chucky (2004)
I saw this movie again (along with Bride of Chucy and Child’s Play 3) on AMC last weekend and it pretty much holds up as a Chucky movie. The great thing about all of the Chucky movies is basically Brad Dourif and later Jennifer Tilly. The murders are strangely incidental as the two dolls are somehow enough charisma to watch for hours. It’s as if they consumed the flesh and stole the charisma from Freddy Krueger and the Leprechaun. I’ve seen some chatter on the internet bemoaning how the movies started to skew more towards comedy as they continued making them. I always thought the movies were funny though from movie one. It’s about an idiot serial killer in a doll’s body so it’s bound to be funny and it is. A definite plus is that Baltimore legend (and former neighbor of mine) John Waters was in this one as a great, sleazy character.
The Tremors movies are another series that I always thought skewed more towards comedy and action than horror. However, it has some pretty scary monsters in it even if Graboid is not a name that strikes fear into the hearts of humanity. A creature who may as well be anywhere under your next footstep is paranoia inducing but it also leaves the characters sitting around on walks or cement, as if they are looking for sharks from a life raft. Thankfully I actually like the poor, unfortunate souls who are trapped so I don’t mind the lulls between action or horror sequences. Aside from that, the first movie has some pretty grisly deaths but that kind of fades away as the series continues.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
This movie is kind of a muddled mess. The movie starts with the premise that Jason is dead so everything is going to be A-OK now. Well, unfortunately we know that there’s a threat and that this isn’t going to be like Halloween 3 (Unfortunately). So we’re looking for a guy in a hockey mask to show up and start up with the teens again. You know, that old chestnut. If you’re looking for cardboard cut out characters to be murdered by various sharp implements then you are in luck. The movie isn’t even set around Crystal Lake and is a loose cash-in on the movie series. It’s still worth keeping on in the background during October.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
This was a favorite of mine growing up, long before I even knew who Joss Whedon was. Kristy Swanson is dead on, Clueless three years before Alicia Silverstone but with more attitude. The real breakout in this movie is Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens who cracked me and my brothers up as Amilyn, the goofy/creepy vampire sidekick. This movie was so much fun that I was actually put off when I first tuned in to the BTVS TV show. Granted, the first episode I saw was about the Preying Mantis Woman so not the ideal starting point. This movie was the rough blue print that started a phenomenon. Do yourself a favor and watch it (it’s a little dated but whatever) and pick it up in comic book form which more closely follows Joss’ original script and dovetails a little better into the show.
I had completely forgotten this movie until I remembered it this week. It is a B-Monster-Movie in all of its glory about a group of troubled teens who are attacked in the woods by mutated ticks. The whole movie sounded like if somebody read the wikipedia article on deer ticks and wondered what it would be like if they were bigger. It kind of works and they definitely hit me in a weak spot in that I’m afraid of blood and blood being taken. Strangely, I’m not too afraid of vampires but needles scare the hell out of me. I don’t usually review or talk too much about B-movies on here because there’s not much you can add by talking about movies like Sharknado, Ghost Shark, Sharktopus or Sharkalanche. I really enjoy them a lot but I probably won’t be reviewing them but I may do a rundown like this post. If you see it, try it on for size but don’t go out of your way to see a movie like this. Oh and Seth Green and Clint Howard are in it.
The Frighteners (1996)
Peter Jackson is a brilliant director and it was fun to go back and see this after I had started watching the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s a much smaller movie with a less epic scope. It’s so different from pretty much everything he’s done lately (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong) probably because it’s less polished. Less polished is not meant as an insult here. Not every movie has to be a masterpiece and you can hang something from the painter at the fair on your wall at the same height as a Da Vinci. This movie has all of the fun of a movie like Beetlejuice without the intensity that Tim Burton brings. The movie is a lot of fun and, to date, is Michael J Fox’s last appearance on the silver screen. It was also John Astin’s last movie released in theaters. It is definitely worth a look and I’m always thrilled when people tell me they’ve seen it too.
I was running out of time this Halloween season and I wanted to comment on more Halloween-y content so here’s a quick look on some random good entertainment!
Here are couple more supernatural shows that I was able to dig up and sample. Now that I mention the word “Supernatural” yes I realize that that show exists. It is really good but my experiment here was to watch some stuff that was new to me. That is why I’m not talking about Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, Charmed and a whole whost of good supernatural/creepy television shows. I mean I could go on and on about how much I liked the Mockingbird Lane pilot but I’ll spare you guys that for now. Onward.
Penny Dreadful (2 Episodes in)
I am an avid reader. I have been a big reader since I was really young and some of the books I remember enjoying during summer reading were the classic horror novels. I ripped through books like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. So imagine my excitement when they combined all those sorts of horror stories and added a dash of history of the day to make the story feel a little more authentic. I still don’t know what to make of this show but it really is captivating and spooky and I really like it. I can’t fully understand the plot yet but a lot of it looks like it is supposed to be a mystery so they are still pussyfooting around certain things. It’s an incredibly powerful show with plenty of gore and foreboding so check it out. Come for the Billie Piper and stay for the naked Frankenstein Monster.
The Strain (1 Episode in)
Holy shit. This show scared the ever loving bejeezus out of me several times. Leave it to Guillermo Del Toro to creep me out to a level where I kind of needed a hug. Instead I had to settle for episodes of the Muppet Show (also a cure for the Woman in Black). The show weaves together a lot of common fears like: harm to children, worms, disease, blood and the darkness into a very scary tapestry. We get Sean Astin who is always a good thing to happen to us. We also get David Bradley who has acted in a lot but most recently as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time. I don’t recognize anybody else but that’s not a bad thing. It seems to have a solid cast who will have to deal with a supernatural/biological threat or something. I definitely recommend watching it but with the lights on.
Sleepy Hollow (3 Episodes in)
I have found my new show to binge watch. I started to watch this show and did not want to stop watching it until all of the episodes were behind me. Still, I wanted to sample more shows and movies at the same time so I was torn. There’s plenty of time to watch the rest of it anyway. The show follows a version of Ichabod Crane who kills the Hessian mercenary but that mercenary also turns out to be the first horeseman of the Apocalypse. Thrust into the modern age, the two of them and a police detective are locked in a fight for the fate of the world. Even with all that the show feels very personal and vaguely true to the original Irving story. I’m not a stickler. I definitely recommend this one.
I have not only indulged in scary movies this October but there is actually too many Halloween-flavored television shows out there. I’m not talking Walking Dead because I am sooo over zombies and the show never really struck a chord with me. Granted I only watched one episode but whatever. I might break down and watch it at some point but right now I doubt it. There’s no need to watch it as there are plenty of other shows that I can sample this month (and into the future). It’s an excuse to check out paranormal shows that I have been meaning to watch.
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (Two episodes in)
This show is a parody on supernatural/paranormal shows like Twin Peaks and Dark Shadows. In the fictional world of the show, Darkplace is a showcase for fictional horror writer Garth Marenghi who was commissioned to write and star in a drama for the BBC. The BBC canceled Darkplace before it was even aired but, now that they are short on programming, they begrudgingly air the show along with commentary from Garth Marenghi and his producer. The show within a show is cheesy as they emulate all of the poor acting, bad special effects and horrible writing of a low budget series. There is a lot of eye rolling goodness and they cover a lot of supernatural ground. I really like it and I will watch more but the show is already over and, like other BBC shows, did not last beyond the first series. In fact, there are only six episodes.
American Horror Story: Freak Show (Three episodes in)
Like most seasons of American Horror Story, the show sets up a pervasive creepy and twisted mood. There aren’t really that many outright scares but instead it explores the darkness inside everyone. There are circus freaks (or insert the PC term) but they aren’t really frightening or repulsive, just interesting. They do a great job of creating more rounded characters and even extras are given a little business that makes them seem more full. Jessica Lange is pretty brilliant and recently revealed that she can sing as well as she can act. The plot kind of meanders a lot and sometimes it feels like they are making it up as they go. They lean heavily on atmosphere, interesting characters and good acting instead of focusing on plot. Maybe I’m wrong and I just can’t see what they’re doing yet. Only time will tell. If all else fails, I recommend seeing at least one episode just for the much publicized creepy killer clown.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (9 Episodes in)
From Dusk Till Dawn was the beloved result of two friends (Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino) pairing together to create a Vampire/Action/Comedy movie. The story follows two criminals and a family of three who get attacked by vampires in a strip club. It was pretty simple but had some nuanced bits in it, mostly because of stellar performances from Harvey Keitel and George Clooney. The TV series basically takes the movie and fleshes it out, making it longer and allowing for there to be more at stake (no pun intended). I think they fill in a lot of the mythos for the show using the backstory laid out in the Dusk Till Dawn Sequels but I can’t remember because those movies were pretty boring. I try to remember them and I pretty much get white noise. Anyway, the show is pretty creepy and has a lot of great performances including great ones from Wilmer Valderrama and Robert Patrick.
I have some more that I’m going to check out so I’ll get back to that as soon as I do.
I recently watched The Woman in Black. I actually started my usual method of riffing comments as they pop into my head but that plan died about three minutes in. I’m not saying that this movie is unriffable but it just seemed wrong after a while. This movie was too well done to really make fun of. I was actually really looking forward to seeing this movie because way back in the day I actually designed lights, sound and helped build the set for a stage production of The Woman in Black. (Most long time readers won’t remember this)
I realized that I never really talked about the rest of that experience. Like any writer/artist I shudder when I look back at my old stuff and that was a full six years ago. I was having a lot of fun playing with a new digital camera and I was genuinely impressed with what we were doing. I continued to work on the show and it was an amazing production even if I was usually pretty frazzled back when I worked at Tri-State Actors Theater.
The show was very intense work and I fell into my usual ten to thirteen hour work days followed by sleeping late. I built sets and hung and pointed lights in the late morning until the evenings. The set was pretty much just a giant false proscenium with a black scrim stretched across it. The structure was mammoth and it took three people to rig it to the ceiling with the cable and fittings we had picked. The lighting was dark and subtle and a great fit for a dark, gloomy horror story. I was really proud of all of that work because I had never done any work in horror before.
These long days originally left me doing all of the sound work in the middle of the night in my tiny, cold room that I rented in the back of a framing shop. In retrospect, I probably should have seen a lot of parallels between my late night, solitary work and the work Arthur Kipps was doing. Eventually, doing this work at night started to take its toll. Finding horrible recordings and building sound cues like “Horse and Child Drowning in Swamp” in the middle of the night started to make me a little crazy. I had to switch to doing the sound work in the morning and do the lighting work late at night instead. My psyche thanked me for it. Eventually we built a rich soundscape and true horror includes plenty of sound cues.
So after all of that, how did the movie stack up? I really liked it. Daniel Radcliffe plays a complex version of Arthur Kipps and gets a lot of mileage with very little dialogue. He has come leaps and bounds from his time in Dumbledore’s Army and has really grown up. The rest of the cast is spot on with a special nod to Ciaran Hinds who gives an especially moving performance. The voice overs for the title character were well done and held the right amount of grief to the point of insanity.
The story is a rough one to get through and I forgot how much it terrified me. I would warn those who are parents that any version of this story is going to be especially rough on you. The terror is mixed so much with tragedy, sympathy and deep, dark emotions related to being a parent. Themes include untimely death, revenge, grief, guilt, isolation and depression which are all incredibly heavy. The story is told in a straight forward manner in the movie with very little actual dialogue. The stage version has a framing device which actually adds a terrifying little twist but the story can do without it.
A little ways into the film I thought there was going to be too many jump scares and not enough real horror. Jump scares are nice for startling the audience and jangling their nerves but it is startling, not terrifying. The jump scares in this film are far more psychological and logical and pretty much none of them are the standard “Cat Scare” which have become so overdone in horror. The movie can actually be really relentless and my heart was pounding pretty hard in parts. The filmmakers obviously took a lot of care to go for a more literary horror than we’ve seen in bad horror movies in the past. Hooking us like fish, ratcheting up the tension and letting us go and then reeling us back into terror until finally we realize there’s no escape.
One of the things that I liked so much about the movie was the attention to detail. The production design was very intricate and most of the effects seemed to be practical instead of digital. I am not putting down CGI effects because a bad practical special effect can look just as hokey as a bad CGI one. This movie blended everything together pretty seamlessly but, as I well know, it can be easier to cover up flaws in the dark.
I would freely recommend this movie to anyone and everyone who enjoys horror movies and does not have a heart condition. I don’t know what I want to review next but it probably won’t be Victorian Horror. Probably.
I really wanted to review this one because I recently finished reading Warwick Davis’ autobiography. When Warwick Davis originally took the role of the Leprechaun because he had tax debt up to his eyeballs. He managed to make the role memorable and really started to enjoy himself. When he talked to Ron Howard about taking the role, Ron’s advice was: “Whatever you do, don’t do more than one.” Warwick ended up doing six of these films to which Ron Howard replied: “Well, my kids like them so whatever they like can’t be too bad.”
So without further ado, sit back as I enjoy another holiday classic!
“I love rhyming villains.”
I have a soft spot in my heart for rhymes. I love Etrigan in DC Comics and various other villains who speak in rhyme. When I was way younger I used to think that poetry had to rhyme and enjoyed searching out the best ones. One Easter I even wrote a whole scavenger hunt for children in rhyming couplets. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work so I appreciate the hard work it takes to get the Leprechaun rhyming correctly.
“Another Leprechaun film where I instantly want the protagonist to die. Wow, even more than Jennifer Aniston.”
I absolutely hated Jennifer Aniston’s character in the original within seconds. They did a really job making her totally unlikeable and they do the same for the protagonists in this film. I guess the point is that the heroes are supposed to learn a lesson. I think it instead allows me to feel good about them suffering. I really enjoyed watching these people suffer.
“The Lucky Shamrock Casino? OK, I’ll allow it.”
For this movie, the writer (or somebody high up) created a fictional casino that is somewhere on the Las Vegas strip. They name it the Lucky Shamrock which I am actually surprised never existed. Yeah, it’s a cheap gag but it makes a lot of sense in the movie’s logic. The outside looks cheap and the inside looks pretty cheap so it all matches up. Also, they could set the thing in their fictional casino and not involve any of the actual name casinos on the strip. Things were probably simpler that way.
“There seems to be a Daffy Duck thing going on.”
The Leprechaun spends much of the movie mugging and cracking jokes and engaging in slapstick and wordplay. This follows from the first two movies but goes to ridiculous extremes in number three and only gets worse as the series progresses. It is actually not a bad thing as most of the enjoyment of the Leprechaun films is watching the Leprechaun be the zany, evil thing that he is. It’s similar to the Nightmare on Elm Street and Child’s Play films.
“The ‘overbearing’ boss is more likeable than his put upon employee.”
In fact, all of the so-called villains were more likeable and better characters than the white meat protagonists. It certainly didn’t hurt that their IQs seemed to be leaps and bounds above the protagonists. The mobsters, the sleazy boss, the scheming employee and the arrogant magician. They were all actually pretty good but they had good actors portraying them. Well, good actors by horror movie standards.
“They’re making this shit up as they go along!”
A hallmark of the Leprechaun series is that in each of the movies, they add new rules and facets to the mythos. Suddenly the Leprechaun can’t stand iron or later on he can’t stand a special medallion. His powers only increase each movie and he becomes more and more of a threat. He also becomes more sadistic. Again, kind of like Freddy Krueger.
“There’s actually a plot in this horror movie. What?”
They really don’t need to include plots to teach the heroes a big lesson. I’m fine with mayhem being incited and the big bad chasing the heroes around for over an hour. In this one, they eventually merge all of the plots into the main plot and the movie actually gets cooking. It’s really not a horror movie until the heroes are fleeing in terror, right?
“This went into a weird place. Where’s the Leprechaun?”
The Leprechaun disappears for way too long so that all the other characters can do funny stuff and have conflict. It’s kind of useless padding but it does make me want them all to get mowed down so that’s an added bonus. They were too likeable anyway. They kind of make up for the Leprechaun not doing anything by showing clips of him on the Las Vegas strip
“Wow, it finally got really creepy. Awesome.”
They start to bring out some of my worst fears and some legitimately creepy stuff. Killer sex robots, body transmogrification, mind control and bondage all make an appearance. It takes a while but the movie moves from Warner Brothers cartoon to humorous horror film. The thing is, the first part puts you off your guard by being so purposefully lame.
“Important: When the villain summons you somewhere, you have to go there.”
It’s been said a million times but the heroes in horror movies are complete idiots. It’s a time honored tradition to yell with frustration as they hide when they should run or any number of stupid choices. If they made correct decisions they probably wouldn’t be too bothered by the Leprechaun or the myriad other villains. They would be in Los Angeles doing whatever young people did at the time. Oh, one of them was supposed to go to college. Never addressed again. Thanks movie.
All in all I would recommend this movie. Sure it has its flaws but I have seen way worse. Warwick Davis is really fun to watch despite his cheesiness or maybe because of it. This movie is chock full of cheese and goofiness but sometimes that’s exactly what I wanted. Next time I’ll try to review something more terrifying and not just funny/creepy.
I have other memories of Halloween that involve Grace Methodist Church. I don’t want it to come off like I hate Grace or any other church. I decided during Senior year of High School that church and religion is not for me. I will keep all of the opinions I have of the church to myself at the moment. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers or get into any arguments. I spent a lot of time in Youth Group as soon as I got old enough. I attended almost every fundraiser and event during my tour of duty. There were car washes, movie nights, Easter egg hunt preparations and way too much acolyte duty. At least I got to set things on fire for a while.
Anyway, as soon as I was too old to trick or treat, I spent every Halloween with the Youth Group. It sounds kind of weird now but we would all grab our sleeping bags and spend the night in the church. We wouldn’t sleep in the sanctuary itself but we would sleep in one of the multitude of sitting rooms in the maze-like structure. We watched horror movies, ate candy and pizza (not necessarily in that order) and probably drank too much soda. It was at one of these sleep overs that I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) for the first time and I remember cackling as the girls jumped and squealed. It’s easy to be brave when somebody else is terrified.
All of that was very fun and to this day I always make sure I have a scary movie or two on hand when the night of the 31st rolls around. The real attraction of a church sleepover was our game of tag. Everywhere but the sanctuary was fair game which left what I could only call a labyrinth. There were three floors at least three stairwells, two elevators and dozens of interconnected classrooms. The goal was for one person to journey into the structure and find every single person. The first one to be caught would be it the next round. Oh and we turned off every single light leaving only emergency ghost lights.
These games of tag were the most terrifying events that I have ever experienced although that may be amplified through a nostalgic lens. I remember crouching in the darkness and trying to listen out for the approach of footsteps while trying to silence the blood pumping hard through my temples and slow my breathing. The goal was to avoid the person who was it and get back to “home base” without getting caught. Eventually one of my best friends figured out that you could lie down on the floor next to the wall in the dark and remain silent to avoid detection. The person who was it would pass right by you while your heart nearly pounded its way out of your chest.
I was lucky. Our Youth Group was actually pretty secular and id a lot of things that would probably be frowned on these days. We had a lot of very spooky Halloweens engaging in Hunger Games-esque escapades and scaring the living crap out of each other. Exactly what teens should be doing on Halloween.
This is yet another tabletop rpg character that I’ve created for a relatively new campaign. Our characters have been flung into the past to avert an apocalypse that our characters died in. So we play modern characters in a fantasy setting.
* * *
Dean Wyatt grew up like any other boy in the United States. He went to school and hated it, he played video games, watched television and played outside when his parents decided he had done the first two too much. Baseball was the neighborhood game and so that’s what Dean was stuck with. It wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty fun most of the time. His dad, Harrison, was the owner and sole detective of Diamond Investigations. His mom, Quinn, was the company secretary. All that meant was that the food and shelter was provided by snapping pictures of infidelity, finding missing persons and other minor feats of investigation. It wasn’t Sam Spade or anything but it was a living.
When Dean dropped out of college, his father was quick to take him into the business while Dean went the community college route. During this time, Dean learned everything he could from his father mostly by driving his dad around on the job. When he graduated from community college, he quit the business even though his dad was sure Dean had a knack for the job. After months of striking out on his own, tragedy struck when Dean’s mother called. Dad’s body had been found in an alleyway beaten to death.
Dean felt guilty for leaving the business and abandoning his family. He took control of Diamond Investigations and picked up the caseload with a vengeance. He started to spend all of his time out in the field. He couldn’t really sleep well anyway and when he did, he often dreamed of conversations with his father. Eventually he started to see his father everywhere he went during waking hours. He started to doubt that his father had ever died as he desperately embraced the belief in his father’s mysterious survival. This belief was reinforced by discovering that magic is real and the belief that his father is tied up in this whole business with the Unconquered sun.
Now he travels with the other Solar Exalted under the dubious leadership of Tina. So far things seem to be going alright even though the group has been caught out of their element numerous times. He hopes that completing the mission for the Unconquered Sun will reunite him with his family.
State of the Programming Address
Since I only have access to my DVR on the weekends, I fell behind on watching the WWE product. Since their programming is more or less live, it really must be watched weekly to keep up with it. I guess I could binge watch the programs but watching the main roster is about 5 hours a week and that takes up a lot of viewing time. Besides, I had gotten a lot of pleasure out of live tweeting Monday Night Raw and loved experiencing events along with everybody else. I have to avoid spoilers like crazy which I have done pretty unsuccessfully. This also puts me behind on listening to my favorite pro-wrestling podcast: The Rough House (NSFW use headphones)
At the height of my Sports Entertainment watching habits I watched nine hours per week. On Monday I watched WWE Raw (3 hours). On Thursday I watched both NXT (1 hour) and TNA Impact (2 hours). On Friday I watched WWE Smackdown (2 hours). On Saturday I watched ROH Television (1 hour). If I ever wanted to watch anything but wrestling then I was going to have to cut back. I sadly cut ROH and Smackdown out which brings me down to 5 hours with fast forwarding through commercials which is more manageable. Tack on the monthly Pay Per View event and you have 23 hours a month.
I have kept up with TNA Impact and some of you in the know might be wondering why. The show has been on Spike TV and no matter what they do, they have never risen above a 1.0 rating. At certain points they have had Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair and ton of old legends and young talents involved. Unfortunately they hire people like Vince Russo and allow people like Dixie Carter to have creative imput. Spike TV has finally had enough and will be pulling the plug at the end of the year (Merry Christmas!). The product is alternately horrible and great and lately it has picked up quality not unlike Angel Season 5. World Championship Wrestling lost their TV time on TNT and died out in 2001. WWF lost their deal with USA in the nineties and ended up thriving. Either way, I’m intensely interested to see how it shakes down.
Being behind can definitely feel daunting and I feel disconnected from something I really love to experience. In the meantime I have been scratching the sports entertainment itch by discovering Insane Championship Wrestling on Youtube. ICW is hardcore Scottish wrestling promotion operating out of Glasgow. As such, there is a huge amount of Scottish wrestlers with a smattering of English, Irish and Welsh performers too. The promotion feels rebellious and fun and is definitely worth a watch. Two little warnings: Some people have trouble with foreign accents but I happen to love the Scottish accent and I have experience deciphering it. Also, here is quite a bit of blood and violence and one of the commentators tends to be pretty intense i.e. “I hate him! Give me a coat hanger and a time machine!”
As stated in a previous post, I want to branch out and occasionally try to watch other promotions. I want to get my hands on some CZW footage as I hear rave reviews of Dean Ambrose’s time there. I want to check out AAA and EMLL as they are pretty well known as the top Mexican promotions. I have tried a little bit of Japanese promotions but the language barrier has been tough. I really wish there was either an English dub or subtitles. There probably is and I just have not found it. I want to watch more MCW and support Maryland performers and shows. I want to watch promotions that I’m not even aware of yet.
Most of all, I want to relax on my couch and binge watch Monday Night Raw and NXT but I guess I’ll have to wait for the weekend.
I vividly remember a Halloween when I was a really young kid growing up in Roland Park in Baltimore, Maryland. The sidewalk in front of our house seemed to stretch on forever in those days and for all intents and purposes it did. Trick or treating started with walking down to the sidewalk and turning right and going south. We would swing back towards the north end of our neighborhood later in the evening before we got too whiny and frustrated. I don’t remember what I was dressed as. In those days my mother made every Halloween costume I wore and they were usually superheroes. So imagine I was Batman, Superman or a Ninja Turtle (Donatello 4 Life) or something or other. Yes, I did say this was a vivid memory and yes I do know what that word means.
This particular Halloween, we walked to the end of our walk and through the iron gate and hung a right. I think my brother took off running and for some reason I wanted him to wait up for our group. It was Halloween and I had heard all the legends behind the night and I knew that it was not just Candy Night. This was All Hallow’s Eve the day before All Saint’s Day and it was a night to be wary of. Evil spirits prowled from the shadows and looked for victims but they would leave anyone wearing a costume alone. Of course, this was a kid who believed in leprechauns when he attended Pre-K at Boys Latin.
The point is that if evil spirits prowled the night, then they had to be ruled by Satan. In my tiny little world, there were only three forces: Heaven, Hell and Humanity. As progressive as it was, Grace Methodist Church had kind of drummed that into me. So I figured that if I was going to fool the evil spirits then “Stop in the name of the Lord!” was not going to work out. So I yelled out “Stop in the name of the Devil!”. To this day, I can’t remember who yelled at me but I don’t think it was either my mom or my dad. It could have been a neighbor or my grandmother but I can’t say for sure. Regardless of who it is, I got scolded for taking the Devil’s name in vain.
The scolding terrified me, I remember that much. I was not scared of being in trouble with whoever scolded me or being in trouble in general. I was suddenly afraid that I had invoked Satan and that he could be coming for me. After that day, the Devil became He Who Shall Not Be Named for a long, long time. I became very superstitious about somehow invoking demons and the Devil which somehow also figured into the placement of my arms while I was sleeping. I was terrified by bullshit for way too long because somebody else actually believed that you can summon an extra-dimensional, evil-alligned creature with mere words. This altered my world view for a long time and led to a lot of anxiety.
These days I don’t believe in any of it. I’ll gladly sing along to any Satanic Death Metal song that catches my fancy and I love reading all types of mythology about demons. I’m not stuck in the box that Christian Mythology put me in anymore. It allowed me to embrace even more facets of Halloween and spooky mythology. Although I carry all of the minor scars of that one event and the subsequent anxiety, I think it’s made me happier in the long run.
After twenty minutes of confused tears, Robin lifted her forehead from the table. She wiped her cheeks dry on her sleeves. She did not dare look at her tattoos for fear that they were still moving around. She walked around the bar and checked each door and shut off the lights. She didn’t know if the other her had counted out the register but after a moment’s thought she decided she really did not care. At least she discovered her share of the tips stuffed in her cleavage. She never stored things there but did not look a gift horse in the mouth.
She walked out onto the street and the lighting just felt really off as if everything was either too dim or a slightly different color. If she told anybody about this night, they would lock her up and throw away the key. She carefully walked along a seam in the sidewalk for a moment to test if she was still drunk. It looked like she was walking a straight line but how would she know? She decided to chance it and started to fumble for her keys. She thought this was the perfect time for a mugging but once again, she did not care.
Finally, she located her keys and opened the door of her crappy little car. The car started on the second and a half try and she started towards home. At these wee hours of the night, there was no traffic to slow her down or get in the way of her possibly intoxicated mind. It felt weird stopping at all of the red lights when nobody was around. These days you had to assume a traffic camera at almost every intersection.
She turned up the classic rock station to fill the silent void of the dead of night. She tried not to think too much about the term ‘the dead of night’ either. She changed stations rapidly when commercials started to come on. How could they try and sell her things when she was in this state of mind? Top 40 pop music hits started to fill the car. She did not usually like that kind of music but the beat was catchy and anything was better than silence or her own thoughts. Or worse, somebody else’s thoughts.
She pulled up to the outside of her apartment building and cringed as the hubcap scraped and ground against the curb. She thought for sure that she had woken the neighborhood but when she shut the car off there was that chilling silence again. It felt like a pregnant silence, full of the stored potential of the future. As far as Robin was concerned, nothing more needed to happen at the moment.
She stumbled out of the car and then stumbled up the stairs to the apartment she shared with her roommate. She spent what felt like fifteen minutes finding her key on the ring. She marveled at how all of the keys looked alike at night. The door opened and the apartment was completely dark. Annabella must not have come home yet. She walked into the apartment and spotted a flickering light out of the corner of her eye. That was the hallway to their shared bathroom. She headed for the hallway and when she turned the corner she stopped and stared. All of the little hairs on her arm stood on end.
Kneeling in a pool of blinking fluorescent light, there was a young girl with pigtails with her head bowed. The girl was motionless and immediately all of those alarm bells went off in Robin’s head. It was like the Beetleman all over again and she was still not sure what had happened there. She started to back out of the hallway. She did not need any more adventures or surprises. Just as she was almost out of range of the light, the girl looked up.
The movement was as if she was a marionette and she had been pulled upright by her strings. Her face was a doll’s face. There was really no other way to describe it. The puppet girl’s face was hard like porcelain or vinyl and was painted just like a child’s doll. The happy smile was painted on too perfect and looked frightening in the flickering white light. They sat for what seemed like eons and stared at each other. Finally, Robin started to back up towards the door. She glanced in the mirror Annabella had insisted on placing in the hallway and cursed her other self. Somehow this was Other Robin’s fault.
“Don’t go.” A voice said from within the perfect veneer of the puppet girl’s face.
Robin jumped at the sound and hurried faster, turning away from the little puppet. Why was this creepy little girl in her house? Why was she a puppet? There were too many questions and never any real answers. She hurried to the door but could not bring her tired legs to a run.
“Help me.” The puppet girl muttered, lips probably not moving. Robin could not bring herself to turn around and check if the perfect lips moved. She had a feeling they would not and did not want to witness it. “Help me.” It said again.
Robin could not wait anymore and fled from the apartment, slamming the door behind her. In a flash she was behind the steering wheel of her car again and thankfully it started on the first turn of the key. Tires screeched as she accelerated hard and headed toward her friend Stephanie’s house.