The Class of 1988

No year has produced as many movies set around Halloween as 1988.

1976, 1982, and 1985 all come closet, each offering 4 films.

The Hallowed Year of 1988 easily doubles their contributions producing 8 movies in total. I’m not sure what kind of cultural zeitgeist was taking place in the world of film in 1988, but it occurred never-the-less, and we were all thankful.

Perhaps it was the return of Michael Myers, who hadn’t seen the silver screen in 10 years, that inspired this resurgence. Maybe there’s something devilishly unholy about the year 1988. Who knows, but a bunch of filmmakers got on board.

Were these guys aware of what each other were doing? Were the screenwriters buddies? What’s the deal here?

The original 31 Days of Halloween Horror list contained 4 members. This year’s countdown features another 3.

The following is a list of all the known graduates of The Class of 1988 and their release dates.

and lastly…

The next 3 selections on our countdown here are all proud members of The Hallowed Class of 1988. Respect

Video

Oct. 26th: House II (1987)

house-2-the-second-story-1987

“It’s getting weirder!”

I’ll say. That might even be selling this fucker a little short, to be honest.

Seriously though, 0%, Rotten Tomatoes? That seems a little harsh guys, no? Yeah, yeah, you’re just a non-entity aggregator. It’s not your personal opinion, I understand how this works, thanks. But to the small critical community comprising that 0% though, c’mon gang. Ease up a little, huh?

While certainly not the finest piece of cinema to escape 1987, it may just be the best horror-comedy-inter-dimensional-prehistoric-Aztec-fantasy-western ever produced, and there’s some fun to be had from this in-name-only mess.
You have 80’s goofball Arye Gross paling around with the weird man-servant from Fright Night and banging Tina from Friday 7. Bonus. Then they dig up Royal Dano from Killer Klowns (in a killer Chris Walas makeup) and later Cliff from Cheers shows up. And then you got Bill Maher just hanging around for no reason whatsoever being an 80’s prick. Bill Maher? Yep.

You get a crystal skull, stop-motion dinosaurs, awesome pterodactyl and dog-caterpillar puppets and the girl from Society as an Aztec virgin sacrifice. What more do you want? Halloween? Well you’re in luck pal, because House II somehow found the time to cram that in there too.

The whole beginning feels very Halloween-spooky, with the arrival at the mansion and the grave-digging, both of which lead to a fun (and obligatory) Halloween party. The festive vibe sort of tapers off after that, and so does any semblance of a coherent tone as House II officially flies off the rails and starts resembling something like a bastard child of Brisco County Jr. and My Science Project.

Yeah, this is a goofy, schizophrenic madball of a movie that throws so much bizarre shit at you it’s hard to make heads or tails of it after a point, but it’s still kind of fun. And the Chris Walas creature work is great as always.

I give this 1 dancing Frankenstein up.

Designation: Treat

Oct. 25th: Tales of Halloween (2015)

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On the whole, I’d say the last…oh, 20 years or so of horror have left me feeling pretty cold.

But, I had to give this a go, right?

While I certainly didn’t love The ABC’s of Halloween…I mean Tales of Halloween, it has a few things going for it to where I can toss it a treat.

1.) It presents its tales story by story, eschewing the modern convention of interweaving its parts into a big soupy jumble that doesn’t let you just be done with a dumb segment and move on.

2.) With its 10 different stories clocking it at just over and hour and a half, you get a median length of 9 minutes per tale. That’s a good window. It means the lamer segments (and there’s enough) don’t hang around too long. That’s nice.

And

3.) It’s Halloweeny as all get out. It’s an All Hallows’ overload with moments large and small colored in all manner of decorations, lights and ambiance. It’s a good visual treat for any October evening.

That being said, I doubt I’ll ever sit down and watch Tales of Halloween again. The few bits I did enjoy didn’t bring me so much enjoyment I’ll revisit this as a whole.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch it or you won’t enjoy it. I’m kind of a prick I imagine and I’m probably hard to please. An anthology to me should be more enjoyment than not, and this one starts out sort of promising, dips hard and then somewhat rights itself again by the end. It never reaches a point where I’m fully on board, though.

The only segment I found myself really enjoying was “The Bad Seed” and honestly, that felt a little rushed. I think more time spent here instead of other places in the movie could have done this tale a fair bit of good. It was still the best of the bunch for me.

“The Night Billy Raised Hell” has a fun Tales from The Darkside vibe, but it’s basically a more sinister Satan’s Little Helper that is at times too goofy for its own good.  But it totally features an awesome guest spot from Barry Bostwick (Megaforce!).

“Sweet Tooth” has a neat Halloween legend to it and is serviceable.

Falling into a similar category is “The Ransom of Rusty Rex.” It’s sort of fun.

Pretty much everything else here left me either bored or wanting. I enjoyed Pollyanna McIntosh in “Ding-Dong” but I hated literally everything else about it. Likewise for Alex Essoe in the boring and predictable (but cameo studded) “Grim Grinning Ghost.”

I was enjoying “October the 31st” until it went all Evil Dead, but there’s some fun gore there to help it along.

“Trick” was too Trick ‘R Treat-lite for me, with none of that segment’s vintage spookiness, build-up or charm.

“The Weak and the Wicked” felt posturing and irritating and “This Means War” totally squandered a great premise.

Adrienne Barbeau’s Stevie Wayne-styled audio-wraparound is a nice touch. There’s also more cameos here per-capita than maybe any horror movie ever. Some are very fleeting and for only the most eagled-eyed viewers among you. Seriously, did I catch Grady from Freddy’s Revenge in there? Any movie that throws a fucking bone to a Tommy Hook has got to get a little credit.

Ultimately, I think this makes for a good Halloween watch though, for just how much of the season it imbues. There’s few movies out there that have this much Halloween shoved up their pumpkin. I can’t say I really liked Tales of Halloween, but it’s got spirit to spare and definitely amped me up for the big day.

I’d give it a couple fistfuls of candy and a Neal Kennemore mask just for knocking.

Designation: Treat

Oct. 24th: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

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C’mon, Halloween’s been around for more than 40 years, right? So why do we have 23 different Halloween movies and nothing older than 1976?

Well, that’s about to change with tonight’s selection, Frank Capra’s 1944 adaption of the popular stage play Arsenic and Old Lace.

Keeping with this year’s motif, Halloween frames our events but isn’t their focal point. In fact, it’s a little touch Capra and screenwriter Julius Epstein added to the film version, as the original play does not take place on Halloween night. It fits though, giving a spookier air to already sinister happenings of the story.

Newly married theater critic and author Mortimer Brewster has just discovered his sweet and unassuming Aunts have been mercy-poisoning old, lonely bachelors and burying them down in the basement. Oh, ok then. He doesn’t handle that so well, and his reactions are pretty great.

When Mortimer’s brother Johnathan returns home after years of estrangement, he has designs to do the same, unaware that his aunts have been engaged in exactly the same criminal activities.

What follows is mad-cappery as only the early 40’s could provide. Which means you will either find all this goofy nonsense and shouting charming or it will annoy the hell out of you. I’m somewhere in between. I enjoy a good classic, but the board comedy on display and Gary Grant’s over-the-top performance can be a bit much at times. Rumor has it all of this was to be toned down in the editing, but  Capra reported for assignment in WWII, and his changes went with him. There’s another thing you can blame on Hitler.

There’s a lot to love here, though. There’s a ton of great one-liners, subtle verbal quips galore, and for the most part, Cary Grant is really quite funny.

Peter Lorre is his usual unnerving and enjoyable self as Johnathan’s personal plastic surgeon, who has given John the ghastly appearance of Boris Karloff – the original actor who portrayed Jonathan in the stage production. Warner could not get Karloff on loan, as the production was still running and the theater company feared losing its big-name draw. This becomes sort of a running gag throughout the film, as Karloff is referenced several times.

Stepping into Boris’ scars is his Old Dark House chum Raymond Massey, who does a wonderful job underplaying his villainous Johnathan amidst the buffoonery surrounding him.

One great sequence involves Mortimer’s critique of a scene he recently saw performed on stage where a purportedly intelligent character foolishly allows himself to be bound and gagged despite knowing full well he was in danger. At the same time, this exact scenario is taking place in front of us, with the act being perpetrated against Mortimer. It’s a great piece of comic staging that works perfectly.

Then there’s the matter of the Brewster home’s exterior, which contains a great family graveyard, covered in whirling autumn leaves and spooky ambience perfectly befitting the holiday.

There are a few small references to Halloween, and a quick scene of children arriving at the house for some holiday treats, but otherwise this is simply a dark comedy of murder and coercion that carves out its own little niche on the 31st of October.

If you’re in the mood for something old that isn’t the tried-and-true Universal mainstays, but also includes a tinge of the season,  Arsenic and Old Lace is a good bet. That is assuming of course the whole affair doesn’t just irate the fun right out of you.

I give it 1 jack-o-lantern up, because what? I’m sorry, did people use to just hand out jack-o-lanterns to trick-or-treaters on Halloween? Cause that’s awesome.

Designation: Treat

Oct. 23rd: Retribution (1987)

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Like most of the film’s this year, Halloween doesn’t play a very prominent role in this weird little supernatural revenge slasher from 1987, but what’s there is pretty cool and it makes Retribution that much cooler than it would be without it.

Essentially George Miller is a depressed painter who decides to jump off the roof of his apartment building on Halloween night. Incidentally, local street gambler Vito is being gunned down at the same time on the other side of town.

For no apparent reason, Vito’s soul travels into George’s body at the moment of death and George is spared. However he then becomes a vessel for Vito’s ethereal revenge, and his psychological nightmare begins.

This is a fun, sometimes grisly and effective horror yarn that starts off with a bang on Halloween night. It’s the kind of thing slashers started becoming in Freddy’s genre-changing wake. But it’s not a bad use of post-Elm Street supernatural elements and it comes correct with the violence and intensity. It also crafts an interesting story around it’s horror that belies its 1987 release. This one feels a bit more 70’s than it is.

While it’s pretty much one-and-done with Halloween after the opening, the plot is intriguing, the death scenes are neat and Dennis Lipscomb makes for a good conflicted villain/hero. When he’s in revenge-dream mode he’s formiably intense. When he’s not, he’s convincingly feeble.

Plus there’s a suitably 80’s synth score from Alan Howarth, frequent Carpenter collaborator and composer for Halloweens 2 through 6. A solid draft.

So, if you’ve seen ’em all, toss on Retribution this week for a slight dose of Halloween horror. If you haven’t seen ’em all, we’ll get to it, you only have a week left.

I give it 1 hotdog-eating, mask-wearing, lookie-loo up.

Designation: Treat!

Audio

Flesh To Flesh

TRACK #136:

Flesh To Flesh by Joe Lamont

Return of the Living Dead 2 gets a bad rap. Granted, it’s pretty well deserved, but it gets a bad rap all the same.

Honestly though, in its defense, it had a full count walking to the plate: take one of the most beloved, successful and awesome zombie horror/comedies ever, which wraps itself up pretty fucking tightly and expand on it. Go!

Yeah it strikes out, but that was to be expected. At least it doesn’t get caught looking. It goes down swinging.

It’s never very dark or scary or serious (as the trailer led people to believe) nor is it ever terribly funny. Comedy is tricky and when it face-plants, it does so hard and loudly. It’s not quite as cringe inducing as its equally I’ll-advised contemporary, C.H.U.D. 2, but unlike its counter part you at least feel like your watching an honest to god sequel, despite how shitty that sequel may be.

One thing ROTLD 2 gets sort of right is the music. While nowhere near the iconic status of its predecessor’s, there’s some good tunes to be had on this soundtrack. Whether it’s Anthrax or Leatherwolf or this turn from Joe Lamont.

Being that this really the only thing the Shindig ultimately concerns itself with, Return of The Living Dead 2 gets its day.

Here’s Joe Lamont with Flesh To Flesh.

 

Audio

Bud The C.H.U.D.

TRACK #135:

Bud the C.H.U.D. by Kipp Lennon

Since our Halloween movie countdown is focusing on Halloween Seqeuls, let’s keep the sequel soundtrack train rolling over here with a tune from an actual Halloween sequel.

If you’re a C.H.U.D. fan, a horror fan or even just a normal person trying to sit down and watch an enjoyable movie, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to offer you.

If you’re Halloween Shindig, a blog centered around a Halloween Playlist which encompasses all types of random nonsensical horror-related music from the movies, suddenly C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. has something quite fantastic to offer.

And that thing is out next number, by-liner title track Bud The C.H.U.D. from Kipp Lennon.

Who the hell is Kipp Lennon?

That’s a great question. Apparently he’s a founding member of the folk group Venice. Yeah, I’d never heard of them either.

However, it appears he’s also the voice behind mental patient Leon Kompowski who believes he’s Michael Jackson in the Simpsons episode “Stark Raving Dad.” As such, he’s the guy who sings “Happy Birthday Lisa.” That’s pretty weird.

Seems he’s had a handful of gigs impersonating Michael Jackson’s voice. He doesn’t do that here unfortunately, presumably using his natural God-given sound to accentuate all the incredible lyrics Bud the C.H.U.D. has to offer.

Outside of this track, C.H.U.D. II is a rather harmless, if midly entertaining tangent to the original C.H.U.D. It also takes place during Halloween and features a pretty great Halloween party sequence (a staple) and some fun trick or treating.

Compared to some of the junk featured on The Return of the 31 Days of Halloween Horror list, you can do a lot worse this season the C.H.U.D. II.

So, if you’re feeling festive and silly, pop it on and you’ll be treated to this fun 80’s tune from Kipp Lennon.

 

Video

All Hallows (2016 edition)

Did you enjoy The Shindig’s looping montage from The Art of the Halloween Mask opening last weekend?

Do you have no idea what we’re talking about?

Either way, for your streaming and downloading pleasure we present…

All Hallows:

A Macabre Medley of Murderers, Monsters, Masks and More

 

An hour and a half silent montage featuring all things Halloween: pumpkins, parties, trick or treaters, ghost, skeletons, decorations and masks all pulled from the vast assortment of over 60 years worth of Halloween movies, TV specials, cartoons and commercials!

Perfect for:

  • Outdoor Halloween extravaganzas
  • Indoor Halloween dance-offs
  • Children’s birthday parties in February
  • Bar AND Bat Mitzvahs
  • Sitting on your couch and watching awkwardly as the soundless images whirl by

Pairs great with:

  • The Halloween Shindig party playlist
  • Dark Side of the Moon
  • The sounds of children trick or treating
  • The cries of mercy from your hapless victims
  • That dripping faucet you just can’t seem to get Charlie to fix

Enjoy Halloween Shindig’s All Hallows!

Our intent is to add to this thing yearly, as we had a mountain of footage we were not able to include by the art show’s opening. So check back next year for a even better modified and expand version!

Happy Halloween, Weeners!

 

Oct. 22nd: Vacaciones De Terror 2: Cumpleaños Diabólico (1991)

I’m not sure what “Pesadilla Sangrienta” means or why it adorns this VHS cover of the movie, but this image was cooler than the others.

I’m not sure what “Pesadilla Sangrienta” means or why it adorns this VHS cover of the movie, but this image was cooler than the others.

Last time around, our brothers from the south offered us the entertaining Cemetario Del Terror for our Halloween enjoyment. This time, it’s our next Halloween sequel in the form of Vacaciones De Terror 2: Cumpleaños Diabólico!

Now I’ve never seen the original, but from what I can tell this movie is pretty much an in-name-only sequel, so I don’t know if that prereq will afford you much in the way of bearings.

Basically, a possessed doll mutates into a pretty cool looking goblin-demon who snatches a little girl into some sort of nether world. Our heroes need to create a pure silver seal-thingie to free her from the creature before morning, lest she be lost forever. That’s the long and short of it.

This one starts out with a fun Halloween party in the middle of a studio lot, presumably owned by the little girl’s father, a movie director. Then, we’re treated to Mexican pop sensation Tatiana singing her (very un-Halloweeny) song “Chicos, Chicos.” Try not to have this fucker stuck in your head for the next 4 hours. Maybe a weird doll will transform into a demon for no reason and start hurling flaming pumpkins around like the some sort of ghastly Green Goblin.

Oh boy, are you in luck…and it’s pretty awesome.

Where a lot of Halloweens movies feature a scene or two in observance, Vacaciones De Terror goes hard till the bitter end. Granted, it all takes place on the same studio lot that was decorated for the Halloween party, so it’s mostly the same stuff over and over again, but all that stuff is cool as shit, so we’re good with it.

This is fun and easy viewing for horror adventurists that provides plenty of holiday ambiance, ghoulish effects, nonsensical happenings and chuckle inducing oddity.

If you’re not that adventurous, I’m sure a dubbed copy exists somewhere which provides more ease of viewing and probably more chuckles. I know Netflix offers it on DVD from the same “Crypt of Terror” set which contains Cemetario Del Terror. That set also includes the awesome Dimensiones Ocultas aka Don’t Panic, which The Shindig highly recommends as well.

I watched this version, so I couldn’t say. What I can say is that this version has no subtitles whatsoever, so good luck with that. I had to go and add some using handbrake, just so I could understand what the hell was going on. I dunno, maybe you speak pretty good Spanish.

Either way, you’re definitely in for some Halloween fun.

I give it 2 flaming pumpkins up.

Designation: Treat!

Oct. 21st: Friday Night Double Feature!

Friday Night Double Feature!

This time Halloween itself is coming under fire from all angles!
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The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (1979)

If The Witch doesn’t fly over the moon, apparently Halloween doesn’t truly begin, cause I guess that’s a thing. So, The Witch in this late 70’s chunk of TV Halloween goodness is holding the entire holiday to ransom.

She wants some recognition, a little respect, and some t-shirt revenue. Mostly she just wants Dracula to take her to the disco, though.

This shit is ridiculous, with Taxi’s Judd Hirsch playing perhaps the goofiest Dracula ever recorded. He’s assembled a veritable mash of monsters together to deal with the mutinous Witch. The Wolf Man, The Mummy, some Zombie King and Frankenstein’s Creature all beckon to Dracula’s call.

And it’s the kind of thing television simply doesn’t produce anymore, but I’m glad I remember a time when it did. A time when this sort of specialized bizarre bullshit filled the airwaves around Halloween.

It’s goofy as hell, occasionally actually funny, at times unintentionally hilarious and totally spooked-out. It’s short too. It’ll all be said and done before you even know it. YouTube has a number of clips available for your enjoyment.

Last Halloween, Rifftrax released it as a holiday special and that’s good for an extra layer of laughter on top.

The Real Ghostbusters’ “The Halloween Door” (1989)

But since that’s hardly enough Halloween to tide you over, double-down with the awesome Halloween episode of The Real Ghostbuster’s called “The Halloween Door” for a double dose of Halloween threats.halloween-door

In this episode, (the interestingly named) Dr. Crowley hates Halloween and tries to enlist the Ghostbusters to help him end the holiday once and for all, figuring (of course) that they’d hate it just as much.

But they don’t. In fact the get up on stage at a school assembly and belt out an awesome Halloween song. Keep an eye out for that one further down the playlist.

Crowley says bugger to all of that and fires up his Halloween ray, which effectively zaps all traces of the holiday clean from the planet.

Only problem is, seems we people of earth had a pact with the creatures of the night. They’d chill out the rest of the year if we gave them one night to roam free. Well now, thanks to Crowley and his stupid Frankenstein head, the deal is completely off, and all hell breaks loose.

It’s a great episode of the show with some top notch Halloween imagery and of course, that awesome Halloween song.

You can watch it here on Kiss Cartoons.

Designation: Double Treat!