Trick Or Treatin’

There’s probably no phrase more tied to Halloween than “Trick or Treat.” There’s simply no other association. It conjures up nothing but festive imagery, even when not used in that context.

Kids in costume, going door to door in droves, threatening the neighbors to produce treats under penalty of trick. It’s one of the grand old customs that’s still observed to this day. It’s the backbone of what it’s all about. It’s what makes Halloween Halloween.

Time was they called it “souling” and the “treats” were mostly just fruits and small cakes. Initially they were left out on the stoop for the dead. Guess people starting figuring “Hell, if they’re not gonna eat em…” Risky business, you ask me.

Fruther back still, it is said the Druids, searching for human sacrifices on Samhain, would rap upon your door and say the phrase. The Treat for producing a sacrifice (most probably one of your children) would be a Jack-O-Lantern filled with the fat from a previous sacrifice, which when lit, would protect you from whatever demons and spirits the Druids were planning on conjuring that evening. The Trick? Oh, just a hexagram in blood on your front door, inviting said conjurings specifically to your home. Trick indeed. 

Kind of a trick both ways, honestly. Seems you’re just in for it. Least you get a Jack-O-Lantern from the Treat, and that might protect your family. Well, the rest of your family. The kid you offered up is pretty well fucked. Unless of course they can successfully bob an apple out of boiling water on the first try. If not, off with their head. And should the opt against trying to bob the apple? Welp, into the Wickerman for a good old fashion sacrificial burning. 

Seems this day has some pretty sinister origins. Whether or not we’re engaging in a sort of ritualistic conjuring simply through the sheer micmicry of such practices (innocent as they may be or at least appear) is the question. 

Are we complicit to evil? Are we abominations in our masks? Is it now so secular it has no power? Or does it have more power, and we are just lead to believe it doesn’t? 

As Colonel Cochran tells us in Halloween 3:

“You thought no further than the strange customs of having your kids wear masks and go out begging for candy.” 

Have we?

Where ever the absolute truth may lie, these days you’ve got peanut allergies, childhood obesity and early onset diabetes to concern yourself with, nevermind possible psychological warfare and veiled Satanism.

And that’s to say nothing of Trick or Treating before it even gets dark or the dreadfully unfestive “Trunk or Treat.” Gag me with a Carmel Apple. Remember when Halloween was exciting, mischievous and just a little bit dangerous? 

Or perhaps a time none of us remember when it was possibly the most dangerous night of all? Now, that’s some real spooky shit.

As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of songs on The Shindig called “Trick or Treat.” At present, the playlist features 4 songs by that title. 5 if you count the Lou Rawls’ Garfield tune. There’s plenty more.

We thought it was time to indulge in a block of Trick or Treat goodness, cause hey, we like blocks.

Not all of these songs are specifically related to Halloween proper, but we’re not gonna be sticklers.

Whatever it meant, or means or conjures – within us or out in the ether, it is a part of Halloween; good or evil, or perhaps somewhere inbetween.

So, come on! Grab a Ben Cooper mask, a plastic pumpkin and crack a glow stick. Let’s go Trick Or Treatin’!

Haunted House Rockin’

Is there a more played upon idea in Horror than The Haunted House? Maybe vampires. I dunno, I don’t have those kinda figures on me.

What I do know is there’s a shitload of Haunted House movies. What’s more, there’s a shitload of songs about Haunted Houses.

From Monster Raps to Shock! Theatre era novelties, all the way up to horror punk and even surf, no genre represented on The Shindig has given up the chance to tangle with a Haunted House, so popular is the locale.

And why not? Spooks and specters, creepy basements and shitty crown moldings all await you through a squeaky-hinged door. Maybe a chandelier will fall. Maybe a trap door will open. Maybe a secret passage will unlock some chamber of horrors previously unimagined.

You’ll definitely hear something sinister as you try to sleep and someone will undoubtedly suggest that it’s…just your imagination.

Likely someone has died there, or is at least buried on the property. And if it has occupants, then some ghoulish butler will greet you, informing you the master of the house will be down shortly to…have you for dinner.

It could be a count or some other nobleman of questionable moral fiber. Maybe a mad scientist owns the estate, or an entire family of horribly deformed weirdos with poor social skills. Either way, it looks like a bad idea from the outside and that becomes wildly apparent once inside. Most probably you will not be allowed to leave until the baptismal light of day.

As you may be aware, The Shindig loves blocks. They feel good. A little theme-within-a-theme never hurt nobody. Maybe bored a few people, but that’s about it. So, with that in mind, here comes a mega block of Haunted House hits to knock your socks off. Or rock your socks off. Or maybe even scare them off.

Whatever your emotional reaction (and assuming of course you’re actually already wearing socks) chances are you’ll be sockless by blocks end.

So enter,...if you dare.

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

Monster Talk: Rock ‘N Roll Horror

I mentioned Rock ‘N Roll horror in my post about John Fasano, and all this Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare/ Black Roses business has got it on my mind. Let’s talk for a moment about this as both a concept and a genre.

Rock ‘N Roll Horror forms the very foundation of Halloween Shindig; it is its ethos. Wherever a monster is dancing, you will find us. Whenever a ghoul grabs a gitbox, we are there.hs_dance Should The Cryptkeeper or Elvira decide to rap, Halloween Shindig is lying in wait, ready to post that song.

As a genre though, Rock ‘N Roll Horror (or Metalsplotation as you will sometimes find it referred to) leaves us wanting. It has a few things going against it.

Firstly, there just aren’t that many. It’s a pretty thin sub-genre. 21 titles, by my count. You could stretch that number to 30+ if you got real liberal with your criteria and included some misfires from the late 90’s of new millennium. But I’m calling 21.

Additionally, it’s a dead genre. It had its time and place, but its moment in the moonlight has passed. The world has moved on.

I’d say “I wish they still made ’em like this,” but I don’t. That ship has sailed. You try your hand at this game post millennium and you’ll wind up with a Queen of The Damned, or a Rock ‘N Roll Frankenstein. Naw, just leave it where it was. Let it rest in peace; a product of a decade that is gone.shockem_guitardemon

On top of all that (and perhaps worst of all) it’s a pretty terrible sub-genre, and this breaks my
heart. Always eager for more of the bread and butter that bloats this blog, I’ve sat through most of them, waiting with bated breath for the next awesome addition to the playlist. I’m usually disappointed. There’s a couple hold-outs of which I’ve yet to get ahold of copies, so there’s still a little hope.

Of the 21 Rock ‘N Roll Horror films listed here, most of em aren’t worth a damn. They are time wasters of the highest order; not good enough to laud, not lousy enough to love. Somewhere in between they rest, trapped in a celluloid limbo of missed opportunities and boredom. It’s a genre after my own heart, and it consistently breaks it. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I got too much expectation. Or maybe Trick Or Treat is just that damn good. Probably a combination.

Here’s a list of the most prominent offenders; the ones you’ll see listed elsewhere if you dig hard enough.

  1. Terror On Tour 1980
  2. New Years Evil 1980
  3. Shock: Diversão Diabólica 1984
  4. Rocktober Blood 1984
  5. Blöderan 1984
  6. Monster Dog 1984
  7. Blood Tracks 1985
  8. Trick Or Treat 1986
  9. Edge of Hell / Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare 1987
  10. Slumber Party Massacre 2 1987
  11. Hack-O-Lantern 1988
  12. Hard Rock Zombies 1988
  13. Lone Wolf 1988
  14. Black Roses 1988
  15. Hard Rock Nightmare 1988
  16. Scream Dream 1989
  17. Houseboat Horror 1989
  18. Paganini Horror 1989
  19. Rockula 1990
  20. Dead Girls 1990
  21. Shock Em Dead 1991

True, this list excludes overtly music themed horror outings such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom Of The Paradise. But for me, those fall into the altogether separate category of the Horror Musical. Things like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Little Shop Of Horrors also fall in with that category.

Naw, these are Rock ‘N Roll Horror movies. Movies where rocking has precedence. Movies where a rock band or singer takes the main stage and blows your doors off.trickor_concert2

The most depressing aspect of it all, even more than the lack of entertainment factor, is that not  every one of these 22 films has made the cut for The Shindig. Some of them have music that’s just that wildly out of place, or just that bad. And The Shindig has some pretty terrible music on it, so that oughta give you an idea of what you’re up against.

I’ll talk about all of these films by degrees over time. But for now, lets take a few of these suckers that did make the cut, and lay out a full-on Rock ‘N Roll Horror block here in the late ’90’s, before busting headlong into one of my favorite stretches of the entire Shindig, just in time for Halloween.

Image

Monster Friday the 13th Jackpots!

vegas1Check it out, I won 150 bucks last night playing this crazy Monster Jackpots machine at the Golden Nugget. Must have been a Friday the 13th miracle. The machine was pretty sweet, it played little gif-like clips from the movies and had some killer fonts blasting across the screen

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Monster Talk: Horror Hosts

vampira_2The Horror Host has been a beloved fixture of the genre for almost 60 years now. So ingrained are they in horror culture that even their parodies have slipped into iconography.

From a time when TV had no guide, DVRs and streaming video weren’t even the stuff of the B-grade sci-fi these horror hosts peddled. TV was a living thing, existing with or without your manifesting gaze. It was there, happening somewhere behind all the black. You needed only to turn it on an tune in to whatever it was offering, lest you missed out entirely.  So you waited.host_zacherley2

Originally, Universal Studios offered a package of horror classics and worn out titles called Shock Theater to local TV stations for broadcast. The stations had weathermen, announcers and news anchors doubling as any number of ghoulish characters to present the frightening films.

The movies were often the subject of ridicule, and the focus turned rather to the host themselves, their outlandishness and their skits. These shows found almost instant success, and America of the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s loved these local fixtures. Many spawned several host_ghoulardi-ernie-andersonincarnations and are still remembered with great fondness in their hometowns.

As the Shindig enters its 2nd quarter, we’ll take a beat or two to pay tribute to those horror hosts immortalized in song.

Watch horror movies.

Keep America strong.

Stay sick

now Goodnight, whatever you are….

Pleasant nightmares and unpleasant dreams.

host_watchorrormovies

The Shindig Hits 200 Followers!

Now, I’m not sure if that’s at all remarkable (it’s probably not) but I would have never thought even 100 people would actively choose to follow this blog, much less 200.

As a thank you to all followers past, present and future, Halloween Shindig offers some insane gifs from Ken Russell’s highly controversial and heavily edited 1971 picture The Devils.

The film tells the true story of a French town named Loudon, where an order of Ursuline nuns falsely claimed to have been possessed of devils. The resulting public exorcisms led to the conviction and murder of Father Urbain Grandier in 1634, a priest accused of orchestrating the possessions with Satan himself.

Given its highly religious context, its explicit scenes of sexual and religious imagery, its bizarre tone and even more bizarre music, coupled with it’s indictment of religious and political corruption and power-mongering, it’s no wonder the film was edited to hell, banned in some countries and largely swept under the rug.

It remains, however, a singular viewing experience, unlike any I’ve ever seen, with a fascinating story, some insane imagery, and 2 great performances from both Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed. If you can dig up a copy of the restored version, I highly recommend it.

The following gifs are mostly from a long missing and thought destroyed scene, aptly referred to as “The Rape of Christ.” A scene the studio itself removed from the film initially, before even the censors could have a chance.

Enjoy Shindiggers, and thanks for all the follows and notes. More Halloween nonsense to come.

Monster Talk: 80's Monster Comedies

Hands Off is the first musical selection of several from what I like to call 80’s Monster Comedies.

I guess in the 80’s, making silly comedies featuring werewolves, vampires and other monsters seemed like a good idea. And it was, at least I think it was, as this is perhaps my favorite sub-genre of film.

If I was ever handed the keys to a classroom at a University that didn’t particularly pride itself on their staff, I’d probably create the course “80’s Monster Comedies 101.” We’d sit around and watch these films, discuss them at length and then write needlessly analytical papers regarding their cultural context.

C’mon? You wouldn’t take that course? Fuck yeah you would. You mean I’d get college credit for writing a paper about Teen Wolf? Yes. Yes you would. But it better be a damn good paper, cause I ain’t gradin’ on no curve.

Here’s the course outline.

Week 1: Intro to Course / Full Moon High (1981)

  • Full Moon High bridges a gap between 70’s comedy and 80’s comedy. Discuss the elements of it’s 70’s sensibility. Does it make for a better or worse film in your opinion? Also, why is Alan Arkin so great? Oh he’s not? Please take this F with you on your way out the door.

Week 2: Teen Wolf (1985)

  • Would being a Werewolf actually make you a better basketball player? And if not, is there really any objection to one playing at a high school level? Bonus points for discussion of why Bobby Finnstock is the greatest coach ever to appear on film.

Week 3: Once Bitten (1985)

  • Fun tale of vampirism, or American morality play of underage/unprotected/anonymous sex during the AIDS era?

Week 4: My Best Friend Is A Vampire (1987)

  • Interesting addition to the legacy, or sub-par knock-off of Once Bitten? Extra points for a comparison of lifted elements appearing in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Week 5: Teen Wolf Too (1987)

  • Is it morally objectionable to pit a college-aged student against a creature of the night in a combat based sport like boxing?

Week 6: Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

  • Nicholas Cage is absolutely fucking crazy in this film. It may very well be his most insane performance ever. So, here’s a Nicholas Cage wild card – make your argument as to which decade is best for Mr. Cage: The 80’s, The 90’s or The ‘00’s. Make the argument as to which is the worst. Then argue which film contains your favorite/best performance (note: those 2 distinctions might not be the same for you.)

Week 7: Monster High (1989)

  • Holy shit! This movie is utter garbage. Explain exactly why this movie is so god-awful and disappointing. Then detail how it could have been a great example of an 80’s Monster Comedy.

Week 8: Rockula (1990) and Final

  • Though technically released in February of 1990, Rockula was clearly filmed during the 80’s and feels like a 80’s monster comedy through and through. Discussion of the music, Dean Cameron’s Awesomeness or the opening title sequence will all be accepted.
  • Final: Discuss 80’s Monster Comedies as a genre using examples from the entire course. Why are they great? Oh they’re not? Then why do you hate them? Why couldn’t these movies really work in any other decade?

As extra credit, I’ll accept papers on Love At First Bite (1979) being so close to making the cut, and Monster Squad (1987) which I don’t consider a 80’s Monster Comedy, but will certainly earn you an A for writing.

And make sure to join us next semester for the follow-up course 80’s Party Monsters.

tl;dr crowd….apologies.

Monster Talk: Monster Rap?

At some point during the early 80’s rap started coming into its own as a musical genre, at least in terms of pop culture. However, any amount of popularity eventually begets bastardization. So, some yahoos thought it’d be a swell idea if everyone, and everything, began rapping. And for about 15 years or so, they did. Now, while musically and tastefully that was probably the whackest decision possible, in terms of Halloween Shindig, it’s meant gold. Solid gold.

The first shindig incarnation had 3 rap songs on it. Not a bad showing for only 700 megs. Over the years however, that amount has more than quadrupled. Hell, you could make a whole CD of just these monster raps (hmm, note to self: make monster rap mix CD for car.)

Everything it seems was fair game for the money mill; the Ghostbuster’s are coming hard with 3 entries, haunted houses seem equitable and the Universal Monsters are heavily represented. Even the fiends themselves started grabbing mics; Dracula has rapped; Elvira, The Crypt Keeper and Frankenstein’s Monster, all spittin’ lyrics. Hell, Freddy’s rapped twice, and one of those times was actually Robert England.

Now, these songs may seem corny, ridiculously conceived, goofy as fuck, or just plain terrible, and who knows, maybe they are. But, while they may not be well respected or liked amongst the general population, much love and respect is given to them from the Shindig, where they will always have a non-ironic home.

Monster Talk: Shock Monster

So what the hell is a Shock Monster anyway? Well , here’s a little back story on this fiend:

The Shock Monster was an old Topstone mask that was advertised in the rag Famous Monsters of Filmland. Essentially a generic zombie mask, it was supposedly named as such to cash in on the then popularity of Shock! Theater.

He was notorious for looking totally badass in the magazine,

topstone_shock_monster_mask_ad

 

and looking totally less badass when he arrived at your door.

topstoneshockmonster

 

Now, while this mask is pretty awesome and horrifying in its own right, I could imagine being pretty disappointed if I was expecting something akin to the former, particularly if I was a 10 year old and I’d been waiting for this thing for a few weeks.

Over the years many artists have re-sculpted Shock Monster to better capture the essence of the original ad, or to put their own spin on it.

My favorite incarnation of Shock was created by an FX guy I know named Adam Dougherty.

Recently, he displayed it at 2012’s Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank, CA. It’s 7 and a 1/2 feet tall, totally badass, and not at all disappointing.