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!
thehalloweenthatalmostwast

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!

Oct. 20th: A Halloween Puppy (2012)

a-halloween-puppy-2012

Ho-ly shit.

Listen, I understand I’m not the intended audience here, but I put this on the list back in September and I’m sticking to it goddammit. Besides, I enjoy a lot of kids movies that aren’t intended for me, particularly Halloween related offerings.

But seeing as how I’m not the target demographic, does that inherently prevent me from being able to enjoy it or mean that I should avoid analyzing it? Probably, but I’m doing it anyway.

I believe a good kids movie shouldn’t be something only children can enjoy, and if you have kids, you’re gonna have to sit there and at least sort of watch it too. So let’s try look at this thing as objectively as possible.

Let’s start with what’s going on. A dorky horror nerd loves Halloween and his lonely Mom has Eric Roberts as her aloof CPA boyfriend. Yeah, Best of the Best Eric Roberts.

This kid has a girl best-friend that’s kind of into witchcraft, I guess. These 2 accidentally turn Eric Roberts into a bulldog on Halloween. Now they have to drive to a forest retreat for the weekend with the dog and wait for Eric Roberts to show up. But where is he? Why he’s right there and all kind of mishaps ensue, right?

Well, in theory, but actually nothing really happens. What a drag. The dog doesn’t even ruin anything. Nothing about this dog is even remotely Halloweeny. No witch hat, no spooky barking, no skeleton onesie, no candy eating, no nothing. What gives, gang?

The check-cashing Eric Roberts looks and sounds more bored with this nonsense than I am watching it, but he might just be the best thing about this movie. In fact, he’s definitely that.

Everyone else is serviceable in their underwritten roles as placeholders for puppy interaction. No one is great, but no one is so bad it hurts. Except maybe the older witch lady that lives in the other cabin. She’s pretty awful.

How entertaining is it? Well, that depends.

If you’re a 7 year old that’s really into watching recycled footage on a bulldog eating grass, being pet and stomping around, then it’s probably awesome. I am not that, so this was a bit tiring.

But how Halloweeny is it? Honestly, barely. All of the above could be totally forgivable if the movie oozed a silly-spooky festive Halloween vibe. Taking place and being shot in Southern California isn’t doing its Halloween quotient any favors. People talk about Halloween a bunch, but it’s really nowhere to be found. There’s a lot of cheeseball Halloween transitions that are fun, but when it comes to festive atmosphere, A Halloween Puppy‘s got next to none.

I can’t really heap a bunch of criticism on this one, because for what it is, it’s fine. It’s harmless enough family fare that goes by pretty quickly that I’m sure would keep little kids entertained with its upbeat and silly soundtrack mixed with puppy shenanigans.

But I can not recommend you just watch A Halloween Puppy though. I can’t even recommend you have your kids watch A Halloween Puppy, not when there are such festive options at your fingertips as Ernest Scared Stupid, Hocus Pocus, Monster House, Frankenweenie, The Worst Witch, Spaced Invaders and a whole host of awesome Halloween cartoon specials.

This one’s just not bringing the entertainment, even any unintentional shrapnel joy. But more criminally, it’s not even coming through on the Halloween. I should have just watched Spooky Buddies instead. In fact, I just might do that. I have hole next week with no movie to fill.

2 pumpkin wipes down.

Designation: Trick!

Oct. 19th: The WNUF Halloween Special (2014)

wnuf-halloween-special

Tailor made for presentation at a Halloween party with music, chatter and maybe nobody really paying attention to the flickering images on your TV screen, The WNUF Halloween Special is a mock time-capsule of 80’s Halloween nostalgia that’ll have your guest asking “Where did you dig up that old fossil?”

Truth is, you didn’t. It came out 2 years ago, but you’d swear it was quite literally taped on Halloween night in 1987, so effectively is that aesthetic recreated. This is particularly true if no one is really listening to the “acting” taking place between its wonderfully crafted commercial interludes.

Essentially a riff on 1992’s proto-paranormal investigation horror Ghostwatch (and The Tales from the Crypt episode “Television Terror”) The WNUF Halloween Special is a unique “found footage” flick that posits itself as a taped airing of the “real” 1987 WNUF Halloween night broadcast featuring a special news investigation of an actual haunted house…with spooky results. So spooky it never aired again. Thus making the “tape” a sort of rare, taboo relic.

It’s ludicrous, and it doesn’t hold up as an actual horror movie whatsoever, but its meticulous attention to the period details of VHS era television is so fun and spot on that it makes the “serious” parts much easier to digest.

Thankfully though, WNUF mostly plays toward the humorous side of the field and is much better for it. Plus, it’s jammed packed with small moments of Halloween goodness, so it’s hard to resist. Just don’t pay too close attention and you’ll be fine.

I’ll give it a broken plastic Wolfman mask and a Mini Snickers.

Designation: Treat!

Oct. 18th: Night of the Demons 2 (1994)

One of my favorite Halloween movies of all time is easily Kevin Tenney’s Night of the Demons. However, as with most sequels, my love for Night of the Demons 2 is decidedly less than.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Brian Trenchard-Smith’s follow-up. It has some great Halloween atmosphere and a feeling somewhat similar enough to its predecessor, but in comparison it falls dramatically short.

Kids from a catholic boarding school want to rebel on Halloween. So they hook up with some local burnouts to go party down at notorious Hull House, where apparently Angela still resides.

Since Hull House is never a good idea on Halloween, things go berserk. This time however, the terror stretches out from the funeral home and toward the Catholic school.

There’s a lot of callbacks here. You’re getting Hull House, a new tit gag (which is a great effect) a new lipstick gag, Angela dancing again, and a lot more possessions. So this is pretty worn ground for the most part, but it isn’t a horrible sequel, plus you’ll get some fun, new characters, an ambitious snake transformation and a Halloween dance party.

If you have to watch 1 Night of the Demons movie this Halloween, The Shindig recommends the original Night of the Demons. But if you have to watch 2 Night of the Demons movies, you might as well watch just Night of the Demons 2 too.

I give it 2 stretchy titty-hands up.

 

Designation: Treat

Oct. 17th: Wacko (1982)

The Slasher craze of the late 70’s was like any phase in Hollywood; so saturated it was ripe for mockery.

At its peak in 1981, the great Slasher parody Student Bodies was released. As you can imagine, more followed.

1982 saw the release of 3 different parodies: National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, Pandemonium and our selection for the evening, Wacko.

While none of them were as good as Student Bodies, I think Wacko comes the closest. There’s a lot of gags here that don’t work, or comedy that feels horribly dated, but there’s a good amount of funny moments in Wacko, which is more than I can say for the absolutely dreadful Pandemonium, a film in which Paul Reuben’s was the only one who actually had me cracking a smile.

There are 3 distinct things that set Wacko immediately above the pack:

1.) It has E.G. Daily

2.) The killer is a becaped, pumpkin-headed mumbler and

3.) It takes place on Halloween.

Also, you’ll get George Kennedy playing a leering perv named Doctor, Joe Don Baker slobbing it up as the detective hot on the murderer’s trail, and a very young Andrew Dice Clay perfecting his comic timing with some great moments.

I have a soft spot in my heart for parodies, and one with Halloween imagery and themes will definitely get a pass from me for its various faults. It also has a fun Airplane-styled 80’s vibe that makes it easier viewing.

I can’t help but compare it to the far inferior Pandemonium, which I also watched recently. If it helps, watch that one first, if only to appreciate Wacko more for not being that fucking movie.

It’s not all treats with Wacko, but there’s enough here to satisfy fans hungry for goofy 80’s parody nonsense with a little Halloween spirit.

1 lawnmower up.

Designation: Treat

Oct. 16th: Mr. Halloween (2006)

Why is there a clown on the cover of this movie?

Why is there a clown on the cover of this movie?

 

Take a pinch of Carpenter’s Halloween, add a dash of A Bucket of Blood, a quarter cup Hauntedween and then mix that with every movie you’ve seen made by high schoolers for approximately 112 minutes and you’ll get Mr. Halloween.

Wait, hold on. 112 minutes?

Yeah.

While not an unvaliant effort for a couple of kids armed with their family and friends and a budget that might score you a used 2006 Toyota Corolla, Mr. Halloween still well overstays his welcome. You could trim a metric ton of nougat off of this treat and probably have something resembling kind of watchable.

Nothing this low-budget should be anywhere near 2 hours long. 90 minutes is pushing it, but 80’s probably your sweet spot, with a brisk 70-75 giving you just enough time to get in, show your stuff and get out before leaving a bad taste in the audience’s mouth.

I want Mr. Halloween to be that. There’s a lot of good here for some amateur fans making a go at a full length feature. Part of me wants to re-edit Mr. Halloween to be just that.

As it stands though, you have to chew through a lot nonsense to find just a small caramel center. People walking, unnecessary conversations with tedious dialogue, precious seconds of run-time just blown on the empty spaces between things. Spaces where tension could be created with the right kind of editing.

Essentially Bill Loomis is an upstate New York weirdo who runs a local garage haunt, a haunt rumored to use real bodies in its displays. Everyone in town calls this goofball “Mr. Halloween.” So why do so few genuinely suspect this guy for the disappearances of all the local high-school kids? Good question. It’ll take you about 10 minutes to figure it out and about and hour and a half for the movie to confirm your suspicions.

The Wolf brothers are clearly fans of horror and there’s some ideas and scenes here that rise above their surroundings. Particularly the early sequences in the haunt itself, which are pretty fun. I think the movie could have used more of that spirit.

It’s a genuine effort though, totally earnest in its presentation. I applaud these kids for making it and then (even more impressively) getting it picked up by a distribution company and getting it out there. Those are feats unto themselves at all stages.

In my heart I want to recommend Mr. Halloween, but I really can’t. It’s too serious to have much fun with, its shortcomings aren’t of the laughable variety and it’s simply just too long.

This one gets 1 guillotine down but a smiling jack-o-lantern up for effort.

Designation: Trick

Oct. 15th: Murder Party (2007)

murder_party

Before this year’s Green Room and 2013’s Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier whipped out his own Reservoir Dogs-styled debut with 2007’s Murder Party.

Lonely loser Christopher S. Hawley planned to spend a quiet Halloween at home with a few VHS tapes and his cat. That was until he stumbled upon a random Halloween invitation to a “Murder Party…come alone.”

Yeah, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not taking any piece of card stock up on that offer.

But Christopher S. Hawley is a lonely idiot and and he does just that, but not before making the most low-rent knight costume he can out of cardboard and baking a pumpkin loaf.

What he finds at the party is a bunch of goofy art students dressed in some fun costumes awaiting him at a warehouse, where they will then murder him for their art.

It also turns out Christopher S. Hawley is much cooler and smarter than any of the pretentious fartists at the warehouse. I love Christopher S. Hawely, and I wish we got a little more from him on the character side.

Murder Party is fun and mostly humorous with some moments of gore to delight. Macon Blair’s devilish wolf mask mishap being a highlight. There’s a good amount of Halloween ambiance as well, culminating in a pumpkin filled slaughter-instillation.

It definitely feels like a film-school styled debut, but it’s a debut that shows lots of promise, promise the Saulnier has made pretty good on. I didn’t love Murder Party and it does drag a bit, but this is a pretty entertaining horror-lite Halloween comedy treat with a lot of fun scenes to offer.

Plus, if you’ve ever attended art school, or know a bunch of dildos who did/do, you may find their skewering of art school crowd here pretty spot-on.

This one gets a Baseball Fury and a Melted wolf mask up.

Designation: Treat

Video

Oct. 14th: Pumpkin Man (1998)

pumpkin-man

What in the hell is Pumpkin Man? Where the hell did it come from? Why was it even made? What exactly is going on here?

I’m not sure, but apparently this isn’t an easy one to find, unless you happen to be randomly browsing the dusty shelves at Eddie Brandt’s in North Hollywood back in 2000 whatever and there are multiple copies just sitting there on a rack.

Being me, I didn’t even look at it twice, and I doubt I looked at it for very long. I’d never heard of it and was most certainly leaving with it, whatever the hell it was.

Seeing as how it’s a rare oddity and it’s only about 30 minutes, here is Pumpkin Man in all its glory for all you Halloweeners to enjoy,…or be confounded by…or to hate every sappy second of.

Me? This shit is just weird enough, and wholesome enough and Halloweeny enough for my recommendation.

I give this 1 winking pumpkin man and 2 pumpkinoid alien people up!

Designation: Treat!

Enjoy!

 

I won’t say much, seeing as how it’s just up there for you to make heads or tails of yourself, but I will ask a few questions:

1. Why is there a short television special where a pumpkin helps a kid deal with divorce on Halloween?

2. What the hell is the Pumpkin Man exactly, and why does he bother turning all Jason’s friend into dope looking pumpkin heads?

3. Is he just some expression of Jason’s psychosis? If so, why can Jason’s friends see him?

4. Given his annoyance at all the kids ding-dong-ditching his house every year on Halloween, why wouldn’t Sammy Hain just sit outside one time and put the whole thing to rest?

5. Who the fuck are those pumpkinoid creatures in the beginning? Am I to understand that’s Jason and his dad on Halloween the previous year?

6. If so, where did they get sick ass prosthetic creature makeups from?

7. Are they goblins? I was convinced by a friend they were alien pumpkin people. I liked that drug addled read more.

8. Why does this exist?

Oct. 13th: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)

little-girl-who-lives-down-the-lane-poster

It’s Halloween, but the little girl who lives down the lane is celebrating her birthday, so we might forgive her for being a bit distracted. She’s also from England, which as we know is not as keen on the Eve of All Hallows’ as our rock across the pound.

However, a young Martin Sheen is going to try an teach her (an even younger Jodie Foster) just what Halloween is all about. Namely treats…and tricks.

While not quite a horror movie, nor quite a Halloween movie, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane feels almost like a stage play and has the distinction of being perhaps the best film featured on this year’s countdown.

It’s a strangely engaging little parlor mystery featuring a eerie and impressive performance from the 13 year old Foster that belies her age. It also features equally intriguing supporting performances from Emilio’s dad and Bad Ronald. How’s that for ya?

It’s an off-beat sort of character study which pits nature vs. nurture. It’s not The Bad Seed by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s an interesting companion piece that takes a gander from the seed’s point of view.

The less said about this one the better, and the less you know about its plot going in is likewise true. I watched this one as cold as they come. All I knew was that it featured Halloween and I was pleasantly surprised.

I will say that the Halloween is brief, though not entirely unfestive, and takes place at the very start of the film. From there it’s mostly up to the autumnal trappings of rural Maine to provide the seasonal atmosphere. But perhaps like me, you’ll find yourself hooked by the time All Saints Day rolls around.

This one gets a green skeleton and a Frankenstein’s Monster up!

Designation: Treat!