As the Ladies resident (but not only) lover of spooky things, I wanted to share three things I am doing to get in the spirit for what is my highest holiday – Halloween!
I’ve only recently started listening to Darkest Night having learning about it via Deadly Manners. We’ve mentioned some spooky podcasts before and there are lots of them out there, but this one really distinguishes itself though the sound design. As you are told in the intro, this podcast really is best experienced with headphones, but beware…the experience can become quite immersive. No joke, the other morning I was listening to an episode while walking to work and I literally leapt across the sidewalk because I forgot the sounds were only in my ears.
Darkest Night is a story based podcast that follows Project Cyclops, an experiment where severed heads are sent to a lab for a process that draws the blood from a victim’s optic nerve so the moments before their death can be experienced and documented….but is that all that’s really going on here?
Rating: 4 out of 5 severed heads
Whooo boy, we finished this over the weekend and what an emotional roller coaster. This Netflix show whips you from fear, to sorrow, to anger as it pairs terrifying images with the equally terrifying human condition. The Haunting of Hill House is a modern adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel and a love-letter to the 1963 film The Haunting (also based on Shirley Jackson’s novel). Like all good horror, it’s not just about ghosts or murder. HoHH looks at trauma, obsession, and grief and how the lasting impacts can follow you through life, even if you think you have locked them away.
Don’t get me wrong – this is real deal spooky. As you watch, pay attention to everything, because things happen in the background and in your periphery to keep you as off balance as the characters are. Episode 6 is particularly masterful is how it pulls you reluctantly through long shots that become more and more dizzying to reflect the downward spirals of the characters.
Too late in the series I really started to key in on the color symbolism used in the filming, and now I want to watch it all over again to follow that thread. Seriously, if you haven’t watched this yet, I’m a little jealous of you getting to experience it for the first time.
Rating: 5 our of 5 red doors
Hopefully some of you were able to make it to the Comicazi Cookie Clash this year. It’s an amazing dessert filled event for a great cause, Boston Partners in Education. While I am not someone who loves or thoroughly enjoys baking (I’m not great at the exactness of it since I tend to like to experiment – not a good idea in baking unless you are really down with the science), I have competed in the cookie clash every year since its inception. Fun fact: The Cookie Clash started originally as competition between The Red Menace’s cookies made with love (she LOVES baking and is quite good at it), and my Cookies made with Hate™ (recall: I don’t love baking).
But I digress…this year I decided I wanted to go for flash rather than substance and made these gooey eyeball cookies for my baker’s choice entry. While these cookies taste good – sort of a cheesecake sugar cookie, they aren’t super exciting or nuanced. But then again, you aren’t making them for nuance, you are making them because they fun, colorful, and involve so many candy eyeballs.
The best advice I can give it to follow the recipe directly, and that getting the neon food coloring colors is totally worth it if you want that bright popping color. I also got 3 different sizes of candy eyes and found that the mixing of different sizes really adds a lot to the aesthetic. Otherwise, these cookies are pretty easy and a lot of bang for your buck.
Rating: 4 out 5 Beholder eyes
If I know anything about our readers, it’s that as soon Labor Day has passed and a slight chill hits the air, it’s time to get ready for Halloween. Suddenly your Netflix queue is filled with scary movies, your house is covered in fake cobwebs and real animal skulls, and all you want to do is suck the marrow out of this all too short season as much as possible.
Well friends, let me add to your current atmospheric choices by suggesting a few things that are a bit unnerving and creepy to keep you company during your darkening commute and warm mugs of pumpkin-spiced drinks.
This weekend, Cartoon Sara and I returned from another trip to Walt Disney World. This didn’t leave a lot of time for gaming with The Boy, so this week I wanted to talk about our recent trip.
Mickey’s Not So Scary (Oh, how I hate the name) Halloween Party is a special ticketed event held on select nights in September and October, plus the first night of November. The Magic Kingdom closes to most of the public 7pm and those who purchase party tickets are treated to a night of special shows, parades, fireworks, character greets, and even more additional pay events. The fan following for this event can be pretty enthusiastic, but when an adult ticket is going to cost you around $70, you can’t help but start to wonder if this event is really worth the cold hard cash.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about attending either as an adult or with your family:
You can wear costumes, even adults.
It is possible that you have always dreamed of running around the Magic Kingdom in full costume. The trouble is that if you are an adult, Disney doesn’t really encourage such things. In fact, people have been booted out of the park for wearing a costume that might be easily confused with that of an actual paid character performer. Disney spends a lot of money training their walk-around characters and they don’t want some Tinkerbell impostor interacting with the guests without the Disney seal of approval. I know for some people this feels a little extreme, but it makes a lot of sense. You get two Tinkerbells crossing paths and the whole illusion can be ruined for a little one. And once you see how genuine and real those little kids are with the Disney characters, you won’t want anyone ruining things for them either.
During the Halloween Party however, all bets are off when it comes to costumes. People and families must plan all year because rarely has the people watching been so good when I have been at the park. And don’t even get me started on how sweet it can be to see Mom and Dad as Jasmine and Aladdin carting around a baby dressed as Abu.
Candy, Candy, Candy
During the Halloween party, everyone gets a bag and is welcome to visit the candy stations. You don’t even have to say “Trick or Treat” before a cast member starts shoveling candy into your bag. The good news is that the candy is good stuff, and one stop at the treat station had us sugared up for the rest of the night. So that is certainly a plus. If you put this into the perspective of your $70 ticket, it becomes a lot less impressive because the candy lines can also get very long. And while I stood there, negotiating trades for The Boy’s Now and Laters, it certainly crossed my mind that I could buy an awful lot of candy with $70.
Special Things – Shows, Parades, and Rides
I feel that this is where you can see the real value of your party ticket. Disney has exclusive shows, fireworks, and a parade that can only be seen during the party. For me, this turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Though Disney will only sell a certain amount of tickets for the party event, the place was still really crowded and I am not a fan of getting dirty looks from parents when I find myself standing in front of their children (even if I have been there for 15 mins already and they are only coming up behind me a few minutes before the show is supposed to start). Also, I am not a huge fan of the shows that happen in front of the castle as they are often too cheesy even for me. The thing is that this year’s show has a return of the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus and they are just SOOOOOOOO amazing. No really, feel free to spoil yourself by watching the video below. I thought my face was going to snap off from all the smiling and nostalgic glee.
Beyond that though, I am not that into character greets and fireworks. Also, they only keep certain rides open, so it is possible that you were trying to get to something earlier in the day that you still won’t be able to get to at night. Happily, most of the popular things are still running and the lines stay manageable since there are no fast passes are available, putting everyone essentially in the same spooky boat.
You gotta give it to Disney when it comes setting the stage. As soon as the party starts, all the lights change in the park and even the cast members have changed into their party clothes. I was really quite impressed. So much that I even grabbed The Boy and Cartoon Sara at the Haunted Mansion to sneak a peek at a cast member who had eerily positioned herself in one of the hallways, staring at guests as they walked by. Oh, and she had skeletal make-up and cobwebs in her hair. Very cool. But $70 cool?
More chances to spend all your money!
The parks is just full of party “exclusives” to spend your money on. T-shirts, $15 pins, mugs… It’s true that you can find some of these elsewhere and later, but it can be very hard to resist that lemonade slush filled poison apple mug when you are trying to stay up for an 11pm parade. Disney is a business and their business is making money. Don’t you ever forget that. And in case you were wondering, of course I bought that mug.
While I don’t have any serious regrets about going, I will say that attending this event is something that I would certainly plan better going forward. With the high prices, this party can get insanely expensive before you even enter the park. The idea here is to decide what is important to you. Want a night when you can see as many Disney villain as possible? Love parades and fireworks to an insatiable but healthy degree? This party might be your dream come true. But if you have already been at the park all day, there is a very good chance you have done all the rides and are feeling tired, this leaves getting your money’s worth feeling more like a chore than a fun challenge. Don’t quite love the cutesy shows and literally bubble-gum scent parade floats? An evening at Trader Sam’s Grotto might be more up your alley instead. As much as I enjoyed myself, I couldn’t help but tally things in my head and think about what other things The Boy and I might have been able to do for $140. Especially since the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival is happening at the same time. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I might have seriously enjoyed this event more with a beer, or a shot of rum in my Dole Whip. 😉 Sadly, that kind of thing is impossible to come by in the Magic Kingdom.
If I were to attend this event again, I would not bother buying a ticket for the day. Instead, I would just buy a pass that with one less day and just use the event ticket to attend in the evening. I could then spend the day relaxing and getting ready. Otherwise, I would just leave the park at 7pm, avoid the party completely and find a quiet lounge to wind down in. Maybe destroy some poor unsuspecting but well-meaning families at Disney pub trivia. Now that my friends, is something I can say without a doubt is a good time.
Sounds like a good time? Ever been to the event yourself and want a chance to chime in? You know what to do! Get all up in that comments section below!
Actually I think any month is for horror, but as soon as October hits you have a great excuse to binge (I’m watching The Shining as I type this). If you are a horror fan Netflix offers a lot of options. Not all are great, but I found three I enjoyed, some older, some newer, and a few more that are still in the queue for the lead-up to Halloween (and after).
Since The Goog is also a big horror fan, and since he also watched these movies with me, he’s chiming in his thoughts too. Two reviews, no waiting!
What it’s about: Boone is haunted by nightmares about a city of monsters called Midian. He goes to a psychiatrist for help, but rather than help him his doctor leads him to believe he is a serial killer. In his mania Boone takes off to find the city in his dreams, there he finds the Nightbreed, a monster tribe who help Boone figure out who he really is.
Why you should check it out: Clive Barker, of Hellraiser fame, both wrote and directed this movie so sit back and get ready to get your 90’s fantasy horror on. The Nightbreed themselves are fantastical in their scariness. Baker is clearly working to create a larger mythos and as such, the Nightbreed have their own laws and customs and generally do not mingle with “the above” world. They worship and protect their creator and understand that times are beginning to change for them. Also,the film is scored by Danny Elfman, who really tries to capture the tribal element of the Nightbreed, using lots of drums and choral elements. After watching this movie I mused on Facebook about why this hasn’t been turned into a series yet? Lo and behold, something may in fact be in the works. Note, Netflix offers the Directors Cut so if you have seen this movie before it might be a big different than you are used to.
Fun Fact: My mom saw me post something about this on Facebook, so she decided to watch it. She LOVED it. Especially the make-up effects. I would not have seen that coming.
The Goog: While I’m not a huge Barker fan I have always loved Nightbreed. He gives you just enough mythos to make you want to know more, it’s the same with a lot of the characters as well (which is mildly frustrating). Some of the Nightbreed are really cool looking, like Peloquin, some are really funky, like Kinski, and some are like Clive Barker sketches and paintings come to life (meaning the anatomy doesn’t quite make sense, but is still neat to see). There are some big changes between the theatrical and director’s cuts. Largely it’s deleted scenes that give more character development to Boone and Lori (Boone’s girlfriend) but the ending in the director’s cut is pretty different and much more open ended. I’m very happy to see that we might get a t.v. show! It’s about damn time.
What it’s about: An island bound Irish fishing village is plagued by bloodsucking creatures who thrive in water. They realize their best protection drinking alcohol and make a last stand during a pub lock-in.
Why you should check it out: Grabbers is Tremors meets Shaun of the Dead, with a sprinkle of Lovecraftian horror. I enjoy a good horror comedy and this is a fun one. The Goog for real laughed out loud many times. The Grabbers themselves are some great creature work. CGI, yes, but watching a giant Grabber scraggling its way down the street was pure creepy joy. Because this film is made in Ireland you may want to watch it with the sub-titles on. The accents are STRONG, and having the subtitles going will help you get some of the Gaelic jokes (adds a visual element).
Fun fact: This movie has the adorable Russell Tovey (Doctor Who, Being Human, Sherlock) as a proper English scientist.
The Goog: Oh man, I loved this. Definitely watch it with subtitles for all the reasons Tiny Doom mentioned. If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t completely love, the ending was a bit cliche, which is disappointing only because the rest of the movie played with horror movie cliches so well. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this, but I would have loved it more had the ending been something a little more unexpected.
The House of the Devil –
What it’s about– A college student in need of money accepts a babysitting job on the night of a lunar eclipse. When she gets there she finds the clients don’t have any children, but do have ulterior motives.
Why you should check it out– This move was made in 2009, but has the look and feel of a late 70’s early 80’s horror movie. The acting is solid and the typical tropes feel less derivative and more like an homage. It’s quiet and creepy, with a slower build-up. Think Rosemary’s Baby rather than Halloween. Watch this at night, in the dark, while waiting for a pizza delivery.
Fun Fact– This film claims to be based on actual events (muhahahahahah).
The Goog: The attention to detail in this is pretty great, they even filmed it on 16mm and used techniques and angles to capture the same feel of movies made at the time. The movie is a slow build, like TD says, the only time I actually questioned the pacing was a long drawn out scene of Samantha wandering the house and snooping about, which didn’t really build up any tension and just struck me as odd. Other than that, great acting, and an ending I wasn’t expecting.
Above I mentioned having more that are still in the queue:
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Trucker and Dale vs. Evil
Seen any of these? Any more recommendations?
Is everyone ready for Halloween? Costumes chosen, wigs purchased, ready to begin the revelry? We here at the Ladies have already participated in the best annual celebration around – the Comicazi Halloweeniversary! Since once again it falls to me to write the Halloweek post, I thought I’d share the group costume I was part of this year in case you’re in need of some last-minute comics related ideas. But rather than go into elaborate detail on how the costumes were created, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of who the characters are, since they’re a bit less well-known. I’ll give a scale of 1-10 on costume-making ease though, 1 being that you could make it with all things you have lying around the house, 10 being that it requires special equipment and a license to operate heavy machinery.
We decided to go the spooky route this Halloween, so our theme was DC comics characters who are either dead or have death-related powers. I’m calling it Dead DC, but really only half the team counts as officially having shuffled off this mortal coil.
Ah, Fall. Such a lovely time of year. Days filled with foliage, apple picking, and various fun things to do outdoors. Nights filled with warm drinks, and cold sweats trickling down your back as you gorge yourself on everything spooky for Halloween… Well, at least that seems to be much of the case in the Smalerie household. Between The Boy’s great love for bad horror movies, Mokey’s wardrobe of costumes, and my constant internet research on Halloween themed food-items – it’s a pretty great time to be a New Englander. And since I assume that many of our blog readers are like-minded Halloween-loving fools, I though I’d use my turn this month to share the Halloween comics I managed to scare up. Let’s start with the most bleak, shall we?
Last year at this very time, Tiny Doom wrote a post that, when I look back at it, marked an historical moment for this little blog: it was the first time the Ladies had ever revealed our faces! Of course, there were only three of us – our mighty quartet only became complete in the new year. And some of the faces (okay, mostly mine) were rather obscured by the costumes we chose. But still, it was a milestone, and here we are a year later, still keeping this blog chugging along, bigger and better than ever!
And yes, we still really love Halloween.
Our love, perhaps, has different depths and comes from different places, so I won’t speak for all of the ladies in this post. (I’m pretty sure Tiny Doom loves Halloween WAY more than I do.) But however we got there, we’ve all embraced the holiday.
Since my first foray into Lego, The Goog and I have been creating seasonal pieces to put on our coffee table. Sometimes we purchase the mini sets that Lego makes, and sometimes we try to create something on our own. Since the fall season and Halloween are favorites for both of us, I wanted to attempt something really cool. Light bulb idea…a Lego Jack-o-lantern. I have orange Lego. I’ll find some instructions to help me along. How hard could it be?
I think what really meant was how wrong could I be…