Halloween

All posts tagged Halloween

Pixie’s 2017 Halloween Watch List

Published October 8, 2017 by rmpixie

 

Halloween is a couple weeks away, and of course horror aficionados are slavering for the one day where the rest of the world acknowledges our love for the genre. Although there are some of us who choose to make Halloween an everyday occurence, I can always find an excuse to curate a Halloween watch list for the countdown to what I think is a better holiday than Christmas (just sayin…)

 

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989):  I watch this much hated chapter of Jason’s illustrious career for the fight scene. Jason’s head severing punch is worth sitting through the film for me.

 

 

 

Mad Monster Party (1967):  One of my top 5 horror films. Dr. Baron von Frankenstein is retiring and throws a big party to find his replacement. There’s also a secret that everyone wants to get their hands on, and of course mayhem ensues. This Rankin/Bass production was a departure from their usual cute and fuzzy fare, but there is so much charm! Starring Boris Karloff as the Baron and Phyllis Diller as “The Monster’s Mate”, you can’t beat it for a good time. It’s clever and there are a few musical numbers that the kid in everyone will enjoy. I even have my own Yetch and Baron Boris von Frankenstein sitting on my shelf and I LOVE THEM.

 

 

Hellraiser (1987): Ah, the real king of pain coming from the mind of horror master Clive Barker. Doug Bradley as Pinhead is iconic, relentless and badass. Who else can rock a grid of pins in his skull, a midriff baring leather coat and a legion of nasty looking cronies? And if you’re dumb enough to mess with the puzzle box, well I can’t help you.

 

 

A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984):  A classic Halloween flick. Even though I own the box set, I still love finding any of the Elm St. sequels on TV. Wes Craven’s nasty child murderer immortalized by Robert Englund has haunted many a dream and is possibly the best horror villain ever created.

 

 

The Evil Dead (1981):   Directed by the beloved Sam Raimi and starring the one and only Bruce Campbell, this low-budget creeper of a doomed spring break getaway is perfect for Halloween after the streets have emptied itself of costumed kiddies, and the possessed Cheryl popping out of the cellar freaks me out every time.

 

 

Dr. Giggles (1992):  The great Larry Drake passed away last year, and strangely enough, horror boyfriend and I had just watched Dr. Giggles, directed by acclaimed TV veteran Manny Coto, a few days before his death. This classic teen horror about a crazed madman obsessed with ripping out hearts is elevated by his insane performance. That giggle is really something, and the inventive deaths will get your Halloween howls going.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981):  Another film, this time made for TV, that featured this Emmy award-winning actor. It tells the story of a mentally challenged man named Bubba mistakenly accused of killing a young girl who befriends him. He is hunted down by three townsmen and killed. When there is a report that the little girl is fine and Bubba actually saved her life, the guilty men are cleared of any charges in Bubba’s murder, leaving them as perfect candidates for a vengeful spirit. Drake’s performance is brief but brilliant, and the comeuppance for the guilty parties is satisfying.

 

 

Tales of Halloween (2015):  A great new addition to the horror anthology genre. Screening at Toronto After Dark last year, this collection brings you directors like Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers and The Descent) and Lucky McKee (The Woman and May) who give us some inventive horror connected by the festivities of our special night. You’re sure to find at least one story here to get you in the Halloween mood.

 

 

For some Canadiana, I recommend Berkshire County, Bite, and Bed of the Dead.

Berkshire County or Tormented (2014):   Audrey Cummings, a well-known director here in Toronto, brought us this tense Halloween romp where a disgraced teen is forced to protect the kids she is babysitting from some brutal home invaders. It premiered at the 2014 Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival and was a definite crowd-pleaser.  Take note of the fantastic masks made by the fine folk at The Butcher Shop FX studio.

 

 

Bite (2015):  Another Blood in the Snow favourite that screened in 2015, known for its true gross out gore.  You’ll think twice about taking a dip in a secluded lagoon and perhaps wonder what exactly that smell is coming from your reclusive neighbour’s apartment.

 

 

Bed of the Dead (2016):  Watch it if you want a cozy Halloween night in. Snuggle down into the covers and watch this Toronto After Dark 2016 selection where a haunted bed becomes judge and jury for those who have the bad luck of taking a nap, or whatever, on it.  It’s blood-drenched with a deeper message, and just one of the standout horrors (along with Bite) that the Black Fawn crew are so well-known for.

 

 

And there you have it. A collection of fun horror films that will whet the appetite of all you hungry horror fans out there!

Best wishes for a safe and ghoulish Halloween!

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Try The Exorcist TV Series For Your Halloween Scares

Published October 31, 2016 by rmpixie

theexorcist

 

 

The Exorcist is quite a horror phenomenon. In 1971, it began as a best-selling novel by William Peter Blatty about a possessed little girl and the fight to expel the demon within her. Blatty was inspired to write the book after he researched the real life case of a boy who was allegedly possessed by a demon in 1949. A few years later in 1973, Blatty adapted his novel to become one of the most iconic horror movies in the world. Directed by William Friedkin, it is not only considered to be one of the most frightening films of all times, but it was the first horror film to be nominated for best film at the 1974 Academy Awards.

The accolades for The Exorcist navigated around more than its fair share of criticism and fear-mongering; with battles to create a version that the censors deemed acceptable to play in theatres and protests over the broken taboos and lines crossed in the film adaptation. There are images that will stay with both horror fans and those repelled by the grim subject matter forever: Regan’s head spin, her spider-walk down the stairs, the projectile vomiting and chilling levitations. All of these scenes have since been duplicated but have never matched the initial terror and shock they invoked. When word got out that there was a T.V. series in the works to air this Fall, I felt fairly certain that they couldn’t do the film’s ominous nature justice on the small screen, even though television has become a much better medium for storytelling in the past few years.

Take for example the now defunct Damien series. This show was also a modernization of the hit 1976 film The Omen written by David Seltzer and directed by Richard Donner. I was curious but cautious since this was a classic and one of my favourite horror films. After the first two episodes, I was hooked. The modern spin of an adult Damien Thorn coming to terms with his Satanic lineage, plus the participation of horror veteran Barbara Hershey and a great cast was an injection of new life for the story of Satan’s son walking the earth. Week after week, the plot became darker and darker, with some brilliantly frightening scenes and performances. I especially liked the character of Sister Greta Fraueva played by Robin Weigert who brought a fresh spin to Damien’s religious hunters. Just as we were left with an incredible season finale, the show was cancelled. I was hugely disappointed, and I still have hopes that one of the streaming services will pump some money into the series and revive it.

Having seen Damien, I was tentatively hopeful about The Exorcist series.  In this incarnation, Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is a successful business woman in Chicago. She has two beautiful daughters with her husband Henry (Alan Ruck) who is recovering from a head injury. He has lucid moments, but is usually checked out and must be supervised. Angela and her family are regulars at father Tomas Ortega’s (Alfonso Herrera) parish, and is fond of the young priest. When she notices unusual activity in her home, she calls on him for help. Father Tomas has his own issues to deal with, but when he sees first hand evidence of a demonic presence in the Rance home, he must battle bureaucracy and his faith, enlisting the help of a reluctant retired exorcist Father Keane (Ben Daniels) to save the family from the supernatural threat.

I am now past the 5th episode and actually blown away with the writing, but it was touch and go for a brief moment.  Up until this point, I enjoyed the characters with the introduction of a priest with wavering faith, and a family with unexplained occurrences plaguing them.  The demonic manifestations were by the book too, but the writers took care with the details (since the devil is in them, of course!). Little things like smart phones capturing an intense event on the subway, honest reactions to exorcism, fun references to the original film, and great but subtle special effects.  In the middle of the 5th episode, however, I was almost going to tap out because some possession tropes began to sneak in, making me skeptical.  Thankfully, I was jarred out of that feeling quickly.  Without spoiling, I advise you to stick it out until the end of episode 5 for some shocking events and revelations that will make you wish the next installment was downloading in your brain immediately.

The show is also cast well. Davis always commands the screen, and Herrera is fantastic as the young priest who may be losing his way. It’s a pleasant surprise to see him in something after his Sense8 role. It is also nice to see Alan Ruck as Angela’s struggling husband. This Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vet serves as a great vessel for limitless plot twists. Also keep your eye on Hanna Kasulka and Brianne Howey who play sisters Casey and Kat respectively. Their dynamic plus the tortured Casey is classic horror material.

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The final verdict? This Halloween, get to your T.V. or computer and catch up with the show if you haven’t already started from day one.  I’m really curious where they go from here and I hope they keep the twists coming. It’s a solid, modernized version of a classic horror movie that needs viewer support. Don’t let it become another great horror TV show that goes the way of premature cancellation.

The Exorcist airs Friday nights on the Fox network at 9:00 p.m. in the U.S. and C.T.V same day and time in Canada. Catch up on episodes here:

http://www.fox.com/the-exorcist (U.S.)

http://www.ctv.ca/The-Exorcist (Canada)

Pixie’s Year in Review: Turning 4 with Ghouls, Growth and Good Times!

Published October 13, 2016 by rmpixie

Looks like it’s that time of year again! With Halloween just around the corner, and since I’ll be a busy bee the next week and a half, I’m posting an early shout-out for a couple of anniversaries I’ll be celebrating this year.

Rosemary’s Pixie turns 4 this October 17th. I’ve toughed it out for another year, growing as both a writer and film reviewer.  There were fewer reviews on the blog this time around due to some other writing projects I’ve been up to, as well as my contributions to Cinema Axis, that you can check out here.  Browse the site for a ton of other reviews on almost every film genre out there by the always prolific founder, Courtney Small.

There have been some really big highlights of the past year as well:

Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival a.k.a. BITS…and me!

One of the biggest changes for me is that I can now call myself a Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival programmer. Who knew?!!! I had to take a moment when Kelly Michael Stewart, the festival director offered me the position. I was surprised but SO stoked and honoured because I really love the BITS fest. It’s a great way to showcase fantastic talent and Canadian genre film, meet filmmakers, cast and crew, and it’s one of the few festivals out there that focuses on the business side of things as well. I feel so lucky to be a part of the BITS team.  They’re a group of great people who are just as passionate about film as I am.  All the screenings will be at Cineplex Yonge/Dundas Cinemas, which is a bigger venue this year.   This Saturday October 15th  at noon, we’ll be announcing the BITS lineup and schedule at Horror-Rama in Toronto. Come on out and say hi, enjoy all the fun at Horror-Rama, and get your passes for what’s going to be a great festival this year.

I also got a chance to interview Michael Dickson, a great Canadian actor who starred in one of the fan favourites at BITS 2014, Black Mountain Side.  He was a great interview, and the last time he was in Toronto, we caught up and talked about the film business, The West Coast and his brain-freeze cute dog.

Meeting Lizzie

I wrote an article on Adelaide Norris, a character in the 80’s indie feminist sci-fi classic, Born In Flames, for the website http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com (run by my girl Ashlee Blackwell) last year. Little did I know that the director herself, Lizzie Borden, would find that article, and that she would be coming to Toronto for a free screening of the restored film at TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre this past July. She contacted me out of the blue and it took me a minute to realize it was THE director of a film that moved me so much. Several emails and a few weeks later, I was sitting at an intimate dinner with Lizzie, myself and 3 other women who have supported or screened her film in the past, courtesy of TIFF and Chris Kennedy, programmer for The Free Screen. Lizzie talked about her experiences in the film industry, and wanted to know more about about us, the people who felt so strongly about her film. It was a night that I will always remember because Lizzie Borden is one of the warmest, loveliest people in the industry that I have ever met. (My apologies for no photos.  We were so engrossed in conversation that not one person pulled out their phone for a picture.  How old school is that?)

 

I’m a Published Author!

 

Women in Horror Annual (WHA, 2016)

The first Women in Horror Annual came out in February, including fiction and non-fiction works from women horror writers. I was lucky to be a part of this group of great writers and I had a book signing in July with one of the editors, Rachel Katz. It was a great night, with friends, family and fellow horror lovers coming out to support the book. There will be another signing coming soon at the end of the month to celebrate Halloween, so stay tuned for details. Can’t make the signing? Then pick up a copy here! I also contributed to The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films. That came out a few months ago, and I’m proud to say that I’m a part of an academic tome on horror.

japanese-horror-ency

The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016)

 

Last but definitely not least, is the Toronto After Dark Film Festival that starts today! My top picks are :  Under the Shadow, Train to Busan, As The Gods Will, Creepy, Antibirth, The Stakelander and The Void. You can read about all of the films here.  I’m as excited as ever, but more so because I’m celebrating the second anniversary I mentioned earlier.  It will be about 2 years since I met the love of my life at After Dark. I admit I had my eye on him for a few years (yes, years. I’m a chicken when it comes to approaching men), so it took a lot of courage to talk to him. Luckily, he was as sweet as pie (and still is!).  We’re both diehard fans of Toronto After Dark, so after some time as acquaintances, then friends, we finally realized it was a match made in horror. Even though we’re both older, slow and steady does win the race!

Well, that’s my year in review.  As always, I thank you, dear reader, for checking in with me as I write about films, books, and TV that I love. It’s been a great journey filled with many surprises, and one that I plan to continue with you because it’s truly been a good time!

Mad Monster Party: The Best Halloween Ticket in Town

Published October 31, 2015 by rmpixie

Mad Monster Party

Mad Monster Party (1967, 1 hr., 35 mins.)

 

After searching for a party to attend this Halloween, I finally found the ultimate shin-dig, but I’m going back, way back, to a classic movie that some of you may remember.

When I was a kid, for several years in a row, Mad Monster Party aired on Halloween night, and I would always watch it as I got ready for trick or treating. Putting on my costume, I would giggle as Baron Von Frankenstein held court with his monster dinner guests, ready to reveal his crazy plans.  Directed by the king of animated specials Jules Bass, this “Animagic” feat is a heap of silly but I still marveled at the skill needed to create this wacky stop-motion film.

Baron Boris von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) has completed his ultimate goal and is retiring. After mastering the secret to creation with his monster and his mate, he has now created a deadly elixir and would like to share the news with his monster colleagues and announce his successor.  He decides to throw a dinner party at his Isle of Evil where he’ll reveal his destructive formula and his human nephew, the allergy-ridden pharmacist Felix Flankin, as the new head of the World Wide Organization of Monsters.  Francesca (Gale Garnett) his secretary is not pleased with his choice, and when his ghoulish guests arrive, they are also upset a human will be taking over.  After a night of eating, dancing and rough-housing, everyone plots to get rid of Felix, and devilish double crossings throw all plans into chaos.

This is some silly fun that fills the nostalgia void. The characterizations of classic monsters such as Dracula, the Hunchback, and the Werewolf are beyond cute, and the relentless one-liners they spew are ridiculous.  Silly gag after silly gag, my favourite being the Baron’s assistant Yetch and his detachable head, make you chuckle, and the musical numbers are really clever, not to mention all the little horror details like the zombie bellhops and a skeleton band that pepper this old-school gem.

A cast of four was all it took to bring the monsters to life. Along with Boris Karloff, the always hilarious Phyllis Diller played the monster’s mate, Gale Garnett husky tones voiced the sultry Francesca, and veteran voice actor and impersonator Allen Swift mastered the rest of the characters, adding unique personalities such as Peter Lorre (Yetch), and Jimmy Stewart (Felix) to each horror icon.  Pay attention to the film’s theme sung by Ethel Ennis as well.  It’s a jazzy treat sung in a James Bond style.  This is entertainment through and through, and a must-have for any horror collector.

Mad Monster Party is a creature caper that will have you laughing in spite of yourself. It’s campy, sometimes sophisticated, but most importantly, a joy to watch every Halloween.

Have a safe and happy Halloween my creepy peeps!!

 

My favourite number in the movie.  The monsters are so cute!!

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