Our Need for Joe Bob is Unmistakable

Folks of a certain age understand compulsion better than anyone. And I’m not talkin’ about overindulging in food or alcohol or even aardvarkin’. No, this is far more specific: an absolutely animalistic compulsion to see a film based entirely on its video store cover art if you know what I mean, (and if you grew up in the eighties) I think you do.

As a lad I just had to know what treasures lay beneath the fascinating covers of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), as well a film that for whatever reason always caught my eye but my family had never rented.

For years as a child I spent weekends at my grandparents’ house. It was in the country, I could grab my baseball glove and tennis ball and toss it against the house steps and visualize owning my friends the next time we squared off (it never worked, by the way), and my grandpa would always let me drive the John Deere riding mower while their dog Pete followed me around the expansive yard. It was comforting to be there with them and the hound, an unmistakable slice of heaven.

Neither of my grandparents were movie buffs, but my grandma always made a point to grab a bottle of Pepsi and glass of ice during the 10 o’clock news so she could get caffeinated and stay up with me.

Like clockwork, my grandpa would turn in right after that broadcast, then she and I would settle in to watch whatever B-movie fare the local affiliate had secured for that week. The only one I remember, however, was the one repped by cover art that had caught my eye but eluded my view — IT’S ALIVE (1974).

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I remember leaning in as the screen transitioned from the WKBT nightly news to a quick preview for Larry Cohen’s weird tale of a killer baby. Thoughts of that cover art’s cradle with and a claw peeking out played through my mind as I watched in riveted terror (for perspective, I wasn’t quite 10 years old). But there was an odd comfort in that fear, because I knew that my grandmother was right there beside me and grandpa was sleeping in the next room. Though frightened, I was safe, and that sense of security was unmistakable.

In that moment, I knew that a lifelong devotion to horror was set into motion, which led to THE SHINING (1980) and FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) and later, midnight soirees with a cowboy hat-wearing, beer-guzzling smartass on The Movie Channel.

Drive-In Theater turned to MonsterVision and when I found myself working at a television station years later, I asked the high sheriffs if I could resurrect their collection of public domain films into a B-Movie homage to Joe Bob Briggs. They said yes, and for three years my delight was unmistakable.

As Briggs is apt to say, movies are intended to be enjoyed with an audience, a communal experience. A stance proven time and again through the connectivity of The Movie Channel and TNT and the fact that two of the people I worked with at the TV studio had previously labored at another — WKBT.

So, when Joe Bob made his triumphant return to Shudder with The Last Drive-In just shy of two years ago, that unmistakable sense of safety and the nostalgia that came along with it flooded over every nerve in my body.

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What was supposed to be a last, 24-hour hurrah for the Drive-In Jedi quickly turned into Friday night double features that not only obliterated Shudder’s server but unwittingly triggered a silent alarm that drew every Drive-In Mutant who had watched Briggs alone in their youth into a larger family that they never knew they had. That communal sense of acceptance and love was also unmistakable.

Shortly after the death of IT’S ALIVE’s writer and director Larry Cohen last March, Joe Bob selected Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982) from the Shudder library to celebrate the life and talent of one of the most uniquely talented filmmakers to ever walk the Earth. But before the picture rolled, Briggs shared something that has stayed with me every day since:

“You can be half-drunk and just woke up and turn on the TV and if it’s a Larry Cohen movie you instantly know it,” continuing “the characters talk in this rhythm, it’s just unmistakable.”

Unmistakable.

Cohen’s singular skill and the gorilla filmmaking that brought it to fruition, to say nothing of the millions who believed they were alone in their love for films like Cohen’s only to find that they were part of something much bigger years later. The experiences may have been individualized in our youth, but we later discovered that those memories were unmistakably shared.

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From a late night horror film on WKBT to working with friends who’d called that station home, from the compulsion of video store cover art to the Drive-In Theater to MonsterVision to Shudder, all experiences that were part of something much bigger, a larger safety net that only togetherness can create.

And now we find ourselves firmly entrenched in the quarantine-shelter-in-place-social-distancing of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us find ourselves ripped from loved ones and the routine of our daily lives, feeling lost and lonely. We need our safety net now more than ever, and just as we feel our sanity starting to slip, we are less than a fortnight from the fright.

Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl will give us Season 2 of The Last Drive-In on the evening of April 24 and it could not come at a better time. We need family, we need friends, we need the safety net of the loving acceptance that only a Briggs-led communal experience can provide.

When the curtain goes up on that first episode, whether it serves as a distraction or makes you feel normal again, however momentary, we will all be reminded of our own similar but unique late night horror movie experience that set our collective journey into motion.

We will be compelled to watch. It will be much needed. It will be therapeutic. But above all, every emotion it evokes will be unmistakable.

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Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl’s Horror World

Australian wildfires. Devastating earthquakes. Tragic plane crashes. A terrifying global pandemic. Now Stuart Gordon. The man that I think very well set in motion full blast, my exploration into (at the time) lesser-known horror films. I’m pretty confident that it’s safe to say 2020 can eat a big hairy dick.

On March 24th, 2020, the horror world received the news that legendary filmmaker Stuart Gordon passed away at the age of 72. According to a source that had spoken with someone close to the family, Gordon had been sick for some time, (from what I don’t know). The grand visionary of independent horror and theater aficionado lit up the 80s’ VHS section with such works as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and of course, the film I really want to talk about right now- DOLLS.

 

If you’re familiar at all with my internet ramblings, you already know my love of horror history watching Halloween in my diapers with my father. Around the time I was eight-years-old, I was well versed in the Slasher and Universal Monsters Genre; with A Nightmare on Elm Street 1, 3, and 4, Friday the 13th films, Halloween movies with almost a nightly visit from Stephen King’s Silver Bullet all in pretty heavy rotation in my Pioneer VHS cassette player. What can I say- creature of habit. Until one day on our Tuesday night visit to our local Mom and Pop video rental store, something had caught my eyes that changed my comforting rotation of horror flicks forever.

 

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

 

As an eight-year-old little girl, I was completely enamored with the VHS cover alone. You see, I had already had a fascination with creepy dolls. Mainstream popular films like Poltergeist and at the time, a recently released Child’s Play had only fueled that curious fetish further.

Squirlling off for a sec, again, just another grand example of how powerful good ole’ VHS box art had and continues to have with such online retailers as Shout! and Arrow preserving that beautiful legacy of horror home video art.

Anyway, I grabbed it off the shelf to show the Mother and disgusted as she was looking at it with an attempt to push me into another rental from the “kiddie” section, she gave in. Upon our return, I settled in with a nice juice-box of Hawaiian Punch, (if you remember those boxed 10-packs- fist bump to you buddy) a can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and rode the Full Moon journey into this crazy ride of killer yet somehow weirdly compassionate dolls, witches, and straight to the point moral warnings to humanity. Or at least in this version- be a decent human or a witch might turn your dumbass into a creepy as fuck decorative dolly porcelain.  And you know what? It’s been one of my all-time favorites since then.

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

DOLLS is sort of a dark and twisted fairy tale with just the right amount of gore and goofiness. The film starts with a shithead Dad, the even bigger shithead Stepmom, and a young girl Judy clutching her favorite toy “Teddy” getting stranded in the middle of creepy backwoods nowhere England with a severe thunderstorm approaching. In an attempt to seek shelter, the family heads out on foot to a spotted castle-like mansion that just so happens to be sitting close by- it’s like none of these guys had ever seen a horror movie in their entire life. Little Judy, lagging behind annoys the evil step-mother played by Stuart Gordon’s wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, snatches Teddy and tosses it in some bushes setting up one of the most glorious scenes in the film.

Big kudos to special effects supervisor and head honcho make-up artist Gabe Bartalos (TCM 2, Basket Case) for this magnificence that runs consistently throughout the film.

Moving on, the trio makes their way to the mansion, breaks in because why not, and gets met by an elderly toymaker couple at gunpoint played by Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason; who then takes pity on them upon seeing the presence of a child in the mist. They take them through the endless hallways in the home to see the place is filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of nightmare-inducing dolls. Then we throw in two criminal punk rock hitchhikers with a bumbling but loveable man-child also seeking asylum and hot-damn we got ourselves a movie now!

The dolls themselves pretty much do the couple’s bidding. Giving people a chance to basically just not act like a dick and be respectful. It seems like these really are the only rules in this home filled with little homicidal plastic terrors. But, we wouldn’t have a movie if that were the case, so of course, some of these people cross the dickhead line and pay the ultimate price. According to the Blu-ray from Scream Factory, Stuart Gordon reveals his inspiration behind the look and story of  DOLLS involving being accidentally locked in a room full of Victorian-style porcelain horrors for a period of time.

Yep. Big bag of FUCK NO for me.

Dolls, usually overlooked by such films in Gordon’s Rolodex like From Beyond and Re-Animator, has gained a monumental cult of popularity over the past ten years thanks to the multiple horror internet outlets dedicated to this sort of thing. To me personally, the story of what is actually a pretty damn abused girl by the hands of her asshole father and his new wife partnered with her pure innocence and love of toys remains extra special and a cautionary tale at its finest. It also opened up a whole new world of 80s’ horror shortly after as I began to expand my genre curiosities based on VHS box art alone.

Thanks for the memories and the movies Stu. Rest in peace toy soldier.

dolls gif

 

Nostalgic Toys, Wrestling Legends, and Iconic 80s’ Faces Invade Las Vegas Toy Con!

So you’re telling me- an entire weekend con, (not just one night) featuring the best of 80s’ toys, wrestling legends, Garbage Pail Kids artists, and for the love of the best damn cinematic American patriot Apollo Creed, Carl Weathers, all together at once in my hometown?

This GIF is a big mood, guys.

Nostalgic Toys, Wrestling Legends, and Iconic 80s' Faces Invade Las Vegas Toy Con!

Because you know, it’s clearly not like I dedicate a part of my life to this or anything.

Anyways, YES- the 12th annual Vegas Toycon is back and better than ever with an entire weekend full of childhood fuzzies that will take you through a time warp of wonderful childhood memories including a slew of celebrity guests that are sure to make even the manliest of men shed a tear of nostalgic joy.

Held at the Las Vegas Cannery, March 13-15th, 2020, Toycon is breaking out the red carpet for such guests as Carl Weathers (The Mandalorian, Predator, Rocky Films Saga), Ryan Hurst (The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy), Jimmy Vee (R2D2-Star Wars), Dominic Pace (The Mandalorian), along with Optimus Prime and Megatron themselves Peter Cullen and Frank Welker!

Appearing alongside these screen gems are a couple of WWE legends prepared to sign autographs with photo ops as well! The attendance roster includes Scott Hall (Razor Ramon), Kevin Nash (Diesel), Sting, Jon Moxley, and Fred Ottman (Tugboat, Typhoon)!

So much machismo.

Nostalgic Toys, Wrestling Legends, and Iconic 80s' Faces Invade Las Vegas Toy Con!

 

If that’s enough to rattle your inner 80s’ kid, the cast from Steven Spielberg’s E.T. and a select slew of the Netflix giant Stranger Things will be on hand as well and if that’s not enough for you- then I honestly should just stop right now and kind of give up. Let’s get real- Dee Wallace is an absolute treasure beyond her E.T. fandom, i.e Cujo, The HowlingCritters and more.

Ok, that’s the fangirl talking. Let’s move along.

Nostalgic Toys, Wrestling Legends, and Iconic 80s' Faces Invade Las Vegas Toy Con!

 

And for all the Garbage Pail Kids fans out there, (everyone am I right?!):

Nostalgic Toys, Wrestling Legends, and Iconic 80s' Faces Invade Las Vegas Toy Con!

 

Beyond the overwhelming appearances, and honestly, there are so many more but I could be here all day, are tons of family-friendly activities. Funko Pop giveaways and scavenger hunts, custom toy contests, original artwork, cosplay, and tons of awesome toy and comic vendors!

Tickets are available here directly through the TOYCON website. Check the website thoroughly for days and photo-op times of celebrity appearances and kids 12 and under are free!

I will be there covering the event for Nightmare Nostalgia so if you see a tiny girl in an Apollo Creed shirt covered in tattoos, run up to me with the password phrase “I WANT YOU CHUMP!“, and I MIGHT just have a little gift for you! Happy hunting and see you at Toycon folks!

 

 

Let’s Be Thankful Stephen Gammell Illustrated a Thanksgiving Poems Book

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark made him a household name to kids in the ’80s, and public enemy number one to the Karens’ of School Public Libraries all over America.  Gammell’s illustrations captivate, excite, and leave us uneasy with his unique interpretations of art imitating life. If one is familiar with his work, he’s pretty easy to spot in other literary and exhibit endeavors; and the “Thanksgiving Poems” book is no exception as that accustomed awe-inspiring creep factor captures the very essence of Autumn and Thanksgiving through visual imagery.

Let's Be Thankful Stephen Gammell Illustrated a Thanksgiving Poems Book

First published in September of 1985, the “Thanksgiving Poems” book collected and sorted by Myra Cohn Livingston is a collection of 16 poems and songs from various storytellers’ including musical excerpts from the Osage and Navajo nations. Ranging from contemporary, comical, to a little preachy, (there are some King James verses in this thing). The book is a short 32-pages and the poems discuss trees, turkeys, families, and food; giving thanks, what happens when families congregate during thanksgiving, and the history of thanksgiving can all be found in this little diddy.

However, Gammell is the clear winner here as he blows out a vessel of watercolor hues of orange, white, and blue with powerful illustrations accompanying each entry. I could go on, but hey, a picture is worth 1000 words so here you go!

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Fantastic. For those interested in adding this unique piece of work to your library, you can get it from Amazon here!

I truly hope anyone reading this has a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you choose to celebrate or not, whether you’re with family or alone,  I don’t know you, but you are a wonderful human and deserve all the wonderful things this beautiful life has to offer. Thanks for being on this nostalgic trip with me for the past year and a half!

Arrow Video Releasing 4k Restoration Steelbook of ROBOCOP

I’d buy that for a dollar!

Well, it’s definitely worth more than just a paper Washington; but I had to throw that line in here somewhere.

With only two months left in this wild decade, Arrow Video is pulling out all the stops with all-new releases, including an amazing limited edition AND steelbook version of Paul Verhoeven’s action-packed classic, RoboCop. This highly anticipated release features the director’s cut and the original theatrical release, both presented with a 4K restoration approved by Verhoeven himself.

Ahhhh. Dead or alive, it’s coming with me.

Arrow Video Releasing 4k Restoration Steelbook of ROBOCOP

 

Per Arrow films, here’s what you’ll get in these must-have collector Blu-rays:

ROBOCOP (STEELBOOK EDITION)

Arrow Video Releasing 4k Restoration Steelbook of ROBOCOP

 

ROBOCOP (LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY)

Nightmare Nostalgia Arrow Video Robocop Blu-Ray

 

  • 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by MGM, transferred in 2013 and approved by director Paul Verhoeven
  • Newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper
  • Director’s Cut and Theatrical Cut of the film on two High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ discs
  • Original lossless stereo and four-channel mixes plus DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound option on both cuts
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both cuts
  • Six collector’s postcards (Limited Edition exclusive)
  • Double-sided, fold-out poster (Limited Edition exclusive)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths and Henry Blyth, a 1987 Fangoria interview with Rob Bottin, and archive publicity materials (some contents exclusive to Limited Edition)
  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for the Theatrical Cut and re-edited in 2014 for the Director’s Cut)
  • New commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon
  • New commentary by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen
  • The Future of Law Enforcement: Creating RoboCop, a newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner
  • RoboTalk, a newly filmed conversation between co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke (writer of Elle) and Nick McCarthy (director of Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy)
  • Truth of Character, a newly filmed interview with star Nancy Allen on her role as Lewis
  • Casting Old Detroit, a newly filmed interview with casting director Julie Selzer on how the film’s ensemble cast was assembled
  • Connecting the Shots, a newly filmed interview with second unit director and frequent Verhoeven collaborator Mark Goldblatt
  • Composing RoboCop, a new tribute to composer Basil Poledouris featuring film music experts Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, Daniel Schweiger and Robert Townson
  • RoboProps, a newly filmed tour of super-fan Julien Dumont’s collection of original props and memorabilia
  • 2012 Q&A with the Filmmakers, a panel discussion featuring Verhoeven, Davison, Neumeier, Miner, Allen, star Peter Weller and animator Phil Tippett
  • RoboCop: Creating a Legend, Villains of Old Detroit and Special Effects: Then & Now, three archive featurettes from 2007 featuring interviews with cast and crew
  • Paul Verhoeven Easter Egg
  • Four deleted scenes
  • The Boardroom: Storyboard with Commentary by Phil Tippett
  • Director’s Cut Production Footage, raw dailies from the filming of the unrated gore scenes
  • Two theatrical trailers and three TV spots
  • Extensive image galleries
  • Archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for Theatrical version of the film)
  • Two Isolated Score tracks (Composer’s Original Mix and Final Theatrical Mix) in lossless stereo
  • Edited-for-television version of the film, featuring alternate dubs, takes and edits of several scenes (95 mins, SD only)
  • Split screen comparison of Theatrical and Director’s Cuts
  • RoboCop: Edited For Television, a compilation of alternate scenes from two edited-for-television versions, newly transferred in HD from recently-unearthed 35mm elements

 

Both the steelbook and limited edition version will be available through Arrow Video on November 26, 2019.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of Arrow’s November release line-up!

APPRENTICE TO MURDER [Blu-ray] (11/5)
FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC [Blu-ray] (11/12)
THE FAR COUNTRY [Blu-ray] (11/12)
HITCHHIKE TO HELL [Blu-ray] (11/19)

Google Searches Identify Each State’s Most Popular Horror Icon

Welp, it’s that time of year again where the Gods of the Interwebs invade our search history and reveal all that naughty late-night, drunk browsing for the world to see! Just kidding ( I hope). But seriously, a team of Google analysts at Frontier Bundles performs this just-for-fun horror data search every year that reveals which horror icon is the most popular across the United States of America.

The Frontier Bundles data analyst team selected 12 popular villains from classic, pre-21st-century horror movies and used Google Trends to analyze their search volume in the last 12 months. They then reported the villain with the highest search volume in each state.

In other words, don’t shoot the messenger here if you are displeased with your home town’s results. Personally speaking as a Nevadan, my black little heart of Damballa is content with Chucky being our most beloved. Check out the map and details below provided by Frontier Bundles themselves! 

 

Google Searches Identify Each State's Most Popular Horror Icon

 

Which horror villain reigns supreme in your state? Sound off below!

{Watch} Nightmare Nostalgia’s 10 Favorite Halloween Specials

Fruits of the loins from the late ’70s, ’80s or early ’90s, can probably remember that sweet, repetitive October television and all its glory with the magic of Halloween specials that only aired once a year. While yes, television still continues the trend of annual Halloween traditions with certain programs to look forward to such as The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, The Great Pumpkin, and the beloved repetitive viewings of Hocus Pocus with, of course,  the occasional Primetime sitcom that runs its yearly Halloween episode. However, the issue I have in the modern age of the boob tube is that most of the holiday programming, that many of us looked forward to so fondly has fallen into obscurity in regards to annual airings. There is no rhyme or reason why they have become so obsolete in the world of primetime, and I’m going to be quite frank here- I’m a little pissed off about it. The era of streaming I’m sure has a bit to do with thine predicament. But nevertheless, in so many words- it kinda blows.

During my early writing years, I had compiled a similar list that has since been swallowed by time and ugly Internets. So I’m here to remedy the situation, update the fucker, and daydream of the glory days that revolved around a disco dancing vampire and Gilda Radner as a bumbling animated witch.

And OK… my own as well.

10 Nostalgic Halloween Specials You Can Watch Right Now!

 

10. The Midnight Hour (1985)

Originally premiering as a TV movie on ABC in 1985, The Midnight Hour follows four friends who unwittingly awaken one of their dead ancestors, who just happens to be a witch hellbent on bringing back the dead. With a ’50s cheerleader ghost by their side, it’s up to the group of kids to return things to normal. The Midnight Hour was briefly released on VHS in 1999 and then on DVD in 2000. However, it has long since been out of print and is among a treasured rare film to have in your possession and highly valued among collectors. So start searching your parent’s garage, or hit up your local yard sales. If you find this gem, I suggest you snatch it up! But in the meantime, here’s a pretty clear copy on YouTube.

 

9. Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)

According to Suessfandom.com, Halloween Is Grinch Night is actually a prequel to the How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And how this has fallen into Halloween special obscurity is about as understandable as pubic hair.  This grinchy tale premiered on ABC in 1977, played for a few years and fell to the wayside. Halloween is Grinch Night takes place one evening when a ‘sour-sweet wind’ blows through Whoville and warns the Whos’ that the Grinch is coming down from Mt.Crumpit to celebrate the much-feared “Grinch Night.” One boy, named Euchariah, is swept away by the wind and comes face to face with the Grinch himself. Now Euchariah must stall the Grinch until the wind dies down, even if he has to face the horrors in the Paraphernalia Wagon. Yeah, you read that right. Paraphernalia Wagon.

Fantastic stuff folks.

8. Mr. Boogedy

Originally broadcast as part of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Mr. Boogedy (and later sequel) was a staple of Disney’s rotated Halloween programming for a number of years up until the mid-’90s. This long-forgotten classic follows a novelty salesman and his family of pranksters that have moved to a town called Lucifer Falls- rad. And 0f course their new humble abode is haunted by a three-hundred-year-old ghost by the name of Mr. Boogedy, known in life as William Hanover before he sold his soul to the devil. With stars such as Richard Masur (Adult Stan inIT), a young Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), David Faustino ( Bud from Married With Children) and the legendary John Astin (Gomez Addams), I gotta give Disney a thumbs up for this one. While this one is not available fully for free on the Youtubes, you can absolutely rent this for the reasonable price of $2.99 at Amazon

 

 

 

7. The Worst Witch (1986)

The Worst Witch is a cult fan favorite among many and in my opinion, any film where Tim Curry sings is a delight and a privilege and we should be goddamn grateful this film exists. This Halloween necessity first aired on HBO and the Disney Channel in 1986 for the Halloween season and continued into around the late 90s. The bewitching tale about, duh, a witch academy (move over J.K Rawlings) centers around Mildred Hubble, the school’s “worst witch” her misadventures within, and a scheming plot that threatens the school. Because every great empowerment story needs a touch of drama, right? And with all the Halloween splendor aside, that is exactly why I adore everything about The Worst Witch. The message of self-love and acceptance behind all the dazzling of Tim Curry magnificently banging on tambourines is a lesson that should always be taught to our children.  Based on the 1974 children’s book by Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch stars Diana Rigg, a young Fairuza Balk, the fabulous Charlotte Rae, and Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard. If you got the bones to break out of your wallet, you can get a copy here from Amazon.

 

 

 

6. Witch’s Night Out (1978)

Witch’s Night Out premiered in 1978 on NBC. And AGAIN, aired on the Disney channel in the ’80s through the late ’90s. This personal favorite of mine follows this ridiculous witch ( Gilda Radner) who feels unloved and forgotten. Upon hearing the wishes of two children, Small and Tender, who want nothing more than to scare the jerkoff adults on Halloween, the witch accompanies the pair of Halloweenies and their babysitter (Bazooey) to a Halloween party. Where Miss Witch transorms them into a werewolf, a ghost and Frankenstein’s Monster. Well, the kids get their wish and scare the crap out of the town resulting in a mob them through the night. Also featuring the voice of  Catherine O’ Hara as Malicious, Witch’s Night Out is a fun take me back for kids and adults alike. Also, you gotta love that catchy intro.

 

 

5. Vincent Price: Once Upon A Midnight Scary (1979)

My only question is, why the hell wasn’t there more of these?! I mean the master of horror himself hosting his own Halloween special. It’s a national treasure really. It sort of reminds me of one of those really cheesy but awesome after school specials. But again. VINCENT PRICE. So it makes up for the rest. Originally broadcast on CBS in 1979,  Price introduces three different spooky stories based on children’s books in his own creepy yet flamboyant way that every Vincent fan knows him for: The Ghost Belonged To Me by Richard Peck (1976), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820), and The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (1973). It was released on VHS, but chances of a DVD release are slim to none. A shame really.

 

 

4. The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (1979)

Also entitled The Night That Dracula Saved The World, this gem of a tv short aired regularly on The Disney Channel until the late 90s. Notice the trend here?! Time to write a strong-worded letter to that Robert Iger fellow.  This remarkable short centers around Dracula (Judd Hirsh) and his monsters trying to stop the Halloween witch, bitter from not getting top-billing in the monster world, from destroying Halloween forever. This is one of my all-time personal favorites because of all the great monster elements it has to offer. Along with a nice little history of Halloween, it really keeps you entertained with humorous jokes and gags. Also, clearly Adam Sandler took some Hotel Transelyvania notes from the impeccable Hirsh. Although it was released on VHS, it never made it to DVD. I believe I may start a petition for this one. Complete with a monster disco attached.

 

3. Casper’s Halloween Special

I fondly remember this little diddy being one of my favorites’ to watch during the Trick or Treat countdown towards the annual sugar coma. Also, I’m being upfront with you guys here and HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN about this treasured retro gem myself until I sat and thought about what I was going to put into this list.  As a lover of Wendy the Witch- I’m a little ashamed about this, (even though she has nothing to do with this Halloween special whatsoever but hey, she is connected to the Casper fellow). However, it just goes to show how these nostalgic bits of childhood can fall into obscurity. Especially with the stresses of having to adult- and stuff.

Anyways, enough rambling.

“Casper’s Halloween Special” first debuted on All Hallow’s Eve 1979 during NBC’s Halloween hour and serves as a classic Casper tale of the friendly ghost doing what he does best- you know, being friendly and shit. Casper’s fellow dead dudes, Hairy Scary, Screech Ghost, and Winifred Witch are obviously excited about spooktacular Halloween shenanigans they have planned that involve scaring the ever-loving crap out of trick or treaters and invite Casper to partake. But, of course, he declines and decides to take the opportunity to join the living in trick or treat fun. You know, denial and stuff is strong Casper. Regardless, after hitting a few bumps in the road to candy, Casper falls upon a group of orphans who see him for who he REALLY is, and invites him to hang for the night. However, the other ghosts see all this and are hell-bent on ruining the night for them.

 

 

2. Raggedy Ann and Andy in “The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile”

 

Released in the same year as the above Casper special, the stitched iconic duo got their very own CBS Halloween 30-minute block on Halloween night with “The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile”. Later, the Chuck Jones written special aired on Disney (of course) in Halloween syndication alongside many of these treasure troves listed here. We begin with an intro of a deserted pumpkin stand at Halloween dusk where one lone pumpkin is need of some serious Prozac. All of his buddies have been picked by the children while the Eeyore of Jack-O-Lanterns’ remains alone and in danger of becoming pig compost the following day. Across town, the Raggadies along with their pup are severely annoyed by the next-door Halloween Scrooge Aunt Agatha; who is giving her poor nephew a hard time about the glorious holiday. So, of course, they do their due diligence in wanting to cheer the kid up with the idea of surprising him a Halloween pumpkin. Well, you might guess where this going and, SPOILER ALERT, the pumpkin smiles.

 

1. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

And here we are. In my opinion, the Holy Grail of Halloween specials; from 1985- “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure”! From the catchy tunes that relentlessly get stuck in my head contained within this national treasure, to the aesthetic ambiance of a true ’80s Halloween experience makes it a classic that will NEVER go out of style. Fully equipped with trick or treating in an endless pursuit of candy, ghost pirates, and a creepy 110-year-old man, this 30-minute piece of Halloween Heaven sets the tone for what is to become the scariest night ever for the lasagna lover and his pal, Odie. I remember being a child watching this over and over on a recorded from TV VHS tape, that the scenes with the ghost pirates were actually a bit frightening. But that also illuminates why I watched “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure many times as a kid and returned to it on a regular basis as an adult.

 

 

Well, there you have it. Nightmare Nostalgia’s most memorable and personal favorite Halloween specials! Now gather your spawns around the computer and give them a taste of why ’70s and ’80s Halloween TV was simply spooktacular. And while you’re at it, comment below with your personal favorite! I’d love to hear from you!!

Happy Halloween!

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*And no- I didn’t forget Disney’s Halloween Treat. (Insert maniacal laughter here)

 

Freakling Bros To Retire Nosferatu This Year With “Death Of The Vampyre”

Oh, Vegas. As soon as the first leaf falls from (depending on where you live), the neighborhood tree, it marks the end of boob and butt-crack sweat and begins a few glorious months of favorable weather conditions. If you, like me, live in what we refer to Satan’s Armpit, you know exactly what I mean and how we feel about this. And as we continue a stroke of relief of 90 degree days in October, the long-standing Las Vegas-based haunt Freakling Bros. has been hard at work during those awful Summer days to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year and the October opening of the infamous, Trilogy of Terror.

 

The legacy that is Freakling started over 40 years ago with the Mollner family and their passionate love affair with Samhain. With what began as a simple, yet startling decorated haunted house to amuse trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, ballooned into three separate haunts immersive experience that returns year after year to the Vegas Valley with welcoming arms to both locals and tourists alike. Being a native to the Vegas Valley, I’ve had the privilege to visit Freakling’s haunts annually since my adolescence and it’s been a marvel to watch them grow into what they have become today.

Over the years, the haunts have interchanged to make way for fresh ideas- including the now infamous R-Rated, GATES OF HELL that pushes your anxiety to the brink of terror. And worth noting, your precious nerve endings that will receive the occasional mild electrical shock delivered by some of the sadistically enthusiastic actors. However,  Nosferatu who resides inside the fan-favorite PG Castle Vampyre that has stood on the haunt grounds of the Trilogy for years, is due to take his last flight this Halloween 2019.

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I am a little sad to see the haunt lay to rest, however, I’m also intrigued and excited to see what twisted brainchild of the Mollners’ comes to fruition in the 2020 haunt season. So if you’re in the Vegas area, or plan on visiting the city this October, make sure to pay your respects to “DEATH OF THE VAMPYRE” and bid farewell to Nosferatu, Vampyra, Drucilla, Shadow, and all the other vamp inhabitants of Castle Vampyre!

For tickets and calendar dates, visit the official FREAKLING website and follow them on TWITTER.

 

 

 

Adam Green Saved My Life

I’ve been suicidal since December. For as long as I can remember, the disconnect and loneliness of depression has crept in and out of my life, but this stretch has been different, its grip has been unrelenting for the past seven months. The story never changes, on its face I have nothing to be depressed about, no reason to no longer want to be here—I have great friends, am very active, go to the gym every day, make decent money—but it doesn’t change the fact that thoughts of ending it all are a part of my daily life. When you feel as though you’re trapped in a hopeless prison and derive no lasting happiness or fulfillment in the things you once enjoyed, the idea of it being over is enticing. Some days are better than others, but make no mistake, that monster lurks in the shadows each and every day, and the ideations have intensified to the point where thoughts of actually following through have invaded my mind. But when that happens, you have to find an outlet.

One of the worst days occurred a few weeks ago. I struggled through work, mentally isolating myself from everyone and everything important to me, and when it came time to clear out, the decision had already been made to skip the gym or eat healthy food and pick up a pizza and some Mountain Dew, even some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and head home to lay down and binge watch a little program I’d just discovered called Scary Sleepover.

I wondered if there were enough episodes to get through the night or if I would have to lean on go-tos like Ash vs Evil Dead or Hannibal, but I was thrilled to learn that there were two seasons to draw from, and knew I had something to distract my mind until I could go to bed.

Scary SleepoverFrom the HATCHET franchise to DIGGING UP THE MARROW to the Movie Crypt podcast, I have long been a fan of Adam Green’s work. Like me, he’s a horror freak and makes me laugh, and what’s more, it just feels like he’s one of us—a horror fan who followed his dream and made good—so we just can’t help but love a guy like that. To say nothing of the (as Tony Todd put it) “eye candy” at the ArieScope studio (circling back to Hannibal), because if there was one place I’d want to live aside from Dr. Lecter’s office, it would be Green’s studio because Mr. Todd was right, the surroundings and humor and camaraderie are a little slice of heaven.

From the moment Kane Hodder walked through the door with a goofy “Hiii!” in the first episode, I was transported to a place where my mind was calm and that feeling of hopelessness dissipated. Though momentary, for those who live with overwhelming thoughts as I do, that temporary reprieve is all we can ever ask for. Adam Green gave it to me that night.

As the episodes wore on (Season 1 in particular), however, I couldn’t help but start to draw parallels to my own life. Not making horror films or commiserating with celebrities obviously, but in the friendships that Green shared with so many.

When Kane fell asleep in the initial episode, Green tossed some unsavory comments his way to see if he’d truly nodded off, and when he directed a sped up “FREDDY VS. JASON” at the horror icon, doing the Dew nearly became a spit take. It was the kind of thing my buddy Tyler would do to fuck with me if he thought I’d drifted on him.

Danielle Harris revealed that E.T. terrified her to this day, and when she opened her eyes and saw Spielberg’s alien facing her from the next cushion over she leapt up screaming and exclaimed “Dick!” Thoughts of my friend Elle and her hilarious reactions to being scared danced through my head.

Later Sid Haig grumpily came through the door and declared “Ya know what? My pajamas are gonna be better than yours” and maintained half-smirked eye contact that kinda sorta felt like “Did I stutter, bitch?” It was exactly that playful shit-talk that my friend Erik unleashes whether we’re together or just texting. And when he blurted “Pizza and pajamas. What’s betterrr?” I knew my initial take was spot on, because Erik too can dance between intimidating and idiotic at the drop of a hat.

HaigThen it was the ridiculously cute ramblings of Laura Ortiz and her constant stream of “Hey Adams” that led to questions like “Why are stars?” Though the gag was that she wouldn’t stop talking and let Green go to sleep, you couldn’t help but smile each time it happened, which of course was the point. Ortiz and my friend Jay have effortless adorability in common.

When Zach Galligan dropped by and Green asked him if he could just talk about what “Phoebe (Cates) smells like that would be awesome,” the size of my smile nearly shattered my face because Ms. Cates being the top of the mountain has been a running inside joke between my friend Chad and I for years. And yes, “Moving in Stereo” is stuck in my head as I type this.

Brea Grant plainly stating “I grew up as a girl” before cracking up at the realization of what she’d said couldn’t help but remind me of Alyssa, who says goofy shit like that all the time. Sometimes it’s deliberate, other times not, but she always laughs it off, and it’s never anything short of endearing.

And when Bill Moseley talked about his children having sleepovers and Green wondered if he’d ever scared any of them off, Otis just replied that while he didn’t think so “I’ve never seen the same kid twice, let’s put it that way.” Me and one of my oldest friends, Dan can be having a serious conversation that quickly has us cackling, and that matter of fact exchange and the laughter it created felt very familiar to me.

The sleepovers conjured memories of an all-night, horror marathon drinking game some friends and I shared a few months back. It was just a stack of movies and laughs and beer until the sun came up, and it was as much fun as I’ve had in a long time.

OrtizIt all culminated in the first episode of Season 2, though, when Tony Todd shared the story of his brother Donald, who had passed a few weeks prior to that shoot.

Todd’s powerful voice softened and tears escaped his eyes as he shared memories of his sibling, who had been institutionalized when Todd was just four years old. The larger than life actor described the image that adorned the funeral form.

“On the cover was this horribly misshapen, man-monster with these spindly legs, accordion arms, big forehead, huge jaw—and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, some of these monsters that I get offered to play, that’s him, that’s it.’” Todd spoke of legacy and that he was working for his unseen muse, and that his brother no longer had to struggle to walk or deal with pain, that he’d been freed of that burden, and it was more than Adam Green could take.

The host broke down and asked the crew to stop rolling. When the episode came to a close, it faded to black with a single message, “For Donald.”

When you feel like your life isn’t worth living, that you are that misshapen figure, and that you are inconsequential, empathy from others makes you emotional, and that exchange, Green’s reaction, and the lasting image of the episode’s dedication had me pressing pause and purging emotions that had been building up for far too long.

Creatures are as much as part of the horror genre as slashers and buckets of blood, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Comfort food doesn’t have to be pizza and Mountain Dew, it can be a series of web shorts or a film or an album that takes you to a better place. For the past few weeks, whenever I need respite, I pull up Scary Sleepover and it helps me get through the day, to get to sleep, to carry on.

But it has less to do with Green or the guests as much as what it reminds me of: the friendships that I share with people who make me smile, who help me through the tough times, who truly care about me.

And what Green said about Ortiz applies to one and all, “my life would suck without [them] in it,” because they are a reason for me to stay, and it was a reminder that I needed very badly.

I’ve made it through the past few weeks and I’m here today, and Adam Green’s Scary Sleepover has been a big reason why. I’ve never met him, he wouldn’t know me if he saw me, but the reality is that he’s saved my life more than once, and I can never thank him enough.

Hodder

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

A few days ago, I took my faithful every-10-years-or-so trip to Universal Studios, Hollywood to bask in the glory of my inner passion for cinema and film culture. I was 12 the first go-around and I’ll never forget the true Kodak moments (seriously, there are photos of it somewhere lost in my hoarder piles of ticket stubs) of meeting Dracula, the long-gone Beetlejuice show, and seeing JAWS along with the once upon time animatronic of King Kong on the Studio Tour for the first time.

Good times fellas. Good times inhaling that banana breath.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

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The second time around was in 2008 on my honeymoon with my husband. It was during Christmas Time and the park was decked out in Whoville and Grinchmas attire. It was also the first time I had feasted my eye peelers on the Jurassic Park ride! Of course, it was too cold and late in the day so we couldn’t get on it and this third time around- which was just a week ago- again I’m foiled into experiencing any dino drama. As the Jurassic Park turned World ride has yet to open to the public with still only an opening date of, “this summer.” Progress seems to be booming and nearly done, but my son here in the slideshow shows how I feel too about not being able to experience this wondrous attraction. A bit of a pout session is validated as again- I don’t get to go often.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal HollywoodNew Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

Please note I’m VERY EXCITED about playing with Raptors in the future.

 

Anyway enough of my ramblings and onto why you’re here. Upon my visit, Universal Studios Entertainment sent me a bit of an update today on the highly anticipated ride on a couple of cool attraction features, the awesome new retail store, along with the new cafe and Isla-Nu-Bar that is going to add to the ambiance in nature of a true JP/JW fan experience.

Per Universal Studios:

Universal City, CA, June 17, 2019 – Costa Rican-inspired cuisine and flavorful Tiki cocktails served at Jurassic Café and all-new tropical Isla Nu-bar add to the dynamic guest experience as part of Universal Studios Hollywood’s new mega attraction opening this summer, “Jurassic World—The Ride,” based on the JURASSIC WORLD blockbuster films.

            Along with an array of souvenir collectible, limited edition and one-of-a-kind dimensional dinosaur sculptures from the Jurassic Outfitters store, guests can savor a piece of this exciting thrill ride even after they’ve gone home.

Borrowing its name from the fictitious Central American island in the JURASSIC WORLD movies, the stand-alone, open-air Isla Nu-bar, complete with a thatched roof, serves up tropical-themed Tiki cocktails in three collectible cups:  Etched Tiki, Bamboo-styled Tiki and Tiki God.

Whether blended or made-to-order with fresh juices, every aromatic blended drink is adorned with a pineapple leaf and edible orchid flower.  Flavorable beverages include Tropical Margarita, Piña Colada and Painkiller, along with island cocktails such as Tiki Tai, Bird of Paradise, Ti Peach, Rum Runner and Mai Tai.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

With Universal Studios Hollywood’s Executive Chef Marie Grimm at the helm, the new Jurassic Café caters to a selection of Costa Rican-themed cuisine, inspired by the location of the JURASSIC WORLD movies.  Mouth-watering menu items include Sweet Corn Cakes with Slow Roasted Mojo Pork or Spicy Mojo Jackfruit, Citrus Glazed Chicken, Fresh Roasted Red Snapper and Isla Burger. Tempting starters include savory Chorizo and Potato Empanadas, Crispy Lettuce Leaf Roll with Shrimp, Tropical Fruit Salad and Pomegranate Guacamole with plantain chips.  All entrees will be accompanied by fresh green papaya salad and Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto – traditional rice and beans.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

The Jurassic Outfitters store will feature a variety of collectible merchandise to commemorate the ride’s opening, including a selection of exclusive items. From limited edition t-shirts and hats to drinkware, pins, amber stones, and jewelry, Jurassic Outfitters will offer keepsake merchandise for every member of the family.

The shop will also carry a variety of custom-made, high-end collectible dinosaur sculptures and maquettes. These incredibly crafted statement pieces replicate the Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, Dilophosaurus, Styracosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus and Triceratops and range in price up to $1,000.

In addition to experiencing the exhilaration of the new thrill ride, guests will have the opportunity to become immortalized in one of the ride’s momentous scenes as they plunge down its treacherous 84-foot waterfall with the introduction of slo-mo video capture offered exclusively at “Jurassic World—The Ride.”  The iconic moment will be available for purchase and received digitally for riders to share via their social media platforms so they assure their friends that they indeed survived the vicious dinosaurs. Keepsake digital images will also be available for purchase.

“Jurassic World—The Ride” features an original storyline that will take guests on a breathtaking excursion through the theme park as depicted in Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s film, JURASSIC WORLD.  It will soar to new heights with the addition of iconic dinosaurs from the movie, including the colossal Indominus rex and the magnificent aquatic Mosasaurus in her natural habitat.  The ride also features the stars of the JURASSIC WORLD films – Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong who reprise their roles as Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Dr. Henry Wu.

The mega-attraction captures the essence of the blockbuster movies and comes to life in collaboration with the award-winning and inspired minds at Universal Creative, the Academy Award®-winning special-effects visionaries at Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm, Ltd., Universal Pictures and acclaimed filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevorrow and Frank Marshall.

When “Jurassic World—The Ride” opens this summer, guests will be welcomed to a dramatically reimagined space reflective of the hit films.  A fresh entry statement, stonework landscaping, and a contemporary redesign of the iconic JURASSIC WORLD gates, illuminated with billowing flames, will create the framework for the all-new aesthetics.

 

And now I have to break my 10-year tradition because I literally can’t wait that long to see this. I just want to give Blue a hug and drink a Tiki cocktail.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the new California Neighbor Pass invites guests to experience 175 days of fun for $149 when purchased online. Visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more details. Blackout dates and restrictions apply.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

 

*All images used belong to Universal Studios Hollywood and Nightmare Nostalgia unless otherwise noted.