Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

Sight Unseen — The Lasting Images of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Tobe Hooper once said “I don’t believe in using too much graphic violence, although I’ve done it. It’s better to be suggestive and to allow the viewer to fill in the blanks with their minds.” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is not one of the finest horror experiences ever put to film because of on-screen slaughter, but rather the suggestion of bloodshed. The long-lasting effect of Hooper’s direction was borne from the simple presentation of a scenario, the resulting (and very personal) nightmares were conjured entirely within the headspace of whomever laid eyes on it.

The concept isn’t exclusive to TCM, but certainly applies to John McNaughton’s tense tale of a week in the life of a sociopath, 1986’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Though it made its way around film festivals for years, the Motion Picture Association of America’s inability, or unwillingness to give it a straight R-rating delayed its limited theatrical release for 4 years.

As legendary film critic Roger Ebert noted, however, “This film deserves to be seen,” and over the course of more than three decades, it has become essential viewing for horror aficionados everywhere. And not for overt violence, although like Hooper, it had its fair share, but rather for what wasn’t seen.

Make no mistake, the reasons for suggestion in this case were partially due to budgetary and time constraints. However, McNaughton wanted to truly explore the inner workings of Henry’s (Michael Rooker) mind, as well as his relationship with Otis (Tom Towles) and Becky (Tracy Arnold), which meant that on-screen violence would have to be dispersed carefully, but to offer a true glimpse at the danger housed within the protagonist, the film would need to be littered with other misdeeds.

And that is where the power of suggestion entered the equation, in part through the utilization of brilliant music cues strewn throughout by film editor Elena Maganini. Portrait of a Serial Killer’s main theme is composed of the simplistic yet powerful piano chords of Ken Hale, Steven A. Jones and Robert McNaugton that matched Rooker’s icy glare, begging the question, what truly resided beneath the surface.

The horrors left in Henry’s wake were revealed through a series of pan shots, offering a peek behind a veneer that should never come into focus. Again, the issues of budget and time factored into McNaughton’s decision-making, yes, but ultimately the road followed was that which would make the greatest impact, and that avenue was paved by sound editor Cory Coken and post-production sound mixer Ric Coken. The audible screams of victims blended with Henry’s angry commands to “shup up!” underneath ghastly visuals painted a picture that turned blood cold, as viewers were burdened with whatever terror played before their mind’s eye thanks to the macabre melody dancing through their heads.

All which set up McNaughton’s final stroke of genius.

BeckyAfter Henry returned to the apartment to find Otis raping his sister, and the ensuing scuffle that resulted in Otis’ death, Henry’s instinct took over and he dismembered his friend’s body in the bathtub before hitting the road with Becky.

In a wink to the audience, another music cue foretold Becky’s fate, as “Loving you was my mistake” sprang from the radio before the pair reached their roadside motel.

The following morning, pulling to the side of a desolate road in the middle of nowhere, Henry exited his vehicle and waited for cars to pass before he opened the trunk. When it had reached its apex, it was accompanied with a single, ominous piano chord. To that point, there may have been hope that Becky had already been in the car when the vehicle pulled away from the motel, but in that moment, the audience knew.

Henry waited for another car to pass, then glanced over his shoulder to ensure no others were coming, lifted Becky’s blue suitcase, now her tomb, and laid it at the top of a ditch beside his car. Once again, the terrified shrieks of one of Henry’s victims echoed as the luggage connected with the earth below. McNaughton had cinematographer Charlie Lieberman hold the shot, and slowly zoom to the blood-smeared bag, a grotesque exclamation point on a film that has always carried an unsettling tinge of documentary.

As Henry pulled away and the camera closed in, all that was left were the curdling chords of Henry’s theme, and the remains of the one person it appeared Henry may have had the slightest sentiment for. Uncaptured and unpunished, the sounds perfectly encapsulated the unknown of where Henry, or those like him—who unquestionably exist—would head next.

The visceral images of McNaughton’s masterpiece proved too much for many audience members to endure when it first reared its head at film festivals decades ago, and abandoned it to what Ebert described as “the purgatory between [an] R and X [rating].” The film was too powerful and too well done to be contained for long, but for the violence we witnessed, including the devastatingly difficult to digest home invasion segment, it was the intonations left unseen that made Portrait of a Serial Killer so indelible.

They were haunting in 1986, and haunting today.

Henry luggage

Missing the Jim and Pam of Horror

“For a really long time, that’s all I had. I just had little moments with a girl who saw me as a friend. And a lot of people told me I was crazy to wait this long for a date with a girl who I worked with, but I think even then I knew that, I was waiting for my wife.”

The parallels between the goals relationship of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) from The Office and Ash vs Evil Dead’s Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) are staggering.

Both had their fair share of flirtation and near misses, laughs, jealousies, and tender moments, and it even took both couples three years to realize that they were perfect for one another. As DeLorenzo told me in an interview before Season 2, “Just make out already!”

The will they / won’t they approach is not a new strategy in television, but damned if they don’t have audiences pining for hook-ups when done correctly. And if we’re honest, what we miss most about the band of merry misfits from both Scranton, Pennsylvania and Elks Grove, Michigan are not Michael Scott (Steve Carell) or Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), but watching and waiting as relationships we rooted for came to fruition.

Santiago played the role of hopeless romantic (aka Halpert) from the very moment we heard him refer to Kelly in AVED’s pilot episode. “She haunts my dreams. Just kidding. She does, though.” Much like Pam, however, Kelly saw Pablito as a confidant, saying “You’re like a brother, so sweet. How could I ever look at you that way?”

ash-vs-evil-dead-season-3-pablo-ash-kelly-second-coming-finale-2So it went over three seasons and thirty episodes, but glimmers of hope sprang up throughout the journey. Both Kelly and Pablo got a little jelly in bookend seasons, when Heather (Samara Weaving) showed near the conclusion of its initial campaign, and with the emergence of Dalton (Lindsay Ferris) for the Ghostbeaters’ swan song. It’s a sensation that can only be generated when one feels a profound connection to another, whether acted upon or not. But make no mistake, both Kelly and Pablo (much like Jim and Pam) felt their relationship unique, that they belonged to one another, and others were only temporary obstacles delaying the inevitable. Albeit, such sentiments were a bit more overt from the men.

For years we witnessed the pair compliment one another. Kelly made Pablo stronger, and he was the only person who could wear down her hardened exterior to reveal the vulnerability housed within. They supported one another from (kinda sorta) afar, not unlike our favorite pair from Dunder Mifflin, but when the chips were down, they never came out swingin’ as when they felt someone, or something, was messin’ with their person.

CXUKWhen she felt that Ruby (Lucy Lawless) wasn’t being upfront with Ash’s right-hand man, Kelly offered pep talk after pep talk to instill Pablo with confidence and the belief that he was, in fact, her powerful vagina, the El Brujo Especial. And for as lovable and hesitant as Pablo appeared throughout most of the series, those times he stepped up without a second thought, were to protect Maxwell.

Think back to a scene at the Elks Grove Police Department in Season 2 when Chet (Ted Raimi) wondered aloud if Baal (Joel Tobeck) hadn’t actually commandeered Kelly’s body, to which Pablo immediately turned to walk toward Williams’ lifelong pal and said “Hey Ash, I think you need to tell your friend to shut the fuck up!”

While Jim and Pam dealt with other suitors and the jealousies that came with them,  they never endured life-threatening situations, but the nature of the Evil Dead universe — that loved ones die — was what kept the two apart for so long, and ultimately what brought them together.

The enemy for Halpert and Beesly was Pam’s indecisiveness and inability to realize she deserved happiness and to take a chance on something that was only five feet from her her desk. What finally pushed Pablo and Kelly over the finish line was not the idea of losing their person to another, but of losing them entirely. So why the fuck not?

KissWe waited roughly 26 episodes to finally see that kiss DeLorenzo had ranted about the season before when she was unsure that Pablo would emerge from a vision, and was so overwhelmed with emotion she pulled him in to express her true feelings. Pablo hummed when their lips locked, because even a patient man is human. Lest we forget, Kelly blamed Ruby for nearly losing her man and growled “Fuck with my Pablo, fuck with me. And I am done bein’ fucked with, Ruby.”

And when Kelly returned from the rift, Pablito believing her to be dead, tearfully hovered over her body and shared “Descansa en paz, mi amor (Rest in peace, my love).” When Kelly jolted awake, thinking she had to fight her way out of another jam, Pablo grabbed her to ensure that she was safe, and offered a tender kiss to calm her fears. The two locked eyes with a smile, and in that moment, we knew there was no going back. It was official. Though Ash and Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) laid the final bricks of a joke the show had been building for three years, “Filthy and not fine.”

Kelly and Pablo made us laugh, they made us cry, they made us yearn for two people who didn’t even exist to get together, because truth be told, there simply aren’t many horror couples that stand out, and damn it, we wanted this one. They began as friends, knowing and trusting one another completely. They cared for one another, they supported one another, and they challenged the other to be the best versions of themselves. In the end, that’s what true partners do.

The magical nature of their on-screen relationship was not lost on Santiago, who took to Instagram after the series finale to say “…my love for [DeLorenzo] and everything you brought to the table will never die. Always a semi in my pants for #Kelly Maxwell!”

Though we won’t be lucky enough to see where Kelly and Pablo progressed from their own version of popping in to interrupt an interview with “OK…it’s a date,” we’d seen enough to know that Pam’s words rang true.

“When you’re a kid, you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are going to be right about that.”

Stand-up

That Random Car In the Title of ‘Tales From the Darkside’

One of my fondest memories from childhood was staying up late and watching the many glorious horror-themed shows late-night TV had to offer us back in the 80’s. My mom was pretty cool about that back then. I was no more than five and I still recall the greats I spent many nights watching. Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Unsolved Mysteries – just to name a few, and their themes still ring loud and clear in the shadowy halls of my memory.

One thing these spooktacular shows all shared was a riveting opening title accompanied by a haunting score. You all know what I’m talking about. The Twilight Zone sports a pivotal theme that remains timeless to this day. And who can deny the impact Danny Elfman’s immortal theme from Tales From the Crypt had on our generation? Remarkable!

All of that is to bring us to the subject at hand revolving around one of my favorite creepy shows, Tales From the Darkside!

From horror maestro himself, George Romero came this grizzly collection featuring beloved short horror tales from the mind of Clive Barker and other renowned writers of horror, Tales From the Darkside brought scary stories to life in various comeuppance morality tales.

The opening always gave me the chills as a kid. That eery as Hell music playing over visions of lovely fields, a country farmstead, a rippling brook and a covered bridge. Sights that should convey a welcoming sense of warmth and meditation, something the dark mind of Paw Paw Romero intentionally planned just so he could pull the rug out from underneath our feet. The sights change as the title is revealed and all of a sudden the pleasant world we have been introduced to is malformed into a sinister realm of shadows and dread, just like the genuine dark world which awaits behind the placid world we live in. Darkness is always just only one bad day away.

Right before the title shows, and I mean like a second or so before, we see in the bottom left corner a car that gets swallowed up in the Darkside. It never was anything I gave much of a thought to until an ex of mine mentioned the car was a blooper. Like it was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to be caught on film. Like while the studio was filming the opening shots some random car photobombed the process.

Funny, because I never once got that impression. I told her that too and explained how I always assumed the car was meant to be there. As if whatever family was in that car had just suddenly been sucked into the void. The idea startled her, because that’s how Hell works, right? One moment you’re out enjoying a lovely drive out in the countryside and the next the Darkside consumes you, your day, and possibly you’re entire life.

A flat tire lands you stranded in the middle of the shadowy woods where you can hear a distant banjo playing.

You’re out by yourself hoping to get some sun by the lake when local rapists come zooming by with oogly eyes all over your body.

The Wolfman Cometh
image via The Wolfman Cometh

You get a puzzle box and suddenly awaken the wonders of Hell.

You have a nightmare that lures the dream demon to your helpless state of mind.

That’s what horror has always been about! The normal and everyday world being consumed by the Darkside. That little car in the opening credits epitomizes what we love about horror. I don’t know who was in that car – and that’s part of the charm, it could be anyone of us in it – but I thank them for providing such a wonderful (but underrated) visual for us.

Ok my Nasties, this has been your good pal, Manic Exorcism once again. I’ll be back later to over-analyze even more things no one in their right mind would give a second thought to. But hey, that’s what we do here.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment below? Was it a simple photobomb, or perhaps there was something more sinister afoot?

 

 

 

Shout Factory Just Made My Day – ‘CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition’ to be Released!

Welcome back my Nasties! Gather close and snuggle up with a corpse because we have some ghastly goodness to discuss. I’m your host, Manic Exorcism, and today I, once again, am being forced to bid farewell to some more hard-earned cash. That’s because our friends over at Shout Factory just gave us some of the best damn news ever, and frankly, I’m a bit shocked. Earlier today the team responsible for giving us some of the finest horror Blu-rays ever just announced that we will be getting a CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition. It’s finally happening!

It’s about fucking time too! For the longest while, we had to settle for an inferior, bare-bones release of one of the most beloved horror titles of all time. CREEPSHOW is the pinnacle example of how a horror anthology should be done. Certainly, this movie wasn’t the very first horror anthology, but it’s certainly the favorite among many. It’s my personal favorite one.

 

amazon
image via Amazon

 

The masterminds over at Arrow Video did give us a brilliant release of CREEPSHOW 2, and I’m very happy with that edition. Nevertheless, I still wanted the set to be complete (CREEPSHOW 3 can eat shit and die because it doesn’t exist to me) and hoped to see the original movie (FINALLY) get a proper Blu-ray treatment.

The movie deserves it.

The fans deserve it.

Jordy Verrill gave his life to see this finally happen.

And by God, we’ve waited long enough!

“Romero and King have approached this movie with humor and affection, as well as an appreciation of the macabre.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

That’s the charm of this movie. It’s spooky fun, something modern horror needs to be reminded of.

No matter what kind of day you’re dealing with this movie will make you feel better.

Hollywood Reporter
image via Hollywood Reporter

It’s also something you can watch with your kids, just in case you’re wanting to raise them to be proper horror fanatics. It has everything! The dead rising from the grave,  Joe Hill getting the shit slapped out of his face, Leslie Nielsen being a dickhead to Ted Danson, and a drunk Adrienne Barbeau – this movie is fun for the whole family!

I’m curious to see what kind of Special Features we’re going to get with this one too. I’m really hoping it mirrors the UK DVD edition that came out a while ago. Regardless this is the Collector’s Edition and given Shout Factory’s past record I know we can expect some great things.

Preorders are limited right now, and they boast:

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED-EDITION OFFER FOR SHOUTFACTORY.COM – ONLY 1,500 AVAILABLE – INCLUDES:

A rolled 28.5” x 16.5” lithograph of the new slipcase art by Laz Marquez
A rolled 18” x 24” poster of an alternative art illustration by Laz Marquez
– Shoutfactory.com

 

https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/creepshow-collector-s-edition?product_id=6868

Can I Borrow Your Imagination?

“Then you really might know what it’s like,

Then you really might know what it’s like,

Then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose.”

We first met the equally gifted and cursed Will Graham in Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel, Red Dragon, the best-seller that also introduced us to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Outside of our imaginations, however, it would be almost five years before we would see the purposeful-looking profiler in flesh and blood on screen in Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), and another 16 before his last theatrical appearance in Red Dragon (2002).

From the novel, and subsequent films, we understood Graham to possess the uncomfortable and unwelcome talent of pure empathy, an ability to assume the point of view of brutal killers. While it was an ability that allowed him to translate evidence in a way that others simply could not, Harris’ words informed us of the toll it took on Graham, but it was a phenomenon that we’d never truly witnessed on-screen.

Until Bryan Fuller resurrected the Lecter universe with NBC’s groundbreaking Hannibal series in 2013.

Do you see?

After more than thirty-one years, two films and a novel, we were finally given the opportunity to truly observe Will Graham for the first time through the brilliant vehicle that is Hugh Dancy.

Prior to the opening scene of the program’s initial episode, we’d only been offered glimpses of what Graham could conjure through his unique imagination. Be it with William Petersen talking himself through the thought process in Manhunter, or the briefest of visions presented through the lens of Edward Norton’s reluctant voyeur, we never truly delved into Will Graham’s mind.

Hannibal set about changing that, and while this writer will be the first to say that Mads Mikkelsen’s Lecter is the finest portrayal of the cannibalistic caretaker, the reason that the television series soared for 39 episodes was the presentation of Will Graham.

As Damian Swift and Mark Shannon were the first to achieve the feat of penning Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) as not only human, but human being with Friday the 13th (2009), Fuller and company allowed a similar peek behind the curtain. Graham was no longer an edgy, hesitant hero with hundreds of thousands of miles on his engine, but for the first time, the price of Graham’s gift was put on full display.

Dancy’s exhibition of Graham was closer to self-diagnosed Asperger’s and autism than a jaded veteran detective. Interaction was not just difficult, but strained and stressful. Not once was there an I-told-you-so revelation that altered the approach to a case, but rather a sad, reserved interpretation of “the ugliest thoughts in the world.”

The beauty of Hannibal, and of Dancy’s portrayal, was another line from Everlast’s “What it’s Like,” – “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes” — a lyric that applied not only to Graham, allowing himself into the headspace of a psychopath, but to the audience that embarked on that same journey through Graham’s eyes.

tumblr_inline_ohuslmj6nP1s38ndg_500And Fuller’s Hannibal wasted no time in communicating that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

That first view found Graham analyzing the surroundings of a crime scene, then rewinding to the very moment he’d summoned the courage to kick the door in and experience the heinous thoughts, actions and sentiments of the perpetrator.

Graham entered the home with confidence, and upon putting down Mr. Marlow (Wayne Downer), emphatically declared “He will die watching me take what is his away from him. This is my design.” Next, he shot Mrs. Marlow (Bernadette Couture) “expertly through the neck,” paralyzing her before she hit the floor, setting up the first true indication that this was not the Will Graham we’d thought we known over the course of three decades.

Graham slowly walked toward the downed victim and said “which doesn’t mean that she can’t feel pain,” his eyes searching for the words, Dancy whispered a tormented “It just means,” before continuing “she can’t do anything about it.”

The empathy of Graham not only allowed him to adopt unwanted points of view, he also empathized with the victim, and the awful thoughts and visions running through his mind.

Graham would go on to point out that the work Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) had recruited him to do was “not good for (him),” as we laid eyes upon the incredibly expensive emotional, psychological and physical tax of Graham’s imagination.

Hannibal’s Will Graham was not a damaged, yet contented family man who didn’t want to look anymore, he was unstable and fractured long before he stepped foot inside the Marlow home. A fragile tea cup whose crevices were sure to weaken every time he opened his eyes. Or closed them.

And it was Dancy who made each new fissure at once agonizing and exquisite, in a beautiful turn that if we’re honest about it, is the very reason fans continue to clamor for a fourth season, almost three years after Hannibal was taken off the air.

Because of Hugh Dancy, there is still a desire, dare I say a need, to borrow Will Graham’s imagination.

{Video} Behind the Scenes VHS Retail Promo For “Poltergeist III”!

In February of 1989, video shop owners were targeted with the promise of immense Poltergeist profits with the final installment of the trilogy ready to be consumed by movie aficionados looking for their perfect Friday night scare at the local video rental outlet. With today being the 30th anniversary, a monumental milestone for tragically Heather O’Rourke‘s final film, I figured let’s rewind back to the film’s initial era and take a look at the exclusive VHS promo given to multiple video store chains to get this film in their shops!

{Video} Behind the Scenes Video Store Promo For "Poltergeist III"!

Taken straight from a VHS copy belonging to the curator (unadjusted tracking and all) of Poltergeistiii.com, it truly is a beautiful vintage piece of history that unfortunately, makes me a little sad at the same time. Of course, all horror fans are aware of the untimely death of the genre’s favorite young demon attraction Heather O’ Rourke before the film was ultimately finished. So anytime I see the film, or promos regarding it, that’s always in the back of my mind. After the passing of O’Rourke, the director, cast, and crew didn’t even want to continue and the film was almost scrapped altogether. But, the powers that be pounded too much money in the project, and insisted the film be finished so here we are. While many consider the rounded out trifecta the weakest installment of the trilogy, I for one, appreciate the film for what it is, (and come on, it’s a fun popcorn flick) and have all the respect in the world for Heather’s final on-screen appearance.

Anyways I’m rambling. On to why you’re even here beloved VHS heads!

The seven-minute retailer promo offers some really cools facts, behind the scenes shots (not seen in other featurettes), interviews with the cast and crew, and of course details on the monster magic used to perform in the film! Including the infamous garage puddle scene! The retail price for the video was advertised to shop owners as $89.95 a piece, (and now you know what contributed to those pesky overdue fees) and purchases included a rad as hell 6-foot tall standee of Reverend Kane, an original theatrical poster to display, and a custom-made mobile counter display of the film to grab the attention of rental goers! What I wouldn’t give to own one of those retro rental artifacts!

Check out this national piece of VHS treasures below and give Poltergeist III a revisit today!

Remembering That Freaky-Ass Episode of ‘The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald’

Ah, McDonald’s. The chicken nuggets are endless, the playgrounds are bitchin’, and the McFlurry machine has been broken since 1995. Despite that one glaring flaw, Mickie D’s is a pretty solid fast food joint. However, the franchise’s greatest accomplishment is one that time has forgotten. That pesky time.

That accomplishment, for those who still don’t know, is The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald. Produced by Klasky Csupo, the company known for shows such as The Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, the separately-released direct-to-video series focused on Ronald McDonald, the other McDonald’s mascots, and their young human friends while they experienced wondrous, moral-teaching adventures.

None of those adventures were greater, though than “Scared Silly,” the series’ very first episode. Released to VHS in October of 1998, the 40-minute episode could be purchased at your local McDonald’s for less than $4, and unless your guardians were total squares, they spotted you the cash.

Now, I’m not going to sit here in my holey sweatpants and tell you that “Scared Silly” is greater than classic haunted house films like Poltergeist and The Changeling, but I’m not going to deny it either.

scared silly 2
Just look at that freaky shit.

The episode follows the baggy jumpsuit-wearing Ronald McDonald and his friends while they go camping in the Far-Flung Forest. There are songs, there are jokes, and there is cheer all around. Like any great horror film, though, that happiness is quickly suffocated by a sense of doom when a thunderstorm strikes and forces the group to take shelter in an old haunted house.

While there, the McBuddies (A name I just gave them that should’ve totally been trademarked) encounter a holographic head named Franklin, who forces them to partake in a challenging riddle game if they ever want to leave the spooky house again. One by one, the friends begin to disappear as they fail to correctly solve each riddle.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I promise that it’s satisfying.

If your interest in The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald has been renewed, or if you have a child you want to shamelessly frighten in a family-friendly sort of way, the episode has been uploaded to YouTube and can be viewed below.

Stay spooky, my friends.

If McDonald’s Can Resurrect Szechuan Sauce, Then It’s Time to Bring Back McBoo and Friends Halloween Pails

In case you’ve been living under a rock over the past year, people sort of lost their minds when McDonald’s announced they were reviving that delicious Disney’s Mulan advertised McNugget dip, Szechuan Sauce o the heels of Rick and Morty fandom. Of course, they damn near rioted when it became clear that not every store had these sought-after suckers and the ones that did, had about 10-20 dippers in stock. Leaving Szechaun searchers to lose their absolute shit and cry foul so loud that the fast-food giant responded with an actual revival of the sweet and sour condiment to appease the masses of seriously pissed off people. It’s like Rick himself possessed an insane number of humanoids to get that crap back into the fast-food chain. And if you’re a fan of the series at all, it’s not entirely impossible to think that either.

If McDonald's Can Resurrect Szechuan Sauce, Then It's Time to Bring Back McBoo and Friends Halloween Pails

 

That’s right he and everyone else got their goddamn Szechuan sauce. Now let’s take that mentality about an overrated McNugget enhancer and apply to that to something that 100% NEEDS a proper revival: The McDonald’s Halloween pails featuring the beautiful McBoo and friends.

If McDonald's Can Resurrect Szechuan Sauce, Then It's Time to Bring Back McBoo and Friends Halloween Pails

 

McPunk’n, McGoblin, and McBoo (as I just refer to all of them as for some odd and I know, incorrect reason) made their wonderful debut back in October of 1986 much to the delight of Happy Mealers everywhere. I know I’m not alone when I say, these buckets that forever reeked of delicious salty french fries are a beloved childhood relic for 80’s and 90’s kids. They embody the innocent spirit of a nostalgic Halloween much like nothing else. I remember quite clearly during a CBS run of Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (of which I own in pure VHS form, commercials and all that will be uploaded in the future for you) the McBucket advertisement (seen below) during the break. This was the time I first laid my eyes on the wonderous McBoo and friends and pleaded the parental units for a dinner at the creepy clown factory the following day. The three of which I acquired was, of course, Sir McBoo and you’re goddamn right I used that beautiful orange Jacko-pail for my own Halloween adventures of sugary death.

 

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only practicing within the cult of McBoo as the pails were a massive hit and continued throughout the years at the burger chain. Making McDonald’s the fast-food King of Halloween. Then, something awful happened. They began to change, not for the better but for the worse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change as much as the next gal. However, the quality and beloved nature of the pails went straight down the shitter once themes became introduced into Halloween Happy Meals. Long gone were the recognizable jack-o-lantern faces and in came cartoonish versions of the cherished bucket with Snoopy and My Little Pony splashed all over the damn thing. The pails became a tad smaller, the handles incredibly flimsy, not to mention the spirit of Halloween was taken right out of it once you slapped a Minion on it. It just wasn’t the same and goddammit, we want them back. Ok, it might be just my first-world problem ass complaining, but I feel like if people can raise enough of a ruckus to bring a friggin’ nugget sauce back from the dead, then why can’t we clamor for something that will not only bring some joy to nostalgic adults everywhere but children as well as I bet they’ll appreciate a better option for some REAL Halloween Happy Meals. And for fuck’s sake put some Halloween toys in there as well. Last year, you gave out Transformers and Rainbow Dash glasses. I mean, come on…

Two words: McNugget buddies.

mcnugget buddies halloween

So I say unto thee McDonald’s: Forget the ridiculous movie tie-ins and cash grabs. Bring back the Halloween bucket original design and watch everyone flock back to your chain during the Halloween season. 

If you feel the same passion as I do here, I encourage you to share away and let your voice be heard. Tweet this at McDonald’s, share with friends and family. Let’s make this a thing. Of course, if you also think I’m just a raging nostalgic turd and I should crawl back into my Gollum cave filled with jelly shoes and Ben Cooper masks, then, by all means, tell me to go screw myself. Not sure what purpose that would serve but, I like to give that option in any regard.

#BRINGBACKMCBOO.

Memories Won’t Fade even as Ash vs Evil Dead Says Goodbye

After nearly forty years, we’re sad to say goodbye to a franchise that has given us three films and thirty television episodes. That heartbreak has less to do with Ash Williams, and everything to do with our memories of watching The King ham it up.

Those memories are different for everyone. It could be where you were when you first laid eyes on The Evil Dead, or the people with whom you watched Army of Darkness, or or perhaps the way the splatstick of Ash vs Evil Dead helped you put your troubles on the back burner, if only for 30 minutes. It goes without saying that memories are a very personal thing, but make no mistake, the reason Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead universe resonate so deeply with fans comes down to individual circumstance.

For me, it was the routine of waking on Sunday mornings after a night of shenanigans and grabbing my phone to pull up the latest chapter of AVED. It’s been my way for three years now, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t going to miss the hell out of it. To be honest, though, I must admit that it’s been the interactions I’ve blessed to experience with cast members that endeared me most to Ash vs Evil Dead. Hell, I almost set Ted Raimi up on a blind date, but I’ll get to that.

I’m not even going to discuss the interview I scored with the King two days before the Season 2 finale (though it took two years to land, and I was never so nervous in my life), because in a matter of seconds before our discussion came to a close, Campbell provided a gift that can never be repaid.

CampbellSince entering the arena of horror writing, one relationship has towered above all others, and that is my friendship with the owner and operator of Nightmare Nostalgia, Patti Pauley. Many times she’d mentioned that Bruce Campbell was her son’s hero, and I always told her that should I get the opportunity to speak with the man who was Ash, I’d see about getting a personal message for her boy. So when the time came, I asked Campbell if he’d be good enough to share a few words, and he didn’t disappoint.

While the message itself was vintage Bruce — short and not-so sweet — her delight when I told her that he’d agreed to say something had me grinning from ear-to-ear. However, it wasn’t until later that night that I realized that she’d not only shared that message with her son when he got home from school, but on Facebook as well. I watched as her child gasped and faux-fainted when he discovered that a message from Bruce Campbell existed that was for his ears only. Thinking about it now makes me giddy beyond belief, because it’s a moment that doesn’t belong to the masses, but the three of us, to be cherished forever.

Like the conversation I had with Dana DeLorenzo in my kitchen.

It wasn’t that she’d no doubt done innumerable interviews with other outlets, or that she found it funny that I’d been involved with the “Thanks for talkin’” conference call months earlier, but my discovery that she was every bit as charming and hilarious off screen as she was fierce as Kelly Maxwell on. DeLorenzo shared that she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she was doing a Q&A with a popular horror outlet in the same room where she’d played with Barbies as a child, before offering exquisite teaser after exquisite teaser.

DeLorenzoI won’t lie, it was a fantastic discussion, but while the thought never crossed my mind that I was “in” with her (and still don’t), it led to a shot in the dark that I’m glad I took. About a week into Women in Horror Month 2017, it dawned on me that securing a true horror heroine to wrap the month would be fantastic, and the first person who came to mind was Ms. DeLorenzo. So I messaged her to ask if she’d be interested in penning a piece for HorrorGeekLife about her experiences in the genre, with zero expectation. To my surprise, she agreed, and shared a beautifully poignant and inclusive piece that left HGL’s editor in tears. Till my last breath, I will never believe that she said yes, but if you ever want to know how incredible Dana DeLorenzo is, look no further than that act of generosity.

Which brings us to her partner in crime, the powerful vagina himself, Ray Santiago.

With a telephone conversation during or prior to each season, Santiago is the only Ghostbeater whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with more than once. After Baal sliced and diced Jefe’s right-hand man near the end of Season 2, I chatted with Santiago and wasn’t entirely convinced that we’d seen the last of Pablo, and felt compelled to say that if it was the end, I spoke for Evil Dead fans everywhere in thanking him for the franchise’s finest character not named Ash, and a job well done.

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To my shock, Santiago was touched by the sentiment, stammering through “Dude, you literally just made me…that makes my day.” The thought of that exchange still makes me smile, to say nothing of the shit-eating smirk that appeared on my mug after Kelly and Pablo finally locked lips during the current season which led to my tweet “Can we just agree that Kelly and Pablo are the Jim & Pam of horror?” Santiago responded with a message that was short, but much sweeter than Campbell’s – “Love you for saying this!”

Just because I’ve written for a couple of newspapers doesn’t mean I don’t have occasion to geek out from time-to-time.

Like the summer of ’16, for instance.

When I found out that Mr. Raimi had joined the cast for Season 2 (long before any of us realized that he’d reprise his role as Henrietta, or that Chet housed a monumental secret for three decades), I made it a goal to score the genre legend. Having delighted in his responses and ridiculous, infectious laugh for half an hour, the moment arrived for me to tell him that a colleague of mine at iHorror, Waylon Jordan, wanted me to inform Raimi that he loved Ted in a “totally non-weird way.”

Once again, Raimi cackled, and sans hesitation, shot back “Well, you tell him back that I love him in a completely weird way. Like, I’m just in love with him, and I would very much like his phone number.”

RaimiMy “alright” was met with more laughter and “Tell him if he’s ever available for dates, I’m a great date. And I promise not to be too grabby on the first one.” I cannot begin to describe my elation at sending that clip to a friend.

But that’s what it’s all about.

Look, if you’re still reading this, then you love the Evil Dead universe and probably have similar experiences that you hold dear. And that’s the reason none of us are ready to say goodbye and that this franchise has life almost forty years after it began.

Yes, the films are fantastic fun, but it’s not just about watching and re-watching those movies or the series, but of the times you spent with family and friends as you took it all in, or interactions you’ve had with Campbell or Raimi or DeLorenzo or Santiago at conventions or chance encounters on the street.

More than a scene or a kill or a one-liner, those are the moments that stay with you. We’ll always have three seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead (and, of course, the features), but I will carry the memories that I’ve collected over three years and thirty episodes for the rest of my life.

So I will savor Ash vs Evil Dead’s conclusion with a smile on my face, and maybe even shed a tear or ten.

For irreplaceable memories, both on screen and off, I offer a heartfelt thank you to the cast and crew of the best show on television.

To the Ghostbeaters.

Ghostbeaters 2

Horror Hotlines: Did You Save Michael’s Victim Via the 1-900 Halloween 5 Number?

Oh man. You just gotta love those taunting yet glorious 1-900 numbers nestled in-between your favorite programming that would cost you your left nut if you dared to dial and rack up a $500 phone bill for some unsuspecting parental units. I love to refer to it as, the forbidden fruit of our youth. Thanks to the slasher-boom in the ’80s that reared horror to not only appeal to adults but young kids as well with Saturday morning cartoons featuring the likes of The Cryptkeeper and Toxie from The Toxic Avenger, it was inevitable to see 1-900 horror hotlines popping up all over the place trying to lure kids in while going in bone-dry raping your dad’s wallet. Unfortunately for me, I had already felt the unholy wrath of the seven of layers of Hell for previously causing a $280 phone bill for that damn beautiful 1-900 FRED hotline that aired through EVERY COMMERCIAL BREAK in Freddy’s Nightmares. You have to admit, however, that it sure as shit gave you an odd sense of living dangerously while no doubt sprouting a few strands of pectoral hair on your chest if you actually mustered up the balls to call the “$2.99 a minute and $0.99 for each additional minute” retro hotlines. You felt about as bulky as Myers seemed to look in Halloween 5. And of course, even that film had a promo hotline for you to attempt a sneaky listen on that wonderful rotary phone.
michael myers
Ah, 1989; the year a relentlessly angry Michael Myers took his revenge for the fifth time. Directly following the events of Halloween 4, one of my personal favorites of the franchise, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers never fully lived up to its predecessor with that awkward storyline of little traumatized and halfway through the film, mute Jamie’s psychic connection to Uncle Boogyman.  An aging Dr. Loomis is screaming at the kid for what seems like the entire duration of the film, and the good doctor’s intentions have turned obsessive and maddening at this point in the franchise. Also, let us never forget about the confusing as fuck Man in Black bullshit that doesn’t get an explanation until a full movie later. However, for some reason or another, I just can’t HATE this movie. Could it have something to do with the fact I dragged my parents to take me to see this movie on Christmas Day in 1989 at my local, old-fashioned brick built movie theater? Maybe. Nostalgia fuels a lot of passion in me(obviously). But given all the flaws I see in this movie now as an adult, I did love it as a child, so you can’t just crush down those initial feelings. I also remember this installment had a HUGE set of promos prior to its release back in 1989, one of them being a goddamn Halloween 5 hotline. And I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I begged my parents to call it. But alas and per above, I was forever banned from calling any of these fun hotlines, so I never got to hear this one. However, per a lucky family member, here’s what I was told what happened once you dialed:
Dialing 1-900-860-0700 prompted you to guide a potential victim of Michael’s to safety while making you feel like a damn horror hero. The hotline itself aired directly after the end of television promos for the film. The voice on the other end would give you a variety of places that could be found in said film, like the Tower Farm or the Children’s Clinic, to send Michael’s pray for safety. However, any of these Haddonfield hot spots could just be a death trap so you could be very easily sending this character to the hack ‘n’ slash hotel. In which case, I think would have been more fun anyway.
Do you remember this little diddy and did you ever call it? If so, and you have a story, please comment below and share!