We’re just a little over halfway to Halloween, and every reader is entitled to one good reminder that this exists on the interwebs.
About ten years ago, the horror internet exploded with this never-before-seen footage from John Carpenter’s “immortal classic”, Halloween and I think it’s overdue to dig out those pumpkin seeds and resurrect this glorious footage once more. Uploaded on VIMEO by user Billy Kirkus, what you’re about to see is the FIRST ever Panaglide test by Dean Cundy and Ray Stella inside and outside of the Panovision studio right before principal photography began on the Halloween set.
Panaglide at the time was revolutionary and had only been used in three other films prior to Halloween, with Days of Heaven being the first on record to use the cutting-edge technology. As we’re all aware, the use of this continuous camera shot is all over the film, most importantly in the opening shots from little Michael Myers’ perspective.
In just under five minutes, Dean Cundy with Stella in tow operating the Panaglide gives us a demonstration via a test run before shooting the actual film with it.
Pretty cool stuff that should not be forgotten. And after being brought to the surface back in 2013, I’m still here talking about it almost 10 years later to remind you that it’s still cool as shit.
As a byproduct of the early 80s, one of my earliest home gaming memories was the Atari 2600. This beast of a console was the first system a wee Patti owned and was shared, albeit reluctantly, between my little brother and I. I can’t tell you how many times I would get the urge to play Kaboom or Haunted House, and find my 8-bit hogging 4-year-old sibling snotting all over the joystick playingFrogger.
The struggles of a one-console household is very real boils and ghouls.
Presently, the original Atari 2600 is pretty much a dinosaur (and looks like one too) compared to the sleek Playstation 5. However, Brontasauraus console boasted some graphics that looked like sorcery in our eyes at the time. Regardless of the now outdated sights and sounds of the Atari, the gaming system launched the beginning of household video games over 40 years ago, and hell, we need to respect that. Not to mention, hosted some pretty off-the-wall cartridges that embodied the glorious horror genre within them. Four decades later, and I still haven’t seen one damn Texas Chainsaw Massacre OR Halloween video game! Unless of course, you look towards the Atari 2600.
That being said, kudos to the breakthrough video game system that honored the horror genre in 8-bit fashion. So let’s look back at some of the coolest horror-themed video games the breakthrough gamer device had in its library, shall we?!
First released by Wizard Video in 1983, The Shape was forever immortalized 2600 style with his very own Atari game. You actually don’t play as Michael Myers, but the “babysitter”, whom I can only guess is supposed to be Laurie Strode.
The object of the game is to save the children you’re supposed to be caring for from the Boogeyman. Who, by the way, is running through the house waving a knife all to an Atari-sized version of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme. FANTASTIC. You’re given three lives which are represented by jack-o-lanterns on top of the screen, of which will disappear one by one when you are caught and killed. The highlight of this game, and I’ve been known to purposely do this just for fun, is when you’re caught by Myers. Why? Because he decapitates you (as shown in the video below). Yes, ladies and gentlemen,this appears to be the very first video game decapitation in history. You only get a tiny bit of blood spurts from said kill, but nevertheless is extremely amusing.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Another horror treasure from Wizard Video brings the Tobe Hooper classic to the Atari world in 1982. Unlike the Halloween game, gamer roles are reversed and you actually get to play as Leatherface; with a chainsaw attached to his dick.
You basically just run across a field of cow skulls and wheelchairs trying to get to your next victim. It’s heavily rumored throughout the gamer community that the high-pitched tones you hear when a victim appears is actually supposed to be a girl’s scream. The chainsaw in the game is run on fuel, and when you press the appropriate button to run it, your fuel starts to deplete. When you run out of fuel, you lose a life. So, just an educated guess here, the point is to kill off as many people as you can before running out of gas.
It’s a fun way to murder ten minutes of your life. But one thing that really irked me about this game other than the inability for game developers to give Leatherface’s body a different color than the chainsaw, is the fact your character gets “stuck” quite easily. The obstacles I mentioned above, as it turns out, you better steer clear of them. If even one pixel of Leatherface breathes too close to these in-game hazards, you’re stuck for a good couple of seconds. It’s a total pain in the ass.
Developed by Fox Interactive Games in 1982, Atari Alien has no shame in hiding that it is, in short, a basic rip-off of Pac-Man. However, instead of dodging ghosts through a maze, you’re running from Xenomorphs, which is just way cooler anyway.
The in-game maze is supposed to be designed to look like the inside of a spaceship, and said ship is infested with adult aliens laying these eggs all over the place. Just like Pac-Man, the pellets littering the screen are eggs and can be destroyed by simply running over them. There really isn’t too much else to explain, as it really is just Pac-Man with aliens. Though if you enjoy the classic arcade game, as a horror fan you’ll likely get a kick out of something different from that floating yellow head.
Published by Data Age for Atari in 1983, Frankenstein’s Monster, for me TBH, is one of the more entertaining games to come out of the 2600 era of gaming.
The basic object of gameplay is to build a wall surrounding the monster before he comes to life. To do this, you have to climb up and down the screen grabbing bricks one by hellish one. Along the way, you’ll encounter a giant tarantula, bats, ghosts, and a lovely pool of acid. You know, normal creepy castle shit. If you build the wall before the timer runs out, you save the village below from a monster rampage. If you don’t make it in time, Frankie comes to life and destroys every damn thing in its path, which is kind of my favorite part anyway. If you get a chance to play, let yourself lose at least once.
Birthed by Activision in 1985, Ghostbusters for Atari 2600 comes one year after the theatrical release, and is fuckin’ fun as hell.
You immediately begin by trapping ghosts in front of buildings, which in most cases, takes the form of Slimer. All the while, a synthetic Atari version of the Ghostbusters theme plays in the background. The graphics when ghostbusting aren’t half bad considering the console, and the driving sequences with the Ecto-1 are not as stretched out as other versions.The greatest part, however, is when you finally get to the end and fight Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s goddamn hilarious because he just kind of jumps around in front of a building like a little kid.
Oh, the sweet, sweet nostalgic not-so-great, but still cool as hell video games of yesteryear. They just don’t make them like that anymore…
Halloween is upon us and soon shall pass like a fine mist rolling across a pale cemetery. An army of jack o lanterns flicker dimly in the silent autumn night as whispers of the haunting season linger on well into our unsettled dreams. We may grieve the parting of our favorite holiday but there’s no need for woe. With any of these marvelously malignant reads, the spooky season need not vanish entirely.
The Living Dead – by George Romero and Daniel Kraus
That’s right, my oozing Nasties. We’re starting this list right off right with a George Romero gem. Papal Romero planned this book to be a pay-per-chapter online read and had already completed chapters to upload. Unfortunately, we lost Papal Romero (way too soon) before the web series was finished and many projects he was working on were lost with him.
This book, thankfully, is not one of them. Luckily his notes and chapters were picked up by Daniel Kraus and what could be considered the very last of Romero’s Dead projects was brought to life. That’s right, this book comes to us from beyond the grave which in of itself gives it Halloween credit.
As with all of his Dead projects this book covers some of the political tension and cultural paranoia of its time, which was honestly just a few years back. The book is rich with relatable characters and glows with some very nicely detailed gory moments.
This book is a treat to horror fans. I remember reading about this book a year – or maybe two years – before its publication. Then there was nothing more said of it. I kept it in mind however but began wondering if it would ever get published or be another lost project. That mystery made me want to read the thing so much more.
I finally found it at a Barnes and Nobles last October (2020) and kinda fucked out right there. I was shocked to finally see it. And to be frank I want more (really good) zombie novels. In a world of World War Z and TheWalking Dead graphic novels, it’s great to have a fresh new vision by the man who made zombies what they are today. This is one horror fans will want to own.
The Fog – James Herbert
This book has nothing in common with the John Carpenter movie save name alone. It’s much, much better. Before any assumptions are made let me assure you I do like Carpenter’s The Fog. Very cool atmospheric ghost story. But this book has nothing to do with specters out for revenge.
The Fog begins with a street caving in causing lots of stress and injuries to those caught on the road. But rest assured this is only the beginning of their woes as a yellow mist rises out from the cavernous expenditure. Anyone caught in the sickly fog start indulging in their most violent fantasies. Anyone familiar with the Crossed comics will have an idea of what I mean. Honestly, after reading this book I wondered if Garth Ennis might have been inspired by it when writing up Crossed.
Oh yes, there is blood and beatings, and brains splattered about on walls a plenty. This is a meaty good one for the gore fiends among us. There are some incredible (and quite graphic) death scenes in this book. You could call this a sticky book for all the slaughter found in it. My personal favorite is when the Fog hits a cow pasture and the herd proceeds to eat the farmer alive. Absolute genius. Another scene that caused readers some genuine anxiety was the slow torture of a gym teacher at the hands of his Fog-poisoned students.
But like his grotesque The Rats don’t think this is all splatter without substance. Herbert weaves a believable group of unfortunate survivors trapped in a world where the Fog causes carnage wherever it’s seen. The book manages some epic tense moments and plenty of chills as you follow the heroes in their apocalyptic search to defeat this bizarre intelligent veil of death.
Said it before that it’s a shame, not more people know who James Herbert is today. So I want to change that.
Zombie, Gates of Hell, House By the Cemetery – Eibon Press.
Our long-time readers will be very familiar with these guys. I can’t shut up about them, but that’s only because they are so fucking good! This is where you’ll find the perfect blend of cult-horror and comic books stitched together with some of the best visual art you’ll see this side of Hell.
Building upon the cult cinematic imagination seen in Lucio Fulci’s most beloved films, Eibon Press takes readers back to the dark side where pain is god and there is no escaping the approaching maul of doom. Any title these guys released is a great read, but for first-timers curious to try out the material of Eibon Press would be doing themselves a favor by starting out with Zombie, Gates of Hell, or House by the Cemetery.
Faithfully adapting Fulci’s movies EP adds their own incredible talents of striking art and narrative to flesh out a broader lore found out of the source material. Luckily these guys are current and, unlike plenty of other horror comic publishers I could mention, are not out of print. You can log on to their website (click here I dare you) and find all these titles plus way more. They do not pay me to plug their stuff either. I pay them in fact. I’ve ordered comics, T-shirts, movies, and just everything from these guys. Honestly, they are the best horror comics out there.
Tomie – Junji Ito
I’ve been wanting to talk about this guy for a while now. When I’ve re-read everything from Eibon Press I turn to Ito’s macabre manga. Again, this is someone I cannot get enough of. Every time I see a new Junji Ito title I can’t help myself and pick it up. His library is growing and it may feel daunting to know which title to start with though.
I recommend Tomie, a weird story about a woman so damningly beautiful that men cannot stop themselves from falling in love with her. And the men who do fall in love with this enigmatic beauty are soon given over to an inexplicable need to murder her. And Tomie comes back again, and again, and again to ruin more lives and shatter more souls.
I suppose one could call it a succubus story for how her beauty lures in lover’s hearts but it’s herself who lies in sawn-off pieces by the men whose hearts she’s captivated. The manga is phantasmal, eerie, and shocking. Considering how Tomie constantly is slain in many different ways you’ll find yourself sympathizing more with her killers who oddly seem to be the true victims of her wiles.
Now knowing this will not ruin the story for you though. There’s plenty of suspense and anxiety awaiting readers daring enough to pick this title up. I personally found myself dreading to turn the page because I knew something really, really unpleasant was waiting for me on the other side.
If you find this your cup of tea you’ll want to try out even more of Junji Ito’s works. Not a one of them is bad and each broadens the writer/artist’s influence over modern horror.