Friday, October 16, 2009

Movies to get you in the Halloween mood

Horror films are always a favorite on my household, regardless of time of year. I thought I would share some of our favorites we recently watched to get you into the Halloween mood.


The Birds

Summary from Amazon.com:

The Birds follows a chic blonde, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), as she travels to the coastal town of Bodega Bay to hook up with a rugged fellow (Rod Taylor) she's only just met. Before long the town is attacked by marauding birds, and Hitchcock's skill at staging action is brought to the fore.

My thoughts:

The Birds is one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest. After watching this movie, you will feel chills down down your spine and duck every time you hear crows cawing in the trees. The acting is pretty good, with Jessica Tandy leading the way. The effects is way above it's time, and despite the ending falling someone flat (at least for me but I don't want to give it away), the dvd version includes the script to an alternate ending which is fun to read. This old classic is a perfect movie to watch during the Fall and Halloween season.



Psycho

Summary from Amazon.com:

Alfred Hitchcock's landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious "shower scene." First a private detective, then Marion's sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, the horror and the suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed.

My thoughts: Sticking with the Hitchcock theme, Psycho should always be on the top of your horror list. If you haven't seen Psycho in awhile, make sure to run out and rent it (and please do not even THINK of renting the 1998 version). If you don't think The Birds is Hitchcock's best, than Psycho has to be up there. All around classic.



Dracula

Summary from Amazon.com:

It gets off to an atmospheric start, as we meet Count Dracula in his shadowy castle in Transylvania, superbly captured by the great cinematographer Karl Freund. Eventually Dracula and his blood-sucking devotee (Dwight Frye, in one of the cinema's truly mad performances) meet their match in a vampire-hunter called Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). If the later sections of the film are undeniably stage bound and a tad creaky, Dracula nevertheless casts a spell, thanks to Lugosi's creepily lugubrious manner and the eerie silences of Browning's directing style.

My thoughts: I haven't seen this one in awhile but when I think of Halloween, I think of the great Universal monsters. Dracula is just that and with Bela Lugosi, it can't get any better. Bela one of the best at what he did, his career should have been bigger than it was if not for people type casting due to his nationality.


Frankenstein

Summary from Amazon.com:

"It's alive! Alive!" shouts Colin Clive's triumphant Dr. Frankenstein as electricity buzzes over the hulking body of a revived corpse. "In the name of God now I know what it's like to be God!" For years unheard, this line has been restored, along with the legendary scene of the childlike monster tossing a little girl into a lake, in James Whale's Frankenstein, one of the most famous and influential horror movies ever made. Coming off the tremendous success of Dracula, Universal assigned sophomore director Whale to helm an adaptation of Mary Shelley's famous novel with Bela Lugosi as the monster. When Lugosi declined the role, Whale cast the largely unknown character actor Boris Karloff and together with makeup designer Jack Pierce they created the most memorable monster in movie history: a towering, lumbering creature with sunken eyes, a flat head, and a jagged scar running down his forehead. Whale and Karloff made this mute, misunderstood brute, who has the brain of a madman (the most obvious of the many liberties taken with Shelley's story), the most pitiable freak of nature to stumble across the screen. Clive's Dr. Frankenstein is intense and twitchy and Dwight Frye set the standard for mad-scientist sidekicks as the wild-eyed hunchback assistant.

My thoughts: Bela Lugosi should have never turned this down, but he did which lead to Boris Karloff taking the role. If you're Bela Lugosi, that was a mistake, but for fans of horror films, it was a great move because it brought us Boris Karloff. For our younger readers, you may know Karloff as the narrator in the classic animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. If you don't know much about Boris Karloff, make sure to check out the list of his movies and tv appearances on IMDB.

Although these old movies don't have the flashiness of current films, most of them were way before their time in effects. If you don't think about the classics when browsing Netflix or whichever rental company you use, check it out for the next few weeks. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winner of Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell



Thanks for those who participated in the contest for a copy of Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell. To pick the winner, I used a random number generator. I'm happy to announce, the winner is:

Gina

Gina, please email us at YAedge AT yahoo DOT com with your address so that I can have the book sent to you!

Watch for another contest next week to win free books!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Theme Party Tips

The main problem I see with Halloween parties is people try to do too much everything and the d├ęcor ends up looking like The Nightmare Before Christmas projectile vomited in your living room. Why not choose a specific ghoulish theme and really dig into a set genre? Once you do, you’ll be surprised at how a single idea can branch out in so many unexpected ways.

Take the latest theme party I attended, hosted by my most amazing friends. They’re particular, they love details, and they throw one hell of party. Our last theme night was all paranormalville (for details see my post as Judith Graves on the Wolfy Chicks Blog), this time, the party theme was magic. DISCLAMER: No offence intended to those who practice the craft – this was purely a night to celebrate magical stereotypes and popular culture.

Witchy Woman by the Eagles was playing in background as guests arrived. Tip #1. A theme soundtrack is a must!



Black cats, green-skinned witches, caldrons, brooms and wizard wands were scattered around the house. Bookcases were transformed into the shelves of a mystical apocothery and a library of magical spell books and grimoires. Tip #2: Stash your “non-theme” related stuff in a spare room so your Star Wars figurine collection doesn’t stifle the mood. Unless you’re having a SW theme party, of course. ;)

To dine, the menu featured: Dead Man’s Toes (chicken fingers), Bat Wings (chicken wings), Fungus Cubes (cheese cubes), Pickled Brains (pickled cauliflower), Entrails Dip (salsa for taco chips). For dessert: Death Brownies (lol…not magic brownies!) and Graveyard Grahams (graham square cookies with chocolate icing, a cookie tombstone and green-dye coconut grass). For more ideas on gravely good desserts go here, because they have pictures – and I can’t make a recipe work without pictures.

No party is complete without mood lighting and a few games. We played Harry Potter Scene It?, had a crazy-funny tarot card reading from Madame Esmeralda (we called her “Ezzy”), a little 5 in 10 (eg. Name 5 famous witches in 10 seconds), movie quotes from witchy/magical films (eg. “I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too.”) and my favourite game – name that tune (play the first 10 seconds of theme related songs: I Put a Spell on You, Bewitched TV theme song, Abracadabra, etc). Tip #3: Put a little effort into theme games, be creative and never try to bob for apples after a few sips of Essence of Dragon’s Blood brew.

Tip #4: This Halloween, have a zombie theme (the walking dead are all the rage this year), a twisted fairytale theme, a Rest in Peace – graveyard theme, a shapeshifter theme – but make your party one of legend – get focused. For added fun, check out the cool Halloween candy at The Candy Warehouse. The black candy selection looks hauntingly delicious. And now I think I have to get my hands on a copy of Saundra Mitchell's YA ghost story, Shadowed Summer. Looks like an awesome read!