October 21, 2015


It's here! Sweet October with its brilliant blue skies, yellow trees, and cool, smoky nights. I don't have a full blown Halloween countdown in me this year, but I thought I'd share some stuff I've been doing to make the most of this all-too-precious season.

First, it's my 2015 Halloween mood table!...

This time around I went with a pared down, more focused approach in comparison to last year's overblown creation. This table tells the story of a spooky house and its many skeletal guardians. It's actually an eventless, boring tale, but it's pleasing to look at. Many of the ornaments were previously seen in my skeleton countdown of 2006 including the #1 entry which is now in the uppermost position of honor. The pyramidal composition was an artistic convention developed during the Renaissance; here it has been perfected.

In the tradition of most spooky houses, this one has a secret. It was built, not on a graveyard, but on a foundation of 80s horror movies!!

I found this VHS storage cabinet at the Salvation Army last month for seventeen bucks, and it is a beauty. It comfortably houses much of my Halloween entertainment.

Most of the movies came from nearby video stores that have somehow* managed to stay in business. Before I brought them home, these tapes spent decades in the same showroom, waiting to entertain. During those years they've been granted access into homes, vehicles, and gatherings that I could only dream of today. Just seeing their paths plotted out on a map would be exciting to me. What's that, the mayor's daughter had Goulies II checked out for two and a half weeks? I wonder which movie has spent the most time shoved under the seat of a pick-up truck? Ironically, many of these tapes have probably "seen" horrors far worse than the stuff depicted in their respective films.

I enjoy knowing that some of these videos are the very tapes that I ignored week after week in my youth. If young me would have known that I'd be interested in them during adulthood, well, I would have been pretty bummed. After all, many of these were actually below my personal standards as a teenage cinephile. Little did I know that frequenting the Horror shelves each week would wire my brain to associate low budget scares with dopamine-soaked weekend leisure. Today they're still oddly comforting.

*By adding tanning beds, paycheck advances, and liquor.

One of these stores still fires up the same sign they installed in 1987. So I put together this commemorative GIF...

What else?
I went to a Halloween Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It's got about a half dozen haunted walkthroughs, but this year I brought my son whom I have not deemed ready to be chased by a teenager in a Jason mask. So we roamed around the grounds and soaked up the spooky atmosphere, music, costumes, and night air.

In addition to watching scary movies, I've been using my screens to play a couple creepy video games. I got Alien: Isolation for pretty cheap and my favorite thing about it is getting to wander around the 70s retrofuturistic environments which have been reproduced in painstaking detail. The in-game technology is reminiscent of an Atari 5200, and there are novelties scattered about, including the classic drinking bird...

I'm not really a zombie guy, but for some reason year after year I keep coming back to Left 4 Dead 2.  The B-movie vibe is great, and it's super fun, provided you can find the right people to play with. I like to crack the sliding glass door so I can feel the chill, and hear the real crickets as I brave the virtual spookiness.

Lastly, this Halloween season is unbelievably special for me because I got to be a part of this month's issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine! Mail-Order Mysteries turns four years old this month, so these days I'm happily shocked when someone asks me to do something related to it, and then THIS of all things! I'm still trying to get my head around the significance of it all, considering the role this magazine has played in my life. It's on par with the time that Johnson Smith Co. sold my book about S.S. Adams. I'm blown away.

I'll probably post the interview here in the future, but for now you can find it at your favorite book mart or magazine hut.



rpchurch said...

Love these more subdued Halloweenarticles you do. Old monster cereal box reviews an Halloween song countdowns are great, but sometimes hearing about an old VHS cabinet is what you need to get you in the spirit! Thanks Kirk!

Kirk D. said...

I'm glad to hear it! Thank you and have a happy Halloween!

Brian said...

Sweet VHS collection,wow...Beyond the Door(WHOOOO AAARE YOOOOOU),The Visitor(a very young Lance Hendrickson Appearance)The Offspring, Creature,Bloody Birthday...I could go on and on,but I'll stop at the tv series Monsters.Oh yes,The week before Halloween is a great one and builds up to that big climax.But after all the pumpkin carving, Trick or Treating with the kids,and parties,my Halloween usually ends with some campy old VHS flicks,a frozen pepperoni pizza and some Black cherry soda in the old man cave.Its kind of zen.I hope your holiday is much of the same

Kirk D. said...

Brian- I'm glad you fully appreciate the wonders held inside these plastic tapes!
You just described the perfect post-Halloween night, right down to the pepperoni. (I've been trying to squeeze in as many of those as possible during pre-halloween too.) One thing I miss about having cable is flipping through all the scary shows on Halloween night after getting settled in. It's like the whole world has gone spooky.
I hope you gave a great one!

Benjamin Hall said...

Really great article! Too cool!

jual action figure said...

Thank you and have a happy Halloween!
and than happy new year

cheer :)