Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Movie Review #3: Trick AND Treats!!!

I just love this time of year, the weather is starting to change, and the holidays start to ring us in to the end of another year. I start my holiday season with Halloween, which I love! All those great movies, the decorations and the candy I should be avoiding. I started reviewing movies for this Halloween and then abruptly stopped. So I am going to make an attempt to write a bit each day untill Halloween is here.

This next review is not so much a review, just like my previous reviews which were more like a list of my personal fears. No, this is one of more a tribute to one of the things I look forward to during the month of October: The TV show specials.

Now, you can have It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and The Simpson’s Tree House of Horror. For me it is all about the Roseanne Halloween specials! I love them! I use to have a VHS tape somewhere with them all on it, but alas I have no idea where! Now, you could call me a freak, but apparently I am not alone because they have put out a DVD for us freaks.

Roseanne: Halloween Edition came out in 2006. This fun and surprisingly inexpensive DVD contains the Halloween Episodes from Season 2-8, apparently there is no Season 1 Halloween and the Season 9 episode was left of the disk, hmmm….
But all in all for under $10, I think you get your money’s worth.

My favorite two episodes are:

Season 2: Boo
The Conner’s first Halloween with The Tunnel of Terror. Dang, all the kid’s were so cute. And for me this episode was what Rosanne was all about, a dysfunctional family who tried their best, and love each other regardless of their mistakes or shortcomings.

Season 5: Halloween IV
Every show does there take on It’s a Wonderful Life, but Rosanne does it with her own unusual twist. Down in the dumps and not feeling the spirit of the season, sends everyone out and is visited by the ghosts of Halloween. It is a very funny and irreverent episode, but what else would you expect from Roseanne.

Unfortunately, I can not find this anywhere, so I may just order it for next year. But I would not be surprised if I wind up playing up 3 or 4 times throughout the year.

What are your favorite TV memories or show you look forward to this Halloween season?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween Movie review #2: Underwater Terrors

As predicted in my last blog, I spent most of last night wide awake, waiting to be attacked by a Zuni doll. The bright side of my extreme tiredness is that I have really come up with quite a few movies to review this Halloween season. Although, I these reviews could easily be called ‘My List of Fears & Phobias as told Through Film’. I realized a lot of things give me the heebie-jeebies. Which brings me to my next movie, well… actually two movies: Jaws and Piranha.

Basically, you had to have lived under a rock for 33 years if you have never seen Jaws or heard the ominous thudding score that lets you know someone is in trouble. I really don’t think I need to go too much into the story, we all know it. A large Great White Shark terrorizes the New England shores and the new Chief of Police puts a team together to hunt it down… in the water… on a WOODEN boat… in the water… after they know the shark can chew up boats… in the water! Yeah, not me, no how, no way! There are plenty of terrifying scenes that haunt me to this day. Although, it is really just two scenes that really stand out for me. The first is the opening scene where a young woman decides to go on a romantic swim at night with her boyfriend. Unfortunately her boyfriend passes out drunk and she swims out to meet her new date for the night, a Great White Shark. She very violently becomes the shark’s first onscreen snack. Even without seeing this movie, NOTHING would make me go into the sea, river, ocean, bay, lake or any large body of water at night to swim. The second poop in my pants scene occurs while a diver checks out the underbelly of a boat (again at night) and a head pops out of a hole in the boats bottom. Even today, I know that shock is coming, and I still jump (and maybe scream a little). There are plenty of more chills and thrills, but nothing beats the ending that plays in my head as the credits roll. The movie ends with a shot of the stranded survivors waiting afloat for rescue in the middle of the water, no land in site. But I can’t leave well enough alone; instead in my mind a new bigger shark comes and eats them. This movie terrified me; I had constant nightmares and sleepless nights for many years. Jaws was the catalyst for the start of my many water phobias. And whatever fears I had not developed from Jaws, were completely developed with the next film, Piranha.

Piranha, first of all was filmed in San Marcos, Texas. That was a little to close to reality for me as a child. When you see a place that looks like where you have actually been before, the veil of fantasy is forever gone. This film also starts of with some naughty teens swimming at night, but this time they sneak into an abandoned military site and go skinny dipping. In short order they are eaten up. While Jaws had the foreboding warning music before an attack, these sounds happen during the attack. As the piranha feed, you have the pleasure of listening to wet, rapid chopping sounds and splashes of water. So even if you prepare yourself and cover your eyes, you can hear the attacks. (Shudder) The film progresses with a busybody insurance investigator and her woodsman guide finding the base and accidentally releasing the tank full saltwater fishes into Lost River Lake (aka the Guadalupe River). Well this should not be a problem; salt-water fish will die in fresh water, right? Nope! These are genetically altered fish tired of fish flakes and are now heading to Summer Camp overflowing with tasty children and naughty counselors that need to be punished. (On a short tangent, the horror movie industry is very big on saucy, sexy/rebellious teens who misbehave must be punished. There are many interesting articles dealing with this subject and that are very easy to find on the internet. Look the up, and enjoy!) So now the 2 fools that released the piranha race to stop the advancing piranha from feeding on the children. Oh, I forgot to mention they do this on a RAFT! As I am sure you can guess, plenty of mishaps and near misses happen along the way before they get to the pre-pubescent potluck for the fishies. I won’t give away the ending, except to say it is pretty cheesy. Unfortunately for me the real scary ending happens before the credits roll, and like my made-up ending for Jaws, a few fish escape into the sea. The movie ends with the screen bleeding red, and you hear the chopping sounds getting loader.

So that was it, I was done. These movies straight up, fucked me up. It did not help that around this time period, I almost drowned in Lake Conroe. So I already had an aversion to bodies of water. Now combined that experience with these movies and it left me done with the water. I was done with lakes, rivers, bays, oceans, sea and even pools. No more swimming at night in a pool, no being in water when no one around. I would not even take baths because I was so scared a piranha would come up through the drain and eat me. So regardless of how much I love the water, I fear more what it holds. I tell people all the time, if I can’t see the bottom, I am not going in it. Mark my words, people laugh at me about piranha being in lakes and oceans, but when the first attack happens, I will say I told you so.

I also developed a real fear of sleeping in my bed at night, I just knew when I closed my eyes, my mattress would become a raft and all the space around my bed turned to water. I was constantly fearful of something bumping my bed/raft and turning it over. Or by leaving my fingers dangling over the edge, it was calling the piranha to come have a little snack. I still feel this way to this day, but I am much better now. I have learned to sleep with my hands on the bed and not over. If you do that, nothing will bite you. Trust me on this…

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Halloween Movie Review #1

In honor of Halloween, I have decided to share with you some of my favorite horror/supernatural thriller with you. I use that phrasing because it was very difficult to start this blog series. Primarily because how do I categorize this series of movies? Horror movies? Halloween flicks? Do they need to be broken down into specific categories? Many people have very specific ideas of what defines a genre of film and take it very seriously, including myself. So I am going to do my best not to sweat it so much and just have fun with this series. So please don’t get caught up in the way I categorize the film and try to go with the flow. The main reason is to share some films that really enjoyed, from a genre that I really love.

As a child, I grew up waiting for Saturday morning. Saturday mornings for me meant Saturday morning cartoons. As I grew a bit older, I could not wait for the cartoons to be finished, so I could watch my Creature Features. The Mummy, The Wolf Man, the Hammer films, or anything staring Vincent Price, vampires or werwolves! I tried to catch them all, I loved them! The older I got to more my love for the horror genre grew. Now as an adult, it still remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Although, truth be told, I prefer reading a good horror/supernatural novel rather than to watch most new horror movies. For me, they rely too much on red corn syrup and gore rather than a good plot or plausibility. Again I don’t plan to argue these points, but just share some of movies that I enjoyed or scared the hell out of me.
So what makes a movie scary? I think it is different for each person. My best friend had a very hard time with the movie Signs during the scene when the alien was in broad daylight. Danger is supposed to stay hidden in the shadows right? I think many people felt the same way he did. Well, for me, there is nothing scarier than your personal sanctuary being violated or becoming a place you feel unsafe to occupy. A very close second is inanimate objects come to life. This brings us to my first horror movie review, and easily one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Even as a 39-year-old male, I pretty much flat out refuse to watch the movie, Trilogy of Terror.

Trilogy of Terror, was a movie I saw for the first time when I around ten years old. It is a 1975 movie featuring Karen Black in all three tales: Julie, Millicent & Therese and Amelia. While the first two tales are creepy, not to mention corny, the last tale is scary as hell! Amelia is a tale about a young woman trying to establish her independence from an overbearing, domineering mother. She buys an African Zuni Hunting Fetish doll as a birthday present for her boyfriend, an anthropology teacher. The Zuni doll is suppose to contain the spirit of a Zuni warrior, held in check by the gold chair around his waist. During a phone argument with her Mother, she dislodges the chain. The rest of the tale revolves around the doll coming to life and hunting Amelia in her first apartment, and has a very surprising ending.

So you say what is so scary about that. Well, it could be the sound of pitter-patter of the doll’s little feet on the hardwood floor, or the horrible high pitched chopping sounds his dagger teeth make while chasing her. Mainly, it is the feeling of helplessness of her being so much larger that the doll, but being unable to control or overpower it nor all the sharp objects that it uses to stab and slice her flesh. As a child, it also did not help that my Father had small carved Mexican figurines around my house. I could not tell you how many nights of sleep I have lost because I thought I head the pitter-patter. Or fearing if I did not keep my eyes open at night, I would miss the doll climbing into my top bunk with a knife clenched between his teeth. Seriously, it is sad to say I will probably not sleep well tonight. To this day if someone asks for a scary movie to watch, this always makes the top of my list. So if your looking for a scary movie to watch this Halloween season and you have never seen this movie, try it. Just make sure you watch it during the day, and watch a comedy afterwards.

Restored Power= Happiness



Whew, finally, 15 days after Hurricane Ike, my power was restored. A week after that, my Internet, cable and land phone line has been restored. It has been a very tiresome experience, but all in all, just a major inconvenience. My fellow Houston friends and I were very lucky, none of us suffered any major damages to our property, and our loved ones (humans/pets) were unharmed. I am very thankful to be able to say that, but that being said, I DON”T EVER WANT TO GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN! Please take my word: attempting to sleep in 90-degree heat and humidity with no breeze is not a walk in the park. I know people do it everyday, but I was simply not use to it. And I can tell you most Houstonians that I know were not either!

As the fourth largest city in the US, we were sorely unprepared for this storm. The storm was a Category 2, not a 3, not a 4, but a Cat 2! Yet it took 2 weeks to get power back up! I shudder to think what a stronger storm would have done to us. I have a feeling working for an engineering firm; we will start seeing many proposals for changes for Houston infrastructures. Although, I am quite confident, it will be quite a while for the process to reach completion. Somehow, I don’t see myself living in this portion of the country when it happens.

I am just very happy that my power and other services are back in working order! I don’t want to seem all ‘and the lesson I learned was…’, but I did realize that I can live without those perks. Will I cancel those services? Hell to the no! I have basic cable that is cutting back for me!

So now that my life is starting to resemble a normal routine again, I can say Halloween is almost here. For some reason, I am very excited about this holiday. I really have a feeling I will feel this way until after the New Year. I can’t really put it into words or explain it. I don’t think it is because I am single again. I am not going out or planning to go out for Halloween. Really, I feel as big as a house and completely unattractive, plus I am saving money to pay off bills. I also have no plans for the rest of the holidays either. I am just looking forward to this holiday season. I also have plans for much blogging also! I plan to blog about top ten monsters, review of some of my favorite horror movies, and favorite Halloween movies, just to name a few topics. So stay tuned, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming blogs!