Halloween II

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Friday. August 5, 2016. One of the most memorable days of my life. It was the last week of my summer break and I had to end it with a bang. And that I did. I drove hundreds of miles to Alhambra, California, to visit my childhood best friend. Nelson and I go way back. We met in Kindergarten and were best friends through 7th grade, but then my family moved in 1996 and things were never quite the same. Yet despite it all, we remained in touch throughout the years. Nelly and I share a special bond. We may go weeks, months and sometimes even years without talking, but as soon as we get back in touch it’s like we never left. Those are the best! Little did I know when I left my house to go visit Nelson in LA that he only lived 3 miles away from many of the filming locations of the 1978 classic, Halloween.

"Haddonfield" in August 2016
“Haddonfield” in August 2016

The initial plan was just to reconnect with my childhood best friend and go to Disneyland to hang out with Mickey Mouse. How serendipitous it was, then, to find Michael Myers unexpectedly lurking in Nelly’s backyard! Nelson and I were literally running down the streets of “Haddonfield” (AKA South Pasadena) hunting the Boogeyman — we were not only chasing a piece of our past but we were living it up in the present while looking forward to the future. When all the cosmic forces in the universe magically collide like that, it makes for the absolute best memories.

We visited many of the filming locations that day
We visited many of the filming locations that day
Nearly 40 years of history!
Nearly 4 decades of history!
Original Myers house from the 1978 film
Original Myers house from the 1978 film
Myers house 2016
Myers house 2016
Obligatory "That's me!" shot
Obligatory “That’s me!” shot
One of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema!
One of the most iconic scenes in horror history
It was so surreal standing there. Gave me goosebumps
It was SO surreal standing there. Gave me goosebumps
Michael stalked these streets nearly 40 years ago
Michael stalked these very streets nearly 40 years ago…

Hunting the Boogeyman indeed! There Nelson and I sat admiring the sights and sounds of Haddonfield. We fondly reminisced about our childhood memories growing up watching the Halloween movies together and a more innocent time of our lives. It was just what the doctor ordered to end summer with a bang and look forward to what the next chapter of our lives would bring. It’s funny how that works, eh?

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Jump to October 2018. Fall break was fast approaching as was the release of the new Halloween movie, which was rapidly racking up rave reviews. Since I had the week off from teaching, I decided to capitalize on a once in a lifetime opportunity. Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark was doing a 40th Anniversary bus tour of Halloween. Sure, I had seen many of the locations just two years prior, but this was the 40th Anniversary! No way was I gonna miss that, especially with it perfectly landing during my 10 day fall break. This was all in addition to attending the 40th Anniversary Halloween Convention. Without further ado, here are some pictures and memories from that awesome weekend.

Not exactly paradise but it'll do
Not exactly a view from paradise but it’ll do

Going with Nelson would have been perfect but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. He left to Thailand for the month to visit some family and since I left on a Thursday (October 11, 2018), everyone else was working. So it was the first solo trip of my life. They say everyone should experience a solo vacation at least once in their lives. I don’t know if this qualifies per se, but I’ll take it. It was a blast and a weekend getaway that I will always cherish and remember. I slept at America’s Best Value Inn. It wasn’t the most lavish of places but it sufficed for a 2 night stay.

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I left Thursday morning and hit Pasadena around 5:30 PM. After unwinding for 10 minutes in my room, I went out to grab an early dinner. The long drive had me feeling hungry as a mofo.

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There were lots of cool Halloween decorations lighting up the darkening streets of South Pasadena.

Nothing like an awesome Halloween display
Nothing like an awesome Halloween display

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Back in 2016 when I visited Nelson, he took me to Shakey’s Pizza Palor and I have been craving it ever since. It’s just pizza, fried chicken and potato wedges but damn did it hit the spot 2 years ago. So I had to come back.

Half Firehouse half Rustic Garlic Chicken
Half Firehouse half Rustic Garlic Chicken

Mmm, so good. I wish there was a Shakey’s where I live. I ate a few slices and took the rest to go.

Made for a greasy yummy midnight snack ;)
Made for a greasy yummy midnight snack ;)

I then spent the better part of 3 hours texting a new lady friend before crashing for the evening…

Friday, October 12. Let's get the show on the road!
Friday, October 12. Let’s get the show on the road :D
Halloween promotion was off the charts in LA!
Halloween promotion was off the charts in LA!
My new friend next to me said Artse. I only saw ARSE
My new friend next to me said Artse. I only saw ARSE
The house from Nightmare on Elm Street
The house from Nightmare on Elm Street
Sean Clark was our tour guide. Super cool guy
Sean Clark was our tour guide. Super cool guy

Here we are getting ready to pass by the now defunct All American Burger from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Good times.

The Doyle House
The Doyle house 2018
The Doyle House 1978
The Doyle house 1978
The Wallace House 2018
The Wallace house 2018
The Wallace House 1978
The Wallace house 1978
Fans from all over flocked to celebrate 40 years
Fans from all over flocked to celebrate 40 years
More Halloween promotion
More Halloween promotion
The promotion was LEGIT
Halloween is BACK, baby
Love the sight of Michael Myers looming large over LA
Love the sight of Michael Myers looming over LA

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Here’s the infamous spot from Halloween II where Michael Myers bumped into the boombox guy. After hearing the news that Laurie Strode has been admitted to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, Michael Myers is once more on the move.

*cue sudden sharp sound effect*
*cue sudden sharp sound effect*
And here's where we see the bouncing guy
And here’s where we see the bouncing guy
Surreal standing there so many decades later
Surreal standing there so many decades later
We even visited the church from The Fog
We even visited the church from The Fog
Mrs. Elrod's house
Mrs. Elrod’s house
The Buccaneer from Halloween III
The Buccaneer from Halloween III
Shout out to Craig sitting there!
Shout out to Craig sitting there!

I took a seat at the bar and chatted with Craig. He asked what all the commotion was for. I told him it was a bus tour celebrating 40 years of Halloween. “Shit, it’s been 40 years already?” He took the rest of the work day off to start his weekend early to drink :P It was nice chatting with the locals.

Love the character this bar has
Love the character this bar has
Sean Clark takes us to the "Garbage Day" spot
Sean Clark takes us to the “Garbage Day” spot
From Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2
From Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2
"GARBAGE DAY?!?"  *BANG*
“GARBAGE DAY?!?” *BANG*
The infamous cemetery scene from Halloween
The infamous cemetery scene from Halloween
Pee Wee's House!
Pee Wee’s House!
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
From Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Another one of my favorite films, this was a nice bonus
Another one of my favorite films, this was a nice bonus
Ah, my childhood
Ah, my childhood
The line for the hedge was insane
The line for the hedge was insane
Looking at it from this angle, its pretty ridiculous :P
Looking at it from this angle, it’s pretty ridiculous :P

America… a precious land where dozens and dozens of horror movie fans can gather to take pictures standing half obscured by a 7 foot tall hedge. God bless America indeed.

The classic opening shot
The classic opening shot
Iconic
Iconic
The restaurant from Terminator
The restaurant from Terminator (1984)
The Night They Came Home
The Night Late Afternoon They Came Home
"I SHOT HIM! SIX TIMES! HES NOT HUMAN!"
Just wish I was here at night…
"I SHOT HIM! SIX TIMES! HE'S NOT HUMAN!"
“I SHOT HIM! SIX TIMES! HE’S NOT HUMAN!”
It sure would be spooky standing there at night...
It sure would be spooky standing here at night…
Definitely not spooky in the daytime :P
It loses its effect a bit in the daytime :P
Standing where Donald Pleasence once stood
Standing where Donald Pleasence once stood
Dr. Loomis, if only yo ass turned around...
Dr. Loomis, if only yo ass turned around…
The Strode House
The Strode House
Nice
Nice
I just had to
C’mon, you knew I just had to
Inside the Myers House!
Inside the Myers House!
The same house 40 years ago
The same house 40 years ago
What an honor
What an honor :)
Thank you Sean Clark for a fun tour!
Thank you Sean Clark for a fun tour!
All of a sudden all the houses went DARK...
Reminds me of the creepy scene the lights go out
Off to my Friday night dinner... SHAKE SHACK!
Off to my Friday night dinner… SHAKE SHACK!

I’ve heard the hype for Shake Shack for years now, and finally I had a chance to try it out for myself.

Mmmm
Mmmm. That milkshake was legit
Nothing like meat hanging out over the tray
Nothing like hot meat hanging out over the tray :D
Went to Target to see their Halloween display
Nothing warms my heart like a Halloween display
Went to Target to pick up a few items
From that fancy hoity-toity store… Target
Hello Jack Skellington!
Hello Jack Skellington!
Love seeing the ghoulish sights of Halloween
Love seeing the ghoulish sights of Halloween
Yo bro, didnt I kill your ass in Resident Evil?
Yo bro, thought I killed your ass in Resident Evil
Had fun driving around LA at night blasting 80s songs
Driving around LA at night blasting ’80s songs :D

There’s something about driving around LA at night playing all the old hits. I blasted Jackson Browne’s Somebody’s Baby as I drove up and down West LA. It was so damn peaceful and beautiful. The cool night air smacking my face as I left all my worries behind. Really transported me back to the ’80s. I felt like I was going to see Damone at the next light!

Act like wherever you are is the place to be
“Act like wherever you are is the place to be” -Damone

So awesome blaring this while driving around LA
So awesome to play this while driving around LA

I eventually made my way back to the hotel and ended up texting a new lady friend for 4 hours before finally crashing…

Saturday, October 13. Halloween Convention
Saturday, October 13. Halloween Convention time!
Met a new friend. Heres my convention buddy, Crystal
Met a new friend. Here’s my convention buddy, Crystal

After parking and taking the elevator down, I ran into Crystal. She flew in from St. Louis and we became Convention buddies for the day :P Shout out to Crystal. It was fun walking around the Convention and hanging out!

Tom Atkins from Halloween III was a big hit
Tom Atkins from Halloween III was a big hit
Best part was seeing a guy propose!
Best part was seeing a guy propose to his girlfriend!
Flanked by two Boogeymen!
Flanked by two Boogeymen!
Early Saturday evening I made the long drive back
Early Saturday evening I made the long drive back
I finally made it back super late and crashed like a mofo
I-5 is so damn spooky and eerie at night

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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I had a blast roaming around in LA hunting the Boogeyman once more. Although Nelson was out of the country and unable to make it, I still made the most of it. Met a bunch of cool Halloween fans and we just got to live out our fandom and toast to 40 friggin’ years. Not many movies carry with it such a legacy and fanbase as John Carpenter’s Halloween. Best of all, I’ll also remember this trip as the weekend I really hit it off with my new lady friend, who is now currently my girlfriend. We spent 7 hours texting Thursday and Friday night while I was in LA laying in my hotel bed. We had our first date on Sunday (the day I drove back from LA). The next week we went to see the new Halloween (fittingly so) and it just went from there. So yeah, I’ll always look back on that weekend fondly. It was well worth the long drive and expenses I paid to make it happen. What else can I say but thanks for all the memories and long live Halloween!

Hey, who’s that good looking guy at 1:32?! ;)

Halloween

Nothing like counting down the days to Halloween
Nothing like counting down the days to Halloween

October is quite possibly my favorite month of the year. Fall is one of my favorite seasons thanks to its darkening late afternoons, the soothing sound of leaves crunching beneath your sneakers and bundling up with horror movies galore. And my favorite horror movie of all time also happens to be one of my favorite holidays: HALLOWEEN. I have many fond memories of the holiday, but I’ve always wanted to write an article exclusively featuring the Halloween film franchise. What better night than tonight, Halloween 2018, to get that started once and for all? So light up your pumpkins, turn off the lights, grab a cold drink and kick back with me as we stroll down memory lane. But beware — the Boogeyman may be lurking right around that dark corner…

MY HALLOWEEN ORIGINS

HalloweCover

It all began innocently enough in 1989 when my uncle took me to a local mom and pop rental store. We frequented the small humble establishment of Video Mart on many nights, but this night proved to be one for the ages. The cover of Halloween immediately resonated with me. Despite the knife posing in a very volatile way, my 6 year old self imagined an epic movie about trick or treating. I was sold like a cheap hooker on a sordid Saturday night. Uncle Jimmy, being a super rad uncle and all, obliged and I spent the whole movie behind the couch watching bits and pieces of it with my hands covering my eyes. That very night I had a nightmare of Michael Myers stalking me. The door creaked open ever so slowly, revealing the ghastly sight of the Shape standing there in the doorway. That cold and blank mask burned a hole through my soul as I laid there in bed paralyzed. I became a fan for life from that point on. Go figure, right?

Michael and I have shared a bond for nearly 30 years
Michael and I have shared a bond for nearly 30 years

HALLOWEEN

October 25, 1978
October 25, 1978

A little over 40 years ago, John Carpenter and friends changed the entire horror genre when Halloween landed and became a smash success. Initially, it flopped as critics were harsh. But soon word of mouth spread and critics started giving it more favorable reviews. It took off like a speeding bullet and never looked back. So what made the original Halloween so damn captivating?

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The plot was simple and perfect. A masked maniac escapes a sanitarium the night before Halloween. He was admitted 15 years prior for brutally stabbing his sister to death when he was 6 years old in 1963 on a cold Halloween night. Now, exactly 15 years later in 1978, evil roams the streets once again. The Boogeyman began stalking and murdering babysitters on Halloween night in the sleepy suburbs of Haddonfield. It struck a chord with viewers because Haddonfield was essentially “Anytown, USA.” It felt like Halloween could happen on any street in America, including your very own. And there’s something very harrowing about that.

The Boogeyman could be lurking anywhere...
The Boogeyman could be lurking anywhere…

In Jaws, you’re not safe only when you’re in the water. In Friday the 13th, you’re not safe only when you visit Camp Crystal Lake. But in Halloween, you’re not safe anywhere… not even in your own backyard. It’s the idea that the Boogeyman could be hiding in the shadows as you take out the trash or that he may be lurking in that dark corner of your garage…

BoogeStairs

Michael Myers was a brilliant antagonist, and continues to stand the test of time 40 years later. A silent and swift killer, “The Shape” is a relentless force of nature. That William Shatner mask painted white is iconic and forever part of horror movie lore. For my money, Michael Myers is still the quintessential Boogeyman and the best villain the horror genre has ever produced. No one else comes close.

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Who could ever forget that classic opening shot with young Michael’s point of view? There was an eerie and uneasy feeling to this continuous tracking shot as viewers were put in the deranged shoes of Michael, stalking his sister and watching from the shadows, before ultimately stabbing her to a gruesome death.

"MICHAEL?"
“MICHAEL?”

The shot ends with Michael’s parents coming back to the house, lifting Michael’s clown mask off in the driveway and staring at him in utter disbelief. Young Michael’s blank and emotionless face added to the creepiness. It was as if a silent alarm went off in his head, triggering him to commit a most heinous act. The camera cranes back as the chilling piano theme playing in the background picks up its cadence, perfectly punctuating the moment. It was movie magic at its best. Halloween didn’t miss a single beat.

Every small town has that ONE house...
Every small town has that ONE house…

From that point on, the Myers house became the spook house. Growing up, it always felt like it was an urban legend that every little town has that one house where unspeakable horrors happen and kids are warned to stay far away from. Halloween hit on all these notes and did it better than any other horror movie.

The infamous theme was a huge key to its effectiveness. It resonates with audiences still to this day 40 years later.

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Halloween was full of classic scenes and masterfully crafted shots that represented John Carpenter’s finest work.

Oh hell no...
Oh hell no…

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And who could forget that iconic “chase scene” between Michael and Laurie Strode? Many horror movies have imitated it since in the past 4 decades, but there’s only one!

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The great thing about Michael was that he didn’t just appear at night. He shows up plenty in the middle of the day. It really gave off the feeling that danger was lurking behind every corner.

You weren't even safe at school...
You weren’t even safe at school…
Or your own backyard
Or your own backyard

Poor Laurie. For some unexplained reason, Michael set his sights on her and went on a relentless pursuit. Later sequels bogged things down by explaining how they were brother and sister, but the original did it best because the ambiguity made it effectively scary. After all, why do psychos go after the victims that they do? Nobody knows, sometimes not even the psychopaths themselves. And that’s what makes it so unsettling: it could happen to anyone. You could be going about your day innocently and innocuously enough when someone suddenly decides to make you their next target.

It's a lot scarier when it's completely random
It’s a lot scarier when it’s completely random
Michael's mannerisms were perfectly creepy
Michael’s mannerisms were perfectly creepy
"See anything you like?"
“See anything you like?”
Yes he does. Choking, in particular
Yes he does. Choking, in particular
Somehow I doubt he's ordering pizza
Somehow I doubt he’s ordering pizza
The moment you realize shit is fucked up
The moment you realize shit is fucked up
Get the hell out of there, Laurie!
Get the hell out of there, Laurie!
Props to Jamie Lee Curits who played Laurie great
Props to Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie great
One of the best shots in the franchise
One of the best shots in the franchise
No words to describe this
Iconic
The epic finale begins
And thus, the epic finale begins
Take that, bitch!
Take that, bitch!
"You cant kill the Boogeyman!"
“You can’t kill the Boogeyman!”
This scene scared me so much as a kid!
This scene scared me so much as a kid!
WATCH YO BACK GIRL!
WATCH YO BACK GIRL!
GAWD DAMN!
GAWD DAMN!
Wheres Doctor Loomis when you need him?
Where’s Doctor Loomis when you need him?
Ah, good old Donald Pleasence to the rescue
Ah, good old Donald Pleasence to the rescue
Often imitated, never duplicated
Often imitated, never duplicated

Halloween really is as close to being a perfect horror movie as one can get. It was really scary watching it as a kid and it has left an imprint on my soul, as it has to countless others. It’s somewhat of a slow burn — one that modern audiences watching it for the first time today may not quite get or appreciate — but that doesn’t take away from its greatness still. Michael Myers is the perfect villain and Jamie Lee Curtis played the perfect victim, bringing Laurie Strode to life. Donald Pleasence added further legitimacy to the film with his veteran acting chops in the fan favorite role of mad raving Dr. Loomis. John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme was the icing on the cake. It’s one of the most iconic movie themes ever created. Back to the Future, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Jaws… you can’t include such a list without Halloween firmly near if not at the very top. I give Halloween a perfect 10 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN II

October 30, 1981
October 30, 1981

I caught Halloween II not terribly long after first watching the original in 1989. It was maybe around 1990 or 1991 that once again my uncle rented me the sequel. It picks up right after the events of the first film.

Michael was shot six times and fell off a balcony
Michael was shot six times and fell off a balcony
Mere seconds later, Loomis peers over and hes gone...
Mere seconds later, Loomis peers over and he’s gone…

I love how Halloween II is a direct continuation of Halloween. We see a bewildered Dr. Loomis running out of the house. He stares at the bloody space where Michael’s body once laid. The blood dripping off his fingers indicates pure evil is on the loose. Then the next door neighbor pops out of his house and we get this memorable interaction:

Neighbor: What’s going on out here?
Loomis: Call the police! Tell the sheriff I shot him!
Neighbor: Who?
Loomis: Tell him, he’s still on the loose!
Neighbor: Is this some kind of joke? I’ve been trick-or-treated to death tonight.
Loomis: [looks at the blood on his hand] You don’t know what death is!

*cue an updated frenetic Halloween theme*
*cue an updated frenetic Halloween theme*

It was such a banging intro! I get chills whenever I see it. The music continues to play as the wicked looking pumpkin cracks open slowly to reveal a skull. I always thought this movie had more of a Halloween seasonal feel than the first one.

There was something very sinister about Halloween II
There was something very sinister about Halloween II
The various POV shots were creepy as hell
The various POV shots were creepy as hell

Indeed, Halloween II was an unsettling watch. In some ways, as a kid at least, I found the sequel even scarier than the classic original. Michael creeps around in the shadows a lot here, and now knowing that he’s some kind of unstoppable Boogeyman made him more dangerous than ever before.

Look out, Mrs. Elrod!
Look out, Mrs. Elrod!
What a money shot
“He is now believed to be at large… in Haddonfield”

One of my favorite scenes from the entire franchise. That’s a money shot right there. The reporter’s haunting last line lingers in the air right as Michael picks up the kitchen knife. Great stuff.

Great job, Loomis. Dick
“IS IT HIM OR NOT?!?!”

Following on the heels of 1980’s Friday the 13th and a host of other slashers that proliferated the early ’80s, Halloween II ups the violence, body count and chaos. Not to mention the budget, which jumped from 325,000 in the original to 2.5 million in the sequel. As a result, more costly scenes were staged. Poor Ben Tramer. He just wanted to get home from the Halloween party. And what the hell was a police officer thinking going 40, 45 MPH in a residential neighborhood on Halloween of all nights?! The ’80s… what a time to be alive (or not).

HalloJLC8

Most of the movie takes place at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, which hands down ranks as the creepiest hospital in the history of movies. After hearing the news on the radio that Laurie Strode has been transferred to Haddonfield Memorial, Michael Myers makes a beeline for the hospital.

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There’s something naturally creepy about a dimly lit hospital with very few staff workers. Sure it’s not realistic in the least, but it made for one hell of a spooky setting.

Hospitals are unsettling in general. Add in Michael...
Hospitals are unsettling in general. Add in Michael…
And it becomes downright traumatizing!
And it becomes downright traumatizing!

Dark long hospital hallways, a lurking Boogeyman and a dreadful sense of isolation and despair made Halloween II a wonderfully atmospheric film.

Halloween II made me fear going to the hospital
Halloween II made me fear going to the hospital
Jamie Lee Curtis was out of it for the most part
Jamie Lee Curtis was out of sorts for the most part
Which made her more helpless
Which made her more helpless
This chase scene is almost as good as the original
This chase scene is almost as good as the original

The remixed chase theme makes my hair stand up on end…

I was freaking out as a kid watching it!
I was freaking out as a kid watching it!
It had multiple chase scenes, in fact
It had multiple chase scenes, in fact
This one was pretty good in its own right
This one was pretty good in its own right
Robo Myers was scary indeed
Robo Myers was scary indeed

GlassShatter

There was something frightening about the way he simply walked through the glass window without so much as flinching a single muscle. He was robotic and relentless — the perfect killing machine. I could barely watch it as a kid.

The mask isnt quite as good, though
Look at those eyes… or don’t, rather
Speaking of eyes
Speaking of eyes
Siiiick
Siiiick
Loomis and Michael go out in a blaze of glory
Loomis and Michael go out in a blaze of glory
Literally
Literally

CreepHosp

Far from a perfect sequel, Halloween II nevertheless is more than serviceable. It pairs well with the original Halloween since it picks up directly following the events of the first film, which means both movies make for a nice little Halloween marathon. Laurie Strode’s character has understandably been nerfed but I found myself sometimes wishing she was written a little better and had more to do. Halloween II fails to recapture the success and magic of the original, but it’s a solid sequel especially when you compare it to the other sequels to come. I give it a very respectable 7.5 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

October 22, 1982
October 22, 1982

I remember my dad renting this from Hollywood Video circa 1994. The cover intrigued me, as I thought a wicked witch would be the film’s main villain. And the idea of a killer witch on the prowl on Halloween night really captured my imagination. The cover had three spooky looking trick or treaters and I loved the tagline: The Night No One Comes Home. Very clever play off the first film’s tagline: The Night He Came Home. The witch looming over the kids was super sinister looking as well, and I loved the way they used the red shade to give it a really ominous aura. But when I actually saw the movie, I got something completely different. Not bad different, just it wasn’t what I expected. And at the time, being around 10 or so, I didn’t like different. I wanted Michael Myers or at the very least, a killer witch. I know it would be cliché but it would have fit Halloween so perfectly.

Love this Goosebumps inspired creation!
Love this Goosebumps inspired creation!
Really wasn't a bad idea, and the masks were sick
Really wasn’t a bad idea, and the masks were sick

Halloween III: Season of the Witch marked a drastic change in the series. Michael Myers was nowhere to be found, other than a TV cameo, and the hope of the producers was to turn Halloween into an anthology series. It made sense on many levels but the critics killed it. No Michael, no mas.

If only it wasn't billed as Halloween III
If only it wasn’t billed as Halloween III

However, taken on its own, this isn’t a bad horror movie. In fact, it’s garnered a bit of a cult following in the past 15 years or so. I haven’t watched it in nearly 25 years though, so I can’t accurately give it a rating.

HALLOWEEN 4: RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS

October 21, 1988
October 21, 1988

He’s baaaaaack. After a long grueling 7 year hiatus, and coming home in time for the 10 year anniversary, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was a nice return to basics. Haddonfield, Illinois. Sleepy suburbs. Halloween decorations. Dr. Loomis rambling and raving about evil. And of course, a certain deranged masked maniac.

Meet newcomer Danielle Harris
Meet newcomer Danielle Harris

Laurie Strode was written to have died in a car crash, and the new star of the show was her daughter, Jamie. Played by Danielle Harris, the movie revolves around her and Michael’s obsession to kill his niece.

What a creeper
What a creeper

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The mask was a little weird looking to me but it’s a pretty solid sequel. The best thing it’s got going for it is atmosphere.

Halloween 4 kicks off with a series of amazing shots
Halloween 4 kicks off with a series of amazing shots
It completely captures the autumn season
It completely captures the autumn season
Especially in the Midwest, where Haddonfield is
Especially in the Midwest, where Haddonfield lies
It totally sets the mood proper!
It totally sets the mood proper!
I just wish the rest of the film lived up to this
It just screams HALLOWEEN
Seeing the title loom over the farmland was amazing
Seeing the title loom over the farmland was perfect
Scene with Reverend Sayer was awesome
Scene with Reverend Sayer was awesome

Sayer: You’re huntin’ it, ain’t ya? Yeah, you’re huntin’ it all right. Just like me.
Loomis: What are you hunting, Mr. Sayer?
Sayer: Apocalypse, end of the world, Armageddon. It’s always got a face and a name. *pause for a swig* I’ve been huntin’ the bastard for 30 years, give or take. Come close a time or two… too damn close. *pause for self-reflection, with slight head shake* You can’t kill damnation, mister. It don’t die like a man dies.

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Michael was back to his lurking ways. The film is a little slow in spots, but there’s no denying it’s packed with atmosphere.

You can almost feel the chill in the air
You can almost feel the chill in the air

Rachel Carruthers was such a great character. She’s no Laurie Strode, but she made the absence of Jamie Lee Curtis a bit more bearable. Total girl next door vibe to Rachel and she was just cool as shit.

It was a nice comeback for the Boogeyman
It was a nice comeback for the Boogeyman
One of the creepiest endings ever in a horror film
One of the creepiest endings ever in a horror film

Halloween 4 ends ominously with Jamie pulling a 1963 Michael Myers. Dr. Loomis trying to shoot her at the bottom of the staircase as he screams “NOOO! NOOOO!!” was very unsettling to say the least. Halloween 4 has its share of blemishes but is a solid return to form, and many fans regard it as one of the better sequels in the franchise. I give Halloween 4 a 7 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN 5: REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS

October 13, 1989
October 13, 1989

It’s fitting that Halloween 5 was released on a Friday the 13th. Less than a year removed from Halloween 4, Halloween 5 was rushed into production and theatres. Critics were very harsh on it and Michael would disappear for 6 years following this “debacle.” Of course, your mileage may vary.

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The dynamic duo of Jamie and Rachel return. Unfortunately, similar to her “mom” in Halloween II, Jamie is subdued and doesn’t talk for much in the film due to the trauma of last year’s events. I wish she wasn’t so limited. In another dumb decision, they killed off Rachel in the first act and the film heads downhill after that. Hey Rachel, Bryan Cranston from Godzilla says hi.

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The good doc also returned. Loomis is perhaps crazier than ever, even threatening to offer up Jamie as bait. He’s pretty much a caricature at this point, but a beloved caricature nonetheless.

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The film opens up with a hermit taking care of Michael… supposedly for the past year?! It’s a bit ridiculous, but I have to admit there’s a certain cheesy charm to it that I can appreciate. Of course, Halloween nears and the alarm in Michael’s deranged mind goes off. He grabs the mask…

Well, you know the rest
Well, you know the rest

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Speaking of the mask, there’s been a lot of hate on the mask here. But I actually kind of like it. I like it more than the Halloween 4 mask, that’s for sure. Sometimes referred to as the “long neck” mask, it’s got a certain creepiness to it.

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Speaking of masks, at one point Michael dons the “Brute” mask in a very chilling and effective scene. Though heavily flawed, Halloween 5 isn’t without some nice moments.

Michael unmasked from the original
Michael unmasked from the original
Michael unmasked from Halloween 5
Michael unmasked from Halloween 5

I remember the advertising for Halloween 5 being that audiences can now see Michael’s face. I always thought that funny since we sort of see his face back in the very first movie. Michael even cries in part 5. That’s just wrong.

Keep your mask on, Michael, even if some hate it
Keep your mask on, Michael, even if some hate it
Barn scenes were pretty spooky
Barn scenes were pretty spooky
Loved the fog
Loved the eerie fog
Ouch
Ouch
Damn, he didnt get to see the 90s did he
Damn. He didn’t get to see the ’90s, did he
Just you and me, Michael
Just you and me, Michael
To the gawd damn bitter end
To the gawd damn bitter end
Not even they were able to save things
Not even they were able to save this film
How most fans feel about Halloween 5
How most fans feel about Halloween 5

Truth be told, it’s a guilty pleasure for me. I know it isn’t good, and it certainly represents a down point in the series. In fact, Michael would go dormant for 6 years following this critical and commercial flop (it was the lowest grossing Halloween film at just 11.6 million dollars). But for me at least, there’s a certain charm to it that I sort of dig (and embrace). It’s got this European Gothic vibe to it and it’s pretty creepy in a few spots. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely one of the weaker entries in the franchise but I don’t find it nearly as unwatchable as many do. I give Halloween 5 a 5 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN 6: CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS

September 29, 1995
September 29, 1995

Halloween 6 has a messy backstory. It went through many script revisions and studio issues. The theatrical version is a plodding mess, but I quite liked the Producer’s Cut. Originally titled Halloween 666: The Origin of Michael Myers, one day someone jokingly pitched The Curse of Michael Myers because the film felt cursed and was one big headache. The joke stuck and that became the subtitle of the film. Fun fact: Pink Panther and Halloween are the only franchises to have the subtitles of Return, Revenge and Curse. And why oh why the release date of September 29? Could they not have waited at least one more week if not two? I guess it’s fitting; it’s a sign that this movie was full of questionable choices.

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I do like certain parts of Halloween 6, though. Especially the Producer’s Cut. It’s full of Halloween atmosphere and it was just nice to see Michael again after a 6 year hiatus.

The remix theme is badass! I like how it has sort of this violent techno vibe to it. Really differentiates it from the other versions.

Still stalking after all these years
Still stalking after all these years
Never gets tired seeing him pop out of the shadows
Never gets old seeing him pop out of the shadows

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He clearly let himself go a bit, too
He clearly let himself go a bit
But his walk stalk game was still on point
But his walk stalk game was still on point
The red lighting made it even scarier
The mask looked vicious in certain shots
And looked a bit gentler in others. Fascinating
Yet looked a bit gentler in this scene…

A young Paul Rudd played Tommy Doyle, the boy Laurie Strode babysat in the original film. This was before his breakout performance in Clueless, which came out before Halloween 6 despite Halloween 6 being filmed first. Michael Myers vs. Ant-Man… an interesting thought indeed.

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This was Donald Pleasance’s final appearance in the Halloween franchise, as the 75 year old veteran actor died in February of 1995. There were a ton of reshoots that took place following his death. It’s sad that he had to go out in this way, but part of me feels perhaps he wouldn’t have it any other way: fighting Michael to the bitter end.

He was a vicious bastard in 6
He was a vicious bastard in 6

Halloween 6 was universally panned at the box office. Made on a budget of 6 million, it only grossed 15 million and we wouldn’t see Michael for another 3 years. I dislike the theatrical version but I am a fan of the Producer’s Cut, even if it is still somewhat of a jumbled mess. I was never keen on the whole Thorn mythology that parts 4, 5 and 6 adopted but I do like the Halloween atmosphere of part 6. I rate the Producer’s Cut of Halloween 6 a 7.5 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN: H20

August 5, 1998
August 5, 1998

Other than its nonsensical release date, I’m a fan of Halloween: H20. This was the big 20th anniversary bash for Halloween and its original scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, was back in the fold. Sure, it’s a bit teeny boppy and it has some of that Scream spirit to it, but it was a fun sequel and a satisfying end to the series (until it wasn’t, of course).

Welcome back, Jamie
Welcome back, Jamie
Fun fact: I drew this for an art class I took in high school
Fun fact: I drew this for an art class I took in high school
I wanted to give him orange hair though :P
I wanted to give him orange hair though :P
Shout out to my art teacher from 2000!
Shout out to my art teacher from 2000!
The mask was weird, though
The mask was a bit weird
The random crappy CGI shots didnt help either
The random crappy CGI shots didn’t help either
Why, oh why?
Why, oh why? Is this Alien Michael Myers?!

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Featuring then teen heart throb Josh Harnett and Michelle Williams from the hit TV show Dawson’s Creek, it was clear which audience H20 was catering to.

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It also featured LL Cool J, who was the first African American in the series since Gloria Glifford portrayed Mrs. Alves, a no-nonsense charge nurse at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital in Halloween II (way back in 1981). LL Cool J was a huge hip hop star and he did a great job as Ronnie, stealing each scene he was in.

H20 also featured a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt
H20 also featured a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt
And a returning Nancy Stephens!
And a returning Nancy Stephens!

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Nancy played Nurse Chambers in the first two Halloween films.

It was a lovely cameo that gave the film some history
It was a lovely cameo that gave the film some history
Speaking of history...
Speaking of history and cameos…

A really nice scene occurs when Janet Leigh shows up. She was Jamie Lee Curtis’ real life mom, and the star actress of Psycho (the original horror film many like to call it). She even throws in the clever line “If I may be maternal for a moment…” this was a nice wink and nod to the diehard fans out there.

What a reunion. 20 years in the making
What a reunion. 20 years in the making

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I love how Laurie Strode fights back and confronts her monster. She was a real badass in this one.

And thats the end of Michael and the series
And that’s the end of Michael Myers

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I remember catching H20 in theatres with my uncle and friend. I really liked it. Upon repeated viewings though, there are a few areas that could have used improvement. But overall, it’s a fun ride that’s well paced and gives us a mostly satisfying finale. It’s perhaps a bit too teeny boppy but it was nice to see Michael back in the limelight making a killing at the box office. H20 raked in a cool 55 million dollars. I rate Halloween: H20 a 7.5 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION

July 12, 2002 Summer -- really?!
July 12, 2002 (Summer — really?!)

Halloween Resurrection is often considered as the worst entry of the franchise (when not counting the Rob Zombie versions). Jamie Lee Curtis returns for an awkward cameo where she apparently dies like nothing within the first 10 minutes or so. It was so jarring and somewhat negated the effectiveness of H20.

Why am I in this piece of shit movie???
Why am I in this piece of shit movie???

A product of its time, Halloween Resurrection played around with found footage and reality TV. It’s not without a few fleeting moments of mediocrity and it even grossed a very respectable 30 million dollars. But the critics and fans hated it alike, and Michael was buried for 5 more years until Rob Zombie came along…

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The mask was just weird. And as any Halloween diehard fan will tell ya… Busta Rhymes going Bruce Lee on Michael Myers’ ass was just plain goofy and wrong.

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It’s not unwatchable but it’s definitely my least watched Halloween movie of the first 8 films. It just strays too far away from what made the Halloween movies so effective and fun to watch. I give Halloween Resurrection a 4 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN (2007)

August 31, 2007
August 31, 2007

Rob Zombie’s reimagining of Halloween was a very polarizing film. There are parts I liked a lot and other parts I could have done without.

It was nice to see Danielle Harris back in the mix
It was nice to see Danielle Harris back in the mix

Danielle Harris, who played Jamie Strode in Halloween 4 and 5, returns to the series but as a different character. How’s that for bizarre and confusing?

"Laurie, whos the Boogeyman?"
“Laurie, who’s the Boogeyman?”
Michaels mask was sick
Michael’s mask was sick
Very sinister and evil looking
Very sinister and evil looking

The 1978 original is a million times better but I kind of like this one. Rob Zombie had some good ideas and it came together fairly well minus a few missteps. I give Halloween (2007) a 6 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN II (2009)

August 28, 2009
August 28, 2009

I hated this movie. The less said, the better. I give Halloween II (2009) a 1 out of 10.

HALLOWEEN (2018)

October 19, 2018
October 19, 2018

After being dormant for nearly a damn decade, Michael Myers exploded back on the scene with a bang. The highest grossing film of the franchise to date, Halloween was met with mostly positive reviews. I caught it with my girlfriend and we both liked it, but we also both agreed that it was missing that wow factor. It’s a well made film but there were a few uneven instances where the film never quite hit that next gear for me.

Good times with the GF
Good times with the GF

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It was nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis return for the 40 year reunion. She does a bang up job as usual. Unfortunately, the writing and direction was a little wonky. Laurie Strode made some questionable decisions that took me out of the moment. For example, for someone who was preparing for Michael for the last 40 years, why would she stand against the front door with glass knowing that Michael could easily break the glass and grab her? Little details like this disappointed and frustrated me. Jamie Lee Curtis did the most she could but a film is hampered when a script is written poorly.

Michael's a badass, for sure
Happy 40th anniversary, Boogeyman

I’m happy to see the success for this latest Halloween, knowing that Michael will stalk the streets of Haddonfield again. However, I was slightly underwhelmed by this movie, especially given all the hype and rave reviews. I still like it, but I didn’t love it. I give Halloween (2018) a 6.5 out of 10.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Halloween-posters

11 movies (10 of which he appeared in), multiple timelines and directors… yet through it all, Halloween continues to endure. It’s one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time. Despite a handful of questionable sequels of varying quality, the series continues to power through. It’s easily my favorite horror franchise of all time and that will never change.

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Michael Myers is timeless. An icon then, and an icon now. He is the quintessential Boogeyman. That stalker in the night that roams the dark streets and backyards, waiting patiently for his next victim. The mask, the mannerisms, the music… it all works like a perfect symphony to give Michael the life that has carried him through the different generations. He’ll always live, because pure evil can never die. More importantly, the fan support deems it so. Halloween will rage on, and Michael’s warpath will never truly end. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

MY PERSONAL RANKING

1. Halloween (1978)
2. Halloween: H20
3. Halloween II (1981)
4. Halloween 6 (Producer’s Cut)
5. Halloween 4
6. Halloween (2018)
7. Halloween 5
8. Halloween (2007)
9. Halloween Resurrection
10. Halloween II (2009)

Hunting the Boogeyman (Adventures With My Best Friend, Nelson)

Nelson

There’s something special about having a best friend growing up. Someone you can truly call a best friend unequivocally. A best pal who sticks with you through thick and thin, good and bad, highs and lows. Nothing completes a healthy childhood like having a best buddy. And if you were lucky like me, you had one growing up. This is a tribute to my childhood best friend, Nelson. The greatest times we shared, the coming-of-age adventures of our youth, the falling out, the reconciliation and the most recent events that transpired between us not long ago…

SEPTEMBER 1988: DAY OF RECKONING

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In a second, streams of sunshine. I heard a muffled voice that rose like a crescendo.

FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!"
FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!”
Time to say good-bye to the good old days
Time to say good-bye to the good old days

Great. Armageddon had finally come. The inevitable, as it were. No longer was I a free man. No more watching cartoons all day long. No more playing in the backyard with my brother’s Lego toys while he toiled along at school. I would wave good-bye to my brother and watch him disappear down the block before making a mad dash for his precious Lego stash (which he rarely let me touch in his presence). The sleek black spaceship called THE INVADER had more planets to conquer and it needed me to help it do that. Was I ready to give all of that up? Hell no. But you know what they say about Armageddon — it’s always got a face and a name. And now, a date as well.

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Somehow, my mom managed to drag me to Room 1 by eight sharp. I sat in the corner, arms crossed with a scowl carved on my face. And it was then that I noticed a chubby boy sitting in the opposite corner who looked like he wanted to be there even less than I did. By the end of that week, the two of us became friends. Best friends. Nelly and I.

THE EARLY ’90S

Ah, the bliss of ignorance
Ah, the bliss of ignorance

Nelson and I had so much in common. We both loved monsters, ghosts, video games, wrestling, cartoons, TGIF, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and the list goes on and on. We lived only two blocks away from each other. On my way to school each morning, I would stop by to pick him up. After school, if he wasn’t at my house, I was at his. My mom often took us to the library. Nelly and I used to borrow all the monster books we could find. My local library had a small monster section that we often raided as though we owned it. And maybe we did. To this day I still vividly remember borrowing the Godzilla book and others from that classic Ian Thorne series. I also remember us believing in those infamous Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot photos that we found in the library.

Good times
NESSIE!
We borrowed this book a dozen time
We borrowed this book a dozen times
Anyone else remember this series?
Anyone else remember this series?
The covers were classic
The covers were classic
They haunt me to this day
They haunt me to this day
I didn't see this book much
I didn’t see this book much
[I C WAT U DID DERE -Ed.]
[I C WAT U DID DERE -Ed.]
Our great white whale
Our great white whale

We watched all of the Showa era Godzilla movies together except for one: Destroy All Monsters. We read in a monster book somewhere about how Destroy All Monsters featured “all the TOHO monsters in it.” It then became an obsession of ours to track down a VHS copy, but at the time it proved very difficult to find. It’s not like today where with the power of the internet almost any obscure movie can be resurrected from the ashes. Oh no, back then it was the Wild, Wild West. We never did manage to track down a copy of DAM. I remember the author’s comment on DAM to this day. Nelly and I were flabbergasted when we read, “The movie is sadly not as good as one might hope.”

How could a movie on this scale be disappointing??
How could a movie on this scale be disappointing?

Nelson and I grew livid and defensive. “No freaking way! ALL the monsters are in it! It CAN’T BE ANYTHING BUT AWESOME! YOU BLIND JERK!”

We were angrier than Burning Godzilla!
We were angrier than Burning Godzilla!

Many years later I finally caught DAM when it was released on a larger scale. I have to say I agree with that author after all. So buddy, if you’re reading this somehow, I take it all back. On a side note, Nelson and I caught the opening night showing of Godzilla (2014) and it was glorious. Can’t wait for the 2019 sequel.

Gotta love the Big Guy
Gotta love the Big Guy

THE BURIED NOTE

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Sometime in 1991, Nelson and I had the idea of burying a “Best Friends Forever” pledge in my backyard. We printed our names in blood (or at least, a sharp #2 pencil anyhow) and truly believed that in doing so we would remain best friends ’til the end of time. Ahhhh, the innocence of being eight. As we were preparing to dig a hole in my backyard, a booming voice rang. It was big bro. As big brothers often do, he spoiled our plans. The note, sadly, was never buried.

Would have been fun revisiting it decades later
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be…

THE LEGEND OF THE MASKED MANIAC!

THE MASKED MANIAC LIVES!
THE MASKED MANIAC LIVES!

Back in 1992, Nelson told me a story that haunted me for weeks. In our hometown, according to him you understand, there was a maniac on the loose. On the prowl. Believed to be… at large. Again, according to Nelson, mind you. He wore a white hockey mask and wielded a horrific chainsaw. He was… THE MASKED MANIAC. Of course, a part of me knew my best friend was just spewing crap, but a small part of me grabbed and held on to the story. So imagine our shock and delight when we first saw Stanley Decker the following year in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. HOLY CRAP! It was Nelson’s MASKED MANIAC come to life!

Of course, Stanley Decker was inspired by Jason
Of course, Stanley Decker was inspired by Jason
And Leatherface (which is what inspired Nelson too)
And Leatherface (which is what inspired Nelson too)

The Masked Maniac became our little in-joke as the years went by, and I still believe The Masked Maniac is the world’s greatest slasher movie yet to be made.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF FIGHTING GAMES

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The Street Fighter II craze hit the nation in 1991. Nelson and I fell in line but it was really World Heroes in 1992 that we truly adored. We both knew Street Fighter II was by far the superior game, but we sort of adopted the lesser touted World Heroes as one of our own. While the lines for the Street Fighter II cab went out the door, Nelson and I were perfectly content playing World Heroes with little fanfare. Nelson bought the SNES port in the fall of 1993 and we played it to death.

World Heroes was our jam
World Heroes was our jam

One of my favorite gaming memories came in late 1993 when both Super Street Fighter II and World Heroes 2 were jousting for arcade supremacy. On a rainy as hell Saturday morning, my dad dropped Nelson and me off at this gigantic jack-of-all-trades hobby store. I’ll never forget how my dad stopped the car right in front of the store, how Nelly and I streaked out of the back seats and to the safety of the store’s awning but not before the downpour managed to soak our jackets. Upon entering the humongous hobby shop, we wiped our feet and were immediately greeted by the soft Norwegian tunes of Erik’s stage from World Heroes 2. It’s just one of those simple little moments that stick with you forever. One of those magical childhood moments that even now as an adult you can still see vividly happening in third person.

Whenever I see this stage, it always brings me back
Whenever I see this stage, it always brings me back
We spent hours down at the local CYBERSTATION
We spent hours down at the local CYBERSTATION
And of course, Chuck E. Cheeeses
And of course, Chuck E. Cheese’s

THE FALL OUT

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A lot changed in September 1992. I was a 4th grader in a 3-4 combo class that school year. Meanwhile, Nelson was in a standard 4th grade classroom. For the first time ever, we were separated. I met Timmy and Jerome, two third graders in my combo class, and we became good friends right away. At lunch I didn’t know whether to hang out with Nelson and Manny, or my new friends, Jerome and Timmy. I ended up hanging out with Jerome and Timmy more. Not surprisingly, this drove a riff in my relationship with Nelson. The line in the sand was drawn. It’s possible we had a fight prior to this which led to me picking Timmy and Jerome over Nelson and Manny, but I can’t quite remember the finer details.

Later that school year, things began to sour between me and Timmy. Somehow, we went from good pals to bitter rivals. This divided Jerome and our little three man clique disbanded as quickly as it formed.

THE FIGHT

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Around December 1992, my teacher had each of us make a shoe box diorama. The box had to be decorated with things you liked. I chose my family and wanted to depict a typical lazy Sunday afternoon. My mom cooking in the kitchen, my dad reading the paper in the den, and my bro and I playing Street Fighter II on the SNES in our living room. Doesn’t sound bad on paper… until you factor in the cheap cut-out paper I used to represent everything in my shoe box. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do my best on that one…

Gotta admit, my effort fell a little... flat *cough*
My effort fell a little… flat *cough*

Timmy, on the other hand, used grand 3D models: small dinosaur toys littered his diorama along with a pleasant looking volcano perfectly situated in the middle. Trees, even! It was a lush depiction of the Jurassic period, no doubt about it. He earned an A while Ms. Holly was kind enough to give me a C. Timmy’s shoe box sure bested mine, but it was what he did later that day that made me snap.

Timmys diorama kind of looked like this
Timmy’s diorama kind of looked like this

“What grade did you give Steve?” he asked Ms. Holly annoyingly.

“Timmy, that’s inappropriate to ask.”

“Did you fail him? Did you?”

“Timmy! What did I just say?”

I sat there and watched as Timmy grinned his stupid fat grin.

Just wait til I wipe that stupid smirk off yer lousy face!
Just wait ’til I wipe that stupid smirk off yer lousy face

I glared at his scrawny ass from my seat. I saw the stupid bastard grinning like a Cheshire cat as he continued to pester Ms. Holly to spill the beans. He came up to me at the end of the day with his usual smug expression looking all arrogant and cocky.

Timmy had a way of getting under your skin
Timmy had a way of getting under your skin

“Steve, you know what, actually, your shoe box isn’t THAT bad… I mean, you really did justice to your family… after all, they’re all so… lifeless!”

Enough was enough. I couldnt take it anymore
Enough was enough. I couldn’t take it any more

And that’s when I snapped.

Timmy had crossed a line he could not return from. But since we were still in class, I had to restrain myself well enough not to kill him then and there. Instead, I sat quietly in my seat with the rage festering inside. My eyes were glued to the clock counting down until the end of the day… just a few more minutes…

Finally…

*BELL RINGS*

As soon as Ms. Holly excused my table, I bounced out of my seat like I was sitting on a spring. Storming out to where Timmy already was, he turned around, saw the intense look in my eyes and he knew IT WAS ON. He flinched right before I sprinted after him. He zipped through the school courtyard like a little jack rabbit, but I was right on his tail.

Down the 3rd grade sector we ran. No one attempted to stop us. Hell, I didn’t even see anyone around as everything suddenly became a blur and Timmy was the only concrete image I could make out. It was one of those out-of-body experiences. Not before long I managed to grab his shirt. I felt the life being sucked out of his puny body as I pinned him against the wall. Peering deeply into his eyes, I saw the resignation in it. He didn’t struggle, didn’t whimper.

It was the look of the lamb… right before the slaughter.

“Don’t you ever — EVER — insult my family again!”

... the look of the lamb
Before I knew it, I socked him in the face

I let his limp little body go. He held his left cheek as he walked off with his tail tucked between his legs. Timmy never messed with me or my family again following that.

I’m not saying violence solves issues, but at the time it just felt right. I defended the honor of my family’s name. The second half of that school year, Timmy kept his distance and I went back to being best friends with Nelson and Manny — the guys I should have stuck with all along. I guess at some point, every relationship has to go through the fire. Then, and perhaps only then, do you know what’s what.

BACK IN BUSINESS

Nelly and I were back, and we had the two hottest girls
We were back, and now we had the two hottest girls

The very next year saw a reunion — Nelson and I were in the same 5th grade classroom together. The band was back, baby! 1994 turned out to be the best year of my childhood. Nelly and I were ten, and ten is a funny age, you know. Some days you feel like you’re five, and other days you feel like you’re 15. It’s a time to relish the twilight years of your childhood, as well as a time to look forward to all the teenage turmoil to come. Not only were we reunited but we also had the two prettiest girls in the whole school in our class: Jennifer and Elaine. Elaine was the “Prom Queen” type. Jennifer was more like the classic Girl Next Door. She was my version of Winnie Cooper growing up.

There was magic in the air that day...
There was magic in the air that day…

One spring day after school somehow, the four of us found ourselves walking home together. We never did this before and we never did it again, but there was magic in the air that day. All our friends shot us jealous and stunned looks as they watched me and Nelson escort the two cutest girls home. I remember us walking through the school’s huge baseball field just taking it all in, enjoying the sunshine beating down on us and shooting the shit with the two hottest girls in the entire school.

We didnt hold hands but it was one of those idyllic days
It was one of those idyllic days you never wanted to end

LAST MAN STANDING

The darkening afternoon clouds set an ominous tone
Darkening afternoon clouds set an ominous tone…

Nelson and I were surrounded by a cast of characters. We were good friends with Manny and Jonathan but Manny and Jonathan didn’t get along. Jonathan was the new cocky kid in town. Manny didn’t appreciate that. For weeks we felt their budding rivalry build until finally, one fateful dreary day it came to a head.

During that lunch period, we were eating our Lunchables and drinking our Capri Sun pouches when the fireworks started AGAIN between Manny and Jonathan. Manny then challenged Jonathan to a game he deemed “LAST MAN STANDING.” It was the challenge to end all challenges. Manny and Jonathan would take turns doing something crazy and then the other had to copy. Whoever fails to do so first loses. The LAST MAN STANDING wins. Manny started it off by sliding down the slide head first. Jonathan followed suit. I winced as his head landed awkwardly on the tanbarks. But in typical cocky Jonathan fashion, he brushed the dust off and asked Manny, “Is that all you got, tough guy?”

The crazy view these crazy boys had going down...
The nutty view those crazy boys had going down…

It was Jonathan’s turn now. He stood there on the tanbarks, bent his knees and fell backward. He landed awkwardly and got up gingerly, rubbing his back. He grimaced and grinned at the same time. “Try that!” he yelled at Manny. Manny then placed both arms on his shoulders, crisscross style, and did a full on trust fall. No bent knees. No cheapies. It was the real deal. He shot back up like nothing happened. The dude was Wolverine. Now it was his turn. But not before Jonathan could shout, “LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT!”

Nelson and I gave each other the "uh oh" look
Nelson and I gave each other the “uh oh” look

Rookie mistake. Jonathan didn’t know Manny like we did. And that’s when Manny went for the kill.

Leave it to Manny to think of the craziest stunts
Leave it to Manny to think of the craziest stunts

Jonathan, Nelson and I found ourselves standing at the base of the first tetherball set. There were a total of six tetherball poles in all, each separated by 10 feet. Like a man possessed, Manny sprinted to the opposite end. We stood there staring on in bewilderment wondering what he had in mind. I’ll never forget what I saw next. Manny began charging 200 miles per hour with his right arm fully extended. You could hear the sickening SMACK of steel on bone as Manny streaked past all six metal poles. The sight of his arm jerking backward at a 75 degree angle following each pole made me cringe. After Manny was done, he stood there beaming not five feet away from us. He gestured to the end of the first tetherball set as to say, “You’re next.”

Your turn, hotshot
Your turn, hotshot. Mwahahaha…

Exasperated, Jonathan threw his arms in the air and yelled, “You crazy son of a bitch!” Nelson and I watched as he walked off. There was only one thing left to do: we raised Manny’s arms in the air and declared him the undisputed champion.

I can never see another tetherball set the same again
I’ll never see a tetherball set the same ever again

HALLOWEEN HORROR

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Nelson and I share a passion for all things Halloween (both the movie franchise and the actual day). Anything that had to do with monsters, ghosts or ghouls, we were there.

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Every October Nelly and I cranked up our year-round monster love to the max. Telling ghost stories in our rooms, watching horror movies, reading the latest FANGORIA issues — it was such a great time to be 10 years old and have a like-minded best friend.

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We entered a phase where we were obsessed with collecting as many horror cassettes as we could. I’ll never forget this one in particular — “Sounds of Halloween.” That cover was epic!

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We bought these tapes thinking they were taboo. We’d sit in Nelly’s room, close the blinds and listen to them while swapping ghost stories. I also loved the cheesy warning labels. Looking back on it all, these tapes weren’t that great, truth be told, but it was a time capsule. A sign of the times and days of innocence.

GOOSEBUMPS

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Speaking of things that go bump in the night, we were obsessed with Goosebumps. It was kind of the Harry Potter of the ’90s before Harry Potter.

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Nelson’s favorite was The Haunted Mask.

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And this was mine.

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From that point on, I was hooked. Nelson and I had a friendly competition where each month we’d see who could read the latest Goosebumps edition first. Made for some fun times. Half of the fun was discussing it with your best friend afterward.

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I remember seeing these at the local library with Nelson. We always psyched ourselves out and made these books scarier than what they really were. It was all part of the fun.

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It was just a magical time. You’d go to the arcade with your best friend to play all the latest fighting games. Then you’d swing by the local book store to peruse the latest EGM and GameFan issue before making your way to the back of the store where they had R.L. Stine’s latest and greatest. Whether you were into Goosebumps or Fear Street, it always made for a good time with your best pal.

We even saw the 2015 movie together. Fun times
We even saw the 2015 movie together. Fun times

THE SUMMER OF IMPORTS

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In my hometown growing up, Game Hunter was widely revered. It carried nothing but video games and anime (hell, even a few arcade cabs). Everything from handhelds to Neo Geo, you name it, they had it. Best of all, they even carried import games. Japanese versions of games you couldn’t wait to play that would not be released in North America until weeks or even months later! Game Hunter was legendary :)

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Seeing Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Saturday Night Slam Masters (Muscle Bomber) sitting next to each other atop the highest shelf that fateful June Saturday afternoon of 1994 is a story for the ages. And of course, it all happened with good ol’ Nelson by my side.

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Nelson rented Fighter’s History and I chose King of the Monsters 2. Their North American versions were still weeks away. I remember thinking that Nelly and I were the two luckiest kids in the whole town that weekend. Needless to say, we were glued to the TV like a pair of zombies that epic weekend. Great times.

There are some gaming images you can never forget
There are some gaming images you can never forget

Whenever I see Lee’s bucolic stage, with those damn ducks, the fisherman dipping his line lazily in the water and those moss-covered hills, I can’t help but be instantly transported back to Nelson’s living room on a hot Saturday afternoon of June 1994.

TWO WEEKS LATER — EGM SCORE!

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My brother slept at a family friend’s house two hours away. For me and Nelson, this meant only one thing: UNRESTRICTED AND UNLIMITED ACCESS TO MY BROTHER’S EGM STASH! That very first day Kevin was gone, Nelson rode his bike over in record time. I’ll never forget the image of Nelson opening my brother’s drawer and seeing him pull out with both hands a HUGE stack of EGM issues. He looked like a man possessed!

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EGM in 1994 was God-like. We didn’t have internet or YouTube back then so EGM was our source of news, rumors, reviews and previews. There’s something inexplicably awesome about flipping through an EGM issue with your best friend back in those days. You could literally spend hours lost in those magical pages…

GRADUATION — JUNE 1995

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They say all good things must come to an end. In June of 1995, Nelson and I were facing our final days together in elementary school. We had a hell of a run, but it was nearing time to enter the hollowed halls of junior high. On Friday, June 9, 1995, Nelson, some other friends and I walked to the local theatre to see the opening of Congo. I remember it was our first time walking over by ourselves and we felt like such a big deal. We came late though so we had to sit in the front row and crane our necks for the entire showing. The movie kind of sucked, too, but that was besides the point. We were on the verge of a brand new chapter in our lives, but we were going to hopefully stick together through it all.

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Later that night, it was our school’s End of the Year Dance. We all attended but not before we all fished for reasons and excuses not to. Hey, we were 11 and it’s what 11 year old boys do. But in the end we knew we’d regret it if we didn’t. Seeing Jennifer and Elaine there and interacting with all our friends for the final time made it worth it. I remember a lot of multi-colored dots dancing around the cafeteria and drinking a lot of fruit punch. Talking with my friends and enjoying our final days in grade school together. The following week we graduated and I knew deep down that life would never be the same…

THE MOVE — JANUARY 1996

Good-bye, old hometown
Good-bye, old hometown

Halfway through my 7th grade year, I had to move. Even though Nelson and I would only be separated by about 20 minutes, I knew things were going to be different. Neither of us could drive and it just isn’t the same as when you live within walking distance. We slowly but surely fell out of touch.

FRIDAY: SEPTEMBER 12, 2003

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Now a junior in college, it was my tradition every Friday after my final class to hit the gym on campus and play pickup ball. I became obsessed with basketball (see Coach Butler and 9/11 for more). It was on this fateful Friday late afternoon walking out of the gym that I noticed a local news station on campus. Before I knew what was happening, they approached me to ask if I had any thoughts on a hot topic related to my campus. I spoke to the camera for about 15 seconds and afterward they told me I’d be on the 5 o’clock news. I raced over to my cousin’s house in my old hometown to record my 15 seconds of fame. My little cousins were screaming when they saw their cousin on TV. I felt like a rock star. Feeling like I could move mountains, I decided to break the silence and reach out to my old best friend, Nelson.

I made the drive over like a man possessed
I made the drive over like a man on a mission

It had been two years since we last spoke. Hell, I had no idea if he even still lived at the same place. We were 20 now so there’s a good chance he had already moved out of his parents’ place. Only one way to find out for sure, though.

And so, it was around 5:45 on a cool early Friday evening that I swung by the old haunt. Butterflies were swooning in my stomach as I parked in Nelson’s old driveway. I rung the doorbell and waited anxiously.

Is Nelson's family even still here, I thought to myself...
Is Nelson’s family even still here, I thought to myself…

“Steven?!”

It was his mom.

“Yes! Hi, does he still live here?”

“He sure does, but I’m afraid he’s out.”

“Oh,” my voice couldn’t help hide the disappointment.

“I know it’s been a while… he’d be so thrilled to see you again.”

“Likewise. Please tell him I stopped by.”

She invited me in for a drink but I told her I should get going. That ol’ road beckons me home. As I started walking back to my car, a huge black Toyota truck came roaring into the driveway. We both stared at each other stunned for a second.

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“STEVEN!? Holy shit, how long’s it been?!”

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We went to his backyard, the same one where Nelson and I spent many hours of our youth during the dog days of summer, and we caught up on the past couple years of our lives. The skyline was beautiful. The sun was just dipping over the horizon with a light September breeze gently greeting us every few seconds. That evening Nelson and I talked. About the good old days. About Elaine and Jennifer. About college. We talked about LIFE.

It wasn’t all rosy, though. I found out that evening that Nelson had dropped out of college. He felt directionless. He also took up smoking and not just cigarettes. He told me he was trying real hard to quit but it’s just that — real hard. Part of me had difficulty processing the ‘new’ Nelson. I never envisioned him in a million years as someone who would use drugs or drop out of school. But I guess that’s life. Things change and shit happens. On the bright side, Nelson was working as a part-time mechanic and making some money at least.

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We ended up shooting the breeze for a couple hours straight as it was soon nightfall. It felt surreal to be back in the same backyard I used to patrol some odd ten years ago. Except now we were no longer 10 year old kids. No longer children of innocence. Now we were 20 and young adults. My life was on track while Nelson’s was a bit more uncertain. And despite the long disconnect and “growing apart,” that evening we found out we would always be friends at the very least. No matter what happens, or where life takes us, Nelly and I’ll always share an unbreakable bond.

FRIDAY: MAY 23, 2008

It was our umpteenth reunion
It was our umpteenth reunion

Nelson and I always have our mini-reunions after x-months of not seeing one another. On this day we decided to catch up over dinner with two other mutual friends. They were a couple — the guy lived next door to Nelson growing up and I used to have a crush on the girl back in college and possibly vice versa. Quite the interesting evening it turned out to be. The four of us shared a lovely dinner at a steak house. Afterward Nelson and I drove to the theatre to catch the new Indiana Jones movie.

A lot of truth came out on that drive...
A lot of deep truth came out on that drive…

On the drive over, Nelson shared some very deep issues with me. He talked about how our friend Jake possessed such natural charisma speaking to the waitress serving us, and how much Nelson wishes he had the same ability. I encouraged him with a little pep talk and told him to keep his head up.

“Wow Steve… no one has ever believed in me like that before. My whole family’s kind of written me off a little bit y’know… it’s nice to see you have my back and believe in me.”

I know, it was a sappy little moment, but I tell ya, Nelson is my guy. I’ll always believe in him and want the best for him. It’s not easy to be real like that, to open up and be so vulnerable to another person. We all have our shortcomings and having support is key. It takes a lot of guts to share something so personal.

MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR

"AW C'MON!"
“AW C’MON!”

That spring 2008 semester I student taught at my childhood elementary school. Yup, the very same one where Nelson and I met and became best friends. My dream was always to return home, teach there and give back to the community. It was a blast coming back to the old digs. One day after school I went to my car and found in my haste earlier that morning I’d accidentally locked the keys in the car. D’OH! Fortunately, one of the back windows was opened about two inches. There was *JUST* enough space for a clothes hanger to maybe prop the lock open.

"SON OF A MOTHER!!!"
“SON OF A MOTHER!!!”

Luckily, my grandmother happened to live just half a block from where I parked my car. I walked over and she loaned me an old wire hanger. Much to my chagrin, the wire proved too weak to get the job done.

Then I called Nelson, who still lived in that same house about a block or two away from our old elementary school. After describing the embarrassing situation to him, he was on his way.

There came Nelson riding on his bike to come save me
Nelson came riding on his bike to come save me

Next thing I know, as I’m standing there on the sidewalk by my car, in the far distance I could make out Nelly coming around the corner on his bicycle! The scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin immediately flashed in my mind, complete with the cheesy ’80s song “Heat of the Moment” blaring in my overactive mind.

I never meant to be so bad to you...
I never meant to be so bad to you…

Nelson brought one of those back scratchers, and this was the result:

Are you kidding me?!
Are you kidding me?!

But then we applied a little force, pushing the stick down. It slid down and we managed to prop the lock open!

What a tease :P
What a tease :P

My ’92 Honda had been through the wars and the back right window stopped working a while back, so it was opened an inch or two permanently. I covered it with some tape… it all looked very tacky as you can see. But this defect allowed me to skip calling AAA which I didn’t have at the time. At first the stick wouldn’t go in but a couple clever angle squeezes and it just barely made it through.

"Ha yeah... those sure were some good times, man"
“Ha, yeah… those sure were some good times, man…”

I treated Nelson to lunch afterward where we laughed about this incident and just talked about life, carrying on our conversation from a few weeks ago. There’s something about connecting with someone who knows your history as well as you yourself do. There’s something very special about that.

FRIDAY: MARCH 26, 2010

It was the biggest opening night of my acting life
It was the biggest opening night of my acting life

While I studied to earn my teaching credential in college, I minored in Theatre Arts. I’ve always been fascinated by acting, and I love the camaraderie that it naturally builds. Rehearsing late nights, even past midnight, has a funny way of bonding people. Well, on this night I was playing a Roman soldier and we opened to a house of 2,000 people. Among the two in that audience of 2,000? Nelson and yes, my childhood crush, my Winnie Cooper… Jennifer. It meant so much to me that they both showed up. It was a great night.

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2015

Bucket list item, check!
Bucket list item, check!

Fast forward five years. Nelson and I crossed a major item off our bucket list: attend a freaking WRESTLEMANIA. WrestleMania 31 was one of the greatest live events I’ve ever been to. We had pretty decent seats and it was a childhood dream come true. Hell, we got to witness Sting’s first and only WrestleMania match!

FRIDAY: AUGUST 5, 2016

Weekend at Nellys!
Weekend at Nelly’s!

Nelson and I share a special bond where we may go months without contact but whenever one of us gets in touch it’s like we never left. Precisely one year ago, as I write this, I decided to visit Nelson’s new place in Southern California. We set out to visit Disneyland since it was about 30 minutes away from his apartment.

As I was about three miles away from his place, I passed through a neighborhood that I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. That’s funny. How can it be familiar if I’ve never been here before?

It suddenly dawned on me. Was it? Could it be? No way. I passed a few traffic lights before finally pulling over. I had to quench my curiosity before heading to Nelson’s. Busted out my phone and typed into Google:

“HALLOWEEN 1978 FILMING LOCATIONS”

A website came up and an address in South Pasadena was given. My hands were shaking as I punched said address into Google Maps.

“1.8 miles away”

HO-LEE SHIT.

I had just driven by one of the iconic Halloween filming locations! HADDONFIELD IN THE FLESH! The Halloween super geek in me was coming out big time. What were the odds that my childhood best friend (who also loved the Halloween franchise) would live three miles away from Haddonfield?! It was a moment of true serendipity. I texted Nelson to tell him I’d be coming 30 minutes late. I had no doubt we would return later but for now it was a personal pilgrimage I simply had to brave for myself first. And this is what I recorded on that serendipitous day:

One of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema!
One of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema!
Standing at the scene of the crime nearly 40 years later!
Standing at the scene of the crime nearly 40 years later!

Following this, I drove the three miles over to Nelson’s. I showed him the pictures and video I took. He couldn’t believe it! He moved to L.A. about seven months ago but had no idea he lived just three miles away from “Haddonfield.” Next thing you know, we found ourselves on an impromptu trip down memory lane. What initially began as a trip to chill with Mickey turned into a trip of HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN. We ended up driving all over South Pasadena that late afternoon looking for a ton of Halloween nostalgia live in the flesh. This is what we found that day…

HUNTING THE BOOGEYMAN

Original Myers house from the 1978 film
Myers house in 1978 (and 2016 below)

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Michael’s house was demolished and moved to a new location. It now serves as an office. Despite the disappointment of that, Nelson and I still sat there in awe. Reminiscing and laughing about the good old days, that’s when we noticed a DirecTv satellite dish on the side of the house. We also could hear the loud humming of an air conditioner. It was a hot August day in Haddonfield… the dog days of summer indeed. That’s when the line of the day was uttered by yours truly. “What the hell, Michael Myers watching Game of Thrones with the AC on? DUDE IS GETTING SOFT!” Nelson added, “What’s Michael Myers doing browsing PornHub!?”

Michael Myers finally went soft, eh?
Michael Myers finally went soft, eh?

We laughed hard for what felt like minutes. We laughed so hard we both had tears in our eyes. Man, I hadn’t laugh that good in quite a while. A mere hour prior to this, we both just assumed we’d catch up a bit and find Mickey. Little did we know! Instead, we found ourselves reconnecting and hunting a boogeyman who has haunted us both since childhood. Suddenly, we were chasing a ghost from our past. A ghost with no face. “And the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.” Rest in Peace, Donald Pleasence.

Here I am in front of the Myers' house
Here I am in front of the Myers’ house

Each filming location foray brought me and Nelson closer to the edge of a bygone era. An age we both thought had all but disappeared. It was like slipping through the back door of a time machine. Suddenly, we were wide-eyed kids again. Completely unjaded and uncorrupted by the foul orders of life and the cruelties of growing up.

The classic intro shot
The classic intro shot

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Wow. Standing there taking this picture sent goosebumps up and down my spine.

The school in the film
The school in the film
Creepy Michael doing his thing
Creepy Michael doing his thing

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Next on the list was the old elementary school featured in the 1978 film. It still looked pretty much the same. It was crazy thinking it had been almost 40 years since Michael stalked Tommy here.

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Here Nelson and I sat in his car on a street used in the filming of Halloween. We shot this quick video below:

Michael stalked these streets nearly 40 years ago
Michael stalked these very streets nearly 40 years ago…

After this, Nelson and I decided to drive around L.A. randomly and then get some dinner.

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You can’t go to L.A. and not take a shot of those beautiful palm trees.

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What else would two guys in L.A. do on a Saturday night but break out the good stuff? Nelly and I hit up the local laundry mat so he could have some fresh clothes for Disneyland tomorrow.

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The laundry mat had a Neo Geo cab! How cool is that? That led to some natural reminiscing about World Heroes and the like.

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Nelson took me to Shakey’s Pizza Parlor for dinner. It was the ultimate haven for comfort food. We ordered a large piping hot pepperoni pizza, some chicken and potato wedges. I probably consumed like 2,500 calories alone but it was damn worth it. Totally hit the spot! :D

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After dinner Nelson drove us through a fancy part of town. We drove up to the top of this hill and it overlooked the city. It was nice to get away and just shoot the shit with my old best friend. Every once in a while it’s nice to drive far away and get away from it all for a bit. Nelson smoked a cigarette as we talked. I stared at all the tiny houses below, and wondered what was going on in that house with all the lights turned on. Nelly and I just stood there reminiscing for a bit before talking about current life. My teaching career. His new life in L.A. It was a good night to be alive. Hanging out with your old best friend. Then Nelson asked me if I had seen Stranger Things. I laughed. That’s exactly the show we would have watched as kids. We drove back to Nelly’s apartment and watched Halloween to end the evening. After everything that went down earlier that day, it was the only proper way to close out that night.

You can't stop the boogeyman...
You can’t stop the boogeyman…

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Nelson and I went to Disneyland the next day and we had a blast. We left the park around 9 PM because his back started to flare up. He took me to this local Chinese joint that he said was legit. We spent the rest of that night eating some of the best Kung Pao chicken I ever had and reflecting back on the highs of our little two day adventure. It was truly a magical weekend — the kind that stays with you for life. Hunting Michael and Mickey with your childhood best friend all within 24 hours? Can’t top that.

Friends for life
Friends for life

It’s crazy that Nelson and I have known each other now for nearly 30 years. I always have a great time with Nelson. It doesn’t matter how long we go without communication. The second either one of us reaches out, it’s like we never left. Those friendships are the best. Maybe we’re no longer best friends, but I’m grateful we still keep in touch and that we still know how to have a good time together. No matter what happens going forward or where life takes us, there will always be a special place in my heart for Nelson. My childhood wouldn’t have been as awesome without him, and the memories we have forged over the years — all the ups and downs — have played a role in who I am today. That’s priceless and I’ll always cherish the experiences we had. Here’s a toast to Nelson and all the best friends out there. Cheers!

Clock Tower (SNES)

A night when evil roamed the streets...
“A night when pure EVIL roamed the streets…”

Halloween is almost here. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. And this game is perfect to play on Halloween night. In the late ’90s I bought Clock Tower for the PlayStation and played it to death (pardon the pun). It was a few years later that I discovered the first Clock Tower originated on the Super Famicom. Thanks to the efforts of some diehard SNES fanatics, the game has long since been translated into English for the rest of us to enjoy. And enjoy it we did. One of the true Halloween staples in any video gaming collection, Clock Tower delivers one creepy and tense adventure the likes of which few SNES games can claim!

The legend is born
The legend is born

Clock Tower combined two things I absolutely love. It resembles a horror movie — I like its creepy villain, SCISSORMAN, almost as much as Michael Myers — and it’s on my favorite system of all time, the Super Nintendo. What more could I ask for, right? Unfortunately, the game never received a North American release. By the time it came out in Japan on September 14, 1995, the SNES was quickly losing steam as the 32-bit machines gained more and more momentum. That and, of course, there was no chance (even with the Play It Loud! movement) that Clock Tower was going to get approved by Nintendo of America! What a shame it never saw American soil because this is one of the most unique and original efforts on the Super Nintendo. But thanks to the fan translation scene, we can now experience this macabre game in all its gory glory.

Here comes the boogeyman...
Here comes the boogeyman…

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the HALLOWEEN series. Uncle Jimmy let me rent the first one back in 1989. I spent more than half the movie hiding behind the sofa with one hand covering my eyes. I even had a nightmare of Halloween‘s iconic madman, Michael Myers, later that night. And I was hooked. Go figure. I dreamt about someone turning the Halloween concept into a video game. I mean, how awesome would it be to take control of a protagonist who is constantly being chased by a masked maniac? That every room you enter he could be lurking in the shadows… watching and studying your every move… waiting for the right moment to jump out and slit your throat wide open. Clock Tower delivers that sense of dread and drama in spades!

What a thing of beauty
What a thing of beauty

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MY -FIRST FEAR- WITH CLOCK TOWER

This was my favorite PlayStation game
This was my favorite PlayStation game

My first exposure to Clock Tower was in 1997. I’ll never forget it. From the moment I read its splendid three page ad in EGM #97 (August ’97), I was hooked. Seriously the best advertisement ever. I knew I had to buy the game then, and it was the only PlayStation game I ever cared enough to buy! The ad is so awesome that I am going to replicate parts of it below.

CRIMSON FOUNTAINS OF GORE

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A bright plume of warm crimson rain erupted as the giant scissors rent the flesh of his next victim… this is certainly not the game for the timid or weak of stomach! From corpses at your bedroom door to half eaten bodies in the restroom, ASCII has packed Clock Tower to the belfry with some of the most gruesome and spectacular graphics of the year! Watch in horror as the limping gait of the immortal Scissorman approaches your present hiding place — only to see the bright fountain of your own blood if he happens to find you! Any horror fan will quickly recognize the brilliance of the programmer’s virtuoso performance in the lighting, shadowing, angles, and sheer volume of gruesome content! Lots of animation and full 3D polygons were used to bring the bloody, murderous surroundings to life. This, in conjunction with the well detailed backgrounds and characters, will have you at the edge of your seat — praying that you make it through the night!

THE HORROR OF SILENCE

The chilling sound of the banshee’s scream itself couldn’t have been more dreadful than the sound of the sheering scrape of sharpened steel blades sliding past each other — not to mention the wonderful effect of pure silence in some of the most chillingly tense scenes of the game. There’s something terribly dreadful in the sound of your own two feet echoing through some of the most profoundly evil halls ever wrought, and I couldn’t agree more with the programmers when they spoke of theTerror of Sound” which they labored for in this game! ASCII’s purpose in the sound scheme of this game is fairly easy to understand… with sounds that aren’t there when they should be, sounds in impossible places, the chilling music of the chase, and the haunting scrape of the Scissorman himself as he stalks you with inhuman determination… they want to scare you out of your skin!

Of course, the voice-overs and sound effects of the surrounding environments are a beautiful addition to the already impressive audio display. The tightly knit unison of background noise, voices, sound of movement, music and silence create a living auditory atmosphere that will draw you into the world of terror on the screen right before you.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

Talk about losing your head...
Talk about losing your head…

In a game where one false move could easily mean the difference between escape and grisly death, control is of paramount importance. This is another area where Clock Tower excels! From fleeing down dark corridors and hiding in shower stalls, to hurling chairs and brawling with your would be assailant, the full range of movement offered by Clock Tower will leave you breathless with the fight or flight instinct. For those who like to hide, just try to avoid hiding in the same spot too many times in a row. Scissorman has a limited IQ, but he’s not that stupid!

Also remember to check every nook and cranny for items that you may be able to use later. With a little help, you might just live to see the light of tomorrow.

Next time use a napkin, will ya?
Next time use a napkin, will ya?

A series of brutal murders have signaled the return of one of the most terrifying killers in the history of Romsdaaren, Norway — Scissorman! Terror gripped the hearts of the mixed party of ten as they finally reached the unholy walls of the Barrow’s family mansion in England. No one could have imagined the unspeakable horrors that lay behind the infamous Scissorman case when the malevolent butcherings had begun. Now, the dreadful search for the answers had culminated into a lynching party that brought them all here, to the very doorstep of Hell itself. Would they finally find the key to send this twisted soul back to the nether regions of death that had so maliciously spat him into their lives? Only time will tell…

EGM gave it scores of 8.5, 8.0, 8.0 and 6.0 in ish #98
EGM gave it scores of 8.5, 8.0, 8.0 and 6.0 in issue #98
Supercuts: Employee of the Month
Supercuts’ Employee of the Month

I have such great and fond memories with this game. As I said it was the only PlayStation game I ever bothered to buy. For a while there in ’98 it was all that I played. I used it to scare the living daylights out of my then 10 year old cousin, David. Uncle Jimmy, the one who rented Halloween for me back in ’89, used to visit us a lot back in the late ’90s. David would always come to watch me play this, only to run out screaming whenever Scissorman gave chase. Ahhh, the good old days eh? ;) So when I found out Clock Tower originated on the SNES, I simply had to get my hands on it.

THE STORY GOES…

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For some reason that sentence gives me the creeps
For some reason that sentence gives me the creeps
"Oh Lotte, cant I admire the trees for a bitI?"
“Oh Lotte, can’t I admire the trees for a bloody bit?”
"Would I ever lie to you, Jennifer?"
“Would I ever lie to you, Jennifer?”

Reminds me of a witch. Heebie jeebies...clocktintro7-c

 

 

 

 

 

There’s something about the way her finger is pointing that inexplicably gives me the heebie jeebies. Ms. Mary definitely has the low key witch vibe about her…

And surprise surprise, one by one they perish
And surprise surprise — one by one they perish
This game mastered the art of creating tension
This game mastered the art of creating tension
Your mom had 9 months and she chose Lotte?!
Your mom had 9 months and she chose Lotte?!
Clock Tower excels at building up the suspense
Clock Tower excels at building up the suspense
Yup... shit just hit the fan
Yup… shit just hit the fan
Use the cursor to check every inch of every room
Use the cursor to check every inch of every room
What a demonic looking tree. Reminds me of Doom's trees
What a demonic looking tree. Reminds me of Doom
You might wanna think about saving yourself!
You might wanna think about saving yourself!
And a (terrifying) legend is born ^_^
And a terrifying video game icon is born ^_^
Sometimes you can't help but feel you're being watched...
Sometimes ya can’t help but feel yer being watched
I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?
I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, right?
The repeating "I'll get chu!" voice-over is pretty creepy
The repeating “I’ll get chu!” voice-over is pretty creepy
I hope PETA isn't reading this
I hope PETA isn’t reading this
These dreadful moments always bring me to the edge of my seat
These tense bits bring me to the edge of my seat
Well said, Ron Simmons. Well said
Well said, Ron Simmons. Well said
"... DAMN!" -Ron Simmons
“… DAMN!” -Ron Simmons
So fun playing this at 2 AM in the dark...
Who knew a 16-bit game could be so scary?
This is SO Jamie Lee Curtis-Michael Myers circa 1978!
This is SO Jamie Lee Curtis-Michael Myers circa 1978
Surely it will be a safe haven up there, no?
Surely it will be a safe haven up there, no?
SON OF A !
SON OF A BITCH!
Aw poor Jennifer. She's pretty much screwed here
Aw poor Jennifer. She’s pretty much screwed here
If you're already in the red zone, you're in the dead zone
In the red zone? Then you’re in the dead zone
 Then again, neither does hiding. Sometimes even then he'll get ya
Then again, hiding doesn’t always guarantee results

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“Puzzles” in Clock Tower are quite elementary [Good thing for you! Ha! -Ed.]

No Jennifer. That's just bird poop
No Jennifer. That’s just bird poop, my dear
I seen a scary film or two. Hit the lights!
I’ve seen a horror movie or two. Hit the lights!
Dang that's quite a big pocket you got there Jenny!
Dang that’s quite a big pocket you got there Jenny!
Looks like some kind of meat locker, but what's that inside?
Looks like a meat locker, but what’s that inside?
Scissorman isn't the only threat in this accursed mansion...
Scissorman isn’t the only threat in this mansion…
Hmmm, you'll need a special item to kill the bugs...
Hmmm, you’ll need a special item to kill the bugs…
Something shiny can be seen at the bottom...
Something shiny can be seen at the bottom…
Or is it simply part of a greater plan?
Or is it simply part of a greater plan?
Could be worse. They say man's the biggest monster of all...
1, 2… HE’S COMING FOR YOU…
Ah, young naive Jennifer, bless her heart
Ah, young naive Jennifer, bless her heart
Ms. Mary is a creepy old wretch in an effectively subtle way
She’s a creepy old wretch in an effectively subtle way
I knew something was wrong with that witch from the intro!
Girl don’t do it!
[OH NO YOU DIH-ENT!  *removes earrings*  -Shaniqua]
[OH NO YOU DIH-ENT! *removes earrings* -Shaniqua]
Yes Jennifer, take it AND SPLASH IT IN HER FACE!
Yes Jennifer, take it and SPLASH IT IN HER FACE!
[Uh, let's just return to the movie -Ed.]  [MMMM-HM -Shaniqua]
[Uh, back to our movie -Ed.]  [MMMM HMM -Shaniqua]
Ah Jenny. I sure hope you have a character arc like Laurie Strode did!
I hope Jen has a character arc like Laurie Strode did
Not two feet away from her sat a deranged and unkempt savage...
Not two feet away sits a deranged, unkempt savage
And could IT, whatever it is, be even WORSE than this guy?!
Whatever IT is, could it be even worse than this guy?!
One of the most cryptic messages in SNES history
One of the most cryptic messages in SNES history
I promise I'll never make fun of your name again!
I promise I’ll never make fun of your name again!
Lotte: Yeah, I saw a mad man limping around with HUGE shears!
I saw a mad man limping around with HUGE shears!
YES! FINALLY! JENNY'S CHARACTER ARC!
YES! FINALLY! JENNY’S CHARACTER ARC!
Laurie Strode, er, Jenny, has grown up before our very eyes *sniff*
Aw, Jenny has grown up before our very eyes *sniff*

[THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT GIRL!  -Shaniqua]
[THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ BOUT GIRL! -Shaniqua]
What happens next? Find out on your own! What secrets are tucked away in this mansion of unspeakable horrors? What’s the deal with Scissorman? Is someone pulling the strings? Was it Ms. Mary, or something far more demonic? Will you survive the grisly night to see the light of day? CLOCK TOWER awaits! Turn off the lights, crank up the sound and say a prayer…

WORKING THAT ROOM LIKE A PRO, BABY

Quick! Get that shoulder outta sight, Jen! Here comes the Scissorman...
Quick, hide that shoulder before Scissorman comes!
Not Halloween theme epic, but does its job well
Not Halloween theme epic, but does its job well
No other SNES game offers this kind of tension
No other SNES game offers this kind of tension
Pray he doesn't find you
What a drama queen, that Scissorman

WHAT THE CRIT — FANS SAID

Normally this is where I’ll put the game’s scores according to the “Super Three” (EGM, GameFan and Super Play Magazine — if applicable). But with Clock Tower being a special fan translated repo, I’ll cite some fan comments instead. The following haunting stories come from various gamers who have encountered Scissorman’s wrath over the years…

  • Clock Tower creates an underlying wave of fear throughout the game’s course, and there are certain scenes in the game that may act as a proverbial moon to bring in this terrifying tide. Clock Tower doesn’t pull any punches, and the horrifyingly real atmosphere of the Barrows’ mansion had me paranoid for at least a week! In fact, one of my friends who I first played the game with noted that the scariest part of the game was that almost everything in it can easily be connected to real life. Compounding off this, my first playthrough of the game was at a small party I held for six or seven close friends, and with the exception of one (she’s oddly impervious to that sort of shock value), we were all scared out of our wits. Clock Tower is just cool that way  -Amai Yuuwaku
  • Gloomy and ominous, Clock Tower is a wonderful experience for any fan of interactive horror, and well worth playing through whether as a longtime fan of the series or a wide-eyed newcomer  -Tachibana Ukyo
  • After playing through it for only a meager half-hour, I know that I am never going back to it! I am a bit tense when it comes to Hitchcock movies, and I must say, this game has a lot of Hitchcock-esque horror elements. Clock Tower doesn’t make the game scary with blood and gore, no sir. It’s just the sounds and sudden happenings that cause you to psychologically snap (a lot like Hitchcock movies!)  -Alain Garamonde
  • Clock Tower: the story of hope, betrayal and survival. The game revolves around Jennifer and a couple of her friends who get adopted by a family. They get to the mansion in the woods in hopes of a new, happy life. All seem well, until the group gets split up. That’s when they start to meet Scissorman. Instead of a happy life, what they got was a heart-pounding adventure. Their test was a test of wit and resourcefulness against the wrath of Scissorman  -xTurksx
  • I’m never scared by any horror video games. Never ever. So my friend bet me $20 at my birthday party that I would be scared by this game. I took that bet and I definitely lost that bet. This game is absolutely scary  -Windscar18
  • I didn’t know what to expect when I tried this game out. I found myself in control of a teenage girl all alone in a huge mansion, so I figured I was meant to go exploring. I went walking down the nearby hall, passing a couple of doors when all of a sudden this creepy music starts playing! Just like in a horror movie! So of course, like a total imbecile, I explored the door I was in front of when it began to play. I found myself in a hazy bathroom, and looked at the various fixtures. The only thing the cursor responded to was the closed shower curtains. So again like an imbecile, I went to look. The tub was full, but the person in it was hanging from her wrists from the shower curtain’s bar. Apparently it was one of the girl’s friends, but I didn’t have long to think about that. Suddenly this figure jumped out of the bathtub, brandishing a huge pair of scissors! It was a blue-skinned dwarfish being in a schoolboy’s outfit, with a four-foot-pair of scissors. This was the beginning of my Clock Tower experience…  -The Manx
  • I hate this game. I can’t tell you how much I do. That may be misleading, but I hate this game in a I’m-too-scared-to-turn-it-on way, not the I-don’t-want-to-play way. I’ve played Clock Tower for PlayStation. Clock Tower for the SNES is 4 times as good. This game really messed with my mind, and it reminded me of Maniac Mansion in its control scheme, but that’s a good thing. The interface is easy to control and actually fun, as you run through rooms chased by the maniacal Scissorman, trying to find a place to hide, with his shears getting louder and louder as he dogs your steps, the clicking on objects getting more frantic as you realize he’s just one room behind you… and then SNAP! DEAD END!  -Nevergrace
  • I type this as I look out my door on Christmas Eve. He’s coming. I can hear it. It’s been about two whole days since I’ve played the game, but I am still rather leery  -Lord Flamingo

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Grisly and grim, Clock Tower hits all the right notes
Grisly and grim, Clock Tower hits all the right notes

My fellow gamers above said it best. I echo many of their sentiments. Have you ever had one of those special gaming experiences you’ll never forget? Perhaps it was, in addition to the game itself, the weather, the season in your own life, or the place where it happened. Christmas 2010. I was sleeping over at my parents’ huge two story house, and that was the first time I went through Clock Tower from start to finish. Playing til 4:30 AM, every bloody sound that emanated from either the game or the house had me on the edge of my seat and peeking over my shoulder with much trepidation. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a little kid, but that night Scissorman sure made me feel like one. With multiple endings, a sinister masked maniac and a simple yet compelling story, the game draws you in like few others and then spits you out leaving you feeling exasperated, a bit uneasy, and completely satisfied.

The perfect SNES game to play on Halloween night
The perfect SNES game to play on Halloween night

Simply put, there is no other game quite like Clock Tower on the SNES. That alone makes it noteworthy. Throw in the fact how well it was executed and what you have here is one uniquely special game. Scissorman is easily one of the most memorable villains in SNES history. He waits in the shadows and pops out at the most (in)opportune moments. Grisly and horrifying deaths, high tension cat and mouse chase scenes, and not knowing for sure where Scissorman lurks makes Clock Tower great! The graphics are well done and give the game an ominous atmosphere. The sound will raise the hair up on the back of your neck. It’s not too long but the nine endings give incentive to replay. After that night at my parents’, I met up with my cousin David the following day. Yes, the same one I scared with PlayStation Clock Tower more than a decade ago. I told him how I spent much of last night playing the original Clock Tower on Super Nintendo and what an awesome experience that was, with the whipping rain outside, and I swear, just the mere mention of SCISSORMAN gave poor David a horrid flashback. Heck, I don’t blame him. Just saying Scissorman out loud gives me the heebie jeebies. Do what you gotta do to play this game and be sure to turn off the lights, lock your doors and pray for mercy!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 7

Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award
Double Silver Award

 

 

 

THE SCISSORWOMAN?!?!

Imagine taking her home to mommy
Imagine taking her home to mommy

In 2007 a Japanese horror film was released based on a rumor that ran rampant throughout early 1980’s Japan — the Slit (or Severed) Mouth Woman! This horrible disfigured lady apparently roamed the streets of rural Japan looking for children to answer her one simple, deadly question: “AM I PRETTY?” The wrong response was met with grave consequences. Through comic books and magazines this became a popular urban myth. It became such a hysteria that ALL students were forbidden to go home alone and groups were formed for safety. There was even an incident where a lady chasing some kids was struck by a car. Her mouth was revealed to have been slit from ear to ear! Was it the Slit Mouth Woman?

Them eyes creep the hell out of me
Them eyes creep the hell out of me

This mysterious and deranged woman wore a surgical mask to cover her scar. In addition, she wielded a giant pair of scissors similar to Scissorman. Was Clock Tower influenced in any way by the Slit Mouthed Woman urban legend of 1980’s Japan? We don’t know for sure, but I can tell you this, the 2007 movie is creepy as hell! I saw it with my cousins (again, poor David) and they could barely finish it! As most Japanese horror films tend to be, and much like Clock Tower the game itself, the movie is something of a slow burn. But once it gets going, shit hits the fan. Some of the scenes still haunt me to this day. Even I felt a little uneasy… there’s something about the movie that makes you feel terribly unsettled…

Aw hell no
Aw hell no

The movie is known as “Carved.” There was also a sequel. It wasn’t too bad for a sequel, but much like Halloween itself, the original will always be the best. I recommend this film to horror buffs. It’s sick, twisted and if you happen to love Scissorman as much as I do, this is the closest we might ever get to seeing Scissorman in movie form. Who doesn’t love a good old fashion ghost story urban legend? I don’t know why but any movie taking place in rural Japan is automatically 50 times scarier and creepier than any American horror film. Those Japanese artists have some sick minds. Carved is a solid slasher and the fact that it’s based off a real Japan urban legend “Kuchisake Onna” makes it all the more unsettling and spooky.

Not even the kids were safe in this film
Not even the kids were safe in this twisted film

"AM I PRETTY???" [Sweet dreams tonight eh? -Ed.]
“AM I PRETTY???”
Click for more info on the Slit Mouthed Woman.

Warning: the following video is a bit creepy. Watch at your own discretion:

Sweet dreams indeed, eh?

Finally, looking for more Halloween-esque games to play on the SNES? I got you covered! Check out my SNES Halloween Special.

SNES Halloween Special

I'm getting a Silver Shamrock flashback here...
I’m getting a Silver Shamrock flashback here…

Growing up I was a huge fan of all things Halloween-related. My favorite month of the year was October. I just love the fall season. Everything from falling leaves to all the ghoulish sights around town and of course, the feeling of excitement as you count down to the night of nights… HALLOWEEN! “8 more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. 8 MORE DAYS TO HALLOWEEN — SILVER SHAMROCK!” Argh! GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD!!! Ahem, sorry.

SUPER NINTENDO HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

SNES just a kiddie system? I beg to differ
SNES just a kiddie system? I beg to differ

If there was one thing I loved just as much as Halloween back in the day, it was without a shadow of doubt the Super Nintendo. The SNES has been known as a “kiddie” system especially when compared to the Sega Genesis, which featured more darker, mature titles. While it’s true that the SNES didn’t have as many as the Genesis had, that doesn’t mean it was completely devoid of “darker” games. Tonight, I’m proud to highlight 35 games that SNES fans can play this month of October in preparation for Halloween. Not all these games are great or even necessarily “mature” or “darker,” but they certainly fit the mood of the season in general. Some of these games are classic mainstays while there are a few you might have never heard of. I hope this inspires you to dig up a few SNES games to play this Halloween season.

Happy Halloween gaming!
Happy Halloween gaming!

There is something real special about gaming around this time of the year. The rainy days, shorter days and longer nights create an atmosphere conducive to staying in and snuggling up with old gaming favorites by the fire, or discovering some new ones for the first time! Perhaps this list will introduce you to a few new titles to throw into your Halloween rotation. Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown in alphabetical order. Here are 35 Super Nintendo games to play during the month of October!

#1: THE ADDAMS FAMILY

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They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. Ah, you know the rest. Released in March 1992 from Ocean, this was one of the earlier Super Mario World clones during the Super Nintendo’s infancy. It’s got quite a few fans. It’s obviously not nearly as polished and awesome as Super Mario World — I’m not a big fan of its somewhat slippery control or overly brutal difficulty, but it’s definitely not too shabby. It’s got a ton of secrets and you can tell the programmers had a blast making this one — hell, they said so themselves. Worth a look if you like your platformers difficult and somewhat quirky.

#2: THE ADDAMS FAMILY: PUGSLEY’S SCAVENGER HUNT

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The follow up to The Addams Family, Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt also has its fair share of fans. It’s quite an upgrade visually, but I think I actually prefer the first game. The programmers were quoted once saying that they tried to recapture the “magic” of the first game but just couldn’t with this game. Nevertheless, it’s decent enough to kill a few hours with. And if you’re going to give this a try, might as well do it during October.

#3: ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES

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The last in the SNES trilogy, Addams Family Values switches it up a bit by being an action RPG rather than a typical platformer. It sounds and looks enticing on paper, but unfortunately it’s something of a slight disappointment. I remember back in the day being super hyped for this. Uncle Fester in a Link to the Past clone? Sign me up! The main issue is the lack of a backup battery. Sure, it’s got a password system, but these passwords are scarce. On top of that, they’re awfully long and cumbersome. On the bright side, the game has a nice atmosphere for October, and the gameplay itself is generally fairly solid. If there was ever a game meant for using save states, it’s this one. Still, it’s the best of the SNES Addams Family trilogy.

#4: THE ADVENTURES OF DR. FRANKEN

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Ah, the early-mid ’90s. I love that era of video gaming. It was a period in time that was ransack with Mario clones left and right. Some of these games were great, some were just OK and others were better left forgotten. The Adventures of Dr. Franken is one of those forgotten platformers lost in the “me too” SNES crowd of the early-mid ’90s. This is just what the doctor ordered, or not. I wanted to like it but ended up rather disappointed. It’s not unplayable, but it’s probably the weakest game on this list. It’s better than terrible crud like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Musya, though. By the way, none of those games are on this list because they are truly terrifying (to play).

#5: ALIEN³

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All right, now we’re talking! Alien³ is a very solid movie-game adaptation. Just like the ALIEN films, Alien³ has a dark and foreboding feel to it. The aliens come at you fast and furious from all directions, making it a worthy candidate to play late at night with all the lights turned off. The difficulty is a bit steep, but that just makes the whole thing all the more tense. There is a password system and cheat codes to make life a bit easier, if you need it. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive but damn if it ain’t fun blasting an alien in the face with a flame thrower.

#6: BLACKTHORNE

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The picture above pretty much says it all. But yeah, the mine levels in particular go really well against the backdrop of October’s rainy and dreary days…

#7: BRANDISH

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Brandish is a classic example of a love or hate game. Give it a shot, because if you’re one of those people who end up loving it, like I do, you are in for a rare treat. Players take on Varik, a bounty hunter who falls into a deep underworld maze filled with 55 different monster breeds roaming the cursed halls. The game’s music and atmosphere does an excellent job convincing you that you are 40 floors buried underneath the surface. As you fight to make your way back to the top, there is a real sense of dread that works well with the Halloween season, not to mention the 55 different monsters. There’s a little something for everyone. From menacing minotaurs to towering dinosaurs to even Death itself — almost every creature imaginable is milling about the hell hole! I beat it almost 10 years ago now, and still to this day it remains a fond memory. Once in a while a game resonates with you in such a way you can’t explain. Brandish is that game for me. If you love atmospheric games and monsters, and like a more methodical action RPG, give it a shot. No better time to than October! It has more than its fair share of creepy moments…

#8: BRANDISH 2

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The sequel is bigger as it now features outdoor playing areas, but it’s not necessarily better. I prefer the original but I still enjoyed beating Brandish 2. It’s the first Japanese game on this list as it never left Japan. There is an English fan translation floating out there, and I recommend playing it if you really like the first one. It’s got better visuals and all, but is missing the “magic” of the first game. That’s not to say Brandish 2 isn’t any good. It’s very solid in its own right; it still features monsters and a seedy adventure that goes well with October’s rainy days.

#9: CASTLEVANIA: DRACULA X

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Best to get this out of the way early… OK so it isn’t anywhere as epic as Super Castlevania IV. And yes, you can’t help but wonder what if Konami had made a proper sequel using their SNES know-how by 1995. Got you drooling a bit there, eh? Well, Dracula X isn’t quite up to those standards, BUT it is a pretty solid (and damn difficult) action game, with Konami’s signature stellar soundtrack. In my book, Dracula X doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, and it’s just good enough to warrant firing up every October…

#10: CLOCK TOWER

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You cannot talk about Halloween SNES games without bringing up Clock Tower. Hands down the most frightening game on the system, this is where the epic Scissorman story began. Who would ever believe that a Super Nintendo title can make your heart skip a beat? But play this at 2 in the morning with all the lights turned off and it just might genuinely creep you out. The game has an uneasy feel to it — Scissorman popping up randomly is the main reason why! Just an awesome survival horror game and a must play for the Halloween season.

#11: DEAE TONOSAMA APPARE ICHIBAN

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Pocky & Rocky fans rejoice. This game is ultra bizarre. I mean, where else can you kill Asian hopping vampires, astronauts on Mars, giant bamboo eating pandas, vile rotting zombies, aliens, ninjas, knights and Bruce Lee wannabes — all the while transforming into a large steroid-injected muscle maniac who oh yeah JUST happens to be the spirit of your deceased father?!? Intrigued? If you are not then you have no pulse! Love the subtle Halloween vibes it has, too.

#12: DEMON’S CREST

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One of the most underrated SNES games around, once upon a time, anyhow. In the past 10 years, I’ve seen Demon’s Crest get the adulation it deserved back in the mid ’90s. On top of excelling in all the basic video game categories, Demon’s Crest exudes atmosphere and coolness like very few other SNES games. Playing as a winged demon that collects orbs, changes form accordingly and breathes fire is too damn badass, y’know?

#13: DOOM

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When Doom exploded on the scene back in 1993, it took the gaming nation by storm. As great as Wolfenstein 3D was, Doom was that much better. Ask any gamer over the age of 30 or so and they’ll regale you with a Doom tale from their childhood. In 1995 Doom was ported to the Super Nintendo to mixed reviews. I didn’t like it back then because I couldn’t shake the fact that it was far inferior compared to the original PC game. 15 years later, 2010, I bought the game and came to appreciate the port for what it is. Naturally there were many sacrifices. The game only features 22 maps and there is no save or password feature. Despite this, it’s still impressive what they were able to pull off considering the limitations of the hardware. On a side note, the Japanese Super Famicom version is superior due to the fact that it allows you to start off on any episode on any difficulty level. You can start on any episode in the US version, but the later episodes require you to play it at a higher difficulty level.

#14: EQUINOX

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This isometric action adventure is packed with epic music from Tim Follin and a haunting atmosphere that makes it an ideal Halloween selection. It is damn difficult, though, but well worth persevering through. It allows you to save the game at any point, which makes the rather high difficulty a little more bearable. Each level requires you to collect keys to open up the various locked gates. Grabbing these keys can be one hell of a challenge, and sometimes just finally grabbing one particularly elusive key is satisfying enough to call it a night. It’s one of those games that you can play and enjoy for 20 minutes or 2 hours. I wish there were more games like this on the SNES but at least we’ll always have Equinox.

#15: FIRST SAMURAI

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I was intrigued by this game the day I saw EGM previewing it in early 1993. It looked different than most of your average “bright” SNES games. First Samurai is dark and has a dreary foreboding look to it. When I finally tried it in 2006, I wasn’t much disappointed. I never expected a stellar game, but just a fun adequate one. And that First Samurai is. From its abnormal enemies to the “Hallelujah!” song and “OH NO! MY SWORD!” sound effect, First Samurai just has a different feel from your typical SNES game, and is one I enjoy playing in October. The game’s mood fits this time of the year perfectly. Try it for yourself. It’s not good enough to be considered a hidden gem or anything, but it’s one of those funky little games that leaves you going, “Hey, that was kind of fun in a weird sort of way…”

#16: GEGEGE NO KITARO

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A highly difficult game that seems passable at first but is made somewhat worthy when playing with a friend (as one can block and one can attack). Not my first choice to play for Halloween, but you can’t deny Kitarou’s strong Halloween spirit. Check it out only if you can, but don’t go out of your way to.

#17: GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI

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A surprisingly solid action game based off a manga. Too many times such efforts are hack jobs and cheap attempts to cash-in. Ghost Sweeper Mikami, on the other hand, is handled well. It won’t rock your world but it’s fairly fun and you gotta love its ghoulish look and spooky atmosphere. A great choice to play in October.

#18: GHOUL PATROL

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LucasArts tried to reinvent the magic of Zombies Ate My Neighbors with this differently named “sequel.” Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed on that end. But, not all is lost. Ghoul Patrol has some decent things going for it. It’s just nowhere as good or fun as the original. However, this game is much more forgiving, allowing you to advance much further in the game even when you go at it alone. All in all, it’s not a shabby sequel but it’s missing considerably the fluidity and charm of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

#19: JAKI CRUSH

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A Super Famicom pinball game that centers around demons, monsters and the occult. The last in the Crush trilogy (Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush), Jaki Crush is full of Halloween-esque sights. If you enjoy video game pinball then you’re sure to have a good time with this.

#20: MAJYUUOU

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This game goes hand-in-hand with Halloween. It’s not quite the epic action game I was hoping it might be, but it’s pretty solid and gives us Super Nintendo fanatics one more sinister game to enjoy. You can transform into various demon forms — giving it an Altered Beast feel. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. As long as you leave your lofty expectations at the door, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) is a ghoulishly fun time.

#21: MORTAL KOMBAT II

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I love the SNES port of Mortal Kombat II. My bro bought it when it came out back in September of 1994, so I have fond memories of playing it during Halloween season that same year. Characters like Baraka and stages like the haunted forest give it a lovely Halloween spirit. FINISH HIM!!

#22: NOSFERATU

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Nosferatu is one of those games I studied and drooled over in gaming mags way back in the day… only to finally play some 15+ years later and find out that, sadly, it fell short of the gem my mind had built it up to be. Nevertheless, it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s decent (at least, for the first couple levels before the difficulty becomes far too daunting). It’s not the superb smooth playing Castlevania meets Prince of Persia mix I was hoping for, but you can’t win them all. Still, I love the macabre atmosphere and it’s fun to play the first two or three levels during Halloween time.

#23: POCKY & ROCKY

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A widely regarded Super Nintendo classic that’s worth playing any time but especially during Halloween time. Better yet, it’s even more fun with two skilled players at the helm. Yeah it’s not the first SNES game you associate Halloween with, but it’s got that nice subtle ghoulish touch to it. Be forewarned though, it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s actually quite difficult and requires much practice to excel at. But damn if it isn’t fun.

#24: POCKY & ROCKY 2

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Natsume released a sequel the following year (1994) to solid reviews. There are some nice new features that makes this a worthy follow up to the classic original. These new features include multiple paths within the levels and partners. When you talk about great 2-player co-op SNES games, you gotta talk about the Pocky & Rocky series. They’re great fun to play whenever, but especially during October.

#25: PORKY PIG’S HAUNTED HOLIDAY

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Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a decent little platformer that came out late in the SNES’ lifespan. Therefore, it was overlooked even more. It’s no Super Mario World, but I do enjoy its wacky levels and it’s an underrated Halloween choice. An interesting aspect of the game is that the weather changes every time you turn it on, and often weather will vary during the game itself. From one level to the next, it may be raining, snowing, or sunny, and may have summer, autumn, or winter color schemest. Overall, you could do far worse than Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday.

#26: SHADOWRUN

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Gritty, grimy and great for October. For goodness sake, you start the game out by waking up on a slab in a morgue… suffering from amnesia. Talk about morbid and sordid. The control takes some getting used to, but the game’s cyberpunk feel is what makes it special. Shadowrun is a very unique game and something I wish the SNES saw more of. I have very fond memories of playing it on a rainy Halloween night of 2014. The game’s gritty “shady city” atmosphere fits in perfectly with the mood of Halloween.

#27: SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI

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Shin Megami Tensei isn’t for everyone — it’s a rather plodding first person RPG from the early days of 1992. But its sordid universe suits the Halloween season very well. You can recruit enemies to be your allies, and you can either side with the angels, the demons or go neutral. If you can withstand the somewhat slow nature of the game, it’s a rather fascinating and morbid trip through a hellish Tokyo. Note: it can be downright brutally difficult at times. You could be walking along destroying enemies easily but just as easily get in a battle with a monster that wipes out your party in no time flat. Be sure to save often!

#28: SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI II

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More of the same, but now faster and more accessible. If you enjoyed the first game then you’re sure to like this one, too. Naturally, the monsters, demons and devils make both Shin Megami Tensei games ideal to play during the month of October. They do require a bit of patience and perseverance, but the payoff is substantial — very few SNES games are as thought-provoking and politically incorrect.

#29: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

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This is the first title that jumps to mind right away when I think of SNES Halloween games. And why not, seeing as it has practically every creature of the night represented on its monster roll call. Featuring a stunning soundtrack, great graphics (for its time specifically) and satisfying gameplay mechanics, it’s a bloody sin not to, at the very least, pop this game in for a quick go every October. Turn off the lights, grab that ancient magical Belmont whip and hack away at mummies, frankensteins, and oh yeah, Dracula himself, as you try to eviscerate the Prince of Darkness and his minions one more time. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks. An essential Super Nintendo classic that is perfect for Halloween.

#30: SUPER GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS

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Long before Resident Evil and even Sweet Home, this was Capcom’s first original “horror” franchise. And a mighty fine one it is, too. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts sports a high difficulty (but somewhat overrated in my humble opinion, at least, on easy mode). Featuring stunning graphics (mind, for 1991 standards) and sound, this game always delights and is a reminder of the Super Nintendo’s early GLORY days. You absolutely can’t go wrong giving this some October play time.

#31: THE TWISTED TALES OF SPIKE MCFANG

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The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang is a super short yet sweet game that you ought to play if you haven’t already. It’s so criminally short that it can be beaten in a measly 3 to 4 hours. Players control Spike McFang, a young vampire warrior in the making. A very good game that scores high on the fun and quirky scale.

#32: WARLOCK

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Warlock has a nice creepy, ominous atmosphere going for it. It’s not the greatest game around, but it’s got its moments. There are various spells at your disposal and there is some strategy and sorcery at play here. Not your typical hop ‘n bop platformer, which I appreciate. Give it a try. A low key under the radar choice.

#33: WOLFCHILD

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You transform into a wolf and shoot down bad guys like empty tin cans sitting on a fence. Wolfchild is a bit reminiscent of Werewolf (NES) and perhaps even Altered Beast (Genesis). Decent fun to be had and worth playing through at least once for the diehard SNES fanatic. A forgotten game that was lost in the me-too SNES crowd of early-mid 1990s, but not forgotten to RVGFanatic!

#34: WOLFENSTEIN 3D

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While this game may not seem like a “Halloween title” right off the bat, I ask you, where else can you pump mutant chunks full of lead in a mere matter of 10 seconds? In my book, there are few adrenaline rushes on the SNES quite like the one that Wolfenstein provides. With its many menacing monsters and large labyrinths, this is a solid choice to play during the Halloween season. Besides, you gotta love its scare-inducing sound — I’ve flinched more than once when turning a seemingly innocent corner only to be greeted by the loud crack of gunfire and a gravelly, sharpSTOP!”

#35: ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBORS

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What a perfect game to end this list. It’s impossible to talk about Halloween SNES games and not think of Zombies Ate My Neighbors almost immediately. When this game dropped on our laps back in late 1993, man, none of us knew what a cult classic it would become. It goes along perfectly with all the horror movies you’ll watch throughout October as many of its enemies are knock-offs of various horror movie villains. Whether it’s the evil doll Chucky, the lumbering brute Jason or cheerleader snatching aliens, it’s a veritable who’s who of horror movie icon lore. Zombies Ate My Neighbors shines best when playing with a buddy. It’s couch co-op gaming at its finest. It may feel cheap at times, but with a skilled friend in tow it’s still one zombie blasting good time. Perfect, indeed, for the Halloween season.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Ah, Halloween. How I love thee. There’s just something magical about this season that I absolutely adore. I hope you enjoyed going through this list, recalling old Halloween Super Nintendo favorites in addition to maybe discovering a few new titles to add to your Halloween mix. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for both Halloween and the Super Nintendo. Both have given me countless memories over the years, and deep down inside, there’s a little robust 10 year old boy still yearning for one last great American Halloween adventure. There’s nothing like watching horror movies at night and playing some of these SNES games as I count down the days to Halloween. With that said, there’s really only one thing left to say…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y'ALL!  MWAHAHA!  ^_^
HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y’ALL!  MWAHAHA!  ^_^
Halloween and Super Nintendo -- good times
Halloween and Super Nintendo — good times