After being delayed a year due to COVID-19, Halloween Kills finally dropped on October 15, 2021 (a month ago today). I was so hyped and ready for it. I happened to have the week off work too, so Friday morning at 12 midnight I plopped on the couch and turned on the Peacock to stream the movie. What started out as a massive smile slowly turned into a feeling of meh as I saw obnoxious plot holes and tropes one after another. I don’t think it’s a bad sequel, but it was disappointing. For all the cool scenes they had, the rest of the movie was muddled by terrible character choices and unrealistic behavior. I even forgot about the movie novelization. But when I finally remembered it a couple weeks ago, I bought a copy and ended up finishing it in 2 days. It was an immensely satisfying experience, something I wish I could say about the film.
I loved the first 30 or so minutes of the movie. The flashback scenes were amazing! They replicated the look and feel of the 1978 original so well in those scenes. Even the replica mask was spot on! Everything was clicking but it soon went downhill pretty fast. While Halloween 2018 was far from perfect, I like the tone and style they set in that one. Halloween Kills was a mess of a movie. The novelization is based off the script, but author Tim Waggoner filled in some blanks with his own research and imagination. Those added details made a big difference for me in terms of enjoying the product. On a final note, I wish I could have gone to the midnight showing at my local theater. But COVID and my wife is currently pregnant. She also had work the next day so there was zero chance of that happening. Thus, I settled for the couch. It kind of blows my mind when I think about major movies like this and Godzilla vs. Kong streaming from the comfort of your living room. I do miss the communal theater experience, but I don’t miss the annoying teenagers! It’s a tradeoff, I suppose. I was just happy to be able to watch the movie! I only wish that it were better
There were 3 copies at my Barnes and Noble. I wanted the best condition copy, but they all looked like that. It took me a second to realize that this cosmetic imperfection was purposefully done, most likely to evoke a sense of nostalgia from reading horror paperbacks in the ’80s and early ’90s. Those novels had a tendency to get roughed up a bit. An interesting choice by Titan Books, indeed.
Similar to the original Halloween II (1981, not Rob Zombie’s crappy 2009 movie by the same title), Halloween Kills immediately picks up where the previous movie ended. Of course, Michael escapes the burning fire and is now stalking the dark alleys and windswept streets of…
Remember Allyson’s asshole boyfriend Cameron from the 2018 movie? It opens with him wandering through the town. I like that his character had a slight bit of a redemption arc in the sequel. Not much, but enough to make you kind of like him a bit, whereas in the previous movie he was just a total dick.
In the 2018 movie, Officer Frank Hawkins was pretty much killed. They retconned this so that he could play a role in this sequel and the following movie yet to come, Halloween Ends. They even fleshed out Hawkins’ character, giving him a pivotal role on that fateful night where Michael Myers terrorized Haddonfield 40 years ago.
Oh God, I almost fell over when I first saw this 1978 flashback. They captured the look perfectly! Never before have we seen a flawless replica of the 1978 mask. This scene gave me goosebumps, and totally put me in the Halloween mood!
Tim Waggoner is a pretty talented writer, as you can see here. Instead of phoning it in and relying on the brand name (which practically sells itself), Waggoner flexed some writing chops. The way he wrote Michael sent some chills up and down my spine. He made Michael creepy again. Just read the caption below!
See, stuff like this you just can’t get from a movie. It’s this narration that fills in the gaps… or the cracks, if you will. Waggoner takes you inside the minds and souls of these hapless Haddonfield denizens. I really like the way he described the crooked and twisted tree branches here. Very effective at stirring that autumnal feeling!
Love the callback here of Lonnie running like hell just like when he did after hearing Dr. Loomis shoo him away from the Myers place. And you gotta love the robotic shark-like mentality with which Waggoner depicts Michael Myers. He is an apex pred — [SNIP! STFU Tommy Doyle -Ed]
Everything about that small scene was perfect. It captured Haddonfield on Halloween night to a tee. I loved the way the actor said “The Boogeyman.” And how he quickly turned around and ran away as one of the Halloween themes kicked in. I remember feeling the flesh rise a little and thinking, “AW HELL YEAH, THIS FEELS LIKE HALLOWEEN ALL RIGHT!” That feeling did not last very long…
At first I thought this was CGI Loomis. Come to find out one of their very own crew members, Tom Jones Jr., bears a slight resemblance to the late Donald Pleasance. Makeup was added to complete the transformation. Talk about a stroke of luck! The voice needed a little work but as far as body doubles go, it was a major coup.
Of course we find out in the movie that Hawkins accidentally shot his own partner in the throat while aiming for Michael. So they totally retconned the original ending where Loomis shot Michael 6 7 times before he fell off the balcony. This was the first moment to make me raise an eyebrow…
Smoking Lady = Nurse Marion Chambers, played by Nancy Stephens.
Champagne Man = Lonnie Elam, played by Robert Longstreet.
And of course, the two kids Laurie Strode babysat way back 40 years ago during the original 1978 Boogeyman attacks, Lindsey Wallace (played by Kyle Richards) and Tommy Doyle (played by Anthony Michael Hall).
I really enjoyed how the novelization breathes more light on the characters. Even the minor characters, like the doctor and nurse couple, are given a smidge more acknowledgment and background detail.
I know many fans didn’t like this scene because the movie yet again dumps even more exposition at our feet that we already know and have heard during the first 10 minutes of the movie. But I actually liked it a lot. And although I’m not a fan of how Tommy Doyle was portrayed in this film (I really wish Paul Rudd could have reprised the Tommy role since he played Tommy in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), I did relish the way in which he described the babysitter murders from that fateful Halloween night 40 years ago. My favorite line being “They had sightings of a ghostly figure creeping through the town.” Ooh!
A gay couple who moved into the Myers home, Big John and Little John are about to have the Halloween of a lifetime…
If you took a shot for every time you hear “EVIL DIES TONIGHT!” while watching Halloween Kills, the movie title will prove apt. They really overdid it with that one.
In the movie if you don’t blink you may catch a bench advertising Big John and Little John as realtors. It’s kind of neat how the real Michael Myers house is currently a real estate office and that the couple who lives in the Myers house are realtors themselves. Good one there, guys.
Like I said earlier, I dig how this book digs deeper into the character whether major or minor. The movie never once hints that Lonnie Elam wrote a book about the Boogeyman and his experiences surrounding Haddonfield’s most notorious mad man. Here we also see that Laurie has dreams of becoming a teacher, which she actually was in Halloween: H20. I love when these connections are made. Fan service? Maybe so, but all the merrier.
Even though Halloween Kills was a bit disappointing to me, I was excited to read the novelization to see where they might have filled in the gaps. I’m happy to say that Tim Waggoner did a tremendous job. It’s funny how much I enjoyed the novel (I blew through it over the course of 2 days and it had a one more chapter sort of feel to it) in comparison to how disappointing I found the film to be. Maybe it was those little background details that helped me to connect better with the characters and the story. Oh and the ending in the book is the original ending that they should have shown in theaters. I get why the director chose to go in a different direction, but the book ends in a fist pump sort of way that makes you say “Alright, bring on the next one now, please!” Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait about 11 more months until then. Hopefully they’ll get it right in the final film of the trilogy. Regardless of what happens, I look forward to both the movie and the novelization. Counting on Halloween Ends to feature less tropes and less dumb character choices. One can only hope. In the meantime, check out this book if you get a chance. I think it does Halloween fans proud.
It’s now November but it’s never too late (or early) to talk about my favorite horror movie franchise of all time, Halloween. Back in 2019, I had the honor of interviewing John Passarella, the author who wrote the official movie novelization for Halloween (2018). And with Halloween Kills debuting earlier last month, I figure now would be a good time to examine the movie novelizations for both films, starting with the 2018 version.
Halloween 2018 was a landmark film for horror fans. Not only did it mark the return of the Boogeyman (and not that crap Rob Zombie version we saw in 2009’s Halloween II), but it also brought back Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise, reprising her role as beloved final girl, Laurie Strode. I was so ready for this film. I even attended the 40th anniversary convention in October of 2018 in South Pasadena, where the original 1978 movie was filmed. I also hold extra special nostalgia because the movie was my second date with the woman I eventually married. And as it was the case 30 years ago in 1988 for Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers, the grand occasion called for a novelization. John Passarella was bestowed with the honor.
By the way, some of you may recall that I originally posted my interview with John Passarella at the end of my Halloween Books review. However, that article was so long that I’ve been meaning to break it up. Just like WrestleMania being split up over 2 nights. It also allows me to shamelessly segue into my Halloween Kills novelization review, but I digress. Let’s jump right into it. Enjoy the Q&A!
When were you first exposed to Halloween (1978), and what were your thoughts?
JP: I don’t recall the first time I watched it, but it wasn’t in the theater. My guess is that I first saw it at home, probably a video rental. My mother was a big fan of horror movies at the time, while I was more of a science fiction/fantasy fan. She always had horror movies on the TV while I spent most of my free time reading. When I first saw it, I thought it was stark and effective, with a understated supernatural quality to it, while other “slasher” movies that followed seemed more interested in violence/gore for its own sake. Even then it felt unique.
Top 5 favorite Halloween films?
JP: I am so bad at picking favorite things, let alone ranking them. The original stands alone at the top. I enjoyed H20 when it first came out. For the Halloween (2018) novelization, since I was pressed for time (less than 2 months to write it) and was told that the movie would ignore all the sequels, I didn’t take any time to re-watch any of those films. My wife watches the original movie every Halloween season, so I watched that again this year, but I definitely need to reacquaint myself with all the sequels.
How did you get involved in the process of penning Halloween? Did you have to make some sort of pitch or did Titan Books reach out to you?
JP: Titan Books approached me. Probably the best early email I’ve ever received! I had done several original Supernatural tie-in novels for them, plus an original Grimm novelization. And I had worked with several editors there. The editor for the Halloween novelization thought it would be a perfect fit for me.
How long did it take for you to write the book? When did you first start drafting it? How many copies have been sold as of November 2019?
JP: I’d have to check my first contact emails, but I think it was either late March or early April of 2018. After I agreed to write the novelization and the studio approved me, I had to wait for the script to get started. I think that came in the first week of April. The novel was due by the end of May, so it was a compressed time frame. I received access to the daily film photo archive after I had already started writing the first draft. I had to backtrack and rewrite some scenes after I saw the photos of those sets/scenes. They reshot the ending and added some other scenes, mostly flashbacks and some of those still didn’t make it into the final film, but I was fortunate in that I hadn’t gotten to the ending before it was changed. I only had to write the ending once. As far as sales, I have no idea how well it did overall. It has gone into a second edition. For these work-for-hire projects, writers don’t get royalties, so we don’t get royalty statements which would show sales to-date.
How did you feel watching the movie for the first time? Was it surreal to see your (novelization) words (more or less) being played out in front of your eyes in a capacity-filled theater?
JP: Surreal is a good word for it. I did not see the film until the premiere. At the time, I had three versions of the story bouncing around in my head. The script and revision, my novelization, and then what actually made it into the final film. There were things that were in the script, but didn’t make it into the film. Other things, mostly additional dialogue made it into the film, but wasn’t in the script at all. I made a point of including all the script dialogue, while adding a bunch of my own. Whole scenes were cut from the final film. Other scenes were really truncated. A few played out differently than they had in the script. They added a lot more humor via dialogue. And the editing of the movie had a thriller feel to it, rather than a horror/suspense film.
There were obviously some cuts made from the movie (script) as compared to your book. Was there any part or scene omitted from your writing where you wish made it on the big screen? For me, the book definitely made me care more about Dana and Aaron. They were fleshed out a lot more (naturally) in your book than they were in the film. Understandable, but unfortunate nevertheless.
JP: I think the filmmakers made a choice to make the film mostly Laurie’s story, so a lot of the character development and scenes involving other characters were trimmed. Reading the script, I had this idea that Allyson was the star, so to speak, and it would be a passing of the torch from Laurie to her granddaughter. But the film leans more on Laurie vs Michael, so a lot of Allyson stuff, early on and at/after the dance, got cut to keep a reasonable running time. And, yes, Dana and Aaron had more “screen” time on the page, more scenes, more character development. That’s one thing that helps give the novelization some life and purpose outside the film. Fans can delve a bit deeper into the story and the characters.
In the restroom scene, Dana reads a message scrawled on the side that recites Budd’s infamous “amazing grace come sit on my face” line from Halloween II (1981). Was that in the original movie script or did you add that in? I couldn’t help but smile when I read that, and was a little saddened realizing it didn’t show up in the movie.
JP: I can’t take credit for that line. It was in the final script.
It’s been a year since your novel came out. How do you feel about the book overall? Is there anything you wish you could have written differently?
JP: I don’t know if I would have written it differently if I had seen the movie (a rough cut maybe) before I finished, but maybe. What I enjoy the most in books is suspense, so I naturally tried to create as much suspense as possible. The original film relies heavily on suspense and I took that as my model (since I knew I wouldn’t see the finished movie until its release). A couple scenes (conversations) changed a good bit from script to screen and I would have liked the book version to be closer to the finished film versions but that was out of my control. I didn’t have time to stray too far from the script’s plot, to explore any side roads or backstory, so I may always wonder about that. And in a couple places, I probably described a set in too much detail. Usually the “sets” are only in my head. This was the first time I had actual photos to describe to the reader!
Have you been signed on to write the movie novelization for Halloween Kills and/or Halloween Ends?
JP: I’d certainly be interested in writing those novelizations, but I haven’t heard anything about them yet. The second film has finished filming but won’t be out for an entire year. The first film came out several months after filming wrapped and everything on the novelization side moved quickly so that it could come out the same time as the movie. Right now, we still have a long window, so I’m not surprised I haven’t heard anything yet. If Titan Books is planning a novelization for the second movie, I may not know until a few months into the new year.
What do you think it is about Halloween and Michael Myers that has endured with so many fans 40+ years later and counting?
JP: The primal nature of the fear that Michael Myers represents, an unstoppable, merciless, and unknowable evil, represented by the unchanging, unflinching mask. He seems to be so much more than what we see on the surface. Loomis decides after years of examining him that he is simply evil, possibly evil incarnate.
Advice for aspiring authors?
JP: Finish what you write. Once you finish, you have something you can use to get representation, to sell to a magazine or book publisher. And if it doesn’t sell or work for you, finish the next thing, and the next. I started writing at the age of 11, but didn’t publish my first novel until I was 37! I like to think it wouldn’t take so long if I started writing today. When I started, I relied on Writers Digest and Writer magazines, a dictionary and a set of encyclopedias (and my local library) for research, and a manual typewriter (I taught myself to type before they offered a course in school) with actual carbon copies as my only backups. These days, you have webzines, online writers groups, self-publishing tools, social media for marketing and networking, etc.
Have you, by chance, read any of the other Halloween movie novelizations by Dennis Etchison or Nicholas Grabowsky?
JP: No, though I’d like to hunt down a copy of the original movie novelization. It seems they are hard to come by these days.
What’s next for John Passarella?
JP: Thanks for your interest in my writing and the Halloween novelization. I’m working on a fourth novel in my Wendy Ward (Wither) series right now, but it’s not under contract, which means I don’t have deadline pressure pushing me to the finish line. I don’t suffer from writer’s block, per se, but procrastination is a real hurdle. I work much better and faster when there is a looming deadline!
Thanks again John for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk about all things Halloween! Click on the link there to buy the book on Amazon if you want. As of this writing, the paperback edition is currently 33% off and selling for $5.98.
Although it can be a bit wordy and long-winded at times, I think John Passarella did a very admirable job with this novelization. Characters are better fleshed out than how they were presented in the movie, such as the podcasters Dana and Aaron. You naturally get a little more background information here because a 371 page text can convey more details than what can be portrayed in a 100 minute horror movie. If you’re a big fan of the 2018 Halloween movie, and you’re looking to dig a little more in-depth, then I would definitely recommend this book. Next up, Halloween Kills by Tim Waggoner. Until next time, avoid dark corners and watch out for the Boogeyman…
This past year I got back into books big time. For years on end my new years resolution would inevitably be to read more. But that never happened. But 2019 proved to be different. I began reading again. And once more, I’ve become a book fiend. I love paperback novels. I love the way they feel. The way they smell (as long as it’s not rancid). The way they transport me to magical far away places. Being a massive Halloween fan, when I found out earlier this summer that the first 4 Halloween movies were novelized, naturally I was all over that like white on rice Michael’s mask. As I write this intro, it’s late Halloween night. I spent the past 3 weeks reading the 4 Halloween novels, having just finished Halloween IV. I had a blast with each of them, some more than others. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the first novel, Halloween.
HALLOWEEN by Curtis Richards
Penned by Dennis Etchison using the pseudonym of Curtis Richards, this book was released in October of 1979, one year after John Carpenter’s Halloween made a killing at the box office. A rare and collectible piece of Halloween memorabilia, the book closely follows the film but adds in enough details to differentiate it from the movie. Namely, it provides a little more background information into what makes Michael Myers tick, and it really takes on a Celtic perspective. You’ll read words like SAMHAIN and “The Druid Festival of the Dead.” It’s the perfect companion piece to the film itself, moreso in my estimation than the actual Halloween II movie sequel. It’s rather well written too, and isn’t merely a throwaway movie novelization. Check out Chapter 1 below for instance…
Not bad, eh? Really sets the mood and evokes that autumnal feeling of late October and sleepy suburbs where danger lurks in the darkness. Curtis Richards, er, Dennis Etchison, was something of a proficient horror writer in his day so it’s nice to see someone so professional handle this project.
Unfortunately, being out of print and rare, copies of this book go for a pretty penny. It seems insane to drop triple figures on a book — a rather thin 166 page book at that — but this is a nice prize for diehard Halloween fans. From now on, every October I’ll be watching the movie and reading the book. There’s something about reading the movie in written form that is immensely satisfying. It’s one of those concepts that work equally well as a novel or as a film. I’m glad we have both — the best of both worlds, as it were.
Following the smash success of Halloween, Halloween II hit theaters on Halloween Eve of 1981. The movie novelization, penned once again by Dennis Etchison who changed his pseudonym from Curtis Richards to Jack Martin, soon followed.
HALLOWEEN II by Jack Martin
Although certainly cheesy, I appreciate the creative deviations the novelization made in comparison to its film counterpart. Seeing a human face screaming out in agony covered by a carved jack-o-lantern is quite the gruesome sight. It’s exactly the kind of cover that would stop me dead in my tracks walking by a bookstore or newsstand.
As it is with movie and video game boxes, in addition to the front cover I love admiring the back as well. The summary gives you a good idea of what you’re in store for, and the back cover of Halloween II is at once simple but effective and enticing. The perfect sort of book to read snuggled up by a roasting fire on a cold October evening.
Like many movie novelizations of its time, Halloween II featured some photos plucked straight from the film. That or publicity stills, such as this eerie shot of The Shape’s evil presence looming over the desolate Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.
A recurring error were the photo captions which mostly spelled Laurie as Launie. How no one in editing caught that is practically inexcusable. Thankfully, they get the name right in the book and it’s a small misstep that’s mostly harmless. I get a kick out of it every time that I see it, though. Launie Strode? Get out of here with that
Halloween II begins with this prologue. I love the part that goes, “You know what it is like.” YOU DAMN RIGHT I DO. And it’s practically the best time of the year for me. Dennis Etchison (or Jack Martin if you will) does a fantastic job of painting the scene for us. It’s Haddonfield. It’s Halloween time. It’s irresistible. Vivid sentences like “the broken moon drifting like a gauze-covered face” bring to mind gloriously rich pictures. Mr. Martin sets the mood right off the bat. You can’t help but want to read on.
Chapter One opens with the haunting line, “There was a shape in the bushes.” This is followed by letting the reader know that the dead walked in Haddonfield that night. The lines about the Devil first being seen on Lampkin Lane and being a four-foot-tall version jumps off the page to me as well. Good stuff by Etchison.
Here’s the infamous opening scene of Halloween II where the neighbor comes out asking Dr. Loomis what is going on out there. It’s always been one of my favorite scenes from the entire franchise. I just love when the neighbor goes, “Is this some kind of joke? I’ve been trick-or-treated to death tonight” followed by Loomis saying “You don’t know what death is” as he runs around the house and the Halloween theme plays. Gives me the chills every time!
But notice in the novelization it gives a little more character insight. After the neighbor asks the question, in the film Loomis answers immediately. But here, the reader can read Loomis’ most inner thoughts… how he held to the gun, the empty gun… how he thought to himself this is it. How he should have known that Michael was a force beyond human. And how Halloween is over. The games. The roles. The cheap thrills. Now it really begins. This is what I love about novelizations. The writer can color between the lines and give you a little more depth than the film does.
Here’s another shining example of more character insight. After Sheriff Brackett asks Loomis if he knows what Haddonfield is, we see that Loomis is at the point of exasperation with the Sheriff. How one can never expect more than a grunt from a pig, how it’s not the Sheriff’s fault that he is merely a pig in a game ruled by lions, tigers and boogeymen. And how the Sheriff’s very own term “slaughterhouse” is an appropriate metaphor for what might possibly come. God save us all. Loomis benefits greatly from the added insights that Etchison weaved in throughout, making Halloween II a wonderful companion piece to the film itself.
HALLOWEEN III by Jack Martin
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a polarizing and controversial film in the franchise. That’s mainly because it does not feature Michael Myers outside of a meta cameo. The producers had the idea of turning the Halloween franchise into an anthology series. It was universally panned when it originally came out in 1982 as moviegoers wanted more Michael but were instead given a movie about killer masks. Over the years however, namely in the last 15 years or so, Halloween III has earned something of a cult following. It is now viewed in the eyes of many as an underrated horror film that would have worked so much better if it were given any other name other than Halloween III.
I have vivid memories of renting it from Hollywood Video 25 years ago in 1994. Back then there was no internet, no YouTube, no Twitter. I had no idea the movie didn’t feature Michael Myers. I just thought from the cover and title that it would be about a killer witch teaming up with Michael to slaughter the denizens of Haddonfield, and that idea captivated the shit out of me as a 10 year old kid. Alas, there was no evil witch (in the sense that I was imagining at least) and certainly no Michael. I was PISSED. However, I finally rewatched Halloween III this past October for the first time since that disappointing night and I have to say, I really enjoyed it as an adult who was now able to get pass that whole Michael thing. It truly is an underrated horror film.
Ooh, how creepy! The back cover makes you want to snuggle up in bed and read. Alright, never mind that the description is grossly inaccurate to how the actual story goes…
Something about those shapes… downright demonic. The witch in particular with its sharp pointed hat… it’s an image that has burned itself into my retina from when I first saw it in 1994. Say what you will of Halloween III, it has a badass cover and the tagline “The Night NO ONE Came Home” is a clever play off the original film’s tagline “The Night HE Came Home.”
I love the scene in the movie where the homeless guy in Santa Mira — you know, the ONE guy in town who isn’t brainwashed by Silver Shamrock — tells Cochran to go fuck himself. It was a joy reading it in the novelization. Could totally visualize the actor shouting that line with rebellious fist thrown in the air and all. The paranoia is real, bleeding off the pages, and with good reason. Some shady shit is happening in the small cultish town of Santa Mira, and it’s up to Dr. Dan Challis to find out why…
Here’s a nice added bit by Dennis Etchison. The actual film only showed a small snippet of the first Halloween film, but here Etchison dives in a little deeper. You might be wondering why, or if it’s just a bit of fan service, but the next paragraph reveals the true reason why…
Challis’ wife in the movie, Linda, was played by Nancy Kyes. She also played Annie Brackett in the first Halloween film. So after Etchison wrote about the teenage girls walking down a street in the sleepy suburbs of Haddonfield, Dan Challis sees Annie and thinks to himself, “Hmm. I know the type well. Reminds me a bit of old Linda. I’ll bet that’s what she was like at that age. Always on hand with the right remark to shoot down anybody in sight.” That part made me laugh out loud. That alone is worth the price of admission!
As Etchison wasn’t shy on doing, Halloween III has its quiet moments of introspection and philosophy. It added a lot of extra depth to the characters than what the movie was able to portray. Books can just describe a character’s innermost thoughts in a way the film medium simply cannot. While I enjoy the movie itself, the novelization of Halloween III is definitely a hit and one I plan to revisit in the years to come.
HALLOWEEN IV by Nicholas Grabowsky
The first Halloween novelization not written by Dennis Etchison (AKA Curtis Richards AKA Jack Martin) was Halloween IV. While I find the cover to be simple and cool, I wish Grabowsky had gone with the classic poster version of the actual film.
The back is a bit wordy one might say, but you gotta love that bright orange for the title and the font itself.
The book starts off with this stellar prologue, immediately hooking the reader in. Once again, as with the other Halloween novelizations, there are some extra details here and there that help to better flesh out the various characters. My favorite example of this was when Brady was brawling with Michael Myers. Before he bites the dust, Brady thinks to himself for a second HEY… what if I actually put an end to this guy and become a folk hero of Haddonfield lore? It’s small stuff like that that makes it a little more interesting.
Sadly, this is where the movie novelizations stopped for Halloween. It ended at Halloween IV in 1988. There was no novelization for Halloween V in 1989, or Halloween 6 in 1995. And so forth. Who knows why? Maybe Nicholas Grabowsky’s novel didn’t sell as well as they were hoping. Or maybe the (horror) movie novelization business as a whole was starting to die out a bit.
THE CHANGING SHAPE OF AN ICONIC SERIES
Last but not least, we come to Ernie Magnotta’s Halloween: The Changing Shape of an Iconic Series. This is a comprehensive retrospective on the series that covers the entire franchise sans Halloween III and the 2018 version (it came out just one day after that film premiered).
Although not a novelization, I wanted to give Ernie some love. His book isn’t definitive or the Halloween Bible by any means, but it’s kind of fun to read one man’s opinions on the Michael Myers saga.
I enjoyed reading all four Halloween novelizations this past October. They’re worth seeking out if you love the movies and you enjoy reading. The older ones will be a bit pricey, but c’mon, it’s HALLOWEEN. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare! If I had to rank and rate each book out of 5 stars, it would go as follows:
1. Halloween ****½ 2. Halloween IV **** 3. Halloween III **** 4. Halloween II ***
BONUS: THE PAPERBACK HUNT
So with these older books, it’s always fun to find a stamp inside the book telling you which paperback store it once belonged to eons ago.
Two of the Halloween novels I bought off eBay came courtesy of Westgate Book Exchange in Las Vegas. What a trip!
A quick online search and I found the place! It was fascinating to see the store pictures and visualize where my Halloween books came from however many years ago. Sadly, they seemed to have closed some time in 2015.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
There were lots of cool Halloween decorations lighting up the darkening streets of South Pasadena.
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.
Mmm, so good. I wish there was a Shakey’s where I live. I ate a few slices and took the rest to go.
I then spent the better part of 3 hours texting a new lady friend before crashing for the evening…
Here we are getting ready to pass by the now defunct All American Burger from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Good times.
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.
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 It was nice chatting with the locals.
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.
I’ve heard the hype for Shake Shack for years now, and finally I had a chance to try it out for myself.
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!
I eventually made my way back to the hotel and ended up texting a new lady friend for 4 hours before finally crashing…
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 Shout out to Crystal. It was fun walking around the Convention and hanging out!
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!
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
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?
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?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Halloween was full of classic scenes and masterfully crafted shots that represented John Carpenter’s finest work.
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!
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.
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.
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 10out of 10.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Dark long hospital hallways, a lurking Boogeyman and a dreadful sense of isolation and despair made Halloween II a wonderfully atmospheric film.
The remixed chase theme makes my hair stand up on end…
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Nancy played Nurse Chambers in the first two Halloween films.
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.
I love how Laurie Strode fights back and confronts her monster. She was a real badass in this one.
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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)
I hated this movie. The less said, the better. I give Halloween II (2009) a 1 out of 10.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
In a second, streams of sunshine. I heard a muffled voice that rose like a crescendo.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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!”
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.
THE BURIED NOTE
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.
THE LEGEND OF THE MASKED MANIAC!
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!
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
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.
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.
THE FALL OUT
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.
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…
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.
“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.
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.
“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!”
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…
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!”
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
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.
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.
LAST MAN STANDING
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?”
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!”
Rookie mistake. Jonathan didn’t know Manny like we did. And that’s when Manny went for the kill.
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 SMACKof 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Nelson’s favorite was The Haunted Mask.
And this was mine.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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 neverbe the same…
THE MOVE — JANUARY 1996
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
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.
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.
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.
“STEVEN!? Holy shit, how long’s it been?!”
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Nelson brought one of those back scratchers, and this was the result:
But then we applied a little force, pushing the stick down. It slid down and we managed to prop the lock open!
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.
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
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
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
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”
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:
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
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!?”
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.
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.
Wow. Standing there taking this picture sent goosebumps up and down my spine.
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.
Here Nelson and I sat in his car on a street used in the filming of Halloween. We shot this quick video below:
After this, Nelson and I decided to drive around L.A. randomly and then get some dinner.
You can’t go to L.A. and not take a shot of those beautiful palm trees.
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.
The laundry mat had a Neo Geo cab! How cool is that? That led to some natural reminiscing about World Heroes and the like.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
MY -FIRST FEAR- WITH CLOCK TOWER
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
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 the “Terror 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
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.
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…
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…
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…
“Puzzles” in Clock Tower are quite elementary [Good thing for you! Ha! -Ed.]
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
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 realatmosphere 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
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.
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
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?
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…
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.
Halloween. One of my favorite times of the year, October brings to mind so many fond memories. I love Halloween — the ghoulish sights and sounds, the trick or treating tomfoolery, the spooky atmosphere, watching horror movies on a rainy night in the dark, playing scary video games and so forth. I just love everything about it. Hell, Halloween is one of my favorite movies of all time. Tonight I’m proud to share three different stories all related to Halloween. So kick back, grab a cold one and enjoy…
But first, click here as the theme accompanies the text to follow:
THE NIGHT HE CAME HOME
In 1989 my uncle took me to a local mom and pop shop called Video Mart. The box art of HALLOWEEN captivated my six year old imagination. It was my favorite holiday. And I always had a thing for horror, even at six. My uncle was the cool, laid back type, so he obliged, renting the film thinking I could handle it.
I ended up watching the film largely behind my couch, and that night I had a nightmare of Michael Myers chasing me. I became a life long fan from that point on. Go figure.
There isn’t a Halloween that goes by where I don’t pop in at least one of the Halloween films. Besides, there’s something else that will forever connect me with the famed horror franchise…
So what is Halloween? For those living under a rock for the last nearly 40 years…
Made and released in 1978 on a shoestring budget, it went on to win the hearts of horror fans everywhere, plus critical acclaim. It had a classic mysterious villain, a great lead in Jamie Lee Curtis and took place in the fictional sleepy midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. And in one night, Michael Myers turned Haddonfield into his own personal bloody playground.
HUNTING THE SHAPE
Nelson and I were best buds from Kindergarten-7th grade. That’s when I moved. We reconnected in the 2000s. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and although we’re no longer best friends, we have history of over 25 years. It’s one of those things where we may go weeks or even months without contact, but whenever we get back in touch it’s like we never left.
Two months ago I decided to visit ole Nelly for the weekend so we could catch up and hang out. We set out to visit Disneyland since it was about 30 minutes away from his place. Yup, weekend at Nelly’s.
Driving on the way to Nelson’s, my heart stopped when I saw a striking neighborhood that rang some serious deja vu bells in my head. As my car rumbled on down the road I couldn’t help but burn a hole through my rear view mirror as I desperately tried to steal a glimpse at what I just drove by. Was it, could it be? No way… I passed a few traffic lights before finally pulling over. I just had to find out if my gut was right or not 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.”
I had just drove 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 turn out to live 3 miles away from “Haddonfield” ? It was a moment of true serendipity. I texted Nelson and said I’d be coming 30 minutes late. It was a personal pilgrimage I simply had to brave for myself solo first.
And this is what I found that fateful day…
After geeking out (and possibly even vlogging the moment), I drove the 3 miles over to Nelson’s. I showed him the pictures (and possibly video) I took. He was marking out too. He moved to LA about 7 months ago, but had no idea he lived 3 miles away from “Haddonfield.” Next thing you know, we’re on an impromptu trip down memory lane as we drove all over South Pasadena looking for a ton of Halloween nostalgia live in the flesh.
This is what we found that day.
Michael Myers’ 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 I said, “What the hell, Michael Myers watching Game of Thrones with the AC on? DUDE IS GETTING SOFT!” Nelson added in, “What’s Michael Myers doing browsing PornHub!?”
We probably shouldn’t have cracked up so hard, but we did. Nelson and I laughed up a storm until we were nearly teary eyed. 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)
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. Unjaded and uncorrupted by the foul orders of life and growing up.
Wow. Standing there taking this pic sent goosebumps up and down my spine. The best part about this whole ordeal was the complete random unplanned nature of it all. We didn’t even know Haddonfield was right in Nelson’s backyard! It’s true — sometimes the best things in life are completely unexpected.
All in all, it was one of those epic weekends that stay with you long after the twilight of Sunday passes. Every once in a while you just need to get away from it all and have a good old fashioned adventure with your best buddy.
DOUG’S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE
October 30, 1994 is a night I’ll always remember. Halloween Eve. On this night a cartoon episode entitled Doug’s Halloween Adventure aired. Little did I know then just how much my real life Halloween adventure THE VERY NEXT NIGHT would reflect what happened in this epic episode. But more on that later…
Doug was pretty much the cartoon version of The Wonder Years, and I absolutely loved it. This episode is the best one of the Doug show, and possibly of all shows. It just fits the Halloween mood perfectly and to me epitomizes the word “adventure.” I’m proud to present a retelling of this awesome tale. Enjoy.
It all started a LOOONG time ago, when the powerful Baron Von Hecklehoffer fell in love with a beautiful maiden. To win her love, he built a gigantic mansion. It took him seventeen looong years, but he did it.
Finally, on the day they got married, he brought his new bride to the house.
He forgot to put in a floor.
And ever since they plunged to their horrible bloody deaths there’s been a CURSE on the house.
And few have dared to enter it. OH SURE, there were people who said they didn’t believe in haunted houses, at least until they crossed…
THE THRESHOLD OF DEATH!
Let’s just say — they never stayed too long…
That is… no one living…
… Until one day, a scary hooded guy, whose face nobody ever saw, decided to put the house to better use…
And right in the middle of the park is the scariest ride ever – a ride through a real haunted house — BLOODSTONE MANOR! MWAHAHAHAHA!
“And tonight is the grand opening, and you and I are going in! Cool, huh?!”
You know, Halloween is usually my most favorite holiday.
Free candy, spooky pumpkins and costumes, but this year was a little different. This year Skeeter was making me go to the grand opening of the scariest ride ever made.
I was hoping maybe I wouldn’t be TOO scared, because I was going as somebody really great — RACE CANYON.
“HA! I made it. The infamous Bloodstone Manor!”
“Not so fast, Doctor Canyon. Are you ready to cross the Threshold of Death?”
*Doug whips a rope around the neck of the hooded guy*
“What’s the matter, big boy? You look… whipped!”
“Nice going, Doug!”
“No problem, Doctor Canyon.”
“Oh, and nice outfit.”
*Doug slides down the stairs*
“Awww, is little Dougie dressed up to go twick-or-tweeting?”
“No Judy, I’m going to Bloodstone Manor. You get in free if you wear a costume.”
“Bloodstone Manor?!? I hear that’s unbelievably terrifying!”
“It’s just a ride, Judy. How scary can it be?”
Find out tonight at Funky Town when Bloodstone Manor opens its doors to give you the scare of your life — or DEATH! Wear a costume and get in free. But once you cross the Threshold, there’s NO turning back!
“Trick or treating? But Doug, I thought we were going to ride Bloodstone Manor?”
“You’re not gonna pass up free candy, are ya, man?”
“But there’s gonna be HUGE lines if we don’t get to Funky Town early! We might NOT get on!”
“That’d be terrible… well, I guess we better get started trick or treating.”
“Uh, Doug, don’t you think we’re a bit too old for trick or treating?”
“Naw, you’re never too old for free candy.”
“8 o’clock! C’mon man! Let’s get to Funky Town! We only got two hours!”
Two hours? How much longer could I stall? We already been around the neighborhood twice.
“I told you we’d scare the pants off them! You should have seen your faces. So, who are you two supposed to be? A hobo and a bath tub?”
“No, man. I’m a spaceship from Space Munks, you know, the video game! And he’s Race Canyon.”
“HA! Oh brother! YOU’RE Race Canyon? More like… Race CHICKEN!”
“Hey Roger, let’s see how brave Race Chicken is!”
“Yeah, he can be the first one to TP Mr. Bone’s house!”
“C’mon Race, let’s see you in action.”
“But Roger, we can’t do this.”
“I am not chicken, it’s just — ”
“Then DO IT why don’t cha?”
Who was I kidding? How was I gonna cross the Threshold of Death when I didn’t even have the nerve to TP a house?
“C’mon Doug we gotta go!”
“I can’t, Skeeter. I’m sorry but…”
“What do I need that hat for anyhow? I’m no Race Canyon.”
“Hey guys, whacha doin’? Trick or treating?”
“Naw uh! No way, no, nope, no…”
“Yeah, me neither. My dad’s taking me to Bebe’s costume party. Cool costumes. Are you some sort of spaceship, Skeeter?”
“And you, Doug, you look like — ”
“I know, I know. A hobo.”
“Actually I was going to say Race Canyon, but without the hat.”
“You really think so?”
“Yeah! If you were a little taller, I’d say you were the spitting image!”
“I’ll handle this. BEAT IT!”
“Say Patty, I don’t suppose you and your dad could drop us off at Bloodstone Manor? Gotta cross the Threshold of Death.”
“All right, man!”
*GET YOURSELF TO FUNKY TOWN!*
“I can’t believe it. You guys are going to Bloodstone Manor, and you’re not scared?”
“Of course not.”
“Well I am! I’d never go on it after what happened to those two guys.”
“Well, you can’t let a little — two guys, what two guys?”
“Yeah, they say when they were testing it, two workers rode in, but the only thing that came out… were THEIR SHOES! MWAHAHAHAHA!”
“Daddy! Stop it.”
“Well, you can’t believe everything, who told you this?”
“Skeeter. See ya!”
“What’s this about shoes?”
“Oh they’re just rumors, man. Like that stuff about the maniac.”
“Maniac?! What do you mean, maniac!?”
“Well they say the guy in the hood, you know the guy who bought the house and brought it here, some people think he’s STILL in there.”
“You can’t believe every — oh maaan! Look at that line. Eight-thirty. Oh that’s just great!”
*75 minutes later*
“Nine forty-five. Fifteen minutes til it closes. We’re almost there!”
“Step all the way into the strange realm of the supernatural. Abandon all ye food or drinks”
“What’s happening?! Can you see!?”
“Well, if it ain’t Chicken Boy and Bath Tub, thanks for saving my place!”
“We didn’t — ”
“Attention everybody, the park is now closing.”
“Hey, we still got fifteen minutes!”
“Why don’t you go to the gift shop. I’m outta here!”
“You guys thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Roger, the guy says they’re closed.”
“Who, that loser? We still got fifteen minutes. We’re within our legal rights.”
“I dunno, Roger…”
“He’s right, man. We still have fifteen minutes before the park closes up.”
“Alright then. Let’s do this….”
“Welcome. I have a special treat in store for… TRESPASSERS. As you can see, there’s no way out of this room, except for…
“Ooooh man, now what are we gonna do?”
“Easy, Roger. There’s nothing to be — ”
“You’ve crossed the Threshold of Death. There’s no turning back now.
I see you found the dining room…
*TICK TOCK TICK TOCK*
And I see by the grandfather clock it’s time to eat. Sit down, SIT DOWN! You don’t want your food to get cold, do you?”
“I’m not so sure I feel hungry…”
“I thought you might enjoy a small salad!”
*Ride comes to a screeching halt*
“Hey! What’s going on?”
“What is it, Skeet?”
“Wait a minute, Roger. I’m sure we can find a way out somewhere if we just don’t panic.”
“Hey man, it looks like there’s some stairs leading down!”
“NO WAY, I ain’t going NOWHERE!”
“Oh c’mon Roger, quit kidding.”
“Wait, Doug! Don’t leave!”
“What is it, Roger?”
“Did you hear something? I thought I heard something.”
“We’re getting outta here. We’ll find somebody to get this ride going again.”
*Doug and Skeeter set off while Roger stays back*
*10 minutes later*
“That must be Roger over there, c’mon Doug!”
“I think I may be scared now…”
“HELP ME! DOUG! SKEETER!”
“What are we gonna do, Doug?”
“Where IS everybody? You thinking what I’m thinking?”
“No Skeeter. We can’t leave Roger behind. We gotta go back.”
“I was afraid you’d say that.”
“AHHH! W-W-We were just looking for our friend, sir, and we think… he might be here in your… lovely home?”
“Your friend is NOT here. GET OUT!”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir. C’mon Doug. You heard the nice maniac… Roger’s not here.”
“C’mon guys! This way!”
“Skeet! That’s Roger!”
“No, man! It just sounds like him. C’mon!”
What was I doing? Running away like a little chicken, just like before. Leaving Roger at a time like this.
“Doug! What are YOU doing?”
“Excuse me, sir, we’re not leaving without Roger.”
“Over here, you morons! Alright, when I see them coming I’ll shout TRICK or TREAT, and then you guys CREAM them, got it?”
“Roger’s outside, but how?”
*Maniac hits rewind*
“Those goons. I bet they think I’m a chicken. AH HA! Well, we’ll JUST see who’s the chicken!”
“So he tricked us!”
“… That rat! We go through all this trouble and now we get EGGED.”
“Hey! Can it! They’ll be out soon. I wonder what’s taking those guys so long?”
“Shut up Boomer!”
“I didn’t say anything, Roger.”
“What the — ! Y-Y-Y-You’re….”
“WE’RE GHOSTS, THAT’S WHAT!”
“You got that right! Ch-ch-chicken! Don’t haunt me, Doug! I’ll do anything!”
“IT WAS ROTTEN OF YOU TO TP ALL THOSE HOUSES.”
“We’ll clean them up, honest! All of them!”
“Oh yeah, I mean, don’t worry about that. We’ll clean them up!”
“Yeah sure sure, whatever you say!”
“Did you see their faces?”
“Yeah man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them run so fast!”
“Boy, and we couldn’t have done it without you, sir.”
“… W-W-Wha’d’ya say we head home, Skeet?”
“S-S-Sounds good, man.”
Tonight, I think I did Race Canyon proud. Not only was I brave enough to cross the Threshold of Death, but I even went back to save Roger.
I wonder if Race Canyon ever had to run all the way home?
STEVE’S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE
The very next night I experienced the Halloween of a lifetime. It’s a true story that I’ve shared probably over 100 times. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. A storybook-like Halloween that not even Hollywood could script any better.
Growing up I never met a single kid who didn’t look forward to this particular night. It’s the time of the year where the days grow short, and the nights grow LONG. A night where goblins roam the streets, where the moon reigns supreme, and where the clamor of sneakers crunching the gravel can be heard in the passing of the howling wind.
As a kid I had a dream. It was a simple dream. I was a simple boy. I always dreamt of having one memorable Halloween for the ages. Now I don’t know what I did to piss off the Halloween gods, or druids, but for Halloween ’91, ’92 and ’93 I was sick to the point that I couldn’t go out. Thus, I missed out on Halloween when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old. Time was running out. I still had yet to experience THAT ONE Halloween I could call my own. So that year, 1994, I didn’t care if I came down with Malaria. Not even Mother Nature’s wrath could stop me THIS year.
My best friend, Nelson, spent the past three Halloweens with his cousins. Me getting sick around Halloween time had become… tradition. So every year I told Nelson to forget about me and go crazy. That backfired in ’94 when I realized he had already made plans with his cousins out of town. He invited me, but believe it or not, I declined my best friend’s offer. Why?
My cousins lived in a grand neighborhood. It was full of two story houses shoulder to shoulder — a never ending army of steamrollers. Houses decked to the nine. The Halloween atmosphere in this neighborhood was off the chain. I remember it well from 1990 — the last time I was able to go trick or treating. I was determined to return to that majestic neighborhood for Halloween 1994. It was a strong feeling in my gut — I just knew I HAD to be there. I didn’t know what would happen. I just knew I needed to be there on that night.
HALLOWEEN NIGHT 1994
My cousin Vivian picked me up and drove me to her place. There I met her cousin, John. Like me, he was 11, so we hit it off quickly. And with an air of mystique in the, er, air, and the moon out in full force… it was grounds for a perfect night of Halloween mischief.
All of my cousins had Halloween parties to go to, so they left me and John to our own devices. It was 8 PM. The night was young. And the night was now ours to rule.
The first house an old man opened the door and in the background I heard:
Dun dun dun dun… DUNT DUNT… DA DUNT!
His living room was lit only by the glow of the television, whose flickering images made shadows dance against the wall like primitive tribal warriors.
The old man dropped Snickers and Skittles into our Halloween bags. “My Packers kickin’ some butt tonight. You two have a good one now, you hear.”
A couple houses later, we were walking up the steps casually when a flying corpse blindsided us from out of nowhere! John and I jumped back as we watched the corpse swing back and forth. A laugh came from behind the black curtain, which draped the entire porch. A man in his late 20s peered out from behind the curtain and waved to me and John. “GOTCHA!” He grabbed his corpse on a rope and reset it to its original starting point.
He showed us the small hole he’d cut in the black curtain to prey on poor unsuspecting trick or treaters. Said we were his first victims of the night. We shared a hearty laugh while he passed out the candy. Then he spotted some new blood quickly approaching.
“Alright boys, if you don’t mind, I best be getting back to my command center! Thanks for… dropping by! MWAHAHAHA!”
I watched as he ran up the steps and behind the thick black curtain, which was impossible to see from far away in the dark of night. I remember smirking to myself thinking that’s certainly ONE way to stay young! And that meeting him was like meeting a zany Wizard of Oz or rather, a Wizard of Halloween Town.
STEP RIGHT UP…
John and I were just trick-or-treating and having a good time being carefree kids on this most mystical of nights.
We made sure to point out all the macabre decorations, of which, ON THIS NIGHT, in this neighborhood, there were hundreds. Once again this neighborhood lived up to the hype. It WAS Halloween Town. Part of the fun of trick or treating is seeing all the houses decorated to the nine. And we were not disappointed on that night.
An hour flew by. It was now 9 PM. We were standing here when, suddenly, we heard a scream in the not too far distance. “The hell is that!” I said excitedly. We ran the next block over with great hope. There we found a cul-de-sac.
At the very end of the court stood a towering 2-story house that looked like it jumped out of a horror movie. John and I looked at each other in bewilderment as we made our way to the ghostly abode. Upon reaching the driveway, I heard something I’d never forget…
The blood curling shriek sent a chill up and down my spine. Next to me stood a monstrous executioner. “What is this?” We pointed to the line of kids just ahead of us on the driveway.
“Welcome to the Johnsons’ Haunted House!!!”he bellowed, his shiny ax gleaming on his broad shoulder in the faint glow of the street lamp. “Free of charge but beware… once you go in… there’s NO GOING OUT! MWAHAHAHA!”
John and I grinned at one another and hi-fived. Wow, a haunted house! And free, too! Neither of us had been to one before, and I’d always wanted to. This was turning out to be THE perfect night…
As we waited in line my imagination ran away. I thought back to last night — Doug’s Halloween Adventure. Was this a ride? No, it’s only a 2-story house, silly. My mind was racing a million miles a minute. I never felt so alive before.
Moments later, I glanced up. One window was lit under the glow of the moon. More screaming came from the garage. It was so intensely atmospheric, and to an 11-year-old, it was pure Heaven! There was a raw rush of adrenaline flowing throughout my body, and you could cut the anticipation in the air. All of us kids standing in line there that night were psyched to the gills!
8 minutes later John and I found ourselves at the gate. The night was so pitch black I couldn’t even make out my own hand in front of my face. The gate door creaked open with a loud sound effect. A light mist splashed its way into my eyes. In the near distance a loud chainsaw was buzzing. I wondered, “If I take four steps forward, would my head get chopped off?”
We forged on ahead, spider web tangling in our hair. Taking a turn on our left to the garage door entrance, we followed an S curve. Strobe light hit us from every which angle, and horror movie icons flashed in the darkness at all turns! Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and big ol’ Leatherface all on hand! And they were authentic. The knife Myers held was real, as was the chainsaw wielded by Leatherface.
Near the end a large trash can lid had a note scribbled across it…
“WARNING: REMOVE THIS LID AND DIE!!!”
John gave me the honors. So then, in the strobe-lit madness, with a ghoulish soundtrack playing loudly in the garage, I popped the lid open and out jumped a werewolf! For amateurs, the whole setup was unbelievable, full of first rate costumes, props and creativity. BRAVO, JOHNSONS!
Finally we made our way through the garage door, leading to their living room, which led to the front entrance where the haunted house trip concluded with candy. John and I were absolutely THRILLED. We thanked the Johnsons for their awesome efforts. Never in a million years did I ever imagine anything like this would happen…
ONE FINAL THRILL
John and I were walking the streets now, trick-or-treating some more and talking excitedly about what we just went through. Did we pick the right neighborhood or what! And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more eventful… IT DID.
It was 9:45 now and the streets became incredibly dark. Everyone was gone. No more trick-or-treaters in sight. I looked up at the huge 2 story houses that lined the streets like an army of steamrollers. All the lights were now switched off. It was odd. It was… eerie. Like a ghost town. The mist started to roll in… it was getting to be that kind of night…
John and I were walking down this long dark street when, out of the mist, came these five taller and older boys. They must have been 13 or 14 years old.
Looking back, we probably should have turned the other way, but that night of Halloween 1994 we didn’t. Both parties kept walking toward one another… until we came face-to-face. The one in the middle was evidently the leader as he walked slightly ahead.
He stepped up to me and John. The five of them stared the two of us down.
Then, without warning, the leader snatched John’s candy bag!
The bullies laughed, hi-fived one another and jogged off into the dark night.
I’ll never forget that look on John’s face. A look of hopelessness, a look of devastation.
Two hours’ worth… gone. Like that *snap fingers*
I peered down that long dark street into the mist. By now the bullies were getting smaller and smaller until I could barely make them out.
I stared back at John once more. He was still frozen in a state of dead shock. Then, without saying a word, I dropped my bag and sprinted after the bullies.I snapped. I didn’t really think about it, but between seeing the violated look on his face, the adrenaline coursing through my body, and the INJUSTICE of it all, something inside me SNAPPED.
And the weirdest thing happened as I ran. Everything around me blurred. I became the only concrete object amidst an army of gorgeous 2 story houses. I saw myself running in third person… saw the moment happening from BEHIND MY BACK.
I had an out-of-body experience.
As I closed in on the unsuspecting bully, I swiped back John’s bag. I stood there with the bag firmly in my grasp as the lead bully whipped around to face me.
Another staredown ensued. It lasted 20 seconds, but felt more like 20 nights.
By now his goons came over and it was five of them all glaring at me. I didn’t know what was going to happen, quite frankly, at that moment I didn’t care. All I knew was, I wasn’t going to be the first one to blink. I stood my ground. Stared back at them. Come hell or high water, I wasn’t about to back down.
I matched him eyeball for eyeball. His painted pirate-y face against my cheap Walgreens $1.99 white skeleton mask. And when it was over, only one glare was left standing, and it wasn’t his.
Easing off, he signaled for his cronies to follow suit… and they left. Not a single word was ever exchanged between us.
I watched them disappear into the mist of the night as John caught up to me, huffing and puffing.
I handed him his bag. We didn’t say anything. Not because we had nothing to say, but because we knew nothing needed to be said. We just stood there, two 11-year-old boys, in the middle of one of the blackest nights I’d ever seen.
There isn’t a Halloween that passes where I don’t think back to that fateful night in ’94. I remember it vividly today as though it happened just last month. Finally, I experienced the Halloween I always wanted. But in my wildest dreams growing up, I never imagined it’d be what it turned out to be. It was the greatest Halloween a kid could ever ask or hope for.
EPILOGUE + THE SEQUEL (HALLOWEEN 1995)
My cousins moved from that great neighborhood many years ago… about 20, in fact, circa ’97. It was pretty much my second home growing up. In 1995 I met up with John again, both of us looking to reclaim the magic of the Halloween before. We had a blast in ’95. It was my second favorite Halloween and a worthy sequel indeed. We trick or treated in the same neighborhood, but sadly the Johnsons were not able to do their traditional haunted house this year. Something about their sons not coming home from college in time, I recall. Still, John and I told the parents how much their haunted house last year meant to us. In turn, they told us they did it for kids like us… that they were only doing what they could to make Halloween extra special for at least one kid. Hey… I can think of at least two. And I’m sure the Johnsons have created fond Halloween memories for dozens and dozens of lucky young trick-or-treaters. God Bless them. More on them a bit later.
After we circled the neighborhood once or twice, my cousins took us to the local haunted house. It was my first taste of the “REAL” thing. What a HIGH that proved to be. When you’re 12, it’s Heaven. We were a group of seven. Going down one dimly-lit hallway, out of nowhere Michael Myers appeared and chased us down the hallway and into the next room before disappearing back in the shadows. Being stalked by my all-time favorite villain was a nightmare come true. The first time I saw the original Halloween in 1989, I dreamt that night Myers was stalking me. Six years later, 1995, that nightmare became reality!
Halloween ’95 was a worthy sequel indeed, but as great as it was, the original (’94) was that much better.
In October of 2003 I shared my Halloween ’94 adventure in college for my public speaking class. My professor loved my story and speaking style so much that she asked me to share that same story later that month at a night workshop for beginning storytellers. I gladly obliged, and had a blast sharing my story with a room full of freshmen. Because it was at night and closer to Halloween, it made my story that much more effective. In all, I’ve probably shared my Halloween ’94 story at least 50 times, easily.
H10 — HALLOWEEN ONE DECADE LATER
TEN YEARS LATER… I returned to that same ole neighborhood. I went trick or treating with my (at the time) girlfriend, and guess what I discovered…
The Johnsons STILL live there and they STILL do the Halloween haunted house! Every year, in fact. I nearly ran up to the end of the line! I felt like a little 11-year-old kid again (I was 21 at the time).
It was surreal going through it ten years later. As Mr. and Mrs. Johnson handed me a Snickers bar at the exit, I told them I was a 11 year-old-kid 10 years ago who loved it so much. They almost fell over! We talked for 10 minutes. About the haunted house, about how the S-curve was first implemented in 1994, about the neighborhood… about LIFE.
It was SO good to know some things in life stay the same. In an era where people move often and stop doing traditions — those damn Johnsons still live in that gorgeous neighborhood… and every Halloween… they recreate the magic for kids… kids like John and me… kids who I hope will experience the kind of night we did on that fateful Halloween of ’94.
Six years went by. It was now 2010. On a whim, I decided to take a trip to Kenya for a missions trip. I was passing out pledge letters and decided what the hell, I’ll stop by the old neighborhood and see if the Johnsons are still there. They were, but Bill had passed away due to cancer. I didn’t know him per se, but the news crushed me. On the bright side, Becky and I got to reconnect, and we keep in touch even to this day. Most recently, she retired after over 30 years of teaching, and we met up for lunch this past summer to catch up and talk about life, Bill, Halloween and such. There isn’t a Halloween that passes where I don’t think of Bill and Becky. I’m grateful our paths crossed.
I will always love this time of the year. The crisp cool October night air. The falling leaves. The days growing shorter and the nights growing longer. Halloween will always hold a very special spot in my heart. It’s given me some great memories over the years, and who doesn’t enjoy snuggling up with a bowl of popcorn and a horror movie on a rainy night?
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of one of the greatest nights of my life. Life is crazy. The lady in the haunted house — Becky Johnson — who knew meeting a random stranger on a night 22 years ago would lead to a lifelong friendship? One of these days Becky and I have to recreate the haunted house. In the memory and honor of Bill Johnson. Perhaps Halloween 2017.
Whatever you end up doing this year, I hope you have fun, stay safe and create some fond memories. Oh, and one more thing…