Instead of spinning the Sam & Dean adventures off to their own Instagram account, I’m going back through and tagging all of the photos in this series #SamAndDeanHalloween.

If you haven’t been following along, the boys have been having all kinds of adventures.

You sure you know how to drive this thing? #halloween2016 #halloween #skeleton #trains #caboose #delrayva

A photo posted by Rebecca (@meanlouise) on

The Hunter boots sight-gag makes me laugh every time. What can I say, I’m easily amused. Now, of course, every time it rains and I put on my boots, Husband is going to ask me if I’m off to save people and hunt things. Yes, yes I am. Duh.

The downside to all of this is that we keep leaving these two life-sized plastic skeletons in random places in the house, which means I keep walking by darkened rooms late at night that I expect to be empty, only to glance in and see mysterious motionless figures sitting in a chair or standing in the corner. So that’s fun.

Concerned that my imagination might quit running away with itself, I’ve been feeding it a steady diet of haunted house type movies during writing breaks. The Conjuring & Conjuring 2, Lights Out, and The Haunting (1963).

Also the new Ghostbusters, which I adore (and not just because I’ve accepted and embraced my former students’ assessments that I am, in fact, Holtzmann, which explains a lot, doesn’t it?)

In the middle of writing a post about creepy clown sightings I found an excellent article on the subject at Rolling Stone, so I’m going to save some time and post that instead: ‘Killer Clowns’: Inside the Terrifying Hoax Sweeping America.

As campus safety officials in Pennsylvania pointed out in their notice, the “creepy clown” situation is becoming a national phenomena. Unfortunately, the situation is nothing new. In 1981, “sinister” clowns were seen in Boston and neighboring towns throughout New England. The clowns, who harassed small children, were never seen by adults. They would coax children into vans with candy, usually driving alongside children walking down the street or in front of schools. The Phantom Clowns, as they were dubbed by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman given their allusive nature, spread to Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and Pennsylvania. Since the 1980s, clowns have made appearances across the country, usually in the weeks and months leading up to Halloween.

There is, of course, much more to the article but I’m not going to pull anymore quotes out.

Instead here’s some creepy bonus clown content to send you on your way to Rolling Stone. Or is it bonus creepy clown content? How about creepy bonus creepy clown content? Yes, that last one, definitely that last one, so here it is:

[youtube video: clown scene from Poltergeist (1982)]

You’re welcome, JunglePete!

Youbtube clip at top of post from Supernatural S7 E14, “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”.

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Like many parents, I have trouble getting the kids off the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I’m not above bargaining, so I made these two a deal today: they can play Rise of the Tomb Raider all afternoon, but first they had make plans to go out and play to celebrate for the rest of the month of October.

They’ve cooked up some pretty fun adventures, so you should also make plans – to check instagram each day to see what my bony buddies are up to. And don’t forget to check back here for new horror & Halloween posts from me, as well, because I’ve been up to things!

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Happy Halloween!

Hang on. I’m being told today isn’t actually the first day of Halloween, it’s the first day of October.

Husband is silly before he has coffee!

To kick off Halloween and/or October, director David Schmidt (Sword and Cloak Productions) has released a new short horror film.

The Underpass (2015)

Poster courtesy of Sword and Cloak Productions.

The sound mix is swell, so watch it with good headphones or speakers if you can!


The Underpass (2015)

Sword and Cloak have other shorts, clips, and trailers on their youtube page, so check them out!

I’m particularly fond of the faux trailer they produced for a contest last year.



House on Nightmare Lane (2014)

I suppose I should disclose that I’ve known David online for dog’s years and think he’s a peach. That doesn’t mean he’s not actually a talented filmmaker!

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My neighborhood gets pretty festive for Christmas, but I find the amount of time and money that goes into Halloween is staggering. Fun, but a bit crazy.

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I love Halloween and, admittedly, I require vigilant adult supervision in the Halloween aisles so that I don’t cart home every single novelty item pertaining to bones or mummies. Fortunately, I hate clutter so I’m generally able to resist all but the very coolest items.

Up until about 1984, folklorists considered Halloween the least commercial modern holiday.

Now, like an undead neoliberal dream, the American fear of strangers shambles forth anew each year to pick pockets and fill attics with orange & black plastic rubbermaid tubs packed with tombstones, black and orange tinsel, light strings, spiderwebs, fog machines, and decapitated rubber body parts. (As of 2006, Snopes reported that Halloween was still down in 6th place in terms of total holiday retail spending, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a multi-billion-dollar holiday).

But let’s get to the candy-tampering legends, since that’s the actual topic of this post and the most likely factor for this orgy of Capitalism.

In 1970, the New York Times ran a lengthy article about Halloween sadism, extensively quoting an ultra-conservative psychiatrist named Reginald Steen, who spun an elaborate tale of potential sadism and candy tampering by people emboldened by what he considered the increasing over-permissiveness of modern society.

In 1975, Newsweek reported the unsubstantiated “fact” that several children had died and hundreds more had barely escaped injury from candy tampering by strangers.

They were almost sort of accurate, in that a child did die from eating poisoned candy. In Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David Skal describes the 1974 murder of a young boy. Ronald O’Bryan put cyanide in pixie sticks, killed his young son, and collected the insurance money. At first he was a hero because he leapt into action and saved the other neighborhood children from eating the tainted candy. Which he had poisoned.

Dubbed the Candyman by the press, O’Bryan was tried and convicted in 1975.

The National Confectioners Association worked desperately with the FDA throughout the 70s and 80s to debunk this story but were unsuccessful. Candy manufacturers were unable to avoid a changeover to individually wrapped candy, which is more expensive to produce. Additionally, the emphasis on “safe” costumes” and decorations for group celebrations encourages people to spend more money on decorations, less money on candy.

Ironically, baking Halloween-themed treats (after purchasing the specially decorated cupcake supplies or cookie cutters or black icing) is wildly popular now. It seems like it would be a lot easier to poison a batch of cookies than to concoct a nefarious terrorist plot involving individually wrapped candy. After September 11th, there was apparently an upswing in parental fears about anthrax on candy –

Or to conceal a razorblade in an apple, an action that any sane person who’s ever seen an apple realizes is pretty much impossible. That’s not to say that no one has ever tried it (I can’t prove it didn’t happen) or that kids don’t attempt it for attention, concealing the damage to the apple’s skin by claiming they bit into it, but I just want to point out that it’s a pretty ridiculous idea.

In 1985, California State University sociologist Joel Best collaborated with folklorists to study these legends of anonymous Halloween sadists.

In “Razor Blade in the Apple,” (Social Problems, 32(5):488-499), Best reports they found a lot of localized hoaxes between 1959-1985, and some attention-seeking behavior from kids, but no evidence of strangers tampering with candy.

At a time when evangelical ministers were becoming regular cultural commentators on television talk shows, satanic and ritualized abuse panics were reported breathlessly on the nightly news, and people were growing concerned that increasing urbanization would lead to isolation and the breakdown of communities, Best concluded that protecting the children from this amorphous threat with a bold gesture once a year was a way to express fears about social change without taking radical action or working for real change in society.

According to Skal, the 1982 Tylenol poisonings in Chicago caused a temporary upswing in paranoia in the National media that had consequences for the way many products are packaged, but had surprisingly little lasting impact on Halloween.

Best agrees with Urban Legends and Folklore guru Jan Harold Brunvand that legends like this persist because they have a very general underlying message that can evolve as social conditions change. He concluded that the national media played very little role in keeping the legend alive. Local communities acted out their fears in their own ways.

Just yesterday, not wanting to let facts get in the way of a click-bait story about a possible case of candy-tampering, ABC news published a story that included this:

Tampering with Halloween candy became a problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s when police departments reported incidents of children finding blades, pins and pieces of glass in their candy.

The story concludes with this information:

Beginning in 1982, the National Confectioners Association maintained a Halloween Hotline in which law enforcement agencies could report incidents of tampering, and some hospitals X-rayed children’s candy for foreign objects.

Last year the NCA shut the hotline because “there is very little occurrence of tampering,” said spokeswoman Susan Smith. “Tampering is extremely rare, and we don’t even track it anymore because police just aren’t seeing it,” she said.

Oh, hey, look! (listen?) you can listen to NPR’s Robert Siegel interview Greg Best about candy tampering

updated to add this article I missed on the Smithsonian Magazine blog: Where Did the Fear of Poisoned Halloween Candy Come From?

I wanted to write a really great conclusion to this post, but now all I can think about is making grilled cheese bats, so instead here’s the trailer for a fun Halloween movie, Trick-r-Treat:

It never occurred to me that there would be a world of Haunted Mansion fan art out there! Jill Harness on neatorama: 13 Great Pieces of Haunted Mansion Fan Art.

Mind you, I’m posting this while sitting beneath several framed Shag Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary postcards.

Meanwhile, over at Reddit you can see a photo of the greatest sexy halloween costume, ever: Edgar Allan Ho.

I now propose that we bury the sexy halloween costume obsession under the floorboards, where it belongs.

Getting messages asking what this year’s Halloween theme is going to be and when I’m going to start posting. It’s October 5th already, isn’t it?

But wait! I’m not 5 days behind! I can make this year’s theme Archaeology & Anthropology in Horror and then I’m actually ahead of the game because I’ve already been obsessing over this for months.

Everybody wins.

I’ve been sick for a while, but posting will resume soon.

As long as I’m not mutating like the anthropologist in The Relic. If I turn into a South American lizard-god we may have to re-assess the project…

Until the running and the screaming starts, I’ll be working on a subject tag for these posts.


[embedded video: Addams Family]

Look, I’m an Addams Family girl. Always have been, always will be. This means that I have, since my earliest memories, resented the Munsters. Despised them, even.

I thought the Addams clan was charming and funny and their house was fabulous.

The Munsters? Lowbrow and tedious, with very uneven direction and too much mixed-monster mythology. Even a kid could see that.

I was going to embed the The Munsters theme but I’m only allowed to link to it. So here you go.

Additionally, since we only had a black and white TV when I was a wee child, I failed to understand that these shows were in reruns and the Munsters were not, even as I watched, actively conspiring to destroy my beloved Addams Family.

When I got older and co-curated an exhibit on horror movies and television, I learned that the networks really had waged this battle. And the Munsters lost. It was only in syndication that the Munsters seemed to have primacy, and only then because their reruns were obviously cheaper than the Addams Family. As a kid, I didn’t understand that “back to back” episodes really meant, “We got this crap super-cheap.”

Despite all this pop-cultural monster baggage, I tivo’d the pilot episode of Mockingbird Lane so that we could watch it and give it a fair shot. It’s from Bryans Singer and Fuller, so at the very least I figured it would be more visually interesting than the original.

The show was MUCH MUCH MUCH better than the original and, most importantly, I want every single item that Lily (Portia de Rossi) wore. Even the spider dress. Okay, maybe just the dress, you can keep the spiders (although that kind of instant tailoring would be very handy…)

The Brothers Grimm.

You know why I didn’t remember that this movie was released? Because it’s terrible.

Jesus wept.

I don’t even know how to explain to you how terrible this movie is. It’s not capital B bad. It’s not good-bad. It just sucks. (For an example of a good-bad movie, see my review of Hellbound).

This movie is so terrible that filling this review with profanity would be a complete and utter waste of perfectly good explicatives.

Plot and action-wise, there’s a lot going on in Brothers Grimm, but none of it’s interesting.

Matt Damon and Heath Ledger play the title characters, and although Monica Belluci gets top billing, Lena Headey is actually the female lead. Since Damon, Ledger, and Headey have all amassed a sizable body of work that demonstrates that they can take direction, it’s pretty obvious that their ghastly performances are the fault of the director.

This has to be the worst thing Terry Gilliam has ever made.

Contemplating all the ways the movie has gone wrong is better than trying to pay attention to why, for instance, the guy who’s a villain for 99% of the movie suddenly has a Big Dramatic Scene where he inexplicably screams mournfully to the heavens when a character who, up until that moment was his nemesis, dies.

The overall ghastliness of this movie is a worthy thing to contemplate if you’re ever tied to a chair and forced to watch this movie. Paying attention to the pointless action and bad plotting and confusing characterizations will pass the time.

Contemplating the badness could probably keep you distracted enough that you don’t ruin your teeth trying to chew through either the ropes or one of your limbs in an effort to escape. The thing that keeps you from expending all of your energy hoppity-hopping your chair-bound self over to a window and figuring out how to fling yourself out of said window, thus leaving you with no energy to do the actual flinging. The thing that keeps you from having a Lovecraftian-break from reality and beginning to rant about how the Old Ones want you to destroy your blu-ray player in an effort to exorcise the badness from the universe.

This movie is terrible. It’s an expensive, loud, elaborate, poorly directed, paced, plotted, and acted mess. It’s too boring and dark for children. It’s too stupid for adults. Maybe dogs would like it?

It’s like someone gave Mork access to all the sets and costumes from a Monty Python film but didn’t make sure he understood what was funny or engaging or even interesting about Monty Python. Or, um, anything really. Anything related to Western Earth Culture, at the very least.

This movie felt like it was 6 hours long. About half-way through it I tried to cheer up by paraphrasing from my favorite review of Blood Rayne. I kept muttering to myself, “Brothers Grimm is still more fun than getting your eyelid caught on a fishhook!”

An hour later, I wasn’t so sure this was true, although by then the movie had left me too depressed to conduct any experiments on the matter, which, in retrospect, is for the best.

If you persist in watching this movie to the end the result will be either a nagging sense of self-loathing or a lot of clean, folded laundry.

I opted for laundry. Husband chose self-loathing. I think he may also have set a new personal Angry Birds high score.

We were both happy to see those final credits role.