The air is cool, the leaves are crisp, and Pumpkin Spice has infected every drink and dessert like a culinary Captain Tripps. That’s right, autumn is officially here.
It’s too hot and sunny out right now to truly feel like Halloween season has arrived, but I’m embracing it anyway. We put up our Halloween decor over the weekend and started consuming as much fog-shrouded media as we could. I also built this little gem with my 7-year-old:
Legos, by the way, may be the most calming toy I’ve ever played with. I know people are all into coloring books, but give me a bucket of blocks and a glass of wine and I’m as chill as Bobby Drake.
Being that we could all use a little Halloween cheer this strangest of strange years, I thought I’d share some of what I view, read, and play with other Autumn People. That is the best part of venturing into October Country, after all. And the white-shrouded things that flit between the trees there demand we speak of them. If we didn’t, how would others know to venture down those shadowed paths?
We kicked off with one of the new classics.
Now that I have two small children, there’s a constant search for creepy movies that won’t scar them for life. Or, at least, only scar them in socially acceptable ways.
MONSTER HOUSE is a perfect little treat. Gil Kenan’s animated feature gives us everything we could want to kick off the season: a suburb in a vague 1980s setting, trick-or-treating, a creepy house, and a mysterious cranky old man who desperately needs to keep the kids off of his lawn. MONSTER HOUSE is spooky, exciting, funny, and touching in equal measures.
THE CONCEPTION OF TERROR
I’m an unabashed fan of the weird ghost stories of M.R. James. This audio drama updates four of James’s most well known stories to a modern setting. “Casting the Runes,” “Lost Hearts,” “The Treasure of Abbot Thomas,” and “A View from a Hill” are well-cast and well-written adaptations. They also take major liberties with the source material to create audio plays that will chill both die-hard James fans and those unfamiliar with his work.
MAN OF MEDAN
MAN OF MEDAN is the first in Supermassive’s DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY. Supermassive, of course, is the company who created UNTIL DAWN, often considered one of the best horror games of all time. Here they aim to present shorter, self-contained works of horror that can be completed in one or two evenings.
With the options to play with a friend online, or the great “Movie Night” feature that allows a group of people in the same room to each make decisions for one character, MAN OF MEDAN delivers on the promise first made in UNTIL DAWN: every choice you make will have repercussions.
If you’ve never played a Supermassive game, they rely on a strong narrative and character interaction rather than shooting or crafting or what have you. MAN OF MEDAN plays like a choose-your-own-adventure horror movie. The atmosphere is great, and the scares had me jumping more than once, but the highlight here is the cast. Like UNTIL DAWN, which starred Rami Malek and Hayden Panittiere, we get a great cast headed up THE FOLLOWING’s Shawn Ashmore.
Check out the trailer below:
ON THE NIGHT BORDER by James Chambers
James Chambers is a rare author who can get under your skin to such a degree that you’ll dream about his work. His Kolchak graphic novel first did that to me and he repeats the trick here with a fantastic collection of short fiction. “Lost Daughters” in particular stayed with me. The back cover warns us that “at night, terrors come to life” and boy does it not disappoint. Highly recommended.
You can pick up a copy HERE.
I’d be remiss here if I didn’t mention that the great Sid Haig passed away today.
Known most for his character Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s films, Haig had an impressive career that stretched back to 1960 and included such shows as the A-Team and Dukes of Hazzard, as well as films like POINT BLANK, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, COFFY, and JACKIE BROWN.
I was lucky enough to be on a panel at a convention in Fresno once where Sid was also a guest. The four or five of us writers on the panel somehow hooked up with Sid and Ken Foree. They invited us to come hang out in their room all night as they told us stories of Hollywood in the 1970s. And what stories they were! Sid was warm and charismatic and funny and kind. He was truly a gem of a man and he will be missed.
JoBlo Videos put together a nice tribute:
That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with some other recommendations. In the meantime, what are you reading, watching, or playing to get into the Halloween mood? Comment below and share your recommendations.
Brad C. Hodson is a writer in Los Angeles and the Admin for the Horror Writers Association. Check out the audiobook for his novel DARLING on Audible.