McGinnis: Halloween Must ListWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For kids, Halloween is all about the candy. Picking costumes and everything else is just a diversion from the real focus — coming home with a big bag or bucket full of enough delicious treats to last you till New Year’s. But there comes a time when we all outgrow trick or treating, and we must find other ways to make Oct. 31 special. There are a few things I find the season is just incomplete without.
1. Watching a really scary movie. For me, this is almost always the original “Exorcist.” I don’t scare easily — you can make me jump with little effort, but to me, a jump is totally different from being scared. A shock is something that just happens in the theater. Scared is something you take home with you. No movie got into my psyche quite like William Friedkin’s 1973 horror masterpiece. And I’m not talking about the “Version You’ve Never Seen” re-release with the unnecessary added footage. It’s all about the original version for me.
2. Visit a haunted house. There is bias in this choice, I admit, but my favorite is the Haunted Hydro Dark Attraction Park in Fremont. I worked there for four years as a performer/singer at the bar, though never as an actual scare artist. But Crazy Bob and his motley crew of horror professionals, now celebrating their 21st year, put on a great show every Halloween.
3. See “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” A great new Blu-Ray has just come out in honor of the film’s 35th anniversary, but come on —the only real way to experience “Rocky” is in a theater, surrounded by people in costume and doing the Time Warp again. The Collingwood Arts Center will be running the film on Oct. 30 at midnight. Or, if you’d prefer to see it live and in person, the Croswell theater in Adrian, Mich., will be putting on a live performance of the show on Oct. 29, 30 and 31.
4. Play a scary video game. Many would put a “Resident Evil” or “Left 4 Dead” title here, but for me, no game has gotten under my skin quite like the original “Dead Space.” This sci-fi/horror epic set on a distant mining colony fills the player with an unrelenting sense of dread — you can never let your guard down. It’s as close to playing the original “Alien” in game form as I’ve ever seen. For those who want something a little on the lighter side, you can’t do much better than the PlayStation Network shoot-’em-up “Burn, Zombies, Burn,” a hilariously addictive arcade shooter.
5. Watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s hard to believe the stop-motion animated classic is 15 years old, but the tale of Jack Skellington has enchanted kids of all ages since its 1994 debut. Neatly straddling two children’s holidays, and making it ideal viewing for either one, the film’s arresting visual look and wonderful Danny Elfman music never grow old with repeated viewings. If you haven’t shared the joy of Halloweentown with a child in your life, now’s as good a time as any to start.
6. Watch at least one episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Again, this one’s a little personal, but there are few things that get me more in the Halloween spirit
than a cheesy B-movie or two, and what better way to see them than with the commentary of the residents of the Satellite of Love?
The timeless television comedy that riffed on awful movies has been gone for a decade, but never forgotten, and thanks to DVD and the creators’ new projects (Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic), fan love for MST3K has never been more potent.
A personal favorite: The 1994 lycanthropic stinker “Werewolf,” available for instant streaming on Netflix.
7. Watch the new Halloween cartoon on HomestarRunner.com. Yeah, this last one is pretty much wishful thinking. One of the most anticipated events of the season for fans of the wonderfully witty Flash-animated series was its annual Halloween toon, which has been delighting fans since 2001.
Sadly, these days Homestar Runner, Strong Bad and company seem to have been all but abandoned, as the site has not seen any regular updates since, well, last year’s Halloween. So fans will probably be left wanting for a new toon this year, and All Hallows Eve won’t quite seem the same.
But we can hope.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.