Reader Beware! You’re In for a Scare!

Ah, it’s that special time of year again, folks.  The time to carve your pumpkins with hideous faces, put plastic tombstones on your front lawn, and buy the biggest bag of candy you can find.  That’s right!  It’s Halloween, my favorite time of the year!  As such, I have a very interesting idea for my month long celebration of this spooky holiday.

Before I get into my own plans, I would like to advertize briefly for two awesome affiliate websites and their celebrations.  First up, my lovely girlfriend, Laura, over at Laura’s Honest Ramblings, will be conducting a month long marathon of famous spooky series, The Twilight Zone!  She hasn’t had much experience with the show before and she’s excited to really get into it.  She’ll be covering most of the classics and a few obscure, interesting episodes throughout the month.

Next up, the Haunted Drive-In is going to join the Countdown to Halloween this year!  Throughout the month, Michael “Rabbi” Sandal and I will be writing articles about our experiences with Halloween.  We have quite a few cool things planned and I’m excited to start it.  But for now, allow me to go into my plan for my own personal blog…

As many of you may know, I am an avid reader.  I have been since I was very young, reading the Dr. Seuss books practically daily.  As I got older, I started going into more adventurous books, things I could really sink my teeth into.  Thus, I discovered Goosebumps, the series that I consider to be my gateway drug to the horror genre.  I became obsessed with Goosebumps, buying up any book I could get my hands on.  However, although I do have a bit of a collection, I realized that I haven’t read most of the classics.  Say Cheese and Die, Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, all in my collection and all have gone unread.  That is why, this month, I am going on a spooky story binge!

I’m calling it Reader Beware Month!  I will do as many blogs as I can (probably not one each day, but as many as I can) reviewing and talking about books that are quick and easy to read and also have an air of the macabre.  Most of the books will be Goosebumps related, but I reserve the right to talk about other good scary reads, including horror comics.

I know I’m going to have a great time reading all these scary and spooky stories!  I hope you guys have half as much fun reading what I have to say.  As always, if you have read any of the upcoming stories, feel free to give your opinion on them in the comments.  Now excuse me, I’m going to curl up with a good book and hope nothing tries to kill me while I read.

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Return of the Revenge of the Haunted Drive-In!

I have had one hell of a week.  Family issues, school issues, and my 13-year-old car that I’ve only had for a year decided to up and die on me at a crucial moment.  Despite my vehicle and personal issues, I refuse to let a week go by without a post.  Luckily, something’s come up recently that’s been on my mind all day.  Something has returned from the dead, risen from the grave.  Something out there from my past lurks in the darkness, waiting to strike.  My friends and fellow fright fiends, the Haunted Drive-In is back in business!

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain.  Back in March of 2011, my friend, Rabbi (also normally known as Michael Sandal), started a blogging endeavor.  Like me, Rabbi favors the strange and wonderful worlds of the horror and sci-fi genres.  So, to pursue a hobby that went hand in hand with his passions, he created the Haunted Drive-In!  (Why, yes, I AM going to make a link every time I mention THE HAUNTED DRIVE-IN.  Why do you ask?)  In his own words, here’s what the website is all about:  “Basically, we celebrate the scary, the silly, and the sublimely cheeesy.  We love monsters, ghosts, aliens, and serial killers.  We think you can have a fun time with a good movie or a really terrible one.  And we know we’re not alone.”  As he once put it to me, we want to recreate the feel of a drive-in that plays nothing but horror and sci-fi movies, the good and the shlock.

Needless to say, it immediately caught my attention.  After a few articles, specifically after one titled “Freaky Fun for Everyone,” I couldn’t get an idea out of my head.  I wanted desperately to write at least one article for his website revolving around Meanies.  So I messaged him asking if he was accepting article submissions and, after hearing about my interest, Rabbi decided that I wouldn’t just write one article.  I’d be a regular writer for his site.  I would be his writing partner!  And thus was the start of my first semi-independent blogging journey.  Unfortunately, that’s not the end of this part of the tale.

See, Rabbi had it in his head that the blog would have a new article every day.  And that seemed to work.  For a while.  Then things started happening and life got in the way.  What started out as a fun hobby started becoming another thing on the to-do list.  I can attest to the fact that blogging every day and keeping it fresh is hard work.  So, for a whole mess of reasons for both Rabbi and myself, the Drive-In slowly petered out.  Between May and November of 2011, there were very few posts and after a single post in that November, the Drive-In went dark.  No new posts were put up for almost the next to years.  That is, right up until last month.

Unbeknownst to me, Rabbi was planning for the Drive-In to make a come back.  Recently, he’s been posting articles, sprucing the place up, cleaning the cobwebs, burying the corpses of past patrons.  In short, Rabbi wants to get the band back together.  Well, our little band of two, but still.  And I’m happy to oblige.

Without the Drive-In, I fully believe that I wouldn’t have had the notion or the knowledge to start Richard’s Weekly Journal.  When I started writing the Drive-In, I realized that I didn’t just have to blog on a single site where thousands of other people blog (that being TGWTG.com).  I can write just as easily on an independent blog.  So, to the Haunted Drive-In, to Rabbi, I thank you for showing me what I can really do when I put my mind to it.  Now for an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT.

I have vowed to start writing for the Drive-In on a regular bases.  As such, I think I might have to split my focus between this blog and that one.  I’m still going to write for this blog and I will be making content weekly, just not for THIS specific blog every week.  In short, I will basically be going back and forth, writing for this blog one week and the Drive-In the next, then back to this blog and so forth.  Please stick around, folks, and head on over to that horror website, where the monsters come out to play, the moon is always full, and ghosts and goblins are the norm.  I’m sure you’ll have a howling good time reading it all. I know I’m going to have fun writing for it again.

Flicking Through Netflix: Mad Monster Party

Well, it’s just about that time of year again and I’m already in a spooky mood.  I want ghosts and goblins, witches and werewolves.  I already want to carve my pumpkin and put out my plastic tombstones.  That’s right, folks, it’s almost time for Halloween again and I’m really excited.  So, as a little pre-holiday gift to myself, I have decided to start celebrating a little early.  I’m taking a look at a claymation special that that caught my eye a while ago.  A special made by the famous team of Rankin and Bass.  Not one of those Christmas specials you all know and love.  I’m talking about Mad Monster Party.

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Mad Monster Party is, admittedly, a movie that’s a bit hard to describe without some help.  So allow me to let Netflix describe it for me.  “Dr. Frankenstein makes plans for his retirement and convenes a meeting of all monsters to announce his replacement. As word spreads that the doctor is going to choose his young nephew for the position, the visiting creatures plot a coup d’état that would leave Dr. Frankenstein retired … permanently.”  ~Netflix

While the above plot is technically true for this movie, I will say that plot doesn’t seem to be what this movie is concerned with.  Most of the time, to drive the story forward, the movie relies on comedy set pieces that mostly go nowhere.  I kept comparing it in my head to Looney Tunes cartoons in that it mostly relies on jokes, slapstick comedy, and wit to keep the plot moving.  Unlike Looney Tunes, however, this movie is a bit short on the laughs for me.  Most of the jokes and slapstick falls flat on its face for me and I believe a lot of that has to do with the animation.

I’m sorry to say this, but a lot of the old Rankin/Bass specials have just not aged well at all.  This special, for example, is animated pretty poorly by today’s standards.  There are multiple instances where the animation is just really jerk-y and static-y.  Usually, the age of a movie doesn’t matter to me, but in this case I was just always very aware that I was watching a movie made in the 60s.  It took me out of the experience a bit.  However, while the actual movement of the characters were pretty bad, the characters themselves were pretty good.  Mostly from a design standpoint.

I think all the monsters and characters are designed uniquely and creatively.  They all have the classic Rankin/Bass look to them, meaning you know that each character was designed with great care and thought.  Though, the generic “hot woman” of this piece looks like every other generic “hot woman” from the Rankin/Bass specials.  The voice acting is, for the most part, pretty good too. Most of the voice acting is done by one guy, but there are two fairly major stars in this piece:  Boris Karloff playing Boris von Frankenstein and Phyllis Diller playing the Monster’s Mate.  Boris did a spectacular, dead-on job but Phyllis… Look, lady. You’re a fantastic woman with a great sense of humor. But in this movie, did you HAVE to do that signature laugh after EVERY SINGLE LINE? I kept thinking “We get it, you’re Phyllis Diller. ENOUGH with the laugh.”

There are a few really random, completely unnecessary, and bizarrely pointless song numbers in this movie.  The songs always had very little to do with what was going on in the story or scene at the time.  If they had removed the song numbers altogether, the movie would have been better off.  I just didn’t find any enjoyment in them at all.

In the end, this was a movie that was worth watching at least once.  If you grew up with those classic Christmas movies like Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town and the Year Without a Santa Claus, I think you’ll enjoy giving this movie a shot.  It has the same feel of those movies, but with Halloween in place of Christmas.  At least for me, despite the subject matter, repeat viewings of this are probably not gonna happen.  It’s a shame, because I was expecting one monster of a good time.