Upcoming Halloween flicks

Halloween is coming!  Stores are putting out their decorations and holiday themed items, the Halloween stores are opening, and pumpkin spice flavored everything is sneaking its way back out onto shelves.  Everyone already likely has their requisite Halloween movie list, but may I interest you in two additional features to add?

Hellions – releasing September 18th on VOD

From the director of Pontypool, Bruce McDonald.  A pregnant girl must fend off the creepiest trick-or-treaters.  I loved Pontypool, so I’m in.

Tales of Halloween – releasing October 16th in theaters and VOD

A Halloween themed anthology featuring 10 shorts with no wraparound.  Early buzz has been great, and I absolutely adore anthology movies so I’m excited for this one.  This would make a nice viewing companion to Trick R’ Treat.

Ash vs Evil Dead – premiering Halloween night on Starz

Ok, so technically this might be cheating.  Ash vs Evil Dead is a new series that continues the adventures of Ashley J. Williams from the Evil Dead trilogy.  So it’s not really holiday themed. But!  It does premiere on Halloween night! So, I’m counting it.

What’s on your required Halloween viewing list?

Killer Klowns Kotton Kandy Ice Cream

Sometime during my childhood, probably sometime around the peak of Joe Bob Brigg’s Monstervision, I remember catching a movie late one night featuring cartoonish yet malicious clowns that turned people into cotton candy and sucked the insides up through crazy straws.  I would later discover this film, in its entirety, to be Killer Klowns From Outer Space.  It’s one of those drive-in B movies that’s so bad it’s amazing.  Deaths by shadow puppets, popcorn kernels that morph into monstrosities, tracker balloon animal dogs, and any other twisted clown trope you could imagine in bright candy colors.  Right up the alley of something that would grace the space of Monstervision on TNT.  While I’d long forgotten most of the antics, the imagery of the cotton candy corpses never left me and I revisited the film recently, sparked by reading the news of International Clown Week.

killer klowns

killer klowns ice cream

Also last week began a seven day streak of high temperatures reaching over 100F, and this in conjunction with Houston’s notorious humidity has marked an uncomfortable summer.  Ridiculous heat and coulrophobia spoke to my muse, I suppose, because I was inspired to recreate those cotton candy pods..just in a cooler format.

I don’t have an ice creamer maker, and frankly don’t want to purchase one.  So instead I concocted a super fast no churn recipe that uses only four ingredients.

Killer Klowns Kotton Kandy No Churn Ice Cream

-1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

-1 Tablespoon cotton candy flavoring (I used Lorann’s, which can be found online or at Michael’s)

-2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

-Fluorescent pink food coloring (I used Betty Crocker’s Neon Gel)

Steps:

1) Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and cotton candy flavoring.  Stir in food coloring.  For this part, you will add a LOT.  It needs to be dark to get it to that bright pink from the film, and this will lighten considerable in the next step.

3) In separate, large bowl, beat the two cups of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Then fold in cotton candy mixture until combined.  Be gentle in this step.

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4) Pour mixture into loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer.  Freeze for 6-8 hours and enjoy!

Notes: No churn ice cream is a lot more fragile than regular ice cream.  It will melt very quickly and is a bit more fragile.  Also, feel free to add more or less cotton candy flavoring.  Personally, this stuff is strong and anymore than a tablespoon starts to give it more of a bubblegum flavor.  Don’t like cotton candy at all?  Sub in vanilla extract instead.

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This stuff is so creamy you’ll hardly notice it’s made differently.

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International Clown Week

Apparently, this is a thing.  From August 1st to August 7th, clowns world wide celebrate, promote, and inform.  This year’s celebration kicked off in Showmen’s Rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, located in Forest Park, Illinois. This particular Showmen’s Rest is actually a mass grave for Hagenbeck-Wallace circus employees killed in the Hammond circus train wreck in 1918.  Because many of the bodies were unidentifiable, their graves are marked with their stage names, such as “Smiley” and “Baldy.”  Five elephant statues marks the Showmen’s Rest. Kinda weird, eerie, and moving all at once, right?

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Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus Sideshow

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Showmen’s Rest marker

You can find more information about International Clown Week here, and browse through their pages on coulrophobia and fear of clowns, as well as other extensive topics such as clown college.

In the spirit of coulrophobia and international clown celebrations, I leave you with this international horror movie trailer for Indonesian horror flick “Badoet.”

The entire world shares similar feelings on clowns, it seems.

Jaws on the Water Event Report

jaws

On June 27th I braved the murky, “shark” infested waters of the Texas Ski Ranch for Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow’s screening of Jaws, first reported here. After the quick sellout, Rolling Roadshow added more screenings throughout July, though I believe those screenings have also been sold out as well.  And that’s no surprise, because this experience proved to be one of the more unique, rare adventures you’d be crazy not to grab hold when you get the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the Texas Ski Ranch, all of the business is handled up front.  Two waivers are required for this event, one from the Texas Ski Ranch and one from the Alamo Drafthouse.  You’re given a glow stick to wear in the water so the lifeguards can spot you, and your arms are covered in wristbands signalling admission, that you’re of legal age to drink, and optional drink tab wristbands.  Once you’ve signed your life away, just cross your fingers you don’t fall prey to any “sharks” and step outside into the fun.

Though the screening began at sundown, shortly after 9pm, there was still plenty of entertainment to tide attendees over.  Giant beer pong and bean bag toss set up in the grass, drink stations, a stage with a DJ and his two dancing sharks that often mingled with the crowd.

Jaws djDancing sharks

The very impressive portable screen sat upon an island, where Rolling Roadshow crew were hard at work prepping for the screening.  The small island also appeared to be home to a trio of goats.  Huh.  Natural lawn care?  Surrounding the island was the man-made lake in which attendees would descend in their inner tubes, but leading up to the screening it was filled with wakeboarders exhibiting their skills.

jaws screen

Once the queue opened for the inner tubes, the water was cleared of wakeboarders and a large shark fin cut through the surface closer toward the island. Once the shark fin reached the other side of the lake, attendees were free to enter the water if they dared. Those too afraid were able to watch from the safety of the beach.

Once Jaws began, a large cluster of floating viewers gathered toward the front and center of the screen.  I imagine this may have made if difficult for the scuba divers to grab at us, as I only saw one surface once when the crowd dispersed.  So the “sharks” were a bit quiet this night.  It was more unnerving seeing the lightening and storms in the distance, and I’d worried they wouldn’t travel close enough to interfere with the event.  Luckily it didn’t.

Watching Jaws on the water was far more peaceful than you’d think.  The crowd full of content movie lovers, enraptured with the classic film, just floating along quietly on a calm lake.  Everyone there was not just there for the experience, but for their love of Jaws, everyone cheering wildly at all the classic lines.

An exciting event such as this should always end with a bang, right?  And the Rolling Roadshow delivered.  The explosion of the scuba tank in the film coincided with fireworks, adding a special touch to the already very interactive screening.

One important lesson learned: I’m a tiny person not fit for one-size-fits-all giant rubber inner tubes.  Next time I’ll bring my own. Though I’m quite eager to experience more of what Rolling Roadshow has to offer, so perhaps I’ll stay out of the water for a bit.

Why Clownhouse (1989) is Terrifying.

clownhouse-1989

I’ve recently been gifted with a pile of retro horror films.  Among them was 1989’s Clownhouse.  I’d been really excited to watch this, confusing it with another film from the 80’s featuring a girl and her creepy clown doll.  Popped it in, recognized the director’s name but couldn’t immediately place it, but moved past quickly when I spotted Sam Rockwell’s name in the opening credits.

The premise is rather silly.  Three young brothers are left home alone for the night and must fend off a trio of escaped mental patients masquerading as the circus clowns they’ve murdered.  The eldest brother, played by Sam Rockwell in his first feature role, is a teenaged jerk appalled that he’s stuck with babysitting duties.  The youngest, Casey, has severe coulrophobia and nightmares that cause bed wetting, instilling a maternal instinct in middle brother Geoffrey.

When nothing on screen sparked any memories of having seen this prior, I sought answers from Google. First, I found that the movie I’d actually been hoping for was 1988’s Ghosthouse, not Clownhouse.  Second, that director Victor Salva actually went to jail for events transpiring off screen between himself and the film’s 12 year old lead actor, Nathan Forrest Winters.  Victor Salva, roughly around the age of 30 at time of production, had been molesting the boy and filming it. WHAT?

He spent only 15 months in jail after confessing to five counts of sexual relations with a 12 year old boy, and having videotaped said relations.  Nathan Forrest Winters has no further acting credits to his name, and can anyone blame him?  Shockingly, Disney hired Victor Salva to direct 1995’s Powder, and the director relates the lead character to his personal life and the time he spent in prison.  Powder flopped, however, in part by Nathan’s public boycotting of the film.

Hollywood has a short memory, though, and Victor Salva found favor again with 2001’s Jeepers Creepers.

Now, of course this is old news, and I’m sure most people are already aware.  Hell, Victor Salva’s name held vague familiarity because I’d remembered some kind of sexual misconduct news tied with his name when Jeepers Creepers was released.  However, reading this news while watching Clownhouse gave the film a whole new context that was both horrifying and heartbreaking.

Casey’s frail and scared demeanor took on a deeper meaning.  That he spent the film scared of the grown men relentlessly pursuing him just felt icky.  The tone no longer felt like silly kids horror.

I’m behind the times on this one, and I feel terrible for that.  But I, too, will join Nathan Forrest Winters on his boycott of Salva’s films.

Lights Out News

Remember creepy horror short Lights Out that took the top spot on my Horror Short Round Up last year?  This online favorite created by David F. Sandberg, starring his wife Lotta, is now being turned into a full length feature.  The best part?  It’s being produced by James Wan!

Sandberg will be directing, and has also mentioned via Reddit that he’s aiming for more practical driven effects.  The full length feature, written by Eric A. Heisserer, has expanded to focus on an entire family being haunted by supernatural enemy.

It’ll be exciting to see how this terrifying short translates to a much longer story.  If you’ve never seen the short previously, or need a refresher, view it here.

lights out

Texas! Experience Jaws on the Water

Jaws on the water

If you live in or near Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas or anywhere in between then you have no excuse to miss out on the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow Event on June 27.  For those unfamiliar, the Rolling Roadshow takes the screenings out of the theater and, well, on the road.  If you’re in Austin, where the Alamo Drafthouse franchise began, this meant having access to some of the most insane settings for a screening.

One of the most popular Rolling Roadshow events occurred in 2002, where Jaws screened on Lake Travis and viewers watched while floating in inner tubes.  If that wasn’t cool enough, scuba divers bumped into the tubes and pulled on the limbs of unsuspecting attendees during key moments during the film.  Leave it to the Alamo Drafthouse to submerse the audience in a whole new level.  Did I mention the screening began after dark?

This summer, they’re bringing this event back! Tickets went on sale today at noon, so snatch them up while you can here. More information can be found here, and a more comprehensive article detailing the history of the Roadshow can be found here.

Tickets will go fast, so don’t miss the opportunity for an amazing movie experience.  And if this sounds too terrifying, you can sit on the safety of the beach…but where’s the fun in that?