Something Creepy This Way Comes:
Halloween Movie Reviews by Mike Duke

Candy Corn (2019)
Director: Josh Hasty

Synopsis: “It’s the eve of Halloween in Grove Hill, Ohio. A traveling carnival is in town for the weekend and local outcast, Jacob Atkins, has been hired as one of the freaks in the event’s main attraction, ‘Dr. Death’s Side Show Spook House Spectacular.’ When a group of bullies target Jacob for their annual hazing, things go too far, and he winds up dead. Now, Dr. Death has resurrected Jacob as an unstoppable killer to seek revenge on those who wronged him.”

This movie definitely has the Halloween/Autumn vibe and looks like its set back in the 70’s. It’s a slow burn atmospheric film that definitely pays homage to 80’s slasher movies in ways. It has a straightforward story and there’s some decent gore in places, but it just seemed to be missing that spark of life. Not sure what exactly about the story didn’t do it for me. Maybe because most of the characters just aren’t likable people so I didn’t really feel invested in them. Maybe because, unlike other similar revenge movies (for example Pumpkinhead), there’s no real penalty for meddling with dark forces. Tony Todd’s character warns Dr. Death against it but nothing comes of it. By the end, I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “I guess Dr. Death is good buddies with the supernatural dark forces of the Underworld he used to resurrect Jacob to take vengeance against his attackers and anyone else remotely associated with them.” Ultimately, it’s a decent film. It’s enjoyable. If you’re not looking for great but will settle for good, then give it a go for sure. Or if you just want to see a bunch of folks get what’s coming to them, then you’ll certainly like this one too. Just depends. Mileage may vary.

You find Candy Corn on Amazon Streaming. Rent $3.99 / Purchase $6.99. Free with Showtime.

They Live Inside Us (2020)
Director: Michael Ballif

Synopsis: “Seeking inspiration for a new writing project, a man spends Halloween night in a notoriously haunted house. He soon realizes he is living in his own horror story.”

Can’t say a lot about this one without revealing too much. There are some definite twists. Whether you guess what’s coming by the end or not may vary on the viewer, but you won’t know for sure until nearly the end. There are some good clues hidden in the background in places. Look away and you might miss something at certain points. In some ways, this feels a little like an anthology for a while into it, but it’s not and everything works its way back into the story by the end, which I liked. I did wonder in the beginning, “What the hell kind of dad takes his daughter to stay in a haunted house on Halloween night?” It seemed odd but became more acceptable afterwards. I guess. That part was strange to me. Anyway, I did like the main character’s acting for the most part and the writing was pretty good. It may warrant a second viewing at some point to see if there were other clues I missed from the beginning. Give it a shot and see what you think.

You can find it on Amazon Streaming. Rent $4.99 / Purchase $12.99.

Hell House LLC
Director: Stephen Cognetti

Synopsis: “Five years after 15 people were killed during a haunted house tour, a documentary crew visits the scene to investigate what really happened.”

This movie has kind of turned into a cult classic it seems. Now, I know some people are turned off by Found Footage films in general, but I can see why this film has attained a very popular following from both critics and fans alike. It has 1,993 reviews on Amazon with a 4.1/5 average rating. That includes 1,112 Five Star ratings / reviews. That’s pretty impressive. And I was impressed with this movie as well. It sets a dark tone while providing just enough information to hook your interest and start reeling you in. There are some genuinely CREEPY moments in this movie and the atmosphere becomes taut and pervaded with a creeping dread by the last part of the movie when all is finally revealed and then some. The acting is pretty good overall and some of the characters reactions are spot on. No stoic bullshit from some of these people. They wig out and blame each other, wanting to think it’s a prank and not something supernatural but it gets kind of hard to deny what’s really going on the longer they are there. I really enjoyed this movie. The mixture of interview documentary with watching the tapes they are given from Hell House leading up to the night of the murders and the night itself really worked for me. Will probably watch again and definitely want to check out the other two.

You can watch it free with Prime Video or if you hop on VUDU (no membership needed) you can watch it free with ads.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Synopsis: “Hospital emergency room Dr. Daniel “Dan” Challis and Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of a murder victim, uncover a terrible plot by small-town mask maker Conal Cochran, a madman who’s planning a Halloween mass murder utilizing an ancient Celtic ritual. The ritual involves a boulder stolen from Stonehenge, the use of Silver Shamrock masks and a triggering device contained in a television commercial — all designed to kill millions of children.”

I just watched this again the night before writing this. Personally, I’ve never been a Michael Meyers fan (the blasphemy, I know) and while for years many people have slammed this movie because it had nothing to do with the other Halloween movies (amongst other things), for me, it’s the only one of them I’ve really liked, and watching it again just reinforces that feeling.

This story is creepy, strange, wild and over the top at times, and all while delivering some ideas and moments that are truly horrifying. When Mr. Cochran explains to Dan why he’s doing this and why it’s happening, and he talks about older Celtic times, that whole section is one of the best parts of this movie. Just fantastic writing. This movie won’t be for everyone, but I love their Go Big or Go Home approach to the story and the over-the-top Halloween Doomsday plot. It’s solid fun with a truly creepy evil villain in Cochran and the wicked plans for humanity he has in store for the world.

It’s on sale right now on VUDU (no membership needed) for only $4.99

Mike was a cop for almost 12 years, but for the last 14 years, he’s been teaching Military, Law Enforcement, and Bodyguards high speed, tactical, and off-road driving as well as hand-to-hand Combatives and Blade tactics. He enjoys martial arts and has been a practitioner since 1989 of various styles. Filipino blade arts are his favorite. Since he was a teenager, he’s loved reading, writing, and watching movies, particularly in the horror and sci-fi genre. He’s also been a prolific reader of theology and has dabbled in philosophy as well. He has a beautiful, smart wife who is amazingly supportive and a son and daughter who are both graduated. His babies now are a German Shepherd named Ziva, a Daddy’s girl who loves to play… even when he’s writing, and a Border Collie mix named Joey “The Bandit” who will steal anything and everything he can, even the toys right out of Ziva’s mouth. Mike is a lover of music, as well, and it is an integral part of his writing ritual.

Ashley’s Tale
Ashley, a young college student with a horrific past, is immediately thrust into a living hell when she is kidnapped. In the lair of her captor, she will be forced to choose between submission and defiance, between folding under his punishment or finding the strength to endure and escape.

But Ashley will also have to face the horrors of her past in this twisted game. Can she prevail against the demons that made her weak, as well as the tortures the sadist set before her? If so, what could she become in the process?

GUEST POST: Erica Lucke Dean

The Unsung Hero of Halloween

Is it just me? Or is everyone too tired to drag out the Halloween decorations this fall? We’re nearly three-quarters of the way through year two of the pandemic, and I barely have the energy to change out of my pajamas most days. I sure as hell don’t feel like getting my porch all dolled up like it’s going to a spooky party. Besides, where I live, we don’t get trick-or-treaters on a good year, so it’s not as if anyone would see them. And since I’ve only been inside the grocery store a total of five times in the past several months, I haven’t gotten swept away by the impulse buys. I can scarcely believe it’s already October, and I don’t even have candy corn yet.

What? Is that the sound of candy corn haters I hear? I’ve got news for you. I actually like the tri-colored confection. I might even go so far as to say I love it. And do not @ me, people. I’m well aware that eating too much of the sickeningly sweet stuff causes a wicked headache worthy of the worst hangover ever. And yeah, the sugary goodness gets stuck in all the nooks and crannies of the most expensive dental work. But it’s also the very epitome of fall. It screams of cool evenings, pumpkin patches, kids in costumes and…

As Forrest’s buddy, Bubba Blue, might say, candy corn is the fruit of the corn maze. You can make candy corn fudge, candy corn peanut bars, candy corn rice crispy treats, candy corn Chex mix, candy corn poke cake, candy corn Halloween bark, white chocolate chunk candy corn sugar cookies, candy corn trail mix, candy corn chocolate chip cookie cake, candy corn brownies, candy corn blondies, candy corn pop corn balls, candy corn ambrosia, candy corn cheesecake, pumpkin bread with candy corn topping, candy corn biscotti, candy corn punch, candy corn cake pops, candy corn lollipops… you can add candy corn to plain M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, and mini pretzels. And don’t forget the candy corn Jell-O shots! 

In a pinch, candy corn can even do double duty as fall decor. Fill a jar halfway with the itty bitty sweets and stick a candle in the middle. Hell, it’s even good for stress relief. Who wouldn’t want a pumpkin shaped piñata filled with candy corn to work out those pandemic frustrations, while also satisfying a sweet tooth? And before you say, “but it’s bad for you!” I have it on good authority, you can buy organic candy corn, and how can that be bad?

So to all the naysayers out there, I’ve got one thing to say to you… quit hating on candy corn! It’s quite literally the unsung hero of Halloween. You heard it here first.

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lived in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse.

Tired of being woken up in the middle of the night by a pesky poltergeist, the author of contemporary young adult, romantic comedy, and paranormal romance moved into a cute little cabin in the woods, where she lives with her husband, her dogs, and the occasional bear. Much like the characters in her books, Ms. Dean is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

You can find out more about Erica, in addition to her humorous blog posts and disasters, on her website.

Represented by: Cathie Hedrick-Armstrong of The Purcell Agency

Eve Versus the Apocalypse
When everyone she cares about is killed in an alien invasion, college color guard Eve uses her skills with a saber to battle her way through the changing landscape. Faced with monsters of more than one kind, Eve isn’t sure who to trust. After running into a group of survivors, she must decide if a new alliance with the dangerously sexy Archer is worth the risk. His offer of protection is tempting, but if she agrees to join him, her life may not be the only thing on the line.

Eve on Kindle Vella
New episodes drop every Sunday

Halloween Extravaganza: Linda Addison: Candy Corn!!!!

Am I the only one who remembers thinking as a child that when I grew up I would buy as much candy as I wanted and eat it every day? As an adult, other than a brief flirtation with Sugar Babies, Candy Corn still has a strong hold on me. I can’t even imagine eating only one candy corn. Once I start eating them, one by one, I can’t stop until my teeth ache and my stomach starts to whine. Other than the obvious ingredient of sugar, I was curious what else made up this innocent-looking, yet seductive deliciousness.

Curiosity has lead me to research many things, but usually it’s stuff like quantum mechanics, etc. Finding out that the place of origin for candy corn was Philadelphia was interesting, since I grew up there. Maybe that explained its hold over me? Originally it was called “Chicken Feed” when it was created in the 1880s. I’m pretty sure if they had kept that name I wouldn’t be writing about it now. It’s mainly made from sugar, corn syrup, honey & salt; well, that’s all the different kinds of sweet that accounts for the I-can’t-stop-eating-it-ness.

Millions of pounds are produced each year, which is how it’s on every store counter I pass in October. Sometimes research turns up information I wish I had never found, like there are variations of candy corn created for other holidays, not just Halloween. What the—!

There’s brown/orange/white candy corn for Thanksgiving (okay, I did know about this since it’s slyly shown up in October), red/green/white for Christmas, red/pink/white for Valentine’s Day, blue/white/red for Independence Day in the United States, and Bunny Corn for Easter (two color candy: pink/green/yellow/purple mixes). The madness goes on: caramel apple, green apple candy corn, s’mores, pumpkin spice, carrot corn, birthday cake…

There’s other forms the insidious flavor has invaded: candy corn flavored bagels, flavored martinis, Halloween costumes, beer, smoothies, deep fried, etc. Of course, a “Candy Corn” movie was released in 2019, since Tony Todd is in it I’ll have to track it down.

There are studies on how people eat each piece (whole or nibble from narrow end or the wide end), truth is I’ve done all three.

In case you think I’m the only one to obsess about this there are many essays online about candy corn. Elise Taylor wrote an essay for Vogue magazine in 2017 titled: “Candy Corn: You Either Love It or Hate It, There Is No In-Between”. There’s all kinds of statistics about people hating and loving candy corn. From Taylor’s article: “As Halloween comes and goes, so will the candy corn debate. But in late September, it’ll creep back into our consciousness and conversations again, a sugary Pennywise the Clown ready to terrorize your teeth, your towns, and your Twitter feed.”

I found a “Candy corn lovers support group” on FaceBook but I don’t think they’re going to help me control this problem because the first photo is for candy corn soda. So my little exclusion has opened up a door to eating candy corn all year long, in flavors and forms I never imagined—Noooooooo!!!

Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of four collections, including How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award, received the 2016 HWA Mentor of the Year Award and the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Check out her latest poetry in The Place of Broken Things, writen with Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2019). She is excited about the 2020 release of a film (inspired by my poem of same name) Mourning Meal, by producer and director Jamal Hodge.

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend

Who doesn’t need to know How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend? From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.

The Place of Broken Things

Bram Stoker Award® winners Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti use their unique voices to create a dark, surrealistic poetry collection exploring the many ways shattered bodies, minds, and souls endure. 

They created poems of visionary imagery encompassing death, gods, goddesses and shadowy, Kafkaesque futures by inspiring each other, along with inspiration from others (Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Phillis Wheatley, etc.).

Construction of The Place started with the first bitten apple dropped in the Garden. The foundation defined by the crushed, forgotten, and rejected. Filled with timeless space, its walls weep with the blood of brutality, the tears of the innocent, and predatory desire. Enter and let it whisper dark secrets to you.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.