AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Thomas R. Clark

Meghan: Hey, Tommy! Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Tommy: The history and mythology behind the Celtic cross-quarter holiday has always attracted me.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Tommy: I like to bury an apple in my backyard to remember those who have passed.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Tommy: I’m of Irish heritage and I identify more with this pagan holiday than with St. Patrick’s Day.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Tommy: Omens. If I see something in a pattern of 3’s I get the heebie-jeebies.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Tommy: The werewolf, of course. My first favorite monster was Lon ChaneyThe Wolf Man.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Tommy: The Heidi Allen case in Upstate NY. I’m of the camp who doesn’t believe the men arrested for her murder were guilty, and that she was killed by drug dealers.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Tommy: Bigfoot. I thought I saw Bigfoot when I was a child (it was most likely a deer), and the neighborhood kids pulled a prank, and dressed up in a Planet of the Apes costume and pretended to be Bigfoot, which scared my mother.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Tommy: Jack The Ripper cos of the mystique around his identity.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Tommy: I’ve watched horror movies since I can recall, courtesy of Monster Movie Matinee on Saturday and Sundays. There was never that “Oh, I saw this then,” moment, but it was likely a King Kong or a Godzilla Kaiju movie.

I was 11 when I read Salem’s Lot. I bonded with Mark and saw it through his eyes. I didn’t understand much of the adult content, but when Mark was the focus, and even Ben, I found myself lost in the story.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Tommy: Pet Semetary. It scared me as a kid, seeing it through Ellie’s eyes. It scared me as a father, seeing it through Louis’s eyes. And it has scared me as a grandfather, seeing it through Judd’s eyes.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Tommy: The Last Man on Earth, when Vincent Price throws his dead baby daughter on a funeral pyre. I can’t shake this image from my head to this day.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Tommy: My Mark Post Planet of the Apes costume when I was 8.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Tommy: Type O Negative, Black No. 1

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Tommy: Candy Corn. Popcorn Balls.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by tonight, Tommy. Before you go, what are your five go-to Halloween movies?

Tommy:
5. Pumpkinhead
4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
3. Tales of Halloween
2. Halloween II
1. John Carpenter’s Halloween


Boo-graphy:
Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer, and podcast producer & engineer. He is the author of the 2021 Splatterpunk Award Nominated BELLA’S BOYS, GOOD BOY, and THE DEATH LIST – published through Stitched Smile Publications, and the forthcoming THE GOD PROVIDES, from St. Rooster Books. His short fiction collection, A BOOK OF LIGHT AND SHADOW is available through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom’s journalism has appeared in Rue Morgue, This Is Infamous, and House of Stitched Magazine. He lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.

The God Provides
The foothills of Upstate New York are alive with something terrifying. It hunts, it tempts, it traps, and there’s no escape. Thomas R Clark re-invents Irish Mythology and takes you on a bloody, emotional, and horrific journey back through time with the tale of the McEntire clan, and the devastating secrets they hold. The author of the Splatterpunk Awards nominated Bella’s Boys: A Tale of Cosmic Horror has crafted a story that’s part The Wicker Man and part Cycle of the Werewolf, but at the same time like nothing you’ve read before.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Danger Slater

Meghan: Hey, Danger! Welcome welcome welcome!! What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Danger: Eating candy. Duh. I don’t have kids so I gotta buy all my own candy though. I’m an adult though so I suppose I could do that at any time. Hmm. Why haven’t I thought of that before. I could be eating candy for dinner every day!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Danger: I have a black cat so I use it as a day to pay tribute to him. Usually by carving his face onto a pumpkin.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Danger: I mean, I’m into horror stuff all year round, so it’s cool that there’s a month/holiday for other people to get spooky with me.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Danger: I have to brush my teeth before I go to bed. I don’t know if that’s a superstition or just basic hygiene, but if I don’t do it, then I feel real icky.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Danger: Frankenstein. HE’S JUST MISUNDERSTOOD. Unlike Dracula who is just a straight-up dick.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Danger: I don’t follow this kind of stuff too much, but I did watch this fascinating documentary called Casting JonBenet on Netflix that is less about the actual crime and more about how the people audition for a reenactment of the JonBenet story feel about the crime. It’s hard to explain, but it’s more about people’s fascination and interpretation of the truth than it is about the actual truth. Very interesting film.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Danger: Pop Rocks and Coke. My cousin’s best friend from grade school died that way.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Danger: None. Fuck those guys.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Danger: First horror movie I remember scaring me was the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I had a cousin who was obsessed with Freddy Krueger growing up. He even made his own knife glove.

My first horror books were Goosebumps, though I only got to read a few. My mom stopped buying them for me pretty quick, not because of the content, but because I was reading them too fast and she didn’t have the money. I was in like 3rd grade when she handed me a copy of Jurassic Park and was like, “There, that should keep you occupied for a while.”

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Danger: I don’t get scared by books or movies, generally speaking. I usually have a difficult time removing myself from the edifice of it. Especially as a creator myself, I’m always thinking about the process that goes into a story (or a scene in a movie, or a performance, or any aspect of how these things are put together) so I rarely find myself so immersed that I actually am scared of what I’m reading/seeing.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Danger: Same answer as above, though I will add a few movies that I did find actually scary were Melancholia – the Lars von Trier film – and Vivarium. These are more about existential horrors though. Movies that make me reflect back on my own life choices and experiences are the ones that hit hardest for me.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Danger: Last year I put on my girlfriends kimono and a captain’s hat and was just a ‘good time party dude’ and it was comfortable as hell.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Danger: Halloween by the Misfits, of course.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat?

Danger: Kit Kats are the best. I’m trying to eat every flavor. Did you know there are over 300? Crazy!

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, Danger. It is ALWAYS a pleasure. Before you go, what are your go-to Halloween movies?

Danger: You’re talking about movies that specifically take place on Halloween, right? In that case:

Donnie Darko
Halloween III
The Nightmare Before Christmas
House of 1000 Corpses
Tales of Halloween


Boo-graphy:
Danger Slater is the Wonderland Award-winning writer of I Will Rot Without You and several other books that haven’t won awards, but are okay still. He lives in Portland, OR with his cat and his girlfriend.

I Will Rot Without You
Meet Ernie. His life is a mess. Gretchen’s gone, and the apartment they once shared is this grey, grim city is now overrun with intelligent mold and sinister bugs.

Then his neighbor Dee shows up, so smart and lovely. If he can just get past the fact that her jealous boyfriend could reach out of her blouse and punch him in the face at any moment, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Unfortunately for all involved, a Great Storm is coming and it will wash away everything we’ve ever known about the human heart.

Impossible James
My father was dying. There was no hope. Then he took a screwdriver to the brain. Got pregnant. And found the cure for death.

Impossible? That’s my dad.

Impossible James

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Patrick C. Harrison III

Meghan: Hey, III. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for joining us today. Let’s get started: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Patrick: The answer to this question has changed over the years. Obviously, as a kid I loved suiting up and running from house to house collecting goodies. Then in my teens Halloween became more about wreaking havoc with friends, playing pranks and whatnot. That was long before Netflix and Tubi, so during those years I was always excited about the horror movies running on TV for the weeks prior to Halloween. Once I had kids, I loved watching them go door to door dressed in their costumes. Now, my youngest is eleven and isn’t sure she still wants to go trick-or-treating. So, what I’ll probably be doing is watching scary movies and dishing out candy at the door. Geez, this is a long first answer, so let me stop and come up with something…I guess my favorite thing is that Halloween is the time of year when the entire country embraces the horrors that I love year-round.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Patrick: The last few years as I’ve driven the kids around trick-or-treating, we’ve played a Halloween soundtrack in the car, with Halloween themed songs and songs from various horror movies. I really like that. Going to haunted houses is also fun.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Patrick: Christmas is probably my favorite, but Halloween is right there. As I said in the first answer, the whole world kind of embraces my loves. You see spooks and witches and jack-o’-lanterns everywhere. The air is just starting to cool and fallen leaves crunch under your feet as you run from one house to the next. For kids, it’s like a night that never ends.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Patrick: Hmmm. When I played baseball, I would never step on the baseline when going on and off the field. When I worked in the emergency room and it was suspiciously slow night, I would never mention it. (If you ever work in healthcare and you say ‘It sure is quiet today,’ be prepared for an avalanche of medical emergencies. And be ready for your coworkers to kill you.)

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Patrick: In cinema, probably either Freddy Krueger or Art the Clown. In fiction, probably Pennywise. Yes, I know, very cliché. How about Patrick Bateman then? Does he even count as a villain since the entire story is told from his perspective?

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Patrick: The Elisa Lam case. She’s the lady that went missing in the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. She was on camera acting very bizarre, like maybe she was being followed. Then she just disappeared. Footage of the hotel’s entrance showed that she never left the Cecil. Like three weeks after she disappeared, her body was found in the hotel’s water tank on the roof. People had been drinking and taking showers in that water—containing her decomposing body—the entire time. I love missing person stories too. Check out the Dennis Martin case. Very bizarre!

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Patrick: When I worked in the ER, there was this urban legend about a patient coming in complaining of a severe headache. Upon assessment, it was discovered that the patient had a nest of spiders in her tangled, matted hair. They’d been biting her head, which caused the headaches. Given the things I saw during my years in healthcare, I bet that’s based on a true story. Yikes!

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Patrick: That’s an odd question. I guess H.H. Holmes. I mean, he made a fucking (am I allowed to say ‘fucking’?) murder hotel! He killed people and then sold their skeletons to medical schools. He was pretty damn wicked. By the way, if anyone answering this question says Charles Manson, they need to be fired from the horror community. Charles Manson is overrated and far more cliché than me answering Pennywise to the villain question.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Patrick: Movie: I have no idea what my first horror movie was or when I saw it. The first one I remember being terrified of was Silver Bullet. I think I was maybe seven or eight when I saw it. Book: Again, hard to say. Three early books of horror I remember reading are Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful, Ghost Stories of Old Texas by Zinita Fowler, and Spine Chillers by Jim Razzi. I still have all three of these books.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Patrick: Oooo, tough one. Pet Sematary is terrifying and really punches you in the gut, especially if you’re a parent. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis are two books that are brilliantly written and yet soooo fucked up. They really dig at your soul.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Patrick: My tolerance for crazy, fucked up horror movies is pretty high. I don’t think anything has scarred me. But…there were some scenes in The Human Centipede 2 and Nekromantic that made my jaw hit the floor. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen would probably be The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Close second goes to the often-overlooked Vacancy.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Patrick: I don’t think I ever watched an actual episode of The Lone Ranger, but I sure did go trick-or-treating as the masked hero. And I loved it! Thought I super cool.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Patrick: “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. This song leads off the Halloween playlist I mentioned earlier.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Patrick: Reese’s Pieces have to be number one, right? They naturally come in Halloween colors. The worst are those little candies that come in either black or orange wrappers. No name or label or anything on them. Just crappy candy on the inside. I know most people probably shit on candy corn, but I’ve been known to consume candy corn from time to time.

Meghan: Before you go, what are your top 3 Halloween movies and books?

Patrick:
Movies:
House of 1000 Corpses
Terrifier
Halloween 3

Books:
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is October’s author. No one else quite encapsulates the nostalgia of the season.


Boo-graphy:
Patrick C. Harrison III (PC3, if you prefer) is the author of A Savage Breed, Inferno Bound and the Hell Hounds, 5 Tales That Will Land You in Hell, 5 Tales of Tantalizing Terror, Visceral: Collected Flesh (with Christine Morgan), and Cerberus Rising (with Chris Miller and M. Ennenbach); and his works can be found in numerous anthologies.

PC3 is also the co-owner (with Jarod Barbee) and editor-in-chief of Death’s Head Press, a Texas-based publisher of dark fiction. Follow PC3’s website/blog for frequent horror movie reviews and updates on forthcoming fiction.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lee Rozelle

Meghan: Hi, Lee. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books and our annual Halloween Extravaganza. I’m excited that you decided to take part in this year’s frivolities. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Lee: Watching frightened children in handmade outfits and pumpkin baskets lumber across the street in little hordes.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Lee: When I was a teenager, on Halloween we would get some of the kids together to roll Joe’s yard. But the little rollers didn’t know that Joe would be in his tree stand behind his house with a semiautomatic weapon. We would start rolling, and after a few minutes Joe would begin to fire his rifle into the air at a steady clip. At that point I would “get shot” and start screaming for help, gargling, whining, and rolling on the ground. It was really interesting to see who would come back and save me and who left me to die. The next year, of course, the kids who previously got punked would want to go “roll Joe’s yard” to see the new kids run like hell.

No yard rollers were injured in the making of this prank.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Lee: In Alabama it’s not necessarily cold during Halloween, but there’s wind, fog, and orange leaves. It’s very much a time of uncertainty, when people have the chance to take all of their beliefs and think, “maybe not.”

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Lee: Organ transplantation.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Lee: It would have to be Renfield in the 1931 Dracula. Never will I forget that laugh.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Lee: Not sure if she qualifies as a serial killer, but here’s the most compelling case that I’ve puzzled over:

Amy Bishop—The Crazy Professor Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, shot and killed three faculty members and wounded three others on February 12, 2010. In March of 2009, Bishop was denied tenure, which meant spring 2010 would be her last semester to be employed by the university. During a faculty meeting, Bishop stood up and began shooting those closest to her with a 9mm handgun – execution style. Bishop didn’t have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and she was in total denial after the event. She didn’t believe her colleagues were really dead. The day of the shooting, students claimed she seemed perfectly normal. On September 11, 2012, Bishop pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder in order to avoid the death penalty. On September 24, 2012, Bishop was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Lee: When I was five, my father took me to see Jaws. One of the trailers before the movie flashed the words “Rated R” and I yelled loudly in my seat, “Rated R! I’m getting out of here!” The other audience members laughed at me and my father told me to sit down and hush. I’ll never forget that googly eyed corpse that pops out deep beneath the sea…it scared the hell out of me.

In regards to my first horror novel, my father was an elementary teacher and he supplemented our family income by selling socks to people at banks, gas stations, restaurants, and bars. He traipsed from building to building in small towns with a little basket selling 6 packs of socks. On one trip, he filled his truck up with 6 packs—we had footies too, don’t think this was a two-bit operation—and mail a huge box of socks to California. We would sell socks all the way to the West Coast, pick up the box at the Post Office, and on another route would sell socks all the way home. Anyway, we’re in Arizona and New Mexico hauling down the road, no AC, and I’m eleven years old and bored to death. On the dash there is this wrinkled up black paperback with a grayish cover. The book was The Dead Zone. I cracked it and started reading. Never been the same since.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Lee: No doubt, that baby in Salem’s Lot unsettled me into an exquisite freak out that I have rarely felt before or since. My skin crawled, my pancreas crawled, and I felt this stark, blank undercurrent inside me. Yeow.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Lee: Oh they all did. One that stands out as having messed me up big time is The Beast Within. We got bug rape, cannibalism of creepy old dudes, strange head inflations, head snatched through walls, puberty, more bugs, more rape…it was nasty.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Lee: Like most men of my generation, my favorite costume is Urkel from the TV show Family Matters.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Lee: The worst Halloween treat I ever received was a potato. I hated it.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by today, Lee. Before you go, what’s your go to Halloween movie?

Lee: I was really sad that people didn’t like Halloween 3 when it came out, and I like to wonder what might have been if Carpenter had been able to produce anthology style “Halloween” movies with different plots. Could have been spectacular. And hey, those snakes and bugs coming out of those Silver Shamrock masks and kids’ heads in Halloween 3…phenomenal!


Boo-graphy:
Lee Rozelle’s debut novel Ballad of Jasmine Wills is forthcoming from Montag Press. Lee is the author of nonfiction books Zombiescapes & Phantom Zones and Ecosublime. He has published short stories in Cosmic Horror Monthly, HellBound Books‘ Anthology of BizarroShadowy Natures by Dark Ink Books, If I Die Before I Wake Volume 3, and the Scare You to Sleep podcast. Learn more on his website.

GUEST POST: Edward M. Erdelac

Halloween III: Season of a Witch: The ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ of the Halloween Season

The Christmas season has always had a massive catalog of holiday-themed movies and TV specials catering to nearly every taste, from Frank Capra sentimentals and whimsical Claymation musicals to raunchy comedies and in recent years, actions films and even Christmas-themed horror. The canonical Christmas classics are so ingrained that just reading this paragraph you’ve probably conjured up one or two old stand-bys. Ask ten people what their favorite Christmas movie is, and you’ll see a lot of the same titles turn up a couple times. It’s A Wonderful Life. A Christmas Carol. A Charlie Brown Christmas. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (my dad’s favorite).

The Halloween season has always had a decidedly less than universal pantheon of movies and specials, mainly because I think when you ask somebody what they watch on Halloween they tend to tell you their favorite horror movie. People equate the season with watching horror, and there are more horror movies under the sun than there are hairs on a black cat.

When I ask this question, I impose two requirements that I find whittles down the plethora of general horror responses.

1 It has to take place during the Halloween season.

2 It should comment on the holiday or depict its traditions in some way. Even if its just pumpkin carving.

This will generally yield a more manageable set of titles in terms of trying to suss out what ought to be considered the classics of Halloween. I won’t try to list them all, but some good recurring examples include It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Nightmare Before Christmas, The Halloween Tree, Trick ‘R Treat, Boys In The Trees, The WNUF Halloween Special, Garfield’s Halloween Special, Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Hocus Pocus, The Midnight Hour, etc.

You’ll even find a couple of Halloween ‘bleed’ movies like Arsenic And Old Lace (Frank Capra!) this way.
Of course the Halloween franchise counts, and while I’m not a big Michael Meyers fan at all, there is one outing in the series that in my opinion counts as the quintessential movie of the Halloween season. The It’s A Wonderful Life of All Hallow’s Eve. The Miracle On 34th Street of October 31st. The Christmas Carol of Samhain.

That is, without a doubt, 1982’s Halloween III: Season of The Witch.

I’ve been singing the praises of this flick since I first saw it, and have been shouted down by Shape-heads for decades. It was notoriously panned for years as an unwelcome departure from the Laurie StrodeMichael Meyers storyline and criminally dismissed by a lot of horror fans. The premise has nothing to do with the rest of the series. It’s a one off.

Shout Factory’s description for the upcoming 4K release on Amazon says “A murder-suicide in a northern Californian hospital leads to an investigation by the on-call doctor, which reveals a plot by an insane toymaker to kill as many people as possible on October 31st through an ancient Celtic ritual and deadly Halloween masks.”

Not a masked killer in site. Instead, killer masks. The tagline, The Night NOBODY Came Home.

So, just forget Michael Meyers exists. It’s easy for me (I’m a Jason Voorhees nut). Take Halloween III out of the title. Let’s talk about a little movie from 1982 called Season Of The Witch (no, not Romero’s 1973 movie either. That’s Hungry Wives. Stop interrupting!).

The earliest memories of Halloween I cherish are of the smell of close latex and burning candles, heaps of candy rattling around in bright orange and green buckets, the scrape of a spoon in a hollowed out pumpkin and the slip of wet orange innards strung with seeds on my knuckles, leaves crackling underfoot at night, and a swirling array of half-glimpsed costumes both harrowing and gaudy, tacky and inappropriate.

Halloween. It’s chintzy, it’s spooky, it’s glorious. It’s a magical, pseudo-pagan night of anonymity, a night of festive abandon. A night of pranks and tricks and perhaps a subterranean current of unease, for some of us, in our celebrations of spirits and ghosts and goblins are flirting with the idea of oblivion and shaking ourselves wantonly under the nose of death. But Death’s a good sport about it. On this night, anyway.

And Season of The Witch encapsulates all those things for me.

Let’s start with the George Bailey of this movie, our sweaty, boozy divorcee protagonist Dr. Dan Challis, played with sleazy aplomb by Tom Atkins. Was there ever a more appropriate Halloween hero? Most of the time he acts more like a lecherous teenager in a white coat than a doctor. Challis is the bleary-eyed guy who answers the door on Halloween night with a can of beer in his hand and gives the sexy nurses and devils a little too much candy. While he gamely answers the call of adventure posed when a man murders one of his patients and self-immolates in the parking lot, leaving nothing behind but cogs and springs, like the underage drinker in the letterman’s jacket tagging along to take his best girl’s little sister out for candy, he’s really more interested in scoring Stacey Nelkin, which he invariably does, using the excuse of tracking down her missing father in a toy manufacturing factory way out in remote Santa Mira to ‘slyly’ get a one-bed room at a crummy roadside hotel and a six pack of Schlitz. He lures his companion to bed like an anxious teen who swears he can’t get the car to start. He’s a scuzz, as hilariously phony as a plastic knife in the head. But, he does uncover the terrible secret of Silver Shamrock Novelties, the makers of this year’s runaway Halloween fad, and he does do his damndest to thwart them.

And what a secret it is! If you’ve never seen this movie, here there be SPOILERS:

It’s the central ‘trick’ of Season Of The Witch that makes this movie so utterly perfect to me. Dan O’Herlihy’s puckish, ultimately sinister antagonist Conal Cochran sums it up in his villainous monologue as “a trick played on the children.” A mass sacrifice, enacted via a chip of Stonehenge embedded in a microchip in the logo of each Halloween mask, triggered by a television signal set to go off during ‘the big giveaway’ on Halloween night, during a showing of the movie Halloween.

Yes, it’s totally absurd. The death of millions of kids on Halloween night, perpetrated by a catchy jingle and the nebulous promise of a can’t-miss-it big giveaway. And not just normal old brain melting microwave beam death, but techno-science ray death by bugs and snakes popping out of your face. O’Herlihy sells the whole thing magnificently with his measured, ominous speech about the true meaning of Halloween (I don’t care that he mispronounces Samhain. Everyone does.). To this villain it’s a religious obligation, but he’s a gag-maker by trade, so it’s also a joke. You have to marry your work with your passions for a happy life.
And yet….speaking from experience as a kid in 1983, let me tell you, the plot of Halloween III would have totally got us. Or me, anyway.

The pre-eminent Saturday horror movie host of the Chicagoland area was and still is Rich Koz, The Son of Svengoolie. In the summer of 1982, Svengoolie promoted a special 3-D broadcast of Revenge Of The Creature on his show. It was the first attempt at a 3-D broadcast in Chicago. You could go to a 7-11 and get one of four limited edition cardboard 3-D glasses for 69 cents. Then, as long as you had a color TV set, could sit six feet away from the screen, and tuned in at the correct time, you’d be treated to a black and white 1955 movie in three dimensions. Yep, no big giveaway needed. I was all set to spit crickets just to watch a forty year old movie. But remember, VCR’s weren’t really widespread at that time, so if you were a fan of a movie, you scoured the TV Guide and made time for the broadcast or you missed your chance, and I was a big Creature of The Black Lagoon fan at that age – had no idea there even was a sequel. I guess the 3-D actually didn’t end up working correctly. I somehow missed the broadcast, even though I remember being really stoked for it. I probably fell asleep.

Another thing Season Of The Witch gets right about 80’s kids was our ravenous susceptibility to fads. Even before we induced our parents to duke it out in the aisles of Toys ‘R Us over Cabbage Patch Kids, in October 1980 there was another fad eerily akin to the Don Post masks of this movie that arrested the kids of Saint Andrew The Apostle in Calumet City, Illinois; Kooky Spooks.

Kooky Spooks came and went and a lot of people don’t remember them, but I was crazy to get in on it that Halloween. It was basically a bagged costume consisting of a plastic poncho, some reflective tape and makeup, and an inflatable character that sat on top of your head. There were nine variations. Wunkin Pumpkin, Wobblin Goblin, Scaredy Cat, Howly Owl, Spacey Casey, Wonder Witch, and Bone Head. The commercials were as ubiquitous as the Silver Shamrock jingle and they made me desperate to plunk down my parents’ money.

I was a Scaredy Cat. I was five or so, so I don’t know if I’m misremembering this entire thing and I was actually the laughingstock of my friends and not the envy. I have this one photo of my great grandmother disapproving of my get-up (including blackface), and my ma remembers it as being hysterical. I think the headpiece deflated and drooped over my face halfway through Halloween night.

Anyway the point is, I totally would have begged for one of those pumpkin masks (and I eventually did get one as an adult – Buddy Kupfer Jr. is my go-to Halloween costume when I take the kids out).

It could be all these elements of my own childhood Halloween experiences combined to prime me perfectly to enjoy Season Of The Witch, but a glance at blogs and lists around the internet tells me that I’m not as alone as I once was.

Season Of The Witch, for me, is the Halloween movie that perfectly encompasses everything I enjoy about Halloween and I closeout the holiday every year with a late night watch after we’ve brought the kids home from trick ‘r treating.

Don’t forget to watch the big giveaway….and wear your mask.


Boo-graphy:
Edward M. Erdelac is the author of thirteen novels including the acclaimed Judeocentric/Lovecraftian weird western series Merkabah Rider, Rainbringer: Zora Neale Hurston Against The Lovecraftian Mythos, Conquer, Monstrumfuhrer from Comet Press, Terovolas from JournalStone Publishing, and Andersonville from Random House/Hydra.

Born in Indiana, educated in Chicago, he lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and a bona fide slew of kids and cats.

Conquer
In 1976 Harlem, JOHN CONQUER, P.I. is the cat you call when your hair stands up…the supernatural brother like no other. From the pages of Occult Detective Quarterly, he’s calm, he’s cool, and now he’s collected in CONQUER.

From Hoodoo doctors and Voodoo Queens,
The cat they call Conquer’s down on the scene!
With a dime on his shin and a pocket of tricks,
A gun in his coat and an eye for the chicks.
Uptown and Downton, Harlem to Brooklyn,
Wherever the brothers find trouble is brewin,’
If you’re swept with a broom, or your tracks have been crossed,
If your mojo is failin’ and all hope is lost,
Call the dude on St. Marks with the shelf fulla books,
‘Cause ain’t no haint or spirit, or evil-eye looks,
Conjured by devils, JAMF’s, or The Man,
Can stop the black magic Big John’s got on hand!

Collects Conquer Comes Calling, Conquer Gets Crowned, Conquer Comes Correct and four previously unpublished stories – Keep Cool, Conquer, Conquer Cracks His Whip, Conquer And The Queen of Crown Heights, and Who The Hell Is John Conquer?

Rainbringer: Zora Neale Hurston Against the Lovecraftian Mythos
“The oaths of secrecy she [Zora Neale Hurston] swore, and the terrifying physical and emotional ordeals she endured…left their mark on her, and there were certain parts of her material which she never dared to reveal, even in scientific publications.” – Alan Lomax

ZORA! She traveled the 1930’s south alone with a loaded forty four and an unmatched desire to see and to know. She was at home in the supper clubs of New York City, back road juke joints, under ropes of Spanish moss, and dancing around the Vodoun peristyle. Her experiences brought us Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules And Men, Tell My Horse, and Jonah’s Gourd Vine. But between the lines she wrote lie the words unwritten, truths too fantastic to divulge….until now.

LEAVES FLOATING IN A DREAM’S WAKE, BEYOND THE BLACK ARCADE. EKWENSU’S LULLABY. KING YELLER. GODS OF THE GRIM NATION. THE SHADOW IN THE CHAPEL OF EASE. BLACK WOMAN, WHITE CITY. THE DEATHLESS SNAKE. Eight weird and fantastic stories spanning the breadth of her amazing life. Eight times when she faced the nameless alien denizens of the outer darkness and didn’t blink.

ZORA! Celebrated writer, groundbreaking anthropologist, Hoodoo initiate, footloose queen of the Harlem Renaissance, Mythos detective.