GUEST POST: John Boden

A List of Films to Watch Around Halloween, None of Which are HALLOWEEN

How about that lame ass title?

It’s that time of year again, Boils & Ghouls. I was asked by Meghan to contribute to her yearly holiday blog series, and as usual I said yes and then flaked until literally the day before a piece is due. The grandest intention being to craft a fresh story or autobiographical sliver as I have in past years.

But, see, I think my brain is broken. Plague World and working retail have done it in. Focusing is hard and holding a captured thought is akin to catching tadpoles. So in true cop out fashion I give you this list of movies I love to watch this time of year that may or may not have anything to do with the holiday…okay, a couple of them do.

Ready? Here we go, in no rank or order…

Burnt Offerings. This amazingly gothic film concerns the account of a family whom rent an old mansion in the middle of nowhere only to discover it is not, exactly as promised. Lured by the unreal low cost, the trio learn about desires dark and hungry, about aspirations realized and locked away and never have framed old pictures of people not smiling ever been creepier. Based on the equally superb novel by Robert Marasco.

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow. A Made-For-TV movie that debuted on CBS in 1981. Starred the late Larry Drake as Bubba, a mentally retarded young man who falls victim to violence and prejudices in his tiny farm town…you think. But when the true reason behind his murder begins to show through “Vigilante” posse-runner, Otis Hazelrigg’s cracks (And my God, is it dark and icky for television) you find out it run much deeper. A fantastic cast and wonderfully creepy atmosphere have turned this into a cult favorite. Directed by Frank De Felitta.

Something Wicked This Way Comes. There is nothing that tastes more like October than this novel from the master. A deeply affecting coming-of-age tale about a town haunted. The haunts here are regret and disappointment. Are aging and absenteeism. Are wishes and I mean, we all know how long and hard a wish can clank about in the darkness. Two boys eager to be men, witness the arrival of a strange carnival one late October night. And coming with it are things that live on dreams…and barter for much bigger things. Perfection, this one!

WNUF Halloween Special. This recent treasure from Chris LaMartina is a pinnacle of “found footage/nostalgia itching.” An incredibly well-done trip down memory lane in the costume of a recorded-from-TV Hallwoeen special complete with commercials and static and rewinding and a fairly effective if pretty simple set-up and delivery. A ghoulishy good time!

The Funhouse. This 1981 gem is on here because I have always found it deeply creepy and it always gave me the Autumn feels, even though I think it might be set in late summer. There’s a thick vein of sleaze running through this slasher classic where a group of horny teens (always with the horny teens) decide to sneak into a carnival funhouse for a night of Bible study and crafts and by that I mean probably smoking weed and bumping uglies, only to find themselves pursued by the deformed son of the carnival owner. Not super high on gore but it makes up for it in gross close ups of drooling monster mouth and weird carny imagery.

The Other. 1972 film based on the splendid novel by Thomas Tryon. Set during the Depression, twin brother are at the center of a circle of bizarre events and murder in their rural community. The less you know going in to this one the better but it is absolutely fantastic and a gorgeous film to behold, literally.

I’m going to leave off with this one. The goofy and highly off-kilter Satan’s Little Helper. A video game obsessed little boy finds himself assisting a serial killer plundering his town on Halloween. The boy is all about a game where you help the Devil do bad things and since the killer is dressed as the horned one he thinks that’s what he’s doing. Sure this relatively tame flick has all kinds of logic holes and the acting isn’t the best. But it’s fucking weird. And a lot of fun. From Jeff Lieberman, the feller what gave us the killer worm classic Squirm and the slashery Just Before Dawn.

There. You’ve maybe seen these. Might not have heard of some. Or maybe just never gave them a thought as a Halloween watch. But seeing the white-painted Kirk face every year…hearing the doo-doo-doo-doo of the Silver Shamrock jingle…Watching that little dude with the burlap face chase Brian Cox around his house with a broken lollipop? Change it up. Add one or two of these to your last weekend’s viewing and I promise you you might find at least one new favorite to sew into your Octobers from now on.

And if not, Michael Myers will be waiting for you…as always.


Boo-graphy:
John Boden lives a stone throw from Three Mile Island with his wonderful wife and sons. A baker by day, he spends his off time writing or wasting time watching terrible horror films from the 70s and 80s. He likes Diet Pepsi, cheeseburgers, heavy metal, and old country music and often sports ferocious sideburns. While his output as a writer is fairly sporadic, it has a bit of a reputation for being unique. The books Dominoes, Spungunion, Walk The Darkness Down, and Jedi Summer are his doing alone. Detritus in Love, Out Behind the Barn, Rattlesnake Kisses, Cattywampus, and the nearly finished Black Salve… on those, he had assistance from Mercedes Yardley, Chad Lutzke, or Robert Ford. He’s easily tracked down on Facebook or the Twitter and as rumors have it, a pretty friendly feller… honest.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Brian Asman

Meghan: Hi, Brian! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for agreeing to be a part of this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Brian: Watching a spooky veneer slowly creep over my neighborhood, transforming a sun-drenched beach community into a real-life Halloweentown. I like to imagine it’s emanating from my house, where it’s Halloween 24/7.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Brian: Making pumpkin spice everything and mainlining scary movies until my skin turns orange.

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

Brian: There are other holidays?

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Brian: Not sure if it’s superstitious per se, but super OCD about stepping on cracks. I don’t THINK anything bad is going to happen, it just bothers me.

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

Brian: Just one? Umm, as far as the big, iconic villains go it’s Michael Myers. The idea of someone who’s just a shell, no concept of empathy, walking around in the world? It’s scary because it’s true.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Brian: The Black Dahlia, by far. When I was a kid, I remember visiting my grandparents and finding this little digest-sized Unsolved Mysteries magazine in the grocery aisle. I even wrote a 300K word novel trying to puzzle out what ACTUALLY* happened.

*A ghost did it

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Brian: That one about the escaped mental patient in the backseat. Graveyard hitchhiker, too. Basically anything with cars I guess!

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

Brian: I think I was five when I saw Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Scared the pants off me, and I didn’t sleep for days! Probably just a little older when I read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and same. I was a big ‘ole fraidy cat when I was a kid.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Brian: Oh boy, tough question—I’ve got to go with an old standby, Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. The sheer callousness of everyone involved was incredibly disturbing, and knowing it was based on a true story just made the horror even more visceral. Fantastic book, not sure I’d want to read it again though.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Brian: I mean, none? Killer Klowns was the first one and definitely shaped my trajectory!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Brian: I’ve had a bunch of fun ones, but the most unique one? One year I stapled a bunch of party hats, noisemakers, condoms, balloons, and a bunch of other shit to my jeans and went as a “Party In My Paints.” Even made up invitations and passed them out at the party.

No one RVSP’ed, womp womp.

Wish I could find pics of that one, here’s some favorites:

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Brian: Easy—“Halloween” by the Misfits. Although most of the music I listen to is Halloween-themed, I really dig psychobilly and horrorpunk!

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

Brian: Candy corn or mallowcreme pumpkins. Can’t say there’s one that’s really disappointing for me, I love it all!

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by today! It was a total pleasure!! Before for you go, what are your top five Halloween movies?

Brian:
5. Tales of Halloween – so many fun segments! I’m especially enamored of “This Means War,” where two neighbors get into a Halloween scuffle, and “Grim Grinning Ghost,” where a young woman learns the truth behind an urban legend.

4. WNUF Halloween Special – Must be seen to be believed. Shot like a lost ’80s network TV special, complete with fake period poster. The amount of care and love that went into this thing is great, with some genuinely creepy moments.

3. Trick ‘R Treat – As you can tell, I really dig anthologies for my spooky season watching. Every piece here is super strong, cohesive, and Sam has become an absolute icon.

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Tom Atkins! Celtic magic! Robots! What else do you want? The film that boldly diverged from the Michael Myers plotline, it’s definitely gained an appreciation over the years. Deservedly – Tom Atkins’ performance as Dr. Challis is fun, and the ending is gut-wrenching!

1. Halloween 1978 – The original. The grandaddy of them all. What else can I say? It’s amazing.


Boo-graphy:
Brian Asman is the author of I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today from Eraserhead Press, Jailbroke from Mutated Media, and Nunchuck City. He’s recently published short stories in the anthologies Breaking Bizarro, Welcome to the Splatter Club, and Lost Films, and edited the parody anthology Boinking Bizarro. He also writes comics for the anthology series Tales of Horrorgasm.

Based in San Diego, he has an MFA from UCR-Palm Desert and a Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers tattoo. He’s represented by Dunham Literary, Inc. Max Booth III is his hype man.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today
A Bizarro fiction tribute to the Kevin Smith cult classic CLERKS.

After a killer surf session, Scot Kring stops into his local Fasmart for a delicious, icy Slushpuppy. But before he can leave, a homeless guy outside has a stroke and accidentally recites an ancient Latin phrase that summons a very hungry demon, who just so happens to look like filmmaker Kevin Smith.

Now Scot’s stuck in a time loop along with the other occupants of the convenience store who may or may not be demonically possessed and he’s fighting back with nothing but a fistful of greasy hot dogs and a souvenir Slushpuppy cup as the giant menacing kaiju Kevin Smith threatens to kill them all.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today is a demon apocalypse comedy for the slacker generation.

Jailbroke
Future slacker Kelso’s got the easiest gig in the galaxy, working the Gordita Especial! pod on board an interstellar cruiser, although that doesn’t stop him from complaining about it to anyone who’ll listen.

Cyborg Security Officer Londa James spends her days wrangling idiot tourists and keeping an artificial eye out for any passengers or crew who might be on the verge of snapping from space sicknesses.

But after a colleague is brutally murdered, Kelso and James are going to have to work together if they want to survive! Man-eating machines, cybernetically-enhanced badasses, septuagenarian toddlers, an opioid algorithm-addicted bucket of bolts, a cult that worships the reincarnation of a 400-year-old God Genius, and one very unusual sex robot come together in JAILBROKE, a heartwarming/ripping tale about what it means to be human in a galaxy run by artificial intelligence.

Nunchuck City
You better nun-check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Disgraced ex-ninja Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulis just wants to open a drive-thru fondue restaurant with his best friend Rondell. But when an old enemy kidnaps the mayor, and a former flame arrives in hot pursuit, Nick’s going to have to dust off his fighting skills and face his past. Plus an army of heavily-armed ninjas, a very well-dressed street gang, an Australian sumo wrestler with a gnarly skin condition, giant robots, municipal paperwork, and much, much more! From the rooftops to the sewers, Nick and his ex-girlfriend Kanna Kikuchi are in for the fight of their lives!