Ghosts of Halloween Past

Happy Halloween! To celebrate this All Hallow's Eve I present to you a tour of my costumes of Halloween past. Hope you enjoy.

Halloween 1971
We start the tour in the year of 1971. My sister is 1 1/2 and I am (almost) 3. The outfit that sis is wearing is something that Mom concocted with a bedsheet. She had me wear the same thing when I was Amy's age. In fact, there's a photo of me wearing this bedsheet/bunny-thing and I have this strange confused look on my face. Mom tells me that I'm looking at her as she's trying to take the photo but can't because she's laughing so hard at me. (I couldn't find the photo.) UPDATE: Found it! Here, my love for Disney and Mickey Mouse becomes self evident at the (extremely brown) kitchen table.

Halloween 1973
Next is 1973. Umm, I have to explain this. See, my Dad was notorious for freestyling a costume for Halloween. The more ludicrous, the better. He would dress up in anything that he could get his hands on: in this year's case, it was some old white pantyhose and an outrageous bedsheet. (Just check out that pattern! What could we do? It was the 70's.) Amy is 3, I'm (almost) 5. Lookit, I'm already digging the classic horror monsters: Frankenstein's monster. Amy is another monster of sorts: Barbie.

Halloween 1976 (part 1)
1976: This is me, our friend Susan, and my sister Amy. I'm some sort of ghoul, not sure what Susan was, sis was a gypsy. This is just as we are about to embark upon our trick-or-treatin' -- I was in full character with that freakish pose. I believe Mom painted on that third eye, probably at the last minute.

Halloween 1976 (part 2)
Just down the street, our neighbors loved our costumes so much that they took a photo of us. I'm posting this because I find it hilarious that I'm still in character.

Halloween 1978
1978: I'm saving the best for last. This is perhaps one of my favorite Halloween costumes of all time. I was almost 10 and was so into horror and blood and creepy stuff. I definitely was into full "gross phase" at this stage in my life.

My costume was as follows: I ripped up some old jeans and a sweater and put some fake blood in the rips and holes, I painted the skull on my face myself (complete with fake blood), I had Mom buy some black leggings so I could paint skeleton legs that could be seen through the holes in the jeans, and -- the kicker -- I taped my right eye shut and glued a paper mache eyeball that I had made by myself earlier in the day (with optical nerve, of course). Also, I had a fake rubber hand that was supposed to be in the shot here (it's on the ground in front of me), and with it, I would try to freak people out by dropping it into the candy bowl or whatever as I went out trick-or-treating. Ahh, good times.

That's it for this year's Halloween! Hope you all have a wonderfully spooky time tonight and don't get too stuffed from your annual haunting the neighborhood for sweets and sugar!


My Obligatory Nightmare Before Christmas Post

Hmmm...lessee here...it's October, almost Halloween, the leaves are brown and falling, the air has a slight cold nip to it -- yup, it's time to revisit my two-part review of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS! Back in November of 2004, when I started my blog, it seemed that I had oodles of time to spare and would work on incredibly lengthy posts. So please, by all means, check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have gobs of time on your hands. I go into great detail about the design and characters of the film, as well as offer some filmmaker comments that I gleaned from the director's commentary on the DVD.

There's no need to reinstate that I love this movie. It's probably one of my top 10 favorite films -- a list that requires each and every film worth watching a million times over without my tiring of it. I see something different in the flick each time I watch it.

I took Ava to go see NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 3D on a very busy Saturday. It was great to see NIGHTMARE up on the big screen again, even if it was because of the 3D gimmick attached to it. I was a bit underwhelmed by the 3D effect, with some scenes that I though for sure would pop out with flying colors become dull and flat; but surprisingly, other scenes that were quite subtle become alive with just the right amount of the 3D touch. Scenes such as in Halloween Town's townsquare where all the characters looked nice and dimensional up against the town buildings and the sky in the background. Another excellent scene that worked for me was the whole sequence of Sally going over to Jack's to give him her picnic basket. Dynamic shots with items moving towards or away from the camera worked really well. Graphic elements worked the best off of the 3D technique, like the 2D animated ghosts, smoke and the new portraits of all the characters during the end credits. Also, the countdown to the beginning of the show with the jack-o'-lantern-in-the-box was fantastic. But I think that that was done in CG -- which was made just for this presentation. So, the 3D was, for the most part, an interesting twist to an already perfect movie, but all in all, I would've preferred to have seen the original movie. It was a classic case of WHY? Just my opinion.

One nice thing about seeing it this past Saturday: there was a young mother sitting behind us who I could tell had not seen the film (the horror!). Since I have seen NIGHTMARE hundreds of times, the newness has worn off on me and I've since forgotten the parts that were funny and fresh the very first time. What parts garnered a response? When Sally's arm hits Dr. Finkelstein on the head as she runs off; Dr. Finkelstein opens up his head to give it a little tickle; Jack hits the Christmas Town sign post; Lock, Shock & Barrell nab the Easter Bunny instead and the Behemoth (big dude with the axe in his head) yells out "Bunny!"; the angel decoration being hung by the string lights when Jack lands on the rooftop; most of the Halloween Town gifts doing their dirty deeds in the "normal" town; the Behemoth and Undersea Gal creating snow angels in the snow. It was great to enjoy those moments again vicariously through this faceless person. Oh, and Ava loved the movie, of course. But she's not one of those kids who talk incessantly about the movie right afterwards. She bounces around a bit as we leave the theater, but she's always been low key when it comes to movie outings.

Hey, since you all are such nice people, especially by being patient with me during my two-part NIGHTMARE review, here's some extra framegrabs that I had sitting in the dark confines of my computer, gathering dust. They were from when I was working on the review and just didn't have enough time to post them. Be sure to click on each to view larger:

Here is the very last sequence in order, of Jack and Sally finally together, which I feel is one of the strongest in the film. Just check out the poses and staging. Excellent shots here:

There were a couple of scenes with panshots and so I grabbed the images and did some Photoshop to see what the whole thing looked like. Here are two (click on images to view larger):

Rats -- Blogger is acting up for me now, and I still have lots more images to share with you. Please come back later on today and I'll have the rest up in the post. Stay tuned...

Tomorrow: see horrors of Halloween past!


little monster

little monster
"Give me a scary face, Ava."

She contorts into this pose immediately. She then moves and I take another shot:

little monster screaming
There is no sound, no scream. She just posed for the camera silently.

Which makes it all the more creepy.


Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 1
The third and last book that Ava drew for her classmates (see Love Is Embarrassing and Crafts) is "Don't Be a Scaredy Cat," a fun little book for her good friend, Evette. Evette and Ava have struck up a great friendship recently and have bonded pretty tight, playing together after school.

So, just in time for Halloween, here's Ava's little book about two girls who encounter a monster while walking....

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 2
"Once upon a time, there was a scaredy cat."

I absolutely love that monster and the screaming girl.

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 3
"The scaredy cat was so scared that she screamed."

More great faces here with the girl's tightly shut eyes, arms flailing, mouth screaming. And check out the monster swooping down to get her.

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 4
"Then the scaredy cat found another girl."

Uh oh. Looks like the monster is in trouble and he knows it.

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 5
"Then the girls turned over and they saw a monster."

Very nice composition here with the girls looking up at the now scared monster.

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 6
"But the girls weren't scared."

Ava tells me that the girls are crossing their arms with a "humph!" as they realize that monsters aren't scary. That's a priceless look on the deflated monster, isn't it?

Ava Thursday: Don't Be a Scaredy Cat 7
"To Evette, from Ava. The end."

Have a Happy Halloween, all you scaredy cats!


Spring loaded arms...to crush its victims!

Alien doll
I've got to hand it to my Mom: she reluctantly bought me this Alien figure for Christmas of '79. Mom, God bless you. I love you forever for this act of love. Never mind that you went through 9 months of carrying me in your belly or going through hours of labor to birth me or years and years of having to raise both me and my sister. The day I tore apart the gift wrapping to see the evil dark face of Alien staring back at me (on a beautiful Christmas morn no less), I knew that you truly loved me.

Alien head
The second set of teeth extend out by pushing a lever in the back of the Alien's head. Cool.

The Kenner Alien 18" figure from 1979 is one peculiar toy. It has become an extremely rare collectible, with prices going as high as $500 for mint-in-the-box. Check out this page to read more about it. It was basically a marketing ploy that backfired -- who in their right minds at Kenner would think that kids (or their parents, for that matter) would buy a figure from an R-rated sci-fi horror film? A film that featured a baby alien bursting through the chest of John Hurt? Now, you gotta realize that this was WAY before the big rush of specialized movie merchandise that you can buy all the time at stores like Suncoast or online. This was directly aimed at kids. And it bombed big time. Thus, the high price it garners from collectors. And add the fact that the things were made quite poorly: there is a spike in the back that broke off all the time (I still have mine), the rubberband that gave the arms that "spring load action" would deteriorate in time (mine has), and the translucent head dome was often lost (still got mine). My Alien is in okay condition -- save for the rubberband and spike -- but with a good spring cleaning I'm sure he could look just like new.

My Alien figure's arms hang limp by his side. His days of crushing victims are long gone.

I remember the box packaging in particular, mostly for the shots of the Alien and its "spring loaded arms...to crush its victims!" You gotta love that. And check out that kid on the side there: you know he's now holed up in his mom's cellar, watching the ALIEN Quadriolgy non-stop and surrounded by the bones of his recent "purge." Oh yeah. He's a John Wayne Gacy just waiting to happen.

Click to view the box in all its alien-y horror!


Did you know? I did the animation for Mail Call's new show open. It's that show on The History Channel that has the incomparable R. Lee Ermey as its host. My pal Clay Croker was visiting Primal a while back when I was working on the open and said to me, "Hey man, I've got that R. Lee doll that you can get on his site! You wanna use it for reference?" Even though it doesn't really look like the guy, it did have some freaky elements to it, so I took some shots of the guy with dramatic lighting out of curiosity. Thus the posting of the pics here. I thought that they looked freaky enough for the Halloween-themed entertainment this week. Hope you enjoy.

R. Lee is freaky
R. Lee's freaky teeth
They spent an unusual amount of detail on the teeth. Freaky teeth!

R. Lee Wants You
R. Lee wants you. And your soul.

R. Lee Still Wants You
"Prepare to die, you scum-sucking maggot!"

R. Lee is down wit it
Awww, yeah.

Tomorrow: Ava shares her Dad's love of all things Halloween for Ava Thursday!


Spookish Flotsam

the monster contemplates...
I love Halloween. And to prove it, I'll post some Halloween-based items leading up to the big day. For starters, how about some linkage?

I'm a big fan of fellow Drawn! pal Jay Stephens' blog, Monsterama. The dude has dug up my beautiful horror-lovin' past in all its undead glory by posting about almost-forgotten cultural oddities like The Groovie Goolies and -- oh my horrors -- this book! Man, I loved the "Make-Up Monsters" book! I remember ordering it through Scholastic and being so excited when it was delivered to me at school. I studied every single page, eating up the pulpy black & white photos of the creepy make-up concoctions with fervent glee. I seem to recall wanting to recreate that bug-eyed creature that's featured on the cover there. And I recall that I didn't do it successfully. The photos of the kids with their home-crafted creature faces always seemed to be so etheral and spooky to me. I loved it so.

Did you know? Kyra Schon, the nine year-old zombie girl from George Romero's original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD has her own website called Ghoul Next Door. Oh yes, she's got a zombie blog, too. Careful, don't get too close.

More zombies: A while back, Michael Sporn mentioned Jason McDonald, who has a pretty cool & gruesome online comic, My Living Dead Girl. Somewhat minimal and monochromatic, I like the way Jason draws his characters. All I can say is...*gak*!

The Zombie Survival Guide: probably the most important book you'll ever read. In the cellar. Or in a damp, old bomb shelter. Or in a remote, secluded place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of flesh. Or something like that.

My pal, Clay, has some great spooky posts on his Argle Bargle blog. Be sure to check out posts on Bruce Timm's creepy work, a whole buncha Black Lagoon creature stuff, movie poster artist Reynold Brown, and black & white B-movie monsters in full blown color. Lotsa pics to look through. Perfect for Halloween reading.

And lastly, Jeff creeps me out.

Coming up: pics of me back in the day, in full monster-glory!


Ava Thursday: Crafts

Ava Thursday: Crafts 1

The second book that Ava made recently for her classmates was titled "Crafts." (The first was Love Is Embarrassing.) Crafts was given to her classmate Phillip, and is filled with little craft ideas that Ava had been working on with Mommy, or some things that she had read about in some craftbooks. Since they were still fresh in her mind, she decided to put them in a little book for her friend, I guess. Something for Phillip to pass the time with. I hope Phillip enjoyed the book. Not sure if he completely understood what Ava was trying to explain in each craft idea. Plus, boys in first grade aren't really known to be the "craft type." But hey, I got pics of it, so that's fine by me.

Ava Thursday: Crafts 2
1. How to make a book.
2. You get a piece of paper.
3. You draw on the piece of paper.

Notice how she spells "draw": if you think about it, the "dr-" does sound like a "g"sound (as in "ginger") if you're 6 years old.

Ava Thursday: Crafts 3
1. How to make a house.
2. Get a piece of paper.
3. Cut out (3) papers...(here it gets kinda hard for me to read, but basically she says that you get some tape and then tape the pieces of paper to make the roof of the house).

I'll have to ask Ava what that last one says. I love how she draws rays coming out from each of the final products, as in a final "Ta-dah!"

Ava Thursday: Crafts 4
"How to make your own picture of a horse."
1. First you get a toliet paper roll. (I helped her with the spelling of "toliet paper roll." No, I'm not known for my spelling.)
2. Then you draw on the toilet paper roll.

(You can see what she's talking about below.)

Ava Thursday: Crafts 5
To Phillip. From Ava.

Ava drawing "Crafts"I took some shots of Ava as she was creating and writing the Crafts book. When she gets going, it's hard to snap her out of it. She's so focused and determined. I try not to distract her and just let her be. As I was taking these photos, she hardly blinked an eye. Just kept on doing what she was doing. Below, you can see the toilet paper roll craft that she mentioned above. It's right next to her. If you look closely, you can see a drawing of a horse on it. She did ask me some questions about the things that she was trying to write about, including the toilet paper roll, and about the making of the house. I love the way that she went about explaining everything so matter-of-factly. I was like that when I was young: pointing things out in meticulous detail. I'm still like that now, I'm afraid. I like to explain things to people and if I had the time I would probably make little books on how to animate or draw or paint. Or blog. That would be fun. In fact, that would be very fun. I might have to create my own little "how-to" book series, Ward-O-Matic-style. And there would be an "Ava Thursday" series, of course.

Explaining the toilet paper roll craft

Ava hard at work

Close up

Coming up next week for Ava Thursday: the third (and final) book made for her classmates, just in time for Halloween!