Haint’s Halloween Picks

Boo!

Thought I’d toss out a random selection of offerings for this Halloween weekend: some funny ones, some spooky, some downright cheesy. Wow. this took a while. Made it to 15, in no particular order. Have you seen them all?

  • Young Frankenstein (1987)
  • Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeleine Kahn
  • Hilarious homage to the classic Frankenstein films, essentially, a full-length film loaded with memorable lines. A must see if you haven’t seen it before; a must see again if you have.

  • The ‘Burbs (1989)
  • Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman
  • directed by Joe Dante
  • Comedy horror
  • Funny film about suspicious neighbors in a cul-de-sac. Could watch this again and again. Even the soundtrack is perfection.

  • What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
  • Comedy horror
  • Written by/Directed by/ Starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
  • Hilarious mockumentary about the day to day life of a flat of vampires.

  • The Lost Boys (1987)
  • Directed by Joel Schumaker
  • Comedy horror
  • Jason Patric, Dianne Wiest, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keiffer Sutherland
  • A single mom with two boys moves to a small town in California. Her older son soon falls in with the wrong crowd, a band of vampires. Great fun with a rocking soundtrack.
  • Troll Hunter (2010)
  • Directed by André Øvredal
  • Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen
  • (Norwegian with subtitles)
  • An investigation into bear attacks takes a wild turn as a group of student documentarians uncover a secret. If you watch the trailer, this may look violent or scary; it has its moments, but is mostly a funny thrill ride. Maybe all that old folklore wasn’t just made up stories afterall.
  • Carnival of Souls (1964)
  • Directed by Herk Harvey
  • Candace Hilligoss
  • Unscary but atmospheric horror/drama –final scenes quite memorable…
  • Some find this film too sluggish. It is a slow-burner with a dreamlike feel to it.
  • A woman is involved in a car crash. She recovers and stumbles around in a disoriented state, feeling a strange gravitation to a theme park on a wharf. I would highly recommend seeing the film AND the making of it documentary that comes with the DVD. The back story about the filming and location add to the weirdness of the film itself. The gorgeous carnival burned down not long after filming –the second massive fire on the wharf… This was Candace Holligoss’s only film. Now a cult classic, it was not an immediate hit… A must see if you like artsy-fartsy films.
  • HOUSE (HAU-SU) 1977
  • Nobuhito Kobayashi
  • This must be seen with the making-of documentary as the back story is essentially complementary to the film itself. This experimental director asked his daughter what scared her. She told him. The result is a scary film for children with homemade special effects, pop music, cartoon segments… it’s weird, creepy, funny, and totally unlike anything else– quite groundbreaking for its time.
  • Therapy for a Vampire (2014)
  • Director:  David Ruhm
  • Anatole Taubman, Tobias Moretti, Dominic Oley, Cornelia Ivancan
  • Just discovered this one! Trailer looks super fun– lush comedy. Just ordered. Should be here on Halloween! Woot! Premise–this vampire has been married for a couple hundred years and the marriage has gotten stale. The Count goes in for some therapy…
  • Skeleton Key (2010)
  • Directed by Iain Softley
  • Kate Hudson, Peter Saarsgard
  • I worried that this was going to be too scary for me when I first watched it. Nope. Sucked me in right away and I was hooked. Right to the wild ending. Perfect for folks who have a lower threshold for scary but still want to get the creeps.

  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Written/Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
  • Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
  • Is it possible that you haven’t seen this? Terrific film about a young boy and a therapist, each working through issues. Some spooky moments but all in all, not very scary, but with a whopping twist. Brilliant film.
  • The Legacy (1978)
  • Directed by Richard Marquand
  • Sam Elliott, Katherine Ross, Charles Gray, Margaret Tyzack
  • My favorite 70s horror film. An American woman is summoned to a homestead home in England where relatives she hardly knew she had are gathered together. The patriarch is dying; only one can inherit. But what is the inheritance? Creepy low budget with some memorable lines and moments. You can try to run away, but all roads lead right back to the mansion. Bonus: Rather remarkably, the film is very true to the book.
  • Shadow of the Vampire (2010)
  • Director: E. Elias Murhige
  • John Malkovitch, Willem Dafoe
  • Not scary but atmospheric, more drama than horror with bits of comedy, this is a favorite of mine.
  • The premise: what if the vampire in the original Nosferatu film was real? It’s a problem when your lead actor wants to eat the film crew…
  • KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
  • Director: Gordon Hessler
  • Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Anthony Zerbe as “Abner Devereaux”

Okay, no this isn’t a great, must-see film. I was just wondering if you were paying attention. It’s super campy and actually the reason that I became a KISS fan. I mean, come on, this is CHEESY. If they can laugh at themselves, well, as always, Gene can laugh his way to the bank. It’s a cult classic. Dare I admit that I’ve seen it quite a few times? Favorite scene: the unpleasant bikers going through the house of horrors. Dee, Chopper, and Slime get their comeuppance. Peter Criss gets a nice “Beth” solo. KISS saves the day, defeating robots made to replace them.

  • Midnight Lace (1968)
  • Directed by David Miller
  • Doris Day, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowell
  • I’ve done a fuller review of this already, but if you want a spooky thriller, this one isn’t scary but quite atmospheric. Someone is stalking the recently wed Mrs. Preston but no one believes her. Rex Harrison was deliberately frosty to Doris Day, who had a nervous breakdown on film for real, having been in an abusive relationship herself. It was the only scary movie she ever acted in.

  • Coraline (2009)
  • Directed by Henry Sellick/Written by Neil Gaiman
  • Horror/Fantasy cartoon for kids but quite creepy
  • Big ol’ weenie me, discovered this film fairly recently. Was surprised at how unsettling this is. Guess today’s kids are jaded so this isn’t scary.
  • The gist of the story is that a young girl, whose family recently moved, discovers a door in the new house that leads to an alternate universe.

A Kind of Murder (2016)

I was in the mood for a mystery thriller and this one fit the bill in some ways while missing it in others. The film is based on the novel The Blunderer written by Patricia Highsmith in 1954. Highsmith is also known for writing The Talented Mr. Ripley and episodes of Armchair Detective, Tales of the Unexpected, Chillers, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and that’s a small portion of her writing credits.

The plot is contrived; the ending–well, let’s say not entirely satisfying.

I’d give it three monkeys but for the acting and period design which are both excellent and bump it to a 4-monkey rating.

Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel are the leads, as Mr. and Mrs. Stackhouse. They are perfect in their oddities and dysfunction alone and together. She’s unhappy, neurotic, suspicious, which pushes him inevitably towards the beautiful and available young Haley Bennet who is terrific as Stackhouse’s girlfriend.

I’m surprised that Eddie Marsan (I knew him from the series Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell) did not get top billing too, as he is a scene stealer, in my opinion, holding back a world of malice behind his glasses.

Mr. Stackhouse is a successful architect who writes crime stories in his free time. His hobby is collecting true crime articles for reference. Things go south quickly when his own wife is found dead at the scene of a recent murder and it becomes apparent that Mr. Stackhouse had previously gone to meet the key suspect. It’s possible Mrs. Stackhouse killed herself, but an obsessed cop is not so sure. Stackhouse is a terrible liar. It was unclear to me why he seems to deliberately make people more suspicious of him. His obsession with the murder and the creepy Mr. Kimmel only makes the cop more anxious to prove him guilty.

Have to assume they intended the play on meaning with the title: a kind-of murder or a type of murder? Did he kill his wife? This title works better for me than The Blunderer for sure.

Honestly, the ending doesn’t quite do it for me, BUT overall, the film kept me guessing. I loved the noir-ish atmosphere. The characters are complicated. Even though I wasn’t enamored with any of them–oh, hold up, I take that back–the girlfriend is likeable–but there was enough mystery to keep me engaged.

I give it four monkeys!

Rainy Days Bring Mushrooms

Living out in the woods, I delight in the ephemeral nature of and variety of mushrooms that abound. They push forth with determination and are gone almost before I can go fetch a camera. On my list to learn more about them and identify them.

This tree came down a few years ago. Standing next to it, the top of it is almost hip height to me and runs half the length of the immediate back yard. Fortunately, it didn’t fall on anything, so there was absolutely no urgency to do anything about it. We cleared around it and left it. The dogs thought it was a great obstacle course challenge. Bugs got to it. Woodpeckers and armadillos dug into it. See how light the soil is around it? Well, three years on, it has decayed quite a bit and it is making the most outstanding mulch and soil, rich and dark.

Same tree now, as seen from opposite end.
It has been fascinating watching its decay and observing all the life that this dead tree has supported.

My Cousin Rachel (1952) Olivia de Haviland/Richard Burton

I have a confession. I’ve never read any Daphne du Maurier. I plan to remedy this soon. She concocts impressive plots and they’ve been made into legendary films.

Saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) as a kid of course; fabulous.

Don’t Look Now (1974) with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, well, wow. A fine example of how parents had no idea what we kids were watching. I saw it as a young teen and it scared me silly. It remains one of the weirdest movies that I like. Haunting. Dreamlike. Creepy. I recently got the book, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Eager to know how true to the book the film was. It’s high on the to-read-next-pile.

Rebecca (1940) with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, and a small part by George Sanders who is so much fun to dislike. Also a Hitchcock classic. Perfection.

But last night, watched My Cousin Rachel for the first time. Had never heard of it! How is that possible? Wowee. In the gothic tradition of Rebecca, but directed by David O. Selznick, it should stand firmly with the greats, Rebecca (1940; Wuthering Heights (1939); Laura (1944) Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney; and Gaslight (1944) Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Charles Boyer.

The plot is simple enough: a young man (Richard Burton) is raised by his devoted uncle, Ambrose Ashley. His uncle leaves for Italy, but does not return as planned, instead, he marries a distant cousin and remains in Italy. Not long after, the nephew receives two letters indicating that the uncle is unwell and suggests that his wife is killing him. The nephew packs off to Italy only to arrive too late, the uncle has just died and his wife has vacated their home.

It’s all very suspicious. The nephew vows to get revenge. All seems straightforward until he meets his cousin Rachel; she is not at all the gold-digging viper he imagined.

Or is she?

Don’t want to give too much away. This film grabbed me and kept me guessing. Just love it!

And check out how young Richard Burton was! “Introducing Richard Burton!”

The stunning film is in black and white. The cinematography is gorgeous. The acting is superb–and it really was acting, as they seem to have convincing chemistry when in real life Burton had issues with his prima donna leading lady.

Check out the trailer!

https://www.imdb.com/video/vi2525217561/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_4

As with all films it seems, there has been a remake and even a TV mini series. Can’t speak to them; haven’t seen them. Well worth a gander at this original. Atmospheric, and I’ve heard, Burton portrayed a more refined Philip than Daphne du Maurier created. Not surprising.

I loved this film!
FIVE MONKEYS!

Quick Update

Hi folks! Apologies for the recent silence. 2022 has been a tough year. Crafty was diagnosed with epilepsy in November and we’ve had a rough time with his cluster seizures. Getting through a wave right now. Meanwhile, my boyfriend has been trying to get his mother into Hospice and a nursing home. You wouldn’t believe the setbacks. I could write a book. Don’t want to, but my first thought is a reboot of Stephen King’s Misery in the Times of Covid.

Crafty

I hope to do a mid-summer eBook sale on all three Haint books, and will definitely do a blitz for the Christmas book this autumn.

I haven’t started another Monkey book though I have ideas for another one. It will be more like the first one, Monkey Mind. Scruffy Nobthatcher the cryptozoologist is found dead at a Cryptid convention and Haint’s new love interest, Buster is the prime suspect.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on short stories including a ghost story set in the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan in the early 90s (when I lived there.) It will be dropping on Kindle Vella –maybe as soon as September.

What does Jiko Bukken mean? Well, there’s a practical concept in real estate wherein if a property has had a troubled past, violence, lingering illness, death–well, let’s face it, most folks wouldn’t want to live there. So special property agents will rent or sell the property at a deep discount hoping that the new tenant will last a while. Once the new tenant moves on, the property is no longer listed as “stigmatized.” So there is a whole market for property with “history”.

I also got a funny true story picked up on a podcast called Pillow Talk–as soon as I hear when that is going live, I’ll share it.

Big news of this year for me was getting a short story published in the anthology The Book of Carnacki. William Hope Hodgson created Thomas Carnacki, the occult detective at the turn of the last century. It so happened that I had just finished reading the stories and thought, “I ought to write a humorous pastiche of this, with a twist.” I did. And not two weeks later, there was a call for submissions for, of all things, Carnacki stories. Mine was accepted.

https://www.amazon.com/Carnacki-Ghost-Finder-Great-Detective-Universe-ebook/dp/B0B2S1WBVR/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1Y7CHVMNI9E23&keywords=Book+of+Carnacki&qid=1659045466&sprefix=book+of+carnacki%2Caps%2C289&sr=8-1

Yes, it’s a bit pricey! $9.99 for the Kindle book. But it’s 410 pages and includes clever stories by major talents in the modern ghost story tradition.
Truly, a beautiful book.

Sunshine State Book Festival 2022

(Okay, not exactly–I’m a fictional character but my author will be there with my books and a few coffee mugs.)

It’s almost here!

The 2022 Sunshine State Book Festival

Gainesville, Florida

Oaks Mall

Saturday April 9th


She’ll be at Booth #45!


https://www.sunshinestatebookfestival.com/index.html


SUNDAY at the Matheson Museum 620 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida — Guest Speakers every hour beginning at 1PM.

  • 1:00 p.m. Voices of Color: Negro Spirituals to Black Education, Presented by Carol Richardson, Program Director of A. Quinn Jones Museum.
  • 2:00 p.m. Saving Florida’s Springs: A Prescription for Springs’ Health, Presented by Robert Knight, President, Odum Springs Institute.
  • 3:00 p.m. Writing About War: Two Views, Presented by award-winning authors Robert and Patience Mason.
  • 4:00 p.m. The Struggle for Democracy: From Slavery and Colonialism to Black Lives Matter, Presented by Paul Ortiz, Director of the Samuel T. Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Night Watch (1973) Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey

I stumbled on this film at the library recently. Had never heard of it. Perhaps it’s a little slow for today’s standards, and reviews are luke warm, but if you like Hitchcock films, or films from the 60s and 70s in general, this is well worth a look-see. I enjoyed Dame Elizabeth Taylor in this.

A stormy night. Ellen looks out at the decrepit windows of the house next door. The shutters are closed but perhaps one is banging. In a flash of lightning, she sees a bloody body sitting in a chair by the window. She screams and calls for her husband, but of course, by the time he looks out, he sees nothing but the decrepit and closed shutters. She insists that they must call the police. As you might expect, the police arrive, search the house, find nothing. And so begins with what seems to be yet-another-wife-being-gaslit story which may lead you to lose patience with it… yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, either the creepy neighbor dude is up to something, or the husband is gaslighting her. Fine. We get it. Let’s move on.

Oh, it will get on with it! Have a little patience. The ending is worth it.

This was Elizbeth Taylor’s only performance in a “horror” movie. It’s pretty tame for a horror film, but it does qualify. I’d consider it giallo-esque, but then I’ve been deep diving into gialli lately. (Giallo = Italian mystery/slasher film)

Night Watch was based on a play by Lucille Fletcher, who also wrote Sorry, Wrong Number.

Four Monkeys!

Haint Blue Christmas is OUT in three versions

It’s Christmastime in North Central Florida which means temperatures vary in a day like seasons– wintery in the morning and summery by mid-day.

Haint wants to go to the beach–take a break from running her retreat. Relax. Instead, merry mayhem comes for her like an avalanche. Her retreat fills to capacity with friends and strangers.

Haint Blue Christmas is loaded with pictures, and as a holiday book, it seemed only right to publish it in color. It is available in color, black and white, and in Kindle (unfortunately not compatible with a Paperwhite–not my fault, grumble at Amazon–it was the only option to keep my Christmas fonts.)
I know, nothing says holiday cheer like a QR code, but you are a scan and a click away from downloading the book–FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Code for Amazon UK

Happy Halloween!

BOO!

Halloween is almost here — I’m excited and sad at the same time… it’ll be here and gone in no time! Not doing a party this year. That’s okay. Got some spooky movies to watch and an easy puzzle. I’m a jigsaw puzzle fan.

Isn’t this cute?

October/Halloween is my favorite time of year — nostalgia for trick or treating, the smell of leaves, the crisp air, apple cider– it’s not half as excited in Florida as it is up north. I miss the spectacle of the leaves changing colors. Ooh, gotta go pick out pumpkins to carve!

Took this photo a couple years ago.
Must have been fog on the lens,
but it came out cool and spooky. Second hand pumpkin–haunted?

I’ve got some spooky offerings for you–my publisher, Hedonistic Hound Press has a few video stories up on their Facebook page. Here’s a link for a funny and spooky story called “An Old House Just Has So Much Character”:

https://www.facebook.com/HedonisticHoundPress/videos/433699564924254

and this one–a spooky true one about a creepy black cat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiwDTdTjcMI

I know, I know, you’re asking yourself, why is one on Facebook and one on YouTube? They’re both on Facebook. “Old House” is waiting to get subtitled. I got permission to release it early. It’ll get subtitled and on YouTube properly soon.

And don’t forget, if you like a funny mystery with a Halloween theme, check out:

Best wishes for a safe and
fab-boo-lous weekend!