25 October 2016

31 Additional Days of Hallow Treats: Earnest Scared Shitless!

Welcome again eager readers to our Halloween Countdown of All Things Scary! What's scariest of all is that we're totally disinterested in offering little bits of spooky cultural ephemera each day, but instead are rather content to blast huge chunks to you all at once. So today we have six more fun-filled gobtacular bits of pop culture to shove down your miserable throats. Let's jump back into the insanity pit:

#19: The Cabin in the Woods (2012) - Movie

A few years back when The Cabin in the Woods was all over Netflix, this was an easier must check-off on the Halloween List, and even though it's not anymore, it's still a great time getting some meta-scares in during October. The trope-busting is reminiscent of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010), but much more blatant in its postmodern treatment of classic creepy slasher conventions. Its ending is also the best ending of any horror film ever (well, the monster mash, at least. SPOILER Sigourney Weaver's blah blah Ancient God sacrifice is a bit forced), and a nice way to chunk in every (mostly modern) horror icon in one big go. Its bloody gory greatness is a sublime pay-off to a film equally stuffed with satire on bureacracy, horror, and teen dumbness. Defying genre at almost every turn, it's one of the best modern classics we got.

#20: Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) - Movie

This is probably the most horrifying moment of my childhood on this entire list. A lot of really dumb shit scared and scarred me for life in my formulative years, and Trantor the Troll is about at the top of that list. That motherfucker who sucked the life out of boys until they became wooden dolls still scares the stupid out of me. Was that whole thing a metaphor for abuse? With Ernest P. Worrall at the helm, most likely. Ernest was such a flash in the pan cultural touchstone, which seems completely bizarre now. Somehow there were a whopping nine Ernest films, five of which were released theatrically. There's almost no cultural memory of the doofy hick janitor, though, which seems weird in the least. I suppose none were all that effective, and who the hell knows what Jim Varney is up to now. Ernest for President! Anyway, Ernest Scared Stupid is at least the third best of the films, probably after Camp (1987) and Jail (1990). Did Ernest get raped in prison? These are the questions we may never know the answer to.

#21: Scream Queens - TV Show

So, like American Horror Story, I just had a huge bit about this show, which is my ultimate guility pleasure. Both Season 1 and the current Season 2 have largely centered around Halloween; this season in particular has used the holiday as a supreme focal point. There's not really a better show that has captured the spirit of Halloween to such an extreme degree that it bleeds into some actual bleeding - murder, mystery, and ghouls galore! From its endless trash and insane over-the-top characters, Scream Queens screams Halloween like a dream.

#22: "A Nightmare on Facetime" from South Park - TV Show

There are a couple television shows that just consistently do Halloween episodes right. The Simpsons is the obvious paradigm, but from The Office to Parks and Recreation, year in and year out, the stuff works. "Bolloween" from Outsourced was also totally that show's best episode. Yes, I watched Outsourced. That show was terrible. But South Park is a show that really gets the combination spooky and doofy, from "Pinkeye", "Korn's Groovy Ghost Pirate Mystery", and "Spookyfish" all the way to the beautiful "Hell on Earth 2006." I might go rogue here, though, and name "A Nightmare on Facetime" as my favourite South Park Halloween episode. From the spot-on 2012 costumes that make it a perfect time capsule (all Avengers and Psy) to the brilliant melding of Blockbuster and The Shining (1980) into a damned good Randy episode that also finds room for a lot more of the regular cast of characters.

#23: "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - TV Show

It may just be that this episode dropped at the perfect time in my life, but for a while, I lived a lot of Halloweens like the one depited here. "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre" gets big points for actually owning a few genuine horror-tinged elements, but for a real twenty-something bar-hopping Halloween nut, "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" takes the cake. It follows the gang as they try to piece together a series of inter-connected drinking brown-outs into a singular story of what happened one Halloween night where Sweet Dee was knocked up. It's exactly every Halloween I had from 2008 to...uh...shit. Present. Still going strong. It's that element that's missing from most standard specials: Halloween as one of the top drinking days of the year!

#24: An American Werewolf in London (1981) - Movie

Turning away from television and back to movies for a second, this is the last Horror film on this countdown that doesn't have anything explicitly to do with Halloween. It's just scary, gruesome, and likely the best werewolf movie of all time, even if it faces stiff competition from The Howling (1981),  and to a lesser extent Silver Bullet (1985), Bad Moon (1996), and the recent old blind man werewolf epic Late Phases (2014). In fact, you could make a pretty coherent argument that every subsequent werewolf movie has gotten worse since London, which is more frightening than any man-canine lurking in the dark. John Landis mixes terrifying horror with great gore, decomposing corpse-ghosts, a dash of humour, romance, and tourism, and the single best werewolf transformation ever committed to film. Awoooo!! Roped into this is really Warren Zevon's 1978 single "Werewolves of London" (somehow the Adam Sandler cover in the best), which also blends silliness into mutilation. Why are werewolves way funnier than Frankensteins or Mummies? I suppose we just like puppy doggs. But "Werewolves of London" has also found its way into Halloween Soundtrack proceedings.

Wanna go for a Pina Colada at Trader Vic's?
There's the latest installment for you. As you can tell, we're really getting deep into the All Hallow's Eve Spirit by know. There are assuredly some great films, songs, television shows, and feature-length music videos to get through - Halloween is just that kind of fantastic holiday! Stay tuned for more this week as we break down the next two installments of this Big List of Halloween Junk!

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