18 October 2016

31 Days of Halloween Stuff: Cartoons, Zombies, and the Best of Burton

Once again we bring you an irregular series of posts purportedly tied into the 31 Days of Halloween, which exists as a marketing gimmick as much as any sort of real thing. But still, October is Creep Month, and although Creep (2014) isn't on this list, we still have #7-12 of cultural junk I specifically ingest to get in the mood for the season. So let's jump in to this issue of madness:

#7: "Spooky" from Conker's Bad Fur Day - Video Game

To offer some background, I'm a complete Rareware nut, dating back in the Super Nintendo / N64 era in the 1990s. I've played the series of Donkey Kong games and their spin-offs endlessly. Conker's BFD was in many ways the last hurrah of that specific era, superficially just another cutesy platformer, but in actuality dripping in ironic adult postmodernism. I've talked about my love of this game in two separate posts from 2009. Needless to say, while I've played my share of creepy games, this one takes the cake. Oh, it does! Maybe it's the limited controls (that are daresay...realistic?), or the simple fact that it's a crazy left turn from where the game seemed to be going, but the nonstop onslaught of zombie squirrels is way more panic-inducing than it has any right to be.

#8: "Sugar Frosted Frights" from Rocko's Modern Life - TV Show

Alright, deep cut from my childhood. Again. When I was a wee lad, this episode of the surreal children's show scared the hell out of me. With trepidation I re-watched it this week only to discover that it's really...not scary at all? It's certainly bizarre, though. You can watch it yourself totally legally on this totally legal site right here. I don't know why this haunted me so. Maybe it's actually that the structure and sequence of the episode really throws you off - when you expect the biggest scare you get this weird moment of camaraderie that blatantly doesn't make any sense (even Filburt is thrown for a loop). Essentially when the big bad, the Haunted Hessian is going in for the kill the episode flashes forward a year where he relives the "goofy moments of yesteryear" with the principal cast. Still, who took those pictures?!

#9: Stranger Things - TV Show

Here's just about the most contemporary installment on this list, but still a goodie. It's probably too recent in our memory to really necessitate a re-showing in October, but 1) If you haven't seen it yet, solve that, and 2) in years to come this will certainly be a Halloween viewing requirement, if we can get over the fact that it feels SO Summer '16. Season 2 I'm sure will leave us equally indebted to creepy throwback child horror, and if it debuts anywhere near Fall, all the better. All in all, despite the addictiveness, in the end it'd be nice if there was a bit more pay-off to the lot, and it's assuredly an ironic combination of nostalgia and recency that puts it on this list. Hopefully it has staying power. You know Barb does. #1 Halloween Costume of 2016.

#10: The Walking Dead - TV Show

I've had a long and tormented history with The Walking Dead. After reading the comics I was pretty amped for the show, which delivered with aplomb for the first two or three seasons, then a solid hate-watch season, then around the time the Governor died I completely lost interest. Joe Bernthal, who's brought his tortured masculine intensity from Shane into his new role as the Punisher on Daredevil, remains the best character the show has ever had, and although its "anyone can die at any time" philosophy does wonders for its visceral and merciless world-building, it really fucks with its narrative reasons to keep watching. It's still a Halloween staple, though, and apparently everyone else is still pretty into the trite shit it's become. I've also written about this before.

#11: "The Day the World Got Really Screwed Up" from The Angry Beavers - TV Show

This is one that I really got into for a while. The Angry Beavers was a really surreal show in an age of constant surreal kid's shows. It was subtle and stupid and more often than not made no sense, even with adult eyes. "The Day the World Got Really Screwed Up" presents the pinnacle of this assertion and the show itself. It's as if The Mist (2007) took place as a B-Movie spoof in a 90s cartoon starring Beavers. It aggressively makes no sense, but all the little boys wanted to dress as Oxnard Montalvo back in '98. It's such a specific bit of culture to parody - I'm at a loss understanding why it was a priority. The results, though, is built more for adult stoners than small children. I have no issue with this.

#12: Ed Wood (1994) - Movie

For a while this made its way on my October must-watch list by virtue of it being one of the only slightly creepy movies in my DVD collection. It's not out and out horror, of course, but its focus on the film career of B-Movie...well, probably C-Movie (D-Movie?) legend Ed Wood who specialized in the macabre (or attempted macabre) makes for a fine Halloween time. The flick certainly stands out as being better than any film Ed Wood actually made and for definitely being Tim Burton's best work. It lacks the out and out fantastical creepiness of his other more overt Halloween-outings, but for whatever reason I never actually got into those. I really dig creepiness, but for some reason none of his other twisty, Danny Elfman-infused movies ever clicked for me. I suppose that's because he tends to be creepy, but also really family friendly, which kind of disarms the horror. But Ed Wood is still golden.

Also Gender Identity Progressive
So now we're over a third of the way through our Halloween List to End All Lists. Stay tuned throughout the week as we blast through more insane things from childhood and normal life to wrap our ghoulish little balls around. Kick back with a Fallgarita and enjoy the Death of the World!

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