Casper the Friendly Ghost
There’s Good Boos Tonight (1948)
Written by Bill Turner and Larry Riley
Directed by Isadore Sparber
Horror certainly comes in many forms. It can be the visceral sudden fright of someone jumping out and helping boo. Or it could be the slow dawning realization of watching a story play out and it is not about what you thought it was supposed to be about.
What would 32 Days of Halloween be without Rox of Spazhouse, curator of the good stuff? Well. Here she is.
It’s that magical time of the year again. I am talking about autumn, the time of the year that changes drastically (though we in Florida have to wait another month for the temperature to change). In folklore it is the time when the veil between this life and the next is the thinnest. Our imagination is on fire with with fantastical images of dancing skeletons and lit jack o’ lanterns. It is also, the time of year for Need Coffee Dot Com’s 32 Days of Halloween. The bestest holiday in the entire year.
(As this tenth year of 32 Days of Halloween runs its course like a zombie plague, I wanted to throw the mic one last time to that Halloween researcher extraordinaire, Rox of Spazhouse, and let her handle the first bit of our final night. –Widge)
Peter Lorre and Vampira on The Red Skelton Show (January 8, 1955)
Widge’s Note: Back over to Rox for what she’s found while creeping through pop culture’s catacombs…
Based upon Nikolay Gogol’s short story, The Portrait, directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz, is the tale about a young penniless artist who purchases a painting. This painting’s subject comes alive much to the young man’s horror. This eight minute piece is the only surviving part of a larger forty-five minute work that has been long lost. Even though this clip is only eight minutes it is quite terrifying. People who love to purchase paintings at estate sales and antique stores may want to reconsider their purchase after viewing.
Wladyslaw Starewicz is a pioneer and giant in the realm of early 20th century stop motion photography. One of his better known works is called “The Cameraman’s Revenge.” “Revenge” is a stop motion short film utilizing insects to tell a story. When Starewicz was young, he studied etymology, and he became interested in filming when he tried for days to use cameras to record a battle between two uncooperative stag beetles. They kept dying under the extremely hot lights. He then decided to use stop motion filming which proved to be most effective way to tell a story using insects. Starewicz’s career expanded through the decades, escaping from revolutions and survived through wars, and his work has been regarded highly among film makers such as Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson to name a few.
Widge’s Note: I think it’s time to hand the mic off to Rox. How do I know that? Because when you get an email with the subject line of “BORIS KARLOFF COFFEE! Yes I am shouting” then you know it’s serious. Take it away, Rox.
This is wonderful! Act along with Boris in this commercial:
Before we get to Rox of Spazhouse and her latest find in the Halloween mines, I felt it was time for some Peter Lorre. You know that feeling, right? A Lorre deficiency? Well, feel it no more. Here’s a bit of classic old-time radio from 1942 and the Suspense show… “Til Death Do Us Part.” And Lorre’s voice is fan-tastic.
What’s not to like about October? Candy corn, Halloween, crisp cool air, leaves turned and dropped to the ground. The crunching noise of dried dead leaves. Wind whistling through the bare leaves. Darkness comes early.
At this time of year, my thoughts always turn to the landscape of change and to that imaginer of the strange, who wrote eloquent prose to ignite the imagination. I am talking about Ray Bradbury and his great body of literary work. Several occasions he spoke of meeting carnival folk in Illinois and one such person, a magician, befriended him. At some point this conjurer pointed a finger at him and announced, “You will live forever.” It has been some time since his passing, but legend Ray Bradbury (Uncle Ray to us hardcore fans) is still very much alive to us.
I crack open my beat up paperback copy of October Country. (One day I will own Dark Carnival but that is another post.) Those of us who are blessed by being born in October really believe the book is for us and about us. We are the October’s children. Stories I am recalling as I write this are bringing tears to my eyes. They are tears, though tears of happiness, because these stories–though creepy, strange and horrifying–bring me joy. The language of his prose had the power to place me into the mind of his main characters. Running through his landscape of autumn. October with its vibrancy of color and desolation; intensity then death. October and Ray Bradbury, and you can’t have one without the other. Both are magic.
First, it’s time for another commercial. Man, we should figure out a way to get paid for these. Anyway, this is by far one of the scariest commercials we’ve ever had during 32 Days of Halloween…because it pairs horror-meister Stephen King…with Skynet.
Another Spazhouse pick for this evening: it’s 1973’s The Devil’s Daughter. Here’s what Rox has to say for herself:
“Shelley Winters and a whole house of 70s character actors such as Jonathan Frid from Dark Shadows. I have vague recollections in watching this. I watched and it has the same glee quality as re-watching other 70s horror where evil triumphs.”
This evening it’s an episode of “Spazhouse Presents,” with Rox taking on the role of host. Although I would give good money to see Rox play full-on “horror host” for a feature film on some cable access channel or something. Anyway, I’ll just say this about tonight’s film–Burnt Offerings: it has one of my favorite horror movie titles. It is one of the most no-nonsense straight up titles ever. It’s sinister before you even get done saying or reading it. Love it muchly. I now hand the mic to Rox.
Back in 1997 or 1999, Karen Black was at DragonCon. I was excited to see that she was attending and had gotten her to sign the photo of her with Oliver Reed in the movie Burnt Offerings. I found it interesting that no one was really lined up to chat with Karen. This may be of course because it was way before her resurgence into horror fame with Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses. So even though Karen Black won several Golden Globe awards and was nominated for an Academy award I am not sure how many people sought Karen out at the convention. So I made to most of the time she was at her table.