Sunday, October 31, 2010

The "October Horror Challenge" Post-Game Report

Happy Halloween to everyone out there! Today (October 31st) is not only Halloween, but also the last day of the month of October (obviously). That means that Monster Dad's challenge to himself to watch 31 horror programs in the month is now over. Now it's time to see the results and break it all down.

The final score of the challenge finds Monster Dad with 46 movies/shows watched--easily besting October's 31 days. The fifteen point differential was very satisfying to reach. However, Monster Dad admittedly did set the difficulty level pretty low for himself. He not only allowed himself to count science-fiction subject matter and comedies as "horror", but he also considered it okay to count episodes of television shows too--though they did at least have to be episodes of shows that were at least an hour long. That means thirty minute episodes of shows like "The Twilight Zone" couldn't be counted--regardless of how awesome they might have been. The question is, what happens to the score if some of this "questionable" material is disqualified by someone with a tougher definition of what can be allowed?

The first entry that would probably have to go would be the Halloween episode from second season of "The Love Boat". Yes, it was a Halloween episode, and it did have the immortal Vincent Price as a guest star (not to mention Gopher, Doc and Isaac dressing up as Dracula, a werewolf and Frankenstein, respectively, for the cruise's Halloween party), but it's still "The Love Boat". Okay horror snobs, we won't count that one!

Next up is all the episodes of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" that Monster Dad watched. Though there's a good amount of humor in many episodes, the subject matter is most certainly appropriate for the challenge. Unfortunately, it was a TV show and the episodes can't be considered movies--if the challenge had to consist of movies only. All told, Monster Dad watched (and counted) eight episodes of "Kolchak" during the month. There was also the "Graveyard Shift" episode of "Circle of Fear"/"Ghost Story". Add in the "Love Boat" episode and we're up to ten questionable entries. That would make for a final score of Monster Dad-36, October-31.

Now comes the most controversial aspect of the challenge--namely, when a movie is predominantly meant to be a comedy (intentional), just how much horror has to be mixed in for it to be counted? "Return of the Living Dead" has plenty of intentional horror-based humor, but I don't think it can be denied that it's a horror movie. On the other hand, "The 'burbs" is very much a comedy, one which has a number of horror elements at its core. Similarly, "Young Frankenstein" does feature the characters from Mary Shelley's horror classic, but it is a Mel Brooks comedy. And how about "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein"? This one not only features Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein's monster, but it's a Universal movie too (the company that produced the original movies that featured those monsters) and stars Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolf Man and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's Monster. They all played those same monsters at some point in the original Universal monster movies as well. Similar issues could be raised with other comedy movies on the list: "Shaun of the Dead", "Ghostbusters", "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again" and "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla". Other than "Return of the Living Dead" I could understand a horror-purist lodging a complaint about the rest of these titles. this makes seven more titles ineligible. Subtract seventeen titles and were suddenly faced with Monster Dad finishing with only thirty entries--which would obviously not qualify as a successful challenge. Final score: October-31, Monster Dad-30.

Finally, where does one draw the line when it comes to science-fiction? The inclusion of movies like "Wizards", "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet", "The Cosmic Man", "Project Moon Base" and "Time After Time" would all come into question. Many of these have horror elements, but are predominantly science-fiction in nature. Not only that, but "Manbeast! Myth or Monster?" was a documentary. That's another six movies potentially wiped off the board--leaving a total of only twenty-four qualified entries. Final score: October-31, Monster Dad-24.

Luckily, this was Monster Dad's challenge. It's Monster Dad's blog and it's Monster Dad's rules. Monster Dad wanted this challenge to be fun and entertaining as well as "challenging". He's not a huge fan of "real" horror or slasher movies and stuff like that. He could have watched every entry in the "Friday the 13th", "Halloween", A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Saw" series, but that wouldn't have been as much fun for him as this particular mix of old favorites and new-to-him movies and shows proved to be. Also, he wouldn't have been able to share any of those movies with The Little Monster. Watching stuff like "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", "Young Frankenstein" and, yes, the Halloween episode of "The Love Boat" with his Little Monster are what Monster Dad is all about. In the end Monster Dad was able to watch a number of DVDs from his own collection (old favorites as well as stuff he'd been waiting for the right time to watch), DVDs from Netflix, DVDs from various public libraries, and various presentations of movies at theaters (including entries in the Silver Screen Classics, Zombie Feast, RiffTrax Live and Spooktacular series put on at various venues in Worester and Millbury, Massachusetts and Keene, New Hampshire). No matter how you choose to count it, the challenge has made for a great month of viewing for Monster Dad, and the "official" final score will indeed end up being:


For all the details on each of the entries, as well as a day-by-day log of exactly what was watched and when, please refer to the original blog about the challenge, "An Absolutely Horrible Month".

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