Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw

It's nearly Thanksgiving. Compared to all the great movies, shows and cartoons that focus on Christmas, there are relatively few programs devoted to Thanksgiving. My favorite Thanksgiving movie of all-time is easily "Planes Trains and Automobiles" (1987). It's something I try to watch every year around this time. Actually, it's a great movie to watch any time of the year. As far as cartoons and Thanksgiving specials, I never really had a favorite, and there never seemed to be to many to even choose from. I suppose The Peanuts cartoon "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973) is probably at the top (especially because of the ridiculous Thanksgiving dinner Snoopy engineers featuring toast and popcorn!). But that show pales in comparison to the classic Peanuts specials that are featured both before and after Thanksgiving: "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (1966) and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965). Other than the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and all the football games, the holiday seems to have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to movies and shows.


A few years ago I became aware of the cartoon special "The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw" (1980). Because of my long time interest in Bigfoot I just had to see this one. One of the libraries in our area had the cartoon on VHS and I borrowed it. It seemed strange that I had not seen this when it aired in 1980. I would have been eleven at the time and it seems like it would have been right up my alley. When watching the VHS tape of the show it did seem somewhat familiar. Perhaps I had seen it and had forgotten it. Or perhaps the fact that I watched the tape couple times made it start to seem familiar to me even though it really wasn't. Either way, I liked the show and had a feeling that The Little Monster would enjoy it as well. I wanted to introduce Bigfoot to her at some point, but didn't want to frighten her off or give her nightmares with something too scary. "The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw" turned out to be the perfect way to give her a bit of Bigfoot-related material without terrorizing her. We regularly read Berenstain Bears books at bedtime so she was already familiar with them. We first watched "Bigpaw" together three years ago when she was three years old. It has since become a regular thing that comes out around Thanksgiving--and occasionally at other times during the year. About a year after first watching the show I found an old VHS tape of it at a book sale at our local library for about a quarter or so. It may have been the very same tape we had watched earlier.

My ancient VHS tape of the show
This year I introduced the show to The Tiny Creature (The Little Monster's little sister) for the first time. She seemed to like it too. They both found it just a tiny bit scary the first time they watched it. That's the perfect reaction. While it's hard as an adult to imagine watching something as kid-friendly as this and finding it scary, that's exactly what I love about the innocent imagination of children (and what I miss about myself now that I'm a grown-up). It's what makes watching old bad monster movies that you'd only laugh at as an adult a thrilling and scary experience as a kid.

The Little Monsters watching the show

The story is about how Bear Country has a Thanksgiving legend about a creature that will come to town and destroy everything if the bears "become selfish and greedy, and unkind to the needy, and insufficiently thankful for nature's great bounty". Mama bear realizes that the legend is coming to pass when she sees a big pawprint in a pan while "reading the harvest honeycomb".

The harvest honeycomb's frightening harbinger of doom for Bear Country

And the actual footprint of the legendary Bigpaw!

Of course the whole point of the story is to teach a lesson about being a good and thankful person. Bigpaw makes his appearance and inspires fear and hatred in the bears. It turns out that he's actually nice, and it's a big misunderstanding. This recalls another lesson that I've been pointing out to The Little Monster in a lot of the books that I read to her at bedtime, namely that you can't judge a book by its cover.

video
Here's the townspeople discovering that Bigpaw is on his way

Bigpaw makes his first appearance in the show

He certainly makes an imposing impression

But Brother and Sister Bear quickly learn the true nature of the monster

video
Brother and Sister enter the ominous Sinister Bog

video
Bigpaw makes his debut and sings his very catchy theme song

Brother and Sister Bear are the first to realize the truth about Bigpaw when they encounter him in Sinister Bog, but of course the grown-ups won't listen to them. Everything comes to a head as an army of bears climb the nearby mountain to do battle with Bigpaw. He is up at Echoing Ledge merely relaxing at and preparing to take a nap by his campfire, but the amplified echoes of his yawns and the enlarged image of his shadow as he stretcthes projected by his fire make him seem every bit as fearsome as everyone already believes he is.

Bigpaw relaxing at Echoing Ledge...


...And the terrifying image of his shadow that Papa Bear sees

Bigpaw prepares to topple a stack of boulders onto his attackers, but stops when he notices that Brother and Sister are in the path of the rocks. He saves them and everyone realizes the truth about Bigpaw. They then invite him to join them for Thanksgiving dinner.






I still wonder if I saw this show when it first aired. It certainly became pretty rare in the years since. Now it's one of my (and The Little Monster's) favorite holiday programs. I never read a lot of Berenstain Bears books as a kid, but really like reading them to The Little Monster now. My VHS tape of "The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw" is very old, but I'm pretty sure that it's now available on DVD. One of these days I might just have to get a new copy. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart yourself) it might be worth checking the show out too. Here it is (in four parts) on YouTube:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

One last thing. We just watched "The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw" for the first time this Thanksgiving season yesterday. The Little Monster is now in Kindergarten and the students all visit the school's little library once a week to take out a book. Yesterday (knowing that we were planning on watching the show when she got home from school) she picked out "The Berenstain Bears' Thanksgiving" as her book. It is actually a retelling of "The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw" with a different (more commercial?) title. It even has a lot of the same dialogue that is in the show. I don't know if the book or the show came first, but I was pretty happy to see that The Little Monster had brought it home with her. After watching the show after school I ended up reading the book to her at bedtime.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resurrecting the Past: Rotary Dial Telephone



For those who remember the old rotary phones that were used for decades until pushbutton phones became standard, this story might be of interest. For those too young to know about these phones, this might be seen as a bit of a history lesson from the relatively recent past. Hopefully it will prove interesting for both parties in some way.

Recently I picked up an old red rotary dial telephone at a flea market. I've been wanting to get one of these for a while. They're not terribly hard to find, but the prices for them seem to vary in range from very cheap to quite pricey. The one I bought was in very good shape and had a regular standard phone jack. This was important, as I didn't want to have to try to rewire a phone that had one of those old style plugs. The deciding factor was the price though. They wanted ten bucks for it, which seemed fair. When I asked if they could do any better they gave it to me for seven dollars. Sold!


I have a nostalgic feeling for these old phones because I remember having and using them in my parents' house when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. The look, feel and sound of these little time machines brings you right back to those old days. What I was really looking for was one of the wall-mounted models--as that was what I remember using most of the time in my house (ours was yellow). This one (image borrowed from the website Vintage Rotary Phones) is very similar to the one I spent so many hours on back then:


Here's a photo I found showing the actual old yellow phone in my house in January 1986!

Since I didn't really want to have to drill holes into a wall to mount one of these models, a desk model seemed like it would be a better choice. I wasn't too concerned with the color. I was kind of thinking that a black one would look nice, or maybe some funky 1970s green or orange number (the kind that would look right at home in the Brady Bunch house). But when I saw this red one I knew it was meant to be! It's like having a direct line to the President. ...Or better yet, Batman!


It's kind of surprising to learn that you can still plug one of these babies in and use it like any other phone. I know there's some kind of difference between how new and old telephones use the phone line, but when this one was plugged in I got a dial tone right away. It's a strange feeling to be dialing a phone number with the rotary dial after all these years--especially since you have to physically dial the whole eleven digits for most phone numbers now. Back in the days of rotary phones I remember being able to simply dial the last four or five digits of a phone number for local calls. When I tried to make a call on my old red phone--and after dialing all those digits--the call went through just as it should. The only problem is when you get a recorded menu and you have to punch in a series of numbers to navigate through it to actually reach a human voice (if you're lucky).

I suppose the main reason it seems kind of odd for these phones to work so well is the simple fact that you don't see them much anymore and they seem like relics from the past. Nowadays you can go to any department store and pick up a phone for anywhere from a few dollars to a couple hundred bucks (depending on the quality and features you want). Back when the old rotary phones were being used they actually belonged to the phone company that provided you with your service. When rotary went the way of the dinosaur and these phones were replaced with pushbuton ones, the phone company apparently went into the homes of their customers and removed "their" phones. In an unused room at my parents' house you can still see the mark on the wall where a phone was removed--as well as the holes from the screws that mounted it. Check out this message on the receiver of my red phone which would let you know that the phone you used in your home wasn't really "yours":

BELL SYSTEM PROPERTY
NOT FOR SALE
WESTERN ELECTRIC
While I bought this old telephone mainly for its nostalgic value, it has actually come in handy twice already. Back in August we were hit with the remnants of a hurricane. There wasn't much damage, but we lost power for a couple days. Without electricity our cordless phones (which have to be plugged into an electric outlet) wouldn't work. We also couldn't charge our cell phone. I plugged the old red phone in and was able to communicate with the outside world! At the end of October we got an early snow storm which again knocked out the power for two days. Again, the old red phone came to the rescue!

After the storm
I mentioned that these kinds of phones have a certain look, feel and sound that take you back to an earlier time. The "look" part is obvious and can be seen in the photos already posted here. The "feel" part has a lot to do with the sheer weight and solidness of an old phone. Phones of today are very light, slim and small--almost dainty. When you lift the receiver of one of these older phones it's pretty large and you can feel a substantial weight. Compared to modern telephones and cell phones, these practically feel like dumbbells. It's a reassuring weight to be sure.  Of course there's also the long-lost familiar feel of actually dialing a phone number using those little finger holes in the dial instead of pressing buttons.  And even the coiled cord attaching the receiver to the phone supplies another semi-forgotten feeling in this age of cell phones and cordless phones.



Finally, the "sound" part has everything to do with the actual bell mechanism inside the phone that makes it literally ring. It's hard to explain what this sounds like if you have never heard one and have only experienced the electronic "ringing" of a modern phone, or the multitude of ring tones available for cell phones. And there's also the sound of the dial itself, turning as each number is selected and then  returning to its original position. Instead of even trying to explain these sounds I'll post this video I made of my new old phone so you can hear it for yourself. It starts off with a call to our regular cordless phone to set the stage. Next comes a call from a cell phone to the old rotary phone. Finally, the old phone is used to call the cell phone.

Talk about old-school technology meeting new-school technology!


A few years back I saw an old toy telephone for sale at a yard sale for about a quarter.  I picked it up for The Little Monster and thought it would be a good way to show her what it used to be like to make a phone call way back when Dad was a kid.  She seemed to take the idea of a dial in stride (maybe because she already had one of those old-school Fisher Price pull-along telephones).  The funny thing is that the old, kind of shabby toy phone I found just happened to be a red desk model--very much like the real one I would eventually buy for myself!

The Little Monster's toy telephone...
And Monster Dad's "toy"--a real phone!



Pennsylvania-6-5000

867-5309 (Jenny)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Separated at Birth?


Remember those old "Separated at Birth" books that came out back in the 1980s? They were humorous looks at people (generally celebrities or politicians, but occasionally animals) who seemed to resemble each other in photos. They'd put the two photos side by side for comic effect. I think that Jay Leno or David Letterman used to do a similar skit on one of their shows. Anyway, I guess that the idea never really went away. I had one of the books (and probably still do have it, just need to track it down), but kind of lost interest in the subject over time. I haven't done much research (and it wouldn't take much), but I'm sure there are now plenty of websites and other online sources dedicated to this kind of thing.

Here are the two "Separated at Birth?" books from the 1980s:




Which brings me to the point of this blog. I recently stumbled upon something to add to the Separated at Birth list. I haven't had cable for close to ten years. This means that I've missed out on a lot of the big must-see cable-based shows of the last decade ("The Sopranos", "Mad Men", "Weeds"...). Of course this doesn't explain why I've never seen a single episode of the show "24". That show was on Fox, which is, of course, a broadcast network. Well, thanks to the internet, Netflix and DVDs, I've been able to catch up on some of the stuff I've missed over the years (like "Battlestar Galactica", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Breaking Bad"). The Wife got me a Roku box for my birthday and we've been streaming a lot of stuff on our TV from Netflix through the Roku unit. We've subscribed to Netflix for a long time, but have mostly gotten DVDs from them through the mail. We never really did much "instant viewing" on the computer. Now that we can do it on the TV instead we're getting into it more.


Thanks to the convenience and instant availability of Netflix streaming, we finally started watching "24" recently. The show started a decade ago in 2001, and there are apparently close to 200 episodes. That number feels just a wee bit daunting to us at the moment. We've only seen about half of the first season so far and have a long way to go. So what, you might ask, does all have to do with "Separated at Birth"? Please let me explain...


When you go onto the Netflix channel on Roku and search for "24" a certain image from the show shows up on the screen as an icon of sorts. I see this image every time we start and finish watching an episode of the show. It is an action shot of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) jumping onto a taxi while firing his pistol at (presumably) some bad guys. It's an image that must have been part of the publicity for the show and was probably used on the cover for the DVD set of one of the seasons (or something like that). Well, every time I see this image I can't help but think of... Julia Stiles! Bet you didn't see that coming, huh? Actually, it makes me think of the movie that she was in called "Save the Last Dance". I never saw the movie (and don't plan to), but I do remember the poster for it for some reason.

So who exactly am I suggesting were separated at birth? It might seem like I'm trying to say it was the stars of these two productions, but I don't think that Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Stiles look anything alike. Here the two stars are as an example:




No, I'm not suggesting that they look alike specifically, but I can't shake the feeling that the image from "24" I see on Netflix through Roku and the poster for "Save the Last Dance" were separated at birth. Here are those two images that I can't seem to separate in my mind when I see either one. You be the judge...



Or, more specifically...



What do you think?

* For another example of the Separated at Birth phenomenon please check out Separated at Birth 2: Tim Tebow and Bigfoot.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 October Horror Challenge Recap



So the 2011 October Horror Challenge is now history. I've decided to write up a separate post detailing all the movies/shows that were watched throughout the month. This is a convenient way (for me at least) to be able to see everything that was watched without having to browse through seven different posts.

The final score of the Challenge was: Monster Dad - 44 and October - 31

Here's what those forty-four items consisted of:

1. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)
2. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
3. End of the World (1977)
4. The Fly (1958)
5. The Crazies (2010)
6. Eegah (1962)
7. Contagion (2011)
8. Bigfoot Lives (2007)
9. Teenagers Battle The Thing (1958)
10. The Curse of Bigfoot (1978)
11. Mad Monster Party (1967)
12. Monster Quest: Bigfoot (2007)*
13. The Snow Creature (1954)
14. Trollhunter (2010)
15. Let The Right One In (2008)
16. Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)
17. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
18. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
19. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
20. The Thing (1982)
21. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
22. The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye (2010)*
23. Return of The Fly (1959)
24. They Live (1988)
25. The Walking Dead: Guts (2010)*
26. Attack of the 50 ft. Woman (1958)
27. Let Me In (2010)
28. Them! (1954)
29. Curse of The Fly (1965)
30. The Others (2002)
31. Creature from Black Lake (1976)
32. I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
33. Young Frankenstein (1974)
34. The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special (2010)*
35. Curse of the Demon (1957)
36. Spooks Run Wild (1941)
37. Happy Hell Night (1992)
38. The Thing (2011)
39. Sh! The Octopus (1937)
40. The Werewolf and The Yeti (1975)
41. The Fly (1986)
42. Terror in the Midnight Sun (1959)
43. The War of the Worlds (1953)
44. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)*

* Denotes the five items that could be considered ineligible for the Challenge. That includes three TV shows (the Bigfoot episode of "Monster Quest", the first two episodes of "The Walking Dead"), "The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special" and "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" (which was watched on November 1st).

 I think that this challenge featured a nice variety of movies--from comedies with horror undertones like "Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy", "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" and "Young Frankenstein" to true examples of the horror genre like "The Crazies", "Night of the Living Dead" and the two versions of "The Thing" that I watched.  The titles also cover a very wide time range too--from 1937's "Sh! The Octopus" right up through 2011's "Contagion" and "The Thing".  There is at least one representative of each decade from the 1930s to the 2010s.

The unofficial theme of Bigfoot-related stuff included seven titles: "Bigfoot Lives", "Teenagers Battle The Thing", "Curse of Bigfoot", the "Bigfoot" episode of "Monster Quest", "The Snow Creature", "Creature from Black Lake" and "The Werewolf and The Yeti".

Should you be interested in reading about the Challenge in more detail, feel free to read all seven chapters in the story:

THE 2011 OCTOBER HORROR CHALLENGE



Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 October Horror Challenge (Part 7: Day 25-31)


Get caught up on the Challenge here if you missed any of the previous installments:


It is the Middle of November and I'm just now getting around to writing the final piece on the October Horror Challenge. The Challenge was going along fine until October 29th, when we got a big early-season snow storm. We lost power for two days and had a lot of limbs that came down around our property, but were very lucky to have not sustained any major damage to our house or cars. Unfortunately, two days of movie watching were missed because of Mother Nature's little pre-Halloween practical joke. I also missed an event (and a movie) that I've been looking forward to for a long time. Without further delay I now present the final chapter of the 2011 October Horror Challenge...

OCTOBER 25

Item No. 36: SPOOKS RUN WILD


It took me five days, but I finally watched a Bela Lugosi movie to celebrate his birthday on October 20. I saw "Spooks Run Wild" (1941) today. While it's more of a comedy than a true horror movie, it does have Lugosi and a lot of elements of the "old dark house" genre of movies from that era. It was good for a few laughs, but overall I wasn't too impressed with the film. The most interesting (and oddest) moment was when members of The East Side Kids pulled the old prank of having someone get down on their hands and knees behind a victim while someone else pushes the victim over the first person. In this case the "victims" were Bela Lugosi himself and his diminutive cohort. I know that Bela did a lot of stuff after "Dracula"--much of which was less than stellar--but I'd have to think that he might have considered this moment to be a career lowlight.

Later in the day I watched "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) with my Little Monsters. Since I already watched it earlier in the month with The Little Monster I didn't count this viewing toward the Challenge total. It was still a special moment though. First, I was psyched that The Little Monster (big sister) herself suggested watching it when she got home from school. Second, it was the very first time that The Tiny Creature (little sister) experienced the movie. In fact, it was one of the first "Monster Dad"-type movies she's seen with me at all--a very good way to start. And third, it's just a great movie!

My Little Monsters watching "A&C Meet Frankenstein"


OCTOBER 26

Item No. 37: HAPPY HELL NIGHT


I've had "Happy Hell Night" (1992) sitting in my Netflix queue for quite a while. I didn't know much about it. In fact, I had forgotten why I even added it to the queue. Well, it was simply because the movie had Darren McGavin ("Kolchak: The Night Stalker", "A Christmas Story") in it. It turns out that maybe I should have left it sitting in the queue...or deleted it from the queue all-together. It wasn't a very good movie at all. I feel pretty secure in saying that it was the worst thing I watched in the entire Challenge. Darren McGavin's part was small and not very good either. I kind of feel bad for him to have been in this wreck and wonder why he agreed to take the part at all.


Item No. 38: THE THING


Now, one might look at the Challenge and say "Hey, you already watched 'The Thing'. How can you be counting it again?" Well, on October 26th I finally got around to going to the movies and seeing the brand new version of "The Thing" (2011). It's only the second new release I saw as part of the Challenge (along with "Contagion"), and was a definite highlight of the month. A good antidote for the unfortunate experience of "Happy Hell Night" earlier in the day. This version of "The Thing" is actually a prequel rather than a remake. But it has the look and feel (as well as the title) of John Carpenter's 1982 version of "The Thing". It could have been disappointing to find that this supposed prequel was so similar to the 1982 version, but that wasn't the case. The 1982 version was a GREAT movie, so it's not a bad thing that this one emulates it so closely. I wasn't even too bothered by the CGI effects (usually something that I don't like). They really managed to capture the spirit of Carpenter's movie. And at the end there is a little epilogue that ties it in to the 1982 movie perfectly. You could easily watch this one and the 1982 version back-to-back. I'll probably try to do that once this one comes out on DVD.

One final thing that made this movie a highlight of the Challenge was that I saw it with one of my best friends. This was special because I watched the 1982 version for the first time back in 1985 with this same friend. We had just gotten our first VCR and I was experiencing all kinds of R-rated movies that I'd rent from our local video store. To top it all off, my friend's son also joined us for this late-night, mid-week showing of "The Thing". He is only a few years younger than we were when we first watched the 1982 movie, so it felt a bit like passing the torch to the next generation.


OCTOBER 27

Item No. 39: SH! THE OCTOPUS


This movie was a bit of an unexpected addition to the Challenge. I heard from a friend that the Warner Brothers Shop website was making "Sh! The Octopus" (1937) available for free streaming for a limited time for a few days before Halloween. They usually sell the movie as part of the Warner Archive series. I had never even heard of the movie, but am not one to pass up something that's free! It didn't do a lot for me, but I'm always glad to see something a bit different to broaden my horizons a bit. Like "Spooks Run Wild", "Sh! The Octopus" utilizes the popular "old dark house" setting. But in this case the "old dark house" is actually a lighthouse. Also, like "Spooks Run Wild", this one was more of a comedy than a horror movie.


Item No. 40: THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI



Continuing the trend of watching Bigfoot-related films for this challenge ("Creature from Black Lake", "The Snow Creature", "The Curse of Bigfoot", "Bigfoot Lives"...) I watched "The Werewolf and The Yeti" (1975). This film (aka "Night of the Howling Beast") is one from a long series of werewolf films starring Paul Naschy. I picked this one up on DVD-R from eBay around five or six years ago (mainly because of the yeti/Bigfoot connection), but have never watched all of it until now. It's actually my first Paul Naschy movie. I've been meaning to check some of them out--especially since he passed away a couple years ago. The plan was to watch this one and Naschy's "Fury of the Werewolf" (1972) for the Challenge too, but ran out of time. It was pretty good schlocky fun, but I kind of wish that there had been more of the yeti in the movie. The werewolf and the yeti look pretty similar. After the yeti (at least I think it's the yeti, though it could have been the werewolf) attacks some people before the opening credits we don't see the creature again until the end of the film.




OCTOBER 28

Item No. 41: THE FLY


Yes, I've already watched "The Fly" this month. But that was the 1958 original. After seeing the whole 1958-65 trilogy of "The Fly", "Return of The Fly" and "Curse of The Fly", I decided it was time to see David Cronenburg's remake of "The Fly" (1986) again. I saw this one when it first came out, and most recently saw it on DVD a year or two ago. Even though it hadn't been all that long since I'd seen it I just wanted to watch it again after seeing the originals.


Item No. 42: TERROR IN THE MIDNIGHT SUN


Another film I've owned for a while on DVD but haven't gotten around to watching was "Terror in the Midnight Sun" (1959). I've been wanting to see this one since seeing a trailer for it on Something Weird Video's sampler DVD many years ago. This Swedish monster movie features a giant hairy alien monster (think giant Bigfoot-type creature), which unfortunately only shows up toward the end of the movie. It was a little slow in places, but still a fun bad movie. The Swedish-ness of it reminded me of the Danish-ness of the classic monster flick "Reptilicus" (1961). The Little Monster watched a little bit of this one toward the end. Even though it has a giant monster, she didn't find it particularly scary. "Terror in the Midnight Sun" also marked the second Swedish movie of the Challenge (after "Let The Right One In").


OCTOBER 29

Saturday, October 29th was the date of the big freak Nor'easter snowstorm that wreaked havoc with the Challenge. We've seen snow in New England earlier than this, but not usually so heavy. In our town we got about 8-9 inches of wet, heavy snow. The problem was that most of the leaves were still on all the trees--meaning there were a lot of snapped limbs and toppled trees causing lots of property damage and widespread power outages. We lost power on Saturday afternoon and didn't get it back until Monday, the 31st. This meant two full days of no power to watch DVDs or stream movies on the Roku Box.

Here's our house after the Oct. 29=30 snow storm


OCTOBER 30


Sunday, October 30th was supposed to be one of the highlights of the month for me. The New Hampshire-based Horror Host show Saturday Fright Special was putting on their sixth Spooktacular show in Keene, NH (see poster for the event above). I'd been to the last two shows and was looking forward to this one. The feature movie was "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" (1943). Since The Little Monster was familiar with the classic Universal monsters Frankenstein and The Wolf Man (not to mention Dracula) from watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) I figured she'd enjoy seeing this one too. The show went on as planned, but because of the effects of the storm we were not able to attend. What was going to be one of the highlights of the month became one of the biggest disappointments.

Here's the promotional ad for Spooktacular VI


OCTOBER 31

Halloween, and the last day of October, was another disappointment. We still didn't have power, and there were still a lot of snow and downed trees all over the place. Things were so bad that many towns were postponing the Halloween Trick or Treating. Our town put it off until Friday, November 5th. This was the first time I could remember that Halloween was celebrated on a day other than October 31st. The only good thing about the situation was that it actually extended the holiday a lot further than normal. Usually November first brings an abrupt end to what had been a monthlong build-up toward Halloween and everything shifts to looking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Before we got power back in the mid-afternoon I was able to attend National Amusements' Silver Screen Classics show once again. They had been showing Alfred Hitchcock movies through October as part of the series. Unfortunately, the movies weren't ones I could add to the Challenge. They were suspenseful and thrilling, but simply not what I could consider "horror". Today's movie was "The Lady Vanishes" (1938). A good film that I had never seen before, but once again not something I could add to the list.

Item No. 43: THE WAR OF THE WORLDS


We did eventually get power back and I was able to watch one more movie before the month ended. George Pal's "The War of the Worlds" (1953) seemed an appropriate way to finish out October. Even though the movie doesn't take place on Halloween, it always reminds me of the holiday because of Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds". It's an all-time favorite of mine too, so it's always something good to see.


NOVEMBER 1

Item No. 44: FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN


October was over, but I felt it was okay to extend the Challenge for one more day (and one more movie) since I lost two full days when the storm caused so many problems (not the least of which was the loss of electricity). Since I was so disappointed to have missed Saturday Fright Special's Spooktacular on the 30th, it seemed like watching "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" (1943) would be a very appropriate way to finish off the Challenge. The Little Monster didn't have school (cancelled for the second day because of the storm) so she was able to watch the movie with me. It is an okay movie, but a little slow in places for a five-year-old. Frankenstein's Monster shows up about halfway through the movie, but the climatic meeting between the monster and the Wolf Man doesn't happen until the very end--and it seems just a bit quick and anti-climatic after waiting so long for it. The Little Monster did a good job of paying attention during all the non-monster build-up. Along with the unofficial theme of Bigfoot-related movies, the Challenge also featured a few werewolves too. The Wolf Man showed up in both "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" and "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man", and Paul Naschy played a werewolf in "The Werewolf and The Yeti". As mentioned above, I was also going to watch "Fury of the Werewolf", but just ran out of time.


FINAL SCORE
Monster Dad: 44
October: 31

Well, that's the end of the 2011 October Horror Challenge. I consider it to be another successful Challenge. The numbers weren't as high as last year's Challenge, but I watched far fewer TV show episodes and other non-movie programming. Even eliminating stuff like the two "The Walking Dead" episodes I watched, "The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special" and the Bigfoot episode of "Monster Quest, that sill leaves 40 movies. And if you don't count "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" because it was watched on November first, that still leaves the total at a respectable 39. Not too bad. As I said last year, this is my Challenge with my rules. As far as I'm concerned, the final score is indeed 44-31. If I decide to take up the Challenge again next year, it will probably have a new name that better reflects the kind of stuff I want to watch. Until then, keep watching the skies!

From "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man"