Poe Sundays

The Haunted Palace

by Edgar Allan Poe

 In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace-
Radiant palace- reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion-
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!
Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This- all this- was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.
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Underrated Halloween Movies for Teens

There’s plenty of kid-friendly Halloween movies out there, and but finding good movies for pre-teens and teens can get challenging. Halloween movies skewed towards older kids are far too scary for little ones and not quite scary or gory enough for adults, thus, many get overlooked as good Halloween movies. Not only do these movies on our list have a strong message, they invoke the spirit of Halloween.

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Monster House (2006) Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara

Three friends discover their cranky neighbor’s haunted house is actually a scary monster.

monster house

At first glance, it’s just a silly kids movie but the story really highlights working through pubescent troubles and learning to get along with adults. When released, the film was mis-marketed to children, when clearly geared towards pre-teens and above. The movie deals with some teen issues and is far too scary for little kids. As for the characters, the adults are kinda creepy and the kids get into trouble, not your ideal role models, but they’re realistic enough that teens might will identify with them. There’s some excellent visuals and 3D version out there for those with a fancy TV.

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The Ten Creepiest Urban Legends

Urban legends are stories that are meant to scare us and typically serve as a warning or have some type of moral lesson attached. Every state has their own urban legends, some states even share legends, changing the details to fit their locale or whichever narrative is needed, but the core plot stay the same.  The ones I have chosen for this list are the creepiest found in the USA, and some of them are based on real-life true stories! Can you figure out which ones?

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  1. Turn on the Light

After partying most of the night, a co-ed decides to spend the night with a boy she met at the party.  She returns to dorm room to retrieve her keys, careful not to wake her roommate. In the dark room she can hear the sleeping roommate’s heavy breathing and assumes she’s got a cold. When she returns the next day, she finds her roommate’s dead body and the note written in blood on the wall, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

This story is sometimes told with the co-ed being more studious and returning to retrieve a book for an all-night study session, but the end-result is always the same. This legend has been around 50 years or more and most likely was started by a parent worried about their college-bound kid.

Moral of the Story:     Screw your roommate’s feelings, always turn on the damn light.

  1. Licked Hand

One night, a woman who lives alone with her nice little dog, hears on the radio that an escaped lunatic is on the loose in her town. She locks up the house tight and goes to bed with her faithful canine companion, who stays close by her bedside all night. When the woman wakes the next morning, she finds her pooch slaughtered and note written in blood on the bathroom mirror, “Humans can lick too.”

Some variations of this legend feature an old woman and sometimes, a young girl. Sometimes she wakes in the middle of the night, hearing a dripping sound, and sometimes, the pet is alive and well at the end. Like the ‘Turn on the Light’ legend, the killer rubs the survivor’s nose in the fact that they barely escaped death.

Moral of the Story:     You’re never going to be in control of your own death and maybe you should get a cat.

Continue reading “The Ten Creepiest Urban Legends”

15 Scariest Black/White Horror Classics

Decades after their release, we still enjoy watching scary classic horror films. Some movies on my list are considered to be pillars of the horror genre, created sub-genres of their own and set the bar for generations of filmmakers to come.

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15. House on Haunted Hill (1959) Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart

An eccentric millionaire offers five strangers $10,000 if they can spend one whole night with him and his estranged 4th wife in a haunted house.

colorized house on haunted hill 1959 full movie Elegant Boys and Ghouls

Some actually consider this film comical or fun, but taking into account that audiences were not as knowledgeable about horror films gimmicks, as they are today, this movie was quite scary for its time. Director Williams Castle used camera tricks, shadows, ugly witches and skeletons to create the quintessential haunted house movie.

14. The Body Snatcher (1945) Boris Karloff, Henry Daniell

A ruthless doctor and his young student get into trouble with their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

body snatcher

Based on the short story of Robert Louis Stevenson, a fictional account of the real life surgeon Robert Knox and the murderous exploits of his corpse suppliers, Burke & Hare, this film was dark, disturbing and featured some fine acting from Boris Karloff. Some people even consider Karloff’s role as the Cabman and grave robber John Gray  better than his turn as Frankenstein’s monster. This was the last movie that Karloff and Lugosi would appear in together.

13. Nosferatu (1922) Max Schrek, Greta Schroder

An ancient vampire named Count Orlock leaves his home in Carpathian mountains by ship, terrorizes the crew, and eventually settles in the little town of Wisborg, where he sets his sights on the beautiful wife of his real estate agent.

nosferatu3

Unlike Dracula, Max Schrek’s vampire wasn’t suave or sexy. No, this creature was more like animal that prowled around in the dark before pouncing on victims. Like other German Expressionist films, this is a silent film, however, not original, as the filmmakers were almost sued out of existence by the Stoker estate for ripping off the Dracula story.

Continue reading “15 Scariest Black/White Horror Classics”

Halloween Haters and Other Antagonists

nice pumpkin sceneHalloween is coming and along with it, peoples’ unwarranted opinions. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the Halloween haters, people who want to outright ban Halloween from existence. Haters really bring us down, they spread lies and misinformation and steal our precious time and energy. Now, you could get stabby and go to jail, or, you could deal with them like a grown-up. The first step is figuring out who’s who and what they want. Then, you can draw up an effective game plan to get the fools off your back!

Dentists

To be fair, most dentists don’t hate Halloween, it keeps them in business after all, but they do hate cavities, and candy causes cavities. No one on the block wants to be known as a detriment to children’s dental health. So, if your local gums doctor is making you feel guilty, here are two easy solutions: 1) offer healthier snacks, i.e., pretzels, graham crackers or organic fruit snacks, and 2) offer alternative treats, i.e., money, Halloween themed little puzzles, games, toys, buttons, erasures, pencils, crayons, stickers, temporary tattoos, yo-yos, and my personal favorite, glow sticks and glow bracelets.

Christmas Lovers

Like dentists, Christmas lovers don’t really hate Halloween either. They just love Christmas more! Their season is coming and they’re anxious to get to it. Just like we are now, wanting summer to end early, they can’t wait to push out the Great Pumpkin and usher in Santa Claus.

nevermore stocking @ working class punx
Nevermore Stocking@WorkingClassPunx

Halloween and Christmas have a lot in common. So, talk about that. Let them know you completely understand where they’re coming from. Share your ideas. Many décor ideas, recipes and traditions are easily swappable between the holidays. Halloween and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly, just look at Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

NBC image @disney

Occupy Halloween

If never fails, every year, social justice rears its ugly head and throws up all over your Halloween decorations. There’s always that one hipster guy who tries to guilt you, by suggesting Halloween is just corporate scheme to sucker consumers into buying, buying, buying, to line the overstuffed pockets of some fat cat on Wall St. If you live in America, there’s just no good counter-argument to capitalism gone wild.

 

However, if you find yourself in this debate, kindly mention, that between the millennials’ penchant for simple, less costly celebrations and families searching for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating, Halloween is coming full circle. Home parties and parades are making a comeback. The excess and indulgence of years past are dying out and communities are coming together for events, like Harvest celebrations, carnivals and trunk-or-treating. Now more than ever, people are aware of Halloween history and celebrating the old traditions.

Halloween Snobs

Sometimes the biggest enemies are our own kind. Halloween snobbery accounts for more disgruntled posts from Halloweenophiles than any other complaint. Everyone needs to keep this in mind, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Halloween! This goes for those trying to impose age limits on trick-or-treating. There are none. Teens can absolutely go trick-or-treating, and I for one, would rather see that than hearing about teens hanging out in some back alley, where they’re much more likely to find trouble.

@Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images
@Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Halloween is a global holiday, and everyone has the right to celebrate in a way that fits their beliefs, lifestyle and personality. It’s truly the one holiday where diversity thrives. It’s a little ridiculous to try and make people only adhere to your beliefs and customs, when honoring the spirit of Halloween is all about sharing love for the holiday with others.

Gore Police

No one should apologize for expressing themselves on their favorite holiday, but if you are a person who likes to recreate gory horror movie scenes in the front yard, you must understand that children don’t process scenes of violence and horror in the same way adults do. There is such a thing as too far, especially if kids don’t understand what it is that they’re seeing. Now, most people aren’t complete sociopaths or too egotistical to compromise for the sake of the neighborhood. I mean, Halloween season comes once a year. Do you really want to start a bitter feud over painted foam and casting rubber?

When confronted over gory yard displays, hear your neighbors out. Don’t be dismissive, rather try to have good open communication. If you’re nice, neighbors might be more willing to compromise with you as well. You could agree to cover up certain scary props with a sheet until Halloween night. Maybe the lights are too bright or animatronics are too noisy and neighbors can’t sleep. You could agree to give your neighbors a reprieve by turning everything off early, or running the yard display only two or three times a week, instead of every night.

Evangelical Zealots

The true Halloween hater.  The person who uses religion as the basis for wanting to ban Halloween. They believe Halloween perpetuates sin, corrupts the innocent and celebrates demons and witchcraft, and is all about worshipping the devil. This is all nonsense and just another chapter in the centuries’ old persecution of pagans.

 

jesus-pumpkin

For that reason, there’s little you can say to change their minds. So, it’s important to stop the spread of lies and misinformation instead. When confronted by angry churchgoers, inform them, that there have been more concerted efforts to bring back more traditional harvest celebrations and family-friendly Halloween, alleviating all talk about devil worship and witches. Remind them that pagan celebrations were already accepted by the church centuries ago, that’s how we got Halloween in the first place.  And, if they start complaining about all the sex and gluttony associated with Halloween, well, that’s about the time you explain the idea of psychological projection.

Honestly, I never really understood the hatred. I mean, if the original purpose of Halloween was to ward off evil spirits, then, bible thumpers should be thanking us for keeping everybody safe!

Just remember, in all situations that keeping your cool is number one priority. Have a happy Halloween season!

 

autumn jack olantern

 

Best Summer Horror Movies

Summer camp, beach vacations, cook-outs, pool parties, lemonade, fireflies, hot temps and endless sand, these are the things that make summer memorable. Halloween may be right around the corner, but summer is still in full swing. So, if you’re stuck inside during the heatwave, here are 10 great summer horror flicks to watch.

It Follows (2014)

There’s no mention of summer in this movie. It just feels like summer. Boredom often leads to casual sex, which leads to fear and paranoia, and eventually, leads to the suffering of life-long consequences. One of the creepiest things about this movie is watching the mundane life of Michigan teens.  Writer/director David Robert Mitchell never really explains the origins of it is but whatever it is, it’s hella scary.

it follows

Summer Camp (2015)

Taking jobs in exotic locations is all the rage during summer. Four Americans sign up to be camp counselors in Spain for the summer but a rage-inducing virus turn the young compadres into blood-thirsty fiends. From the teams that made the mega-hit The Conjuring, and Rec, the wildly successful Spanish zombie films, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill zombie film. No spoilers, but let’s just say, these aren’t your typical “undead” folk.

summer camp

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Who doesn’t love a good summer by the water? When teens return to the scene of the crime from the previous summer, they are haunted (or hunted) by a mysterious stranger. This by-the-book slasher film starred all the biggest 90s super teen queens and heartthrobs of the time. Besides that, nothing special here unless you like watching snobby teenagers get their comeuppance.

i know what you did

Piranha (1978)

Just when you thought it was safe to go tubing down the river… genetically altered piranhas attack summer resort residents. After the success of Jaws, 1970s Hollywood cranked out a slew of numerous man v. nature horror films. This Roger Corman production was a direct rip-off but not quite as spectacular as Jaws. It did, however, help cement the hungry little fishies’ legacy as devilish man-eaters. The movie spawned a sequel and two remakes including the 2010 all-star gorefest, Piranha 3D, which is porn stars, piranhas and Elizabeth Shue, no seriously.

piranha 78

The Lost Boys (1987)

Sleep all day, party all night, never grow old and never die, sounds like a great summer motto, right? Two teens move to Santa Clara, the murder capitol of the world and find vampires. This movie made two Coreys famous and solidified Kiefer Sutherland’s villainous David as one of pop culture’s greatest vamps. Director Joel Schumacher hired acting heavyweights Dianne Wiest, Ed Herrmann and Bernard Hughes to offset the movie’s camp. Horror movies really shouldn’t be this fun. Now what was that main character’s name again?

lost boys

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Going away for the summer takes on a whole new meaning. After witnessing a tragic accident, Angela goes to live with her crazy aunt, who eventually sends her off to a summer camp being stalked by a serial killer. After Friday the 13th hit it big in 1980, a slew of low-budget slasher camp-themed movies followed. This is probably the best of the bunch. This cult classic’s cringe-worthy kills still pack a punch and a shocking twist ending, on par with Hitchcock’s Psycho.

sleepaway camp

Tremors (1990)

Summers are hot and dry like a desert. A small town is terrorized by bloodthirsty sand creatures. Tremors is fantastic homage to the old Sci-fi monster movies of the 50s and 60s. The charismatic pairing of Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward lead an all-star cast in a perfect blend of action and comedy. None of 5 sequels that spawned afterwards quite live up to the originality of the first one, but they’re all still good b-movie camp.

tremors

Friday the 13th (1980)

Camp counselors, the unsung heroes of summer, and horror films. Cursed Camp Crystal Lake enlists the help of several young adults to prepare for the opening of summer camp but brutal killer arrives first. Jason Vorhees, the iconic killer drives the first film’s plot but his actual appearance doesn’t happen until the very end. No matter, he gets plenty of screen time in the other eleven movies following. It’s the second highest grossing horror franchise at $773.4 million, following behind The Exorcist. Rumor is the film series will end at lucky 13. Fans shouldn’t hold their breath while waiting for legalities over film rights to get sorted first.

friday13

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Sometimes, summer is an unbearable scorching hell. In August 1973, after picking up a bizarre hitchhiker, a van full of young people stumble upon a house of terror. Considered a horror masterpiece, it was shot in Texas, during summer, in 115-degree heat, so the sweat dripping off the actor’s faces is real. The killer and several of the film’s details were based loosely on real life cannibal Ed Gein, but that’s as true as it gets. Writer and director Tobe Hooper did manage to coax some the authentic acting and screaming from its unknown cast. It’s the only movie on this list to be banned in several countries around the world (reasons vary, everything from the graphic violence to use of power tools in the title). Leatherface went on to become a horror icon and the mere sound of a chainsaw revving up, still sends chills up the spine.

texas

Jaws (1975)

“You’ll never go in the water again.”  Summer of fear. A giant great white shark terrorizes the beach community of Amity Island over 4th of July holiday. Based on Peter Benchley’s novel, Hollywood’s first known summer blockbuster, Jaws is more a study in fear than it is about a man-eating shark. It’s about personal fear, communal fears, societal fears, mass hysteria, imagined fear, projected fear, and of course, fear of sharks. It’s nearly the perfect thriller that continually builds suspense throughout the whole movie. Amity Island’s colorful characters jump to life, thanks to excellent casting choices and the brilliant script has snappy dialogue, including one of the greatest monologues ever written for film, performed by the mesmerizing Robert Shaw.  It’s all backed by John Williams’ unforgettable score, which is now burned into the mind of every filmgoer who puts a toe in the water. Many people claim their fear of sharks and swimming in the ocean was born after their viewing of Jaws. No other film in history of cinema has had the impact on our society in the way that Jaws has. It is the ultimate summer horror film.

jaws

 

Honorable Mentions:
The Burning  – Another summer slasher camp movie with Cropsey (yes, that Cropsey)
Blood Beach – Beach blanket bingo with monsters
The Hills Have Eyes – Don’t break down in the desert
Turistas – Don’t break down in a foreign country
Club Dread – Don’t let serial killers stop your party

 

 

Halloween Cartoons in Public Domain

According to US law, all motion pictures made and exhibited before 1923 are in public domain, but copyright law is seriously complex and since other countries have different copyright laws than the USA, it can be downright confusing when trying to get correct information. Shepherded works from golden age of American animation typically fell into public domain due to registration failures, clerical errors, or a variety of other personal and business reasons. Recently, I was researching Halloween cartoons in public domain and I thought I’d share my research on three of the most commonly misidentified Halloween cartoons.

  1. Disney’s Silly Symphonies Skeleton Dance, 1929

Despite what you may have heard or seen online, the Skeleton Dance is not public domain, likewise, neither is Mickey Mouse’s Haunted House. Due to the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (CTEA), copyright protection was extended 95 years from the publication date for any works published before January 1, 1978. That meant, any films released in 1923, which would have entered public domain in 1998, were scheduled to enter on January 1, 2019. Due to extensive lobbying, the Walt Disney Company was granted more extension for their works, therefore, all early Mickey Mouse cartoons, such as Steamboat Willie, won’t enter public domain until 2023. Keep in mind, there’s a very good chance that Disney will be granted another extension. Thus, why some people refer to CTEA as the ‘Mickey Mouse Protection Act’.

It’s important to note, that all Disney characters are not only copyrighted but also trademarked and that lasts for forever, so long as the owners continually use the trademarks commercially. Bottom line, Disney characters may NOT be commercially used whether they’re part of the public domain or not.

skeleton_dance

  1. Betty Boop’s Halloween Party, 1933

Betty Boop’s Halloween Party is not in public domain. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyrights are automatically applied to a work and last the entirety of someone’s life, plus 95 years after creator’s death. Before 1976, however, companies needed to register and re-register their works to ensure copyright protection. In the case of Betty Boop, after a few company mergers and failure of the original owners, Fleischer Studios, to re-register the copyright of many of Betty Boop’s earliest cartoons, many fell into public domain. Unfortunately for fans, Halloween Party is not one of them.  Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of Betty Boop’s cartoons and indicates which ones are public domain.

For the record, it appears that the character of Betty Boop is owned by Paramount, the Betty Boop name itself is owned by Fleischer Studios, and the right to distribute the cartoons (those not public domain) are split between three different companies, Trifeca Entertainment & Media, Olive Films and Melange Pictures.

betty boop halloween party

  1. Casper, The Friendly Ghost, 1945

Casper’s very first movie The Friendly Ghost is public domain. In the 1950s, when Harvey Publications purchased Casper the Friendly Ghost and bunch of other cartoons from Noveltoon, lawyers failed to inform Harvey that they needed to register copyrights for the first works of the character, thus, The Friendly Ghost and four other Casper titles (There’s Good Boos To-Night, A Haunting We Will Go Boo Moon, and Spooking About Africa) all wound up in public domain, however, these are the only works that are public domain. Because Harvey trademarked Casper and continued to make newer cartoons, they retained ownership of the character of Casper and all subsequent Casper works. These days, Universal Studios holds ownership over Casper and all films except for the five mentioned above.

Here are a few more spooky cartoons in public domain:

Felix the Cat, Switches Witches 1927
Swing You Sinners 1930
Bimbo’s Initiation 1931
The Mad Doctor 1933
The Headless Horseman 1934
Cobweb Hotel 1936
Popeye, Fright to the Finish 1954

The-mad-doctor-movie-poster-1020197769
This is one of the very few Disney cartoons they let slip into public domain. It’s considered too dark and violent for their programming

I’m not a legal expert, so please don’t assume any of this is legal advice. Please seek out your own legal counsel and do your research before posting potentially copyrighted or trademarked material on websites.

If you’re interested in more animation films in public domain, check out TV Tropes and Wikipedia, which both have a pretty comprehensive list of films.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PublicDomainAnimation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animated_films_in_the_public_domain_in_the_United_States