Is Trick or Treating Endangered?

A couple months ago I stumbled upon this article on Facebook advocating the preservation of trick or treating as a community service of sorts. If you’re in a TL;DR sort of mood (the article is actually quite short and you should read it), the crux of the article is that trick or treating as we know it is in danger of dying off as parents get more protective, more paranoid, and more susceptible to the kind of mob mentality panic driven by internet-propagated myths. You know the one about Halloween candy being poisoned? Candy apples with razor blades hidden inside? Hell, my mom used to tell me those ones. But they’re old wive’s tales. The only confirmed instances of children being harmed by tainted Halloween candy, it was their parents who did it.

The slow death of trick or treating used to be something I was very concerned about. I grew up in a semi-older sort of neighborhood, kind of middle-lower-middle class, and when I was of trick or treating age it was exactly how I imagine Halloween should be for a kid. The streets and sidewalks were hopping. Adults were hanging out in front with their garages open, handing out candy. There were home-made haunted houses. Pumpkin carving contests. Those dastardly bag-snatchers. But as I grew into the awkward teenage, “too old to trick or treat, too young to party” years, I noticed that the Halloween scene seemed to be dying out around me. Trick or treaters were starting and ending earlier, the streets didn’t seem nearly as crowded, and the legendary pumpkin carving contest had whittled down to just a handful of jack ‘o lanterns. More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 30th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

Top 5 Horror Games

Video games are scarier than movies. So many people scoff at that notion but it’s absolutely true, and the reason is quite simple: video games are an active storytelling medium while movies are a passive one. When things get tense in a movie, you can always close your eyes, and the movie will keep on playing. What happens to the characters in a horror movie is pre-destined, and there’s a certain comfort in that knowledge.

Video games force you to be the one walking down those steps into the darkness, turning that blind corner, or fighting that monster. You can’t look away. If you make a wrong move you could die. If you get too scared to continue or you lack the skill, you may never complete the story. Nothing illustrates this difference in perception better than watching somone play a horror game versus holding the controller yourself.

This list has been a long time coming. Here are my top 5 horror games. More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 28th, 2014 | Filed Under Lists | No Comments -

Review – Hangar 24 Gourdgeous Imperial Pumpkin Porter


Another one! The Year of (Pumpkin) Beer has just been full of surprises. I stumbled upon this big bottle pumpkin porter while grabbing a few old standbys for the party.

Pumpkin porters have started to become almost as common as pumpkin ales, for good reason. Porter’s rich, smoky, chocolatey flavors blend well with pumpkin pie spice. This one’s an “imperial” porter as well, which puts the ABV up into beer snob territory at 8.5%. The initial sniff from the bottle revealed little pumpkin spice – not usually a good sign. But once poured into a goblet and sipped attentively, my opinion started to lean more positively. It’s definitely subtle, but some people are more into that when it comes to pumpkin beers. I myself kind of like it to be in your face, but my personal yardstick is, would I recognize this as a pumpkin beer in a blind taste test? With this one, the answer is ever so slightly, but definitively, yes.

It pours a rich dark brown like most porters, but isn’t terribly smoky. The chocolate flavors are more pronounced. You don’t really get pumpkin until the finish where it lingers. There’s some molasses notes to be found as well.

For folks who like their pumpkin beers to be more nuanced, I recommend Gourdgeous. I suspect general beer aficionados to approve.

Rating: 3halfjack

Ghosted by Jon on October 28th, 2014 | Filed Under Beer, Reviews | No Comments -

Rob Zombie’s Halloween – Another Take

There’s been a sense of cognitive dissonance for me ever since I saw Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, and liked it. Critics and fans alike seemed to despise this movie – it seemed there just couldn’t be enough bad things to be said about it. And in my original review, I defended the film while still admitting its (serious) flaws. Nevertheless, over the years I’ve found myself wondering more often “why do I like this movie?” Is it because my level of anticipation was so high I didn’t want to admit to disappointment? Is it because I’m incapable of disliking any movie named Halloween? Was I preemptively reacting to the negative feedback it got prior to release?



More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 27th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

Halloween 2

I have a confession. Several of my updates this month were written weeks ago and held in storage until this month, when I knew I would be too busy to keep new content coming regularly. If you glance at my archives from years past it’s clear that September, not October is my most active writing month here on I Remember Halloween. It shouldn’t be that way, but there are only so many hours in a day. This entry however, is going up the moment I finish writing it.

Tonight’s a rare night of introspection. The Big Party is tomorrow, and at this very moment everything is prepared that can be prepared in advance. When I ran out of things to hang, staple, drape, and clean, I took a stroll around the neighborhood and observed how the outside world does Halloween. It got me thinking. What is this whole Halloween thing even about anymore? I know, I’ve written about this exact subject so many times before – at least once a year on this site.

Before I get into “what it’s all about”, I’d like to share a revelation. In a year, I have many Halloweens. Of course, I’ve already made that clear in my naming convention for the season – Halloween Phase I, II, and III, but that’s painting in broad strokes. In actuality, I’d say I have at least five Halloweens. There’s September 1st, AKA Phase I, AKA the day when I let myself celebrate Halloween publicly, by watching horror movies, drinking pumpkin beer, making unnecessary visits to Spirit stores, and so forth. Then there’s the day the decorations begin, and my home starts to feel like Halloween. There’s Bad Horror Movie Night, which in recent times has started to feel like a preview of the big Halloween party. The fourth Halloween, of course, is the Camp Awesome Halloween Hootenanny, arguably the main event of the whole season. And finally, there’s Halloween night itself, when an old childhood promise is fulfilled and I unleash the full might of Halloween spirit on the trick or treaters. Sometimes there are more than five, but that’s generalizing.


Photo credit: Jaryd Neibauer


All this to say, Halloween is very important to me. Spreading Halloween spirit is very important to me. Making memories is important. Why? I have no idea. That’s an anticlimactic answer, but there it is. There’s just something about it that, no matter what, always makes my heart feel full. In the past I’ve made numerous attempts to rationalize that feeling – attributing it to the connection with youth, or its status as the entryway to the holiday season, or the sheer visceral fun of it – but none of those logical explanations are totally satisfying. There’s no logical reason why I’d step on a footpad, and an animatronic zombie child would spin its head around, emitting a cartoonish scream and revealing a mouthful of blood, and my response would be to smile widely. But that’s what happens every year. It just IS.

If I could be anything, I might choose to be Sam from the movie Trick R Treat. A being of mysterious origin who has a very specific and defined purpose – to be the arbiter of Halloween. In the movie, he shows up as a silent observer in all things Halloween. He hangs out in pumpkin patches. He goes trick or treating. He watches ghastly Halloween rituals play out. He exacts brutal justice on people who disrespect the rituals of the night.

Around this time, late October, I often start to feel overwhelmed, like I’m losing sight of what makes Halloween so enjoyable to me. But in spite of those feelings, it always pays off in the end. I suppose, without really knowing it, I’m carving out an identity for this time of year.

What I’ve learned tonight is, it’s vital to take a quiet night to reflect on it all, and simply let the tones of the season soak into you, rather than broadcasting them out. Halloween is for everyone, and it’s precisely what you make out of it.

Ghosted by Jon on October 24th, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

How to Save Found Footage

OK, so in the past few years, the subgenre of “found footage” movies has become a pretty easy target. Even though Hollywood loves it for the fabulous profit margins it can generate, and some truly classic horror films have been built around it, audiences generally find the whole found footage thing to be, at best, a device they tolerate. At worst people will refuse to see any found footage movie, probably while using terms like “shaky cam” and claiming that it makes them nauseous.

This has been the case pretty much since the first (famous) found footage movie, The Blair Witch Project, came out in ’99. Back then found footage was merely Blair Witch’s individual gimmick, not a subgenre. About a decade later it had a resurgence, with (to name just a few examples) Cloverfield, REC/Quarantine, and most notably Paranormal Activity. VHS and VHS 2 took it to another level by blending the concept with the anthology format.

But now, taking the temperature of the public’s reaction to new found footage horror movies, it looks like the backlash has begun in earnest. After enough copycats have been released, it becomes obvious that the genre of found footage has… let’s say a limited range. However, when I think back on my reactions to seeing The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity for the first time, I am reminded that the technique CAN be used to truly great effect by competent filmmakers. And further, I think there’s still some juice left in it.  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 23rd, 2014 | Filed Under Musings | No Comments -

Sleepaway Camp Review


I wouldn’t normally review a movie chosen for Bad Horror Movie Night, for hopefully obvious reasons. But this year’s winner, Sleepaway Camp…. is a horse of a different color. It’s such a bizarre piece of slasher movie history, I just have to put down a few words on the subject.

There are many different types of “bad” a movie can embody. There’s bad in the traditional sense – bad story, bad writing, bad acting, bad special effects, etc.. Battlefield Earth bad. There’s shlocky bad, like Basket Case, the bad that’s got a grimy, sloppy, extraordinarily weird tone that’s usually one of the “good” kinds of bad. And there are many, many other varieties.  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 21st, 2014 | Filed Under Movie Reviews, Reviews | No Comments -

The Possession – Review


*Note: This review was originally written in July of this year, but not included in the Summer of Horror series. As a result, some references may be outdated.

I had to Google the definition of a word that kept appearing in review blurbs for The Possession – “hoary”. Meaning “old, well-tread, played out, unoriginal, etc.”. It’s not necessarily the word I would have used to describe the movie myself (given that I didn’t know the definition – only the context), but I did note early in the runtime that several of the modern haunting/demonic possession movie clichés were popping up. It actually inspired me to finally write an article compiling and defining them all.

It begins “at the end” for another character we don’t know and don’t care about, acting as a sneak peek to bring us up to speed on the power and malevolence of the film’s antagonist – a cliché used in such films as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the Evil Dead remake, and even Oculus. In this case, the MacGuffin is a wooden box, and the wooden box houses a demon. The demon has a familiar, demonic-sounding name (Abizu) and a familiar agenda (possess a young girl). Young girls, of course, being the most susceptible to possession in horror movie land. The parents are recently divorced, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick, and the divorce subplot itself provides a fairly interesting real-world explanation for certain plot logic concerns (demonic possession probably not particularly high on a list of explanations for sudden behavioral issues in a child when divorce is in the picture).  More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 19th, 2014 | Filed Under Movie Reviews, Reviews | No Comments -

Fear Farm Review (2014)

Where: 99th ave. North of McDowell
When: Thursdays through Sundays now, soon to be open 7 days a week, 7pm till at least 10
How Much: Prices vary based on day and ticket type, ranges between $26 and $50 for all 5 houses + corn maze

A white whale has been slain.

Regular readers of this site (or maybe just me) will note that Fear Farm has been a conspicuous blank spot in my Phoenix haunted house experience. In prior years I’ve made three attempts to go to this multi-haunt park, but was always too spooked by the crowds to get spooked by the haunts. Fear Farm is Arizona’s most popular haunted attraction by a wide margin, so it was something I had to have under my belt, but I wanted to experience their haunted houses, not just a serpentine line made of hay bales.  This time we went close to opening time, on a Sunday, fairly early in the season.

First and foremost, know this – the ticket line is a beast. If you’re thinking, like we were, that you’d buy tickets at the door so you can scope out the crowd and see if the fast pass is necessary – it will be necessary. Just cut to the chase and buy the fast pass tickets online, because the general ticket line was as long and as slow as the TSA security line at Sky Harbor, and that’s no exaggeration. We went on a “slow” night and still felt that the fast pass was a life saver. So you can spend 29 dollars to stand in line all night, or 39 dollars to go into some haunted houses. More brains…

Ghosted by Jon on October 15th, 2014 | Filed Under Haunted Houses, Reviews | No Comments -

Review – Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkineater

Howe Sound Pumpkineater

Sitting unassumingly on a shelf in the seasonal beer aisle at Total Wine, mixed in with the other pumpkin beers, was the glorious bottle pictured above – yet ANOTHER new pumpkin beer for the Phoenix region (or at least its wholesale liquor stores).

Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkineater is another first for me simply owing to its bottle – a full liter spring top. I’m a big fan of the label art and putting the word “imperial” in the name sets itself up with some lofty expectations. At 8% ABV it’s certainly not for the faint of heart (or weak of constitution), but still falls a bit below Southern Tier Warlock’s 8.6%. But that doesn’t matter much to me as I’m not an ABV snob. The beer’s taste is the deciding factor.

Poured into a goblet (as is my new practice with stronger beers), the scent is encouraging – noticeable pumpkin, nutmeg, and oddly, some oaky tannin notes that remind me of wine. With every sip as I let the nose breathe, I noticed that wine aroma, which is pretty unusual but I suppose logical given the alcohol content. Though Southern Tier’s superlative pumpkin beers mask it perfectly.

The taste is reminiscent of the legendary Dogfish Head Punkin – good company to be in – but a little more… syrupy? That sounds pejorative, but it’s not. It’s merely a distinction. The flavor completely lacks the vanilla and pie crust flavors found in Southern Tier’s offerings, and it bites more on the tip of your tongue. Again, this is not a criticism.

Going purely based on the quality of the drink itself, this would be yet another top-tier pumpkin beer (I may need to re-evaluate my rating scale this year). But I would be remiss not to consider the value equation. This beer is only found in 1 liter spring top bottles that cost a whopping $15. Crunching the numbers in comparison to Warlock and Pumking, you’re getting around 54% more beer to a bottle, at roughly the same ABV, and paying 66% more. And since this beer falls just a small notch short of those titans, those numbers don’t add up. BUT, this is one man’s opinion, and if something about Southern Tier’s pumpkin beers don’t suit your tastes, this one very well might.

Rating: 4halfjack

Ghosted by Jon on October 15th, 2014 | Filed Under Beer, Reviews | No Comments -
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