Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Is For Halloweenies

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Yeah, I'm taking a quick break from my own lame festivities, eating way too many sweets and watching nothing but horror flicks, to wish you all the best on this happiest and spookiest of holidays. I hope everyone is having a blast with their own methods of celebration, whether it's handing out treats or carving pumpkins or wearing slutty costumes and getting totally wasted.

Just remember to send me pics, all you drunks in slutty costumes.

[And be sure to drop by again this weekend, 'cause I'm planning on taking a look at all the terrifying goodies that I forgot to highlight prior to the big day.]

Friday, October 25, 2013

Favorite "Horror" Films Discovered: 2013 Edition

I try to watch a lot of movies. Sometimes I even pretend that the small selection of flicks I manage to see throughout the year is a solid number. Then I stumble across some other blog or another person's Letterboxd account and realize that for someone who claims to love movies, I don't really get around to viewing that many. It's something I was hoping to rectify this past year, especially when it came to catching up on the essentials or classics of cinema. Of course, along with sitting down and absorbing all these films, I've also been hoping to document my experiences with each.

And since we're now less than a week away from Halloween, I thought it might be a nice time to share my Top 7 Favorite Horror Films Discovered [so far] In 2013. In no particular order, naturally.

PHANTASM II (1988) -- Directed by Don Coscarelli

The final three films in the Phantasm series could very well have taken nearly half the available slots in this Top 7 list if I allowed 'em to, but I've decided to pick one and stick with it. I've briefly written about my love for all things related to The Tall Man's misadventures before and made sure to mention how Part II was the most accessible. It shouldn't be too surprising that the surreal, dream-like quality of the original Phantasm turns nightmarish this time out, since it was released during the peak of The Nightmare on Elm Street craze.

It also boasts the largest budget of any of the Phantasm films, since it was backed by Universal Studios, who were looking to score a serious horror franchise. Of course, they later decided to practically bury the series by refusing to release either of the other two sequels theatrically. And while I still enjoy Parts III and IV, it's their "big budget" brother that I find myself wanting to revisit most.

THE VIDEO DEAD (1987) -- Directed by Robert Scott

There are some films that you wait forever to see and they never seem to live up to all the anticipation. THE VIDEO DEAD is thankfully not one of those. With some of the best cover art to ever grace a VHS box, there was the concern that what I originally saw wasn't going to be what I got when I finally managed to watch it. No, I would never argue that it's a good movie, but it's certainly an entertaining one.

But then, it's impossible not to love a flick that deals with a "supernatural" television set that acts as a portal for the undead to invade our world.

BLACK ZOO (1963) -- Directed by Robert Gordon

Most people will probably remember Michael Gough best for portraying Alfred Pennyworth, butler extraordinaire, in the Bat-flicks from the 90s. I would have been one of those people too if I hadn't splurged on a copy of BLACK ZOO from the Warner Archive Collection earlier this year. This early thriller features Gough as a deranged zookeeper and leader of an animal-worshiping cult, who uses the large cats [and a gorilla!] from his private collection to murder and maim.

RAZORBACK (1984) -- Directed by Rupert Mulcahy

Outside of the Mad Max series, this grimy flick from the director of HIGHLANDER served as my true introduction to the "Ozploitation" sub-genre. It features the most insane opening sequence I've ever witnessed and the intensity rarely lets up from there. There's a layer of filth that permeates from every location and nearly every character you'll meet in the film's 95-minute running time. Brutal, yes, but so very worth seeing. It may go down as one of my favorite film discoveries from any genre this year.

NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984) -- Directed by Sam Firstenberg

You could argue that NINJA III isn't much of a horror film, but since it centers around a young woman possessed by the spirit of a ninja assassin, I'm gonna say it counts. Lucinda Dickey portrays Christie, the aforementioned woman, who prior to becoming a unstoppable killing machine is both an aerobics instructor and a telephone repairman. She's forced to deal with this murderous ghost menacing her with haunted arcade games while being wooed by the cop that was involved in the ninja assassin's death.

An absurd piece of cinema that's sure to delight even the most jaded of film fans.

STREET TRASH (1987) -- Directed by Jim Muro

Disgusting in the best way possible. Where most movies might skirt the edge of offensiveness, STREET TRASH leaps clear off it and into a sea of exploding hobos and melting derelicts. Everything is wet and neon sick and repugnant. It occasionally reminds me of REPO MAN (1984) in how it seems driven by a raw energy and nihilistic attitude.

Also, it's probably the only film I'll ever see that features a scene where a group of homeless degenerates play keep-away with a severed penis.

DUEL (1971) --Directed by Steven Spielberg

This easily ranks as one of my favorite Spielberg films and it's embarrassing how long it took me to see it. I'd heard for years that it does for driving on the highway what JAWS (1975) did for going in the ocean, and there's no real reason why I waited so long to watch. I'm just glad that I hadn't heard much else about DUEL before viewing, because it's tense in a way that so few films manage these days, and all the uncertainty of the protagonist's fate would have been ruined otherwise. Even now, knowing how the movie ends, I'm eager to give it another go sooner than later.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The "Trash 'r Treat" Free Giveaway Results

I'm running a few hours later than promised, but here I am with the results of the latest Free Giveaway. I should be sprinkling this announcement with all sorts of cliched Halloween puns like The Cryptkeeper or some other animatronic puppet who hosted their own horror-anthology program and also terrified me when I was a child. Sad to say that instead this will be brief, so brief, due to my spending time with real live people like someone normal might. Being social doesn't suit me, I think.

Right, so, anyway.

Big congrats to the darling and daring Miss M, she of Diary of a Dorkette, who has won the first annual Trash 'r Treat Free Giveaway!

For those of you who aren't already doing so [which I hope is no one], you need to head on over to her blog and check it out. Even when she's not recounting the misadventures of her toy counterpart or contributing to The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, she's still absolutely killing it with fresh content. And this Halloween season has seen a fantastic array of posts, featuring everything from Freddy Krueger novels to Lalaloopsy dolls.

Thank you again to everyone who entered, to everyone who shared fond memories of Halloween and to all who take time out of their days to check out the blog!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Favorite Halloween Destinations

Misleading title might be a tad misleading. You see, I never go out. Rarely go out. Adventures are something for bolder individuals to undertake while I'm sitting at home watching Seinfeld reruns. Most of my journeys center around trips to shops, thrift or otherwise, and the occasional visit to a friend's home. Even during this most exciting of seasons, I don't deviate from my self-imposed hermit lifestyle.

When I use the word "destinations", well, clearly I'm referring to websites I visit.

I've done a mediocre job celebrating my favorite time of year despite all the thrilling goings-on. I take solace knowing that there are those out there wearing their pumpkins on their sleeves and documenting it for all to see. I wanna thank each and nearly every one of them for offering me a chance to live vicariously through all their spooky discoveries and recounted tales of Halloweens past.

My sincere thanks look suspiciously like images stolen from their sites and a few kind and poorly written words.

It only makes sense to start with the grand-daddy of sites obsessed with everything "retro" and nerdy-- Dinosaur Dracula. The man most responsible for sorta' inspiring me to take to the internet and share my love for pop culture, Matt, actually started out celebrating the holiday on his original site, X-Entertainment. His infectious enthusiasm for horror flicks, seasonal candy and jack o'lanterns thankfully carried over to DinoDrac and shows no signs of ever letting up. Which is good, because visiting his site and absorbing every post has become as much a yearly tradition for me as eating too many bowls of Count Chocula and watching Army of Darkness on VHS.

While some people only share their love for all things horrific and bizarre during the Halloween season, well, there are those who can't help but gush all year round. Such is the case over at Freddy in Space. It makes perfect sense to indulge in horror-centric sites when the leaves are changing colors and you can find candy corn on all store shelves. You really should be hanging with Johnny and celebrating "slashers" during those other times of year, too, though. If you're not already, you need to get on that, kids.

Totally completing this Trilogy of Terror from New Jersey is The Sexy Armpit. I've been loving Jay's look at all the macabre happenings in the Garden State; everything from visiting costume shops and glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, to recapping episodes of Ah! The Real Ghostbusters. He's also running the coolest Halloween-themed giveaway this side of the Trash Pile. He's not only doing things right when it comes to celebrating the holiday, but he's also super-generous and twice as sexy.

 Rupert Pupkin Speaks is a little less concerned with candy and old, animated Halloween specials than most other sites I've picked to highlight, but it has something else that makes it a fantastic destination for me-- the Favorite Underrated Horror series. A number of film historians, critics and archivists each get to share their personal lists of what they believe are the best of the best "forgotten" horror flicks. It's an absolute treasure-trove of cinematic gems certain to make this Halloween season the scariest one yet.

Of course, if you're looking for something to watch this October, you can always take a peek over at the official Scream Factory site. A great, lil' off-shoot of Shout Factory!, they offer dozens of terrific titles to thrill even the most jaded of horror enthusiasts. It doesn't hurt that they're offering killer deals and one of the best contests I've ever seen; a chance to win every single title they plan to release in 2014. And if the movies they've already announced or teased are any indication, it'll be well worth an entry.

If you're like me and you don't want to leave the comfort of your basement dwellings but still want to make the most of the holiday, you need to check out Retro-Daze. They're looking to share fond memories of Halloweens long ago and are all dolled up for the occasion. If you're free tomorrow night [Thursday the 17th], you should check out the Retro-Daze Public Domain Theater, where they'll be airing their first Halloween Special. It looks to be filled with all sorts of vintage spooky treats and you don't even need to don a costume and knock on any doors to receive 'em.

Hell, you don't even have to wear any pants.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The "Trash 'r Treat" Free Giveaway

We're nearly halfway through October and there hasn't been a whole lot of celebratin' the season of the witch here at the ole' Trash Pile. Besides watching the occasional "scary movie" and chowing down on Halloween-themed Oreo cookies, I've been slacking when it comes to everything spooky. Even with all this neglect, that doesn't mean that the blog's monthly contest was gonna sneak by without a horrifying twist. Gone is the usual "One Man's Trash" giveaway, replaced with spiders and skeletons and all those things that go bump in the night.

Welcome, boils and ghouls, to the first annual "Trash 'r Treat" Free Giveaway.

I'm beyond excited for this one. The prizes that will lurk within have been piling up the last couple months. A morbid mix of creepy candy, freaky films and the all the odds and ends fit to be buried with.

Of course, because this is different from my usual monthly giveaways, the rules are slightly different. It's still easy enough to enter, but with a little twist-- I'm asking everyone who wants a shot at winning to leave a comment, something related to Halloween; whether it's a cherished memory of the holiday or a favorite candy or a horror flick you can't go without watching every year.

And because I want the winner to receive their prizes before the Big Day, the contest will only run for four frightening days. I'll be randomly drawing the winner's name on Thursday the 17th by 8PM, so be sure to drop [dead] a line before then.

Best of luck and pleasant screams!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Best Dollar Ever Spent: Halloween Edition

I've wasted a lot of dollars over the years. We're not talking large sums of cash spent on big purchases or anything like that. This has more to do with the singles dropped on candy and cheap back issues and the dollar menus at numerous fast-food joints. One dollar doesn't buy much; certainly not the type of stuff to write home or blog about. This Halloween season, though, it seems that good ole' Samhain worked his dark magic to bring something truly wonderful into my world.

It all started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Actually, it started in the dollar bins at my local Target, but that doesn't make it any less amazing.

My days as a true-blue, "baby, I love you" fan of Star Wars are gone. That didn't stop my heart from racing at the sight of this Grab and Go! Play Pack. A joint venture between LucasArts and Dalmation Press, this children's activity kit combines the spookiest holiday around with one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all-time. Re-imagining the Dark Lord of the Sith and his merry band of galactic stormtroopers as skeletons doesn't seem so epic, but goddamn if I don't feel like I could demolish Alderaan with the power of love I feel
for this pack containing cheap stickers and a tiny coloring book.

And here are those cheap stickers. Ranging from adorable to awesome, they depict stuff like Boba Fett riding a broom, C-3PO carrying a pumpkin and Dio de Los Muertos-inspired Stormtrooper helmets. All so great. I'm especially fond of Darth Vader looming ominously over a bowl of candy that looks suspiciously like half a Death Star.

The art inside the miniature coloring book varies in quality, but I still love nearly every image that lays within. Even though Princess Leia looks like a failed attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Bratz doll-line, I still love her hovering on her witch's broom, surrounded by cute, lil' bats.

I'm less sold on Luke carving a pumpkin with his lightsaber, but he's still pretty great.


It's a simple enough image, sure, but it's also my favorite in the whole pack. The silhouettes of several iconic Star Wars characters, so easily recognizable, carrying jack o'lantern pails to collect their treats. The details aren't really there, but it appears that the "moon" behind them isn't a moon at all. How fitting.

I also enjoy the fact that it sorta' resembles the theatrical poster for Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. But maybe that's just me.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The League: Whaddaya Want?

Coming to you live from a new locale, I've returned to take part in the latest challenge from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers. This week's seems tailor-made for yours truly, someone who spends his time scouring thrift shops and flea markets to add more to The Trash Pile. 

This week’s assignment for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is an idea submitted by Tommy over at Tophat Sasquatch 

When you hit up the toy store, thrift store, flea market, or comic shop, what are some of the things you’re actively hunting?

My own personal brand of collecting is a little chaotic. I'm not someone who needs to complete a run of a comic series or picking up MOC action figures or graded collectibles. I rarely have an attack plan when I'm visiting my usual haunts. That's not to say that I don't keep my eyes peeled for specific pieces, because boy, there are some items that I'm dying to get my hands on.

Let's take a look at some of 'em.

This one is a little painful, because a younger Trash Man owned it and neglected it. Yeah, it's Fireball Island. Originally released in 1986 by Milton Bradley, it was billed as, "The dimensional adventure game of pitfalls and perils!"

I can't recall how many times [if any!] that I managed to actually play this beautiful, beautiful board-game and that may be something that I regret until the day I die. Complete versions of the game sell for nearly two-hundred bucks on Ebay, which is a little outside the price range I'm willing to pay for a nearly thirty year old game meant for ages 7 and up. Still, the games and puzzles section is the first I hit whenever I visit my local Savers in the hopes that I might someday stumble upon a copy.

Inhumanoids is probably one of the more underrated cartoons/toylines from the '80s. A team of scientists/adventurers in hi-tech mech suits do battle with a trio of monstrous beings from the center of the Earth. And, of course, they're occasionally assisted by several bizarre, elemental-based creatures known as the Mutores.

I never had any of the toys when I was a kid, but a few of my friends did. Only one was lucky enough to own any of the giant Inhumanoids monsters, the fiery Metlar. The worst of the three, sure, but still something I'd love to have. But if I could only have a single item from the line, it'd be Tendril. There's so much I adore about a towering plant beast that sorta' resembles a Lovecraftian Elder God.

Broken record is broken record, right? After I've sprinted over to the games and puzzles "department", intent on tearing an imaginary boxed Fireball Island from the clutches of an evil toy-scalper, my second destination at any thrift shop is the wall of VHS. Things get a little less specific there, as I browse shelves in search of any title that might capture my imagination. The same one that concocted scenarios involving mint-in-the-box vintage board games.

Naturally, I lean more towards cult/horror releases than anything else, but I'm also prone to old cartoons and wrestling tapes and a completely random selection of westerns, comedies and bad action flicks. Anything analog is gold as far as I'm concerned. Except for used copies of Speed. Please stop donating them to your local Salvation Army, people, because they just pile up forever and ever and no one will ever want them.

Meanwhile, with the rest of The League--

Over at The Garage Sale of Awesome, you can discover the pitfalls of trying to score old copies of PitFall!

The Goodwill Geek gives Skeletor a run for his money, because he too wants to unlock the secrets of Castle Greyskull.

Everything retro is gold for The Nerd Nook, especially anything Super Powers and Masters of the Universe.