Friday, July 29, 2011

Now playing...

... on the Philco Predicta TV above the bar.

A back to basics bit of B-movie beauty.

Edward D. Wood Jr.'s 1959 masterpiece:

Oh, now, don't worry. I won't make all of you sit through it.
I mean, you can find it freely viewable all over the 'net -- it's in the public domain -- but I imagine, or rather hope, that anyone visiting the S&P already has at least one copy on DVD (and probably VHS!) in their library.

This film brings me back to summer midnights with a black & white, 9" television and the feeling that I would have understood this filmmaker. That he would have 'gotten' me. And that holy the heck, even *I* could make something spooky and cool. 

I mean, Plan Nine's lack of technical prowess was (still is) funny, but it also offered a kind of glimpse into how the movie was made, and that anyone could do it. I could see the bad sets and the props made of things I recognized and it all felt like one could go into the garage and whip up something no worse, and maybe better!

Talk about a film that practically begs you to pick up a camera and make anything you wish, with no money but with reckless, enthusiastic abandon.

It inspires creation -- the creation of spooky things.
'Cause it's got Bela, Tor, Criswell and Vampira... come on!

And the dialogue... oh my God.

Eros: First, you had your firecracker, a harmless explosive...

Lt. Harper: One thing's sure: Inspector Clay is dead — murdered — and somebody's responsible!

Eros: Those whom we're using cannot think. They are the dead, brought to a simulated life by our electrode guns. You know, it's an interesting thing when you consider: the Earth people, who can think, are so frightened by those who cannot — the dead.

Larry: Strange. If someone had broken in, the dirt should be piled up here somewhere. It looks like it's fallen in, into the grave. 
Lt. Harper: Larry, you'll be out of that uniform before you know it.

Criswell: My friend, you have seen this incident based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't happen? Perhaps on your way home you will pass someone in the dark, and you will never know it, for they will be from outer space. Many scientists believe that another world is watching us this moment. We once laughed at the horseless carriage, the aeroplane, the telephone, the electric light, vitamins, radio, and even television! And now some of us laugh at outer space. God help us... in the future.

And is it solaranite? Solarbanite? Solanite? 

OH, we all know how terrible it all is. It's supposed to be the worst film ever made, right? Well... I disagree. The cardinal sin of a film is to be boring, unentertaining, uninteresting. As bad as Plan Nine can be, it is certainly never any of those things.

So yeah. We're watching it all night.

It makes me want to make Hallowe'en.

And yes, Criswell...

God help us... in the future!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

More back to basics.

Because it's what we need.

We're here because of Hallowe'en.

Here at this pub, yes, but for most of us, here in life because all the things we hold dear that are so wrapped up in the magic of Hallowe'en are what sustain us, are what keep us desiring, achieving, moving forward in difficult times.

And anyway, a good look at the more classic aspects of our shared madness for Autumn's Holiday is always in order.

This time, a brief look at old ways to dress for All Hallow's.

These can all be seen around the 'net, and one or two have already been seen here before. I don't claim to own or know the real history behind any of them.

Other photo blogger types have done the 'vintage costume' thing so many times and so much better than I could ever try... but what of it? Each is so creepy, so perfectly symbolic of so much that is inherent in Hallowe'en that we should all do it far more often.

Just look at the simple, nameless, purely Hallowe'en-derived awesomeness in these few images...

This last merely casts in cold iron a point made terrifyingly clear to me in each of these photos -- even as a grown man, I have no problem admitting that if I was approached by ANY of the costumed revelers in these images I would be running very, very fast in the opposite direction.

Seriously. Go back and look carefully at each face. Freaking terrifying.

Especially this last.

So yes, every one of these masks is just perfect.
Perfectly Hallowe'en.

Basic is so very good.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to basics.

Hello, fellow Skull & Pumpkinites!

Long time no post, I know.

I've been busy, and life has been funny, and things just happen. It's all just fine though.

Now that I'm back here for a bit, I find so many things I've left undone so far, and this place desperately needs a bit of a dusting and some fresh air.

I can clean while we hang out, so relax. I won't dust too much, anyway. A little layer of mystery is good for the ol' place.

Today, I think it's a perfectly perfect idea to shake off some of the hot, humid, Summer blahs and get back to the basics.

The basics of what makes us happy.

What makes us Autumn People so... us.

Let's have a little storytime, okay?


From my beautiful 1967 first edition hardcover comes the story and pictures from It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Oh, I know you all know the story by heart.

That's hardly the point.

We're getting back to the fundamentals of Hallowe'en Spirit.

Put yourself back into a stuffy school library just after lunchtime on a warm September afternoon. Recall the scent of pages, of bindings, the feel of cloth-covered treasures, the ones you took to the windows to get a breeze and see the illustrations in an orangey, near-Fall stream of sunbeams.

Just let it flow, let it glow, let it go...

There was a general feeling around the neighborhood that Linus always acted a bit peculiar during the month of October. Each year he got a piece of his nicest stationery and wrote a letter to someone
he called "the Great Pumpkin."

It really annoyed Lucy, his sister, because she thought it made her look bad. Snoopy thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

The only person who thought Linus just might be right about the Great Pumpkin was Sally. She listened very carefully as Linus explained the whole story to her.
"Each year on Hallowe'en night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere and flies through the air with his pack of toys for all the good little children in the world."

The other kids on the block were much more interested in making costumes to wear when they went out that night for Tricks or Treats. Charlie Brown had intended to look like a ghost, but he had a little trouble with the scissors and ended up looking more like a peeled potato. Lucy was proud of her witch's mask because she always said a person should choose a costume that is in direct contrast to her actual personality. The most original costume, if you want to call it that, was worn by Snoopy, for he had found a flyer's helmet and goggles and a beautiful scarf. He looked exactly like a World War I flying ace.

Now, Linus had convinced Sally that going out for Tricks or Treats was not only a waste of time, but was downright wrong, for he maintained that the only way to celebrate Hallowe'en was to sit in a pumpkin patch and wait for the Great Pumpkin. He told Sally that a person had to be very sincere in his waiting and never say "If the Great Pumpkin comes," but always "When the Great Pumpkin comes." "One little slip like that," declared Linus, "can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by!"

They looked around the field where they were crouched, and Linus declared, "The Great Pumpkin just has to pick this pumpkin patch because it is very sincere. In fact, there is nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."

Lucy, Charlie Brown and their friends had just finished knocking at the door of a house asking for Tricks or Treats. Lucy had asked for an extra apple "for my stupid brother who can't come along because he's sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin."

Each looked into the bag he was carrying with him. After the others had said they had found things like cookies, candy, gum and apples, Charlie Brown said "All I got was a rock!"

No one noticed that Snoopy was missing. He had gone off by himself and had climbed on top of his doghouse, which he pretended was a World War I flying plane.

"Here's the World War I flying ace taking off in his Sopwith Camel." In his imagination he zoomed through the sky while anti-aircraft shells burst all around him. Just then he spotted the enemy plane he was looking for. It was the Red Baron!

Before Snoopy could turn his plane to the attack, the Red Baron swooped down upon him and riddled his plane with bullets.

Smoke poured from behind, and Snoopy fought desperately to control his plane. With amazing skill, he guided his badly damaged Sopwith Camel to a crash landing, and leaped out before the enemy could find him.

Now he had to make his way back across no-man's land to the aerodrome.

In the meantime, Linus and Sally were still scanning the skies for the appearance of the Great Pumpkin. "I hope you haven't been trying to fool me," warned Sally, "and if you try to hold my hand I'll slug you!"

"Listen!" cried Linus. "I hear something!" There was a low rustle in the grass around the pumpkin patch.

Suddenly a strange silhouette appeared before their eyes. "It's the Great Pumpkin!" cried Linus. "He is rising up out of the pumpkin patch!"

He toppled over backward in a faint.

"I've been robbed!" shrieked Sally. "I waited all night in a pumpkin patch, and all I saw was a stupid beagle!"

She grabbed Linus by the front of his shirt and shool him until his eyes rattled. "I believed in you! I missed Tricks or Treats to sit in this pumpkin patch! You owe me restitution!"

Sally stalked off in anger, and Linus was left alone.

About four o'clock in the morning, Lucy woke, and decided to see if Linus had come in yet.

His bed was empty.

She put on her coat and went out to the pumpkin patch. There was Linus, curled up on the ground with his blanket. He was so cold, he was shaking all over.

Lucy led him back home and helped him to get into bed.

The next morning, Charlie Brown and Linus were leaning on a wall, staring into space.

 Each was thinking about last night. "I went out for Tricks or Treats and all I got was a bag of rocks!" moaned Charlie Brown. "Did you ever get to see the Great Pumpkin?"
"Nope," said Linus. "He never showed up."
"Well, don't be too disappointed. I've done some stupid things in my life too."
"STUPID?!" shrieked Linus. "What do you mean, 'stupid'? Just wait until next year! I'll find a pumpkin patch and it'll be a sincere pumpkin patch, and the Great Pumpkin will come! Just you wait and see! I'll sit in that pumpkin patch, and I'll see the Great Pumpkin! Just wait until next year!"

Charlie Brown sighed.




As easy as it can be to lose sight of some things in the turmoil of daily life, it is at least as easy to snatch them right back, and to promise ourselves to hold onto that thing ever more tenaciously the next time mundane burdens come knocking.

You can save you from you, just by getting back to being you.

Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see...

And thank God for all things All Hallow's.