Halloween Costumes Predictions for 2019

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Captain Marvel

While Captain Marvel debuts in March, just giving her plenty of time to nearly become memory by Halloween, she will also be seen in the upcoming Avengers: End Game.


Halloween 2018 blessed us with many videos of people from all over dressing up and terrorizing kids while dressed as Pennywise. Don’t expect that to slow down as It Chapter 2 will debut in theaters on September 6 of this year.

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The Great Stephen King Re-Read: Salem’s Lot

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For years, my favorite Stephen King novel has been Salem’s Lot. After re-reading it years later, I can officially say that still hasn’t changed.

The world of literary vampires has changed drastically since Salem’s Lot’s release in 1975. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles widened the lens on literary vampires, painting them as both tragic and terrifying. This opened the door for other writers to completely redefine the vampire not as monster, but as tragic romantic antihero.

The vampires in Salem’s Lot, while at times tragic, are unapologetically terrifying. But none so much as Count Barlow, the novel’s chief antagonist and king vampire slinking through the shadows. Barlow spends little time on stage. His narrative built, instead, by the residents of Salem’s Lot as they attempt to unravel the deadly mystery he weaves.

Count Barlow as envisioned in the 1979 TV miniseries. He was a lot less Orlok-like in the novel.

As with King’s most gripping works, the horror of Barlow and his growing army of undead isn’t built so much by the in-depth descriptions of their appearance, but in how the human characters that inhabit the town perceive the growing horror. We don’t see Barlow’s terror as much as feel it as it slowly chokes the life out of the town around the characters.

At the center of the novel is Ben Mears, a novelist running from a tragic past toward a distant, but terrifying childhood memory. While Ben is merely a victim of circumstance, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, you can’t help but feel that his reappearance in the Lot is the catalyst that thrusts the town toward its fatal appointment with fate.

When I first read Salem’s Lot years ago, there was no such thing as an iPhone. Internet was sketchy at best. The world of the Lot seemed isolated, but no more so than any other small town I was familiar with at the time.

Reading the novel now, on my tablet as my Nest cam gives me updates on every bit of movement outside my home, the Lot may feel even more terrifying. Encased in literary amber, Salem’s Lot is a relic of its time that allows you to feel the terror of what horror was like in a world without constant communication. It occurred to me, while reading Salem’s Lot (and The Shining, which I will cover later), that there may be no better time machine than that of a well-written horror novel from the 60s-early 90s.

But obviously, it isn’t the lack of devices that give Salem’s Lot its horror. Were that the case, it wouldn’t have been terrifying in 1975.

There are a lot of things that give Salem’s Lot its terror. The atmosphere of a town under the malevolent eye of the Marsten House that seems to almost float above the town, ready to strike at any time. The growing “body” count as resident after resident falls “ill” only to disappear from regular life later.

But the most terrifying (and frustrating) thing about Salem’s Lot is the way the majority of the residents refuse to see what’s happening around them. Perhaps one of the most oft-used staples in the tropehouse of horror, it’s there because it works and it’s human. The characters are too busy dealing with the skeletons in their own closets to confront and deal with the one menacing the town just outside their front door.

And it’s this that makes Salem’s Lot so enduring as horror fiction. While the story obviously centers around Ben Mears, it’s also the story of a town dealing with the horror of both its own secrets and the darkness that will soon engulf it. Without a doubt, Salem’s Lot is, for me, the pinnacle of vampire fiction, building on the work of Bram Stoker and giving it that homegrown, folksy feel of which King is such a master.

In my mostly chronological (more on that in another post) rereading of King’s fiction, this is the one I almost hated to finish. It’s just that good. It’s one of his that I’ve read a few times and it just gets better with each read. If you haven’t read it, get thee to it. And if you have, reread it again. It will restore your faith in vampires as the monsters and stalkers of the night.

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Nashville Haunted Hayride & Woods – Haunt Spotlight

Nashville Haunted Hayride

I love the idea of Haunted Hayrides. You take the serene, autumn-tinged quaintness of a nice hayride and turn it sinister. Perfect.

I’ve been on a number of haunted hayrides and, with the exception of Walt Disney World’s now-long-defunct Headless Horseman Hayride that was once at Fort Wilderness, most of them have been fairly disappointing. Not really scary and not even all that atmospheric. Still, it’s the idea that keeps me loving haunted hayrides and wanting more out of them.

I was unable to attend 2018’s Nashville Haunted Hayride & Woods due to the fact I spent most of my Halloween dollars and time in Orlando. But this year, I’m going to make absolutely sure that I pay this haunt a visit. While dates aren’t set for 2019, the haunt, produced by Thirteenth Floor, the same group that produces the popular Los Angeles Hayride, is listed on their main attraction page, so they should be returning for 2019.

The haunt is comprised of two attractions, the hayride and the haunted woods. Both sound pretty straightforward:

“You’ve been warned…what was once a nice fall hayride, has turned sinister. Come face-to-face with some of the most demented monsters on earth, who find joy in unleashing their terror on unwanted visitors. Attempt to find your way out of the hayride or face your tragic demise…”

Description on the Nashville Haunted Hayride’s Attraction Page

The Haunted Woods promise a similar straight forward experience:

“Slide into fear through the deep, dark woods where terror resides in the shadows. Locals believe that the woods are home to creatures that one would not even dare to imagine. Legend has it, those who dare to embark on these trails are doomed to never again see the light of day. Enter into the woods and test your luck, but don’t say you weren’t warned…”

Description on the Nashville Haunted Woods’ Attraction Page

I’m actually pretty stoked about visiting this one in 2019. I didn’t realize they had opened an attraction in Nashville until it was too late for me to make arrangements to go (I don’t live in Nashville, so it’s a trip). This will definitely be added to my Halloween 2019 bucket list. And yes, there will definitely be a review.

What’s on your 2019 bucket list? Have you visited any of Thirteenth Floor’s attractions elsewhere?

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Episode 2 Recap

Sabrina in white dress

Whatever qualms I may have had in my first review about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina being too “cute” for its atmosphere melted away with this episode. What began as awkwardness with Sabrina and her friends is turning into charm as we get to know the characters better. 

And with episode 2, the series also crossed into that land that all Netflix series yearn to travel to: it became bingeworthy. Had I not promised myself I would write each post before going to the next episode, I would have sprinted right on to episode 3.

As we step into Episode 2, Sabrina is hurtling toward her 16th birthday, Halloween and her dark baptism. If you’re keeping score, that makes for one helluva Halloween party.

Sabrina has a choice to make. Her aunts, particularly the nightmarish Aunt Zelda (portrayed perhaps a bit too convincingly by Miranda Otto), would seem to have Sabrina believe there is no choice. But it’s clear from the fretting these two are doing and the attempts of the high priest Father Blackwood to convince her that she must sign the Book of the Beast that there’s a lot of worry that Sabrina will make the wrong choice.

The fun thing about this series is that there’s no clear-cut villains or heroes. For instance, it’s clear that Hilda loves Sabrina, but she’s also terrified of her sister (and with good reason, you’ll see).  Even Madam Satan and the Weird Sisters wind up exacting much needed justice against those who deserve it (granted, it serves them to do so). 

The other truly fun thing about this series is that it’s a series out of time. I love anachronistic settings, as I’ve mentioned before, and use them in my own creative endeavors. And Greendale is obviously a place out of time. The 1960s have a tight hold on the aesthetics of the town, but Ambrose has a laptop. He also is familiar with Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison. 

Perhaps it’s just Ambrose that’s out of time. Though, with Ros mentioning modern social concepts such as the “patriarchy” and “intersectionality” and those terms being met with familiarity and not confusion, it can’t just be Ambrose that’s out of time.

Here’s a picture of Ambrose being awesome.

And speaking of Ambrose, he is HANDS DOWN my favorite character. Which makes me fear for him. When he confronted Father Blackwood, I feared for him. STAY SAFE, AMBROSE.

Happy Halloween, I mean, Birthday, Sabrina

The Halloween party was a thing of beauty. From the lighting to the decor to that fabulous cake, which I’m so going to make. And having all the kids dancing to Monster Mash? Well, friends, we have a winner.

Peer pressure! Don’t do it!

Obviously, the pinnacle of this episode is Sabrina’s Dark Non-Baptism. A beautiful spectacle that eventually culminates in Sabrina becoming enemy #1 on Satan’s list and a young girl going up against the Dark Lord Lucifer? Honey, I’m here for it. 

There is one thing that I could truly live without when it comes to TCAOS and that’s the freaking focus tricks.

We get it. Something is off about Greendale. Sabrina is in a maze of mystery. Yep. Got it. How about not making it hard to view just to get that point across?

I’m all for artistic license but not at the expense of making your art less accessible. 

Still, for all its weird and (in my opinion) unnecessary visual tricks, Sabrina is a series that’s shaping up to be a fun, spooky diversion for those who like their Halloween served all year long. Like me.

Also if you abbreviate TCAOS, it’s almost “TACOS”. Can we just call it tacos? Because I like tacos and I also like this show. 

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Stranger Things Filming Locations Tour

Recently, I was able to take a trip down to the Atlanta metro area and check out some of the filming locations for the hit Netflix series (and one of my favorites), Stranger Things. I haven’t had many opportunities to visit the locations of shows or movies that I love, so it was a surreal experience. Let me show you around.

I’m a pretty meticulous travel planner. I suffer from anxiety and traveling can sometimes trigger it. One thing I’ve found that makes it much easier to deal with is just planning the crap out of my trip. That’s what I did here and it worked out splendidly. Given our route in, it made the most sense to make our first stop Hawkin’s Police Station.

Hawkin’s Police Station Location
8499 Courthouse Square West
Douglasville, GA 30134

Hawkins police station location

I’m honestly not sure what the actual purpose of this building is when it’s not being used as a filming location. I’ve since learned that it was also used in Stan Vs. Evil, which I had started a good while before taking the trip, but never finished.

The building itself is directly across from a busy church, so keep that in mind when you go. You may want to avoid Sundays when visiting this location.

palace arcade from stranger things

Palace Arcade Location
6501 Church St.
Douglasville, GA 30134

If you’re planning on taking the tour in the same order that I did, be aware that the arcade isn’t far from the “police station” location. The police station location is just off Church Street, so once you’ve finished visiting the police station, you can get right back onto Church (take a left from Courthouse Square West back onto Church) and you’ll eventually run into the arcade on the left.

As of 10/06/2018, the exterior facade was still mostly intact on the arcade, save for the signage. Looking through the window, I could see the interior matched as well, though it had been gutted and was a bit messy. If you stand near the arcade door and look to your slight left, you’ll see the same view Will sees when he steps outside the arcade (sans Mindflayer).

palace arcade interior
Apologies for the glare and reflection. It wasn’t easy to get the shot.

Tiffany’s Kitchen aka Benny’s Burgers
7413 Lee Rd
Lithia Springs, GA

benny's burgers aka tiffany's kitchen

By far, this was the highlight of my tour. Tiffany’s Kitchen, the location of Benny’s Burgers, is a working restaurant that’s open to the public 7 days a week. While there have been some changes to the interior since Season One was filmed, you’ll find that there’s still a lot of similarities to Benny’s.

interior of benny's burgers

I sat right at the table pictured in the right corner of this photo. Technically, the chairs were not the same, but it did not spoil the surrealness of the moment. It actually felt as if I were sitting in the world of one of my favorite TV shows and, I’m sure some will think me a total nerd for saying it, but it was absolutely amazing for me.

benny's burgers kitchen
The walls are different, but it still looks very much the same. No Eleven stealing burgers, but you can’t have everything.

As far as the food, Tiffany’s features pretty standard greasy spoon diner fare along with a surprisingly large selection of desserts. I typically don’t eat beef, but I had to make an exception and order what I have termed an “Eleven Special.” It’s not listed that way on the menu, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

burger at benny's burgers

For a cheap burger and fries? It was pretty darn tasty. The staff was friendly and invited me to take as many photos as I liked. I also had a slice of Key Lime Pie, which was also nothing to sniff at.

Most of those dining were locals and/or regulars, so don’t be surprised if you feel a bit “off” at first when you start looking around and taking photos. As we tucked into our meal, we noticed another group come in and start taking photos, so there’s also a good chance you’ll run into other fans.

side and back of benny's burgers

Seeing Tiffany’s aka Benny’s gave me a lot of “wow” moments as a fan. It seems like a pretty simple thing – a simple, non-descript diner not far off the interstate – but if you’ve watched the series as many times as I have, it will be a truly rewarding experience.

Bradley’s Big Buy
504 Center St.
Palmetto, GA 30268

Bradley's big buy home of eleven's eggos
Close to the same angle as when Mike and Dustin view the “aftermath” of Eleven’s visit.

After Tiffany’s, we made for our hotel and got some much-needed rest with the intention of getting up early and hitting this location as soon as it opened. In Stranger Things S1, Bradley’s is where Eleven causes a stir by stealing some Eggos. You’d think that Hawkins was pretty low key with how much attention this gets from the cops, but then, it’s fair to say that only one cop truly knows about the whole Demogorgon problem.

Like Tiffany’s, the interior and exterior are much the same as they are in the series. Of note is that Bradley’s is actually a Piggly Wiggly. I came to Bradley’s with two goals in mind: get some pictures and get some Eggos.

interior of Bradley's big buy

As you can see, the location looks pretty much the same. What wasn’t the same was the location of the Eggos. They were actually on the opposite side.

buying eggos at Bradley's big buy
We have Eggos and Coffee Mate. We’re good.

According to their Facebook page, this location also has some pretty famous shoppers from time to time, including Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Norman Reedus.

Bethany Cemetery (Location of Will’s “Funeral”)
Rivers Road
Fayetteville, GA

Bethany cemetery location of will's funeral

In the South, it can take a long time for fall to take hold. As such, in early October, the trees and grass were still in full bloom when I visited this location, so it looks somewhat different from when it was filmed. I don’t know exactly when this scene was shot, but I suspect it had to be close to January given that the trees were completely bare and the grass was brown.

While I did explore some, I took care to mind my step out of respect for the families of those buried here. If you go, there’s a paved pathway that you can use to walk into the cemetery. Likely where Jonathan was parked when he shows Nancy the gun in the glove compartment.

Hawkin’s Middle School
109 S Lee St
Stockbridge, GA 30281

Hawkins middle school

So this was fun. When I arrived here, there were three cop cars camped out. I immediately felt nervous. Had someone been caught trespassing and they were camped out trying to ward people off? I took my chances and pulled in.

I’m still not sure why they were there, but I talked to them and let them know why I was there and that I was a huge fan of the show. They were very nice and told me it wouldn’t be a problem to let me look around so off I went.

What might not be immediately apparent when watching the show is that Hawkins Middle and Hawkins High are actually the same location. This does explain why I sometimes found the interiors confusing while watching, however.

I was disappointed to discover, upon looking into the window of one of the doors, that the interior has been painted. Boooooo. The area behind the “Hawkins Middle School” building where Mike, Lucas, and Dustin confront the bullies has also been painted.

Step right up and get your tickets to the freak show.

I loved seeing the painted “Hawkins Middle School” lettering on the building when I drove up, even with the cop cars parked outside. I wasn’t expecting it to still be there, so it was a nice surprise.

Melvald’s General Store (and pretty much all of Downtown Hawkins)
4 2nd St
Jackson, GA 30233

Of all the places I visited, I think this one was the most jarring. When watching Stranger Things, I always got the sense that this was another one of those out of the way small downtown areas that populate the highways of America.

In reality, Jackson, Georgia, the location of the downtown filming locations, is still pretty close to Atlanta and, as a result, there’s a lot of busyness surrounding it. It’s almost as if it exists in spite of itself.

I was surprised to see that the facade on Melvald’s was there. Having seen photos after filming, it appeared to have been removed at some point, but I know they had recently filmed a lot of scenes for Season Three, so it makes sense that it would return.

Bob Newby’s Radio Shack is also there, abandoned. Melvald’s, which was once “Jackson Drugs,” but closed shortly after Season One premiered, is also vacant. Across the street from Melvald’s is the building that’s shown as the exterior of the library where Hopper goes to research Terry Ives.

What’s interesting is that there’s a vaping shop near the square, which can be seen in several shots during the altercation between Joyce and Jonathan following the scene at the morgue. I can only assume that the shop owners didn’t want to cover their sign during filming and the production just went with it, hoping people wouldn’t notice the anachronism.

The black awning to the left of the tree in the foreground reads, “Electric Smoke.”

One of the pivotal scenes that takes place downtown is the altercation between Steve and Jonathan. I knew that the alleyway was just down the road from Melvald’s so after taking a stroll past Joyce’s workplace and Bob’s Radio Shack, I set out to find that alleyway.

There’s no theater here, however. The theater exterior where “All the Right Moves” was playing was simply a facade that was removed after filming. Bummer.

There were a few places I wanted to check out that I didn’t have time to get to such as Hawkin’s Laboratory (located at Emory), the quarry (which is closed) and the railroad tracks where Steve and Dustin drop the meat to lure the Demodog. I’m definitely going to have to take a trip back to see these places as well.

Planning a trip to see any famous movie or television locations soon? Let me know in the comments where you’ll be headed.

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Halloween Thrift Scores – January 2 – Goodwill

Like many of my fellow Halloween fiends, I regularly scope out thrift stores, estate sales and garage sales for Halloween finds. Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I come out empty handed.

January 2nd’s trip was fairly decent. Definitely not my best, but certainly not my worst. Here’s what I found.

Plastic Jack O Lantern Lanterns

Yes. My cats like to photobomb me.

These are fairly recent, but I thought they were cute and in good shape, so I took a chance on them. No idea where exactly they came from. A cursory search of Google Images and Ebay turned up nothing, but it’s kind of difficult to find a Jack O Lantern Lantern. Eh.

They’re plastic and made in China. I have no idea if they’ll work once I place batteries in them, but if not, they may be a project piece. Even if they don’t work, they’re cute as all get out and I’m happy with them.

Holland Mold Ceramic Pumpkin

So when I took this bad boy home, I had no idea he was vintage. He looked like something you would pick up in one of those rustic home shops that seem to pop up in deserted downtowns these days. Honestly, I didn’t even check him for any markings. He was a pumpkin and he needed a home.

The bottom is marked Holland Mold 1970 and appears to be signed by the artist. It does have a crack in the back and a small chip on his stem, but he’s in otherwise great shape. There’s a light that feeds through the back with a switch on the back. Here’s a photo of my cat, Bernie, checking him out:

He’s fairly unimpressed.

So only two finds, but I only hit up one Goodwill as I’m still trying to get over this bout of bronchitis and the cold makes it worse. I’m pretty happy with my finds, though.

What have you found recently on your thrift treasure hunts?

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New Horror Movies Releasing in 2019

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2019 promises to be a busy year for new horror movie releases with the new adaptation of Pet Sematary, the conclusion of It, the reboot of Child’s Play and Jordan Peele’s newest horror film, Us. Here’s a great big list of movies coming to your screen (big or small) in 2019.

Escape Room

Release Date: January 4, 2019

I feel like this one will be “what it says on the tin.” A group of strangers must solve the puzzle or die. I don’t want to go to this escape room.

Velvet Buzzsaw

Release Date: February 1, 2019 (Premiering at Sundance in January)

Netflix is just killing it when it comes to horror and it looks like they have another potential hot offering this February with Velvet Buzzsaw. Featuring an all-star cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs (for those Hamilton fans out there) and Stranger Things‘ Natalia Dyer, this story about a supernatural work of art that exacts revenge on those who let their greed consume them looks promising.

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The Great Stephen King Re-Read: Carrie

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“…they came to see what happened to their town, to see if it was indeed lying burnt and bleeding. Many of them also came to die.”

Carrie, Stephen King

Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel and, by default, the novel that put him on the map. For a long time, it was also my least favorite King book, which caused me to look at any sort of reread of it with weariness.

When I first read the book, I was close to the same age as Carrietta White, the book’s titular character. As a result of this close age range, I found myself feeling nothing but loathing for many of the characters. From Carrie herself to those who bullied and taunted her to her abusive mother. It seemed that none of the characters could escape my distaste.

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Episode 1 Recap

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It may be that we’re in a creepy television renaissance. For years, there was a bit of a drought with only a few series populating the landscape, such as The X-Files. 

Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
The symbolism is strong in Episode 1, Season 1 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

But lately, there’s been no shortage of good, creepy fun thanks to the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. While The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t new, having debuted a few months back, it’s still pretty fresh and I hadn’t had the chance to watch it yet. Having finally settled down to do an episode by episode review of the new series, I can say that, as of episode 1, I am intrigued.

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