PLAYING DRESS-UP

Hands down the best thing about Halloween is dressing up in costume. This year, I have a couple planned. I work with first graders on Friday, and I’m planning on dressing up as Princess Unikitty from The Lego Movie for that and I’m so excited about it. If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie, you need to. It’s excellent, seriously, even for adults.

Then, on Halloween night, I’m dressing up as 2012 Rust Cohle from True Detective. My boyfriend was going to be 1995 Marty Hart, but he’s sick and bedridden for Halloween. I’ve got the arm tattoo, fake cigarette, hair for the ponytail, mustache, and my moleskin notebook. It’ll be a good one.

I’d say those costumes are on two very different ends of the spectrum. In the past, my costumes have been all over the place. Let’s explore my history in costumes*.

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In 2012, my boyfriend, Tyler, and I dressed up like 1990s club kids a la Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green about the infamous Michael Alig. I wore a metallic silver blazer from Forever 21, a pink and white striped tank top with a teal tank top underneath, and not pictured: some angel wings I bought at a costume store, a tutu, bright blue tights with bright purple fishnet tights over them, and my white danceline boots. I also just realized that Tyler has Devon Sawa hair in that photo.

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During Homecoming Week in high school, there was always “rockstar day”, and my senior year I dressed up as Aladdin Sane era David Bowie fairly successfully. I used red hairspray for my hair and crayon face paints for the lightning bolt on my face. I wore a white t-shirt with a gold studded pocket from Forever 21, a pair of black leather shorts, also from Forever 21, metallic gold leggings from Target, and a pair of metallic silver ballet slippers that I think I also got at Target.

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The absolute most fun you will ever have dressing up is at a live showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve gone to a local showing every year for the past two years (sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to go this year) and it’s the most fun in the world. For Rocky Horror I go with your standard fishnet tights, high heels, feather boa, fake eyelashes, heavy make-up, and I usually wear a cleavage-y leotard. It’s all in good fun.

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I was Carmen Miranda for my sophomore year of high school danceline Halloween party. I bought the costume at Party City, something I normally wouldn’t do, but it was fun and funny so I figured why not. I opted against showing my belly and wore a black and white striped tank top underneath.

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I was a black cat for a Halloween party my senior year of high school. Kind of boring, but very easy to throw together. I borrowed the cat ears and tail (that you can’t see, but it was awesome) from a classmate, and I wore a black leotard, black skirt, belt, black cardigan, black fishnet tights, and black boots. Black, black, black, black.

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I absolutely LOVE dressing up for decades. For Decade Day my junior year of high school, juniors had to dress up for the 80s. I found this pink dress and teased my hair up and wore a pair of black pumps. Simple. Awesome. I was feelin’ real good, as you can see, like I was in the final dance scene in Footloose.

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Another Decade Day, this time you could choose any decade that fit your fancy. I chose the 40s, because 40s style is classic and I figured not a lot of people would opt for that. I wore a white blouse from Gap, a black pencil skirt from Gap, wedges from Gap Kids (they killed my feet, but they worked perfectly for the costume- I suffer for fashion!), a pair of pear earrings and a pearl necklace, a black and white polka dot sash, and a big pink flower in my hair. 1940s to a T.

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My senior year our decade of choice was the 1970s. I decided to go as a Z-Girl, like Peggy Oki, and wore a Zephyr Skateboard Team t-shirt, a pair of white shorts, yellow tube socks, black Converse All-Star low tops, and a red and white sweatband.

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For another Halloween party my senior year of high school, I went as an indian. I wore a shirt that I made in pre-school (which is nuts! it was a dress on me in pre-school and it fit perfectly like a t-shirt my senior year of high school), brown shorts, brown leggings, and brown fringed boots. I braided my hair in pigtails, and wore some jewelry that looked like it would fit the part.

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For a danceline carwash my sophomore year of high school we had a cow costume to catch people’s attention. Obviously, being the costume fiend that I am, I wore it. It was fun. It was goofy.

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Another Homecoming Week costume, this was for “redneck day” (which, if you ask me is every day in a small town Alabama high school) my junior year in 2008. I took a different route than the typical camp-and-bright orange and went with a flannel shirt and a pair of shorteralls from American Eagle. I think I’m also wearing Sperry Topsiders (because who didn’t in the mid to late-2000s?)

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For Halloween in 2008, I dressed up as Juno from the titular 2007 movie. I wore that orange striped tank top that no Juno costume is complete without, a green Roxy hoodie I got at TJ Maxx, black Converse All-Star low tops, and a Hollister skirt over blue jeans. Also, the obligatory jug of Sunny D. What can I say, I like props when it comes to costumes.

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Homecoming Week, “When I Grow Up” day, wherein I (jokingly, of course) chose to be a reality television show star. This was right at the height of the Jon and Kate Plus Eight scandal. I was never a fan, but I thought it would be funny. I carried a bunch of multi-racial baby dolls and a People magazine. I used the same half-globe for my belly that I used in my Juno costume, and I wore rolled up jeans and orthopedic shoes along with a floral top from Gap.

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My friends Rachel & Rachel had a 1980s movie character dress up shared birthday party in 2009, and for it I dressed up as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I wore wayfarer sunglasses, a blue top from Forever 21, dress pants rolled into shorts from Gap, an authentic 1980s belt and cross-body purse I borrowed from my mom, and my white danceline boots (not pictured).

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My costume to end all costumes: At my junior high school, there was a huge literary character costume contest every year for Halloween. So, in 2004, my seventh grade year, my mom and I came up with the idea for me to dress up as Chicken Little. This was the end result. For the plump chicken body, we got two pillows and taped them together with duct tape. We also made duct tape suspenders so the pillows would stay put. Then, we got an oversized t-shirt and sewed white feather boas all over it. On top of my head, I wore a white beanie with a red chicken’s comb sewed on top. The legs are just bright yellow tights, and for my chicken feet I wore white kids with your standard yellow cleaning gloves pulled over them. It was so much fun to wear. I couldn’t sit in a desk the whole day at school and I had to sit in the floor. I looked like I was going to pop some eggs out at any second! I won the costume contest that year.

I know that this is nowhere near all the costumes I have worn in my life. These are just the ones I have handy on my phone. Maybe they’ll give you some good ideas, I hope so. It’s coming up close, these are mostly last minute costumes that I threw together that turned out pretty successful.

Now I’m curious to know, what’s been your favorite Halloween costume that you’ve ever worn? What are you going to be this year? What do you WANT to be? Let me know!

* not all costumes are Halloween costumes, some are just me playing dress up for various events.

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14 OF THE BEST HALLOWEEN EPISODES EVER ON TV

Continuing with my Halloween theme, I wanted to talk about television and my favorite Halloween TV episodes and specials. I originally had intended to put only 13, y’know, because it’s a spooky number, but I completely forgot about the New Girl episode “Keaton” and expanded it to 14. I regret nothing. Anyway, most if not all of these are available for viewing on Netflix, Hulu, and, of course, YouTube. Watch them if you dare!

“Tricks & Treats”, Freaks and Geeks
S01.E03 Original Air Date: 30 October 1999

Ah, what a classic. Sam and the Geeks go trick-or-treating and the community isn’t too psyched to give candy to a bunch of high schoolers. Lindsay and the Freaks go out and smash some mailboxes. Two very different and very real sides of what goes on during Halloween night.

“The Haunted Mask, Parts 1 & 2”, Goosebumps
S01.E01, S01.E02 Original Air Date: 27 October 1995

I had nightmares about “The Haunted Mask” for years. I think it’s part of the reason I’m so freaked by masks (the other part being the sweaty, icky-ness of them).

“Epidemiology”, Community
S02.E06 Original Air Date: 28 October 2010

Lots of ABBA, lots of rabies. This episode runs true to the ongoing theme of Community using different directorial styles as a way of effective storytelling. This episode is filmed like a zombie apocalypse and it’s nothing short of brilliant.

“Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps”, Community
S03.E05 Original Air Date: 27 October 2011

“Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps” is quite similar to my all-time favorite episode of Community, “Remedial Chaos Theory”. The gang is sitting around in the library, each telling their own horror story, in order for Britta to find out who in the group is a psychopath. Cue hilarity.

“Halloween”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
S02.E06 Original Air Date: 27 October 1997

When I first saw this episode of Buffy (recently, mind you), I smiled the entire time because it’s just that good. The plot is awesome: Buffy & Co. buy costumes at a new costume shop in Sunnydale. On Halloween night, a spell is cast and everyone who bought a costume from that shop becomes the character they are dressed as. It’s so much fun, and it’s a very Willow-centric episode, and I’ve begun to notice that the Willow-centric episodes are my favorite episodes.

“The Tale of the Twisted Claw”, Are You Afraid of the Dark?
S01.E04 Original Air Date: 31 October 1991

It makes me sad that Are You Afraid of the Dark? doesn’t exist for this generation. I’m sad that it didn’t continue on, powering through the decades. “The Tale of the Twisted Claw” is a spin on the classic horror story The Monkey’s Paw. It’s a scary episode that also teaches children not to disrespect their elders.

“The Slutty Pumpkin”, How I Met Your Mother
S01.E06 Original Air Date: 24 October 2005

The episode that launched a thousand jokes, The Slutty Pumpkin is the root of many ongoing HIMYM gags. It’s essential viewing.

“Halloween”, My So-Called Life
S01.E09 Original Air Date: 27 October 1994

One of my favorite Halloween episodes of any show ever! Angela learns of a former student who died in the 50s, dresses up in the clothes of one of his classmates, and starts to see visions of him wandering the school. So, obviously, she relates him to Jordan Catalano. Also, some pretty hot stuff happens with Rayanne and Brian. He watches her shave her legs.

“Stone Mountain”, 30 Rock
S04.E03 Original Air Date: 29 October 2009

This episode is great because Tracy learns that two celebrities have died. He then learns the myth that celebrities die in threes, believes it, and spends the episode fearing for his life in the most hysterical Tracy Morgan way possible (the world misses you, Trey). Liz and Jack also visit Kenneth’s hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and it’s a hilarious and somewhat terrifying world of Kenneth clones. Another scary thing, Jeff Dunham is in the episode and he isn’t ever funny at all.

“Halloween”, New Girl
S02.E06 Original Air Date: 30 October 2012

The best thing about the Halloween episodes of New Girl are the costumes. We’ve seen Jess as Joey Ramona Quimby in season 3 (GENIUS), and as Zombie Woody Allen in season 2’s episode “Halloween”. Let’s just talk about how fantastic that Zombie Woody Allen costume is.

“Keaton”, New Girl
S03.E06 Original Air Date: 22 October 2013

I had a hard time choosing between “Halloween” and “Keaton”, so I am including both. Cool? Cool. For starters, JOEY RAMONA QUIMBY is the most amazing costume ever. Okay. In this episode, Jess, Nick, & Winston write Schmidt letter’s under the guise of Michael Keaton, his childhood hero. The episode premise in and of itself is incredible.

“Diane’s Nightmare”, Cheers
S04.E05 Original Air Date: 31 October 1985

Diane has a nightmare that an ex-boyfriend, Andy Andy, who is also a convicted murderer, has escaped from a mental institution. The next day at the bar, he’s there. It’s a hilarious episode, and the dude that plays Andy Andy, Derek McGrath, is excellent. He looks so cherubic, but man, he’s got crazy behind those eyes.

“Halloween, Parts 1 & 2”, American Horror Story
S01.E04, S01.E05 Original Air Dates: 26 October 2011, 2 November 2011

I was completely blown away by these two American Horror Story episodes. But, without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, how could a show with HORROR in the title produce a bad Halloween episode? I mean, you kind of have high expectations to live up to when it comes to that. For those of you that keep up with all things AHS the next two episodes are this season’s Halloween episodes, and I’m super psyched. Are you?

“Who’s Afraid of Cory Wolf?”, Boy Meets World
S02.E06 Original Air Date: 28 October 1994

This episode is best known as the episode where Cory and Topanga have their first kiss. It’s a cute episode where Cory believes he is turning into a werewolf. Topanga tells him that he’s the Cory he’s always been, she kisses him, “aww”s ensue.

SONGS THAT SCARE

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I’ve been thinking about songs to add to my Halloween playlist this year for a long time. I didn’t want to include your standard Halloween playlist fare, like Thriller and This Is Halloween or any of that nonsense (though I did include some, c’mon, I like to do the Time Warp again just as much as the next guy). So here it is! A 40 song, nearly 3 hour long fun, funny, half-party friendly/half blood curdling-make-your-skin-crawl scary Halloween playlist. Enjoy!

A few fun facts and some opinions:

1. Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida may not be considered a scary song, but it has always given me the creeps, personally, so I included it on here.

2. Pink Martini’s cover of Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera was included in this ultra-creepy teaser for American Horror Story: Asylum. The song was originally recorded for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and was also featured in the classic 1988 black comedy Heathers.

3. You probably know The Lettermen’s Turn Around, Look At Me from the third installment of Final Destination. It’s the song that precedes the death scenes, which makes it pretty creepy.

4. Red Right Hand by Nick Cave was featured in Wes Craven’s Scream, but the song alone is a scary story.

5. Kate Bush’s Get Out Of My House sounds like what a nightmare feels like.

6. Chainsaw by The Ramones is based on… can you guess? Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

7. I get chills of terror up and down my spine every time I hear Tiny Tim’s Tip Toe Thru The Tulips. It’s just plain scary, but it was also prominently featured in Insidious.

8. Frankie Teardrop is horrifying. Don’t listen to it at night by yourself. It’s a scary story set to a tune. Other musical scary stories included in this playlist are: What’s He Building In There? by Tom Waits, Country Death Song by Violent Femmes, It Fit When I Was a Kid by Liars, and Subway Song by The Cure.

9. Why Didn’t Rosemary? by Deep Purple asks the question, “Why didn’t Rosemary take the pill?” as in, why didn’t Rosemary Woodhouse of Rosemary’s Baby take a contraceptive. SPOILER: If she would have taken birth control, she probably wouldn’t have been impregnated by a demon.

9. The infamous murderer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. is the eponymous subject of the song by Sufjan Stevens. He’s known as the “Killer Clown” because he would dress up like a clown for charity events in his community. He was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a minimum of 33 young boys between 1972 and 1978.

10. Pink Floyd’s Careful With That Axe, Eugene instrumental and eerie. Be prepared for Roger Waters’ blood-curdling scream at about 3:07.

“WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SCARY MOVIE?”

Netflix is filled to the brim with great horror movies right now, and I, of course, am long overdue to recommend some movies to you. So, grab yourself some candy corn and a bottle of Oktoberfest and start setting up your Netflix queue because I’ve got 20 great movies you need to be watching this month.

Scream, 1996, dir. Wes Craven

Scream is my personal favorite horror movie. It’s the horror movie for movie buffs. It’s super, super 90s, which is always welcome in my book, and Matthew Lillard is in it, which is also always welcome in my book. Scream was written by Kevin Williamson who writes a lot of great horror/thriller genre titles including The Following and Stalker. Williamson is responsible for a load of 90s excellence namely ScreamI Know What You Did Last Summer, and, surprisingly, many an episode of Dawson’s Creek. While the first installment of Scream is the best, the entire trilogy is on Netflix and it’s a top notch trilogy… just leave out Scream 4. I like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Cabin In The Woods, 2012, dir. Drew Goddard

Cabin In The Woods takes a wicked awesome turn not even half way through the movie. It’s written by Joss Whedon, who many people think turns everything he touches to gold.

Black Sunday, 1960, dir. Mario Bava

lot of Mario Bava’s films are on Netflix right now, but Black Sunday is the creepiest. I mean, just look at that picture. Those are the most terrifying eyes I’ve ever seen in my life! No Steve Buscemi jokes, please. 😉

The Blair Witch Project, 1999, dir. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez

Okay, The Blair Witch Project gets a lot of flack, but it’s a classic. It defined the found footage genre and terrified the pants off a ton of 90s kids. I remember seeing the trailer and hearing my cousin and her friend talk about wanting to go see it and being scared for my life that the witch that took the three filmmakers that went out into those woods was going to somehow make her way to me because I wanted to be a filmmaker at the time. It’s scary, and yes, at times goofy. But when they get to that house at the end… all bets are off.

Carrie, 1976, dir. Brian De Palma

I’m just going to say this: the scene where Piper Laurie is going after Sissy Spacek with that knife STILL permeates my nightmares.

Evil Dead II, 1987, dir. Sam Raimi

Bruce. Campbell.

Grave Encounters, 2011, dir. The Vicious Brothers

It’s going to become aware that I really really like found footage films. They bring the scares, and Grave Encounters is no different. A television production crew (think Ghost Hunters) travels to an abandoned mental hospital and some scary stuff happens. See photo above.

The House of the Devil, 2009, dir. Ti West

The thing I liked about this movie is the fact that it looked and felt like a late 70s/early 80s horror film. It was shot on 16mm which did the trick, but the absolute coolest thing is that they promotionally released it on VHS. In 2009! So cool. The story was captivating until the end (the end disappointed me, but this is a great watch. Greta Gerwig is in it and she’s great).

Insidious 2, 2013, dir. James Wan

James Wan has directed so many of my favorite horror movies of the past decade. Insidious 2 is frightening, and the story is unique.

Let The Right One In, 2008, dir. Tomas Alfredson

A modern classic vampire story.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968, dir. George A. Romero

The definitive zombie film. Forget The Walking Dead (seriously).

Paranormal Activity 4, 2012, dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Okay, so look. I know a lot of people hate on the Paranormal Activity franchise, but there is absolutely nothing better than going to the theater to see one of these films on opening night and getting jump scared over and over again. I thought Paranormal Activity 4 was great; I think all of them are great. Disagree all you want. They’re fun, fun movies.

Red State, 2011, dir. Kevin Smith

Red State was a pleasant surprise. Kevin Smith, who you probably know better as Silent Bob, wrote and directed this film and just released a new horror film, Tusk, that I’m psyched for, especially after seeing Red State.

V/H/S, 2012, dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, & Adam Wingard

Until I saw V/H/S, I hadn’t ever seen a film that I wanted to turn off within the first 20 minutes because I was shaking-scared. There’s something about V/H/S that just crawls under your skin. I highly recommend it, though, because it is freaking horrifying. I’ll admit right here right now that when I went to google a photo to use for this movie I was scared because I knew I was going to use a photo of the “I like you” girl and I didn’t want to look at her because she gives me nightmares.

V/H/S 2, 2013, dir. Simon Barrett, Jason Eisner, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, & Adam Wingard

Remember what I said about V/H/S? Yeah, same goes for V/H/S 2.

You’re Next, 2011, dir. Adam Wingard

Adam Wingard directed and Joe Swanberg wrote You’re Next, and they both directed shorts in the V/H/S movies, so I had high expectations for this. It was good, not great, but highly entertaining and a good one to keep in your queue for a Halloween movie marathon.

Dead Silence, 2007, dir. James Wan

A. Ventriloquist dummies (which were made terrifying for all children of the Goosebumps generation, thanks R.L. Stine) and B. Mary Shaw, who is the Woman in Black but more visible due to more camera time, and scarier. I mean, she’s a ventriloquist with like a million dummies!

Bad Milo, 2013, dir. Jacob Vaughan

Horror comedies are the best, and while nothing can trump Shaun of the Dead, Bad Milo makes a valiant effort. It stars Ken Marino and Gillian Jacobs, and that simple fact makes me very, very happy.

Rosemary’s Baby, 1968, dir. Roman Polanski

I’ve mentioned Rosemary’s Baby before in my 1960s film recommendations post, and I’m mentioning it again because it’s that good. Just watch it. If you haven’t yet you’re a fool.

Zodiac, 2007, dir. David Fincher

Let us list the terrific components of this movie, shall we? David Fincher. Jake Gyllenhaal. Robert Downey, Jr. Chloë Sevigny. Mark Ruffalo. True crime. It’s all there, and it’s all perfect, which explains why this film is the best feature film adaptation of a true crime book to ever exist. I challenge anyone to challenge that, because I want more true crime films.