‘Halloween’ is coming

Hockey season ended too soon in Las Vegas on June 7, 2018. But it’s not all bad news, as I’m able to focus on the second-most important matter of the day: Halloween.

I will not lie, last week I woke up (unassisted) at 5 a.m. every morning, wondering if this would be the morning when the new Halloween trailer premiered. When I found out the trailer would premiere on Friday, June 8 I still woke up early every day, for no good reason.

At long last, it has arrived, and it’s glorious. For fans of the series, there are plenty of homages and Easter eggs within, and it raises some questions about how the film is wiping the slate of the tangled Halloween canon. I wrote about both for Now Playing Podcast, and you can find that article here.

In the meantime, enjoy the trailer. October 19 can’t come soon enough.

Halloween comes early!

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This has been an outstanding year for Now Playing Podcast, and it just keeps getting better. Today we announced that Halloween director John Carpenter will pen the foreword to Now Playing’s Kickstarter-funded book, “Underrated Movies We Recommend.”

The Kickstarter project was a massive success earlier this year, and for months the hosts of the show have been watching movies and writing nonstop. Right now the book is on target to ship in the second quarter of 2016, and fans can pre-order their copies at the Now Playing website.

Here’s a link to the news release announcing Carpenter’s involvement with the project.

The Final Countdown

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I screened Halloween III: Season of the Witch for the first time (this month) last night, and I’m gearing up for the home stretch of horror movies all the way to Halloween. Also last night, I had a great chat with some Now Playing Podcast fans as we ran down the list of movies we’re trying to fit in before the end of the month. I was reminded that I still need to squeeze in showings of Night of the Creeps and Christine.

Another thing that I need to squeeze in (and you should too) is Now Playing Podcast’s Halloween Retrospective Series. This is the series that introduced me to the show in 2011, and four years later I’m so thrilled to be a supporter and contributor. If you’re a fan, this is the day to cue up that retrospective – nine movies, nine shows – if you want to hear one a day, ending on All Hallows Eve.

It’s the final countdown! (I just like saying that)

Hello October!

The best month of the year is finally here, and to mark the arrival of October and the countdown to my favorite holiday, I’ve resurrected my annual Tumblr blog, “31 Days Til Halloween.”

I missed a few days last October, for various reasons, but I’m determined to full the calendar this year. You can follow at 31daystilHalloween.tumblr.com. Tonight it begins with Sam from Trick r Treat, which is on HBO Now (and my television) right now.

sam trick r treat happy halloween

Finally

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It figures that it would take news about a Halloween movie to get me to blog for the first time in almost two months. I’ve been busy. But today’s news is worth getting excited about.

Details about the new project, Halloween Returns, started popping up online over the weekend. It wasn’t until this morning that an official announcement came at the HalloweenMovies.com website. The new film isn’t a sequel, or prequel, or reboot — according to the producers, it’s a “recalibration” of the Halloween story. Whatever that means. If I’m going to take a guess, I’m going to say it’s a new Michael Myers story, not connected to the previous films, but acknowledging that they exist. Kind of the like the Halloween comics or (shameless plug coming) Halloween: Masks.

I’m good with that. I don’t know if we need to connect this new film to any of the previous Halloweens, and I’m not sure the audience would be interested in seeing those older films anyway.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are going to bring to the Halloween mythos. I’m not really a Saw fan, but I’ve seen all the films, and I’ve seen Feast and The Collection. I’m sure they’ll bring a different vision to Michael Myers, and right now anything’s better than how the last film ended. Let’s not even talk about it.

So I’m excited about this Halloween. Production starts next month, and although no release date has been announced, you have to figure the film is on track to open in 2016.

By that time, it will have been seven years between Halloween films. That is the longest layoff in franchise history, so we’re really overdue.

One thing

I’ll miss seeing this year is AMC Fearfest, the network’s annual horror marathon leading up to Halloween.

In years past I would put the channel on mute in my office and work while Friday the 13th, Child’s Play and Stephen King films played in the background. These days I don’t have the time to enjoy it, and, because I’m a cord-cutter, I don’t get to watch the marathon at home (#FirstWorldProblems).

Fearfest starts Friday with a King movie marathon. First out of the gate is the truly awful adaptation of Graveyard Shift, starring the dad from The Monster Squad, a dad from Terminator 3 and another dad from Rob Zombie’s Halloween. I’ll let you figure out which dads I’m talking about.

You might also want to refresh your memory of the film and some other King stories by checking out the Stephen King Movie Retrospective Series over at Now Playing Podcast. Here’s a link to the Graveyard Shift episode.

It’s alive… it’s alive!!!

As promised, I have revived my annual Halloween-themed Tumblr account, 31 Days Til Halloween, and from now until Oct. 31 I’ll be posting something I love about Halloween on the feed.

I launched this account in 2012, so it’s not as if there’s a long history. But if you scroll through you can see all of my previous entries. I’ll be posting photos and videos, and occasionally a brief Halloween story. This will be the first Halloween since I attended last year’s Halloween: 35 Years of Terror convention, so I will add a few more pictures from that event.

There may also be some repeats, as old favorites can’t be left out. Don’t be surprised if you see Werewolf Bar Mitzvah or John Zacherle on the feed.

Happy October!

Tryon Studios to release new ‘Halloween’ tale in October

 

Michael Myers is coming home this fall.
Michael Myers is coming home this fall.

The sun is setting up here in Seattle, so there’s still enough time for me to grab the coattails of today’s Halloween Blu-ray news and make some noise of my own.

In case you missed it, Anchor Bay and Scream Factory announced the upcoming release of the 15-disc Halloween: The Complete Collection box set, featuring new interviews and unreleased versions of films (including the Halloween 6 Producer’s Cut).

Amazon is already taking pre-orders for the collection, which runs $118.99 for the Limited Deluxe Edition.

And if, after all that, you hunger for more Halloween, Tryon Studios has another treat for you!

I figured this was as good a time as any to intentionally let it slip that my friend Devon Heffer and I are working on our next project, to be released in October.

We launched our creative partnership, Tryon Studios, last year and released Halloween: Masks. The response was very kind, and we want to keep exploring the possibilities within the Halloween universe.

This upcoming project will not be a follow-up to Masks, although I would like to go back to the characters we created – Bradley and Jessica – and see what happens to them.

“This time around I really wanted to explore an established character,” Devon said. “Someone the fans already know and love. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

While we’re keeping the title and plot details under wraps, I will say the story focuses on a character from Halloween 2, which is my favorite film in the series.

Having experienced last fall’s Halloween: 35 Years of Terror convention in person, I know the series still has a huge fan base, and while it may be another couple of years before a new film is released, it’s nice to know there’s enough room in the universe to add more stories in print.

Updates to come.

— Jason

‘Halloween’ star Michael Myers to haunt ‘Call of Duty’

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While Halloween fans wait (patiently, for now) for the next installment in the film franchise, video game developer Activision is giving them a taste of what it’s like to be serial killer Michael Myers.

Sounds cheerful, doesn’t it?

The company this week announced plans to feature Myers in a map for Call of Duty: Ghosts. The map, titled “Fog,” also features John Carpenter’s Halloween theme and pays homage to other 80s slasher films with a trek through a campsite and cabin in the woods, according to Video Gaming 24/7.

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An early 8-bit Michael Myers stalks his victim.

This would mark Myers’ first appearance in a game (unless you count Sims and GTA skins) since Wizard Video Games released Halloween for the Atari 2600 in 1983.

I’ve never played the game or even laid my eyes on a cartridge, but there are plenty of gameplay videos on YouTube. By all accounts, it’s laughably bad.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason Michael Myers never made the leap to Nintendo like fellow 80s slashers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.

Those two starred in games based on the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street films, respectively.

While neither game was a bestseller, fan support inspired toy company NECA to release action figures based on each character’s video game appearance last year.

McFarlane Toys acquired the license for Call of Duty a few years ago. Perhaps, someday, we’ll finally see a Michael Myers video game figure on store shelves.

 

Howarth performance caps ’35 Years of Terror’ convention

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Composer Alan Howarth performing at the Halloween: 35 Years of Terror convention

Composer Alan Howarth closed out the Halloween: 35 Years of Terror convention at the Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday night with a sensational one-man performance of horror’s most-celebrated movie scores.

Taking the stage with a keyboard, laptop and electric guitar, Howarth described his live show as an amalgamation of his own work and classic John Carpenter film scores.

He then launched into a performance of Halloween III’s main titles and Chariots of Pumpkins as the crowd of fans and celebrity guests cheered.

Among those in attendance: Halloween III star Tom Atkins, stuntmen Chris Durand (Halloween H20) and Don Shanks (Halloween 5), and actors Beau Starr (Halloween 5) and Ken Foree (Halloween 2007).

Howarth’s nearly two-hour set included tracks from Christine, Escape From New York, The Thing and the rarely-heard Halloween 6 score.

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The Halloween: 35 Years of Terror convention stage

The convention, marking the 35th anniversary of John Carpenter’s Halloween, featured appearances by more than 60 stars of the 10 Halloween films.

Pasadena had hosted previous conventions for the films in 2008 and 2003.