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The Halloween season would not be complete without watching horror movies. I chose 20 films this year for my Halloween Movie Marathon. This post is Part 1 of my movie discussion and only mentions eight of the films that I watched during October. Three of them were kid-friendly Halloween movies and new watches for me. They included The Monster Squad, The Halloween Tree, and Halloweentown. The Monster Squad is campy and a bit more appropriate for teenagers. Of these three movies, it was my least favorite despite featuring the Universal Monsters, a horror movie club run by kids, and a friendship between a precious little girl and Frankenstein. Surprisingly, I adored Halloweentown, a Disney original starring the wonderful Debbie Reynolds. It is a heartwarming story featuring friendly monsters and a young girl who discovers her magical powers as a witch. Another pleasant surprise was the delightful animated film The Halloween Tree narrated by Ray Bradbury, who is the author of the book of the same name. The film is a magical journey through the history of the spooky season. Halloweentown and The Halloween Tree will definitely be rewatches for me in the future during the Halloween season.

There were two more campy movies on my list, House on Haunted Hill and The People Under the Stairs. I chose to watch House on Haunted Hill because of the play I was in at The Columbia Theatre during the spooky season. I enjoyed it immensely for its plot twists, spookiness in addition to its campiness, and Vincent Price. The People Under the Stairs was not one of my favorites on this year’s list. It is supposed to be horror satire and does have a few redeeming qualities. After reading an article about Jordan Peele’s thoughts on the film and potentially spearheading a remake, along with Kelsi’s thoughts in our chat about the movie, I plan to rewatch this film before making any final judgements. I would LOVE to see a remake of this movie, especially if Jordan Peele is at the helm.

Of the 20 movies that I watched, only two were rewatches. Kelsi and I watched Silver Bullet together and had a lively discussion on her YouTube channel comparing it to the novella it is based on, Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. It was wonderful revisiting this film, and even more wonderful experiencing it with Kelsi as she watched it for the first time. Nightbreed was my other rewatch, but this time around, I watched the director’s cut which was much better than the theatrical version. Admittedly, I was somewhat disappointed with the film after reading Cabal, the novella written by Clive Barker and the basis for the film. Cabal is darker and the characters are more fleshed out than in the film. I would have liked to have seen more of the character, Dr. Decker, also known as the sadistic serial killer Button Face. The critically acclaimed director, David Cronenberg, plays the role of Dr. Decker and nails the dreadfully creepy character. Coincidentally, one of Cronenberg’s films, The Brood, made our movie list for this year’s marathon. One merit of the film was the visually appealing monsters or Nighbreed that reside in Midian. Kelsi and I both agree that Clive Barker is a master of horror; however, if you have not discovered his work, we do not recommend starting with Cabal or Nightbreed. They are enjoyable but not where we suggest you start with exploring the fantastical worlds of Clive Barker. I would recommend The Hellbound Heart, Books of Blood (short stories), or Weaveworld for first reads and Hellraiser for a first watch. You will get a taste of his brillance as a horror writer and want to discover more of his work on the page and in film.

Dear reader, you can hear more of my thoughts about these movies, Kelsi’s thoughts, and our reaction to Art the Clown in the anthology film All Hallows’ Eve in our Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Wrap Up Part 1. Art the clown is still super creepy, and the three frightening short films within an equally frightening film, which crosses the line between reality and the make-believe, make All Hallows’ Eve more terrifying than Terrifier. In addition to a more in-depth commentary on these films, this chat also includes some stats, a few overall thoughts about the marathon, as well as surprises and disappointments. It is a long video, but Kelsi does a terrific job of including time stamps in the description section. Also, like our friend Ray does, you could listen to it like a podcast. We hope you enjoy it, and please consider leaving a comment or two, as well as any suggestions because we do appreciate your feedback.

This is just Part 1 of the movies I watched during the spooky season, dear reader. My post on Part 2 will be published shortly. Feel free to comment on some of the horror movies you enjoy watching, especially during the spooky season. Happiness!

“There’ll be food and drink and ghosts…and perhaps even a few murders. You’re all invited.” ~ Frederick Loren (Vincent Price), House on Haunted Hill (1959)

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I am halfway through my Zombie Movie Marathon. I have already watched five of the ten movies selected for this month. Ravenous was my first choice followed by Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Slither, Shaun of the Dead, and #Alive. Without going into any details (discussing details with Kelsi after the marathon), I give two thumbs up to all five movies. Kelsi and I will be chatting specifically about Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Shaun of the Dead tomorrow, so be on the lookout for our next video chat.

I’m also participating in other zombie-related activities included on my Zombie Fun List. Currently, I am reading Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. It is the prequel set four years prior to the dreadful circumstances of Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. It reveals the evolution of Elizabeth Bennet, the Zombie Slayer.

Additionally, I watched the first and only available season of Betaal, an Indian television show created by Patrick Graham. It is a Netflix series that was released in 2020 and is comprised of four episodes. The story centers around an elite military unit called the CIPD, who are hired by the owner of the Surya Construction Company to relocate the Adivasi villagers from their home, so a highway can be constructed and the surrounding lands can be used for various construction projects. In order for the highway to be built, a sealed tunnel must be opened. Despite warnings from the locals, officials clear the tunnel and disentomb an army of British soldier-zombies.

I enjoyed Betaal and recommend it to anyone who likes the zombie genre. It is fascinating to me to see zombies in other parts of the world and in different cultures. While the trailer shows subtitles, the Netflix show is dubbed in English with subtitles for anything that appears in print (signs, text in a book, etc.). The zombies look terrifically horrific and are frightfully fast. It is eerie, gory, and includes many tense moments.

Yesterday, I watched the first episode of a British mini-series created by Charlie Brooker called Deadset which is about zombies descending upon reality television. It is also a Netflix series, composed of five episodes, that was released in 2008. So far, Deadset is pretty intense, and I’m enjoying it.


As you can see, I’m having a zombie-rific time this month watching and reading about all things zombie. In fact, to celebrate, I am having a Zombie Book Contest. One lucky follower of The Kat Files will win a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

For your chance to win this book that offers “complete protection from the living dead,” subscribe to my blog at the top of this blog post if you haven’t done so already AND email Zombie Book Contest to me at katloyacano@gmail.com and tell me your favorite zombie movie, television show, or book and what you love most about zombies.

The contest ends on Monday, 31 May 2021. Don’t forget to include your mailing address for receipt of your prize. Good luck, dear reader! Happiness!

“The dead walk among us. Zombies, ghouls — no matter what their label — these somnambulists are the greatest threat to humanity, other than humanity iteself.” ~ Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide

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May is Zombie Awareness Month! I could not be happier, dear reader, because I ADORE zombies. It has been awhile since I celebrated all things zombies during the month of May (2012 to be exact), so I suggested to Kelsi that we participate in a Zombie Movie Marathon to commemorate the undead. I have also created a Zombie Fun List that will include watching movies and television shows, reading books, short stories, and articles, wearing clothing, and making a cocktail all associated with zombies. If I come across any other zombie-related activities throughout the month, they will be added to my list. Undoubtedly, I will be zombified by the end of the month. HA!

Zombie Fun List

Movies

Television Shows

  • Fear the Walking Dead
  • iZombie
  • Reality Z
  • Deadset
  • Kingdom
  • Betaal

Books, Short Stories, and Articles

For those of you that don’t know much about zombies, check out the Zombie Research Society. They have been around since 2007. The organization’s focus is on “the science, survival, and culture of the living dead.” If interested, you can also follow them on Facebook (temporarily restricted), Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

I am so excited about celebrating the month of May with zombies. Be on the look out for additional zombie posts sprinkled throughout this month. As with all of our movie marathons, Kelsi and I will be have a rotting good time chatting about reanimated corpses at the end of the marathon. Of course, dear reader, you are also invited to join us for an infectious good time. Where do most zombies live? On dead end streets! Happiness!

“A non-frightening zombie is a lame zombie.” ~ Scott M. Gimple

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Kelsi and I completed our Musical Movie Marathon that we planned for the month of February. I chose seven romantic musicals and enjoyed watching all of them. I kicked-off my marathon with Mamma Mia! and wrapped it up with Across the Universe. Terrific music, spectacular performances by incredible actors, and love stories galore warmed my heart and put some pep in my step.

Out of the seven musicals that I watched, two of them were rewatches, Grease and Cry-Baby. Both movies are set in the 50s. Grease is one of my top favorites. The songs are awesome, and I absolutely loved singing along while watching the film. Cry-Baby has some pretty catchy tunes and has become a cult classic over the years. Both Gigi and Funny Face are 1950 classics. I enjoyed Leslie Caron and Audrey Hepburn’s performances. Beauty and the Beast and Across the Universe were visually delightful. How I wish I could have seen both films in the movie theatre! They are magical films that are definitely worth the watch. And, if you are a fan of the Beatles, dear reader, I highly recommend you check out Across the Universe which is a love story creatively intertwined with a plethora of songs written by the Beatles. Last, but definitely not least, Mamma Mia!, what a fun film!

More of my thoughts on the musicals that I chose for the marathon are included in a fantastic chat that I had with Kelsi where we also learn about the films she chose for her viewing pleasure. Additionally, we rank our musicals and favorite songs and reveal a few fun facts about some of the films that we watched throughout the month. We invite you to check out our chat, dear reader, and let us know what you think. Happiness!

“Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.” ~ Jo-Jo, Across the Universe

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Happy Birthday to Me! My birthday was this past Monday (11 January), and I’m officially 52 years old. I do not feel it mentally or physically although I’m sure I look it. No matter, because I’m happy and grateful to be alive another day and can celebrate another year of life. Despite my special day being brutally cold (thankfully, no carpool duty) and having to work, it was a terrific birthday. I received cards from my fabulous co-workers, a gift and card from my fantastic roommate Julia, and lunch was provided for me by two of my fab friends who work in the school library, Kathryn and Debbie. Throughout the day, I received numerous happy birthday messages, texts, and emails. I even received cards in the mail.

When I arrived home from work later in the afternoon, I had a Desert Beauty plant (succulents and cacti) and a card waiting for me from my sweet friend Denise. Andrew and I had our regular take-out dinner Monday evening from Kirin (sushi for me and ramen for him). My gift from Andrew was a book that I have been wanting by Mary Higgins Clark called Piece of My Heart. (Barry, Jr. is getting me Spellbound by Estée Lauder, my favorite perfume.) I relaxed for the remainder of the evening, reading and responding to birthday wishes. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the day of my birth. However, since my birthday fell on a Monday, and my hubby was out of town, my birthday celebration extended into this weekend.

I requested that Barry take me to the movies and then dinner afterwards at a new restaurant. Yesterday, he and I went to the afternoon screening of Wonder Woman 1984. While it was not as good as Wonder Woman, the first movie in the franchise featuring Gal Gadot, Barry and I still enjoyed it. After the movie, we went to dinner. Originally, I wanted to try One Thirteen in Hammond. Unfortunately, we did not make our reservations soon enough to dine inside, and neither one of us had the desire to dine outside in the cold. Therefore, we did a little research and ended up dining at Paolo’s Restaurant and Wine Bar located on East Pine Street in Ponchatoula. Paolo’s features northern Italian cuisine. This is my first new restaurant of the year (#18 on my 21 for 2021 list). What an excellent choice! A terrific atmosphere, a friendly and experienced restaurant staff, and delicious food made for a wonderful dining experience.

Our waitress for the evening was Haylee. Since it was our first visit, I asked her for recommendations before I ordered anything, and everything she recommended was AWESOME. I wanted a birthday cocktail and couldn’t decide between the Blood Orange Cosmopolitan and the Moscow Mule. Haylee recommended the Blood Orange Cosmopolitan which contains Vodka, Blood Orange Liqueur, Cranberry Juice, Triple Sec, and Fresh Lime Juice. Yummy! Barry ordered a Bud Light. Barry and I skipped an appetizer, so that we could save room for dessert. I ordered one of the specials for the evening, Grilled Atlantic Salmon over braised brussels sprouts, and Barry ordered the Blue Crab Ravioli. Both of our entrées were scrumptious. Of course, we had to try each other’s entrée. Finally, to end a perfect evening, we ordered the Crème Brûlée which we shared. It was heavenly! Furthermore, since we were celebrating my birthday, our dessert was complimentary which made it even sweeter.

In Other News

I am still tracking my time for the week. Weekends are also tracked even though they look differently from the rest of the week, Monday through Friday. My week technically ends at 4:30 tomorrow morning (Monday, 18 January). I will analyze my time log to see what it reveals and share my findings with you, dear reader. I have already started jotting down some ideas of how I am going to divvy up my time based on the first few days of my log. I have to be realistic.

Also, the room in my house that I am focusing on this month is my office. Andrew and I share this room. I use it to write/blog, and he uses it for school work. The office has furniture in place and one framed print hung up closest to the door. The goal is to clear out the piles of paperwork on top of my desk and in a couple of boxes under my desk. I also have a box of memorabilia that needs to find a home in my house. Eventually, I will hang a bulletin board in this room and possibly a white board. The ultimate goal is to declutter and organize each room in my house by the end of the year (#6 on my 21 for 2021 list).

There is not much else to share at this point, dear reader. I’m grateful to have tomorrow off (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). Andrew and I both have eye appointments with a new eye doctor in Ponchatoula. In the meantime, I will enjoy the rest of today which includes catching a live stream of Kelsi on Twitch at 2:00 this afternoon. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend. Happiness!

Be happy and enjoy your sacred time on earth.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

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For Catholics, the Christmas season officially ends tomorrow, 10 January, with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, thus marking the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. With that being said, it is time for me to reflect on the festive activities that I participated in throughout the Christmas season, mainly during the month of December. I had a jovial time watching Christmas movies, reading Christmas stories, consuming a mirthful beverage, and so much more as I celebrated the delightful season of Christmas.

As I mentioned in previous posts, dear reader, Christmas is not my favorite holiday; however, creating a Christmas Fun List helped me enjoy the joyous season with good cheer. Kelsi also created a fun list. Similar to Halloween, our lists consisted of movies (horror and classic), books, accessories, treats, and extras. Since we incorporated a Christmas Horror movie marathon and a Christmas Classics movie marathon as part of our fun lists, Kelsi and I had TWO Christmas chats. Again, Kelsi is the mastermind behind the technical aspects of our conversations and does an awesome job of hosting our chat and creating the finished product. I’ve included our Christmas Retrospective in this post.

Without delay, here are my thoughts on how I spent the Christmas season.

Movies

I selected 24 movies, 12 Christmas Horror and 12 Christmas Classics. What an insane amount of movies for me to view in a month! I decided to complete my Christmas Horror Marathon prior to starting my Christmas Classics Marathon. To read more about the Christmas Horror movies that I watched, to listen to the song I wrote about the Twelve Days of Christmas Horror, and to check out my conversation with Kelsi discussing the Christmas Horror movies, please visit my post “The Gift of Christmas Horror” which includes all three components. Unlike a few of the movies on my Christmas Horror list which I didn’t like very much, I loved all the movies chosen on my Christmas Classics list. The movies are ranked in the order of how much I liked them and the stars represent my rating.

My top six movies all received 5 STARS from me. I have seen all six of these films numerous times over the years. My absolute favorite is Love Actually. It is a fantastic romantic comedy full of wonderful characters whose lives intersect while navigating through the chaos caused by love and loss during the Christmas season. I watch Elf every year. It never gets old, and Will Ferrell is hilarious! Next up is How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the brilliant Jim Carrey as the Grinch. The 2009 version of A Christmas Carol is beautifully animated and terrifically terrifying in all the right places.

I had not seen Home Alone in several years, so it was a real treat to revisit. Andrew and I watched it together, and I laughed hysterically throughout the entire movie, especially at the shenanigans of the Wet Bandits. The Polar Express is another visual delight. I’m a fan of the author, Chris Van Allsburg, who wrote and illustrated this beautiful story. I love how well the film captured the heartwarming message of the book.

Out of the remaining six movies on my list, three of them were new watches. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a marvelously magical musical that gave me a holiday happiness boost. The young actress Madalen Mills who portrays Journey is pure delight. I hope to see her in other productions in the near future. Klaus is an amazing animated breath of fresh air with a heartfelt message and a new spin on the legend of Santa Claus. It is not a musical, but it has a lovely soundtrack. And, Rashida Jones, alum of The Office and Parks and Recreation, is the voice of Alva.

My third new watch, He Sees You When You’re Sleeping is an enjoyable movie-of-the week based on a mystery novel by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. I’m a fan of both authors. In fact, I’ve been reading Mary Higgins Clark since I was 18 years old. This movie isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but it takes place during the Christmas season. The acting isn’t stellar and there are some cheesy scenes, but it does have a decent plot. As for the final three movies, which were all rewatches, it was lovely to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite scene is when all of the children are dancing on stage. Of course, Snoopy steals the show with his endless imagination and sense of humor. It has been over 20 years since I’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol. Luckily, I was able to see it with my hubby in the theatre. It is a lovely musical starring the talented Michael Caine as Scrooge alongside the fabulous Muppets. Last but not least, A Christmas Story. I know I have seen this movie quite a few times and in recent years; however, there were many scenes I did not remember, so I’m guessing I had it playing in the background while engaged in other activities. It’s not my favorite, but it has plenty of entertaining moments that make it worth the watch.

Books/Short Stories

I picked out two books to read throughout the month, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Santa’s Twin written by Dean Koontz and illustrated by Phil Parks. Even though I have seen a variety of cinematic versions of A Christmas Carol over the course of my lifetime, I have never read the classic novella. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a superb piece of literature that I highly recommend to everyone. Santa’s Twin is another equally enjoyable read. It is a beautifully illustrated picture book with an endearing story featuring two charming and spunky little girls.

Initially, I was only planning to read those two books. Shortly after I finished them, I read four more terrific books. Two of them are picture books, The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg and The Animals’ Santa written and illustrated by Jan Brett. One of them is a splendid children’s lit selection that features a debonair mouse, Merry Christmas, Geronimo. The final one is an anthology, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus edited by Kate Wolford. I think anyone who is a fan of Krampus will enjoy this collection.

Thematic Potpourri

Besides watching both creepy and classic Christmas movies and reading holly and some not so jolly stories, there were several other thematic activities that I engaged in throughout the month. I wore a pair of Christmas socks a few times during the month. Every day at work, I wore different Christmas pins. Although I did not buy a Christmas sweater (the only item on my fun list I did not complete), I bought a Christmas mask to wear at work. I sent out Christmas cards to family and friends which included flying wish paper. Kelsi and I both included flying wish paper demonstrations in our chat.

I made a sweet and salty Christmas treat. It is super easy to make and only requires three ingredients (a bag of Snyder’s Snaps Pretzels, a bag of Hershey’s Hugs, and a bag of red and green M&M’s). I used my toaster oven and set it for about 275 degrees. Put a piece of aluminum foil on a pan (you can also do it without aluminum foil). Place pretzels on the pan first. Place a Hershey’s Hug on each pretzel. Put the pan in the oven for two minutes to make the Hug soft. Take it out the oven after two minutes and press an M&M on each Hug. I carefully take the aluminum foil with the treats and place it in the refrigerator to harden. Voila! You can basically make this treat anytime and for any holiday just by changing the colors of the M&M’s.

On Christmas evening, my hubby and I went over to Shelly and Kerry’s house for our annual Christmas visit. We generally have a glass of wine or a cocktail and enjoy leftovers from lunch. What a perfect time to try a Christmas cocktail! Kerry, who is our designated bartender, mixed the Grinch Cocktail for us. Instead of using Ginger Ale, he used Sprite. He also did not get the simple syrup or the green/red sanding sugar to decorate the rim of the glass. It was a yummy cocktail that I would definitely drink again. Afterwards, we enjoyed a glass of 19 Crimes Cali Red, featuring Snoop Dogg. With that, my Christmas Fun List is complete!

December was an amazingly merry month thanks to having a Christmas Fun list. Seeing Christmas decorations lit up in the evenings when I’d drive through the subdivision, reading thematic stories, and watching both creepy and classic Christmas movies added so much joy to my life. I will definitely be doing this again next year although with fewer movies on my list. What did you do to celebrate the Christmas season? I hope you will take a look at my conversation with Kelsi, dear reader. We’d love to get some feedback on our conversation and what we might consider for next year. Happiness!

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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Merry Christmas Horror! I successfully completed my 12 Days of Christmas Horror movie marathon a couple of days before Christmas. What a thrilling experience! This movie marathon was part of my Christmas fun list for the month of December.

Out of the twelve horror movies I watched this month, three of them revolve around Krampus, the half-goat/half-demon who is believed to have emerged from German folklore. His role is basically to punish the naughty children. The first time I had heard of Krampus was back in 2015 when the film Krampus, starring Toni Collette and Adam Scott, hit the movie theaters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it in the theater and essentially tucked it away in the back of my mind until this year. Out of all the Christmas horror movies that I watched for my marathon, this was my absolute favorite. The movies are ranked in the order of how much I liked them and the stars represent my rating.

My top six movies all received 5 STARS from me with my first three favorite films featuring Krampus. Out of my top six movies, five were new watches with one being a superb rewatch (Gremlins) that I had not seen in decades. Better Watch Out is a rollercoaster of a ride with many twists and turns and an ending that keeps you wondering long after the ending credits. Anna and the Apocalypse was a pleasant musical zombie surprise. Think High School Musical meets Shaun of the Dead. I would highly recommend all six movies to anyone who is a fan of horror or dark comedy.

Out of the remaining six movies on my list, five were new watches with one being a rewatch (Scrooged) that I had not seen in decades. The Children and Black Christmas were both wonderful surprises. They were disturbing in their own right and left you, the viewer, to decide the ending. Scrooged was surprisingly a bit of a disappointment because I recalled liking it much more when I first watched it. Wind Chill was slightly dull, Christmas Evil was moderately creepy and somewhat over the top, and Saint was simply awful.

I would highly recommend The Children and Black Christmas (1974 version). Even though I was a little disappointed with Scrooged, I would definitely recommend it. It is more of a dark comedy/fantasy than a horror movie; however, it features the delightful Bill Murray in the role of Scrooge and the hilarious Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present. As for Wind Chill, I would bypass it unless you are a fan of Emily Blunt and want to see her earlier work. I half-heartedly recommend Christmas Evil (Kelsi would disagree), and I definitely do NOT recommend Saint. Shockingly, the last two movies were recommended on Christmas Horror movie lists and rated well on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Not only did I get to watch horror movies related to the Christmas season, but I also had the opportunity to talk about them with my good friend Kelsi. We had an entertaining conversation about our likes and dislikes, surprises, my introduction to Krampus, and much more. While we generally have similar tastes regarding the horror genre and agreed for the most part on many of the films we mutually watched, there were a couple of films that we did not see eye to eye. I invite you to watch our conversation to learn more about the horror movies we watched this season. And, if you have any suggestions for future Christmas horror movies that we should watch next year, please share in the comments of our chat or this blog post.

Finally, I teased in my “12 Days of Christmas Horror” post back in November that I was working on a piece of writing to complement my Christmas Horror movie marathon. Well, I wrote a song called “The Twelve Days of Christmas Horror” using the music from “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It features many of the elements in the horror movies that I chose to watch this month. On a whim, I contacted my voice coach Laura to see if it was even possible for me to sing it, much less record it. We only had three sessions together to practice and record it in the midst of work, commitments, and Christmas hullabaloo. Laura graciously edited it for me, so I could include it in today’s post. While it’s not perfect, I am pretty proud of it. And, I can always tweak it. After all, I am a work in progress.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Horror

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, dear reader. As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed my 12 Days of Christmas Horror. The rest of my holiday festivities for the month of December have been less creepy and more classically Christmas. I am wrapping up my Classic Christmas movie marathon and reading my last Christmas related book which is all about Krampus. Soon, Kelsi and I will have a conversation discussing all of the other items we completed on our Christmas fun lists, and I will post a recap after the first of the year. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your weekend. Happiness!

“Moments later, from the orphanage roof, a creature made of Christmas nightmares and holding a bulging sack that looked to hold doll-shaped toys made its escape through the silhouette of the city, not to be seen for another year.”Sebastian Gregory

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Unlike Halloween which I absolutely adore, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. Since participating in Halloween activities throughout the month of October was an absolute delight and a tremendous success, I decided to create a Christmas fun list for the month of December that encompasses the traditional Christmas spirit but with some spooky undertones sprinkled in for jolly good fear, I mean cheer. Instead of starting the 2020 Christmas season off with watching classic Christmas movies, my Christmas festivities will commence with 12 Days of Christmas Horror which entails 12 Christmas movies that deck the halls but aren’t so jolly. The first Christmas horror movie I will watch will be a toss up between A Christmas Horror Story and Krampus. Considering the Christmas season officially starts after Thanksgiving, I plan to start my Christmas horror movie marathon before the first of December.

Kat’s 12 Days of Christmas Horror

In addition to watching Christmas horror movies, I plan to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Santa’s Twin by Dean Koontz. I’m also secretly working on a wickedly Christmas appropriate piece of writing to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas Horror that I hope I can share with you at month’s end. Nothing like a mysterious and unexpected gift for Christmas. 

Of course, I will be wearing Christmas socks and pins to work throughout the month. Maybe this year, I will even invest in an ugly Christmas sweater. That would be pretty horrific, but it would also fit in quite nicely with the Christmas horror theme. I must also celebrate the season with a Christmas cocktail, and maybe I’ll even try a Christmas-related treat. What’s more, if time permits, I will acquiesce and watch a few traditional Christmas movies. I’m not that much of a Scrooge, dear reader. Finally, Kelsi and I are planning to have another Zoom Conversation to discuss our Christmas fun lists and compare notes on movies we watched throughout the season.

The Christmas season is upon us, dear reader. Like Thanksgiving, Christmas 2020 will look and feel a bit different; however, we can still find joyful ways to celebrate the holiday. What are some fun activities that you plan to engage in this Christmas season? Happiness!

“It is required of every man,” the ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.”
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Well, well, well. What have we here?” ~ Oogie Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Halloween 2020 has come and gone; however, I must reflect on the fang-tastic activities that I participated in throughout October before I can get into the heart and soul of November. I had a horror-rific time watching Halloween/horror movies, reading scary stories, consuming a spooky libation, and so much more as it all led up to the magical night of Halloween.

As you know, dear reader, Halloween is my favorite holiday which makes the month of October super special for me. Inspired by my dear friend Kelsi, who also adores Halloween, I created a Halloween Fun List. Basically, it was a fun list of activities planned for the entire month of October that encapsulates the spirit of the season. My list included: movies, books, accessories, events, and extras. I took the liberty of incorporating some spur of the moment items which included a spooktacular conversation with Kelsi. We were actually scheduled to have our conversation the Thursday evening before Halloween; however, it was postponed because Hurricane Zeta swept through Louisiana causing damage and power loss. Unfortunately, Kelsi was one of many who lost power, thus putting a slight kink in out creeperific plans. Thankfully, her power was restored, so we recorded our conversation Friday night. Please check it out! It is my first attempt with this type of format. And, I LOVED it! Podcasting is something I really want to do in the near future, so having this opportunity was both important and exciting for me. Kelsi is such a pro and is responsible for setting everything up, editing it (such cool graphics), and getting it out into the world.

So, without further ado, my thoughts on how I spent the month of October.

Movies

I chose 13 movies. Five of them were movies I had seen before, but wanted to revisit since it had been quite awhile since I had seen them last. The Haunted Mansion (ghost story), Hocus Pocus (witches), The Nightmare Before Christmas (animated dark fantasy), Sleepy Hollow (headless horseman), and Salem’s Lot -1979 (vampires). Thankfully, movie theatres have opened again, and the AMC Theatre in Hammond is showing FAN FAVORITES for $5. I was able to see both Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas in the theatre to my great delight. I cherish both of these films. I enjoyed all of my re-watches, but was a bit disappointed with Salem’s Lot. I remember it being terrifying when I saw it as a kid but not so much as an adult. In all fairness it was released as a made-for-tv movie back in 1979. The head vampire is a nod to the German vampire Nosferatu (awesome), the vampire children floating outside the window are still creepy, and seeing David Soul again was visually appealing.

As for the other eight movies on my list, I was pleased with my choices. My new favorites are Train to Busan (zombies), The Ritual (Norse mythology), Death Note (Japanese death god), and The Innocents (ghost story). I definitely recommend them to anyone who enjoys the horror genre. The Vatican Tapes (demonic possession), Dark Skies (aliens), and Color Out of Space (sci-fi) were all entertaining. While they are not necessarily my favorites, they are all worth the watch, especially Color Out of Space. Based on a H.P. Lovecraft short story and starring Nicholas Cage (a fave of mine), it is an artfully, over-the-top gem. My only disappointment was House of the Witch (witches). It wasn’t terrible, but not really scary. There were a couple good jump scares, nice special effects and makeup, and an interesting plot twist. While some would enjoy it, it is one where watching it once was enough for me.

Books/Short Stories

I chose two short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” and “The Purloined Letter.” Of the two stories, I enjoyed “The Purloined Letter” more. It featured C. Auguste Dupin, a fictional character who uses his intellect and imagination to solve mysteries even though he is not a detective by profession. Then, I chose three short stories from A Newbery Halloween, and all three were gratifying. My favorite of the three was “The Year Halloween Happened One Day Early” written by Virginia Hamilton. The short story is taken from Chapters 7 and 8 of her book Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed which was inspired by “The War of the Worlds” radio drama.

Of the three children’s novels that I read, Ghost Squad, Witch Catcher, and The Collected, I was disappointed with The Collected. It didn’t quite have the same creepy energy as K.R. Alexander’s other scary books. I also added Coraline which is a reread for me. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author and one of my favorites, and Coraline is a classic. I would highly recommend the book and the movie. Lastly, I tackled the monstrous novel NOS4A2 written by Joe Hill. It was AMAZING! I feel like I must devote a whole post in the future to this novel and Joe Hill because there is so much to say about it. Kelsi and I discuss it more in depth in our conversation, and she reviewed it on her blog Kelsi Explains It All.

October Reads

Thematic Potpourri

Besides watching spine-chilling movies and reading scary stories, there were several other thematic activities that I engaged in throughout the month. I wore Halloween socks and pins every day to work and on the weekends. My hubby and I attended a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I savored a wicked beverage called Witch Potion Cocktail while socializing with my best buds from high school. On Sunday evenings, I immersed myself again in The Walking Dead universe. On a whim, I posted a Halloween-related Snoopy picture daily on Facebook (my story). My favorite was Pinhead Snoopy. And, for the first time, I sent out a few Halloween cards to friends I know who appreciate the holiday as much as I do.

And, last but not least, Kelsi introduced me to David S. Pumpkins. It is completely absurd but totally entertaining. I watched it numerous times throughout the month.

Halloween Night

On Halloween night, I dressed as a witch. My plan was to hand out treats to all the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors had signs made for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to hand out treats. We placed the sign in our front yard, so the children and their parents would know who was handing out candy. I placed the candy in my cauldron and set it on a table. I wore a mask and socially distanced. Son #1 dressed as Cookie Monster and his girlfriend Kayla dressed as Oscar the Grouch. They brought an inflatable Haunted House that we set up in front of my table, so it looked like I was in the house. It became a huge hit with the children. Many parents took pictures of their children in the entranceway or near the haunted house. It was a pleasant night. Afterwards, I watched Eli Roth’s History of Horror. The episode was on witches. Then, I watched a little bit of Halloween before hitting the hay.

October was an incredibly BOOtiful month thanks to having a Halloween Fun list. Seeing Halloween decorations lit up in the evenings when I’d go for a walk, partaking in seasonal events, reading scary stories, and watching creepy movies added so much joy to my life. I will definitely be doing this again next year. I’ve already started compiling my list. What did you do for Halloween? I hope you will take a look at my conversation with Kelsi, dear reader. We’d love to know what you think and what we might consider for next year. Happiness!

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.” Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow

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I bought tickets for Barry and me to attend the screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of my Halloween Fun list during the month of October. We had not seen the movie in a theatre in over 30 years. In fact, the first time I had ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I were dating at the time and living on the south shore. We had gone with my BFF Shelly and Barry’s friend Danny. Back then, you attended the movie at midnight and brought your own props. Since this screening was at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond, props were being provided by the theatre and the screening was at 9:00 in the evening.

Our original plans were to see the movie on Friday, 09 October; however, Hurricane Delta put a kink in our plans, and our show was postponed until Friday, 16 October. I was grateful the movie was postponed and not canceled. Before we attended The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I had dinner at Cena in Hammond. 

Cena

Cena specializes in Italian comfort food. Ironically, I had received a gift card for this restaurant as a teacher appreciation gift back in May when we were quarantined and could not dine in restaurants. So, I was excited that we were finally able to dine there. Additionally, eating at Cena would count as trying a new restaurant (#11 on 20 for 2020 list). There are still COVID restrictions regarding restaurant dining, so Barry and I ate at an outside table which was nice, especially since it was a pleasantly cool evening. 

Barry and I dining outside at Cena in Hammond

Barry and I decided to start the evening with cocktails. I ordered a Grapefruit Martini, and he ordered a Lemon Spritzer. We agreed to skip the appetizer. I ordered Shrimp and Grits for my entrée. YUMMO! The dish consisted of Gulf shrimp and grits in a delicious Louisiana BBQ butter sauce, topped with fried okra, crispy prosciutto, and asparagus. The meal was accompanied with a piece of garlic bread. Barry ordered the Casarecce which was a house-made pasta consisting of Gulf shrimp, spicy tomato sauce, fresh basil, and feta cheese. To complete our dining experience, we decided to split a dessert. What a treat! We ordered “The” Cannoli and we were not disappointed. This delectable delight comprised of two crunchy, tube-shaped pastries filled with a sweet, creamy filling with chocolate chips, cinnamon, and two generous dollops of house-made pistachio ice cream. It was heavenly.  

 

After our scrumptious meal, we walked about three blocks to the Columbia Theatre. It was time for my hubby and me to do “The Time Warp.” As we entered the lobby of the theatre, ushers were asking guests if they were virgins. In this context, virgins are first timers who have never experienced the show in a theatre with an audience, a live cast (a shadow cast), and props. If you were a virgin, one of the ushers drew a “V” on your forehead with bright red lipstick. Once we were in the lobby, Barry and I received our prop bags. The bags included party poppers instead of rice (wedding and Frank/Rocky confetti), newspaper (thunderstorm), a rubber glove (snapping during Frank’s creation speech), a noisemaker (end of Frank’s creation speech), toilet paper (“Great Scott!), a party hat (dinner), a picture of toast (Frank’s toast at dinner), and playing cards (“Cards for sorrow/Cards for pain”). Guests used their own cellphone for light at Frank’s castle.

We took our seats and waited excitedly for the show to begin.

Once everyone was seated and before the show began, the master of ceremonies asked the virgins to stand up so everyone could see them. Some shows have virgins participate in a pre-show sacrificial ritual (totally harmless); however, our virgins had to socially distance. There was also a shadow cast at the front of the theater representing the characters in the movie. They all looked awesome in their costumes. Their role was to mime the actions on the screen and to lip-sync their character’s lines.

For those of you that do not know anything about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is a musical comedy horror film. The story is about a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down during a thunderstorm near a castle. In desperation, they go to the castle seeking a telephone, but soon discover the home is occupied for a celebration by strange guests dressed in elaborate costumes. They meet the owner of the castle, Dr. Frank N. Furter, who happens to not only be a mad scientist, but also an alien transvestite. Not long after their arrival, mayhem breaks out and the couple embark on a crazy adventure.

Finally, the lights went out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show commenced, and the audience went wild. Barry and I, along with the rest of the audience, participated in the “Time Warp” dance (my favorite scene of the movie). I was quite surprised and extremely happy that Barry got in on the act. We had a ball talking back to the screen, singing, and using our props throughout the movie. 

Five Fun Facts about The Rocky Horror Picture Show

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show was originally a small stage production in London called The Rocky Horror Show and was written by an out-of-work actor named Richard O’Brien.
  • The film was shot in the United Kingdom, premiered in 1975, and initially flopped. 
  • Audience participation was somewhat inspired by boredom. The film soon gained popularity because of fan participation.
  • The well-known lips at the beginning of the film belong to the actor Patricia Quinn who plays Magenta. However, she lip-syncs the song as it is sung by the actor Richard O’Brien who plays Riff Raff.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. 

My hubby and I had a wonderful date night, dear reader. We enjoyed an incredible meal together at a new restaurant and interacted with a cult classic in a theatre full of Rocky Horror fans. Happiness! 

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.” ~ the Criminologist, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Science Fiction/Double Feature (click on the caption to the left to hear the song)

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