I woke slowly in the dark with both of my cats beside me, their soft warm bodies pressed against my hip. I reached down to pet them without thinking but my leg started to cramp, bent against my chest for too long. I shifted, just a bit, displacing the little tabby. She mewed her displeasure. There was an answering groan from the other side of the closet door. I held my breath as something moved toward us, thumping unevenly against the floor, and I wondered if this was the moment it would finally figure out how to work the knob.
This is the second in my series of October drabbles – tiny fiction that clocks in at exactly 100 words each. It was inspired by the fact that my cats don’t really like to snuggle until the weather turns cold, and then they’re practically glued to our sides. Which I love! But what if that great moment came just before something horrific?
I’m challenging myself to write as many as I can throughout the month. (You can read the first one here.) Let me know what you think!
The security of Mankind is found in the Blood of ReYuGa*. He died for us, was harvested and preserved by us, so through his sacrifice are we preserved. The faithful trust an enzyme made from ReYuGa’s godly essence – sprinkled across windows and doorways – to repel Night Creatures until dawn. This Salvation is for all Humanity! Even those Taken early are promised a future home in Heaven, forever encircled by the glory of ReYuGa’s many arms, if they have invested in Him.
* Available from your local Church or to those praying with a credit card Online.
I challenged myself to write a bunch of drabbles – tiny fiction that clocks in at exactly 100 words each – throughout the month of October. Since this month is basically candy corn and spooky vibes as far as I’m concerned, I plan to make all of these little stories a bit spooky too. Weird. Creepy? Maybe even a few downright scary ones…
This story was inspired by the wacky Chick Tracts I grew up with, and the generic gospel tracts I keep finding in my laundry room now. (Hopefully it’s clear that my fictional tracts aren’t based on any real religion, but a mix of cosmic horror and a fictionalized version of the worst parts of proselytizing from any religion.) Let me know what you think! Though I’ve got other drabbles ready to post that aren’t these tracts, there will definitely be more from the Cult of ReYuGa as the month goes on…
I took my son to see The Addams Family 2 – in the theater! – because he asked, and I’m glad he sort of enjoyed the movie, because I… didn’t. (Even my son didn’t love it; he wanted to leave as soon as the credits hit the screen, when he’d usually stay until every last word had scrolled by and the house lights have come on.) It should have been great. It’s The Addams Family, one of my favorites. I loved John Astin and Raul Julia as both Gomezes, and in this movie he’s voiced by Oscar Isaac! And Cameron Diaz is Morticia! That alone should have sold me on it. AD2 tells the story of Wednesday hitting those awkward teen years, with Gomez particularly troubled at the distance he thinks is growing between them. That’s in keeping with who Gomez has always been: passionate, deeply involved in his family’s lives and emotions, to the point of being clingy and a bit overbearing. So the evolution of that into Wednesday pushing her dad away (a bit) and his overreacting made perfect sense.
But what was probably a good idea on paper became a bloated trainwreck when it got stuffed full of “big name cameos” and “how many toys can we sell off this movie?” On top of that, someone much have decided that letting Wednesday evolve meant scaring off old-school fans, because they kept some of the worst, out-dated “jokes” from the older shows. (The most cringe was pretty much every time Pugsley and Uncle Fester interacted.)
There were a couple of transcendent moments though, and the one that I remember best had nothing to do with the main cast. It’s the unnamed bit-part character above, a motorcycle biker wearing a deer head. The sad dead eyes, the impossibly-long neck, the realization that the biker must have suddenly found himself comfortable wearing this deer head (maybe comfortable in his own skin for the first time?) because he kept it on the rest of the time we see him onscreen. It’s a sweet moment that no one acknowledges in any way. It’s meant to be a throwaway laugh, I think, but to me it felt more like the old Addams Family than most of the movie.
In the picture above you can see the original sketch I did right after the movie, which has a disjointed demon-deer quality because I changed the sketch several times trying to get the pieces in the right place. I ended up drawing a new one a couple of weeks later, which is the one I finished. But I’m holding on to the first drawing. It gives me ideas for later…
I didn’t know anything about this indie film when I sat down to watch it on Amazon Prime; someone recommended it to me on Twitter when I asked about monster movies I might have missed. It turns out, there aren’t really any monsters in this movie, at least not like you’d expect, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. When it was over, we just let the tv be… silent. Nothing we could put on next would have topped the feeling created by the end of The Vast of Night anyway.
It’s set in the 1950s, in Cayuga, New Mexico, which isn’t a real town but is a nod to Rod Serling, who spent a lot of his life here on Cayuga Lake (where I live, too). There are a few more overt gestures to establish this as an original-series Twilight Zone episode, but I think they actually detract from the movie. If you go in thinking it’s 90 minutes of old-school TZ, you’ll be expecting something less subtle, more neatly wrapped up. TheVast of NIght is more serious than that. Maybe it’s the effect I’d have gotten if I had seen TZ as it originally aired, unsullied by decades of all the knock-offs and commentary that enveloped Serling’s show over the years. Maybe, if I saw a TZ episode in the 1959, late at night, in the dark, in a world where I didn’t have the internet or cable tv or even regular access to a vast library of science fiction.
But The Vast of NIght manages to take a small town, a tiny cast, and tiny budget, and turn them into something deeply affecting. Mysterious things happen in small towns, in the middle of nowhere, at night, when everybody’s off at a party or a sporting event… sometimes you get questions that’ll never be answered. Do yourself a favor: don’t try to solve this one before you watch it.
FX played both movies last night, so I watched them both and sketched my favorite creatures from both. I’m reviewing them together because I’d seen the first Goosebumps before but not the sequel, which means only Haunted Halloween is new to me. And looking at the movies together, it’s easy to see a distinct difference between them…
Both movies have similar budgets/number of monsters (lots), and design; in that way, they’re pretty similar. If you only have time to watch one, you’re left to choose entirely based on the plot. In each one, author R.L. Stine (played by Jack Black) has to face his own demons when the monsters he created in his novels come to life. Each movie has individual kid vs monster fight scenes, each has parents/adults who don’t believe something is wrong in their little town until it’s too late, and each has awkward teens standing up to the monsters to help Stine save the day. It’s how the characters interact that makes the first Goosebumps the superior movie.
In Goosebumps, Stine is present from the very beginning, as the reclusive neighbor raising his teenage daughter in a small town, when a new boy moves in next door. In Haunted Halloween he only shows up at the very end to quip a few one-liners after the kids already solved their own problems. You might think that’s growth; probably, it was meant to be a “passing the torch” sort of thing, but Jack Black is such a presence that putting him in for just a few minutes means you miss him the rest of the movie, especially if you’re watching Haunted Halloween right after Goosebumps ends. But it’s more than that. In HH, the kids are siblings and though they end up sort of working as a team by the end, mostly the older sister treats her younger brother the same way their mom treats them both: she’s dismissive of the supernatural problem until she’s forced to believe in it, then takes over and orders everyone around for the next 90 minutes.
In G1, the kids are a team from the very beginning. New kid meets Stine’s daughter right away, and she’s the one who takes him out of his comfort zone to see the town he’s just moved to. He makes a new friend at school right away too, and the three of them work together to fight the first major monster. The moms in both movies are single moms, but in G1 she’s a widow trying to move on while taking a job as the school’s vice principal, supportive and loving her son even when she doesn’t know why weird things are happening around her… vs HH, where the mom is an overworked caregiver at a nursing home, expecting her teenage daughter to take on a lot of parenting, and blithely dismissing pretty much everything her kids try to tell her. In G1, Mom sees her son for who he is – a good kid who’s grieving the loss of his father but has a good heart – whereas in HH, Mom sees her kids as problems she has to deal with. Sure, she loves them – she even compliments her daughter once, right before telling her to watch the younger kids for the weekend – but it’s clear from the dialog that HH’s Mom just wishes they’d stop requiring so much of her time and attention.
Haunted Halloween isn’t the worst movie I’ll see this month. It just isn’t much fun to watch. Spend those two hours watching the first Goosebumps instead.