October 7, 2020: At the Every-Night Quadruple-Feature Picture Show


Halloween Die-ary #15

On one clawed hand, I get bummed if I get into a rut of celebrating Halloween by only watching spooky movies every night. I feel like the season should be one of variety and activity. On the other clawed hand, I don’t know if there’s a more fundamental seasonal activity in modern times than watching spooky movies surrounded by Halloween decorations, so I also sort of feel like 31 days of that might be a season well spent. Regardless of what my bifurcated brain thinks, the past three nights we’ve done some serious spooky-watching in my house.

On Monday, we watched a staple of the Halloween screen, Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Love it, although I’ve always felt like it should have started right at the harvest party. All the character development and backstory could have been worked into a long party scene culminating in the chase. I don’t know if I feel that way about the Washington Irving story. Afterward, we really made the night by lighting the firepit outside and watching night fall while imagining the Headless Horseman rushing out at us from the darkening wood. It was a perfect mix of watch something seasonal/do something seasonal.

You can't see him, but he's just there in the darkness.

On Tuesday, we turned the debut of Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! into a mini-event. Instead of watching it under the triangular eyes of Big Face in the living room, we watched it in the basement (the islandof misfit decorations, if you’ll recall). We turned the LEDs to X-Files green, poured mini-candybars into a bowl, and the whole family squeezed onto the couch.

That movie was…bonkers. Like I haven’t had my jaw drop at a Scooby Doo movie since the psychedelic ending of Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery back in 2015. I mean, I can’t say I loved it, but I liked it a lot more than so many of the recent movies, for sure (including the terribly off-concept SCOOB!), and I definitely loved some parts.

Scooby Doo is my favorite cartoon of all time. I’ve seen every movie and every episode of every series, and I’m almost always disappointed by it. The concept of Scooby Doo is a combo of goofy and creepy, but most adaptations of late fall too far on the goofy, almost to the point that it’s a preschool cartoon. I’m still waiting for that ultra-creepy version, like the original series.

Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! wasn’t all that creepy, but it made up for it by stuffing the screen with Halloween imagery and just being far out there. I had no idea what was going on with this movie. Elvira swapping clothes with Daphne, Fred turning into Rambo, a Batman villain joining the cast, Bill Nye becoming their high-tech Vincent Van Ghoul, Scooby and Shaggy getting crazy-high, much of the movie taking place over the course of a high-speed road chase…with parade floats, Attack of the Killer Tomato pumpkins, other things that I don’t want to spoil. It was a little mind-boggling, and it felt like some specific madhat person got their creative voice into the feature.

No firepit afterward this time. We started the movie late and after that, well, my stomach hurt from all the mini-candybars and my eye sockets hurt from the LEDs and the lighting in the rest of the house suddenly looked pink to our green-saturated retinas. It was a good, cozy way to end the night.

On Wednesday, we decided to get our pumpkins and watch Hubie Halloween. Another do something/watch something night. Except the timing of the end of my workday and dinner didn’t cooperate, so we skipped the farmstand and watched Hocus Pocus over dinner. Right in the middle of the movie, about when we would have three of the five pumpkins we needed in our wagon at the farmstand, a big storm hit. Thunder and rain, the spooky sound you always want the wind to make. Pretty intense. “Are trees around our house going to fall” intense. “Worried about the Halloween decorations” intense. We paused Winifred Sanders gnashing her rat-teeth and ran to the front door to watch the October storm to see if our giant inflatable ghoul would go airborne.

After the movie, the girls went to bed and/or iPads, and Lindsey and I watched Hubie Halloween. It was gawdawful, exactly how you expect an Adam Sandler comedy to be, but I have an almost perfect record of being able to sit through any Halloween movie or program. My one failure was Boo! A Madea Halloween.

However, we had another motivation for watching Hubie besides the holiday: it was filmed in Salem and Marblehead. There were lots of both in the flick, but we also recognized two surprise locations, one in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and one in my hometown of Nashua, New Hampshire.

The first shot of the movie is the exterior of the old Tewksbury Hospital, which I’ve visited for OTIS before. Later, they enter a haunted house, the interior of which is none other than Fright Kingdom itself, the Nashua haunt which I’ve written about here for our behind-the-scenes tour, here and here for its Hardly Haunt event and here for its The Fright Before Christmas.

The only disappointment for me on the location front was that they didn’t seem to film at the Old Town Hall in Salem. Had they, the building would have been the home to three Halloween movies, the other two being Hocus Pocus and Lords of Salem. That would make for quite a marathon.

Anyway, like I said, gawdawful movie, but if you shove enough Halloween and oddity sites into it, you’ll leapfrog over Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as the best movie of all time for me.