Halloween Die-ary: September 22, 2018

I’ve been planning to take my family to see The House with the Clock in Its Walls since the movie was first announced. I enjoyed the book that the movie is based on, and one Halloween Season, I even visited the grave of its author, John Bellairs, which is only a few towns over from me in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

I was planning on seeing it at our local theater, with its leather reclining chairs and reserved seating and ten-minute distance from my house. But then I learned that if you watch it at an IMAX theater, you get to see Michael Jackson’s Thriller play in 3D before it.

I don’t have to go into what that John Landis-Vincent Price-Rick Baker-Michael Jackson joint has done for modern Halloween. But I will insert that my full appreciation for it occurred one October night in the late 1990s. I was in college, driving around a swampy Clearwater, Florida, not feeling the season, when the radio played this tune and changed everything about that night and that state in that moment. Magic, man.

I’m not a fan of 3D movies, but I knew that this particular version of Thriller wasn’t a shoddy conversion. Landis himself oversaw the process from the original negatives. But that wasn’t the draw for me. I was more interested in seeing the mini-movie/music video on the massive canvas of a 55-foot-tall IMAX screen.

Our closest IMAX—our closest real IMAX, I should say, since that brand has watered itself down as a franchise package for much smaller screens—is in Reading, Massachusetts.

In a furniture store.

I’ve written about Jordan’s Furniture on OTIS before. Like this one in Natick, Massachusetts (RIP). And this one in Avon, Massachusetts. It’s a furniture store wrapped in a really fun outing, basically. The closest Jordan’s to me is in Reading, Massachusetts, and it features a giant Green Monster on the wall, a kinetic water show, Jelly Belly installations, an adventure course, a Fuddruckers, and, of course, an IMAX.

Its IMAX is state-of-the-art. Dual 4K laser projection with butt-kicker speakers in every seat. So we had some burgers at Fuddruckers, watched dancing streams of water for a few minutes, literally got lost in the depths of the furniture store looking for the theater despite having been there plenty of times before, until finally we were settled in our buttkicking seats with oversized rubber glasses on staring at a screen the size of a building.

Man, Thriller did not disappoint. Again, 3D is 3D, but it was a brand new experience because of the size of the image. The zombies were almost landscapes of details. I could see MJ’s wispy moustache. The shine on his red leather outfit. And they added a jump scare that really got me.

After that, our feature started. And it was fun. Jack Black in a role where you’re not supposed to see Jack Black will always be problematic, and there were a few bad choices in it, especially toward the end of the movie. But the world was interesting and the house lush with creepy detail and I would definitely watch a sequel if they kept going with Bellairs’s Lewis Barnavelt series.

On top of that, the theater was giving away Thriller 3D mini-posters. I was able to get a few, so I’m using one for an OTIS Club giveaway this week.

Back home, I was so elated, I wanted to keep the fun going, which turned out to be a bad call.

Lindsey was tired, so to get her some quiet and take advantage of the great weather, I took the girls and our dog Clove for a walk in the woods that borders my backyard.

About 30 seconds into the woods, though, my youngest blew up. She was just over-tired. So I hauled her back home. And then there were three.

On our second try, my eldest, Clove, and I made it two minutes into the woods, when we came across a group of sixth-grade grade girls, all of them yelling and running across the path. It took a few moments to realize that they were chasing a giant poodle-like creature named August that had broken her leash. “She’s friendly!” they yelled at me in panic as the grayish blur of curly fur ran right at us.

Clove is also friendly and a well-trained dog in general (not my doing; previous owners). But she loses her shit around other dogs when she first meets them. And she’s a strong dog. She knocked my eldest down, desocketed my arms, chased August, slipped out of her collar, and in general transformed into an agent of chaos in those woods.

Eventually, I was atop Clove, the girls were atop August and things reverted back to peaceful woodland scene. The girls went in one direction, and we went in another. But then I realized that both of my hands were stinging like I’d shoved them into a fire-ant hill.

Looking down at them, I quickly realized that I’d made a few mistakes with Clove’s retractable leash during the chaos and had rope-burned both my hands. My left hand had a gash across its back, but my right hand got it worse, a deep trough cut through the inside flesh at the bases of my index and middle fingers, ragged with ripped skin and red with exposed layers of stuff that shouldn’t be exposed.

So we returned home and treated and bandaged the wounds. I sat down at my computer to write but couldn’t type a single word because of the pain. So I took some Tylenol and napped off the worst of the sting. Now it’s only a mild burning sensation and I can type again.

But none of that overbalances Thriller in 3D with the family. It was a great day.