Hey. So this has been a heck of a year, huh?
I’m a Hallowe’en person, if you haven’t noticed by now. I spend the entire year looking forward to October: quietly picking up decorations, finding weird movies at used-video stores, catching horror games on sale. And then for an entire month I throw parties and show off everything I’ve scavenged, raccoon-like, from the trash-cans of the past year. I make playlists and do movie nights and spend the entire month (from Hallowe’en the 1st until Hallowe’en the 31st) living each and every day as if it’s Hallowe’en. Just like Ministry taught me.
For reasons that should be, uh, readily apparent, none of that is happening this year. Then what to do with all this spooky stuff I’ve tracked down?
For the last several years (with, okay, a several-year hiatus) I’ve been making Hallowe’en playlists, one day and song at a time, for folks to play at their Hallowe’en parties at the end of the month. For me to play at my Hallowe’en parties through the month, too. With no Hallowe’en parties and everyone stuck at home anyways, I’ve got to change tact.
I’ve got to save Hallowe’en.
So I have an idea: I’m opening The Long Hallowe’en up.
For the next 31 days I’ll post a different piece of spooky, spoopy or plain horror media that I think you should check out, and a couple reasons why. And I’m not limiting it to songs anymore: we’ve got music, movies, comics games and more this time. There’s all kinds of weird stuff.
I think you’re really going to like it, I’ve certainly had a lot of fun putting it together. Let me know what you recommend too! 31 days isn’t enough time to get to everyone’s faves – and Hallowe’en is all about sharing treats, after all.
So Happy Hallowe’en, and welcome to my cure for S.A.D.
And remember: Pumpkins.
Day One: Over The Garden Wall
Where do I even start with Over the Garden Wall?
I know I’m supposed to leave my darlings for later in the list, but it simply isn’t Autumn without Over the Garden Wall. I will watch this miniseries, start to finish, every single October for the rest of my life. It is a masterpiece. It’s that good.
Created by Patrick McHale (of Adventure Time), OTGW is by turns slapstick, spooky and tragic. It’s also occasionally a musical and stars Elijah Wood, Tim Curry, Chris Isaak, Christopher Lloyd and Jack Jones. And that’s just scratching the surface. If it seems like more people should know about it given the stellar cast, I completely agree.
Please watch it. Tell your friends. Buy merch.
To say anything about the plot is to start chipping away at what makes the show special, but here’s the teaser: Wirt (Elijah Wood) and his kid brother Greg (Collin Dean) are trapped in the woods, and there’s a beast on the loose. There are a great deal of things on the loose, it turns out, many of them mysterious and dangerous. Lost and alone, the two boys must find their way home. Or out.
Things immediately become more complicated.
The joy of Over the Garden Wall is in the way it slowly unravels into an American fairy-tale, with all the hallmarks of the Mid and Pacific Northwest: there are turkeys, scarecrows, cornucopia, and strange, familiar oddities galore. There are confused woodsmen, haunted trees and a forest that seems to go on forever. There is a steamboat and a witch, too.
There are many, many twists, all of them masterfully and slowly revealed, often through song. The soundtrack is incredible as well, and just as specifically American as the setting: you’ll find country, bluegrass, folk and everything between, here.
Many of the musicians involved are industry vets (Chris Isaak?!), but more are oddities, smaller artists that perform contemporary music in their own anachronistic style. There’s top-class opera eventually, but I dare you to get Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton’s gleefully bizarre ‘Highwayman’s Song’ out of your head.
I can gush about this show forever, and I’m sure someday I’ll write on it again. If you want to watch a spoopy show that will immediately take you back to the feeling of being a kid on Hallowe’en (confused, excited and curious), I can’t recommend anything more. It is the perfect introduction to Fall, and suitable for anyone cool with a bit of mild, cartoon spookiness.
It’s also 3.5 hours long, end to end. So watch it this weekend. I will..
And welcome to the Long Hallowe’en.