The Townhouse of Ideas

WMS November Newsletter 2023

Hi there! Sorry not to post on the official first week of the month, but there were a couple of other things I wanted to do, as you’ll see.

Let’s see: I want to point out some stuff that got posted here but which didn’t actually get put in a newsletter until now:

–First up, I made a book trailer for our graphic novel Hungry Ghosts:

–I finished posting my old interview with writer Steven Brust– I’ll let you look at that yourself:

–I also did a fun interview with the creators of BITEMARK, a nailbiting manga that is also published by Lucha Comics, just like Wicker Man Studios’ HUNGRY GHOSTS:

–Also, comics legend Keith Giffen passed away. His daughter and son-in-law posted online asking for remembrances and interviews, so I hurried and got mine up. There’s no images, but I feel that that’s appropriately somber:

–Finally, here’s footage of our very own Barb Lien-Cooper, being interviewed (and getting just a few words in edgewise during a panel) about her comic Gun Street Girl (see here: ) as part of Austin, Texas’ Staple! The Independent Media Expo! from 2005:

Okay, now that that’s all done, here’s my feature presentation, as it were– every Halloween season, Barb and I try to watch as many scary/intense films and stuff as we can, which we call PARKTOBER. So here’s this year’s report!


–Turn of the Screw (2020): We started off when I listened with half an ear to a film that Barb watched about an actress playing the governess in a spooky stage production of T of the S where no one but her understands how freaky it is. It was pretty darn good! Just go find the filmic experience called Turn of the Screw (2020).

–The Big Caper: Then we watched Rory Calhoun and Mary Costa in The Big Caper. “Sounds like just a noir, Park.” Yeah, but it was more than suspenseful enough! It really got edge-of-your-seat! In our plans to rob a bank, we get helpers involved who we should NOT have brought into this! Uncle Wally thinks it’s okay to distract from the bank robbery by blowin’ up the elementary school– while kids are inside! We gotta stop this!

–The Brothers Rico: Then we watched Richard Conte in The Brothers Rico– which turned out to be not only good, but to have been based off a novel by George Simenon (who wrote the Maigret crime novels that Barb and I love)! Richard Conte realizes maybe you can’t trust the mob to keep your family safe after all. Excellent climax where his mom tries to get her revenge on the bad guy!

–Cary Grant in Shadow of a Doubt: Ya know the Hitchcock film Shadow of a Doubt! Well one time on the radio, Cary Grant was the mad killer! And Barb found it online! Chilling AS HECK!

–Hatchet for the Honeymoon: Then we re-watched one of our favorite giallo movies! Slasher horror AND comedy from Mario Bava!

–Son of Dracula: It’s better than you’d think! It’s better than you remember! Lon Cheney Jr. may be called Alucard, but come on, he’s Dracula! And it’s fascinating! And sometimes a little harrowing!

–Then we watched a video someone made on YouTube about the video game Control and haunted houses! I played the video game Control a year or so ago and told Barb ALLLL about it, so she was fascinated!

–Plague of the Zombies: Some people don’t like Hammer’s Plague of the Zombies, but we sure do! It’s like the best Doctor Who movie ever, but without a Tardis! It’s also a parable about how the rich and entitled suck! Evergreen!

–Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory: This was pretty forgettable, but at least I was satisfied about whom the villain/villains were, and I kind of liked the main couple, especially the gal. Not as good as The Bat Girl, though.

–Il Vampiri: Excellent. As fans of Maigret, it was hard not to think of it as Maigret and the Castle.

–The Werewolf (1958): Excellent. More excellent than it should be, really. If only it wasn’t quite so tragic!

–Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein: Better than you’d think. Lon Chaney Jr. properly weaponized as someone trying to stop OTHER supernatural evil.

–When Michael Calls: Made-for-TV goodness, introducing the world to Michael Douglas (and doing a good job). Also, Ben Gazzara as a rare not-at-all-stupid horror protagonist..

–The Abominable Snowman: Yay, Nigel Kneale’s writing! Some guys go looking for one or more abominable snowmen//yeti, but what they find first is a parable about how humankind needs to seriously reign in its greed and destructive urges.

–Quatermass and the Pit: MORE Nigel Kneale script! A parable about how the politico-military machine is stupid and sucks and always makes the wrong decisions. Oh, and also about how sometimes there’s too much truth in old folk legends, even in this scientific age.

–Treehouse of Horror: Then Barb watched a video about how good the Simpsons’ Halloween specials used to be, so we watched the early good ones. Didn’t take long.

–Sideshow Bob: Then, since we already had Disney Plus, we watched all the good Sideshow Bob episodes, too. Hint: the one with Niles as Sideshow Cecil is the last good one.

–And Then There Was Shawn: Then we watched the Boy Meets World Halloween episode where they all do Scream basically. Amusing! Then we cancelled Disney Plus. 

–Addams Family Values: Then we watched Addams Family Values. Still holds up.

–Il Demonio: Then we tried watching the old folk horror Il Demonio. Reader, we did not like it. The message was it sucks to be attractive and a witch in rural Italy, or to even think you might be an attractive witch in rural Italy, because everyone will want to molest and kill you. It only got remotely good twice– once when she met the spirit of a dying kid down by the river (and then found out he was still dying) and once when the witchtagonist tried to mess up a guy’s wedding by herding a herd of goats into the church– but they (wisely) locked the doors, so her sab-goat-tage wasn’t even successful! Heck with you, movie! I wanted to see sab-goat-tage!

–Condensed Shining: We didn’t want to see the whole Shining, so we just watched the condensed version– Jack’s interview for the job, and then each time the staff at the Overlook were talkin’ to him. Fascinating– and quick!

Autumn in Kenshinland

–Rurouni Kenshin: Origins: Okay some might not see this as a Halloween movie, but perhaps those people do not remember how bloody this movie is. It’s great– but also, it’s a timely parable about how the politico-military machine is stupid and sucks and shouldn’t be trusted to make good decisions.

–Startime’s Turn of the Screw: One of the best adaptations of Turn of the Screw, Ingrid Bergman plays the governess to two kids in a haunted house (or is it? Answer: yeah, probably!) on 1950s TV.

–The Night Strangler: Barb says this one is even better than the first one, The Night Stalker, and I agree. Script by Richard Matheson– who gets a reference to The Front Page in early on that shows you that it’s just the play The Front Page (or, if you prefer, His Girl Friday) with the main reporter investigating a monster and having a contentious like-hate relationship with his editor. But there’s also a parable about how the politico-paramilitary (police) complex wants to cover up everything that might discourage tourism. Like a monster serial-killing women, say.

–Bugs Bunnathon: Then MeTV had an hour of spooky Bugs Bunny cartoons while we had brunch at home on a Sunday! Thanks, MeTV! You inspired us to also go watch the one where Porky and Sylvester are endangered by the mice pretending to haunt the hotel in “Claws for Alarm!”

–The Fog: If he’d just called it HALLOWEEN 2: THE FOG (and set it on October 31st instead of in April), then maybe people would have understood where he was coming from with HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Also, then we wouldn’t have the HALLOWEEN 2 we did have. A new observation I made to Barb this morning at preakfast (the small thing she and I eat before breakfast) was that Dr. Loomis in Halloween decides not to make an announcement warning the town about the killer being loose so as not to panic people and get false reports, but everyone who dies listens to the radio or watches TV first, so it might have saved them– WHEREAS in The Fog, everyone in town listens to the radio station DJ who operates out of the lighthouse, and who knows how many people she saves by warning them about The Fog?! Yay, responsible and useful warnings!

–Rocky Horror Picture Show: Yay, Rocky Horror! This time Barb just felt so sorry for poor Columbia. And Frank, during I’m Going Home, but especially Columbia. But I told her “look, he’s literally swimming in a life preserver from the Titanic and singing (in a manner befitting Judy Garland) to an audience of deck chairs, in front of a big background of RKO. These are all things that are defunct, over. He’s doomed.”

–Bewitched Trick or Treat: Finally, on Halloween itself, we watched the Bewitched episode where Endora (disguised as the baby actress who would later play Marcia Brady) turns Darren into a werewolf. As an opener for:

–Halloween: Halloween on Blu-Ray. Yaaaaaaay! This morning at preakfast I read Barb the highlights of this well-written article about it!

Okay, that’s it for this year’s Halloween season! I’ll be back next month with more stuff!