Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Story and Song From the Haunted Mansion gets an official release on CD!


Something to look forward to during that long wait until Halloween...

The 1969 classic LP "The Story and Song From the Haunted Mansion" is scheduled to get an official CD release on Sept. 22!

Amazon entry found here.

Members of Disney's new fan club D23 will be able to purchase 12 days before, on Sept. 10. (D23 order page found here.)

UPDATE: Just noticed this in the description posted at Amazon:

Bonus Content: Insert this CD into your computer to enjoy a second session of HiRez Collin Campbell images of his original paintings for the 1969 vinyl release.
UPDATE: Interior illustrations from the original LP are included in the CD (only the rear and front-inside sleeve artwork is missing from this CD release). The disc art is even done in the style of the original album label.

Versions of all the paintings with the storybook text removed can be viewed and printed from your PC via this gallery-themed menu (the candles drift around and ambient mansion sound effects are heard while you make your selection).

The bonus track, titled Grim Grinning Ghosts, is a montage of various renditions of the song as heard in the attraction (foyer, ballroom, graveyard, and exit queue) with Ghost Host narration heard for the foyer and Little Leota dialogue for the exit queue.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Haunted Mask II (Goosebumps, 1996)

Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I missed R.L. Stine's 1990s "Goosebumps" children's book series, and was completely oblivious to the Fox Kids TV series it spawned, which originally aired from 1995 to 1998.

Having since watched several episodes on DVD, I can say that the "Goosebumps" TV series, with its spooky stories based on the books (think "Tales From the Darkside" meets the ABC Weekend Specials) would have been right up my alley as a kid, although I find the quality and tone too inconsistent from episode to episode to unilaterally recommend the series as a whole.

That said, one particular episode stands out, not only for being legitimately frightening, but for managing to capture some timeless Halloween magic. It's "The Haunted Mask II". Yes, that "II" indicates this episode is a sequel, but don't be put off... all necessary exposition about the cursed Halloween mask that this story centers around is contained in "II".

Set entirely on Halloween, "The Haunted Mask II" sets the mood by showcasing plenty of trick-or-treaters in typical costumes.

And if you look closely, you'll notice that many of the houses are decorated with classic Beistle Company cut-outs, as called out below:

The story opens with grade-schooler Steve lamenting that tonight will be his last real Halloween (he worries that he may be getting too old to celebrate it next year. In a way, he's already feeling nostalgic for his own childhood while he's living it). Determined to make this last Halloween the scariest ever, he now finds the too-cute pirate costume his Mom made for him to be a bit underwhelming.

Fixated on finding the ultimate scary costume, he seeks out a mysterious novelty and mask shop with his friend Chuck.

The shop is boarded up and abandoned, but the door is open, and there are masks for the taking, including this gnarled old-man mask with a hairful of plastic spiders.

What Steve doesn't realize is that the mask comes with a curse. Wear the mask once or twice, and nothing unusual happens.

But when Steve dons the mask for a third time as he heads out for a night of trick or treating, the curse takes hold. First, Steve's voice is transformed to a low, raspy growl, that sounds normal to him, but terrifies anyone he tries to talk to. His breathing becomes labored, and he has an insatiable craving for Halloween candy.
I should note that this is not played for laughs--Steve is clearly tortured inside this stifling mask, which he can't remove no matter how much he struggles. Unable to control himself, he steals some one's trick-or-treat back and shoves candy into his mouth with a savage intensity.

The plastic spiders in the mask's hair are soon accompanied by real living spiders, crawling out of his nostrils and mouth!

Desperate, he enlists a passerby to help him remove his mask, but they can't find where the mask ends... it has become Steve's actual face!

He notices his hands have also transformed!

Meanwhile, Steve's friends Chuck, Carly Beth and Sabrina head back to the spooky old novelty shop looking for clues to help lift the curse.

What they don't see lurking in the shadows is the shopkeeper, who is having his own mask-related issues...

Lifting the curse will involve performing a midnight ritual at the graveyard... surely making this the BEST HALLOWEEN EVER!

I won't spoil the ending, other than to confirm that it leaves an opening for another sequel.

The Haunted Mask II was released to DVD, but is out of print as of this writing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What's cooking this Halloween?

With Halloween less than 3 months away, here are some recipes to keep on file: Pumpkin Face Cake, Black Cat Cookies, Ice Cream Jack-O-Lantern, and Witches' Cauldron Soup.

Next is a perfect centerpiece idea: A Vegetable Scarecrow for your dark night...

Some Halloween party suggestions.

And why settle for tricks or treats when you can have Tricks and Treats? (Alright, admittedly the following recipes in which you doctor up cereal with fruit have nothing to do with Halloween, but they're kind of funny.)

And if you know someone who's afraid of clowns, here's a treat that's also a trick: Clown Cupcakes!

Originally, Chris' complete quote was "Greg'll be six...and he's deathly afraid of clowns."

But you don't need to wait until Halloween to throw a party or bake something fun. Here are some cake ideas, including a generic, non-licensed cartoon dog.

Here's a party idea that works any time of the year... a Faraway Places Party, emphasizing geography and global awareness.

Take your guests on a culinary adventure as you explore the diverse cuisine from "round-the-world" by serving.... hot-dogs?

If you couldn't tell by now, I love digging through old (1950s and 60s era) cookbooks. They are like artifacts from a lost culture. It's not the recipes I'm after, but the charming clip art, photographs, and sometimes unintentionally funny serving and hosting advice.

Here's some well-dressed kids ready to party.

Sock it to the drug store with a chocolate fudge soda! (Terrific illustration!)

Nothing says "Movie Night" like... sloppy joes? Carrot curls? Milk?

Here's some advice for children on setting the table.

A challenge to boldly mix your fruits. Integration now!

It seems like a lot of 50s and 60s era cookbooks are hung up on using frozen vegetables. These fresh (and frisky) corn ears don't seem to mind being passed up for their frozen brethren.

Celebrate the Criterion Collection DVD release of Roman Polanski's Repulsion with this vaguely disturbing Bunny Salad.

Finally I love this preposterous recipe, Three Men In a Boat.

Here's what it looks like. Okay, so I've made it. Now what the hell do I do with it?

The above scans came from two cookbooks: Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls (a modern facsimile of the 1957 original), and Betty Crocker's Party Book (1960).