Halloween Frightfest 2009

Film (with rating): A Halloween Frightfest: Halloween (1978
original and 2007 remake) along with Halloween 2 (1981 original).

 

Summary: In “Halloween” (both versions), a teen
babysitter tries her best to stay alive after Michael Meyers, the masked serial
killer, escapes from a mental institution and returns to Haddonfield, Ill., on
a killing spree. In the sequel, Michael Meyers continues his quest to kill the
babysitter, for reasons soon made clear.

 

Review: It’s Halloween weekend, folks. Time for some tricks,
treats and terrors. And who best to serve up the latter than the king of fear,
John Carpenter? “Halloween” is perhaps one of the best horror films
of all times. It doesn’t have all the shock and gore that today’s films
embrace, and instead zooms in on the genuine creepy factor. Think about it: a
psychopath escapes a mental institution and then stalks people in a town on
Halloween night.  Plain and simple.
And terrifying. Carpenter didn’t spend a fortune on this film at all (I think
one story involves how he needed a mask for the killer, so he went and got the
only one the store had: a William Shatner mask, and painted it white. Now, that
dime-store purchase is Hollywood legend.), and yet, it triumphed. In fact, it’s
better than many high-budget horror films today.

Jaime Lee Curtis was crowned a true Scream Queen for her
role as Laurie Strode, and Donald Pleasence made a decent career for himself
throughout the “Halloween” franchise as Dr. Loomis, appearing in
many, many of the sequels. But what really makes this movie perfect is the
soundtrack. I mean, is there anything scarier that the “Halloween”
theme music?

The 2007 remake, shockingly, is really good. A lot more
gory, but still good and true to the original. Rob Zombie did a wonderful job
meshing modern notes with the classic storyline so that “Halloween”
feels fresher, yet familiar. There are practically identical scenes and dialog
to the original, but it doesn’t look like a lazy remake. In fact, half of the
film is dedicated to Michael Meyer’s backstory and his descent into darkness,
which gives this version additional depth.

The 1981 “Halloween 2″ is another classic. All the
original characters appear, which in my opinion strengthens a sequel
tremendously. (It isn’t until “Halloween 3″ that the franchise begins
falling apart, and it doesn’t redeem itself until “Halloween H20.”)
Lots of screaming, teens running for their lives, scary theme music and Donald
Pleasence racing after a mask-wearing psychopath. All of this adds up to some good
Halloween DVD watching.

These movies aren’t thought-provoking, Oscar-winning flicks.
But who wants that on Halloween night? I want to turn out the lights, curl up
on the couch with a bowl of trick-or-treat candy and get freaked out as soon as
I hear the beginning notes of the theme music.  Happy Halloween everyone.

 

Extra highlight: Diving into your kid’s trick-or-treat bag. And check out the trailer for the original “Halloween.” Turn up the sound.

What to serve for dinner: A family tradition of mine on
Halloween is to cook up some hearty chili and serve it piping hot after a long journey
around the block collecting candy in the name of holiday fun. Try out this
vegetarian version. (Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com.).

    *
1 tablespoon olive oil

    *
1/2 medium onion, chopped

    *
2 bay leaves

    *
1 teaspoon ground cumin

    * 2 tablespoons dried oregano

    *
1 tablespoon salt

    *
2 stalks celery, chopped

    *
2 green bell peppers, chopped

    *
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

    *
3 cloves garlic, chopped

    *
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained

    *
2 (12 ounce) packages vegetarian burger crumbles

    *
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

    *
1/4 cup chili powder

    *
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

    *
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained

    *
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained

    *
1 (15 ounce) can black beans

    *
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in
the onion and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook and stir
until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno
peppers, garlic and green chile peppers. When vegetables are heated through,
mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and
simmer five minutes.  Mix the
tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the
kidney beans, garbanzo beans and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to
low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking five minutes
before serving with hot cornbread or warm flour tortillas and avocado slices.

What to talk about over dinner: What is the best scary movie
ever? How many horror movies have featured Jaime Lee Curtis? Who is today’s
Scream Queen? Do you like sequels? Which horror sequel is the best? What about
remakes? What is the scariest modern-day horror movie? Did you like scary
movies as a kid? What are some of your best Halloween memories? How do you like
to celebrate now? Is the holiday more fun with kids? What was your all-time
favorite Halloween costume? What are some of the best Halloween costumes for
adults you’ve seen this year? For kids? How do you like your carved
pumpkins–happy, goofy or scary? Or made into bread?

How I Met Your Mother, The Awesome Season Four

Film (with rating): How I Met Your Mother, The Awesome
Season Four

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Summary: The woman of his dreams is out there, but who is
she? And where is she?  “How I Met
Your Mother” tells the tale of how twentysomething Ted Mosby meets his soulmate
(eventually) all while living one adventure after another with his best
friends. The series, set in modern-day New York, is told in flashbacks (voiced
by Bob Saget) by the off-camera dad talking to his teen children about how he
met their mother.

Review: This series is one of my favorite television shows
of all time. The writing is witty, the characters are believable and likeable,
and the show has survived four seasons without resorting to overworked plot
points or improbable twists. In too many comedies today, the writing strains
hard to get the obligatory chuckle, and the characters come across
one-dimensional at best.

In “HIMYM,” that just doesn’t happen. It’s
one of those rare shows that sidesteps all the pitfalls of the average comedy
and races without a hitch season after season.  All five main actors are brilliantly played, and the
chemistry between them all is legend-WAIT FOR IT-dary. (Sorry. I couldn’t
resist. The series produces some of the best one-liners to date). Neil Patrick
Harris, about a million miles away from his Doogie Howser days, is a true gem
in this series, never failing to polish every single scene he’s in, as do the
other  anchors–Josh Radnor (Ted),
Jason Segel (Marshall), Cobie Smulders (Robin) and Alyson Hannigan (Lily).

For
extra fun, check out the first three seasons on DVD; you’ll see the series just
keeps getting better. And you’ll see my all-time favorite episode: “Slapsgiving.” It makes me want to hang out at a bar like MacLaren’s, to
move to New York, to have best friends like that, to come home one day and find
a goat in my apartment, to buy lots of suits, or to jump across the rooftops to
the neighbor’s terrace. Well, maybe not that. But it would definitely earn me a
high-five from Barney if I did.

Extra highlight: Check out the gag reel, and “Eriksen’s
Fight Club.”

What to serve for dinner: Pub food, such as pub stew
(cooks.com). Serve with thick steak fries and some Guinness beer.

1 1/2 lbs. top quality beef, cut into chunks

1/4 c. butter

10-11 oz. can tomato soup, plus an equal amount of water

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4 med. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 rib celery, cut into chunks

4 onions, cut into chunks

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 c. minced fresh parsley

1/2 c. cooking sherry

2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a heavy skillet, brown the
beef in the butter over medium-high heat. Add the soup and water and stir well.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or
twice. Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof pot and cook in the oven, covered,
for 5 hours, stirring occasionally if desired. Serves 4-6.

What to talk about over dinner: Would you want to be a
twentysomething again in search of your soulmate? Which “HIMYM”
character do you most relate to? Which one is your favorite? List as many
Barneyisms as you can. I’ll start you off: legendary, Bro Code, suit up…..Do
you think we’ve met Mrs. Mosby yet? What did you think about Stella? What was
your favorite episode of Season 4? “The Naked Man,” anyone? Are you a
Woooo Girl? Have you ever been one? Anyone have brothers like Marshall’s? Why
is Neil Patrick Harris so awesome? Did you catch the jokes about Cobie and
Alyson’s real-life pregnancies, which weren’t written into the script? Would
you ever jump from building to building? What do you think of Barney and Robin? Do you know the words to “Sandcastles in the Sand?” Do you have friends like this gang?