Halloween Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome to “Dinner and a DVD’s” first Halloween
Horror Movie Marathon. This weekend is sure to be jammed with all things
macabre, milk chocolate and monstrous, so take some time to curl up on the
couch with a big bowl of popcorn, light the Jack o’lantern and enjoy the show.
Happy Halloween, everyone!


Halloween, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs and Jaws


Summary: Ah, welcome to one of my favorite times of the
year: Scream Season. I do love Halloween, namely because it’s when I can
unabashedly celebrate my favorite film genre: horror. As a bona fide,
card-carrying member of the Horror Movie Fan Club, I adore this time of year. A
mere flip through the gazillion satellite channels proves to be a goldmine of
scary movies, both frightening and foolish. And all wonderful in my book. Now
that I’ve got little ones sharing the TV with me, my horror movie viewing must
be taken on the sly, grabbed late at night or during naptime. I’m not nearly
wealthy enough to fund the therapy bills that will result from my children
watching Linda Blair’s head spin around.


So do as I do: Put the kids to bed or send them to Grandma’s
and commence the Halloween Horror Movie Marathon. I’ve compiled a list of
classic, can’t-go-wrong films that are hallmarks of the genre. You’ve got the
original screamfest, John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” Jamie Lee Curtis
stars in this film that centers around psychotic Michael Myers and his crazed
attempt to kill off, well, basically everyone.  Then there’s “The Exorcist,” the original demonic
possession film about a young girl (Linda Blair) who winds up housing the devil
in her body. Scary scary scary. Pour the Chianti for the next film:
“Silence of the Lambs.” Rarely has there been a performance by an
actor that has been as completely perfect and chilling as that of Anthony
Hopkins, AKA Hannibal Lecter. Jodie Foster co-stars as the FBI agent in charge
of finding a serial killer by enlisting the help of the most notorious killer
around: Hannibal the Cannibal. Finally, we’ve got “Jaws,” the movie that
made an entire generation terrified to swim in the ocean. Or the pool. Or even
their bathtubs.


Review: Oct.
31 just isn’t Oct. 31 without at least one viewing of this classic 1978
crazed-killer masterpiece that not only started an endless chain of “Halloween”
sequels, prequels and spin-offs, but became one of the biggest cult classics of
the genre. We’ve got the good-girl babysitter, and her friends, and a crazed
killer who just escaped a mental hospital, all set to take revenge on Halloween
night. Can’t get much better than that. Plus, that Michael Myer’s mask
(originally a William Shatner mask purchased for a cheap and painted) is
insanely creepy. It’s campy, but it’s a classic. And as a special treat for you
in the 91030, “Halloween” was filmed, in part, in South Pasadena. The
famed Myers’ house is still there, except now it’s a chiropractor’s office.
Check out this site for more info about the filming locations, which include
Pasadena, too.


Next up on the docket: “The Exorcist.” You just
can’t beat this 1973 hallmark for pure, marrow-chilling evil. No other
demonic-possession movie has ever reached the unadulterated fear that “The
Exorcist” births in people, no matter if they’ve seen the film once or 100
times. The thing that makes “The Exorcist” special is that the
subject matter never jumps the shark and becomes silly, or grotesque for
grotesque’s sake. It stays frighteningly scary because questions are left
unanswered, and the evil is just banished, but not destroyed. While by today’s
standards, the special effects in “The Exorcist” pale, back nearly 40
years ago, they were mind-boggling. And if anyone watching it does not recoil
and grow icy inside when young Blair’s head spins around, check your own pulse
because something is not right.


“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver
with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Ah, Hannibal Lecter, star of
“Silence of the Lambs.” Surprisingly, Anthony Hopkins is only in the
film for about 16 minutes of the 120 total run time. His presence is so huge,
so all-encompassing, it feels as if Hopkins’ Lecter is the whole movie. Utterly mesmerizing. Foster, too,
exploded every time she was on the screen. The scene in the dank, dark house
toward the end of the film still gives me nightmares. You know what else still
gives me nightmares? Moths. I’ll never be able to look at them again in the
same light.


Last, but not least, we have “Jaws,” another
hallmark in the birth of the modern-day horror market. “Jaws” shaped
a generation and turned countless people into selachophobics. I once read that
“Jaws” author Peter Benchley regretted sparking this tidal wave of
shark hate that swallowed the nation. But even so, he created one amazing story
about a rogue shark that took no prisoners. Between the great cast of Roy
Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss as well as the classic lines (“You’re gonna
need a bigger boat”), “Jaws” never gets old. The opening scenes
where the young, drunk partygoer is taken for a personal tour of the buoy is
horrific. The best part about “Jaws?” It takes quite some time for us
as viewers to finally see the creature doing all this hunting. And when we do,
it does not disappoint.


Extra highlight:
You won’t have time for these. Just put the next disc in the DVD player.


What to serve for dinner: Ah, dear readers. You’re in for a treat. First,
we’re going with start with some split pea soup (I know, I know. Clich, but
how could I resist?), courtesy of simplyrecipes.com, not Linda Blair. For the
main course, we’ll reel in some delicious grilled shark (cooks.com), served
alongside some low-fat fava beans with parsley and feta. For dessert, let’s
flash back to that scene in “Halloween” where poor Tommy Doyle gets
tripped and his pumpkin winds up as roadkill on the sidewalk. Can’t let all
that good pumpkin meat go to waste, can we? Let’s cook up caramelized pumpkin
and pear crumble (realsimple.com).


Split Pea Soup


1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large leek, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, halved

1 herb bouquet*

2 well-rinsed ham hocks

Salt and Pepper


Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain
peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables, herb bouquet, ham hocks and 2
1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the top of the soup
for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise. Cover loosely and simmer
about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they
stick to the bottom of the pan.


Remove the ham hocks and herb bouquet from the soup. Pure
the soup with a blender. An immersion blender works great for this; if you are
using a regular blender, take care to working batches and only fill the blender
halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you
want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the pure through a sieve.


Return the pure to the pot and heat to serve. Add salt and
pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with croutons and parsley or

If you want, don’t discard the ham hocks, but cut away the
outer skin and remove the meat from the bones. Dice the meat and serve with the
soup. Serves 6-8.


*Herb Bouquet: Tie 3 cloves garlic, 4 allspice berries, 2
bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 8 sprigs parsley in rinsed cheesecloth or place
in bouquet garni muslin bag.


Grilled Shark Steaks


8 shark steaks, 1-inch thick

1/3 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon lime rind, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

1 tablespoon liquid honey -or- maple syrup


Mix together all ingredients. Add shark, stirring to coat
well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes
or refrigerate for up to 1 hour, turning shark occasionally. Drain shark,
reserving marinade. Grill shark steaks 4-inches from flame. Cooking with medium
heat, not high, is important in order to keep the fish tender. Serving Size: 8


Low Fat Fava Beans With Parsley and Feta


8 ounces canned or fresh, cooked fava beans

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup fat free feta cheese

salt and pepper


Warm fava beans in a small pot or boil until tender, about
three minutes. Drain and pour into a medium bowl. Mix in chopped garlic,
parsley, salt, pepper, and free fat feta (regular feta can be substituted if


Caramelized Pumpkin and Pear Crumble


2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup walnut pieces


In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine pears, 4
tablespoons of butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices and cook until the
pears are tender, 9 to 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Place the flour, brown sugar, and remaining butter in a
bowl. With your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until large
crumbs form. Add the walnuts and combine well. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a
9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread the pumpkin-pear mixture evenly on the bottom.
Sprinkle the topping over it and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 40
to 50 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8.



What to talk about over dinner: What is the all-time scariest movie you’ve ever
seen? Why? What’s the best modern-day horror movie? What is your favorite
Halloween memory? Your favorite Halloween costume? Why is it that all Halloween
costumes for women toe the line of skankdom? What makes “Halloween”
such a cult classic? What’s your most frightening scene in “The
Exorcist?” Did you realize Hopkins was only in “Lambs” for such
a short time? What did you think of the other “Hannibal” films? Do
you remember “Jaws 3?” Wasn’t it in 3-D back in the day? What is your
favorite scene from “Jaws?” Admit it: That soundtrack still rings in
your head every time you set foot in the ocean, doesn’t it? Which movie has the
better soundtrack: “Jaws” or “Halloween?” Have you visited
any of the “Halloween” filming locations? Could anyone have guessed
that that tiny-budgeted film known as “Halloween” would thrive
throughout the test of time?

Horrible Bosses

Photo #11

Film (with rating): Horrible Bosses (R)


Warner Home Entertainment


Three working professionals conspire to murder their “horrible
bosses” when they realize these bullies are standing in the way of their
happiness and sanity.


Review: I watched
“Horrible Bosses” with a sense of apprehension. My past has a few
horrible bosses lurking in the dark corners of my memory. Not too many,
thankfully, but the few ass…terioids that did launch themselves into my orbit
left some large craters where they made contact with my terrestrial plane. So I
know the pain of having to show up every day at a job you need only to be
tortured by a boss who holds all the cards.


I mean, who hasn’t experienced this at some point in time? A
jerk of a boss?  But what do most
of us do? Gripe, complain, drink too much, pocket some extra Post-it notes and
ballpoint pens, surf Facebook on company time? Who gets together with some pals
and arranges to kill people off? The guys in this film. Nick, Dale and Kurt
(Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) can’t deal with their awful
bosses any longer, and so after a drunken night of fantasy, they arrange to
kill them off. And of course, what ensues is hysterically funny chaos.


Unfortunately, “Horrible Bosses” wasn’t as good as
I had hoped. Yes, it’s very funny. And yes, it’s good across the board. But
it’s not the-best-movie-ever-and-ever great. Day’s character, with his whiny
voice and stupidity, begins to annoy early on, and Sudeikis’ character is
totally unbelievable nine times out of 10. But Bateman is once again fantastic
in his role as the pinched and buttoned-up executive who finds himself at the
mercy of his evil boss day after day.


Speaking of evil bosses…..they made the movie, hands down.
Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell are absolutely brilliant as
the employee-destroying bosses. Spacey is just so smarmy, you want to shower
after watching a scene with him in it. Although I’m really not a fan at all of
Aniston, I have to admit she was perfect in this role as the sex-obsessed
dentist who sexually harasses Dale non-stop. And Farrell, sporting the world’s
worst comb-over, is horribly delightful. Or should I say delightfully horrible?


The writing is, more often than not, witty and quick, while
the fart jokes and physical humor are thankfully kept to a minimum. Some of the
one-liners, especially when delivered by Bateman or Aniston, are laugh-out-loud
funny. I’m thinking of the Dust Buster scene. Classic.


So even if you don’t have any horrible bosses in your
closet, you’ll still enjoy this flick. And if you are permanently scarred
thanks to the person who signed your paychecks? You’ll really enjoy it. Just
don’t get drunk with a couple of pals before watching it. 


Extra highlight:
Additional scenes, or, for Blu-ray, the “My Least Favorite Career”


What to serve for dinner: Thai Peanut Chicken. Mwhahaha! (allrecipes.com).


2 cups uncooked white rice

cups water

tablespoons soy sauce

tablespoons creamy peanut butter

teaspoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

tablespoons olive oil

skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into thin strips

tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root

3/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cups broccoli florets

1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


Combine the rice and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to
a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until
rice is tender. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, peanut butter,
vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet or wok over high heat. Add chicken, garlic and
ginger, and cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is golden on the outside,
about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add green onion, broccoli, peanuts and the
peanut butter mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until
broccoli is tender, and chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.


What to talk about over dinner: Who was the worst boss you’ve ever had? Why? Are
you a horrible boss? What’s the worst thing any boss ever did to you? Did you
ever fantasize about doing what these three guys did? Who was the most horrible
boss in the movie? How could Dale not have been so annoying? Who was the
funniest of the trio of friends? What was your favorite scene? What makes a
horrible boss, anyway? Are you afraid to go to the dentist now?