Pop Culture Blind Spot: Practical Magic

I have never seen Practical Magic. This, despite my love for Sandra Bullock (a love so deep I call her Sandy), comfy 90s movies where people wear sweaters, and witchy things. Most of my knowledge about Practical Magic comes from surfing past it on HBO during my childhood, and commercials for Charmed, a TV show about sister witches that is a different thing entirely from Practical Magic. Anyway, it feels like fall here in upstate New York, which means it feels like time for a fall movie… which I assume Practical Magic is, based on the witches.

The Netflix blurb:

Thanks to their powers, things come easy to these sisters… except keeping a man. Alive, that is.

First of all, this is some of the Netflix copy writers’ best work. Second, hard same.

We learn that the women in the Owens family have been witches since puritan New England. Oh, I love this already. If you haven’t gone down a Salem Witch Trials documentary spiral yet, I suggest it. Your YouTube suggestions will get a bit weird for a while but it will be worth it.

There’s a Victorian house, too! [Profiled here on my fav, Hooked on Houses]

The girls move there with their aunts after their dad falls victim to a centuries-old curse. Everyone wears draped, lacy dresses and florals with scarfs and floppy hats and statement earrings, exactly how you’d want witches in a Victorian house to dress. [I already feel a Practical Magic Is My Aesthetic post coming on.]

 

Work those April Cornell catalog vibes, ladies.

Child Sandy Bullock (Sally) looks like adult Sandy Bullock. Child Nicole Kidman (Gillian) does not really look like adult Nicole Kidman, but even casting directors are victims of All Redheads Look Alike Syndrome.

Child Sally, by the way? None other than little Camilla Belle, who actually DOES resemble adult Sandra Bullock these days, now that you mention it.

Adult Camilla

We’ve circled back to the late ’90s, fashion wise, and I like Sally’s straight-leg jeans. She also has one of those sweaters with the big stripe across the middle. REAL thing 90s kids remember: those sweaters with one big stripe across the middle.

IMPORTANT: There’s a scene where This Kiss by Faith Hill plays as Sally falls in love with a handsome man and, over time, marries him and has two kids. Practical Magic and This Kiss have definitely lived in the same mental file folder in my brain for these two decades. Meanwhile, Gillian leaves New England and dances whitely by a pool. Just watch it, it’s the best of comfy ‘normcore’ 90s romcom montages:

Like all of us, Gillian sings the soprano parts of Case Of You while driving and feeling some feelings.

On one hand, Gillian and Sally have a horrible curse wherein every man they love is doomed (RIP Gillian’s husband, Minute 5 – Minute 7, roughly). On the other, they have gorgeous, full blowouts and a bedroom fireplace.

If you didn’t get enough Practical Magic interiors from Hooked on Houses, click on this pic. I’m obsessed.

Whoopsie! The sisters killed a man by accident. He was Jimmy, Gillian’s garbage love interest who she drugged and brought cross country, but don’t feel too bad because he was secretly a killer as well . The gals take a real ad-hoc, non-Hogwarts-approved method of resurrecting him, doing the spell on their ample kitchen island. It doesn’t go great, so now they have to cover up his death. It’s a drag.

It’s not a movie about ‘strong female characters’ (TM Netflix) without a scene where they dance around the kitchen. Just ask Hidden Figures (a movie I loved, for the record).

A longer stretch of this movie than I expected is centered on covering up an accidental death. It’s fine but not what I was expecting. Aidan Quinn arrives to investigate Jimmy’s disappearance but also to fall in love with Sally. He is unusually handsome for someone named Gary. He’s ALSO the dream man Sally described as a child.

The reanimated corpse of Jimmy confronts Hot Gary  in the beautiful attic. I don’t know if witches need money, but they could rent that thing out for some serious bucks.

This is not an attack on anybody named Kylie or who named their daughter Kylie, but man, Kylie is NOT something a witch would name a child. [:Your Kris Jenner joke goes here:] I guess she was born during Sally’s trying-not-to-be-witchy phase.

The witch sisters need to expel Jimmy’s spirit and to do that they need a coven, which is basically like a quorum. Sally does what any small-town single mom would do: activates the school phone tree.

PS guess who Kylie is? A baby Evan Rachel Wood. I had no idea, this whole time. Along with All Redheads Look Alike Syndrome is the related Red Hair Renders You Instantly Unrecognizable Syndrome (hers is dyed, to perpetuate the one brown haired kid/one ginger kid thing her family has going).

She looks exactly like she does now, just with red hair.

In case you were worried, there’s a great witches-with-brooms scene. They just sweep with them, but still. They sweep OUT an evil spirit. The family curse is broken and now Gillian and Sally can fall in love without casualties.

The witches dress up as witches (but stereotypical ones) and fly from their roof on Halloween. The neighbors EAT IT UP. Just as I did this movie. It was cute.

 

P.S.: Not all of the music was by Bonnie Raitt and Mary Chapin Carpenter but it was all LIKE that.

 

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The Witches Is Our Aesthetic

New month, new aesthetic… same author? Last month we explained why the 1996 film Matilda is our aesthetic. This month, I have another Roald Dahl adaptation on the brain: the 1990 classic The Witches. It has all the best of Halloween spookiness, Scandinavian middle class life and early ’90s British coziness.

The cobblestone-y Norwegian streets

The first part of The Witches was filmed on location in beautiful Bergen, Norway, with quaint winding streets and Scandinavian houses that look like something out of a Jan Brett book or Colonial Williamsburg.

Helga’s hygge-ified kitchen

Helga has the perfect cozy grandmother’s kitchen to hear a story about witches in.

Flashback Erica’s knit woolens

Very Kirsten Larson, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you do).

Helga’s tiny bed

It seems so simple and old-school European to sleep on a minimalist, space saving bed but also I’m a greedy American and I need a queen bed so I can sleep diagonally across it.

This hotel

Look. If I drove by this hotel in real life and I needed a place to stay, I wouldn’t even stop. I’d just assume that it was already fully booked for a witch convention and keep going.

This witch’s super conspicuously witchy outfit

Very motorcycle meets Audrey Hepburn meets mean rich lady.

Convalescing by the sea

Just in general, it is 100% my aesthetic to be sent to convalesce at the sea-side when you’re sick. I don’t want to be sick ever, it’s just that WHEN I am I wish the treatment plan involved “sea air” and not, you know, amoxicillin. I imagine I’d have a lap blanket and go on strolls that weren’t too strenuous. What I think I’m saying is that I’d only do a sitting-down type vacation if I had a disease.

This Married With Children-looking witch

On the right. Imagine her trying to act like a normal human at either a New Jersey deli or a Steel Magnolias-style southern beauty parlor.

This whole Mary Kay General Meeting-style convention

Don’t even try to tell me somebody isn’t about to get awarded a pink Cadillac.

PS, my favorite witch is mustard yellow, front left.

This nice pram

This scene is seared into my memory from childhood and that’s not great, but goodness, what a beautiful baby carriage.

Cute rat children

Riddle me this: I don’t find rats cute, but somehow I find children even cuter when they’re morphing into them.

Luke as a rat muppet

An actual rat would have lost me, but this Jim Henson’s Workshop version of a rat is my aesthetic.

The topsy turvy dinner scene

…because it fixed what otherwise was an incredibly boring dinner. It gets better after this but you’ll just have to watch the move.

Also my aesthetic: cress soup.

This grand high witch outfit

Feat. the BEST hat.

Luke’s room when he’s a rat

It’s probably rough being a rat-boy, but a Rube Goldberg-y setup with THIS FREAKING TRAIN and conveyer belt and toy Ghostbusters firehouse softens the blow and sort of makes a human want to get turned into a rodent by a witch.

Keeping the grand high witches’ names in a black filofax

Both for how early ’90s it is, and how ordinary and practical.

 

 

ICYMI: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Because ICP

Hope you all had a safe and scary Halloween! If any of these songs came on rotation last night, you were probably scared to the bone.

Playlist of the Month: Songs By People Who Scare Me: The Second Coming

In our second installment of Songs By People Who Scare Me, we pick another group of frightening artists who you won’t find on our Recently Played anytime soon. I mean, we’ve basically turned into a Hamilton blog, so these picks shouldn’t be too surprising.

Molly’s Picks

Joanna Newsom – Sprout And The Bean

Joanna Newsom is adorable and talented, even if her voice isn’t for anyone. She’s one half of one of my favorite celebrity couples. She seems like she’d be a really cool girl in real life. That’s why I wish her music didn’t give me the willies. Maybe Joanna Newsom herself isn’t scary, but her music is what they’d play in my personal version of an exceptionally spooky haunted house. There would also be creepy dolls, a haunted dollhouse, and decrepit Miss Havisham and Baby Jane-type ladies. Shiver, shiver, shiver.

Insane Clown Posse – Night Of The Chainsaw

On one hand, I know that you cannot judge a person based on what music, television, or movies they enjoy.

On the other hand, I saw a young man in full ICP face makeup earlier this month, and my knee-jerk reaction was “yeah… there is definitely an above-average chance that he has tortured a cat in a basement.”

Yes, ICP was on the list last time, too, but last year it was Traci’s pick and this year it was mine. They terrify both of us.

Traci’s Picks

Drowning Pool – Bodies

Literally the lyrics to this song are “Let the bodies hit the floor” over and over and over again. TBH I can’t even watch these videos, but the still shot of a rando in a medical chair is enough for me to by scared.

Rob Zombie – Dragula

This is the man who came up with House of 1000 Corpses in his MIND. WTF is going on up there.

Playlist Of The Month: Songs By People Who Scare Me

October is the month for pretty foliage, pumpkin everything, for people to freak out when it gets darker around 5:30pm, and of course, Halloween.

Regarding this festive holiday, there are four types of people when it comes to Halloween.

1) Kids

2) Adults who like dressing up

3) Adults who don’t really care about dressing up but who enjoy going to non-stop parties

4) People who like to get scared.

If you qualify in that fourth category, this playlist if for you. We figure that instead of playing Monster Mash over and over again, you need a real playlist that will make you so scared because the artists who sing them are actually the most frightening people in the world. Read on to see if the musicians who you can’t bare to listen to are on our playlist of the month!

And check out (if you’re brave enough) check out the entire playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

R. Kelly – Trapped In The Closet (Chapter 1)

I like R. Kelly’s music, most of the time. Really, I do. It’s just that I can’t see him without being reminded that whatever it is he’s doing, he’d probably rather be peeing on young girls.

Marilyn Manson – The Dope Show

All of the “goth” and “alternative” kids in my children’s theater troupe in the late 90s (shut up) were into Marilyn Manson, but Mainstream Molly here was not a fan. It’s not that I think he’s really violent – in interviews he’s a nice, normal guy. It’s the concept of a 40-year-old who is still hanging on to that teenaged urge to piss off “the man” that scares me.

Courtney Love – Celebrity Skin

I know. If Tavi loves her, I should love her. But still. If I can think of one person I’d be terrified to get into a twitter feud with, or date her ex-boyfriend, or run into when she’s coming down off some crazy drugs, it’s Courtney Love.

Tiny Tim – Tiptoe Through The Tulips

No. Nope. No, no, no. When I have a dream that I’m getting married by accident and have no way out of it, this is the face I see after my veil is lifted. While best known for his rendition of Tiptoe Through The Tulips, theres something extra-horrifying about this guy who sounds like a ghost  from the 1920s singing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, Highway To Hell, and Stayin’ Alive (he covered them all)]

Hatebreed – Destroy Everything

I first heard about this band last year, when CNN mislabeled them as a white supremacist band. They’re… not?… I guess. Which is good, because we don’t want to give anything like that clicks. However, they still do seem to hate everyone. They just hate them all equally. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s mostly what this post was about, and if I broke down on the highway and my choice was to get a ride with these guys or wait in an unheated car in a snowstorm 3 hours for AAA to show up, I’d take the latter, no question.

Traci’s Picks

Metallica – Enter Sandman

I listen to/can tolerate a lot of different genres of music – except metal. Anything that is remotely heavy metal or punk rock or screamo or doesn’t involve harmonies but does involve yelling and anger, I’m not a fan. My ears deserve better. Which is why one of the best heavy metal bands is on this list. I don’t appreciate middle-aged white men screaming at me in real life, I don’t appreciate it through the speakers either.

Rammstein – Du Hast

I remember when this song popped up in the 1990s MTV era and I was like ‘What in the world am I watching right now? Bring back BSB.’ If it isn’t apparent, Rammstein is a German band which was named after an air show disaster in 1988. And PS: Du Hast in German translates to ‘You Hate’, so there’s that. They’re known for their controversial (and offensive) stage shows and music videos, but they’ve sold 25 million records worldwide, so I guess there’s a market for this kind of crap.

Insane Clown Posse – Hokus Pokus

Alright, let’s be clear. Not only do I think people dressed up like this are scary, but the spectacle is completely unnecessary. I get that everyone has their freedom of expression, but ugh I just don’t get it or think it’s a good thing to be teaching the younger generations. Anyways, back to ICP – they definitely picked the appropriate name for their band, because they are exactly that. The first thing I think of when hearing ICP is the  Juggalo convention. Don’t know what it is? Get ready to have your mind blown (and mind blown here-NSFW/NSFL). Alcohol, drugs, nudity, sex, death, objectifying women, everything that’s great about America.

Slipknot – Snuff


There was a few kids at my middle school that liked Slipknot and I never understood why, because I felt like they should have merged their group with ICP, but also because they were scary as hellll. All the members wear masks from out of a horror movie, and no one knows their names since they all go by numbers or like, ‘guy with protruding pins coming out of his head’. The most disturbing thing is that their songs have inspired people to commit crimes and grave rob. Lit’rally rob a grave.

Gwar – Sick of You


Hi, this band’s members looks like if video game villains came to life and then they throw (fake?) blood into the crowd during concerts. Enough said. (Sidenote: since I’ve never heard a song by the last 3 artists, I just picked the most popular off Spotify. So I mean, my apologies if they’re the worst.)

Saturday Spotlight: This Is Halloween

HERE
  • First of all, if this post title didn’t immediately make you start singing this song, you’re doing it wrong:

THERE
  • Did you grow up on Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark? Even if you didn’t, you probably had that one jerk friend who’d use it to scare you at slumber parties – and all of these images are probably still emblazoned on your brain.
  • My favorite spooky historical phenomenon: the Salem Witch trials. Seriously, just ask me about Dorcas Good or the ergot theory… but pour yourself a nice cup of tea first, because we’ll be here a while. Right now I’m reading The Witches: Salem, 1692 – too soon to tell if I agree with the reviews, though.
  • Holy cow, guys. They finally found a razor blade in candy. Sorry I doubted you, mom.
  • It wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloween episodes – here’s the inside scoop from Buffy and Simpsons writers.
  • Now this is my kind of scary story: scary SCIENCE stories.
  • Ready to get really terrified? Here’s a Halloween religious tract, the worst thing you’d get in your trick or treat bucket. Read if you have the guts! [No, but really don’t, you’ll just be annoyed.]

It’s 1988: Let’s All Decorate For Halloween!

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate! This month, we’re taking a look back at a creepy, garish, zany time, a time when people decorate their homes in the loudest, wackiest fashion imaginable … oh, and also Halloween.

It’s true- the 80s were a rough era, design-wise. So you’d think that incorporating the second-tackiest holiday of the year (after Valentine’s Day) would make things even crazier. However, that discounts one major development of the 2000s: the Halloween-industrial complex.

When we were growing up, the slate of Halloween activities was fairly limited. There were pumpkin patches, which were seriously just places where pumpkins were grown and sold. I thought I remembered a witch at the one we frequented in my childhood, but no: it was just a cauldron. Haunted houses and haunted hayrides existed. You’d have your classroom party, and you’d trick or treat. That sounds like a full month of fun to me, but as someone who’s recently taken kids to a “pumpkin patch” that features pumpkin catapults, a zip line, and go-carts, I can vouch that times have changed.

The simpler Halloween celebrations extended to home decor. My mom was notably Halloween-obsessed, and we had Halloween candles throughout the house, molded to look like ghosts and Frankensteins. We had a windsock that wailed whenever there was a loud noise, which meant that every family argument in October was punctuated by plaintive moans of  “ooo-OOOO-ooo.” There were stretchy cobwebs, plastic graves, and probably some fuzzy spiders. We hung a string of pumpkin-shaped lights in the window.

And that’s it. That was extreme in the late 80s and early 90s. It was before every family had a bin of fall decor that came out after Labor Day. Trick-or-treaters weren’t greeted by animatronic witches, and googley, glowing eyes didn’t peak out from the attic windows of half the houses on the block.

Wall hangings were pretty popular at the time. My mom was a teacher, and those bulletin-board shapes from Teacher’s World were tacked up around our downstairs. I think some non-teacher-kid friends had them too, though. By the way, Teacher’s World smelled like cold coffee breath, exactly like you’d expect.

Just like this. In fact, I’m positive we had the cat one – I was a 6-year-old cat lady, and I loved it the best.

Then there were the candles. In one of my earliest Halloween memories, my brothers were bickering over candy. As things escalated, my mother erupted at them – and just as she started yelling, all of the candles in the room flared spectacularly.

We lost our best vampire candle that day.

The survivors are in my house now, nestled among succulents which I imagine are the spookiest members of the plant kingdom, fly traps notwithstanding.

The survivors are in my house now, nestled among succulents – which I imagine are the spookiest members of the plant kingdom, fly traps notwithstanding.

If you were the kind of family who had an elaborate Christmas village with glittery cotton snow and tiny Victorian people, then you probably had a Halloween village, too:

In a lot of houses, Halloween treat buckets were sort of decor unto themselves. As I said, the options were more limited. Before so many parents proudly declared that their kids NEVER have McDonald’s, the Happy Meal bucket was the gold standard:

In another instance of combining form and function, we gathered our leaves in plastic bags that looked like pumpkins. Now more and more municipalities have moved to collecting loose leaves – which makes sense, because they can decompose a lot better when they’re not in bags – and these are becoming a thing of the past:

I’m sure they existed long before the late 80s, but crafty moms were especially into tissue ghosts:

The tissue-paper honeycomb industry was red-hot in the 80s, and there were standup decorations for every holiday, Halloween included:

The suction cup market was doing okay, too, as evidenced by these spider webs that were in my home and classrooms every October:

All of the coolest characters got into the Halloween spirit, and in a time when people weren’t as into integrating holiday decorations with their grown-up decor themes, these seemed like a legit thing to hang in your kitchen:But clearest in my memory – nay, in the memory of everyone growing up in a pack of argumentative siblings – was the dancing, wailing ghost windsock, which I’m now realizing my parents probably hung in our living room to mock us during our October fights.

(Un)sexy Halloween Costumes That Need To Stop

Every Halloween since 2004, I always imagine this scene in my head when judging other people’s costumes:

So listen, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think about your revealing costume, ladies. You do you. But also, like, respect yourself. Respect others. And by respect others, I mean don’t be dumb and wear a barely there costume even if you insult a group of people in the process. I don’t actually know if this trend came to the forefront in recent years or what, but when did women start wearing less and less and less for Halloween instead of costumes like Kady Herron’s? I don’t get the appeal of these “sexy” versions of “unsexy” costumes, so, men, is it primarily just to get into women’s pants/skirts? Because, ugh. Come on. There are plenty of outfits ladies can wear that doesn’t make them just objects of sexual desire, and still get the point across of what they are. Here are just some of the costumes I’ve come across that are extremely questionable and completely unnecessary to be “sexed” up.

“Sexy” Donald Trump

I feel like for a lot of these will just be me going, “WHY. WHY?” So, WHY. WHY? Also that wig is 10 million times better than Trump’s hair ever will be.

“Sexy” Cecil the Lion

It’s also worth noting that most of these costumes are from this trash website Yandy.com, so at least they have a demographic, I guess. Re: this particular costume, it’s obviously a controversial news item (and maybe not as timely?), but among the many problems with this is that technically TECHNICALLY Cecil has passed away, therefore rendering this costume invalid. Although I guess people dress up like dead people all the time, so nvm. It’s still poor form.

“Sexy” Pizza Rat

The only pro to this is the pockets that can probably fit a perfect piece of pizza for you to nibble on later, or drop on stairs in a NYC subway station.

“Sexy” Firewoman

It’s just not practical to have a crop top shirt and shorts in a fire. Also, unbutton shorts at that.

“Sexy” Referee

Because OF COURSE this referee’s jersey number is 69.

“Sexy” Golfer

Like the firewoman before her, golfing in a crop top is not conducive to getting birdies.

“Sexy” Soldier

And wearing a bikini top with bullets attached to it will be problematic after all of them are used.

“Sexy” Nun

This should be self-explanatory, but all I want to yell is, “I SAW GOODY SISTER CATHERINE WITH THE DEVIL!”

“Sexy” Native American

Not only is this not sexy, but it’s obviously offensive to an entire culture too. This is also a PSA encouraging everyone who’s thinking of dressing up that stereotyping any race is not a good idea. It’s never a good idea.

“Sexy” Mr. Peanut

Ok, one last WHY. WHY? I wasn’t aware Mr. Peanut needed to be “sexy” at all!

::endfeministrant::

 

Semi-Homemade Halloween Costumes – From Cory Matthews to Doonice

I think everyone grew up with certain things that just Were Not Done in their house. In my family, store-bought costumes fell in that category. It was a waste of money, and besides, Halloween was an opportunity to think hard, dream big, and get creative. Every Halloween involved a blowout trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Don’t get me wrong. When I look at those elaborate handmade costumes floating around the internet this week, that age-old refrain pops into my head: ain’t nobody got time for that. I will not bedazzle a sweatshirt to turn myself into a human disco ball. I am not going to painstakingly dye and mold foam pieces to be a human hot dog. I’m not going to buy a glitzy minidress, craft an elaborate headpiece and become a sexy snowball.

No, I take my cues from Sandra Lee. Have you all seen Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee? She takes storebought cakes and gussies them up, basically. That’s where I’m at with Halloween. I don’t want to walk into a Halloween party in a costume straight from Target, but I will buy something from a big-box store or Salvation Army, tweak a few elements, and come out with something more creative than what’s on the bag. But less creative than becoming a human carrot with a friend dressed as a giant cabbage. Come on. Who ARE these people? Let’s think simpler:

The Schuyler Sisters

See this generic Colonial woman? You can buy this costume at any of those pop-up Halloween stores, and there are versions at Target, too.

Grab two friends. Put one in the same, or almost the same costume.

Now, do you have that one friend who always insists on being a Sexy This or a Slutty That?

Cool. Get her this Little Bo Peep get up:

Now she’s Slutty Peggy Schuyler, AKA Maria Reynolds.

 

Anne(ie Hall) Of Green Gables. Or Pilgrim Felicity Merriman. Whatever.

annie hall of green gables

Let me tell you something about kids. They’re basically idiots. Even the smart ones. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t been alive long. If you have a daughter in that 6-12 year old range where they’re really into books and movies set a long time ago, you have it made. All you have to do is buy a long dress, or pair a maxi skirt with a blouse. It does NOT have to be a style that people actually wore at the time. You may know that shirtwaists didn’t come into vogue until the late 19th century, but if your nerdy kid wants to be Jo March, just give her a button-up and a long skirt and she’ll be none the wiser.

I’m not sure why I was wearing these weird old glasses and dorky hat for my Anne Of Green Gables costume when I was about 11, but I like to call the look Annie Hall Of Green Gables.

When I was Felicity Merriman in second grade, I wore a frilly blouse under a long, brown floral jumper dress that my mom wore in the ’70s. It was like Revolutionary War-era girl meets pilgrim meets hippie. Loved it. Anyway, that is my half-assed costume advice: put your daughter in a long dress or skirt and she’ll feel fancy.

Cory Matthews, Season 1

cory matthews

This was semi-homemade at its finest. I bought a $3 afro wig and trimmed it down a bit. I wore early 90s stonewash jeans, but any straight leg will do. I layered a flannel shirt over a $2 Phillies shirt. Bam. Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World, circa 1994.

Clarissa Darling

This works especially well if you’re a smaller adult. Just go to the children’s section of a thrift store and buy some cheap, bright leggings. Layer under overall shorts or a skirt. Put on a loud button up. Can you find a sunflower hat? Great. That’s great. Blonde wig if necessary. May I present Clarissa Darling of Clarissa Explains It All?

A Six Pack Of Diet Cokec65b266c-c687-4fd9-b2c9-6284f755b8f9_zps81e03060

Yes, my family really did this. Corrugated cardboard, spray paint, and apparently zero sense of shame went into this one. I’m the tiny one whose face isn’t obscured.

Doonice – Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Livedoonice

You’re going to need the following:

  • a wig cap – to move your hairline back
  • a wig, placed about 4 inches back from your natural hairline
  • a lounge singer-y dress with long sleeves and cuffs
  • a doll to dismember

Then watch the magic happen. People LOVED this one. Be sure to act extra creepy:

doonice 2

Joan Holloway Harris

In case you hadn’t caught on, I usually go with TV-based costumes. Joan’s an easy one: just pair a shift-dress with a pen on a chain around your neck, a broach, a bouffant hairdo, tan hose, and possibly some fake boobs.

 

Playlist of the Month: Songs By People Who Scare Me: The Second Coming

Halloween is in a few days, and it’s a good reminder of what will scare you and what won’t. More importantly, who are the people that will test your patience with their “pranks” with the excuse of “Halloween”? Then there are the people, namely musicians, that scare us year round, no matter October 31st or not.

In our second installment of Songs By People Who Scare Me, we pick another group of frightening artists who you won’t find on our Recently Played anytime soon. I mean, we’ve basically turned into a Hamilton blog, so these picks shouldn’t be too surprising.

<< Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify! >>

Molly’s Picks

Joanna Newsom – Sprout And The Bean

Joanna Newsom is adorable and talented, even if her voice isn’t for anyone. She’s one half of one of my favorite celebrity couples. She seems like she’d be a really cool girl in real life. That’s why I wish her music didn’t give me the willies. Maybe Joanna Newsom herself isn’t scary, but her music is what they’d play in my personal version of an exceptionally spooky haunted house. There would also be creepy dolls, a haunted dollhouse, and decrepit Miss Havisham and Baby Jane-type ladies. Shiver, shiver, shiver.

The Young Cons – The Problem

Cons as in Conservatives. They’re young, they’re white, they’re male, they’re rapping, good Lord, and they’re just the bros to get alll up in your personal health care choices and all out of government oversight of corporate activity. Word.

Insane Clown Posse – Night Of The Chainsaw

On one hand, I know that you cannot judge a person based on what music, television, or movies they enjoy.

On the other hand, I saw a young man in full ICP face makeup earlier this month, and my knee-jerk reaction was “yeah… there is definitely an above-average chance that he has tortured a cat in a basement.”

Yes, ICP was on the list last time, too, but last year it was Traci’s pick and this year it was mine. They terrify both of us.

Bobby Vee – Come Back When You Grow Up

Now, you might be thinking “Molls, this song is sketchy, but it’s just some random one-hit-wonder from the days when songs about old men wooing teens was de rigeur.” Right. Okay. But consider Bobby Vee’s other songs: Please Don’t Ask About Barbara, which sounds like a 1960s horror movie about a dead body who lives under his bed, and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, which is a terrifying concept and a disturbing visual. One, two, three strikes, I’m out.

Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

This isn’t a lame We Hate Justin Bieber joke. There’s something about the kid that I find genuinely unsavory. He’s just the combination of smug, entitled, and twerpy that makes me feel like he’s capable of anything. He’s no Tiny Tim – my personal scariest musician ever – but it’s more that I feel like he’s the kind of adult who would pick on a nerdy child until it cried.

Traci’s Picks

Die Antwoord – I Fink You Freeky

This rap-rave group from South Africa has had a bunch of controversies follow them throughout the years. Namely, they’ve been called out for being homophobic and racist; using blackface in music videos and repeatedly using the N-word (they’re white). How one concert reviewer criticized one of Die Antwood’s concerts:

It doesn’t really make a difference how Die Antwoord explain themselves, or whether their fans read their imagery as satirical. Cuz it’s not just the KKK outfits but their overall source material, the way they blend skinhead white supremacy (disciplined, tough, angular) and trailer park white supremacy (incestuous, washed-out, sweatpants) with art school chic and punk rock apathy to produce a pastel shade of fascism that they just can’t cleanse themselves of, progressive provocateurs that they are. We can’t stop (cue the Miley, no innocent herself) because that’s the nature of trauma, of painful, disgusting, horrible, and incomprehensibly awful things like apartheid and institutionalized racism and guilt and blame and privilege. It produces word vomit; it escapes categorization; it demands to be brought to light. It drags us down with it. {x}

Also, “Fink” and “Freeky” are not words. Bye.

Drowning Pool – Bodies

Literally the lyrics to this song are “Let the bodies hit the floor” over and over and over again. TBH I can’t even watch these videos, but the still shot of a rando in a medical chair is enough for me to by scared.

Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

Thanks to The Osbournes’ reality show, Ozzy was made more “human” if you will, as he’s long had this persona of a hardcore metal rocker who bit the head off an unconscious bat during a concert once. But still, his alter ego, his “Sasha Fierce” is frightening and continues to be despite him yelling “SHAROONNN” will never leave my head.

KISS – Rock & Roll All Nite

This song in particular doesn’t seem like it would come from a group of grown ass men decked out in black and white face paint and huge platform shoes. But it does, and come on let’s be real – if you ran into Gene Simmons in costume in a dark alley and he sticks out his tongue, you’d be scared too.

Rob Zombie – Dragula

This is the man who came up with House of 1000 Corpses in his MIND. WTF is going on up there.

ICYMI: Time To Visit Halloweentown

We’ve established October is a cult favorite month. Halloween is a big reason for that. But getting scared? Not so much. For us at least.

Low-Fright Movie Night: Halloween Movies That Won’t Scare Your Pants Off

I love almost everything about Halloween. Candy? Awesome. Costumes? Fun! Falling leaves, cider, donuts, tacky decorations? Sure! But there’s one big part of the holiday I can’t get behind: being scared. Slasher movies gross me out. I love ghost stories and spooky stuff, but as night falls and I’m alone in my 105-year-old house, I really, really wish I had skipped it. Besides, there’s plenty of real-life stuff to be afraid of, like repaying my student loans, or the prospect that the dead mouse I found this morning has left a widow and children somewhere in my house. Scaring myself silly over things that probably don’t exist doesn’t help matters.

So what to do if you want to get into the Halloween spirit, but don’t want the Halloween spirit to keep you up in the middle of the night? Here are some of my favorite Halloween movies – either gently supernatural, or set during the season – that don’t leave me feeling all goosebumpy.

Harry Potter

Pick a Harry Potter, any Harry Potter! But for the gentle, slightly witchy fun I’m looking for – before things get quite so heavy and house elves start dying – I like to stick to the first three movies. The Halloween scene in Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s (/Philosopher’s) Stone is especially festive. Note: I have also convinced myself that some of the Harry Potter movies are Christmas-appropriate due to the occasional picturesque snowfall or Yuletide celebration in the Great Hall.

The Crucible

You know what’s REALLY scary? McCarthyism. While the only demon here was the mob mentality bred by religious fundamentalism (Halloween fun!!!), the talk of witches and rustic New England setting make this a great one to enjoy in October.

When the two of us were in high school, we covered this play in English (of course), and entertained ourselves for weeks by saying things like “I saw Goody Traci with the devil, she ‘ad ‘is poppet! She signed ‘is book!” in an inexplicably Cockney accent. Yes, we have always been exactly the people we are right now.

This is coming to Broadway with Saoirse Ronan and Tavi Gevinson as Puritan teens and I couldn’t be more excited.

Hocus Pocus

Speaking of nostalgia, nothing could bring me back to my youth in a better way than the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. It has an all-star cast – Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker! – gorgeous visuals, a fun plot, and even takes it back to Colonial times like the Crucible did. This movie is from 1993, but I swear it’s timeless. You can read our live blog here.

Halloweentown

I saw (and live blogged) Halloweentown for the first time a few years ago because I didn’t have Disney as a kid, and was hit over the head by how deliciously late 90s it was. You can also follow up with Halloweentown II, Halloweentown High and Return To Halloweentown (but I didn’t).


Speaking of which, here’s that very live blog.

Live Blog: Halloweentown

Welcome to our second Halloween Throwback Live Blog (the first was Hocus Pocus). Live blogging Halloweentown was a no-brainer: we love the 90s, we love live blogging terrible tv movies, and we love Disney Channel Original Movies (that’s DCOMs to all of y’all). Plus, Halloweentown is airing on the Disney Channel tonight! Read this to do your prep work, or follow along during the broadcast. I promise you would have predicted all of the spoilers anyway. Without further ado, your companion to Halloweentown:

– I’m already thinking this is going to be better than I remember, because one of the first things to show up on the credits is “Music by Mark Mothersbaugh”. You may remember that he did the spot-on music for Rugrats. Also, a little project called Devo.

– Fun fact: the main character, a Winnie Cooper-ish 13-year-old, is named Marnie. The timeline just about adds up for her to be the same age as the character in Girls today. So, if you get bored during this, just imagine the teen witch (SPOILER!) growing up to be Marnie Michaels.

Danica McKellar was presumably busy doing ‘oh God anything but this.’

– This flick features one of my favorite 90s stock characters, the dweeby, infuriating younger brother a la Ferguson Darling.

– Well, I spent the whole first 5 minutes wondering why Winnie’s Marnie’s wearing a Halloween costume when the whole plot is that her mom won’t let the kids go Trick-Or-Treating. Then, I realize that this is probably just an outfit in 1998.

– Marnie and her mom, Gwen, argue about trick-or-treating. Bam. Say what you will about DCOMs, we are five minutes in and the movie has already passed Bechdel test.

– Annoying younger brother (Ferguson, I’m calling him) says that talking about their father – who the kids don’t know – always bums their mom out. Why are so many childrens’ movies predicated on the idea that mama used to get around? Or maybe he’s dead.

– The kids’ grandma, Aggie, shows up and is a total witch.

– Aggie, by the way? Debbie Freakin’ Reynolds. Well, they can’t all be Singin In The Rain. If we learned anything from Hocus Pocus, it’s that children’s Halloween films are where beloved elder actresses go when they just don’t care anymore.

– Also, Gwen is Judith Hoag, so hell, they can’t even all be Nashville.

– After what seems like minutes (but, like, a lot of minutes), Tandy Gwen finally lets Aggie tell the kids a story. See, although a lot of movies have the trope where a parent is super strict but it’s for a very good reason the kids can’t know about, I still think Gwen kind of sucks.

– Aggie brings a picture book with crude illustrations of witches and goblins. Marnie loves it because it’s “all the stuff [she’s] into.” Things Marnie’s Into: (1) Drawings that look like they were made on Microsoft Paint, I guess.

I’m just going to go ahead and say that the entire budget went to Debbie Reynolds.

– Did every girl in the 90s have a white wicker bed, or was that just on tv?

– Aggie – wearing a diaphanous blouse that makes her look like Stevie Nicks as played by Debbie Reynolds – argues with Gwen that Marnie’s witch education should be done by now (Bechdel!). So, this is basically a way-less cool version of Harry Potter. Forget an owl on your 11th birthday, in Halloweentown-verse, you find out you’re a witch when your grandma visits.

– Marnie is surprisingly chill for a child who just discovered that she and her relatives are all supernatural beings. Meanwhile, I found out I’m part English last year and I’m still trying to get my head around it.

– Marnie and Ferg-wad sneak onto grandma’s super secret witch bus – which is just a school bus rocking back and forth in front of a green screen. Well, it’s no Knight Bus, that’s for certain. It’s like this whole thing was written by J.K. Rowling’s less-imaginative cousin.

– You don’t have to do a Halloweentown drinking game, but if you are, you should chug every time Ferguson Darling refers to himself as “the man of the house,” because he does it kind of a lot.

– It appears that everyone in Halloweentown is in costume, so who knows, maybe Aggie is going as Stevie Nicks this year.

– Fergie and Marnie’s sister, Sophie, followed them there. Oh yeah. Now’s a good time to mention that there’s a little sister. There was really no reason to talk about her before. She’s a generic brunette child with bangs.

– The kiddos run into a warlock who tells them that he “knew their mother a long time ago.” Knew biblically? Is he the baby daddy? Why is there so much Maury Povich and so little magic?

– Obligatory Disney meta-reference, re: skeleton chauffer: “He’s probably animatronic; Disney Land’s full of stuff like that.” But honestly? I’ve seen better spooky special effects in the part of the Haunted Mansion ride when the ghost appears next to you in the car.

– Revelation: the people in Halloweentown aren’t in costume, they’re actually supposed to be whatever it is that they’re dressed as. It’s bad, though. The Frankenstein, for instance, looks like a regular guy in a $7.99 latex Frankenstein mask from Party City.

– Marnie’s ready to begin witch training. Her Grandma needs another Cromwell lady to fight some kind of villain, who I already know is going to be way less cool than Voldemort — and I mean less cool than any incarnation of Voldemort, including under-the-turban Voldemort and Tom Riddle Voldemort.

– Luke, the Halloweentown “bad boy,” looks like a tough 13-year-old from the 50s. He has the face of Eddie Haskell, a hairdo that looks like a duck’s ass, and a sassy cropped vest.

– I believe that in Harry Potter parlance, we just learned that Marnie is a mudblood. In English parlance, she’s wearing a big freaking scrunchie.

– The mayor and Gwen reunite and I totally called it: they used to bone.

Gwen: You used to let the magic do the talking.

Mayor: You used to like it – or are you forgetting that part?

Marnie: I guess you like magic when he does it, huh?

– “You’re not a witch just because grandma says you are.” – Gwen, offering reassurance to every girl whose grandma just doesn’t like her very much.

– Disney throws in a hastily-written b-plot to make things more exciting for the older kids. The bad guy stands in an abandoned movie theater and explains what’s going on. It’s like the exposition version of deus ex machina – just really fast-tracking it.

– I worked at a movie theater for like 5 years, and my scariest movie theater story is that one time a teen couple had sex in the theater during Flushed Away, an animated feature about rats and poop.

Anyway. There’s a wicked spell, a bad guy who wants … something to do with power, people being turned into statues, and a magical talisman. Because there’s always a magical talisman in these things (Aggie has it). It’s like a winning row in scary movie bingo.

– Gwen and Aggie get petrificus totalus-ed. Accio, the last hour of my life! Please.

– Marnie says “duh!” because she’s not even cool enough for “doy!”

– Marnie: “We’re Cromwells! Together we can conquer anything!” (Anything like… Ireland? Seriously odd surname choice there, Disney)

– There’s a really pointless scene (as in, more than the other scenes even) with a Halloweentown hairdresser who’s like a lame, cat-like version of Cinna from The Hunger Games – doing the hair of a woman who looks like she’s from The Capital. He keeps saying “yeah, baby!” and I think Disney thinks it can make this movie funny by quoting Austin Powers.

– Sophie saves the day by remembering the spell. Pretty clear who’s the Hermione and who’s the Lavender Brown here (too soon?).

– We learn that spells are simple. “You just have to want it, and let yourself have it!” So now we know where that guy who’s making a ton of money from The Secret got the idea.

– GAME CHANGER. He Who Shall Not Be Named (because I forget his name… because it was stupid) morphs into Gwen’s ex-lover.

– Marnie drops the magic stick into a giant jack-o-lantern and defeats Voldumbort. Apparently his name is Kalibar. I spent a while looking for a cool anagram in there, but again, this is no J.K. Rowling. Unless Bail Ark means something. Maybe it does – as in “abandon ship? this movie is sinking?”

– Fergwad is a warlock, which is convenient for when Marnie inevitably gets Menudo-ed out of the Halloweentown franchise.

– Luke is nice, and as it turns out, troll-faced. He was under a spell before. Aggie is going to move in with the family to babysit. It’s over. Thank goodness. Good night.

Saturday Spotlight: Please Don’t Scare Us

HERE

It’s that time of year when everyone is watching horror movies, telling ghost stories, and otherwise being plain old unreasonable. Isn’t the world scary enough?

  •  Peeple, a prospective website/app, doubles as every one of one junior high nightmares come to life.
  • So when all of you are watching whatever movies brave people watch in October, we’d like to stick to Hocus Pocus and E.T., thanks – maybe some of you scaredy cats will join us?
  • We avoid scary movies so hard that it’s been 25 years and Traci just saw Ghost for the first time this week. Although to be fair, the spookiest part is how little Tony Goldwyn/Godwyn has aged since the early 90s.
  • According to all sources, Doctor Who is NOT scary, but Molly hasn’t taken the chance yet, so just has compiled a list of what she thinks probably happens. She doesn’t do aliens (unless you count reading lots of Carl Sagan).
THERE
  • We needed to know why some people are drawn to scary movies. This piece on the psychology of a horror movie fan does a good job of it!
  • And another: Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear?
  • Speaking of brains, the trailer for Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is out! What do you think? This is a scary movie I can get behind, because I’ll watch an Austen adaptation you throw at me (except Persuasion, I’m not crazy).