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Halloween, strange things seen. Skeletons talk, ghosts may walk.

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2004-10-25


I am in love with Halloween and she is a harsh mistress. As a kid, I loved dressing up in costume and on many occasions wore my Halloween costumes to school – even if I had to break school policy to wear my “duds”. (If you went to Blackhawk Middle School in the late 1980’s, I was the kid who dressed up as a zombie year after year who moaned and shambled his way down school halls during Halloween. Apologies if I tried to bite you so that I could “spread the zombie disease from person to person.” I was obviously a confused kid.)

For a while, I found it hard to stop going out Halloween night trick or treating even as kids my own age were driving cars and exploring the opposite sex (though not necessarily in that order). I remember on several occasions having home owners refusing me candy saying that that, “You’re too old to dress up.” To which I would reply, “You may think I’m too old to dress up, but I’m old enough come back here tonight after you go to bed and plaster your house with eggs.” Either I would get candy out of this conversation or a punch in the gut.

Best of all, Halloween is the time of year that Hollywood inundates cinemas across the country with their yearly slate of “scary” movies. There are several of these “scary” movies due out in theaters next year that I find interesting.

Speaking of zombies, George Romero’s Land of the Dead is due in theaters this time next year. Land of the Dead is the fourth film in Romero’s “quadrology” of zombie masterpieces dating back to the late 1960’s with the original Night of the Living Dead.

I managed to get a copy of an early draft of the Land of the Dead script and found it an enjoyable read. In Land of the Dead, the last remnants of humanity have hidden themselves behind the defensible walls of cities leaving the undead population outside the gates looking for their next cannibalistic two-legged meal.

Inside this defended city, here Pittsburgh, there are the “haves” who live in high rise buildings and the “have-nots” who work for the wealthy upper-class cleaning their homes, guarding the gates or even traveling outside the protection that the gates afford to retrieve “must have” items people in the upper-class cannot live without. In this world, a case of champagne can fetch upwards of several thousand dollars. (It’s always the rich people looking for cases of champagne that bring down the workingman!)

Enter Riley, member of the crew of the Dead Reckoning, a massive truck/tank vehicle armed to the teeth for these excursions outside the city. Riley’s one goal in life (before eventual death and zombification) is to earn enough money on these dangerous trips to be able to buy his way into one of the high-rise communities where he’d be able to live out the rest of his life in a zombie free paradise. (The original title of this movie was Dead Reckoning, which I like much more than the current title. It has a dual meaning, which I really dig.)

Riley finds his chance at riches when the leader of the Dead Reckoning crew, Cholo, goes a bit nutty taking the Dead Reckoning out to overthrow the “haves” and to take a bit of the wealth and luxury for himself. The “haves” offer Riley entrance into the luxurious hi-rises if he’ll go out and stop the Dead Reckoning and her crew from accomplishing their task.

Rest assured that by the end of the movie the zombies have breached the gates, the living have been attacked and several of the high-rises are set ablaze.

Simon Baker (TV’s The Guardian), Asia Argento (XXX), Dennis Hopper (Cool Hand Luke) and John Leguizamo (Super Mario Bros.) are all set to star in Land of the Dead.

Also on the horror horizon is a remake of 1979’s The Amityville Horror. In The Amityville Horror, the Lutz family moves into their dream home located in Amityville, New York. Unfortunately for them, their dream home was the location for the entire DeFeo family being violently murdered by their son Ronald several years prior. And after the Lutz’s move in, they discover that evil spirits might infest their home when an ominous voice shouts at them through the walls, “GET OUT!”

Things go from bad to worse for the family when the father begins acting and looking like Ronald and taking an interest in rifles and knives. (Which is never a good thing.)

Barring the deluge of lame sequels that followed the original The Amityville Horror (one shot in 3D), the first movie was one of the most frightening movies of all time, and not just because it starred James Brolin. This new version of The Amityville Horror stars Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) and Melissa George (Dark City).

A movie that should be of interest to animation buffs is Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. The last time Tim Burton produced an animated movie was 1993’s cult classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. One thing that The Nightmare Before Christmas has over a lot of other movies is staying power. New Nightmare merchandise still takes up valuable shelf space at toy and specialty stores eleven years after the movie’s initial release. I am guessing that financer Warner Brothers is hoping for that staying power for The Corpse Bride.

Details on The Corpse Bride are sketchy, but what is known is that the movie is based on a Russian fable where a man is tricked into marrying a woman who is dead. The Corpse Bride stars Johnny Depp (The Pirates of the Caribbean) and Emily Watson (Punch Drunk Love). I am guessing that Emily Watson will play the husband and Depp the bride though I may be wrong.

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