Short Films for Tonight

Halloween is here at last, and I’m sure most of us have at least something to do tonight, whether it’s trick-or-treating, a party, or just a scary movie with some friends or family. But if you don’t have anything to do tonight, here are some short films that you can watch online for free to get yourself into a Halloween mood.

One Last Dive

A one-minute horror movie with a pretty good jump scare at the end. Created for the 3:07 A.M. Project.

One Last Dive from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

The Sleepover

In this rather humorous short film, the town of Derry is a place where horror movie conventions aren’t just cliched tropes–they’re life or death. With the Slasher running around, baby-sitters are trained in combat, children are taught the importance of checking under the bed and in the closets before they go to sleep, and the moms have formed M.A.S.K. (Moms Against Serial Killers). The premise is a bit better than the execution, IMO, but it’s pretty damn cool nonetheless.

THE SLEEPOVER from Chris Cullari on Vimeo.


This is the short film that inspired Guillermo del Toro’s feature film. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recognize this scene from that version; if you haven’t… go see Mama. It’s great.


Top Ten Characters I Could Have Been for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

The Obvious Choices: Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, Daenerys Targaryen

Hermione Granger, as I’m beyond sure any book blog reader knows, is the main female character of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, one of protagonist Harry Potter’s two best friends. In the film adaptations, she was played by Emma Watson.

To nail this one, you’d either have to use one of Emma-as-Hermione’s iconic outfits (for example, the pink jacket and jeans look from Prisoner of Azkaban or her pink Yule Ball dress from Goblet of Fire) or, unlike the movies, stick to the Hogwarts robes (the movie version of which is pictured on the left).

Hermione’s frickin’ awesome, so this is a great option just for that reason, though of course it’s going to be a well-used one for at least a few more years to come. If you happen to have some friends willing to dress up as Harry and Ron (and/or Luna, Ginny, Neville, etcetera), this could be part of a totally awesome group costume.

With Mockingjay Part 1 coming out next month, The Hunger GamesKatniss Everdeen is undoubtedly going to be a very popular costume choice. As I’m sure everyone knows, Katniss is the protagonist of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and she’s played in the films by Jennifer Lawrence.

There are a few options here. There’s Katniss’s Catching Fire “wedding” dress, its transformed black, winged version, either of her Games uniforms, and her District 13 uniform. Some of the coolest ideas are out of the realm of possibility for most people, such as actually making the “wedding” dress transform, but anything that could evoke “Girl on Fire” imagery would be pretty awesome.

Daenerys Targaryen is the female tritagonist of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, played by Emilia Clarke in its television adaptation, Game of Thrones. This is a blonde one, so it’d take a bit more work for me than a natural blonde, and I think I’d rather opt for Clarke’s own method of becoming blonde–a wig–to dying my hair.

In any case, Daenerys is a fallen princess seeking to reclaim her homeland, which is awesome, and she’s got dragons, which is also awesome. And if you show up to a party with a Jon Snow, you’ll be the shit (though don’t be surprised to see other Danys and Jons there), and if you show up with a Jon and a Tyrion, you officially win Halloween. (You lose points if your Tyrion is not, in fact, played by someone with dwarfism.)

The Gothic Choices: Bellatrix Lestrange and Violet Baudelaire

Bellatrix Lestrange is a supporting villain from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise; in the movie, she’s played by the unconventionally beautiful Helena Bonham Carter, though her book counterpart is described as having lost her looks by the time she appears in Order of the Phoenix.

If you want to dress up as someone generally gothic and don’t mind being a villain, Bellatrix is a great way to go. Especially if you’ve already got the curly dark hair that Bonham Carter rocks in the role!

If you shy away from villains but still want to go for something vaguely gothic, Violet Baudelaire is an option. She’s a protagonist of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, a teenage orphan and inventor, and was played by Emily Browning in the film adaptation of the series. This one would be particularly awesome if you can dress up with friends and/or siblings willing to be Violet’s own younger siblings, bookish preteen Klaus and toothy infant Sunny.

As for the costume itself, you could base it on one of Browning’s film outfits or opt for something more in line with Brett Helquist’s illustrations.

The Badass Choices: Alanna of Trebond and Mew Zakuro

Alanna of Trebond is the lady knight from Tamora Pierce’s first feminist fantasy series, Song of the Lioness (which is one of my childhood favorites and long overdue for a reread on my part). She’s never been adapted in film, television, or any other official art beyond the various book covers, so there’s no iconic outfits to choose from here, but Alanna has two distinctive features: copper hair (and a boy’s haircut for much of the series) and purple eyes.

That’s more work than I’m willing to do, honestly, but I’d love to see someone really go for this! Alanna is freakin’ awesome.

Zakuro Fijiwara is the fifth and final team member of Mia Ikumi and Reiko Yoshida’s magical girl manga series, Tokyo Mew Mew. She’s a magical girl style superhero genetically enhanced with the DNA of a grey wolf, so she’s got a serious wolf motif, including a wolf’s ears and tail when in her transformed “Mew Zakuro” identity.

This one really would work best if you’re Japanese, obviously–which I’m not–but a purple wig, a replica Mew Zakuro uniform, and costume wolf features will get the point across no matter what race you happen to be. And she’s got a pretty awesome weapon that’s used as a whip, so there’s that.

The Childhood Nostalgia Choices: Mrs. Jeepers and Ruth Rose Hathaway

Mrs. Jeepers is the creepy, possibly vampiric teacher from The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, first appearing in Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots.

While Mrs. Jeepers may or may not be a vampire, she definitely does wear polka dots, and her other most distinctive features are her green brooch and thick Romanian accent. This is a costume I have never heard anyone even consider using before, nor one that I’ve ever thought of until today, but I would love to see someone do it!

If you’ve got curly and/or poofy red hair, Mrs. Jeepers is a great choice (on that note, so is Mrs. Frizzle!)–though don’t be surprised if you find yourself having to explain who you’re supposed to be! If I ever find a good wig or muster up the courage to go red and curly, I’d totally give a Halloween as Mrs. Jeepers a shot!

Ruth Rose Hathaway is a main female character of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries series. Though she’s a small child, I’d be totally on board with playing an “all grown up” version of Ruth Rose. She has a super distinctive style of dress that I’d love to see translated to adult fashion: she wears one single color on any given day, from her hair accessories to her clothes to her shoes. You’d need to have (or fake, of course!) her curly black hair to pull this one off, though, and I certainly don’t.

I’d love to do this one year.

The Classic Choice: Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew is a the girl detective. She’s from the 1930s, was revitalized in the ’50s, and she’s still going strong today. She’s been played by various actresses since her conception, starting with Bonita Granville in the 30s and ending (so far!) with Emma Roberts in 2007.

If I were doing this costume, I’d definitely go with a 50s aesthetic, though that’s certainly not a requirement. Her blonde hair, though, is definitely a requirement. (And I will resoundingly ignore any assertions that Nancy is “titian-haired”. Get your retcons out of here!).


[Book Review] National Geographic Kids: Halloween by Laura Marsh

Halloween by Laura Marsh is a Level One National Geographic Reader, which is “just right for kids who are beginning to read on their own”, according to the back cover of the picture book.

Basically, this is a National Geographic Kids perspective on Halloween; if your child reads that magazine (and I recommend it!), they should enjoy this book.

It’s a very simple picture book for young readers, and it presents a simplified version of the history of Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos, and pumpkin/jack-‘o-lantern traditions, interspersed with rhymes, jokes, and ideas for decorations and costumes. It’s only thirty-two pages long, so it should be a quick read for a young child getting into the holiday spirit.

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[Book Review] The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

Ostensibly a picture book adaptation of the film of the same name, The Nightmare Before Christmas is quite the disappointment. Within the span of thirty-seven pages, the book manages to completely change Jack’s motivation, remove most Jack’s supporting cast, and rewrite of the story’s ending. Frankly, it’s kind of upsetting.
In the movie, Jack is bored with the repetitive nature of life in Halloween Town. In this book, he is sick of “Halloweenland” in general, going so far as to say he–the friggin’ Pumpkin King–doesn’t like graveyards. Um, what?
In the movie, Jack’s plotline is supported by Sally’s. In this book, there is no sign of Sally’s existence.
In the movie, Jack’s main antagonist is Oogie Boogie while Sally’s is Dr. Finklestein. In this book, there is no sign of Oogie or the doctor’s existence.
In the movie, Jack must save Santa after Lock, Shock, and Barrel take him to Oogie Boogie. In this book, Santa inexplicably returns to Christmas Town on the second-to-last page and sends Jack home with a weird little lecture about how “Halloween’s the right place for [Jack]”, with the implication being that Jack should just get over himself.
And let’s not get into how clumsy all the poetry is. Seriously not cool, guys. I definitely don’t recommend this picture book; if you want your child to experience The Nightmare Before Christmas, just watch the movie.

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[Book Review] Disney Princess: Sweet and Spooky Halloween by Melissa Lagonegro

Carve pumpkins, wear silly costumes, and tell creepy stories with the Disney Princesses as they celebrate everything sweet and spooky about Halloween!

Sweet and Spooky Halloween is a picture book tie-in to the Disney Princess Franchise, featuring Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, and Snow White as they engage in various Halloween preparations and festivities.

Young fans of the princesses can read about Cinderella and her mouse friends picking out pumpkins and making jack-o’-lanterns, Aurora and her trio of fairy companions preparing costumes, Snow White and the dwarfs bobbing for apples, Belle reading scary stories to the Beast and his enchanted furniture/staff, and and Ariel and Flounder dressing up in creepy costumes.

It’s a great reading opportunity for the Disney Princess obsessed child in your life, so I definitely recommend it to fans of the franchise.

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Podcasts for Halloween 2014

As you may recall, last year I published a post of podcast recommendations for Halloween listening; if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here. I’m doing the same this year, adding further episode recommendations of last year’s featured podcasts as well as new podcasts I’ve discovered in the past eleven months.

So if you’re looking for something to listen to this October, here’s a list of the episodes of some of my favorite podcasts that lend themselves to the Halloween spirit. And, yes, everything listed below is completely free to download and/or listen. Please note that this list only includes episodes and podcasts that I have actually listened to; if I don’t listen to a specific podcast or haven’t yet listened to a specific episode of one of the podcasts mentioned below, it won’t be on this list. Please feel free to leave recommendations in the comments!

Stuff Mom Never Told You is How Stuff Works’s gender studies podcast. While such a topic doesn’t come a plethora of subjects that lend themselves to Halloween, there are a few episodes that you might want to try:

Stuff to Blow Your Mind, originally titled Stuff From the Science Lab, is a How Stuff Works podcast focusing on scientific topics such as robotics, space exploration, and the like. Halloweenish episodes of StBYM tend to come in the form of exploring the IRL versions of horror tropes, but there are a few actual Halloween themed episodes that come out during October.

Stuff You Missed in History Class is, obviously enough, How Stuff Works’ history podcast. Their Halloweenish episodes include:

Do you have any Halloween podcast recommendations? Let me know below!