Ghosts, Snoopy, Haunted Mansions and Halloween

haunted-mansionA few years ago, the inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was hired by Disney to write a screenplay for a new movie based on The Haunted Mansion ride.  Over the summer I read an interview with him claiming that him and his team of writers were still struggling with the story.

Seriously?

I have to admit I am a little surprised. I mean it seems to me a Haunted Mansion film writes itself. Do you want to know how I would do it if Disney asked me? Of course you do!

First off I would set it in the 1950s. That way you can tap into the cliches and stereotypes you would see in classic old black-and-white horror films. And set it in a small town (think Back to the Future).  Now on to my very brief synopsis!

  • Act 1- We meet the eccentric and comic people in the town. There are two twin teenage sisters, one is a cheerleader and popular, the other is a bookworm (our heroes). They go to a dance at their school. That night there is a huge thunderstorm and the power goes out. A bunch of teenagers ride together in car; which, of course, stalls in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Act 2- The group of teenagers (including our female heroes) tour the Haunted Mansion. The ghosts want to get out but are trapped in (a curse put in place by Madame Leota). One of the teenagers is tricked by the evil Hatbox Ghost (an urban legend by the way around the ride), releasing all the ghosts.
  • Act 3- The ghosts playfully attack and spook the town (like Gremlins). The teenagers are split into teams, one to collect the ghosts, the other to get the curse put back on the house and stop the Hatbox Ghost (the sisters lead the different teams)… this all has to be done by dawn.
  • Act 4- In a suspenseful last act, the curse is reinstated, the ghosts are drawn back and the sisters now are friends. The end.

Disney you can send me the check. (Okay, that was a little snippy of me, but seriously I could write this script and would love to do it… Oh, and Guillermo del Toro is awesome.)

Here are some of the posts in the past I have written about Halloween. Enjoy!

The Halloween TreeBook Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Last year I reviewed this book (which should be a holiday classic) for WKAR’s Current State. You can check it out (and listen) via the link. This week I’ll be reviewing Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I hope you tune in for it, I think it turned out great.

It's The Great PumpkinWatching It’s The Great  Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love this special. Absolutely love it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed about it, and this post proves it. In it, I share my insight on the show and my thoughts on each of the scenes and characters. Seriously… obsessed.

CostumedIf I Could Wear a Halloween Costume… If I had the courage, I would dress up on the holiday. I’m just not that guy… but I wish I was. This comic post deals with my dreams and hopes and masks.

HalloweenHalloween, In Spirit. I wrote this post during my first year on the site, and it was one of my most popular. It is a little comic, a little philosophical, a little serious. In many ways it contains all of my thoughts on the holiday, tied up in a bow… that probably has skeletons on it.

I hope you enjoy the posts! (And Guillermo call me!)

 

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Non-Ghost Believer

GhostSome people don’t believe, others do, I’m somewhere in the middle but leaning heavily much more to the “no” side. Not a full-time denier but someone who believes he has reality on his side. And I can roll my eyes and yawn with the best of them.

Yes, I may watch the occasional special on a cable channel (I’m not recording them on my DVR or anything), but I would probably turn the channel after getting the gist of the ghost.

“Beheaded… yada yada… tragic lover. Got it. What else is on?”

Consider: If there were ghosts, the south would be filled to the brim with the ghosts of slaves; Germany would be unlivable because of the ghosts from the Holocaust; and every battle field (from Gettysburg to Iwo Jima) would need barriers to keep us living people out. And it would completely change the funeral home business.

I live in a house where someone died. They died in the same room I sleep in each night! Who knows, I might even sleep on the very spot that he took his fated last breath. Yet… I got nothing.

So why is it I can still be scared or hypnotized by the idea of a ghost? Heck, when I saw Paranormal Activity I was up for days, every bump was enough to wake me up fully.

“This is ridiculous, Scott,” I mumbled to myself again and again. “This is absolutely ridiculous. There is no such thing as ghosts. No such thing… What was that noise?!” Continue reading

Chicago/Chicago (9 Days to 40)

The View From My Room1.

Chicago trip/tolls/Red Vines & a Coke/a podcast about Rome at night/an antique land bathed in spotlights and crowds/loud conversations, broken statues, winding narrow streets lost in shadows/wife tries to sleep-

Too-expensive hotel/broken shower/costumed adults running for a party/I’m seeking a Chicago dog/or a deep dish pizza/settled for sandwich/remembering another I had in Italy-

Dirty streets/with beggars and tourists/tall shining buildings/everyone has someplace to be/everyone has a camera/strangely feel guilty by my noncommitments-

Art Institute/I never look enough, I scan, scan, scan…/crowds fascinate me/I spy on the conversations/their casual  mole/stealing moments around the moments captured on canvas/chiseled out of stone/moments around moments/I sit & think of that turn of phrase-

I worry about the clock/I worry about my writing and books/I worry about tomorrow/about the day after tomorrow/I worry about my children/the future/I always worry/in all these years it is now a friend-

I will probably always worry-

I should look around more/but I scan, scan, scan…-

I almost buy a shirt- Continue reading

Discover the strange new book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, Cover“If you like your supernatural books where reality mixes with the impossible, the inexplicable, then this is the book for you…. It is beautifully written.” A five-star review from GoodReads.com

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare  is a book pretending to be a gothic Victorian-period mystery. From it’s dashing hero to foggy London streets and abandoned castle, all the markings are there… but hidden underneath is a book questioning the very nature of storytelling.

For a limited time more the book is on sale on amazon (here). You can find the eBook for only $1.99 and the print version (my original vision for the work) for only $9.89. Here is the description of the mad tale:

The cursed and foreboding McGregor Castle is the most terrifying and haunted location in all of the British Empire. Only a brave (or foolish) soul would consider visiting it, let alone staying within its walls for five days. In other words, a perfect dare for a man like Maximilian Standforth!

Maximilian Standforth, famed playboy aristocrat and private detective, is a genius with dangerous tastes. With Bob (his trusty carriage driver, biographer, and body guard) and Maggie Collins (actress, spy, and maid) by his side, Maximilian will experience horrors and madness unlike any seen before. For it is at McGregor Castle that the team will discover more than they ever could imagine in this very experimental and genre-breaking thriller.

Here are some more options to learn about the work on this site:

I hope you will take this opportunity to check out this novel. If I can promise anything it is that you will be surprised. For nothing in the castle is at seems…

“If you have read any Jasper Fforde, imagine him writing whilst tripping on acid.” A reader from amazon.co.uk

Thanksgiving Shadows

It seems every year that Thanksgiving becomes more and more the great afterthought of the holiday season.

It is the hub between the ever more popular Halloween and Christmas, the great holiday hump day; in other words, like Wednesday it is not a weekend, but at least it isn’t Tuesday or Monday.

There are no Thanksgiving trees at Hallmark. No one has a turkey ornament. I have never received a Thanksgiving card

Worse, if you go to many stores today it is almost nonexistent in our world, except being remembered as the day before we can all shop like fiends… Well, some stores open Thanksgiving evening now, so maybe for the next generation Thanksgiving will become something akin to the food and water station at a marathon, the haven for that bit of energy before you get to it!

Run, my little shoppers, run…

Could it be argued that Black Friday has taken over Thanksgiving in importance? Possibly.  Our economy couldn’t live without Black Friday (and Cyber Monday); no one would say the same for Thanksgiving, save the Turkey farmers.

Gobble gobble, indeed. Continue reading

My Remaining Years and the Birthday of Doom

I have always hated birthdays and I think part of the problem is I have always put too much pressuring on meeting difficult milestones.

I blame myself, but I also blame great writers for this. See, I have always put a lot on what others have done by my age and the older I get (and more great writers die off with each year I pass. I mean, come on! I’m almost a few years off from when Jane Austen snuffed it), the more this is getting difficult to do. Many of the greats have already hit their classic by this point. Me? I’m still struggling to get people to find my writing (and thank you for reading).

Looking back over my website this year it seems aging is a big theme for me. Maybe part of this is related to the fact I lost my grandfather at the beginning of the year. He was the last of my grandparents and with him an entire generation of my family disappeared. Yet, to be honest, I have written about aging before then. One of the first things I wrote for Green Spot Blue was a piece about being older than Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Yes, being older than Indy is a big deal for members of my generation. If you don’t understand what I mean, I can’t help you. (You can read that piece here.) I’m approaching Last Crusade now… after that there is a long draught until the flying fridge and the crystal skulls.

Before this becomes some kind of a great pity party for me, let me add here that I am very happy in my reality. My wife and I have created a wonderful life together and our kids are amazing. I know it’s almost corny to say one’s kids are their greatest achievement but… Okay… my kids are my greatest achievement. Continue reading

Halloween, In Spirit

I don’t believe in magic.

I also don’t believe in witches, ghosts, wizards, dragons, unicorns, demons, devils, poltergeists, vampires, werewolves and anything else that might go bump in the night.

And, for those curious, I don’t believe in angels either.

None of these things exist (or could exist) in the world I see around me every day. And if any of these things really were real, there is no way it would be a secret to all of us. If there is one great truth about human beings, from the North Pole to the South, it is that we are all lousy at keeping a secret. Remember, even Deep Throat said who he was before he died, and that was a secret kept by only three people!

Frankly, we would all know about Hogwarts.

I wish I could see a ghost.

Why?

Because I would find the experience incredibly satisfying. Continue reading

Book Review: From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

When Ray Bradbury died Entertainment Weekly listed some of Bradbury’s books that their readers might not have read. These were not the classics, but more like hidden gems for readers to discover. From the Dust Returned was one of the books listed, which is what drove me to pick it up.

From the Dust Returned is the story of a house filled with ghosts, the undead, and other supernatural creations. There is one human living with them, a young orphan boy named Timothy, and it will be his fate to write about them.

For me, upon my reading, I had two reactions. First, I am not sure why Entertainment Weekly listed this as one to discover. I could have easily named a handful that would have fit more perfectly into that distinction (Did they just call the publisher? Did they just Google?). The second is the untapped potential for the work, leaving me with the feeling I read the shadow of a good book; not the good book itself.

Ray Bradbury stated that he had spent fifty years working on this book, but with an imaginative mind like Bradbury I really have no idea what that means. He was always creating, always generating works. Chances are, for me, when a book is not being moved forward it is for a good reason, I am waiting for that lightning bolt to truly ignite the creation with a Frankenstein scream of “It’s alive!” Continue reading

Life’s After Thoughts

I don’t believe in ghosts.

I can say, for example, that someone died in my bedroom  (It is an old house) and I have yet to see any specter on a dark moonlit evening. No screeching screams demanding I leave the premises; nor have I felt even the slightest presence in the room. For my children, it is the refuge they go to after a bad dream or to seek comfort. There is nothing there to scare them away.

One of my favorite stories about the “unknown” comes from my little brother when he was a kid. He and one of my young cousins got their hands on an Ouija board and decided to talk to demons. He came running up to me later declaring that they had spoken to Satan!

I, being the arrogant teenager I was at the time, said something like, “Oh yeah? How did he spell his name?”

My brother proudly replied, “S.A.T.I.N.”

The Reason

My grandfather, my last grandparent, passed away earlier this year (I wrote about writing his obituary here). To say my grandparents had an impact on my life is to put it mildly. Next to my parents, they were one of the most important influences on my life. They were my safety net and they caught me numerous times while growing up. Continue reading