Friday, October 29, 2010

Movies that remind me of Halloween: #3, Ed Wood

Family medical issues, book revisions, and Suburban Vampire interviews have kept me from posting my favorite Halloween movies throughout the month like I originally planned, but I wanted to make sure I squeezed in this next one.

Movie #3: Ed Wood
Stars: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau (who won an Academy Award for playing Bela Lugosi), Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Bill Murray
Director: Tim Burton

Essential Halloween-ish elements: Recreations of monster and sci-fi films created by "The Worst Director of All Time," Edward D. Wood, Jr.; classic TV star Vampira; an aged and drug-addled Bela Lugosi reliving his Dracula days, beautiful black-and-white photography.

When I first saw it: Opening night 2004.  My (brand-new) husband and I loved the TV ads so much that we were certain there'd be a huge crowd, so we got to the theater early.  Aside from the other couple we went with, we were the only people in the audience.

Most memorable line: There are so many quotable lines in this one.  Let's go with "Pull the strings!  Pull the strings!"

Best character names: Bunny, Tor, Criswell.

Bottom line: Burton's homage to movie director Edward D. Wood, Jr., debuted long before Depp gave us Jack Sparrow and Sarah Jessica Parker became Carrie, which makes it all the more a hidden gem.  The movie is hysterical and heartbreaking at the same time, and it's a lovely tribute to Hollywood and dreamers.  One of my favorite Burton films.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

At least it's the right season to be revising a ghostly mystery

My ghostly Maine photo.
I haven't had an abundance of time to work on revisions due to my kids being home from school for conferences, a birthday party with thirteen children in my house, and a sick daughter, but when I have sat down to work, I've been fiddling with the mystery aspect of Blackbirds.  I love books with satisfying twists and don't want to deliver anything less with my own work, but it's been a challenge trying to figure out how to make my ending as surprising and fulfilling and possible.  Some new ideas have popped into my head this week, and hopefully they're leading me down the right path.

At least October is the perfect time to be writing about ghosts and dark mysteries.  I've been scaring myself by watching shows like Ghost Adventures late at night and listening to Kristen Lawrence's Halloween Carols in the car with my kids.  Here's a video for a song of Kristen's I've been using to get myself into the Blackbirds zone.  It's called Dark Glass, and the chorus is absolutely beautiful and dreamlike.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My chats with two authors branching out to YA fiction

I've been busy with interviews over at Suburban Vampire this month, and my two current guests are award-winning authors who have decided to venture into the realm of young adult fiction.

Today's Suburban Vampire guest is Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula series.  Her young adult gothic novel, The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove, will be published by Tor in 2012, so keep an eye out for her as an up-and-coming YA author. I asked Marta eight random scary questions to celebrate Halloween and to promote her newest release, Haunted Honeymoon. She's also offering a giveaway package that includes a free signed Casa Dracula novel. READ THE INTERVIEW & ENTER THE CONTEST HERE.

Today also marks the release of Sophie Littlefield's young adult thriller, Banished. Last week Sophie gave me the inside scoop about her new novel, and her Suburban Vampire contest for a free signed copy of Banished is still open until Thursday, October 14. Sophie is known for her adult crime novels, A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty.  She and I also share the same phenomenal literary agent.  READ THE INTERVIEW & ENTER THE CONTEST HERE.

Thanks for chatting with me, Marta and Sophie!  You're both fabulous.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Movies that remind me of Halloween: #2, The Watcher in the Woods

Movie #2: The Watcher in the Woods
Stars: Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson (the Ice Castles girl), Carroll Baker
Director: John Hough

Essential Halloween-ish elements:  A foreboding British manor located in sinister woods with rustling trees, ghostly phenomena that affect two young girls, Bette Davis wandering around with her chilling voice and black clothing, menacing mood music, scenes that make you jump out of your seat.

When I first saw it: I was around ten, and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. I showed it to my daughter last year when she was ten, and she freaked out.  One scene literally caused her to scream and burst into tears.  I told my younger sister about my daughter's reaction, and she said, "Don't even mention that movie!"  I guess that says something about my obsession with ghostly horror from a young age.  P.S. This is a Disney movie.

Most memorable line: Narek--spoken by a girl temporarily possessed by something.
Best character names: No dark or clever names stand out in this particular movie.  The missing girl is Karen, and the main character is Jan.  Pretty typical for a film from 1980.

Bottom line: Perfect for the Halloween season, despite some early-eighties hairstyles.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Movies that remind me of Halloween: #1, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Whenever October hits, I feel the urge to watch six or seven films that most remind me of the Halloween season.  This month I'll be randomly spotlighting them and detailing why they make me think of dark autumn nights and huddling under my covers.

Movie #1: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Stars: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, and Diane Ladd
Director: Jay Clayton
Based on the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Essential Halloween-ish elements:  A circus sideshow run by a sinister man named Mr. Dark, curious young kids who become too curious, lightning rods, a scene with hundreds of spiders crawling over a boy, a circus parade that sounds more like a funeral march, and small-town citizens lured to the dark side.

When I first saw it: As a kid, but it's just as creepy when viewed through adult eyes.

Most memorable line: By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
Best character names: Mr. Dark, Jim Nightshade

Bottom line: If you're afraid of clowns and spiders, this movie just might give you nightmares--but isn't that part of the fun of Halloween films?