Tag Archives: Monster Mash

Happy Halloween!

Jack O Lantern
Petr Kratochvil


Why the Jack O Lantern?

When I was a boy, my father carved some impressive jack o lanterns. It was a laborious task for him, and my mother assisted him. It was a family tradition on both sides of the family. More so perhaps on my mother’s side since she was descended from a man who left Ireland to serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

In both Ireland and Scotland, the tradition of a carved lantern came about as a way of warding evil spirits from entering the home. Ireland had the tradition of Stingy Jack, a guy who managed to out-hustle the Devil and made a pact with him that he would not take his soul. Unfortunately, Heaven was not thrilled to admit him, being an unsavory creature after all, and that meant he had to walk the earth unable to enter neither Heaven nor Hell. This put him in the same category as the fallen angels doomed to wander the earth as well as demons, which is not great company to be with.

Ireland had turnips, and they were used as jack o’ lanterns as tradition dictated, they be put in the window or an area where it would be seen. Turnips are not easy to carve for this, so it took some skill and real strength (not to mention patience!). Whatever face you put on it-happy, sad, mean etc.-it was enough to tell Jack to just pass the home by. Alas if you did not do this, Jack might decide to pop in and stay for a while. And that was not good since, well, he was not very pleasant about it.

When Irish (and Scots too) came to the United States they found the humble pumpkin. It was a nice sphere and with different sizes too boot. And carving them was much easier than a turnip. You just had to cut it open, pull out the messy insides and voila! Just carve the face and your jack o’ lantern is ready to go for Halloween. As an added bonus, all those seeds could be roasted and with a little salt be made delicious to eat. And everything else you took out could be used as the primary ingredient for pumpkin pie. In other words, the pumpkin had more than one use during Autumn. As the Irish started putting up their lighted pumpkins, others noticed it and started copying the idea. Soon thanks to word of mouth, newspaper reporting, and clever marketing, people were soon buying pumpkins. Pumpkin growers now had a thriving market for these gourds and has remained popular to this day. In many places (like where I live), there is annual pumpkin festival where the largest ones grown are weighed and awarded prizes. Some quip what do you do with such a large pumpkin? Well Willy Wonka had the answer when he was asked if one of the golden eggs his geese laid cracked open. “An omelet fit for a king sir!”

Many people do not carve them anymore and use plastic alternatives. They certainly last longer but lack the spirit of the holiday. Martha Stewart has a clever way to make your carved pumpkin last for many days. You can check it out here.

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween 2018!


Halloween is finally here and the trick  or treaters are raring to go. Candy has been purchased, popcorn popped, and even a witch has a smile or two. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day. One way is to watch classic or new classic horror movies. Last year I came across one that really impressed me. It is is in the “found footage” niche.

For those who have no idea what that means, it is a fake documentary supposedly relating true events through this footage. Sometimes it can be good but other times not so good. This one is a bright spot in that tired niche and titled Horror House LLC (2015). This little gem is about an investigation into the tragic events of a Halloween Haunted House where 15 people died. Wrapped within another documentary, the story that unfolds is both intriguing and scary at times. Consider taking a look at this Halloween on Amazon Prime and other places on the Internet.There is a sequel but I have not viewed it yet. Note: This movie is not for kids under 17. It has scary scenes and language adults will find offensive.

On a lighter side though, the Muppet Science Labs tried to determine the existence of ghosts by sending an intrepid investigator to find out the truth in an haunted house. All did not go well….

Not to be outdone, those feisty Angry Birds enjoy Halloween as well. It is not without its perils though as this short animation demonstrates. Of course if you decide to not play nice with them, they might bring out the Big Guy.

The 1941 Disney movie Fantasia has a classic scene where all the evil of the land comes forth for a night of merriment with a demon on Bald Mountain. This scene with an excellent score is Night On Bald Mountain. A true classic and scary when the lights are low.

And of course to wrap it all up that classic tune done by Mannheim Steamroller.

Countdown to Halloween#6

Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett was a 1962 novelty song that was #1 on the Hot 100 chart from October 20-27. It became a popular Halloween tune ever since. For Pickett, it would be his one and only big hit. There are many variations out there but the original still is pretty darn good. First up is his performance from American Bandstand on October 13, 1964. And that very young guy introducing him is Dick Clark and not Jim Carrey!

Now a more modern version done by Mannheim Steamroller in 2006 from their Halloween music collection.

And finally poor Mickey Mouse visits a house where a monster mash is taking place. The footage comes from a 1934 Disney animation Mickey’s Gala Premiere.