Friday, October 18, 2013

International Friday: Ghosts from the Motherland

As a little kid, I was never afraid of Freddy Kreuger or Jason. Instead, the frightening creatures which plagued my Filipino-American psyche were:

1. The Multo. Loosely translated to "zombie", but I think most Filipino kids understand it to be just something hideously scary.

2. The White Lady. She could be anywhere and everywhere.

3. Don't forget the contribution of Catholicism. Stories of saints statues coming to life were commonly told among us children, and even scarier since most us had altars at home chock full of scary statues like this one of the Santo Nino (Baby Jesus):

4. Of course, there was also the Mama Mary.

It wasn't until I went to a high school with a large Cuban-American population that I encountered the chupacabra. Then I realized I wasn't alone in having fear of creatures that no one else knew about except people from the same ethnic immigrant population.

Which ghosts/creatures from near or far scared you? (Still scare you?)

Photo Credits

Thanks, as always! In no particular order:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Hocus Pocus

If you were a kid in the United States in the 1990s, you probably remember the cult classic Hocus Pocus. Back then, of course, it wasn't a cult classic yet, just cool Halloween weirdness. I remember some of my classmates jumping around the schoolyard saying Sarah Jessica Parker's line, "Amok, amok, amok!"

Flash forward a jillion years to the present, and I'm watching this movie for the blog. And all I can think of is how WEIRD this movie is, and how funny it is that I didn't notice it when I was a kid. Here's what I loved about the movie:

  1. Cheesy special effects. Picture it: a talking puppet cat, really bad zombie make-up, and lightning bolts coming out of Bette Midler's fingertips.
  2. Acting so bad it's good. Seriously.
  3. Sarah Jessica Parker before she was super-famous.
  4. The complete and utter over-the-top-ness of the Sanderson Sisters, especially Bette Midler. The scenes without them in the movie fell flat. Which brings me to my next list...

What I Hated About This Movie

  1. Overuse of the word "virgin." Yes, we get it. He's a virgin.
  2. Acting so bad it was just...bad.
  3. The predictability of the plot.

Verdict: If you're waxing nostalgic for the 1990s, pick this up. If not (and I know there will be an angry mob waiting for me outside when I say this), there are better Halloweeen movies out there! You can watch with your kids, but make sure to be ready to explain what a virgin is!

What's your favorite Halloweeen throwback film?

Creepy animated GIF courtesy of Crushable. Thanks!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Betty Ren Wright's The Pike River Phantom

Whether you are 9 or 99, there's always something magical about a scary story. Back in the Stone Age, I remember the brave girls (and it was always girls) carrying around scary story books like they were badges of honor. "Look at me, I'm not afraid of the Pike River Phantom!" their eyes would say. Meanwhile, other girls (like me) would take a quick peek at the cover and decide it was NOT the genre for me. Please, don't even leave it on my desk!

Now that I'm older, the cover of this classic reads more kitschy than frightening, and I can giggle that I was so afraid of this? Getting a good scare is still tons of fun, however, especially during Halloween, and especially when Betty Ren Wright is the author.

Betty Ren Wright (I just have to say her full name!) is a very efficient writer. In a book of only 153 pages, she manages to flesh out the story of 12-year-old Charlie Hocking, a Milaukee transplant new to the small town where his father grew up, and where all Charlie's troubles begin. His father is an ex-con, and his cousin Rachel, who also lives in the same house, is perfect. How can anyone compete with that? Throw in a ghost with a dilemma and a Fourth of July parade, and you've got one entertaining story. While I didn't encounter anything revolutionary in this book, Wright's skill as a writer of suspense kept me on my toes. Also, the way she portrays family relationships, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes baffling, always necessary and complicated make this book ring emotionally true. Yes, it's only 153 pages, and yes the cover has a picture of a ghost lady chasing some kids down the stairs, but it was a good read.

Overall, five stars. Come for the ghost story, stay for the happy ending. Wax nostalgic with your friends about book fairs, and for the time when kids were allowed to do scary things--like ride their bikes in the woods by themselves! (yes, Charlie does this often in the book!)

Haven't had enough? For more frightening fun check out an earlier review of middle-grade classic, Stonewords: A Ghost Story.

Photo Credits

The picture of of The Pike River Phantom came from here. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Toys and Games Tuesday: Badass Lego Girls

This article on the Huffington Post caught my attention awhile back, and I thought I would link to it here on my blog. Three-year-old Cecilia is taking her LEGO creations to a new level, turning girly LEGO figures tough. Read: 'Badass Lego Girls' Made By A Badass Three-Year-Old.

How's that for creativity?

Photo credits go to the HuffPo.