Halloween 2022: Oct. 3ʳᵈ – Oct. 6ᵗʰ

You thought I forgot, didn’t you? You thought I already failed to keep my daily Halloween celebrations going. Well, trick’s on you, because I’ve got four days worth of Halloween treats in my bowl, and all you kiddies are gonna get a piece. Click the pic and take your candy!

Now, on with the countdown!

OCT. 3ʳᵈ – MEL-O-CREAM GLAZED PUMPKIN MEL-O-BITES

I’ve tried every form of pumpkin doughnut known to man, but this beats the hell outta me. I’d never even heard of this company. I had to look them up online. According to their website, Mel-O-Cream Donuts International, Inc. has been around for 80 years. However their website also claims, and I quote, “The doughnut has existed since the begining [sic] of time,” so I’m not sure how much faith I’m going place in their copywriter. I also can’t explain how these little doughnuts from a little doughnut shop in Springfield, Illinois found their little way into Remke Markets, a little six store chain of little supermarkets here in the little Cincinnati area. Mel-O-Cream, you are one mysterious bakery.

I will, however, eat the hell out of your little doughnuts. Having grown up on discount bin Kroger mini doughnuts and waxy ass Hostess Donettes, I’m used to little doughnuts being delicious but dry as hell. Mom only bought the cheap stuff, and cheap doughnuts are cheap because they’re old. These, however, earned the Cream in their name. That sounded needlessly sexual. Let me try again: These beauties got that Cream in them the old fashioned way. Nope, that was way, way worse. Last one: They are moist to the point of having a creamy texture while maintaining the structural integrity and mouthfeel of a standard cake doughnut. There, close enough.

These things are absolutely delicious, but pumpkin purists beware: they taste more of pumpkin spice than actual pumpkin. Nevertheless, I give Mel-O-Cream Glazed Pumpkin Mel-O-Bites a solid 8 out of 10. Thank you, Illinois!

OCT. 4ᵗʰ – NETFLIX’S THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, EPISODES 1-7

This was suggested to me by a horror aficionada who knows the genre FAR better than I do, and I could not be more pleased with her expert recommendation. If you think, as I did, that this is going to be The Haunting Of Hill House movie stretched into a ten episode miniseries, you’re dead wrong. See what I did there? Dead wrong. Get it? Because there’s ghosts and murder and corpses and stuff. Somebody get my Peabody ready, ’cause I’m writing the absolute shit outta this article.

This version of The Haunting Of Hill House focuses on the Crain family, which includes a set of twins, a horror staple. The twins are a girl with really long straight hair, the better to scare you with, and a little boy with thick Coke bottle glasses who reminds me so much of Billy from Pumpkinhead that it’s difficult for me not to picture this kid as a younger version of that character. You’re seeing a pattern here. The Haunting Of Hill House borrows heavily from other horror franchises. But that’s not a criticism; Stranger Things is a virtual smorgasbord of borrowed ideas and references, and it is entertainment gold.

The genius of Hill House is that it borrows, yes, but all those pilfered elements are used largely for mood. They’re set dressing. More importantly, they’re extraordinarily effective camouflage, because the borrowed elements make you think you know where the scare is going to come from, and then you get the hell scared out of you from another direction entirely. My favorite example of this is the Floating Man finding Coke bottle boy under the bed. This is a scene we’ve all seen a hundred times, and we know it’s going to end with a brief pause in tension followed by a jump scare. Only it doesn’t. You get no such respite from your unease. Instead, that dread builds, horribly, patiently, like ice from freezing fog. It takes its time to crawl around inside you. And then, instead of a jump scare, you’re forced to watch as the horrible thing does the inevitable, with seething malicious slowness. And the result is creepy as fuck.

I haven’t finished the series, but I can confidently give Netflix’s The Haunting Of Hill House, episodes one through seven, a 7.5 out of 10. I suspect that rating will only go up after I finish the series. If you’re looking for a good haunted house story to sink its teeth into you, you won’t go wrong with this one.

OCT. 5ᵗʰ – THE BODY

The Body is a Hulu original movie, part of their Into The Dark film series, which, in its first few minutes, gives every indication of being another low budget, low scare movie. And truthfully it’s nothing to go out of your way for. That being said, it was not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. There are few real scares, but there are some clever bits, and even a couple of genuinely funny ones. My favorite was the Clerks reference. I didn’t see that one coming.

The charm of this movie is that the actors, with one exception, never try too hard. They don’t attempt to force the movie to be anything it isn’t. It’s acted in a relatively straightforward manner, which actually lends it some legitimacy. I can’t really put my finger on why I liked this movie, exactly, but I did. It was disposable entertainment at its best. I’m glad I watched it.

One standout in this movie is Maggie… only that’s not really accurate. Maggie was played by Rebecca Rittenhouse, who is the real standout. I’m no drama critic. I don’t know the first thing about acting, and I’m not trying to diminish the performance of the rest of the cast. They were fine. But Rebecca Rittenhouse’s acting is so immediately and obviously superior that she outshines the entire ensemble. Not once did I think of her as an actress playing a role. Watch it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean. She was performing on a different level.

The lead actor was, unfortunately, the weakest link in The Body. He looked at all times like an aging male model desperate to convince you he was a hitman. In fact, all of the other actors seem to struggle a bit to figure out what their characters were. At one point each of them delivered a line that sounded rehearsed or stilted, or just unnatural. But not Rittenhouse. She was Maggie for every single frame. She used her eyes to command your attention, and she was so efficiently emotive that I think I could have followed her story even if she hadn’t spoken a word. I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything else, but I hope that changes. She was extraordinary. In truth, she was a little too talented to be in this movie. This lady should have been the lead in a better film.

I give The Body a 6 out of 10. Nothing to write home about, but good enough to make the Halloween cut.

OCT. 6ᵗʰ – BURMESE CRISPY BEANS

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell are Burmese crispy beans, and what the hell do they have to do with Halloween? Well, my friends, this one was a surprise even to me.

As soon as I tore open the package, before I even opened the zip-lock seal, I was greeted by the aroma of fried garlic. It was redolent. My mouth watered. I could already tell I was going to enjoy these. Opening the seal, I found the beans to be surprisingly oily. The sight was off-putting at first, but an experimental nibble proved the sunflower oil to be light and quite pleasant. I had expected a heavy, greasy feel on my tongue, but the actual experience was altogether different. I thought they might, at best, be tolerable, but these are good.

The shape of the beans made me think these were lima beans. I hate lima beans. These, on the other hand, are delicious. They are crisp, with no hardness you would expect from dried beans. A pleasant snap with a nutty taste. These are really excellent in every way. And despite how good they tasted, I can hear in the distance a rising chorus from my readers, asking with worrisome voices, “Hey, Chris, why the fuck are you talking about beans? This is supposed to be a Halloween article.”

“You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.”

Surely something this tasty couldn’t be lima beans. I checked the ingredient list, and I was correct. But the answer only raised more questions. What are broad beans? Are they related to lima beans? Is that just a regional term for lima beans wherever these are packaged? I had to know! So I did a quick internet search on the nature of these mysterious new legumes. And do you know what broad beans are?

They’re fucking FAVA BEANS! That’s right, unbeknownst to myself I had been happily snacking on the favorite side dish of Hannibal Lecter. I’d wager that, like myself, most Americans first heard of fava beans in 1991 when Anthony Hopkins delivered that unforgettable line. I’ve heard it quoted a thousand times. I’ve said it myself. But I’ve never seen a fava bean. Not at a grocery, not in a restaurant, nowhere. For thirty-one years I’ve wondered what the hell a fava bean is. And now, October 6th, 2022, I have consumed them. And although I cannot vouch for how well they pair with Chianti, I can tell you that they are delightful when mixed with sliced chickpeas and sesame seeds, lightly salted, then tossed in a generous drizzle of sunflower oil. It’s not human flesh, but it’s still a pretty damned good snack.

I give Burmese Crispy Beans an enthusiastic 7 out of 10! Stay tuned for more Halloween first-evers, same Sci-Fi Guys time, same Sci-Fi Guys channel. Seacrest out!

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