Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Halloween – Big-Ass Hallo-Welcome!

Welcome to Needless Things’ annual celebration of the greatest time of year – Halloween!

In today’s post I’ll be talking a bit about the site’s plans for the month, reviewing Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special, and presenting the first installment of our annual coverage of SyFy’s October programming schedule. We will cover every single day of SyFy’s schedule, with Saturdays and Sundays included in Friday posts. 
All month long Needless Things will be providing coverage of Halloween-centric content; from spooky toy reviews to recaps of haunts and other Halloween events to four creepy episodes of the Needless Things Podcast (not to mention the annual recording of Earth Station Boo for the ESO Network!). Five days a week you will be able to visit the site for new, original, creepy content. 
This year we’ve got reviews of Creatures, Gremlins, skeletons, and goats. I’ll be recapping visits to Chambers of Horror, Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, and possibly a few other haunts if I can manage it. Beth V and I will be covering Walker Stalker Con and R.T. and Beth both have some scare-riffic posts ready to go.

Finally, we will be publishing R.T.’s newest story in four installments as part of the Needless Things Spotlight. However, in order to give you something special on this one, it will be posted every Saturday in October. Normally we’re a strictly Monday through Friday outfit, but this year we wanted to get four days closer to actually presenting 31 Days of Halloween!
So spread the word and join the fun by attempting to use Blogger’s awful Comments system or checking out Needless Things on Facebook and Twitter.

Remember – every time you share a Needless Things article, a bat-boy gets his wings! Not really, but we certainly appreciate it.

And now, on to our first creature feature!

Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Halloween Special

FULL DISCLOSURE – I received this comic book for free as part of Zenescope’s review program. But you guys know me – I’d give up free comics before I’d bullshit you.

I dig this cover. As I’ve been reading more books from Zenescope, I’ve realized that they embrace their cheesecake factor in a very tongue-in-cheek (but nowhere else because this is mostly PG-13 stuff) way. It’s fun. This cover is a great example of that. Frankenstein’s monster sneaking a peek at Sela’s cheeks during the group shot is relatively innocent and funny – particularly given the blush on the monster’s cheeks. Er, face cheeks.

Side Note: Spellcheck tried to correct “cheesecake factor” to “Cheesecake Factory”, which made me laugh. And made me want cheesecake.

This is the third issue of Grimm Fairy Tales that I have read. I enjoyed the other two issues of the main title. Starting with issue #101 (the first I read), Zenescope has launched a new storyline with new characters in a school for children from various fairy tale kingdoms. This one-shot continues developing these new characters.

This story is a fairly standard tale of a group of individuals having to face their own personal fears. It’s a good storytelling device because it works well with a Halloween issue and it continues the fleshing out of Ali, Skye, Wulf, Violet, and Hailey; as well as their teachers. I like that we’re learning about them via stories rather than huge blocks of text.

Storytelling is definitely one of the strong points of the Zenescope comics I have read so far. They use clear narratives and have an emphasis on art that is both solid and utilitarian. I haven’t run across a book yet that has been difficult to follow visually. The panels are always laid out in a straightforward manner and the story flows from page to page. The artists are very good at making the action clear.

The Halloween Special is no different. While there are times when the art feels a bit generic, there is a competence in portraying facial expressions and action that I really appreciate. It’s not the fanciest, most detail-oriented art I’ve ever seen, but at no point did style get in the way of substance.

This page is a great example:

A Wraith (which is, again, explained within the story) is attacking the kids in a cemetery. What’s happening here is clear. You don’t even need the rest of the book to understand that one kid is down, another is attacked, and this dude is angry and is going to try to fight this thing. I bet there aren’t a lot of comics on the market today that you could just pull one page from and get such a clear idea of what’s happening.

The Wraith is putting the kids into a dream state that forces them to face their greatest fears (which is where the character development comes in). I really dig the graphical effect used to denote the dream states:

Despite the fact that this Halloween Special has thirty-five pages of story, it feels short. I didn’t get quite as much from each of the characters as I would have liked, though I feel that’s probably intentional. Zenescope wants you to pick this one up and then go and buy the regular Grimm Fairy Tales book. It’s smart. If you’re like me, you’ll walk into your Local Comic Book Shop during the month of October and buy anything with “Halloween” or even just a jack o’ lantern on the cover. This is a smart way to grab potential new readers.

On its own merit, this isn’t the best Halloween Special. If you’re just looking for a spooky book, the GFT Special’s connection to Halloween is tenuous at best. There’s a Halloween party at the beginning (that’s handled in a fairly amusing way), but the story itself could have happened at any time of year. This one feels sort of shoehorned into the holiday.

However, it is a solid tale and as someone who is now interested in the world of Grimm Fairy Tales I liked where this went and the way it furthered the ongoing narrative of the book. If somebody asked me for a good Halloween comic I wouldn’t recommend this one. But as a solid comic that is yet another introduction into Zenescope’s world the Halloween Special is a success. If you’re looking for new books to check out and enjoy stories rooted in fairy tale lore, pick this up. It came out today.

Needless Things V. 31 Days of Halloween

Every October for the last few years Needless Things has provided commentary on SyFy’s – the television channel devoted to science fiction (sort of) – schedule. Not because the channel provides the best Halloween content, but because they provide the most. Aside from some paid programming in the wee hours of the morning (because somebody has to pay for Sharknado 3: Again With This?), SyFy makes an effort to program content that is at least Halloween-ish every hour of the month.

It is for this that we thank them and devote far more effort than we should into dissecting what they have to offer.

Oct 1 11:00 AM Ghost Hunters, Season 8 A Ghost Of A Marine

Oct 1 12:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 8 A Family Of Spirits

Oct 1 01:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 8 Haunted By Heroes

Oh, how I loathe this television program. Not the people on it, mind you. I admire them for making lucrative careers out of being startled by window dressings. No – I just don’t like the show itself. I’m sure if I were actually there participating in their activities I’d be jumping at window dressings, too. Especially if I were getting paid. 
Anyway, SyFy trots out marathon after marathon of this nonsense all month long, so best to get my feelings about it out of the way right up front.

Oct 1 02:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Dead, The

Clearly we’ve run out of synonyms for “zombie”, because unless this is actually a documentary about that hippie band that my ESO boss probably adores, it’s the bottom of the barrel of names for a zombie movie.

Interestingly, this is not a SyFy Original Movie. As you’ll note, there are “31 Days of Halloween” movies and “SyFy Original” movies. I believe the former are all non-SyFy productions that released independently of the television network and might have even appeared in theaters in some cases.

My point here is that The Dead is a thing that happened with no involvement from everybody’s favorite producer of shitty genre movies.

Oct 1 04:30 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Dead Season

Oct 1 06:30 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Halloween II (2009)

I love this movie.

I don’t love it more than Carpenter’s Halloween movies. But I love it for being a different interpretation of Michael Myers and for being extremely fucking Rob Zombie. It’s weird and scary and has terrible dialogue and is a blast to watch. Even if I didn’t end up being in it.

Also, I think this is new to SyFy’s programming. As you’ll see throughout the rest of the month, they tend to show the same movies over and over and over again. And over. Again.

Oct 1 09:00 PM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Freddy Vs. Jason

I love this movie. The only thing I don’t like about it is that that hot, slutty girl from Ginger Snaps gets killed too soon.

Obviously I do not mean that the actress is hot and slutty. Just her character.

Actually, I don’t think her character is even slutty, but she smokes a lot of weed and, well, certain assumptions are fairly safe to make.

Oct 1 11:00 PM Syfy Original Movie Battledogs

This is more like it! BATTLEDOGS. That is a SyFy movie if ever I heard of one. In the world of real movies that star Brad Pitt and stuff this title might be on a flick about a squadron of retired soldiers dealing with the PTSD of their experiences in the Iraq war. In the world of SyFy, this title likely denotes a squadron of soldiers led by Screech from Saved By the Bell that have to pretend to fight a bunch of CGI mutant dogs with machine guns on their backs created by Nazi scientists.

I know which world I’d rather live in.

Oct 1 01:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Witchslayer Gretl

I am going to assume that this is the original Germanic (or whatever) spelling of “Gretel” so that the audience understand that SyFy is for real about this one. No cutesy bullshit here. This chick is a muthafuckin’ 

The makers of this movie had to get across that Gretl is not just a witch hunter or a witch finder. She does the deed, man. There’s a certain guarantee inherent in that title that I appreciate. I look at that and I think, “Well, heck – I guess I’m going to see some witches getting slayed”.

Oct 1 03:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Witchville

I would love to discover that Witchslayer and Witchville were connected. Like, the former is all about Gretl slaying lower level witches and discovering that there’s a head witch. The movie ends with Gretl slaying said head witch, except it turns out she’s in the middle of Wtichville – a whole town of head witches. Then Witchville picks up with Gretl trying to escape from the town and kill as many witches as she can.

See – this is why I can’t enjoy things. My brain always comes up with these cool ideas that are so much better than whatever it is I’m writing about. I mean, I assume my ideas are better. I haven’t actually seen either of these movies, but I want to now.

Oct 1 05:00 AM Paid Programming 

Oct 2 06:00 AM Paid Programming 

Oct 2 08:00 AM Scare Tactics - Basket Case

Oct 2 08:30 AM Scare Tactics - Ghoul Bus

Oct 2 09:00 AM Scare Tactics - Channeling The Dead

I feel really dumb for liking Scare Tactics, but I can’t help it. Tracy Morgan is definitely a big selling point. Some episodes are more clearly staged than others, and a lot of the “victims” are clearly actors, but when it works it works. I hope it doesn’t make me racist or homophobic or anything, but I can never get enough of gay black guys dancing around and screaming at midgets with masks on.

Oct 2 09:30 AM Syfy Original Movie Witchville 
And this is where SyFy annoys me every year. They replay things a lot. And it’s not just the number of times, it’s the proximity. In this case I understand that the same person that wanted to watch a movie at 3 AM (the last time Witchville was shown) is probably not looking for a movie at 9:30 AM. But SyFy has gotten worse every year about replaying movies very close together. Like, at 6 PM on Saturday and then at 4 PM on Sunday. I get that there’s only so much budget to license and show so many movies (I suppose that’s how it works, anyway), but at least spread ‘em out a little bit.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s introductory Halloween post. Keep coming back all month long for spooky stuff and please do share the site and posts on the various social medias.
Also, buy some spooky stuff from Amazon and help the site out! Running this thing is more expensive than you might think.



  1. Man, seeing all of the crazy junk on SyFy actually makes me wish I had SyFy (or any tv channels, really). I'd eat this stuff up.

    BTW, if you like Zenoscope, check out a book the released called the Theater. It was a tales from the crypt/ anthology kind of deal that took place in an old abandoned movie theater. It only ever made one trade, but it was fun!

    1. SyFy isn't the best, but they do try to put on as much fun stuff as they can in October. I appreciate the tone they go for.
      I'll see if I can get a copy of Theater - thanks for the heads-up!