As a lifelong classic film fan, I often find myself scanning contemporary media for old movie influences. And at no time of the year is that more fun than Halloween, when the monsters I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid make cameo appearances in fun and unexpected places.
One great example is 31 Days of Halloween, a spooky new ebook described as “an illustrated, light-hearted look at Halloween customs and folklore.” By the sixth of the 31 days – each day gets a two-page spread with text and art – it’s already abundantly clear that author/illustrator E.J. Woods grew up on the same creepy classics I did.
To support his examination of the Vampires (Oct 6) and their complex, often inconsistent mythology, Woods offers illustrations of Max Schreck from F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922) and Lon Chaney from Tod Browning’s LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1926). A quote from notorious witch-killer Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) leads an explanation of Scarecrows (Oct 11). Art of Bill Hinzman from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) adorns a spread about Zombies (Oct 15). Carroll Borland from Browning’s MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935) haunts the section on White Ladies (Oct 25), which are “ghosts of women who have been wronged and seek redress.” (I think I’ve dated a few of them.)
But perhaps my favorite cameo is the burning Wicker Man from Robin Hardy’s 1973 film of the same name, which illustrates the discussion of Bonfires (Oct 24). Sadly, Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie is nowhere to be found, perhaps because he’s already been, you know, bonfired.
Along the way you’ll also find Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf-Man and the Mummy along with detailed explanations on the history of Halloween, why we carve pumpkins and the best types of wood to use in your vampire stakes.
With colorful art and witty explanations that take the scary stuff one hundred percent seriously, 31 Days of Halloween is perfect for younger readers in their Trick-or-Treating prime. But it’s also plenty of fun if you’re an Old Movie Weirdo who’s still young at heart.
“31 Days of Halloween” by E.J. Woods is available as an eBook from Blurb for $7.99. You can preview of the first 20 pages here.
Update 10/30/16 – Blurb is offering the book for the discounted price of $3.99 in celebration of Halloween. Click here for more info.