Halloween

  •  Horror on the Silver Screen

    Looking for a movie to send chills down your spine? While the horror genre has had some great films in recent history—from the Oscar-winning GET OUT, to the John Krasinski breakout, A QUIET PLACE—there have been many classic movies that have scared the pants off audiences. Here are some hits from yesteryear to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

    10.26 The InnocentsTHE INNOCENTS
    Directed by Jack Clayton
    (1961)

    Based on the American novel, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this British adaptation combines everything you’d want in Victorian horror — haunted estates, women in distress, and creepy children. A woman becomes the governess to a young brother and sister who may be much more than they appear. Are the apparitions she sees real? In this film, you can never really trust what people say—or what they see. If you are a fan of modern gothic films like THE WOMAN IN BLACK or THE OTHERS, check out THE INNOCENTS. 

    Fun Fact: The screenplay for this film was worked on by Truman Capote, who took a break from his true crime classic, IN COLD BLOOD, to finish the movie script. 

     

    10.26 Abbott and CostelloABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles Barton
    (1948)

    If you are looking for some good scares and good laughs, check out Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Made after the heyday of monster movies like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLFMAN, this movie manages to put all of them into one story. The “Avengers” of Universal horror films, the film manages one of the first “crossover” plotlines, pitting each monster against one another or our protagonists.  

    Abbott and Costello both pull off one-liners with their usual skill, poking fun at the monsters while still allowing for some scary moments. The fear factor is helped by the fact that most of the creatures are played by their original actors—who are perfectly happy to howl, bite, and groan amid the jokes. My personal favorite is when Lon Chaney (the Wolfman) attempts to warn Costello over the phone about Dracula’s plot. Instead, Costello quickly becomes more and more irritated with Chaney’s “barking dog.” 

    If you enjoy this film, be sure to check out other Abbott and Costello horror crossovers, such as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

     

    10.26 Cape FearCAPE FEAR
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    (1962)

    This film was initially worked on by Alfred Hitchcock, before he passed it onto his colleague, J. Lee Thompson. One of the best thrillers of the 1950’s, it tells the story of how one ex-con terrorizes the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison. Robert Mitchum pits himself against the upright everyman, Gregory Peck—who was known for playing another famous lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  

    Mitchum manages to play both cold, calculating villain and out-of-control maniac. It is his personality that truly makes the audience fear for the lawyer’s family. This film would be made again in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro in the ex-con role. However, if you are interested in other horror films that showcase Robert Mitchum’s talent, I recommend the beautiful and horrifying THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

     

    10.26 The HauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise
    (1963)

    Based on the 1959 book by Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, which is widely considered to be the scariest book ever written. Both the movie and its classic film adaptation tell the story of four people invited to investigate not a house that is “haunted,” but is rather “diseased,” with a mind of its own. We soon realize the disturbing effect it has on each person who stays there, including the poor, lonely Eleanor.  

    This film came out just 4 years after the book’s initial publication and was directed by Robert Wise—who had just come off a successful adaptation of WEST SIDE STORY (and would later go on to direct THE SOUND OF MUSIC). Don’t let the director’s background in musicals fool you, this movie will certainly keep you up at night. This film truly takes to heart the old adage that what you don’t see is scarier than what you do. From great acting, to terrifying sound design, this movie will drag you down into the madness that has enveloped the people staying at Hill House.  

    In addition to the 1963 film, The Haunting of Hill House has had plenty of adaptations. These include a recent Netflix adaptation, of the same name, and a 1999 film with Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Despite the star-studded cast, please do not subject yourself to this film.)

     
  • halloween films

    AcfrankBUD ABBOT & LOU COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles T. Barton
    (Universal, 1948)

    A comic horror film in which Abbott and Costello encounter Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mad scientist.      

     

     

     

     

    arsenicARSENIC AND OLD LACE
    Directed by Frank Capra
    (Warner Bros, 1944)

    An easy going drama critic (Cary Grant) discovers that his kind and gentle Aunts Abby and Martha have a bizarre habit of poisoning gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.      

     

     

     

     

    the uninvited movie posterTHE UNINVITED
    Directed by Lewis Allen
    (Paramount, 1944)

    A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.      

     

     

      

     

    House on Haunted HillHOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
    Directed by William Castle
    (William Castle Productions, 1959)

    Millionaire playboy (Vincent Price) hosts a party for his wife at the "House on Haunted Hill," a house that has seen seven murders. Fredrick invites five guests and will offer each of them $10,000 to spend a night.      

     

     

     

     

    hauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise (Argyle Enterprises, 1963)

    Adapted from Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, this psychological thriller tells the story of four people who come to the house to study its supernatural phenomena. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  Haunting

    Since it is Halloween today, I thought I would write a post about haunted places in Provo. It would be great to start with personal experiences of our reportedly haunted Academy building. Unfortunately, after working here for twenty years, the only unexplained phenomena I have experienced is that the batteries in any clock I hang in my office die really really fast.  I’ve even replaced the clock a few times and finally just gave up on it. But I don’t think that really counts as paranormal.

    However, we have a number of wonderful books that discuss Utah hauntings and the one that caught my attention recently is RESTLESS SPIRITS: UTAH’S SMALL TOWN GHOSTS by Linda Dunning. She has a whole section on Provo Haunts. Below is a wonderful summary of those hauntings from her book:

    “The Utes massacred at Table Point and in Rock Canyon were never buried. They were left to the wild animals and the whims of nature. Is it any wonder that both of these places are haunted by the dead?

    Old Bishop was a leader to his people and a friend to the white man. His spirit walks the shore of the Provo River in winter.  Bill Hickman, notorious outlaw and lawman, told his tall tales about both of these events.

    In Provo Canyon, the stories of Bridal Veil Falls are both old and new, according to the decade from which they came. Hermits, witches, healers, and old miners are said to have inhabited this canyon, and their stories might have been lost except for the tales told here.

    Brigham Young University has its share of haunted buildings. Musical instruments play by themselves in the music department, and rumor has it that one of the museums is experiencing so much phenomena that a man was summoned to bless the place.

    An old pioneer graveyard is buried under a building, which is, of course, “haunted.” The old Utah County jail has spirited criminals, and the Hotel Roberts, which was razed in 2004, had an atmosphere all its own. Even Geneva Steel, once the largest employer in the valley, was silent, still, and definitely haunted until it was abandoned in 2005.

    Tell me that you aren’t intrigued by at least one of these quick teasers! This is a great little book and it’s available here at the Provo City Library. As I was reading through these creepy stories I discovered a previous book by the same author that she says describes “in depth” the hauntings of Maeser Elementary and the Brigham Young Academy building. Why did we not own this book? Well, we do now!

    If you want to learn more about what is creepy in our community and state, check out these titles:

    10.31 Restless SpiritsRESTLESS SPIRITS: UTAH’S SMALL TOWN GHOSTS
    by Linda Dunning
    (2010) 

    A resurrection witnessed, skeletons unearthed from the cellar of a saloon, and a ghostly apparition searching for her lost child – these stories and more will chill your bones, curdle your blood, and make even the most confident skeptic believe in the supernatural!

     

    10.31 Lost LandscapesLOST LANDSCAPES: UTAH’S GHOSTS, MYSTERIOUS CREATURES, AND ALIENS
    by Linda Dunning
    (2007) 

    For young and old alike, this book will pique interest and raise questions to the mysteries lurking within Utah’s borders. Whether it be the unsolved riddles of places, people, puzzling objects, the legends that have been passed down through the generations, everyone will find something that will have them eagerly turning to the next page.

     

    10.31 Haunted UtahHAUNTED UTAH: GHOSTS AND STRANGE PHENOMENA FROM THE BEEHIVE STATE
    by Andy Weeks
    (2012) 

    This collection of stories includes the phantom hitchhiker of American Fork, Ogden’s elegant haunted hotel, activity at Salt Lake City’s This is the Place Heritage Park, ghost children at Mercer Cemetery, the white lady of Spring Canyon, and bizarre creatures, including Sasquatch, Utah Lake’s black-eyed monster, and the Moon Lake Monster.

     

    10.31 Specters in DoorwaysSPECTERS IN DOORWAYS
    by Linda Dunning
    (2009)

    Reveals the mysteries and miracles of haunted mansions and farm houses, ghostly hotels and public buildings, spirit-infested hospitals, churches and gathering places, eerie old schools, colleges and universities and finally, the phantoms of Utah’s many old mills and abandoned factories.

     
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    The mountains are bursting with color, blustery winds are blowing, and caramel apples and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies have made their long-awaited reappearance!  The arrival of fall is one of my favorite times of year, and you might have noticed one of the reasons right here in the Children’s Department – pumpkins!

    At the beginning of each October, we make the trek into the nether regions of our 4th floor attic storage (which is a little spookier than normal during this time of year), and pull down our many dusty boxes of artificial pumpkins.  For years now, the Children’s librarians have had the opportunity to creatively honor some of our favorite books and characters through these imitation jack-o-lanterns.  Deciding who we’ll pumpkinize each year is always a fun challenge, and it’s almost like Christmas as we open the boxes and bring out our past crafty renditions of our favorite friends.  Inevitably, as the pumpkins are unpacked, dusted off, and placed in their spot of honor for the month, memories of the library staff who created them fill my mind.  Some are still here at the library, some are here but in different departments, and some have moved on to other life adventures.  Regardless of their current whereabouts, it brings me a little bit of joy to think of these co-workers who have become friends over time and through the years of our library adventures.  We sure do get fun ones over here!  

    Here are some of my favorite pumpkins.  Come to the Children’s Department to pick out YOUR favorites.  Are there any characters you’d like to see in our collection next year?  Let us know!

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  •  Halloween Costumes

    I love children’s books and dressing up, so what could be more fun than dressing up as a character from a book? 

    Every year when I went to the store to pick out a costume for Halloween I was always disappointed. I never liked the choices that I found.  I also didn’t like seeing my costume again and again on everyone else. I love having a costume that is unique to me and my personality. But I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on something I was only going to wear one day out of the year. Another frustration in picking a costume was what to be and what person to dress up as.

    Then one year I discovered literary characters. I love books so why not choose my favorite book character and dress up as that particular character! For the last 5 years or so I have had some really fun costumes and most of the time people know who I am. I get lots of comments like, “That is one of my favorite books”, which makes me happy.           

    Usually a book character costume doesn’t require much. I was surprised at how many things I had at home to use for my costume. Sometimes I would have to hunt for an accessory that I needed or make an item or two for my costume but usually it was just hanging in my closet waiting to be put together. I have over the years added to my wig collection but that is something that can be used again and again. I also bought a latex witch nose and I have used that many times to change the look of my face.   

    This year because I have so many ideas and options to choose from my struggle is deciding which character I want to be. I thought it would be fun to share five of my favorite literary costumes and hopefully inspire you to also dress up as a literary character.

    10.15 Fancy NancyFANCY NANCY: FANCIEST DOLL IN THE UNIVERSE
    By Jane O’Conner
    Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
    (2013)

     

    Fancy Nancy

     

    10.15 Amelia BedeliaAMELIA BEDELIA
    By Peggy Parish
    (1963)

     

    Amelia

     

    10.15 Miss Nelson is MissingMISS NELSON IS MISSING!
    By Harry Allard and James Marshall
    (1977)

     

    Viola Swamp

     

    10.15 Lillys Purple Plastic PurseLILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE
    By Kevin Henkes
    (1996)

     

    Lilly

     

    10.15 The WitchesTHE WITCHES
    By Roald Dahl
    (1983)

     

    Witch

     
  • witchy films

    A couple of weeks ago on the blog, I admitted my love for all things witchy and shared my favorite recent books about witches. To continue that theme and honor the Halloween spirit, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite movies starring witches.  They’re certainly bewitching, if I do say so myself.

    10.26 I Married a WitchI MARRIED A WITCH
    Directed by René Clair
    (1942)

    During the height of the Salem witch trials, Jennifer (Veronica Lake) and her father Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) are burned at the stake. As her final act, Jennifer curses her Puritan persecutor, Jonathan Wooley, and his descendants to always marry unhappily. When the father and daughter escape their spiritual imprisonment centuries later, Jennifer vows to torment Wallace, the latest in a long line of Wooleys, but love gets in the way. With a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this romantic comedy is an absolute classic. The Provo Library doesn't currently own a copy, unfortunately, but the Orem Library does!

     

    10.26 MatildaMATILDA
    Directed by Danny DeVito
    (1996)

    I don’t know that Matilda Wormwood is ever actually referred to as a witch, but I think her telekinesis and last name qualify as witchy. This film is delightful. A brilliant and magical young girl, deliciously wicked villains, and plenty of shenanigans – what more could you want? So why not whip up a Matilda-inspired chocolate fudge cake and discover the magic of Roald Dahl on film?

     

    10.26 Bell Book and CandleBELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE
    Directed by Richard Quine
    (1958)

    Greenwich Village witch Gillian (Kim Novak) has had a long-running feud with Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule) since college. When Gillian finds out that her handsome neighbor Shep (Jimmy Stewart) plans to marry Merle, she simply has to intervene. Her love spell has unintended consequences, however, ultimately forcing her to choose between love and magic. With hints of BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE and starring the talented duo from VERTIGO, BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE is an awful lot of fun.

     

    10.26 BewitchedBEWITCHED
    Directed by Nora Ephron
    (2005)

    I’ll be honest, in a lot of respects, this movie isn’t great. It had so much going for it – A Nora and Delia Ephron screenplay, Nora Ephron as the director, Nicole Kidman, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, the nostalgia of the original Bewitched series -  it should have been amazing, right? Unfortunately, the writing and acting fall a little flat, and the film was panned by critics. And yet I watch BEWITCHED about once a year anyway.

    On an intellectual level, I know this movie isn’t very good, but on another level I really enjoy it. The plot is okay, but the movie is just so pretty to look at! Isabel is the kind of witch I’d want to be. Her bungalow cottage is perfectly adorable, and as I watch the parts of the film that are set there, I spend most of my time analyzing the furniture (I seriously want her floral sofa), kitchen cabinets, and windows. And then there’s Isabel’s/Samantha’s/Nicole’s clothes in the film – so many adorable cardigans! It’s a librarian’s dream. Roughly 30% of my current wardrobe is inspired by this not-so-great movie.

    You think I’m kidding, right? I’m not kidding.

    10.26 Practical MagicPRACTICAL MAGIC
    Directed by Griffin Dunne
    (1998)

    BEWITCHED wasn’t the first time Nicole Kidman played a witch. Based on the book by Alice Hoffman (and now there’s a prequel!), PRACTICAL MAGIC tells the story of the Owens sisters, practical Sally (Sandra Bullock) and wild child Gillian (Kidman), whose magical family is cursed in love. This is another film with envy-inducing set design. Rumor has it that Barbra Streisand was so taken with the Victorian Owens house that she tried to buy it, only to find out that it was a temporary shell instead of a real house. This 90s romantic comedy gave me the heebie-jeebies when I first saw it as a tween. It’s just creepy enough to be a perfect Halloween movie, but it has plenty of romance, lightheartedness, and magical charm for the scaredy-cats (ahem, me) among us.

    10.26 Hocus PocusHOCUS POCUS
    Directed by Kenny Ortega
    (1993)

    I feel like I don’t even need to talk this movie up. We all love HOCUS POCUS, right? As evil as they might be, could there be three more hilarious and winning witches? If you're looking for a Halloween activity, join us on Tuesday at 7:00 for a HOCUS POCUS screening in the Shaw Programming Room, #260.