film, not a book

Not a Book: Addams Family movies

I’m finishing the Halloween-y themed posts with two of my favourite films of the early 90s that also happen to be very weird and the perfect films to watch at this time of year – whether you’re an adult or a kid.

So the films in question are the early 1990s live action Addams family movies, which I think are pretty much the perfect kids scary movies where there is something for the adults too. My favourite is Addams Family Values, for reasons which I will come to but they are both pretty blooming brilliant. I had watched some of the black and white TV series (although I think I had seen more of the Munsters than the Addams) but never read any of the actual cartoon strips so the characters existed to me already – but these movies are the way I see them in my head. Angélica Huston and Raul Julia are Morticia and Gomez to me and their relationship is a perfect alchemy of creepy and nuts about each other.

The plot of the first film sees the reappearance of Gomez’s long lost brother Fester – or is he? He’s in train with two con artists who have designs on the Addams’ house and wealth. I nearly said that the plot is quite thin, and that it does a lot of establishing of the characters, but there is actually quite a lot of plot it just doesn’t always seem to hang together very well, but it does keep you guessing about whether “Fester” is or isn’t the long lost brother.

Now to the sequel, and first the plot: Morticia has had a new baby and brings in a nanny to help. Uncle Fester falls in love with the nanny, but is she all she seems? Each strand of this is great – Fester and Debbie, Debbie and the kids, the kids at summer camp. I prefer the sequel partly because it has a better plot and I think it has better one liners, but also because I think the holiday camp section is just brilliant – it does everything you could want if you have ever read a book about an American summer camp (or watched the Hayley Mills Parent Trap). I defy anyone to come away from this without having laughed at something.

These are on tv fairly regularly – and I think they will be in the next few days, but you can rent them from some of the steaming services too. You won’t regret it. And here’s some summer camp to show you what I mean!

books I want

Recommend Me: Halloween books

Thank you for all your Italian-set recommendations – I’ve got a list going and I’m planning a buying spree. But before I do, I’m in the mood for some Halloween-y reads – so hit me up with stuff you think I’d like – not horror, because I really don’t do horror, but stuff with vampires or ghosts or similar that you think might fit my reading tastes!

Thank you!

book round-ups

Halloween recommendations 2018

It’s nearly Halloween and since I’m in the US where it is such a massive thing that it’s blowing my mind, I thought a round up of some spooky/halloween-themed reading might be in order.  I was aiming for it to be recent Halloween-y reading – but you know how these things go – you get a stack of likely books together, you read them – and then you don’t like some of them enough to recommend them.  And I’m always honest.  Which is why I’m telling you up front that there’s no horror here – because I’m too scared to read horror.  My brain is good enough at coming up with things to scare me without ready scary books.  Thrillers are about as much as I can deal with.  And some times I can’t even deal with that.  So expect my usual mix of mystery, romance and fantasy with a dash of classic thriller thrown in.

As I am away from my bookshelves, here’s a picture of a Halloween display in Texas last weekend.

The One with the sweet tooth

I read The Candy Corn Murder right after it came out three years ago and it sees a local reporter covering a Halloween Festival.  But when her husband becomes the prime suspect in a murder, she steps in to investigate.  This is the 22nd(!) in Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone series – and there are other Halloween-themed installments among the other 24 (!!) books in the series if you like Lucy’s world and want to spend more time there.  I’ve read one, maybe two others and have my eye on a couple from the library to see how there series has evolved.

The one that’s a creepy classic

I’m slowly working my way through Daphne DuMaurier’s works – and there are several of hers that would be good for giving you chills on a dark night.  The obvious one is Rebecca, but Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel are also properly atmospheric and creepy.  Those two also have recent tv or film versions should you want to be a person who likes to watch the movie of the book and complain compare. I also have a massive softspot (if you can call it that for something so creepy) for the Charles Dance and Emily Fox TV version of Rebecca from the late 1990s.

The One with a creepy doll

Barbara Early’s new book, Death of a Russian Doll is mostly about the murder of the local police chief’s wife, but it’s also got a matroshyka doll that’s moving on its own to up the creep factor.  Your amateur sleuth is Liz, the owner of the vintage toy shop next door to the murder scene and the sort-of ex-girlfriend of the police chief (he didn’t tell her about his estranged wife) who’s retired cop father is called in to investigate the crime.  This came out this month and is the third book in the series, but it’s the first of them that I’ve read and I liked it enough that I’ll be keeping an eye out for more by this author.

The One with the Embarassing First Date

This is slightly tangentially Halloween-y because Carter and Evie, the hero and heroine of Christina Lauren’s Dating You, Hating You meet at a Halloween party being held by mutal friends.  From that awkward beginning, a promising relationship starts until their companies merge and the two of them find themselves in competiton for the same job.  I really liked Evie, but I had a few issues with Carter and I felt their prank war was just a little bit unprofessional.  However the dialogue is sparky and the chemistry is there so I’m still mentioning it here because I know that I can be a bit of a curmudgeon sometimes and I know a lot of people who really loved it and didn’t have the same issues!

The One with that’s spoofing a Vampire Craze

I couldn’t help but include this.  Lauren Willig’s the Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla sees Sally Fitzhugh investigating whether the Duke of Belliston is an actual vampire after a rumour takes hold in London in 1806.  He’s not of course, but he doesn’t mind the reputation that he’s got, that is until a woman is found with the blood drained from her throat and it looks like he’s going to get the blame.  This is the eleventh in the Pink Carnation series, which I would say to read in order to get the full force of the present-day story line (which runs through the whole series) but the nineteen century one is really the star here, so I think you could make an exception for Halloween.  And it’s got a stoat.  What more could you want?

The One with the Actual Vampires

If you haven’t read Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires series (aka True Blood), Halloween might be a good chance to start.  And now the series has been finished for a while if you like them you can glom your way through all thirteen of Sookie Stackhouse’s adventures.  Just remember not to get too invested in any one outcome for Sookie in particular – because there was a lot of upset when the last book came out about which of her beaux she ended up with. I won’t give anything away, but I think the clues were sort of there about what was going to happen – or at least I didn’t think the ending ruined the whole series for me (which a lot of people did!).  And if you like that world, there’s plenty of other Charlaine Harris novels, most of which are set in (what turns out to be) the same world of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures.

The One with the Haunted House.

You all know how much I love Meg Langslow because I keep writing about her, but Lord of the Wings, the 19th book in Donna Andrews’ long running series, is a Halloween one and I really liked it.  There’s a massive Halloween festival going on in Caerphilly when first the Haunted House burns down and then a body is discovered in the wreckage.  The usual Langslowian mayhem ensues – including Meg’s Grandad running a special exhibit at his Zoo – and then there’s the Goblin Patrol.  Probably best appreciated if you’ve read some of the others in the series, but this is still worth a look.

If you’ve got any Halloween recommendations for me – and remember that I don’t do horror because I’m a scaredy cat – then put them in the comments!

Happy Reading