“cry little sister” – gerard mcmann (1987)

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Halloween has increasingly become by favorite holiday over the years.  And the older I get, the more I get into it.  With each new year, I spend more time planning my costume.  I strive to put together something that is iconic and recognizable, while also minimizing the likelihood I’ll see others with the same costume.

This year, I partnered with a friend to recreate the two iconic leads from 1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? With me as Bette Davis’ “Baby” Jane Hudson and my friend as her sister Blanche, we donned our makeup, wigs, and dresses for Halloween mischief in Chicago.

Our costumes were a complete hit.  We spent the Friday night at Metro in Chicago for Nocturna, an annual goth Halloween ball, and spent Saturday in Boystown.  A lot of people complimented the accuracy of the look and we played to the roles imitating the duo’s tense relationship.  Davis’s and Crawford’s hatred for each other was the stuff of Hollywood legend.  The making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? was adapted to a television series earlier this year.  My friend and I watched Feud: Bette and Joan when it premiered early 2017.  We knew that’s what we should do for Halloween.  The show was a complete hit and aired early enough to not exactly be in the forefront of anyone’s mind to imitate.  This was perfect for us and we delivered.

Though we didn’t win any costume contests, the comments and feedback make me feel validated for the costume choice.  Plus, we looked like the real deal.  Even the FX Networks twitter tweeted pictures of us.  Lavish costumes and attention are the stuff Halloween dreams are made of.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a great thriller, but isn’t a Halloween film.  In addition to planning great costumes, I also make time to watch as many horror and Halloween classics that I can.  I watched Hocus Pocus for the first time since the 90s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an annual favorite, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first viewing of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for its lavish and complex set designs.

I also revisited The Lost Boys as well.  I don’t remember the last time I watched the film, but this year marks 30 years since its release.  Directed by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is a horror comedy about two brothers (played by Corey Haim and Jason Patric) who move with their mother from Arizona to the small beach town of Santa Carla, California.  Santa Carla is home to a vibrant wharf complete with a Ferris wheel and roller coaster, but there isn’t a lot happening otherwise as the town’s youth cause trouble and engage in illegal activities to pass the time.  When Jason Patric’s character meets a young woman played by Jami Gertz, Patric starts falling into a bad crowd led by a sinister teen played by Kiefer Sutherland.  It turns out Sutherland’s gang are actually vampires and Patric unknowingly underwent their initiation process, so he sets out to escape and teams up with two eccentric vampire hunting teens (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to kill the head vampire and lift the cure hanging over Patric before its too late.

As mentioned, I don’t remember the last time I saw this film.  In act, I largely forgot about most of it.  While rewatching, I vaguely remembered having seen some of the more shocking scenes before as fragmented childhood memories were slowly coming together to try to complete the portrait.  Despite that, I enjoyed revisiting the film.  I think, for the most part, a lot of it stands up 30 years later.

I was recently reminder of the film while listening to the Halloween radio station on Apple Music.  During the entire month of Halloween, I listen to seasonal music endlessly.  While at work, getting ready during the morning, or completing chores, I’ve got Halloween music playing almost around the clock.  I love the song.  I love the novelty songs. I love the “Monster Mash” rip-offs. I love all the popular music choices that somewhat pass for a Halloween-themed playlist like Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” Kanye West’s “Monster,” Rob Zombie’s “Dragula,” and Nine Inch Nail’s “Came Back Haunted.”  It is all good to me because it is all in the spirit of Halloween from the most absurd Dr. Demento classics to the stray Marilyn Manson song following Ray Parker Jr.’s ghostbusting classic.

This is my third Halloween entry since starting this blog.  In my first year, I explored the world of amazing “Monster Mash” rip-offs and discussed Don Hinson’s version of “Monster Swim.”  Last year, I praised “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” for using Halloween to lampoon Christmas charity songs.  This year, I wanted to focus on a different type of Halloween music: movie songs.

Considering I dressed as an iconic film character and spent some time relaxing with Halloween classics, it is only fitting I highlight a movie song.  Constantly present in any Halloween playlist I find are tracks from The Nightmare Before Christmas which I don’t care for and always skip if possible.   Between that and Rocky Horror, it didn’t seem like I had much choice in great Halloween movie songs.

However, one morning last week, I was getting ready for work and this song came on.  It was brooding, anthemic, and rich with 80s production value.  I didn’t recognize it.  The song was the theme to The Lost Boys.  Gerard McMann’s “Cry Little Sister” is the musical center of the film.  So much so that it’s presence suggests that it’s a character in of itself.  The song is, according to McMann, about “longing for family from a rejected youth’s perspective” which perfectly summarizes the central narrative and themes of The Lost Boys.

In fact, it was hearing that song that motivated me to revisit The Lost Boys when I was compiling movies to watch during the Halloween season.  I’ve been listening to “Cry Little Sister” a lot since that film.  It’s a great song for its lamenting vocals and haunting instrumentation including a sinister organ.  Even the children’s choir doing the backing vocals adds an extra sinister appeal.

Halloween is amazing and I anticipate my love for it will continue to grow.  I love dressing up for it and making a big deal.  And to see everyone else’s costumes are a treat as well.  The creativity that people put into such rich and complex outfits is really cool.  And if costumes aren’t your thing, then stay at home and watch a movie.  There’s so much to enjoy about this holiday.

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