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December 06th, 2021

cassandra peterson book spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

With the last couples week being the thick of the Halloween season, I was looking for some spookier reads to take in, and one of the books I ultimately ended up picking up was by Cassandra Peterson. 

For those who are unaware, Peterson is most famous for her TV persona Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. While I’m too young to have watched her show growing up, I’ve certainly heard of the character and when I saw Peterson’s new memoir “Yours Cruelly, Elvira” in the library, I figured “There HAVE to be some good stories in here!” And I was proven completely right. 

Peterson tells her story in more chronological order, beginning with being born in Manhattan (KANSAS, not New York, as I was surprised to discover) and growing up in Colorado and then sharing how she became a dancer in Las Vegas while searching for other acting chances to ultimately booking her most famous role as Elvira. Also included is her time working with The Groundlings, her meeting several famous musicians (including Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Page, among others). There is a lot that happens in the pages between all of those milestones, and all of it is definitely worth reading about from the mistress of horror.

One of the aspects of this book I particularly liked was Peterson’s writing style. It’s very loose and without any pretension or anything like that. While reading it, I almost felt like she was legitimately telling just a story to a friend or group of fans as opposed to a memoir, which is typically more serious. Peterson holds nothing back while describing her experiences in life and provides plenty of detail and humor with several of the anecdotes, and there are also some more serious stories she talks about that are somewhat heartbreaking to read. Some of the stories she shares from her days as a groupie following rock bands were enough to make my jaw drop because of how young she was. Some of the stories she tells of some of her early auditions, while unsurprising given how predatory the entertainment business can still be, were also quite eye-opening. Some of my favorite stories throughout the book are when she describes meeting upcoming talent who ultimately turned out to have pretty good careers (her stories about re-meeting first-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank at the gym one morning and meeting an up-and-coming Brad Pitt at an audition for a film project were particularly amusing to read). 

halloween kills spotlight pageJamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer in a scene from the “Halloween” franchise’s latest film, “Halloween Kills,” directed by David Gordon Green. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

With Halloween just around the bend, I’ve been watching some spookier fare to get myself into the appropriate mood, and one of those movies, which I experienced this past weekend, was “Halloween Kills.”

The movie picks up right after the end of the 2018 “Halloween” reboot and follows the latest fight against Haddonfield serial killer Michael Myers, introduced in John Carpenter’s 1978 original film "Halloween." 

I came into the movie somewhat blind, because while I have never seen any of the other “Halloween” films, I know the general outline of the overall story to put everything mostly together. While that ultimately ended up being a good thing in some ways (I didn’t have any biases toward the characters one way or another and I didn’t really have any pre-expectations), I also couldn’t help somewhat sarcastically wondering if I’ve really missed a lot by not watching the previous movies. 

muppets haunted mansion spotlight pageThe Great Gonzo and Pepe the king prawn meet the caretaker (Darren Criss) of the Haunted Mansion in a scene from “Muppets Haunted Mansion.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Halloween season is upon everyone, and for a lot of families, Halloween traditions include the viewing of Halloween-themed specials and movies together. 

With that in mind, I thought it would be good to put together a list of some good Halloween specials for the family to enjoy as Halloween inches closer and closer.

 

“Muppets Haunted Mansion”

This is one of the newer entries on the list, having just been released earlier this month exclusively on the Disney+ streaming site, and follows The Great Gonzo and Pepe the king prawn as they take on an old challenge to spend an evening in a haunted mansion. They encounter a lot of spooks throughout the hourlong special (including a slight existential crisis on Gonzo’s end) in order to complete the challenge. All the favorite Muppet characters are involved in the special, and the humans involved (including Darren Criss, Will Arnett and Taraji P. Henson) seem to be having a lot of fun. Overall, it’s a spooky yet fun watch that should keep the family entertained.

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