My Favorite RiffTrax Movies for Halloween

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of RiffTrax, the team (including some former members of Mystery Science Theater 3000) who turn bad movies good by making fun of them. I watch RiffTrax movies just about weekly. But today I want to tell you about my favorite Halloween-themed RiffTrax movies!

In no particular order, they are:

Tourist Trap. I find this one genuinely scary, and with a few actual actors, including Chuck Connors! Having said that, it definitely deserves some teasing, and RiffTrax has that covered.

Troll 2. It’s not a sequel to “Troll,” the creatures in the movie aren’t trolls (they’re goblins), and nobody in this thing is an actor. I came to appreciate this stinker after seeing Best Worst Movie, an excellent documentary about Troll 2’s cult following. Though the writing is bad and the acting is bad, Troll 2 is never boring.

Plan 9 From Outer Space. This is possibly my favorite riffed movie of all. Plan 9 is so entertainingly, over-the-top bad on its own that it’s fun to watch, but the RiffTrax crew adds another dimension. I watch this one several times a year. It’s also the first “RiffTrax Live” presentation, where the gang riffs films live in front of an audience and transmits it at the same time to theaters all over the US.

Night of the Living Dead. OK, I’ll admit it. As much of a fan as I am of the classic Night of the Living Dead, I prefer the RiffTrax Live version. I never feel that the Riffers are mean-spirited, so it doesn’t offend me when they riff actual good films like this one.

House on Haunted Hill. I love the RiffTrax Live presentation of this, the Vincent Price version of House on Haunted Hill. This, for me, is one of the things movie riffing is best at—taking a movie that on its own is charming but a little slow, and adding some more interest to it. Some of the effects in this film are amusingly bad, but Vincent Price is perfect as always.

Manos: the Hands of Fate. This was riffed before on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and then on RiffTrax, but my favorite is the RiffTrax Live presentation. I would fall asleep trying to watch this film on its own, but in the hands of RiffTrax, it’s wonderful. (Dance, Torgo, dance!)

Birdemic. This one is special in the same way Plan 9 is; it’s enjoyably horrible on its own, but the RiffTrax Live riffing takes it to a new level of fun. Bad (or should we say “non”) actors, bad story, and visual effects that will make your eyes bleed add up to a lot of laughs.

I’d love to hear YOUR favorite Halloween films, too—RiffTrax or otherwise!

My Halloween Music Playlist

Halloween is near! I know these words will sound terribly dated in a year or two, if they don’t already, but I like to burn1 a playlist of my favorite Halloween music onto a CD2 so I can listen to then when I’m driving3.

(Translation key:
1: record onto physical media
2: a piece of plastic used to store digital music in the physical world
3: people in my time didn’t have self-driving cars)

I’m due to put together a new playlist, but here’s the one I’ve been listening to for the last few years.

  1. Monster – Fred Schneider. This monster is in his pants!
  2. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo. My favorite Halloween-related song.
  3. Fright Night – J. Geils Band. From the original movie. Very 80s.
  4. This Is Halloween – Danny Elfman. From The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  5. The Blue Wrath – I Monster. Used at the beginning of Shaun of the Dead.
  6. Partytime (Zombie Version) – 45 Grave. From Return of the Living Dead.
  7. Halloween (She Get So Mean) – Rob Zombie, from his Halloween Hootenanny album.
  8. Zombi – Zombie Nation. Also from Shaun Of The Dead.
  9. Addams Family Jazzy Theme – Czech Quartet. A jazzy cover.
  10. Gravewalk – Satan’s Pilgrims. Also from Halloween Hootenanny.
  11. The Time Warp – Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell & Cast. From The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  12. The Munsters – The Ventures. Another unusual cover.
  13. Ribcage Mambo – Frenchy. Also from Halloween Hootenanny.
  14. Puttin’ On The Ritz – John Morris, Gene Wilder, Danny Boyle. From Young Frankenstein.
  15. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
  16. The Gonk (Remix) – Kid Koala / The Noveltones. From Shaun of the Dead (and, before that, Dawn of the Dead).
  17. Devil Woman – Cliff Richard. (I really need to complete the trilogy by adding Evil Woman and Witchy Woman.)
  18. Back From The Dead – Spinal Tap.
  19. Moonlight Feels Right – Starbuck. (Admittedly a weak connection to Halloween, but I love the song so there.)
  20. Theme From ‘Young Frankenstein’ – Rhythm Heritage. From Young Frankenstein.
  21. The Raven – Read by Christopher Walken, from Closed on Account of Rabies.

I’d love it if you shared some of YOUR favorite Halloween songs with me here! What do you like to listen to when it’s the haunting season?

2016 Ghostbusters Costumes

My son dragged me to a local party store recently (to look for masks–which he wears year-round), and I got to browse the Halloween stuff. I was happy to see some new Ghostbusters costumes:

Best of all: no “sexy Ghostbuster” costumes! Not that I have a problem with sexy costumes, but it’s refreshing to see a focus instead on “brainy Ghostbusters.”

Having said that, you could easily repurpose this one as a “sexy Ghostbuster” costume:

The Springfield Ghostbusters

My son’s rendition of Homer and Bart as Ghostbusters

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent the week watching Simpsons Halloween episodes with the Ghostbusters Roleplaying Game within reach. Obviously you’d want to put those together, so guess what? I’ve saved you the trouble!

Your Own Simpsons Halloween Special

Let’s use the Ghostbusters rules to bring a Simpsons Halloween episode to the gaming table. The first thing we need is some Simpsons.


Brains 1 Weasel Out of Things
Muscles 2 Eat Anything
Moves 2 Bowl
Cool 2 Borrow From Flanders

Goal: Eat, Sleep, and Cuddle With Marge

NOTE: If Homer is a player character, you might want to give him 5 more points in Traits, enough to give him the standard total of 12. The other Simpsons already have 12 Traits points. (Yep, even Maggie.)


Brains 3 Springfield Facts
Muscles 3 Carry Things
Moves 3 Clean
Cool 3 Raise Children

Goal: Keep Family Safe


Brains 2 Make Mischief
Muscles 2 Fire Slingshot
Moves 3 Ride Skateboard
Cool 5 Fast Talk

Goal: Have Fun


Brains 5 Library Science
Muscles 2 Run
Moves 3 Play Saxophone
Cool 2 Debate

Goal: Save the World


Brains 4 Escape
Muscles 2 Climb
Moves 2 Pacifier
Cool 4 Attract Attention

Goal: Defeat Her Enemies

Ghostbusters in Springfield?

Sure, why not? Here are a few ways we could bring professional paranormal investigation and elimination to the entertainment capital of this state.

Option 1: The PCs could be the players’ own Ghostbusters, visiting Springfield to take care of some spectral business.

Option 2: The players take the roles of the Simpsons family, who have (in the manner of a Simpsons Halloween special) somehow gotten into the Ghostbusting business. Professor Frink could believably invent ghostbusting equipment (such as his patented De-ghostifier), which the Simpsons could then acquire (along with a power source from Homer’s workplace).

Option 3: Who needs grownups? Bart and Lisa and their friends can get the job done, operating out of their Treehouse of Terror. They’ll need equipment, of course, but Frink could provide it (as above) or Lisa could develop it herself.

What Do Springfield Ghostbusters Do?

Here are a few story seeds for Ghostbusters operating in Simpsons territory.

  • Haunted Milhouse. Bart’s friend Milhouse has died, and his ghost is inhabiting his house. The PCs can trap the poor dead kid, but he reappears in his room the next night—Milhouse is a repeater! If the team wants him to stay gone (so they can get paid), they’ll need to satisfy his Goal: he wants his parents to remarry!
  • Krusty Kult. Springfield sees a spike in its clown population, as numerous clowns arrive to worship Krusty. The object of the clowns’ reverence has been broadcasting a mind-control signal as part of his show, and now he controls a clown army which he intends to use for some nefarious purpose. Will the Ghostbusters make a deal with the devil when they learn that the incarcerated Sideshow Bob knows a way to break Krusty’s kontrol over his kreepy kult?
  • Comic Book Die. Comic book characters are coming to life and causing chaos at the Android’s Dungeon! Luckily, all the animated comic characters are still comic book sized. Less luckily, even the “good guys” in the comics are behaving badly, thanks to a comics crossover event in which Radioactive Man and friends have been replaced by twisted mirror versions (bizarre, eh?). Can the Ghostbusters stop their heroes from wrecking the comic store without doing it themselves with their proton packs? (Pardon me…De-ghostifiers. Glavin!)