Jekyll And Hyde

Last week I had to go up to New York City on a business trip. It’s part of the reason why I haven’t been so involved with the site for the Halloween countdown. Sometimes work just does that. But I did happen to pay a visit to a spot where Halloween rules the roost and it rescued me from having to pull an article from my fourth point of contact. (Airborne reference) This special place is a restaurant/bar near Greenwich Village called, Jekyll and Hyde and it is everything and more when it comes to a spooky good time. You’ll fall in love.

Call it fate, call it karma…I believe there was a reason I decided to walk to my client’s office instead of cabbing it. Had I taken a cab there is no way I would have walked past a street sign with the words “Spooky Hour” chalked on it. Or would I have seen the adorable ghosts and ghouls painted on the windows. It’s as if a higher power said, Will/Bill’s blog sucks and he needs a gift”. It was a gift and if you are in the area, this gift is also yours.

There are two Jekyll and Hydes in NYC; one in Greenwich Village and another in Times Square. This is not the one in Time Square though I am told that’s the better one. Sorry folks, I plumb ran out of time. I’m only reviewing this one and can not vouch for the other although the manager says it’s a lot more elaborate.

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I know this is a really dark photo but what you are looking at is a fully functional animatronics dining room. Every decoration has a little more to it that what you think. From a werewolf’s head on the wall to painting with eyes that follow you around the room. It’s creepy but in a really cute way. I like to compare it to a satanic Chuck E Cheese. The even have arcade games. Well, an arcade game.

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As you can see, I wasted no time making friends because I knew I would be here for a while so I may as well have the locals get used to me and my nagging nags. This is Anna, an awesome bartender, actress and all around cool person. We talked for hours and I learned more about the sketchy side of New York City than a dude from a little old town in North Carolina should. But I loved it.

She and the manager gave me the full tour of the place since I was the only person there for three hours so I have quite a bit to show you. I almost felt a little guilty about eating up their quiet time but I bought them lunch proving there is nothing that can’t be accomplished with the persuasion of tacos.

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In a break from conversation this dude popped out from behind the curtains and said something eloquent but it caught me so off guard, I nearly threw my beer at him. I wish I could remember what he said but at that time I looked like a stupid tourist, caught up in something that happens three hundred times in a week.

See? This is a place that has surprises around every corner and in this case, a coffin door behind a curtain with a sophisticated corpse. I love it.

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Like they say, you only rent the beers you drink and soon I was in search for a men’s room but that too was an adventure. At the far end of the dining room there is a long hallway lined with bookcases. I walked down to the end and back again, met with the staff who giggled at my obvious discomfort and total confusion. Anna said to try harder and read the clues like the sign at the end of the hall. Makes one wonder how much puke they clean up on a busy Saturday night from a drunk patron who had no time for clues or hidden doors.

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Okay, so it’s not the best clue. I had already done that maneuver on my own. It is kinda cute though, don’t you think? Where else can you solve a puzzle while having a pee-pants incident at age 35?

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Oh we have much success! I just prayed that I hadn’t found the woman’s restroom instead. I lead a life of 50/50’s and I am 100% wrong all he time. Lucky for me, this was a fluke.

After that little adventure, I wandered back to my bar stool, well aware of the eyes following me from painted pictures and eyeballed skeletons. When I passed the manager he asked if I wanted to see one of the animatronics shows while I was in the dining room. I said no. NO WAY I WOULD MISS IT!

I took this crappy video on my iPhone so you’ll have to bear with it. I never anticipated having enough time to get a real video on this trip.

Wow, that video is pretty terrible and super huge on this WordPress blog but you get the point. It’s a room of mechanical wonders and not too far off from the Rock-A-Fire Explosion.

I sat back down, completely satisfied with my experience so far only to find out they have an upstairs.

They have an upstairs? And it’s just like this only darker and more macabre? I don’t mean to sound easy to please but if you have singing skeletons, hot bartenders, beer and bathrooms behind bookshelves, I am yours. To add to that is like telling me I won a monkey who plays the ukulele and makes perfect lasagna. It’s beyond a bonus.

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There are two stairways to the second floor; one leads to Bwana Bob’s Safari Bar and the other to Laboratory Lounge. I had to rub my eyes because now we are talking about three distinctly different bars all strange and unusual, just like me. I can’t decide which is better so I will say their personalities crossed the finish line together.

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It’s a weird thing to be in an empty bar full of skeletons and angry tiki masks with the sun shining bright while monkey sounds and native chanting bellow from the speakers. It’s surreal  for a place that had been established in the early thirties, the creep factor was high. I absolutely can’t show you everything without turning this into more of a picture blog than it already is so I will share the ones I thought painted with the broadest brush.

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It was really cool of the manager to join me after I wandered around for thirty minutes. He said that this part of the restaurant isn’t open to the public but they are working to restart it. He went to the control room (which I have plenty of photos but don’t feel comfortable sharing) to start up the animatronics show. Before I knew it skulls appeared out of the walls, mouthing to the headhunter songs as the bridge rippled up and down. They really include the patron into the show and I find that so neat because getting drunk should always be an experience.

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If you are going to drink a mai tai, you should drink one sitting next to a skeleton in an aviator’s cap, pretending you are stranded on an island full of tribes who will shrink your head and probably eat you. Another positive note, no malaria carrying mosquitos!

After I took in all of Bwana Bob’s Safari Bar, I walked to the next room that was not nearly as fun but certainly as cool, the Laboratory Lounge. I couldn’t get over what a change in atmosphere it was because there was no separation between the two rooms!  Amazing what a skylight can do.

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It’s no secret that life-size monster statues are my thing. Especially the ones that have creepy signs with stories from horror literature. This is a two-headed abomination that a mad scientist created only to have it turn and kill him. Pretty dark but this is a place for it to hangout. Don’t try to buy it a drink because your bill will always be double. (I’ll be here all week folks!)

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Here’s another couple that let’s you know you’re not at a Chili’s. We see a patient and a doctor before what looks like an attempted surgery sans the drugs. It might be just me but that doctor looks like he got his MD online. And looking closer, it appears he’s being coached by his patient. That’s kind of high for a vasectomy. I’m sure they’ll get it right after a few attempts.

I would show more photos but the Lab was getting renovated to be open for the Halloween season so besides a few more skeletons and a bat..thing, there really isn’t much to show for now. I am sure it’s pretty insane since my visit.

I made my way back down the other stairway to grab another beer and gush over what I’ve seen. I must have sounded like a person from a country full of famine who discovered a Whole Foods. They had a good laugh at my “and then I saw…and after that…did you see…” type gibberish.

Pretty soon my mouth began to get dry. You know you’re pretty high when your mouth is dry. I had to say my long goodbyes and throw cash at Anna. Parting is always such sweet sorrow but I still had a meeting with a lady on a rooftop bar back at the hotel and slurring is not something I mask well when talking about financial and techno mumbo-jumbo. Plus, I heard a rumor that the people who own the Jekyll and Hyde’s also own this little hotspot around the corner:

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That’s for next time.

I also needed real pizza.

Thanks for reading and if you have the time, means and are close to New York City, pay them a visit. It’s a neat place to have a beer. Or ten.

Another Question

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Here is a little thought provoking question while I finish up this review of an awesome and spooky bar in NYC I visited while on business.

Would it not make Friday the 13th Part VII better if Lar Larkin’s mom was digitally replaced with Karg from the movie Masters of the Universe? I think this could happen. Nay, I think this should happen.

 

Home Improvement’s Halloween Recap

Say what you will about the 1990’s show, Home Improvement, with its corny humor and tired storyline but when it comes to Halloween, few shows rival Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Every season seemed to get more elaborate with crazier gimmicks which lets the viewers know, when it comes to Halloween, the Taylors take no prisoners.

Let’s recap the second season’s Halloween episode, “The Haunting of the Taylor House”. It’s a good one. Trust me.

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I can’t say that I have seen all the episodes of Home Improvement but the many I have seen always start with the fictitious show, Binford’s “Tool Time”, where Tim destroys something while simultaneously proving a point in the battle between sexes as Al looks on in disapproval. This episode is no different. We see Al has his jack-o-lantern completed in the image of his idle and show’s competitor, Bob Vila. But Tim has a new way of carving which involves, carving the design, filling the pumpkin with natural gas, a mild spark charge and, of course, MORE POWER.

Al, knowing his boss’s previous attempts which usually led to failure, decides to go for cover before the explosion.

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But as usual, Al pays for Tim’s stupidity and winds up with a face full of pumpkin guts. I would say Al should have known better but it was only the second season. These gags went on for eight years folks.

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We find ourselves back at the Taylor’s house as Jill, Randy and the little kid no one gives a shit about prepares for Brad’s Halloween party. The whole house is decorated to perfection from skeletons to hundreds of paper pumpkins. There is even a severed monster head in the microwave. Who thinks to decorate appliances? The fuckin’ Taylors do, that’s who.

Jill is having fun creating a concoction using peeled grapes with vanilla pudding (eyeballs and puss) and chocolate pudding with gummy worms (worms in mud). I’ve never been able to indulge in such Halloween themed treats because I will most likely vomit on someone’s sofa. It’s the thought of puss, actually. I blame the porridge scene in the movie, Dead Alive.

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Before the party begins, Brad enters the scene in a wicked-gay Raggedy Andy costume. His girlfriend, Jennifer, decided on a couples costume and for some unknown reason Brad agreed to that insane idea. There are plenty of reasons to be made fun of in middle school but this is one that has complete legitimacy. Put your balls in the drawer, Brad. You won’t be needing them for the rest of the show.

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Throughout the show the gags keep coming from Tim showing off his fake meat cleaver through the head to the mysterious neighbor, Wilson, carving his own image hidden by the obnoxious fence in a pumpkin. They only had twenty-two minutes to squeeze in all they could and did quite an impressive job.  It’s how Halloween should be.

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Before the party begins the younger siblings head out to trick-r-treat but not before Tim grabs Randy’s bag out of suspicion. And rightfully so. Randy was on his way out to create havoc with shaving cream, a six-pack of eggs and a roll of toilet paper. Not too sure how much havoc a kid could create with that light of a load but thinking quick on his feet, Randy explained it was for his friend’s mother who didn’t have time to go to the store and needed shaving cream, six eggs and one roll of toilet paper.

Quickly dismissed, Tim lets them go sans tools of destruction. Oh, and forgot to point out the youngest is dressed like the Tool Man for Halloween. I am not sure if this is true but the alternative script had him catching on fire and beaten out with a series of different golf clubs.

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So remember I was telling you about how Brad agreeing to go as a couples costume? Not only did she screw him over by not coming as Raggedy Ann but the bitch showed up with another boy TO HIS OWN PARTY! And this kid is a tool too.

There are certain ways to handle this. Brad could not let them in and revoke the invite. Maybe calmly walk to the kitchen, remove a kitchen knife and make a mask out of their faces? Or just run in ridiculously large shoes outside yelling for everyone to leave him alone.

He did the latter. Remember, his balls are in the kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer for the rest of the show.

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With a little help from his dad giving him a pep talk and some terrible advice about women, Brad goes inside to find out what drove his woman into the arms of an over-acting d-bag. It turns out her reason to make him look like an asshole is because Brad picked another girl for his kickball team. Like a puppet on a string, Brad apologized, completely forgetting he is dressed as Raggedy Andy and she brought another asshole to his party.

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FINALLY! All the drama is behind us and the battle of the sexes has ceased, it’s time to go down to the haunted basement! Jill, in here carrot costume, leads the party down the steps to an amazingly decorated haunted lab full black lights, dry ice and bubbling concoctions with tubes and beakers strewn all over. As they cautiously scan the cellar, they discover…

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...FRANKEN-NANA!

So amazing and elaborate! It’s like Ernest’s P. Worell’s alter-ego, Old Lady Hackmore, has returned from the grave. As Tim stiffly walks towards the spooked kids, he hacks up a maggot and chases all the guests straight up the stairs. All except one kid. The little asshole Brad’s girlfriend brought to the party. And this kid has serious parental disrespect.

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After a rant about how stupid everything looks and how dumb Brad’s little brother is, he get’s personal with Tim Taylor and attacks his show calling it “Fool Time”. That causes Tim to break character from Franken-Nana and point him in the direction to the Binford tool chest.

Arrogantly, the kid circles the tool chest, mocking Tim every step of the way. I hope this kid gets beaten at home and sleeps in a closet because that’s the only reason to be such a little dick. But when he opens the top cabinet, it breaks away to reveal a bucket. And underneath the bucket is…

THE SEVERED HEAD OF VAMPIRE AL!!!

The cocky little prick pissed himself and ran screaming around the basement only to be met with a roaming headless body (Randy) and backed straight into…

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MUMMY NEIGHBOR WILSON!!!

This kid shit everywhere and it felt great to see a haunted basement take a bully down a few notches. It’s the kind or redemption that makes a Halloween addict smile. Go home kid so your dad can give you another cigar burn, you punk!

This was when TV adored the Halloween season. It’s a fun and simple episode that I can watch hundreds of times over and never get tired of. It’s as if the writers put Halloween first and tried to fit a story to fill between the props and costumes. I love it and Home Improvement kept Halloween special for many seasons.

I Have a Question

It has been a little bit of a hiatus since my last post here on the 2013 Halloween Countdown and I am so sorry for that. Work is one of those inescapable plagues of adulthood that sucks creativity away and replaces it with money. The great conundrum of life. But do not be troubled, I am back and full of Halloween vigor.

I’ll be right back with a very scary recap of a killer show from the late 1980’s and 90’s which had Halloween episodes few can rival. It is close to my heart and I dreamed of someone like Matt doing a recap but requests like that can be annoying so I figured it should at least be attempted by me. Hint: He has a felony record for drugs.

Hope all is going well and I will have this up soon. Until then, I need a question answered. What was the one scene in a movie or TV show that turned you into someone who loves the spooky side of life? Me, it is a tie between the original trailer to The Creepshow and the librarian in the movie Ghostbusters.

I remember the trailer more than the movie we saw in 1982. It was Empire Strikes Back but the only true memory I have is the horrific grim reaper peering through a bedroom window at the beginning and it has haunted my nights so much so that I still sleep with the blinds closed. Today it’s just out of habit.

The Ghostbuster’s librarian just made me piss the theater seat. I can’t rationalize it but for some reason in 1984, I was under the odd assumption that Ghostbusters was a movie about a motorcycle gang. I guess that’s how a six-year-old’s brain works, or at least how mine did. I never claimed to be bright as a child.

So, I have a clear memory sitting in my seat, completely terrified when books started floating and those damn New York library lions accompanied by the icon opening theme, but when the free-floating vaporous apparition transformed into a demon-monkey, trauma set in and I have never been the same since. I love demon-monkey for that.

So, what was your turning moment? We all have them so lay it on me! Comment below, on Twitter or on the Facebook page which I KNOW YOU ARE ALL FOLLOWING.

 

Mystery and My Nostalgia

I think a few people might share my memory of this PBS show, Mystery. I remember watching the McNeil/Lehrer News Hour with my Dad every night and at some point into the programing came a show which had an intro that mesmerized me. I was just a little kid but the animation was so spooky, it has never left my mind.

The show, which was a British drama, always disappointed me. I am sure it was a fine program but that animated intro hooked me into thinking the whole show was this eerie black and white cartoon. But no, it was a foggy lens British drama that lost my attention faster than a book about the women’s suffrage movement of the 1920’s. I was eight.

It’s fun to look at Edward Gorey’s art now. Not as creepy now that I am an old dude but I love the style. And when I was at work people thought I was watching porno thanks to the moaning lady. That’s a sex sound which would be a deal breaker.

Do you remember this? If so, tell me!