The Best Halloween Candy of 2013

1

If you have not already bought the candy for 2013’s batch of Treaters, you’re in luck.  Today, we are going to hand out 2013’s Best of Halloween awards, with this year’s emphasis on Treats.  The Big Scare is run by some very scrupulous candy connoisseurs, and we are proud to share with you our picks for the Best Halloween Treats of 2013.

First up, our pick for…

BEST ARTWORK

Our pick for best artwork goes to Nestle’s Ultimate Scream fun-size candy pack.  This 45-piece bag of goodies is filled with Nestle’s top sellers, like Crunch and Butterfinger.  But, as with our last post, it’s really what’s on the outside that counts for this award.  Clearly, this bag was created by a Monster-lover.  It’s true that this package has been around for a while, but it still has yet to be beat, except by Nestle’s now hard-to-find companion pack, Classic Scream.  The image of the Frankenstein Monster and the “scream queen” is simply iconic.  Too bad the Dracula bag is no longer widely available, as it would have easily tied for this award.  Better than any officially licensed food-product from Universal Studios, this bag scares up first place in the art department.

nestle ULTIMATE SCREAM

BEST ASSORTMENT

Our winner for the Best Halloween Assortment award is one that will be familiar to seasonal enthusiasts.  Anyone who has been reading the Big Scare since its launch will know that we are huge on themed-treats.  The bland, boring fun-sized candy like the treats in the bag above do very little for us.  It’s Halloween, and that means we have high-expectations for the fun-level of our candy.  In terms of fun, it’s hard to beat the Hershey’s Halloween Shapes Assortment.  This package of treats is the ultimate combination of taste and terror.  Between the York Peppermint Pumpkins, the Hershey’s tombstones, and the Reese’s pumpkins, the taste quality is hard to beat… and so are the shapes!

Hershey's Halloween Candy

BEST HALLOWEEN CANDY

The award for Best Halloween Candy is not given lightly.  A lot has to be considered before the award is bestowed upon a creepy candy-maker.  That being said, this year’s winner is Palmer and its 3-pound bag of Monster Munch chocolate candy.  For decades, Palmer has been one of the staunchest supporters of themed Halloween candy.  From the old-time Witch Pops to the classic Monster Munny (Money), Palmer has been the mastermind behind many a child’s Halloween memories.  So, it seems only fitting that a giant bag of Palmer monster-shaped candy should be the winner of 2013’s Best Halloween Candy award.  In this massive package, you will find 3-pounds of chocolate treats — all appropriately themed and decorated.  First is the Monster Munny (Money), an item which has been around for decades.  Featuring the cartoon likenesses of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Witch, and a Great Pumpkin, the Monster Munny (Money) is a very special treat.  Split up into demonic denominations and made of Palmer’s fantastic double-crisp, it could only be beat if the chocolate were molded to look like the tinfoil wrappers…  Also included in the Monster Munch are two-tone Peanut Butter Pumpkins, which do come shaped like jack-o’-lanterns, yummy, soft fudge-filled Boos, and the most creative of the lot: milk-chocolate zombies (white chocolate corpses in chocolate coffins).  This set can simply not be beat.  Not only is it tasty, but it has all of the heart that Halloween candy should have.  Congratulations to Palmer and its Monster Munch!

Palmer Chocolate Monster Munch Mix

Advertisements

Underrated Classics | Dracula’s Daughter

1

It seems as if, in the world of Universal Studios Classic Horror, there is one sequel which gets all of the attention – The Bride of Frankenstein.  Granted, it deserves all of the admiration it receives – and more!  But, there are other follow-up films in the Universal canon that are wonderfully-made which also are owed a great deal of respect.  Perhaps the most under-appreciated is Dracula’s Daughter.

A direct sequel to Dracula, the movie begins just moments after the original ends.  Two bumbling policemen stumble upon the body of Renfield in the basement of Carfax Abbey, where they also meet a very much alive Professor Van Helsing (credited as “Von Helsing”).  Admitting to driving a stake through the heart of the evil Count, Van Helsing is arrested for murder and seeks the aid of a trusted friend, Jeffrey Garth.  Garth, a psychiatrist and former student of Van Helsing, must help the professor prove that Van Helsing did not murder anyone, that Dracula was indeed already dead for 500 years – a seemingly impossible task.  But, when the body goes missing and London is once again rife with bloodless corpses, proving Van Helsing’s innocence becomes a tad bit easier.

The film stars Gloria Holden in the title role.  Playing Countess Marya Zaleska, Holden definitely holds a candle to Bela Lugosi’s performance in the previous film, channeling his eerie presence in nearly every scene.  It’s hard to imagine any actress but Holden being able to utter, in such genuinely distant fashion, the famous line, “I never drink… wine.”  Like Lugosi, Holden commands the screen.  Everything about her is eerie, foreign, intriguing, seductive, and just plain creepy.  Her motivations are also the most complex of any early Horror character.  A reluctant vampire who loathes the control Dracula still exerts over her, even from the grave, Countess Zaleska seeks psychiatric “release” from the curse of the vampire, yet still embraces her father’s evil ways.

The film is very much in keeping with the style of the original, using the same sets for Dracula’s Castle, carrying over Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing, referring frequently to characters and situations in the original, and even lifting lines (and a camera shot) from the 1931 classic.  Dracula’s Daughter really is a terrific sequel.  The intended parallels between this film and the original work wonderfully.  The only thing that drags the film down is its uneven pacing and its tendency to dwell too much on the comedic relationship between Dr. Garth and his secretary.

But, for every fault in the film, there are ten positive things which work to its advantage.  In addition to the great performances by Holden and Van Sloan, the film’s music is atmospheric, moody, and chilling.  The theme, used in the opening and during the climax, is one of the best, if not the best, in the Universal Horror repertoire, rivaling the main theme of The Wolf Man as the most sweepingly tragic, dark and elaborate piece of music in the early history of Horror.

While the sequel could have taken any number of directions, and it almost took a very weird one with James Whale helming the first efforts, this film is very enjoyable for what it is.  It could have starred Bela Lugosi.  It could have had Van Helsing be the main hero.  It didn’t.  And, as such, it should be judged on its own merits – and it has plenty.  Perhaps, one day, fans of the genre will come to realize this and bolster Dracula’s Daughter to its rightful place in the Universal library – not being nearly as good as The Bride of Frankenstein, but deserving a lot more credit than some of the later Dracula and Frankenstein sequels.  Overall, the film earns a solid  4 out of 5 stars.