I love October. Not only is it my Birthday Month, but the temperature finally starts to drop (except, because it is 2020 in Texas, we had both snow in the panhandle and a hurricane in the gulf), and its the start of the festive season with the build-up to Halloween.
Given we are all staying at home this year, I feel like I’m especially trying to conjure the Fall feelings – marinating in Fall scents, watching spooky(ish) films and tv shows, and indulging in my favorite (keto) pumpkin treats.
One Halloween (and definitely Fall) scent I’ve tried this year is The Gables from Black Baccara Perfume Oils.
It includes notes of “antique wood, charred violets, agarwood smoke, and fireplace embers.” And interestingly enough, it is inspired by the House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne – which I may or may not have read circa 8th grade, but was tickled to catch it on film the same day (more below) I tried out Chocolate Cauldrons. I made the connection immediately.
The opening of The Gables is woody and smoky – I actually wondered for a moment if it was going to be comparable to my much loved, much much pricier, A Nocturnal Whisper (more on that later). Not quite. There is definitely some similarities in the opening – during which the smoke is really pronounced. This lasts a solid 5 minutes, before the smoke becomes subdued, giving way to a dark and smooth wood.
After 30-45 minutes, I feel like there is a separation in the notes. Perhaps it is the violet coming out, but the wood becomes something more hay-like. There’s even a hint of fresh violet that my nose thought was slightly minty. That quickly subsides, but the sweetness of the violets continues to intermingle with the woods and with the smoke of the charred fireplace embers.
Overall, this is a great scent to enjoy in the Fall and cold Winter months, but it does not last very long. After about 2 hours it was completely gone.
October Watch List
As I spent the entirety of October waiting for Fall with baited breath, after a week of humidity and 90 degrees, temps finally dipped into the 40s, with the past few days in the 50s. Do most other bloggers talk so specifically about exact temperatures? Probably not, but daring, we have earned this.
As I waited for a physical cold, I’ve sought a different sort of chill from haunting films and shows.
Below is a list of my favorites that have graced our screen this month – any of which would make a perfect addition to a Halloween watch list.
Let’s get one thing out of the way now – I watched *alot* of Unsolved Mysteries during my formative years. Robert Stack and the eerie reenactments in the earlier seasons left a lasting impression on me. So much so that it is surely the reason behind both my interest in True Crime and suspicion of anyone who rings my doorbell.
Last month, after we spent 4 months watching all 23 seasons of Silent Witness (a great crime show in its own right, and the best example of a procedural I’ve come across), we were looking for recs of what to watch next. Our next door neighbors came through with a short list, at the top of which was Unsolved Mysteries. We gobbled up Volume 1 (what the heck happened on the roof of the Belvedere Hotel?), and watched Volume 2 spread over 3 evenings starting the day it dropped on Netflix.
Second on our neighbors’ shortlist was Broadchurch. After such success with Silent Witness (and Downton Abbey before that), we opted for that next. While it had a bit of a slow start, and we weren’t sure what to expect, we were sucked in fairly quickly. More than a procedural, each of the 3 seasons focus on a separate crime, but also follow integral members of the town and their relationships throughout the series. I’m so sad it was only 3 seasons – excellent, excellent watch.
I’m hesitant to include this here, because after 2 excellent seasons, Netflix has put Mindhunter on indefinite hold. But it is most definitely still worth watching. Part history lesson, Mindhunter takes place in the late 70s and early 80s, when it seemed like a notorious serial killer was lingering around every corner (seriously, way too much Unsolved Mysteries). It follows 2 FBI agents who were more cerebral than chasing bad guys, and serializes events that led to profiling and crime-solving tactics that are commonly used today but were completely unheard of at that time.
Completely worth the watch, if only to get creeped out by how seemingly, not serial killer-ish (I hate to use the word “normal”) Edmund Kemper could be.
The Trouble With Harry
I saw this movie last year, and what absolutely struck me was the opening sequence. A comedy murder mystery (perhaps Alfred Hitchcock was the original Murderino?) set in picturesque Vermont – full blown 50s Americana featuring lemonade, white picket fences, a general store, and varying degrees of plaid and tweed surrounded by the most vivid Technicolor Fall foliage of my dreams.
Surprisingly, this is Shirley MacLaine’s first film.
Blithe Spirit was adapted from a play, and while the film was considered blasphemy by the original writer, I couldn’t help but be entranced by the film. Dame Margaret Rutherford plays a bumbling psychic medium who conjures up the spirit of a happily married novelist’s dead wife. With seances, green-tinged spirits dressed in matching ethereal dresses, and floating objects, Blithe Spirit sets the mood in October perfectly.
The Lady Vanishes
Early Hitchcock and debut of Charters and Caldicott (who could have seen that sensation coming?). Not quite a comedy, but still permeating with dark humor, The Lady Vanishes follows a cast of characters on a train ride through continental Europe, when one of them suddenly vanishes. There’s a question as to whether or not a crime has been committed – did the lady who vanished even exist at all?
Margaret Rutherford and Michael Redgrave are completely radiant as the leads – both physically and in spirit.
The Dead of Night
Dead of Night is a 1945 British film that is an Anthology of 5 supernatural tales (as told by 4 different directors), framed by the summoning of several parties who play starring roles in one man’s recurring nightmare.
It took some time for me to get sucked in, but once I was, I immediately restarted the movie to rewatch from the beginning with my husband. Familiar appearances by Michael Redgrave (incredible performance here too) and cricket-obsessed Charters and Caldicott but now as golf-obsessed Parratt and Potter. With one tale based an actual case, Dead of Night is truly capable of inducing actual nightmares.
The Uninvited has been sitting on my DVR since August of 2019 when I recorded it on day 2 of TCM’s Summer under the Stars. I only just watched it this past weekend for the first time after The Dead of Night, and couldn’t believe I had waited so long.
The Uninvited tells the tale of a brother and sister who buy a seaside mansion for a song (do I watch too many old movies?) because…its haunted! They purchase the house from an older gentleman, whose daughter died (presumably in the house). Gail Russell, whom I’d never heard of before and is just gorgeous, plays the daughter of the dead woman. Fairly quickly, romance starts to bloom between her and the brother.
More seances, misty spirits, mimosa fragrance, and a house that can only be lit by candles at night. The atmosphere is set perfectly for a chilling tale.
Twice Told Tales
Twice Told Tales stars Vincent price in all of his late 1960s glory. This is another anthology film, telling 3 tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, Rappaccini’s Daughter, and an abridged version of The House of the Seven Gables.
For me, this is one of the less creepy options – the tales are bizarre, and interpreted in vivid color. Rappaccini’s Daughter, in particular, is akin to some sort of acid trip. Still a fun watch, particularly if you’re interested in the inspiration of the Black Baccara perfume oil.
No October / Halloween watch list is complete without including Hocus Pocus. Nearly 30 years after it came out, the Sanderson Sisters are still witty and entertaining. With plenty of innuendo and subtle asides, this meme-worthy movie is not your ordinary cheeseball dose of nostalgia. It continues to age well, and I’ve already watched it 3 times this month (potentially a record).
Do yourself a favor, skip the commercial filled freeform version and pick up the 25th anniversary Blu-ray. There’s a full version of the movie with archival footage, interviews, extended scenes, and “pop up video” type trivia.
And of course, you need something to munch on while watching spooky flicks!