(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Ghoul Log, Return of the Ghoul Log, Ghoul Log: Trick ‘r Treat Sam O’ Lantern
Where You Can Stream It: Shudder
The Pitch: Remember the Holiday Yule Log – a filmed fireplace that crackles on your TV for the holiday season? Well, Shudder has improved on the idea with the Ghoul Log series – three different Halloween-themed experiences in which we watch a Jack O’ Lantern burn.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: It’s spooky season!
Whenever I want to recreate a Halloween vibe as background noise – usually when I’m reading on weekend mornings – I fire up one of Shudder’s Ghoul Logs. The first one – the traditional Ghoul Log, if you will – is my favorite, as it shows a Jack O’ Lantern sitting on the ground in some suburban setting. It’s a windy night, and the candle within the gourd flickers as leaves scatter around the edges. Occasionally, a spooky sound – a wolf howling, for instance – can be heard in the distance. It’s perfect. Watching it is like injecting Halloween directly into your bloodstream.
Then there’s Return of the Ghoul Log. This follow-up was created by legendary indie horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden, and while I’m a Fessenden fan, this is my least-favorite of the trilogy – though not without its charms. For this second Ghoul Log, things have moved indoors. The location is some cluttered room full of weird knick-knacks and Halloween decorations. And while the candle in the pumpkin flickers, some of the things in the room move. A skull suddenly sports shocked eyeballs; a phone rings; toys come to life. It’s charming, but it’s also a bit distracting. If you want the Ghoul Log to serve as background filler – as I do – this isn’t the way to go, as the constant interruptions will pull you away from whatever it is you’re doing.
For its third and most recent Ghoul Log, Shudder pays tribute to Michael Dougherty’s Halloween anthology film Trick ‘r Treat. The pumpkin is carved to look like a pumpkin that appears in the film, and it rests on a street we see in the movie as well. And all throughout, little Trick ‘r Treat Easter Eggs can be heard (or, in some cases, seen – in the background). This isn’t as distracting as Return of the Ghoul Log, and the Trick ‘r Treat theme is a delight. That said, there are moments – such as when someone is heard off-camera puking their guts out – that might kill the mood.
But all in all, these three titles are the perfect addition for spooky season. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can watch them all year long if you want. Halloween never ends!
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