Blogtober Travels: Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Annual Harvest Festival

Berkshire Botanical Garden’s 87th annual Harvest Festival rules the October long-weekend here in the Berkshires. A massive, two-day, multi-parking lot event, it’s a shindig that dates back to BBG’s founding and includes a little something for everyone.

We went to the party on Saturday, starting off with Tom Ricardi’s program on birds of prey and moving on to snacks, a pony ride, pumpkin painting, the haunted house, and some shopping (mums and moss balls) for good measure.

The snaps:

The Anatomy of a Zombie Birthday Party

For those with children born in the spooky season (or not) – the Zombie Party is a brainy blast!

Halloween decorations and recipes can be repurposed, which is a nice money-saver. From a recent September party in the Berkshires:

Needed to produce the zombie party: a cake with the appropriate amount of stitches, and appropriately zombified children.
Zombie punch – recipes abound online, but can be as simple as lemonade and food coloring.
Zombie fingerssss
Room to run away
Kettle chips in an appropriately zesty bbq flavor
Braaaaaaiiiinnnns – a.k.a a lovely tomato, basil, and mozz salad in a brain mold.

31 Days of Horror Viewing

It’s not quite fair to call 31 days of horror viewing in October a goal for me — I don’t generally hunt for low-hanging fruit. But it’s not about the finish line so much as the race anyway, so read on for this year’s checkpoints.

First, to the Island

The Island of Dr. Moreau – I finally watched this wreck after wrapping up September with the documentary Val.

Then, I had to follow that up with Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island. This documentary is a right romp, and great Blogtoberfest viewing for those in search of some spook, but not looking for a horror-induced panic attack.

Let’s Go Grave-spitting

I Spit on Your Grave I, II, III, and Deja Vu – I initially earmarked this series to serve as my Freaky Franchise for the year, but there’s not really a lot to say about 7.5 hours of torture- and revenge-porn. I didn’t even get a certificate for all of that work, but I can share that the original movie poster didn’t feature star Camille Keaton’s can, but that of Demi Moore — a fact I could’ve figured out without mental scarring, but here we are.

Four Houses, Unlimited Funerals

Funhouse – While not a masterpiece, the digital effects – and the animated panda villain – alone make this film worth a watch.

Madhouse – Not worth as much of a watch.

There’s Someone Inside Your House – Kind of an I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe from Netflix and Chills 2021.

The House That Jack Built – A serial killer acid-trip lead by Matt Dillon.

Songs of the Sutherland

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – There’s nothing like some weird seventies terror footage to jumpstart your week. Donald Sutherland is awesome – and amazingly funny in the first half – and I forgot Jeff Goldblum existed before 1982. I also think we need to give Veronica Cartwright her due, already — this queen carries large swaths of this movie, not to mention she’s been working consistently and in some very visible roles for six decades.

Don’t Look Now – Another Donald Sutherland joint, and a really beautiful, classic horror. I think this film suffers from its terrible title; I’ve been skipping over it for years, and as such missing out on Sutherland-as-a-sex-symbol.

Throwing Darts

Stalker – sometimes, the itch to just see what’s out there hits. This Hulu scratch wasn’t half-bad; a solid thriller stocked with red herrings.

Death Trip – This flick had potential; a cool aesthetic, good actors, and a great score. But I must reiterate, this film had potential. And that’s that.

The Sitter – A 1995 junker that will be a special stand-out for Alicia Silverstone super-fans.

Old – M. Night Shymalan’s latest attempt, exploring the life’s a beach theory.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes – Found-footage mockumentary style that is served on a fairly convincing plate.

Eraserhead – In the ongoing quest to see all the horror movies, this was a big omission on my checked-off list. Now seen, I’ve joined the ranks of people who’ll never unsee it.

The Annual Rewatches

A year rarely goes by without viewing The Amityville Horror and The Craft, among other faves. Check and check, plus a full revisit of The Blair Witch Project franchise just to get my rock-piles off. Book of Shadows has its redeeming points, I swear.

I also threw in some Practical Magic to ease up on the horror, as well as the animated Addams Family.

Darkening Doors: Macabre Pittsfield Walking Tours

The October offerings in the Berkshires have gained a formidable addition with Macabre Pittsfield Walking Tours, created and lead by writer and historian (and friend of the blog) Joe Durwin.

Because I couldn’t write it better myself, here’s the Durwinian description of the experience: “Embark on a journey through a downtown Pittsfield far removed from what we know today. A place of desecrated graves and skeletons in church basements, of rumsellers shacks, opium dens, and murders most foul…”

Indeed, the tour in its October 18 form (no two tours are the same) began on the Pittsfield Common, which was once a cemetery with a serious grave-robbing problem, and crept its way through the heart of the city.

Stops along the route included the site of the former courthouse, alleys that once led to houses of ill-repute, and the spot where the old rail-station delivered some of Pittsfield’s most colorful visitors — all brought back to life through impeccably researched stories of both fact and folklore. For one, medical students were apparently ruthless in the 1800s, particularly when it came to cadavers.

An added bonus of the tour is multiple stops also showcase the Berkshire Lightscapes project, which aims to illuminate downtown buildings and spaces in downtown Pittsfield through animated LED light systems. It’s a nice touch, especially when the topic turns to UFO sightings and alien encounters.

Word on the street is some kid-friendly tours are in the works for next season… though I’m also personally hopeful that these tours will continue in the warmer months. There’s nothing quite like scaring groups of tourists by the dozen.