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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Fear: Halloween Night

The Fear was a surprisingly watchable film: The antagonist was creepy; the characters were mostly likable; and the women were all pretty hot, which is always a plus. So, hoping for a good sequel, I moved The Fear: Halloween Night to the top of my rental queue. Was Morty just as scary the second time around? Read on to find out! (As always, MAJOR SPOILERS, as I ruin the whole movie for ya!)

In terms of plot, there's a lot of deja vu here. Both films deal with facing fears, and both have a protagonist who has a traumatic event in their past that bites them in the ass during the present. Also, both movies feature a creepy wooden statue-puppet, named Morty. But there are also differences.

As I mentioned, the story begins with a flashback: The main character, as a young boy, was travelling with his mother to a costume party on Halloween Night--he as a skeleton, and she as a witch--when she spots what appears to be a car accident. She pulls over to offer assistance, and sees a man murdering a woman with an axe. He chases our unlucky witch and proceeds to kill her in front of her son. As he turns the corpse over, he realizes that he just killed his own wife.

Distraught, the killer grabs his son, Michael, out of the car and shoves him in the trunk of his own vehicle. He then uses his wife's corpse as a speed bump and flees the scene. As the car speeds away, Michael grabs a glow-stick and uses it to see his surroundings, bringing him face-to-face with our favorite Indian mannequin, Morty. Sort of.

Okay, so I'm going to pause the movie here to vent a little. We're about 5 and a half minutes into the movie, and there's already a problem. The dummy is NOT Morty...or, at least, not the SAME Morty. He's played by a different actor in this one, and the 2 look nothing alike. Now, I have no problem with another actor assuming a role played originally by another person, but why not hire someone who at least RESEMBLES the first guy? Is this supposed to be a different Morty? How many ancient Indian puppet-statues named Morty could there be in the world???

So since the characters are all different, as is the house they keep Morty in, I'm just going to assume that there ARE 2 entirely different possessed Indian puppet-thingies named Morty. As Jamie Kennedy and David Arquette said in Scream 2, let's move on....

Well, apparently my rant took awhile, because it's now "20 Years Later", according to the movie. Michael is bringing his friends up to the family's house for a fear-themed Halloween party: Everybody invited has to wear a costume that represents their greatest fear. Guests in attendance include Chris, a horny Dane Cook wanna-be; Peg, Michael's girlfriend and Chris's sister, who resembles Anne Hathaway; Lisa Ann, a girl who feels that her looks get in the way of people taking her seriously; Jennifer, the "Velma" of the group; Ned, who looks like Harry Potter; Mams, Michael's grandmother played by Pamela Voorhees herself, Betsy Palmer; Crow, an American Indian friend of the family; Gramps, who is Michael's grandfather(lucky guess, huh?); oh, and Mitch and Trish, who arrive late.

Before they arrive at the home of Michael's grandparents, there's some small talk about the origins of Halloween, and a brief discussion about a local legend in Michael's hometown, Hackett...seems that several years earlier, there was a gruesome serial killer on the loose in the town, The Highwayman. Gee, I wonder if Michael knew him?

As introductions are being made, Mams decides to make Chris wet his pants by giving him the wrong directions to the john. I hope he poops in your kitchen sink, you bat! When Michael hangs up his jacket, he has a brief flashback of his mother getting struck in the face with the axe again. Oh, and as he reunites with grumpy Gramps, Michael spots a hilarious family photo of his father wielding his axe in mid-kill. Nice!

Up in the attic, Michael meets up with his childhood friend Crow, and the new Morty. At this point, we learn the reason for the party and its' theme: Crow is performing an ancient, sacred ritual designed to cast away everyone's fears and bring them cleansed souls. Morty will absorb their fears and then be set on fire, to symbolically eradicate evil, or something. Oh, and since Michael is "leading the ceremony", he has a Morty-mask he must wear. And Morty has a flask of raven's blood around his long as he wears it, the "evil's held". Whatever. Just get started already...Why is everyone still alive?!?

Chris and Peg come up to the attic to see what's keeping Michael so busy, and he introduces them both to Crow...and Morty. Chris behaves like an ass by mocking Crow's heritage and saying "Morty" about 300 times in a row. Oh, and as the rest become distracted by the arrival of the 2 late guests, Chris steals the flask-necklace from around Morty's neck. Good thing this isn't a horror film, or that might be a bad idea...oh yeah, this IS a horror flick! Guess they're boned, huh?

So at dinner Michael finally gets the ball rolling. He tells his friends about the ancient ritual...they, as a group must form a "fear circle", and dress as the fears to symbolically cast them off, or something. Blah blah blah. When they seem into it, Grumpaw storms out of the room to angrily clean the dishes. I swear, this guy was the ORIGINAL "Grumpy Old Man". After some horsing around and my impending coma from the lack of ANYTHING going on, Grumps drops some plates at the mention of The Highwayman. He cuts his hand, causing Lisa Ann to go into what a high school Drama Club student might do to show a fear of blood. She ain't no Meryl Streep.

As the others crack jokes, Michael admonishes the group for not taking the whole thing seriously, and takes a walk outside, clutching the Morty-mask the entire time. He comes to a clearing and staggers as more memories assault him. These traumatic memories eventually cause him to pass out. While he's out playing with his inner Morty, Trish decides to have a heart-to-heart with Peg about the tension she senses between her and Michael. See, Peg doesn't know that The Highwayman was also his dad, so she thinks Michael's fear about becoming his dad is a fear of commitment. Deep, huh?

Anyway, after Trish plays amateur shrink with Peg, Peg decides to go find Michael. She does eventually, crouched next to the grave of his father with his face in his hands. She begs him to talk about things with her, and he stands up, revealing that he's wearing the wooden mask. YIKES! Startled, Peg tells him it's not funny, and he responds that it wasn't meant to be.

In the most surprising twist so far(*YAWN*), Michael tells Peg almost everything about his troubled past: How he saw his dad kill his mom; watching his father become an alcoholic; and eventually how his dad committed suicide. He also reveals to her that he's been having night terrors, hallucinations, etc. Wake me up when something scary happens.

When Peg tries to show him compassion, he reacts badly. Michael tells her that no one can empathize with him if they haven't been through that kind of trauma themselves. He attacks his father's gravestone with a stick, and Peg leaves. As he follows her, blood starts pouring out of the gravestone. As we watch, Morty starts rocking in a chair on the porch, mostly due to the wind picking up. When more blood streams out of the grave, one of Morty's arms moves. Hmmmm....

Michael walks into the house just in time to referee a fight over pumpkin-carving. As pumpkin-guts go flying, he goes upstairs to speak to Peg about what happened between them by the grave. Instead of speaking, they begin a bout of passionate lovemaking. Ned passes by the door, hears them makin' whoopie, and runs downstairs to tell the others. Geez, it's like this script was written by 12-year-olds on Ritalin or something.

A loud crash makes the group rush upstairs again. They find Chris on the floor, mouth full of blood, with Morty on top of him. Even Michael and Peg rush out, still fully dressed. Dammit. As expected, Chris jumps up to scare the group. Crow examines Morty, and discovers that his arm is damaged, leading to an insincere apology from Chris. Crow and he exchange a few insults.

As Crow carries Morty away to repair the damage Chris caused, Michael and Peg start arguing about her brother and his lack of maturity. Chris decides to get involved in the discussion. A short scuffle ensues, followed by Peg accidentally being pushed down a staircase. Chris panics and rushes to her slumped body, only to have her sit up and mock him. Psyche! She even takes a bow, reveals that the whole argument was a ruse designed to prank Chris, and everyone claps. Well, almost everyone. Reminded of his mom's death yet again, Michael decides to go to the porch and sit in the same rocking chair Morty was in about 5 minutes earlier. When Peg joins him, he reveals that the whole scenario was a little too close to what happened to his mother. Still upset, he seeks out Crow.

Crow is repairing Morty. I love how, in these scenes, not one person, Crow included, has noticed that the sack of blood is no longer around Morty's neck. Anyway, Michael goes to the stables, and apologizes to Crow for fooling around, then tries to back out of the ceremony. Crow responds by showing Michael the mask he found in the cemetery. He also tells Michael that his father was both a good man, and a bad man, as all of us are. Deep, dude.

Crow assures him that he's as ready as he can be, before revealing his own greatest fear: horses. I sure hope he doesn't get killed in the stable while repairing Morty...Grumpy Grampy shows up to threaten Crow. I guess the ol' geezer just LIKES being a grouchy douche bag.

Mike's Mams tells him to fetch Grumplestiltskin for lunch. On the way to the barn, he hears the voice of his father calling out to him. The voice tells him that something's coming for him. As Mike has a fleeting vision of Crow being attacked, he faints again.

Crow FINALLY realizes something we knew ages ago...the blood-pouch is no longer around Morty's neck. He looks for it and finds some feathers on the floor. As he examines these feathers, a bale of hay swings toward him, knocking him through a stable door. Crow tries to get to his feet, but a horse traps him, while another horse uses a hoof to kill him..

Mikey wakes up in the hay. He finds blood on his hands and washes them off, right before Mams scares him half to death. She tells him to go back to his friends. Oh, and she's holding a broken plank of wood. hmmmm...

Trish finds Ned being a voyeur and flirts with him. She hints that she could go for a nice dip in the pool, and he reveals that water happens to be his phobia. They are briefly distracted by Peg, who is hauling a bag of trash around or something. She tells them that Mike is getting ready for the ritual. We then get treated to a scene involving Jennifer and I don't know, Chris(?) maybe, walking in the forest. They see a large white wolf, causing Jen to dart the other way, toot-sweet! Chris gets nervous about being lost in the woods and tries to take off after her.

Michael, meanwhile, is setting up a place for Morty to sit in the attic. After seating the mannequin, he puts on the Morty-mask again, and checks himself out in the mirror. To his shock and horror, he sees the mask transform him into Dear Ol' Dad. He pulls off the mask and smashes the mirror, then turns around and takes a swing at Morty too. He's like the George Foreman of fighting inanimate objects. Geez, the only skill less useful than that would be watching and spoiling cheesy horror flicks once or twice a week...

So now we switch over to Lisa Ann, the girl who feels that her looks get in the way of people taking her seriously. She's walking with some British guy whose name escapes me, and she reveals that her two biggest passions in life are religion and politics. Yeesh! The British guy goes along with it, and it's getting annoying not remembering his name yet.. Sure, I could look it up or something, but do I even care at this point? Nope. Unless someone says his name, I'll just call him Hugh Jazz. Anyway, Hugh tells Lisa that she has inner beauty as well as the only kind of beauty guys really care about, outer. Oh, and she asks him about his relationship with Trish, so I guess that makes him Mitch. THANK YOU, stupid movie.

Mitch and Lisa meet up with Jennifer and Chris at the edge of the woods, just in time to hear someone shrieking. They find Ned and Peg cornered by a huge, mutant snake. Ned cuts off Snakezilla's head, and it twitches for awhile, probably a happy-dance that it gets to exit this boring-as-hell movie. Somehow, during the scene, Trish showed up and managed to climb up a tree without anyone noticing. She begs Mitch to help her down, and his "help" consists of telling her to jump. He's afraid of heights, so he makes a dorky attempt to climb up one branch, then falls so he doesn't have to keep climbing. Trish gets down (rather easily, for someone who just 2seconds ago couldn't do it), and Peg announces that they should begin putting on their costumes for the ceremony.

After the "rescue", we see Mams in the kitchen, most likely making a stew out of all the camp counselors she killed in Friday the 13th. YUM! Peg rushes into the kitchen dressed as a clown, and practically gives her a heart attack. She tells Peg that she has a costume on as well, even though it looks like any normal black outfit. When Peg guesses it's a witch dress, Mams tells her that it represents "darkness", her greatest fear. As Peg sets the table for dinner, Jennifer comes downstairs wearing a box. She admits that her greatest fear is claustrophobia. The girls share a laugh over the costumes and find Ned in the kitchen with Mams, wearing a shark costume. He tells them that the movie Jaws traumatized him as a young child, and the fear stuck with him through the years. Chris walks in dressed in a sheet covered with words and question marks. His fear? Making decisions.

Ugh. This movie's giving me a headache. Can we just skip it this week? Whattaya mean, "NO"??? Okay, fine, but one of YOU readers are paying for the asylum I wind up in after I finish watching this thing.

Next, Lisa Ann and Trish enter. I have no friggin' clue what Trish is supposed to be representing(unless her blazer is made out of snakeskin, looks like a normal jacket to me), but Lisa Ann is dressed in a slinky red dress, representing her fear of blood. Mitch comes in screaming, to make everyone jump, but is not wearing a costume. He tells the group that he isn't afraid of anything, but they point out to him that he reacted badly to climbing the tree. I guess a costume representing acrophobia would've been pretty tough to convey. Jazzed for a party, they all get seated in the dining room and wait for Michael and Gramps-zilla to appear. Oh, and Morty is seated as well, at the head of the table.

The lights suddenly go out! Aww, it's just Mikey being a melodramatic a-hole as usual. Nice way to scare your grandmother, you douche. When he turns them on again, everyone can see that he is dressed in a tuxedo. Great, his greatest fear is waiters? Nope. He gets down on one knee and proposes to Peg. Before she can say yes or no, the lights go out after a fuse blows. Mams lights a few candles before recruiting Mikey to go to the basement with her to check the fuse box. Everyone else gets up from the table, except Jennifer who is trapped by her bulky box costume. Comedy gold. These guys must've written for Henny Youngman too.

Mike and Mams make their way to the fuse box, and find Crow's corpse on the floor. While Michael is reeling from the discovery of his friend's body, Mams reveals that she found him in the barn and "took care of it", implying that she did the same on the day Michael's dad died. Wait, what was that last part? Michael tries to run away, but flashbacks and another headache make him stumble, and he passes out.

When Mike wakes up, he is back in the dining room. Peg and the others find him, and help him to get up. They begin talking and realize that Jen is gone. Uh oh. Even worse, her box is in the corner, dripping with mysterious red stains....

They open the box, revealing Jennifer, wrapped up in her own intestines. Well, at least she doesn't seem to be claustrophobic anymore! Michael does the most rational thing he can think of: he tells the group that Morty has been possessed by the ghost of his dad, and is killing people. Sounds rational to me!

From here on in, the accusations begin flying! Crow is blamed, until Mike and Mams(wasn't that a talk show in the '90's?) admit that they found his body. Then everyone speculates that Grumpy-Gramps must be the killer(he has my vote, too; wasn't Crow killed IMMEDIATELY after Gramps argued with him???), which Mams scoffs at. Michael suggests that it is Morty, who has come to life to kill them all. That leads the others to the conclusion that it's Mike himself doing the killings, seeing how weird the place makes him and all.

Mike insists that the killer IS Morty. Peg stands by him, and, after a brief discussion, the others agree to help search the house. Lisa Ann and Mitch go to their bedroom. While Mitch is trying to calm her down, Lisa Ann opens a closet and comes face-to-face with Morty. She screams like a howler monkey on acid. Then she faints.

Off by themselves, Michael and Peg find the blood-pouch that Morty was wearing before the ritual. That seals the deal for Mike: he fully believes now that Morty is the one killing everybody. He tells Peg that finding Morty will prove it, and she placates him by agreeing to continue the search.

Lisa Ann wakes up. She stares right into Morty's eyes and screams again. Mitch pops up and reassures her that Morty is quite harmless. Lisa Ann gets turned on by the adrenaline rush that all of these frights are giving her, and she seduces Mitch. Morty continues to stare at the couple as they make out. He looks bored. Hey Morty, welcome to MY world.

We switch back to Mike and Peg. Feeling insecure, Peg tests Mike's love by asking him a "relationship" know, like, if you were stranded on a desert island, who's the one person you'd want with you? Well, Mike fails the test. When he finally gets the point of the question, he answers it the "right" way. She hugs him. Geez, your boyfriend just failed to name you as the first person he'd want with him in a crisis, and you're HAPPY??? These 2 idiots deserve each other.

Anyway, she kisses the big dumb galoot, and as he resumes the search down the hall, we see a hand grab her. Mike realizes after a few steps that she vanished, and as he's calling her name, a montage of death scenes starts up: We see his mom getting killed by his dad; we see Lisa Ann drowning; Mitch falls to the floor somewhere, with blood coming out of his mouth...Mike gets overwhelmed by the onslaught of visions and falls over again.

It turns out that Peg was snatched by Chris and Ned. They try to convince her that Mike's a killer, but she won't buy it. They give up reasoning with her, and simply drag her away. Nice friends.

While Mike's eating floorboards, Lisa Ann and Mitch are bumpin' and grindin' like there's no tomorrow. As they frolic, Morty FINALLY decides to come to life. He slooooowly begins shambling toward the bed, and Lisa Ann freaks out when she sees him. Mitch turns and thinks it's Mike in a costume, and Morty gives him a good whack with his wooden arm. While Mitch is struggling to get up, Morty even pulls a "Freddy", and quips, "Going down!" as he throws Mitch out of a nearby window.

Lisa Ann screams and runs into the bathroom as Morty chases her. She locks the door, but he breaks it easily, and catches her. To quiet her down, Morty bashes her forehead into the side of the toilet, then he drowns her. Yuck.

Ned takes Mitch's pulse, but of course he's dead. They all move away from the body, but the action cuts abruptly to Mams and Trish walking into Lisa Ann and Mitch's room. They find Michael there on the floor, wearing the Morty-mask. Trish sees the others outside and tells them that Lisa Ann is dead, and Michael is with them. The trio head back inside just as Michael wakes up.

Michael sees the carnage and blames it all on Morty. He runs out of the room to find the wooden statue, and Trish follows, convinced that Michael is on a killing spree. Personally, by this point in the movie, my bet is on Mams. She DID kill all those counselors at Crystal Lake, after all!

Michael makes his way down the hallway, and a sudden noise convinces him to go up to the attic. As he heads in that direction, Peg pursues him. She calls out his name, and he passes out before he can respond.

When Mikey wakes up, his tuxedo has more blood on it, and there's a trail of blood leading to a dark corner of the attic, hidden by a curtain. He approaches the curtain, only to find Peg hanging by a noose. He gets her body down, but before he can do anything, a locked wardrobe begins shaking. Maybe he's got a lion and a witch in there!

Nope. It's the Talented Mr. Grump-Paw. Michael tries to confess to the murders, but Grumps won't let him. He claims that he saw Morty moving himself, and that the wooden statue also locked him up in the wardrobe. He tells Michael that he must go through with the ceremony. If he can overcome his fear, he can defeat Morty. They cover Peg up with a dirty sheet, then go off to begin the ritual.

In the front yard, Ned, Chris and Trish decide to try to stop Michael before he can kill anyone else. As they debate whether to try to rescue Peg first or stop Mike, Morty shows up in Peg's clown costume. Once again, Morty speaks, telling the others that they're not all right. He then proceeds to knock the trio around like rag dolls, before he tears off the clown suit.

Mike and Grumps find themselves trapped in the attic. Morty either nailed the trapdoor shut, or locked it. Either way, they're going nowhere fast. Gramps reveals to Michael that one of the reasons his dad was a killer was because he tried to face his own fear as well, but failed to conquer it. Grampy's words help Michael, and together, they decide to work at getting the trap door open.

Morty, in the meantime, is still doing Freddy-isms. Y'know, one of the great things about the first movie was the fact that Morty was a bit of a mystery: a silent, ambiguously menacing figure. The keyword in that sentence: SILENT. Here, he's like a cartoon character. Anyway, as Gramps and Michael start to bash open the trap door, Morty stops hitting Chris and vanishes. He magically teleports inside the house and bursts into the attic.

Gramps and Mike start to defend themselves, but Morty pulls a devious trick on Michael: he transforms himself into Mike's dad. As expected, Michael falls for the ruse. When Grumppaw tries to warn Mike that it's a trick, Morty tells him to stay out of it. Morty offers his hand, and Michael takes it. Grumps, afraid for Mike's soul, decides to break them apart. Using an AXE.

Too bad Morty wasn't born yesterday. He anticipates the attack and goes after the old man. During the scuffle, the 2 men bump into Michael, and he gets thrown downstairs. Gramps hurries over to the trap door to see if Mikey's okay, and Michael sees that Morty has dropped the illusion and looks like himself again. Mike tries to help his grandfather, but the trap door gets slammed in his face before he can climb up again.

Gramps and Morty struggle over the axe. Morty finally remembers that he's made of wood, and starts pounding the old man with his wooden fists and a wooden knee to the face. While Grumpy is laid out, Morty summons a pile of rats that climb onto and attack the old man. As Michael peers through a crack in the trap door, it appears that the old man has a heart attack and dies.

Frantic now, Mike rushes through the house. To his surprise, he sees what appears to be Peg with her back to him, staring out a window. She sees him and he suspects that she might really be Morty. Peg tells him that she woke up and searched through the house for him, but avoided the attic. Mikey ain't convinced. He picks up a chair and holds it out like a lion-tamer. Peg asks him to let her prove who she is, so Mike asks her the "relationship test" question she posed to him earlier. She gives him the same silly answer he gave earlier.

Mike removes the blood-pouch from around his neck, puts it around hers, and they embrace. They leave through the front door, and Morty decides to chase them. Somehow, Morty found a way to grow teeth, which are pearl-white and visible as he sneers at the couiple. Mike and Peg get into the car, where Chris is behind the wheel, and they urge him to run Morty over.

Bad plan. Morty morphs into a tree, and they crash into it. Morty becomes himself again and strolls over to the wrecked car, where everyone is knocked out. He plucks Ned out of his seat(still in his shark costume), and throws him into the swimming pool. Then he attacks Chris, and preys on his indecisiveness: Morty handcuffs him to the car's rear bumper, lights a trail of gasoline on fire, then gives him the axe. I think Morty's been moonlighting as Jigsaw! (and by the way, does this mean the Saw movies ripped off dreck like The Fear???)

Anyway, Michael wakes up while Morty is handcuffing and taunting Chris. He gets Peg out of the car and carries her away. Unfortunately, Morty sees them and decides not to watch Chris die. Mike tries to club Morty in the head, but Morty grabs his weapon and sends him flying. As Mike tries to recover, Peg attacks Morty as well, but a smack across the face with a heavy wooden hand knocks her out.

Morty morphs into Mike's dad yet again, and tries to kill Michael with a knife. But, as it turns out, he just wants Mike to become his worst fear: a killer, like dear ol' dad. He tries to force Michael to stab Peg, and his strength seems to make it inevitable. With a quick plunge of the blade--

--Michael stabs the ground next to Peg's head. But he PRETENDS he stabbed her, long enough to trick Morty. Peg wakes up, and they start running away again. In one of the funniest scenes in the movie, Michael finds Chris. He begs Mike to chop his hand off to free him, because he can't bring himself to do the deed. Mike quickly grabs the axe, Chris screams like Dakota Fanning....and Mike simply cuts the chain linking the handcuffs together. Nice, lol. They run away in slo-mo as the car explodes.

At this point, Mams and Peg show up in another car. The survivors all share a Hallmark moment, until Morty leaps between Peg and Mike. Morty tells Mike that he still has plenty of fear for Morty to exploit, which gives Mike an idea. He grabs a thick stick and lights it on fire. Turning around, he tells Morty that he knows the mannequin's greatest fear. As Peg douses Morty with kerosene from a torch, Michael throws the flaming stick, and makes good on his threat. Morty staggers around, giving new meaning to "Burning Man".

As the group watches Morty burn, they all do a symbolic forehead slap when they realize they left Ned in the pool. D'oh! They rush to the pool, only to find Ned calmly wading in the shallow end, still in his shark outfit. He is very calm...apparently, being thrown into a pool by an Indian statue is very cathartic.

As a group, they all agree to stick to a story: a maniac broke in and started attacking the party. As they all file out of the house, Michael stops and stares for some time at the picture of his father. He takes the blood-pouch necklace back, and places it on his dad's picture. As they walk out together, the photo gets a closeup, and we see the dorkiest special effect of the film, as Michael's face slowly replaces his dad's. THE END

Wow, what a wasted opportunity this was! You have a relatively low body count, a ton of red herrings(like: making Gramps look like the killer, or dressing Peg up min the clown suit again after Morty tore it up), a killer who manages to make Freddy Krueger seem "deep", and an ending with no real surprises or scares. But the biggest disappointment was Morty himself. I can understand having another actor in the suit, but why change the look of the character? Seriously, my guesses about the grandparents or Mike being the killer were better than what actually happened in this mess. 2 out of 5 trees, just for wasting my time.

What did I learn from The Fear: Halloween Night?
-If you can't swim, dress like a shark. It allows you to float and be rescued just in time.
-Ancient Indian monsters love wisecracks.
-Don't always assume that having Jason's Mom in a horror movie makes it a scary movie.

Next up: Friday the 13th Part III: The Saga of Shelley!!(okay, that's not a real subtitle, but I liked Shelley, he was a fun dude.) Have a scary weekend!