Wanted: Old West Enthusiasts

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Grab your saddle and trusty horse pod’ners and get ready to discover the Old West. I’m not talking about visiting a museum either. I’m talking about the fully-operational Pioneertown in Southern California.

Yes, you read correctly, Pioneertown. The place where all your Western dreams come true. If you’re a fan of the Old West films and television shows, this unincorporated community village is your slice of heaven. Nestled in the high desert in the Morongo Basin region of Southern California, Pioneertown came to fruition in 1946.

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The town’s purpose (other than being so totally cool) started in the 1940s and it was to serve as a live-in Old  West motion picture set to the Hollywood stars. Makes sense, considering Los Angeles is only a couple of hours away and the surrounding land is perfect for a western film set. The entire set was designed to look just like an 1800s western town but with live-in capabilities to accommodate the stars while they filmed. Many films were shot here during the 1940s and 1950s. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry are among the famous that were responsible for this Old West Town. Roy Rogers was one of the original investors of Pioneertown.

As you walk down the “main street,” you completely get the feel of a western town. Complete with saloon, bathhouse, undertaker business and livery, just a name a few of the buildings. You’ll be humming the Marty Robbins tune, “El Paso” as your spurs kick up the dirt underneath your feet.

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If you get the chance to visit this place, don’t feel like you’re too far off the beaten path if you need to rest your weary bones. On the property there is the Pioneertown Motel that will give you a place to rest your head. You won’t be sleeping in a tent either. This small yet charming western motel offers rooms with a bed, bathroom, kitchen sink, and microwave to travelers. However, I must heed a warning: be ready to live up to Pioneertown’s way of life. You’ve heard of no shirt, no shoes, no service. Well, be ready for no t.v., no radio, no service, as in internet service. My husband and I did have the pleasure of staying here and I must say, it was quite refreshing to unplug for a while. So if you’re okay to forgo the electronic entertainment we’re all use to, bunker down for a night’s stay in this unique place. Just make sure you bring a book or companion to keep you company. And just remember, you’ll be “sleeping” with the stars as this is where they lived and worked.

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Don’t be imagining you’ll be counting tumbleweeds blowing by as your only source of entertainment. On the property is a live music venue called Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. And if you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered with their full menu. The venue has changed hands a few times since it’s inception in 1972. But the current owners have kept the 1982 owners’ names on the bill and have brought in musicians such as Robert Plant and Vampire Weekend.

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One cool fact among many about Pioneertown is the bowling alley on  the property. I mean, the famous stars had to have activities while they worked, right? Apparently, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.

So if you’re passing through these parts, I highly recommend  you take a gander at this western wonder. Be sure to soak up the entertainment, stay for a spell and imagine you’ve been transported back into the historic American Western frontier.

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They’re coming to get you, Barbara!

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So I know it’s not October yet and that I may be jumping on the Halloween train too soon, but this time of year is my most favorite! Right when the summer and fall season collide and we start preparing for all things that frighten us. That infamous line: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” was repeated to me as a child by my oldest brother who loved to hear me scream in fright as he came towards me like a zombie.

One way I get in the Halloween mood is by watching some good ‘ole horror flicks. When I was younger my cousin and I completely rotted our brains out watching scary movies ranging from total classics like Frankenstein to the most D-rated ones such as Slumber Party Massacre. There was no scary stone left unturned when we raided the local video store renting every movie they had in their horror film stock.

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So this post is dedicated to my top ten horror films that definitely give me goosebumps. I’ll count down from ten and lead to my number one favorite of all time. Note: there are more than ten favorites I have but these make the top of the list. Here we go:

10. Sleepaway Camp – If you haven’t checked out the Sleepaway Camp movies (there are more than one), go ahead and do so. The first one is my favorite though. It’s your typical early 1980s scary movie and it’s based at – yep, you guessed it, a summer camp. The ending is twisted so it makes up for some of the cheesy parts. Go ahead and sign yourself up for this one.
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9. Scream – Okay, before you roll your eyes at me, let me explain. This movie came out my freshman year of high school and I saw it in the theater. So it has a nostalgic factor for me. It may not be the absolute scariest movie I’ve ever seen but it’s “jump factor” (what I like to describe as what gives me the jitters and makes me jump out of my seat) is still a solid 6. Plus, one of the characters gives the ultimate advice: Don’t say “I’ll be back” because you won’t!
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8. Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock was the man. He knew how to crank out the thrillers and give us all a good fright. Plus, I love a psychological thriller. I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and films when I was younger so I’d say he helped plant the seed in my scary movie heart. I saw the 1998 re-make in high school too. But I’m still a bigger fan of the 1960s version.
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7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – There are many versions that have graced the horror film genre. Really, it’s a tie between the 1992 and the original 1931 film with Bela Lugosi. So number 7 has to play nice and share the spotlight. I saw the 1992 version at a young age and it definitely solidified my love for the dark and scary.
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6. Pet Sematary – This one comes with a bonus fact: I love Stephen King books and Pet Sematary is by far one of my favorite chillers to read. I’ll always proclaim the book is way scarier than the film. Like, sleep-with-the-light-on-and-bed-sheets-up-to-your-chin, scary. But the film does a great job and still creeps me out. Still, to this day, I have nightmares about Zelda (*shivers*).
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5. Freaks – This one definitely has to be in the top five. If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and do yourself a favor and become “one of us” and watch it. In my opinion, this one has to be seen by any scary movie fan. It’s pretty much expected. This movie proves that the 1930s could be just as creepy as any modern day flick.
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4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Okay, here’s another one that has to share the number list spotlight. I saw the 1974 version first during those years my cousin and I were rotting out our brains. It was one of those that was definitely on our must-see list. Then, I saw the 2003 version in college with a roommate. We were so terrified when we came out of the theater that we ran to our car in the parking lot, hearts racing from what we just saw. And then (lucky us) we lived in a house surrounded by woods and it was at night. Needless to say we ran into the house when we got home and turned on every light possible and probably kept it that way the rest of the night. Ah, memories 🙂
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3. Alien – This film never gets old to watch to me. It’s a classic. I’ve always had a fascination with creepy things and space. And this one is the mother of all the sci-fi/horror films. Plus, Ripley is just my hero. Period.
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2. Identity – This one is very close to number one for me but didn’t quite steal my heart. But this is a great film. It may not have a scary monster like some of the rest but it certainly messes with your mind. I love a good mystery and this one has tons of twists and turns. I was quite surprised by the ending and those are my kind of movies.
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1. *Drumroll please!* Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my number one favorite…The Shining! The first time I ever saw this film I was about 13 and I’ve been a fan ever since. It’s so weird and it haunted me! Such a simple concept of a small family and a large hotel but the ultimate nail-biter flick. Jack Nicholson did a great job going, well, basically crazy. I even taped (yes, VHS taped) the 1997 mini-series but it didn’t carry the torch. And of course I read the book; which I devoured after watching the film.
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So there you have it folks, my top ten get-me-in-the-mood for the spooky season flicks. Now, excuse me while I go check out that noise I just heard in the kitchen….

Here are some other favorites that didn’t make the list but definitely give me the chills and thrills:
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? – Joan Crawford, the ultimate villain!
House of Wax – Paris Hilton or not, this movie scared me!
The Strangers – Two thumbs up to this modern day thriller. Jump factor is WAY up there.
It – Um, one word: clowns *also a great book.
Resident Evil – Jovanovich does a great job in her role and the zombies are pretty frightening.
Silent Hill – Creepy. Just creepy.
House of 1000 Corpses – A film I watched by myself. In that same house surrounded by woods. Big mistake.
Puppetmaster – This is a old favorite. And yes it’s as cheesy as the title.
Angel Heart – I didn’t realize Robert DeNiro had tapped into the horror genre until I saw this film.
Se7en – My number one favorite psychological thriller.
Poltergeist – That old man was scary!
Friday the 13th – An old favorite indeed.
Donnie Darko – Not scary but weird. And I like weird.