Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Among the Magnolias

Halloween should be a wild and crazy night in Magnolia Park. When I visited in late September, this lively section of Burbank (on Magnolia Blvd., east of Hollywood Way) was already gearing up for haunted holiday fun. Yummy Cupcakes was touting “Spooktober – 31 Days of Monstrous Cupcakes,” and the various funky vintage clothing boutiques were luring customers with racks of trick-or-treat-worthy finery. I was in Magnolia Park to visit Dark Delicacies, which calls itself the Home of Horror. (It specializes in scary books and videos; owners Del and Sue Howison are huge fans of my Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers.) At Dark Delicacies, it’s Halloween all year ‘round. The same clearly holds true for Halloween Town, a neighboring business crammed so full of elaborate monster memorabilia – like the skeleton of a two-headed baby -- that it had to  move its costume store to a separate building down the street.

It’s fitting that Magnolia Park is bordered by Hollywood Way, because there’s something very Hollywood about this stretch of the middle-brow city of Burbank. Shoppers who venture here are looking for something outlandish, like an antique lamp or a retro evening gown. Even the names of the stores – Junk for Joy, Pimp My Pooch, Hubba Hubba (which advertises “1930s thru 60s Cool Stuff for Guys n’ Dolls”) – suggest the notion of shopping as entertainment. There’s also a spray tanning spot called Blush, as well as a salon with the monicker Wax Poetic. The area offers edibles too, of course, ranging from the healthy to the gooey. Rocket Fizz bills itself as an old-fashioned soda and candy shop. The last Friday of the month has become Magnolia Park’s official Ladies' Night Out, complete with discounts, music, wine, food trucks, and henna, to suit the tastes of hip women on the go.  

Along with all the recreational shopping opportunities, Magnolia Park seems to specialize in services for those with showbiz aspirations. This isn’t a huge surprise, since Burbank is the home of  Disney, Warner Bros., and many movie and TV production companies. It’s a Wrap thrift shop offers what it calls “production wardrobe sales,” geared to those who covet Hollywood fashion sense. (Maybe you too can dress like Don Draper!) The Awards Studio advertises media make-up classes. A print shop announces its rates for script copying. Elsewhere, beneath a sign that proclaims “Studio Rental by the Hour,” there are spaces available for film shoots, casting sessions, props and wardrobe storage.

Right next door to Dark Delicacies is a business that caters totally to movie folk.  The Writers Store is the place where I first – circa 1983 -- touched a computer keyboard and heard the magic word Microsoft. For years it was located on Westwood Blvd. in West Los Angeles, but now it’s firmly ensconced in Magnolia Park. The Writers Store is the place to go when you want to buy movie-related software, browse how-to-write-a-screenplay books, take classes, or sign up for a consultation with a technology expert. Tell Mario I said Hi.

I’m not sure how the Writers Store plans to celebrate Halloween, but there’s no question that Dark Delicacies will be going all out. So will Halloween Town and 8-Ball, which sells old movie posters and vintage horror art. And next year at this time they’ll be joined by Creature Features, where you can buy a kit to build your favorite monster. If you like things that go bump in the night, it’s clear Magnolia Park is the place to be. Even if there’s not an actual magnolia tree in sight. Which makes things perhaps even spookier.