It was 1966 and Frank Thrower, the head of WPIX, had a problem. He wanted to give the hardworking men and women at his TV station some much-deserved time off for the holidays. The only issue was, if he sent everyone home, there would be no one to run the station. Then inspiration hit.
Instead of showing their regularly scheduled programming, WPIX would give their audience a four-hour televised “Christmas card.” The contents of the card could have taken many shapes, but Thrower knew exactly what would warm the hearts of his fellow New Yorkers–a Yule log.
The broadcast was a huge success, running for a consecutive 23 years before its cancellation, only to be revived in 1997 and 2001.
But enough about Christmas. We’re here to talk about Halloween.
In 2018, Shudder debuted the Ghoul Log, an unbroken feed of a candle-lit jack-o’-lantern amid muted fall leaves and accompanied by the gorgeous soundscape of an eerie fall night.
Shudder’s answer to the Yule Log tradition was an immediate hit. Fans everywhere invited the little log into their homes as the finishing touch to their home’s Halloween transformation.
Now, Halloween is here again, and Shudder has upped the ante with Return of the Ghoul Log. This year’s offering takes the log inside a cobwebbed room filled with creepy curiosities and a surprise or two.
When I was little, I was fairly obsessed with the book I Spy: Spooky Night, the darker installment in Scholastic’s popular series of picture riddle books. I would sit and look at the rich worlds created by photographer Walter Wick, scrutinizing every plastic skeleton, miniature tree, and mysterious shadow. They were a visual delight to my eight-year-old eyes, packed with spooky story potential.
I get much the same feeling when I turn on Return of the Ghoul Log. Every corner of the frame is filled with the kind of Halloween magic that made me fall in love with the holiday long ago.
But I’m not the only one who fell in love with the log. Much like Frank Thrower’s televised fireside, the Ghoul Log has given the horror-loving community a way to keep Halloween with them no matter the time or the place.
Since the Ghoul Log and its return had such an impact on me, I asked Twitter users to share their feelings on this welcome new Halloween tradition. Here’s what the community had to say.
The whole play on "yule log" is totally apt in that for some of us, this time of year stirs the seasonal nostalgia and excitement a lot of folks get from Christmas. Fall leaves instead of snow, black & orange instead of red & green, John Carpenter synths instead of jingle bells.— Matthew Cole (@mattchucole) September 30, 2019
Much like Christmas, Halloween is a holiday built upon atmosphere. The Ghoul Log sets a tone, a wonderful feeling of dry leaves that crunch underfoot, of too much candy and bellyaches, of crisp winds that chill to the bone. Halloween is a feeling as much as it is anything else.— Jonathan Barcannibal ☠️☠️☠️ (@JonathanBarkan) September 30, 2019
It perfectly captures the spirit of spooky season, mich like Sam from Trick ‘r Treat. It is great to have on to add to your Halloween decor while playing some horror film scores on vinyl. The Ghoul Log fills my little black heart with Samhain.— 🎃🤖Chopping Moll-y🤖🎃 (@BloggingBanshee) September 29, 2019
I know it's a bit crazy, but it's strangely meditative. It's a lull in-between the gore and the screaming. It makes for some great background white noise.— The Halloween Nasty Project (@Videonastys) October 2, 2019
I LOVE the Ghoul Log, it puts you in the right mood for the season. The film stock, classic look of the Jack-o'-lantern, sound effects of the wind, leaves, and howling. It makes me feel all cozy on in the background. It comforts me.— Alice 'Your Horror Tran' Collins (@VampAly) September 30, 2019
Absolutely. Amidst all the insanity and excitement of the Halloween season, the Ghoul Log is like a save point in a video game: stop here, rest, converse. It draws us back to a simpler time, a time before games and candy have way to gore and booze. (1/2)— The Haunted Goblin 🎃 (@HauntedDriveIn) September 29, 2019
It stirs the memories of running down the street in chilly weather and too-large costumes, assessing our haul of sweets. The stillness of it, save the occasional gust of wind or errant leaf, helps one reflect and appreciate the transition from All Hallow’s into November. Perfect.— The Haunted Goblin 🎃 (@HauntedDriveIn) September 29, 2019
On the rare occasions that I get free time during the Halloween season, The Ghoul Log is a reminder for me that it is fall and it's time to prepare myself for longer nights and cooler temperatures (even when sometimes it hits the 90s here in October.)— Scare-a Musn-icky 👻 (@sarahmusnicky) September 29, 2019
Each fall there are a handful of nights when you walk out to your car and it hits you that the air is crisp and the wind has inspired the trees to sing, so you close your eyes and let your senses get blissfully lost. The Ghoul Log takes us there even when the calendar can’t.— Lando Fu (@Lando_Horror) September 29, 2019
We use it on a TV we drag outside while giving out candy on Halloween. Instant mood. Everyone loves it.— R.Garza (@simplecymbalsTX) September 30, 2019
It encompasses everything that I love about the Halloween season. The chilly fall nights, the crunching of leaves, & the spooky whistle of the evening air. It’s also like a time warp back to being a kid prowling the night for the best haul of candy. 🎃— Nicole Villa (@allthedamnvamps) September 29, 2019
Makes me miss Halloween in the midwest. Leaves, chill in the air, dime store plastic decorations that smelled vaguely toxic, and jack-o-lanterns. I can almost smell the apples and cinnamon.— Billy D. (@iLoveBlood) September 29, 2019
Have a spooky Samhain, you Halloween heads.
Return of Ghoul Log was created by indie horror legend Larry Fessenden (Depraved, Habit, Until Dawn).