Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Have a Scary Halloween!

Happy Halloween! It's time to hand out candy, dine on Irish stew as a celebration to Halloween's roots, drink a pumpkin beer (or three), and stay up late watching scary movies. On the docket is Trick 'r Treat, Halloween: Season of the Witch, Cabin in the Woods, possibly Magik Mike, which I'm told is about a coven of warlocks trying to possess a group of women (someone better not be lying).

I hope you have a scary Halloween! Here are some pictures of my haunted house.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Eve

Designed by Dark Hall Mansion
The parties are done. The decorations are hung. The haunts are attended. As the march towards the big day winds down, we still have Halloween Eve. It's the last day to really stop, catch your breath, and enjoy the last moments of the season. I use this day to reflect on my own scary Halloween, carve pumpkins, and catch up with old favorites like Charlie Brown.

Every season starts with such anticipation then quickly zooms by. So many things didn't get done, seen, experienced, or bought... but, there's always next year. I always say I'm going to start earlier, get done sooner, and enjoy every moment in-between – and I think I'm almost successful.

I am looking forward to scaring the kids tomorrow night and going out with a bang – if the weather cooperates (although I have absolutely nothing to complain about).

Our thoughts go out to our friends on the East Coast who are getting pummeled by the Frankenstorm. I feel terrible for the kids (of all ages) who will miss this Halloween, but more importantly, I hope that everyone remains safe and sound.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How scary is too scary for kids?

Last week, Entertainment Weekly published the article "Making the case for scary movies for kids" in their Family Room blog. The writer believes some parents are over-sheltering their kids, asserting that this "can only lead to kids growing up to fear their own shadows. Generation X is raising Generation Ahh!" This comes on the heels of Frankenweenie's disappointing run which some believed to be too creepy for kids (but it was a beautiful movie!), while Hotel Transylvania (which was admittedly cutesy) holds on as the #3 movie in America. And in the latest episode of Modern Family, Claire was boycotted by the neighborhood for being too scary.

This is the age-old debate: How scary is too scary for kids? Halloween continues to be viewed as a kid's holiday (as the costume and candy sales will attest), yet aren't kids more resilient (desensitized) given today's accessibility to the internet/cable? Or do we get more frightened as we grow up? We live in an age of bloody crime procedurals, survival video games, and Snooki hot tub monsters.

When I was growing up, my parents were cautious but I was never denied access to scary stuff. And while Halloween was a spooky time, it was a decidedly fun time. Being afraid was like riding a roller coaster that couldn't derail and lop off your head. The second the lights came on, everything was better. It was just make-believe (with haunted sounds, eerie lighting, creepy fog in the dark of night).

A couple parents think my site, is too ghastly for kids. (Seriously. Who doesn't like a bloody logo?) There's nothing un-family-friendly, although kids are not my intended audience. Some neighbors think my little porch haunt is too scary for trick 'r treaters. Granted every year a couple of youngsters don't get any closer than the other side of the street. Last year, I heard a dad tell his crying son, "This is what you wanted. To be scared on Halloween!" Most kids seem to relish in the spirit of Halloween and one declared, "I'm not afraid. I know it's fake." I replied calmly, "You are going to make him angry and he's going to follow you home." For a split second, the kid looks back at my zombie and places that image in the darkest corner of his room. "Nah. He's made of rubber, " he says only half-smiling now.

I question every (public) choice I make for Halloween and realize that some parents will not like it. But I guess they'll be staying home on Halloween night. Any parents out there? What do you think?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The American Scream

From the same director/producer of the critically-acclaimed hit documentary Best Worst Movie (2009), The American Scream is an unconventional look at the Halloween cultural phenomenon of homemade haunted houses and the enthusiasts behind the scenes. Filmed in the sleepy enclave of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, The American Scream follows the creative minds behind three local homemade haunts and their passionate - and sometimes harrowing - efforts in igniting their town’s Halloween spirit each year. It airs tonight on the Chiller channel.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

eHow Spark’s Spooktacular Spark Contest

Creating a DIY costume? Hosting a Halloween party? Transforming your home into a haunted house? Upload your Halloween projects to eHow Spark and enter for your chance to win an American Express gift card up to $200. eHow Spark is a social sharing tool, where you can get inspired, manage your projects, and share your accomplishments.Contest details here: Deadline is November 1, 2012. Happy Halloween!

Halloween Cocktails

This is Halloween weekend 2012 which means that all the parties will be happening tonight! Celebrate with one of these ghoulish cocktails.

The Cider Spider Martini
The inspiration for this came from a swanky cocktail bar in Vegas. However, I switched the bourbon and added fresh cider to cut down the strength a touch. The recipe calls for real maple syrup, and because of it's intense sweetness, a little goes a long way!

1 oz Knob Creek bourbon
2 oz unfiltered fresh apple cider
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice (must be fresh)
splash of maple syrup to taste
two shakes of lemon bitters

Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake violently and strain into a prepared glass (rub a lemon along the edge of the glass, then dip in maple or raw sugar). Garnished it with chunk of black-colored ice.

The Bloody Rita
I love the bloody margaritas you see this time of year, but typically the blood is made with corn syrup - yuck. I make a fresh cranberry sauce tinted with a touch of red food coloring. The red color is incredibly realistic, consistency is perfect, and the sweet cranberry taste adds a richness to the margarita.

Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita with Gran Marnier, chilled
1/2 bag (6oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 drops red gel food coloring

In a small saucepan, bring water, sugar and cranberries to boil. Cook until the cranberries pop and release their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully strain through a sieve to remove skins (discard skins). Return the cranberry liquid to the saucepan and continue to cook on low heat for another 5-10 minutes longer to reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency. Remove from heat and add the red gel coloring and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Let cool completely and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to thicken the sauce. To serve, fill a glass with jagged ice cubes then pour the margarita in. Using the squeeze bottle, rim the inside edge with the cranberry blood, then drizzle some over the ice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Zombie Pumpkins!

With less than a week to go before the big night, now is a good time to get started on your pumpkin carving. Hopefully you've selected your perfect pumpkin(s) and are ready for inspiration. Head over to for the best and most unique pumpkin patterns. A low-cost membership gets you access to 294+ patterns that you can instantly download, print, and carve (and, no, your email will not end up on some horrible spam list). This year's frightful theme is Age of the Zombie Pumpkins and it features a terrifying winged jack-o-lantern mascot. (Also make sure to check out their shop for an assortment of shirts, stickers, and pumpkin carving tools.)

To keep your pumpkin fresh for the next five days, give it a dunk in a bleach solution! Mix 1 tsp bleach to 1 gallon cold water, dunk the carved pumpkin for at least an hour, turn upside down to drain until dry. Pour some of the solution into a spray bottle and mist the inside daily but do not let the water collect. (You can also try commercial preservatives like Pumpkin Fresh.) For more info visit the peculiar site My Science Project.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Light Shows

I love the trend to "decorate" a house for Halloween with light shows! Here are some of my favorites. 

This first video features a perfect background and a series of "RIP" tombstones in the foreground. LOVE IT (although the song is terrible):

This video features a simple yet INCREDIBLE projection - created with just one very powerful projector, careful placement, and lots of creativity:

Even if you don't have a house to decorate, how about a series of pumpkins?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Freshening up the Halloween Playlist

With Halloween party weekend quickly approaching, it's time to take another look at that playlist you dust off each year. You know the one that begins with the Monster Mash and ends with Thriller. It's true that the heyday of novelty Halloween songs has long past us, but the last few years have seen a trickling of fun releases. Below are some suggestions for freshening up that Terror Tunes collection (almost all are available on iTunes).

If you like Monster Mash (Bobby Pickett),
try... The Ghoulie Hop by Counting Crow

If you like Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.),
try... It's a Haunted House by Brian Asselin & Eric Disero

If you like Something in My House (Dead or Alive),
try... Zydrate Anatomy by the cast of Repo! The Genetic Opera

If you like Pet Semetary (The Ramones),
try... Buried Alive by Creature Feature

If you like Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival),
try... Dr. Demon and the Robot Girl by Captain Clegg & the Night Creatures,
or Return of the Living Dead by Ghoultown

If you like Bela' Lugosi's Dead (Bauhaus),
try... No One Believes Me by Kid Cudi

If you like Dead Man's Party (Oingo Boingo),
try... Monster (In My Pants) by Fred Schneider

If you like I Put a Spell on You (Screamin' Jay Hawkins),
try... It's Your Voodoo Working by Janiva Magness

If you like Welcome to My Nightmare (Alice Cooper),
try... Buried Alive by Burning Retna

If you like anything from Midnight Syndicate,
try... Halloween by Two Steps from Hell
(FYI, Midnight Syndicate's Carnival Arcane is an absolute must-own!)

If you like Devil In My Car (The B-52's),
try... Dead Walker Texas Ranger by Sleeping With Sirens

If you like Thriller (Michael Jackson),
try... Thriller (The DiscoTech Remix) by Michael Jackson
Note: This fun remix is NOT available for purchase, so you'll have to search the internet if you really want it!

And finally just because the entire album is about zombies, check out Zombie Girl's Blood, Brains and Rock 'n' Roll. Go Zombie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mockingbird Lane

So the guys behind Pushing Daisies have rebooted The Munsters as a new series called Mockingbird Lane. They toned down the stylized makeup but not the overall feel based on the teaser below. After spending a reported $10 million on the pilot (which is 43 minutes long) and the brass at NBC has decided not to pick up the series after all, but as treat, they are airing the pilot as a Halloween special this Friday, October 26th. This is probably the one and only chance you'll get to see this so set your DVRs now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Treehouse of Horror, Collection III

The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, Collection III is available to download now on iTunes (six episodes for $9.99)! Unfortunately this is a strictly digital release so no DVD (unless you purchase each of the individual seasons on DVD). This was spotted on the terrifyingly terrific blog ~ THANK YOU for the heads up. (Note: if you are buying only specific episodes, please be aware that iTunes mislabeled episodes 3 and 6). 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Witch's House

Beware the Witch's House in Beverly Hills, CA! The Spadena House was built in 1921 to house dressing rooms and offices for a Culvert City studio. It was moved to its present location in 1934 and converted to a private home. With its pointy, lopsided roof, tiny windows and stucco with a distressed paint job this landmark building even features an intentionally overgrown garden and a moat-like pond.

Photo by Keri Kilgo

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights

The Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights is the San Francisco Bay Area's BEST haunted attraction – yes, even better than the Pirates of Emerson!

First off, the attraction is located on the grounds of the legendary Winchester Mystery House, a real mansion in the heart of San Jose where much paranormal activity has been documented. This sprawling house has been the subject of several documentaries, a Ghost Adventures special, and even an upcoming movie. Its bizarre history and that of Sarah Winchester is mind-boggling. (I can personally attest to its being haunted. When I last visited the house, a door in the ballroom opened in front of my eyes. The docent confirmed that the door in question is kept locked. Creepy!)

The haunted maze, called Curse of Sarah Winchester: Resurrection, features over 100 live actors and is built around the periphery of the house. Every imaginable detail is thoughtfully produced. Scene after scene introduce us to fully realized visions of mayhem or beautifully detailed Halloween landscapes, and of course, everything is blanketed by eerie fog. I won't give away any of the frights inside, but they are highly effective and always unexpected. Even a seasoned veteran like myself was left rattled and awe-struck.

The ticket price ($45!) is likely to scare away many patrons but rest in peace that you are getting your money's worth. You can even re-enter the maze if you like, which I'm told "changes"several times a night. Beyond the haunted maze, you also get the rare chance to take a self-guided tour through the mansion itself... in the dark... with only a tiny souvenir flashlight to aid you. (Typically strict docents lead tour groups through the house.) As I walked through, I found myself straying from my friends. It was positively dreadful to be in that mansion all alone even for a few minutes.

This is the MUST-ATTEND haunt of the season! For more information, visit the Winchester Mystery House site.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4: Review

Paranormal Activity 4 is such a waste of time, and you should avoid at all costs – but you probably already knew that. Same tired formula, with a bland tween cast and almost zero scares. The freshness, tension, and crazy ending that Paranormal Activity 3 delivered is completely undermined by this underdeveloped "story" (can it even be called a story?), and characters that have no development or personality. The story goes absolutely nowhere, is incredibly dull (literally someone left the camera running and called it a movie), and then there's the completely implausible twist with the kid. OMG WHATEVER. This is a paycheck-filmmaking at its worst and clearly meant to be a money-grab. The biggest disappointment in horror films in years and certainly the last nail on the coffin for this franchise. Never again.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

American Horror Story: Asylum

American Horror Story: Asylum premiered tonight and already, this is a very different show. The pace was absolutely chaotic and shook the viewers into letting go of season one and jumping right into this new chapter. And it is incredibly ambitious: how will they tie the zealous nun, evil scientist, lunatics, monsters in the woods, and probably most surprising of all – aliens – into a coherent story is anyone's guess. This show continues to be a horror movie fan's dream come true (but clearly not for everyone else as early reviews have indicated). And as we guessed back in February when the very first teaser poster came out, Asylum's location is inspired by the infamous and very real Waverly Hills Sanatorium (complete with the tuberculosis and death tunnel).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AtmosFearFX & Eerie Elegance

For you techies out there that want to take your decorating to the next level, check out AtmosFEARfx's DVDs. These feature dreadful animated scenes that are meant to be projected on to walls or windows with an impressive selection that features zombies, classic movie monsters, and my favorite, blood-dripping walls. You simply pop the DVD into a player, connected to a projector and let the terror ensue. You will need all the tech hardware (like the projector which your IT department may let you borrow if you ask nicely), but you can also just play it on a large screen TV. They even have a couple of options that you can run through your iPhone.

Eerie Elegance also features a cool spectral video called Ghost in Chains which you can download for $5. The effect can be enhanced with fog which really furthers the misty, wispy feel of the moaning ghost! (While you are at it, pick up a copy of the excellent Enhanced Eerie Elegance, a must-have book featuring recipes, entertaining ideas, and decor.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Target Halloween Bins

Dedicated enthusiasts know you MUST store your Halloween treasures in orange bins which are only available for very limited time (strangely a week or two before Halloween). This is the week to run to Target and load up on storage bins at only $7. The clear ones make it easy to see through, but they tend to crack easily (especially after baking in an attic all summer long). I have the opaques shown below and they have survived a 12 foot drop!

Stolloween's Wrought Iron Fence

The  incredibly talented folks over at Stolloween have been posting tutorials for making great Halloween decor, including this Faux Wrought Iron Fence. The best part is the clever and safe trick to make the pointed ends, which inevitably some sugar-crazed trick 'r treater will try to climb.

Faux Wrought Iron Fence Tutorial

While their Etsy shop is closed for this season, check back next year (around June-July - add it to your calendar NOW) for their incredible selection of papier mache pumpkins.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 2012

Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood, CA is one of the best produced horror attractions. This year they are featuring a Walking Dead Terror Tram, a Texas Chainsaw maze, a Silent Hill maze, the creepy La Llorona Maze, plus scare zones, shows and modified rides. Take a look at these fun walk-through videos.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sinister: Review

Sinister is trying to follow in the footsteps of last year's incredibly divisive Insidious (which I found scary, and appreciated the old-school vibe and practical effects). Sinister is going for the same feel, but the tone is pitch black, full of muted dread, and very grim images (like a family dangling from nooses). Sinister works on a subconscious level, has an incredible score, and Ethan Hawke as a scream queen was an audacious choice. Yet it's not an enjoyable film and never quite reaches critical mass to be scary.

Ultimately, the plot stalls and the writers don't really know how fully develop the interesting mythology they created. And even though this is a horror film, the characters do implausible things or over/under react unrealistically. The director approaches this as a family drama (but doesn't develop the characters) and relies on the trappings of a horror film (but doesn't develop the plot). The camera annoyingly lingers far too long on elements that should be just a momentary scare. And then there's the plot hole from hell that sets up the ending. Again, the writers set up "the rules" for the antagonist and then break them with no clear explanation. 

Autumn Hard Ciders

Autumn apples are the best, and there's no better way to enjoy the apple than in a wonderful crisp hard cider. And it seems cider is taking off as an alternative to beer or wine as more manufacturers are getting in the game:

Ace Cider, based in the Sonoma (wine) County has been making cider for 15 years and most commonly served on tap around Northern California. Their unique blends include a pumpkin cider that's very pumpkin-y but has a slight aftertaste.

Woodchuck Cider is made in Vermont and this cider house rules! Their incredibly nuanced and rich flavors are hard to beat and for a limited time they have an incredible Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider that is incredible difficult to find outside of the Eastern states. If you are willing to buy it online and pay the hefty shipping fee, you can find it at Lueken Big Town Liquors.

New on the national market is Angry Orchard. Their apple ginger cider is easily their best tasting offering with spicy notes and a smooth finish. The wicked tree illustration is just an added perk. Also look for their Iceman and Strawman special editions.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Costume Shopping Guide

For those of you who will continue hitting the snooze button on costume shopping until the absolute last minute, has got you covered. In fact, standing out this Halloween doesn’t have to be a labor of love. It’s quicker and easier than you’d think, especially when you consider doing your Halloween shopping from the comfort of your home. To help you out, here's an overview of the star-studded, funny, scary and trendy lineup of top 2012 Halloween costumes!

Top Costumes for the Kiddos

1. Superhero Costumes - Last year, superhero blockbusters popped up more times than Robin could say, “Holy [insert topical word] Batman!” in the Adam West days. That’s right; once again Hollywood has blazed a trail for a host of winning superhero costumes.

2. Girly vs Creepy and Everything Between - An interesting new trend in popular girl’s costumes is the melding of “creepy/cute” and everything in between. All across the spectrum, from ultra-creepy looks like gothic ragdolls and zombies to the “ultra-feminine” world of colorful cupcakes, frilly monsters and animals, these costumes are sure to be seen this year.
3. Angry Birds - Last year’s surprise success of angry birds had retailers scrambling to replenish the shelves. This year, with Angry Birds Space and two new characters hitting the scene, flocks of these tunic-style costumes are sure to be flying off the shelves.

4. Star Wars - With the release of the Star Wars saga in 3D, this storied franchise will be popular again in 2012, especially among children. These costumes make a smart addition for homes with several growing children, because they never lose their relevance and make great hand-me-downs year after year.

Top Costumes for Adults

1. Zombies - From pub crawls to the continued popularity of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” zombie popularity continues to spread in 2012. Another twist to consider is going as a zombie politician or celebrity! Whether gory, or “sexy-scary,” there are options for every kind of look.

2. Monsters - With the growing popularity of club culture and electronic music continuing to gain momentum, club fashion continues to influence Halloween costume preferences this year. For women, 2012 is the prime year for neon monsters, wild colors, whacky tights, fur leg warmers and candy-colored wigs.

3. Superheroes - Like parent, like child. The rising “comic culture” will translate into adult costumes as well, as the avengers make appearances at Halloween parties across the nation. Women catsuits, with their flattering sillhoettes, will also be a major go-to costume this year.

4. Costume T-Shirts - These make great costumes for last-minute shoppers who want to do something for Halloween, but don’t necessarily want to strain themselves. With reasonable pricing and complete versatility, these costumes (such as a pirate) are sure to find a place in the night scene this year.

Twisted Cakes

Debbie Goard is a macabre artist as her book Twisted Cakes illustrates. I have never seen such a wicked collection of confectionary in my life and DEFINITELY not for the faint of heart. Through full color pictures she shows you step-by-step how to recreate these fiendish cakes, the recipes for success, a rundown of the necessary tools and even full-sized templates stuffed in an envelope in the back. This is a must-own for Halloween enthusiasts. (Even if you are not a baker, at least you can show your baker friend how to make you a twisted cake for your Halloween party.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Digital Dudz: Interactive Costumes

Many guys really hate wearing costumes, so here's a perfect solution for tech geeks who hold their iPhones close to their heart. You can order a specially designed shirt from Digital Dudz, download an app, tape your phone to said shirt, and create an interactive element on that shirt. In the sample below, this poor soul's eyeball twitches around with a tap or a squeeze of the earphone remote.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gooseberry Patch: A Ghastly-Good Halloween

This year's Gooseberry Patch Halloween book offers more than 200 family-friendly recipes with a healthy dose of country charm. I love the small-town traditions that this series evokes – simple recipes, decor ideas and costumes without the slightest hint of pretentiousness. Every page captures yummy edibles that truly make you want to dive right in.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Books

There's been quite a few Halloween books published this year, and I'll be adding some reviews of the notable releases.

Artful Halloween by Susan Wasinger
Ms. Wasinger is crafter who believes in handmade projects and has put together a good-looking book. It does seem to lack some overall cohesiveness, as the projects seem somewhat scattershot (kitschy stitchery, dimestore costumes, elegant decor and table settings, pumpkin non-carving). I'm not certain what audience this is ultimately aimed at since most crafters choose a particular medium to work with. Nonetheless many of the 31 projects are appealing, and like most successful crafts books, it will inspire the reader to explore.

Halloween Treats by Annie Rigg
This is cute, pint-size book offers a "greatest hits" collection of recipes for now ubiquitous treats like severed finger cookies, meringue bones, cobweb & mummy cupcakes. The photography is beautiful, however, the recipes have only been minimally adapted for American audiences so some of the directions are somewhat perplexing on first read. Caster sugar? Preheat the oven to Gas 4? Fruit pasties? Come on publisher. Halloween is a quintessential American holiday. You couldn't give this lovely styled book a quick rewrite?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicagoween's Franken Plaza

Daley Plaza is at the heart of downtown Chicago and during October it transforms into Franken Plaza for Chicagoween, a citywide celebration of Halloween featuring aerial entertainers, fire dancers, pumpkin arts, and more. They even dye their fountain orange! I love the way the natural light gives the wading pool all kinds of colors from crimson to purplish depending on the time of day. If only more cities put this kind of effort into Halloween!

Thank you Heather for this great pic!

© Russell Bassman via Flickr

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Haunting

After being cancelled four years ago, Discovery is bringing the series "A Haunting" back to life! The new 5th season premieres next Friday, October 12 on their Destination America channel (formerly the Plant Green channel). The Discovery network also owns Animal Plant which cancelled "The Haunted" series. That series painfully and absurdly worked animals into the main story. I suspect that the production team behind both shows was the same, and Discovery finally came to their senses.

V/H/S: Review

While the found footage horror movie genre has been relatively exhausted, V/H/S is an example of how to do it right – and a perfect film for a dark October evening. This anthology film offers five short stories, blending many sub-genres that will appeal a broad spectrum of dedicated genre fans. The project was conceived and produced by Brad Miska, the editor-in-chief of horror website, and directed by a six up-and-coming horror directors. There is a definite retro vibe running through the movie (most obvious in the title) and some of the segments give the impression that these directors grew up on the same kind of horror that I did (influences of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Dario Argento, and Stephen King are clearly present). Unfortunately, the efficiency of storytelling leaves a little too much to the imagination, and the acting is less than spectacular, but nonetheless, it's entertaining and satisfying. The film has been available via VOD for a few weeks and opens in a limited theatrical release this weekend.

(The official poster is the one with the skull but there's several alternative posters floating around the internet. The haunted house poster is my absolute favorite – probably because that was my favorite segment.)

P.S. Horror anthology films tend to draw the ire of genre audiences so very few have been produced. Other notable films include Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Trick 'r Treat, 3 Extremes, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Tales from the Darkside. For a full list of other titles, visit IMDB.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Frankenweenie: Review

I absolutely loved Tim Burton's Frankenweenie - his best film in years and an all-around great time at the movies. It was beautifully designed in the way that only Tim Burton can do, unexpectedly touching, and loaded with references to classic horror movies. Definitely won't give anything away, but will say the third act had the kid in me jumping with delight. It's an instant classic!

Halloween on TV

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXIII
Program your DVRs now and don't miss this 23rd installment featuring "The Greatest Story Ever Holed", "UNnormal Activity", and "Bart & Homer's Excellent Adventure".
Sunday 10/7 on FOX

Halloween Wars
Elaborate Halloween displays are created by five teams consisting of pumpkin carvers, candy makers and cake designers, who are competing for a $50,000 grand prize.
Sunday 10/7 on the Food Network

Halloween Crazier
Unique Halloween activities around the country are spotlighted. Included: an abandoned mental hospital that became a haunted attraction in Spring City, Pa.; a zombie-infested 5K race in Darlington, Md.; an underwater pumpkin-carving contest in Damariscotta, Maine.
Sunday 10/07 on the Travel Channel

Halloween Tricked Out
Halloween displays from across the country are visited. Among the highlights: a West Virginia man who carves 3000 pumpkins; a New Jersey dairy farm that boasts a terrifying hayride; a Florida couple who bring the spooky decor inside; and a North Carolina corn maze.
Friday, October 12 on HGTV

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ray Villafane's Pumpkins

Ray Villafane's Pumpkins book is the must-have inspiration for pumpkin carvers everywhere. His creations have been featured on the Food Network Challenge, Halloween Wars, and even the Martha Stewart Show (who called him the "Michelangelo of pumpkin carving"). The softcover photo book is full-color and features incredible pictures of his creations with the occasional close-up of spectacular details. This is a fantastic addition to any Haunted Library. See more of his work (and products) at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SyFy's Face Off & Hot Set

As I unpack the Halloween storage bins, I've been watching SyFy's Face Off which is a reality competition in which aspiring make-up artists compete to have "the top look". For the Halloween enthusiast, it's fun to see how masks are made and the various techniques for layering colors, materials, and working with costumes as a whole. And there's always plenty of inspiration for costumes. I think this would work better as documentary series, but I don't think SyFy would find that edgy enough.

Now those same producers are taking the competition factor further with the wonderfully odd Hot Set in which aspiring set designers compete for the top look. For the yard haunters, it's interesting to note how scenery is constructed, how to transform cheap trash into beautifully horrific focal points, and how critical lighting can be. (Nothing decorates faster and more intensely than colorful flood lights!)  It's definitely given me some ideas to perk up my display. Again, this would have been so much better as a documentary where they visit actual movie sets under construction, but SyFy wants a broad appeal.