Friday, December 20, 2013

Scary Movies for the Holidays

As we head into the final weekend before Christmas, many of you will be exhausted from long days of shopping, decorating or other yuletide shenanigans. It's time to kick back and watch a holiday-themed scary movie! Many of the holiday horror movies came from the 80s when serial killers and bad taste were in fashion. Some films veered towards the sleazy (1984's Don't Open Until Christmas), or unwatchable (1980's Christmas Evil) but they're were meant to offer counter programming for the excessive cheer and goodwill.

Below is a list notable (but not necessarily great) scary movies for the holidays. Some are family-friendly fare, while some really should only be seen by hardcore horror enthusiasts. Watch at your own risk.

1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) – This Finnish film is probably the single best holiday-horror hybrid. It tells the story of the "real" Santa and his demon elves. It's also a strangely touching coming-of-age story and feels like a lost early-Steven Spielberg/Tim Burton collaboration. It's beautifully shot and a well-made movie. Highly recommended.

2. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)  Speaking of Tim Burton, his 1993 masterpiece does double duty on both the Halloween and Christmas fronts. However, during the holidays, the Christmas elements seem to stand out so much more. It has incredible heart and the perfect ending for a warm, fuzzy holiday.

3. Sint (or Saint Nick) (2010)  This Dutch horror-comedy depicts St. Nicholas as a much darker spirit, who goes on a revenge-fueled killing spree on the 5th of December (the day many European countries celebrate Sinterklaas). It's a little over-the-top by American standards, but it's fascinating to see how another culture celebrates and melds Christmas with horror. The DVD version with subtitles is better than the poorly-dubbed version available on streaming.

4. Black Christmas (2005) – Many fans will argue that the 1974 version was a superior film, but this version removed the sleaze and made it feel more  Christmas-y, if that's possible. It still has a serial killer involved, and there is a gory ornament impaling, but feels a little more accessible and modern.

5. Silent Night (2012)  This very loose remake of 1984's Silent Night, Deadly Night is unfortunately also based on a real life massacre that happened in 2008. It's got everything you'd want in a rampant serial killer movie, and it's well-produced throughout but seriously bleak, brutal and dark. This left a very sour taste in my mouth, although in all honesty it could have been Nana's fruitcake. 

6. Gremlins (1984)  One fuzzy and cute critter turns into many malevolent and mischievous creatures when fed after midnight! Hijinks ensue once hundreds of gremlins terrorize a small town on Christmas. It's not specifically a Christmas film, but it's set during the holidays and manages to capture the spirit.

7. Jack Frost (1997)  Ridiculous, silly and full of pun-y one-liners this is the B-Movie of the holiday season. A serial killer is genetically mutated into a living snowman and continues his killing spree on an unsuspecting town.  For full effect, watch this one drunk on eggnog.

8. Santa's Slay (2005)  What if Santa were actually a demon who lost a bet and forced to deliver gifts and joy against his deepest wished. Well at some point, hell is going to break loose. This horror comedy is in the category of so bad its good. 

9. Edward Scissorhands (1990) – Granted this is not a scary movie,  BUT it's a dark and weird fantasy directed by Tim Burton and features a Frankenstein-like creature with razor sharp fingers (sort of like Freddy Krueger). Okay it's a stretch, but the idyllic Christmas setting has made it a family-friendly, lite-horror, holiday classic in our house. 

10. Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)  The perennial ghost story is re-envisioned with motion capture CGI and features an almost unidentifiable Jim Carrey. It's much darker, somber, and creepy take on the classic story. Set in a desolate and cold Victorian mansion, there's a weird candle person thing and the scenes with the ghosts are downright scary.  The international posters set the tone for the film much better than their American versions that tried very hard to sell the jolly, heartwarming tale (which it still is). This is a great movie to watch with your younger nephews and nieces – it will scare the Christmas right out of them – and you won't be that weird uncle that keeps pushing horror films year-round.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Celebration of Friday the 13th

Tomorrow marks the last Friday the 13th of 2013. We had only two hexed days this year and next year we only have 1 (in June)! For horror enthusiasts, this calendar day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate Jason Voorhees (and his mother... and his impostor... and his body possessing soul?) with a Friday the 13th movie marathon. (The first two are the best but if you need a viewer's guide to the series read this post at Bloody-Disgusting.)

The Blu-ray Box Set
Warner Bros. released Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection on blu-ray this fall, which includes all 10 movies in the series plus Freddy vs. Jason, and the 2009 reboot.  The set also includes a "Killer Extras" bonus DVD and a 40 page booklet excerpted from the 2006 hardcover book, Crystal Lake Memories. 

(Editor's note: Amazon suspended sales of the box set due to production problems that scratched
several of the discs. If giving this set as a gift make sure you the store has a decent return policy.)

The Documentary
The book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (a must for fans) begat the exhaustive 7-hour (!) documentary Crystal Lake Memories (also released on blu-ray this fall) which features photos, clips, outtakes, interviews, concept art and behind-the-scenes footage that spans the 30 years of the franchise. (The more manageable 2009 documentary His Name Was Jason is also available to rent or buy and it's only 84 minutes long.)

Jason Is Coming Back
As if that was not enough, Paramount has resumed the rights to the franchise and have 5 years to make new movies. Complicated co-ownership of the lucrative property had stalled all plans for sequels/reboots/reimaginings until now. It looks like they are fast-tracking a sequel to the successful 2009 reboot and according to the official website, the sequel is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2015. Rumors suggest a "found footage" approach. 

Inspired Art Posters
A great movie poster gets to the heart of the film, and artists are exploring minimalist takes on classic movies. Take a look at the Friday the 13th art from Francesco Francavilla of Mondo (left) and Adam Rabalais of Deviant Art (right). Please Platinum Dunes, hire one of these guys to design your official poster!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple

The Boston Beer Company (the people behind Samuel Adams) likes their seasonal beers. And this year, their hard cider line Angry Orchard put out a seasonal flavor called Cinnful Apple. It's a perfect spicy blend for the holidays and it also features their scary tree artwork with a bloody red background. It's semi-sweet with an almost candy apple-like flavor with a subtle cinnamon kick that doesn't overpower the tart apple. 

At a party last weekend, a kid kept staring at the bottle and asked me why I was drinking Halloween beer at Christmas. I'm not sure I understand the marketing angle of this cider, but it's scary, so that alone is a reason to love it.  (Make sure to check out their site for hard cider cocktail recipes!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Scary Cookies II: The Recipe to Die For

Yesterday I posted about making scary cookies. Today, Britta, Webmistress of the Dark has shared her favorite recipe for a dark, delicious (and deadly addictive) Pepperkakor, a Swedish ginger cookie thats much more tender than traditional American brick-like gingerbread. I first encountered this cookie at IKEA since they sell Anna's Ginger Thins at the checkout counter. Oddly, many recipes for Pepparkakor call for black pepper so add 1/4 –1/2 tsp if you feel the need to scare the taste buds.

Britta writes:

Below is the recipe I used for the gingerbread I just made. I went conservative with the flour because sometimes the weather changes the moisture, and I've had times when too much flour made the dough too crumbly to roll. I think it needed up to 1/2 cup more flour to roll without sticking. Below are some additional tips:

  • Roll directly onto silicone baking mat, then scoot the mat onto the baking sheet before putting in the oven. (You can use parchment paper but that slides about my counter while I'm rolling.) You can then cut the cookies in place, peel the extra dough from around them, and never have to move the cookies until after they're baked – that keeps their shape perfectly. (Editor's note: Brilliant technique!)
  • It's a pain to try to roll a whole sheet of dough, so I roll small chunks at a time.
  • This recipe doesn't spread so you only need about 1/2" between cookies while baking.
  • Chilling the dough at least 1 hour to set (the flour needs time to absorb the moisture completely). 
  • Spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray first so you can get all the molasses out.

Diane Peterson’s Pepparkakor

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 scant tsp. allspice
1 scant tsp. cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour (+ up to 1/2 cup more)

Soften the butter first in the bowl to room temperature. Stir the spices into the brown sugar, then add to the butter and mix until creamy. Add the egg, molasses and baking soda then mix thoroughly. Add flour, then chill until set.  Roll thin, cut out shapes. Bake at 350º for about 5 minutes or until barely firm but not browned. Much more delicate but not so delicate that they break.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scary Cookies

One day I will no longer be invited to holiday cookie swap parties, but until then, I will be bringing scary cookies to unsuspecting merrymakers. I know the season is all about tinsel and jolly reindeer, but is it wrong to include cookies with sparkly blood? Gravefully, Fred & Friends agrees with me and makes some great cookie cutters.

You can use standard gingerbread man cookie cutter and simply use a knife to cut off arms and heads, or form bites. If you are making a lot of cookies, you might want to get Fred's ABC Gingerbread Cookie Cutters, since it will go a lot faster with a pre-made mold. This is a perfect use for sparkly red blood gel icing. Festive and grisly!

These Gingerdead Men Cookie Cutters make the job easier by employing the cut-n-stamp action – you cut out the shape with one side and stamp the design into the cookie with the other. If you are not great at frosting cookies, these are also much easier to decorate. You make a runny icing and flood (fill in) the indentations. For even less fuss, place a blob of icing on the cookie and run spatula down the front (pressing icing into the indentations and scraping it off the rest of the cookie). Simple!

For Christmas/Coven parties, try this Cursed Cookie Cutter. For an authentic voodoo doll effect, use a toothpick to create holes in the cookie before baking. Once baked, you can easily stick toothpicks into your cookie doll.

Although Dia de los Muertos has passed, decorated skulls make for a rather festive cookie. These Sweet Spirits Cookie Cutters feature more intricate designs that requires quite a few colors of icing to pull off. But even without icing, these cookies look great. 

For advanced cookie makers, these Undead Fred Cookie Cutters gives you the lurching template to start, but your icing skills will be required to fulfill this cookie's charm. With a little creativity, you can make some truly spectacular zombie cookies. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

ThanksKilling: The Musical

Happy Turkie Day!?!

After the kids and grandparents are soundly tucked away for the evening, perhaps a late-night horror movie will settle your overfilled gullet. There aren't many Thankgiving-themed horror movies, but if you can appreciate cheesy, raunchy, grade Z, puppet mayhem you must check out ThanksKilling (available on iTunes) and ThanksKilling 3 (available on Amazon Prime and iTunes). Yup, those irreverent geniuses skipped part 2 since most horror sequels suck, and the third movie in franchises tend to jump the shark altogether. Thankskilling 3 features not only "Turkie" from the first movie but a host of other puppets – sort of like a low-brow, post-apocalyptic and bloody Avenue Q (the Broadway show with naughty puppets).

In a bizarre twist, the movie has leapt from screen to stage with ThanksKilling: The Musical brought to you by the wonderfully twisted folks at Balagan Theatre company.
Balagan's off-kilter answer to the "traditional holiday show" is raunchier and wrong-er than ever with the world premiere of ThanksKilling the musical, based on the eponymous cult-hit film about a possessed turkey on a deadly mission to avenge his tortured ancestors. 
It opens tomorrow, November 29 and runs through December 14th at the Cornish Playhouse Studio in Seattle.

Let this all sink in and head over to the kitchen for another piece of pie.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Liquor Cocktails

Pumpkin's days are numbered since Fall "ends" with Thanksgiving. Celebrate a great season with a cocktail using the new Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Liquor or Fulton's Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liquor.  These two liquors make simple pour-over-ice-and-serve drinks, or you can make a cocktail. Take a look at the following recipes.

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Martini
Recipe from Kahlúa

1 ½ parts Kahlua Pumpkin Spice
1 ½ parts ABSOLUT Vodka

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Kahlua Caramel Pumpkin Spice Latte
Recipe from What's Cookin' Chicago

8 oz fresh brewed coffee
1 part Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice liqueur
1 part half & half
2 tablespoons whipped cream
1 tablespoon caramel sauce

Combine coffee, Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice liqueur and half & half in a large mug. Top with whipped cream. Drizzle caramel sauce over whipped cream to garnish.

Mellow Pumpkin
Recipe from Fulton's Harvest

1 oz. Fulton’s Harvest
1.5 oz Light Rum
1 oz Amaretto Liquor

Add ice to an old-fashioned glass, then pour in the rum. Add Amaretto and Fulton’s Harvest, and stir slightly before serving.

For those adventurous bartenders/hipsters out there: with a well-stocked bar (and pantry) you don't need any special pumpkin liquors to enjoy an Autumn treat. Try this more intricate recipe that yields a much more sophisticated and less sweet cocktail. It is FANTASTIC and utterly cool.

Pumpkin Spiced Martini 
Recipe from

Graham crackers, crushed
maple syrup
1.5 oz house infused vanilla vodka
.5 oz Applejack
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
1 bar spoon pumpkin butter

Rim a chilled martini glass with crushed graham crackers by dipping it in maple syrup and then dunking in the crumbs. Set aside. Add all the ingredients into a stainless steel cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into the martini glass.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dracula (2013 TV Series): Review

Three shows in and Dracula continues to both surprise and stupefying. Even though this is a “limited series” I’m not sure how this show ever got made. It’s a gothic period piece set in England and with a reimagining of a classic monster villain. It’s artistically rendered with lush set pieces, hundreds of extras, period clothing and cars, gratuitous sex, vicious gore, and it’s all strangely absorbing.

In this version, Van Helsing reanimates and enlists Dracula to aid him in destroying a secret Order of the Dragons who are hellbent on controlling the world through capital, energy and oil. Dracula’s plan is to develop a new energy using electromagnetic science (!) to satiate the world’s energy needs (which gives the show a cool steampunk leaning). Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra, and Reinfield are all sort of thrown in subplots, triangles, yada yada. With such a departure from the source material, using the character names from Bram Stoker’s classic is simply a means to get this show on the air. I can accept that to a degree. However, the reimagining of Dracula as a younger, kinder, and less menacing American entrepreneur is harder to swallow. I’m not convinced that Jonathan Rhys Meyer was the right choice for Dracula since he’s neither charismatic nor menacing and is drawn as a meticulously manicured dandy. (Vlad the Impaler is rolling in his grave.) But I suppose the draw here is a younger demographic that many not care about things like gravitas or presence.

Even with these gripes, the show is fun, occasionally bloody gory for a network show, and an entertaining diversion for a Friday night. And if nothing else, you must see the outstanding opening credits.

The NBC site features an animated web series called Dracula Rising which gives an origin story to this particular version of Dracula: See it below and tune in Fridays at 10/9C for the series.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grabbers: Review

Grabbers is a horror-comedy from the UK & Ireland that pays homage to B-movies, sci-fi, and buddy cop movies. It’s a mix of Tremors, Slither and Gremlins with a touch of Shaun of the Dead and the result is a frothy, inebriated, and entertaining creature feature. When an outer space monster wrecks havoc on a small island village, the local sheriffs discover that the only way to avoid being eaten is to be cold-stone drunk. (Yes, this is definitely worth seeing while knocking back a few beers.) Grabbers doesn’t take itself too seriously or aspire to be more than the run-of-the-mill monster movie, but its perfectly gleeful, offbeat tone manages to create a fun atmosphere that horror-comedies rarely achieve. This is due largely to the brilliant assemble cast, crisp writing, and a brisk tempo that keeps the action moving. Also, looking at this CGI monster, it’s difficult to believe that this is an indie film and not some overblown Hollywood schlock. The gore is minimal but the occasional head does roll. Grabbers was finally released on DVD last week (a year after premiering abroad).

US Poster

UK Poster

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Catching up with Britta, Webmistress of the Dark

Several years ago, I purchased a copy of Eerie Elegance to review for my Halloween site. Upon looking at the publication information, I realized that the author lived 5 minutes from my house. Clearly fate wanted to bring us together, and this year I had the honor of joining her Scream Team. Over the course of four months, we worked tireless hours to bring her vision for her 20th annual Halloween party to life. The theme was Nightmare Before Christmas (in honor of it's 20th Anniversary) which long-time readers may know is my favorite movie of all time. Before we get to all the pictures, videos, and behind-the-scenes madness, Britta, Webmistress of the Dark shares some insights about her Halloween.

Why do you like Halloween?
Halloween is the most creative holiday. Not only are creative costumes a must, but so many varieties of decor can work for Halloween themes...and even better when you have fun making your own!

What are must-have essentials for your Halloween decor?
Candles and candleholders. I've moved more to LED flicker candles now, since California Halloweens are still too warm for as many real candles as I'd like, plus are safer with so many guests milling around.

What is your flavor of Halloween?
Whimsical gothic spooky style. The Haunted Mansion, the Addams Family, Edward Gorey and Tim Burton are my favorites. Spooky and often unsettling, but nothing too bloody or terrifying.

What's the best advice for a Halloween novice?
When people see the elaborate decor and parties I do, they are overwhelmed and don't know where to start. I remind them that I started with humble beginnings myself, and my collection has grown gradually over the past two decades. I would never be able to start completely from scratch and do the same level of parties I do today. Select some projects you can do well and start building your collection, and leave yourself room to grow.

Do you make your own props and why?
I really enjoy making my own props. I am happiest when I am creating something, so having a reason to create new decor, props, and costumes is why Halloween is my favorite time of year. I often find something pre-made that I can transform into a new creation, like using plastic cauldrons & skull funnels to make my Frightful Skull Fountain that spews bloody red punch!

What do your friends and/or family think about your Halloween interests?
I am very lucky to have creative friends who complete my party with their Creepy Cuisine and fantastic costumes. I love being a venue for them to express their own creativity! My family has never really been Halloween fans and my mother just reluctantly attended her very first of my Halloween parties, but they support me completely. No one else on my street decorates for Halloween, but especially when the castle walls started going up, several neighbors have stopped by and told me "We look forward to what new things you'll do for Halloween every year."

Do you have a Halloween party? If so, what is it like?
Yes, for the past few years I have transformed my house and yard into Castle Brittahytta, with faux stone walls inside and out, gargoyles and owls arranged in displays, candles everywhere, spiderweb lace curtains and pillows, homemade ancient spellbooks, glowing laboratory libations in the steampunk study, everything in my style I call Eerie Elegance. However, this special year the theme was all The Nightmare Before Christmas and was several years of preparation.  This year was also my 20th Halloween party in a row and I had a record year with over 80 guests!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Ghosts Attack: Review

Paranormal TV shows continue to be churned out on a weekly basis. The latest to catch my eye is called When Ghosts Attack which premiered last month on Destination America. It feels more like an extension of their other hit show A Haunting which features first-person accounts with the actual victims and reenactments with strangely similar-looking actors. The focus of this show is a very specific: malevolent forces that cause physical harm. Many paranormal experts believe that ghosts are rarely able to move objects – most don't even have enough energy to visually appear. Often physical hauntings are believed to be caused by non-human forces (shudder), so perhaps this show should be called When DEMONS Attack. That's probably a little too intense for Destination America but it makes this well-produced series more compelling. Each story is given a short 30 minutes to unfold and rarely offers a resolution for the victims, many of whom simply flee. Viewers of haunting shows know that doesn't solve much, and so far the show has not involved any paranormal experts to offer assistance. I feel bad for these people, and whether you believe ghosts exist or hoaxes abound, it still makes for an entertaining late-night show.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Bigfoot Mystery

When I was a kid, my mother’s boyfriend left the house in the middle of the night, dragging enormous boot prints through the snow in the front yard. My sisters and I thought immediately—bigfoot, sasquatch, the abominable snowman. We thought of the furry but kindhearted beast in the old Rudolph television show, but scarier, much scarier. Just weeks earlier, one of the two sisters and I had made long moaning noises, throaty groans, outside the youngest sister’s window. We got in a lot of trouble.  It was Halloween times and we lacked costumes, but we began what turned into a lifelong obsession with Bigfoot.

We weren’t the only ones—for years, people have been impersonating Bigfoot by sporting both good and subpar Halloween costumes. Below are a few of their stories.

Georgia Hoax
In 2008, a Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy and his friend acquired a Bigfoot Halloween costume they thought would take them all the way. Claiming to have discovered a body, the pair went live with photos and Youtube videos (since taken down, but excerpted here []). Photos revealed a decomposing sasquatch shoved into a cooler, complete with underbite dentures.

Montana Hoax
In 2012, a Montana man dressed not in a Halloween costume, but a military Ghillie suit and set to trick drivers on a highway. Unfortunately, it was dark and his suit camouflaged him so well that he was hit by a car. 44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley was struck by a second car and died at the scene.

Patterson-Gimlin Film
This bigfoot sighting is not necessarily a hoax—unlike the others, there is no definitive proof. The Patterson-Gimlin film is considered the most credible (and first) of all bigfoot evidence and depicts what is assumed to be a female sasquatch sauntering across a meadow in California. Recently, Bob Heironimus has come forward, claiming that Robert Patterson paid for a suit and Heirononimus, eager to make a quick buck, played a lady bigfoot.

Guest post by Lydia Mondy, who believes in the power of belief and anchovies on pizza. When she isn’t hunting bigfoot, you can find her writing about Halloween costumes and cheering on the LA Dodgers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bigfoot is Back

Bigfoot lore is always a hot property. In the new book released this August, Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids, authors Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero look at the history of a number of famous (and infamous) beasts, analyzing evidence in favor and against their existence. While Loxton writes for Skeptic magazine, Prothero is a paleontologist—the combination allows for a thorough and interesting explanation of the things we believe in.

If you are a fan of Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot, prepare for a new season starting this Sunday, November 10th. It promises a global bigfoot exploration with something for everyone.

Director Bobcat Goldthwait's new found footage movie called Willow Creek, which has been making the festival rounds earlier this year is slated for release this fall. (See the trailer below.)

Guest post by Lydia Mondy, who believes in the power of belief and anchovies on pizza. When she isn’t hunting bigfoot, you can find her writing about Halloween costumes and cheering on the LA Dodgers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No Rest for the Wicked

The first few weeks in November are a good time to decompress, sort through hundreds of photos, and store all those wicked things in coordinated orange bins. After a very long season, two major Halloween projects, and a new website that I've cooked up, I'm hoping to be caught up very soon. Stay tuned for more scary things.

Guest Posts
I've been running a few guest posts to share some news and information that I think would be interesting to readers of My Scary Blog. If you are interested in submitting an article, please email me at Posts should be relevant or timely, about something scary, and express a personal viewpoint. I'm always looking for movie & TV reviews (because I can see everything), product recommendations (because I like useful stuff), or any Halloween-related photos, yard haunts, costumes, recipes or ideas (because we all need inspiration). Posts may be edited for length and clarity, and I can't promise to run every submission. Thanks in advance for sharing!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pixar & Guillermo del Toro Working on Dia de los Muertos Films

Even with the large Mexican-American population in the U.S. there has yet to be a mainstream film that embraces this very important, visually-striking, and colorful holiday. The next few years will remedy that with two upcoming family films meant to capitalize on Dia de los Muertos.

The Book of Life
The Guillermo del Toro produced animated film to be released in October 17, 2014. The film has been described as a Romeo and Juliet style love story set against a Mexican Day of the Dead backdrop and follows the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure in three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. The film is being directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez who is no stranger to the colorful skeletons and whimsical nature of the holiday,a and stars the voices of Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Lina and Christina Applegate.

Pixar's Dia de los Muertos Film
Pixar is also working on a Dia de los Muertos film and faced some backlash earlier this year when they tried to trademark "Dia de los Muertos." The long-gestating project has been announced but doesn't have a title or a release date (insiders suggest a 2016 release). The film is being directed by Lee Unkrick, director of some of Pixar's best films including Toy Story 2 & 3, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Feliz Dia de los Muertos

The Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos is celebrated over 2 days, November 1 & 2. Many think that it's the Latin Halloween, but that's not quite right. Yes, there are calaveras ("skeletons") and costumes, but it's a more personal celebration where family members gather to remember loved ones who have passed on.

It's also a very colorful and ornate holiday full of colored paper, marigolds, pan de muerto ("bread of the dead"), and ofrendas ("small shrines") of the belongings and favorite food of the deceased. All this is meant to ensure that the living remain connected the past, that younger generations know their family history, and that the Mexican culture continues to embrace and respect Death (with a playful, familiar outlook).

Below is a slideshow by photojournalist Enrico Martino who captured a Dia de los Muertos celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico.

MEXICO, EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS from enrico martino on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Final Count: 348 Trick 'r Treaters

It took an army of fiends, but we got through the night and handed out candy to 348 trick 'r treaters. That's almost 100 more than last year! During the deluge of souls, I lurked outside to hear the comments, and many people remembered not only our house, but our specific decorations (which I rotate from year to year). I don't know why, but I find that so surprising.

This year I added a projection to our front window (my first foray into more technologically-advanced decor) and most people loved it – a few were turned off by the "gore" and a few even passed our house saying it was too scary (while their kids rubbernecked with wide-eyes). Halloween is supposed to be scary!

I was asked why I do this and my response is simple: to keep Halloween traditions alive. I want these kids to grow up and remember that weird house with all the scary lights, music and monsters. A few of them will wake up one day and realize that they have a yearning to create and share new Halloween memories with others, and the cycle continues. Halloween is in the blood. You can't learn to love it. It's a passion that's just there from the beginning, waiting to surface and fill your life with dark happiness.

What a great night! One of the best by far.

Happy Halloween 2013

Darkness falls across the land 
The midnight hour is close at hand 
Creatures crawl in search of blood 
To terrorize y'alls neighborhood 
And whosoever shall be found 
Without the soul for getting down 
Must stand and face the hounds of hell 
And rot inside a corpse's shell 
The foulest stench is in the air 
The funk of forty thousand years 
And grisly ghouls from every tomb 
Are closing in to seal your doom 
And though you fight to stay alive 
Your body starts to shiver 
For no mere mortal can resist 
The evil of the thriller

(from Michael Jackson's Thriller)