Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Earth Vs. Space: Losing Gravity!?

Is NASA warning us to be ready on January 4th at 9:47 AM (PST) for a long-awaited alignment of key planets that will cause a cosmic reverbration resulting in partial weightless on Earth for up to 5 minutes? No. The expertly spoofed tweet that has been circulating the web for a couple weeks is a hoax according to Snopes. So those stories suggesting that if you jump up in the air precisely at 9:47 AM (PST), it will take 3 seconds to land as opposed to the 0.2 seconds it usually takes. Sounds utterly crazy, right?

Well, not so fast. According to the European Space Agency Earth's gravity IS being thrown off by Antartica's rapidly melting ice. Fluctuations in the gravity field have been detected as far as Canada. Researchers now fear the collapse and dissolution of the Southern polar ice cap has become irreversible and the effects (other than a 16-ft rise in sea level) are unknown. So what could happen if gravity is weakened? Could things not rooted to the Earth could fly off?  More than likely, Earth would loose some of it's atmosphere making life more difficult for anything that needs oxygen. Now THAT is scary.

And let's not even talk about the Near-Earth Object, asteroid 99942 Apophis, that is predicted to be the closest fly-by ever. It will fly between the Earth and the Moon on Friday, April 13, 2029 (just our luck), slingshot around, and may hit Earth in 2036. All the more reason to party like it's 1999 2029 and jump up in the air!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What is KRAMPUS?

In some European countries Christmas is celebrated as either Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th) or The Feast of Saint Nicholas (December 19th) and Saint Nicholas comes to town to reward all the good children. However, all the bad children have to contend with the Krampus – a horned creature, covered in black hair, with cloven hooves and a pointed tongue. He travels alongside Saint Nicholas and misbehaved children get whipped with birch branch, while bad children get hauled off to be drowned, eaten, or taken to the underworld. The Krampus origin is unclear, but festivals often include Krampages (runs) with wandering Krampus figures lingering about the festivities who are encouraged to terrify children.

In the aftermath of the Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited and in the 1950s, even the government got involved and sparked debate of whether the imagery was appropriate for children. Needless to say the Krampus tradition never took off in America where St. Nicholas was reinvented into the jolly, red-suited Santa Claus we know and love today (Coca Cola is often credited for searing this image into our cultural consciousness in the 1930s). The Krampus resurgence however is underway as anti-Christmas sentiment is steadily growing in the country.

It's great timing for Michael Dougherty (director and writer of the fantastic TRICK ‘R TREAT) who plans to surprise bad Christmasgoers next year, not a lump of coal but a feature film called KRAMPUS, a twisted seasonal comedy opening December 4, 2015. Take a look at these brilliant Gif Cards and start counting the days. See the full announcement at Bloody Disgusting! (I wonder if this means that Trick 'r Treat 2 will be delayed another year?)

Further Reading:



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Babadook: Review

What The Shining did for fatherhood, The Babadook will do for motherhood. This Australian import is the first feature film from director Jennifer Kent and it examines both childhood terrors and the terror of parenting. Anguished and weary, Amelia (in a tour de force performance by Essie Davis) is struggling to cope after the death of her husband and the birth of her precocious child who is seemingly afraid of everything and yet increasingly aggressive. Then one night, a mysterious book arrives on a bookshelf and sets into motion a tug of war between mother and son, reality and nightmares, love and murder.

The deliberate pace keeps the chilling atmosphere grounded as the supernatural incidents begin to mount – and then Mr. Babadook shows up in wisps of shadows and silhouettes, appearing like German Expressionist demon straight from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This is a beautiful film with stylish transitions, an aural soundscape (again echoing The Shining) that send primal shivers down the spine, and shadowy sets painted in every shade of blue ensuring a gloomy  and dark undercurrent. 

Everything works and it's a tense, unsettling ride and while it never crosses into full out terror, it does eschews cheap scares or geysers of blood. It falls into the same category of Insidious, a horror movie that relies on psychological terror, minimal effects, open-ended storytelling that allows the audience to use it's imagination. This ultimately is a surprisingly moving story of loss, coping, and the perils of mental health, and easily the best horror movie of 2014. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Horror Movies for the Thanksgiving Weekend

After the family is done celebrating turkey slaughter day and heads off to the mall, unbutton the pants, grab the pumpkin pie, and queue up a heap of horror movies available now OnDemand. The Babadook from Australia looks like it's this year's Insidious and has received tons of love on the festival circuit. Jessabelle was initially a wide-release film but is now in limited release (with a concurrent VOD release). Also on the radar are sequels to some great films: V/H/S: Viral follows up with some more freaky home videos,  The Pact 2 and Dead Snow 2 look like straight continuations of the original stories – which were both awesome (The Pact) and hilarious (Dead Snow). See the trailers for our top picks below. Happy Thanksgiving!!

The Babadook 
A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children's book.

A young woman (Sarah Snook) returns to her childhood home to recuperate from a car accident and encounters a long-tormented spirit that refuses to let her escape.

VHS: Viral
A police chase through the streets of Los Angeles inspires dozens of fame-obsessed teens to try to capture the salacious footage, but they are unaware that they will face their own deaths as stars of the next video sensation.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Martin mistakenly thinks things could not get worse after he kills his girlfriend with an ax, cuts off his arm with a chainsaw, and watches his friends be devoured by Nazi zombies.

The Pact 2
A woman plagued by nightmares of a serial killer learns her dreams have a horrifying connection to the real world.

More notable releases:

As Above, So Below
An archaeologist in search of a rare artifact heads underground to the Catacombs of Paris with a documentary crew in tow. As they begin their descent, the team-members have no way of knowing that they are entering their own personal hell.

Malevolent aliens interrupt five collegians' vacation at a remote woodland cabin.

Stonehearst Asylum
A new employee at a mental hospital becomes attracted to one of his colleagues, but he is unaware of a recent, horrifying change in staff.

Night breed: Director’s Cut
Clive Barker’s original vision of his 1990 slasher/fantasy film (based on his bool Cabal) is finally available! Aaron Boone is haunted by terrifying nightmares of a city of monsters. He goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (played by David Cronenberg!), for help. But what Boone doesn't know is that Decker is really a serial killer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The History of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the last few days to enjoy the sweet Pumpkin Spice Latte is upon us. Which may not be a bad thing since these sugary drinks are quite the nutritional nightmareFood Network Magazine recently illustrated the history of the PSL and showed us how you can make them at home. It's been just over a decade since the dessert-drink debuted and it single-handedly led the charge of pumpkin-flavored products.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Man Eaten Alive By Anaconda

Discovery Channel will air a special where a human will be eaten by a giant anaconda. Author and naturist Paul Rosolie is the man being swallowed alive in a special protective suit smeared with pig's blood. Whyyyyy? Who knows, but it doesn't seem like a science experiment and more like a stupid human trick. I'm rooting for the snake and hope it isn't harmed like PETA believes it will be. According to Entertainment Weekly, this is not the first time someone has tried this! A special last year titled Manaconda never made it to air presumably because someone or something was harmed.

Tune in this Sunday, December 7th and see who wins.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Wrap-Up

This was the soggiest Halloween EVER! California has been in a record-setting drought all year and our first rain day came to Northern California yesterday! Fate can be such a witch. Thankfully the heavy rain stopped around 4pm and stayed away for most of the evening allowing kids everywhere to celebrate Halloween! We're very fortunate to live in a family dense neighborhood and welcomed 293 trick 'r treaters to our haunted porch! I thought Halloween was ruined but The Great Pumpkin saved the night!

Here's our totals using one of our favorite Halloween apps: GoblinCount. You simply tap or swipe the screen to keep count of the trick 'r treaters – but you need someone who has a good attention to detail to maintain accurate records. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Toxic Spider Attack 2014

My theme for my Halloween porch haunt this year is Toxic Spider Attack, inspired by Stephen King's IT (there's a big spider thing behind Pennywise the clown), the 1950's monster movies like THEM!, and because I've been a fan of The Cure's Lullaby since 1989. I've been wanting to improve upon my previous spider display from 2007, and thanks to Britta Webmistress of the Dark and Ghoulish Glen I have a new interest in prop building with years of experience and ideas on call. I built the big spider with chicken wire, paper mache, and pool noodles (that was Britta's brilliant idea), with webs made from beef netting (thanks to the tips and resources from the amazing Lynne and Shawn Mitchell of How To Haunt Your House)! Thankfully spiders are one of the few insects that don't completely terrify me, although I didn't like looking in my spider's eyes (I literally had it face the corner of the garage). Here's a few pics with a full gallery coming to MyScaryHalloween.com soon.

Have a SCARY Halloween!!!

Terrifying Old-Timey Halloween Photos

Happy Halloween!!! Celebrate the darkest day of the year with something really scary. The IFC FIX blog posted these old-timey Halloween photos a while ago that have terrified me ever since my eyeballs befell on them. Years of horror movies have trained to be suspicious of anything that looks antiquated. Sure, it's supposed to be a gentler, more innocent time, but these depictions are clearly sinister. Take a look and try not to pee your pants. Head over to the FIX to see the entire collection (and sources).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How America Trick-Or-Treats

In the October issue of Food Network Magazine, readers were asked to share their opinions on Halloween candy. The results were somewhat surprising as I always let trick-r-treaters pick their own candy from the bowl, candy corn is 100% amazing, and 26% of Americans are liars because we ALL steal candy from our kids.

Trick-Or-Treat Time Line

Here's a history of Trick-or-Treating as featured in the October issue of the always perky and fun Rachel Ray Magazine. This magazine always reminds me of being at your cool aunt's house – you know the one that cooks fantastic un-gourmet food you want to eat, has a great sense of humor, and always talks about something interesting? Pick up the issue to see a great pin-up photo of Rachel Ray as a witch flying her broomstick!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spooky Prop Crafting

Scary prop building (also called crafting by some people) is a sure sign of Halloween addiction. Once you leave the seasonal and discount stores behind, you can really use your imagination and repurpose other's people's trash into cherished decor. And it typically looks way better, costs less, and you can customize it to your blood heart's delight. As a newbie prop crafter (?) the finesse is something that I hope to develop over time, so I'm starting with smaller projects. Make sure you have a good tool kit, well-stocked supply closet, a crate of spray paints, and time to give attention to all those details. And follow directions! Talented prop crafters have forums and blogs to display their fiendish work and share their techniques – and many will be happy to answer questions. Here are some of the projects I'm attempting:

Spooky Crystal Ball Candlesticks
I love how creepy and classy this particular decoration looks and who doesn't love a crystal ball? Flaming Toes provides the tutorials and templates for these Spooky Crystal Ball Candlesticks. Rummage through Goodwill or yard sales for candlesticks.

Soda Bottle Bell Jars
With apothecary displays being all the rage, why not turn all those bottles of soda into a wicked display. The Soda Bottle Bell Jar tutorial from Planet Hollywood is pretty clever.

Gravestone Chair Covers
Leave no gravestone unturned! If you have a dining room that screams for decoration, why not make these Gravestone Chair Covers. Simple fabric, a little sewing and some stenciling is all that's needed. Not a sewer? No problem. Find a bottle of Fabri-Tac adhesive which bonds fabric, leather and even wood quickly – think of it as a glue gun in a bottle without the heat.

Bat Decals
Bats are must for Halloween and the NeatoShop has these great fabric bats that magically adhere to almost any interior wall, remove easily, and can be reused again and again. I love these!

Pumpkin Lantern
Lowes – yes, Lowes – has a great idea for little pumpkin lanterns. They use real pumpkins but you modify the project using artificial pumpkins and an LED light set. 

Bloody Hand Towels
This is so simple and easy theres no reason NOT to make this great project from The Queen of Halloween. Find her directions on her blog, and for those of you who have crafting aversion, you can always buy it here

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Toxic Cupcakes

Three years in a row I've won a Creepy Cuisine award at the amazing Eerie Elegance Halloween Party. It was held this past Saturday and you must take a look at the eerie trailer created for the party. Very fun!

Below is my winning entry: Toxic Cupcakes! It's one of my favorite recipes for a Lemon Blueberry cake. I separated the batter adding fewer smashed blueberries and green gel dye to one batch and left the other plain. The green batter went into the cup first then I topped it with regular batter. I pulled up some of the green batter from the bottom with a fork. After baking some of the green batter stained the tops and looked like mold. I then cored and filled each cupcake with lemon curd, and topped it with a dollop of lemony cream cheese frosting. (Citrus is so unexpected in the Autumn, right?) When you peeled the wrapper, you see all the spoiled green cake – gross! (Recipe will be on MyScaryHalloween.com site soon.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Great Halloween Fright Fight

ABC loves to set neighborhoods ablaze with ridiculous holiday light displays and now they are also taking on Halloween with The Great Halloween Fright Fight. The one-hour special airs Tuesday, October 28 at 8/7C and features families fighting to the bloody death for a $50,000 prize for the best Halloween display. The first person to put up one of those blow-up inflatables should be immediately disqualified. For more info, head over to the ABC site and watch the preview below.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

All About Ouija

This weekend's Ouija movie has been getting terrible reviews: uninspired, dull, bland, bloodless kiddie show, lazy, routine – and that's just from my mom. Just look at the bland, unfinished official U.S. teaser poster (on the left). It's like they aren't even trying. At least the U.K. got a much more interesting poster (on the right). So sad that this and the re-release of Saw are the best Hollywood could muster for a scary Halloween.

Imagine if someone made a real movie about the ouija, the rise of spiritualism in America, and made it scary?! Every experience I've had with a ouija board has been terrifying. When I was in high school, a bunch of us played with a board that we found on the street. The board started moving quickly and, yes, on its own. Lights flashed, the wind suddenly blew crazily on a still summer night, and board kept saying it was tired of hearing all the pigs screaming. We ran home after WE heard a pig squeal directly behind us. 

Read more true stories about ouija board experiences on the About Paranormal site, and read A Brief History of the Ouija on Mental Floss:

As a method of supposed communication with the spirit world, the Ouija board has terrified countless slumber partying children and served as a plot vehicle in a number of Hollywood films. Here’s where it came from. 
Ouija boards have their roots in Spiritualism, which began in the United States in the late 1840s. (Claims that ancient Ouija boards existed are unfounded.) The new movement was led by mediums, who claimed to be intermediaries between the living and the dead. 
There were a number of ways mediums made followers believe that they were communicating messages from those who had passed. One, table turning, involved the table moving or knocking on the floor in response to letters called out from the alphabet. Another method used planchettes, heart-shaped devices with two wheels at one end and a pencil at the point; users would place their fingers on the device, which would then be guided by spirits who would “write” messages. 
Both methods were problematic. Table turning took too long, and planchette writing was hard to decipher. According to the Museum of Talking Boards, some mediums got rid of these methods altogether, preferring to channel while in a trance, while others built complicated tables, dials, and tables painted with letters that required people to use a planchette as a pointer. This method became the most popular—and paved the way for the Ouija board.  
Read the full article at Mental Floss

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkin Rugelach

If you've never tried Rugelach it's kind of a mini crescent roll with a tart and creamy pie crust pastry. The filling is typically super sweet apricot jam, or cinnamon sugar and nuts. It's a very satisfying three-bite dessert. Imagine my wicked delight when Food 52 came up with savory pumpkin rugelach with sage, walnuts, and parmesan cheese. (You could easily take this recipe back to the sweet side by making the dough and substituting pumpkin butter for the filling, but this sophisticated savory version is delicious.) I will warn you that the cream cheese-based dough is notoriously difficult to work with so do not event think of skipping the required chilling time. Work quickly, and if possible, work on a cold marble surface. If it starts getting sticky, put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Make sure to visit the Food 52 site, sign up for recipes, tips and how-tos, and access to their online store Provisions which sells one-of-a-kind gourmet kitchen supplies. While you're there don't miss The 9 Greatest Pumpkin Recipes including Salted Pumpkin Caramels, Pasta al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta, and Honey Pumpkin Biscuits.

Photo by James Ransom for FOOD52

Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnuts
by Arielle Clementine

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon aleppo or chile flakes
1 cup pure pumpkin puree (or squash or sweet potato puree)
2 healthy pinches kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
flaky sea salt or finely shredded parmesan, for sprinkling

1. Prepare the dough. Cut the butter and cream cheese into tablespoon-sized pats and let soften for 10-15 minutes. Pulse the flour and salt in the food processor, and then add the semi-softened butter and cream cheese and pulse several times, until the mixture has formed large crumbly chunks (this can also be done very easily with a pastry knife, if you've got a sleeping baby and don't want to use the food processor). Gather the dough together into two large balls, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to overnight.

2. While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Toss in the chopped shallots, sage, and aleppo and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree and cook for 5 minutes more, to help evaporate some of the water in the pumpkin. Season with two healthy pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from the heat to cool down (the filling should not be hot when you spread it on the dough).

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has chilled, roll each disk into a 12" circle on a well-floured board. Make sure you flour the underside of the dough often, so that it doesn't stick. Spread half of the cooled pumpkin filling onto each disk, and then distribute half of the finely chopped walnuts over each disk. Using a bench scraper (or knife, or pizza cutter), cut the dough into 16 triangles. Roll up each triangle, starting from the base, to form a crescent, and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

4. Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water and brush lightly onto the rugelach. Top each rugelach with flaky sea salt or finely grated parmesan (I prefer the sea salt, my husband prefers parmesan, so I make half of each kind). Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm, if possible.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror MARATHON

FXX will host a 12-hour marathon of The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror starting Sunday, Oct 26th at noon. Time to fill up those DVRs with unerasable content (say sayonara unwatched The Good Wife).

In case you miss it, they will also be airing themed mini-marathons all week. Here's the schedule:

MONDAY, OCTOBER 27 (8pm – 11pm) Theme: “Twilight Zone”

“Treehouse of Horror I” (Season 2)
“Treehouse of Horror II” (Season 3)
“Treehouse of Horror III” (Season 4)
“Treehouse of Horror VI” (Season 7)
“Treehouse of Horror VII” (Season 8)
“Treehouse of Horror XV” (Season 16)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28 (8pm – 11pm)
Theme: “Movie Spoofs”

“Treehouse of Horror V” (Season 6)
“Treehouse of Horror X” (Season 11)
“Treehouse of Horror XII” (Season 13)
“Treehouse of Horror XIX” (Season 20)
“Treehouse of Horror XX” (Season 21)
“Treehouse of Horror XXII” (Season 23)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29 (8pm – 10pm)
Theme: “Classic Monsters”

“Treehouse of Horror IV” (Season 5)
“Treehouse of Horror VIII” (Season 9)
“Treehouse of Horror XIV” (Season 15)
“Treehouse of Horror XVI” (Season 17)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30 (8pm – 11:30pm)
 Theme: “Springfield Attacked!”

“Treehouse of Horror IX” (Season 10)
“Treehouse of Horror XI” (Season 12)
“Treehouse of Horror XIII” (Season 14)
“Treehouse of Horror XVII” (Season 18)
“Treehouse of Horror XVIII” (Season 19)
“Treehouse of Horror XXI” (Season 22)
“Treehouse of Horror XXIII” (Season 24)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween Music 2014

Many of us will be hosting (or attending) Halloween parties this weekend so it's time to consider the music for the spooky party. While you can rely on the old standards (Monster Mash, Time Warp, etc.) I recommend setting the atmosphere for different areas of the party. The entry way is a good place for sinister instrumentals as well as rooms like the kitchen and bathroom where guests spend quite a bit of time. Below are some of favorites for the 2014 season, plus our recommendation for a reliable, streaming radio station.

Espectrostatic: "The Daemonum EP"
This Austin-based group released a fantastic self-titled debut last year and will be coming out with their sophomore album in a few weeks. In the meantime, they have given fans a free five-song EP to tide them over this Halloween. Download the album on their Bandcamp page.

Sam Haynes: "Ghost Stories" and "Spine Chillers"
This UK artist has had a prolific year with two new albums this year. The spring saw the debut of their creepy "Ghost Stories" and "Spine Chillers" was released this fall. Both offer very creepy music and every so often a little bit of 80s horror movie-style music (think John Carpenter's Halloween theme) comes through. Visit https://samhaynes1.bandcamp.com for more information.

Halloween at High Noon: Corpus Vile
The label dedicated to independent Halloween music has put out their 2014 compilation called "Corpus Vile". It's a mixed bag from 21 artists of mostly dub tracks with a touch of dance, a little but of a hipster vibe, and often incorporating samples. Visit High Noon Records.

Halloween Nuggets: Monster Sixties A Go-Go
This massive 99 track collection of 1960s Halloween & horror-themed music is exhaustive and covers every imaginable genre (with a heavy dose of underground, surf RnR and garage) for those of you know what a CD is, the packaging on this box set is supposed to be incredible. It's available at Amazon and iTunes.

If you can decide what to buy, skip the stores and head over to HalloweenRadio.net for free streaming Halloween music. With five channels, you'll find something for everyone, and you can either listen online (right through your browser) or stream them to iTunes, Window Media Player, Winamp, and TuneIn. Listen at HalloweenRadio.net

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Cakes

Looking for an eerie dessert for your Halloween party? Below are two quick ideas for decorating a simple store bought cake. If you are a baker, of course you can make the cake yourself! These techniques are fairly straightforward and if your skills are like mine, sloppy cakes are perfectly acceptable on a trick or treat party table! 

Say It With Cake posted a great tutorial on making their Bloody Halloween Cake using candy melts and food coloring. There's red velvet inside their cake. You can stick any number of accessories into these cakes includes a handy knife which you can later use to cut the cake! Since my theme this year involves toxic waste,  I'm adapting this design using white chocolate ganache tinted with green food coloring and green cake inside for a Slime Cake!


The Cake Blog posted this fantastic Cobweb Cake, which was incidentally featured on the cover of the October issue of Country Living. The secret to making the cobwebs? Melted marshmallows that are cooled and stretched out by hand. And you can easily make a spider out of black fondant!

BONUS IDEA: Here's a great idea from Country Living Magazine. Their site features an article called 19 Bewitching Halloween Cakes which includes this Ouija board cake (imagine cutting that with a triangle planchette). They provide the artwork which you upload to Cake Art and order the design printed onto a thin frosting sheet for $5. Once you get that, you plop it on a standard 9 x 11 sheet cake and you are good to go. This cake requires a little extra planning but couldn't be easier.