Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have a Scary Halloween!

Don't forget the rules of Halloween!

Rule #1 – Always wear a costume.
Rule #2 – Always pass out treats.
Rule #3 – Never blow out a jack-o-lantern.
Rule #4 – Always check your candy.

Now go watch Trick 'r Treat, carve a pumpkin, and have a scary Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eerie Elegance's Day of the Dead

Eerie Elegance with Britta, Webmistress of the Dark at the helm has done it again! She and her team have created one of the best Day of the Dead displays I've ever seen, drawing inspiration from the 2014 animated film The Book of Life. If you live in the Bay Area you still have a few opportunities to catch the "live" Mariachis de Muerte band as they play and tell you original stories of their ancestors. The animatronics used to bring this skeleton crew to life rivals what you've see at Disneyland considering this a group of passionate home haunters. Simply stunning!

For more information visit Eerie Elegance's Day of the Dead page. For those who live outside of the area, a video and full posts are coming soon! For more information on how this spectacle was created like Eerie Elegance on Facebook, or follow the in-depth blog Britta Blvd.

Exorcism: LIVE!

I was raised Catholic and that means that I had a fear of the supernatural instilled in me at a very young age. Every thing that went bump in the night was undeniably a demon trying to devour my soul. Then at the age of seven, I watched The Exorcist on primetime. Even though it was edited for TV, the horror of seeing those demons affected me profoundly.

All this comes as a preface to Destination America's special, Exorcism: Live!, the first "live" televised exorcism of a house in the country's history. The event is scheduled for October 30 and is taking place in the original "Exorcist House" in St. Louis. It was in this house where several rites of exorcism where performed on a young boy in the late 1940s to free him from the clutches of demonic possession. This story served as inspiration for William Blatty's novel The Exorcist which subsequently became the notorious film.

And now the crew of Ghost Asylum will join medium Chip Coffey to explore every nook and cranny of  this hell house with high technology in hopes of freeing the house of its demonic entities. Whether or not anything reveals itself is the most troubling question. Likely nothing will appear but what if something does – even if its just a glimpse? Are we ready to see the face of evil? I'm reminded of that troubling quote from Nietzche that was later modernized in American Horror Story: Asylum: "If you look in the face of evil, evil's gonna look right back at you."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween By The Numbers and Why It Matters

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article saying that consumers will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year (down from a peak of $8 billion in 2012 ). That spending encompasses a large sector of retail (with pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween), entertainment (haunted attractions) and even the farming industry (oh glorious pumpkins)! While it still trails behind other major holidays, it's also the only one that doesn't involve direct gift-giving (which bloats the numbers across the board).

What was once considered a children's holiday now appeals to 18- to 34-year old millennials (the #1 target demographic for most business) and even older adults who let loose on one dark night in October. One of the major causes is considered to be social media, since sharing of pictures seems to be fueling the spread of cultural glee. (Read the full story here at

Why It Matters

So there's all this data and you might be wondering why it's important. For decades Halloween has been dismissed a triviality and the numbers don't lie. People are spending serious money on the holiday and this consistent spending, year after year legitimizes it as a bankable commodity.

For passionate Halloween fans, like myself who runs this blog, and the countless Halloween artists out there, it somewhat validates our dark passions in a very real and tangible way. Now many of us are not it for the money, or make a business of Halloween, but our endeavors promote those who do. We keep the machinery alive and well, like worker bees in a colony. We find a cool product or site and share it. We see a scary movie and we tell others. We discover a new artist and promote their work.

To all our neighbors who stare at us weirdly, friends who question why we spend so much money to haunt our homes, and concerned loved ones who think we might be mad and/or borderline hoarders: we are part of a cultural revolution to keep spooky traditions alive. It is holiday that's not based on religious beliefs or governmental decree. It's a cultural holiday that's transformed over the ages and across the continents meant solely to encourage fun, fright, and maybe even a connection with that inner child buried by years of grown-up burdens and responsibilities. So let loose, go buy a pumpkin, and enjoy your Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2015

For Trick 'R Treat Fans

One of the best movies about Halloween is Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat, the anthology horror film that defines what the holiday is about and why traditions are so important – your very life depends on them! The movie has yielded a frightfully fun following, and while Trick 'r Treat 2 has been announced, it has not yet gone into production. In the meantime here is some stuff to tide you over.

I'm not an earnest comic book reader so my experience is fairly limited but I enjoyed Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead and think it reads like a teaser to the upcoming sequel. Written by Dougherty and his cohorts, one wonders if this comic will be the basis for Trick 'r Treat 2, especially since he mentions the sequel in the introduction. It's beautifully illustrated and definitely a must-have for fans. Available on Amazon.

For discernible collectors, this limited edition Trick 'r Treat original film score is a double LP pressing – on orange vinyl of course – and features the expanded score along with a Spooky Sound FX album culled from the movie's excellent audio FX track. The gatefold cover also features gorgeous new artwork. Available from Waxworks Records.

Fright Rags is offering a limited edition t-shirt and retro plastic mask packaged in costume box. Also check out their four other fantastic tee designs and Sam's sucker socks!

Finally for you party hosts out there looking for a creepy treat to offer your guests, why not make these simple cookie pops from Sugared Nerd? These chocolate cookies resemble Sam's sucker while being easy to decorate with tingly mint icing. The trick to cutting out the cookie shape is very clever: use a round cookie cutter for the main shape and then use any other cookie cutter with a wiggly-shaped edge to create the "bite".

Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Home Haunters Check In

With just over a week until Halloween, it’s time to check in and find out if you are:

  • EXCITED (Halloween is going to be epic!) 
  • FATIGUED (So over this year. 2016 will be way better.)
  • ANXIOUS (I will never finish anything in time!!!!)
  • GUILTY (How did I buy so much stuff?)

We at want to reassure you that it will all turn out awesomely frightful and fun. Now go relax with a horror movie, some pumpkin cider, and a handful of Kit Kats from the candy bowl – we won't tell if you don't.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Crimson Peak: Review

Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is an old-fashioned haunted house movie and at the center is a somewhat old-fashioned love story. However, the foreboding atmosphere and the impeccable art direction are the focal points, and the real star is Allerdale Hall, a sprawling gothic mansion with crazy details only a madman like del Toro could bring to the screen. The mansion, like its inhabits, is rotting at the seams with walls that drip a never-ending ooze of liquid red clay that instantly evokes blood. (I rarely recommend this, but this is best experienced on an IMAX screen to fully allow the film to engulf your senses.)

Yet the screenplay with its rather slight story and straightforward approach don't quite match the grandeur and opulence of the set decoration. Nonetheless, the action moves swiftly, and the pace although uneven keeps the audience entertained and enthralled by the very dark possibilities that lurk around every corner. The film is also aided by a highly charismatic cast that elevates the proceedings. Tom Hiddleston proves to be a beguiling leading man, Mia Wasikowska is delightfully smart, Jessica Chastain is simply sinister in a performance that devours the screen.

With so many odes to classic gothic cinema it was disheartening that del Toro again relies on cartoonish CGI to create his ghosts – some of which are truly terrifying! Yet there's a certain familiarity about them and they clearly share the DNA of the ghosts from Mama, a 2013 film del Toro produced. Considering the lengths he went to create this world, one wonders how practical effects combined with more subtle CGI would have given these frightening moments more presence and weight.

This type of period movie may not have the broad appeal of a contemporary horror film, but for fans of the haunted house or gothic romance subgenres, this is a decadent feast to be savored and relished. It's the kind of movie that comes along once in a generation with its overwrought, sumptuous imagery and portentously gloomy sternness. It's creepy, full of dread, often bloody, exquisitely thrilling, and even occasionally scary – a perfect movie for a dark Halloween night.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Simpsons: Halloween of Horror

The Simpsons airs its first-ever Halloween episode tonight! Wait, what? Unlike the wonderfully oddball standalone Treehouse of Horror episodes, this Halloween of Horror is just another episode within The Simpsons universe that happens to take place on Halloween. Early reviews say the episode "feels creepier than a typical Treehouse of Horror story because it's 'real.'" Will it work to put our beloved characters in actual peril? Tune in tonight and find out.

 And don't worry! The standalone special Treehouse of Horror airs next week!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Pumpkin King Tee Collection

My closet is literally crammed full of Nightmare Before Christmas shirts and Tee Fury just unveiled yet another 16 new mash-up designs, including Sugar Skull Jack, Live and Undead musicians, Sleepy Hollow Jack, and Haunted Mansion Sally. Honestly, can you have too many Jack Skellington shirts?Charge cards locked and loaded. But hurry – they are available/discounted through Oct. 19. Here are some of my favorites:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Undead Teds Go Peek-a-Boo

English artist Phillip Blackman is the creator of the original UndeadTeds. He finds cute teddy bears and adds ghastly elements to scrub away the precious and create a unique zombie creation.

Launched in 2013, it has been a booming business and it's fueled via social media. Every couple of weeks, he alerts fans via social media and site that a new batch will be released, and minutes after going on sale are sold out! I know because I've been trying to get one since 2013.

His latest creation is an animated edition that is quite gruesome (and not for the squeamish). Take a look at the Peek-a-Boo Edition below.

Want one? Read the Buyer's Guide, sign up for the newsletter, follow UndeadTeds on Facebook, and cross your fingers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Scary Movies for October 2015

October is the month of scary movies and between mainstream theater releases and VOD, there's much to choose from. Here's our guide to the the movies that look promising and the ones that you should probably avoid like homemade candy from that stern old lady on the hill.

From New Zealand comes this heavy metal horror splatterfest about two boys who accidentally summon a demon. It premiered at South by Southwest this year to great reviews from hardcore horror enthusiasts who call it ridiculous fun. Available now on VOD and select theaters.

Knock Knock
Eli Roth goes mainstream with this quasi-home invasion/sexy seduction movie starring Keanu Reeves. Wide release on October 6.

Tales of Halloween
This anthology features 10 tales from the top indie-horror directors in the business. Early reviews are calling it "kick-ass", "a treat", "gorgeous", and "a blast" and a nice follow-up to Trick 'r Treat. Look for it in limited release, VOD, and iTunes on October 16.

The classic R.L. Stein book series finally gets the major screen treatment starring Jack Black in this fun for the whole family adventure. Interestingly, Tim Burton was attached to this way back in 1998 but the production never got off the ground. It opens wide on October 16.

Crimson Peak
Guillermo Del Toro returns to the horror genre with an original gothic love story. Del Toro has said that this is not a "horror" film and yet the marketing is pushing this as the scary event for Halloween. Approach with moderate expectations and hope it's at least a great tale. Enter the house of horror on October 16.

Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension
The poster claims it all ends here. The trailer says every secret will be revealed and that for the first time you will SEE all the activity. Sounds desperate. Considering this particular sequel has been woefully under-marketed (they didn't bother to put together an advance poster or teaser trailer) and being released almost exclusively in 3D, it sounds like a cash grab. It opens October 23 (and likely closes on October 26).

Fathom Events brings the original John Carpenter classic Halloween back to the big screen for one night only on October 29. Nothing beats seeing classic movies on the big screen with an audience!

The Last Witch Hunter
Vin Diesel stars in this heavy CGI supernatural action flick about an immortal witch hunter stopping a plague in NYC. The studio loves it so much they've already put a sequel on the fast track. It opens October 23.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
The trailers for this horror comedy look hilarious and this seems to be the studio's biggest bet for Halloween weekend. The mayhem ensues on October 30.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Poltergeist Extended Cut ~ Revisiting the Remake

The Poltergeist remake released earlier this year had many strikes against it. It was compared to the beloved original, expectations were sky high due to the filmmakers involved, and remakes create instant loathing. The Extended Cut released to home video last week fixed a huge chunk of the movie and revealed the true focus of the movie.

In the original, the Carol Anne was the pivotal young girl who makes first contact and is subsequently abducted by spirits. The relationship between the mom and dad are also crucial in establishing this as a realistic family. (It was a Steven Spielberg production after all.)

The new Poltergeist Extended Cut restores some of the family dynamics needed to establish the characters and relaxes the build up in the first half hour. However, a curious discovery emerges. This story is really about the young son and overcoming his fears – not the young girl (here called Madison).  I'm sure the studio/focus groups saw this deviation from the original and director Gil Kenan recut it. In doing so, it ruined young son's the coming of age arc that makes the finale more resonant.

There are still significant problems here. The mom and dad are either terribly underwritten or they wanted to come across as disaffected a-holes (sorry Sam Rockwell). The tree that grabs the son, simply gets bored and let's go. Sure, it was trying to distract them but not having the parents at home to witness the tree attack also weakened the context. But the worst infraction is that there is no "big bad" in this one. In the original, the clairvoyant, Tangina, gathers the family and tells them the young girl is in the clutches of The Beast. It is a shocking moment, and I can't imagine the helplessness and fear that it would give any parent. Here, the hundreds of ghosts who did not cross over for some unexplained reason are pissed that they built housing over their graves. That's it.

Overall, the movie is not terrible and the Extended Cut makes a good case to revisit the film with a fresh perspective. There's still at least one more cut scene that didn't make the movie or Blu-ray. The first trailer features a scene with many giggling eyes in the darkness (see the video below at the 1:06 mark), presumably more clowns.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Classic Horror Tees from Tee Fury offers tees and apparel designed from a plethora of wicked artists, and their claim to fame is the daily $11 tee – a new design every day available for only 24 hours. Between now and October 6 they offering a closet full of class horror tees worthy of any horror enthusiast. Here are some of my favorites and make sure to check out their full Halloween Collection.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

HA1loween Whopper

Burger King has lost its mind and is finally speaking to our Halloween community via a sandwich. The HA1loween Whopper is now available and features a black bun, and A1 steak sauce. So what makes that bun so black? More A1 sauce, of course, and maybe some squid ink. And possibly whatever was scurrying about the floor. They're not saying anything officially.

This isn't the first time that Burger King has gone black. Last year they introduced the Kuro Diamond and Kuro Pearl burgers in Japan which featured the black bun, darkened with bamboo charcoal, and added a black cheese(!), black squid ink sauce, and a lot of black pepper to the meat. Apparently this was all too much for the American palette and they opted only for the black bun.