Quick Takes: Mortuary Collection, Scare Me, Spiral, 32 Malasana St., Cleansing Hour

Most of movie watching time is spent on  SHUDDER , the horror movie streaming channel by AMC that has finally found the right mix of rotating catalog classics, fun original programming, exclusive movies, and adequate corporate support to ensure it doesn't collapse like Fearnet or Chiller (R.I.P.). With the continued growth, they've been able to but better and more interesting horror movies, many of which are international and indie films you'd otherwise never see. The following five films are all Shudder originals.  The Mortuary Collection  is one bad-ass movie and probably the most fun I've had with horror movies all year. It's tone is all over the place, at times wickedly whimsical & humorous and then gory & horribly fiendish – but it all works. The acting and storytelling is exceptional. An almost unrecognizable Clancy Brown, as Mr. Dark, delivers his witty lines with a deeply resonate droll that reminded me of all the best TV horror hosts: "This h

Sam Saves Halloween!

Happy Halloween! What a long, long road to get to the darkest night of the year. This time of year certainly helps raise my spirits and this was especially needed now. Very few people decorated this year and my best guess is that they didn't want to invite little hands to their front door. But we refused to go dark. Halloween is more than just candy and trick 'r treating, and we wanted to ensure that our neighborhood had at least one gleaming house of horror.  After debating how to hand out candy safely, all the experts said to avoid it. I made the brutal decision to declare: Sorry, No Candy. While this benefits our own household safety, it was really more for the kids and families that congregate in-front of our house every year. Last year we handed out candy to 423 trick 'r treaters, and each was accompanied by at least 2 parents or friends with each trick 'r treater so we estimated at least 1200 people on our driveway Halloween night. Even if we get a fraction of th

A BOO from Me to You

We are here at the best times Halloween (on Saturday, with an extra hour for many of us due to daylight savings ending, and with a full moon) and the worst of times (pandemic, shelter in place). The darkest night of the year goes on anyway so celebrate it to the fullest. Here's a BOO from me to you: The video features a clip from Sam Haynes brilliant new album, Groovy Murder Disco , available now everywhere (click the player below to listen now). Sam Haynes is an instrumental horror wave synth artist with some of the creepy-fun Halloween music. Find the complete catalog here: Groovy Murder Disco - Music for Halloween 2020 - Bandcamp Deluxe Edition by Sam Haynes

A Night on Magnolia Avenue

I'm currently a film studies student and my latest class explored filmmaking by actually making a film to explore the technical aspects from the inside. It's been a nightmare with COVID and don't have access to the fancy lab equipment, so I ended up postponing this class for later. But, I continued my own self-study using the book from class as well as various online learning tools.  I asked the Scream Team to help me shoot a short at their fancy-spooky Victorian mansion. This worked out since Britta wanted a promo video for Halloween. In one week, Britta wrote the shooting script, we filmed it over 14 hours one Saturday, and then I edited it over the week. Just like that we had a  silly spooky short, learn a lot, and had fun making it.  This was meant to be an educational experience and there was definitely a learning curve. I understand the need for a full crew as we all wore too many hats. I have a newfound respect for the industry and have seen first hand what it cou

Eerie Elegance Reimagined

I met my dear friend Britta Peterson while posting about Halloween books on my main site in 2010. I loved her book Enhanced Eerie Elegance and noted in the publication data that she was living in Santa Clara, CA where I had just bought a house. We met and have been friends ever since. We have even collaborated on projects as the Scream Team , alongside her husband Glen, a fearless engineer and mad scientist behind their technical wizardry of their home haunts. He tolerates my tomfoolery and happens to be a great guy with a sort of acceptable taste in horror movies.  Her brand, Eerie Elegance , has been going through an evolution, and as a graphic designer I jumped the chance at taking a stab at her new logo. Even though she's was wary to give up control, rightfully so since she's been cultivating her brand for over two decades, she agreed to let me work my wicked magic. We came up with a great new look that I think will benefit her whimsical, spooky take on Halloween.  Britta

Can You Spot All 40 Horror Movies?

This meme has been driving me nuts! There are 40 horror films represented in this image. I missed or could not identify 7. And I call myself a horror fan?! The answers are below (no peeking)!  The answers are... (SPOILER ALERT!) (SPOILER ALERT!) (SPOILER ALERT!) 1. The Pumpkin - Halloween 2. Striped suit - Beetlejuice 3. Lips - Rocky Horror Picture Show 4. Red balloon - IT 5. Butterfly on lamp post - Silence of the Lambs 6. Tricycle - The Shining 7. Hockey mask - Friday the 13th 8. Paws in box - Gremlins 9. Pack against lamp post - Ghostbusters 10. Silhouette under lamp post - The Exorcist 11. Hand - The Addams Family 12. Castle - Dracula 13. Unraveled bandages - The Mummy 14. Mushnik's shop - Little Shop of Horrors 15. Biohazard sign on chimney - 28 Days Later 16. Headless man - Sleepy Hollow 17. Burning Statue - Wicker Man 18. Green frog comics - The Lost Boys 19. Stick symbol on tree - Blair Witch Project 20. Striped jumper in window -The Nightmare on Elm Street 21. Slaughtered

2020 Acquisitions for My Haunted Library

My Haunted Library is one of my prized possessions. With over 600 books in my collection, they cross multiple genres and include everything from Halloween history, cooking and crafts to scary movie companions, rare art books, and paranormal investigation. I add a handful every year, scouring Amazon, blogs and Twitter for updates on new releases. Here are some of my recent acquisitions for 2020: Pumpkins and Party Themes by Roxanne Rhoads This book cleverly groups invitation, craft, pumpkin carving projects to explain how to carry a theme across a party. Tricky Treats By Vincent Amiel A stunning hardcover book with recipes that cover all the courses with some really ghoulish recipes, like the eyeball truffles and syringe martini.  The Wicked Baker By Helena Garcia This beautifully produced hardcover book is a wealth of creepy baking projects with gorgeous photos throughout.  Fright Favorites By David J. Skal One of my favorite authors overviews 31 great horror movies giving historical c

How To Make Tombstones

I've been wanting to make horror-themed tombstones for a long time, and working on Eerie Elegance 's Day of the Dead display in 2015 gave me a lot of inspiration. I finally got started on my horror graveyard this year and plan to add a few tombstones every year! Here is my general overview of how I made my tombstones. While there's many techniques I've yet to learn, this was my starting point. Beyond the standard crafting supplies, I used the following: Polystyrene insulation foam Hot knife foam cutter Plastic embellishments  Woodburning tool Plaster of Paris wrap  Lightweight spackle Water-based spray paint ( MTN available at ) Step 1: Plan the Design First I looked through photos for inspiration and roughly sketched out the designs I wanted, keeping the lettering and embellishments in mind. Since this was a first-time project so I keep the design simple. Step 2: Carve the Foam I lightly drew on the foam with a Sharpie since I find it easiest to cover w

How to Make Plastic Pumpkins Come To Life

While I love carving real pumpkins, sometimes a cheap plastic pumpkin will do the job. Department, grocery and hardware stores all carry those orange blow-form beauties in all shapes and sizes but they can be a little lifeless. With a touch of paint and dry brushing you can easily transform a plastic pumpkin into something truly unique. Don't worry if you are not an artist. You will get great results because there's nothing complicated or exact about the technique. The best part is that its takes only a few minutes and you'll have them for years to come. You will need: Plastic or foam pumpkin Liquitex Basics  Red Oxide (dark red), Burnt Sienna (dark orange), Burnt Umber (dark brown) paints (any craft paint will do, but I love Liquitex colors) Flat, wide orange nylon brush Paper towels Spray bottle with water Spray matte varnish or spar urethane The one minute video below shows you the simple technique: Dry Brushing Tips You want a very light, quick touch with the brush, add

Explore the Winchester Mystery House at Home

One of my favorite memories of San Jose, aside from living between two of its oldest cemeteries, was having the Winchester Mystery House a few blocks from our house. The immediate area is now home to two major malls (sorry, one is an open-air, upscale, urban center called Satan's Row, I think). It's difficult to imagine this as the orchard-filled, rural area Sarah Winchester retired to for isolation and quiet – and spiritual mysticism.  "The Spirit House" as it's sometimes called is a stunning marvel of Victorian architecture and madness complete with a maze of over 500 rooms (160 rooms remain), 2000 doors (some with a steep drop), and10,000 windows (some with intricate web designs) sprawling across six acres. I've been there for many tours and Halloween events, but the flashlight tour in 2008 left me a gasp. I was alone in the Grand Ballroom and witnessed a door open in front of me. I didn't think anything of it and  thought a docent would appear but they

Find Chilling Short Stories in We Bleed Orange & Black

Autumn nights are about to get a little chiller thanks to author Jeff C. Carter . His new book, We Bleed Orange & Black ,   was recently released just in time for the Halloween 2020 season and it's chockfull of "fun-sized" stories that range from family- fiendly to out right shivers-down-your-spine. There's such a wide variety of short stories and poems, and best of all – they are all about Halloween.  Some of my favorites include “Unsettled” about a little girl hearing the house creak around her and a final line that made me shiver. "Haunted House-1 Star" was a hilarious take on oblivious internet trolls. And in "Working the Roots of the Pumpkins" a mother teaches her daughter a family history lesson while baking a pie with deadly results. Some of the stories end with an ambiguous final sentence that seems to percolate on the mind for quite a while until the horror finally seeps in.  I've keep my copy by the bed and read a couple stories,

Witches! At the Market!!

I'm a sucker for bookazines from the market checkout lanes & Witches: The Truth Behind the Legends & Lore  delivers a gloss overview of the history, lore, pop culture imagery & even an intro to being a spellcaster. It has some gorgeous photos, infographics & illustrations and perfect for that one person who loves everything witches. At $12.99 it's pricey and I would preferred a softcover book that could stand the test of time. 

The Depot Brings Halloween Home in a Big Way

Image has unearthed another fantastic line of products this year. I've already posted about their massive 12-foot skeleton which is quite impressive. A limited selection of products makes their way to the brick-and-mortar stores but most of the goodies are online only (but they ship to your home or local store for pick up). Here are some of my favorite items from Home Depot's 2020 Halloween Collection include a giant jack in the box, a headless horseman, a hearse and skeleton horse, and a ground-breaking anaconda. The crouching grave digger was also has a sinister, detailed face, hair and perfect for a tombstone cemetery scene. In the airblown category, I loved the sand snake from Beetlejuice , Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors and a fuzzy orange spider with speckled eyes. Finally in the home decor aisle I loved this rotten pumpkin that has a flame light effect inside, and a really ornate (too ornate?) snow globe with a weird, sparkly mist continually swirling insi