Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!”
― Aleister Crowley

I couldn’t have said better myself. I’d like to thank all of you, Specters, for your continuing to read this little blog of mine. I’m extremely happy that I was happy to begin writing it again this year after my struggles, and I hope you all stick around for the misadventures to come. And now, I raise my glass in a toast and say, "To a new world of Gods and Monsters!"

Happy New Years, Specters!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

Well, here it is, Specters – Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful time with your friends and family. We haunters need to sit back, relax, and enjoy this “other holiday” before gearing up for the next Halloween. We all worked hard on Halloween, and now we need to recharge our horror batteries. But once all the tinsel has been put away… well, you’ll know what to do. Merry Christmas to every one of you, Specters!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I was made to rule the Darkness

A gargoyle from Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - A Ghost Story for Christmas

Most people don’t really think about it much these days, but traditionally, Christmas was a time for ghost stories. I certainly didn't think about it, especially when I was young; I was too interested in getting presents, like every other kid at that age. But that all changed when I was about 12. By that time I had stopped believing in Santa Claus, and my personality was changing drastically; I was beginning to become darker, more “Goth”, much to my parent’s chagrin. The only who seemed supportive was my late grandfather, Grandpa Jack. Grandpa Jack always loved a good scary story, used to tell real creepy ones, especially at Halloween. But this was Christmas, and he’d been a little quieter than usual, although that didn't surprise anyone. His wife, my grandmother, had died about eight months prior, and Christmas had always been her favorite holiday. Eventually, Christmas Eve rolled around and Grandpa Jack said to me, “Hey, do you want an early Christmas present?” Greedy little bugger that I was, I said yes. “But,” Grandpa Jack warned in a mock-serious tone, “it comes at a price – we have to test it together. Agreed?” Not knowing what he meant but eager for a present, I agreed.
Grandpa Jack took me up to the room where he was staying with us, and got a small wrapped gift from his closet. When I unwrapped it, I discovered it was tape recorder, with a microphone so you could record your own tapes. As I was just getting into music, and since I wanted to record my own music, this was a truly wonderful gift. “Now,” Grandpa Jack reminded me, “We have to test it.” “How?” I asked. Grandpa Jacked smiled strangely. “I’m going to tell a ghost story. A true ghost story.” I set up the microphone, Grandpa Jack, got comfortable in his chair, and began to tell his story. By the end, I was sitting in a kind of shocked state, uncertain to what to think or do. Before I switched off the recorder, I asked him, “Is this true?” He looked at me with a look of grim, weary seriousness, not at all acting, and said, “Yes, I’m afraid so. And we’re the only two people who know it.”
I've listened to this recording many times since Grandpa Jack passed on, and it never fails to disturb me. If it’s all a story, then it’s damn convincing one. But if it’s not… well, I hope it’s not. And for you, Specters, I have transcribed my grandfather’s recording, word for word, to post it here. I don’t know why; maybe for someone to cry malarkey so I can sleep a little more soundly.

“You know, Damian, back when I was young, younger than you, even, I wanted to be a musician as well. I could play the piano pretty well; still can, at least I think. I guess it was because my old man was a music lover that I got into it. My old man couldn’t play any instruments, but he could sing – oh lord, could that man sing. He could memorize a tune faster than he could make a sandwich. And every Christmas, back then at least, there were Christmas carolers. You don’t see many of those anymore. My old man would look forward to Christmas for sole purpose of carolers. Trees, presents, cookies, all were almost secondary to carolers. He couldn’t go out caroling himself (he had a bum leg and a doctor who wouldn’t let him walk on it for too long), but he would always greet carolers at our door with a big smile on his face, and when they had finished their sets, he would always offer them cookies, cocoa, and (for the older people) hard cider. His face lit up like the lights on trees whenever there was that ring at the doorbell. He loved it; completely loved it. He said ours was the best neighborhood for carolers.

“So imagine his disappointment when we had to move to a new town. We fell hard times, and had to get a cheaper house. I hated the move, too. Having to make new friends, be a stranger in a new town. I kept picturing the house we were getting to be a squalid tumbled-down shack. So imagine my surprise when we got there, and found a beautiful old Victorian waiting for us. It was in very good condition; a little small for a family of five, but then our old house had been small, too. My mother complained that we were too close to the street, but I didn’t mind. There was only thing I didn’t like about the house – the cellar. It wasn’t like the basement you’ve got, Damian, but a creepy thing with a low ceiling, cold, damp walls, and a dirt floor. I hated that cellar; I refused to go down there by myself. Something about it just seemed off to me.

“Well, eventually Christmas rolled around, as it does every year, and my old man eagerly prepared for carolers, daring to hope some would be around. Well, to make a long story short, there weren’t any. Not one caroler showed up. My old man was crushed. There went his Christmas. This was went on for several days – no carolers. Finally, on the third night, as he was just getting ready to throw in the old towel, my old man (and everyone else, for that matter) heard a voice from out in front of our house. A powerful, mesmeric voice, the kind you imagine a carnival snake oil hucksters uses to charm his way out of trouble. A deep, rich baritone, like Robert Mitchum (though it occurs to me you don’t know who that is); he was singing one of my old man’s favorite carols, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray

“Whoever this was, he could sing alright. We all drifted to the window in a kind of trance. A solitary figure stood out in the walkway in front of our house, dressed in a black wool coat and matching derby hat, a candle held in his hands struggling to illuminate his face. What was obvious about from the small source of light was that he had a big mustache. He continued to sing in his powerful baritone:

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.

“I snuck a glance at my father, and saw that he had the biggest of smiles on his face. Eventually, the singer finished his carol, and turned to leave, but my old man flung open the door and hollered at him to come one back for a drink. The stranger stood in our walkway for a moment, and then said “Sure.” He climbed our stoop, pausing to scrape his boots so as not to track snow, and stepped inside. He smiled warmly at us all, and everyone in the room was instantly delighted with the man. Everyone except me. There was something about this man that seemed wrong to me, much as something about the cellar seemed wrong. He shook my old man’s hand, bowed to my mother and my sisters, and introduced himself as Silas Cogg, a travelling salesman. When my father asked what he was selling, clearly disappointed that Mr. Cogg’s carol may have been little more than a sales pitch, Mr. Cogg just smiled and proclaimed “At the moment? Nothing – I’m just caroling. Such a splendid Christian tradition, I think.” My folks got to talking with Mr. Cogg over a glass of hard cider, and we learned that Mr. Cogg was himself a music lover, and that he had in fact lived in the same town were we know resided. Eventually, when the clock struck nine, Mr. Cogg glanced at his watch, and, apologizing hurriedly, said he had to leave, but said he hoped to see us again. I was glad to see Mr. Cogg go; I just couldn’t put my finger on why, but I had a bad feeling about him.

“The next day, my old man got to talking with our neighbors about Mr. Cogg. When he asked if any of them had known him from when he lived in town, they all shook their heads no. Most were new arrivals like us, though. Eventually, the conversation turned to the tough finical times, and how hard things were. My father couldn’t help but brag a little about he’d gotten such a nice house for so little. Everyone else seemed pretty mystified about it, too. One neighbor, who’d lived in the area a little longer than the rest of us, said the house had been built by a wealthy couple with more money than they could spend some thirty years previous. The Bakers, they had been called. They had married very young, in a fit of passion, but that passion went sour very quickly. Soon it came to be they were always at each other’s throats, fighting ‘round the clock. Eventually, Samuel Baker, the husband, just up and left town overnight, supposedly with a mistress. Eliza Baker sold the house for cheap to a family from out of town, and moved to the nearby city. Rumor had it she was shacking up with man even richer than she was. The truly odd part of this story that the neighbor told was that most of the families who lived in the house rarely lived their very long. The all had ended up moving, with little or no explanation. Everyone agreed this was strange, but seemed to think nothing of it.

“That night, my family was finishing our dinner, my father was thinking of going out to smoke a cigar (my mother couldn’t stand the smell of tobacco), and my sisters were going to write their letters to Santa Claus. All was very ordinary, when we heard the same mellifluous voice from last night drifting through the air:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day

“We could scarcely believe it; Mr. Cogg was back already? Weren’t there other houses he could be caroling at? We all drifted to the window as we had done the previous night. There was Mr. Cogg, standing out on the walkway, candle in hand, singing the same carol as before.

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same

“My father opened the door, and we shuffled out onto the porch to listen Mr. Cogg’s singing. When he finished, we applauded (I somewhat half-heartedly as still had a vague uneasiness about Mr. Cogg), and my father invited him for nightcap. Stopping again to scrape his boots, Mr. Cogg came inside and graciously accepted my father’s offer of hard cider. When asked why he was visiting us again, he smiled politely and explained that he had had such fun with us the night before that I wanted to start his caroling with us. When mother asked if wanted cookies, he thanked her politely and said it would be lovely. My mother headed for the kitchen, while my father said he was going to get a cigar. This left me alone with Mr. Cogg. As soon as my parents had left the room, his politeness vanished and all I saw on his face was a cold anger. “You don’t like me, do you, boy?” He snarled. “That’s okay; I like you even less. You’re a sniveling little bastard with no spine.” I was stunned; I was hardly a sheltered child, but no one had ever called me a spineless bastard before. Noticing the shocked look on my face, Mr. Cogg chuckled nastily, deepening my hatred for him. At that moment my parents re-entered the room, and Cogg assumed his pleasant exterior as if nothing had happened. I left and went to my room where I remained until Mr. Cogg left, once again at 9:00 sharp. I was glad to hear his footsteps on the sidewalk. I  got up and walked to the window, and saw that Cogg was staring up directly at my window. I felt my blood freeze. The first thought that sprang to my mind was “How does he know which room was mine?” Mr. Cogg stood on the sidewalk a little longer, before grinning wickedly and turning and walking away.

“I lay awake for a long while, with the image of Mr. Cogg’s horrible grin frozen in my mind. I tossed and turned in bed, trying to sleep, trying not to be afraid. I didn’t bother telling my parents; why would they believe me? Finally, I managed to drift off to sleep. As I slept, I heard Mr. Cogg’s voice taunting me in my dreams. I couldn’t see him in any of them, but I could hear him – laughing, jeering, singing. It was horrible; it seemed like everywhere I turned, Mr. Cogg was waiting for me, with the voice of his. Then I opened my eyes, and realized I could still hear Mr. Cogg’s voice. He was in the room.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

“I sat bolt upright in my bed and saw Cogg standing and grinning at the foot of it, derby hat, candle, and all. Before I could scream he had leapt noiselessly across the room and clamped a hand across my mouth. “Listen to me, you little bastard,” he snarled, “I know you want rid of me. If you want me to be gone for good, you’ll follow my instructions, and I’ll be gone forever. So here’s how this is going to work: your parents told me that they’re going out tomorrow, and I know your sisters will be in bed, so you’ll have the house to yourself. So, at 9:00 that night, you’ll take the shovel from your father’s tool shed, you’ll go down to the basement – yes, I know you hate that place – and you’ll dig up the money I’ve got hidden down there.” I must have looked surprised, because Cogg nodded and hissed “Yes, boy, MONEY. Lots of it. This used to be my house, and I want my money back. You dig up that money, boy, and you’ll never see me again. If you don’t, I’ll follow you ‘til the day you die. Pocket one red cent of my money, and I’ll slice your fingers off. Do we understand each other?” I agreed, my voice muffled by his glove. “Good. Now, you’re going to close your eyes, and count to ten, and when you’re done, I’ll be gone. Understand?” Again, I agreed. I closed my eyes, feeling Mr. Cogg release his grip on my face. I counted to ten slowly; when I opened my eyes, he was gone, just as silently as he had arrived.

“I was terrified, but I was even more desperate to rid myself of Mr. Cogg, so I decided to follow his plan. The following evening, my parents did indeed go out, leaving me, the oldest child, to make sure my sisters didn’t get out of bed. As the clocked ticked closer and closer to 9:00, I became increasingly nervous, but I kept telling myself that if this would mean Cogg would never come back, that it was what I had to do. Finally, the clock struck nine. I marched to the tool shed out back, grabbed a shovel, went back inside, and, taking a deep breath, open the cellar door and began my descent down the creaky stairs. I walked slowly, one dusty step at a time. When my feet finally touched the cold dirt floor, my heart was in my throat. I peered through the dim light, and saw that someone had scratched a large ‘X’ in to the center of the dirt floor. Taking a deep breath, I began to dig at the ‘X’.

“I have no idea how long I dug at the floor. Could have been hours. Eventually my efforts uncovered the wooden box in which Cogg’s money was presumably hid. I got up and squinted at it; it was long and thin – a grown man could lie down in it if he contorted himself slightly. Suddenly, a horrible thought seized me, and I knew I had to see inside. I busted open the box with my shovel, and nearly vomited. A terrible stench grabbed hold of my nostrils, and refused to relinquish its grasp. As I looked down into the box, what I saw my eyes bulge in their sockets. The horrid, skeletal remains of a man were crammed into the box. His flesh had been reduced to pungent slime, his clothes to filthy tatters. I gazed in stunned horror at the skull, and noticed that was what seemed to be the remains of a very large mustache still stuck to the corpses’ upper lip. A derby hat, crumbling with decay, was perched atop the corpse’s head. It was Cogg. I had no idea what to do. Then, much to my horror, I heard… I heard singing. But it wasn't the mellifluous voice that Cogg had in his previous state; it was that voice ruined, raspy, as if he was trying to sing while gargling with carbolic acid. I realized the singing, at first faint, was coming from the corpse. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound emerged. Then, the corpse began to sit up. It turned to glare at me with missing eyes. It began to reach for me with damp, foul fingers. It distinctly heard it say, “God rest ye merry gentlemen”, but that I was all I heard. For at that moment I finally managed to scream.

“The next thing I remember was waking up on the living room couch. My parents had come home only to hear me screaming from the cellar. The rushed down to find my passed out, the corpse exactly as I had found it. The police were called, and they in turn called the local dentist to identify the body by its teeth. The body was found to be that of Samuel Baker, the man who had supposedly left town with a mistress. The police said that the back of his head seemed to have been crushed with a blunt object, like a pipe. The police tried to search for his wife, but they could find no trace of her. My old man filled in the hole in the basement, and we moved away as soon as the snow melted. He never did believe me about the corpse moving; said it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Mr. Cogg, or more accurately, Samuel Baker, never was seen after that night. As for me, I’ve since gotten older, and tried to move on. But I tell you what: even to this day, when I hear “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”, a chill runs up my spine as I think of that corpse in the box, reaching for me, trying in vain to sing.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Nightmare Before Christmas Light-show

A neat little find on YouTube - a guy who created a Nightmare Before Christmas themed display for the Xmas Season, complete with lights synchronized to music! For whatever reason I wasn't able to attach the videos to this post, be here are some links:
Carol of the Bells:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Rudolph the Blood Soaked Reindeer

Ok, I'll be honest - this song is offensive, over-the-top, and I loved every minute of it. This is completely unsafe for work, young children, or anyone with no sense of humor. Those who are sick and twisted (like me) will find it quite funny. You have been warned:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Haunter's Gift Guide 2013

Since this is a time of gift-giving, I thought I'd put in my two cents as to what you should get that haunter of your Xmas list.
First, from ThinkGeek, we have the Walking Dead Survivor Robe, complete with tattered sleeves. Yours for $49.99

Since every haunter should have something cool to listen too while building props, why not get them a Hauntcast subscription? It's what all the cool ghouls are listening to! Starting at $50.
Now, a staple of every home haunt is a graveyard, so if that haunter on your list is looking to build some headstones, get them a Crafters Deluxe 4-in-1 kit from Hot Wire Foam Factory. $129.95
To give your favorite ghoul a spark of spooky inspiration, I'd recommend How To Haunt Your House, Part 3. It's on Amazon for $33.
Finally, after a long day of building corpses, every haunter needs a snack. To top off that snack, nothing beats Halloween Hot Sauce. It comes in three tasty flavors, and is delivered in a handmade wooden coffin! Pick up some poison for $17.95!

Monday, December 9, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Gothic Christmas Music

Since this Christmas time, Specters, it is inevitable that we are forced to listen to awful Christmas music as we shop for presents. As an antidote, I've created this little playlist of darker, more Gothic Christmas music. While it's certainly darker, I feel it still captures the essence of this time year, in a more emotional, more authentic way than the commercial garbage you hear on the radio. I hope you like it!

Click the image, hit "Play All", then downscale - it's meant to be listened to, not watched.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Scary Snowman Prank

Since January 2011, every winter one man dresses up as a scary snowman and begins pranking passersby. This year, he's hitting the streets of Boston, and has been kind enough to upload some hilarious video to YouTube. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Winter's Night Haunted House

This was a haunted house built at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando back in 2011. The detail is amazing, and I love of the theme of a haunted cemetery in the snow. Just beautiful.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Krampus

Tonight, Specters, is Krampusnacht, the night when Krampus, Father Christmas' dark counterpoint, is free to roam the Earth in search of naughty children to carry off to Hell to turn into his minions (or to be sold into slavery in Spain, depending on which version of the legend you hear). On the Eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, Krampus, sometimes on his own or sometimes accompanying the Saint, visit homes and businesses. St. Nicholas dispenses gifts to good, while Krampus concerns himself with the naughty, handing coal and glowering evilly. The most popular rite of Krampusnacht, however, is the Krampuslaufen, an alchohal-driven parade of men dressed as Krampus through the streets. Thought sometimes seen as unwholesome, the parades tend to attract large crowds and become theatrical spectacles. Don't believe me? Take a look at these pictures and videos:

And here's some video from a Krampuslaufen from Germany in 2010:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Sinister Pointe Holiday Haunt

For those of you who enjoy Christmas being turned on it's ear and given a nasty, edgy spin, I think you'll really enjoy this. Every year, Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction in Brea, California, turns into Holiday Haunt, a hilariously off-color take on Xmas. Expect everything from Who's off their meds to pissed-off elves to a drunken, lecherous Santa. You've been warned. (Heads up - completely unsafe for work or around small children). My favorite line: "Welcome to Whoville, Bitches!"

Monday, December 2, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: Haunted Mansion Holiday

As a huge fan of Disney's Haunted Mansion ride, I just to share this with you all (although, come to think of it, most of you are probably aware of this). Every year, the Haunted Mansion is given a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed make-over, as though Jack Skellington has arrived at the Mansion in time for Christmas. This video I found provides a behind-the-scenes look at the attraction's overhaul (pardon the subtitles):

Sunday, December 1, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas: The Phantom Coach

Here we are, Specters - December. I thought I would start my contributions to the 13 Days of Creepmas with something that has become an annual Christmas tradition for me: The Phantom Coach. I felt it appropriate because after all, before Hallowe'en, Christmas was the traditional time for telling ghost stories around the hearth. Originally a short story by Amelia B. Edwards, The Phantom Coach was adapted into a shadow-puppet short film by Mucky Puppets four years ago. I love the chilly atmosphere of the video; you can almost feel the icy wind whipping around you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


It's Turkey Day, Specters! I hope you all have a good time today. Instead of the usual picture of turkey like a lot of blogs, I'd thought I'd share something a little different but still related (sorta): George Carlin's "Fussy Eater" routine. Comedy gold.
Happy Thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

13 Days of Creepmas 2013:

Hello, Specters. I am very happy announce that I will be part of the annual blog event 13 Days of Creepmas. As retaliation for Christmas encroaching on Halloween every year, I, along with many others, will posting a spooky Xmas post every day from December 1st through December 13th. For those interested in participating, here's a link: http://creepmas.blogspot.com/p/how-to-participate.html I look forward to showing you some truly spooky sights, Specters. Until then...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Your Blood is Rotten, Black as your Sins!"

Thought I'd re-feature the works of a favorite artists, Nick Kushner. All painted in his own blood.
Oh, and kudos to anyone who knows what movie I just quoted!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Door to door religion

I got pestered by the Jehovah's Witnesses this morning. In order to be helpful to you, dear Specters, I've put this image together for all of us tired of the same people knocking on our doors asking us if we've found Jesus. Just print it out, stick on the door, and watch the fun begin.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Haunts of 2013, Part II

Well, here's the next batch of 2013 haunt vids. First up, the DC Cemetery:
Next, the Conifer Haunt: The 39th Street Cemetery: Now a pro haunt, Haunted Overload: And Finally, the Village Mire, parts I and II:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Freddy VS Michael, Parts I and II

This two part fan film put a big ol' smile on my face. Something really fun about watching these '70s and '80s horror icons facing off against each other. Although personally, I think the second one is better.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wicked History: Ed Gein

This is part of a new series of posts I’m starting; I call it Wicked History. I’ll be covering the kind of dark, sinister, and sordid tales that you will NEVER hear in history class. Expect murder, madness, morbidity, and the bizarre to be the order of the day with this series. And to kick things off, I thought I’d start with a subject that has fascinated America since the day of his apprehension: Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein, the Psycho of Plainfield himself. And when better to do it on than than the 56th anniversary of his capture.

WARNING: This documentary contains some graphic and disturbing content. If you are squemish or easily offended, walk away now...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Haunts of 2013, Part I

Well, Specters, Halloween 2013 is now officially dead and buried, the Haunt community has begun to pack away its tombstones, bats and scarecrows. There is, however, an upside to all this: the haunt videos of 2013 have begun to appear in great waves on YouTube. As such, I've decided to start a series of posts showcasing some of my favorites. First up, we have Shingle Creek Manor:
Now, the Spider-Rider Haunt:
Now for a couple of walk-throughs. First, Rotten Apple 907's Haunted Wisley Manor:
Here's something a little more edgy - The Butcher of Provincetown:
And finally, Eerie Acres Cemetery:
That's all for now Specters. 'Til next time...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Save The Haunted Garden!

This is a message to Halloween and Haunt fans across the globe: our help is needed to save one of our own. The Haunted Garden, a family-friendly yard haunt from Maryland, is under attack from local government. It seems some Grinchy "neighbors" didn't like the amount of attention the haunt was receiving, and so they got a legal injunction to shut down the display.
This is complete and utter BULLSHIT. This display is actually very tame, very kid-friendly, not at all shocking or graphic in any way, yet some fun-hating sumbitch has decide that since they don't like the haunt, no one else should get to see it. To make matters worse, it seems the local government has chosen to fight dirty: since the haunt owners aren't willing to just knuckle under, Uncle Sam is trying to pressure the owners into closing through growing legal bills. Fortunately, there seems to be a resistance: people are signing the online petition to save the haunt (which you can sign here), and are donating to help with the legal costs. Hell, little kids with protest signs showed up to defend the Garden. Clearly, no one is going to let this go down without a fight.
Now, here's one last thing I'd like to add: I feel it is the obligation of every haunter and Halloween fan to do something about this. Whether it's signing the petition, donating, or spreading the word, do your part. In my opinion, an attack on one is an attack on all of us. This is a complete infringement on Freedom of Speech, protected by the 1st Amendment. If the government can dictate how one how can decorate, who's to say to say they'll just stop at one haunt. Who knows - yours could be next. Do your part and and don't let the Haunted Garden be buried alive!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Support Sinister Shadows!

"Sinister Shadows is a project to build the next generation amusement park attraction using a classic ride from 1933 as its foundation.

While other mainstream amusement parks try to entertain people by pushing the limits of what the human body can experience, we will take rides to the next level by building an attraction that will take the riders into a different world.

Our ride will not only create an immersive experience, it will make the rider a part of a story that will last ten times the length of the average amusement park ride.

We've been working on this project for ten years. So far, all of the funding for this project has come from the talented people building it...

Now we've come to the point where we need a big (15,000 square foot!) building to assemble all the pieces in.

Once this ride is built, it will change the way amusement parks build attractions from that day on! We will change the amusement park landscape as much as Disney has, and here's your chance to be a permanent part of it!"


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christopher Lee

I couldn't think of a more imaginative title for this post, so there it is. I found this really obscure video of Christopher Lee singing opera in German and French, and reciting part of Poe's The Raven. It seems this was part of an experimental film from Italy in the 1970s. Bask in it's weirdness, and enjoy!

The Upper Berth - A Nautical Ghost Story

I remember finding this eerie short film through Season of Shadows (the late great John Wolfe's site). I remember the first time I watched it, being seriously creeped out by the whole thing. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween 2013

Well, Specters, here we are. Halloween is over. Every year we hotly anticipate its arrival, yet the day itself goes by so quickly. Now it is day two of Día de los Muertos, and Halloween is gone for another year. Yet already, many of us are already planning for next year. I know I am.

My Halloween started out rather simply, enjoying a mug of hot chocolate (I drink it like other people drink coffee) and few pumpkin donuts from the bakery. Since I didn't have a haunt to set up this year, I rested easy during the day, trying to enjoy the day despite the crummy weather. As dark drew closer, I set up a CD player in my apartment window, and put in Midnight Syndicate's Vampyre CD. I had strewn some leaves around outside, and set up a folding chair to hand out candy from. I put together a Grim Reaper costume (thanks to my friend Sharon for providing the Creepy Cloth), and and sat down with a box bursting with candy waiting for the ToTs. And waiting. And waiting.

In the first hour of Trick or Treating, I only got a few people, six at the most, and I was feeling depressed as I sat there in the rainy drizzle. Determined to enjoy Halloween, I went inside, turned off the CD player, and put an unusual plan into action: I was going to reverse the order of things. Hauling my box of candy with me, I began roaming the neighborhood. Any house I saw that was decorated or looking festive, received a special visit from the Reaper: when I rang the doorbell, and someone came to the door with a bowl of candy, before the could say anything, I promptly placed a few handfuls of candy into their bowls. Then I turned smartly on my heel and walked away. If I encountered any groups of ToTs out and about, I was sure to give them some candy too. People some delighted by the whole thing. A mysterious cloaked figure dispensing goodies to passersby seemed appropriately spooky, I guess. The last house I visited had the best decoration in the whole town. Cornstalks, spider webs, witches, ghosts, pumpkins, orange lights, fog, an animatronic pirate skeleton; they had it all. I gave them all the candy I had left. I revisited the house later and got to talking with the owners; really nice people. When I revealed that I was the Reaper who had visited them earlier, the one lady ended up giving me a great big bag of candy. Very generous, and very cool. And at 8:00, as I walked about, there were fireworks. Yes, that's right, fireworks. Lots of them. The night sky was light up with the colors of autumn, and the air was perfumed with the scent of gunpowder. Finally, I went home, and collapsed into an armchair, exhausted (in a good way). Finally, I wound down the evening by watching Trick 'r Treat and munching on microwave kettle corn.

It was a good Halloween.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: A Halloween Memory

Halloween has always been a special day for me. Right from the beginning, it felt as though the night itself contains a delicious sense of eerie mystery; this was the night one all the creatures my parents told me didn’t exist (zombies, ghosts, vampires) were free to roam to Earth, walking about us undisguised, hidden in plain sight. I loved the idea that (as my Dad explained it) this night had its origins in ancient people disguising themselves so as to evade monsters, visible just once a year. One of my earliest memories is trick-or-treating dressed as a fireman in New Jersey, back in the late 1990’s. My recollections of going of trick-or-treating are clearer to me after my family moved to Ohio. I was a pirate, a robot, Zorro, Frankenstein's Monster. Every house seemed to have at least one jack-o-lantern. One house even handed out sodas; another, popsicles  My favorite house of all, though, was the “creepy house”. The guy who lived there was “odd” and highly OCD at the best of times, but at Halloween, his was the go-to house. Giant spiders, talking skulls, a graveyard, fog, coffins, the Grim Reaper, demonic bats; you name it, it was there. I suppose that visiting (and re-visiting) that house may have been the earliest sign that I was to one day become a haunter myself. Eventually, we moved to another neighborhood, and “that house” was left behind. I have not seen it since.

The summer after I turned 11 was a difficult one, to be sure. My parents were in the process of being divorced, and I was still getting over having bullied pretty badly at school the previous year (I ended up being homeschooled for sixth grade). I get the impression my Mom wanted to do something special for me. I was becoming pretty interested in the old Universal Monster movies around this time, and one, The Phantom of the Opera with the great Lon Chaney, Sr., had a particular grip on my imagination.
 After seeing it that summer, my Mom suggested building a pipe organ for Halloween that year. I agreed it was a cool idea, but I quickly forgot about. It was my Mom who brought the idea back to the foreground in October. We set about painting old cardboard tubes to look the pipes on an organ. Using a desk as the base, we added planks of wood painted to look like keys, sheet music, cobwebs, and a skull. We burned a CD of pipe organ music taken from the soundtrack of the Lloyd-Webber musical. We hung a plastic tarp to create a backdrop in the garage, dressing it up with cobwebs, furniture, dead plants, “dead bodies” (actually just clothes stuffed as newspaper), and lit it with a strobe light. Next thing you know, we had the Phantom’s lair in our garage. When Halloween Night rolled around, I dressed in black and wore my Dad’s college graduation robes as a “cloak”. For a disfigurement, my Mom covered my cheeks with honey and oatmeal before painting it with skin-colored greasepaint to create diseased flesh. I wore a white plastic mask from the craft store; I spent half the night pounding away on the keys of the organ in time to the music, illuminated by flashes of the strobe. The other half, I went trick-or-treating for the last time.

My haunting career has expanded since then. I did two more haunts in that same garage, “Frankenstein’s Lab” and “Granny’s Parlor” in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Then the haunt travelled to Western PA, where my family still runs it, now under the name of October Hollow. As I write this, I am also preparing to hand out candy, in costume, of course, to the ToTs who travel past my apartment. Not an elaborate set up, to be sure; just me in a mask with some Midnight Syndicate playing in the background, but there is still a certain kind of magic in it. Ultimately though, it always comes back to that first haunt, back in 2006, put on by a 11-year-old kid, standing under a nearly full moon, with a cold breeze causing my cloak to swirl around me and leaves to flutter past my boots. And with it all, the feeling that, on this night, anything could happen. That magic was real.
Happy Halloween, Specters

Monday, October 28, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Pumpkinrot

I felt that I couldn't let the season pass without a mention of the man who might very well be the living embodiment of Halloween - Pumpkinrot.

Now, most people reading this blog probably already know who Rot is. For those who don't, he is the man who, along with other notables such as the Hallowed Haunting Grounds, prove that Home Haunts can be more than decorations gone wild; they can be Art. I became aware of Pumpkinrot and his work in the winter of 2008/2009. I was completely blown away by the detail, the atmosphere, the vision, and the perfection. It was actually the discovery of his site that inspired me to start my own blog. My mind was blown all-over again the following October, when he debuted "the Corn Witch".

Every year since, his work continues to get better and better.

Recently, he even branched out into prop work for the indie horror film Mr. Jones. He also directed the short film Swamp Foetus.
Rot is a source of inspiration to haunters everywhere. His blog provides daily doses of Halloween all year long. His props and haunts never fail to unsettle and inspire artists and Halloween fans of all stripes. But, in the words of Levar Burton, don't take my word for it. See for yourself:
Pumpkinrot: What's Brewing (his blog)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Review of Sleepy Hollow (1999)

The year is 1799. An upstart young police inspector named Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to the rural village of Sleepy Hollow, NY to investigate a series of strange beheadings, unaware that the undead, headless Hessian mercenary (Christopher Walken) responsible is just the tip of the blood-soaked iceberg.

There are some movies we can’t help but like in spite of ourselves. For me, Sleepy Hollow is among them. Yes, some of the acting is wooden. Yes, it was unnecessary to give both Ichabod and the Horseman elaborate backstories. And yes, the ending is completely ridiculous. And not everyone is going to like the reworking of Washington Irving’s classic ghost yarn into a grisly supernatural whodunnit, but what cannot be denied is that this film is drenched in Halloween atmosphere. From the opening chase through a cornfield (completely with an awesome scarecrow that many a haunter has tried to replicate), to the village of Sleepy Hollow itself, to the foreboding, fog-filled Western Woods, Sleepy Hollow captures the feel of a chilly October night perfectly. Not to mention, the soundtrack is perfect. I have the main titles on my MP3 player, and often listen to it when I’m out for a walk on a crisp fall evening. And then of course, there is the Horseman. Whereas previous adaptions had to resort to the old trick of a cape thrown over an actor’s shoulders, this version had the advantage of computers, and so the Horseman actually looks headless. Not to mention, the costume designers outdid themselves on the Horseman’s rotting uniform. An awesome character design.

In short, I’d say that if you’re looking some movies to put you in the Halloween frame of mind, you could do a lot worse than Sleepy Hollow.

HalloweeNut’s Verdict:
2 out of 4 Skulls

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Review of House of 1000 Corpses

In writer/director Rob Zombie’s film debut, House of 1000 Corpses, two teenage couples travelling the back roads of America in search of roadside oddities discovering a sinister local legend of a man called “Dr. Satan”. In their attempts to research the legend, they stumble upon a sadistic family of backwoods serial killers, and all Hell begins to break loose.

Filmed in 2000 but released until three years later, House of 1000 Corpses is the kind of horror film that divides fans: they either love it or hate. Me, I’m somewhere in-between. They elements that I liked most about the movie where a) the scenes with Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), b) the sequence in Doctor Satan’s lair, and c) the soundtrack.

I have to admit that I absolutely dig the scenes with Captain Spaulding and his Murder Ride. Spaulding is one those characters is so nasty but so funny that you can’t help but like him. Sid Haig did a terrific job as the character, easily earning him (and Bill Mosely as Otis Driftwood, for that matter) a place alongside such modern horror icons like Jigsaw from SAW or Sam from Trick ‘r Treat. Not to mention, the Museum of Monsters and Madmen is just plain awesome, with its dark ride dedicated to serial killers.

As for the rest of the movie, it occurs to me that this movie is like a cinematic haunt; with its weird goings-on, trippy-weird editing, bizarre characters, Halloween night setting, perverse sense of humor, and slightly random sensibility (the “skunk-ape” bit still has me confused) is probably the closest you get to have a cinematic haunted house without actually filming a haunt. Not surprisingly, it has been adapted into a haunted attraction several times, mostly by Halloween Horror Nights, but most recently by the Great American Nightmare. If you’re haunter looking for inspiration for character or set designs, definitely look this one up. Also, I can’t do this review without briefly mentioning the awesome soundtrack by Zombie. I’m obviously a bit biased as I’m already a fan of Zombie’s music, but this soundtrack does have some pretty cool songs, such as “Everybody Scream”, “Run Rabbit Run”, the wonderfully sleazy “P#ssy Liquor”, and of course, “House of 1000 Corpses”.

Now obviously this is a seriously flawed film. I will give Zombie the benefit of the doubt and point out that the studio was giving him a hard time about the movie, his first effort, and making a movie is hard job. Still, the movie has it’s weak points – it’s not the most frightening, or even the most shocking, but I still found it to be entertaining, with its psychedelic editing, ghoulish characters, and twisted humor. In summary, if you’re a haunt looking for some Halloween viewing, House of 1000 Corpses might make a good addition to your movie list.

HalloweeNut’s Verdict:
2 out of 4 Skulls

Monday, October 21, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Haunts of Pittsburgh, PA

As a resident of Western Pennsylvania, I don’t think I could let the Dark Season pass without paying homage to the some of the haunts in the area. I’ve compiled this little list for any haunts in the Pittsburgh who may read to act as a guide to the haunts, while for the rest of you, I see this is an opportunity to show Pittsburgh and Western PA’s haunting legacy.

First, I bring to your attention Dark Works, a home haunt put on Terror Syndicate Productions. Don’t let the label of “home haunt” fool you – this thing is a force to be reckoned with. Always creating innovative and original methods to scare its patrons, this haunt has a visual style that I cannot put my finger on. Its part backwoods, part zombie, part I really don’t know what. It is rustic, creepy, decaying, dark, disorienting. This is truly a haunt that stands alone, forging its own unique path. What’s even cooler is that absolutely everything in the haunt is handmade – from the masks to the music, to the animatronics and sets, which range from minimalist to insanely detailed, Dark Works is truly one of the great haunts.

Up next, our little jaunt through Pittsburgh brings us to Hundred AcresManor. Claiming to be Pittsburgh’s Most Extreme Haunt, the Manor offers six sick attractions: Dead Lift, Damnation, South Valley Hospital, The Family: Unearthed, The Maze, and Brine Slaughterhouse. This haunt proudly favors the blood ‘n’ chainsaws approach, and is definitely not made with more timid haunt fans in mind. It has killer sets, tons of gore, and a very high intensity factor. What’s cool is that the proceeds go to two charities, AnimalFriends and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. So if you’re looking to piss your pants in the name of a good cause, this might be your haunt.

Now, if you’re looking to keep your pants unsoiled but still have a creepy good time, perhaps Castle Blood Haunted Adventure Tours are more your style. This haunt has been going strong for over twenty years, and is unique in that it provides an interactive, theatrical Gothic experience. As your tour this beautifully detailed haunt, you must solve puzzles and collect tokens as part of a challenge, with prizes awarded to groups who exit the haunt with all their tokens. Certainly one the most unique haunt experiences around.

If you’re the kind of haunt goer that is looking for more than just a haunts in their Halloween experience, head over to Phantom Fright Nights. Hosted at Kennywood, the largest amusement park in the area, Phantom Fright Nights feature haunted houses, scare zones, thrill rides, music, and tons of other features. It even has a haunt, BioFear, that was designed by Terror Syndicate Productions, the same folks behind Dark Works. This haunt consistently gets good reviews among local haunt fans, so check it out for yourself.

And last but certainly not least, we come to what is one of my favorite haunts, TheScarehouse. A slick, professional haunt with the look and feel of a Hollywood movie, Scarehouse is actually three haunts in one: The Forsaken, a creepy atmospheric descent into madness; Creepo’s Christmas in 3D; and Pittsburgh Zombies, a blood-soaked homage to Pittsburgh’s living dead legacy. This year, they are also featuring an extreme, adults-only haunt called The Basement, which promises "high voltage effects, very low lighting, tight spaces, strong scents, profanity, moments of complete darkness, water, physical contact, sexual and violent situations". Fun for the whole family. By far, I think Scarehouse ties with Dark Works as the best haunt in Pittsburgh.
Well, there you have it, Specters. I hope this helps you in selecting what haunts you choose to visit, or at least provides you with inspiration for your own.