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.