Wednesday, October 31, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Finale

I ended up not taking very many pictures of my yard set-up this year. Pretty much all of the shots I took were during the day, eliminating any spookiness factor. My kids were too inpatient to get trick-or-treating underway to allow dad to stand in the driveway photographing things.

It was very windy again, so no plastic jack-o-lanterns lit up with candles filled the trees this year either. The main piece of my yard decor was this skeleton horse with skeleton rider, a 10' tall (at least) 2-figure marrionette, which moved a bit with the wind which also moved the branches that some of the features were tied to, creating additioal movements. The twine holding everything together while very visible in these shots, is pretty invisible once it starts getting dark.

My 8' tall skeleton marrionette made his third appearance, this time in a new location to make room for the horse. Like the horse, the twine disappears from view after dark.

The two ghosts that I posted a DIY instructional on earlier in the month were also hung from the trees. The more aggresive looking one over our driveway, the other one towards the front of our yard where it would be seen first by kids coming from one end of our street. The wind creating some nice swooping action of the ghost with her arms held out in a grasping position. The wind didn't do the other ghost too many favors, flattening her out a bit so I'm sure someone wondered why I hung my dry cleaning from a tree.

As you can see, the maples in our front yard are not at all cooperative, still boasting a full set of GREEN leaves. This meant that I had to be careful where I hung things so that they would be visible and not hidden by the foliage.

A also recycled a couple of Dementors that I made for a book store display to commemerate the final Harry Potter book. they were in pretty bad shape, and will be going out with Monday's trash, but they did okay for tonight. One of them was hung up over our driveway just above where the trick-or-treaters turn to reach our front door. I have to admit that looking out our bedroom window and seeing that thing flitting about out there in the wind is pretty eerie.

The other dementor was positioned peeking from around a tree at the top of our driveway, sort of a surprise.

This is a wide shot that shows where most of the elements were in relation to one another. The ghost with her hands held infront of her, is off to the left of the skeleton marrionette. In the background, you can see my kids impatiently waiting to start their rounds. My daughter went as "one of the classics" she said, a witch. My son went as Boba Fett, which started as a storebought costume, but was given embellishments such as a holster, a feed line for the flame thrower, and the rocket launching backpack. Like the Kenner action figure of 1979 which broke the hearts of untold millions of boys, this missile could not be fired either.

The blobby ectoplasmic thing hovering over their heads is recycled Nearly Headless Nick, also originally built for the Harry Potter festivities. For some odd reason, I always neglect to photograph this thing even though I think it came out pretty well.

Jars containing lit votive candles created a path leading up from the jack o'lanterns bordering the entrance to our driveway, leading to our front door. The porchlight by the front door was covered with enlarged copies of the "Vampire Girl," "Gorilla," and "Shock Monster" art from the ads in Famous Monsters, which looked pretty good backlit, but were too bright to photograph.

So there you have it, another Halloween come and gone.

There will not be any activity at this blog for at least a week or two while I recover and catch up on some projects that need attending to. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by and to the other participants in this year's Halloween Countdown. Come back next Fall for more tricks and treats, and please, stop by between now and then.

I sleep now.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Riddle

31 Days of Halloween is over so there is no new riddle, but I thank everyone who participated in guessing, or attempting to guess these things.

Answer to yesterday's riddle: "Can't you count, Dracula?"

Stephen offered up some really good choices, including one answer that was almost correct.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Movie

For my final movie of the Halloween season, I chose "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), a film which bridges the era of classic horror and that of modern horror. I haven't watched this in a while, and was glad to see that it still holds up really well. Romero's future films would be filled with performances that varied widely from really professional acting to really poor, overacting (the biggest problem with "Day of the Dead"). "Night of the Living Dead" had pretty solid acting all around. I don't think there is anything that can be said about this movie that hasn't already. It was a perfect way to finish a month of horror movie viewing.

It did make me wonder though, when the walking dead in movies after this, including George Romero's movies, started being referred to as zombies. In "Night of the Living Dead" when they're not being referred to as "those things" they're referred to as "ghouls," which is actually a much more acurate term for them, since no voodoo was involved in their reanimation.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Spooky Bonus 2

If you scroll back a couple of posts to today's "Spooky Bonus 1" you'll read about how my family made a visit to my daughter's 3rd grade teacher's house. Here are some pictures of the yard haunt her husband put together called "Brandywine Cemetery." As you can see, my camera doesn't deal too well with low light conditions, and there was enough smoke in the air that using a flash only resulted in pictures of the flash reflected off the smoke.

The top picture is the street sign near their house.

The green light was a really cool vortex that appeared in the air just beyond the entrance gate to the cemetery. It looked much more impressive in real life than inthis picure.

There was a great, huge crank ghost that descended and ascended from the roof on one corner of the house.

These next couple of shots were of some of the custom gargoyles that dressed the cemetery gate walls.

Finally, the car of the creator of this fabulous walk through yard haunt.

For better pictures and the evolution of this yard haunt over the years, check out the Brandywine Cemetery website

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Happy Halloween!

Today's the big day that we've all been counting down to. I'd like to thank everyone who's participated in this year's Halloween countdown, whether by simply stopping by, especially those of you who have taken the time to comment and participate, or who have been running countdown's of your own. I'm especially pleased by how big this year's Halloween countdown has grown since last year. Last year there were only a handful of us doing this (at least in an interconnected manner). This year there are a couple of dozen. Hopefully next year there will be even more. Then the world will be ours. I've taken the time to visit each of the other particpant's blogs on at least an every other day frequency, and have enjoyed them immensely. I've learned things, coveted things, laughed out loud, and experienced a profound shared embracement of the holiday. My apologies for not commenting more frequently, but my computer seems to have some difficulty with the little comments pop up screen, that I haven't figured out how to get around.

I still have a few posts to put up today after this one, so be sure to check back tonight or tomorrow. There's one last movie to watch and post, a riddle to answer, and pictures of my outdoor decorations to share.

In the meantime, here are links to two sites that I'd been meaning to put up, and never seemed to get around to it.

First up, is Mark Harvey's13th Mark probably has the greatest collection of Halloween songs, stories, and sound effects on the planet. He also broadcasts a year round streaming radio program of Halloween music, and also composes his own spooky music which he sells on his own record label. There's tons of great stuff here whenever the Halloween mood strikes you.

Secondly, one of the most unique blogs participating in the Halloween countdown is The Armchair Chef. We've got plenty of crafts, and costume scans, toys, music downloads, movie reviews, childhood reminiscences, book recommendations, magazine graphics, all of which I love, among us, but I think this is the only place that's been feeding us a steady diet of recipes for Halloween treats. If you've got a Halloween party planned for tonight and are looking for that special something to serve, then this is the place to go.

Everyone, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Spooky Bonus 1

Traditionally, I don't put up any of my outdoor decorations until Halloween day, after all of the neighborhood kids have gone off to school. This year is no exception. If you're interested to see what I've got in store for the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, check back late tonight.

In the meantime, here are a couple of other houses about town that caught my fancy. I was hoping to photograph more, but haven't had the time. The top house has a giant spider and its web, along with a skeleton of the spider's victim, positioned by the front door.

The house on the bottom here is seen as a work in progress, and it's mighty impressive even at this stage. This is pretty close to what I'd imagined I was going to do this year, at the end of last Halloween. Needless to say, I didn't even make a start at realizing this dream, so I get to enjoy it vicariously through this house. This house actually belongs to my daughter's 3rd grade teacher and her husband. They open up their yard for three evenings leading through Halloween. We went tonight, and the finished attraction is incredible. I'll post more pictures later in the day.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - In Stores Now

So much for shameless plugs. I completely forgot to mention this last week when it came out. Available now in comic book stores is SCOOBY-DOO #125, the perfect reading material for Halloween. This issue features three stories written by me--well, two stories and one fake ad for some fruit pies posing as a story.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Riddle

What did Dracula's teacher say when he flunked his math test?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: The Living room!

Guessed correctly by Max, the drunken severed head!

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31

Have you been so busy blogging about Halloween that you've forgotten to get yourself a costume? Never fear. Here are some last minute masks you can make yourself courtesy of the October 1967, October 1962, and October 1964 issues of "Jack and Jill" magazine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 -Movie

Lon Chaney, Jr. has cropped up a lot in my Halloween viewing this year, and here he is again in "Witchcraft" (1964). A centuries old feud between the Whitlock family and the Lanier family is rekindled when a modern development desecrates the graves of the Whitlock's, a family of witches. The destruction of the graves also allows Vanessa Whitlock to return after being buried alive 300 years earlier, condemned by a Lanier. The Lanier family and their associates are picked off one by one, until the final confrontation between the two families which climaxes in a spectacular fire.

This movie begins with a lot of promise, but quickly derails as plot threads lead nowhere, or are forgotten entirely. Chaney begins as a central figure in the movie, then vanishes for most of the rest before reappearing before the climax, and the Lanier's don't seem to be proacticve at all when it comes to saving their skins. It's still fairly enjoyable to watch, but the poor story structure keeps it from being the classic it easily could have been.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 - Riddle

What part of a house makes a ghost nervous?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: Home moaners insurance!

Sparkle Plenty provided some good alternatives though.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30

While you're out there filling your trick-or-treat bags and buckets with candy tomorrow night, don't forget to trick or treat for
UNICEF as well. I'm sure their website can steer you towards other places to pick up one of their trick-or-treat for UNICEF collection boxes, but I picked up ours at Pier 1.

Monday, October 29, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Movies

"Movies" is a bit of a misnomer. I didn't have enough time to watch an entire movie tonight, so I watched a cartoon and a couple of tv episodes instead. At least all of them were halloween related.

First came "To Boo Or Not To Boo" starring Casper the friendly ghost. Casper tries trick or treating with some kids. When they realize he's a real ghost they flee. Poor Capser then comes across a halloween party in a barn and gets the brilliant idea to cover himself in white wash, hiding his transparency. He befriends a little girl. When an accident with some water reveals his true nature, everyone flees but the girl, who turns out to be a ghost in costume as well.

"Halloween With The Addams Family" is a first season episode in which the macabre family gets ready for Halloween. They mistake a pair of bank robbers for trick or treaters and invite them into the house to celebrate with them. Thinking they've found a refuge from the police, the robbers do, but soon realize that they'd be better off in jail than playing games like "bobbing for the crab."

"Munster Masquerade" is the first episode of "The Munsters," and while not specifically Halloween related does feature a Masquerade party, allowing the Munsters to unwittingly, almost pass for regular people in their Little Bo Peep, Napoleon, and King Arthur costumes. When their true appearances are revealed, hilarity ensues.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Contest Results

No matter how well you plan something, at least one thing is bound to do wrong. This contest was no exception. As the entries came in, I carefully jotted down all the names and addresses of the entrants onto slips of paper which were placed into a plastic jack o'lantern trick-or-treat bucket so that I could later draw a winner at random. I also carefully placed all of the photos sent into two folders on my computer desktop. One file contained the sent photos, unresized and formatted, the other folder contained the photos after I'd resizewd and reformatted them so that I could place them on my blog when the winner was announced.

About ten days ago, I selected a winner at random, and mailed off their prize. My plan was always to officially announce the winner here at the end of the month, I just wanted to be sure that the seasonal DVD reached them in time to watch it before Halloween, not after.

No problems there.

A couple of days later, I dumped one of the file folders into the trashcan on my desktop. A couple days after that I emptied my trashcan. So what do you think happened yesterday when I decided to put all of the entry photos on my blog? Correct, I discovered that I no longer had most of them, including the photo from the winners. I only have these to post because, I happened to still have the original, untouched images, either still in the old file, or in the original emails, which still hadn't been removed from my virtual mail box.

So to all of you who sent in pictures and don't see them here, I'm terribly sorry about the mishap. There was a really nice range of material submitted, and it would have made a really nice near finale to my Halloween countdown. To Jeff, whose images, I could never download properly, I'm sorry I couldn't see them and share them. Everyone who entered, no matter any problems at my end, was in fact entered into the contest. No one was overlooked. I thank you all for entering.

Congratulations to THE O'BRIEN FAMILY in upstate New York for winning a copy of "Halloween The happy Haunting of America," and for sending in that picture of the cool home made monster for your front porch, wich I wish I could share here.

The photos I have left are still great to see and share so here they are.

The top 2 images come from riddle master, and all around nice guy Stephen, including those amazing Jack O'Lantern portraits he did of his kids.

Next comes some nice Halloween trappings including an almost entirely black cat rubbing gums with some really nice seasonal decor. This comes coutesy of the drunken severed head's better 3/4.

Fellow UMA member, Rob, supplied a nice batch of photos including these two.

One of the nice things about this contest was seeing entries from people I don't know, including Sandy who sent me this one of herself zombified, as well as one featuring some modern horror icons including Chucky and a nicely made mask of the puppet from the "Saw" movies.

Thany you everyone, and again, my apologies for the mishap with the rest of the photos. If you'll all kindly lower your pitchforks and torches, I'll come down out of this windmill.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Riddle

What did the ghost buy for his haunted house?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: Crazy!

I like Stephen's guess better. It made me lol.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29

It's too bad that the great full moon we had a few nights ago won't be here for Halloween.

Before trick-or-treating this year be sure your little ones review all of the rules of safety for enjoying the holiday!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 28 - Movie 2

The late Curtis Harrington has directed a lot of genre titles ranging from "Queen of Blood" (1966) to the tv movie "Devil Dog: Hound of Hell" (1978) and a lot of tv show episodes in between. "Night Tide" (1961) stars Dennis Hopper as a likeable sailor who, while on shore leave, meets a girl in Santa Monica, who makes a living as a "living mermaid" in an amusement park attraction. It sounds okay, until the sailor discovers that his new girlfriend, Mora (Linda Lawson) is suspected of murdering her previous two boyfriends who were both drowned, and that Mora may in fact be a deadly, siren-like, creature of the sea.

Along the lines of "Cat People" this movie is a psychological thriller where much of the time the audience, and the sailor are wondering if the fantastic element of the story is true, or if it is merely some deep rooted psychological problem that may have terrible repurcussions of its own, or may merely be potentially thwarting a blossoming relationship. This movie has the look and feel of an "art house" movie of the period. The story does hold the viewers interest, and its a pleasure to see Dennis Hopper in a role so different from the wackos he'd end up being saddled with later in his career.