Umberto & Antoni Maiovvi - "The Hook & Pull Gang"

Without a doubt my favorite new release. Gritty, grimey and perfect! I just wish I could have been at MondoCon or BeyondFest to see this score performed live during the showing of the iconic film it was written for...

From Death Waltz:
The debut release on Death Waltz Originals is not only a brand new recording from Umberto & Antoni Maiovvi entitled 'The Hook & Pull Gang’ but is also a full re-score of the notorious classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The duo will exclusively perform the re-score live at MondoCon & Beyond Fest in September . The screenings will retain ALL of the dialogue and sound effects and will be accompanied by brand new music to accompany the images on screen.

Scores From a Haunt Sale

This past week, I found a posting about a home haunt sale going on a mere 20 minutes from my house, so Saturday morning I grabbed my good bud Jimmy T and we took a ride to see what they had.

It's always sad to see someone selling off their haunt, but in this instance was necessary due to a move to California.

As we arrived, we saw a Jeep with a trailer already loaded up with a full-size coffin and two skull walls, so we knew somebody was cleaning up. In all honesty, I was only looking for a few small things from the list the seller posted online, so I was okay to see that those particular things were still available.

As we continued to go through the sale items, a couple of fellow haunters showed up. No overlapping on our want lists, so we ended up hanging out and talking with the owner. Even though it was roughly 38 degrees outside. Our friends ended up taking the really cool "claustrophobia wall" and some camo netting, leaving me to the small amount of items that I wanted.

As I was paying for my goods, the owner informed us that the money from the sale was actually going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, so it felt good to drop a little cash for a good cause.

So here is what I ended up getting, all at really good prices:

First up is The Webcaster Gun, complete with a pack of glue sticks. I was going to order a new one from Amazon, but I'm glad I didn't. I can't wait to try and shoot some webbing onto my props for next year.

Next is the small mp3 player and battery operated speaker combo. Super cheap, but good sound from a self-contained unit that I can use for some accent ambient audio. And because it runs on batteries, I can put it anywhere without having to find an open electrical plug. This was a nice surprise for the quality and sound level of the speaker unit.

Third was one of the items that I really wanted, a Chauvet Hurricane 1100 fog machine. I'm currently using two larger, 1100-watt machines and had always wanted a smaller accent fogger for the top of my driveway. And for the price, this was a no-brainer. It's a nice, compact unit that still produces a large amount of fog. I can't wait to drop a little Froggy's Fog juice in it and fire it up.

And finally, another piece that I was really interested in picking up, a Kaleidoscope Laser Jet. I had seen lasers used with great success in other haunts, so I figured I'd pick this one up and see what I could do with it. When I turned it on, it produced a really vivid, moving green and red dot pattern throughout my basement. I'm going to try and set this up in the top corner of my front porch and let the moving laser lights cut through some thick fog. This effect will surely mess with the trick-or-treaters! I hope to have the "candy givers" standing still in these lights and then move forward silently as the kids come up to get their candy.

Here is what the laser looks like in my basement:

Overall, a nice score of items for not a lot of money. I was able to stay within my small budget and I only picked up the things that I really needed. I know that there were some larger items still available for sale when we left, so check out the list if you're in the area and help out a great cause!


The Sounds of the Cemetery, 2014

I wanted to take a second to share with everyone the audio that I used in this year's yard haunt.

I'm always on the lookout for the next great track to use in my haunt, and I usually gravitate toward dark ambient tracks. They provide a dark and creepy sound that fills the yard, yet manages to stay in the background, not becoming the focus. I find that these kinds of tracks support the visual aspect of the haunt perfectly. A constant, unrecognizable sound that instills atmospheric dread and discomfort.

A week or two before Halloween, I discovered the track that would be used for the main cemetery audio. I honestly can't remember how exactly I stumbled upon this track, but once I heard it, I knew that was the track to use.

Pioneering dark ambient artist Jeff Greinke has been composing music since 1984, but it was a track from his 1992 release Lost Terrain that really caught my attention. His track The Moor sets a perfect mood of layered dread that slowly creeps from the dark corners of the cemetery. A truly eerie track that waited 22 years to be used in my Halloween setting!

On top of this main track echoing throughout the front yard, I used a support track for my front porch crypt. I picked this track solely for the purpose of supporting my newest prop, Le Cadavre de Vodoun. When I heard this track, I new that it would fit perfectly as it swirled out from beneath the coffin, enveloping the two figures shrouded in foggy darkness (my mom and aunt!) as they handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters...

Alongside dark ambient, another go-to for audio inspiration for me has been horror movie soundtracks. The genre has been very popular lately, with stellar releases and re-releases coming out from great labels like Death Waltz, Mondo and Waxwork.

In September, Death Waltz released The Equestrian Vortex, a 10-inch record with tracks composed by Andrew Liles, using audio cues from the 2012 film, Berberian Sound Studio. While the prospect of a blue and yellow swirled 10-inch record excited me, hearing the cut from side two, Lord, We Beseech You stopped me in my tracks. Not so much a structured audio track as a long, demonic repetitive female chanting that added a whole new depth of creepiness to the crypt.

And unfortunately, I couldn't find the track online, so to hear it at Death Waltz, you have to first click on this link. On the menu to the left, click on the "Listen" tab. Then click on the little blue arrow icon next to "Side 2. Lord, We Beseech You" and be prepared to be creeped out.

Together, these two tracks added the perfect underlying effect of dread that really supported the visual punch of my yard haunt. Over the past couple of years, I have really focused more on the audio aspect of my haunt and I no longer use the traditional "spooky sounds" tracks. I think going outside the standard audio selections can really take your haunt to a frightening, new level of terror and unease.


Waxwork Records Halloween 2014 Mixtape

It's like they raided my personal record collection to come up with this amazing Halloween mix! Waxwork Records has been on an incredible roll as of late and I can't wait to see what I'm going to spend my paycheck on next from them...

Dia de Muertos Cleveland, 2014

After a whirlwind Halloween Friday night, I decided to brave the cold temperatures of Saturday and headed up to the 10th annual Dia de Muertos festival in Cleveland.

Honoring the spirit of deceased loved ones with mariachi bands, altars created by local artists, a cemetery display, dancers, sugar skulls, food, intricate dia de los muertos makeup, giant puppets and a skull and skeleton parade made for a really great way to spend a frigid afternoon...

A pleasant surprise was artist Nancy Cintron's giant altar dedicated to horror icon, Vincent Price! A large collection of Cintron's sketches of Price in his many iconic film and television roles as well as an area to sit and sketch or write your personal memories of him. Even if there were no sketches of Dr. Phibes, it was a perfect way to wrap up the Halloween season!

And while it was cold with a few flakes of snow in the air, the warmth of the colors, the music and the people made for a spectacular and fun event. I will definitely be back next year, camera in hand, and this time, some paint on my face! Feliz Dia de Muertos!

Highbury Cemetery, 2014

Well, we had another night of rain, but it didn't stop our setup and it sure didn't stop the 245 trick-or-treaters that came through the yard haunt, so I'm going to say that Halloween 2014 was a success. A cold, wet and fun success!

T-shirts and posters go out to the following Cemetery members, who without their help, Highbury Cemetery wouldn't exist: Sharon, Karen, Jenn, Scrapes, Andrew, Stacey, Vince, Neighbor Joe, Laurie, and new friend to the Cemetery Mike, who just showed up to check things out but stayed all night and helped with the tear down (I have one extra shirt coming your way, my friend!!).

Without further ado, I present Highbury Cemetery, 2014: