An Omen And A Movie Review!

So after getting home from a weekend trip to visit family, I plopped down on the couch with an Abita Amber and turned on the TV. I was flipping through the channels when something caught my attention from the corner of my eye...

I looked up and something was flying around the living room. It swooped back at me and that is when I got a good look at it. It was a bat. A freaking bat. Flying around inside my house. It was at this point that I just about soiled myself in horror. The damn thing had a wingspan of about 7 or 8 inches. It was huge!! Somehow I managed to keep my cool to the point that I was able to first grab my beer and then run like hell. I screamed up to Mrs. Highbury, who was upstairs, that there was a bat in the house as I made a mad dash to the basement. Every chicken for himself!!

I heard some muffled yelling from upstairs and then quiet. And then I heard blood-curling screaming, followed by the stomping of a full-out sprint. Mrs. Highbury raced down the steps to join me in the basement. 

And wouldn't you know that the damn thing followed her downstairs. Two of us running around the cluttered basement with a bat flying around. When it flew into the far corner of the basement, we darted back upstairs. I slammed the door to the kitchen behind me. I then went out through the back door and came to the side door that led to the basement. I propped it open and ran (really fast) back into the house. We were able to get a great vantage point of the side door from our kitchen window. We could see that damn thing flying around and around, finally finding its way up the stairs and out the open door, back into the wilderness.

After getting our heart rates down hours later, we actually had a bit of a laugh. The tables had been turned on "the Halloween House." This time it was us who got to experience a scare. It was at this point that I realized the potential of true fear in a haunt. It's something that I'm going to stop and think about this year as I plan this year's layout. Try to maximize that moment of true fear to make a lasting impression on the trick-or-treaters. This is something I will have to think about and get back to everybody on...

* not actual representation home-invading bat

During our weekend trip, we also made it out to see a movie on Saturday night. Mrs. Highbury, my Mummy-in-law and I went out to see the new Fright Night. And while I have yet to see a remake that didn't leave me feeling like I just completely wasted two hours and a few bucks, I had the increasingly rare opportunity to see this film at a drive-in. I can't even remember the last time I got to see a movie at a drive-in. I think all of the old classics around my area have long since closed down.

Now before I dive in, I must admit that I had seen and read other bloggers' reviews before seeing this and each one said that the film was not a total remake, in that they changed some of the characters and storyline, but in general, everyone liked it. Which is fine with me, except that I, like many horror fans, am a big fan of the original. So of course I'm going to compare it to the original. It's a remake with the same title. Duh.

So, okay, to be brutally honest, it wasn't THAT bad. Especially for a remake. I actually liked Colin Farrell as the vampire Jerry (he's no Chris Sarandon, though), and I also really liked David Tennant as the snotty Brit, Peter Vincent. His dialogue exchanges with girlfriend Ginger were hilarious. Even main character Charley Breswer (played by Anton Yelchin) was tolerable.

The storyline actually didn't stray too far from the original, only moving the location to Las Vegas. And I'm glad they didn't play up Las Vegas too much because they could have easily ruined it all. The action kept up at a good pace, too, so there weren't any "dry spots" in the film. 

And I'm especially glad they didn't make vampire Jerry a modern-times "wienie vamp" like the other movie wienie vamps that are only out to suck dollars from your wallet (with an emphasis on "suck"). Thank you, Craig Gillespie (Director) and Marti Noxon and Tom Holland (writers) for not selling Jerry out to be a glittery poster boy for prepubescent tweens (and their mommies).

But of course, this film wasn't all rainbows and candycanes. There were a few points that stood out to me that brought it back down to earth.

First, I thought the beginning of the story was rushed. You were placed at the start of the film (after a scene of a small boy hiding under a bed while his parents were slaughtered by a creature of some sort - oh, later we realize it was a certain vampire) and Evil Ed's first real dialogue was that he thought Charley's neighbor was a vampire. What? There was no buildup to get us to that point. It just kind of came out of nowhere. It didn't go into enough detail of how he had drawn the connection between the local disappearances and neighbor Jerry. Everything just kind of fell haphazardly into the start of the story.

Furthermore, I found Evil Ed to be the biggest disappointment of the movie. They turned the original, loveable horror geek into just a total geek. McLovin is a perfect LARPer, but his character fell well short of the original (I know, I'm comparing again). And his return as Vampire McLovin left me saying, "meh." There was no depth or connection to his character at all.

And I won't even speak about their friend Ben, the stoned emo kid. He couldn't have been wiped out soon enough. I really don't need to see whiny, rich high school kids in every movie I watch.

Also, I was really disappointed that the new Peter Vincent was a Las Vegas Criss Angel magician. Roddy McDowall's local public access horror host really lent a great, campy feel to the original - something that this version was definitely missing.

So there you have it, my sloppy rundown of another remake nowhere as good as the original. But I must admit that this came a lot closer than a lot of the garbage remakes that have been churning out of Tinseltown lately. So all in all, I guess I will have to give it two out of five drunken jackos. Which is pretty good, because most remakes get zero. And I'm looking at you, Mr. Krueger...

And for the few astute readers who thought to themselves, "Hey, Highbury usually just sums up a movie in one short, unbelievably witty and hilarious sentence!", I haven't forgotten about you:


Post Number 100!

Wow, I can't believe it. Our 100th post. It seems like only yesterday that we decided to take our little home haunt to the next level and share it with the rest of the world. But in reality, it has already been 2 years. As they sometimes say, time flies when you're having fun.

And what fun we have had! I wanted to stop for a second to take a quick look back and see just how far we have come.

To date, we have had over 6,500 blog views, so I must thank everyone who has stopped by, wherever you're from (including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran). But especially the three of you who arrived here last week via the Google search for "toilet paper rash." I sure hope you found what you were looking for here...?. The traffic has really started to pick up as of late, so the word is spreading.

A big, big thanks must go out to all of the people who have subscribed to our blog. We appreciate the fact that you find our drivel interesting enough to keep coming back! You will definitely see more frequent posts in the near future, as I would like a few more guest bloggers to chime in on all things Highbury Cemetery as well as Halloween in general (I'm looking at you, my love, oh dearest Mrs. Highbury!!). I've never considered myself as any kind of remotely serious writer, but I come up with a subject and just start typing. This thing is way too big and way too fun to have only one person writing most of the posts. I would love to have input from the friends and family that make this haunt work. I await your stories with corpsed arms...

A round of applause also must go out to the multitude of friends we've made in the two short years we've been blogging. People from down the road to people across the country and even people across the globe, and their multitude of blogs we have subscribed to. Home haunt bloggers we aspire to be as talented as and horror bloggers we wish we could write as eloquently as. We have plugged in and we truly enjoy this exchange of information with you all. We've made so many friends through HauntForum and we've gotten to know the local haunt scene through the Garage of Evil's Northern Ohio Haunters Group. With these two resources alone, our home haunt has grown by leaps and bounds. Without this exchange of information and inspiration, we would probably have nothing more than a few blank tombstones in the front yard on Halloween night (and we would probably start planning the week before Halloween). Thankfully, we know those days are long gone!!

We also want to thank the people that have stopped by our brand new YouTube channel. And although there is only one video posted so far, we will continue to update it as the projects roll out.

But the biggest thanks must go out to the people who help make Highbury Cemetery what it is. The friends and family who have as much fun as I do, planning, building, painting, measuring, scrambling, gathering, cutting, carving, lighting, corpsing, drilling and drinking. From friends like Jimmy T, who were there when we were just three punks setting up a nameless, little cemetery ten years ago in a front yard of a rental house on the south side of Akron, to family members like Scrapes, Jenn, Sharon and Karen who lend their time every single year (even after I boss them around!!). And we can't forget our neighbors, especially Neighbor Joe, who agreed to let us expand our cemetery into his front yard this year. We also thank all of the new friends who have agreed to come over and become part of the ever-growing madness this year. Without all of you, we would have nothing. 

And of course, all of the growing number of neighborhood kids and their parents who now charmingly refer to us as "the Halloween House" and can't wait to come back every year to see what we have come up with this time. You are truly the reason we do what we do.

So we've made it to 100 posts and 2 years without any slow down in sight. The giddiness I still get every time I write something new ensures that this blog has no intention of stopping. And with continuous refining and adding, Highbury Cemetery will only continue to grow and grow. Spread the word...

Highbury, Scrapes & Mrs. Highbury


Prop Updates for 2011

So according to my new, free iPhone app, Halloween Countdown, we only have 78 days until Halloween. Not much time left! Like you, I've been busy in the garage, trying to cross everything off of this year's to-do list (although when one gets crossed off, two more get added on).

Time to show off two of our new projects. First on the list is the new flying crank ghost. We built all of the framework at the last make-and-take with the Garage Of Evil's Northern Ohio Haunters group. After looking at other ghosts, I quickly decided that I didn't want to do the usual bleached-white ghost under a blacklight. And while I actually like that look, it seems as though everyone has it, so I wanted to do something different. I used white, tan and brown cheesecloth to make my version, the spirit of Abigail Harrington. She will be positioned in a new room, at the top of my driveway, to greet all of the kids as they come up for their treat. I will position blue and red flood lamps on her, casting a nice purple glow.

I washed the wighead with a watered-down black paint, then installed UV LED lights for the eyes. I used RIT dye for the tan and brown cheesecloth. I got the hands at Pat Catan's, which were glittery black, so I had to paint them all white, followed by a wash of watered-down black for detail.

Abigail Harrington. On cold, dark nights, her tattered apparition can be seen near her final resting place among the many graves in Highbury Cemetery. Some say she returns to seek revenge upon those whose accusations of heresy and witchcraft cast her into damnation... 

The astute members of the group will notice that the above video is a Highbury Cemetery production. As of today, Highbury Cemetery is expanding! We have just uploaded our first video to YouTube (how 20th century!!). Be sure to visit our channel here, as we will be uploading all kinds of goodies to help spread the word from our little corner of town.

Second up is a quick update on a tombstone. This was a relatively quick project, as I simply weathered the stone with watered-down black and green paints. I then added an epitaph:
That's right, it's Sally's poor invalid brother, Franklin. You know, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

I may add some dates to the stone, but seeing as that it is going to be in the back row of stones, I don't want to put too much detail into it.

And finally, for those of us who enjoy the liquid aspects of the Halloween season, the first Octoberfest and Pumpkin ales have begun to hit the shelves. I was originally going to post about my first Sam Adams Octoberfest of the season, but I just stumbled upon this at the local store:

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road. Last year, infamous HauntCast (g)host, Chris Baker, gave a glowing review of it and I challenged him that Dogfish Head Punkin Ale was better. I didn't have any Post Road last year, but I must admit that it is really good. A nice sweet pumpkin taste and spicy note that isn't overwhelming. I have to give it 4 drunken jack-o's. When the Punkin Ale gets to my shelf, I'll have to do a side-by-side taste test to see which one will attain true pumpkin glory.

So that's all I have for today. Time for me to get back to the garage and knock out a few more props, because the clock is ticking!!


Mount Peace Cemetery - Akron, Ohio

Welcome to the newly redesigned Highbury Cemetery! Time to roll out a few new posts that I've been sitting on. The first is a series of photos I took on a recent, rainy stroll through my local cemetery. Mount Peace Cemetery in Akron, Ohio is a visually stunning cemetery with a wide array of tombstones and crypts, some dating all the way back to the early 1800s. 

My intent with these photos is to document the wide variety of tombstone configurations and duplicate some of them in my home haunt. Feel free to use them for reference and inspiration in your haunt, too. I tried to focus mainly on the oldest stones in the cemetery, as I think they have the most character and beauty. Be sure to check back, as there a couple of other great cemeteries in my town that I want to wander through with my camera.

A statue in an area of tombstones called The Garden Of Angels:

Another statue in an area called The Garden Of Prayer.
It faces the Garden Of Angels:

Mount Peace's most famous resident, "Dr. Bob" Smith,
founder of Alcoholics Anonymous:

The tombstone of Christian Merz, with an amazingly detailed,
although weathered and faded, epitaph:

And the Staiger tombstone, with a beautiful, marbled pattern:

And don't forget, we only have 83 more days until Halloween. Time for me to get back into the garage and hammer out a few more goodies!


So apparently I have been living under a rock for the past year. How had I never heard of this before? What happened to me having my finger on the pulse of all that is uber cool? Am I losing it?

Anyway, for anyone else who hasn't heard of the Swedish band, Ghost, you're in for a real treat! I'm not even sure how to accurately describe this. Melodic Hard Rock Black Metal? However you want to classify these guys, they are a feast for the ears as well as the eyes. This has to be one of the best stage performances I have ever seen.

And I just found out that they are touring the U.S. this fall with Enslaved and Alcest. And joy, they are playing Columbus, Ohio on October 1st! What a way to kick off this year's Countdown to Halloween! You can see all of the tour dates here.

And as an added bonus, they even do an interesting cover of  The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun":