The Night Before Halloween

Less than 24 hours to go! It's the night before Halloween, and I'm working in circles to get things done for tomorrow's big show. I'm bleary eyed, but the adrenaline shooting through my veins is keeping me going...

All of the big props are done and ready to go, all of the little pieces parts are in their proper staging areas and the makeup reference photos are all laid out. Tomorrow's checklist is written so that I can knock out each step in order to be ready to face the onslaught of trick-or-treaters.

I had time for my annual "Night Before Halloween" movie:

And I even had a chance to get a nice teaser pic for tomorrow night's display. Weather aside, I'm hoping to pull off our best yard haunt yet.

After months of planning and building, the big night is finally upon us. Halloween is here. Are you ready?

Curse Of The Halloween Forecast

As some of you might have noticed, I was including the forecast for Halloween night in some of my earlier blog posts but have since stopped. That's because as Halloween got closer, the forecast got worse.

I can barely even bring myself to look at the updated forecast, as it looks like for the third year running, we are once again going to have to deal with rain on Halloween night. It's like I can't catch a break. It's like I'm cursed...

I won't lie. Looking at this now gives me a rancid knot in the depths of my stomach, especially after the disaster from last year due to this very same forecast. A year's worth of work and planning, only to have to deal with foul weather again. FUUUUUUUUUU...

Okay, so after talking myself down from the ledge, I have decided to be optimistic. The few props that I did put out in last year's downpour made it through with flying colors (after a few days of drying out in my garage), so I've decided to go full Darwin with my haunt this year - that is, everything is going out on display. Props, lights, foggers, animatronics and everything else. And it's survival of the fittest. Anything that doesn't make it through this year's display will either get fixed or it will go in the trash, to be replaced with something bigger and better for next year.

Mother Nature, you screwed me last year. But this time it's my turn. Rain all you want. Because next year I'll be back with even more in the yard haunt. And it will continue to be upgraded for the elements. It may have taken eleven years, but I'm finally getting smart about things.

And here's to a dry forecast wherever you may be haunting. Turn it up to eleven and crank it out. This is the day that we have all been waiting for. And some rain drops won't get us down. We've worked too hard for this.


Return of the Living Dead II Commercial

Back before the interwebs, ordering your favorite horror movie shirts, tanks and sweatshirts was incredibly difficult! Here's a crazy Return of the Living Dead II shirt commercial from 1987...

New Belgium - Pumpkick

The seasonal pumpkin beers are flowing fast and furiously around the Cemetery as we count down the final week until Halloween. It's the rocket fuel that propels me through the remaining builds for this year's yard haunt. Today, I'm sipping on some New Belgium Pumpkick. And like all pumpkin beers this season, it must face the dreaded Drunken Jackos rating scale!

When I first heard about New Belgium's seasonal beer, I made sure to keep an eye out, as I really wanted to try it. New Belgium's beers have only been available in this area since February, and Pumpkick, like all of the New Belgium beers, have been flying off the shelves.

Upon pouring the Pumpkick, I noticed a subtle, sweet, spicy aroma as the medium copper-brown beer filled the glass. With the first taste, I noticed the spicy, pumpkin flavor, but was pleasantly surprised by an aftertaste of this beer's special ingredient: cranberry. What a nice surprise! It had a tart, sweet aftertaste that really sets it apart from any of the other pumpkin beers that I have reviewed this year. Honestly, while drinking this beer, the flavors reminded me of Thanksgiving dinner! The balance of the spicy pumpkin followed by the sweet cranberry make this one of the favorite beers of everyone in the Cemetery, and I hope to score a few more bottles before the season ends.

The only downside is that after two beers, the cranberry became a bit overpowering. But honestly, that is a very minor ding. The subtle aroma coupled with the spicy pumpkin flavor and that wonderful finish of cranberry earns New Belgium Pumpkick 4.5 out of 5 Drunken Jackos. This really is a nice change of pace to all of the other pumpkin beers on the market right now. This one will definitely be in the Cemetery cooler on Halloween night!!


Throbbing Gristle - "Hamburger Lady"

I never really got into Throbbing Gristle until I listened to them through the ears of a haunter. What a great, creepy track! This would be insane in a haunt...

Fairview Cemetery - Richfield, Ohio

We've come to the last Sunday of October, so we have one last cemetery to visit this Halloween season. And this one has a little history with me, because today we travel to my old stomping grounds of Richfield, Ohio. 

Fairview Cemetery is one of two cemeteries in the small town, and one that I had visited before. It only came as a shock after realizing that I had been through these grounds back in my high school days, which was a long 24 years ago. I went with a group of friends to film some footage for a video editing class that I was in at the time. It made me pause for a second to think about all that had happened since I last set foot here...

I arrived early as the morning sun rose above the hill where the oldest tombstones were all located. Most of the stones in this section date back to the early and mid-1800s, and a few have been damaged over time due to age, the elements and shifting ground. 

The rising sun and the colorful fall foliage made for a perfect backdrop to walk the grounds, snapping photos at every step and made a perfect ending to Cemetery Sundays for 2014...

I have quite a few photos, so sit back and enjoy one last cemetery tour!

This has to be one of my favorite tombstones that I have photographed. A stark, yet amazing epitaph, and the broken corner just adds to the beauty...


The Four-Hour Mask

I'm heading over to work in a friend's yard haunt tonight and I realized that I didn't want to do a full face makeup, as I'll only be there for the last hour of his trick-or-treat. So I quickly decided that a mask was in order for the evening's quick festivities. The only problem is that I don't have a mask that I could bring.

So I got creative.

I rummaged through all of my Halloween bins and found one of those old, clear plastic face masks with the elastic band. You know, the kind that the old bank robbers always used to wear...

I then ran down to the basement to see what paints I had available to improve on the mask. I pulled a can of off-white spray paint and covered the entire mask in one coat. As the paint dried, I came up with the idea of making it look like a broken porcelain face. And although it had been done many times over, I didn't want to have the traditional feminine doll face. 

When the paint was dry to the touch, I took a Sharpie permanent marker with a nice, sharp point and started drawing the cracks. I wanted to focus the area of damage to the right eye, cheek and forehead, as the old mask already had a real crack in that area around the eye. After the cracks were drawn, I quickly added a wash of watered-down black paint to grunge it up a bit...

All told, this took roughly four hours of time and will work perfectly for tonight's haunt. It is something that I whipped out quickly and will be easy to put on and take off (especially in those slow times, where a cold beverage is in order!). And furthermore, I can put this in my extra costume bin for Halloween night, in case any of my actors need a quick mask.

Good luck to everyone who is putting on their yard haunt displays tonight! I have until Friday, so it's back to the garage for me. I have one final push before the big night and I'm going to see how much I can get done by then.


Night of the Living Contest, 2014!

One week to go, Halloween fanatics and fellow haunters! Time to kick it up a notch.

Put those thinking caps on, because it's time for the annual giveaway contest where you can win some free stuff from the Cemetery. It's time for the Night of the Living Contest!

I'll ask three Halloween and horror related questions. The first to answer all three correctly wins.

And what do you win? One hand-screened Highbury Cemetery 2014 shirt (size large). White ink on a dark grey shirt, and it's one of the best shirts that we have ever produced here in the Cemetery:

As an added bonus, the winner will also receive a hand-screened, signed and numbered 8.5" x 11" Highbury Cemetery 2014 mini poster. Metallic silver ink on black card stock. It's a limited edition of 12 and is the first poster printed in the Cemetery basement. This is definitely something that will be added to the yearly Halloween ritual here, as it was a lot of fun to make these and they turned out great!

So here we go! The first person to answer the three questions below correctly wins. Simply drop your answers into the email form to the right side of this blog or drop them into the comments below and you could have a spooky package delivered to your door just in time for Halloween!

Night of the Living Contest Questions:

1. What is the name of the heavy metal rock star who comes back from the dead to play a guitar that shoots bolts of electricity in the movie, Trick or Treat?

2. In what year did Walt Disney Productions originally release their classic Halloween album, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House?

3. What is the name of the Pittsburgh area cemetery that was used to film George Romero's 1968 zombie-genre defining classic, Night of the Living Dead

Good luck everyone! And did I mention that all the answers could possibly be found somewhere in this blog?


Lizzy Borden - Me Against The World (Black Roses)

It's already time for another Throwback Thursday, where we revisit the soundtracks of classic and not-so-classic 80s horror.

Today, we are going full speed into some serious cheese! Take a band who are actually demons (!), playing their special blend of hypnotizing glam rock, to a small town of kids, with lead singer Damian (Sal Viviano) sporting THIS mullet...

...and you get the cinematic gold of John Fasano's 1988 cult classic, Black Roses.

A film that gently stomps the line between awful and awesome, the true highlight (like similar films of the time) is the heavy metal soundtrack performed by Lizzy Borden. This fan-made video for the track, "Me Against The World" sums it all up greatly...

The Neighborhood Sign Goes Up

After a quick touch up from last year's rain damage, my Trick-or-Treat sign took its rightful place today, at the top of the neighborhood. We're keeping the tradition going, bucking the trend of all other surrounding neighborhoods having their trick-or-treat this Saturday. 

For over 12 years running, our neighborhood will again be having our trick-or-treat on Friday, October 31. Halloween night!

The countdown is on!!

And it's time to check that weather forecast...

Party sunny, becoming cloudy   53˚/40˚   4% chance of precipitation

An acceptable outlook, but I'm still going to be keeping my fingers crossed, desperately hoping that it doesn't rain. Only 8 days to go!!


Highbury Cemetery Shirt, 2014

The shirts are done! Freshly hand-screened in the Cemetery basement by Highbury and Mrs. Highbury, the 2014 shirts are our best yet. Solid white ink on dark grey shirts with this year's logo on the front:

And as a surprise bonus, all shirts will come with a hand-silkscreened poster with this year's logo. Metallic silver ink on black card stock paper. Signed and hand-numbered by yours truly in an edition of 12.

Like what you see? Wish you could score a shirt and poster of your very own? Hmm. Maybe I can help you. It looks like I might have an extra to give away for our annual Night of the Living Contest. Be sure to stop by this Friday, as I will put up some horror-themed trivia questions and the first person to answer all questions correctly will have a shirt and poster delivered to their door, just in time for Halloween! But put your thinking caps on, because I'm bound to search out the most pointless and obscure questions so that the winner will earn his or her prize!! We'll see you all here on Friday.

And, as the days continue to count down to the big night, it's time to check the forecast and see how things will shape up for this year (after two years of awful, wet, heartbreaking weather, I'm a little nervous to see what it will be...):

A full day of sunshine - 56˚/40˚

This is the forecast I was hoping for!! I know it's still a ways out and could change daily, but for now I'll walk with a bit more spring in my step and this will power my final push toward the big night. Fingers crossed!!


Tommyknocker - Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Straight from the mountains of Colorado comes the next pumpkin beer to face the Drunken Jackos scale. Tommyknocker Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale pours nice and dark for a pumpkin beer, due in part to the molasses that it is brewed with.

After pouring the rich, dark beer into the glass, I noticed a subtle, spicy, earthy aroma. Not so much pumpkin as much as nutmeg. The taste was surprisingly light and somewhat sweet with a hint of cinnamon. Again, I think the molasses plays a part in sweetening the overall flavor of this beer. The pumpkin flavor, although very subtle too, stays with you in the aftertaste. And, at only 5.0% ABV, I was able to drink a couple of these in a sitting.

Overall, a nice sweet and flavorful beer. It might not have the straight forward pumpkin taste that our other reviewed beers have, but the sweet molasses flavoring gives it a nice change of pace. And because of that, Tommyknocker Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale gets 3 out of 5 Drunken Jackos.