Happy Halloween!!

This is it!! We've finally made it!! The high holiday of Samhain is upon us, so go forth haunters and give the best performance that you can. 365 days of planning and building all come down to this...

But most important of all, don't forget to have fun!!! This is what we live for, so enjoy every single second of it.

Alright, my 5 minute window is up. The props are all up, the audio is cued up, the foggers are full and the lights are all on. It's show time. Time to give the neighborhood the best damn show they have ever seen!!

Everyone one have the absolutely most amazing and incredible Halloween that you can.

But also enjoy this crazy heavy metal video from days gone by...

"Horrible Sounds of Halloween" Cassette

Okay, here it is, the final (and late) Freebie Friday for 2015, and we're ending it with another gem! Another cassette picked up on a whim, Horrible Sounds of Halloween is a short blast of vintage, novelty Halloween greatness. Based on the blandness of the label, I assume this was released some time in the mid 80s. An unassuming orange label on both sides with a generic font. I know this thing was mass-produced on the cheap!!

But the greatness of this cassette lies not in the label, but in the audio. More low quality "Halloween" spook sounds with a quickening heartbeat underlying the entire 15 minute track (the audio is repeated on the second side, which is kind of a letdown...). And although the quality leaves much to be desired, there are honestly some cool, creepy sound effects scattered throughout. For a purchase on a whim, I'm really happy with this cassette!! Happy Halloween, everyone!!


The FINAL Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

It looks like we may be able to pull this off!! As long as those showers hold off, we should be able to get through trick-or-treat AND have everything put away before the rain comes. Keeping those fingers crossed for one more day!!!


Ghost Play "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" TONIGHT!

If, like me, you're a fan of the band Ghost, then you need to get your DVR ready. Tonight, they will be performing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on CBS, starting at 11:35 pm EST/10:35 pm CST. A perfect little treat on the eve of the big night!!


LED Spotlights From Deadhead Props

After building and displaying my cemetery gate entrance, I realized that something was missing. I was happy with the columns and REALLY happy with the arched sign, but at night, there was no pinpointed lighting on the arch. You couldn't clearly read the sign, boldly proclaiming the Highbury Cemetery name. So I went on a search for cheap LED spotlights. The only condition was that they had to be battery-operated (and cheap), as they were at the end of my driveway and I didn't want any extension cord mess to deal with.

Fast forward to a recent lucky eBay find from Deadhead Props. I had purchased LED eyes from them before and on a chance viewing of their eBay offerings, found the perfect solution! Their battery operated LED flood lights were small, relatively cheap, they ran on 2 AA batteries each and gave off a ton of light!!

I took them out to the garage and just set them up next to the cemetery arch to see how they would illuminate the sign. As I stepped back, I was very happy with the results. These things give off a lot of light for the size, and with the right positioning, should illuminate the entire sign nicely.

And as an added bonus, these things still work great while sealed in a ziploc baggie. Because I wouldn't want them to get wet when the inevitable Halloween rains come. Which brings me to my next point...

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

I'm not sure how other peoples' forecasts went from rain to no rain, while mine slides closer and closer to being 4 straight years of having to dry everything out. Oh well, all of my props have survived the previous years' soakers, so I'll just continue to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. ONLY 2 MORE DAYS TO GO!!! ARE YOU READY!?!?


Revenant's Hauntcast October "Theater of the Mind" Segment

So I'm sitting here, watching the remnants of Hurricane Whoever drop a steady downpour of rain across Northeast Ohio. Only this time, I'm actually quite thankful. I know that had this been 3 days later, Halloween would have been shot. Also, because I only set up my yard haunt display on Halloween night, all of my lovingly hand-made props are still safe, warm and dry in the garage, attic and/or basement.

I seem to be in a completely different mindset this year in regard to Halloween. No real stress to get all those last minute props completed for the big night, because I only had one prop project this year. Everything is slowly being gathered in the garage and will be put out in a methodical yet relaxed order this Saturday. There's almost a sense of calm. It's quite strange, yet strangely enjoyable...

Back at the start of September, I had a freak mountain bike crash that left me with a broken finger. Long story short, I eventually had to go in and get three pins put into it to hold it together for the next 8 weeks. I was devastated. My Halloween to-do list went right out the window. 

But as the days went on, I slowly came to terms with what happened and started rewriting my new to-do list. A very short and manageable list. I was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate Halloween. I could either poo-poo the whole thing, or be content with the little I could do for this year. And then, I strangely became okay with it. In taking that brief time out, I had a chance to refocus on what it was that made Halloween so great. The fun of putting everything up and putting on the best show that we could for the neighborhood kids and their parents.

And as I set out to work on my stress-free list, I happened to download the Hauntcast podcast for October. I paid special attention to Revenant's Theater of the Mind segment, "The ABC's of Haunt Planning." As I listened, it was like a mallet over the head. He was talking about everything I was going through! Be happy with what you can get done and not stress about the things you can't. Nobody else will know. Perfect! It was a pleasant boost of reinforcement that Halloween, 2015 is still going to kick ass at Highbury Cemetery.

I have gone back and listened to that segment two more times. If you're getting bogged down in that pre-Halloween freak out, why not take a second, catch your breath, and take a listen...


Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

It's going to be close. We might get a light shower during trick-or-treat, but I'm going to keep the fingers crossed, hoping that it holds off until everything is put away for the night. Please, please, please...


Coil - The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser

Coil's original 1987 soundtrack for the horror classic, Hellraiser. The soundtrack was ultimately rejected in favor of Christopher Young's version, as it was deemed "not commercial enough" by the film studio.

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Back and forth with the rain possibility. Compared to other areas around the country, I'll take this forecast if the rain can hold off until late. The local channels are forecasting no rain until Sunday, so we'll see. Only 4 days to go!! Fingers still crossed...


Highbury Cemetery T-Shirt, 2015

Based on the Highbury Cemetery 2015 logo, the new shirts are finally done! The new batch were just hand-printed in our basement and are ready for the grand unveiling! This year, I didn't want to do another "white ink on a dark shirt" combo, so I tried to get a bit more creative, with a bit of luck thrown in for good measure.

I had ordered the dark chocolate shirts without really thinking about what color to screen the logo, so I looked at what I had available. Outside of using white, my choice was pretty easy—orange!! It was one of the only other colors I had and it was an obvious choice for the season. Of course it may have also been a tongue-in-cheek nod to the updated colors of our horrible, awful, miserable football team, too. Wink, wink...

Before screening the art, I did some research on lighter colors printed on darker shirts and quickly realized that I had no way of printing an underbase of white in order to get the orange to pop and hold its brightness. It was at this point that I decided to roll the dice and see what we'd get if we printed the orange anyway.

And this time it paid off! As expected, the orange ink absorbed into the shirt. But when it dried, it was more of a dark burnt orange that looked AMAZING on the dark brown shirt. I was really happy with the subtle image. I always try to do something different from the usual haunt logo/shirt, and this time I was very pleased with the results.

As always, these shirts will be given out to all of the helpers that set up, run and tear down the Highbury Cemetery yard haunt on Halloween night. My time is very limited this year, so I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to run a contest to win one, but keep checking back. You never know when a free minute and a wild hair may pop up...

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Nuts. Please put the emphasis on "late" for those newly forecast showers... 5 more days to go!!


Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Spellbound"

This song has been stuck in my head since it appeared at the end of the second episode of American Horror Story: Hotel. Here's one for all the old goth girls...

Mater Dolorosa Cemetery - Peninsula, Ohio

For my final 2015 installment of Cemetery Sundays, my original idea was to visit Boston Cemetery, in Boston Township, Ohio. This cemetery is famous for its part in the local legend of Helltown. The Helltown legend goes back at least 30 years (I remember hearing about it and subsequently going to find it back in my high school days, some 25 years ago) and has been well documented and since debunked on sites such as Ohio Forgotten and Ghosts of Ohio among others.

And as I didn't want to rehash the old Helltown legend, I did want to explore the old tombstones in Helltown's famously haunted (or not) cemetery. Unfortunately, as I pulled up to the main entrance, I noticed that the gate was locked. There was no way in, and with all of the residential homes so close by, no discreet way to park my car and hop the fence. I was out of luck...

So I did a quick Google search and came across a story on Dead Ohio that talked about exploring another "haunted" cemetery close by, the Mater Dolorosa Cemetery. I quickly made my way over to the Happy Days Visitor Center in Peninsula, Ohio, located within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And of course, I didn't have a specific location of this cemetery (all that it said was that it was "adjacent" to the Center), so I jumped out of the car and began to search it out.

As I walked down a path from the parking lot, I came upon a tunnel that went under the main road...

A slightly creepy tunnel that, with a little less light, would be a perfect scene in a horror movie! But as I emerged from the other side, I noticed a small path off to the left that went up into a clearing. And in that clearing, I noticed something. Tombstones! I had found the Mater Dolorosa Cemetery.

Notice the misspelling on this sign... The first thing you notice in this fairly small and sparse cemetery is the Cassidy family plot, the main focal point of the grounds. It contains the largest tombstone as well as a decaying iron fence...


The rest of the stones are scattered about the grounds, most dating back to the mid- to late 1800s. This now abandoned cemetery was originally an Irish cemetery, but in an interesting twist, is currently under the care of Mother of Sorrows Church in Peninsula, Ohio. Mother of Sorrows (which roughly translates to "Mater Dolorosa") is the supposed "satanic church" from the Helltown legend. Even funnier is that I attended Mother of Sorrows church when I was younger and can vouch that this small Catholic church is anything but satanic...


Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Wait, what? Please define "showers late." Definitely something we'll have to keep an eye on. Only 6 more days to go!!


One Week To Go!

This is it! One more week until Halloween. The countdown is on!

And that means I have to get back out to the garage right now. Just seven days to finish and repair all the props I'm working on, finish printing up this year's shirts, get the costumes and makeup ready AND pull everything out and get everything staged for the big show next Saturday. No sweat. Good luck, everybody!!

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Please, please, please stay like this! No rain this year, please!


"Haunted House" Soundtrack

Recorded Live in Transylvania Studios.

Take a trip through the haunted house if you dare! Turn your home into a scarry (sic), chilling, fearful domain of monsters, ghosts and goblins.

This week's Freebie Friday soundtrack is a vintage classic from 1985. (Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the) Haunted House, from Haunted House Music Co. (no, not the classic Disney release by the same title) is an accompanying Halloween soundtrack to Night In A Graveyard, another low-budget-but-wonderfully-campy release from the same year. And more great sleeve art with that classic, creepy vintage illustrated style!

Side one takes us on a 15 minute trip through a haunted house with the usual, vintage spooky sounds. Side two is a separated collection of various spooky sound effects. Apparently, this label had a third release entitled, The Ride of the Headless Horseman put out the same year, although I do not have that one to share yet.

And yes, although this release had been shared years ago by Scar Stuff, Cult of the Great Pumpkin and Mostly Ghostly Music Sharing BLAAAHHHHGGG!, the great campy factor of this record is just too much fun not to share again.

Warning: Do not listen to this recording alone.
May be hazardous to your health.

Parental guidance suggested.


Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Holding steady! I hope this forecast sticks...


Aphex Twin - "Matchsticks"

Aphex Twin was my first introduction to the incredible sounds of "darker" ambient and its perfect fit for use in my Halloween yard haunt soundtrack. After using a novelty Halloween cassette during the first years of my display, I came upon 1994's Selected Ambient Works, Vol 2 in my wife's CD collection. Upon first listen, I was blown away by the darkness and cold of the tracks. Like nothing I had heard before. I immediately knew that this would be the atmospheric audio to use in order to take my haunt to the next level.

I still listen to this frequently, and every time I hear this particular track, I'm reminded of the progression of my haunt through the years and the expansion of my musical tastes and influences. 

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Continuing to improve, but I'll remain cautiously optimistic for now.


The Neighborhood Sign Goes Up

Each Halloween, I put up the sign that announces the official trick-or-treat time for our neighborhood (October 31, as it should be...). It was another nice day today, so I decided that it was time for the sign to go up.

I created this hand-painted sign a few years back and it is showing some age after the previous seasons of cold and rain (and then spending the rest of the year in my garage). It should hold up for another year before it's time to make some repairs.

But for now, the neighborhood trick-or-treat is set! Time to get ready!!

Halloween Weather Forecast Update: 

A slight improvement, but I'll take it. Fingers crossed that it will continue to improve toward a dry Halloween night!


Around The Neighborhood...

It was a nice, unseasonably warm day today, so I decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood to see what everybody else was putting up for Halloween decorations. And I was glad to see so many people putting out some really great displays...

(Shh. This beautifully painted pumpkin is actually my son's!)

Halloween Weather Forecast Update:

Yuck. Keeping my fingers crossed, as we still have time...