Happy Halloween!!

Another October is coming to a close, but the big show is yet to begin! I wanted to take a quick second to thank everyone who stopped by, hung out and dropped comments into my stream of Countdown to Halloween posts all month long. This really is the best time of the year and I'm so stoked to be able to share it with you all!

This will be my final post for October, as I have a TON of work to do today to get the display up and ready to go for tonight's trick-or-treat.

For anyone curious about what it is we do and would like to check it out in person, we're located at 536 Malvern Road in Akron. We're around the corner from King School. But be sure to stop by between 6 and 8 pm, because once the show is over, everything disappears in a flash.

And don't forget to bring some canned food for our first annual canned food drive for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank! Drop a donation into the "Coffin for a Cause" and receive an extra special treat!

Time to go put up an entire yard haunt display. Everyone have an absolutely amazing Halloween night!! Especially you east coast haunters. Hopefully you guys can all recover from the wind and storm damage and have a killer show!  Check back in a day or two and I'll have tons of photos from the big night!

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

The Final Countdown

I've always kinda hated that song, but the title is very fitting. Revision after revision, I had the final list of projects for the Halloween display. One by one, I went down the list, checking off each task. The jack-o-lanterns were carved. The lights were all set, along with a bin full of extension cords. The props were staged, ready to be placed in the yard with lightning quick precision.

As I continued to whip through my list, I kept seeing that one last project: fix the animated shiatsu massager ground breaker. It's a prop that I have always loved, but also hated due to the finicky nature of it working and not working.

By the time I decided to go for it, it was already getting late. At this point of the night, I was already contemplating shelving the whole thing for another year. But I still ended up pulling it out, at least to assess the amount of work needed to fix it. I remembered that the arm had broken off the last time it was used in my display.

As I pulled it apart, the extent of damage was quickly evident. The entire "rotating nub" of the massager itself had broken off. Not good. It would require more work and time than I had originally planned for, but I decided to see what I could do.

After running through different ideas of replacement bolt nubs or even gluing, I realized that there was a different fix. I had a second shiatsu massager sitting in a corner. What transpired next was a blur of disassembly and reassembly that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud.

I was able to swap out the entire massager unit, make a few arm piece length adjustments, and then rig up two straps to hold the neck and arm PVC pipe pieces in place without clunking into each other. All told, the entire switch took and hour and 15 minutes. I plugged the new massager in and hit the button. The zombie sprung to life as the head twisted side to side and the arm swung wildly back and forth. I sat on the basement steps, watching in amazement as the prop continued to work flawlessly.

As I sat and marveled at my work, I realized that I was not yet done for the evening. I turned the prop off and headed back upstairs.

The clock already read 11:00, but I had a certain tradition to continue.

I sat my weary body down on the couch and fired up the Blu Ray player...

After my annual Halloween Eve viewing of Trick 'r Treat, I pulled my body into bed to catch a few hours of sleep before having to get up early and get the big show started. It's always a ton of work, but it's always worth it!

A Final Weather Update

It's amazing that as haunters we can somehow control the weather for Halloween night. Truth be told, I still start checking the forecast two weeks ahead, knowing full well that the forecast will change another 50 times. And I still secretly pray to the Candy Corn Gods for a favorable forecast for the big night.

The weather is the one thing that can really make or break a haunter's yard display. And I also know that not everyone will have favorable weather on the big night. I'm already hearing horror stories about a storm packing fierce winds traveling up the east coast. My shriveled, rotted heart goes out to those haunters.

But as I make a final check of my own forecast, it looks as though my prayers and sacrifices have appeased the Candy Corn Gods! And for this, I am eternally grateful!

It's strange to see a chance of showers pop up today after initially being forecast for no rain for at least the last week. But I'll take a chance of rain today in exchange for my Halloween forecast. Dry and chilly, exactly as I had hoped!

And the Candy Corn Gods have given me great favor this Halloween season: two separate forecasts with a ZERO PERCENT chance of precipitation. Thank you, O Mighty Candy Corn Gods! You are most benevolent!!

2017 Haunt Soundtrack

We're getting down to the final hours of prep time until the big night! Still so much to do, but all of my cemetery audio has been loaded and is ready to spread some dread throughout the display!

I've decided to use Jeff Greinke's incredible 1992 dark ambient audio track, "The Moor" again for my my main audio track. I have used it for the past 3 or 4 years now, but I keep coming back to it. It really is a perfect track to use. The ominous ambient sounds perfectly blanket the cemetery scene, staying in the background and supporting the display. It helps build an atmosphere of fright and unease as the trick-or-treaters brave a walk through the ghastly cemetery and into a cold, dark crypt to receive their reward!

John Gray Tombstone

Even with only minutes to spare until the big night, I was able to crank out one more tombstone prop for this year's yard display! An homage to Boris Karloff's third greatest screen character, cabman and grave robber John Gray from the 1945 film, The Body Snatcher!

"Here Lies Cabman John Gray. The Body Snatcher of Edinburgh. Died October 31, 1831 in The 56th Year of His Life."

I had revisited this underrated classic earlier this month and decided to do a quick tombstone prop for Karloff's character. While the name Karloff is quickly associated with the names "Frankenstein" and "Imhotep," I now add "John Gray" to my list! If you haven't seen the film yet, I highly recommend it!

I ended up making this prop in two separate sections, joining them together with dowel rods and adhesive. After everything was set up and carved, I did a quick three-step paint job: a full basecoat of black, followed by a full whitewash and then ending with a watered down green spritzing. 

Another quick turnaround on a uniquely shaped stone that will look great in my display!


Lana Del Rey - "Once Upon A Dream"

I didn't even know I was a Lana Del Rey fan until this track popped up in a Pandora Halloween station playlist. I guess it's because I never saw Maleficent.

Hauntingly beautiful vocals in this one... (I'm definitely going to have have to post some Misfits or Slayer after this one!)

Markillie/St. Mary's Cemetery - Hudson, Ohio (Part Two)

Here it is, the final Cemetery Sundays post for 2017! In looking back, the month of October really flew by, even with how busy we have been throughout. The Cemetery Sundays segment has been a lot of fun this time around, and I still have a list of cemeteries left to visit in the Northeast Ohio area, so I look to continue it into the 2018 season.

But for now, we will continue our tour of the Markillie/St. Mary's Cemetery in Hudson, Ohio. If you haven't checked out part one of the tour, please do so here. I ended up going here as a second option, but was rewarded with some amazing photos of their older tombstones. I got so many photos, in fact, I had to split it into two segments.

So sit back for one last time this year, and enjoy the second half tour of Markillie/St. Mary's Cemetery...

As I made my back across the center of the grounds, I came upon this incredible array of four tombstones, aligned in a tight row. Were their coffins buried lengthwise?? Outside of the unusual alignment, each stone had a wonderfully ornate epitaph on both the front and the back of each stone! It really stood out in a cemetery already full of beautiful old stones...

Another new technique that I am going to try on one of my next tombstone props is going to be the cracked stone with discolored fragment. The stone on the right has such incredible streaking and staining on the top fragment, yet still has a rather clean and white bottom portion. Definitely a cool added detail to my cemetery display.

Another gorgeous crack in this stone! It looks like the top portion is ready to fall off...

Here is another cool idea that I hope to create in my cemetery display. At this point, I have nothing but individual stones and obelisks. I think I'll try to create a triple-stone family plot at some point...

And just like that, another season of Cemetery Sundays has come to a close. I had a lot of fun walking through these cemeteries this year, and really enjoyed photographing the old tombstones in each. Hopefully these photos can be used for some inspiration to make some cool tombstone props in another haunter's display. I know it will in mine!