Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of my fellow haunters, haunted house freaks, Halloween enthusiasts and fans of the macabre a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Highbury Cemetery!

(And yes, I post this clip every Christmas, but it remains one of my favorites!)

"But be warned. Santy Claus only brings presents to them thats been good all year. What about you, boy? You been good all year?"

Cryo Chamber's FREE "Dark Ambient of 2018" Mix

Christmas comes early, thanks to Oregon dark ambient label Cryo Chamber!

They just released a great, one-hour long mix from some of their 2018 releases. And it's FREE!

From the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page:

This is our Christmas gift for 2018 to all who support us and is free for everyone! 

Continuing our yearly tradition, we picked some interesting releases this year. From pure soundscapes to narration heavy space ambient albums to dusty dilapidated cathedrals.

With tracks from Ager Sonus, Atrium Carceri, and Atrium Carceri/Cities Last Broadcast/God Body Disconnect among others, you'll have a great little mix perfect for your dark holiday celebrations!

Go get this mix for free over at the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page!

Tuefellauf Hollabrunn, 2018

Poster courtesy of Dionysos Pass

Yes, attending an authentic European Krampus/Tuefel (Devil) Run is a bucket list event for me. Especially when seeing this Teufellauf (Devil Run) from Hollabrunn, Austria. Incredible Krampus and Devil costumes, a large group of spectators getting whipped with birch switches, and crying children. What else do you need!?

And aren't little kids dressed as Krampus truly the most adorable thing you have ever seen??

And this particular Parade goes so far to even have their own theme music, where the band plays live at the event. Wow! One ticket to Austria, please!!

Kammarheit - "The Nest"

The perfect soundtrack for our slow transition to winter, embodying the cold and the darkness...

Hand Carved Krampus Masks by Stefan Koidl

A year ago, I wrote about my dream to one day own a custom, hand-carved Krampus mask from one of a wide array of European artists. In fact, one of my bucket list items would be to one day travel to Europe and participate in an annual Krampuslauf parade. It really is a wintertime equivalent of working in a Halloween haunt, and every video I've seen looks like an incredibly crazy time! 

I recently discovered the work of Austrian sculptor and painter, Stefan Koidl. His hand-carved Krampus masks are truly stunning, with intricate carving and finishing details on each piece he produces. Seeing his work makes me want to refocus on getting that Krampus mask to add to my collection and book my flight to Europe!

Do yourself a favor and go check out all of his art here.

The detail and intricate carving on this Norse King mask is some of the best that I have ever seen. I can't even imagine the work that we will be seeing in the coming years...

All photos courtesy of The Art of Stefan Koidl

And enjoy a quick interview where Koidl talks about creating his masks...

Fröhliche Krampusnacht!

Gruss vom Krampus!

It's Krampusnacht, and that means that all of the bad children will be visited by Krampus tonight! Krampus, the Christmas Devil and evil counterpart of St. Nicholas, is a cloven-hooved, goat-demon that punishes bad children with a lash of his birch branched switch, then transports them to Hell inside the wicker basket upon his back.

Have you been good this year?

Photo courtesy of Liv Rainey-Smith/Xylographilia.

Photo courtesy of Matej Divisna/Getty Images.

And a little homage to the horned-one himself from the masters of fright, Midnight Syndicate, to put you in a ghastly yultide mood... Night of the Krampus from their 2015 release, "Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering." 

Subtype Zero - "Inhumane"

I've been meaning to post this one for a while now. Local Cleveland band Subtype Zero is absolutely killing it with that "'86 Slayer" classic thrash sound. I picked up their first LP when it was released and it is killer all the way through. This is a band that I'm definitely going to check out live!

Closed Casket Home Haunt, 2018

In going back through the all the years that I have been writing this blog, I realized that one thing has always been missing. And that is any photos showing off anyone else's haunts in the Northeast Ohio area. Which is crazy, because there are SO MANY incredible displays!

The reason, of course, is that I'm always too busy trying to get my own haunt ready to go, and I always run out of time. Always.

But somehow, this year, I actually made time to go visit one. On the Saturday before Halloween, I got to go visit the small yard haunt that was put on by Dave over at Closed Casket Studios and his surly crew. I have only been trying to go see it the last three or four years without luck. But on this rainy, dreary night I finally made good. I grabbed a six of pumpkin beer and headed over to their shindig.

(Technically, I "saw" Dave's first yard haunt way back in 2009, the first time I met him. Unfortunately, as I wrote about it then, we made it just AFTER the local Fire Marshall visited and shut the haunt down for not meeting fire code. We still laugh about that today!)

I arrived to a rain-soaked, empty neighborhood. The bad weather had gotten them and their trick-or-treat fizzled out. Luckily everyone was still there, in high spirits. I quickly joined, but not before touring the haunt display itself and snapping away with my camera.

And even though the weather sucked, the haunt still looked great. Fantastic lighting and props, adorned with killer Closed Casket Studios prop heads and hands. There was a lot of great detail tucked into a small cemetery setup.

I'm really happy that I finally had the chance to check this haunt out. It was a welcome break in my otherwise hectic schedule leading up to Halloween night, and it gave me some inspiration for some new prop ideas for next year. From here on out, I'm going to block off time to visit at least one other haunt in the area during each Halloween season. And who knows, maybe even get in some guest acting! I think this is a big part of the haunt community that I have been neglecting...

(And yes, Randy Skalos, next year I'm absolutely, positively visiting you!! The fourth time will be the charm!!)


Alan Howarth - "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers" Soundtrack

Like most Halloween fans, I'm all about the first three installments of the film franchise. But I recently picked up the Mondo Halloween box set, featuring the soundtracks to the first five films.

I have listened to the soundtracks to the first three films a million times each, but I was pleasantly surprised by Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. This soundtrack was composed solely by Alan Howarth, who had worked previously in conjunction with John Carpenter on Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Howarth takes the iconic 5/4 theme timing of the original, but adds a nice bit of ambient sound to give it a fresh update. And I love Mondo's new vinyl release version. It's slightly different than the 1988 original, but it still flows really well. And you gotta love that red-and-white clown costume split vinyl! This one has been on constant rotation at the Cemetery all weekend long...

Black Friday Sale at Closed Casket Studios

Time for a quick plug...

Hey, fellow haunters! Got a small wad of cash just burning a hole in your pocket and looking for the perfect Halloween-related something to drop it on? Why not visit my good friend Dave over at Closed Casket Studios, where he's running a killer sale all Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday weekend!

20% off everything all weekend. Time to stock up on the sickest prop heads, hands and face masks in the industry. And you'll be supporting a hell of a good dude. Just be sure to tell him that Highbury Cemetery sent you!!

I'm off to go add a goodie or two to my collection, too!

Only 341 days until Halloween! Are you ready??


"The Haunting of Hill House" Soundtrack

I was late to the Hill House party, but I was immediately hooked and ended up watching the entire series in a weekend. So much more than just a beautifully-shot ghost story. It was filled with gut-wrenching sadness, yet I just couldn't turn it off. I can't recommend this series enough!

And the Newton Brothers' soundtrack perfectly sets the tone of sadness and melancholy of it all. This one has been on repeat all day long...


Last year, I came up with the idea to do something creative with my jack-o-lanterns after Halloween instead of simply throwing them all into into the trash. It was a little bit art and a little bit mischief. It even became my submission for the annual The Great Pumpkin Project. A perfect offering to all things Halloween...

This year, I had the same idea lined up and a new location scouted out and ready to go. It was an abandoned house on the curve of a busy local street. I drove by it daily and smiled each time, just imagining how cool it was going to look with a slew of jack-o-lanterns scattered throughout the unkept lot. It was going to be perfect! And then this summer, the trucks showed up...

My plans were thwarted as contractors began to refurbish the house! What was once the perfect location for a pumpkin dump slowly converted back into a livable home. I was crushed...

Fast forward to Halloween and I had to go out for another scouting run. I had a few alternate locations around the city picked out and I drove by each one. Most were eliminated due to exposure or possible security issues. I wanted to make sure that this year's location would be clearly visible to many people, yet have an extended amount of time before the pumpkins were removed. Soon, my list was whittled down to one location...


Yesterday I got up early, my sights set on the morning's covert plan: pumpkin dump 2018. My spot was perfect. High traffic and visibility and a lower chance of security or any other kind of trouble. My true objective was still to place them in a spot in nature and the pumpkins, now free from any candle wax or other non-biodegradable elements, would be able to feed the local wildlife population.

As I peered out the bedroom window, I immediately noticed the fresh dusting of snow on the ground. I checked the weather forecast. Current temperature: 24 degrees. Ouch. I should have done this the week before when it was in the 50s...

I quickly loaded the car with all 13 jack-o-lanterns, now all frozen solid from the winter cold and snow, and quickly made my way to the dump spot.

I entered the grounds inconspicuously and parked my car near the rear, trying to remain unseen. The morning sun had poked out and the traffic had already started to pick up. I needed to move quickly, yet stay invisible.

I made 7 trips from the car to the back of the mausoleum. When all 13 were gathered, I quickly set up the final display. Neatly arranged around the cemetery mausoleum's doorway, mere yards from an increasingly busy street. After the last pumpkin was placed, I quickly grabbed my camera and began shooting.

And in roughly 10 minutes, I was gone...

Pumpkin dump 2018 was a success! I had found an amazing, and somewhat obvious, location in one of my local cemeteries. It's a place that I drive by all the time and have actually shot a Cemetery Sundays installment in a few years back.

If you're in the Akron area, I invite you to look for this installment. It's plainly visible, if you know where to look. It's on one of the busiest roads in the city with a traffic light at the intersection, giving you plenty of time to enjoy.

I also encourage all of my other fellow haunters to extend the Halloween season and do your own pumpkin dump. All that I ask is that you use common sense in picking a location. Be smart and be careful. And clean out the pumpkins. We don't want to harm the local wildlife population that will gladly snack on them!


Dead Melodies - "The Eternal Veil"

The perfect track for a low-key evening, nestled away from the damp, dark cold of late autumn. The warmth and melancholy of piano notes shielding the approaching snows of winter...

Dia De Muertos Ohio, 2018

This year's "Halloween Hangover" didn't last long. Only three days after the whirlwind of Halloween night, my son and I got the chance to drive up to Cleveland and check out the 2018 Dia De Muertos Ohio parade. An amazing event highlighting the city's vibrant Hispanic culture and celebrating the traditional Mexican and Latin American "Day of the Dead" holiday.

We had been to this wonderful event in years past, but has missed the last 2 years due to Halloween scheduling conflicts. I was really excited to get back up to it this year, and especially because I got the chance to have my young son experience it, too.

Ornate altars and elaborate ofrendas were displayed throughout the neighboring Church Hall and yard while vendors sold Day of the Dead and skeleton wares. Many attendees donned the traditional skull face paint and costumes. Mariachis even serenaded the crowd throughout the afternoon, culminating in the main event, the annual "Skulls & Skeletons" parade.

As the parade-goers gathered at the parking lot entrance, it became a sea of skeletons, stilt-walkers and puppets. We got a spot close to the entrance, camera in hand. As the parade embarked from the lot, I snapped wildly at all of the inventive, ornate and fun costumes. 

If you ever find yourself in the Northeast Ohio area, you really should make a point to come check out the Dia De Muertos Parade in Cleveland! It really is a great cure for your "Halloween Hangover"!

Here's a small selection of shots from the celebration...