Daniel Davies - "Shadows Alive"

From Daniel Davies, godson of and guitarist to John Carpenter's recording and touring band. A very "Carpenter-esque" haunting retro synth track from "Events Score," which releases today!

Events Score is available on Bandcamp, Lakeshore Records, and a gorgeous limited vinyl release from Burning Witches Records.

Guess which one I ordered!?!? And look for Davies' next release, the highly anticipated Halloween film soundtrack alongside current bandmates John and Cody Carpenter this October!

Suspiria (2018) Poster & Trailer

I am the first to admit that I'm against remakes. Especially horror films. Never even come close to the original, ultimately serving only to tarnish the original's reputation, uninspired, cheap cash grab, Hollywood is out of new ideas, and on and on and on.

And I was filled with complete dread (and dare say outrage) upon hearing the latest title to be remade: Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece, Suspiria.

How could you do that!? WHY would you do that!? How can you compete with Goblin's original, iconic score!? And on and on and on.

And then a strange thing happened. I started seeing the first clips of the new film, and I wasn't mortified by what I saw. I specifically remember thinking, "that actually doesn't look half bad."

Of course Argento's signature bold swatches of vibrant color were absent, but this new version had its own muted, highly sophisticated look and feel. Every shot looked meticulously planned and stylistically shot, giving an unexpected sense of maturity (similar to the look and "slow burn" feel of Hereditary or The VVitch). And yes, you could even relate what was going on to Argento's original "ballet school for witches" storyline.

And on top of that, the official film poster was released today. And I absolutely love it:

Poster image courtesy of Bloody Disgusting.

The title typography is striking, especially when it's framed in by the bold, stark blood splatters and monotone eyes. It really relates to what I have seen in the trailer. This poster is so far ahead of most other film posters that are churned out anymore.

At this point, I'm almost rooting for this film to be the one remake that does it right. I'm hoping that Luca Guadagnino can take the classic original and do something truly interesting with it. He has an amazing cast to work with (I'm looking at you, Tilda Swinton), and I just hope that the story is as interesting and focused as the film's cinematography.

Suspiria hits theaters on November 2 and I think I'm going to be in line to see this one. Check the trailer below and let me know what you think!

Lenore Sofia Highbury Tombstone

It's always nice to get that first tombstone of the season under your belt. The first project that opens the floodgates for the rest of the Halloween season projects. I know it's the end of August already, but it's finally go time at Highbury Cemetery! I proudly present my newest tombstone prop and newest member to reside within the rusted gates of Highbury Cemetery, Ms. Lenore Sofia Highbury...

It took a while to get things going for this year, but I'm REALLY happy with the way this one turned out! I decided that I needed a few more females within my cemetery, so Lenore Sofia earned her stone. A strange idea came out of nowhere when I started working on the epitaph, and I decided that this stone's epitaph would all be in French. I thought it would add a little bit of worldly class and sophistication to my display (or maybe it popped into my head when France won this year's World Cup, I can't be sure...). Either way, I thought it was a cool idea and ran with it.

Let me show you how I created it...

As always, I start with the epitaph. I created the full epitaph, complete with names, birth and death dates - all of which in the Highbury household mysteriously die on October 31st - and a few little flourishes and clip art crosses to give it a bit extra.

Translated, the epitaph reads...

In Memory

Lenore Sofia Highbury

Born - January 19, 1809
Died - October 31, 1848

Death by Delirium Tremens (Severe, Fatal Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium)

Rest In Peace

I then come up with an interesting shape, this time based on a piece of scrap 2" thick blue foam that I had laying around in the garage.

I create the final art at 100% size in Adobe Illustrator, then print out the entire thing, tiling the 8.5" x 11" sheets together.

I also had a small paper mache skull that I wanted to use for this stone, similar to the Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Von Bloemhof tombstones that I made it previous years. I also had some LED prop eyes inserted into the stone to illuminate the skull's eyes, although I forgot to photograph it this time around. Just go look at my previous stone links to see how it was done.

Once the epitaph was printed out and tiled, I used repositionable glue sticks to adhere the printout to the tombstone shape that I had cut out. I then used a couple of different bits in my handheld Dremel tool and carefully carved out each letter and cross.

Once all of the letters and crosses were carved, I simply pulled off all of the remaining paper from the epitaph printout, and then gave it a quick AND GENTLE spray from my garden hose to remove any leftover glue.

I then moved to the skull. I used a 4" full paper mache skull that I had picked up from Pat Catan's. I used a coping saw to cut the rear of the skull off, going from top to bottom. I then took the skull face and positioned it on the stone between the two crosses, tracing around the shape. I then engraved the area around the skull shape. This would allow me to embed the skull into the stone.

Once I made an even engraving all the way around and the skull sat flush, I glued it into place with a healthy glob of Gorilla Glue and let it sit overnight. Once the glue dried, I used spackle to fill in the remaining gaps. I really do this to give it a smooth look, as though it was part of stone when it was carved.

I gave the spackle a quick smoothing, and then went to work on the stone itself. I rounded all the edges and corners with a piece of sandpaper to give the stone a weathered look. I also added chips and cracks around the entire shape to give it a worn, aged feel. After everything was sanded, I went to work on the paint.

I have often heard that in painting you should always go from light to dark. But with tombstone paining, I always go from dark to light. I want everything in recessed areas to stay dark. This includes the epitaph obviously, but also the chips and cracks. I start with a complete coat of very dark grey. I never use 100% black, but doing so isn't a deal breaker. Simply my preference for a more authentic look.

After the dark grey dries, I dry brush a thorough coat of medium grey over the entire stone, leaving the recessed area the darker color. This actually serves as the base color for the stone. And once the medium grey dries, I add a few sparse highlight areas with a light grey.

At this point, I want to go with an even-more realistic look, So I add a watered-down drip/spray coating of green for a weathered, mossy and moldy detail. 

After years of photographing old tombstones throughout my area, I quickly noticed that most of the older stones had a cool, natural green coating to them. So I add this as a final paint step to all of my stones now.

Please note that this photo looks very green due to the fluorescent bulbs in my garage. It looks much better in natural light. And when this green coat dries, I drill two small holes through the stone and place the LED prop eyes into it for the skull's eyes. This time, I went with a pair of blue LEDs and I think they look fantastic.

When that was done, I drilled the two small sections of PVC conduit up into the bottom in order to slide them over 2 pieces of dowel rod driven into the ground when I set it up in my display on Halloween night.

**For a more detailed how-to, go check the post on my R.M. Renfield tombstone from a two years ago. It was the first time I used all of the same steps as this stone, and it has become my standard method for quick, easy and detailed tombstone creation.**

So now that the stone was finished, there was only one thing left to do! So I grabbed my camera, some LED tea light candles and a few LED spotlights...

The first tombstone is now in the "finished" pile and it's onto my next project. It's the big project for 2018 and I can't wait to get started. No spoilers, but this one should look REALLY cool as it guides the trick-or-treaters into the newly updated Highbury crypt on Halloween night for their candy!

We're getting dangerously close to October, so the posts are going to start flying in with more frequency, in anticipation for the big night. Like in years past, things will go absolutely bonkers starting on October 1st, going daily straight through to the big night. Lots to talk about and lots to share, so let's make this year the best one yet.


Lucius A. Fontenot - "Mémoire de la Boue - Mardi Gras"

Mémoire de la Boue - Mardi Gras

fr., trans., - The memory of the mud. Ancestral, genetic or inherited memory. 

Some traditions are so much a part of who we are they seem to not have been learned but inherited. The Courir de Mardi Gras and the boucherie bring us to a primal place. A place seeming distant from our immediate reality. A realm odd, fascinating, sometimes shocking, often time joyous. A realm where we are led by emotion, wonder and desire.

I absolutely love this series from Louisiana photographer, Lucius A. Fontenot. These photos take us to a traditional, rural cajun Mardi Gras celebration, one much different from the more familiar, glitzy New Orleans style. So much more authentic and stripped-down from any flashiness. The costuming is much more ragged and primal, lending itself to an almost uncertain and dangerous feel. 

If I ever make it back down to New Orleans, I would love to seek out this style of decadent celebration to experience firsthand...

All photos courtesy of Lucius A. Fontenot. More photos from this series (as well as other works) are at his site, with a nice interview on this series over at Vice.


New Halloween Soundtrack - By John Carpenter!

I was beyond excited upon hearing that there is a new Halloween film in the works, especially with legendary director John Carpenter brought on to produce. This new film somehow fits in as a new sequel to the 1978 original, which makes no real sense especially with the quality of the original sequel, but like everyone else, I'm willing to give it a shot. Because hey, John Carpenter.

So imagine how giddy I got when news broke that Carpenter was tagged with creating the new score to the film, too. A new Carpenter-associated Halloween film WITH A CARPENTER SCORE! Technically it will be composed by Carpenter, his son Cody and godson Daniel Davies (part of his band that have been touring for the past 3 years), which should make for an interesting update on the original score.

After hearing this news, I was all in. On October 19th, I will be in line to see this at my local theater (large crowds of people be damned!). I have been taken over by Halloween mania...

And to keep the hysteria going, Sacred Bones Records announced the release of the new Halloween soundtrack this week. Kaboom. My head just exploded. 3 different vinyl versions from Sacred Bones. And literally a thousand other release versions throughout other record labels, record stores and countries. Enough to make a collector go mad...

I quickly settled on grabbing a copy of the Sacred Bones "Art Edition" of 2,000. An alternate, die-cut sleeve with amazing (better!) art by Chris Bilheimer, really cool clear-and-orange-blob vinyl, and a huge, super cool Michael Myers target practice poster. And I'm glad I moved quick on this one, because all 2,000 sold out in 24 hours. Unbelievable. I guess Halloween mania isn't just limited to me...

The Halloween soundtrack drops on October 19th!

Midwest Haunters Convention Moves to Chicago for 2019

After a swirl of rumors at this year's Midwest Haunters Convention, the official announcement came out today. After 11 years of taking place in Columbus, Ohio, the Midwest Haunters Convention would be moving to Chicago, Illinois for the 2019 season...

From the MHC Official press release:

TransWorld Turns Chicagoland into Hauntedland (June 7-9)

Largest U.S. Halloween and Haunted Attraction Convention Moves to Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and 100+ Haunted Houses

WINNETKA, ILLINOIS, August 13, 2018 – After 11 years in Columbus, Ohio the Midwest Haunters Convention (MHC) – the ultimate trade event for haunted house operators, retailers, entertainment venues, seasonal performers, and enthusiasts – will move to Chicago. The producer, TransWorld Trade Shows, LLC is also expanding the show – from June 7th to 9th, 2019 -- to more than 60,000 square feet of exhibit space. In addition there will be haunted house tours throughout the region, so attendees can scare-up creative new ideas for building profitable business during the Halloween season.

Kelly Collins, former owner of Midwest Haunters Convention and industry expert recently joined the event team. “This category is growing exponentially,” he says. And now that I’ve teamed up with TransWorld the possibilities are scary-wonderful!”

An annual tradition, the Saturday Night Masquerade Party, remains the show highlight.

The show is not contained to the Convention Center, however. Attendees will see haunted houses in action, over a 120-mile radius via chartered buses. Tours will be announced by the end of 2018.

Exhibitors have shown support for the move to Chicago by committing early to the show. These exhibitors include Froggy's Fog, FrightProps, Distortions Unlimited - Official, Ghost Ride Productions, INC., Zombie Skin, Paschae Airbrush, Zagone Studios, LLC, Sinister Visions, Creative Visions, Legendary Escape, Donat Insurance, Zombie Army Productions and many others.

Companies have also rushed to secure the premier sponsorships. They are: Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, Haunted House Chicago, Basement of the Dead Haunted House, Dr. Scary’s, Evil Intentions Haunted House, HellsGate Haunted House, Midnight Terror Haunted House, The Realm of Terror Haunted House, Statesville Haunted Prison, Massacre Haunted House, and Wisconsin Fear Grounds. Other sponsorships are still available.

Other MHC attractions include:

• A Zombie Walk

• Body Art Fashion Show

• Bloody Mary Monster Makeup Wars competition
• Cash & Carry including makeup, props and one-of-a-kind items and art

• Sinister Visions Costume Contest
• Eye-popping trade show floor entertainment

• Opportunities to attract, recruit, and train seasonal talent

• Kids area

• Educational workshops and networking activities

Says one former attendee, “MHC combines profitable business and decadent pleasure – everything from makeup, costumes, and prosthetics to décor and animatronics.”

Jennifer Braverman, TransWorld CEO also notes, “Haunters are some of the friendliest people I’ve met in my trade show career. They love to share ideas and outdo each other in friendly competition. We may be creating the largest-ever environment for them to do that! We not only attract haunted house operators, we host hundreds of actors and aspiring ghouls.”

The show was moved due to the huge business population in Chicago, the Convention Center’s convenient location (8 miles to airport), and the venue’s free parking and union-free cost environment, which can save exhibitors thousands of dollars.

So where to begin?

As an Ohioan, I am bummed about the move. The just-under two hour drive was really convenient and the fact that it has always been in Columbus was a source of state pride, as it was "our" convention. I had attended this event for the past 8 or 9 years and it had become an annual Halloween right of passage each June.

But as a haunter, I get it, too. I would be lying if I told you that the convention hadn't become a bit long in the tooth, culminating in a rather tepid and uninspired event in 2018. Having the convention scheduled over Memorial Day weekend, regardless of availability and scheduling, was a bad move and it showed with a half-full trade show floor. Vendor attendance was its lowest since I had been coming to the show. 

And quite honestly, I wouldn't doubt that this was the plan all along. Everyone signaled the death knell once word spread that the convention had been taken over by TransWorld two years ago.

But I get this, too. They are a business and their goal is to make money. So why not bring it to the largest possible audience?

And Chicago is an obvious choice. A huge city with an absolutely incredible haunt scene.

So yes, I am bummed, but at the same time, optimistic. Honestly MHC was due for a reboot as it were and I think (hope) that this is the kick it needs. The drive will increase by 4 hours, but I'm going to give it a chance.

Chicago is an amazing city and I'm really excited to go tour some of their legendary haunts. And regardless of where it's located, a gathering of haunters is always going to be a huge party.

So what says you, Chicago? Can you take what we Ohioans have lovingly crafted and take it to the next level? I'm going to give you the chance in 2019.  On June 7th, lets tear the city apart!


Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - "Dead Eyes of London"

Sweet 60's-infused occult stoner rock from England, with video clips from the 1961 film of the same name...

Cleveland Haunt Club's Haunted Garage Sale and Hearse Cruise-In 8/4

It's time for the 3rd Annual Cleveland Haunt Club Haunted Garage Sale and Hearse Cruise-In! If you are in the Cleveland area this Saturday, August 4th, why not stop out at the Bay Village Community House in Bay Village, Ohio, and score some cool new haunt, Halloween and horror gear, gobble up some gruesome treats and check out a horde of hearses!

Tons of people, tons of vendors and tons of fun! Come on out and say hello!