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...


Highbury Cemetery, 2018

It's now Saturday morning and I'm sitting in my home office, looking out the window. It is STILL raining. I just have to laugh. Four days straight with rain...

I wrote about the weather problems we faced this Halloween here. It was rainy and none of my animatronic props even made it out into the display this year, but we still managed to put together a great cemetery haunt and a ton of people still braved the elements to come check it all out. And we had a great collection for our annual canned food drive, so overall I'd still mark this year's Halloween display as a win.

I'm still sore from the day's events, but the smile is still there. I've gone through the night's photos and I was able to capture the fun and spooky spirit of the haunt, even with less in it. In less than 24 hours, we were able to set up the entire display, run our 2 hour trick-or-treat, photograph, and then completely tear down, leaving no trace of what had just happened. It's admittedly crazy, but it's a part of what makes Highbury Cemetery special. An exclusive, one-night only event. Miss it, and you'll have to wait another 365 days...

So sit back, relax, (grab your raincoat!) and enjoy the photos from Highbury Cemetery, 2018!

The Highbury Crypt
With the evening's rain and reduced amount of props being put out in the yard, I was able to focus more on the front porch. The walk-in crypt is the climax of the display, where trick-or-treaters have to enter to receive their candy. My focus has always been to make sure it has the most amount of detail. 

This year, I got a new blue LED bulb for the overhead light, giving off a bit more overall light, yet keeping a nice, dull cool blue hue to the entire room. I also brought all of my LED flicker light candles in and spread them to each of the four burial chambers. And then finally, I picked up a new Laser Swamp laser vortex from Slaughterhouse Effects. Together with the fog machine, it added an incredible green swirl near the floor. It had kids and adults alike stopping to run their fingers through the light all night. This was an upgrade that made a really big difference!

My only real casualty of the night was losing the small tap light that backlit my custom crow stained glass window. 0-for-3 on getting the perfect backlighting with that thing! Next year, I'll look for something better to really show off the art on that...

And even with the rain and a slow start to the night, we managed to get 437 trick-or-treaters, parents, neighbors and visitors to our door. That's the second most attendance, only 50 behind last year's record total. And last year, we had dry weather. It seems as though the word is spreading about Highbury Cemetery. And that puts a jack-o-lantern sized grin across my face!

The Second Annual Halloween Canned Food Drive
For the second year running, we did a canned food collection in support of the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank during our trick-or-treat. The announcement sign went up in my yard about a week before the big night, informing all neighbors and passersby of the event. And the neighbors showed up for the second year in a row! Kids and parents dropped their canned food and monetary donations into our "Coffin For A Cause" and got an extra-special treat bag filled with candy, plastic jumping spiders and a glow-in-the-dark pin that read "I Filled The Coffin for a Cause!"

In two short rainy hours, we collected 93 canned food items and an INCREDIBLE $151.57 in monetary donations. I really have to thank our friends and neighbors for their generosity in helping to make a difference in our community!! Well done, everyone. Now let's collect even more next year!!

And of course I couldn't end it without thanking the hard-working crew who REALLY went above and beyond in lending help with Highbury Cemetery for 2018. Everyone stepped up and earned their Highbury Cemetery shirts this year! A HUGE Highbury thank you goes out to the following crazies: Mrs. Highbury, Sharon, Karen, Laurie, Josh, Dave from Closed Casket Studios, Brother Scrapes, Stacey and Vince Rager, and Andrew. Without you, I'd just be one guy screaming curse words toward the sky. The dreary, rainy sky!!

And yes, even with the scaled-back display, it all ended on a high. It all came together and we still managed to have a ton of fun. I'm energized to hit the ground running for 2019 and I already have big plans for next year's display. There's only 362 days to go, so it's time to get back to the garage. Are you ready??