Pär Boström - Midnattsmässa


More incredible audio from Pär Boström, creative mastermind of dark ambient projects Kammarheit and Cities Last Broadcast, among others. I could lie on the ground and listen to this for hours...




SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Highbury Cemetery Has Moved!!






We’re finally back after a very crazy couple of months with a very special announcement. After 16 wonderful years, we have moved out of our old home in Akron, Ohio. We moved only 20 minutes further west to the city of Copley, but it is most definitely a world away, and it will bring significant changes to Highbury Cemetery…

Previous to our quick decision and subsequent whirlwind process of getting our old home ready to sell, I had been suffering from some serious post-Halloween burnout. I decided to skip the cons this year and basically step away from everything Halloween for a few months. I had begun thinking about scaling way back for the 2019 season to avoid the usual stress of planning, building, setting up and then tearing down on Halloween night.

Little did I know that those months away would quickly be filled with constant work on the house, getting it ready to hit the market that was currently exploding in our area. I managed to take everything related to the haunt and pack it all into one big storage unit. It was the greatest game of Tetris that you will ever see. There was so much, including some huge props that had to be crammed in!



Out With The Old…



We made the decision to finally sell our old home way back in March. We had entertained the thought numerous times before, but never got really serious about it until now. We met with a realtor, got the list of everything that we needed to do to get it ready to sell (which wasn’t an easy task), and then dove in full force. And by the first week in May, the house was ready to go on the market, looking better than it had in a very long time…

And all of our hard work paid off immediately. The house went up for sale on a Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday, we had 7 showings. And by first thing Friday morning, we accepted an offer. Done. Just like that. Sold in 48 hours. The whole process was surreal. 

15 years of an ever-increasing home haunt location was now sold. The emotions of everything we had established and how far we had come in those 15 years kept me in a constant, agitated state of internal conflict. Saying goodbye would not be easy…

But I couldn’t just sit around and wallow in my own emotional sludge, because we had a new house to look forward to…






In With The New…

With the craziness of the housing market in our area, we knew that we would have to move quickly in order to secure our future home while simultaneously trying to sell our old one. Luckily, we had daily updates from our realtor, and when this new home popped up, we immediately scheduled a showing.

The first thing I noticed upon driving into the development was the amount of kids running around. “Perfect!” I thought jokingly. “Plenty of new victims for the big night!!”

When we drove down the cul-de-sac road, I immediately noticed a couple of things. The houses were much closer together than our old neighborhood and they were much closer to the street than our old neighborhood. Less front yard to work with, although I didn’t consider it a deal breaker.

As we toured the home, the smiles on our faces continued to grow. Newer, brighter, and much more space. It really checked many of our non-Halloween boxes and by the end of the tour, we were well on our way toward putting in an offer.

With the speed at which homes were selling, we knew we would have to act fast (and beat the other two couples who were touring the home at the same time that we were). We quickly called our realtor and put together an offer.

And just as quickly as our old home had sold, our offer on the new home was accepted the next day. An enormous life event flipped in less than two weeks. Our heads were spinning. The only thing left to do was start planning a cemetery layout in my brand new front yard…oh, and also pack everything from the old place and get ready for a really big move.





Over Memorial Day weekend, the move was on. Movers packed everything into trucks and quickly shuttled it all across town. I opted to keep everything Halloween-related packed up tight in my one remaining storage unit. I really had no time nor desire to even think about anything Halloween-related at this point.

In one day, we had everything moved to the new home, and it was time to start making new memories. We lived out of boxes for the first few weeks, as we slowly unpacked and waited for new pieces of furniture to arrive. We went one room at a time, eventually establishing the foundation of our new home.

Fast forward nearly three months and I’m now stretched out in my new, bigger home office, listening to some creepy vinyl records and writing this entry. We’ve unpacked everything, hit our groove in the new home and have met an entire neighborhood’s worth of new friends and families. I haven’t spilled my October secret yet, as I don’t want to scare anyone off…yet. Perhaps I’ll just surprise them all on Halloween night with a little show yet.

And while I’m enjoying life in my new digs, I haven’t forgotten about the old one. 16 years is a long time to make friends and memories, and I won’t soon forget either. It was incredibly difficult for me when three separate neighbors came over to say goodbye when we left, all asking what was going to happen on Halloween. It really made me stop and think about what we had established in that neighborhood, what good we had done for the greater community, and how many people we really touched along the way.

Malvern Road, you will always occupy a large chunk of my heart. Neighbors became family and you will never, ever be forgotten.



And Where Do We Go From Here?

As I had said prior to even thinking about selling our old house, I was suffering from some serious post-Halloween burnout. I was seriously considering a drastically scaled-back version of my display for 2019, and I think everyone who helped put on Highbury Cemetery felt the same way.

So as of now, with the prospect of reestablishing my display in a new neighborhood, I have decided to start small. I want to get a feeler for how much this new neighborhood celebrates the high holiday. We have an incredible diversity of families and I really don’t want to start off on the wrong foot or leave a bad impression in regards to the biggest night of the year.

With the smaller front yard, it will force me to contain my display to a smaller area, yet allow me to get even more detailed than before. Think of Pumpkinrot and Marrow’s absolutely stunning 2018 display, Church. A small area just overflowing with lush precision and detail.

In thinking beyond 2019, my new display will get a thorough going-over. I expect that I may end up parting with some of the props that I have created over the past 15 years. At first, the thought of selling ANYTHING twisted my stomach into knots, but as I think more about it, it will be a good thing. I can reduce the amount of storage I’ll need and also free up space for any newer props in the coming seasons. Keep an eye on this blog, as I’ll announce anything going up for sale here first.

So there you have it. It has been an absolute whirlwind of the last three months, but the chaos and tension have passed and clarity, focus, and drive are all starting to return. We’re down to less than 70 days until the big night, and while some have hit their annual freak-out level for their prop building deadlines, I sit here oddly calm and relaxed.

Over the next month, I’ll assess what I want to set up this year and slowly bring carloads of props to the new home. And then come October 1st, I’ll be properly rested, fully inspired and completely excited to celebrate another Countdown to Halloween. I’m already amassing this year’s list of blog posts and I’m hoping to go even bigger than in years past.

With so much free time slated for 2019, I hope to check off quite a few Halloween-related things that I had been meaning to do for years, only to hit my own freak-out level and skip out on due to my own prop building deadlines. Visiting area haunted houses, finally seeing other friends’ yard displays, carving pumpkins, and just taking time to enjoy everything about the season. I’m really getting excited and I can’t wait to share the season with friends and loved ones. With each word I type, I feel the Halloween spirit flaming back up inside me.



Also, keep an eye on this blog, as I will be announcing the next release from Charnel House, my haunt-ambient audio project, in October. I am already planning a really cool, really limited physical CD release chock full of goodies, as well as digital files for use in your own displays. And it looks like my audio might be used in a legendary Akron haunted attraction this season, so I will be working overtime to get it all out in time.

And if you’re still reading all of this, thank you. There was a lot that I wanted to get out, and I just kept typing. And typing. And typing. This post literally took me over two weeks to complete. But after this, we’ll be back on the usual schedule of Halloween shenanigans, so buckle up and let’s enjoy the hell out of this ride toward All Hallows Eve!



Hangin' at Closed Casket Studios, 2019


For the past two years, I posted this exact same thing. I have the amazing luck of living five minutes away from Closed Casket Studios, so I get the chance to go hang out with Dave, drink a few beers, talk about everything Halloween, and check out all the new pieces he has rolling out this year. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Friday night!

This year the post comes a bit later than usual, as I skipped the Transworld show with them in March. I usually go over just before the show and post up some teasers as we're headed due west to St. Louis. There's been a lot going on over in my neck of the woods this year, so I'm behind, but there are still some really cool new sculpts and pieces creeping out from Dave's basement.

If you missed the Transworld show, you can still check out his new work at the upcoming Midwest Haunters Convention in Chicago this June. And if you're there, be sure to tell him that I sent you. You won't get anything special or anything, but at least I'll know that someone is still reading this blog...

And if you're going to miss both shows, just sit back and check out the photos below. You can always visit his site and pick up any of his pieces there! Enjoy!














Does this mask make me look fat?



And then finally the man himself. Proudly displaying his major award, the 2019 Transworld Vendor Excellence Award. Well deserved, my friend!!

 

ASHTORETH - "Rite II-Fire" Video


A wisp of smoke where Spirit hides
wills the fire to refine and cleanse that of old

The new video from Belgian artist, ASHTORETH. A wonderfully dark soundscape for a dreary, cold and wet morning...




"The Dead Don't Die" Trailer


A dark comedy zombie film. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Iggy Pop as a zombie. Tom Waits. Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny and a samurai-sword wielding Tilda Swinton. And that supporting cast. Are you kidding me!?

Sign. Me. Up.




Hellripper - "All Hail The Goat"


It can't be dark ambient all the time. I still need my thrash metal, and Scottish ripper James McBain's project Hellripper is just the fix. "All Hail The Goat" is the first track off his latest release, and it absolutely, positively rips...



The Order Of The Thinned Veil, 2019


I freely admit to my love and adoration of the art of Sam Heimer. Is there any artist whose vintage-styled illustrations better encapsulate all things Halloween??



Three years ago, I took a chance on a new collaborative project between him and fellow Halloween artist, Jason McKittrick. The project was called The Order Of The Thinned Veil, a year-long celebration of all things Halloween. Upon subscribing to one of three levels, new Order members received amazing packages filled with illustrations and sculpted figures, along with a plethora of other cool Halloween ephemera. You even got a package of pumpkin seeds to grow your own in time to carve for the 31st!

I was instantly hooked. It was such a fun project to keep the Halloween feeling going throughout the whole year.

I jumped on last year's subscription, and it was even better than the previous year's offering. My Heimer collection of illustrations and McKittrick collection of sculpted figures continues to grow and I am fully hooked on the Order!



And now is your chance to join me! It was announced today that the 2019 Order Of The Thinned Veil subscriptions are now up and ready to order. Three levels to match your level of dedication (and wallet).

I CAN NOT recommend this fun project enough! So many cool little touches make this a mandatory Halloween fan's addition. Cool Halloween tchotchkes and even cooler Halloween art.



Our Halloween season starts today! Get over to the Order Of The Thinned Veil page, check out all the cool stuff and subscribe! How can you not!?!?

  

Council Of Nine - "Circle Of The Sun"


Feel yourself enveloped by the deepening darkness and despair. I absolutely love, love, love this dark ambient track from Council of Nine!




Desiderii Marginis - "The Silence Of A Thousand Years"


Another incredible dark ambient track from legendary Swedish artist, Desiderii Marginis. This track, The Silence of a Thousand Years, is the first single from his upcoming release, Departed. So much atmosphere on this one, I cannot wait for the full release...




Pumpkins In The Cemetery


Back in November, I successfully completed my second annual Pumpkin Dump. That is, instead of simply throwing all of my jack-o-lanterns away after Halloween, I decided to do something a bit more creative with them.

I found a unique, visible location in my area to quickly and secretly set up all my jack-o-lanterns! My reasoning was twofold: first, it was a fun and innocent way to extend the Halloween season by a little bit and share it with everyone who discovered the set up, and two, after removing all wax and other contaminants, it provided a natural snack for the local deer, raccoon, chipmunk and squirrel population.

My second pumpkin dump was a great success, staying up at the front of a cemetery on a highly-traveled road for the better part of three weeks. Plenty of time to be seen by many, many people...

Fast forward to this week when I receive an email from a friend, showcasing his latest collection of photography. Amongst the collection of amazing rusty industrial photos and beautiful shots of local wildlife is a photo that caught me completely off-guard...


Photo courtesy of David Fitzgibbons.

Boom! There it was! A totally awesome photo of my last pumpkin dump! It was a bigger success than I had anticipated. I don't think he even knew the story behind this or who set it up (although he may have been able to guess)!

In my quick setup and getaway, I only snapped a couple of quick daytime photos before slipping away undetected. But he obviously had more time to capture the setup in a detailed way. The selective orange coloring only amplifies the utter coolness of this photo. It is, without a doubt, the best photo of my "work"...

I was so excited when I saw it, I immediately revealed the backstory and asked his permission to post it here, so thank you Dave! You have captured the eerie fun in a way that I couldn't, and provided a most unexpected surprise!

I see a freelance photography gig in your future, say next October? Amazing shot, sir!!

  

Pär Boström - "Infinite"


A brand new track from Kammarheit and Cities Last Broadcast mastermind, Pär Boström.

A film score without a film. Improvised one evening in September 2018, using the Hogshead cigar box guitar and effect pedals, and then edited into whatever this is.

30 minutes of wonderful, relaxing melancholy. A perfect track for a cold, grey winter weekend. Enjoy...




Burnout and the Fine Art of Halloweenin’





So here we are, already at the end of February. It’s been a while since my last post, but I won’t lie. This past Halloween season really took a lot out of me.

Once everything had been carefully packed away for another year, I was done. Physically and mentally. Completely burned out. I feel a little bit burned out after every Halloween, but this time was different. We had just wrapped up another successful Halloween, our 15th, but I wasn’t completely satisfied.

We had a great turnout and an even greater collection for our second annual canned food drive, but I feel like so many things went against us this year. It rained on Halloween night. Again. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is trying to quickly set everything up in a cold, grey rain. And because of the rain, many of my animatronics (including my big surprise animated prop for the 2018 season) simply stayed in the garage.

Truth be told, I was struggling to get into the “Halloween spirit” at all this past year. I still love it with all my heart, but I think a family vacation in early October threw my entire schedule off (although the trip WAS to DisneyWorld, and it was pretty amazing!). I felt rushed with my planning and it led to feelings of frustration.

It was right after Halloween that I decided that I needed a break. So outside of my usual month or two off, a full break was needed. No Halloween stuff at all.

I looked at the calendar and decided that I was going to step away until summer. It would give me enough time to refocus and reinvigorate my haunt spirit, and at the same time give me an opportunity to revisit the other aspects of my life that make me complete.

And speaking of calendar…



Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show
For the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to go to Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show. I can’t thank Dave at Closed Casket Studios enough for allowing me the chance to go work the booth with him, but this year I’m going to skip it. Hopefully I get the chance to go again in the future, as Transworld is an incredible experience and is mandatory for anyone in the haunt world to attend at least once.




Ohio Halloween & Haunters Convention
This is a brand new haunt convention, located here in Ohio. After the announcement that MHC would be leaving its home of Columbus, the local haunt community got together and created this new convention to take its place. I’m pretty excited to see how it goes, especially taking place in the infamous Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. Unfortunately, I’m going to miss this one, too, as I have already registered for a mountain bike trip in Pennsylvania that same weekend. Darn!




Midwest Haunters Convention
Living and haunting in Ohio definitely has its privileges, one of which was attending the Midwest Haunters Convention every year in Columbus. I almost felt guilty listening to other haunters talk about the number of hours they had to drive to get there, not bringing up my total trip time of under two hours. It has always been the kick-off to my haunt season, and has always been my home convention. 

But it was announced last year that the convention would be moving to the Chicago area. At first I was pretty gutted, but I have since decided to give it a shot. This will be the point that I swing back into “haunt mode” and should be sufficiently recharged and ready to start working on my 2019 haunt. I’m really excited to see what is in store for this year’s convention and I can’t wait to see which Chicagoland haunts will be open for tours. And if nothing else, I’ll be able to tell everyone about my 6 hour drive. Regardless of location, MHC is always a party and I hope to see a lot of you there!



So what WILL I be doing until June?

Plenty! To start with, we added a new member to the Highbury Cemetery family. 



Please say hello to Atticus, our new Silver Lab puppy. We got him just before Christmas, and as anyone who has raised a puppy already knows, he takes up A LOT of time. But I’m not complaining! I have wanted a dog for a long time, and he is awesome! I can’t wait for nice weather so that I can start training him to be a trail dog. And maybe a haunter…




Blog
I will still be posting a bunch here. No props for a while, but the haunt inspiration never goes away. Plus, there’s always a bunch going on all around the Cemetery, so I’ll be sharing as much as I can throughout the year, leading up to All Hallows Eve.




Instagram
I’ll still be throwing a bunch of new photos up on the Highbury Cemetery Instagram page. Be sure to Like, Follow, Comment and so on and so forth.




YouTube
Yes, there is a Highbury Cemetery YouTube channel. Not much on there now, but I hope to add more throughout the year. I’ve said this for a number of years now, but I really want to create more video content in 2019.




Charnel House
The other project that I am continuing on with is Charnel House, my newish “haunt ambient” audio project. After years of toying with the idea of creating my own dark ambient audio, I finally pulled the trigger. I wanted to create a dark ambient sound that was targeted more for use in haunt scenes, and Charnel House was born. My first 3-track release came out in May of 2018 with a very limited CD release that was given away to friends at MHC. 



The second release was set for Halloween, but the hectic schedule pushed everything back. I happy to announce that I’m putting the wraps on the last track and the new release will be set to drop in mere weeks. I will also have another VERY limited CD release, featuring a hand-numbered sleeve with a very special goodie inside. Keep an eye on this space as they will go fast!

AND DID I MENTION THAT ALL OF MY RELEASES ARE FREE? FREE TO DOWNLOAD AND FREE TO USE IN YOUR HOME OR PRO HAUNT SETTING!!

While I finish the new release, go grab the first three tracks here. And please give me some feedback on what you think. I’m always up for any constructive criticism and I continue to improve.



So there you have it. A little mental health break before refocusing on the 2019 haunt season. After typing this whole thing out, I can already feel the haunt energy slowly returning. I have a bunch of posts lined up, so stop back soon. And we'll see everybody in Chicago this June!!