Upon The Eve Of October

Just a quick heads up. The annual Countdown To Halloween starts tomorrow. Get ready.

Illustration by the incredible Sam Heimer.

SVARTSINN - "September Dirge"

Summer has ended, and the chill of October approaches. Bring on the darkness...

Another wonderful, richly atmospheric dark ambient track from Norwegian artist, Svartsinn.

Retro Frankenstein Half-Mask From Spirit Halloween

So for the past few seasons, I would get really excited when I'd see the annual "Coming Soon, Spirit Halloween!" signs go up in vacant store fronts. And for the past few seasons, I would be disappointed in their offerings and walk out of the store a bit sad and empty-handed. There was just nothing there that I really wanted or needed for my particular haunt style. I just wasn't their target customer...

But fast-forward to this year, and after seeing the sign I figured I'd give it another shot. I entered the store with my son, keeping an open mind to see if there might be something, anything, that might catch my eye. But really, I went to see if I could get a costume for my son, since we are in fact having trick-or-treat this year!

As I perused the aisles, I skimmed past the usual trinkets and cheap props. But as I walked past the wall of masks, something really caught my eye...

This amazing, retro Frankenstein half-mask! I know it isn't much, but for the first time in a long while I said, "That is cool!" A nice homage to the plastic Ben Cooper half-masks that practically smothered me to death each Halloween when I was young.

I snagged the last one off of the rack, determined to make a Spirit Halloween purchase. I also grabbed a rather cool Fortnite character costume for my son (he was stoked!), and it looks like he's set for the big night. We're both ready to go!

And with the ridiculous amount of Spirit Halloween coupons I now have, I think I'm going to go back and snag the cool retro mummy, vintage devil, and classic cat half-masks, too.

This truly is a strange year!

The Johnson-Smith Novelty Company Horror Record

So with my decision to jump back in this Halloween, I soon started thinking ahead to another month of spooky, fun content for the blog. And of course, one of the first things I thought about was music. Music has always played an integral part of my Halloween season, and by extension, my life in general.

I started researching new options for my Freebie Fridays segments, where I share gems from my ever-increasing collection of old novelty Halloween "spooky sounds" records, cassettes and CDs throughout the month of October. I quickly realized that I had shared everything in my current collection, so it was time to go out and snap up a few more classics.

And I came upon a Halloween holy grail that I somehow hadn't heard of before...

The Johnson-Smith Novelty Company Horror Record!

Seven full inches of glorious Halloween novelty record cheese. Chock full of hilariously bad and poorly produced sound effects. Originally sold along side whoopie cushions and x-ray specs through ads in the back pages of horror comics and similar publications of the 1970s. I knew I had to add this one to the collection.

And while I still don't own a copy yet, I DID find something way more amazing than the record itself.

About 15 years ago, Jason Ellis, head curator of the absolutely amazing Scar Stuff blog, decided to take his love of this record to the next level. He took the original audio and animated it using the incredible art of Eerie Publications' classic horror comics. The same comics that housed the those original Johnson-Smith ads that you could have bought this record from. 

And the results are simply stunning! This video quickly made the rounds when it was first released, but I thought it was time to share this one again. It's just too damn good not to!


Back From The Grave!


After four long months away, it is time to reanimate this festering, lifeless corpse! Time to awaken from my deathly slumber...

Four months since I've posted anything here in the Cemetery. It's hard to believe that it has been that long, but life and time, even when flipped completely upside down, still move on...

Back in March and April, when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect all aspects of our lives, I figured that further on down the road, our high holiday of Halloween would inevitably be cast aside. Yet another unfortunate but necessary precaution to insure the safety and well-being of us all until things could return to normal (whatever "normal" may mean anymore...).

And as I had alluded to in previous posts, the burnout from 16 straight years of home haunting had really begun to take its toll. Couple that with moving to a new neighborhood and having to "start over" last year to a much smaller, unsuspecting crowd (on a Sunday, no less) drained my Halloween enthusiasm tank to near empty.

As the days rolled on into summer, our annual Halloween and haunt conventions were canceled one-by-one, further removing that traditional ramp up toward the big night.

It was then that my obvious choice was clear. 2020 would be the perfect year to take a break. A year off from the taxing craziness of home haunting. Especially if there wasn't even going to be a Halloween this year.

But apparently, I was wrong...

Within the past couple of weeks, a strange thing began to happen. Murmurs and rumblings began about our beloved day. And it got me to thinking about the possibility...

"What if?"

And then it happened. My city announced last week that there would be no official trick-or-treat planned for this year. BUT! Each neighborhood was free to conduct their own trick-or-treat, if done in a safe and responsible way.

Bingo. Go time. I was talking to a new neighbor who was quite fired up on the announcement and decided to "take over" the night's planning as no one else had stepped up to lead the charge. And at this point, I was still on the fence about even doing anything this year. So I quickly decided that I had a strong, new ally for Halloween night.

We sat and talked for at least 30 minutes as I revealed my true Halloween identity. She was floored. At that moment, my plans for 2020 changed. I decided that I needed to step up and help rescue Halloween this year. Trick-or-treat COULD be done in a safe, responsible way that could be enjoyed by the entire neighborhood.

I immediately volunteered to create a trick-or-treat flyer. In previous years, our neighborhood trick-or-treated on the Sunday before Halloween, 5-7 pm. This year, that just ain't gonna work. We have already decided that our trick-or-treat will be on Halloween night. As I think it should be. And being on a Saturday night this year is quite a bonus...

My previously empty Halloween tank had just gotten a quick jolt of life. I broke out a couple of my wonderful old spooky Halloween records and they sounded better than ever. I took my son to the local Spirit Halloween store and bought his costume for this year. He is super excited and he is going to look great as whatever-the-heck Fortnite character he's going as. I even pulled out my annual inventory list for the home haunt and I'm seeing what I still have time to create for my yard display. And I realized that I could channel this sudden surge of inspiration and creativity into this blog.

So after four months away, it looks like the orange-and-black spirits have brought me back to the fold. And I don't think I could have it any other way.

I hope my little kickstart helps inspire and motivate some of you as well. It is a very strange time, and we are nowhere near out of the woods with this pandemic yet. Halloween needs us all this year, but we need to stay safe and prove that we can do this responsibly. I have seen quite a few announcements that haunted houses will open up, mostly in reduced capacities. But for this year, I'll take it. 

Please be safe and follow established guidelines to help us get through this crazy year. It will ensure that we all come back full force next year.

47 days until Halloween. Are you ready?