The Unseen - "The Goatman"


Boy, did I miss the boat on this one! I just recently discovered the incredible releases from Library Of The Occult Records out of the UK. The label describes itself as, “Esoteric Electronics, Dungeon Jazz and Wizard Psych sounds on limited vinyl releases." Sign me up!

Alongside the incredible sounds, each release is meticulously designed to mimic the iconic throwback look of 70's occult/folk horror. Wonderful, "Satanic" imagery perfectly paired with ornate typography and a bold palette of reds, blacks, and purples make each a true work of art.

I have been snapping up a few of their limited vinyl releases (not easy because they are released in very small numbers, sell out quickly, and their immediate collectibility makes the prices go up, up, up...). But it has been totally worth it.

My favorite of their releases thus far has to be The Unseen's "The Goatman."


From
LOTO's YouTube page:

"The Goatman, from what I can tell, would fall into the folk horror category. The Unseen’s score feels right at home there; a mixture of guitar, synths, mellotron, and paranoia to go around. “Eerie Meadow (Opening Titles)” is subtle and makes it known this is not a meadow to be in after dark. It’s reminiscent of Charles Bernstein’s work on Nightmare On Elm Street. “Newlywed Arrival” is subtle nightmare fuel. Eerie keys play a sort of cryptic lullaby that would feel right at home in an early 70s creature feature. “Footsteps Outside The Cottage” has early Romero vibes. Season of the Witch and Martin comes to mind. “Darkening Meadow” goes for broke with the mellotron, giving the song a melancholy Moody Blues feel. It’s quite lovely and eerie. 

This album tows the line between ambient and incidental, laying on both the creepy noises and psychedelic melodies that feel as if they were locked in a tomb for 71 years. “Passion in the Woods” gets a little randy with some funky guitar and electro squalls that may or may not be a couple becoming one with nature. And “Lullabies (End Titles)” closes our Goatman journey out with melancholy harpsichord and voice that feels like late-60s psych pop of the highest order.

Give this one a listen, and you too will be adding it to your "spooky season" playlist. Grab a copy of this, and all of the other incredible releases over at the Library Of The Occult Bandcamp page. Enjoy!


  

Historic Block Restrikes by The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum


As we get closer to the spooky season, it's time to put up those decorations! And if you're like me, the standard off-the-shelf fare from the chain craft stores just doesn't cut it. If your exacting standards are in search of something a little more special (like mine), might I suggest these insanely cool historic wood block poster reprints from the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum?

Hand-printed from the original blocks, these posters recall a simpler time and just ooze with incredible Halloween nostalgia with wonderful, bold typography, color and illustration...







All these incredible, spooky posters (and tons more!) are available at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum website. Enjoy!

  

The Salem Night Faire


Well, it would be a 10 hour drive from the Cemetery, but in seeing the video below I would definitely consider it!



Mark your calendars for October 20, 21, 27 & 28 for the 6th annual Salem Night Faire presented by The Black Veil in Salem, Massachusetts.

From the Salem Night Faire site:

Join us and tread beyond the darkened pines for a glimpse beyond the veil, an enchanting weekend of outdoors magick and wonder.

Featuring over 50+ local and distant artists, clothing, jewelry, and oddity vendors, live performances, fireside ghost stories, photo ops, hot cider, a Biergarten & more.

Extend a hand towards the mute fortune teller and have your fruitless fortune read, gaze upon the ghostly fashion installations of renowned designer Ashley Rose throughout the weekend, and lose yourself in a spellbinding daze. The time awaits, and magick fills the air this October Salem night.

Stay dreary.

I have seen videos and photos from previous years' events and it has always piqued my interest (I mean come on, Salem at Halloween time!?), but in seeing the incredible video below, I now will be taking the idea of attending more seriously. This entire event just looks SO GOOD. And spooky. And fun!

And don't forget, it's just a short drive from Salem to Lee, New Hampshire to see the haunted attraction that should be on everyone's mandatory bucket list, Haunted Overload! What a weekend that would be...


  

10 Years Ago: The Lorain County Zombie Walk


It's crazy how time flies, even in our haunt circles. Today, I had a few photos pop up in a "memories" timeline and I had to do a double-take on the original date.

TEN years ago today, I attended the Lorain County (Ohio) Zombie Walk. I was just starting to dabble further into self-made horror fx applications and makeup, and took the opportunity to show off my skills.

I took extra time to create this open flesh effect with rotten teeth, blood, and solid grey face tones that accentuated yellow-and-black colored contact lenses. I also put together a detailed "zombie outfit" complete with a rusty chain and lantern. (Not really sure what the lantern was actually for in regards to the character, but it made for a cool, eye-catching accessory that swung side to side as I walked down the street.)

And while I did not win "Best Zombie Costume," I was still chosen as a finalist and got to strut my stuff on the stage in front of the large event crowd. I had quite a few people taking my photo, and best of all, the closeup photo below was used on the front page of the local newspaper in an article recapping the event.

Looking back at these photos brings a smile to my face, as it was the starting point of really taking my love of haunting up to the next level. Enjoy!



  

"Mask Fest, 2023" Video - Distortions Unlimited


Poster art by Mikey Sevier/Mask Fest.

I didn't make it out to Indianapolis for the return of Mask Fest, but Distortions Unlimited has put together a really great walkthrough video of the whole event to show what all I missed. SO much talent and SO many absolutely insane masks all in one place! I think this will be on the bucket list for 2024...

Enjoy!


  

Countdown To Halloween, 2023



Do people still read blogs? Ehh, I still do. And that's why I'm all in for another month-long celebration of the
Countdown To Halloween.

Starting October 1st, it will be another non-stop black-and-orange blitz of anything and everything Halloween. Heck, it's what makes the other eleven months of the year worth it!

Got a blog and wanna join in on the fun? Sign up to the official Countdown To Halloween masterlist here to find out more and be included in the celebration. And then we can share the Halloween fun with the rest of the people out there who still read blogs!

(But don't worry, I'll still be rolling out posts regularly from now until October 1st, just to keep the momentum going! So much still to share before the big party! And thanks again for stoping by!)

  

Gdanian - "The Darkest Cavern"


Okay, back to the spooky sounds. A short, but incredible new release from German cinematic ambient artist, Gdanian.

From the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page:

Mechanical Gods is a deep subterranean journey ripe with robotic basslines and tech-ritualism within an atmospheric framework.

…When we entered The Below World, we found the human inhabitants divided into subnormal primal groupings of savage and superstitious tribes who collectively worshipped the machines that oppressed them. Sacrificial offerings of living martyrs were made to the Mechanica in order to appease them of their remorseless and emotionless rancour.

The humans had resorted to primeval idolatry behaviours that put them in awe of the undiminishing energy source of the Plasner System—a great churning ball of heat and light that pulsated over them in the upper echelons of the principal chamber. It became clear to us, meanwhile, that they had lost all awareness of the overground world and that, for them, the limits of the universe were confined to the depths of their subterranean enclosure.


Turn this one up and enjoy!


  

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - "Fire"


I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you FIRE!

Here's a GREAT one for the weekend! Before Alice Cooper, before KISS, before King Diamond, there was Arthur Brown. Originator of the theatrical rock stage performance.

Originally recorded in 1968, here is The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's cult classic hit, Fire, recorded for British television in 1975. Theatrical insanity all around, complete with fog, pyrotechnics, incredible costuming, and yes, actual fire.

And the best part of all of this is that 50-plus years later, Arthur Brown is still performing and releasing new music! Complete dedication to his craft.

Enjoy!


  

Is It Time? (No, It's Not...)


As I peruse the markets and stores on an early August afternoon, the signs are already there. Earlier than ever. Black-and-orange knicknacks line the aisles of every home decoration store. The annual supply of animated ghosties and ghoulies already on display in the home improvement stores. Pumpkin beers already on grocery store shelves. Pumpkin Spice everything! Halloween is here, whether we like it or not.

For me, it's "not." It's just the middle of August. We're still deep in the throngs of summer. Heat and sunshine. Beach vacations, ice cream, and amusement parks.

I'm definitely not ready for the annual metamorphosis into the Halloween season quite yet. Every year, it starts a little earlier. We talk about the horrors of "Christmas Creep" and now I see my beloved Halloween holiday succumbing to the same fate. The magic of the season continues to be diluted in a rush to get the goods on the shelves to attract that almighty dollar...

Halloween illustrator/artist Sam Heimer recently summed it up perfectly in an absolutely brilliant Instagram post, so I'll just share his thoughts as they echo mine (but in a much more eloquent tone!).



From
his Instagram post:

I know it’s early to be posting this; let me tell you why. As I sit here on my stoop, face melting into my coffee and rivulets of sweat running from my pits into my jeans like tiny cricks fit for minnow fishing, yes, I yearn for the crisp breeze of autumn. Remember when we were kids and there was no mention of Halloween till the last week of September? No talk of Yule till the Thanksgiving china was tucked back in the hutch for their yearly nap? But I’m sweating through my underwear and Homegoods already has Jackolanterns on their shelves, Michaels is stocking skull cake pans. Do I want it? Yes. Is it time? No. I know I’ve said “I don’t view Halloween as a day, but the annual ebb and flow of a grand tide”, but we’ve lost the importance of wanting, of yearning, the solemn days of longing. The wait that makes the arrival, the embrace, all the more incredible, fulfilling, impactful. The relief after long agony. The rest after long days of toil. The arrival of Autumn, of Halloween, should be hauntingly whispered in your ear by the rustling of leaves, announced by a spice-tinged whisper of smoke aloft on a chill that makes you tug at your jackets lapels, the kind of chill that’s like a finger of bone just ran up your spine to a few xylophone notes. Little reminders you’re on the right side of the dirt. A fitting entrance, both loud and quiet at the same time, beautiful yet grim. Not slowly slogging into view with pit and boob sweat, flecked with mosquito bites and sunburn. It’s not time. And not because of a date, not because I’m bucking against big box stores trying to scratch an itch that will spread like poison ivy if disturbed. We simply are not ready. We haven’t earned it. We haven’t yearned long enough or hard enough, the fields are still ripe, the trees are still green. If you want to eat this half-baked cake, who am I to stop you, but I promise, if you hold on, wait just a little longer to cross through that orange and black transom, it will be all the more magical, cathartic, and earned. Come back to me in a few months and I will wish you a hearty Happy Halloween, but until then, please refill the fucking ice-cube trays.


Amen.

Rest assured my transformation is coming, as it always does. But let's enjoy the last of these summer days and save the anticipation for those magical, chilly autumn nights for just a bit longer. I will continue to hold out on the full-blown Halloween spending frenzy for another couple of weeks, and slowly let my excitement and manic, all-encompassing enthusiasm build as we begin our final approach to All Hallows Eve. 



The Mummies of Guanajuato


A few months back, I posted a video of the intro to Werner Herzog's fantastic 1979 gothic horror film, Nosferatu The Vampyre. In it were incredible clips of twisted and shadowed mummified remains, overlayed with a hauntingly beautiful score by Popul Vuh. It's still one of the most striking, and personal favorite, intros to a horror film.

As I researched the intro, I was completely awestruck by the mummified figures, assuming that they were from the famous Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Italy. But I was actually wrong.

I discovered the shots were actually of a collection known as the Mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico. And while they weren't as famous as their Italian counterparts, they were nonetheless just as interesting.

From my previous post:
The famous collection of mummies from Guanajuato, Mexico dated back to an 1833 cholera epidemic. The naturally mummified remains were later unearthed after the failure of living relatives to pay 'burial taxes' of the time, and were stored together in an above-ground building adjacent to the cemetery. By the 1900s, these mummies began attracting tourists and eventually the building became a permanent museum.

(Tjalgahorn has since had a great post over at the October Branches blog on a new fungal growth spotted on one of the mummies - yes, The Last Of Us, indeed! Although in all seriousness, it could lead to decomposition and eventual loss of the mummies...)

The Museo De Las Mommas De Guanajuato houses the entire collection of 111 mummies, with 59 on permanent display. And their photography of the mummies is absolutely fantastic! A perfect source for Halloween prop reference, these photos have gone into my "inspiration folder" and will definitely be used for future prop reference.

Enjoy!








  

The Night Monitor - "Black Stream"


So while I took the last few months off from any and all haunt projects, I did keep one toe in the water, and that was with music. My unending quest to find the best dark, horror, and ritual ambient audio will always be my 365-day-a-year connection to all things Halloween. I've long championed the use of this genre as the perfect background audio for haunt displays. The perfect amount of creepiness to set a truly menacing and dark tone.

One recent discovery is Blackpool, UK's The Night Monitor. "Soundtracking unexplained phenomena." Can there be a cooler description than that?? I perused their entire catalog and picked out quite a few ambient gems that have gone into the standard rotation here at the Cemetery. Tunes to really get the black-and-orange blood pumping.

I'll share a few more tracks in the near future, but I figured I'd start with my favorite of the bunch. An unsettling homage to the famous English cryptid, Owlman of Mawnan... 

From The Night Monitor Bandcamp page:

Cover story: 3rd July 1976. Cornwall, England. During a period of strange happenings in the area (including a sighting of local sea monster Morgawr on the same day) the mysterious winged cryptid known as Owlman makes its second appearance of the year, when two girls are startled by the bizarre bird monster while camping in the woods near Mawnan church.

Sally Chapman - "It was like a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man. The eyes were red and glowing. At first, I thought it was someone dressed up, playing a joke, trying to scare us. I laughed at it, we both did, then it went up in the air and we both screamed. When it went up, you could see its feet were pincers."

Barbara Perry - "It's true. It was horrible, a nasty owl-face with big ears and big red eyes. It was covered in grey feathers. The claws on its feet were black. It just flew straight up and disappeared in the treetops."


  

100 Days...


Tick, tock...


  

The Nightmare


 


So here I am, enjoying these warm summer days when it hits. Out of nowhere...

It's October 31st, roughly 5:00 pm and dusk is approaching fast. And there I am, caught completely off-guard. Completely oblivious to the sudden realization that nothing has been set up in the front yard. Not one prop lit, not one tombstone placed, not one jack-o-lantern carved. The paralyzing panic is real. It's too late now. There's no way I can make it. I'm going to miss Halloween... 

I jolt violently from a deep sleep, sitting up in a sweat, trying to make sense of the completely dark room around me. After a few quick, shallow breaths it all becomes clearer. Sitting in the darkness of my bedroom on a summer July morning, I realize that I just had "my Halloween nightmare." Again.

It's been a few years since I've experienced my nightmare, but the thoughts of the upcoming haunt season (buried deep in the back of my brain while I take time away to enjoy the summer) have finally boiled back to the top. A warning that it is time to get back to work. Especially with the added pressure of haunt season number twenty and a need to do something really big.

I decided to take the summer off completely to prevent mental and physical haunt fatigue, and it was working rather well, but the internal alarm has sounded. Time to get back to it. Three months until the big night. It's now time to start planning, time to start sketching, time to start creating again.

It's time to fire up this old blog for another run in to the Halloween season. I have been sitting on a handful of posts, so I'll be dropping them shortly. It's the perfect way to get things going again. Come hang out for the annual black-and-orange transformation, I think it's going to be a great one! So much to do, so much to share.


102 days to go until All Hallow's Eve. Let's do this...

  

Walpurgisnacht


Walpurgisnacht. Witches Night.

Tonight, we revel around bonfires and fly to the Brocken mountaintop by broomstick. Engage in unholy pagan ritual as we celebrate the spring equinox...


Closer to home, we revel in this day as the midpoint to the high holiday of All Hallow's Eve.

In honor of this special day, I have brought back an old piece that I originally created back in 2017, with a new refresh. A quick, free form piece to celebrate the countdown to the big night. Halloween. It inches ever so closer...

  

Estrus: Shovelin’ the Shit Since ’87


Boy, was I excited when I first heard the news of this new Kickstarter campaign! A new book from Korero Press featuring the complete history of infamous independent garage-rock record label, Estrus Records!




From the Kickstarter campaign page:

Dweebs, punkers and shitheads rejoice! Estrus: Shovelin’ the Shit Since ’87 gives you the sights, sounds, stories...and shit...behind the iconic independent record label Estrus Records. The book—a roughly 9" x 12" cinder block of a publication—chronicles label founder Dave Crider’s journey from small-town hobbyist to regarded move-and-shaker in the DIY/punk/garage rock circuit.

Not only will Shovelin’ include the matchless imagery that accompanied Estrus releases by artists like Art Chantry, Frank Kozik, Darren Merinuk, Alex Wald, and (Chris) COOP, but it contains stories and other words of wisdom from members of The Mummies, Man or Astroman?, The Makers, The Mono Men — plus other bands that don’t start with the letter “M” like Fireballs of Freedom, The Nomads, Cheater Slicks, The Drags, Sugar Shack, Guitar Wolf, The Trashwomen, Gas Huffer,  The Oblivians, Prisonshake, The Von Zippers, Lord High Fixers, Phantom Surfers, The Quadrajets, The Statics, Estrella 20/20, Gasoline, Jackie & the Cedrics, The Fall-Outs, and more…

- X -


I'm backing this one 100% simply for the absolutely incredible work from one of my favorite graphic designers, Art Chantry. An endless flow of amazing work him and a host of other well-known artists that created now-iconic work for the label...





Ah, heck. The label put pout some REALLY awesome music, too!





And apparently I'm not the only one excited for this new book release, because in about 2 hours the ENTIRE project was fully funded! Nice work! But I still kicked in to grab a copy of this one, because it's a mandatory addition to my library.

Give the Kickstarter page a visit to get in on this one. It's open until April 20th and it's already fulled funded, so it's a done deal!

  

Lords Of Infinity - "Go Open The Door Of Death"



How could you NOT love a track with THAT title!?

Brand new ritual/horror ambient track released by Lords Of Infinity. So dark, grating and haunting. Another fantastic release from the Black Mara label out of Georgia (the country, not the state).

Grab the entire release, Lost Sense Of The Old Times, here.

Enjoy!


  

"Nosferatu The Vampyre" Opening Credits


The opening credits to Werner Herzog's 1979 German Gothic masterpiece, Nosferatu The Vampyre, has to be one of the absolute best in horror.


The credits open with incredible film footage of the Mummies of Guanajuato, a famous collection of mummies from Guanajuato, Mexico dating back to an 1833 cholera epidemic. (The mummified remains were later unearthed after the failure of living relatives to pay burial taxes of the time, and were stored together in an above-ground building adjacent to the cemetery. By the 1900s, these mummies began attracting tourists and eventually the building became a permanent museum. A bucket-list destination, for sure.)

Along with the stunning imagery of the twisted mummies overlays the hauntingly beautiful Gothic soundtrack from German electronic/organic ambient artists, Popol Vuh. The track, BrĂ¼der Des Schattens (Brothers Of The Shadow), sounds like something pulled from a dark, candle-lit monastery with orchestral strings, woodwinds, and monastic chants.

And over it all, the sound of the human heartbeat. The life pulse of the vampire.

The scene then transitions to a bat flying through the night sky, only to be suddenly shattered by the bloodcurdling scream of Lucy Harker, jolted awake from a terrible nightmare.

A perfect foreshadowing of events to come...

Enjoy.


(And if you're interested, you can see the entire film here!)

  

How To Operate A Financially Successful Haunted House


So this one was making the rounds the other day, and it's soooo good I wanted to share it here!


Back in the early 80's, Philip Morris 
(of Morris Costumes fame) and Dennis Phillips wrote an instructional how-to on creating your own haunted house, called How To Operate A Financially Successful Haunted House, that quickly became the industry standard. Choc full of incredible clip art illustrations, savvy promotion tricks, and the latest and greatest special effects and makeup how-tos, the manual quickly went through multiple represses to meet demand in an exploding haunted house industry.

And while I don't yet have an early copy in my collection, Flashbak did us all a favor and posted a ton of the pages from the manual on their site. So much wonderful Halloween and haunted house nostalgia on each page! And even though many of the ideas are no longer relevant in this day and age, I could still sit back and peruse those glorious pages for hours. It really takes you back to that incredible era of haunted houses where literally anything went. Regulations? We don't need no stinking regulations!

Do yourself a favor and check out the truly awesome collection of pages Flashbak posted up. And grab a few of those insanely awesome clipart pages! I'm definitely going to work up something fun with those!!

Enjoy!







  

Cupid's Revenge 2023 At The Haunted Schoolhouse


Okay, Northern Ohio haunt lovers! Valentine's Day is next week and what better way to show your love than by bringing your special sweetie to Cupid's Revenge at the Haunted Schoolhouse February 10 & 11 in Akron!!


Two nights of ridiculously fun and scary Valentine monster madness, with event-only souvenirs and themed-specialty cocktails guaranteed to make your date night...extra special.

And if you don't have a date? That's okay! Just meet me at the gate because I'LL BE WORKING THE QUEUE LINE BOTH NIGHTS!!!!!

And in the odd chance that you miss me, you're still bound to see Kal, Larry, and all those dumpster babies...


Enjoy that smell of love in the air this weekend and get there early to get in on all the, uhh...fun. Come see me and get scaaaaaaared!! Grab your tickets here!

    

Transworld 2023 Walkthrough Video


So here's a post for everyone (like me) who WASN'T in St. Louis this weekend for the annual Transworld Halloween & Attraction Show

I spent the weekend looking at all the YouTube, Facebook and Instagram posts and videos from the annual Halloween tradeshow, and it looked like the show was phenomenal again. Next year, I REALLY need to get back there!

I settled on posting this show walkthrough video from Brick Thunder because it did a great job of showing everything from the tradeshow floor. So much variety and so much volume!

Enjoy the video and maybe, just maybe we'll see you there in 2024...


  

New Year, Same Old Me


Happy 2023, everybody! I took a few weeks off, but I wanted to get back at it with a very big announcement.

I still can't believe this, but 2023 is going to be the 20th year of the Highbury Cemetery yard haunt!!


Wow. Where has the time gone (and am I REALLY that old??)?

I can still remember those early days of discovering the crazy world of home haunting, learning how to build props for the yard, meeting and collaborating with likeminded haunt lunatics, establishing the identity of the haunt, drafting friends and family members to join in on my Halloween fun, and finally taking the big step in starting this blog!

As they say, time flies when you're having fun and this trip has been one hell of a good time! In honor of the big milestone, I'm going to be bringing the goods throughout the year.

I'm kicking it up a notch with a ton of new posts from now through All Hallows Eve, including some extra special surprises along the way! Lots of announcements to come in the following months, so check back, hang out and celebrate!

Twenty years is a pretty big deal to me, so I want to make it extra special and share it all with the haunt community that has been my extended family for the entire ride. Let's do this.

Only 277 days until Halloween. Are you ready?