Friday, October 24, 2014

The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror MARATHON

FXX will host a 12-hour marathon of The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror starting Sunday, Oct 26th at noon. Time to fill up those DVRs with unerasable content (say sayonara unwatched The Good Wife).

In case you miss it, they will also be airing themed mini-marathons all week. Here's the schedule:


MONDAY, OCTOBER 27 (8pm – 11pm) Theme: “Twilight Zone”

“Treehouse of Horror I” (Season 2)
“Treehouse of Horror II” (Season 3)
“Treehouse of Horror III” (Season 4)
“Treehouse of Horror VI” (Season 7)
“Treehouse of Horror VII” (Season 8)
“Treehouse of Horror XV” (Season 16)


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28 (8pm – 11pm)
Theme: “Movie Spoofs”

“Treehouse of Horror V” (Season 6)
“Treehouse of Horror X” (Season 11)
“Treehouse of Horror XII” (Season 13)
“Treehouse of Horror XIX” (Season 20)
“Treehouse of Horror XX” (Season 21)
“Treehouse of Horror XXII” (Season 23)


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29 (8pm – 10pm)
Theme: “Classic Monsters”

“Treehouse of Horror IV” (Season 5)
“Treehouse of Horror VIII” (Season 9)
“Treehouse of Horror XIV” (Season 15)
“Treehouse of Horror XVI” (Season 17)


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30 (8pm – 11:30pm)
 Theme: “Springfield Attacked!”

“Treehouse of Horror IX” (Season 10)
“Treehouse of Horror XI” (Season 12)
“Treehouse of Horror XIII” (Season 14)
“Treehouse of Horror XVII” (Season 18)
“Treehouse of Horror XVIII” (Season 19)
“Treehouse of Horror XXI” (Season 22)
“Treehouse of Horror XXIII” (Season 24)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween Music 2014

Many of us will be hosting (or attending) Halloween parties this weekend so it's time to consider the music for the spooky party. While you can rely on the old standards (Monster Mash, Time Warp, etc.) I recommend setting the atmosphere for different areas of the party. The entry way is a good place for sinister instrumentals as well as rooms like the kitchen and bathroom where guests spend quite a bit of time. Below are some of favorites for the 2014 season, plus our recommendation for a reliable, streaming radio station.


Espectrostatic: "The Daemonum EP"
This Austin-based group released a fantastic self-titled debut last year and will be coming out with their sophomore album in a few weeks. In the meantime, they have given fans a free five-song EP to tide them over this Halloween. Download the album on their Bandcamp page.




Sam Haynes: "Ghost Stories" and "Spine Chillers"
This UK artist has had a prolific year with two new albums this year. The spring saw the debut of their creepy "Ghost Stories" and "Spine Chillers" was released this fall. Both offer very creepy music and every so often a little bit of 80s horror movie-style music (think John Carpenter's Halloween theme) comes through. Visit https://samhaynes1.bandcamp.com for more information.




Halloween at High Noon: Corpus Vile
The label dedicated to independent Halloween music has put out their 2014 compilation called "Corpus Vile". It's a mixed bag from 21 artists of mostly dub tracks with a touch of dance, a little but of a hipster vibe, and often incorporating samples. Visit High Noon Records.





Halloween Nuggets: Monster Sixties A Go-Go
This massive 99 track collection of 1960s Halloween & horror-themed music is exhaustive and covers every imaginable genre (with a heavy dose of underground, surf RnR and garage) for those of you know what a CD is, the packaging on this box set is supposed to be incredible. It's available at Amazon and iTunes.




HalloweenRadio.net
If you can decide what to buy, skip the stores and head over to HalloweenRadio.net for free streaming Halloween music. With five channels, you'll find something for everyone, and you can either listen online (right through your browser) or stream them to iTunes, Window Media Player, Winamp, and TuneIn. Listen at HalloweenRadio.net




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Cakes

Looking for an eerie dessert for your Halloween party? Below are two quick ideas for decorating a simple store bought cake. If you are a baker, of course you can make the cake yourself! These techniques are fairly straightforward and if your skills are like mine, sloppy cakes are perfectly acceptable on a trick or treat party table! 

Say It With Cake posted a great tutorial on making their Bloody Halloween Cake using candy melts and food coloring. There's red velvet inside their cake. You can stick any number of accessories into these cakes includes a handy knife which you can later use to cut the cake! Since my theme this year involves toxic waste,  I'm adapting this design using white chocolate ganache tinted with green food coloring and green cake inside for a Slime Cake!

 or 


The Cake Blog posted this fantastic Cobweb Cake, which was incidentally featured on the cover of the October issue of Country Living. The secret to making the cobwebs? Melted marshmallows that are cooled and stretched out by hand. And you can easily make a spider out of black fondant!



BONUS IDEA: Here's a great idea from Country Living Magazine. Their site features an article called 19 Bewitching Halloween Cakes which includes this Ouija board cake (imagine cutting that with a triangle planchette). They provide the artwork which you upload to Cake Art and order the design printed onto a thin frosting sheet for $5. Once you get that, you plop it on a standard 9 x 11 sheet cake and you are good to go. This cake requires a little extra planning but couldn't be easier. 




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Book of Life: Review

I can't believe it's taken this long, but I'm happy that there is finally a movie about Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican cultural holiday celebrating loved ones who have passed on. The Book of Life is not a perfect film and perhaps a little oversteeped in pop culture, but it's highly entertaining, stunningly beautiful, and a good primer on "Day of the Dead". The plot is a fairly straightforward love story of two boys in love with one modern girl and her pet pig. Throw in two guardians of the afterlife, including La Muerte modeled after the famous La Catrina icon, who can't resist a good bet and deadly highjinks ensue.

Of course, the animation is the real star. The Book of Life is visually striking and features some of the best animation I've seen in a long time, and it embraces the love for Dia de los Muertos that Nightmare Before Christmas has for Halloween. I loved that all the characters look like wooden folk art toys straight from a Pixar film, with interlocking sockets, chiseled/gouged features, and actual woodgrain skin.

The movie's frenetic pace and thin plot will sit well with younger viewers, and there's enough goodwill humor, and surprisingly touching scenes for adults. I did wish the overall tone would have had a stronger ethnic flair. For example, Mexico's music is lovely and while some of the original music for the film did have an ethnic feel, the pop tunes (like Radiohead's Creep) felt out of place. I often wonder if films will stand the test of time, and the more pop references included, the less likely it will be a long-standing classic. As whole the movie produced by Guillermo del Toro feels authentic, really captures the whimsical nature of a mostly misunderstood holiday, and is really a joy to watch.



Above are the two official posters: the U.S. version and the Mexican version. Please note that on the Spanish one, the colors are lighter, Dia de los Muertos is clearly referenced (instead of movie stars), the male lead is front-center and larger in a more suave look, and included right at the top are the spookier characters – who incidentally went entirely missing from the last round of U.S. trailers! I'm guessing the U.S. marketing department wanted to hide that scarier element from audiences even though the movie is opening in October!

The Art of The Book of Life

The new film The Book of Life is visually stunning, and all that vibrant and colorful Dia de los Muertos imagery certainly screams for a behind-the-scenes look. The Art of the Book of Life released last week is a beautiful, hardcover book featuring concept drawings, character studies, a foreword from Guillermo del Toro, and running commentary from director, Jorge R. Gutierrez. Like many Art of books, it concentrates on the inception and development of each of the main characters from early drawings to the final computer rendering with few stills from the actual movie. There's also a very interesting synopsis of the three lands in the movie and the break down of the colors and the shapes used for each: Land of the Living (sepia, squares), Land of the Remembered (green, circles), and Land of the Forgotten (grays, triangles). Graphic artists, illustrators, movie lovers, and day of the dead aficionados will love this book.  With such a vibrant holiday, one has to wonder why this is the first major motion picture to tackle the subject?



Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area I have all-too frequent access to Schulzies Bread Pudding. It's like an ice cream parlor for bread pudding with an extensive selection of flavors served in scoops and finished with various toppings and sauces. Interestingly, some of the flavors are served hot and most are served cold. Cold!?! Yes I know that sounds odd, but it's incredibly creamy and almost like ice cream. Every year in October Schulzies makes several batches of The Great Pumpkin, and if you've never tried pumpkin bread pudding you are missing out. If you have a Trader Joes nearby, they carry a Pumpkin Bread pudding in their frozen section that's incredibly good.

The Baking Bites site debuted a very simple and delicious 5 Minute Pumpkin Bread Pudding in a Mug last week. This is very similar to the Chocolate Cake in Mug with that Autumn flair. Visit the site for other recipes like Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies, and Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Frosting plus so much more, reviews, and essential tips. The bread you use is important so read through some of their tips on the site and try the recipe below.


Baking Bites 5-Minute Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cubed bread (pref. white bread)

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, vanilla extract and salt. Add in bread cubes and stir, allowing them to soak in the pumpkin mixture. Divide evenly into two 11-14-oz mugs.

Microwave at 50% power for 60 seconds and stir gently with a fork. Stir in pecans, too, if using.

Microwave at 50% power for an additional 90 seconds, then rotate and microwave at 50% power for another 90 seconds, or until bread pudding is set and the top is not wet.

Allow to cool for 2 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 2.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Strain, Season 1: Review

The Strain's first season concluded with more of whimper than a bang, but it consistently delivered geeky thrills, wormy gross outs, and the potential of an ensemble that harkens back to the early days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – BUT it hasn't quite found its voice. The tone is all over the place from scary, to comic booky, to family drama, to thrill ride with big dumb guy. It's not as serious like The Walking Dead which makes it more lite entertainment, but often comes across as slightly silly when it should be scary. It doesn't help that the main villain is called "The Master", and looks like the goofy Bat Child from the National Inquirer mixed with Jabba the Hutt (see below).


The story revolves around an ancient vampire-like race that has been plotting a take over the world (cue: evil cackle) by disabling the internet! Without dependable communications, information about the abnormal humanoids attacking New York spreads much slower, and the masses (and those in authority) don't believe the hysteria furthering the spread of the "virus". It was hard to believe that the events of the entire first season took place over a week. I'm not sure if I expected more chaos, more contagion, or more action but it pushed the plausibility until the last few episodes when the full plan of evil sort of becomes more apparent. The series did fall into repetitive patterns (leave safety, fight against incredible odds, someone dies, retreat, repeat). Not that you really care who dies. Character development was not as strong as it could be considering that we have to invest in this ragtag ensemble but there's potential in the cast. And there is potential in this series, which kept me tuning in week after week.

For those seeking a non-stop, original, fully thought out series, you might be disappointed. For those who can take a series that's above SyFy standards but not on par with current genre offerings, it may be an interesting and entertaining diversion. Let's hope Season 2 moves beyond all the exposition and into a more meaty story with fully realized characters and an actual plan of action. 




Friday, October 17, 2014

Wreath Inspiration

A wicked wreath on the front door is like a warning to visitors of the horrors that lie inside a Halloween fanatic's house at this time of the year. There's also something wonderfully macabre about reinventing a holiday classic into something much more frightful.

At first, designing a wreath seems simple but I've found it to be somewhat challenging to make them look just right. Keeping it simple is the way to go. Start with an inexpensive grapevine wreath from the craft store, spray paint it black, and, if desired, stick a scary object in the middle (a raven, spider, severed hand). Done! Last year, The Queen of Halloween gave me the courage to attempt my own wreath (the one with the crow below) and let's just say my results were graded as "E" for effort. I tried again this year with my toxic spider motif, and had slightly better results. Maybe the sophisticated crafting required for "wreathery" is not my forte.



For some real inspiration on more thoughtfully designed wreaths, take a look at some of these wicked wreaths that I've found online.



Howling Moon Wreath from Chic-Adee Shop



Toothpick Wreath by The Magic of Ordinary Things



Skeleton Wreath by Ready, Set, Craft!




Snake Wreath by My Momma Told Me



Black Twig Wreath as seen on Snappy Pixels



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Top 10 Horror Movie Villains

http://www.buycostumes.com
The fun Buy Costumes Ideas Blog has shared the infographic (because who doesn't like a good infographic) of the Top 10 Horror Movie Villains, naturally sorted by kill count. The blog features make-up tutorials, decorating ideas, fun facts and infographics, and of course costume events and ideas (I loved the ice bucket challenge costume).

Click the banner to view the whole, villainous thing:



Preview:


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

House of the Zombie Pumpkins

The 2014 incarnation of Zombie Pumpkins website has launched! Welcome to the HOUSE OF THE ZOMBIE PUMPKINS! This site is my go-to for pumpkin patterns and other cool stuff. It's also the best place I know to get the Stick 'n Carve transfer sheets that make pumpkin carving a breeze. Sign up for a membership for as little as $2 and choose from over 300 original pumpkin carving patterns.


Check out some other their other cool stuff like tees, beanies, and carving kits at seriously reasonable prices and no gouging on shipping and handling. This is a class act all the way!




All photos © Zombie Pumpkins!