Monday, December 5, 2016

Universal is bringing back it's classic monsters, again, but this time plans to make them dark and "scary" films. First up is THE MUMMY starring Tom Cruise. Here's the just released trailer:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

American Horror Story: Roanoke ~ Season Review

Everything about American Horror Story: Roanoke is off-kilter. From the super secretive theme that was not revealed until the first episode to the excessive amount of teasers trailers to a narrative structure that is both familiar and odd. At only 10 episodes, the shortened season also seems like a challenge for the writers who typically shove many (hundreds?) of plot lines into one season. Then there is an unshakeable feeling that this has been an elaborate experiment.

The first five episodes prove that AHS can be scary, linear, and give actors meaty opportunities to stretch themselves in very dark ways. As a show-within-a-show, "My Roanoke Nightmare" is told in the dramatic reenactment/survivor-interview style of shows like Paranormal Witness and A Haunting. We know instantly that whatever horrors lie ahead, these people will survive. It lowers the stakes but also shifts the focus onto the story, characters, and ambience of the creepiest house since Amityville. The house itself is a character with round eye porthole windows, large lung-shaped picture window in the center, and a spiral staircase like a throat. The very ground pulses like a breathing animal.

But this also inadvertently highlights one of AHS ongoing problems: none of the characters are likable and viewers end up cheering for The Butcher and the menagerie of beasties to cut these whining people to shreds. Effective horror writing requires that viewers identify with or remotely feel empathy/sympathy for the protagonist. Sadly no one here, even the young girl, are worth remembering much less saving. Nonetheless, the nods to genre pastiche are effective and the show is incredibly entertaining. Then the first big twist arrives as the show-within-a-show comes to an end and AHS switches gears.

Episodes 6-9 become a found-footage-style behind-the-scenes making of a second season of the show, and while it's an interesting concept, the execution is fumbled. We are immediately told that only one survived the second ordeal at Roanoke, again lowering the stakes and making it a distracting guessing game. The survivors return to the house with the flimsiest of motivations (I want to reconnect with my estranged husband–in hell!) and as usual, the "real" actors are portrayed as self-centered idiots. It all too quickly becomes a repetitive slaughter and the found footage angle quickly becomes an incredulous crutch (let me hold this camera steady on my face while you're hacking away at me). Why is found footage still a thing?!

After no real surprises and some seriously grisly deaths, Episode 10 caps off the season with Lana Winters (from Season 2: Asylum) interviewing the sole survivor. This fulfills producer Ryan Murphy's promise that all the seasons are loosely connected because–oh who cares. Anyhoo, the episode literally races to the finish line with so much sphincter-cramming nonsense (there's the AHS we know) and yet ends with a resounding whimper. WHAT. THE. HELL. Again, ideas swirl in my head like why didn't they keep the behind the scenes approach (sans found footage) and really delve into the haunting, why this land, what happened to the colony, the real butcher whose appearance was all too brief and unnerving, and show how fact and fiction really differ. For a season to start with such a strong conceit and squander it was disheartening.

It should also be noted that this season is quite a judgy commentary on horror. Is Season 6 mocking the very fans who love horror and this series? Referring to Episode 10's flashback scene at PaleyFest (a real annual TV festival hosted in LA) the rambunctious audience laughs mindlessly and cheers on the "My Roanoke Nightmare" cast who delivers canned, cheesy quips to their vacuous delight. I guess horror fans are all indiscriminate, dumb consumers of entertainment.

I'm not certain yet how this season will stack up to the other seasons – time is needed to percolate – but like others it is neither a complete failure nor resounding success. Episodes 1-5 get a "A-" while episodes 6-9 get a "C", and episode 10 gets a "D". Averaging to:


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween Post-Mortem

Autumn really kicks in October in Northern California, bringing very high winds and rain. I survived mostly unscathed, and although rain was forecast for the entire Halloween evening, not one drop fell over our neighborhood. Our finally tally of  trick 'r treaters:


I finally checked a Dia de los Muertos theme off the bucket list, due mostly to my dear friend Britta Peterson of Eerie Elegance who gifted me her gravestone artwork, a ton of flowers and decor first used in her 2015 Day of the Dead display. My approach was more of a Dia de los Muertos meets Halloween so there were jack-o-lanterns throughout plus things like giant spider webs, projected spiders, and orange was the highlight color! The neighborhood also seemed to respond much more favorably to a family-friendly, colorful Halloween display. (Up the block we have neighbor who prefers a guts-n-gore type of display and that rarely goes over well.) 



We also hosted a large Halloween party this year – the first since 2010 – which also happens to be our last! The time, effort, and cost of such big parties is just too much, and I'd rather enjoy the holiday season rather than worry about guest counts, menus, and booze. As farewells go, this party was a blast and I loved that we went out with Dia de los Muertos theme!

I hope you enjoyed your Halloween season! We're heading back to the tomb and hibernating for a long while.

Scarrry Jerry
Editor-in-Mischief




Monday, October 31, 2016

Have a Scary Halloween!

Horroray! We've made it to another Halloween! This year I celebrated the afterlife with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) meets Halloween theme. The full album will be posted soon at MyScaryHalloween.com, but for now here are a few pictures of this year's display, featuring gravestone artwork designed and constructed by Britta Peterson, Webmistress of the Dark (visit EerieElegance.com).

Have a scary Halloween!

Scarrry Jerry
Editor-in-Mischief







Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tlachtga: The Birthplace of Halloween

From the University College Dublin*:

Archaeologists from University College Dublin have completed the first excavations of a hilltop enclosure in Ireland reputed to be the birthplace of Halloween.

Using airborne laser surveys and geophysical techniques, before the excavation the archaeologists were able to identify that there are at least two forts on the site -- one measuring 150 metres in diameter which was partly built on top of another, ever larger, fort measuring almost 200 metres wide.

"The surveys clearly reveal that the site - Tlachtga, known locally as the Hill of Ward - has several different phases of monumental enclosures and we believe them to be associated with festivals and rituals potentially dating back as far as 1,000BC," says Dr Steve Davis from the UCD School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

"Given the size, this was almost certainly a key ritual site for many generations."

During the three week excavations the archaeologists uncovered the skeletal remains of a young 6-12 month old child, which may date back some 3,000 years, from the bedrock at the base of a 1.5m trench. The remains will undergo a full scientific analysis.

Samhain which was celebrated from sunset on 31st October to sunset on 1st November marked the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. It is believed that torches were lit from the sacred fire on the site on the Hill of Tlachtga and then carried to several other hills around the county including the Hill of Tara (which is about 12 miles away).

Funding for the excavation was provided by the Office of Public Works, Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Royal Irish Academy. It involved a team of six professional archaeologists and about 20 volunteers.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNBsHwsS6lY

*Text and video posted by University College Dublin (July 31, 2014).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Book of Hallowe'en

Ruth Edna Kelley wrote the book on Hallowe'en. Literally. According to Lisa Morton in her book, Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, Ms. Kelley was a 26-year-old librarian who researched the holiday in her spare time while holding a full-time job at the Lynn Public Library in Massachusetts. The book is a scholarly look at the history of America and dives deeply into the regional folklore, celebration rituals, and even a little mysticism, most notably in the divination games where young adults sought to find messages about future suitors in ashes, seeds or other devices. Written in 1919, this book was the first ever about our beloved Halloween.

For those who prefer audiobooks, New Paradigm Press Audio has just released a new audio version of the book, read by Oliver Vale (available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes). The audiobook is a short listen - 2 hours and 31 minutes and well worth an afternoon listen. It's clear the narrator is having a good time with the content, but even though it's an old-fashioned book, it's a necessary read for anyone who loves Halloween. You have to know the roots to really appreciate what came after, and I'm thinking Ms. Kelley never imagined a Halloween like the one we now celebrate.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cat Watching Horror Movie

Tomorrow is National Cat Day (October 29) and I present you with the BEST cat video ever: Cat Watching Horror Movie!


https://youtu.be/_kgRFHaNo-Y

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nightmare Before Christmas ~ An Honest Trailer

Is nothing sacred to those Honest Trailers folks!? No, I guess not. Let the roast begin...


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Punkin' Carving Time

One of my annual traditions is carving pumpkins with my nephew in hopes that the Halloween bug has been passed on. I am happy to report that this year, he asked for scary decorations to make his house like Uncle Scary's house. Yes!!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Our Awesome Neighbors!

As a yard haunter, nothing brings me more joy than seeing our community respond to our Halloween display. I always wonder if people think we're nuts, obsessed, or crazy. It's so awesome that they love it and took the time to write us a handcrafted card. Wow! 



Friday, October 21, 2016

Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016) ~ Review



Having a theater background, I am accustomed to seeing different productions of a show from different companies. For me, remakes of films also fall into this category, although I'm not suggesting that remakes are necessarily needed. When The Rocky Horror Picture Show was announced on Fox, I was incredibly nervous. This is not an ideal musical for a primetime network, and let's be honest, no one could ever fill Tim Curry's heels in the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I've spent over 30 years with the beloved original and have memorized every intonation, nuance and cadence. To my surprise, I found the new production to be fun, energetic, vividly candy-colored, and incredibly strange. If you're going to remake a turd, might as well polish it up.

The biggest concern was the original's lascivious nature, suggestive humor, weirdness, and unapologetic queerness. Moving this to a major network during primetime was inevitably going to tame down the production which is a shame given it's subversive, anti-establishment roots. Thankfully, the lyrics remained mostly untouched. And, Laverne Cox while an inspired choice as the sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania provided a substantial question mark in the gender politics debate.

I enjoyed the cast. Reeve Carney as Riff Raff was his usual delight. Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors was adorable and could SING! Victoria Justice as Janet was precious. And Annaleigh Ashford and Christina Milian as Columbia and Magenta were kooky wonderful. Staz Nair as Rocky stole every scene with his mugging and physical comedy – quite a feat considering he has such few lines and meant only to be screen candy. And I loved seeing our beloved Tim Curry, who suffered a major stroke in 2012, as the narrator.

There were some stumbles. Dr. Frank-N-Further's first appearance should have been showstopping. Instead she was swung in on a crane wearing some weird head mask. The miscast Adam Lambert brought the house party to a shrieking halt. Also unnecessary was the audience partici...pation that broke the fourth wall. The movie within a movie conceit was a nod to fans of the original's midnight showings where the audience calls back with fill-in lines and props. Adding this in for the TV version took you right out of the moment.

Ultimately, I realized that this remake is not for us old, haggard fans, but for a new generation who are seeing Rocky Horror for the first time. It should also be noted that for a major network to embrace something so strangely queer with a trans woman in the lead is quite the milestone. Nostalgia is wonderful but at times it can be a little toxic at not letting us move ahead with new things. Was this remake perfect? No. But it was fun, decadent, and light entertainment for the Halloween season and it gave me some terrible thrills.



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Music for Halloween 2016

Now is the time to get your playlists ready for that epic Halloween party next week! Here are some recent discoveries that I love:



Now That's What I Call Spooky
These mixtapes from BoJo in Tennessee are just what you need: a great collection of songs from a variety of artists, each track sure to please someone. Best part is that you can download them for free! Find them at https://bojospookymixtapes.bandcamp.com/.




Halloween at High Noon: Decayed
The purveyors of original, sinister ambient music is High Noon Records and we all look forward to their Halloween collections. This it's called Decayed and features some perfect background music some of it quite dance-y for your haunted house.




Espectrostatic: Silhouette
Alex Cuervo of Espectrostatic calls his music "horror movie music" and his latest collection definitely echoes the work of John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi with a deep punk/garage aesthetic. It is absorbing, and a must for Halloween fans.




Little Steven's Underground Garage presents Halloween a Go-Go
One of the coolest collection comes from the uber talented Steven Van Zandt (a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band), feature an eclectic mix of rock music sure to please anyone over 30 (maybe 40).




Sam Haynes: Something Wicked
Sam Haynes creates terrifying soundtracks for your horror-filled Halloween. His latest creation is a classic repertoire of classic, spooky music perfectly suited for a haunt. His penchant for 80s influenced electronica has been toned down for this collection opting for a more timeless feel. An he's an artist that always gives back to community, allowing his music to be featured on a videos, podcasts, and anywhere that needs a chilling score – for free! Learn more at the Sam Haynes Bandcamp page.




HalloweenRadio.net
If you can't decide what to listen to, try HalloweenRadio.net. The endless online stream of Halloween music features everything: monster mashed classics, exorcism themes, new music and even sound effects. It's Halloween gold. They are supported by donations (so donate if you listen).


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pumpkin Goods at Sprouts

Sprouts, a health-y food supermarket with 240 stores in 13 states has gone gourd crazy. It appears to be in direct competition with Trader Joes (in Northern California at least) for the most pumpkin products offered in store as witnessed in the Fall 2016 circular (below). I have been working my way through all the products. Some are winners (Pumpkin Molasses Barbecue Sauce, Maple Pumpkin Butter), some are in-te-res-ting (Pumpkin Spice Salsa, Pumpkin Vinaigrette), and some are downright questionable and someone should be fired (Pumpkin Spice Kale Chips, Pumpkin Pasta Sauce).

I love Sprouts and the site features plenty of recipes, tips and tricks. Two of the biggest winners for Halloween parties are a simple soda float punch, and a twist (with very authentic preparation) for horchata, a sweet Mexican rice drink.


Pumpkin Witches Brew

1 bottle Sprouts Sparkling Pumpkin Spices Apple Cider
1 container Sprouts Organic Cinnamon Pumpkin Ice Cream

1. In a large bowl, add desired amount of ice cream.
2. Cover ice cream with sparkling ale and enjoy!



Pumpkin Horchata

5 cups water
1 cup white rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup coconut milk or vanilla almond milk
2/3 cup agave (or sugar)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Instructions

1. Combine water, rice and cinnamon stick in a blender and pulse to coarsely grind. Soak at room temperature for 3 hours or refrigerate over night.

2. Once rice mixture has soaked, puree in a blender in batches until smooth.

3. Strain rice milk through cheesecloth or a fine mesh colander into a pitcher.

4. In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, coconut milk, agave and pumpkin pie spice. Combine pumpkin mixture with strained rice milk. Chill and serve over ice. Garnish with extra pumpkin pie spice and add a cinnamon stick if desired. (Note: Like most authentic horchata, you'll need to give this a good stir before serving.)








Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Halloween at the Checkout Lane

You're standing in line at the grocery store and waiting for a sweet, old hag to thoughtfully fill out a check. The pumpkin spice gelato is melting onto your pumpkin spice donuts, and then your glance over to the magazine rack that lines the aisle. Halloween magazines – everywhere! Okay. There's a lot of cutesy, cheesy stuff and none of it's your scary style but they're fairly fun for your October coffee table or breakfast nook. Here are some of my better recent finds:


Make: Halloween
This special issue of Make magazine features some pretty nifty projects, but be warned that this intended for serious tech junkies. Many of the projects come with warnings of death (due to electrocution or projectiles) but makers around the country rejoice. The project that I most want to try is the Ultimate Fog Chiller for low-lying fog. It ramps up the cooler concept ten-fold and requires low-tech and only 6 materials.

 



















100 Best Pumpkin Recipes
From the editors of Better Homes and Gardens comes this pumpkin-centric issue and yes, most of it features with sweets. Pumpkin doesn't havee too much flavor on its own, but add sugar and spices and you've got something great. The stands out for me where the two pumpkin bread puddings and the pumpkin tiramisu. The few savory recipes teeter between questionable (pumpkin mac and cheese, pumpkin tortilla chicken casserole), intriguing (pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ginger soup).





Better Homes and Gardens: Halloween Tricks & Treats
While I'm not the demographic for BHG, I find their Halloween issues to be really packed with ideas. So much is thrown onto the wall that inevitably some of it sticks. The photography evokes early Martha Halloweens though never quite as dark. I was surprised by the level of sophistication of some of the decor (like the Eerie Elegant Soiree and the Sinfully Sweet Glampire Cake). It's a family friendly affair for sure, but I could see taking some of these things to the dark side.





Martha Stewart Living: October 2016 Issue
The single most disappointing magazine is Martha Stewart's October issue. Halloween is almost completely absent. In previous years a companion Halloween-centric issue was released alongside the issue but not so this year (to my knowledge). First, Meredith Corp. took over day-to-day operations of the magazine, then Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was sold last summer, and now little is left of the senior creative staff. Fans worried about the creative direction of the magazine and this proves once for all that the elegant party is over.



Monday, October 17, 2016

Get Ready for Pumpkin Carving


'Tis the season to hack away at pumpkins with sharp knives! Make your life easier and carving more fun with a miracle product by Sulky called Stick 'n Carve. Download a pattern, print it out onto the special sheet, stick it on your pumpkin and carve with ease (no more poking holes to trace a pattern).

The sticky sheet can be repositioned and removed easily, and for more intricate patterns, you can rinse off and dissolve the sheet away. Since these tacky sheets stick to just about anything, I use them on foam for lettering for tombstones.

Order them in packs of 3, 10 or 24 and right now they are 20% off at Sulky.com using promo code "Scary20".





In need of a wicked pumpkin pattern? The best site for everything pumpkins is ZombiePumpkins.com where you can find unique downloadable patterns from monsters to kid-friendly designs, along with detailed tutorials, carving supplies (including the Stick 'n Carve sheets), and really cool tees.

Every year the theme of the entire site (!) changes and this year it's Carnival of the Zombie Pumpkins, complete with a clown pumpkin mascot! Several subscription options are available starting at $2, and for $20 you get a Monster V.I.P. subscription with over 378 patterns, unlimited downloads, access to exclusive V.I.P. patterns plus a donation to a selected charity.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Clean Up with Halloween Soap

Who doesn't want to wash their hands with vampire blood? Bath and Body Works finally brought their wicked Vampire Blood hand soap to their stores this year in a pretty cool bottle. Don't worry, it's not scented like nickel and regret. It has a clean plum scent and even though it's red, will not stain everything pink. This joins their other Halloween scents which include Purrfect Pumpkin, Ghoul Friend (berry) and Web of Lies (apple/citrus).



However, if you want a great pumpkin scented hand soap and would rather not deal with mall parking lots, visit your neighborhood Target for the Method Pumpkin Clove hand soap. It's cheaper, has a classy bottle design, and the scent is like washing your hands with pumpkin pie – but not in a weird way. Ok. Maybe it's weird. But I find this soap much easier on the skin.



For a more sophisticated line of bar soaps, head over to Villainess Soaps. They carry one of the most unique lines of products including my favorite soap (for no particular reason) called BLOOD. It has a figgy-winey scent and is deep crimson red like dried blood. It feels much more natural and does leave a bit of mess, thanks to the iron oxide pigments used. AWESOME, I know.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

Winning 2016 logo design by Tony Barney 
The San Francisco Bay Area officially kicks off Halloween with the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, now in its 46th year! The two-day event is this weekend and features local artists, crafts, a pumpkin weigh off, pumpkin carving demos, costume and pie eating contests, live music, and of course everything pumpkin to eat from pumpkin mac-n-cheese to pumpkin craft beer and cocktails.

This year a 1910-pound pumpkin took top honors in the 2016 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. The gourd was grown by Cindy Tobeck, an elementary teacher from Washington who will take home a $11,460 prize ($6 a pound). The world record stands at 2,232 pounds but a reported pumpkin weighing 2,624 pounds was grown in Belgium.





Photo credit: KGO-TV

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 27

Set the DVR now for The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXVII (27), airing October 16 on FOX.  This also the long-running series' landmark 600th episode!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trick 'r Treat Digital Decoration

Fans of Michael Dougherty's cult classic Trick 'r Treat are in for wicked scare. AtmosFX has teamed up wth the director and Legendary Pictures to bring you the Trick 'r Treat Digital Decorations. There are five scenes with the mischievous and deadly Sam, formatted for TVs, windows, doors, walls and their floating "Hollusion" material.

This new release is the culmination of a passion for Halloween and  a friendship that began when Dougherty and the founders of AtmosFX worked together as MTV animators in the 1990s. After purchasing a digital decoration, he realized the connection, and soon met in Los Angeles to begin a collaboration. "It's a dream come true for the three of us," Dougherty said about bringing Sam into people's homes and haunting their yards.

Scenes are available to download at AtmosFX.com, $40 for the entire collection or $8 for individual scenes – all in HD. Take a look at the preview below. (BTW: Fans of Krampus, Dougherty's dark holiday movie may see the yuletide demon and his minions next!)


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

AtmosFX Holiday Digital Decorating Kit ~ Review

Once you understand the basics of digital decorating, finding the best gear is the next challenge. For the average consumer AtmosFX's new Holiday Digital Decorating Kit will be a great and easy introduction to projectors. It offers the basics you'll need to get started but don't expect a lot of quality. At $189.99 it's fairly priced for all that you get, but keep in mind that another $100 would get you a much better projector. You'll need a dedicated window (or doorway) with about 13-15 foot clearance in front of the projector, and it will need to be dark. Here are some more thoughts on this product:


Pro's
  • This kit has everything you need to get started for under $200: an LED projector, SD Card, tripod, and projection material along with a handful of projections to get you started. 
  • The projector is very lightweight, small, black (most projectors have white casings), and has an onboard player (you won't need a DVD player or other source although it does allow you to hook up several configurations). This is rare in projectors.
  • It includes a teeny tripod, but you can use any camera tripod so you can get a perfect height for your use. It can be mounted horizontally or vertically and possibly upside-down (but I couldn't figure out the projection settings).
  • It's meant to display a projection onto a window no bigger than 4' x 6' and the projection material is fantastic.
  • Downloading new projections from the website is super easy and can be copied onto the included SD Card. 


Con's
  • The LED projector is very dim. At 1500 lumens it's less than the 1800 lumens they recommend as a minimum for projecting their videos! This is why the kit is relatively cheap. Plan to display it in a very dark room. The unexpected upshot is that it has a very dark blacks. 
  • The player interface is confusing to set up with essential features like automatic repeat only existing on the remote (don't ever loose it!).
  • The image from the projector is not HD so you won't get a super crisp image or many layers of colors.
  • The LED bulb does not get very hot compared to halogen bulbs of more professional projectors, but it's also not replaceable. 
  • Overall quality does not seem like you could get more than 1 or 2 seasons from the unit.
  • The unit is rated only for indoor use and not weather resistant in any way. 
  • There are no detailed user instructions with the unit, the website provides little direction, and customer service does not return emails.
Once again, it should be stated that this product is meant to be an introductory package for consumers new to digital projections. Seasoned yard haunters will not get the bells and whistles they require like horizontal and vertical skewing, distance, HD images, or brightness. For the rest of us, this is a great start!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Digital Decorating: A Primer

I started digital decorating a couple years ago and after some trial and error, I've figured out a pretty easy way to take Halloween decor to a new level. Be forewarned that the following is expensive, but it as an investment. Once you use it a few years, the price is amortized and you don't feel like you've spend hundreds of dollars on something used once a year.



There's three basic factors to consider: the projector, the video, and the screen:

The Projector
You'll need to invest in a quality projector that will run anywhere from $300-$1000 dollars. Epson makes some of the best reviewed projectors that are bright, colorful and long-lasting. The gamut runs wide so be prepared to get what you pay for since many cheap projectors give cheap results. Throw refers to the distance the projector needs to be from the screen. The closer to the screen, the smaller the image. The further from the screen, the larger but often dimmer and less detailed image. Most projectors need to be at least 10-15 feet from the screen, unless you get a more expensive "short throw" projector which can be placed much close. No projectors are weather proof so if you're planning to project outside, consider some sort of enclosure. But projectors get super hot so you need to have plenty of ventilation and airflow.

The Video
Once you have a projector you need a scene to project. If you're good with video editing you film your own. If you're not, then you need to buy a ready-made video. AtmosFearFX is the current leader in digital decoration, and they sell DVDs (at Amazon & Spirit Halloween) as well as HD downloads directly from their website. I prefer the $10 individual downloads since I typically only display one scene per year. You can also find videos for sale from Eerie Elegance, Fright Props, and even stock video places like iStockPhoto. To play the video you'll need to connect a DVD player or a digital media player to the projector (a few rare projectors have onboard playing capabilities). The digital media player is usually the easiest way to go. You simply copy your video onto any standard SD card or flash drive, insert into the player, and hit play. These players have automatic looping options so a 2-minute clip will repeat over and over.

The Screen
When considering where to place your projection, think of clear spaces with at least 10-15 feet of space behind or in-front, with access to an electrical outlet. Initially I wanted to project onto my garage door, but this required a powerful (read: expensive) short-throw projector and having my car parked far back in my drive way. I thought about projecting onto the front of my house, but that required setting up the projector in the middle of my lawn in some sort of secured enclosure set out nightly. I ended up projecting onto my front window which is not as large but just as effective, and mounted the projector onto my ceiling out of the way with an inexpensive rig. You'll also need some sort of material to project onto. You can choose an opaque material to hide everything behind it, or an semi-translucent material for a ghostly effect. Either way, make sure it's one large piece of fabric with no seams, wrinkles, or patterns. I used a $30 silvery gray bed sheet (Twin XL size was perfect for my window). Since I'm projecting from behind I didn't want people looking straight at the projection to see the hotspot from the suspended projector behind the screen. It kind of ruins the illusion. Depending on your placement you can avoid the hot spot by simply placing the projector at the perfect angle.


There's so much more to learn about digital projection and this is meant to a brief introduction to the process. I've been learning from my Halloween friends, online tutorials, and simple trial and error. Once you figure out your perfect location, you'll be obsessed with what to project next. And believe me the neighborhood traffic (walking or in cars) comes to standstill in-front of that window. It's a lot of fun.


video

Monday, October 10, 2016

U.S. Postal Service Gets the Halloween Spirit

Available now from the U.S. Postal Service are Jack-O'-Lanterns Forever Stamps. These are the first Halloween-themed stamps issued by the USPS, although it is a little remiss of them not to include at last one sinister Jack. Not all pumpkins smile and traditionally they are meant to scare off the wandering spirits on Halloween night.

Typically, I use about 3 stamps a year so a booklet of 20 will last me 6.66 years. Coincidence? I should stockpile a few of these for sending out Creepmas cards this holiday season.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Martha Stewart Halloween Decor 2016

Looks like Martha Stewart is not quite done with Halloween yet. Available exclusively at Home Decorators this year is a limited but exquisite line of vintage apothecary-inspired Halloween decor. The best part is that it's all 20% off and free shipping right now. Take a look!