Friday, November 19, 2010

Meet Stinky!

When I first moved into my current home, it was the first time I'd lived in a house since I moved from my parent's home many years ago. Naturally, when Halloween rolled around, I instantly started thinking of what I could do to decorate my yard...having never had one of my own before! Mom & dad were never too keen on decorating the yard for any holidays, so I was lucky I even got Jack-O-Lanterns in those days. While walking through a Home Depot, a Grim Reaper prop caught my eye. I liked his simple design, and figured he would be fairly easy to store in the off-season.

I brought him home and my son, who was not even three at the time, instantly loved him. Since he couldn't pronounce "Reaper", it came out as "Reeker". This led to us bestowing our prop with the name "Stinky" (he actually doesn't smell bad at all).

Stinky has floated above my graveyard for the past six Halloweens, and I hope he'll last for many more. This year, he got a new, red light shining on him, which gave him a whole new look. The neighborhood kids all seem to think he's cool, and one of my neighbors praised him as looking "nice and creepy". So here's to Stinky! May he haunt with us for years to come!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A...My Name is Alice

So, despite the crappy way these pics came out, I wanted to showcase one of my favorite aspects of my haunt: my spiders. Now, you can't really see it in these pics, but I had miniature spiders all over the place, most especially the entryway. Perched atop the bushes by said entryway, was my precious black widow, Alice. Alice herself is just a cheap spider I bought at Target, with very little extra work done to her. I saw her at the store amongst the Halloween decor and just thought she was groovy:

Many kids seemed wary of Alice, afraid she would pounce on them (she's a completely static prop, but they didn't know that). Of course, this guy didn't help:

The victim here, Vincent, was one of the easiest props I've ever created. Last year, I'd seen a similar prop in a Party City for $30, and just decided that is was too easy not to do myself. I took a cheap skeleton that had been given to me a while back (it was too fake looking to display as it was, so I'd put it away for future use), wrapped him in "webs" and covered him with more of the tiny, plastic spiders. I stuck him to the brick next to our door, and told kids he was a Trick or Treater that had the misfortune of being a treat for Alice!

Now, Alice wasn't my first giant spider. I have an older prop, that I've had to repair and re-attach the legs multiple times. Marilyn is a bit troublesome, but I just can't bear to part with her. Her territory is the tree in the center of my yard, and that is where she remains. This pic really doesn't capture her at all, unfortunately, but she deserves some recognition:

To me, spiders are an essential part of my haunt. They invoke an almost primitive fear response in some folks (they actually don't bother me at all, which makes it much easier to work with them), where just the suggestion of them can cause an attack of the heebie-jeebies!

Now, 10 points to anyone who can tell me where the names of my spiders and their victim came from! Alice and Vincent have a connection, while Marilyn is just going along with the theme.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Halloween 2010: The Recap

Well, here it is now, several weeks since Halloween...and I've barely blogged at all about the night itself. This whole season (and pretty much the whole year) has been the most hectic in my memory. It's been a non-stop ride...and SO much has fallen by the wayside in the process. My job decided to have inventory the weekend of Halloween, so all of October was a mad-dash to prep for that. Hours upon hours at work conspired to infringe on time I'd usually spend shopping for props, or working on set pieces for the yard. The saddest piece of news is that my poor ol' scarecrow is still in pieces. I actually worked on him several times throughout the year, but I always seemed to run out of time, or have technical complications that set me back to square one. I knew when we got a week out that it just wasn't going to happen again this year. The only consolation I take is that I actually DID get some work done on him, and that I learned a whole lot from my mistakes.

This was hardly an isolated incident though, with so many of my plans never coming to fruition, or turning out half-@$$ed. Halloween day itself I was scrambling to get things into place, and still had to cut corners left and right. Many things went off without a hitch, while others were...interesting. My fog chiller worked like a charm...but the wind kicked up to blow it away almost as fast as it came out! I had a group of punks steal several props from my yard the night before, but I actually managed to figure out who had stolen them and get them back in time (this was the first year I've had to deal with this, and it irritated the crap outta me)! All of this led to me rushing with my costume, which turned out somewhat decent in spite of the lack of prep time.

All of this made me fear that Halloween itself was going to be a disaster. Despite a week of cooler temps, the 31st the barometer shot back up into the 80's. I've dealt with hotter Halloweens, but I still would have liked things to be a bit crisper, the way they had been the previous week. Well, despite ALL of the crap you're reading here, I can say that my fears that I was starring in a production of National Lampoon's Halloween Vacation were unfounded. Halloween itself was actually a wonderful night. My son and his buddies got dressed up, and had a blast running up and down the street scaring everyone. My costume was actually well-received, with many teenagers and younger adults running in fear from me! The younger kids seemed to dig it as well, though they didn't seem scared at all! In fact, I had one little girl, about four years old or so, walk up to me and say "are you a vampire"? When I answered in the affirmative, she smiled and said "I like your teeth!". Now that is just awesome! In fact, I think that alone made up for all of the crap I had dealt with earlier in the day.

So, another year down, and wasn't everything I had hoped for. Most of the pics we took didn't turn out at all (really need a new camera. Here's hoping Santa is generous this year), and many of the plans I had just had to be dropped outright. Still, I have to say that I am still happy with how things turned out on the whole. My lighting improved greatly this year, I successfully completed a prop I had wanted to do forever...and it only took about five bucks to do it (more on that in an upcoming blog), and, most important of all, the kids had fun! Oh, and so did I!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Toys!

One of my favorite toy lines that I collect is the "stylized" rotocast figures from Mezco, which presents classic movie monsters & madmen...with a slightly cartoony look. The have a "cute yet creepy" look to them that I just really dig! Previously, I'd never displayed these guys together, not even at Halloween (they were kept on shelves, with their counterparts, i.e. Jason was with the Friday the 13th figures, Freddy with the Krueger figures, etc). I recently acquired the Michael Myers figure, and decided I just had to put all three out in the house for Halloween. I REALLY like the way these guys look standing side by side, so much so that I still have them together on a shelf of their own. Looking forward to their version of The Wolf-Man that is suppossed to hit next month!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcome to the Graveyard: Halloween 2010 Edition

Some of y'all know of my love of toys & that I collect action figures, especially those involving monsters. In the past few years, I've done a graveyard scene in my entryway for Halloween, and every year I've varied up the figures, swapping out some characters for others. In some cases, such as Freddy, Jason or Michael Myers, I have multiple versions of the character to reflect the different looks they've had from different films, so I try to switch out which incarnations I use every year as well.

This year, my collection had expanded to include some zombies, as well as a few other iconic characters that I had aquired over the past year. I was fairly happy with the result. Unfortunately, my camera is just plain awful, all the way around. It didn't capture the look that the artificial tealights added to the display at all, which was wonderfully eerie. Still, these turned out better than the pics of the yard (which DIDN'T turn out at all). Man, I REALLY hope I get a new camera for Christmas!!

Anyway, despite the rather lackluster way these turned out, I still thought I'd share my pics:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween Light Show

Well, I know I promised I would post some pics...and I still will (don't worry, you aren't missing much. Most didn't turn out that great. I really need to ask for a decent camera for Christmas!). Still, I had to share this cool video. I've seen folks do similar themed light shows for Christmas, but this one totally blows all of those away. While I take a completely different approach to Halloween decorating...I gotta say I dig this!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Still recuperating from Halloween night, so I won't spend a long time here. Just wanted to share this picture. Your's Truly, flanked by his minions! My son is the werewolf, while his buddy, Ethan, is the classic Dracula! This is what Halloween is all about!