Friday, July 24, 2009

Double Creature Feature

Exciting news coming out of the San Diego Comic Con. At director Tim Burton's forum for his upcoming Alice In Wonderland, he and his special 'imaginary friend' the incomparable Johnny Depp announced their next project would be a re-vamp (get it?) of the campy 60's vampire soap-opera DARK SHADOWS.

I have long been a fan of this weird cult hit, and seeing it come to life on the big screen - with Burton and Depp no less - is nothing short of a fan-boy's dream. The dynamic duo have collaborated on so many amazing films (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hallow, Corpse Bride, and so many more...) and this one in particular seems custom made for Burton's phantasmagorical eye and Depp's over-the-top acting. Good show!

Our second creature feature comes from writer/director Eben McGarr, entitled HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN. Appearing like a vintage horror flick from the 30's and 40's, McGarr is focusing this 'house of...' entry on our lupine friend, The Wolf Man - and it stars none other than the grandson of the original Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, jr.): Ron Chaney! Talk about a fan-boy's dream - how cool is that? The synopsis reads thusly:

"Dr. Bela Reinhardt (Chaney) has invited five people to his castle to see which of them will inherit his estate. He has arranged for a competition of sorts, the victor shall be determined through process of... elimination."

Using the 1940's House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula as inspiration. McGarr says he wants his film to “slip seamlessly in with the other two movies, and with no gore, language, or sex, it should be for all members of the family.”

Here's a link to McGarr's MySpace page for his film which contains a terrifically old-school trailer:

No distributor or release date has been announced yet - but I'll be sure to let you know when I find out. First Dark Shadows and now House Of The Wolf Man - this all seems too good to be true. Keep your fingers 'crossed,' your garlic ripe, and your wooden stakes sharp that these two gems find their way on to the silver screen!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

100 Days

Yikes! I just looked at my calendar and realized there are only one hundred days left until Halloween (which means there are eighty-six days left until our Halloween party!) Where does the time go - so much to do and so very little time to do it!

The good news is that I am in full Halloween mode at the moment. This has been due to the unusual weather we've been having in July here in Minnesota. No scorching 100 degree days here (not even 90 degrees... it's barely hit 80!) No, the weather has been very reminiscent of fall, seeming more like football season than baseball. With the mild days and crisp air I have been extremely motivated to work on props, which is a very, very good thing - as I have a tendency to put things off until October.

Now that we are at the one hundred day mark, however, it's time to double my efforts. The weekends in August tend to be busy ones, and autumn truly will be here before I know it. I have a big project under wraps at the moment - my first pneumatic prop - and I can't put it off much longer. The plans have been drawn up, the motors are hacked and ready to go - there are no excuses for not getting this prop completed. More on that as it progresses.

Anyway - it's another early fall day in July (the weather man says this is due to El Nino?) It's very foggy outside and the temperature is holding steady at 52. Who knows - I just might get something done today. For inspiration I just might fill up my new jack-o-lantern coffee mug (pics later) and head on out to the garden to have a look at my pumpkins...

Happy Summertime Haunting!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One Man's Trash Part 2: It Came From The Garage...Sale!

A few weeks ago I walked down the block to check out a garage sale a neighbor was having. There was nothing of particular interest or value, but I did pick up a very country kitsch-like sign, about two feet long by four inches high, that read 'Nothing But Net' (I assume it had to do with fishing, this is Minnesota after all...)

Always seeing the potential in the most mundane pieces of junk, I snapped up the sign for a measly twenty-five cents and stowed it away for a rainy day. Well, that rainy day came sooner rather than later and I pulled down the sign to give it a makeover. But what to have for the quote? I couldn't think of any Halloween related quotations off the top of my head, so I perused my dvd collection, and then my bookcase, looking for inspiration.

'Double double toil and trouble' from Shakespeare's Macbeth seemed okay, but not exactly what I had in mind. I needed something else, something like... Poe. Ah, yes - Edgar Allan Poe! How could I have overlooked the master of the macabre? But what to pick? He has so many classic poems, so many great verses, so many excellent lines to choose from. Take 'The Raven' for instance - his most famous poem. That starts out "Once upon a midnight dreary..."

YES! With the quote in hand, I set out to paint over 'Nothing But Net' with a little acrylic paint. I couldn't match the faded reddish-orange of the original, so I dabbed a little pumpkin orange on the wood and smeared it around with my finger just to see what it would look like. The result was perfect! What I got was this wispy, ethereal vapor that looked like the flames of hell itself. I dabbed a little more, and then more still - the result being quite a happy accident indeed.

While I let that dry I went to work on the quote. Not having access to a design program like Quark anymore, I had to resort to Word (ughhh...) to do the job. After several attempts, mis-fires, and trials and errors, I cobbled together a template that would suffice. I then scribbled on the back of the paper with a large soft-leaded pencil from my toolbox and taped the paper to the sign. Once I traced the letters on the reverse side, I had a perfect imprint of the quote on the wood.

The last step was to fill in the words with a black permanent marker and then give it just a hint of highlight with a yellow-ish orange color. The whole process took a little over an hour (stupid Word!) but the end result is well worth the effort - particularly when guests say "Where did you get that?" and I say with a smile...

"I made it!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Avett Brothers

One of the few good things to come out of the miserable office job I used to work at was The Avett Brothers. A fellow co-worker of mine used to put on their albums on production day after every one else went home. As we stayed late into the night to put the newspaper together we would listen to this quirky band from North Carolina sing about longing, love and loss.

I am always reluctant to accept new music, so a new band has to make a really strong impression on me before I will admit I actually like it. The Avett Brothers had me at 'Shame.' Before long my co-worker, Katie, and I were asking to listen to these guys - then we were burning their disks - and now going to their concerts.

On a beautiful night in June, my wife and I met up with her niece and nephew and their significant others for a night of The Avett Brothers. The show was at the beautiful Hoyt Sherman Place in downtown Des Moines, IA. I had never been to the Hoyt before, but it was an amazing place to see a show; very turn-of-the-century, ornate and exquisite in design - perfect for an AB show.

I was thrilled to finally see my new 'favorite' band live and even helped support the cause by buying a couple of cds and a t-shirt. If you never heard of these guys... you will. Trust me - they are about to become internationally famous with their upcoming album, due in September. Which kind of makes me sad. I like to think I was there before they were stars, digging their folksy, blue-grass rock - positive that I would one day say: "I saw them live before they were famous!"

If you want to check them out, head over to:

You'll be glad you did.