Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Vacation

Gone camping. Be back in a week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Travis Walton

Colley Lane
Originally uploaded by Charlie Perham

"The cold, jarring reality of what we were witnessing struck fear and awe to the core of every one of us. Suddenly beholding its vivid, magnificent structure summoned all emotions at once. You could almost hear our hearts pounding above that suspended instant of silence. Less than thirty yards away, the metallic craft hung motionless, fifteen feet above a tangled pile of logging slash.

The craft was stationary, hovering well below the treetops near the crest of the ridge. The hard, mechanical precision of the luminous vehicle was in sharp contrast to the primitive ruggedness of the dark surroundings. Its edges were clearly defined. The golden machine was starkly outlined against the deepening blue of the clear evening sky.

The soft yellow haze from the craft dimly illuminated the immediate area with an eerie glow. Under the weird light, the encircling forest took on bizarre hues that were very different from its natural colors. The trees, the brush, and the grass all reflected subtle, peculiar new shades."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jack Frost

Evil Snowman
Originally uploaded by Heart of England

My kind of snowman - this guy just looks evil!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sneak Peak

Can't wait to see what happens when AMC's THE WALKING DEAD returns in February? Yeah, me neither. Well, for all you fans of Rick, Shane, Carl, Glen, and company - here's a little sneak peak of what's to come - and it looks like Shane and Rick aren't going to be best buddies for very much longer. Check it out...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Pudding




It’s hard to believe the 11th Christmas Pudding running is just a few weeks away! If you are still searching for that perfect holiday gift then this is your ticket!

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to help children and teens in need! If you already have a ticket, please buy one for your family and friends! Proceeds benefit Solid Rock and Alice’s new teen center – The Rock at 32ndStreet opening Spring 2012.

If you would like to buy a block of seats to donate to underprivileged kids to attend, contact Lori at the Solid Rock offices at 602-522-9200.

Orianthi. Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Brian "Head Welch" of Korn. The Tubes. Bruce Kulick of KISS. John Corabi of Motley Crue. Kip Winger of Winger. This SUPERBAND will be performing with Alice Cooper at this year's show!

This is the season of giving so show your holiday spirit and help Alice and Solid Rock sell this out for the kids!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Yule Poe

There's still time to order your copy of MODERN POE: VOL. I and receive it before December 25th! A unique present for fans of the gothic, the macabre, Poe, or poetry in general - this is a great gift you won't find anywhere else!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Super Speedo

Remember I had a rant on here not too long ago where I questioned the decision of DC Comics revamping the Man of Steel's suit yet again? Well, turns out that after allowing some time to become used to the new duds, they are slowly starting to grow on me. Who knew? Now that I've seen actor Henry Cavill's red Speedo-less suit for the upcoming SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL, and have come across Supe's reworked attire in a few comic books I've brought home for my kids - I start to see that it really kind of makes sense to lose the shorts.

When you think about it, Batman's costume has been in constant flux from the beginning. Robin went through a major overhaul back in the late 80's/early 90's and is still changing for the better. I suppose it's because Superman is such an icon that his suit would seem untouchable, but everything changes - and sometimes those changes are for the better. The shorts, upon reflection, were a proper part of the era (and area) of the times in which he was created - and just like Bats lost his shorts and gray and blue color motif for the black, full-body-armor suit of the movies - I now understand that it's time for Supes to lose his, too.

What say you? Yea or nay on the briefs?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Severed Limbs

Spooky snow tree
Originally uploaded by kane hartlepool

Ichabod Crane: "We take the Indian Trail to the Tree of the Dead."
Young Masbath: "How will we recognize it?"
Ichabod Crane: "Without difficulty, I rather fear."

--Tim Burton's SLEEPY HOLLOW

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


A little something to help you through the cold days ahead...

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Bites

Here's a bummer news story for ya - noticed this on the Universal Studios Facebook page. Looks like another classic bites the dust...

Hey fans, we want you to be the first to know… JAWS! and the Amity area will officially close on January 2 to make room for an exciting, NEW, experience we’re planning for you.

We know you love JAWS! and we do too. It has been an amazing attraction and after terrorizing the waters of Amity here at Universal Orlando for 20 years, it’s a VERY important part of our history. So, we’ve got a couple things planned to ensure we always remember and honor it. We know it’s hard to say goodbye, but we can’t express how EXCITED we are about the new, innovative & amazing experience we’re going to be bringing you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Identical Twin

So I caught an episode of FX's spooky new paranormal thriller: AMERICAN HORROR STORY. It was...interesting to say the very least. While I can't say I'm entirely sold on the show, it did have its, ahem - moments. Seemingly an excuse to have random, steamy sex scenes interjected into the plot at any given moment (not to mention the use of swear words on cable TV) I couldn't help but think of another show from that used to be on television that had the exact same kind of weird imagery and bizarre story-line.

Yep - David Lynch's original twisted series: TWIN PEAKS. This is the show that made programs like AMERICAN HORROR STORY possible. The original creepy who-done-it, TWIN PEAKS is clearly an influence on FX's modern series, with many similar, supernatural parallels. It will be interesting to see in what direction this new show takes now that the supremely weird groundwork has been laid (how can they get even weirder without it seeming utterly preposterous?) But in the end, one can't help but wonder why classic shows - particularly the first season in which Lynch was directly involved - like TWIN PEAKS get the axe. A genre-defining classic, I guess only the good die young...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dead Retread

One of the most beloved and inspiring horror movies of all time is finally getting the Hollywood remake treatment. The blood-soaked splatter classic: THE EVIL DEAD is set to begin filming next year, and we're all supposed to feel good about it because original director Sam Raimi and Ash actor Bruce Campbell are acting as producers on the film. Well, no - sorry - I'm not excited...not even a little bit. This is sad news indeed. I would much rather have a new sequel directed by Raimi and starring Campbell than a lame, computer generated rehash of the original. Read the press release that lays out all the bummer news...

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and FilmDistrict have partnered with Ghost House Pictures on a worldwide deal—excluding U.K. and France —for Sony Pictures to distribute the remake of Evil Dead. The announcement was made by Steven Bersch, SPWA President, and Peter Schlessel, CEO of FilmDistrict. Lia Buman, FilmDistrict’s EVP of Acquisitions, will oversee the project.

Original producing partners Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell (who also starred in the original franchise) and Sam Raimi will produce. Ghost House Pictures partners Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane will executive produce. Nicole Brown and J.R. Young will oversee the project for Ghost House.

Rob Tapert stated, “For 30 years, Sam, Bruce and I have been looking for the right home where we could return the deadites to the big screen. Amy Pascal and Jeff Blake at Sony and Peter Schlessel at FilmDistrict have always been incredible partners who share our passion for great storytelling as well as our obsession for scaring the pants off the audience. Together, we are looking forward to terrorizing a whole new generation.”

Added Schlessel, “I have been part of the extended Ghost House family for a long time. It’s fantastic to continue the relationship as we bring this classic horror film to a new generation of fans.”

“Sony Pictures has a fantastic history collaborating with both Ghost House and Film District and we couldn’t be more excited to continue working together on the contemporary adaptation of Evil Dead,” said Jeff Blake, Chairman of Sony Pictures Worldwide Marketing and Distribution. “Sam and Rob have an extraordinary vision and we can’t wait to share this film with audiences in most territories throughout the world.”

Fede Alvarez, who will direct the film, wrote the script with Rodo Sayagues. Academy Award winning screenwriter Diablo Cody did revisions on the draft. Ghost House, FilmDistrict and SPWA are committed to renewing the franchise and have the film on the fast track towards a 2012 production start.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time Lapse

From Rob Zombie's YouTube channel...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Talking Dead

Wow. That's my assessment for last night's mid-season finale of AMC's hit show: THE WALKING DEAD. The producer's of said show have really outdone themselves - and this after there was so much uneasiness after Frank Darabont took a back-seat in the show's production at the beginning of Season 2. But after last night's 'Episode 7: Pretty Much Dead Already,' we needn't worry any longer about the direction of the show. Gripping, intense, emotional - it will be difficult to wait until February 12th to see how it all plays out at Herschel's farm.

You may be asking yourself: "Is it really that good?" The answer is yes - THE WALKING DEAD, particularly last night's episode, was quite frankly THE BEST zombie story I've seen put to film, and this includes George Romero's movies. High praise coming from this zombie lover!

Check it out here:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Filer's Files

It was not until very recently that I have heard the term “shadow people” or “bedroom visitor”. I was never interested in the unexplained phenomena, until I read a list of bizarre and unexplained phenomena and I first read about, and heard the term “shadow people”. I felt the only one with my experience! Can you imagine my elation, seeing, reading about someone whom ALSO had the same thing happen?

When I was about six, my dad, mom, three sisters, and a brother lived in Midland, Texas around 1973. I was lying awake in bed, but the whole family was home and I could hear the TV. I had woken up and I remember it as if it were five minutes ago and I would die of fright. I felt being watched, and in the doorway was an adult man, not “alien” looking, but rather like a normal man, but I had the impression he was dressed in clothes from the 1940s, I could see an outline of his outfit. More like a silhouette, like someone took a photograph, and snipped out the shape of a man. It was totally black and very sharply defined black silhouette of a man. I could not make out any features; the space the man took up was completely void of anything but blackness.

I got the feeling that he was watching and I felt he had intelligence. My family was unaware of this creature, even though they were in the house. I was afraid no one would believe me, or I am crazy? I shut my eyes so he would think I was asleep. I had held my breath, and stayed still, hoping he will go away! I felt his presence, his breath, a few feet away. I stayed in a tight curled up motion and felt if I face him directly, I will die from sheer terror.

Then I must have either passed out from fright, or from holding my breath. I did not mention it until I was well into my 20s to a pastor, my neighbor (funny, when I brought it up he seemed to beat me to the description of the man, I asked him how did he know and he smiled but didn’t tell me! I told only one other person, and now you.

To read more Filer's Files:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I'm currently reading the latest book from horror scribe Stephen King: 11/22/63. While only half-way through it, I'm relieved to find that so far he only deals very briefly with Lee Harvey Oswald. Of course, I'm expecting that to change once I dive into the second act, which is frustrating when you see how embarrassingly naive King is about the events of that day, and with how thick a brush he paints Oswald as the one and only assassin - mentioning 'crack-pot conspiracy theories,' but then failing to talk about any of them save for one sentence about there possibly being an Oswald double in Dallas (one of the more far-fetched theories put out there). The fact that he based his conclusions off of Gerald Posner's cherry-picked JFK book CASE CLOSED pretty much says it all. King doesn't want to believe that something greater was behind that day than a deranged loner with a gun, so he simply writes history that way - even going so far as to say that he's 98% sure Oswald did it, maybe even 99%.

Okay Steve. Keep drinking the Cool-Aid.

For more information about the events of that day, might I direct you to just a few of the well researched books which ask the important questions that King ignores in his work of fiction:

CROSSFIRE by Jim Marrs
COUNTERPLOT by Jay Epstein
JFK by L. Fletcher Prouty

Monday, November 21, 2011

Halloween Roundup

We've had wave a flu bugs sweep through our house, which is partly why I haven't yet uploaded my 2011 Halloween pics to the Hallowzing website. Meanwhile, loads of other home haunts have put me to shame with some really incredible photos from Halloween night. The legendary Pumpkinrot has put together a nice collection of some of his favorites over at his 'What's Brewing' blog. Stop by and check out everyone's hard work - and I promise to get my butt in gear and get some photographs up soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skunk Ape

Mr. T reached out to the BFRO and after several lengthy conversations and a visit to his farm, a number of other incidents were uncovered which suggest a sasquatch has been visiting Mr. T's farm for most of the last five years. Common occurrences include loud slaps on the side of his home during the night. Large objects, like riding lawn mowers or trailers in his yard, mysteriously relocating overnight. Loud choruses of wailing howls that break out in remote forests around his farm, occasionally waking his family from sleep. In one instance a young daughter in the family reported seeing a large, hairy man outside the window, a claim Mr. T did not take seriously at the time. And in a separate incident Mr. T came home to find the upper window onto his back porch smashed in, and a bag of garbage stored there had gone missing. Some time after this, the door onto the back porch was ripped apart, and more trash bags were stolen from the porch.

On another occasion Mr. T. and his son were in their front yard when rocks were thrown at them from the woods behind their house. Several rocks landed before his son began to pick the rocks up and throw them back. Mr. T notes his son's rocks fell well short of the tree line, which was over 100 yards away. But after he and his son threw a few rocks back, more rocks came from the forest, only much more rapidly than before. Mr. T and his son were forced to retreat into their home. Since then, they have occasionally heard rocks hitting the roof of their home, during the night.

Mr. T is an admitted night owl and frequently up to the small hours of the morning. During two evening events, separated by a year's time, Mr. T observed what he thought was a very large Marine, wearing a backpack and ghillie suit, walking along the road in front of his house. On the first occasion Mr. T did nothing, and the "Marine" simply disappeared into the darkness. On the second occasion Mr. T yelled to get the subject's attention, whereupon it immediately began to move quickly away, not running, but walking very fast, until it turned and disappeared into the woods along the road.

Read the rest here:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poe Log

While it's always kind of sad to see the sun set on another haunting season, there is one aspect of it that I will not miss at all: public speaking! While I sincerely appreciated each and every opportunity I was given to speak at many fine locations in the area about my book: MODERN POE: VOL I - and met many gracious and enthusiastic supporters along the way - my month of lectures solidified my belief that there is a reason I am a writer - public oration simply is not my strongest asset.

Case in point: THE RAVEN. I have recited Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem more times than I can count. I have had it memorized for years now and, in the comfort of my own home, can recite it with little difficulty. However - standing before a room full of strangers (or worse, people that you actually know!) the once familiar poem suddenly becomes a vague, hazy memory of something that I should know but now can't quite recall (I also got to the point where I dreaded reciting the lengthy piece, sometimes opting to go with other poems of Poe's like THE CONQUEROR WORM, or THE BELLS).

Would I do it all over again? Definitely. Would I do it now if I was asked to deliver a lecture? Unquestionably. As I said, I am tremendously grateful for each an every opportunity I am given, but I definitely have a renewed respect for people who can stand up in front of an audience on a regular basis and deliver interesting, thought-provoking lectures. It's not as easy as it looks!

Still haven't ordered your copy? There's still plenty of time to grab a copy for a unique Christmas gift! Simply visit the MODERN POE e-store and pick up your copy today! Visit:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

That's Life

This image is courtesy of a feature LIFE magazine ran in which they confessed that not all of their front covers were iconic. This one, clearly, they got wrong. With the tagline: "The stuff bad dreams are made of," I thought this one was terrific (and almost exactly what my son wore for Halloween this year!) Not sure why they picked this one as a 'worst cover,' but personally I love it!

See the rest of them here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gone Juan

ground shot leaves
Originally uploaded by Tom Kent

My opinion of my whole experience varies from time to time. In broad daylight, and at most seasons I am apt to think the greater part of it a mere dream; but sometimes in the autumn, about two in the morning when winds and animals howl dismally, there comes from inconceivable depths below a damnable suggestions of rhythmical throbbing ... and I feel that the transition of Juan Romero was a terrible one indeed.

H.P. Lovecraft
"The Transition of Juan Romero"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Going Attractions

Here's a worthy cause that would be cool to see made. It's called GOING ATTRACTIONS:
The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie Theatre.

Do you have an interest in drive-in movie theatres? Well, you can make a contribution to complete a documentary about them! The producers of GOING ATTRACTIONS are attempting to raise what they call 'finishing funds' to help complete the film using a crowd-funding service called Kickstarter.

For a $25 contribution you will receive a 'special thanks' credit in the film. For $50 you can also reserve an advance copy of the DVD. For $100 you'll get the DVD and a t-shirt. Proceeds will go towards completing the film, and they're already 10% of the way towards their total goal of $10,000!

Please help spread the word to people who might want to get involved!

Click here for the Kickstarter link to learn more:
Drive-in Fundraising Link - Kickstarter

Monday, November 14, 2011

Come On Dave

Everything I need to know if life I learned from John Carpenter's BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Here's a splendid little tribute video someone made for this underrated gem to help kick off your work week in style.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Spooky fog! - Aldermey
Originally uploaded by neilalderney123

"During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil."

--Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bitter Sweet

As a lifelong book collector there are times when you have bittersweet moments where you have a mixture of emotions about a particular book (ie: the thrill of having at last found that one elusive title, co-mingled with the disappointment that the chase for that book has at long last ended). My first brush with this strange sensation was when I was barely a teen.

Backstory: Starting in the late 1970's, having inherited a nearly complete series of books from my older brother called: 'Alfred Hitchcock & The Three Investigators,' I found there was one title that was missing - #13 of course - and it became my mission in life to find this book. With the re-release of the old books with new covers by artist Robert Adragna at about this time, not to mention the thrill of new titles being added to the series, this gave me an excellent opportunity to at long last track down this frustratingly scarce tome. I scoured book shelves, went to countless book stores, and looked high and low for 'The Three Investigators in: The Secret of the Crooked Cat.'

Well I remember the dizzying rush of finally finding it at a now defunct Walden Books at the Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge, Iowa. There it was! I was holding it in my hands! I savored the moment! But then...something happened. My good cheer deflated. I realized the hunt was really over - I would no longer be on constant watch wherever I went for this long sought after title. I briefly, wildly, considered putting it back on the shelf and pretending I never saw it. But no - I could never do that. As a book lover, I realized this was something I would simply have to accept (although I must add that it took a good long time to actually READ the book!)

Later in life I would suffer through this sensation again and again - putting together a collection of first edition James Bond titles (sans the uber-expensive Ian Fleming originals - I would have to settle for reprints for those), filling my shelves with first editions of Stephen King's works, discovering the brilliant set of Brains Benton books (a short-lived series that was so good it deserves its own blog post some day), and on and on and on...

[As a side note: as a Three Investigators purist, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the original illustrator of the series: Harry Kane. However, in the particular instance of the cover seen above, I always thought illustrator Robert Adragna knocked it out of the park with his cover art for 'Crooked Cat.' Superior to Kane's work in almost every respect, Adragna gives us a gorgeous, dynamic painting awash in the orange hues of sunset that accurately conveys the excitement of the carnivalesque story found within.]

To learn more about this great series of books, I urge you to visit the website of the universally acknowledged expert in the field: Seth Smolinske at his excellent Three Investigators website:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here & There

One of the more amusing traditions I have in the post-Halloween season is what I call 'Here & There' (sometimes known as: Oh, look what I found!) This is yet another of my little yearly traditions at our house that invariably happens year after year. How does Here & There work? Well, as I pointed out in previous posts, most of our Halloween decorations actually come down the weekend BEFORE Halloween. I know this seems odd, but the sheer enormity of the job, and the crazy amount of items we have dictate this rule. The outside decorations come down on Halloween night for the most part, with a few that I might have missed or were too tired to bother with coming down on All Souls Day.

This is where Here & There begins.

Putting away the Halloween stuff for another year is bittersweet. On the one hand, the decorations have been up for over a month - so when it's time for them to come down, it's time. On the other - it's cool living in a house that's completely transformed for that short span of time. It's a big job and I wonder each year how in the heck it's all going to fit into the orange and black Rubbermaids we have in our crawlspace (sometimes they don't - and we have to add yet another Rubbermaid to our collection and hope it fits in with the rest under the stairs). But, once the job is done, it's a relief to know that it's all packed safely away and life can once again return to normal...

Except I will find a Halloween candle-holder here. Going about my daily routines I will stumble across a string of Halloween lights there ("How did I miss those?") Oh, look - I found this necklace that was part of my daughter's Halloween costume. Here's some prizes I bought for next year's party in this Target bag in the bedroom. There's some black plastic tablecloths in the crawl-space I missed ("I must have walked past those a hundred times!") Here's the jack-'o-lantern guts scooper/scraper thing. There's another set of vampire teeth ("Where do these keep coming from?") You see what I mean? We are now entering into the second week of November and I am STILL playing Here & There - and I fully expect this strange custom to continue for the rest of...

Oh, look - here's a...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gang 'O Jacks

Some of the jack-'o-lanterns we carved from pumpkins picked from our garden. Counting pumpkins we brought home from visits to two different pumpkin patches, I ended up carving 20 jack-'o-lanterns in total.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Off The Beaten Path

This week at Drive-In of the Dead we have a featured movie that reminds us why we love indie horror so much. Filled with homages to classic horror films, a spooky cabin in the woods, and lots of blood by the bucket! The Minnesota-made OFF THE BEATEN PATH from Not For The Squeamish Productions was a ton of fun for us to review - and as an added bonus we were able to conduct an exclusive interview with its super-cool, but very down-to-earth director: Jason Stephenson which we hope to have uploaded in the next week or two.

If you're a lover of locally made, homegrown, independent movies (or just love horror in any shape or form like we do...) do yourself a favor and check this one out - you won't be disappointed! You can pick up your copy by heading over to the official NFTS website:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Night Shift

Thought I'd pass along a press release from Fighting Owl Films about THE NIGHT SHIFT, a film we featured at the Drive-In last year. We knew a good thing when we saw it - and now here it is on DVD!


Fighting Owl Films is pleased to announce that the family-friendly supernatural-adventure-comedy “The Night Shift” received North American DVD distribution by R-Squared Films on October 25. The film has been met with critical acclaim and a positive response from fans. The Night Shift is currently available at (, Walmart and many other retailers.

“The Night Shift” is a supernatural-adventure-comedy about Rue Morgan, the undead night watchman at Pinewood Oaks Cemetery. Rue, along with his buddy Herb, a limbless corpse, spends his nights trying to keep the cemetery’s cantankerous residents in, and his days dreaming of a date with hard-nosed day-shifter, Claire. It’s an okay afterlife until a scourge of supernatural occurrences leaves Rue not only watching the cemetery, but also watching his back!

To stay abreast of the latest updates, please become a fan of Fighting Owl Films on Facebook ( For more information, trailers, downloads, photos and cast information, please visit

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wine Not?

the Harmonists and the wine-cellar
Originally uploaded by Maewynia

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled --but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."

--Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This has been my house for the past two days...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Commercial Tradition

Okay so I have one other Halloween tradition (well, All Souls Day, technically) that I'm not so proud of. Sure, I rant about how commercial Halloween has become - I lecture and I preach about keeping it old fashioned and remembering traditions of the past. So what do I do each year? Why, head on out the next morning to hit the 50% OFF sales to pick up the few goodies that happened to catch my eye over the past month.

The jack-'o-lantern cookie jar seen above is one of them. Half price at Target ($10.00), I've had my eye on this one and was willing to push and shove old ladies out of my way to get it! I wasn't impressed with most of what Target had to offer, but this will take a place of honor in our kitchen the whole year 'round!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ritual Deconstruction

Something I started doing years ago late on Halloween night was completely dismantling my yard haunt when the festivities have ended. This actually started out of necessity a while back when I had some unruly teens stop by expecting treats without costumes - a definite no-no at my house, along with the use of profanity by trick-or-treaters, but even this rule has exceptions: sometimes a "Holy sh*t!" slips out when you scare the dickens out of someone (but vulgar cursing just to posture for your buddies and show them that you're not really scared and how fake everything is will get you escorted off the property). Basically, either one of these infractions may get you a denial in the sweets department. There are rules, you see, and I think both of these are simple enough to follow to claim your prize. Well, several years back a duo of hooligans threatened to return and trash my graveyard, so down it came that very night after the last beggar had left.

As it turned out, this has turned into one of the neater traditions I have on that dark night of nights. With such an elaborate yard haunt that includes costumed mannequins, a fog machine and chiller, piped in music, over 30 headstones, a 40' graveyard fence and archway, a 15' tall scarecrow, a coffin-shaped tiki-bar for serving hot apple cider and pumpkin bars, strobe lights, black lights, blue spot lights, and more - all of it which stands for the entire month of October - it really is a shock for people to drive by on the morning of November 1st and see that it all has completely vanished; as if it was never there at all.

So each Halloween night, right around 9:30 p.m. (I give time for those late stragglers who go out of their way to beg at my house), I pour a glass of wine and begin the sacred process of stacking and storing it all away in my garage. It is a very solemn event - for at this time of night I am the only one out of doors. As the clock ticks toward the witching hour, a creepy feeling steals over me and I can't help but feel something's out there - watching - waiting - to make sure it is all done right. Inspired by the movie TRICK-'R-TREAT, I always make sure to leave one jack-'o-lantern burning on the stoop - but the rest comes down.

This year the weather was gorgeous. The temperature at 11:00 p.m. was right around a balmy 45 degrees, with a slight breeze that rustled what few leaves remained on the maple tree in our front yard. This same breeze stirred a some stray leaves and a small Dixie Cup (that a beggar had dropped from our cider urn) in our neighbor's driveway. The sound effect that was created by the leaves and the cup rolling about on that ominous, silent eve was chilling (I had to investigate the sound, as it was such an odd acoustic that I couldn't place just what it was I was hearing). I never realized the importance I put on the little things on Halloween - even as my haunt seems to grow bigger and bigger each year - but it's the little things, a single flickering jack-'o-lantern that snuffs its candle out all by itself just as I decide to call it a night, an unfamiliar sound out there alone in the dark, which makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Want Some Candy?

My costume on Halloween night...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day

Originally uploaded by Recovering Protestant

Another successful Halloween: gorgeous weather (55 and sunny with very little wind) and over 200 trick-or-treaters. Photographs of the day will be forthcoming.

Nothing left to do but store away the props and sweep up the candy wrappers...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


The greatest day of the year - I've literally been up since before dawn thinking about all that I have to get done today - there's no rest for the wicked on this, as Edgar Allan Poe called it, "Night of all nights in the year." I'm looking forward to filling treat bags, carving jack-'o-lanterns, watching scary movies, getting the yard haunt ready for action, and getting my own costume on. I think it would be wise if I could cram a nap in there somewhere since I was up with the rooster - but I'm sure I'll be too excited to sleep. I'm thinking there might be a pumpkin spice cappuccino in my future...

Here's wishing everyone a happy, haunted, Halloween! I urge you to remember your mythical past and call to mind why we celebrate this darkest of days. Remember that tonight the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Remember to be a kid (if only for one night). Be safe. Have fun. Remember the rules. I'll be out long after the last trick-or-treater has begged for candy. Stop by - if you dare...



Saturday, October 29, 2011


Exciting day today. Meeting longtime independent filmmaker, Jason Stephenson, from NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH PRODUCTIONS. The maker of such films as: OFF THE BEATEN PATH, DOOMED TO CONSUME, and TERROR OVERLOAD, Stephenson has been on the Minnesota filmmaking radar for over a decade. A lover of horror and bloody mayhem (as if you couldn't figure that out from his production company's name...) I'm looking forward to talking all things horror and maybe convincing him to give Drive-In of the Dead an exclusive interview. Check out his movies here:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Best Costume

My wife and I took the kids to the annual Fall Fun Night at our local elementary school. After we had our pizza and pop we stood in line to play some Halloween themed games. As I'm standing there feeling underwhelmed by the sea of store-bought costumes (to be fair, my son has a hand-painted skeleton mask this year and my daughter put together her vampire costume all by herself - even if the dress was from a garage sale) I suddenly noticed that a boy in front of me clearly has a hand-made costume. So now I'm grinning ear-to-ear and my wife says: "What's so funny?" I point at the kid's costume and say: "Homemade." To which my wife replies:

"What's he supposed to be?"

I'll be honest with you - I'm not sure WHAT the kid was supposed to be - but he had my vote for best costume. A weird conglomeration of cardboard, Gorilla Tape, black long underwear, black football pants (with pads), black landscaping plastic, and various elements that might have been cannibalized from some other Halloween costume that probably no longer fit, including a hand-crafted skeleton type mask that looked right out of the movie Flash Gordon, all of it highlighted with strategic bits of silver duct-tape, this kid had the most unique costume in the entire gymnasium - and it was obviously crafted with a lot of love, ambition, and attention to detail - and obviously without mom and dad's help.

Impressed with the boy's ingenuity and true sense of Halloween spirit, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him: "Did you make your costume yourself?" He nodded his head in the affirmative, so after telling him I loved the costume and appreciated his effort at making it himself - a Halloween tradition that has long since faded away since commercialism took over the holiday - I asked him: "What are you supposed to be?" He shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

"I'm not sure!"

The perfect answer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Season's Greetings

Because everyone's entitled to one good scare...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Delivered a well received lecture to an attentive audience last night on Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka, MODERN POE: VOL. I, and poetry. While I positively loathe public speaking, I have a passion for enlightening the masses when it comes to Mr. Poe's legacy. I've always suspected that much of the public has certain ingrained misconceptions about the man's life and history (you mean to say he wasn't a drug-fueled, depraved lunatic?) that are very hard to shake. They are always amazed to learn there was so much more to the man - he was fascinated by science, astronomy, and cosmography; he had a keen sense of humor and appreciated a good hoax; and was a true gentleman with Southern manners and grace, keeping his appearance fastidious - even while his clothes were threadbare and thin.

The most satisfying part of the evening was seeing all the young faces in the crowd. As the event was put on by The Friends of the Public Library, I expected the audience to be skewed slightly older, so I was delighted to see one of our local English teachers who had enticed her 8th Grade class with extra credit for attending and taking notes. As gratifying as it is to set the record straight with people who think they know Poe, it's even more rewarding to give accurate facts and information on the great poet to a generation that knows little about him. Read more here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweeping Up

Had a great time at the party - everything went well and a fun time was had by all. Yesterday I took down most of the inside decorations (just left enough in the entry way for trick-or-treaters to see on Halloween night). It's always kind of sad to tear it all down, but I cheered myself up by watching one of my all-time seasonal favorites: HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH - a guilty pleasure, what can I say... and drinking left-over Sam Adams Oktoberfest while I worked.

After all the hard work of storing away countless Halloween decorations in their proper places was done (for the most part), I treated myself to one of the best episodes of AMC'S THE WALKING DEAD that I've ever seen. A great way to end a fabulous weekend. Pictures to come at

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Party Time

Today's the day of our annual Halloween party! I call on the dreams of creature and mortal to help us have a wonderous party steeped in ancient tradition. From this night All Hallows Eve from the mortal world depart we now back to Halloweentown through the portal we take our leave!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Took the kids to a different pumpkin patch and found some interesting help working on their staff. Most of the folks just kept to themselves, but some looked like they could really get nasty if you provoked them...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Five & Dime

Picked up this beauty of a coffee mug a couple of weeks ago. I love the simple design of it and the perfect way it fits in my hand. An old-school type of cup, I think the thing I like best about it is the place where I purchased it. Our hometown variety store is a dead ringer for the drug store seen in the 1988 slasher flick: HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. Haddonfield's little five and dime on main street was where the cool teens all worked (and hung out), and was about the only place in town that actually sold Halloween merchandise - including boogeyman masks! - after the horrific incident ten years prior.

We live in a small midwestern town that's a lot like that doomed, mythical town from the movie in most respects (except for the bloody mayhem that ensues about every ten years or so), and every time I go in to our little store I'm always reminded of that scene where little Jamie Lloyd is trying on her clown costume, only to see her uncle Michael standing in the mirror behind her. I love how a basic, everyday location like a drug store is made menacing - how did The Shape get there in the middle of the day without being seen? Was he even there at all? Was he standing right behind me when I bought my coffee mug? I looked over my shoulder a few times when buying it, making sure the boogeyman wasn't stalking me. Yeah, I'm a dork that way...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rant

WARNING: The Following Blog Post Is A RANT!

Specifically, this is a rant about Halloween music, and its targets are two-fold. Understand: this is nothing personal against Cassandra Peterson - AKA Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I'm sure she's a very nice lady. I am equally as sure that Ms. Peterson probably loves Halloween just as much as the rest of us. However, in my mind, she represents all that is commercial and phony about the darkest of holidays. The enemy embodied, so to speak. She has given a face to all the corporations that have exploited and capitalized off the ancient celebration of Halloween, Hallowe'en, All Hallows Even, Samhaim. To be even more direct: I can appreciate a good horror host. If she were only in that role, I could be more forgiving - who doesn't like a buxom, bee-hived, valley-girl, Vampira-esque bombshell introducing cheesy B horror movies? But when she was let into a studio to record 'music' for Halloween, that's where I draw the line! Her compilation albums are so obnoxious, so horrendously banal, and have so little to do with the whole point of this ancient tradition, that it I try to dissuade anyone I see picking one up off the rack while shopping.

Part 2.

I said this rant was two-fold, and here's the sequel: as much as I despise everything the Elvira character stands for, there's a corporate entity that idolizes her and thinks she's hilariously campy and completely Hallow-rific! If you've ever heard of MUSIC CHOICE on cable television, you'll know what I mean. Music Choice is a cable option you can pay for to let you listen to music on your TV. The problem is: they tend to have a limited play-list, meaning they play the same songs over and over and over. Now it would appear that this is a problem for them when it comes to Halloween, for unlike Christmas, there haven't been a lot of Halloween albums released by pop artists over the years - you simply won't find A JOHNNY MATHIS HALLOWEEN, or ROBERT GOULET SINGS HALLOWEEN. Not understanding (or caring) that there have been over fifty years of horror soundtracks to pick and choose from, or that groups like Midnight Syndicate have released fourteen years worth of music to sample, they instead choose to go the Elvira route and compile their playlist almost exclusively from her catalog. Sure, you get the occasional classic thrown in - almost by accident, it seems - Danny Elfman's 'This Is Halloween,' John Carpenter's score for Halloween and Halloween II (but not for the terrific Halloween III or any of Alan Howarth's scores for the later sequels); or a rare Midnight Syndicate track about once a week - so here's a quick, helpful suggestion for the folks at Music Choice:

Purple People Eater has nothing to do with Halloween. Michael Jackson's Thriller has nothing to do with Halloween. The Itsy-Bitsy Spider has nothing to do with Halloween. Dr. Elmo's Redneck Drac has nothing to do with Halloween. Bessie Smith's The Devil's Gonna Get Ya has nothing to do with Halloween. Anything Voodoo related has nothing to do with Halloween. Witchy Woman by the Eagles has nothing to do with Halloween. Evil Ways by Santana has nothing to do with Halloween. Anything recorded by Elvira has nothing to do with Halloween (as hard as that may be to believe). The Chipmunks have nothing to do with Halloween. Crazy Fever by High Noon has nothing to do with Halloween. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by The Tubes has nothing to do with Halloween. Louis Armstrong's You've Got Me Voodoo'd has nothing to do with Halloween. Night Train by The Kills has nothing to do with Halloween. Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells has nothing to do with Halloween. And for the love of all that's unholy - Maneater by Hall & Oates has NOTHING to do with Halloween! The list goes on and on...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update: Poe

Gave a grueling lecture yesterday in support of MODERN POE: VOL. I called: Edgar Allan Poe and the Short Story. It was over the course of four hours and in front of one of the toughest crowds I've ever faced: my hometown's middle school 8th Graders! In all honesty, other than being hoarse today with a slight sore throat, the talk went surprisingly well and I'm very proud at how attentive the kids were and of the intelligent, insightful questions they asked regarding Mr. Poe and the short story process. Yes, there were a couple 'class clowns,' but I even tried to answer their questions thoughtfully and somehow tie it back to Poe - who liked a good laugh himself and was certainly no stranger to humbugs and hoaxes. My gratitude and thanks to the English Department for putting the program together - let's do it again sometime! (I am in fact in talks to return for their Poetry section in a month or two - exciting! Well...for me, maybe not the 8th Graders!)

In other MODERN POE: VOL. I news, I received a short blurb in the Post Bulletin - which is the biggest newspaper in SE Minnesota with the largest circulation around. Unfortunately, the reporter who contacted had me convinced that I would have a lengthy, in-depth article discussing the book - but in the end it was simply a blurb. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that they spelled Mr. Poe's name wrong. If nothing irritates a Poe disciple more it's when someone misspells his name as Edgar ALLEN Poe, and not ALLAN. Triply unfortunate is the fact that they misspelled MY name too. Quadruply unfortunate (is that even a word?) is the fact that they failed to include the link to my e-store.

I guess bad press is better than no press at all right? Well, for the sake of journalistic integrity, here's the link:

Monday, October 17, 2011


A BOOK OF THE DEAD prop I made. Not exactly inked in blood and bound in human flesh, but still pretty cool. It's actually constructed from a Clive Barker book that was a garage sale find - so it's kind of relevant. The kids get a kick out of it when I 'read' from it: "Klatuu! Barada! Nik...Nnnn...necktie?"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Making Friends

Saw this on Pumpkinrot's blog and it was too good not share. Can someone please explain to me again why there is not a TRICK 'R TREAT sequel?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Children In The Corn

Haunted Carter Farms, located in my old stomping grounds of Iowa, is one of the oldest haunted cornfield mazes in America. They have chosen to theme this year's attraction after Midnight Syndicate Films' 2010 dark fantasy horror film, THE DEAD MATTER. The design of the 5-acre maze blends cover art from the DVD and elements from Midnight Syndicate's The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates CD. In addition to taking guests through scenes from The Dead Matter movie, haunt designers took themes explored in the film and developed their own additional original scenes. Music and several original props from the film will be featured in the attraction. The haunt is open every Friday and Saturday in October and Halloween night from 7:00pm to 10:30pm. Admission is $12.

For more information visit:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Haunted Rocker

A groovy picture of my haunted rocker. This is one of those pics where you're not exactly sure what happened. I was snapping photographs of the rocking chair in action, but his one came out so strange that it fascinated me. What's going on here? Out of all the snapshots I took of the chair, I ended up liking this one the best!

The chair is basically a small rocker that I dirtied up a bit. A length of fishing line is attached from the top and runs to a small servo-motor that's attached to a cross tombstone that's staked into the ground. The motor runs continuously (as long as my blue outside spotlights are on) and at a very slow rate of speed, so that you almost have to look twice to see if the chair is really moving. It's a cool effect, achieved from hacking the motor out of those white, steel polar bear Christmas yard decoration thingies that I found at a garage sale (the nice lady let me just buy the motors, provided I cut out the motors myself with a hacksaw!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I distinctly remember back in early 1995 seeing the trailer for HALLOWEEN 666: THE ORIGIN OF MICHAEL MYERS on television and seeing trade print advertising in magazines (sure wish I would have kept the mags!) I recall getting excited and talking animatedly about the upcoming film - it had been a long dry spell of a good six years since the dreadful HALLOWEEN 5, so I was enthusiastic to see a new entry in the series. Alas, my friends did not share my sentiment. Can you imagine I got teased for liking a group of films they deemed to be 'from when we were kids?' (But I guess after Part 5, who can blame them, right?) As history has shown, my enthusiasm was dampened when they changed the name (and seemingly the whole movie!) but, being the die-hard fan that I was (am) I dragged my friends there on opening night to prove them wrong.

Boy did I ever get teased...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Now Playing

The same time I picked up Midnight Syndicate's GATES OF DELIRIUM I also scored a copy of their 2002 release: VAMPYRE: SYMPHONIES FROM THE CRYPT. Both have been on steady rotation here at my house throughout the last month or so - with both finding equal playing time. It would be impossible to say which one I'm enjoying more, simply because both disks are so completely different. Where 'Gates' played out more like one of Midnight Syndicate's now-famous "soundtrack to an imaginary film," VAMPYRE boldly goes a different route by forgoing nearly all sound-effects (you may hear a rumble of thunder or a spade shoveling dirt - but the sounds are minimal).

What I like best about listening to Midnight Syndicate's VAMPYRE is the band's concentration at constructing true symphonies - and not just in title alone. As a lover of classical music, I appreciated the duo's effort of weaving beautiful melodies into Gothic structures. This is not an album about a vampire, it is an album for vampires and the people who love them. Featuring fourteen tracks that range from mysterious to sinister to downright evil, VAMPYRE: SYMPHONIES FROM THE CRYPT proves that the band does not have to rely on sound-effects alone to sell their unique brand of fear, and demonstrates that even at this early stage of their career they are not afraid to take risks by forgoing the effects and relying almost solely on their musical wits alone. Was it worth the risk? Absolutely! There is no doubt about it, composers Gavin Gozska and Edward Douglas have proven time and again that they are true musical artists that have an uncanny knack at bringing the Gothic to life...or death.

You can pick up your copy of VAMPYRE: SYMPHONIES FROM THE CRYPT (or GATES OF DELIRIUM if you haven't already!) from the official Midnight Syndicate website:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ichabod Toad

A visitor to our graveyard the other night. The kids named him Ichabod.

In early Christianity, demonologists often referred to frogs as the ‘Witches Familiar’ or ‘Agent of the Devil’. The fact that frogs resided in swamps and stagnant pools, often dirty and unsanitary places, was used to exemplify the power of consecrated holy water to expel evil spirits and purify sinners. Witches were thought to use frogs and toads in satanic rituals, and to concocted malicious sounding spells and potions from their body parts. Some believe that a witch could be identified by a mark shaped like a toad’s foot secreted on her body or that the image of a toad would be visible in the left eye. Other myths tell of witches extracting toad secretions, or collecting toad saliva for use in flying potions and invisibility spells.

Toads were also popular as poisonous ingredients in potions: “the women-witches of ancient time which killed by poysoning, did much use toads in their confections”. Witches were also believed to control the weather by concocting brews from frogs, toads and snakes, often referred to as “Toad Soup”. Undoubtedly, many experienced illness or death after ingesting or applying some sort of frog-made brew including their toxic secretions. Such folklore and popular mythology was the result of Inquisitional propaganda to eliminate the old Pagan religions and prosecute Witches with charges of heresy during the persecution years.

One of the most widely told myths concerning the toad is that of the “Toad-Stone”, a fabulously jewelled stone that grows inside the toad’s head. This jewelled stone when placed in a ring or a necklace, would heat up or change colour in the presence of poison, thereby protecting the wearer from the dangers of poisoning, a common threat in the Middle Ages.