All posts by Ophelia

“The Dead Matter” DVD is Unleashed

Editor’s Note: Getting ready for Halloween – In July!

Special edition The Dead Matter DVD set including soundtrack and Midnight Syndicate Greatest Hits CD available at all HOT TOPIC stores nationwide.

July 30, 2010 (Cleveland, OH) Midnight Syndicate Films is releasing a special edition of The Dead Matter DVD that will include two bonus CDs by gothic Halloween music artists Midnight Syndicate. It will be available at all Hot Topic stores nationwide on July 30th. It will also be available online at Hot Topic, Amazon, and Midnight Syndicate’s site. The specially-priced set will include The Dead Matter DVD, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Midnight Syndicate, and a new Midnight Syndicate 13th Anniversary greatest hits CD entitled Halloween Music Collection.

The Dead Matter DVD features the much-anticipated dark fantasy film produced and directed by Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate Films and Gary Jones and Robert Kurtzman of Precinct 13 Entertainment. DVD extras include two Midnight Syndicate music videos, the music video to Eternal Legacy’s song, The Dead Matter, three of the finalists from Midnight Syndicate’s 13th Anniversary Video Contest, audio commentary with the producers, gag reels, and a feature-length behind-the-scenes production entitled Maximum Dead Matter. Produced by Frank Purtiman of Smudgeline Studios, Maximum Dead Matter allows viewers to watch the film in one area of the screen while behind the scenes footage, interviews, location information, and concept art comparisons related to that scene play in other areas of the screen.

Dead Matter movieThe Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD contains the score composed by the film’s director, Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate, as well as several limited-edition remixes of Midnight Syndicate songs performed by Jerry “Haunt Rocker” Vayne, Destini Beard, and Pat Berdysz of the industrial band Encoder. The disc also features other music that appears in the film from bands like Lazy Lane, hipNostic, and Eternal Legacy.

Midnight Syndicate’s Halloween Music Collection is a greatest hits-type CD that features over 60 minutes of songs hand-picked by Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka to celebrate the band’s first 13 years. Both new CDs will also be available at Halloween retailers nationwide beginning in August.

Maximum Dead Matter behind the scenes trailer:

The Dead Matter motion picture:
Midnight Syndicate Halloween Music Gothic Soundtracks:
Hot Topic – Everything about the music:

About The Dead Matter movie:

The Dead Matter is the remake of a film that director/composer Edward Douglas shot on a shoe-string budget of $2000 back in 1995. The film tells the story of a guilt-ridden young woman (Sean Serino of The Rage) desperate to contact her deceased brother who discovers a powerful ancient relic that controls the dead. Her dark obsession drags her into the tangled world of two warring vampire lords (Andrew Divoff of Lost, Wishmaster and Tom Savini of Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead) each with his own sinister plans for the artifact and a vampire hunter (Jason Carter of Babylon 5) who will stop at nothing to destroy it. This chilling gothic dark fantasy co-produced by Robert Kurtzman (creator of From Dusk Till Dawn, KNB FX) and Gary Jones (Xena, Boogeyman 3), also features a score by director Edward Douglas of the Gothic Halloween music band Midnight Syndicate. It’s a mix of classic horror themes with modern twists and a touch of dark humor that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

About Midnight Syndicate:

Midnight Syndicate has been creating instrumental Halloween music and gothic horror fantasy soundtrack CDs for the past thirteen years. The group’s music has become a staple of the Halloween season worldwide as well as a favorite in the haunted house, amusement park, role-playing game, and gothic music industries. From Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and Hugh Hefner’s Halloween parties to Monday Night Football, X-Box games, the classic Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, and Barbara Walters specials, their CDs are designed to take listeners on a journey into the darkest corners of their imagination.

Is Your Costume Offensive?

Every year there’s controversy over a certain Halloween costume, and this year it’s the “Illegal Alien.” The costume features an extra-terrestrial dressed in prison garb holding a green card (which is a legal document allowing you to work in this country, ha ha). If the pun is lost on some people, the words “Illegal Alien” are boldly stenciled across the front.

Depending on your point of view, it’s either a hilarious pun, a political statement, or an extremely insensitive costume to a group of people.

According to Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the costume is “distasteful, mean-spirited and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform.”

The organization successfully pressured retailers such as Target, Ebay and Amazon to pull the costume off its shelves. Another states the costume “perpetuates this idea we have about undocumented immigrants as alien foreigners, strangers, scary.”

Should Offensive Costumes be Banned?

illegal-alienShould this particular costume have been pulled from shelves? Did it cross a fine line? Or is it yet another over-sensitive political correctness issue that has been stifling free speech for the last two decades?

Is this costume distasteful? Definitely! However, and so as to leave nobody guessing, I believe it should not have been pulled, and here’s why: Halloween is supposed to be offensive. It’s the one night where people parody and make fun of frightening monsters, authority figures, celebrities, political and cultural issues (as this one is), and, frankly, anything else people are scared of, angry at or downright tired of.

Why else do you see over-sexed nuns, stereotypical rednecks, Bernie Madoff complete with a hammer to whack him with, revealing native American costumes (wow, racist and sexy!), and Obama masks (Obama-care – there’s a scary one!). The list is endless. A couple years ago, the big offensive costume was a guy dressed as a Catholic priest with an altar boy hanging by his … you get the picture. How about Harry Potter costumes promoting witchcraft? How about “evil witches” offending Wiccans?

As of this writing, there’s still a few places that sell this costume, such as here. (Disclaimer: I’ll make a commission on the sale – if you don’t agree with that, click here instead and search for it.)

The point is, poking fun at sacred institutions and cultural values is a healthy part of any civilization. It’s not just free speech – if nobody can poke fun at anything, the line isn’t too far away from a police state. It’s not insensitivity and racism, it’s a cultural safety value – one even the Romans had. More on that later.

Why Do We Celebrate Halloween, Anyway?

Most people will tell you the origins of Halloween comes from the Celtic Samhain, when the line between the living and the dead was weakened. Grotesque costumes were worn to scare away spirits who had come back to possess living bodies.

Medieval Christianity tried to erase pagan traditions by turning them into Christian holidays – hence, the creation of a competing “All Hallows Day” on November 1st – “All Hallows Eve” the night before, or Hallowe’en. (Christmas, too, is originally a pagan holiday.) Irish immigrants (there’s that “i” word again!) fleeing the 1840’s potato famine took this holiday with them to New England (which already had late October traditions, including pranks such as toppling outhouses.)

As our country’s population has shifted from rural to urban settings, Halloween traditions have shifted from the harvest and bobbing for apples to door-to-door trick or treating (which actually has its modern origins in the 1930’s).

Today, there’s another shift occurring. As parents are (alas) too scared to have their kids go door to door asking strangers for candy, the holiday is looking to becoming more of an adult celebration. And with an adult audience comes a more political view of Halloween – thus, instead of the cute princesses, goblins and witches, we now have more easily offensive “sexy” costumes, political masks, stereotypes and, of course, the “illegal alien.” Is this a bad thing? Does it show the moral decline of our civilization?

The Moral Code and the Right to Be Safe

mental institution costumeEverybody wants to be safe. It means you can grow up without being hurt or uncomfortable, both mentally and physically. However, we’re ingrained NOT to expect being safe all the time. We’re still programmed to watch out for lions stalking us outside our caves. But there are no more lions.

The result? We have to subconsciously make up our own fears. Parents believe all neighbors are mass-murderers, so trick or treating is out. Children are no longer allowed to play alone. Terrorists and child abductors are lurking around every corner. Gated communities and massive alarm systems are the norm.

Those of us living a safe, suburban middle-class life want to be scared, if only temporarily. (I certainly do not want an actual lion prowling my front lawn!) Deep inside, most of us wish for our lives to be epic, to be famous or be able to have an evil enemy to do battle with. Why else are Hollywood movies so popular?

Even deeper inside, we sometimes want to lash out at the moral constraints that being safe entails. If everybody is safe, nobody can be uncomfortable, and this means nobody can be offended and hurt. We all have to tread carefully to avoid insulting someone. Can we all restrain ourselves indefinitely? Heck, no! The pressure to be good, inoffensive and docile all the time will build up and eventually burst. We’re all human – none of us is perfect.

Fortunately, there are pressure release valves – violent video games, horror movies, the popularity of the t.v. show House (who offends everybody), the aggression of sports and … I’m finally making my point … the wearing of outrageous costumes.

What Does Halloween Represent Today?

Halloween today looks to be more of a cultural pressure release valve, a day to let off steam (similar to the ancient Roman a href=”” target=”_blank”>Saturnalia, where social order was reversed and slaves could insult their masters.). After being angry, frightened and weary after 364 days of watching our language, tiptoeing so as to not offend anybody, and fighting over polarizing issues like immigration and health care reform, not to mention worrying about our paycheck and keeping ourselves and our families safe from real and imagined terrors, we have one day to mock, poke fun of and laugh at all these serious issues and things in our lives.

That is why I justify offensive costumes. Every costume will insult somebody. I’ve been insulted more than once, or shook my head at the bad taste or pathetic attire long on the tooth (another pimp and ho? Please!)

However, I don’t believe people wear them to actually be insulting and mean-spirited. It’s an outlet to mock our beliefs and institutions and to laugh at our fears, if just for one night. It allows us to be someone or something we are not, to act as we normally wouldn’t, with the collective knowledge that we don’t mean anybody real harm. For one night, we can prove to ourselves that we are not so crushed under the moral and serious weight of living day to day and paycheck to paycheck that we can’t sometimes throw up our hands and laugh at it all.

The next morning we’re back to our real and imagined fears, helping others out, trying not to upset anybody, and debating serious political and cultural issues. We’ve let off some steam, the tightness around our shoulders are a bit more relaxed, and the offensive and insensitive costumes go back in the closet for another year.

What do you think? Is Halloween a way to let off some steam without harming anybody, or an excuse to insult and offend others?

Bringing Graveyards Home – How to Photograph a Cemetery

Nothing seems to evoke the spirit of Halloween quite like a graveyard in the fall, especially in New England.

The New England fall season is crisp with chilly air in the mornings, and a hard, penetrating light which makes the brightly colored leaves of the trees blaze across the landscape. These blazing trees, slowly losing their leaves to fall’s inevitable march towards winter, often stand guard behind the wrought iron fences and stone walls of the graveyards.

These silent sentries, amongst the markers of the dead, offer up endless possibilities to create unique photographs. Pictures of graveyards and individual headstones can add additional spice to your Halloween décor!

Spooky, Ancient Graveyards of New England

The older towns and cities of the Untied States (especially the seemingly ancient villages of New England), have a wealth of graveyards. The oldest of these burial grounds have tall and narrow headstones made from slate. Upon these slate markers are carved images which are both thrilling and spooky. Weeping willows, urns, skulls, hourglasses, and Death himself are engraved into the stone. Words, names, and dates – all in English hundreds of years old – speak of the long dead beneath the earth. Epitaphs of dire warnings and bitter assertions have their place as well, as does quoted scripture, all of them portraying the afterlife in a cold light.

graveyard-alevi-kalmistuGrave markers from the Victorian and Edwardian periods are of a different style, but they are no less impressive. Angels and lions carved from marble; granite obelisks and orbs; mausoleums and chapels, all of these – and the earlier stones as well – can be turned into inexpensive and mood setting art.

Tips For Taking Great Pictures of Cemeteries

With the ready availability of disposable cameras, digital cameras, and cell phones equipped with cameras, there is a wide array of ways by which to capture these various headstones. The fact that many computers come with standard photograph editing programs is also extremely helpful for the preparation of the photos as well as easy upon the wallet. Whether a photograph is scanned into the system, or uploaded, editing can be done quite easily. Standard stock photograph paper is also available at fair prices, making the printing of the pictures fairly simple as well.

Here’s some tips on taking great photographs of gravestones to print out and frame:

  • Choose either an early morning or late evening for your photoshoot. Unless the day is severely overcast, the bright sun will often wash out the colors of a scene, leaving it flat. In the early morning or late evening, the sun’s rays are angled such that it will give your scenes a soft light and soft shadows, perfect for those eerie cemetery scenes. Remember, when shooting, lighting is all that matters.
  • Use a tripod. No matter how steady your hand, there is no way you can give your images that crystal clarity that a tripod gives.
  • Have a foreground, a middle, and a background. If shooting an entire graveyard, make sure there is something in the foreground, like a tree, a grave marker, grass, etc. Then, think of what’s in the middle – the graveyard, of course. Finally, the background – trees in the distance, a pale dawn sky, etc. This will all give your landscape shot a satisfying, professional depth.
  • Emphasize either the sky or the ground. Don’t place the horizon in the middle. This makes your photo boring, because both the sky and ground are competing for your attention. Decide which section of the landscape to focus on.
  • Watch the Weather Channel – for fog, of course! There’s nothing more beautiful than fog in a graveyard. Get up early in the morning (really early, before the sun rises) to get that perfect shot of fog at dawn. Fog happens when the dew point and the temperature are near equal.
  • For close-up shots of tombstones, think of interesting angles. Instead of shooting right in front, try shooting from below or above for an interesting effect.
  • Also for close-up shots, if you have a professional camera, use the smallest aperture – this will bring your foreground into sharp focus, and make your background blurry. If you want everything in focus (for instance, for a general landscape shot), go for a higher aperture setting.

Framing Your Spooky Masterpiece

Frames for your various photographs can be picked up at discount stores, second hand shops, and fleamarkets quite readily. The pictures don’t need to be permanently placed into the frames, of course, leaving the frames available for other holidays and needs as they arise.

Once the graveyard photographs are framed, the pictures can be placed on a variety of surfaces, and even used as backgrounds for stationary displays of Halloween villages and dollhouses decorated for Halloween.

Happy shooting!


Interview with Lew Lehrman – Painter of the Dark


We recently had a chat with Lewis Lehrman, professional watercolor artist, teacher, author and Halloween painter who showcases his work on  a dedicated Facebook page.

Mr. Lehrman has created an incredibly rewarding niche for himself, working one-on-one to recreate clients’ memories.

From these recollections or entirely from the client’s and artist’s imagination, Lew creates a custom spooky painting, complete with a haunting backdrop, pets, hidden ghosts, people and decor. So cool!

His trademarked self-moniker is “Painter of Dark”, and that is exactly what this awesomely dark artist is! We were honored to have Lew for an interview here at Halloween Alliance. Here’s what he had to say.

HA: Your first commissioned work was to paint a Halloween scene as your client recalled it as a child. This looks to be a recurring theme in your work. Does your inspiration come from your own memories? 

Lew: From as early as I can remember, I have always been an artist. Even before my kindergarten and first-grade years, when a very special teacher, Mrs. Levy, encouraged my art, I found approval, and my parents were supportive, and my interest grew as the years went by.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher took a group of her students to visit her sister, who was a watercolorist and whose home and studio were located high overlooking New York City’s Central Park. I watched, entranced, as she created a sailboat on blue water on a blank piece of paper. I was hooked!

A year later, in 1944, I was 11 years old, and my parents entrusted me to a Pullman car porter aboard The Wolverine Limited, en route to Battle Creek, Michigan where I was to meet my aunt and uncle. I spent a month at the farmhouse where they were staying while my uncle was enrolled in a special training program.

It was pretty special, but what really stays with me to this day, and directly answers your question, was that night in the Pullman berth, where I spent the night staring out of the window, watching the lights in farm house windows as they glided past in the indigo darkness. There was something in those lonely windows that touched me deeply, and I have never forgotten that night. I can still picture it clearly.

Tilted Angel by Lew LehrmanIt was years before I was able to devote any serious time to watercolor. Oh, maybe I did three or four paintings a year… high school, then college, then a couple of years in the army, then establishing a business, then a family. By the late 1950’s I had begun a freelance art business, and grew it into a substantial business over the years until 1984, when my wife and I decided upon pursuing a new life (another long story for another day) in which I could become a full-time professional artist.

Through all those tumultuous years, I had always nibbled around the edges of art. And night scenes, some of which were Halloween scenes, were a recurrent theme.

By the late 80’s, I was on my way to becoming a serious watercolorist. We had moved in ’84 to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, buying and rehabbing a 200 year old Colonial, and turning our barn into a dream studio and gallery. My art began selling well, and when color Xeroxing came in, I made a few prints of a Halloween painting (which I had borrowed back from its purchaser, a friend).

I sold a few prints at the Gallery, where Halloween paintings were always popular, but when we decided to sell our Mass. home and move to Arizona, where we’d been wintering, those unsold prints came with me.

Then one day I decided to see if I could sell them on eBay. Each time I listed one, it received a load of bids, and the price shot way up. I knew I was on to something, and so The Haunted Studio was born.

But to anwer your question, which I realize I’ve completely bypassed:

Honestly, though I did enjoy the spectator aspects of Halloween, it was never a big participatory holiday when I was a kid. That was left to the rowdier element of my contemporaries, but it just wasn’t me, nor the kids I ran with. Occasional trick-or-treating with friends, or doing spooky stuff to other kids who came to our house, but nothing more. I don’t think my mother approved.

HA: How does the surrounding environment affect your paintings? Now that you reside in Scottsdale, how does this affect your work?

Lew: We discovered Scottsdale in 1987, when (my wife) Lola and I decided to get away for a month from another long, cold, snowy Massachusetts winter. Arizona was our choice. We fell in love with the light, the weather, the arts community, and everything else here. We “snow-birded” for six years, and moved here full-time in 1993.

Though cacti rarely show up in my spooky paintings, I did create a very spooky stand of sahuaros as landscaping for a commission from a fan west of Phoenix. But you’re correct: the great majority of my work shows a strong eastern influence.

HA: Have you always been interested in Halloween? Have you seen a change in Halloween from your childhood to today?

Lew: For people who love Halloween, their interest withstands time, as they’re usually based on a tradition of celebrating this holiday that goes back at least a generation, sometimes two or more.

As one of my fans told me, “It’s the only holiday that’s pure fun! You don’t have to buy gifts. You get to dress up in a crazy costume and go out and scare people! You go to fun parties with friends! And there’s all that candy!”

HA: That perfectly describes Halloween! Also, each of your paintings have a backstory, which really brings them to life. Do you think of a story first, and paint the scene, or is there another “kernel” that inspires you? A single scene, an emotion, a mood, a dream?

Lew: Sometimes there’s a story I want to tell, but more often, the painting tells me all I need to know. It’s strange. I may start with an inspiration because I’ve seen a spooky photo, or maybe a painting or a photo with peculiar lighting I’ve encountered in a museum or gallery. It could be a poem, or a photo and story a fan has sent me.

Or I might select a picture of an old Victorian, or a castle, or some other resource from our travels, and start painting it to see what develops. Or maybe just to express a mood, like “The Last Witness” or “Phantoms.”

It can begin with a kind of crazy “What if?” For example: What if there were a haunted tree house to frighten the kids? Or – What if all the movie monsters we feared as kids assembled for a reunion?

“What’s going on here?” Is a question that’s always in my mind as I work on a painting, so it’s not always under my control. Sometimes, in a way, the painting paints me.

HA: “The painting paints me” – I like that. What painting techniques do you use to create the “Gothic feel” in your works?

The Enduring Mysteries Of The McPike MansionLew: I use one of two painting techniques, each of them a different approach to watercolor.

Traditional watercolor, for me, is a very intellectual and controlled medium. I plan, and execute, each painting in a very specific way that has been used by American and European watercolorists for centuries.

Then there is an Oriental-based approach I learned from a master of the technique a dozen years ago, and which is much more emotionally satisfying. It requires a risky entrusting of what emerges to the vagaries of water on paper.

It’s very exciting, with an element of happenstance that appeals to me. I don’t usually know how the painting will look until I’m finished, though I’m never disappointed. And I love the look.

HA: How do you create a work of art for a client? When listening to clients describe what they would like to see in a painting, what cues and techniques do you practice to render what is in their imagination?

Lew: Most commissions begin with a fairly detailed email, or a package in the mail, describing what makes my client emotional about Halloweens of his/her own childhood, or of his or her experience with their own children’s Halloweens. Or of their own love of decorating the lawn and having great, fun parties.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with memories of a specific Halloween at all. They just want to see their home as a spooky, haunted, maybe ramshackle wreck at some time in the future. Some people are quite specific. Some have no idea. When that happens, I help them with suggestions

Other than Halloween, each commission seems to tap into deep feelings for the occult, or personal memories, or a personal vision they’d like to see brought to life. It’s my task to bring out their wishes, desires, and images, and express them in paint. I love providing a treasured heirloom – and making new Halloween memories for my fans through art.



Book Review: How to Haunt Your House

How to Haunt Your House

How to Haunt Your House

By Shawn and Lynne Mitchell

Sometimes, just sometimes, a book comes across your altar that makes your hands go clammy, that sets your heart racing, that makes your eyes go bug wide in wonder. How to Haunt Your House is such a book.

Its deceptively simple title sets the stage (literally) for what the book is about – a visual feast of step-by-step techniques on, well, how to haunt your house! I have never come across such effective, clear-cut pages of just how to create the fantastic props and effects that home haunters create for that one, single, magically, horribly satisfying night of the year!

Everything you need to know about building a haunt is here – starting with recipes for monster mud to working with Styrofoam, and effective spray paint applications to create that 200 year old marble tombstone.

From these basic but extremely effective tutorials, the authors plunge you into the real WOW factors that impress even jaded adults – floating heads and illusionary figures using television projections (“Pepper’s Ghost”), mausoleums that look endless by using trick mirrors, gothic fence-building techniques, 8 foot tall monster props, and eerie lighting effects.

Throughout, the authors guide you on how to put everything together into one fantastic, spooky presentation –  from your front yard and exterior of your house up the steps to your door, integrating delightfully spooky scares along the way.

This book is a must for not only the beginning home haunter, but for the advanced ones as well. There’s more than a few techniques that had me going “Good Lord! I never thought of creating fog that way. How so much easier!” Heck, I never even thought of creating moss for my tombstones using ordinary dryer lint and spray paint!

You can tell Shawn and Lynne Mitchell put a lot of care and work into this book – each page of their step-by-step instructions are also visually stunning masterpieces of art. Everything is clearly detailed, and nothing is left out.

Anybody should be able to share in the fun of “haunting out” their houses, and this book makes it extremely accessible to all Halloween lovers. The title says this is Book One, so I certainly can’t wait for the sequel!


Witches Brew on a Broomstick

“Hubble, bubble, a dead man’s stubble, …
A poisoned well became my task,
A fog crowned night in stealth I crept
And in the vacant mouth I poured
A leprous flask of blasted sin.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

You will love serving this delightfully cheesy brew instead of the same old Mexican cheese dip. And the crunchy breadsticks for dipping allow your guests to stir at the cauldron and pick up the pieces of flesh and bone in this warm, rich concoction with the distinct flavor of autumn. Serve this in a hallowed out pumpkin for a stunning presentation!

Ingredients to gather for your brew

    • 1 package of chipped beef, chopped
    • 1 can of condensed mushroom soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped large onion
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/4 pound of shredded cheddar cheese

To make the brew

Sauté the chopped onion and pepper in the melted butter. Add the condensed soup, Worcestershire sauce, chopped chipped beef, and grated cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stirring constantly.

Pour into a heated dip server, or serve in a hallowed out pumpkin. Serve with crunchy breadsticks or tortilla chips. Yummy!


Graveyard Surprise Cake

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out! I dare you to enter this dark, spooky graveyard and dig in the dirt. When you do, you will discover worms and the slimy (but yummy!) layers beneath the dirt.

This gelatin concoction is great for kids’ parties. It is fun and simple for kids to make. The result is a festive, colorful presentation and a combination of flavors and textures that is completely delectable. It looks gross, but isn’t that the point?


  • 1 package orange flavored gelatin
  • 1 small package of whipped topping
  • 1 package of chocolate pudding
  • 1 package of thin chocolate cookies
  • 1 package of rectangle shaped vanilla or shortbread cookies
  • 1 package of gummy worms
  • Tubes of decorator frosting (the kind you write with)- optional
  • 1 glass 13×9 in baking dish

Prepare gelatin according to package instructions (if you are impatient, use the quick set instructions). Pour into the bottom of the glass baking dish. Add some gummy worms and refrigerate until completely congealed.

While waiting for gelatin, crush the chocolate cookies between pieces of wax paper or rind them in the blender or food processor (this will be your dirt). Set aside.

Prepare the pudding according to the package directions and cool in the refrigerator.

Take the rectangle cookies and use the decorator frosting to write graveyard sayings on the top half of the cookie (the short sides being the top and bottom) such as “RIP” and “Here Lies Crazy Joe”. Decorate 12 cookies. Set on cookie sheets to allow the frosting to dry.

Once the gelatin is completely ready, remove from the refrigerator. Add a layer of shipped topping on top of the gelatin neatly scraping the excess of the sides of the pan to create a layer equal in thickness to the gelatin and as even as possible on top. Then add a layer of chocolate pudding the same way.

You should now have 3 layers that look even through the sides of the glass pan. On top of the pudding, sprinkle the crushed cookies to make a layer about 1/4 inch in thickness. Decorate by sticking the gravestones (the cookies you decorated) into the top so that the decorated part sticks out. Starting on the short end of the baking dish, make 4 rows of 3 gravestones, so that when you cut it, each person gets a gravestone on his piece. Sprinkle the top with the remaining gummy worms. If you wish, you may also add other gross candy (like eyeballs) that you find in a novelty or Halloween store.

Serve chilled by cutting into equal squares. Serves 12.

Halloween Costumes: Go Retro!

Want a Halloween costume that really rocks? Then go retro. One of this year’s hottest trends, the retro costume is welcome at any party. Try our handy tips to create your very own blast from the past.

Why Retro?

Certain periods in history seem to bring about feelings of nostalgia and happiness—even if we didn’t actually live through them. Thirty-year-olds in full Lucille Ball regalia and teenagers in 80s neon are far from uncommon at today’s Halloween parties and parades. If you’re looking to capture that feeling of days gone by, a few simple tricks will transport you from the New Millennium to Old School. Pick your time period and come along with us on a trip down memory lane for one of the most fun costumes you’ll ever wear.

The 1950s: Grease is The Word

Grease Poodle Skirt & Sweater Adult Costume  Grease Danny's T-Bird Adult Plus Costume

Greased Lightning!

For women, try very bright, deep or dark red or coral lipstick and face powder one-half shade lighter than your skin tone. The eyes should be lined on top, but leave the bottom lids and lashes bare for an authentic look. Any length hair can “go 50s” – if you have bangs, curl them slightly under and wear them as a heavy curtain rather than in today’s wispy style. Pile the rest of the hair on top or in back of the head, or wear down and pin-curled. For men, try darkening your hair (a temporary spray-on dye covers well and washes out easily) for super-shine. Add some wet look gel to slick the hair back on the sides and “poof” it high at the crown. Once you’ve lifted the hair up and gelled it, push it just slightly forward; a lock over one eye is particularly 1950s.

Women can wear a wide skirt; cut a poodle out of black felt (inexpensive and easy to find at any crafts store) and glue it onto the front. Glue rhinestones onto the poodle’s neck for an ultra-glam faux “collar”. A tight, short-sleeved top or one with capped sleeves is the perfect complement to your skirt. A brightly colored scarf and a pair of sunglasses (the more colorful and outlandish the better!) complete your look. (Hint: If you’re going as the “bad girl,” wear a pencil skirt instead, and make sure your top is low-cut.)

For men, wear relatively close-fitting jeans if you’re dressing as the bad boy/”greaser”; pressed slacks if you’re going as the jock or class pet. A white T-shirt or button-down shirt complete with pocket protector and a pair of dangling glasses finishes off these two looks. Accessories like super-cool shades or a thrift store letter sweater add pizzazz.

The 1960s: Fashion and Flower Power

Far Out Man Adult Costume  Woodstock Girl Adult Costume

Peace, Dude!

If you love the 60s, you’re in luck: the freedom and “anything goes” mentality of this time period makes putting together a Halloween costume a snap. The flower child is perhaps the easiest 60s style costume to create. Jeans—the more worn the better—and a loose tank top work for both men and women. Look for bright colors and large floral or geometric patterns for your shirt choice, and sew an oversized flower patch on one back pocket. Pick up a peace sign pendant at a thrift shop, teen store or online; these can often be had for $3-5 or less. Wear it on a slightly bulky chain around your neck. For hair, looser is better; wear it sleek and straight or curly and free.

The mod look is another popular 1960s Halloween pick. Shirts with a stand-up or “clerical”-style collar and wild patterns are perfect for your mod costume. If you have leather pants, great! If not, see whether you can find a pair at a thrift shop or borrow from a friend or neighbor. Pull on a pair of high heeled boots (for both women and men) and you’re set for the party!

The 80s: Shout, Shout, Let it All Out

Super Mullet Blonde  Funky Pop Star Adult Costume

You turn me right round, baby!

The 1980s gave us neon, leg warmers and big, big hair. Shop teen stores for neon touches; paint your nails hot pink or lime green and curl just the top or sides of your hair, then tease the curls as high as possible. For men, puff the top of the hair up and hold in place with a light application of hair gel or a little hair spray.

Jeans tended to be very tight in the 1980s. Men can also seek out slacks in white or black. Online auctions or thrift stores may have balloon or parachute pants (or, gasp!, maybe your closet!); both men and women can wear these for an 80s costume. Head bands that tie across the front of the forehead can also be worn by either sex. Make your own with inexpensive ribbon from any department or crafts store. Go wild—the 80s were all about bright colors and outrageous personal style.

You may have your very own favorite time period; if so, look in thrift stores, clearance bins and even the back of your own closet for clothing and accessories. Use your imagination—with retro costuming, the sky’s the limit.

Happy Halloween!

Banana Brain Cake

Your guests will be delightfully disgusted to see you serving a brain on a platter. Easy fondant icing helps you create a brainy surface that looks realistic. The fun begins, though, when you slice into it and banana pudding oozes out! Bring out your inner cannibal with this tasty idea.


  • 2 boxes white cake mix
  • 8 inch diameter stainless steel bowl
  • 8 inch cake pan (if you’d like to make things even easier, use a brain-shaped mold)
  • spray oil, like Crisco or Pam
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box instant pudding (banana pictured)

Baking the Brain . . . Cake

Preheat the oven as directed on the cake mix package and mix in a mixing bowl according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Spray the stainless steel bowl and the cake pan with oil.

Pour some batter into the stainless steel bowl, leaving 1-2 inches at the top.

Pour the remaining batter into the cake pan (it’s OK if it’s very thin).

Place the bowl and the pan into the oven and bake until done. You’ll have to check the batter in the stainless steal bowl with a clean knife or toothpick. Insert it in the center and if it comes out clean it’s done. It will take longer to cook than the batter in the cake pan, so check every ten minutes until done.

Cool both cakes completely for at least an hour.

Assembling the Cake

Mix the pudding according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let chill.

Use a bread knife to hollow out the cake that was cooked in the bowl, within 2 inches of the edges of the bowl.

Fill the recessed area with pudding.

Carefully place the flat cake from the pan into the bowl on top of the pudding, sealing up the cake with the pudding.

Invert the entire cake onto a plate and remove from the bowl. You should now have a dome cake.

Making the Fondant

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Use a drop of red food coloring to give it a fleshy peach color. If it looks to pink to you, add just one drop of yellow. Remember, it will lighten a lot when you add the powdered sugar.

Add up to 2 pounds of powdered sugar until it forms a smooth solid ball that stays together.

Roll out and flatten the fondant using powdered sugar to prevent sticking. When it’s 1/4 inch thick, divide in half and lay the first half over the top of the cake (roll further if it doesn’t quite fit).

Take the other half of the fondant and roll several long “snake” rolls by hand and lay them on top of the cake in a squiggly pattern to create brain matter. Be sure to delineate between the two brain halves. If you used a mold, follow the contours.

When the cake is covered, use a wet paintbrush to polish the top surface and give it a sheen

Cake can be served immediately, or store chilled. Mmmm, chilled brains for Halloween!


It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

Editor’s Note: Recently, we were startled by the visitation of a black-caped D.J., ghoulish in nature, and we thought for sure we were finally done for. However, he stood upright, his mouth turning to a wry grin, and he snapped his long fingers. A funky-sounding Halloween song suddenly began to play through a slight, autumn wind that blew from behind his cape. We began bobbing to it, and thought it a great addition for any kid’s Halloween party. Here we share his story with you.

Danceable Halloween Music

Greetings, my fellow party monsters!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Scaryngton. Count Barry Scaryngton. But you can call me Count Barry Scaryngton.

One dark and stormy night, as I lay awake in my cozy coffin, with visions of ghosts and pumpkins dancing around my head, it occurred to me that I did not have very many funky Halloween dance tunes for my upcoming party.

Oh sure, I have the immortal classic “Monster Mash”. What party would be complete without it? All the ghouls and boos love it. There is also Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the “Theme from Ghostbusters”. Yas, varry funky indeed, but I realized these songs are not really about Halloween itself!

Hip Hop Halloween NightSo, I went deep underground to a secret lair of my haunted castle, where I have my own recording studio. Yas, Count Barry is pretty hip. There, together with my weird-but-talented friend Ripley von Rapperstein, I conjured up a deliciously fun, funky and G-rated Halloween song for Party Monsters of all ages.

This vonderful tune is a magic brew of rap, singing, and funky dance beats. Whether you are young, old, ancient or even undead, “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” will make you clap your claws together, beat your leathery wings, and dance the night away! And, most importantly, there is a guest rap by none other than—yes, yours truly—me, Count Barry Scaryngton! Yas, it is hard to believe, I know!

I invite you now, if you dare, to listen to a demo of the song “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” – you can download it at iTunesicon or Amazon. You can search by song title, or by the band name, “Halloween Freaks”.

Ripley von Rapperstein, the other Halloween Freaks, and yours truly, are busily brewing up more funky and fun songs for your Halloween pleasure.

In the meantime, ve hope you enjoy “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night”.

Here’s the lyrics:

(Listen to the song while singing along – link will open in a new window)

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

By The Halloween Freaks

Verses 1:
The time is close, yeah the time is near
You can feel it in your bones, Halloween is here
Gonna get dressed up in a cool disguise
You won’t see my face, you’ll just see my eyes

I’ll be wearing a mask with a hideous grin
When I come to your door, don’t be lettin’ me in
Just give me a treat, maybe two or three
Cause my little brother keeps stealing candy from me

I keep telling him not to, I…wait what is that?
Flying over the moon wearing a big pointy hat!
My eyes must be playin’ little tricks on me
But I swear Jack o’ lanterns are winkin’ at me!

It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Witches fill the air and spirits take flight
To scare the neighbourhood
But it’s all good
Cause it’s a hip-hop Halloween

It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Everybody get ready for a Halloween fright
Got a Halloween moon
And a Halloween tune
For this hip-hop Halloween night

Verses 2:
I’m the ghost with the most, I’m a monsta man
Shaking up your bones like no other ghoul can
Got a bag o’ tricks and a bag o’ treats
I’m a beast unleashed with my Halloween beats

Check your broom at the door, get on the dance floor
Come and rattle your chains ‘til you can’t take it no more
You can drink witches brew, you can eat my candy
Keep your fangs off my neck and we’ll be just dandy

If ya turn to dust at the break of dawn
I think I better warn ya that ya better be gone
‘Fore the sun comes up, but that ain’t too soon
There’s a party going on, come and howl at the moon

Repeat Chorus

Vampire rap: (Count Barry Scaryngton):

Raise your claws in the air
And wave ‘em like you just got scared
And if you feel insane
I’ll give you a new brain
Now howl like you just don’t care
Everybody say “owwwooooo!”
Everybody say “aowuuhhhh!”
Everybody say “muhahaha!”

That was very good!
Now please excuse me, I must find someone….something!… to drink!

Chorus – out

(Count Barry Scaryngton talking in background during chorus):

Come and dance with me you old bat!
What do you mean, no?
I’m going home to my mummy!
I will take wings and fly if you don’t dance with me!
Well, fine!
How about you? Would you like to dance with me?
Hey get away from that!
That’s my candy!

© Worldstage Music. All Rights Reserved.

I bid you a good e-ven-ing, and a Happy Halloween!

Recipe: Marshmallow Monster Eyes


These sweet, squishy Halloween treats look positively unnerving staring up from a party platter. For the ultimate in gross realism, the eyeballs gush “eyeball jelly” when eaten. Gross… but very tasty!

Kids love these, but they do have a lot of sugar. So, unless you have padded walls, it is probably best to make sure they have an outside activity to do afterwards – trick-or-treating, perhaps?


  • 1 bag of marshmallows
  • 1 jar of strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 can of cream cheese or vanilla icing
  • Food coloring (either black, or red and green to make black)
  • 20 Gummi Savers (2 packages)

Making Monster Eyes (Here’s Lookin’ at You)

    1. Turn on your CD player and play “Somebody’s Watching Me” from Rockwell 🙂
    2. Grease a cookie sheet.
    3. Cut the very top off of a marshmallow. You can use either a knife or kitchen shears, but kitchen shears are easier to use and make a cleaner cut. Place the bottom piece of the marshmallow on the cookie sheet.
    4. Use your fingers to hollow out the center of the marshmallow.
    5. Fill the center with ½ teaspoon of strawberry jam.
    6. Fit the marshmallow top back onto the marshmallow bottom.
    7. Repeat for remaining marshmallows.
    8. Refrigerate marshmallows for 30-45 minutes. This helps the top and bottom pieces adhere to each other.
    9. Place the cookie sheet in a 250 degrees Fahrenheit oven, and bake for 6-8 minutes. The marshmallows should be puffy and soft, but not brown.
    10. Remove the marshmallows from the oven – they should have flattened out some, as shown in the picture. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect – the icing will fix that.


Savory Severed Monster Fingers


Severed fingers with rotted black fingernails . . . hungry yet? A twist on the traditional pigs in a blanket, these delicious digits are simple to prepare, yet they look wonderfully gruesome on an appetizer platter.

Dig in to this phreaky phalanges with the fun recipe below.

Monster Finger Ingredients

  • 2 cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough (each can should make 8 crescent rolls)
  • 1 16-oz package of cocktail smokies (cocktail weenies)
  • sliced almonds to use as nails

“Digit”al Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. If you’re not using a nonstick pan, use Pam or olive oil spray in a light mist over entire top surface of pan.
    3. Open one can of crescent rolls and unroll the dough.
    4. Place one triangular piece of crescent roll dough on the cookie sheet.
    5. Put a cocktail weenie in the wide end of the dough triangle. Roll the dough around the sausage. You should have one layer of dough covering it completely with no edges peeking out. This is the base of the finger – you will still have some crescent roll dough left over.
    6. Roll the remaining dough to form the rest of the finger, tapering it at the end and rounding it off so it looks realistic.
    7. Put an almond slice on the end of the finger. Tuck the edges into the dough so that it looks like a fingernail.
    8. Use a knife to score “wrinkles” into the knuckle.
    9. Put the fingers in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Point this platter in the direction of your ghoulish guests, and enjoy!

Egg Carton Bats

Ever wonder what to do with old egg cartons? Make these adorable bats to decorate your house for Halloween!

Simple and easy to do, you can hang these lightweight bats anywhere. First, gather all of the materials you need:

  • Egg cartons (paper works better than styrofoam)
  • Scissors
  • Black paint and paintbrushes
  • Craft glue or glue gun
  • Googley eyes
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Hole punch and thread or yarn.

Cut one three-egg section from the egg cartons for each bat. As you can see from the picture, I trimmed the excess cardboard from around the top of the bat’s head and wings. Also, trim an upside down “U” out of the bottom of each wing, as the close-up picture illustrates.

Egg Carton Bat Halloween craft

Paint your bats black and wait for them to dry.

When the bats are dry, you can glue on their eyes. I also cut four small pieces of black pipe cleaner per bat, and glued them on as feet and hands – this is optional.

Punch a hole in the top of the middle section – the bat’s head – and string some yarn or thread through. Your bat is ready to hang!

By Beth Taylor

Jeweled Jack-o-Lantern

Most people enjoy setting out jack-o-lanterns during Halloween, but carving a pumpkin takes time, skill and lots of patience. Kids enjoy getting the pumpkins ready, too, but they are rarely able to carve them. Put away those knives and forget about the pumpkin goo with this Halloween craft. Decorate your pumpkin instead and use your imagination. Decorate it in your favorite colors or colors that match the décor of your home. Make several and place them on your dining room table along with some tealight candles for an elegant touch. Kids can easily participate in decorating this kind of pumpkin.

Approximate time to make from start to finish: 30 minutes

For this project you will need:

  • One pumpkin (either a real pumpkin or an artificial crafting pumpkin)
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Half-inch long oval jewels or rhinestones in your choice of color
  • Six-inch black feather boa
  • Cotton ball
  • Glue gun
Jeweled Jack o'lantern

Start by painting the pumpkin. Pour a little paint onto a paint tray or paper plate and dip the cotton ball in the paint and press onto the pumpkin. Place paint dots randomly on your pumpkin. Be careful not to get too much paint in the pumpkin because the paint will run. If you wish, you can sprinkle glitter on the wet paint for an added touch.

Begin embellishing the pumpkin with the jewel. Glue them on the center of the dots and all around the pumpkin. Glue the feather boa into a loop and add it to the top of the pumpkin. Now you have an elegant, yet simple pumpkin.

Jeweled Jack o'lantern

How To Throw a Black & White Ball

Invoke the glamor of early Hollywood films or simply the stunning graphic effect of a room filled with only black and white, and host a Black & White Ball! Great as a fundraiser or a memorable social event, the premise of a Black & White Ball is that guests are requested to only wear black and white.

One of the most infamous Black & White Balls was hosted by author Truman Capote in 1966. Held at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, it was considered by many to be the social event of the decade, perhaps even the century. Guests like Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, and Babe Paley joined 500 others in an event that was seemingly so significant it has its own book and full issues of magazines devoted to it. Though not the first Black & White Ball to ever be held, Capote’s is perhaps the most known.

To recreate that glamor as your Halloween theme party, keep reading to learn how to host a successful Black & White Ball – including tips on decorations, menu, and costumes.

Begin The Mood – Invitations

A Black & White Ball is about glamor and glitz. If you can afford it, emboss your invitations on a heavy card stock. For a less expensive alternative, print them at home using an elegant font and heavy paper. If you’re hosting your Black & White Ball as a fundraiser event, consider having the tickets printed by a professional printer. These will serve as a beautiful keepsake for your generous donors.

For a more casual party, such as a Halloween get together, let your guests know that formal dress isn’t expected, just black and white. You may also want to call your event a Black & White Party, as the term “ball” tends to suggest a formal event.

Invoke The Mood – Decor

Nothing less than black and white will do. Elegant white tablecloths, crisp black napkins, white candles and black carpet. Don’t go too far with it though, or you’ll make the room like a black-and-white checkered diner. Keep it simple and subdued, yet absolutely striking.

If you are looking to recreate a splash of Hollywood glamor, consider having black and white photographs of Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and even Charlie Chaplin blown up and printed on poster paper. You can then hang them around the room. Another cute take on the icons idea is to convert photographs of your guest into black and white images (usually easy with most digital photo programs) and have those blown up instead.

The Menu – Food and Drinks

Not absolutely everything has to be in black and white, but a few choice food items should give a nod or two to the theme. Here’s a great Black & White Ball appetizer idea:

Black & White Pizza Hors d’Oeuvre

  • 1 ball of pre-made pizza dough
  • 3 cups of black beans
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 8 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups of sliced Kalamata olives
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Oil a pizza pan or standard rectangular baking pan.
  3. Flatten dough to the edges of pan.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Combine oil, cumin, garlic, and half the beans. Mix WELL until smooth.
  6. Spread bean paste over dough.
  7. Sprinkle cheese, allowing bean paste below to show.
  8. Arrange olives and remaining black beans over the top.
  9. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and allow to cool. Sprinkle pepper over the top.
  11. Cut into bite-size pieces, ready to serve.

Many other foods, like chicken, olives, pasta, bean paste, black caviar, white crackers, and Brie can all be used to incorporate the Black & White theme into your event.

For desserts try white truffles, black and white chocolate cake, and white fruits with dark chocolate. To create a signature black and white drink for the night, mix Kahlua or any dark coffee liqueur with vanilla schnapps. Done slowly, the two liquids should remain layered and separate – making a fantastic (and delicious) graphic effect.

Costumes To Wear

Black and white, of course. For a more formal event, men should consider a tuxedo or black suit. Women should wear a black or white (or black and white) cocktail dress or gown. For a more casual night, any piece of clothing that’s black or white should do the trick.

As fancy as it can all sound, a Black & White Ball can be as ritzy or as casual as you want it to be. For a great Halloween twist, have your guests come as a celebrity who actually attended a black & white ball! Whatever you decide, let your guests know the expectations, plan well ahead, and last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself on the big night!

Ghostly Kid-Friendly Party Punch For Halloween

This is a recipe with flair! The presentation is part of the overall recipe, and it makes a great centerpiece your Halloween party.

On your table, hang Halloween plastic streamers (the kind with the ghosts and/or witches and cats) around the edges, about one or two inches down. Place a white or light-colored table cloth over the streamers, covering them completely. You can also get a large table cloth that will hang near to the floor.

Under the table place an electric lantern – these usually take two D batteries and are for camping – they throw off almost no heat. You can even cover it with orange or red film. You will then see the shadows of the ghosts, witches and cats through the table cloth. Spoooky!

For the punch, you need a glass punch bowl with a hollowed-out raised base. Take the base of the punch bowl and put underneath either a small flashing electric light or just a regular one. They are small, about tea-light size, and you get them at dollar stores. Putting the punch bowl on top with liquid is a great effect, especially when you lower the lights. Kids and adults will love it!

The party punch is a combination of severed ice hands, eyes, Jello wigglers and the punch itself. You’ll need:

  • Grape drink crystal mix
  • A package of new, unused white latex gloves (doctor style)
  • Grapes (red and/or green)
  • Two ice cube trays
  • Jello – any colour but orange
  • Orange drink crystal mix
  • 2 litres of either ginger ale or 7up/Sprite – For an alcoholic variation, add Malibu or fruity rum

Severed Hand

Mix up the grape drink mix. Put on and wash the gloves and rinse well. Turn them inside out and fill them with grape drink. Tie off the wrists and put them in the freezer. Freeze entirely.

Eyeball Grapes

Wash and separate the grapes. Fill the ice cube trays 3/4 full and put in the freezer – my friend peels the grapes, I don’t – it’s up to you. Don’t let the water completely freeze! After about 45 minutes – your freezer will be different so check after thirty minutes – take the grapes and pop them into the partially frozen water. Wait another 20 to 30 minutes and then top up any cubes that aren’t filled or any grapes that aren’t fully covered. Freeze entirely.

A variation is to cut the grape in half so that it has not only an ‘eye’ but an ‘eyeball’ with the center part. Have fun with it.

Jello Wigglers

Make your jello in a square tray. While mixing, either increase mix or decrease water as if you’re making Jello Wigglers. Let it set.

Main Punch

Mix 2 litres of orange drink mix into punch bowl, and mix in 2 litres of soda.

Cut up the thick jello or just mangle with a spoon (good for young kids to do) and put it into the punch – this adds the slime factor.

Once the Severed Hands are frozen, carefully peel off the gloves. If a finger breaks off, it just adds to the ghoulish ambiance! Put the Severed Hands in the punch. Now add the grape “eye ball” ice cubes (or save them for other drinks). Done!

The effect is wonderful, as the colors swirl and the punch bowl and table is lit underneath. Makes a great prop and delicious punch for kids!

PS. Use what ever punch recipes you like, just use complementary colours and flavors. Happy Halloween.

How to Host a Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball

It’s an enduring tale steeped in uber-dramatic design, longing and love, tragedy and terror – and it’s the PERFECT party theme for Halloween or any time you’re feeling a little bit Goth.

It’s Phantom of the Opera, and once you discover how cool this idea can be for your Halloween party, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get your hands on it sooner.

Here we offer your spookiest (and most darkly romantic) tips on how to plan memorable Phantom of the Opera masquerade ball, from the dark invitations to that gorgeous ballgown. Enjoy!

Invoking The Phantom: Your Party Invitations


Set the mood for your guests by sending out invitations that reflect the theme of the party and the mood you want – for instance, very formal; casual dress but high drama; or whatever your choice is for the evening.

Most masqued balls involve the women being masqued too; if so, add this to your invitations.

One memorable invitation idea is to print your invites on heavy card stock and then cut each invitation into the shape of the infamous Phantom mask. Clip two holes in each mask and run a thin elastic through to act as a band, making your invitation a wearable memory.


Credit: Pinterest, Audra Harmon

Another phantom-themed invitation idea is to print your invite on sheet music paper. Available at most music stores, you can purchase sheet music paper and age it to look old by staining it with tea, crumpling it and burning the edges – after you print your invitation details, of course! Roll each invitation up and seal it with a few drops of crimson red wax.

On your invitations, remember to include the date, time, location, whether or not food and refreshments will be served, and your expectations of how guests should dress. If you want to host a formal masquerade balll, indicate so on the invitation – ladies wear masks too! If you want to create a more casual event, let your guests know so they don’t show up in ball gowns and tuxedos. It’s all up to you!

Creating The Opera – Your Decorations

Credit: Paste Magazine

Create a Gothic and operatic feel with simple but stunning decorations. Start with dim lighting and an emphasis on candle light. From there, try this list of decorating suggestions to set the mood at your Phantom of The Opera Ball:

  • Rent or make dark red velvet curtains. Use these to line the walls of your party area and drape your staircase. When draping fabric, always be careful of candle placement.
  • Purchase fake or real red roses. Separate the roses and use them to decorate the room. For sit-down dinners, don each guest’s plate with a single red rose.
  • Play the soudtrack from the musical in the background as well as any favorite opera pieces. For dark and scary classical music, try Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, Mozart’s Requiem, or Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain/Pictures at an Exhibition. Any of these are sure to get your guests’ hearts pumping.
  • Hang fake cobwebs from the ceiling and around the edges of the table, giving the entire room a haunted and gothic look.
  • Use a sporadic fog machine to create a spooky and haunting ambiance throughout the evening. These are easily rented from most party and event supply vendors.
  • Hang a framed print of the poster for the popular musical, either over the mantel or in a prominent place that’s visible when guests first arrive.

Activities for a Phantom of the Opera Evening

If it fits within your budget, hire an opera singer to perform at the party – including selections from the Phantom of the Opera score and pieces of their choosing. For a less expensive performer alternative, try advertising at the local music school for advanced students who would be interested in performing at an event.

Your guests will most likely be dressed up, so provide a space for dancing and a line-up of music for later in the night. You can begin the evening with operatic and classical selections, but as the night wears on you and your guests may want some selections that are a little more contemporary and danceable.

What To Wear to a Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball

The primary criteria is a mask. A number of online retailers sell masks that range from elaborate and feathered to simple and basic, including ones based on the classic Phantom of the Opera mask. The general rule for most masquerade events is that guests must wear their masks until midnight.

Credit: Enigma Wigs

For dress, the host should indicate how formal or casual the event will be. Typically men will wear dark suits or tuxedos and women will wear opera-style ball gowns.

In true opera form, women can also opt for an elaborate updo hair style. Grab a realistic hair piece or extensions for ultra-glam and dance the night away in romance…for a night you’ll never forget.

GHOSTS! Easy crafts for Halloween

Something ghostly this way comes. These versatile Halloween ghosts can be made in any size. Even the big ones are so lightweight they will easily stay hung on your walls and ceilings as great decorations all through Halloween night. Boo!

Materials Needed:

  • Old white sheet
  • Scissors
  • Lots of lightweight, white gauze (you can buy by the yard at sewing stores)
  • White, black or red yarn
  • Lots of crumpled newspaper
  • Needle and heavy thread, such as plastic coated thread
  • Markers

Small Halloween Ghosts

For each ghost that you plan to make, crumple up a ball of newspaper the size of the head. For a small ghost, somewhere between the size of a golfball and a baseball is appropriate.

For each ghost, cut a circle of white gauze about 18 inches in diameter.

Cut a circle of white sheet or cloth anywhere from 12-16 inches in diameter.

Place the gauze circle on top of the white sheet circle. Then, place the newspaper ball in the very center. Gather all of the material around the ball and tie with yarn at the neck – red yarn will give a gory effect, white will be more invisible. The gauze should hang underneath and below the white sheet.

At this point, you can use the markers to give your ghost a face. You can choose to leave the gauze and sheet as is, or cut jagged edges on the bottom of your ghost — each choice gives a different and equally interesting effect.

Take needle and thread, and attach and knot the thread through the top of each ghost’s head. Strong tape will keep these ghosts hanging from your ceiling as long as you like!

Big Halloween Ghosts

Now that you have the hang of it, take more newspaper and make a life-size head. Use circles of white fabric and gauze that are large enough to seem like a small dress.

Put your big ghost together the same way you did the little ones. After you get the neck yarn tied, make sure to cut the bottom of the white sheet in a jagged pattern to show off the white gauze underneath. And don’t forget to make a scary face with markers on your ghost!

This big, scary ghosts love to hang out in doorways and at the top of staircases. He has a lot of fun when he is hung close to the front doorway to greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. He is lightweight, but he should be anchored well by hanging on a hook or with very strong tape. And even though he might be scary, he is still a lot of fun.

Enjoy your ghosts!

by Beth Taylor

Drawing of ghost