All posts by Ophelia

5 *Even Freakier* Halloween Makeup Tutorials

Last year we brought you these reality-defying, head-bending Halloween makeup ideas. This year, you asked us for more – and you asked for the scoop: just how do they create those fantastic effects, anyway?

Your wish is our command, HA fans: here are five even freakier Halloween makeup ideas, plus vids to creep you through every step. Enjoy!

NOTE: Some tutorials contain add-ons like latex prosthetics or glue. If you’re allergic to any of these items, please DO NOT attempt.

1. It’s a Scream

The “open mouth” idea isn’t new, but this tutorial amps things up a notch. Wow! We know we’re screaming. (And we kinda can’t stop.)

2. Horror Hands

We admit it – our minds are blown. Try these FXs to trick out your trick-or-treaters this year.

3. That’s Out There. Way, Way Out There

“Pale Man” wins our vote for most understated costume name of the year. WhatEVER this thing is, it’s scaring our pants right off (and we love it).

4. You Forgot Something

And by that we mean: half your face. This inhuman take on the “pulled-off face” is out of this world.

5. Oh. Eye Get It

Honestly, we’ve been wondering for years how this is done. The idea seems simple but it’s true art. (No, really!) Try these eyes on for size.

Recipe: Whoa! Make This AMAZING Face-Hugger Chicken

 

It’s gory, it’s creepy, it’s…chicken? Every once in a while we come across a recipe that literally blows our black little socks off. Today we give you this AMAZING “face hugger” (from the Alien movie franchise) feast, direct from the culinary artistry of Eat the Dead. Thanks, fellas – this is true genius!

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Copyright eatthedead.com ~ Reprinted from: Nov. 14, 2017

So, as some of you may know, I made an Alien’s inspired chest burster turkey last year for Thanksgiving…or as I’m now calling it: Fangsgiving…

And while it turned out amazingly delicious, I was also told in no uncertain terms that I would not be able to make another chestburster for this year’s holiday…and because I love my family, I agreed.

But nobody said ANYTHING about not making an Alien’s inspired Facehugger chicken!

BEHOLD!  THE FACEHUGGER FEAST!

Made from a full-sized roasting chicken, snow crab legs, and a homemade chicken sausage tail, this sweet slab of petrifying poultry is smokey, succulent, and has just enough bite from a secret ingredient to make you cautiously come back for more.

In short, it’s damn good.

This recipe is a bit involved.  It takes a good 24 hours and includes multiple steps and a few unique ingredients, but trust me when I say, it’s so worth the effort…both visually and for how good it tastes.

Now, before we get too far into this, let me say that yes, this can absolutely be done with a turkey as well and would make the perfect show-stopping centerpiece to any Thanksgiving meal.  I just didn’t have the oven space for a full turkey face hugger.  Maybe next year?!

To make your own Facehugger Feast, the first thing we need to do is prep the chicken.

24-hours ahead of time, brine your chicken.  To do this you will need:

  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar

In a large pot on the stove, mix together your water, salt and brown sugar.  Over medium heat, mix until fully dissolved.  Allow to cool completely.

Place your chicken into a large container and pour your brine over, fully covering the chicken.

Pop the whole thing into the fridge for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Now let’s work on the rub.  You will need:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoons onion powder
  • teaspoon smoked paprika
  • teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Whisk all these ingredients together and set aside for 30 minutes to really get acquainted.

Let’s also make our honey glaze.

For this you will need:

  • 2/3 cup Ghost Pepper honey*
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • teaspoons lemon juice

*The secret to the sweet heat in this recipe is the ghost-pepper honey.  I found some a few weeks ago on Instagram from a company called The Beecreeper.  Seriously, this stuff is intense!  They’re still working on setting up their website, but you can bug (ha!) them on IG @_beecreeper_

If you can’t snag your own ghost pepper honey, simply add 3 teaspoons of chili powder…but know it’s just not going to be the same.

Whisk all this together and set aside for 30 minutes as well.

While that’s resting, let’s move onto the next step.

For this you will need:

  • Your rub
  • Your glaze
  • Your brined chicken (patted dry)
  • 3 feet of sausage casing
  • Butcher’s twine
  • 1 additional boneless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • .5 oz (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) transglutaminase** powder.

**Remember our earlier recipe, the Chili Con Carnage?  We discuss in depth there exactly what transglutaminase powder is and where to get it.

We’re going to start out by first spatchcocking our chicken.

Wait…spatchwhat?

Spatchcocking…and before you let your dirty little mind run off into the gutter, let me explain exactly what spatchcocking is.

When you spatchcock a chicken, you remove the backbone (ie: spine) and flatten the whole thing out before cooking.  This is done for a number of reasons.

In normal cooking a spatchcocked chicken roasts in just 30 minutes, which is actually 15 minutes less than a normal roasting meaning tons of saved time.

It also exposes more of the bird to dry heat, resulting in a crispy, crunchy skin.

And while this is all good, we’re doing it for another, more artistic reason.

This is a face hugger:

This is a spatchcocked chicken:

See the similarity?

Okay, true…we’re missing the tail and a few other details need to be adjusted, but it’s the same general shape!

To spatchcock your chicken (quit giggling, I can hear you!) pat your brined chicken dry and flip onto your cutting board, breast down.

Using a pair of strong shears, cut along both sides of the spinal column lengthwise on your chicken, splitting your bird in half from tail to tip and completely removing the spine.

Congratulations, you now have before you a spineless chicken…or as I like to call it: My ex.  

Now we need to remove those pesky wings and legs.

From the INSIDE of your bird, carefully locate the top joints of your legs (aka drumsticks) and slice through those.  Pull the legs up through the skin, basically turning it inside out.  Cut the skin off at the base of the leg bone closest to where the feet would be if they were still attached.

Flip your bird over, breast side up, and carefully remove the wings, trying to ensure that your cuts are as close to the skin and as small as possible.  Now smoosh your bird flat, pressing the breast back into the board with the palm of your hands.  You’ll hear some crunches…don’t worry, that’s normal.

You should end up with something that looks like this:

Save the legs, wings, and spine for another recipe.

Now that that is done, move your chicken to a large aluminum foil lined cookie sheet with high edges and give it a good rubdown with your rub.

In a food processor, combine your boneless chicken breast, 2 tablespoons of your rub (you should have plenty, don’t worry) and your transglutaminase powder.  Pulse until you end up with a thick paste.

Drizzle in enough chicken broth to form a thick milkshake like slurry.  Mmm…meat slurry!  The goal here is to create a mixture that is just barely liquid enough to be easy to jam through a funnel into your sausage casing.

Tie a knot at one end of your casing.  Pull the open end of your casing over the nozzle end of a funnel and pull up the rest of your casing like it’s a sock and your nozzle is a very strange looking foot.

Scoop your meat slurry into your funnel.  Using the blunt end of a wooden spoon handle, jam the slurry through your funnel and into the casing.  Don’t worry if it’s not evenly distributed yet, just fill the casing up until you’ve used all your slurry.

Once you fill it all the way up, tie a knot in the open end of your casing at about the 2 1/2 foot mark.  Gently squeeze your casing, evenly distributing the meat slurry through the whole thing.

Using your butcher’s twine, wrap your casing starting at one end and ending about 6? below the other end.  This will be the crest of your hugger body as well as your tail.

Loosen the skin all along the back of your chicken.  Do this by gently sliding your hand between the skin and the meat of your chicken and lifting upwards. Don’t completely separate your skin from the edges or on the leg section of your roast…you just want to create a large pocket in the back for the crest tube (sausage) and legs (coming soon).

Stuff the unwrapped end of your chicken sausage between the skin and the meat on the back of your chicken, pulling the knotted end all the way through so it sticks out the neck area of your roast.  The rest should be sticking out the bottom as a tail.  I used two toothpicks to pinch the chicken skin closed over the back of the chicken where the tail went in to help keep it in place. Curve the tail back and forth on itself so the entire thing fits on your cookie sheet.  Next, take another toothpick and give the entire tail a few pokes through the casing.  You don’t want to do too many, but a few along the length every few inches or so will allow the steam that will result from cooking escape.  Forgetting to do this can result in a tail that splits or blows up while cooking.

Give the tail a good rubdown with the rub as well.

Now let’s prep your facehugger so you can attach the legs later.

For this, you’ll need 8 holes for your crab legs, 4 for each side.

I’m going to be completely honest with you and tell you that the first time I made this dish, I jammed the legs in before cooking the chicken (hence all these photos).  This ruined the crab legs. If you decide to do it this way, know ahead of time that we’re cooking this beast at a temperature that will dry your crab legs out and make them taste awful.  Trust me, you will NOT want to eat them…so I strongly suggest either getting the cheapest legs you can find that you don’t mind ruining, or stick them in at the end.

All the photos in this tutorial are of me doing it the wrong way…putting the crab legs in before roasting the chicken.  Don’t do this…but for now, just deal with the fact that I made a mistake and you’re benefitting from it.

I picked up a right half and left half set of snow crab legs for $8 total at my grocer.  Get just the legs…you don’t need the claws.

Using a sharp knife, slit your chicken along the “back” in three slices on both sides and two in the front using this template as a guide:

Using your tin foil, twist up 8 tubes approximately the same size as your crab legs and jam them in as place-holders for now.

Size them appropriately to your crab legs, starting with the largest ones in the back and getting smaller as you go.  Save the two smallest legs for the front.

IF YOU ROAST YOUR CRAB LEGS, tuck your legs up so they’re “crawling” and use the edge of your cookie sheet to keep them in place.

A ball of aluminum foil, wadded up, works well to keep the front elevated and in place.

Give the whole thing another rubdown with your rub.

Now let’s add some glaze!  Using a food safe brush, give your entire face hugger (except the legs) a nice thick layer of glaze.

Pop into a 350F/175C oven and set your timer for 15 minutes.

At the 15 minute mark, pull it out and give it another thick basting with your glaze.  Return to the oven for another 15 minutes and repeat the glazing.

At the half-hour mark, pull out, wrap the legs in tin foil to keep them from burning, give it one more good swab with your glaze, and return to the oven for a final 10-minute stint.

All in all, you’ll be roasting it for 40 minutes.  I know I said a spatchcocked chicken takes only 30 minutes to roast, but because we’ve added so much to it, super soaked it with the glaze, and have a chicken sausage tail, we need to ensure food safety by guaranteeing the interior reaches a consumption safe temperature of 165F/73C.  Test for doneness by taking an internal temperature reading at the thickest part of the roast.

when it’s done, pull it out of the oven and remove the foil from your crab legs.

If you haven’t roasted your crab legs (good on you) NOW is the time to insert them into your roast beast.  Gently pull out your aluminum foil place holders and swap in your crab legs.

Gently snip off the butcher twine from your sausage tail now as well.  Allow it to rest for 5 minutes and then transfer to your serving platter.

Bask in the enviable glow that comes from creating something so damn devious looking and so damn tasty!

I mean, come on…  Look at this thing!
 Carve into this beautiful bastard and enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving and…

Bone Appetite!

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This recipe post was reprinted with express permission from eatthedead.com. PLEASE ask permission from any site if you see a recipe or tutorial you’d like to share. For more information on this amazingly artistic crew, contact them here

7 Awesome (and Easy!) Dollar Store Pumpkin Projects

 

We just can’t seem to stay away from Pinterest this year. If you’re Pin-addicted like we are, we know you’re going to LOVE these amazing (and cheap!) pumpkin projects.

Grab a bunch of dollar gourds, a few crafting supplies and it’s ready, set -get your spook on!

#1: Spooky Porch Light

As shown, simply cut out the back of a plastic pumpkin (be careful; cut plastic edges can be sharp) and place over an orange LED lightbulb. Done!  Spooky mood lighting AND cool decor, all in one.

#2: Glow-in-the-Dark Eyeballs

We absolutely LOVE these. Paint using glow-in-the-dark white and green paint. The irises can be cut from either felt or a paper plate. Paint the irises black. Paint or use markers to create the bloodshot-effect capillaries.

Place in your bushes or anywhere you want a freaky effect.

#3: Stacked Planter

Poke holes in the bottom of the top pumpkin for drainage before beginning this craft if you plan on filling with a live plant. Underneath, Krazy Glue a bunched piece of aluminum foil forming a slight pouch under the holes and bottom to catch the drained water.

Once this is done, spray paint each pumpkin. Using a stencil and medium art brush, paint lettering and numbers. Krazy Glue the pumpkins together for stability, allow to dry complexly and place your plants in the top.

#4: Concrete Pumpkin Mold

Concrete is heavy, but the small size makes this semi-perm decor perfect for areas that receive rough autumn weather, including high winds.

This project is simple: mix concrete and pour into a plastic pumpkin; when dry, cut the pumpkin away. Decorate however you’d like. Please note that what is shown here is a dirt mixture; you can create any mixture you’d like – permanent (such as concrete) or semi-permanent.

#5: Bandanna Pumpkins

These are great because you can find bandannas or other fabric scraps at dollar stores, sometimes in multi-packs.

For the stem, use twigs from your yard. Also pick up some crafting glue. Apply glue all over the pumpkin and apply the fabric, pressing firmly. Insert pins to hold in ribs and at the location of the stem. Break off part of a twig for the stem and glue in place.

6. Spider Pumpkin

For this craft you’ll need a foam faux pumpkin rather than the plastic version. Pick up plastic bugs (spiders, roaches) or other creepie-crawlies. Push into or glue onto pumpkin to cover the surface. Done – and spooky!

7. Looking Glass Pumpkins

Buy some Looking Glass spray paint (Krylon is one brand). Spray the entire surface of your pumpkin.

For a really fun effect, create these out of varying sizes and shapes of faux pumpkin and use more than one Looking Glass color.

10 Best Halloween Costume Hacks (+ Bonus Vid)

 

Be an emoji, a class photo…or even a “cereal” killer! Here are our EASIEST and coolest costume hacks to get you to the party in a hurry. 

1. Emoji

Image: ink361.com
Image: ink361.com

Make fellow partygoers LOL, cry, or just give ’em a big old smiley by painting yourself as an emoticon. Buy a Halloween makeup kit (be sure to choose one with vibrant colors), or use makeup you already have to create your look. Have a friend help you if you’d like. Since the face is the main part of the emoji, dress in basic black to complete the look.

2. Gumball Machine

Image: teen.allwomenstalk.com
Image: teen.allwomenstalk.com

 

This is so much fun – and so easy! For the female version, use a tank top and a red skirt. For men, choose a t-shirt and wear red pants if you can find them (jeans will do if you can’t). Glue dollar-store pom-pom balls all over the shirt. Cut felt pieces and glue in gray and black to make the bottom portion of the machine. If you’ll be wearing jeans, cut this bottom portion in a long rectangle and tuck into the front of the pants.

3. Walking Dead

Image: pixabay.com
Image: pixabay.com

Here’s another idea that can be created from throwaways you have around the house – in fact, the less perfect-looking the elements, the better! Rip up some clothing, add red costume makeup or red paint for blood stains, and muss your hair (use gel or hairspray to keep the look authentically gruesome throughout the night). Use very light or white makeup on your face, “hollow out” your eyes with black or gray makeup, and dab on some blood stains. Check out more zombie costume ideas here.

4. Wind-Up Doll

Credit: Hot Topic

This is a great choice for either men or women. Cut a “wind-up key” out of stiff cardboard. If you’d like, spray-paint it in gold or silver. Now get together a dollish costume (haunt your local thrift shop for great finds). Hot-glue the cardboard key to the back of the outfit. For both men and women: paint your face white. Add lipstick (sorry, guys – but this really is the finishing “dollish” touch). Men can brush their hair down into a more solid Ken doll look. For women, wear pigtails or big sausage curls.  BONUS: Get a super-creepy “haunted doll” look using this jaw-dropping tutorial:

5. Cereal Killer

Image: wholesalehalloweencostumes.com
Image: wholesalehalloweencostumes.com

It’s gruesome, but it’s definitely “punny” – and sure to get laughs all around. Buy single-serving boxed cereals; empty. Cut out sharp-looking knives from cardboard, sizing them to fit the boxes; spray with silver spray paint. Cut a slit in each box and insert a “knife.” Paint red blood stains. Hot glue to the shirt. Be sure to complete the look by painting a milk mustache on with white makeup. If you want to give it all away, write “cereal killer” across the front of the shirt in magic marker. Otherwise, let guests guess what your hilariously grisly costume is.

6. Catwoman

Credit: Instagram / beautydesignsbydenise

What makes this a hack is that you probably have all the elements at home. Raid your drawers to find black felt or construction paper and an old headband. Cut out the ears and glue to the band. Go for a smoky eye with black liquid eyeliner. For a slinky Catwoman outfit, wear close-fitting black jeans and a black tank top. For a finishing touch, paint your fingernails midnight black. Make sure to create a sleek hairdo, like a kitten slinking at night-time on the prowl.

7. The Mayor (Nightmare Before Christmas)

Credit: Pinterest

This clever hack utilizes that old lampshade that you never got around to throwing out. (Come on, you know you have one.) Spray-paint the background face color onto the lampshade. Then paint or use magic markers to create the Mayor’s happy face on one side and distressed face on the other side. Fold some ribbon into loops and glue together. Glue on a white circle of cardboard and write “Mayor” on it; glue this on top of the ribbon. Add a black hat. Wear a suit with this costume with the ribbon pinned on with a safety pin to get the full effect.

8. Movie Theater Floor

Image: teen.allwomenstalk.com
Image: teen.allwomenstalk.com

Wear either a black or red shirt to imitate a movie theater carpet. Glue pop corn boxes, candy wrappers, empty cups, straws and old movie theater tickets to the shirt. Have fun having people guess what you are – you’re sure to get laughs with this clever costume.

If you want to get saucy about this (grown-ups only!), Write “now showing” on a piece of paper and tuck it into the waistband so it hangs over the front of your pants.

9. Crazy Cat Lady

Image: buzzfeed.com
Image: buzzfeed.com

This is such an easy hack because you probably have most of the components already – or can borrow them from friends. Wear a puffy robe and put your hair into curlers. Borrow your child’s (or someone else’s!) stuffed cats. Quick tip: if you won’t be giving the stuffed kitties back, glue a few to the robe so you won’t need to be carrying them around all night, leaving your hands free for eating, drinking and being merry on Halloween night.

10. High School Yearbook Photo

Image: buzzfeed.com
Image: buzzfeed.com

Raid your closet for an old prom or bridesmaid’s dress (or buy one on the cheap at the local Goodwill or consignment shop). Or borrow a cheerleading or jock outfit from a friend. Purchase an extra-large size construction paper rectangle and cut out the center so that it looks like a photo frame. Write your name if you wish or write “Best Dressed,” “Most Likely to Succeed,” etc. on the frame. This is even more fun if you go as friends, with each of you choosing a “type”: the jock, the nerd, the prom queen and so on.

A Ghastly Tour of America’s Most Haunted Cemeteries

 

Just in time for Halloween, here it is: the Halloween Alliance 10 MOST haunted cemeteries in the U.S list. Visit them, if you dare, but be warned: some guests say these ghostly graveyards are never fully at rest. 

Here are ten terrifying tales that will have you turning over in your own grave – and leave you scared to death.

No. 10: St. Louis Cemetery – New Orleans, LA

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is set in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is set in the historic French Quarter and houses the remains of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

Dozens of different ghosts have been reported here over the years, but voodoo priestess Marie Laveaux is by far the most commonly spotted spook at this historic locale.

Called “the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans,” Ms. Laveaux is said to have left more than just her memory at this hauntingly beautiful graveyard: her presence, and even some of her voodoo magic, are said to live on (guests frequently leave offerings at her tombstone in hopes that some of her abilities will rub off).

When spotted, Ms. Laveaux’s ghostly image wears a red and white turban tied with seven knots and shrieks a chilling curse at passersby. 

No. 9: Stull Cemetery – Stull, KS

Legends state that Stull Cemetery is cursed and even houses a set of steps leading directly to hell. Image: toypyaps.com
Legend states that Stull Cemetery is cursed and that a set of hidden steps there leads directly to hell. Image: toypyaps.com

Stull Cemetery is legendary due to the claim that it hides a set of steps to the netherworld, giving the site the eerie nickname “the Gateway to Hell.”

According to the tale, the steps are nearly impossible to find and are only visible on Halloween Night. Other phenomena – including bone-chilling screams – are reported all year long.

The cemetery’s reputation for being cursed is supported by claims that a man accidentally burned his son to death near the area, and another poor soul hanged himself from one of the cemetery’s trees.

No. 8: Resurrection Cemetery – Justice, IL

Resurrection haunts cars, statues and male partygoers, witnesses say. Image: prairieghosts.com
Resurrection Mary haunts cars, statues and male partygoers, witnesses say. Image: prairieghosts.com

This mammoth 540-acre graveyard is the burial site of the famous Resurrection Mary, a blonde, blue-eyed figure who was killed walking up a nearby road following a fight with her beau.

Appearing in the ball gown and party shoes she was buried in by her grieving parents, Mary’s ghost is said to appear in front of cars and disappear just before they strike her. She also looks to hitchhike and then vanishes as the car approaches. She is even rumored to  dance with men at parties before fading from view.

Witnesses claim they have seen Mary hovering near a statue at Resurrection Cemetery (where she is said to have been buried).

Continue Reading ->

How to Dress Your Pet for Halloween

 

On Oct. 31 of last year, the doorbell rang, and I opened my door to the most adorable little trick-or-treater you ever saw.

She was covered with shaggy hair, had pointy little fangs and her eyes shone at me with a yellowish cast. Ooo, so spooky!

Plus, she was wearing a costume.

Yes, that’s right. A pet owner was making the neighborhood rounds with her tiny terrier.

Obviously, the owner didn’t want candy . She just wanted a chance to show off Madison (yep, that was Pooch’s name) in all her decked-out glory: a shaggy little ballerina in a pet-size tutu.

Click Here For The 15 BEST New Pet Costume Ideas for 2015

Pomeranian dressed as pumpkinA New Fad?

I’m not the first to experience this phenomenon. Readers have emailed us to let us know that they’ve had similar experiences among their neighbors. And a few have asked how to dress up their own beloved furbabies – and whether they should.

There are a few things to consider, so let’s take a closer look at whether or not your li’l guy or gal is a candidate for getting in on the Halloween fun.

  • Is your pet easily distressed by strangers? If so, even if you decide to dress her up, taking her door-to-door may not be a good idea. However, if she’s fine with passing people she doesn’t know on the street, taking her out on the sidewalk on Halloween to show her off might be feasible.
  • DON’T force items onto your pet’s body that she simply can not stand. If your pet refuses to wear that cute cat rappernurse cap, but will allow the little white dress, accept her boundaries on this issue. If you try to force things, you may begin to lose her trust.
  • Observe your pet’s “silent signals” carefully. If Pooch is wagging his tail, but his eyes are wide and frightened or he’s trembling, he is trying to be nice in order to please you, but you are increasing his anxiety.
  • If your pet tends to snap and you need to pull her back frequently on her leash, no matter how badly you want to take her out on Halloween night, please don’t. The strangeness of the odd colors and shapes of kids’ costumes, plus the excitement level and crowding factor, my set your pet off and cause something you’ll all regret, such as charging or biting.
  • Small pets may tire more easily than larger or older/more mature ones. Take your little guy or gal in a pet carrier, comfortable carry-on or even a stroller.

Welcoming Pets to Your Door

dog santa clausIf you know you’re going to have some furry trick-or-treaters this year, you may wish to have pet treats ready. You’ll be the hit of the neighborhood if you do!

It can be wonderful to offer pet-friendly treats. Be sure to move slowly and to ask the owner whether you can reach out. Kitty might look adorable at your door, but the situation is strange to her, and you can’t know how a stranger’s pet will react.

For dogs, extend your hand in a fist (not open fingers), coming near but not touching the nose and going slowly. This will allow the pup to sniff you, which will give him “information” about you so he’s less nervous.

Keep small children in the home back. Ask the owner whether the pet is good with children. If so, go SLOWLY and HOLD YOUR CHILD while bringing her within proximity to the animal. If you sense any anxiety at all in the pet, do not allow your child close enough to actually touch the pet. Children move more quickly than adults and are more unpredictable, which can make a pet anxious.

Know your pet's distress signals. It may look cute to you, but if your pet's eyes are widened and she's shrinking back, you may be causing her anxiety.
The costume may look cute to you, but if your pet’s eyes are widened and she’s shrinking back, you’re causing her anxiety.

Fun Pet Costume Ideas

Now that we have the precautions down, are you ready for the fun part? Here are some awesome pet dress-up suggestions:

  • An “opposite” costume. Dress your dog as a cat or your cat as a dog.
  • “Ferocious” animals: tiny Pomeranians and cuddly kittens are bound to get a smile from one and all if they’re dressed up as bad-boy types such as lions or tigers.
  • Try something seasonal, such as an elf, Cupid or a Thanksgiving turkey.spuds
  • Dress your pet the way your children are dressed so everyone “matches,” even Fido!
  • Have your cat go as a celebrity you admire and who has/had an immediately identifiable look, such as Elvis.
  • Superhero costumes are adorable on pets, especially small ones; however, this is a look that will get giggles no matter what the species and breed.
  • Choose a favorite book or movie character (Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a Star Wars or Star Trek character, Jack puppy tacoSparrow, etc.).
  • Have your pet be a sports character (football player, cheerleader, soccer champ).
  • Go for humor, like the puppy taco shown.
  • If your pup will allow makeup (see the Spuds MacKenzie image above), go for it – but make sure you use 100% non-toxic makeup that’s easily removable.

 

 

Be creative with this idea – but always within your pet’s comfort level. Dressing your pet up can be a fun and adorable way to add to the holiday. Have fun!

The Monster Reborn Doll Trend is So Big, It’s Scary

 

Q: What’s scarier than a doll? You know, like…any old doll.

A: How about a sweet-cheeked vinyl kit that’s been taken apart, painted and all dolled up into a vampire, zombie or even a werewolf?

If you  haven’t heard of reborn dolls, you’re late to the game: refurbishing factory-made dolls is a 15-year-old phenomenon (and counting).

Today, there are kits specifically designed for reborn artists – hobbyists with mad skillz and a heavy dash of creativity – to craft their own realistic babies and toddlers.

While reborn dolls have been hot nearly since their inception, in recent years an entirely new subcategory arrived on the reborn doll scene: horror  and fantasy reborns.

These creepy kiddies mimic the Halloween monster icons we know and (yes, we’re weird) love.

Hush little baby…and please don’t eat me. Get a similar freaky little darling at amazon.com; click for info.

And guess what: they’re not necessarily just for decor. Reborn “adoptivemoms” adore their little monsters and dress, pose and even “feed” them from specialty made blood bottles, zombie juice and more.

With a growing interest across the globe in all things haunted and creepy, reborn monster dolls seem to fit the bill for offbeat and unique collectors.

Perhaps one of the largest draws is the extreme realism of a reborn doll when combined with the creepiness factor.

Image: marcjacobs-handbags.com
Image: marcjacobs-handbags.com

Reborn dolls are, after all, meant to be as realistic as possible.

Putting together the idea of a cuddly, adorbs zombie or werewolf infant with dimensionally-painted skin  and high-quality glass eyes, tiny fangs, and sometimes, carefully rooted hair, gives these monster kids authenticity.

But beware: the scariest thing about these creepy kids may be the price. Reborn dolls can run anywhere from $100-700 or even as much as $1000 or more for the biggest artist names in the business. With their unique (and expensive) additions, monster reborns are often given higher price tags than standard, realistic baby dolls.

But it’s worth it to the collectors who adore their monster creations, and feel the haunted baby dolls earn their price tag for the creepy cuddle factor.

“Holding these dolls is so calming and relaxing,” says horror doll artist Marilyn Mansfield of Krypt Kiddies, UK. “The experience is very absorbing.”

Click Page 2 For More Horror Reborn Dolls:

Recipe: Creepy Kraken (Sea Monsters) in Seaweed

Image credit: tasteofhome.com

Our youngest has a fascination with sea monsters. He’s afraid of them…yet unendingly curious. (A chip off the old ghoul!)

So when we found these fun “hot dog octopus” goodies, we knew we had to try them out.

They were an instant hit with both our kids and since then, we’ve had this whimsical treat often.

Of course, being Halloween fans, Sir David and I “haunted” the recipe up for the holiday, adding murky-looking “seaweed” and sinister rather than friendly faces for the “sea monsters.” We call these Creepy Kraken, after the legendary tentacled monster of the sea that appears out of nowhere to upend ships in sailor lore.

This is SUCH an easy recipe, and perfect for a Halloween party. Here’s how to make your own tasty creatures of the deep:

CREEPY KRAKEN RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • hot dogs – as many as you’ll need to feed your partykraken4
  • Maruchan or other brand Ramen noodles, 3 oz. per 3-4 hot dog “sea monsters”
  • McCormick Assorted Food Colors (or brand of your choice) – 10 drops of green; 3 drops of red
  • 1 cup water
  • mustard

Directions:

KRAKEN (SEA MONSTERS)kraken2

  1. Cut hot dog in half but only up to within 1-1.5″ of the top of the hot dog, as shown.
  2. Cut the cut pieces in half so that you have 4 dangling “legs.”
  3. Cut two of these pieces in half so that you wind up with 8 legs total.
  4. Boil a pot of water. When a rolling boil is achieved, turn down to medium heat so that you have a simmer to a very low rolling boil.
  5. Place the hot dogs into the water. Cook until “tentacles” curl up slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside, sitting them upright so their curled tentacles will stay in place.

SEAWEEDkraken3

  1. Meanwhile, pour water into a small pot.
  2. Add the food coloring. You should achieve a murky green color. Dip up with a spoon to test the color; you can always add more red for a murkier/browner color, or more green for a more intense color. Add ONLY ONE drop at a time of either color (or other colors of your choice), as color change will happen with very few drops.
  3. Set on high heat, add the enclosed spice packet and bring water to a boil.
  4. Add the noodles. Reduce heat so the water won’t boil over. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Drain. Do not rinse.

ARRANGING YOUR KRAKENkraken5

  • Put the colored, cooked Ramen onto a plate (or plates, if you are serving more than 3-4 people and making more than 4 or so hot dog sea monsters; we find about 3-4 fit onto a dinner size plate, more on a serving plate).
  • Cool the sea monsters slightly in an upright position so their legs stay curled up around them. Now place the sea monsters into the “seaweed” (Ramen). Dot eyes only (no smiling mouth!) onto the hot dogs. Serve.

Enjoy!

Trick or Tween! How Old is Too Old to Go Trick-or-Treating?

 

Image: talkinrestless.com
Image credit: talkinrestless.com

Last October, a friend and I went Halloween candy shopping together. As I tossed bag after extra large-size bag of candy into my cart, my friend stared at me.

“Do you really need that much candy?” she asked.

“I don’t want to have to run out again at nine o’clock at night for more candy for the stragglers,” I explained.

“Oh,” she waved away, “it’s always the older kids who come later. I turn them away. Kids over 10 really shouldn’t be trick-or-treating anyway.”

Okay, it’s not like I’ve never heard this type of comment before, but…et tu, Brute? My own friend, one of the “trick-or-treating age police”?

You see, I have the opposite opinion. On that spookiest night of nights of the year, anyone…I repeat, anyone who comes to my door (including, one year, the UPS delivery man…nope, not kidding) gets a treat and a cheery “Happy Halloween!” Every knock and doorbell-ring, full stop.

I know I may be unusual. But here’s my reasoning.

They’re Still Kids. Really

They may be getting bigger, but trust me: tweens and teens are NOT grown-ups yet.
They may be getting bigger, but trust me: tweens and teens are NOT grown-ups yet.

You may look at a “little” monster with the cracking voice and suspiciously five o’clock shadow-appearing lip and think, “That kid is just too old for this.”

Here’s the thing.  Yes, their bodies are changing (at irregular rates – so that “youngster” could be 16…or he could be 11 and very tall for his age). Yes, they’re getting pretty savvy (or think they are). Sure, they’re X amount of years from legal adulthood. Roger that.

But think back. Even when you were “legal adult” age – 18 – exactly how mature were you? Now go back from there. At 16, 15, 14, were you skimming the Dow Jones each morning just to keep a heads-up even though you were pretty confident that your conservative stocks weren’t about to tank any time soon? Or were you thinking, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious right now if I sat on my brother’s head and farted?”

Come on. The teen years are still kid years…I don’t care what anybody says. And as the song (sort of) says, kids just wanna have fun.

We complain that kids grow up too fast nowadays. Then we strip the childish fun times from them. Err, huh?

Halloween ISN’T Just for (Little) Kids Anymore

First of all, “American Halloween” as we think of it today – with tiny children innocently going door-to-door in cute costumes, holding Mom’s hand – is an idea that didn’t really take root until the mid-20th century, after World War II. (Before that, “trick” or treat meant just that, including some dangerous tricks that were literal vandalism – and farther back than that, it was primarily grown-ups who caroused on Halloween Night at a local gathering.)

But rather than bore you with history, I’ll just say this: there’s been a movement during the past two decades or so back toward grown-ups being “allowed” to celebrate Halloween, complete with fantastic costumes and go-all-out parties.

So, here are your options: 1. Be an adult. Dress up, eat, drink and carouse. Have a fantastic time  you’ll talk about for weeks. 2. Be a very, very young child. Dress up, get lots of candy. Have a fantastic time you’ll talk about for weeks. 3. Be a tween or teenager. Sit at home on Halloween night hoping a halfway-decent movie comes on.

Is that really fair? And how much sense does it make, really – “Sorry, Junior, but you’re too old AND too young to have fun”?

Of course in-betweeners feel left out. And since attending the grown-up party with alcohol and sexy-everything (sexy pirate, sexy nurse, sexy librarian, sexy accountant) costumes is probably out of the question, what say you just let the poor kid go out trick-or-treating?

Caitlyn Jenner Costume – Crossing a Line?

caitlyn-costumeHalloween has long been a time for pushing the envelope and exploring topics that would otherwise be taboo.

With that in mind, it may not be so odd that Spirit Halloween has announced it will launch a Caitlyn Jenner  costume for the 2015 season.

No surprise that a controversial subject is being capitalized on by a major retailer – but is it acceptable? The internet is blowing up with disagreements on the subject, but Spirit is standing behind its choice.

“Caitlyn Jenner has proven to be the most important real-life superhero of the year,” said Trisha Lombardo, the company’s PR manager, “and Spirit Halloween is proud to carry the costume that celebrates her.”

But is that just so much fluff to cover a nastier motive: humiliating a group that’s already behind the 8-ball a far as mainstream public opinion?

“There’s no tasteful way to ‘celebrate’ Caitlyn Jenner or respect transgender people this way on the one night of the year when people use their most twisted imaginations to pretend to be villains and monsters,” Vincent Villano of the National Center for Transgender Equality told the Huffington Post in a statement.

Other outspoken opinion pieces agree, including Huffpost Gay Voices. This article on the subject is up to 899 strident comments and counting, with input running from respectful disagreement to verbal fur- and fist-flying.

Meanwhile, some individuals are pointing to a long history of lampooning public figures on Halloween – not with hatred, but in the spirit of fun and self-expression. “What about when we’d dress up as presidents, or when men dress up as women routinely on Halloween for the last 100 years? Or any other thing that *might* offend someone? Seriously, everyone is offended by EVERYTHING. It needs to stop,” claimed poster Jessica Harris-Breeding in reference to the Huffpost Gay Voices article.

It’s a tough call. Halloween is about expressing oneself, after all – and poking fun at celebrities who otherwise seem untouchable.

Where to draw the line between self-expression and intolerance hiding behind a mask? Like Halloween itself, that question will probably remain controversial for some time to come…with freedom being the call from both sides.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Sound off below!

Vid: Entertainment Tonight Coverage of Controversial Caitlyn Jenner Costume

7 Best FREE Halloween Apps for Your iPhone

The noise is coming from inside the phone…Heads up! Apple is haunting your iPhone with a host (or is that ghost?) of ghoulish apps, including new versions of your favorite prickly picks. And don’t be too scared, at least of the price: every one of these chilling apps is free.

Many of these apps are available on Android, so check the Google Play store to see if your phone supports any of these chilling choices. Click on the images for more info. Enjoy!

1. Corpse Cam Photo EditorCorpse Cam

Freaky! Convert selfies into something a little more horrifying. Version 1.5, with 13 new “masks” to virtually try on.

Version: 1.5

 

2. Ghost Radar: Legacyghost radar legacy

Ghostbust your house (and your friends) with this paranormal activity detector. Translates detections into words and numbers to give “real-time” communication with the energies around you.

Version: 3.3.3

 

3. Halloween Wallpaper & Backgroundwallpaper

More than 100 new wallpapers have been added to this much-loved scaring season app. Share wallpaper to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.

Version: 5.0

 

4. Halloween Sounds ProHalloween Sounds

Freak out your co-worker in the next cubicle and even send a second set of sounds remotely via Bluetooth with this creepy audio collection. 15 spooky sounds and a terrifying soundtrack.

Version: 1.4

 

5. Gun Zombie: Halloweengun zombie halloween

This app is free for a limited time only, so grab it now! Mow down monsters with your choice of 38 weapons and receive rewards for ridding the world of evil.

Version: 1.4

 

6. Ghostbusters Paranormal Blastghostbusters

Blast and trap ghouls in high-res 3D. Includes the much-loved Slimer, haunted librarian and Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Version: 1.1.5

 

7. Halloween Pumpkin Smashhalloween pumpkin smash

Smashing! Annihilate gourds when you’re bored and challenge yourself to either arcade or survival mode. Click on matching pumpkins and shake to “explode” them. Oh so satisfying.

Version: 1.0

 

 

 

 

 

Great Gourds! Pumpkin Varieties and How to Use Them

If you’ve wandered your local farmer’s market or pumpkin patch this fall, you probably discovered that there’s so much more to choosing your desire type than “give me big and orange.”

Today’s decorative pumpkins have gone far afield (see what we did there?) from the traditional Howden’s Field or fun, kid-size mini.

Get in on the “pick your perfect pumpkin” craze – you’ve got your pick: traditional; fun; even a bit, well…freaky. This autumn’s pumpkins are ready-grown and ripe for the choosing. Grab a gourd and eat, decorate and be merry! Below are some of our favorite varieties.

Howden’s Field

The gold (or would that be orange?) standard for the American Jack-o-lantern, Howdens are just the right size, shape, color and ribbing to use as decor. You probably carved Howdens as a child — and so might have your parents, and theirs.

However, we don’t recommend Howdens for pie baking. They tend to be stringy and have less pumpkin flavor than some sweeter varieties.

Pick up at least one Howden for your jack-o-lantern carving this year. Scoop well, scrape and cut a spooky shape into your gourd. Try Pumpkin Masters for a really cool look, or Google pumpkin carving templates to find the perfect freebie.

Lumina

Confession time: as loyal as I am to the good old-fashioned orange Curcurbita, I have a secret love for Luminas. This variety is a gorgeous solid white on the outside but plump and very orange on the interior.

Play up the contrast of white and orange by using your Lumina for your Halloween decor. Add a battery tea light and watch the spooky effect.

Don’t throw away those innards just yet: Lumina seeds are delicious baked with butter and salt. If you don’t plan on carving your pumpkin for decor purposes, use it in a pie or soup; Luminas have a fabulous flavor.

Queensland Blue

This unusual-looking gourd originated in Australia as its name implies. It was imported to the U.S. in the 1930s. You may have seen Queensland Blues at farmer’s markets and overlooked them as not being a “real” pumpkin. However, they are definitely Curcurbitas.

Queensland Blues have a lot of flesh to scoop, so you may want to forgo carving. Or try peeling away sections of skin only, without scooping the pumpkin out. Use a potato peeler or a woodcarving tool to put fanciful shapes on your Queensland Blue.

The flavor and texture of the Queensland Blue also makes it ideal for pies.

Jack-Be-Little

Just 3 or 4 inches across, Jack-Be-Littles are adorable and great for decor. Kids love them because they’re so easy to handle and carry. For your decor purposes, they create instant atmosphere for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

They’re tricky to scoop thin enough to carve (if you figure out a way, let us know!), but you can use a potato peeler to etch cool designs in your Jack-Be-Little’s skin. You can also cut off the tops, scoop the pulp and place a tea light in each for a pretty guest table.

They’re edible too. Try this yummy pumpkin recipe, for example. Mmm!

New England Pie

We’re sure you’ve guessed the use this pumpkin is famous for! The New England Pie pumpkin is an heirloom variety that’s perfect for baking fall treats.

New England Pie pumpkins are on the small side, usually no more than 3 to 4 pounds. Their hard skins make them very difficult to carve, so if you’re using this variety as decor, set it up uncarved.

There are many other pie pumpkin types, but the New England is the gold standard. You will definitely want a few for baking and stewing this Thanksgiving or for pumpkin cookies on Halloween.

Kakai

Get ready for the most amazing pumpkin seeds you’ve ever tasted. The seeds of this fun variety are hull-less and easy to eat. They’re among the most tasty pumpkin seeds when roasted. (And of course, this variety is simply gorgeous, with orange stripes and green mottling on the outside and firm orange flesh on the inside.)

Here’s how to make roasted pumpkin seeds from a Kakai: Cut pumpkin open and remove seeds; separate seeds from pulp in a colander under warm water. Set out on a paper towel and dry for at least two hours. Remove to a shallow pan and smother in melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with Mrs. Dash seasoning. Bake in a 300 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Cool and eat.

Big Max

Whoah! If you’ve never seen a Big Max, it’s time to acquaint yourself with one. Just don’t try to pick it up: these behemoths can easily grow to 100 lbs. and more.

Not technically a pumpkin but a “squash type,”  Big Maxes are cultivated primarily for show. (Their grainy flesh makes them a poor choice for eating.) Scooping out the flesh would be a thankless chore, but you can carve these giants and reach inside to scrape behind your cuttings.

DO NOT try to lift a Big Max by yourself. They are slippery and often are very asymmetrical, making it hard to keep a grip. Ask a friend for help.

Cinderella

A French heirloom variety, Cinderellas are so nicknamed for their striking resemblance to the famous fairytale coach. (Their real name is Rouche vif D’Etampes.)

The Cinderella has a long history in the U.S., with rumors claiming the gourd was served at the first Thanksgiving dinner in New England. However, most experts agree that the variety wasn’t officially introduced to the U.S. until the 1800s.

But they’re not just tasty. Cinderellas are pretty, with a very deep orange skin. Pick up inexpensive craft wagon wheels and a wooden support (Cinderellas are heavy!) at a craft store and display this fun variety as a fairytale coach.

Happy decorating…and eating!

Healthy Halloween Treats – It Doesn’t Have To Be Candy To Be Delicious

If buckets full of candy at Halloween leave you shuddering and your dentist rubbing his hands in glee, then you need to get into healthy Halloween treats for your kids. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s tasteless or that your neighbourhood kids will shun your home during ‘Trick or Treat’. Healthy eating and healthy treats can be just as much fun as store bought candy, as well as being a lot easier on your pocket and your health.

These treats are great for a Halloween party you are hosting, for a school snack, or to give out to the kids and their parents you know (give packaged goodies to trick or treaters you aren’t familiar with.)

Yummy Mini Pizza Mummies

mummy pizza

Image Credit

Pizza is always a treat, and you can make mini pizzas that are healthy and look scarily like the head of a mummy. Spoon a small amount pizza sauce onto small rounds of pizza dough and use small olive slices to make the eyes. The mummification of the mini pizza comes in the careful placement of cheese strips across the ‘face’ to resemble the mummy wrapping. You can make up a tray of Pizza Mummies and bake them in an oven at 350ºF for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted.

The great thing about making healthy treats is that your kids can help you in the kitchen and your Halloween festivities can turn into a fun filled afternoon of cooking with Mom.

Frightening Freaky Cheese Fingers

monster fingers

Image Credit

A real spooky treat that children will gobble up in seconds. Using a white cheese like Mozzarella is perfect for this Halloween treat. Cut finger sized sections of Mozzarella cheese and carefully carve out the lines to represent the joints below the nail and the first knuckle. An adult should always perform this task, as you’ll want to use a sharp paring knife to get the best effect. Cut a small ‘finger nail’ out of a green pepper and use a dab of cream cheese to stick it onto your cheese finger. Absolutely a smash hit with kids and the only drawback is you’ll probably run out of them quickly!

The Phantom Toast

This is probably the simplest healthy Halloween treat ever. You can’t have a Halloween party without ghosts, or in this case toasts! Simply toast some bread and cut out a ghost shape when it is cool. Lather on some cream cheese and add a couple of olive sections for the oval mouth and scary eyes. Kids love working on this one as much as they love eating their ghost shapes.

‘Dem Bones, ‘Dem Bones…

gingerbread bones

Image Credit

If you’re looking for sweet treats that are still healthy, and want to avoid cake and other candy, then why not meet in the middle with Skeleton Gingerbread. You can buy gingerbread cookie dough or even ask your bakery to create you a batch of gingerbread shapes without any decoration on them. When you get them home, you can use white icing or frosting and then pipe a skeleton onto the gingerbread for a sweet but relatively healthy treat.

Caring for your children means watching what they eat all of the time. You can create wonderful healthy treats for any holiday celebration. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen with you means so much more than a quick trip to the candy store to satisfy a sweet tooth.

A Frankenstein Halloween Theme Party

Halloween theme parties can be a huge success, especially if you take a little extra time to plan. But there are so many different types of spooky decorations, if you’re not careful, the party can end up looking like a jumbled mess!

That’s why we recommend picking one classic Halloween character as your central theme. In this article, we give you some tips on how to throw a fabulous, freaky Frankenstein bash. Read at your own risk!

Decorations

  • Jack-o’-lanterns. Instead of the traditional toothless grin, carve your pumpkins using a Frankenstein pattern. (Here’s a great stencil book featuring Frankie and all his freaky friends.) Place your carved jacks on the walkway up to the door or put them in front of windows to welcome guests to the party.
  • Creepy Frankenstein Heads. These are so fun…and SO easy. Use them
    Credit: http://bitesizedbiggie.com

    as table centerpieces or place them on top of your gate like freaky finials. Or stuff clothing, add clunky boots and plop one of these horrifying heads on top! Simply cover foam mannequin heads with water-based or acrylic green paint and paint accents on.

  • Cobwebs, cobwebs, cobwebs. String faux webs everywhere for a dusty mad scientist’s lab look.
  • Beakers and concoctions. Purchase inexpensive plastic or glass beakers and half-fill with water. Add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring to make an eerie green.

Treats

While we’re not entirely sure if Frankenstein’s monster actually ate “people food” (rather than simply, well…kids), your party guests mostly likely do! Here are a few monster-themed snacks for the party.

  • Frankenpops. Follow the recipe here to make these delicious
    Credit: justapinch.com

    marshmallow treats. They’re so cute…so gooey…so edible. What’s not to love?

  • Frankenstein Brownies. Buy a box of brownie mix, and bake as directed. After they’ve cooled, cut them into even rectangles. Then, frost each brownie with the frosting you like best, adding green food coloring. Use piped icing to create a mouth
    Credit: bettycrocker.com

    and hair; eyes are reversed M&Ms. Lastly, add a piece of candy corn on each side of the brownie for Frankenstein’s bolts.

  • Science Experiment Punch. Be dramatic and add some dry ice to your punch bowl, so your beverage station looks like a bubbly, messy concoction. Here are some tips and directions on how to (safely!) use dry ice at your party.

Costumes

If you’re the one throwing the party, the honor of dressing as the classic monster should be yours. Tall, green skin, flat top – you know what he looks like. This Frankenstein costume pretty much have you covered.

Not everyone can be the big guy, though, so here are a few other ideas for party goers:

  • Frankenstein’s Bride. Even monsters can fall in love. Just drape something long and white over your sensuous form and tie up at the waist. Use green Halloween makeup and a black makeup crayon for the scars. Bonus points if you don’t need a wig to get your hair to look like that.
  • Mad Scientist. There would be no monster without Dr. Frankenstein himself. These costumes are easy to find online or at your local party store. But really, it’s as simple as a white lab coat from your local consignment shop, some glasses and a really freaky, mad laugh.
  • Frankie Stein. A great way to get a tween girl excited about a “really dorky” party? Monster High. Just sayin’…

Monstrously Good Fun: Party Activities

  • Zombie Walk-Off. Set up a runway and see who has the best zombie stagger. Spectators can judge the monsters on their limp walks, expressionless faces, and chilling groans.
  • Franken-Tag. Now is the time to use what you learned during the zombie walk-off! The rules of Franken-Tag are the same as the playground game, but in this case, if you’re tagged as “it,” you can only walk like Frankenstein.
  • Mix it Yourself. Have your guests mix drinks (non-alcoholic version: use grape, apple and prune juice and various sodas). Have the other guests try to figure out what the “mad scientist” has concocted. The winner receives a small gift certificate, a creepy Halloween decoration, or any award of your choice..

Into the Arcane Music of Midnight Syndicate

Whenever I build a Halloween haunt, a horror soundtrack is always running through my mind – while planning this year’s layout (always a maze), hiding the monster props in nooks, and decorating the rooms. A house is not a creepy Victorian mansion until you add the lighting, the fog and, of course, the creepy soundtrack dripping in the background.

Most of you have heard of Midnight Syndicate. A decade and a half in business, Edward Douglas, along with Gavin Goszka, has been creating dark music specifically for Halloween. You can hear them at haunted attractions, parties and amusement parks. Their award-winning music has been featured on television, video games (like Balder’s Gate 2), Hugh Hefner’s Halloween bash, concerts by The Misfits and King Diamond, and movies such as Robert Kurtzman’s The Rage.

This month, the band releases their 14th studio album, Carnival Arcane. Each album takes the listener on a journey to imaginary places, be it haunted Victorian manors, abandoned insane asylums or gothic cemeteries. Their latest work gives the listener a creepy and mystical taste of walking through an early 20th century traveling carnival.

Midnight SyndicateToday we have the pleasure of speaking with Edward Douglas, composer, filmmaker, writer and horror aficionado. As founder of Midnight Syndicate in 1995, he began his career by producing his own feature film straight out of college, called The Dead Matter (which was remade alongside Robert Kurtzman in 2007.)

HA: In listening to your albums, I’m transported to a certain location, be it a mansion, cemetery, or some fantasy orc lair. Every year you come out with something new, and this year it will be a traveling carnival. What’s your typical thought processes and inspiration for deciding which landmark or motif to focus on for a new album?

ED: Everything has been done before, so it’s really about picking a theme that sparks our imagination and then putting our own spin on it. The concept for our new CD, Carnival Arcane, was a really fun one because the very idea of a “dark, turn-of-the-century traveling carnival” conjures so many images and ideas. Those images and ideas translate to the songs and soundscape we create.

Gavin and I have a particular fascination with the paranormal so that element works into just about every disc we do in some way or another. History, particularly the Victorian and Edwardian eras, is another big source of inspiration for us so when we can set one of our discs in those time periods (like we did Gates of Delirium, The 13th Hour, and Carnival Arcane) it’s especially intruguing to us. There’s so many worlds and motifs to explore, that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting for us.

HA: Back when I was a teen, I would blast out the soundtrack to Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser for the trick or treaters. What made you decide to specifically compose “Halloween music” as the focus of your career? After all, your education is as a filmmaker.

Born Of The Night by Midnight SyndicateED: Although most of my education was in film and theatre, music was my first love and I’ve been playing music since I was very young. In 1992, I came up with the idea for Midnight Syndicate – this band that would merge sound effects (circa classic radio dramas like The Shadow) and music (mostly instrumental) to create CDs that would be “soundtracks to imaginary films.” The goal of these CDs would be to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation.

In addition to music, a love of horror, fantasy, Halloween, and the paranormal has always been a constant in my life. As a result, virtually every creative endeavor I’ve undertaken, be it film, writing, or music, has had a darker or fantastic side to it. That’s how Midnight Syndicate’s first all-horror-themed “Halloween” disc, Born of the Night came about in 1998. At that time there were no quality Halloween music CDs. The only options you had (outside of horror movie scores) was cheap, recycled sound effects cassettes, and light-hearted Monster Mash-type party compilations.

The thing was, there was a real demand for good, quality, creepy, non-cheesy Halloween atmosphere from the amusement parks, haunted attractions, gothic music fans, and Halloween aficianados that took their parties and decorating for the trick-or-treaters seriously. Midnight Syndicate was able to fill that void – first with Born of the Night and then continuing with each of our subsequent releases. We quickly became the second largest supplier of Halloween music to the Halloween retail industry (the largest are the Monster Mash folks) and the largest supplier the haunted house and amusement park industries and have remained there for the past thirteen years. Gavin and I are fortunate because (as people who live for Halloween ourselves) we are able to write the music and explore the themes we love while making our fans happy.

HA: I notice that the song tracks on your albums read like film sequences. For instance, on your album The 13th Hour, it starts with the song Mansion in the Mist, continues to The Drawing Room, then builds to Footsteps in the Dust. Near the conclusion, you have titles such as Gruesome Discovery and Return of the Ancient Ones.

ED: We want to give you “just enough” with the song titles and the CD packaging to help spark your imagination. However, our prime directive, as it were, is to not impose our own interpretation of what’s going on in a CD upon the listener. We want to leave it all up to you. That’s one reason I love instrumental music so much. Every listener can interpret it differently, see different things in it. There are no lyrics or words to even lead you a certain way.

HA: When composing an album, do you construct a fully formed movie in your mind before you begin, which then inspires a soundtrack, or do you think of the music first, which then creates this imaginary landscape?

ED: After determining the world we want to create (an insane asylum, traveling carnival, vampire’s crypt) we do a lot of research (both fiction and non-fiction literature, movies, art, etc.). From there we begin to add detail to the world, creating the people, places, and things the listener will experience. The music comes through that. Sometimes we do formulate an ambiguous storyline but only as a sort of rough guide.

HA: You’ve worked with Robert Kurtzman a few times, and released some music videos. Any plans for future work with movies and videos, or producing more soundtracks to films? Where do you see Midnight Syndicate headed in the near future?

ED: We will definitely be producing more music videos. The Dead Matter was really well-received. That, and Bob’s great team, is going to allow us to do another film in the future. The focus of Midnight Syndicate will always be the music, though. Gavin and I really loved working on Carnival Arcane and can’t wait to get started on the next disc. We are getting more offers for custom work, too (like movie scoring, etc.) so I see that continuing as well – complimenting our regular Midnight Syndicate CD releases.

Carnival ArcaneHA: You’re newest album, Carnival Arcane, transports the listener to a turn-of-the (last) century carnival, complete with mystics, freaks, fortune tellers and rusty circus rides. Listening to it, there was a definite undercurrent of sinister shadows and macabre dealings, as if peeking through a tent would yield something monstrous and terrifying. What was your inspiration for this album?

ED: I did a lot of research on traveling circuses, in particular those from the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras (which were part the traveling carnivals’ heyday). That historical research yielded a lot of the inspiration for the themes, music, and especially the sound design on this disc.

We really want to make you feel like you are at this carnival, exploring the various tents. Gavin has a solo project called Parlormuse where he recreates and performs authentic Victorian-era music. That served as musical inspiration for tracks like Under The Big Top. Of course, the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival has more than a few skeletons in its closet so there is definitely the sinister element you mentioned.

The primary inspiration for that part of the disc is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. We had so much fun working on this disc. It’s definitely one of my favorites and features some of our most advanced sound design to date. I’d like to invite folks to stop by our website, www.MidnightSyndicate.com or check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/midnightsyndicate. There you will find out more about we do, be able to hear samples from our CDs, etc.

Top 10 Ways to Repel and Kill Vampires

 

Look, we’re not hating. After all, vampires are people too. (Or they were.)

But here’s the thing: we’ve seen the old Hammer films, and it just doesn’t look like any fun to get punctured in the night and drained to the point of death (sexy Interview With the Vampire imagery notwithstanding).

With the above in mind, just in case you’re ever accosted in a dark New Orleans alley by something pale and winged, you’ll want to be prepared. Here’s how to stake out (see what we did there?) your quarry and put those hungry vamps where they belong. Read on for the scary scoop of mythical ways to kill vampires.

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Hauntingly pale with long canines for biting into flesh, vampires are, in common lore, much-feared creatures of the night who survive off the blood of the living. Strolling neighborhoods after dark in search of their next innocent victim, vampires are unsettlingly resilient and show no mercy for their prey.

Just how do you kill the undead?

They can’t be suffocated or drowned, they don’t die of lack of food, and they sidestep bullets a la The Matrix. So how can these ghastly beings of the underworld ever be slain? Never fear: here are the top 10 ways to rid yourself of a nasty (and deadly) problem.

10. Just Say “Hell No”

An interesting part of vampire tradition is that the flying dead can’t simply waltz into your bedroom for a midnight snack. To enter your home, a vampire must be invited, lore states. (The rules get a little bit fuzzy when it comes to hotel rooms, camper vans, tents and other non-permanent homes.)

Your easy fix: DON’T invite that ghastly presence in. And if he or she asks politely, answer back in equal politeness, “Hell no, Fangs,” and lock yourself in your room until daylight. (You’ll be just fine, we promise.)

9. Stock Up on Garlic

One of the best ways to repel vampires is with garlic, otherwise known as the stinking rose. Vampires simply hate the traditional recipe veggie and can be driven away by the pungent smell.

If you can stand it, wear garland around your neck, keep several bulbs in your pockets or simply rub your body with garlic juice.

For extra insurance, include a lot of garlic in your daily diet. Supposedly, the smell of your breath and sweat will be enough to keep the night prowlers at bay.

8. Have a Little Faith

Symbols of faith will make a vampire recoil in an instant, so long as the person holding it has enough belief and conviction. Traditionally, crucifixes and crosses have been used to repel these deadly beings, however, Stars of David, Wiccan pentacles and other symbols are now also thought to be just as effective.

Vampires are, according to stories, petrified of the potential wrath of higher powers, so they steer clear of true believers.

Close your eyes, grab your ankh, and watch those bloodsuckers flap away from you like, well, bats out of hell.

nosferatu7. Visit Your Local Baptismal Font

Water that has been blessed by a priest is also widely believed to repel evil and ward off dark forces. Vampires are forever damned and are literally terrified of religion, so anything sacred is the perfect deterrent.

Just a few drops of holy water will burn their uber-pale skin, so keep a little nearby for your own protection and be ready to douse unearthly intruders at any time — you never know when one might strike.

For the ultimate vamp repeller, fill a water pistol with holy water and mashed-up garlic. (Plus…it’s just so much fun.)

6. Keep the Count Counting

If you suspect a vampire prowls in an area near you, sprinkle poppy seeds, sand, beads or anything small and grain-like all around your ‘hood. The idea is that vampires are said to be compelled to count anything they see in a group. They’ll be forced to tally up every single grain and will be far too occupied to tap at your window.

The obsessive-compulsive nature of Nosferatu is not well-known, so using this little trick will almost certainly surprise your blood-sucking target, giving you plenty of time to put some distance between you.

Got it? Good. Drop those grains and run like…well, you get the idea by now.

5. Stake Through the Heart

We just love the classics! Driving a stake through a vampire’s heart is one of the most well-known methods to kill the already-dead.

Any wooden stake should be fine (though different woods are popular in different countries — hawthorn is favored in Serbia, for example). However, a silver stake is said to be guaranteed to reduce that troublesome vampire to ash and cinders. 

4. Annihilate the Leader

Folklore has it that the destruction of the leader of a group of vampires will free his minions from his dark thrall, returning their souls and rendering them human again.

Unfortunately, vampire leaders tend to be powerful, well-protected, well-connected, and crazy azz skillful. If you’re not Buffy or Van Helsing (or for that matter, Abraham Lincoln), leave this trick to the professionals. 

3. Grab Some Silver

Like a silver stake, a silver bullet  spells instant death for vampires. They are violently allergic to the pure metal and will crumble to dust upon contact, according to vampire lore enthusiasts.

If guns are inaccessible, think silver arrowheads, slingshot rounds, darts, or even cutlery. Practically anything silver will do — so long as you fling it hard enough.

2. Sunlight (Maybe)

Vampires are creatures of the night, lingering in shadows and only emerging from their coffins, caves or basements after the sun has set and most mortals are tucked up safely in bed. So sunlight should kill them.

Unfortunately, while vampire hunters agree that the undead shun sunlight, there is some debate over its lethality. Some argue that even the briefest exposure to UV radiation will turn a vampire into a pillar of screaming flames; others maintain that truly powerful vampires can move around freely during the daytime, suffering only the temporary loss of their super-human abilities.

We say: either way, it’s worth a shot. I mean you wanted to work on your tan anyway, didn’t you? Expose your frightening foe to some sunlight and while she’s writhing, go to town with a stake (see above).

1. Channel “the Slayer”

The slayer is a notorious vampire killer who goes out on the hunt for  deadly bloody suckers (think Buffy). They have no fear and are willing to risk their life to benefit others. Abraham Van Helsing is possibly the oldest and most well-known slayer in the world known for killing Count Dracula.

They say to every generation a slayer is born — so sharpen up on your mythical creature-killing skills. With enough training, the next one could be you!

 

10 Great Themes for Your Halloween Party

1. Harry Potter Party

Enjoy this Halloween by dressing up as characters from the Harry Potter series! Deck your house out in Hogwarts type décor such as medieval style cutlery, plates and pick your favorite Hogwart’s House to help create a color theme for your party.

Example: Green and Silver for Slytherin House, Red and Gold for Gryfindor House, Blue and Bronze for Ravenclaw House and Yellow and Black for Huffelpuff House. This would make a great theme for kids or Harry Potter fans!

2. True Blood Bash

Have a bloody, sexy bash this Hallow’s Eve by having all of your guests come as the cast of True Blood. Make sure you get your staple characters: Eric Northman, Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton, Lafayette, Tara and Sam Merlott.

This is more a theme for adults, especially considering the content of the show itself (*clearing throat*). If your guests are over 21, feel free to serve deliciously bloody cocktails and serve Louisiana cuisine. You could also have a dual theme with faeries and vampires if you want to stir things up. This could broaden food and drink options. Whatever you do, enjoy and don’t drink and drive!

Twilight Theme Party

3. Twilight Party:

If you’re a big fan of the Twilight saga, having a Twilight themed party may be the way to go. Dress up as Bella, Edward, Jacob and others this Halloween and serve saga inspired food and drink. Imagine a Bella Bloody Mary! If possible, consider having your party outside near some greenery to get the Forks, WA atmosphere. This party theme is suitable for all ages.

4. Underworld Themed Party

Deck yourself and your guests out in leather and boots. Come equipped with fake weapons as Selene, Kraven, Lucian or Michael Corvinus. Silver and blue make a great color scheme for this! If possible, hold this party in a mansion or large house and dim the lights for that otherworldly effect.

5. Ferngully Fairy Dinner Party

Dress up in earth-friendly clothing and serve all raw foods and organics! Fruity cocktails and vegan or vegetarian foods. This is a great idea for people who are vegan or vegetarian and want to enjoy the evening in spite of a sometimes limited or strict lifestyle. Decorate your home in paper lanterns or hang up some string lights. Eat your delicious treats and drink on soft cushions or set up a picnic in the backyard.

A bonus environmental theme party would, of course, be Avatar. Check out a great Avatar theme party setup here.

6. Zombie Party

Turn your house into Zombie land, literally! Dress up as your favorite celebrity, historical figure or yourself, zombified. Serve decaying flesh (Spaghetti or Lasagna), a banana brain cake for desert, and Zombie cocktails!

masquerade Halloween party

7. Mysterious Masquerade Ball

Dress up in your finest on this special evening formal wear and match it with a Venetian mask! Cater for a high class meal and uptown cocktails. If you can, opt for renting out a banquet hall and orchestra for traditional waltzes and ballads. Also, check out a Phantom of the Opera theme party.

8. Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Are you an Alice in Wonderland fan? Love the Mad Hatter or Queen of Hearts? Have a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party complete with traditional tea wares, tea cakes, tailcoats and pinafores! Hang pastel paper lanterns and enjoy your party in the backyard on a picnic table with a blue picnic table. Whatever you do, be sure to serve a Un-Birthday Cake!

sparta 300 party9. We Are Sparta!

Enjoy a more traditional party theme and dress up as Greek Gods & Goddesses or the cast of Sparta. Drink wine, cheese and bread and rare luncheon meats. Enjoy them with blue and silver or red and gold theme décor. Have the movie 300 playing in the background.

10. Comics & Superheroes Party

Pick your favorite comic book character or super hero and decorate your house or a banquet hall in bright comic style colors! Theme your drinks to give your specific super hero abilities! Serve up some kryptonite for your enemies!

Halloween Bar Essentials

If you’re hosting a Halloween Party for the over 21 crowd, a bar is a must, and with a few tweeks to your regular drinks cart, you can be Halloween ready before the first cork is popped.

While spooky, creepy and downright frightening cocktails are always fun to concoct, basic bar essentials can also have that Halloween vibe. Try these quick ideas to make your bar spooktactular this year!

Spiderweb Wine Glasses

Add some temporary spook to your every day wine glasses by making your own glass clings. Draw spider webs with glossy puff paint onto plastic page separators and allow them to dry completely. Once dry, these webs will easily peel off and cling to both plastic and glass wine glasses, high balls and shot glasses. After the party, simply peel off and toss, or store back on a page protector for next year.

Eye Ball Ice Cubes

macheesmo.com
macheesmo.com

The perfect addition to your Halloween martinis, these ice cubes can be made by popping pimento stuffed olives into your regular ice cube tray, covering with water and freezing. Pile your eyeball ice into a bowl on the bar – part drink ingredient, part decoration!

Blood Rimmed Glasses

This looks especially bloodcurdling on martini glasses but can be used for any style of glass. Mix a few drops of red food coloring into light corn syrup and pour onto a plate. Twist the rim of an inverted glass slowly on the plate before pulling up and letting most of the excess drip off. Flip the glasses right side up and let the “blood” dribble slightly down the side of the glass.

halloween bar EssentialsHalloween Wine Bottle Labels

This subtle but fun addition to your bar will have your guests doing a double take. Type up a few ghoulish labels on your computer and print to size on antiqued or good quality paper. Use a glue stick to adhere right over the existing wine bottle label and line them up on your bar.

Book Review: How to Haunt Your House, Book Two

How to Haunt Your House: Book Two

By Shawn and Lynne Mitchell

In their first book, Lynne and Shawn Mitchell took you through a gorgeous and macabre world of Halloween prop-building to haunt your house.  How to Haunt Your House, Book Two, we’re happy to say, is not a rehash of their first book, but a worthy companion that ambitiously expands on their haunting tutorials, while easily standing on its own with all new projects, styles and techniques, all presented in clear, glossy photos and instructions.

In their “dead”ication, the authors pay enthusiastic homage to all the things that go bump in the night. One can easily imagine being one the authors’ neighbors as summer begins to morph into autumn … “Strange lights are often spotted in the late, night hours and the occasional, stray sounds of owls, hissing cats and long, drawn-out cries of wolves will be heard echoing down the driveway.”

This successfully sets the tone for the lush and gothic world we are about to enter, and the shadows cast by their props begin to look just a little bit too alive…an effect we can produce by following their inspiring examples.

How to Haunt Your House, Book 2What’s Inside

So. What can you expect by this volume?

Well, how about a full tutorial on building (and deconstructing for storage) an entire scale model gothic mausoleum, complete with an old, rusty wrought-iron gate? Hard to believe it’s all achieved with wood frames, Styrofoam and PVC pipe!

Stock your kitchen with apothecary jars full of strange, glowing liquids filled with creatures you can almost (but not quite) recognize. Construct huge gargoyle columns, fashion a complete crypt that doubles as a hide-away for your electronic components, create foggy, bubbling cauldrons and turn store-bought props and mannequins into ghoulish hags and decapitated brides.

If that’s not enough, Lynne and Shawn devote a large section of their book on animated props. Using clear and detailed images, they show you the components you need, types of motors and connections, and suggested power supplies. Step-by-step, they take you through two motorized projects, one of a monster churning a pot by hand, and an undead creature turning its head in a cemetery.

A book on building and designing props would certainly be fulfilling, but all of these projects are unified with chapters on how to present an enthralling entrance, inside decor (with tips on lighting and accessories), and images and layout tips for a fully-stocked cemetery.

We’re impressed with their creativity, attention to detail, and willingness to peel back the moth-eaten curtains to teach you how everything is done. The ideas are presented with lush, full-page images and eerie backgrounds to keep with the mood.

We give it three thumbs up! (One for each monster hand.)

Fairy Costume Ideas

Image credit: Pinterest, Jennifer Howard

Fairy costumes have always been popular for Halloween parties. Go to any dress up party and you’re sure to find young girls and women (and men, particularly on the heels of Lord of the Rings elvish popularity) dressed as fairies.

The reason is easy to understand: fairies and elves have a classical and exotic look.

Moreover, the ample varieties in fairy costumes make it easy for women to dress uniquely, truly expressing their own fairy “flavor,” whether that’s sweet and winged, sexy, traditional, or kick-A, a la The Hobbit’s Tauriel.

And let’s not forget the accessories! (Can I get a “yes please”?) Awesome ears (see image at right), butterflies, flowers and more – you can do all of this and add your own special creativity to your gorgeous fairy costume.

If you are planning to attend a Halloween party this year, or host your own, choose one of the stylish designed fairy costumes and be truly magical. Here’s how.

Choose Your Fairy Style

There are many varieties of fairy costumes available in the market. But don’t stop there – you can craft one of your own.

Credit: costumedirect.co.uk

Buy a basic skirt and tank top (try Etsy for cool selections) and add on whatever you’d like that’s truly magical.

You can opt for a classical gothic costume or a sensuous sexy fairy costume, or choose a famous fairy, such as Tinkerbell (aww!).

You can even be one of Sleeping Beauty’s protectors – remember the three fairies in the cottage? Or be a bippety-boppety-boo fairy godmother.

Glamming Things Up

Credit: Etsy, CuffandCrown

Depending on what you choose, your costume should be elegantly designed and feature skirts, silk flowers, traditional pointed ears, wings and other matching decorations and accessories. You can also shop separately for accessories and add them to the costume to give you a unique fairy look.

Hint: You’ll find some COOL stuff at consignment and thrift shops, including filmy pieces of material and nifty shoes. And you’ll save beaucoup bucks!

Be Original

Whatever you choose for your fairy costume, remember: today, anything goes for Halloween. And we do mean anything!

Grab some cool ears, something filmy, and you’re good to go. After that, it’s all up to you and your imagination.

Now hurry and grab me a pumpkin – I’m late to the ball!