2017’s Best Movie Couple Costumes

 

Well hey there, gorgeous. You ought to be in pictures! Fictional on-screen lovers (and sometimes, nemeses) have always been popular for Halloween parties and sometimes, for private dressup (don’t worry, we’ll never tell).

If you’re wondering what couples costume theme to choose for 2017, check out the movies that were hits – plus a few that never quite “got there” yet left enduring images for you to emulate this Halloween. 

Here are our favorite fictional couples from this year’s marquees, plus hacks to get you started on creating your own perfectly paired getup. (Or if you’re short on time, click the orange links for steals on these awesome costumes!)

Baywatch

 

Credit: Pinterest, hanna dunlap

We laughed at it years ago when it was a series, yet we couldn’t look away. The same thing happened when Baywatch blew up as a 2017 movie. Be specific Baywatch characters (CJ is iconic, for example) or focus on the Hollywood star aspect (we CAN smell what the Rock is cookin’).

YOUR HACKS: Go thrift shopping for 80s throwback jackets and not-quite-long-enough men’s shorts. Find a plain sleeveless leotard and dye it red – check your local dollar store to see if they have Rit or another brand. (The same goes for the men’s shorts, by the way.) Grab a pair of shades, tease your hair to gigantic proportions and you’re good to go. For the 2017 version, look for a long-sleeve, zip-down leotard. If it’s a lighter color, you can dye it red.

Spider-Man and Mary Jane, Michelle or Liz

 

Credit: Kanani Whitt Photography

The movies have gone through many incarnations, interpretations and outfits, but the gist is the same: for the Man himself, go for a giant-eyed hood and either red, blue or black tights and top. For Spider-Man’s squeeze, choose either traditional red-headed Mary Jane from the comic books and several movie interpretations, Liz from 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” or for extra fun, the hilariously emo and definitely secretly crushing Michelle.

YOUR HACKS: Yes, they sell guy’s tights. Grab a blue pair and stretch red socks over them. Wear a tight red shirt and red gloves. Get creative and draw webbing with a fabric pen. For Liz: go 2017 girly casual. For Michelle: find a curly wig on the cheap on Amazon or ebay and pair with anything black. For Mary Jane: temporarily dye your hair red with Manic Panic or buy a red wig and wear retro clothing. Don’t forget to go for that kiss!

Rey and Finn

 

We know…we love them too, and everyone at the party will love YOU even if you don’t bring your own little BB8 as shown (awww!).

YOUR HACKS: Plastic Star Wars weaponry is available everywhere – even dollar and thrift shops. Although several of the weapons from this extension of the Star Wars franchise are iconic, if you’re on a budget, any Star Wars shooter should do. Finn’s jacket can be tougher; again we’re going to recommend thrift shops or Goodwill. Fabric glue strips of material to decorate. For Rey, wear your hair in descending messy buns. Strap neutral-colored fabric along your arms and around your waist. Dye a plain tunic beige or repurpose a garment you won’t be wearing anymore by cutting out the sleeves and adding a brown scarf as your belt.

King Kong and Brie

 

Credit: popsugar.com 

These two have been a hot item since 1933 and have paired up once again for “King Kong: Skull Island.” “Monkey” (in this case, technically gorilla) suits are always popular for Halloween – for some reason, we’re fascinated with them – but we recommend renting, not buying, unless you plan on taking New York and that hot party by storm year after year.

YOUR HACKS: For Brie, style your hair in curls and a retro “golden days of Hollywood” front side flip. Find a cocktail dress on ebay or Goodwill and add some costume pearls. Add a giant hand; get crafty and papier-mache one over a series of balloons which you can pop and then paint the exterior once everything has dried. Duct tape or vinyl pieces are other options for this effect. For Kong: as we said, rent, don’t buy, unless you can find a steal on ebay.

Medieval Couple (Based on “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”)

 

Credit: Pinterest, stacyreeves.com

We were brokenhearted when 2017’s King Arthur was proclaimed a flop – until we saw how many individuals and couples are ALREADY getting geared up in medieval threads in preparation for Halloween this year! Arthur is legendary in every way, with or without his princess Guinevere (she was absent in this first of the movie series franchise), and best of all, he NEVER needs to be historically accurate, so get into anything middle ages/knights and ladies fair for this idea.

YOUR HACKS: A tunic belted with a tied scarf is very medieval knight. Fabric-glue pieces in the shape of a cross or dragon. Add a plastic sword from the dollar store. If you can locate one, wear a faux crown. You can also go pre-king with an open plain shirt, a Goodwill faux leather or woven jacket with the sleeves cut out and plain black or brown pants. For Guinevere or for a fascinating twist, Morgana: Find a long cocktail dress at the Goodwill and belt it with a cheap non-boned bustier; check ebay for this. You can also belt the tunic with a long, draping scarf. If you’d like, add an outer-skirt and tuck one side toward the front into the waistband of your belt so the under-color shows through. Put flowers in your hair.

Gamora and Peter

We know they’ll be getting together at SOME point. Make the wait less excruciating by dressing as Gamora and Peter Quill from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” this Halloween.

YOUR HACKS: Be careful, as some people have sensitive skin, but if you’re not prone to breakouts or reactions, go to your local dollar store for plenty of green Halloween pan makeup and a black makeup crayon. Wear your tightest black jeans and a tight tank top. For Peter, if you’re crafty, make and paint a papier-mache mask; if not, a wealth of Peter masks is expected to be out this year. You can also go natural as bare-faced Peter. Wear black pants and a faux leather jacket; choose a wide belt and add boots.

Belle and Adam (Beauty and Beast)

 

We all dream of that gorgeous yellow ballgown or Adam’s amazing “you rich beast, you” coat, but you can still get in on the unlikely yet enduring romance without breaking the royal coffers.

YOUR HACKS: For Belle (Beauty): Go thrift store hunting and find a plain white shirt and any light-colored jumper. Dye the jumper blue with dye from the dollar store. Buy white stockings while you’re there – you only need them to last for one night, after all. Curl your hair and tie it back in a ribbon. For Adam: wear a large, partially unbottoned wide-sleeve shirt and casual brown or black pants. Cut these jaggedly at the wrists and ankles. Wear a wig or wild your own hair out with gel. Pick up a cheap makeup palette and create a fuzzy facial look. Add plastic fangs if you’d like.

Jack Sparrow and…Whomever

Credit: coolest-homemade-costumes.com

Jack is never quite “with” anybody, yet there’s electricity between him and a variety of damsels and female pirates (and even an otherworldy creature or two) throughout the franchise. This time around, in “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the feisty movie beauty was Carina, but other exceptional “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise females have included Elizabeth Swan, the goddess Calypso, the mermaid Syrena and Angelica.

YOUR HACKS: Elizabeth was known for her gold-colored gown. If you’re going full Elizabeth, we recommend that you rent rather than buy this costume, which can run to the pricey side. For any of the other characters, including Elizabeth’s various pirate costumes throughout the series, combine a retro 70s long skirt from the thrift shop with a wide belt and a tight, low top or a budget bustier/corset. Wear your hair half-up and hanging down in curls or find budget extensions or a wig. For Calypso and Carina, add steampunk accessories like leather and boots. For Jack: Jack Sparrow dreds are so well-known you can actually buy hats that include them, glued to the inside brim. If you have long hair, braid your own and add beads. Wear a large, wide-sleeved top, unbuttoned as low as you dare. TIP: a large-size elastic band (do NOT let this compromise our circulation) around the wrists “puffs” them out in a very 17th-century style. Wear slightly baggy pants, boots and put a plastic pistol into your waistband (which you can create with a simple scarf).

 

Looking for Some New Digs? Dracula’s Castle is on the Market

Image: dailymail.co.uk
Image: dailymail.co.uk

 

With home prices on an upswing, it’s downright frightening for wannabe buyers right now in the world of real estate.

But things just got even scarier with the announcement that the infamous Bran Castle – the legendary digs associated with the late Prince Vlad Dracul – is up for sale.

As most horror (and history) fanatics know, Dracul was the inspiration for Brahm Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, which spawned movies, books and a pop culture image of the sexy slayer we all know and fear.

The creepy count lived in, appropriately enough, a tall, forbidding structure much like Romania’s Bran Castle.

The imposing structure – “Casteul Bran” in its native tongue – was built in the 12th century on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia and was probably unknown to later author Stoker, but according to history, it may have at least loose associations with Vlad III (Vald the Impaler, or Vlad Dracul). The actual castle that captured Stoker’s imagination was similar to Bran Castle, and both were located in the territory then known as Transylvania.

The actual locale where Vlad rested his halberd is now in ruins, but Bran Castle stands as the iconic chilling home for all things vampirish…and now, it’s for sale.

Got Leu?

The sprawling Bran Castle is owned by descendants of the Romanian royal family, but they’re now looking to unload it onto a likely buyer (can’t you just imagine hands rubbing together over a hulking, creepy smile? Sorry for any offense to the Habsburgs, who haven’t shown any real-life bloody tendencies…that we know of).

The asking price is a modest $66 million (about 216,000,000 Romanian leu), but it might be flown off with at a steal, according to realtors, who estimate the final selling price could be as little as $13 million.

But don’t lose your head over the price tag. Look what you’re getting – 57 rooms on 22 acres atop a majestic cliff that just screams location, location, location (at least we THINK those are the screams we hear).

And if you’re short on funds, the royal family won’t necessarily bleed you dry. “If someone comes in with a reasonable offer,” realtor Mark Meyer told the British periodical Telegraph, “…we will seriously entertain the idea.”

Stake Your Claim

Sadly, for most of us, the idea of such a purchase is downright flighty (imagine the commute to your current job?). But you can still dream…or is that a nightmare in the making?

Either way, feast your…er, eyes on these fun and freaky photos of this historic locale.

It looks even spookier at night, meaning you and your loved ones will be sure to throw some killer parties with this pensive purchase. Image: dailymail.co.uk
It looks even spookier at night, meaning you and your loved ones will be sure to throw some killer parties with this pensive purchase. Image: dailymail.co.uk
Looking to stretch your legs? Castle Braun has 57 spacious rooms...and plenty of places to hide the bodies.
Looking to stretch your legs? Castle Braun has 57 spacious rooms…and plenty of places to hide the bodies.

 

Even the good guys look spooky at this creepy castle. Shown here: Romanian priest Petru Darascu.
Even the good guys look spooky at this creepy castle. Shown here: Romanian priest Petru Darascu, frozen in time in eerie effigy.

 

Come inside and warm up. You're looking a little pale. Image: dailymail.co.uk
Come inside and warm up. You’re looking a little pale. Image: dailymail.co.uk
Make this your resting place...just not a final one. Image: dailymail.co.uk
Make this your resting place…just not a final one. Image: dailymail.co.uk

 

So you say you like a cozy courtyard? You won't be disappointed. Image: all-that-is-interesting.com
So you say you like a cozy courtyard? You won’t be disappointed. Image: all-that-is-interesting.com

 

The locale is huge, sprawling, and elaborate - everything a castle-buyer could want. Image: dailymail.co.uk
The locale is huge, sprawling, and elaborate – everything a castle-buyer could want. Image: dailymail.co.uk

 

Location, location, location: the castle is nestled in amazing greenery. Image: rolandia.eu
Location, location, location: the castle is nestled in amazing greenery. Image: rolandia.eu

 

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 Make a Cat-o-Lantern

 

Adorbs! Make your own fun, spooky and frisky cat-o-lantern with this easy tutorial. Ready to get “familiar” with the technique?  Let’s get started!

Supplies

  • Two pumpkins:  a large one for the head and smaller one for the bodycat o lantern supplies 2
  • Two mini-pumpkins (Jack Be Littles or Baby Boos) – pick a size that will be suitable as paws for your cat-o-lantern
  • A zucchini or cucumber for the tail
  • Black spray paint (flat, satin or gloss, per your preference)
  • A large knife
  • A fine cutting tool
  • One tea light candle
  • Black cardboard or posterboard
  • Pins
  • Paper
  • Scissors

spraying pumpkin

Step One: Paint

  1. In a well ventilated area (outdoors is best), with your mouth and nose covered with a mask, spray paint all four pumpkins/gourds and the zucchini (or cucumber).
  2. Allow to dry and then turn each vegetable over and spray the bottom to make sure it is completely covered. Allow again to dry.

Step Two: Carve

scooping out the head

  1. Cut out the TOP of the smaller pumpkin as you would to carve any pumpkin. This will be the BOTTOM of the cat’s head. Scoop out insides and scrape.
  2. Draw an eye shape onto your blank paper and cut it out to make a pattern.
  3. Using pins, create pin marks all around the eye shape as shown. This will be your cutting guide. Flip the eye shape cutout and do eye patternthe same for the second eye.
  4. Cut the eyes out using the pin marks as your guide. Re-scrape the inside if any pumpkin bits are hanging into the eyes and visible.

Step Three: Add Ears

  1. Touch up the outside of the head with spray paint if necessary. Allow to dry.
  2. Cut an ear shape out of your black posterboard, leaving a small square tab at the bottom. Use this cutout as a pattern to cut the other ear. Fold down the tab at the bottom of each ear and pin to the head.

Step Four: Arrange Body Parts and Display

finished cat o lantern

  1. Arrange the body, paw (mini pumpkins) and tail (zucchini) pieces the way you wish them to look.
  2. Place the tea light on top of the body. Light the wick.
  3. Arrange the head on top of the body, over the light, so that the eyes are glowing. (We placed the head off-center here so that Kitty is looking over her shoulder.)

TIPS:

  • To get a faux glow in the daytime, place an orange or yellow piece of paper behind the eyes. At nighttime, remove the paper and light the candle.
  • For a squatter, rounder cat, choose a round pumpkin body; for a leaner cat, choose a taller pumpkin body.
  • Touch-ups are easy to do; just squirt a quick spray of spray-paint.
  • Use gloss paint if preferred. The tutorial shown here was created using flat black spray paint.
  • Larger eyes are spookier. Experiment with ideas on a piece of paper before creating your patterns and carving.
  • Two or more cats make a great look. Use different pumpkin shapes for the bodies in order to get a varied and interesting look.
  • To avoid candle wax dripping onto the body, place the candle in a small, flat dish that fits under the head.
  • If the head won’t stay on top of the body or is wobbly, carefully break some wooden chop sticks or use thick toothpicks. Push the picks into the bottom of the head and push the head down onto the body. An alternative is to arrange your cat so its head rests against an outdoor wall, or use clay to attach the head to the body.

catolantern

The 13 Most Haunted Hotels in America

 

Haunted hotels entered the public imagination in a big way with the spectrally occupied Overlook in The Shining. But creepy stories of spooky stay-overs have always been the subject of speculation – and some reportedly haunted stays still exist today.

Here’s Halloween Alliance’s list of the 13 spookiest hotels in America. Pack your bags and stay a while…if you dare.

#1: The Bourbon Orleans Hotel

Unearthly dancers are said to waltz through the Bourbon Orleans ballroom.
Unearthly dancers are said to waltz through the Bourbon Orleans ballroom.

Nestled in the iconic French Quarter of New Orleans, the Bourbon Orleans is the site of the original Orleans Ballroom, built in 1817. Among those reportedly at unrest at the Bourbon Orleans: a Confederate soldier for whom the war will never really be over (seen on the 3rd and 6th floors), children and nuns who were victims of a yellow fever epidemic when the hotel was an orphanage, and mysterious dancers who disappear as quickly as they appear, ruffling the draperies as they waltz from one world into the next.

#2: The Omni Homestead Resort

Despite its idyllic appearance, the Homestead is said to be anything but restful (or at rest).
Despite its idyllic appearance, the Homestead is said to be anything but restful (or at rest).

According to guests, the Hot Springs, VA-located Omni Homestead Resort is anything but restful. Though the entire building is said to experience ghostly disturbances, the 14th floor receives the most reports of paranormal activity. Originally erected as a much smaller facility in 1776, the resort is said to have a bloody history, including a bride left at the altar who committed suicide in one of the rooms. More recently, the hotel has experienced violence that visitors swear was spurned by the unrest in the building: two hotel supervisors were shot by an employee in the hotel’s kitchen in 2009.

#3: The Onaledge Inn

Harassed male visitors claim some of the Onaledge's guests have reserved a postmortem stay at the haunted locale.
Harassed male visitors claim an aggressive elderly woman has booked a post-mortem stay at the Onaledge.

Built as the Red Craggs Inn in 1844, this Manitou Springs, CO bed-and-breakfast is said to have a number of unearthly “regulars,” including a “blue boy” who plays near the pond and, perhaps more dangerously, an unidentified elderly female who attempts to shove at male visitors. The location was rebuilt as the Onaledge Inn in the early 20th century, but these spooky guests, visitors say, refuse to leave.

#4: The Stanley Hotel

stanley hotel ghost
The spooky Stanley Hotel has a dangerous history and is said to host at least one ghost (see image above).

That’s right: it’s the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining in 1980. And it’s not just King who felt something eerie in the famous locale. According to hotel employees, the Estes Park, CO structure, built by Stanley Steamer magnate Freeland O. Stanley in the early 1900s, things go bump in the night, and not just in Room 217. The place has been plagued by a gas leak, a mystery explosion, power outages and, according to records, has resulted in injuries, including two broken ankles by one of the employees.  Among its spookier stories: beds are found by chambermaids already made up (and not by the guests), and honeymooners report being physically separated on the marriage bed by a spectral presence. And according to hauntedplacesinamerica.com, an eerie image (shown in the pic, right) has been captured – temporarily, anyway – on camera.

Continue the Haunted Tour ->

 

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:

A Very Vintage Halloween: Hauntin’ it Old-School

 

Vintage means different things to different people. When it comes to Halloween, “vintage” may refer to the time period the person grew up (say, the 60s or the 80s), a culturally nostalgic time such as World War II or the Victorian era, or simply an “old” look and feel.

Therefore, we’re glad to bring you ideas that cover a range of time periods. You may remember them or your parents might wax nostalgic about them, but either way, everyone loves vintage – so enjoy and make this Halloween a blast from the past!

Biestle: The Cardboard Cutout Gold Standard

Biestle cutouts

Beistle is the ironic name for a Halloween hang-up decorations franchise that you may remember from the 60s, 70s or 80s. The name might not ring a bell – but once you see these traditional cardboard cutouts, we guarantee you’ll be transported into the past.

The company still offers the decor you remember at rock-bottom low pricing. Find great iconic decorations at Amazon, ebay or at beistle.com.

 

The Candy You Remember: Have a Bite!

wax fangs 2
candywarehouse.com

Mmmmmmmm! Long ago, we settled for stale wax lips, phony cigarettes and “Sips” of pure glucose – and we loved them!

If you think you can’t re-live the experience, think again. Nostalgic candy is big business, and dozens of retailers offer the insta-cavity makers you remember. Try these locales:

monster mashMusic: Step Into the Past to Set a Mood

Nothing transports a person into a specific time or past event like music. Playing the Halloween favorites from your childhood will set an instant mood. Set up a playlist or buy a ready-made CD and rock out at your vintage Halloween party.

A few Halloween song classics include:

  • Monster Mash (Bobby “Boris” Pickett)
  • The Purple People Eater (Sheb Wooley)
  • Love Potion No. 9 (The Clovers)
  • Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
  • Thriller (Michael Jackson)
  • Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
  • Spooky (Atlanta Rhythm Section)
  • Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.)
  • Tubular Bells (theme to The Exorcist) (Mike Oldfield)
  • Devil Woman (Cliff Richard)
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (The Charlie Daniels Band)
  • Time Warp (Richard O’Brien)
  • I Put a Spell On You (Nina Simone)
  • Dragula (Rob Zombie)
  • Somebody’s Watching Me (Rockwell)
  • Black Magic Woman (Santana)
  • Witchy Woman (Eagles)

Classic Posters Create a Retro Atmosphere

Classic horror movie retro posters can be had at a steal (as long as they’re repros and not originals). Hang up posters of The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Fly, Dracula, Frankenstein, and traditional Halloween icons such as Elvira, The Munsters and The Addams Family.

Ebay and Amazon carry them, as do big box sellers such as allposters.com.

Vintage Invitations for Your Halloween Bash

halloween postcard
trueghosttales.com

Google vintage Halloween postcards, download and paste text into the body to invite your friends to your amazing Halloween bash.

Don’t forget to tell your guests to come in the vintage attire of their choice, and make this one Halloween that will go down in history!

A Tribute To Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Image: wescraven.com
Image: wescraven.com

Remembering a Legend

This past Sunday, horror appreciators everywhere received the sad news that Hollywood legend Wes Craven had passed away. The horror film master, who had been battling brain cancer, succumbed to his illness in his Los Angeles home on Aug. 30, 2015. He was 76.

The world will remember Mr. Craven as the scream king who brilliantly brought us such classics as The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Here is our tribute to the man, the movies and the legend whose push-the-envelope creativity will always be remembered. Wes, thank you for the thrills, the screams…and the images that helped shape the face of a genre – and still keep us up at night.

Wes Speaks: An Interview

The Movies We Loved

About Wes Craven

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!

How To Put Together a GREAT Last-Minute Halloween Costume

Psst. No time to pull together the quick fixes below? Grab the orange links below to find great deals!

You thought you were going to hang out on your couch tonight eating Ben & Jerry’s and watching old Hammer horror movies.

Then the phone call came.

“You won’t believe this – I just got invited to THE Halloween party of the year but I just can’t go alone! Please please please will you come with me?”

Or perhaps your three-year-old is staring up from her adorable clown costume with her lip trembling, asking, “But WHY won’t you dress up too, Daddy? You promised.”

What to do? You have 30 minutes and zero ideas. Never fear: you can pull together a unique costume…and you can use items you already have around the house! Get ready, get set…get into the spirit in a flash with these last-minute costumes.

  • Put an old lampshade on your head and hang a sign around your neck that says “Life of the Party.”chipotle baby
  • Wrap yourself in foil and be a burrito.
  • Get fully clothed and hang a sign around your neck that reads “Nudist On Strike.”
  • Have a headband lying around? Cut animal ears out of paper, color them, and glue them to the headband, then wear the headband ears on your head, along with an outfit in coordinating colors.
  • Go through your (or your wife’s, or your roommate’s, or your sister’s) makeup bag. Make yourself up as a slasher film victim or zombie by painting “blood” spatters with lipstick, be undead with dark eyeshadow under your eyes or be Frankenstein with green eyeshadow blended into some foundation (base) and black liquid eyeliner “stitches” on your forehead. Draw lines down from your mouth with eyeliner and draw “larger” eyes by making circles down below your own and be a haunted doll.
Charlie Brown. wonderhowto.com
Charlie Brown. wonderhowto.com
  • Draw an up-and-down pattern in black magic marker around a yellow shirt and be Charlie Brown.
  • Be a slasher film prom girl or undead groom, or a retro zombie or ghoul by repurposing an old outfit you were planning on tossing. A suit you’ve always hated, a plaid shirt that’s well past its grunge stage or a bridesmaid’s dress you already looked like a horror in anyway are all great choices.
  • Work with what you naturally have. For instance, if you’re a woman with long, dark hair and you have a black dress or black skirt and shirt stashed somewhere in your closet, do up your hair in braids and be Wednesday Addams. Work out a lot? Shred an old shirt, paint open areas green with green eyeshadow mixed into makeup base and be The Incredible Hulk.

    Rosie the Riveter. thechicsite.com
    Rosie the Riveter. thechicsite.com
  • Raid the garage or attic. If you have kids, great! You probably have accessories that will fit you even though they were originally purposed for children. For instance, cat or mouse ears will probably fit on your head; match these with a same-color simple outfit (black for black cat ears, gray for a mouse, pink for a pink bunny, etc.). Even if you don’t have children, you may uncover some fantastic finds – old clothes that are past their prime and now have their own naturally spooky look; pieces of old costumes from that last Halloween party you went to in 2003.
Scarecrow. heavy.com
Scarecrow. heavy.com
  • Have autumn/Halloween leaf decorations up (or stored in your garage)? Tape them all over autumn-colored clothes such as yellow, orange, red or brown and be a tree.
  • Find torn up old duds and a hat you were about to toss and be a scarecrow. Add circle cheeks and other scarecrow face decor with makeup if you’d like. If you have hay or straw decor around your house, stuff a little into your wrist and pants cuffs.
  • Grab an old black suit jacket and an empty Dos Equis container, paint on a beard and mustache if you don’t already have one and be The Most Interesting Man in the World.
  • Put some lemons in a bowl and write “LIFE” in marker on an old t-shirt. You are now life, handing out lemons.

    The most interesting man in the world. mashable.com
    The most interesting man in the world. mashable.com
  • Put a kerchief on your head. Wear a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of jeans with the cuffs rolled. Put on lots of red lipstick. Voila – you’re Rosie the Riveter.
  • Know someone who wears a uniform to his or her job and is willing to “loan” it? There you go: instant “costume”!
  • Put black tape in a stick-figure formation on a white shirt and pants, tie a smiley circle around your head and be a stick figure.
  • Have a lot of black in your closet? Put on a black shirt and black jeans and safety-pin a full black skirt to the back of the neck of the shirt and to each cuff of the shirt. Spread your wings, and you have an instant bat costume.
  • Take dozens of Post-It Notes and write “Hello, my name is…” with a different name on each. Post them all over your shirt. Your costume? Identity thief.
  • Roll up the sleeves of a black or silk screen t-shirt, draw “bad boy” or “bad girl”-style tattoos all over your arms and upper chest and be a biker.

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?

5-Minute “Bleeding” Candle Tutorial

bleedingcandles3

Looking to add some gore to your decor, but you don’t have a lot of time (and don’t want to invest a wad of cash)?

Here’s your EASIEST way to creep up any Halloween table!

And the best part? We used items found at our local dollar store and saved a bundle on a truly creepy, authentic-looking prop. Read on to find out how to transform ordinary candles into lighting with a creep factor in just 5 minutes (really!).

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

You will need:bleedingcandles5

  • one or more white candles; either burning wick or flameless/battery-operated
  • a red candle with a tapered end
  • decor items to surround your bleeding candles, if desired
  • a surface that’s easy to clean up; put down newspaper or a disposable sheet

Step Two: Safety FIRST

Although this tutorial is super-simple, please remember that you’re utilizing flame. Keep flammable items away from the area you’re working on. Do not allow children to do this craft on their own.

If you’re using plastic battery-operated (flameless) candles, remember that plastic can be very toxic if melted. DO NOT touch the flame of the melting candle to the plastic of your battery-operated candle. Hold the flame at least 1″ away and drip downward.

bleedingcandles6Step Three: Melt the Red Candle Over the White Candle(s)

Take the red taper candle and light the end. Now, holding it at an angle so you don’t accidentally light the wick on the white candle, drip red wax down onto the white candle. Try to have this look somewhat random, as if “blood” were flowing down the candle.

 

Step Four: Allow to Cool Completely

The wax should cool quickly, but some may puddle up near the wick. Allow the candle to cool upright.

Step Five: Add Decorbleeding candles

Now that you have some creepy candles made, you can simply place your bloody candles on a table or around your Halloween party area, or if you’d like, arrange them to look spooky.

Get creative. Add pumpkins, spiders, moss, leaves, cobwebs, or whatever strikes your fancy. (Just make sure to keep flammable items away from the candle flame.) Here, we used Spanish moss and a scrolled candle-holder.

Enjoy – this one simple prop will add awesome ambiance to your decor!

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

 

 

 

 

 

Dia de los Muertos: Get Your Dead On!

Can’t get enough Halloween? Then celebrate it twice! Here’s the 411 on a famous Spanish-community holiday…and how you can get in on the action, including song, dance, flowers, history, and of course…candy!

What is Dia de los Muertos?

Dia de los Muertos (“day of the dead” or “day of the dead ones”) is actually three days: Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. However, many celebrants combine the traditions into one day.

Dating back hundreds of years as an official celebration and possibly linked to ancient Aztec culture, Dia de los Muertos honors those who have passed through the veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.

Various Spanish-origin cultures celebrate Dia de los Muertos, but in the United States it is most popular among the Mexican population. Parades are held in major Mexican-populations across the U.S., most famously Los Angeles, San Diego and Tuscon.

Behind the Partying: Why It’s Celebrated

1842259453_ce0814b427_b
Dia de Los Muertos has a religoius element. Image: Senor Codo

You may not hold to the following beliefs, but taking a bit from tradition can add a fascinating element of honoring one’s past.

  • Oct. 31: All Hallow’s Eve. On this night, altars are erected in the home to honor loved ones who have passed on. Some families officially invite the spirits of their loved ones to the three-day celebration. Children may erect their own mini-altars, inviting the angelitos (dead children) to the household. Grim? Perhaps – but it’s a fascinating and very respectful way to remember one’s own heritage.
  • Nov. 1: All Saint’s Day. On this day, the adult “passed spirits” are believed to enter the celebration.
  • Nov. 2: All Souls’ Day. Families visit the graves of deceased loved ones. They clean the area and decorate it, usually with colorful bouquets of flowers, as well as rosaries, photos and little gifts for the deceased.

These are all Christian calendar dates, but there’s a very pagan element to Dia de los Muertos, and it is believed that some aspects of the three-day celebration tie in to pre-Columbian Central and South America.

Waking the Dead: How to Celebrate

4054399626_2729d2a2c2_b
Mmm! Sugar skulls, or “calaveras,” are (almost) too pretty to eat. Image: Danielle

Wow – get ready for a wild ride! Dia de los Muertos is generally a community affair with colorful décor, music and dancing. Here are a few ways that celebrants honor the three-day festival:

  • A parade. The three-day festival often begins with a procession, complete with music. Individuals carry photos of deceased family members, colorful bouquets of flowers and dress up to the nines for what is basically an opening ceremony to the holiday. Start a tradition by having a parade in your neighborhood or by hosting a Dia de los Muertos party.
  • Las calaveras. Literally “the skulls,” these delicious sugar treats – or “sugar skulls” – are too beautiful to eat. Months may go into crafting these sweet creations, but if you’d like to try a sugar skull yourself, there are online vendors who offer them. (In areas that have a large Mexican population, you may be able to purchase them at markets.)
5465971114_695468827c
Paint yourself calacas-style. Image: Cody Garcia
  • Decorate with flowers. Orange marigolds are the most popular flower for Dia de los Muertos, but there really are no rules – for this holiday it’s flowers, flowers everywhere! Buy flowers or consider making paper flowers yourself.
  • Bake pan de muerto (literally “bread of the dead”). Share it with family and friends, or take loaves to the cemetery to leave as ofrendas (offerings).
  • Decorate with calacas. Calacas are skeletons painted fancifully, often as a spoof: for example, dancing or singing skeletons, or calacas playing musical instruments.
  • Paint your own face calacas-style! Paint your face white with theater paint, then add flowers, patterns and anything beautiful you can dream up.
MexicanSugarSkullDotCom
Image: mexicansugarskull.com

Whatever you decide to do, make sure there’s plenty of great music – traditional Mexican music is a great pick – and lots of food (and drink, if you’d like).

Though its point seems morbid (and is, in its most literal definition), Dia de los Muertos is actually a celebration of life carrying on, while letting the dead know they’re not forgotten. So get your Spanish on and get partying!

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The spooktacular celebration of death (and life) often starts with a no-holds-barred parade. Image: Larry Lamsa

Make a Dollar Store Halloween Wreath

At my house with small children, we appreciate the whimsical as much as the creepy. It’s always a challenge to find Halloween decorations that fit both these criteria.

Here’s one we came up with that was so simple – and so cheap! Using only dollar store items, you can make this project, too. Let’s go shopping and get crafting!

You will need:

  • a grapevine or willow wreath or a metal or plastic wreath form (or you can use a few faux vines, twisted together)
  • dried moss (flower décor) if you’re using a metal or plastic wreath form – buy two bags
  • orange ribbon
  • black ribbon
  • twine, or any dark-colored thin yarn, frayed
  • embellishments (spiders, cobwebs, etc.)
  • one “highlight” embellishment (a miniature witch, a skeleton, etc.)
  • a hot glue gun and a stick of hot glue

(For reference, I got all of my materials at the dollar store, including the glue gun. This item won’t be the best quality if you find it at your local dollar store, but even if you only get a few uses out if it, it will have paid itself off.)

Here’s the process:

  1. If you’re using an empty wreath form, stuff the form with the moss. Pack densely.

    Just one reason of many that I love Dollar Tree: cheap wreaths.
  2. If using a wreath form and moss, begin wrapping the twine all around the filled form, spacing evenly. Use the hot glue gun in various spots to hold the twine in place.
  3. If using a grapevine wreath, start with the ribbons instead. Wrap the wreath with the orange ribbon in the style shown. Now wrap with black ribbon. Use the hot glue gun in various spots to hold the ribbon in place.
  4. If using the wreath form, continue by wrapping the black and orange ribbon as shown (over the twine). If using a rattan wreath, wrap with twine. Hot glue into place.
  5. Now hot glue your embellishments on at intervals all along your wreath. For the wreath form, you’re probably better off gluing and pressing down over part of the form rather than simply gluing items into the moss, unless your items are very light weight. I used spiders.
  6. Tie a piece of twine to the back of your wreath (through the grapevine branches or around the wreath form) so it is hanging down. Tie or glue your highlight embellishment to the end. I used a witch, as shown.
  7. You can easily make this wreath a whole lot scarier. Gore it up or use more graphic imagery. You can also add cobwebs to the finished item for a haunted effect.
Mini skeletons from 99 Cents Only Stores.

You probably don’t need a hanger on the back of the wreath; there should be plenty of spaces between the twigs/along the form to hang the wreath on a hook. You can go ahead and hot glue a hanger if you wish, though. This too can be purchased at most dollar stores.

Voila! A great Halloween wreath on the cheap. For this low cost, you can make several and decorate all your windows. Or have a wreath-making party for friends. You’ll be surprised by how both adults and kids get into this.

CAUTION: Do not allow children to operate the hot glue gun. Have them place their items onto the wreath where they want them and then have an adult hot glue them into place. Be safe and have fun with this easy, inexpensive Halloween craft.

 

 

Decorate Your Car for Halloween

Thought you’d run out of things to creep up on Halloween? Wrong-o, my spooky friend! Have you ever considered decorating your car?

I have. And I’ve used most of the methods described below. If I haven’t, I’ve referenced the appropriate image. Come along on a terrifying little ride with me!

Car Decor Idea #1: Ghost Rider

Every year, come the first day of fall of thereabouts, our fam

"Skellie," our family's very own ghost rider
“Skellie,” our family’s very own ghost rider

ily friend Skellie takes up residence in my car. I drive, and Skellie drives shotgun. We even put a seat belt on him (see pic).

This little trick is hysterical and is obviously very easy to do. Strap in any close to life-size poseable skeleton, zombie, ghost, witch or ghoul so passersby get an eyeful.

Don’t go too gory or too realistic, as trying to figure out what that “thing” is in the front seat could potentially cause a rubbernecking accident.

Car Decor Idea #2: Hunk in the Trunk

This idea is an oldie but continues to be a goodie. Hang an arm or other body part out the trunk. (The old-fashioned way calls for a tie and an “Ex-Husband in Trunk” sign.)

Don’t allow parts to dangle below the level of the top of your license plate. They could get caught on your tires, drag under the car or cause other hazards.

Car Decor Idea #3: Window Clings

Not the artistic type? Use Halloween Window Clings on your car windows. Put them on the inside of the window so nobody can take them! Trust me, these are tempting.

Car Decor Idea #4: Fangtastic

Cut two large crescents out of thick paper and hang on the car grille as “fangs” (the lights are the eyes). Make sure these are very well attached, but do not use any glue or tape adhesive that could damage your paint or grille.

Car Decor Idea #5: Autumn Touches

You can use inexpensive touches like this one year after year.

For the picture of the pumpkin with sunflowers and leaves, I spent a grand total of $2. Each item came from Dollar Tree. Fall touches abound at this time of year, always look good and can be had at a steal.

Also check out your Goodwill, thrift or consignment shops for fall finds.

Car Decor Idea #6: Paint it Up

Use specially formulated car markers or paint on your car windows. Careful: DON’T obstruct your vision. Keep to the perimeters of your windows and dot on pumpkins, witches or a ghoul trying to escape out the side window.

A warning: do not use acrylic paints for this. They’re hard to get off anything, even glass, and you may scratch your windows trying.

Car Decor Idea #7: A Tangled Web

Creepy! And crawly. Photo: Squidoo.com

This idea is so simple and incredibly economical. Pick up a few bags of synthetic webbing — the kind you pull apart to make it look real. Now pull the webbing all over your car.

Be sure to leave the windows clear enough so you still have a good view of traffic on all sides.

I’ve seen bags of cobwebbing let go for less than half a dollar in post-season sales, so if you plan on doing this next year, go shopping in early November and check the clearance racks.

Car Decor Idea #8: Ghost Antenna Topper

This is another easy and very inexpensive project. Take a foam ball and a small square of white fabric. Place the fabric over the ball and pin in with very small, headless pins. Draw eyes and a mouth on your ghost in magic marker.

You can alternatively make a pumpkin antenna topper. Use orange fabric. Gather the fabric around the styrofoam ball from the bottom; tie at the top for the stem. Draw eyes, nose and a mouth using magic marker.

Car Decor Idea #9: All Up in Your GrilleHalloween Car Skulls

If your grille has space (and if you won’t be impeding the flow of air), add cool Halloween decor.

You won’t be wanting to use glue, but you WILL want a tight fit so that your decor items won’t wind up all over the highway, so choose pieces that fit exactly or can be cut to fit exactly, without  moving around.

A Word About Safety

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? We’ll say it anyway. Objects that obstruct your vision, objects that dangle/wave in the wind, that aren’t fixed securely or that look too realistic can be real driving hazards. Don’t cause an accident. Be smart about your Halloween car decor choices.

Have fun being the creepiest speed demon in your neighborhood this year.

The skeleton in our closet ... urr, car
The skeleton in our closet … urr, car

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!

Get your Halloween on. All year long.