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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

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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

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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.)
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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.
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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

8 Awesome Smartphone Apps for Halloween

Halloween is such a great event and with the advent of smartphone apps you can enjoy your favorite parts of Halloween everywhere you go.  We tested dozens of apps and compiled a list of the 8 best ones we could find in terms of the most imagination and uniqueness. We hope you enjoy these selections and have a Happy Haunted Halloween!

1.  Halloween Deluxe  ($0.99)

Halloween wouldn’t be complete without scary sounds and this app lets you do that and more.  Opt for the paid version and avoid annoying requests to upgrade from the free one.  This app includes a count down to Halloween, a soundboard, ring tones, music loops, trivia, costumes ideas, and even a option that lets you create your own colored flashlight with the screen.  There are tons of Halloween soundboard apps out there but our recommendation is to ditch the others, this one has it all.

Halloween Deluxe iPhone App

2. imut8r ($0.99)

Our favorite picture altering app, this offering gives you tremendous creative control over altering real photos of you and your friends.  You have dozens of creature choices to model after including demons, zombies, werewolves, vampires.  From there you’ll change skin colors add blood or sores and channel Dr. Frankenstein himself!  When you’re done, save the photos and send them to your friends and family for a spooky good time.

imut8r iPhone app

3. 100+ Horror Stories ($0.99)

You’ll absolutely love this creative application that let’s you tell over 100 of the most popular scary stories in history, but with an added twist.  During your story you can tap the screen when prompted to play an appropriate sound to add extra effect to your story.  Lightning cracks, evil laughs, moans, and more will enhance your terrifying tale and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

100 Horror Stories app

4. Ghost Radar ($0.99)

For all you watchers of ‘Ghost Hunters’ out there, check out the latest version of Ghost Radar from app developer Spud Pickles.  The creators of this app claim it runs on a proprietary algorithm that interprets QUANTUM fluctuations of intelligent energy.  Some users say the program is just reading simple electromagnetic sources in your immediate environment while others claim they’ve experienced accurate readings of actual objects in the room that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Either way, you’re bound to get hours of eerie entertainment from this original idea.

ghost-radar

5. Ask the Dead ($0.99)

Get ready to be freaked out with this unique offering from The FORM Group. It’s a digital Ouija board that sneakily uses your phone’s contacts to return answers to your questions. You can totally prank your uninitiated friends or family into thinking you are connecting with the spirit world.  You’ll get a ton of screams from this application, but be careful, you may even scare yourself….

Ask the Dead smartphone app

 6. Pumpkin Xplode (free)

Pumpkin Xplode is one of those annoyingly addictive games like Tetris or Angry Birds (yeah we could have easily added that one here too).  But you just can’t seem to put it down because there’s always the next level to defeat.  Bottom line: if it’s on your phone, you will play it.  It has great graphics and sounds built into the game play.  Thoughtful features include: night mode, saves game on exit or if uninterrupted by a phone call, and for you cheaters out there you have the ability to undo up to 10 moves back.  There is just something so gratifying about busting up pumpkins that makes this our only game of choice for inclusion in this app review.

pumpkin xplode app

7. Halloween Spooky Soundbox (free)

The truth is there are dozens of free Halloween sound boards out there and you’d probably do just fine if you downloaded most any of them.  Why do we recommend this one then?  Two reasons:  Selection and sound quality.  This sound board has 35 sounds to choose from, whereas most other apps you’re lucky to get 20.  Also, the sounds you get don’t sound cheap or “thin”.  In other words, they don’t sound like you made them yourself on an old tape recorder.  You can play the sounds on a loop (which you’ll probably never use) besides that there aren’t really any bells and whistles to this app.  If we could make a recommendation to the developer, it’d be to add a delay feature in a future version.

spooky soundbox app

8.  Footprints (free)

While this is not a Halloween application it certainly the most useful on the list particularly if you are a parent and your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without you.  You can track your multiple kid’s locations in real time without having to request location status from the people you are tracking.  We’ve seen some apps where users have to “request” location and the person being tracked has to manually approve request on their device.

This app comes with a number of great features built into it.  Two of our favorites are the parental settings which don’t allow kids to disable the tracking feature or delete the application on their devices, and the ability to track way points.  In short it shows you where your kids have been not just where they are at the present moment.  All this is provided by a beautiful interface overlaid on Google Maps.  There is really nothing we don’t like about this app.

footprints app

About the Author:

Chris DuPaul is a huge Halloween buff and the co-owner of the self proclaimed #1 Wonder Woman Costume website on the internet.  He enjoys technology and sneaking up and scaring the crap out of unsuspecting people year round.  For all you ladies out there still looking for costume ideas check out our Sexy Wonder Woman Costume page for outfits that’ll make you the star of the party.

Carnival Arcane Review

With the approach of Halloween comes another new tradition: the release of a new album from horror masters Midnight Syndicate (Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka.)

Their albums – Carnival Arcane is their 14th – fill the air with Gothic dread, ambient sounds and creepy instruments. If “things that go bump in the night” had a soundtrack, Midnight Syndicate would ring through the echoing halls upon their midnight entrance.

Each album the artists release tells a story in music, a “soundtrack for the imagination” filled with haunting melodies, sound effects, shrieks, groans and the occasional lyrics, all fitting the theme of the album.

For instance, their studio album “The 13th Hour” has the listener journeying through a sinister and Gothic haunted house. The album begins with the house looming in the mist, and subsequent songs makes it feel like we are stealthily creeping from one dusty, decrepit room to the next, until at last, we realize we are not quite alone … and that this presence is not friendly.

A Masterful Tradition of Chilling Tunes

Your Ringmasters, Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka

Carnival Arcane continues in this grand, masterful tradition of storytelling with music, but is even more ambitious than all others in the depth, grandeur and creepiness of the music. It delivers a well-researched and accurate representation of what it would be like to visit a slightly shabby, sinister circus from the Victorian era.

The album owes a lot to the novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (at least that’s the impression this offer had), complete with nightmarish rides, a sense of foreboding and sinister characters.

We’re introduced to the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival, a traveling circus with a sinister past. The album begins with the arrival of yourself, a “mesonoxian” visitor (a very cool archaic word meaning midnight.)

The atmosphere is cold, and in the distance we hear the arrival of a locomotive – the wheels squeak to a halt, and the sounds of the circus rise from the night air in a slow, haunting chorus of introduction.

Already, we feel a sense of something shady and macabre, but we must go forward – who know what wonders await within? Besides, the aggressive ringmaster (voiced by Jason Carter – aka Marcus Cole on Babylon 5 and a bit part as a demon on Angel) promises us the horrific instruments of lobotomies, freakshows, the big top and a grand carousel you’ll never forget.

Ambient, Spine-Tingling Effects

While we voyage through a variety of acts, we can hear the ambient sounds of excited visitors, strange laughter, elephants and the squeals of horses.

From a menagerie of strange creatures, a forceful hawker ushers us into Madame Zora’s tent, where we are read our fortune with a flourish of deep atmospheric music, curious whispers and a sense of dread. Through Dr. Atmore’s Elixers and Good Humour and Fortification (cheerful circus music and applause), Alura the Snake Lady (Middle Eastern mysticism) and Arcane Wonders (Victorian music boxes), we have a sense of the wide musical range Douglas and Goszka have put into this album – far beyond the Gothic melodies of previous albums.

The middle of the album begins the transformation from fantastical wonders and big top adventures to something far more sinister and dangerous – you begin to realize and witness the fallen grandeur of the Lancaster-Rigby circus.

From the chilling and even sad music of the freakshow, we go on a carousel ride from Hell – beginning with the usual cheerful carousel melody, it quickly degenerates into an abomination of madness, ghosts and ghouls until it explodes in a crescendo of what must be broken horses, snapping electricity and injured victims.

Going Deeper Within

Carnival ArcaneWe journey deeper into the carnival, where all the Gothic and Victorian horrors begin to close in on us – mad clowns, screaming children, horrific laughter as we’re lost in the hall of mirrors, a ghoul chasing us in the shadows, where we run, panicked, into a dreaded labyrinth, and finally collapse in a claustrophobic room of barking mad laughter.

The carnival then closes (perhaps a bit too hastily … before the Victorian-era authorities witness the mayhem), and we are left listening to the grunts of several circus performers entering their boxcar after a long night, trying to stifle their mirth and drunkenness. One performer talks to another in a conspiratory whisper “So, what’s the next town at?” A cold wind blows through the air, and music from a Victor gramaphone echoes off in the distance.

With its wide range of atmospheric sounds and natural transitions from one track to the next, this could easily pass as a movie soundtrack for a grandiose horror film.

Midnight Syndicate have definitely pushed their musical boundaries, and the mix of ambient carnival sounds and atmospheric composition blend perfectly, successfully transporting you to their fantastical world. It fits perfectly as the chilly atmosphere of a home haunt, and no doubt you will hear it at some amusement park, where their music is often played.

This is an essential album to add to your horror collection, and powerful mood music while celebrating Halloween … or to add a touch of sinister magic before going to a modern circus.

 

HOT 1970s & 80s Costume Ideas

There are certain eras that are so distinct that you can’t help but identify them at one glance.

When you think of the 70s and 80s, there’s no disputing just how iconic they were. Much of this is due to the fact that these decades included outrageous and envelope-pushing (go outrageous and envelope-pushing!) costumes and attire.

If you’re looking for unique and fun Halloween costume ideas, this era is simply the best – and you may even still have a piece or two in your closet! Here are out favorite tips on rockin’ it oldschool this Halloween (plus links in case you’re short on time).

Big Hair, Bright Colors

heavy metal rocker blonde wig

70s fancy dress outfits such as polyester pants, ruffled shirts and wide collars are distinctive of the disco era. However, the one that most people tend to remember the most is the hair. In the 70s and 80s, you are talking some seriously big hair.

Tease up your bangs and make them big and stiff with plenty of hair spray. They should look like an extension of your body when you’re done teasing them up! Then make your entire hairstyle big—the bigger the better! For some reason in these eras, the big hair was in and it reigned supreme.

(Tip: Short on time and/or hair? Grab a wig and go!)

Another element that will bring your costume to life is lots and lots of bright colors. 70s and 80s fancy dress costumes are all about crazy, bright fashion, and so embrace wherever that appears in your wardrobe. Neon works well.

If you have any gummy bracelets or the ability to pin your pants, then you are in for a real treat embracing this fun fashion era!

Embrace Your Inner Madonna

80s Diva Madonna costume

If there is one thing that many people tend to remember about this era it was the introduction of a pop icon.

Madonna made her entrance into the pop scene around this time and the world of music was never the same. So this lends way to the perfect costume idea to celebrate this wonderful and super fun period in time.

Get out your black lace gloves as your iconic starter piece. You need some ratted-out big blonde hair and if you can’t accomplish that on your own, go for a wig.

Then get out your lace dress, tight miniskirt with a bright vibrant top, or some other flashy but vibrant outfit and wear it with great confidence. American online retailers such as Amazon carry outfits like this. If you live in England, you can purchase these pop dresses at Fancydressball.co.uk.

Be sure to top of the look with lots and lots of accessories—try out your big bright pink bow for the hair, then get out lots of cheap but tasteful chain necklaces, and of course loads of neon gummy bracelets help to complete this look.

Nothing Like Old School Rappin’

Who didn’t love a little old school rap back in the day? This costume is simple enough to pull off and it’s actually comfortable so it works quite well.

Here you can simply pull together some big oversized pants and a sports logo sweatshirt, preferably Adidas, as it was so big in this era. Then get a “gold” chain or two to wear around your neck because that was such an identifiable, though silly looking, part of these decades. You want to be sure that you have a hat that you can turn backwards and of course load on the gold chains for good measure.

This and the other costume ideas will take you back in time and help you to remember eras known for lots of fun!

Making Scary Sound Effects with Sony’s Sound Forge Audio Studio

What was that!? Did you hear something? I KNOW I heard somethin’! Get up and check it out!!!!

You know, I still get scared when I wake up in the middle of the night and hear a noise. And I’ve been around a while. Yeah, yeah, I know: It ain’t nothin’ and when I get up to check out the noise, it always turns out to be something harmless. But it’s still scary. And, living out in the country, I still get the creeps when the coyotes start saying good night to each other at 4:30 in the morning.

So, what is it about sounds? I’ll tell ya… it’s because you CAN’T see what’s making the sound; and the first rule to creating scary stuff is that you’ve got to tickle people’s imagination with what they don’t see, or just barely see, or see just in a flash.

Spooky, Background Sounds

My first introduction to the use of sound to create a scare was when I was a young fella who attended a friend’s Halloween party. When guests arrived, his house was decorated as you would expect, dark and creepy. But what made my hair stand on end was the sound. There was a low frequency moaning that sounded horrendous, and it just kept on going. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, it went for the whole time I was there. How did he do that? Not easy to give up secrets, he finally told me with enough prying. I think I might have stepped on his toe a few times, too.

Here’s how he did it: My friend was fortunate in those days to be able to afford a reel to reel tape deck. The cool thing about a reel to reel was you could record something at fast speed and play it back at slow speed, and that is exactly what he did. He took the tape deck outside when he was cutting wood with his chain saw. He recorded the sound at high speed for the duration of the tape, which was, I think, about an hour and a half, which is also a lot of wood. He then brought the deck in, reconnected it to his stereo, and played the tape back at slow speed which made the tape last about three hours.

And there you have it; the method simple, but the effect immeasurable.

Creating Your Own Spooky, Atmospheric Sounds For Your Halloween Haunt or Party

I’m going to show you essentially the same thing, only using modern digital equipment and software. You’ll need three things to do this:

  1. A digital recorder… don’t go out and spend thousands of dollars on a professional recorder… I’ll show you why in a minute.
  2. A computer that will handle media well. Most modern computers will do what I’m going to show you, so unless you’re still using the IBM 365, you’re probably o.k. on that end.
  3. You’ll need a sound manipulating program, and there are several “out there”. I’m going to recommend Sony’s Sound Forge Audio Studio because it is so powerful in what it allows you to do with the sound you import. I think it is up to version 10 by now, but I have version 9, so that’s what I’ll demonstrate.

1. Collect Your Sounds

First, you want to “collect” sounds. You’ll need a recorder of some kind. I used to just use my video camera and pull the sound off the video tape with my “Capture” program, but I knew that technology had advanced since I was in high school and dinosaurs ruled the earth. I wanted a recorder that I could plug directly into my USB port on my computer.

At first I thought I’d just buy a digital pocket voice recorder, but it turns out when shopping I found an MP3 player that not only played music but it also picked up radio stations AND had a “voice record” feature… AND, it was cheaper than the recorder dedicated just to voice recording. Having a choice between a dozen different MP3 players, I chose the RCA model 1702. When I got it home I tested it and I was impressed by the quality of sound it gave back.


Editor: I couldn’t find the model, but this RCA Mp3 recorder from Amazon is similar in features, and has great reviews

I’ve attached some sounds that I made with this recorder, and I think for the price, this little item is a winner.

Once you have a way to record that is compatible with your computer, start collecting sounds. Experiment. Try everything. I recorded not only my chain saw, but one of my roosters crowing, background noise while walking across the leaf-strewn yard, me moaning, me reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, etc.

It turns out the chain saw didn’t sound like what I wanted, as I wasn’t able to get the “motor” sound out of the sound. The rooster was good, and so was walking through the leaves. But the best was me moaning, and with me reciting “Mary Had…” running second best. It also turns out that the best “moan” was not an up and down kind of moaning, like you usually hear, but a somewhat consistent moan at about the same pitch range.

I’ve attached .wav files of the unaltered sounds as well as the altered sounds for you to download and play with.

2. Download Your Sounds to Your Computer

Second, download your voice files from the recorder to your computer. I saved my sounds in My Music folder, as I did with the altered sounds from Sound Forge. From the RCA 1702 the files are labeled as “Voice001.wav”, “Voice002.wav.” etc.

I always add a tag of what each sound is. For example, the file “Voice001.wav” became “Voice001 Chain Saw.wav”. When I altered the sound, I then added the effect I used to alter it. So “Voice001 Chain Saw.wav” became “Voice001 Chain Saw Pitch Bent.wav”, and so on.

3. Open Your Sound Editing Program

Third, open “Sound Forge Audio Studio” and “Open” the file you wish to use. I chose “Voice004 Moaning.wav”.

The following is what you’ll see when the file is imported. This is the raw sound, and the blue “splotches” in the window are what is called the “waveform”. The waveform is laid out on a “timeline”. You can see the time elapsed above each part of the waveform.

This is the waveform of me moaning. It sounds hokey, and there is a lot of background noise. I want to get rid of the spaces and make the sound scarier with a lower pitch and some echoing.

sound-wav

First let’s get rid of the spaces between each “moan”. Do this by highlighting the area you want to eliminate, then hit “Delete” on your keyboard. I did this for every space on the waveform timeline. Here’s what it looks like when all the spaces have been removed:

sound-wav-edited

Next, I want to change the pitch of the sound, to make it sound really low. I do this with a feature in Sound Forge called “Pitch Bend”. Go to “Effects” in the top tool bar and choose “Pitch Bend”:

sound-wav-pitch

It will give you a window where you can make changes to the pitch and then sample how it sounds before you actually apply it. You’ll see the waveform on the window and some key points with a graphic line to show how the pitch will change with time:

sound-wav-pitch-key

“Grab” each key point and drag it down to a level just above -24 on the graph. Then adjust the “Semitones” to about three fourths the way up above “Range” on the slider to the left. If you’ve highlighted any of the waveform, only that will be changed. If you don’t highlight any of the waveform, then all of the waveform will be changed.

This is what it should look like when you’ve made the changes:

sound-wav-pitch-finished

Hit “OK”.

Now, push the “Play” button on the timeline and listen to the effect. Pretty cool, eh? Save this file as “Voice004 Moaning Pitch Bent.wav”. But to give it more depth, it would be nice to have a bit of an echo. Do this by choosing “Effects” in the top tool bar again but this time choose “Reverb”:

sound-wav-pitch-reverb

Set the sliders “Room size” to ~75 and the “Liveliness” to almost 100%, and choose the Room type as “Rich hall”, and hit “OK”. Now you should have a nice, low-pitched moan that sounds like it is coming from a dungeon or a cave. Listen to the example “Voice004 Moan Pitch Bent Reverb.wav” . Now that is a scary sound, I think.

4. Lengthen the Sound

Next you have to lengthen the time this sound plays. There are two ways to do this: One, highlight the whole waveform on the timeline and “Copy”, then place the cursor at the beginning or the end of the timeline and “Paste”. Keep doing this until you have as much time as you want, limited only by the size of CD or DVD disk you have…

or… burn this file to your CD or DVD and when in your CD or DVD player, have it “Repeat” the “song” over and over.

5. Burn to CD

Last, burn this as a “song” to your CD or DVD burner. There is a feature in Sound Forge that will do this for you: Under “Tools” in the tool bar at the top, choose “Burn track-at-once CD” and follow the menu. OR, save this as a .wav file (Sound Forge will do this automatically) and burn it to a CD or DVD using your own “Burn” program.

The cool thing about Sound Forge is that there are so many effects to play with. The professional version is even more AWESOME than Audio Studio, but a lot more expensive. It is up to version 10, now.

I have yet to download the new version, but from what I’ve read, it’s way above and beyond version 9 in respect to use of files with video, the Web, and also with publishing. I recommend experimenting (playing) with as many effects and processes as you can.

If you mess up, just “Undo…” in the Edit menu in the tool bar. I took my “Mary Had a Little Lamb” sound bite and “Reversed” it (you’ll find “Reverse” under “Process” in the tool bar). The result was me reciting “Mary Had…” backwards, which is a bit creepy. Even better, I then took that and did “Pitch bend” on it followed by a “Reverb” and got a really creepy recitation of “Mary Had…”. Brrr-r-r-r. Chills down my spine! And I’ve only touched the surface…

Happy Haunting!

Halloween .wav files

Download and play with these songs at your leisure! (Right-click and select “Save file as…”)

How to Host a Spooktacular Halloween Movie-Themed Party

FrankensteinEveryone loves a scary movie, and Hollywood has brought us plenty of them. From the Wolfman to demonic possession to creatures that creep in the deep or come from outer space, suspenseful, creative Hollywood movies have helped shape what we think of as horror.

Hosting a Halloween movie-themed party celebrates the monsters that keep us on the edge of our seats, year after year. So grab your cape and walk this way to get started on creating what’s sure to be the best party of the season.

Dressed to Kill

One way to get your guests involved in (and excited about!) your party is to invite them to dress as their favorite horror movie characters.

Guests can dress as individual monsters (like vampires or werewolves), horror film good guys (such as one of the two priests in The Exorcist or Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s character in Predator), or even come in groups dressed as entire scenes.

Encourage your invitees to get their creative juices flowing. The results are sure to thrill, chill…and possibly even make you chuckle.

Be sure to buy or make trophies for “Scariest Costume,” “Most Original Costume Idea” and any other category you’d like to see at your party. (Give your guests a heads-up that there will be awards by having the information printed on their invitations.) In addition to a small trophy, you can hand out movie theater tickets, horror DVD or other goodies as awards.

Need some killer ideas? Here are some great horror movie characters and creatures:

  • The aliens from Cloverfield
  • The shark from Jaws
  • Regan, the possessed child from The Exorcist
  • Father Karras or Father Merrin from The Exorcist
  • Freddie Krueger
  • Jason
  • Jason’s mom – wear the mask off your face, dangling on one shoulder
  • Any horror movie victim; these will often be scantily clad girls covered in blood, or football jocks or dorks covered in blood
  • Dr. Loomis or Laurie from Halloween (trench coat for the former; terrible 70s attire and blonde wig for the latter)
  • The Wolfman
  • The Fly
  • Sam from Trick ‘R Treat
  • A bloodied Carrie from the movie Carrie
  • Any vampire, from any vampire movie…ever…you can’t go wrong with this idea!
  • King Kong
  • Kaiju (i.e. Pacific Rim or Godzilla)
  • Alien (from the Alien franchise)
  • Predator
  • The Mummy – male or female; any (wait for it) incarnation
  • Stephen King’s It
  • The “pet” set upon Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • The Creature From the Black Lagoon
  • Disney creatures, such as Ursula the Sea Witch
  • Fun monsters, such as Sully from Real Monsters

Home Theater

Decorate the party area to imitate an old-fashioned movie or stage theater. Age some movie posters (easy and often very cheap to find; try online auctions or poster companies) by crinkling and then unfolding them, then arrange them on the walls of the party area.

For an added movie theater-like effect, have spotlights across or near your movie posters. These are simple to make; simply cover flashlights with cardboard tubes painted black (leaving the lighted ends exposed). Place colored bulbs in the flashlights and set them up so that the lights cross one another.

A great place to set up your spotlights is near your haunt’s entrance, so that your guests are “in the spotlight” as they enter. Or have them point upward to illuminate your movie posters. Hang artificial spider webs in the corners of your posters and between them for additional spookiness.

Mood Music

Music immediately sets the mood when guests are arriving, so be sure to choose tunes that are all about movies, monsters and magic spells.

Look for background music or musical artists that fit in with your party theme. “Werewolves of London “(Warren Zevon), “Spooky” (The Zombies), “Ghost Busters (Ray Parker, Jr.),“ “Weird Science (Oingo Boingo),” “Witchy Woman“ (The Eagles), “The Time Warp” (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show) and the immediately recognizable themes from Halloween and The Exorcist are all great choices.

Another idea is to have favorite horror movies running in your DVD player as a background mood-setter; keep the sound somewhat down, as movie voices and action tend to be more distracting than music.

Freaky Foods

For monster-and movie-related snacks, try a few creative ideas:

  • Wrap croissant dough strips crosswise over mini cocktail franks for “mummies in a blanket” (The Mummy, 1932, 1959 and 1999).
  • Lady “fingers” with “fingernails” made of slivered almonds are both tasty and creepy; use any cookie dough rolled and elongated to look like a finger (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991).
  • And of course, you’ll want some “blood punch”, made with any red-colored juice, at the center of your table; buy a novelty hospital blood bag online or at a Halloween store and have the “catheter” leading to the bowl (Dracula, 1931 and 1958 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992).

You can also continue the movie theme with orange colored movie popcorn–add three drops of yellow food coloring and one drop of red food coloring to some oil or butter and toss well, then place in movie theater-style bags.

If you’d rather, just serve regular popcorn, but place it in striped boxes.

Your horror movie theme decorations, treats and background sounds are limited only by your own creativity. Watch a few horror favorites in advance of your party for more ideas, or ask a few friends. They’ll be thrilled to get in on the action – and to receive the credit for their own ideas at your very special Halloween bash.

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

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

Danceable Halloween Music

Greetings, my fellow party monsters!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the lyrics:

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

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

By The Halloween Freaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat Chorus

Vampire rap: (Count Barry Scaryngton):

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

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

Chorus – out

(Count Barry Scaryngton talking in background during chorus):

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

© Worldstage Music. All Rights Reserved.

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