Category Archives: Fun Facts

Legends and lore, news, opinions and other hauntingly fascinating facts.

The Creepy Tradition of Krampus, the Child-Stealer

Krampus has crept out of its origins and into the American popular imagination.

Lump of coal, move over: Krampus Day is one punishment you’ll grow to love.

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Missing Halloween? Don’t fret (and DEFINITELY don’t be bad): December 5 is the day Germany expects the demonic Krampus to visit hell on mischievous children everywhere.

Fun, Family, Food, Fear: Hurrah!

Give your child a cute toy and a kiss this Dec. 6. (Or chase her all over the place – it’s up to you.)

You heard that right. It’s not just a creepy movie or nouveau tale – the myth of Krampus goes back centuries.

And yes, kids do believe the beast-man is coming this December to either set kids straight, or take them back with him to the place of eternal nightmares.

Believe it or not, this is all celebrated in good fun. Costumes, games and as special winter carnival are all part of the Krampus tradition in parts of Europe.

Who Is Krampus?

Krampus was made popular by the 2015 movie, but the legend has

Horrific costumes and fab food are all part of the festival of krampuslauf.

been around for centuries. Central European tradition says that this beast is half-man, half-goat – and it comes every December 6 to stuff misbehaving children into his hideous hell-sack and spirit them away.

Once almost certainly used to keep kids in line, the myth of Krampus is big fun for young and old today. There are holiday cards, toys and even a Krampuslauf (or “Krampus Run”) with adults in costume chasing frightened kids through Alpine towns.

Ho, ho, ho….ly hell, we say. But for its eager annual participants, the day is big fun, with food, dancing, laughter, and of course, screams. (We’re all in for that last part!)

Coming to America

Krampus cards are ho-ho-horrific.

Though the Krampus movies didn’t earn much in the way of green, they did open this ages-old belief to a more Western imagination.

Looking to celebrate? Dress up in something scary (horns are a must), cook fun Bavarian foods, have some beer, and chase the kids everywhere while they shriek like crazy. (Don’t worry – you can pay for their therapy later.)

De-traumatize the little monsters just a bit with a light-hearted children’s Christmas movie afterward and hand out yummy treats.

And remember: be good! We don’t want to hear about how you got stolen away in the dead of night. That would mean you couldn’t come back to have frightening fun with us in October 2019!

 

 

Visit These Totally Haunted Halloween Destinations

With Halloween only a few weeks away, it’s a great time to take a few days off and go on a thrilling adventure. Here are some of the spookiest travel destinations you can visit for a good scare:

Credit: Don Hollycross Photography

Colonial Williamsburg (Williamsburg, VA)

This living history museum in Virginia is a popular tourist destination that thousands of holidaymakers and history buffs visit each year.

Here, dedicated actors live and portray daily life as it was during the Colonial period and the American Revolutionary War. And if you doubt the rumors of hauntings at this popular vacation spot, going on a tour with https://colonialghosts.com/ may quickly change your mind.

Credit: history.org

Colonial Ghosts, one of the most popular Williamsburg ghosts tours in the country, says it provides a uniquely authentic experience. Every night, licensed and knowledgeable tour guides lead visitors through the historic streets and buildings of Colonial Williamsburg, sharing intriguing facts and stories about the area. You can learn a lot from these tours—you will also be scared silly.

Colonial Williamsburg played a key role in the American Revolutionary War, and has seen its fair share of battle, tragedy and violence. It’s no wonder that reports of hauntings, ghost sightings and paranormal activity in the area abound. Every story told on the Colonial Ghosts tours is backed by thorough research and credible eyewitness accounts, adding to the spook factor of the tour—ghost stories are so much more terrifying when they’re based on fact.

Credit: wikipedia.org

Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, PA)

This imposing prison in Philadelphia was once one of the most famous and expensive in the world.

Within its castle-like walls, prisoners were subjected to grueling forms of punishment, including solitary confinement.

Inmates were made to eat, sleep, live and work alone, and had to wear hoods over their heads while being escorted by guards from one part of the prison to another.

Credit: atlasobscura.com

This extreme way of living caused many inmates to mentally break down, and numerous prisoners died during their stay at the penitentiary. To this day, the ghosts of these inmates are said to haunt the prison (now a historic site,) with multiple sightings and frightening experiences being reported.

If you want to get the full spooky treatment when you visit, the prison conducts its own Halloween tour called Terror Behind the Walls, guaranteed to send chills up and down your spine.

Dauphine Orleans Hotel (New Orleans, LA)

Credit: dauphineorleans.com

This beautiful boutique hotel is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and features quaint buildings that date all the way back to the 19th century.

Considered one of the Big Easy’s finest and most luxurious hotels, what makes it so spooky? Local residents and return visitors will tell you: the hotel is considered to be one of the most haunted sites in the city.

Credit: dauphineorleans.com

Guests and employees of the hotel alike have reported numerous sightings and eerie, unexplainable happenings such as footsteps in the night, bar glasses randomly falling off and shattering, and indistinguishable voices.

The ghost of a man dressed in a dark Confederate uniform has regularly been seen pacing the front courtyard, while the spirit of a young, forlorn bride-to-be whose fiance was killed before their wedding is said to haunt the place in her wedding dress.

Fright Kingdom (Nashua, NH)

Credit: frightkingdom.com

Located in a tiny town in New Hampshire, Fright Kingdom is an unexpectedly effective 65,000-square-foot Halloween attraction.

This uber-creepy destination is one of the most elaborate haunted houses in America, with convincing actors and impressive special effects.

Credit: frightkingdom.com

Attractions include Grim, an almost pitch-black labyrinth where the darkness heightens the terror, Bloodmare Mansion and Psycho Circus.

Fright Kingdom is open from September 28 to November 3 from 7am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7am to 10pm on Sundays.

Lizzie Borden House (Fall River, MA)

Credit: awesomelocations.blogspot.com

The story of Lizzie Borden is one of the most grisly American unsolved mysteries. In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered in their home with an ax.

Lizzie, Andrew’s daughter, was the main suspect in the case. She was eventually acquitted of the murders, but to this day, the case remains unsolved.

Today, Lizzie Borden’s house operates as a bed and breakfast for curious and adventurous tourists.

It is said that almost everyone who spends a night in the B&B experiences some kind of paranormal activity, from hearing voices in the night, objects being mysteriously moved from one room to another, to the covers being ripped right off you while you sleep. A stay at the Lizzie Borden house is definitely not an experience for the faint of heart.

These are just some of the spookiest places you can visit in America. Plan your trip now and enjoy a chilling, thrilling Halloween weekend you’ll likely never forget.

The 10 Creepiest Vintage Halloween Pics…Ever

 

At Halloween Alliance, we LOVE creepy. But when we researched vintage Halloween images, we got a little more than we bargained for. Come along with us on a spooky journey into a much darker past than you may have imagined. But beware: when it came to preying on fears, kids weren’t spared anything in the good ol’ days. (Anything.)

Yeah…we’re going to go ahead and consider this an overprotective parenting fail. It doesn’t seem like those harnesses did a whole lot of good. But hell (sorry), at least they’re together, right? Forever…

Women: you’re probably okay. Men: run. Dear God, run. Save yourselves. That isn’t a Men’s Room, right? …right?

You can’t MAKE us say it. No. Seriously. You can’t. So just forget about it. We aren’t going to…Oh, okay, fine. What a cute little devil. Satisfied?

There really aren’t enough underwear changes in the world to get through just one viewing of this adorbs little vintage gem.

Yeah, we know. “Grownup doll” costumes are supposed to be peek-a-boo and flirty and adorbs and…not freakin’ terrifying. But…then there’s this. By the way, she’s (or is it a fella?) HOLDING a doll, too. And it’s…looking at her. We’re pretty sure of it. (Don’t go to sleep, lady…okay?)

That isn’t the car Michael Myers used to escape from the asylum, is it? We kind of think it is. We kind of feel worried right now. We’re kind of wondering whether this li’l guy ever saw 1959.

Sure, Halloween is all about hiding, but we’re wondering what “the teacher” (air-quotes, meaningful nod) is indoctrinating this masked little bunch into. And what she’s instructed them to unleash on the town while it’s peacefully sleeping in cozy beds.

We don’t remember the Black Death breaking out any time during the 20th century but just in case it were to pop up, these kids were ready. Plus, they had a sailor and some dude with a cone to help out in case…Okay, we’ve lost the plot on this one. Anyway…happy Halloween, strangely wrapped kiddies.

Isn’t it weird which one of these two is crying?

…but no one heard little Timmy’s whimpers in the night whenever the closet door creaked open, slowly, so very slowly, almost tauntingly, the soft snick, snick of the razor prickling his ears…nor did they seem to notice the hollow look in his eyes. But one day…yes, one day the town would come to regret…Be right back, we feel a movie plot coming on.

 

REVIEW: Dying to Be a Haunt Actor? This Book Tells You How

Review: Author Larry R. Johnson Jr. Unveils ‘Handbook for the Aspiring Haunt Actor’

Do you love screams, laughter and once in a while, an uncontrolled pants-wetting before your very eyes? (And we’re not just talking about the kids.)

As a youngster, while the other children were dreaming of becoming firefighters or teachers, were you the kid daydreaming that one day, you’d be Freddy Krueger?

Do you live to see someone handsome or gorgeous made horrific with a few flicks of dripping home-made goo?

Then you might be just like this guy. Growing up in his North Carolina home, future author Larry R. Johnson Jr. dreamed of something bigger (and more faux blood-covered) than the average.

“I Just Wanted to Make People Ugly”

It all started innocently enough.

Or…not.

The young Larry knew he was different – and creative. His fascination with the ordinary-turned-macabre led him on the path to one day becoming a haunt actor, he says.

“I wanted to do the stuff they did in movies that made people ugly,” Johnson explains in the Introduction to his new ebook, Handbook for the Aspiring Haunt Actor.

He continues in the gotcha! deadpan you’ll quickly come to know and love, “I also wanted to be a pro wrestler. Mostly, though, I wanted to make people ugly.”

Ugly. Got it.

Grim and Gainful Employment

He succeeded. Johnson went on to become an actor in one of North Carolina’s largest and best-known haunt attractions, Hacker House.

Was it easy? Well, yes…and no. Enter Handbook for the Aspiring Haunt Actor.

In this delightful, dark and just-a-little-devilish manual, Johnson details his surprising first step into haunt acting (and what he learned along the way); his evolution since then; and every down-and-dirty detail of how to win that dream haunt acting gig of your own.

What’s Inside the Book

Handbook for the Aspiring Haunt Actor reveals all of the following, in a folksy, fun and occasional profanity-marked (we loved it) let’s-sit-down-and-talk-over-coffee tone:

  • Why a haunt actor audition really is an audition – and how to be ready
  • Getting the “scare” your prospective boss wants to see
  • Improv and thinking on the move
  • Dressing the part (and feeling comfortable while “in character”)
  • How to communicate with your interviewer so you get the gig

A Haunting Future

Johnson notes that it doesn’t all stop at simply landing the job. You’ll also learn:

  • What “oops, that’s not in my contract” work you’ll get (like hands-on set building) – and why you should be a “yes man” when it’s offered
  • Getting along with your coworkers
  • Evolving your character and refining your craft
  • Movements, sounds and your character’s “voice”
  • What to do when haunt visitors heckle, throw a punch, or just won’t give you the scare reaction you’re looking for

And can we just put this out there? The makeup and costuming tips are phenomenal. From making your own faux blood, pus and scars to dressing for scary success, Johnson doesn’t miss a trick – and he’ll definitely save you some coin, whether you’re going pro or staying closer to home to terrify unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.

The Quick & Dirty

PRICE: You can’t beat it. Currently, the book is listed in Kindle format for $1.99. (Please note: prices can change. Click the image of the book above for details.)

STYLE: Down-to-earth, occasionally crude, surprisingly funny, sneak-up-on you smart, with tons of informational meat on its bones…it’s EXACTLY what we love at Halloween Alliance.

LENGTH: It’s a very readable, totally filler-free 76 pages. No word will be wasted; even with the engaging style, Johnson gives you a bang for your buck in quality, immediately usable information.

WE SUGGEST THIS BOOK FOR: People who want to be come paid/professional haunt actors; people who want to be part of their own home haunt/scare on Halloween; people who are already haunt actors but want to hone their craft; anyone wishing to make decor, particularly moving or stationary monster or human props, look more realistic.

 

13 Totally Weird Superstitions

 

Broken mirrors, black cats…ceiling fans? You’d be surprised at the absolutely weird and wonderful superstitions that famed cultures have drummed up. Here are 13 of the strangest superstitions ever to span the globe, but don’t laugh – you might be next!

1. Night of the Living Gum

According to legend, superstitious Turks believe that if one chews gum after dark, the chaw will turn into dead flesh. (And as we all know…death lasts an Extra, Extra, Extra long time.)

 

2. Wait! Don’t Turn On That Fan!

Superstitious snoozers in various areas of Asia believe that falling asleep with a fan blowing in the room will result in death. Not cool, guys. Not cool.

 

3. That’s a Hairy Cute Baby

Romanians – famous for vampires, werewolves and all creatures that go slurp in the night – believe if you beat animals, your next child will be very, very hairy. We suspect a wandering wife with an eye for chest fuzz made this one up.

 

4. An Unlucky Dozen

If you give an even number of flowers to a Russian paramour, you’re likely to be unlucky twice: first, even numbers portend fatality – and second, wishing death on your beloved is just NOT a panty-dropper.

 

5. Shear Fear

Japanese believe that if you trim your nails at night, you’ll die prematurely. (Sure, Grandma COULD have lived to 97…but she just had to take care of bidness during Jimmy Kimmel.)

 

6. Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

Apparently, rather than Friday the Thirteenth, Spaniards have Tuesday the Thirteenth. Let’s skip Taco Tuesday that day. We feel behind the eight ball as it is.

 

 

7. The Lonely Corner

According to an adorable Hungarian tradition, if you sit at a corner of the table, you’ll be an old maid, never to marry. (Oh noes!) We’re left to wonder just what host sits a person on a corner anyway…but yeah. Don’t do that.

 

 

8. Sparkling, Clean, Delicious Disaster

An old German spell calls for toasting someone with water rather than  champagne. Upon your first sip, the intended will drop dead. (Like nobody was going to notice that? It’s a wedding, dude. There are a lot of people watching.)

 

9. Shut It

Celts believed a bird flying through an open window portended death. We feel it’s a fair bet that somebody’s going to die at some point in a pretty big village, but we’re installing locks anyway.

 

10. The Acorn of Power

Similar to the Ring of Power in Lord of the Rings, an old Celtic tradition from the British Isles holds that if you carry an acorn in your (nasty little) pocket(ses), you’ll never grow old. Great, plant one on us!

 

11. No Glove, Get Love

Medieval Europeans believed that giving gloves as a gift meant ill luck. It hearkened to small tokens at a joust or other potentially lethal event. Tip: Want to win a lady’s heart? Don’t give her a death sentence. You’re welcome.

 

12. I WOULD Have Gotten the Job…if Not for that Darned Goat

Another quaint Medieval tradition held that if you passed by a wandering goat on your way to seeking employment, you’d never get the job. Manhattanites, beware!

 

13. Lift Your Skirt Up if You Want THIS

No, really. According to a 1914 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions, turning the hem of your skirt up will mean you magically receive a brand-new dress. Or…well, that’s what that dude told ya, anyway.

Happy Friday the 13th!

 

Meet the Warrens: The Original Ghostbusters

 

Before there were Ghost Brothers and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, there were the Warrens. Here’s what the famous couple had to say on life, love, and demonbusting.

The Warrens visited such reportedly haunted locales as the Amityville “Horror” house.

Long before there were ghost busters (of any description), The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Regan Macneil and televised paranormal investigation crews by the dozens, there were the Warrens, a deeply spiritual couple who spent their lives investigating homes for paranormal activity.

The couple are known today in connection with the blockbuster The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 and are also connected historically with the allegedly possessed doll, Annabelle. They also investigated the infamous  Amityville Horror house on Long Island.

But their roots go back much farther than contemporary movie-making, much-touted urban legend and myth.

The Early Years: A Match Made in Paranormal Research

The famous demon-hunters were official researchers as far back as 1952.

Husband-and-wife team Lorraine and the late Ed Warren married during World War II at just 17 years of age (Ed’s birthday was Sept. 7, 1926 and Lorraine was born Jan 31, 1927).

The couple often said they sensed something in common even before they discussed their then-unconventional experiences with the paranormal during their courtship. But once they opened up, the combination sparked what would become a worldwide career occupation for thousands.

It didn’t take long for the inseparable pair to combine their mutual sensitivity to the supernatural and join forces against potential unearthly evil (something the couple often said may have brought them together): in 1952 the couple formed the New England Society for Psychic Research.

Today, the organization is the oldest ghost-hunting operation in New England and has inspired similar research across the globe.

Spooky Beginnings

The couple, just 17 when they married, felt drawn together over their mutual interest in the paranormal.

But interest in the paranormal went farther back than that for the pair and began before they even met.

According to the late Ed Warren (d. 2006), the Warren family grew up “in a haunted house” where incorporeal footsteps, banging and pounding could regularly be heard.

Admonished by his policeman father that there was “a logical reason” for the sounds, young Ed agreed – but to him, that logical reason was the existence of spirits.

He confirmed this himself with his first early form of amateur ghost hunting: “My family would all go to bed and just around 2 to 3 o’clock in the morning…I would hear the closet door beginning to open up,” Warren later told reporters.

Inside the closet, he would “…start to see a light beginning to form and it would morph into like a ball shape.” The face of an “old woman” would then appear in the ball.

The odd occurrences continued for years inside the house and sparked a firm belief in and fascination with the paranormal, Ed would later reveal.

The First Ghost Hunts

The Warrens were portrayed in “The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2.”

Frustrated by his family’s refusal to address the odd issues head-on, Ed took things a step further when, as a teen, he met Lorraine.

The two felt an instant connection and opened up to one another about their mutual interest in – and experiences with – the paranormal.

Lorraine, herself psychically sensitive since childhood, agreed with Ed to pursue their interest, but on an unofficial basis at first – and by going around via the back door, in a manner of speaking.

They began by finding out what houses in the area were reported to be haunted.

The couple were called upon by the desperate Perron family to exorcise evil spirits in 1970.

“(In those early married years) we were just kids [and] nobody was just going to let us in[to their homes],” Ed would later reveal on the couple’s website.  So the two devised a way to broach the subject with tentative homeowners.

Ed, an artist, “would do a really nice sketch of the house with ghosts coming out of it, and I’d give it to Lorraine,” Ed recalled later. “(Lorraine would) go knock on the door and…she’d say, ‘Oh, my husband loves to sketch and paint haunted houses and he made this.’”

This provided the opening for the homeowners to tell their story, if they wished. Many times, according to the couple, it worked.

A Reputation…and An Occupation

The real Annabelle is a Raggedy Ann doll. It now resides at the Warrens’ Occult Museum.

Before long, the couple had built a reputation for sensing the spiritual. Eventually, rather than having to knock on doors, people came to them – by the dozens and, over the years, hundreds.

It all began in 1962, when the couple uncovered the spirit of a little girl who identified herself as “Cynthia” in a reportedly haunted home. The Warrens helped the spirit to move on.

A new mission was born, Lorraine would later recall. It morphed from simply communicating with spirits to helping them cross over to the other side…and then to exorcising demons.

The couple, devoutly Catholic, relied on their faith to protect them during such events, and Lorraine discovered that she was a trance medium through which spirits could communicate.

“Just An Ordinary Couple”

The Warrens quickly gained notoriety, visiting the famous Amityville “Horror” house in New York, heading up the much-publicized Perron home exorcism and even confiscating the Annabelle doll (the movie was entirely fabricated, though the Warrens were asked for input) and spiriting it away to their museum.

But they never lost touch with their earthier side, according to friends and family.

“They (were) essentially ordinary people who happen(ed) to do highly extraordinary work,” their website modestly claims.

A list of the most famous cases the Warrens were involved in can be found here.

Lorraine Warren Today

The couple were inseparable until Ed’s death in 2006 at the age of 79.

In the highly dramatized The Conjuring, Lorraine Warren suffered terribly from her contacts with the darker elements and even fainted, with not-so-subtle references to the toll the work took on her, but the real Lorraine is now 90 years old and said to be in good health.

However, she has retired from ghost hunting to enjoy her twilight years. She has given interviews as late as 2016, still with her understanding yet down-to-earth personality and frank advice.

The legacy of the Warrens can be seen in thousands of ghost hunting and paranormal research societies across the globe today.

 

Reprinted from beyondthesixthsense.wordpress.org

Why Are We So Scared Of CLOWNS?

 

Want your boat, kid? They all float down here.

If you shuddered just reading that ominous little invitation (and quickly turned on a light), you may be like a surprising number of people who truly fear clowns. (There’s even a name for it – coulrophobia.)

From Twisty in American Horror Story to Stephen King’s It, the darker side of clowns will make even the bravest soul shudder. Here’s why.

The Tragic (and Threatening) Clown of Yesteryear

The tragic kidder Canio in the opera Pagliacci makes us cry more from fear than sympathy.

Perhaps part of our collective trepidation when it comes to clowns is that they weren’t always meant for children – and that historically, they haven’t always been innocent.

From his earliest days through the late Middle Ages, the clown – sometimes called a jester, or simply a “fool”- was a bit rougher around the edges than the laughing face we know today.

No laughing matter: The traditional court fool’s political antics were as likely to get someone’s head put on a spike as they were to induce giggles.

The two morbid grave-diggers in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for instance, were termed “clowns” by the Bard himself. .And Canio, the stage manager-cum-actor from the tragic opera Pagliacci (which means – you guessed it – “clowns”), cried behind thick, cheery theatre makeup while he wondered whether his wife was cheating – and whether he should stab her to death. (Spoiler alert: she was, and he did.)

Dangerous Laughs

Court fools in days of yore were meant to poke dangerous fun at politics, highlight human frailties and sometimes even to outwardly badger the helpless, such as invalids or the poor. (Witness the cringeworthy old-time village idiot motif as an example.)

And tragically, they were associated with putting on a brave face while suffering all of life’s injustices, piece by painful piece.

This all formed a rather unsettling and decidedly un-funny framework for the idea of the modern-day clown.

Clowns Creep Their Way Toward the Present Day

Really now…who wouldn’t trust a grown-up who hides his identity and lures children inside an enclosed area with food and toys?

The clown as we know it today, with outlandish clothes, crazy makeupand a loud, silly voice, began to develop in the mid-1800s, introduced in the popular imagination along with the modern circus.

Carnivals and sideshows of various descriptions had already existed for centuries, but the 19th century circus was a new era, with sideshow “freaks,” danger, occasional grifting, and modern-looking, white-faced clowns.

That motif has carried through to how we like our clowns to look today (but only under bright lights, and at a distance!).

The “Ick” Factor…and Other Clown Psychology

Restaurant clowns: making children run like hell since 1963.

Modern-day clowns have their place in pop culture, such as the lovable Ronald McDonald, purveyor of over-fried treats and beloved of children across the globe – when they’re not terrified of him, that is.

But perhaps that modern association of clowns with kids (can we all say “ick”?) is part of our collective problem with clowns.

Let’s face it: a stranger draped in disfiguring clothing and attempting to engage children using pretty flowers, balloons or candy as bait takes center stage in nearly any parent’s horrified imagination.

But there’s more to it than that, at least according to psychologists. One theory suggests something known as deindividuation may be a factor in the clown-fear phenomenon. Deindividuation involves hiding one’s identity, something that’s sure to invoke distrust – what is this person hiding, why is he hiding it, and who is he, really?

If it looks crazy, sounds crazy and acts crazy, it might just be (wait for it) crazy. Because logic. Image: ebaumsworld.com

Outlandish clothing, makeup and behavior can also be seen as way outside the norm not only because, well, it is…but also because from a gut-instinct perspective, anyone acting too crazy might be just that, and therefore, a threat.

One thing’s for sure: we’re so collectively creeped out about clowns that any number of schools and town Halloween parades across the U.S. have rules against dressing up as clowns on the premises.

And some states even have laws against dressing up as a clown in public, though usually with the caveat that the outfit must be accompanied by some sort of suspicious activity. Though this would seem to be common sense no matter what one is wearing, the fact that clowns are specifically mentioned in the ordinances is notable.

I to the C to the K. By the way, his name is Wrinkles…not kidding. Image: parenting.com

Meanwhile, British sociologists have determined what we already knew: ironically, children are among the most prominent clown-dislikers in the world.

It’s undeniable: clown hysteria is in full swing and shows no sign of slowing.

Which can only mean one thing.

You HAVE to dress as a clown this year!

Stake Your Creepy Claim. Be a Clown This Halloween

Please be advised that we do NOT recommend, nor do we endorse in any way, doing anything that might be even loosely considered illegal. So please check your city ordinances and any other attendant authorities before donning your creepy clown costume and scaring the pants off one and all.

With that said, clowns have been a popular Halloween theme for years. In 2017 clowns are huge once again in the wake of the remake of Stephen King’s terrifying It.

There are so many ways of being a creepy clown, but if you want to stay true to Hollywood form, here’s a 2017-version Pennywise tutorial to get you started:

Now that you’re sufficiently freaked out (just think of the effect this will have on those who view you!), here are some easy ways to be a terrifying clown:

  • Work on that cackle. It should be REALLY terrifying. Go for a hissing, ominous voice, an I’m-dirty old time gangster accent, a screaming-loud laugh or whatever terrifying associations you have with clowns. Trust me, they’ll ALL work.
  • If you have a specific clown in mind – for example, Krusty (The Simpsons), Pennywise (It), Ronald (of hamburger fame) or Twisty (American Horror Story), check out Youtube. There are tutorials by the dozens for pretty much any clown that pop culture has already dreamed up (or was that actually a nightmare?).
  • Love a great mystery? Go retro as a clown of old (suggestions: the original Pennywise; Clarabel from Howdy Doody; Killer Klowns From Outer Space; the morbidly musical ICP) and see who gets it. If a passerby guesses and calls out your clown name, scream “you win a prize!” and hand him or her a lolipop wrapped in ribbon dripping with red food coloring.
  • Clowns of all kinds have one thing in common in the popular imagination: a bone-white face with exaggerated, drawn-on features. This means you can wear practically anything (jeans and a t-shirt will do) and still be an awesomely notable clown simply by dolling your face up with a super-inexpensive Halloween makeup kit. Go for it and remember – be creative!
  • Going for more realism? Look for an old-fashioned ruff (the stiff, stand-out collar associated with clowns). Even creepier: wear the ruff…with your t-shirt and jeans. And of course, the makeup. (Eeew. We may have just creeped OURSELVES out.)
  • Carry spooky toys with you. For example, tear some hair out of an old doll you have lying around. Poke out one eye or if possible, poke it in just partially. (Cracked eyes are great, too. Trust us, there IS no way to screw this one up.) Paint the doll a morbid, sickly blue-gray and carry her around by the hair. Yell out offers to passersby to “come play.”
  • Get a GREAT creepy clown name. We suggest this fun generator. We’re still partial to the odd and twisted moniker “Wrinkles,” though…but you HAVE to promise not to tell him because, well…we’re pretty terrified of him.
  • Remember: it’s all in good fun. We’ve joked around considerably during this terrifying little tutorial, but small children can be legitimately traumatized by grown-ups dressing weirdly and acting in a strange, loud, lunging manner. Know your audience and DO NOT approach a stranger’s child (or your own…unless you’re already all stocked up on hospital-strength rubber bed-wetting protector sheets).

Buy a clown costume at Halloweencostumes.com

Happy Halloween! Meanwhile, we leave you with this…

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

 

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 ->

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 ->

 

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 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

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

 

Image: talkinrestless.com
Image credit: talkinrestless.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re Still Kids. Really

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloween ISN’T Just for (Little) Kids Anymore

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

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

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

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

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

Caitlyn Jenner Costume – Crossing a Line?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vid: Entertainment Tonight Coverage of Controversial Caitlyn Jenner Costume

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!

How to Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkins

 

With Halloween on the horizon, neighborhoods everywhere will shortly be littered with big orange pumpkins. (What a welcoming and awesome sight!)

Credit: “Sad Pumpkin” by Michelle Milla

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, the sight of these happy, silly, freaky or iconic faces will bring joy and excitement – leading up to the frenzy of The Big Day.

However, come November 1, all of those pumpkins will – as if by the wave of a magic wand – magically turn into a nuisance as they (sadly) go to waste.

I mean sure, there’s pumpkin chucking (which always makes my children cry) and we’ve had the happy little accident when “forgotten” gourds took root and produced random giant vines across our front yard…but otherwise, like most families, we’ve just, well, let our pumpkins sit and go to rot every November.

Don’t let that happen this year! There are plenty of options for recycling that happy li’l jack. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of things to do with old pumpkins. Enjoy, and remember – after you recycle your pumpkin, Halloween is only 364 days away!

Credit: Pinterest

Bird Feeder – You can easily turn an old pumpkin into a bird feeder by cutting the pumpkin in half and filling each half with birdseed. Use a string to tie the pumpkin halve to trees.

Not only will the birds eat the birdseed, but they will also eat the pumpkin flesh, maybe even the skin, depending on the bird. You’ll be helping feed local birds and cleaning up your post-Halloween decorations – a win-win post-Halloween!

Credit: goingtoseedinzone5.com

Compost Bin – Not everyone owns and operates a compost bin, but they’re easy to start – and pumpkins ideal for this smart, eco-friendly Muse.

Simply cut the pumpkin up and toss the flesh in with the rest of the compost, which will usually consist of non-meat kitchen scraps and lawn clippings. Over time these turn into rich, nutrient-dense compost/garden dirt.

Credit: extremepumpkins.com

Make a Squirrel Happy – Some individuals will just leave their pumpkins out in open areas for the squirrels to eat. Essentially, when a pumpkin ferments, it becomes sugary and sweet, and squirrels go nuts for the stuff.

If you don’t mind the sight of the critters (we love them – then again, we love bats and spiders, too), they’ll be more than happy to act as your personal clean-up crew for pumpkins after Halloween. (Be warned: fermented pumpkins can make squirrels drunk. If your squirrels are acting oddly, take their keys and offer to call Uber. You’re welcome.)

This article was contributed by the experts at Fright Catalog. Thanks, guys!

Witch and Full Moon on Halloween

The Faerie Realm of Angelique Duncan

Angelique Duncan, aka Twilight Faerie, is a gifted Halloween artist who creates a variety of inspiring Halloween objects, such as porcelain faeries, costume accessories, ornaments and decoupage. Her inspiration comes from vintage works and styles, and everything is handmade with loving detail. Through networking with other Halloween artists, she launched Halloween Artist Bazaar to showcase handcrafted works from other artists.

As far back as I can remember Halloween and winged things have intrigued me. I found a certain unconventional beauty in the imagery of autumn and Halloween. Equally so, I have had a fascination with the mythology of fairy tales and winged creatures. While other kids were running, skipping and climbing trees, I was content playing with colors and textures and challenging myself to create what was stirring around in my mind. This usually resulted in Halloween or whimsical imagery.

Ghost Party Hat by Twilight FaerieI always had a natural inclination to create. I could spend hours on end with scissors and construction paper just making things or drawing. Somewhere I along the line I kept making Halloween things. I would, and still do today, have images of a something I want to make rattling around in my head that won’t stop haunting me until I bring it to life.

I read a lot of science fiction and physiological fantasy as a kid. I found Ray Bradbury and fell in love with the stories. The “Green Town” series of short stories spoke to me. The imagery of stories like “Halloween Tree” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” stuck with me. I read old classic fairy tales and there seemed to be a lot of wisdom in the pages. The illustrations of old books had an influence on me. I have always loved the idea that there is something more fantastic than the everyday world. I think that is where my creative inspiration comes from, the notion that that there could be a world where animals speak, fairies have guardianship over wooded places and Jack O Lanterns have magical powers.

I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970’s when Halloween was a big deal. There were a lot of homemade costumes and decorations. What one could buy in a store was well designed and had a classic quality to it. Holiday decorations were just that, holiday decorations. It was great. There was certain sincerity about the atmosphere surrounding it all. As I got older things became more and more commercial and Halloween like other holidays became more of a mass-produced corporate profit maker for merchandising the latest big movie, television shows and their celebrities. The spirit of the thing has just gotten lost.

This is how I arrived at creating hand made Halloween, holiday and faerie objects. I realized the market for what I create, those who grew up with fantastic stories and faerie tales, our grandparent’s decorations and childhood Halloweens, hence the creation of Twilight Faerie. My business became a way to preserve a history and imagery that was important to me and share it with others. My hours on end drawing, cutting and pasting found a noble purpose.

Jack o Lantern Circle by Twilight Faerie Vinyl Bat by Twilight Faerie

I founded Halloween Artist Bazaar in February 2012. I want to help other professional Halloween Artists promote their works and help them to succeed in their business so they can continue to do what they do. Through Halloween Artist Bazaar the tradition of handcrafted Halloween and fantasy art can be perpetuated. The retail market is flooded with mass produced generic Halloween and holiday goods. It is very hard for self-representing artist and small business owners to compete against the corporate giants when going it alone. It is also become harder for collectors to find unique one of a kind decorations. Gathered together we can help cross-promote each other and promote handcrafted goods. In our own way as a Halloween artist group, we can keep the spirit of Halloween imagery alive and available for collectors who are seeking it out.

The average demographic for Halloween Art is between the ages of 34 to 45 years of age. This tells me, folks like myself are a generation with a particular love of Halloween. My guestimation is that it comes from that common experience of Halloween being a big deal when we were kids. I hope that we can pass the same sort of memories on so that the generations after we are done and gone will have the same appreciation for the history and imagery of the holiday. It would be quite sad to see the tradition of hand made Halloween get lost completely from our culture.

Twilight Faerie can be found online at: http://www.twilightfaerie.com/

Her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwilightFaerie

The Queen Mary Houses Guests…AND Ghosts

What’s going on at the docked Queen Mary? Plenty – and it’s all coming from long-deceased guests who never checked out, according to reports. Visitors report thumps, childish giggles, and heart-stopping apparitions.

Read on for a history of the ship, info on the annual Dark Harbor attraction, plus loads of spine-chilling ghost sighting tales to keep you up at night.

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Long Beach, CA is home to creepy haunt, hotel and carnival Dark Harbor aboard the famous Queen Mary. What’s the story behind this mystery ship and its haunted reputation? Read on…and shiver.

Why is the Queen Mary Haunted?

When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, she was the second largest cruise liner in the world, with almost twice the tonnage of the Titanic. Famous personalities from American actors to British royals were often seen enjoying its first class amenities while crossing the Atlantic from Southampton, UK to New York City.

The ship also saw service during World War II, but reverted to a passenger ship until 1967. The ship sailed to Long Beach, California, where it’s been a combination museum, hotel and tourist attraction ever since, with over 1.5 million visitors per year.

But all hasn’t all been smooth sailing aboard the Queen Mary. Crew are said to have seen 49 deaths onboard the vessel during its years of operation – including those of innocent children.

And while tragic all by themselves, the stories don’t end there.

A (Very) Extended Stay: Ghosts Roam the Queen Mary

Queen Mary HauntingsThe chilling part? Some of these visitors are said to have never checked out. The ghosts of the Queen Mary are so famous, signs have actually been installed within the ship to point out where ghosts have reportedly been spotted.

So, what are some of these stories that would make this ship one of the world’s foremost haunted attractions? Let’s take a hair-raising peek into the unearthly goings-on aboard the bloody Queen Mary.

The Grey Ghost

In World War II, the ship was painted grey as camouflage, and due to that and the fact it held the world record for speed at sea, it was nicknamed The Grey Ghost.

To avoid torpedoes, it sailed in a zig zag pattern, and once sliced through an escort warship that went off course, sinking it rapidly and drowning 338 of her 439 sailors.

Forty years later, a television crew accidentally left an audio recorder running overnight in the exact location where the collision happened – the tape played back sounds of pounding hands on a metal hull and noises of drowning sailors.

The Crushed Crewman

In 1966, a young seaman named John Peddar was crushed to death in the depths of Engine Room #13 during a drill. To this day, visitors report sightings of a young man in coveralls wandering around.

One story goes that a visitor felt something brush across his face while visiting the room, and later his wife noticed a streak of engine grease on his face. You’ll find dozens of such stories, with ethereal touches that have left their impression on frightened (and thrilled) visitors year after year.

Ghostly Swimmers

According to insiders, there have been several reports of ghosts in the first class now-empty swimming pools aboard the ship, including bathers in 1930s era swimsuits. Visitors say they can sometimes hear the sounds of splashing, and many have seen wet footprints on the tile.

In the second class pool (long since converted into a theater), a little girl named Jackie is said to have drowned, and visitors can sometimes hear her calling piteously for her mother.

They’ve also heard Jackie’s innocent laughter and singing in the first class pool and have witnessed her shadowy form clutching a tattered teddy bear.

Little Spirits in the Playroom

The ship includes a children’s playroom and nursery, where  visitors may hear children laughing and playing. In 1991, one passenger on a guided tour heard the sounds, but could only see the usual toys, games and books on the display. Then the doorknob began rattling, and the terrified tourist heard the sound of the door being kicked.

The woman quickly went to catch up with the rest of the tour group, but felt her purse and shirt constantly being tugged along the way. It seems someone needed a play companion.

A much darker spirit is that of a little infant named Leigh, who tragically died a few hours after birth (though not without the doctors trying in vain to save his innocent life.) Some ship guests can still hear the last wails of the baby while passing what was once the third-class playroom.

The Woman in White

A “regular” ghost seems to reside in the ship’s first class lounge – a beautiful woman in a white evening gown is often seen dancing alone within the shadows.

On one tour, a little girl, who had never heard of the sighting, kept pointing and asking about a “woman in white.” Nobody else saw the apparition, but the girl insisted she was there, and continued watching it dance.

A Lonely But Playful Girl

In 2000, a hotel service member was vacuuming the carpet in the Exhibit Hall when the temperature suddenly dropped. Turning around, he saw a little girl sucking her thumb and floating in the air.

The child then stretched her arms out, as if wanting to be picked up. Her eyes appeared to be glowing. Terrified, the crew member fled and reported the incident.

A few weeks later, while leaving the Grand Salon on R Deck, another cleaning crew member was pushing his mop and bucket. The bucket suddenly jammed, so the worker checked to see what was stopping the wheels. He felt a presence, and turned around to see a little girl in a white dress and white hat sucking her thumb.

As with the other sighting, the ghostly child was floating in mid-air and oddly, appeared to have no legs beneath her wispy gown. She floated away into the Grand Salon, where the doors had mysteriously shut (they were normally kept open). The doors swung out so powerfully, they knocked the employee to the floor. As he struggled to get back up, the worker heard the girl’s chillingly playful laughter recede in the distance.

The next day the worker checked the (open) doors, and realized they were much too heavy to be swung shut by one person.

Cabin B340

Cabin B340 Queen Mary hauntingsCabin B340 has had so much paranormal activity, it’s now closed for rentals.  Previously, guests sleeping in the room were awakened in the night by lights turning on and off, water gushing suddenly from faucets, and covers being pulled off the beds. Other guests have heard an angry voice saying “Get out!”

There are two famous stories involving this cabin. The first is that in 1948 it was used as a holding cell for a deranged man who had been threatening his family. When the family visited later, the man flew into an inexplicable rage and murdered his 5-year old-daughter.

The second story involves a crew member who was murdered in the room in 1937; guests say that his ghost still resides there.

The Piano Player

One evening, a mother and daughter staying aboard the Queen Mary for the night were waiting for a friend to join them. The night wore on, until at at close to midnight, the daughter decided to sit at the lobby’sgrand piano, which had been constructed especially for the Queen Mary in the 1930’s.

The lid on the keyboard was down, but suddenly a tinkling, eerie melody emerged from  beneath it.

Both the daughter and mother heard the spooky tune. The two wisely decided to wait for their friend on deck instead.

The Dark Harbor Haunt

Queen Mary Dark Harbor EventMany people would list the Queen Mary as among the top world destinations for hauntings. To celebrate, the ship puts on a frightful Halloween bash every year. It features 7 mazes and attractions, as well as a complex for live entertainment, food and cocktails.

To enter the haunt, visitors must first pass through a 220 foot long, fog-shrouded tunnel of shipping containers containing ghouls and monsters. They then emerge at “Hell’s Bells Tower,” a 33-foot tower made of shipping containers and which shoots flames into the night sky.

Throughout the mazes, pyrotechnical and other spooky special effects keep visitors spooked and their skin crawling. Such attractions include “Containment” where the ship’s infirmary gets a bit sick, “Submerged” where it feels like you’re sinking (the ship almost sunk once due to a rogue wave on choppy seas), and “The Village of the Damned” where creatures attempt to make you their permanent residents.

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is not to be missed for hardcore Halloween fans. Get more info here – and remember: don’t visit any area of the ship alone after midnight!

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.

 

Into the Arcane Music of Midnight Syndicate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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