Oct 31, 2014

Hocus Pocus Around Salem


Armed with a recent viewing of Hocus Pocus and some internet research, I went on a little tour of some of the exterior location used in filming the classic holiday movie Hocus Pocus. I'm certainly not the first person to do this (hence the ease of internet research) but it was a fun day finding the places for myself. Ok, it was really only Max's house I had to find, I knew where the other places were.

I wanted to grab some screenshots ahead of time so I could try and frame my photos as you see them in the film but I just didn't have the time. So while my shots may not match up exactly, they'll give you an idea of what the places look like now.

Grab some candy corn, there's other treats in store too!
(ie: long post ahead!)

Oct 30, 2014

Halloween Web - Monsterfink

Happy Hallow's Eve Eve!

Today is the last of the Halloween Web series. Our final guest is an artist that we can only conjure if you help me. Legend has it if you say his name 3 times in front of a monitor he will appear. Dim the lights, grab my hand, and we'll say it together...



Wooo, it worked! Speak to us, O spirit from the interwebs.

Most people online know me as Monsterfink either from my artwork or from the Midnight Monster Spookshow blog. I also spend a fair amount of time working on the Haunted Toybox, a magazine dedicated to monster toys and collectibles.

HauntedToybox1 - Copy

What was Halloween like for you as a little fink?

I grew up living in a cemetery, go ahead, let that sink in.....

Okay I'll go on, you're probably thinking hey that's a great place to have Halloween.... it's not. No one comes to your house trick or treating. You can't put up Halloween decorations outside because hanging ghosts in your tree could be offensive and fake headstones are kinda pointless when real ones fill your backyard. However the inside of the house was decorated up. I still remember a set of three inflatable monsters - Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and a Witch, that my mom got at the local Drug Fair. Loved those, wish I still had them. The sound of leaves under your feet as you ran from house to house.

Any favorite costumes from past Halloweens?

As a kid, my older brother built me an R2-D2 costume out of a large cardboard storage tube that grass seed came in. He spent weeks making the thing a perfect copy of the action figure since that was the only real reference material available in the ye olden times (pre-internet and home video). That costume won every award contest I entered that year. In art school I made a really nice werewolf costume one year that won awards and at the height of the musical's popularity a really sweet original take on the Phantom of the Opera.

What do you remember most about Halloween from childhood? What was it like in your neighborhood as a kid? If you could mention the general area you grew up in that would be helpful. I'm going for Halloween across the country here.

monster squad

 How do you celebrate today?

Nowadays I spend my Halloween nights taking my daughter trick or treating.

Do you have any yearly rituals?

I listen to what most people would call Halloween music all year long, even my Christmas music is monster related. I have to visit all the Halloween stores at least three times to peruse the offerings and the season isn't complete without several viewings of Trick r Treat.

Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was pennies. Seriously, collect all that loose change and go to the store and buy a bag of candy fer cryin' out loud!

My favorite thing to get was comic books. One year a house was giving out issues of Action Comics with Dial H for Hero stories, greatest treat of all time.

Why do you think Halloween sticks with us as we get older?

The fun of it all. When you're a kid the sheer joy of getting to dress up as something else and parade around getting rewarded with candy is such a thrill. As we get older, we shift from being the kid to the adult rewarding the kids. It's a circle of life thing, ugh I feel like a Disney cartoon about jungle animals now. Also for a large portion of the audience reading this article, it's the time of year when the things we like most get brought out into the public, the time when monsters sit on store shelves and pumpkin flavoring is in EVERYTHING.

Thanks for bringing the series to a close!
Where can folks stalk you online and see more of your art?

You can always find me lurking around Twitter. There's also my blog, and my portfolio site.


Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!

And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!

Oct 29, 2014

Halloween Web - William Bruce West

Wow, I can't believe we're only 2 days away from Halloween already! I have a special post brewing for Friday if I can bring it all together. In the meantime,we've got just a few more interviews to keep you company til then.

Thanks for dropping in, Will. I feel odd calling you Will, like how you always call celebrities by the full name but it sounds weird when you just use the first name? 
Anyway, introduce yourself to the folks.

Well, I run WilliamBruceWest.com, which sounds like a vanity site, but it's really just a place for me to blog about popular culture. One of my favorite features is called West Week Ever, which goes up every Friday morning. In WWE, we take a look at the week that was in pop culture. I also sell toys and collectibles at Will's World of Wonder. Things have been slow over there lately, but I'm about to dive back in for the holiday season. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Ello (@williambrucewest), and Tumblr - Yeah, I really like social media!

 What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I live in the suburbs outside of Washington, DC, and I remember watching Halloween sort of take shape in my neighborhood. I was 2 years old when we moved into the neighborhood, and I was the only kid there. Everyone else was older and didn't seem to take part in trick or treating. By the time I was school age, a few more kids had moved into the area, and there was a nice little trick or treating scene. By the time I was in middle school, I had friends coming to my neighborhood because the candy was much better than what their neighborhoods had to offer. Sadly, though, that boom was short-lived. When I went off to college, I think everyone else did, as well, and Halloween has never really recovered. I almost feel like Halloween is dying, which is sad. I haven't seen a trick or treater at my place in YEARS. Part of the problem seems to be the regulation of trick or treating these days. Neighborhood associations decide to hold trick of treating on a weekend if Halloween occurs on a school night, and when that happens, it's also done during daylight hours. All of the fun has been sucked out of the experience, and it's nothing like what we had when we were kids. (Ed.: Amen!)

WBW Halloween Snoopy

Do you have any memorable Halloween stories?

The scariest thing about my Halloween history is that I had a tendency to get injured a lot. One year, I was Steve Urkel and I got a little too close to a plastic axe-wielding goblin. I was hit right in the bridge of my nose, almost breaking it. Then, while in college, I decided  it would be fun to drunkenly play soccer in a parking lot. I ended up spraining my ankle, and was on crutches for a few weeks. All of these were examples of me thinking I was cool, and then paying for it dearly!

Do you have any favorite costumes from past Halloweens?

I was a big fan of the Ben Cooper costumes in a box. I was everything from Snoopy to Tweety Bird to Sgt Slaughter. When I was younger, I was actually of a size where I could still fit into store bought costumes. As I got older and fatter, I had to get a bit more creative. My favorite costume, however, was probably my Mighty Morphin Power Rangers White Ranger costume that my cousin sewed for me. I was a HUGE Power Rangers fan, and I knew that the White Ranger was coming before he even debuted on TV. My cousin adapted the pattern from a Batman costume and crafted a really great looking White Ranger suit. The character debuted on TV the week of Halloween, so all of my friends were impressed that I was wearing the suit of the guy who had just debuted. That costume was a big hit and I ended up wearing it around the house for the next year.

As an adult, my favorite costumes have been comprised as stuff I already had lying around. I had a tuxedo and a Batman shirt, so I was Bruce Wayne one year. I did a cappella in college, and we wore vests, so one year I just wore that outfit and said I was in a barbershop quartet. In my old age, I've been pretty lazy, yet creative!

WBW Halloween

How do you celebrate the holiday today?

One of my best friends, Keith, treats Halloween like it's his Christmas. He goes all out and has a big party every year. He moved to New Jersey a few years back, but we've still made the trip to those parties because they're always a great time. That's probably the extent of my Halloween celebrations nowadays. I HATE Adult Halloween, where it seems like the night is just an excuse for slutty costumes and bad decisions. I started getting a sour taste in my mouth for the holiday during college, and it hasn't really subsided. I guess I'm waiting to have kids of my own so that I can experience the magic of Halloween through their eyes.

Do you have any yearly rituals?

Growing up, my family always went to a particular pumpkin patch every year. We'd go on a Saturday, and on the way back, we'd stop at this really good soft serve ice cream place. When I went to college, they started taking my younger cousin, which they still do to this day. In fact, I haven't been invited to go in years! I guess I've been replaced...

As for television, I don't like the "classic" Halloween fare, like "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". You see, in high school, I had NO LIFE, so most of my Saturdays were spent watching really bad syndicated shows on local stations - stuff like Baywatch, V.I.P. and The Outer Limits. For some reason, though, during the fall, this was a cozy experience. Some of my fondest fall/Halloween memories from high school simply revolve around me watching bad television. So, I try to cram my October with as many of those experiences as I can.

Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was PENNIES! The house across the street from me used to give out fun size Mars bars, but they also would give you a little baggie with, like, 3 pennies in it. It's not 1942 - what the heck am I gonna do with 3 cents?!

My favorite thing to get was...Man, there are so many different things. I think my favorite things to get were the candies that you didn't just see when you were standing in a grocery store checkout line. Sure, I liked mini Snickers, but I gravitated to things like Smarties, Brach's candy corn, and, believe it or not, Saf-T Pops. I'm not sure if you remember Saf-T Pops, but the stick was more of a loop, so you couldn't impale yourself if you fell. I feel like the only time I ever saw Saf-T Pops was during Halloween season.

Why do you think Halloween still appeals to us as we get older?

I think Halloween reminds us of the "good old days", just like cartoons and toys. It takes us back to a simpler time, when you could dress up as your favorite characters and then you were rewarded for it with free candy! You always had fun parties for it at school, and it's kinda like the "on ramp" to Christmas. That last quarter of the year is the most important on the Kid Calendar.

Thanks for taking the time to join in the festivities!

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about my Halloween experiences! I haven't thought about this stuff in years, but it brings back fond memories.

Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!

And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!

Oct 28, 2014

Halloween Web - Belle Dee

Another delightful artist stops by to give her thoughts on Halloween.

Instagram Shots
"I love Instagram! And if you follow me there, you can see sketches of things I'm working on, things I'm eating/drinking & cat pictures!"
Please pull up a toadstool and tell the folks about you.

Most people will know me as Belle Dee, I have a blog called 'Doo Wacka Doodles' where I post my art & for the month of October, Halloween Countdown related content. My art has appeared in magazines such as Little Shoppe of Horrors, Video Watchdog, Horrorhound & Rue Morgue.

 What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I grew up in western NC, in the mountains, in a small town. Also, we lived way out in the country, so someone (usually my grandmother), would have to drive me from house to house, since they were so far apart. So I never really got the neighborhood trick or treat experience, like you see on tv. I loved dressing up and I was usually more excited about that than anything else. When I was in 6th grade, a classmate had a Halloween costume party. I dressed up like a princess & won first prize! My favorite part of that evening was going out for a hayride in the dark of night. It was so fun.

Cat costume crop text
"Since I had no picture of me wearing my beloved cat costume, I had my younger sister put it on a few years ago, so I could take pictures of someone actually wearing it. I used an old photo of myself for the face & got this lovely background from one of the many Ideals magazines that I've been sharing pages from this October."
 Any favorite costumes from past Halloweens?

My grandmother knew how to sew, so most of my costumes were homemade. My favorite was probably my cat costume. I would put that thing on & play in it year round. Even in the middle of the summer, when it was sweltering out. I still have it. I also still have a witch costume she made.

I'm also a little surprised that since my grandmother did make most of my costumes, that I don't have more photos of me at Halloween. It's seems strange to me.

Any memorable Halloween stories to share?

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I had a music teacher who did these presentations for us at Halloween. Sort of like telling us a ghost story, but he had props (evidence), to help support the story he was telling us. One year he told some story about a mummy. He had fake newspapers that had 'Mummy Disappears', etc. on the front and a human finger in a box (that gag where you cut a hole in the bottom of a small box and put your thumb through so it looks like a severed finger in a box). It was the first time I'd ever seen that and at the time I don't think I processed what exactly I was seeing. I just thought it was a finger in a box. The whole thing concluded with a reveal of THE MUMMY! or rather a bandaged-wrapped store mannequin. At the end of the show, he explained that it wasn't real and let us examine the props & things. Each class that came in was asked not to tell the next group what was coming. Now even though he explained away that mummy business and we all had a good laugh, when I went to bed that night and was lying alone in the dark, I started getting really freaked out. There was some light outside & it was casting shadows from a bush on my wall & it looked like a giant bat! I was terrified & I just knew that mummy was going to get me.

red princess_01
"This is the costume I wore to a Halloween Party in 6th Grade & took first prize. Although it was made up of different elements, the actual dress was made by my grandmother, for my mother to wear to a dance when she was in school."
 How do you celebrate Halloween today?

It's really sad, but I don't really do much on the actual night of Halloween. There was a neighborhood on the other side of town here that used decorate and do a big jack o lantern display. But I haven't been in a couple of years, so I might go out to see if they're still doing it.
Do you have any annual rituals?

I have a Halloween playlist, that I load on my iPod come September that I play throughout the season. It's a mix of songs starting from the early 1900's & goes up to the 1960's. But no rock & roll stuff. I actually have a separate playlist for 50's & 60's rock & roll, surf, garage music. I use to make Halloween mixed CDs for friends, but I think I've exhausted all my material.

I get out all my Halloween specials to watch. I have a couple of VHS tapes with things like 'Disney's Halloween Treat', 'The Halloween that Almost Wasn't', 'Halloween is Grinch Night', 'Raggedy Ann & Andy - The Pumpkin who couldn't Smile', and much more. 'Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' & Disney's 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow' are a must. Also I have a bunch of Simpsons Treehouse of Horror on tape. I also watch all the Martha Stewart Halloween related shows. There is a DVD, and if you have Hulu, they have a Martha Halloween section!

This is the time of year that I only watch Halloween related horror. 'Halloween', 'Halloween III'(a personal favorite), 'Trick r Treat', 'Night of the Demons.' I also like 'Kenny & Co.', directed by Don Coscarelli. It's not horror, it's more like the week of the life of a boy in the 1970s & it takes place around Halloween. I love it & surprised more people don't mention it.

I also watch Halloween Wars, carve a pumpkin, visit a corn maze, and seek out all things Pumpkin-Spiced.

In the future I want to incorporate more crafting & decorating into my Halloween.

Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was that pink gum that was rock hard. Super bubble maybe?

My favorite thing to get was anything chocolate & stickers!

Thanks for joining us! Where can people follow you online?

They can check out my blog, Doo Wacka Doodles, find my on the Facebook, and on Instagram.

Sketch page Halloween
"I usually sketch ideas out for Halloween pieces, 10 months out of the year. Not all of them make it to a final finished piece. Here's a small sample collage of some sketches I've done over the past two years."

Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!

And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!

Oct 27, 2014

Halloween Web - Little Gothic Horrors

I'm very excited to present today's guest because she's all the way over in Australia. I'm always interested to find out what Halloween is like outside the US.


Thank you so much for participating. Please introduce yourself.

HI! My name is Emma. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and my blog is called Little Gothic Horrors. I adore the ambience of old-school Gothic horror and all the "dark and stormy night" tropes of the genre like haunted houses and spooky graveyards.  I enjoy a good scare as much as the next person, but I'm particularly smitten with the lighter side of the dark side, which to me, is what Halloween is all about.


What was Halloween like for you growing up?

Unfortunately, when I was growing up, Halloween was non-existent in Australia. We all knew what it was because Australians grow up drenched in American popular culture, but it was pretty much viewed as a foreign custom. Plus, Halloween falls in our spring, not autumn, so I suppose it wasn't seen as being seasonally relevant. However... Oh, how I personally coveted Halloween! When I was around ten, I managed to rope the neighbourhood kids into trick-or-treating. We cobbled together some "spooky"  (I was a vampire) costumes and hit up all the families in our street. It was such a novelty (and we were all so darned adorable, of course) that we made out like bandits in the treat acquisition department. Someone's mother took photos of us, but sadly, I didn't ever get hold of any.

To my delight, Halloween is gradually taking hold in Australia, and although trick-or-treating is only in it's infancy compared with the US,  retailers have finally figured out that there is a buck to be made from Halloween merchandise. The last couple of years we've actually had little trick-or-treaters come to the door, which was fantastic!  Unlike me, my 17 year old son has grown up in a home where Halloween is celebrated each year.


How do you celebrate Halloween today?

Every year I buy a pumpkin and carve it. When my son was small, I was determined he would have a Jack-o'-Lantern, but back then I could only get an Australian variety of pumpkin called a "Queensland Blue". It has an extremely tough, blue-grey skin and carving it was a nightmare that took hours. Now the lovely, orange, American pumpkins are imported for Halloween and are available in the supermarkets. They are ridiculously expensive, but they are worth it.

Yard haunts are still unheard of in Australia, so my Jack-o'-Lantern stays indoors with my other All Hallows' Eve decorations.  Last year for Halloween, we celebrated by making a silly micro-movie using the tiny, faux graveyard scene I set up each year in a corner of my living room. Everyone got involved: my husband was "The Thing"; our beloved kitty was "Phoebe the Graveyard Cat"; I directed the action; and my son (a budding filmmaker) filmed and edited the piece. Here's the video if you're interested in seeing our shenanigans.

Do you have any yearly rituals?

Our yearly Halloween ritual is to have a little family dinner with spooky-themed foods and then watch 'Hocus Pocus'. Without fail, we also watch 'The Frighteners' and Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow' in the days leading up to Halloween.


It was great hearing how Halloween is getting traction so far away. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you, Dex, for inviting me to share a bit about my Aussie version of Halloween.

Phoebe, the Graveyard Cat
Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!

And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!


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