Oct 20, 2020

Monster Spookshow Radio

I initially started blogging all those years ago so that I could join in on the Countdown to Halloween. I was visiting all the blogs and amassing my own digital archive of Halloween goodness. In particular, I enjoyed finding people's digital mix tapes that they had created. The best source I found for these was George Van Orsdel's Monster Spookshow Radio.

 Sadly, the site stopped updating in 2012. But, while the links were still active, I managed to download all of the compilations. So now I'm sharing my joy with all of you.

There are 38 shows altogether, including 4 Halloween, 3 Sci-Fi, and 3 Cryptmas specials. Each one is about an hour long and has songs, audio from TV/movies, radio ads, and other things mixed in. They're all a lot of fun and I try to fit in as many as I can in my Halloween rotation every year.

Each track has notes in iTunes with the listing of what's in each show. You can still check out the site, which also has the track listings. Click on the above banner to drop these treats into your digital goodie bag and join me in a toast to the gone but not forgotten George Van Orsdel's Monster Spookshow Radio.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 19, 2020

Halloween Web - Change the Color Toys

It's artist week for Halloween Web interviews!
Our first one may be someone you recognize...

Thanks for coming by, please tell the folks about yourself.

Hey! I’m Nikki aka @change_the_color_toys on Instagram. I’ve dabbled in many creative avenues over the years - graphic design, gallery work, illustration - but currently becoming increasing obsessed with custom toys. A year ago, I dove headfirst into the toy collecting community and it’s starting to intertwine with my artsy background. I’m currently writing and illustrating a series of children’s books, which I hope to accompany with toys of the characters, much like Wuzzles back in the day. 

How was Halloween for you growing up?

Halloween in Bucks County PA, a suburb about an hour from Philly, was incredible and much like that in the movies. Our development flowed into three or four other large developments of single homes spaced out just enough you could conquer 100 homes or more running lawn to lawn. Only a few houses were “black-outs” unlike today where it seems that’s more popular where we are now. Booooo! (thumbs down boo, not scary boo). The neighborhood crawled with kids of all ages for hours. There was always the Raisin House, although my favorite was the Soda House! By the time we got around to the swankier neighborhood, the homes were larger and the lawns became wider to cross. You get pretty thirsty sprinting from house to house for a few hours, so a lukewarm Acme soda was just the best thing ever. 

Do you have any special Halloween memories?

I was lucky enough to have a whole crew of girlfriends my age all within 2-5 houses from mine but when I was about 4 (the new kid on the block), I hadn’t gathered a trick-or-treatin crew. It was just me and my dad. Our own street was long and by the time we’d gotten to the top, we reached the house on the cross street that had set up a few dummies during the month of October. Obviously we passed the house coming and going and I knew the dummy scarecrow and clown or whatever it was that was set up. So I went up to the door while my dad waited at the street...but it was the ole bait-and-switch. I reached for the candy and one of the damn dummies came alive and scared the crap outta me. I’m pretty sure that was the last house for the night but I had a full bucket anyway, so all good. Now that I’m a “growns-up”, I copied that idea and set myself up as a dummy on our driveway alongside a few real stuffed ones. As a kid, this is cruel, but as an adult it is such a freaking delight to scare munchkins (and some wussy teenagers). 

What about favorite costumes?

I was costumed from less than a year old til a few years after college but as an adult, haven’t dressed up much. I still was dressing up even in High School. Out of our class of about 700 kids, I was one of three dorks who still participated. I don’t think it was even made clear if we were allowed or not. I was Lisa Simpson senior year, of course. My mom stitched almost all our costumes but E.T. as an 8 month old was pretty dope.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

Our fam decorates the house and we take my daughter trick-or-treating. Nothing crazy compared to the days of bar-hopping in costumes down Main Street in Manayunk back in the day… Nowadays, I usually dress up as a skeleton and stay home to give out candy. My husband takes my daughter around. Did you know you can hang out with your neighbors and drink beer and give out candy while scaring little kids?! And I thought Halloween was great when I was young!

Do you have any must watch movies or specials for the season?

Movies - yes! Obsessed with Hocus Pocus. My daughter is 7 and even though she’s outgrown Curious George, I still make her watch the Halloween special every year. #guiltypleasure

What is it about Halloween that makes it special?

For a lot of us, I think it is the nostalgia of the magic that is Halloween night (and possibly Mischief Night as well) as a child. Ever go back visit an old school? One of your reactions is probably ‘this is much smaller than I remember!’ As a child, experiences seem more intense and epic so all the fun and terror and thrill during the Halloween season is exponentially penetrating. It’s a visceral holiday as well. Itchy hayrides, sweaty costumes, candy bellyaches. For me, the thrill of running around town with friends in the dark, anonymously, whew - can’t beat it! I mean, I guess this could have been any other night if I wasn’t a nerd.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Laffy taffy.

My favorite thing to get was 100 Grand

My favorite monster cereal is uh, cereal is my jam but never had any monster cereals! Does Lucky Charms count…? Leprechauns are creepy…

A monster-sized thanks to Nikki for chatting with us today. 
Please check her art on Instagram @change_the_color_toys

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 18, 2020

Haunted Mansion - Call of the Spirits Game

 Just released at the end of September, The Haunted Mansion Call of the Spirits Game from Funko may be just the place to get your Mansion fix if you're missing the ride.

This is the fourth official board game based on the attraction and only the second that wasn't a Disney exclusive. The first was simply the Haunted Mansion Game in 1972 which is a work of art in and of itself. The Disney exclusives were re-themes of existing games: Clue (2002) and The Game of Life (2010).

Enough history, let us call in the spirits! I haven't had a chance to play the game yet but the art design all around gets an A+.

This is the inside of the box lid featuring the stretching portrait room. How perfect!

The interior sides of the box each have a different set of portraits that can be found in the ride. I also love the way the game board folds so that when you open the box, you are greeting by the Mansion and "Welcome, foolish mortals".

This is the back of the board, the back! How great is this scene?

And here is the front of the board with different areas of the ride. Madame Leota sits in the seance room in the middle. It has a rotating feature which is why you see that large circle opening on the back of the board. The endless hallway surrounds the room and connects to the ballroom, dining room, attic, graveyard, mausoleums, and crypt.

Players are represented by these bat stanchion tokens. If you're not familiar with these, they are in the ride's loading area queue holding up the chains. More info here. I love that they included this guy but why not make the player tokens Doombuggies?

To win, you move around the mansion socializing with the ghosts (collecting them). At the end of the game, you score points based on the sets of ghosts you have. Ghosts of the same color score more points depending on how many you have. Some special ghosts, like the Bride, don't have a set but score better if you collect specific other ghosts. The art on the cards does a great job of capturing the...spirit of the ride.

You didn't think there would be a Haunted Mansion game without the Hitchhiking Ghosts, did you? These guys move around the board haunting the players. Whoever has the highest haunt score at the end loses some of their collected ghosts.

Unlike other Funko games, I haven't seen this one hit a major retailer in my area yet. I couldn't wait so I got my copy from Amazon.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 17, 2020

Halloween 2020 MA Lottery ticket

 Another of my annual Halloween traditions: the scratch ticket!

I really like the design on this one. I dig the cartoony vampire and the fact that they incorporated vampire teeth as a bonus symbol (win x10!). The spooky eyes are pretty cool too.

Do you have any fun Halloween themed lottery tickets in your state? I started an open Flickr album for people to post their state lottery tickets. If you have any, please feel free to add them to the album. Or if you could send me pictures/scans I'd be happy to post them.

Be sure to visit all the other houses with their lights on for you by clicking below.

Oct 16, 2020

Haunted Library - Welcome to Spooky Towers (1996)

I picked up this up years ago in an Ebay lot and kept meaning to share it during the Countdown. While I was doing some Corona cleaning, I found it again.

This isn't just a book, it's an activity pack!

The whole thing comes inside a folder. In the left pocket is an activity book with jokes, games, and puzzles. The right side has punch out sheets to make a scary skeleton and a monster mobile.

The book has several places where the activity is a two page spread so I scanned it that way to try and make it look nice. If you want to print any of it out, there is a single page scan in the file as well. The skeleton and mobile will probably work best if printed out on something a little sturdier than paper.

Click on the library card to check out the book and remember, all returns are due by midnight on October 31st.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 15, 2020

Halloween Web - The Witchfinder General of Salem

 Today we've got another Salem Halloween fixture, the Witchfinder General himself!

Thanks for taking some time away from your persecutions. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Eric Dwinnells but you may know me better as the one-and-only Witchfinder General of Salem, Massachusetts. This is both a character I perform and my actual title. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only licensed Witchfinder in the world. Each Halloween season (well except this one; thanks COVID!), I patrol the streets of Salem putting suspected witches (aka tourists) on trial. It is a darkly humorous yet mostly historically accurate portrayal of an actual 1692 witchcraft hearing. Yes, I may sentence them to die, but at least they get fun pictures for their Instagram!  
Of course with COVID ruining the party this year, times will be awful tough for us street performers which is why I’ve set up a GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com/witchfinder20) to help recoup a little of what I’ll be missing out on this year. But, I’m not asking for money for nothing! I’m currently working on a series of YouTube videos that you’ll be able to find my my channel. In these videos, I’ll be sharing some of the lesser known stories of the Salem Witch Trials and some fun videos about Salem in general. You may also know me as the host of the paranormal/true crime/spooky pop culture podcast, Spooky A S. Or perhaps you’ve seen me singing, acting or telling jokes at theaters and clubs all over New England.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

I had pretty much the ideal New England Halloweens growing up. Just like you see in movies or on TV. Lots of kids, lots of foliage, no concern for a child’s safety other than “carry a glow-stick”. I grew up in Ashland, MA. It’s a small town and I lived in a little cul-de-sac so you pretty much knew all the neighbors. There were a group of kids around my age in the neighborhood so we’d all go together. And I ALWAYS insisted we wait until it got dark out. Trick or treating while the sun is up is for punks! Actually, just last year I recorded an episode of my podcast while walking around my old neighborhood talking about trick or treating. That was fun and it was a popular episode.

Do you have any favorite costumes, past or present?

I take Halloween very seriously and to me, they are Halloween Uniforms, not costumes! When I was a kid, I LOVED werewolves. Still do. I was a werewolf for like three years straight. I remember being The Phantom of the Opera in middle school. It sticks out in my mind because I did my own make-up with one of those latex kits so under my phantom mask, my face looked real messed up. Anyway, I wore that costume to a CCD Halloween party. When I took my mask off, the prettiest girl in my grade came up and asked to touch my face! For a shy 12 year old boy, that’s HUGE! 

I still dress up. My day job has a big Halloween party every year and I’ve thrown one or two myself. Some more recent favorites include Captain Spaulding, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Edward Scissorhands. Oh, and I’m not afraid to cross gender lines; I made a pretty good Lizzie Borden!

How do you celebrate Halloween these days?

Well of course A LOT of my Halloween season is taken up entertaining the masses that come to Salem every year and I LOVE being a part of it. It’s literally my favorite thing to do. It’s such a fun atmosphere; there’s no place else like it. Seriously, dear reader, if you love Halloween and you’ve never been to Salem in October, you simply must join us. You know…when there isn’t a world-wide pandemic, I mean. Other than that, I try to take my nieces/nephews on at least one spooky road trip. This year, we’re going to the Cryptozoology Museum in Maine. I usually take them trick or treating too.

Do you have any yearly traditions for the holiday?

I have this VHS tape that my mom started all the way back in 1986. It has various Halloween specials and Halloween-related sitcom episodes on it. Recording in EP mode (Google it, kids) we added to it each year until the late 90’s. I’ve watched it at least once each and every year since 1986. I’ve transferred it over to digital formats, but I still insist on watching the real deal off the VHS. Sure, the picture quality has diminished, but over 30 years later the tape is still totally watchable! My mom has since passed so I think of her when I watch it too. She loved Halloween almost as much as I do.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was harassed by older kids! They never took our candy or beat us up or anything, but they’d follow you and scare the crap out of you. I remember getting really freaked out by a teenager dressed as The Grim Reaper one year. He made such an impression on me that I dressed as the GrIm Reaper the very next Halloween. Just like Bruce Wayne, I became that which I feared!!!

My favorite thing to get was peanut-butter cups! Anything chocolate really.

My favorite monster cereal as a kid, was Boo Berry, but it wasn’t a fair contest. Remember, in the 80’s, it was just part of the kid culture that there was definite “boy stuff” and “girl stuff” and god help you if you ever crossed the line. You’d be called “sissy”…or worse! Frankenberry was pink. Pink was “girl stuff” so he never had a shot. These days, I (and perhaps the world) have a much more enlightened view. I’m proud to say I LOVE me some Frankenberry!

Where can folks follow your adventures online?
You can follow The Witchfinder on Instagram (@witchfinderofsalem) and you can support by donating to him on GoFundMe. People can check out my podcast by looking for Spooky A S on your podcast streaming service or by going to www.spookyas.com
Thanks to Eric for dropping in and sharing his Halloween memories.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 14, 2020

Disney's Haunted Mansion

 Well, today was supposed to kick off Halloween Hot Wheels Wednesday. Despite the cars shipping out on Sept. 25th, they just arrived last night. Not enough time for me to pull a post together. In the meantime, enjoy this hastily put together post featuring Disney's Haunted Mansion stuff. 
Last year, I posted about a Haunted Mansion read along book/record set that was used in schools. 
The post has a link to download the audio and book.

Thanks to a recent episode of the Purple Stuff Podcast, I found out about this rocking cover of Grim Grinning Ghosts. The video is pretty fun for Mansion fans, there's plenty of visual references in addition to ride audio in the song.

This is one of my favorite behind the scenes/making of videos on the Mansion. Before there was the internet as we know it, I bought this on DVD. Not only is it a great history of the ride but there are plenty of interviews with the people that made it happen.

Lastly, the Internet Archive has the 1975 Disneyland Haunted Mansion standard operation procedures handbook for cast members. As a Disney park fan, I find this stuff fascinating because it's a peak behind the curtain at how things work.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 13, 2020

Disney's Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghost Figures - Super 7

 Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts!
Originally intended to be a San Diego Comic Con exclusive this year, Super 7 released a boxed set of ReAction figures based on the famous trio of specters. As with the SDCC exclusive Tron figure, I was easily able to get these guys into my home. I really would have felt I missed out had these only been available at the con.

The box itself is a work of art and I have no problem displaying them this way. The trim and bats are glossy on a matte background so they're only visible when the light hits it just right. I love that Leota is also featured up there on the top.

Ezra has always been my favorite of the group because he's somewhat skeletal in appearance. This incarnation seems to be channeling Rev. Kane from Poltergeist 2. It looks like he's wearing a pair of slippers instead of some kind of shoe. Hey, I'm not going to fault him for his footwear choice. Once you're dead, who cares about fashion? It's all about comfort.

Speaking of fashion, each figure comes with an accessory and Ezra's is his hat. You can't see it in this photo but his left hand has the pinkie extended. He's fancy like that.

Next up is Phineas. His hat isn't removable but if it was, you might mistake him for a substitute teacher. His travel bag...this is my one gripe with the set. That thing is a huge pain to get into his hand!

And lastly we have ol' Gus with his ball and chain. It's not removable and it's a bit of a pain to get it to balance. Depending on which incarnation you reference, some are holding the ball and some hold the chain with the ball hanging down.

This is a great set and I highly recommend it if you're a Mansion maniac. It's way better than the set that was sold in the parks years ago. They're still available at Sideshow for $60. It might seem like a lot, but when you consider individual ReAction figures are currently retailing around $18, it's not. Now if they could just make a scale Doombuggy!

Be sure to visit all the other houses with their lights on for you by clicking below.

Oct 12, 2020

Halloween Web - Brandon Clarke

 I am extremely thrilled to be bringing you today's interview subject. He's a local cosplayer that I frequently see around Salem and have run into at a few comic conventions.

Thanks for joining us, please introduce yourself.

My name is Brandon Clarke, I am also known as Brandon the Shapeshifter. I am mostly known for being a cosplayer. I do characters such as Pennywise, Genie, Maleficent, Captain Cold, Doctor Strange, Green Lantern and several other original costumes. I have been cosplaying since 2010, I also recently took up writing and I am working on a ten book horror novel series called Dark Mysteries of the Paranormal. The first three books are now available on Amazon kindle: The Brave and the Wicked, The Ghost of Kyle Sugarbaker, and The Rainbow Dimension. I strive to be taken seriously as an author where I can inspire people with my work. 

What was Halloween like for you as a child?

I grew up in Boston, MA and as a child I can only think of one time when I dressed up. I was a jester and I remember going to a Halloween party. I  didn't really celebrate Halloween as a child. It wasn't until I became an adult and moved to Salem, MA when I truly came into my own and appreciated the magic of Halloween. To be frank, I feel like you have more fun with Halloween as an adult than as a kid. Living in Salem I have blossomed into the artist I know I was meant to be. I have gotten some overwhelmingly positive reactions for my costumes. I have won many contest and made some great friends. My fondest memories of Halloween were me being in Salem. When I was a kid, my neighborhood didn't really celebrate Halloween like that. I would see Trick or Treaters here and there but it wasn't on the level that Salem is. I wish I grew up in Salem because I think I would have grown into my passion a lot faster. But things happen for a reason and it all worked out for the better.

Do you have any special memories of past Halloweens?

The fondest memory I have is when I dressed up as a genie one year and Pennywise another. With the genie, people kept telling me how gorgeous and unreal I looked. It was a flattering experience. Especially when rugged dudes would approach me and tell me they thought I was really beautiful. It was the form of appreciation that I always longed for. There was this one guy in particular who was quite handsome, stopped in his tracks and stared at me for five minutes straight. His mouth was wide open and he begged for a picture. He even gave me a hug and it felt so nice that I was able to effect him on that level. 

The other fond memory was when I cosplayed as Pennywise. Everyone freaked out and they were sincerely terrified of me. It got to the  point where one guy got so scared he threatened to hurt me. I of course stood my ground because I told him to calm his scary ass down, its just a costume. Its not real. But for some reason he had a massive reaction. Then I remember making a lot of children cry and I mean ALOT. I chased a pair of brothers in Harrison Comics Store. They didn't see where they were going. One slammed right into the wall and the other fell into the book case knocking it over. Their parents was just laughing at them the entire time as these two boys were genuinely crying and fearing for there life. I then chased them out of the store and down the street and the whole time they were screaming at the top of there lungs. These are moments that are worth living. (I whole heartedly agree with this! - Ed.)

You mentioned you weren't as into Halloween when you were younger, so what do you do to celebrate today?

I usually make a big spectacle of it, I make sure I do big elaborate costumes and go to the biggest Halloween parties. I love the Salem Haunted Happenings Festival and I enjoy it very much. I also love watching Horror movies and listening to the Monster Mash. 

What is it about Halloween that stays with us as we get older?

I think the magic and creativity of Halloween makes us love it more and more as we get older. Halloween is a fun holiday where you can be creative and the world of fantasy and make-believe can become reality. Halloween is a playground for people with big imaginations.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing I got for trick of treating was raisins.

My favorite thing to get was Kit Kats and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula.

A giant-sized thank you to Brandon for stopping by today. He sent so many amazing photos that I couldn't fit into the interview. Please check him out on Instagram (@BrandonTheShapeshifter) for more fantastic costumes.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!

Oct 11, 2020

Monster Madness Board Game (1990)

I picked this up a few years ago when I was on a kick for monster/horror themed board games. At the time, there weren't a lot of games using these themes so I had to settle for older games. I still have yet to find a board game with a solid Halloween theme.

 Despite the images you're going to see, Monster Madness was published in 1990. It definitely has the look of something that might have come out in the 70s/80s. Also, it should not be confused with Mall Madness, which let's face it, could only be better with monsters on the loose!

Oct 10, 2020

Halloween Web - Sean Keller Part 2

 If you missed Part 1 of Sean's interview where he introduces himself, you can find that in Thursday's post.

What was Halloween like for growing up?

I grew up in suburban Northern Virginia in the late 70s, early 80s and Halloween was the one night I was allowed to stay out late. It was heaven. My favorite day of the year. I would dress up and trick or treat until my pillowcase was too heavy to keep going and then I’d stay up trying to get through Count Gore DeVol’s annual presentation of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Do you have any stand out Halloween memories?

After living though 50 of them, they tend to blur together in a candy-corn-colored haze of smiles, fun and debauchery. But I did make the haunted house at my kids school for 9 years in a row and the screams of children (and moms) makes my heart sing.

What about favorite costumes?

As I said earlier, the L.A. horror community is pretty tight and that makes for quite a few costume parties each year (sadly not this year) so I’ve been Rob Zombie, The main ghost from Carnival of Souls, but various incarnations of a suave Devil are my go-to… they are the real me for sure!

How do you celebrate these days?

I’m a Halloween 365 guy, so I’m always ready for a costume party. I love watching movies with friends and cooking up homemade sweets for them to eat.

Do you have any annual rituals to get you in the spirit?

I’m more ritual than man. I go apple picking each year. I write cards. I map out 31 days of themed horror films (this week we’re tackling the Universal Monster sequels). I throw massive parties (missing that ritual this year). I listen to my spooky records and now I put out a spooky record every year, so that has become a tradition in itself! I’ll be carving pumpkins in the graveyard with friends and hosting a lot of watch parties. 
What about favorite movies to watch?
Halloween day is all about old cartoons & John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN and I can’t get through the season without HAXAN, The WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL and THE AMERICAN SCREAM.

What do you think it is about Halloween that keeps it in our hearts as we get older?

Nostalgia is a huge part of it. The attempt to remember how Halloween made me feel as a kid keeps me feeling young. There is a joy to the season, but also a real darkness. Halloween marks the coming of winter, and winter is scary. A lot of people don’t make it through the winter and this year in particular that feeling looms. Halloween is a time to reflect on the year and celebrate with friends in order to stave off the coming darkness.  

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Mary Janes… or a toothbrush

My favorite thing to get was Butterfingers

My favorite monster cereal is Frankenberry

Where can people find you online? 
I'm on Twitter (@_seankeller) and Instagram (@TheSeanKeller).

Franken-thanks to Sean for joining us in the Halloween Web! And be sure to check out his Bandcamp page where you can listen to both volumes of his Killer Sounds of Halloween albums.

Click the image below to see all the participating Countdown bloggers!