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!

Oct 26, 2014

October 2014 Loot Crate - Fear

What's better than Autumn and October? Getting cool stuff in the mail! The Old Ones at Loot Crate have bestowed upon their humble servant another box of geeky goodness for review.

The theme for this month is Fear. Last October's was Survive, which would have fit just as well, if not better, with what we got.

October 2014 Loot Crate inside

Another amazing box interior: an auto shop under zombie siege. There are worse places to be stuck, just look at all the implements of destruction on the peg board on the left! What would you grab first? Baseball bat with nails? Cleaver? Spiked boxing gloves?

October 2014 Loot Crate Magazine

The cover of the monthly mag is a throwback to classic horror comics and is even in 3D! There's an interview with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and artist JSalvador, who'll be popping up later.

October 2014 Loot Crate Book & Locker

 Next is a mysterious blood smeared locker and a handy survival guide.
We'll open up the book first.

October 2014 Loot Crate Sharknado book

As you can see, this survival guide will not only help you out during a Sharknado but just about any unnatural disaster the SyFy channel might throw at you. If you're a frequent watcher, you'll probably recognize several of these as movies. Personally, I'm hoping we see Dinonami and Bataclysm in the future.

October 2014 Loot Crate DR Pen

Popping the locker open reveals a Loot Crate/Capcom exclusive: a sledgesaw hammer pen from Dead Rising 3. I've only played the original Dead Rising but I remember one of the coolest things about it was being able to combine weapons you find to make even deadlier toys. The chainsaw part of this is the pen cap. Even if you lose that, you'll still have a bloody sledgehammer pen. It may stand out in your pen cup at the office but I don't think anyone will try to steal it from you!

October 2014 Loot Crate Walking Dead

  Here we've got more zombie related stuff! Issue #132 of the Walking Dead with an exclusive cover variant, a tattoo sheet of various slashes and bites, and a SuperEmoFriends print by JSalvador of Daryl and zombie bro Merle. You should definitely check out the SuperEmoFriends page if you like this print. No matter what you're a fan of, you'll probably find something there you'll like.

October 2014 Loot Crate Death by Cats

Lastly is this Death by Kitten t-shirt. I don't know, I guess I don't get it. Yes, it's a bunch of cats making up a skull but...? Reaction in the Looter communities I hang out in has been mixed on this one at best.

If you want to get goodies like this in your mail every month, head over to Loot Crate and use code AEIOUwhy for 10% your entire order.

October 2014 Loot Crate inside hand

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 25, 2014

Halloween Web - The Trash Man

Former Dorke Horde and League of Extraordinary Blogger Trash Man
sits in for a spell this evening.


Tell the home audience a little about yourself.

My internet claim-to-fame is running the blog Pop Pop! It's Trash Culture, which is a site where I celebrate a deep love and appreciation for pop culture oddities; everything from B-movies to comic books to outdated party-supplies. You can also find me as occasional co-host on the Geek Fallout podcast and its "sister" podcast, Geek Fallout: The Comic Book Episodes.

 Do you have a particularly fond/funny/scary Halloween story?

Probably my favorite Halloween was the last one spent going out "trick-or-treating" with a group of friends. We deemed ourselves too cool and too old to take it all seriously, so threw on whatever we could find and hit the streets. Random hockey-masks, plastic vampire teeth, someone was wearing a black cape, I think. Five kids with shitty mash-up "costumes", still enticed by the idea of free candy, who wanted nothing more than to hang out and have a good time. We stayed out late, walked from one end of town to the other, and just enjoyed being care-free kids on the verge of adolescence.


What was Halloween like in your neighborhood as a kid?

I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, in a suburban town with a population of about 12,000. It really was almost a stereotypical small-town back in the '80s, all tightly-knit neighborhoods and friendly faces. The kind of place you could safely spend all night going from house to house, greeted with smiles and Snickers bars at nearly every door you knocked on. The weather always seemed perfect for the time of year, too. Brisk winds kicking up fallen leaves, cool but not too cold.

 Any favorite costumes from past Halloweens?

I have a notorious history full of awful costumes; lots of cheap, store-bought junk that reflected whatever pop-cult icon I was obsessed with at the time. Based entirely on nostalgia, and a love for both G.I.Joe and professional wrestling, let's say it was the Ben Cooper-produced Sgt. Slaughter mask and smock I wore when I was five. (It was.)

How do you do to celebrate Halloween night today?

I try to spend the night with friends, a ton of junk food and a stack of VHS/DVDs. There are years where I roll solo, but guarantee that while I'm waiting for neighborhood kids trick-or-treating to knock on the door, I'm gonna be filling myself with candy and watching Ghoulies II (1988). Or, well, something as equally as trashy.

 Do you have any yearly rituals?

The entire month of October is usually spent surrounding myself with anything remotely Halloween-y. If there's orange and black, witches, skeletons, wolfmen or pumpkins involved, well, I'm a total sucker. From watching horror flicks, eating bowls of Count Chocula, or haunting my local thrift shops in search of ghoulish goods, I love it all.

Any specifc movies in the holiday rotation?

I try to keep things fresh, watching a variety of movies [though all appropriately horrific] that I may have missed out on over the years or that I am just now discovering. My one "must-watch" program is the annual airing of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on our local ABC affiliate. I'm pretty sure my entire holiday would be ruined without it.

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

More than any other holiday, Halloween feels totally geared towards kids. It's a day to celebrate the macabre, everything spooky-scary, but in a light-hearted fashion. And no wonder it appeals to those of us who still like to act childish; affording us the opportunity to set aside responsibilities and troubles for a day, morph back into those simpler times filled with candy and costumes and scary movies.

Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Sun-Maid Raisins.

My favorite thing to get was Fun-Sized Baby Ruths and Butterfingers.

Thanks for partying with us and the awesome retro photos! 
Where can people find you online?


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 24, 2014

Halloween Web - Reis O'Brien

I'm thrilled to be putting one of my blogging inspirations under the spook-o-scope today. I will always proudly be Member #13 of the Dorke Horde.

 Welcome...well come in and introduce yourself.

My name is Reis (rhymes with “geese”), I am a reformed blogger (Geek Orthodox, Lair of the Dork Horde), currently a toy designer for Funko and I make a whole bunch of weird little toys on the side which you can find in my online store at BimToy.

Do you have a particularly fond/funny/scary Halloween story?

My favorite Halloween story is from my first Halloween. I was three but I remember it vividly. I remember being in the living room of our house and my mom explaining that we were going to walk around the neighborhood that night and ask people for candy and then they would give it to us. I think all I heard was “candy”.

The next thing I know, my Mom is cutting two holes into a white pillowcase and pulling it over my head. Just like that, I was a ghost! Again, I had no idea what was going on, but I knew what a ghost was thanks to my Weebles Haunted House so I was okay with everything that was happening.

But we had a hard time keeping the eye holes lined up and the whole pillow case wanted to sort of spin around my body with every step, so my Mom wrapped my cowboy gun belt around my waist to keep it from moving, plopped a cowboy hat on my head (I guess they were plentiful in any household in 1976) to keep the eye holes lined up and BAM! I was a cowboy ghost.

It was one of the greatest nights of my life.

What was Halloween like in your neighborhood as a kid?

The greatest thing about my childhood Halloween seasons was that you always got to pick out two costumes. I grew up in a very small town called Blissfield, Michigan, which in my memory was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting (with a dash of Charles Wysocki thrown in). And every Halloween in Blissfield, the town put on this huge bonfire down at the Sandy Koufax baseball field on the Saturday night before Halloween. Everyone would bring anything made of wood that they didn't want any more and pile it up on the pitcher's mound and then someone from the volunteer fire department would set the whole thing ablaze.

It always felt like the entire town showed up, and we'd all parade around the bonfire in our costumes, meet up with our friends, drink hot apple cider, go on hayrides and generally soak in the Halloween season.

Before the night was over, we'd all head up to the community pool which was just outside the centerfield fence and would line up nervously to enter the "haunted pool" which was put on my the high school students and usually scared the bajeezus out of me.

So, unless you wanted to be soundly ridiculed on Halloween night, when all the kids went trick or treating, you had to have one costume for the bonfire and a completely different one for trick or treating. That's just how it was. I don't know of anyone, other than the kids that grew up in my hometown, that got to pick out two halloween costumes every year.


Any favorite costumes from past Halloweens?

I had a lot of great ones, but my favorite might have to be from the Halloween of 1989, when I was in 11th grade. By the time I was 16, I had gotten pretty deep into monster make-up and horror movies. I’d spend way too much time looking through Fangoria magazine and watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I had experimented with gory make-up effects using scar goo and stage blood that I’d buy at a local theatre supply and costume shop.

So that year, I decided to go to school looking like I had been in some sort of industrial accident, and the machines won. I bought a few prosthetics, some spirit gum, some scar goo and a lot of blood. I ripped up some clothes, and covered them in fake viscera. I had to get up at 4 AM (no easy feet for a teenager) to start applying everything, but by the time I walked into homeroom, I was a bloody mess, covered in ripped flesh, exposed bone and muscle tissue with a compound fracture on my left arm that almost made one girl faint. Most people thought it was cool and many were repulsed which was my preferred reaction. I think it took a week to wash all of the blood out of my hair.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

Halloween these days is much calmer. We usually meet up with friends, make a giant batch of chili, take the little ones around the neighborhood and hand out handfuls of candy on the front porch. Every year I threaten to make a full blown haunted house out of my garage, but I've yet to do it.

Do you have any seasonal rituals?

There are several movies I tend to watch around Halloween, like Nightmare Before Christmas, but the absolute must for every Halloween season is It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. In fact, I usually end up watching it several times before October comes to a close. It's just not Halloween until I see that classic.


What do you think it is about Halloween that keeps it in our hearts?

That’s a tough question. Sadly, I don’t think it does keep in peoples’ hearts as they get older, generally speaking, anyway. Your average Joes just seem to lose the true spirit of Halloween as they get older; they forget about what made it so magical to the point that Halloween gets watered down to “decorative pattern” Martha Stuart pumpkins, slutty anything costumes and forcing our poor kids to trick-or-treat on a Saturday afternoon in a brightly lit mall. (Amen, brother!)

In fact, maybe it’s this watering-down of modern day Halloween that has kept me looking back to those amazing nights from my childhood when we ran around in the dark dressed as horrifying creatures to the dimly lit doorsteps of total strangers who handed us home-made popcorn balls that we greedily devoured without the slightest thought towards poisoned stick pins or razor blades.

Every year, around mid September, I start to get that “Halloween twitch”. I find myself thinking back about life-size posable cardboard skeletons on every door, and actual burning flames flickering inside every jack-o-lantern. I can still remember poring through a dog-eared copy of a Don Post monster mask catalog, trying to pick out the perfect gruesome rubbery mug, which I would beg my parents to buy for me (they never did). I think back on planning the perfect costume, the hours of work that would go into it and the anticipation leading up to officially announcing what you were going to be that year to all your friends. Then I walk into a drug store and see row after row of Duck Dynasty beards and it breaks my heart. So I go back to thinking about the old days.

Inisde the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was a toothbrush. Every year, our local town dentist gave every kid a toothbrush. I understand that he meant well, and I give him props for trying to fight the good fight, but considering the several pounds of sugar I was carrying in my trick or treat bag, the last thing we wanted to think about was dental hygene. I also hated root beer barrels and Necco wafers. Lame.

Where can people find you online?

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and see all of my home-grown hand-made toys at my BimToy store, many of which are rather Halloweeny like my Obvious Cause of Death Ghosts and Shadow Goblins.

Candy Scorn
Candy Scorn, the candy that doesn't approve of anything

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 23, 2014

Halloween Web - Miss M

Fellow blogger and toy enthusiast Miss M joins the Halloween rogue's gallery.

MissM Halloween 5
"I was a steam punk saloon girl and was able to take a picture with a fun Macho Man."

Thanks for coming, Miss M. Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Thank you for asking me to be a part of this. I'm Miss M. My real name is Michael Lynn, but I go by Miss M. Some of your readers might already know me, but for those that don't, I write a lot of dorky material on a blog called Diary of a Dorkette. I also write for a website called Nerd Society and was an official writer for the fabulous Retro-Daze. I am also a co-host on the always fun Geek Fallout podcast. And in the spirit of the season, I did a brief voice over snippet for the upcoming Halloween Special over at The Sexy Armpit. I enjoy being able to share in fun dorky conversation and story, so I am beyond thrilled to be a part of this questionnaire.

 Do you have a particularly memorable Halloween story? 

Let's see, I have quite a few I am almost certain, but one Halloween that I always enjoy recalling involves the Halloween during my sophomore year in high school. My plan was simple, I was able to dress up for school during the day and I wanted to have a get together at my house that night. There was a local mom and pop video store down the street from my house and I had gotten my mom to agree to having some friends over. During the school day we were all able to dress up. (This was awesome because it was high school. I don't know if they allow that anymore these days.) So I had made a makeshift Tatum costume from the movie Scream. She was my favorite character and Scream had come out the year before, so it only made sense that I'd be dressed as Rose McGowan's Tatum. After the epic Halloween day, night time soon came upon us and I had my friends come over that night. We rented a bunch of horror movies at the video store, some slasher and zombie flicks were the order of the night and we just had a great time. We had food and snacks. One of my friends was this goth girl (everyday was Halloween for her, she was just the best) and she was hiding in the bushes in my front yard scaring the neighborhood trick or treaters. Everyone was wanting to stop by the house for some candy and scares. It was just a really nice Halloween.

MissM Halloween 2
"My brother and his custom made Edward Scissorhands and me just goofing around."
Any favorite costumes from Halloweens past? 

I do have some favorite Halloween costumes. Growing up my mom would make my costumes. Most of what we'd do would be stuff that was creatively put together. One was a makeshift Supergirl costume. I had red tights, red shorts, and blue shirt with cape and some pink Converse sneakers. If you were to squint, you could maybe see Supergirl, but in my heart I felt like I was her. I also loved my Tatum costume in high school. I was so proud of that costume. For the most part I never really had many elaborate costumes; I've never been good at coming up with amazing handmade costumes. My brother on the other hand has always created some amazing stuff. This picture above is an Edward Scissorhands costume that he made when he was in high school. Incidentally, a couple years ago I had a Pizzazz costume from Jem and the Holograms that I was super excited to wear, but I didn't because the green wig that came with it was just awful. Truly, truly, truly awful. So for this year I am thinking I will either find another nice green wig and go as Pizzazz or go as Wonder Woman. We'll see what happens.
What was Halloween like in your neighborhood as a kid?

I grew up in a suburb just south of Houston Texas, and Halloweens growing up were the best. There were kids everywhere. Costumes galore. There was just a magical energy in the air. My childhood Halloweens were during the mid 80's and early 90's, and it was such a different time back then. We all knew each other and got along for the most part. There was no texting or other electronic obsessions to deter us from just having fun. We were able to run amok at night with bags of candy. Some houses would convert their garages into haunted houses. It was just a really exciting time. The excitement is still there of course, but it certainly has shifted. When I was married, my ex husband and I lived in a neighborhood that contained some of that spirit, lots of kids and families walking around. Decorations all over the place. Times may have changed, but the spirit hasn't gone anywhere.

MissM Halloween 3
"A picture of me and my best friend celebrating his birthday/Halloween. This was the year I was supposed to go as Pizzazz."
What do you do to celebrate these days?

Celebrating today is still so much fun. My best friend's birthday is on Halloween, so we always do something fun. Usually we will go to a block party where the adults dress up and we'll visit some local bars. I don't drink or party, but I love being a part of a festive spirit. My aunt also has a Halloween party every year that I go to as well. We will go and celebrate with yummy food and family. It's always a great deal of fun and something I look forward to every year.

Do you have any yearly rituals?

I do have some rituals. For a number of years I spent Halloween at home ordering a pizza and playing Final Fantasy IV, every Halloween. This was before my aunt had her annual party. There are certain candy items I have to buy. I love PayDays and Sweetarts, so I usually get some sort of Halloween themed bag of candy. I also pull out cute Halloween t-shirts and wear some fun Halloween jewelry. I do not really listen to Halloween music, though Brian from Pop Pop! It's Trash Culture sent me a Bollywood horror movie soundtrack last year that will get played some more this year. I do try to watch some horror movies. The Halloween film series gets heavy rotation this time of year as does other great scary movies I enjoy. I also try to catch up on new movies that I have never seen before. There is one thing I do not do though during Halloween, and that is Haunted Houses. I am terrified of them and barring the garage haunted houses from my youth, I have never been to an official super scary Haunted House. I just am too scared.

MissM Halloween 4
"Me with my aunt at her house for her annual Halloween party. There were other people there!"

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

I think Halloween is still in our hearts as adults because some of us value the traditions of holidays and want to keep that magic alive. I am 32 and I still enjoy the holidays so much. They are exciting and a great way to make memories with family and friends. Halloween is truly special for me though because it is not only the kick off to the holiday season, but it is a holiday that contains elements of some of my favorite things. I love candy and scary movies. Costumes are always fun. And in the past number of years or so, the marketing campaign for toys and other Halloween merchandise has just exploded. I love toys and other cute pop culture items that celebrate holidays, so for a dorkette like me, this stuff is just pure candy corn catnip!

Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was Jawbreakers. I've never liked those.

My favorite thing to get was anything sweet and sour or sweet and savory. Like Sweetarts, Nerds, or PayDays.

That about wraps it up. Where can people find you online?

I'd just like to add again my thanks for wanting me to be a part of this. I am honored to have answered these questions. And if anyone would like to have some fun dorky talk with me, they can follow me on Twitter or follow me on Instagram. Happy Halloween!

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 22, 2014

Halloween Web - Spooky Vegan

Another of the Countdown bloggers joins us for an interview. 
Let's welcome Spooky Vegan!

Sarah_Pumpkin Queen

For the home audience, tell us a little about yourself and where they might know you from.

My name is Sarah, I’m the ghoul behind The Spooky Vegan, where I blog about my three passions – Halloween, horror, and food! I used to run the now-defunct horror site Fatally Yours. Right now I’m enjoying the best time of year and participating in the annual Countdown to Halloween event, where I’ll be sharing a Halloween-themed post all 31 days of October!

Do you have a particularly memorable Halloween story?

Taking my sister out as a junior in high school is one of my favorite Halloween memories…we had just moved to a new, affluent town, and actually lived in town, so we could walk out the door to go trick or treating without our parents having to drive us into town. I was the new kid, so I didn’t have anything to do for Halloween and ended up taking my little sister out. I dressed as the killer from Scream, so no one could really tell I was a 16 year old girl and deny me candy. I totally fooled everyone that night and got gobs of candy! Since we were on our own, there was just a special feel to the night. Plus, the residents there went all out with their decorations and really got into the spirit! My sister and I were both in awe of all the decorations, and were delighted at the massive candy haul we came back home with! We even got a good number of full-size candy bars! That was the last time I went trick or treating, so it holds a very special place in my heart. 

Sarah_Black Death
"For a serial killer themed party, I dressed as the embodiment of the Black Death."
What was Halloween like in your neighborhood as a kid?

I grew up in rural central and northern California, so trick or treating was usually restricted to school events or doing “trick or treating” at home (my parents would give my sister and I candy or a Halloween basket). In elementary school I remember we used to have Halloween parades where all the kids would dress up in costume and we would parade in front of the school and parents. In junior high, I did a bit more trick or treating with friends, and in high school I took my little sister out trick or treating.

Any favorite costumes from Halloweens past?

When I was around 6 or 7 my mom sewed me a witch costume and bought me a little broom to go with it. I loved that costume so much! My mom put so much  time and love into it too, so it made it all the more special.


How do you celebrate Halloween today?

I usually celebrate a few months beforehand by buying new Halloween décor, sprucing the house up with said Halloween décor (most of it stays up year-round) , watching tons of Halloween-themed horror movies and just horror movies in general, seeking out all the pumpkin-flavored vegan food I can get my hands on, and participating in the annual Countdown to Halloween!

Do you have any yearly rituals?

Every year I go to the Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch, where gourds are lovingly grown (a real rarity in SoCal), on their opening weekend. Every year I also make a bucket list of things I want to do during the Halloween season and then on Halloween I go back and check off everything I have done.


I could listen to the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack on repeat forever, but I also love God Module’s spooky industrial music, vintage Halloween tunes, and even Midnight Syndicate’s atmospheric albums that get me in a haunting mood. As for movies, I have a very long list of Halloween and horror movies I watch this time of year, everything from Satan’s Little Helper to the old Disney Halloween cartoons. I have this huge list of Halloween-themed movies I’ve compiled on my blog and I refer to that every year (and keep making additions!). My favorite place to be in October is the pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

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

I think as the years go on, I fall more and more in love with Halloween and autumn in general. For me, I think the reason is that I get to embrace the holiday with childhood abandon and glee. It is a joyful celebration of all the things I love, and generally begins months before Halloween itself! I get so excited when I first see Halloween stuff in stores, I sometimes feel like I’m having a mini panic attack – my heart starts thumping, I can barely breathe, and I kinda just wanna run around and scream “this is Halloween, this is Halloween!”.

Sarah_Little Dead Riding Hood
"I hosted a twisted fairy tale-themed Halloween party called 'Unhappily Ever After' one year and dressed as Little Dead Riding Hood!"
Inside the Spooksters' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was those green and white striped peppermint candies you usually find near the cash register at crappy diners or on a receptionist’s desk. I mean, who hands out those icky things at Halloween? YUCK!

My favorite thing to get was those king-size candy bars! Those were the ultimate treat! Also, I really loved the homemade treats, like caramel apples and popcorn balls you would occasionally get. Growing up in or near small towns, we weren’t too concerned about poison or razor blades! And red licorice – there was never enough licorice handed out at Halloween. Nowadays, I favor Sour Patch Kid or Go Max Go candy bars, both of which are vegan! 

Where can people keep up with you online?

If there's anything else you want to add, such as social media places for people to find you, go for it.If you want to keep up with me, you can find me on www.thespookyvegan.com, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and many other places – just check my site for links. I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and stay spooky!

Thanks for joining us, Sarah!

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!