Brainstorming for Halloween

Halloween signs enhance your haunt: As juvenile candy collectors creep up to your haunted home wouldn’t it only be fair to give them some warning of what’s to come? Using Halloween signs to enhance your display is a great way to complete your theme. Lately I’ve been thinking about creating a Salem witch theme, like a dark bubbling cauldron with led lights on the inside, prominently displayed on the lawn. Then a great sign out front to warn the kiddies of the witches inside. Something like The Wicked Witch Inn is great for a more whimsical feel. I prefer something a little bit more scary like Witches Gather Here. Finish off your look with a little trick-or-treater that has been captured in a cage and awaiting the stew. Of course when you open the door you have to be dressed to the nine’s in your spookiest witch costume and makeup serving gummy toads and worms.

Undead abominations break new ground: There’s no doubt that zombies are huge right now, which make them ideal for decorating a lawn or yard. Here’s what I’m thinking: zombie props and body parts buried in the earth, sticking out enough to look like a poorly constructed graveyard. Accent the scene with green lights and smoke machines to create a swampy, murky feeling. But I want to go one further: dress myself in dark clothing that I don’t care about and bury myself in some loose dirt. When a trick-or-treater wanders by, I’ll leap out and scream and watch their face curdle. Glorious!

Flicking lights for fearful scenes: Like photography, lighting makes all the difference in a Halloween scene. Any professional haunter will say the same thing. But simple lighting can only heighten the scene so far – shadows, eye direction, pathing. Flickering Halloween lights, however, are designed to attract attention and create a spooky visual. For example, no one likes it when the electricity goes out, it’s spooky and horrifying, which is why lights designed to turn on and off at intervals would be ideal for a haunted house. I once designed a hallway with three lights on each side, with each light on a different interval. When one went off, another turned on, and so forth. It allowed attention to be focused off the actor creeping up behind the victims. Definitely going to do it again this year.

As we get closer to the Halloween season, we’ll continue updating our blog with ideas for haunts. If you have any great ideas you want to share, let us know and we may showcase your work. We love hearing from our customers.

The Avengers Drops Tonight. Let’s Get Pumped.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m seeing The Avengers tonight at a midnight release. But here’s one better: I’m not going as an average Joe. Nope, somehow I convinced a group of friends it would be a great idea to see the movie while wearing Avengers costumes. It’s going to be amazing!

And according to Rotten Tomatoes, The Avengers is now sitting at a 93% approval rating, which is only one percentage point lower than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a movie that revolutionized comic book films. Does this mean The Avengers is as good as The Dark Knight? Ask me tomorrow and I’ll give you an honest answer.

As a guy who doesn’t love comics, though, I’ve found myself pondering over the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson’s character, Black Widow. Where did she come from, and why did they not feel the need to give her a movie? I mean, I’d watch a Scarlett Johansson movie, even if it sucked. I’d watch it a dozen times.

But then the Internet answered me question:

Anyway, I’m all kinds of excited now and I still have a handful of hours until the movie drops. Guess I’ll go do something, like read or write or watch a horror movie. Actually, I’d rather watch another trailer. How about one with Loki and Tony Stark? That sounds good. Let’s hit it:

Get Ready for Halfoween!

Informally known as Halfoween, May 1st marks the halfway mark from one Halloween to the next. While not universally recognized, Halfoween is a great excuse to get excited about Halloween, either by dressing in costume, handing out candy, or generally encouraging horror shenanigans.

To get you in the mood for tomorrows Halfoween, today we’re showcasing imagery from the Whitby Gothic Weekend, an annual four-day event in England celebrating life’s darker, more mysterious side. Basically, the Whitby Gothic Weekend is a Halloween lover’s wet dream, featuring such things as drinking, dancing, music, and shopping, all with an alternative, horror-centric spin.

Enough chit-chat, let’s get pumped for Halfoween:

Attending guests wear clothing from various genres, including Romanticism, Victoriana, Cybergoth, and Steampunk.

The Dark Knight Rises Will Make So Much Money

There is no doubt about it – The Dark Knight Rises is going to make so much money. Got any doubt? Let’s take a look at the Dark Knight Rises costumes:

Bane

Catwoman

Batman

Look at those costumes! They’re absolutely amazing, and I cannot wait to see them on the silver screen. Plus, Anne Hathaway is one smoking Catwoman – meow. (Now to figure out how to get my girlfriend into a Dark Knight Rises Catwoman costume.)

But are the costumes not enough proof for why this movie is going to make a financial killer? How about this: robots. Yup, leaked photographs from The Dark Knight Rises set shows the Batmobile turning into a bipedal robot. Boom:

Robots

More Batmobiles (Why not?)

Sure, the movie’s release is still months away (July 20), but I am beyond pumped for the trilogy’s finale. Plus, if The Dark Knight Rises actually manages to be better than The Dark Knight, it will be one of the few trilogies that each film was better than the last.

Now do yourself a favor: watch the trailer in HD. Don’t want to go look for it? Don’t worry, I did all the work for you.

Lizzie Bordens House Is For Sale

Located in Fall River, Massachusetts, Lizzie Bordens house, where she lived after being acquitted of murder charges, is now for sale.

lizzie borden2

The house is located at 306 French St. and has an asking price of $650,000, which is much, much higher than the city’s assessed worth of $313,200, though that price does not take into account the houses historical value.

Robert Dube has owned the property since 1980, when he bought it for $60,000. Dube attempted to subdivide the property and build a one-family home on the lot, but neighbors protested and Dube ceased the subdivision.

The home includes fourteen rooms, seven bedrooms, and two-and-a-half bathrooms. The real estate listing also describes two sunrooms, seven fireplaces, tin ceilings, a grant entry foyer, original parquet, and mahogany moldings.

This is not the same house where Lizzie Bordens parents were killed in August of 1892. That title is held by the house located on 92 Second St. in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Horror Stationary

Today’s blog post has me thinking that Halloween costumes is the wrong kind of horror business. You see, I recently stumbled upon the work of a German-based designer named Jacques Pense, who created an award-winning series of horror stationary items. From envelopes to binder rings, Pense has brought the world of horror crashing down upon the humdrum corporate world.

But here’s the kicker: they’re amazing! I could actually see mainstream American offices using these things – as long as they don’t cost an arm or a leg. If the FrightCatalog gang can get in touch with Pense, we may even include some with this year’s Haunt Club kit (no promises). Imagine the satisfaction felt from tearing a zombie’s face open and pulling out its paper guts. Oh, I’m getting goosebumps.

Anyway, without any more rambling from me, let’s get on with the horrifying eye candy:

horror stationary1horror stationary2horror stationary3horror stationary4

The Map of the Dead, the CDC, and the Zombie-Proof House: Get Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse

It’s only a matter of time until the dead rise and consume the living, and zombie costumes are no longer fun. Maybe an evil biomedical corporation will be to blame, or a mosquito-borne pathogen that breeds inside human brains. Whatever the reason, a zombie apocalypse requires a plan and an appropriate amount of emergency supplies.

map of the dead

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their recommendations for how a family can prepare for a zombie apocalypse. These recommendations include 1) picking a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home, 2) keeping an emergency kit in your house, and 3) preparing an emergency plan, which includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step.

Sure, those are all nice and dandy, but staying alive during a zombie apocalypse is harder said than done, which is why Polish architectural design company KWK Promes created the worlds first zombie-proof home, equipped with moving walls, a shifting security perimeter, and a retractable drawbridge entrance. Combine this beast of a house with the CDCs recommendations and you’ll be sitting well during the zombie apocalypse.

map of the dead

But, according to films and books, too many people panic during a zombie apocalypse, for they did not prepare ahead of time nor do they own a zombie-proof home. These individuals either cannot find food stores, or they wander into heavily residential areas and become lunch for the local zombies.

With the Map of the Dead, however, you never again have to worry about last-minute zombie apocalypse planning. This web-based piece of software uses the Google Places API to feature specific organizations and retailers that may be useful prior to or during a zombie apocalypse.

map of the dead

The Map of the Dead showcases the following places of interest: gun store, grocery store, convenience store, hardware, liquor store, shopping mall, outdoor store, military, police, radio tower, gas station, harbor, airport, hospital, doctor, pharmacy, dentist, cemetery, and campground.

Since it is likely that the Internet will crash during a zombie apocalypse, Map of the Dead even features a print option, so you can stick that trusty information right inside your emergency kit.

Will the zombie apocalypse happen? Probably not, but it’s better to not take any risks.

Rotoscoped Evil Dead 2 Trailer

The guys overs at Pretend for Real Studios specialize in all sorts of animation projects, including rotoscoping, a time-consuming process that is rare to find these days. Back in 2009, Pretend for Real decided to take their rotoscoping skills and apply it to the most wonderful of all trailers: Evil Dead 2. The outcome? It’s amazing – and I am ashamed for only now having found it.

Check out the exclusive interview with Pretend for Real Studios in next month’s Haunt Club.

As a bonus piece of horror art, I stumbled upon the following poster while searching the Internet for news. The poster was made for Monsterpalooza, an event held down in Burbank, California. If you’re attending Monsterpalooza, look out for this beast hanging on the walls.

A Documented Zombie: Clairvius Narcisse

Movies, books, and graphic novels depict zombies as undead abominations, hungry and carnivorous for human flesh. According to the tenets of Haitian Vodou, however, zombies are not dead, stalking husks that spread the zombie disease via biological contamination. Instead, zombies are revived by a bokor, or sorcerer, who controls and uses the zombies to complete tasks.

As strange and unbelievable as that may sound, there is an infamous medical case that delved into the reality of a bokor and its ability to turn people into zombies.

On April 30, 1962, Clairvius Narcisse, a Haitian man, checked himself into the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, complaining of body aches, fever, and a general malaise. Soon after checking himself in, though, Narcisse began coughing up blood. Physicians assigned to monitor Narcisse noted that he suffered from digestive disorders, pulmonary edema, hypothermia, respiratory difficulties, and hypotension. Over the next few days, his lips became cyanotic, or the color of blue, and he complained of tingling sensations all over his body.

Cyanosis of the left (observed) foot.

Come the morning of May 2, two physicians pronounced Narcisse dead. Marie Claire, Narcisse oldest sister, identified his body and signed off on the death certificate.

Narcisse was buried the next day.

Eighteen years later, Narcisse’s sister found him walking through a village marketplace, as healthy and vibrant as any other living individual. Narcisse explained that shortly before his death he felt a burning sensation all over his skin, like insects were crawling beneath it. He heard the doctors pronounce him dead and felt the sheet pulled up over his face, but he could not speak or move. He even had a scar from when one of the coffin nails was driven through the wood and into his face.

Buried alive, the ultimate nightmare.

Bleeding, motionless, Narcisse remained within the coffin, buried alive, until he heard digging and the coffin was lifted out of the ground. Men opened the top, grabbed Narcisse, beat him, gagged him, and dragged his lifeless body to a sugar plantation. There, Narcisse was introduced to the plantations owner, a bokor (sorcerer), who had poisoned Narcisse with a heavy combination of tetrodotoxin (pufferfish venom) and bufotoxin (toad venom). The alleged individual who administered the bokors poison was Narcisses brother, who had a grudge against Narcisse over land ownership.

Once Narcisse was in the bokors possession, the bokor gave him doses of Datura stramonium, a plant with effects that have been likened to sleepwalking, a fugue state or psychotic episodes (particularly in that the subject has minimal control over their actions and little to no recall of the experience).

Datura stramonium

Narcisse existed in this condition for two years, working on the bokors plantation, where others just like Narcisse were working, too. Each one had been poisoned, pronounced dead, buried, dug up, and then poisoned for prolonged periods of time, so as to function like that of a zombie. The workers toiled for hours, each and every day, until one of the zombie workers fought back and killed the bokor.

The zombie workers simply walked off the plantation, all of them free, including Narcisse, who wandered Haiti for the next sixteen years. He wrote letters to his family, but none of them believed they were real how do you believe a dead man to be alive after two years of silence? It was only after Narcisse’s brother died, the one who poisoned Narcisse, when he returned to his family’s village, which is when his sister found him walking through the market.

Skull Carved out of Books

Artists find strange and interesting ways to reveal themselves that’s why they’re artists and Maskull Lasserre, a Canadian-born visual artist, is no different. Using old computer manuals and a plaster mold of a human skull, Lasserre created a near perfect replica of a human skull. His purpose: exploring the unexpected happenings of everyday occurrences.

Computer manuals are meant to be opened, and unless you’re a computer programmer or technician, most individuals would expect the manuals to be boring. But imagine finding a human skull carved into the manuals, rather than a list of numbers and unpronounceable techno-babble. That’s unexpected. That’s Maskull Lasserre. (This guy needs to get into the Halloween props business.)

However, even the most unexpected events have expected traits. The computer manuals, for example, are designed to contain exact and accurate information, not subjective opinions. When carving the human skull within the manuals, Lasserre paid great attention to the skulls details. In fact, the carved skull has the exact proportions of the plaster skull used as the basis for the project. An exact and accurate human skull carved into books meant to hold exact and accurate information? That’s no coincidence.

Maskull Lasserre was born in Canada, in 1978, though he spent his childhood in South Africa. He later returned to Canada and received a BFA from Mount Allison University (Visual Art and Philosophy), and an MFA from Concordia University (Sculpture). His work has been exhibited across Canada and parts of the United States, and he recently participated in the Canadian Forces War Artist Program in Afghanistan.