Happy Halloween Everyone!

Regularly scheduled blogging has been interrupted for a special holiday presentation.

Tonight... a heart warming Halloween episode of True Tales of Scary Horror Mysteriousness starring Niece Devin with special surprise guest star Uncle Ted.

1 Day 'til Halloween: So Little To Do, So Much Time!

Scratch that, reverse it.

The big night is almost here. I hoped to update more on the display the past couple of days, but I lost my camera the other afternoon when my brother was here helping. It's not really lost forever lost, just buried under piles of foam board debris, Spanish moss scraps and Samhain knows what else. Cleaning tonight so should find soon and get lots of pictures.

Overall, it's been the year of last minute ideas and projects. Much of what I had planned fell through, for numerous reasons. However the yard is filled to almost capacity with more decor than any year before from making unplanned stuff.

On a sad note, despite a valiant effort, the roof UFO again did not happen. Finding the time to finish with a late start was one factor, but the main reason is we actually discovered a serious roof leak when it rained last week. I decided while getting estimates to fix as roofers come and go, it was not the best time to play around trying to install something up there. Besides, I also discovered the base needed to secure it on the slope safely needed extra time to engineer. Bailing wire and hot glue wasn't going to work.

I really found my Halloween spirit today and in a great mood. Lot's to do still but will try and post often in the next 24 hours.

3 Days 'til Halloween: Number Three House

One of my family's ghost stories.

Many fun filled summers were spent in the rural Catskill mountain area of upstate NY. This included some good spooky tales. Often as kids we were driven past and told the story of #3 house. So named because it was the third house my mother's family had lived in over many decades spent in the country.

It was a small, simple, two story home along a dirt road. Every night as all went up to bed, being an old drafty place, they would close the living room door in the hallway by the staircase to keep the cold air out.

The door would always creek open at some point forcing someone to go downstairs and close it again. The old lock on it was broken and of no use, so when this happened over and over again for days, they tied the door shut to a chair. But it still would open later and the rope was found lying on the floor.

Guessing the rope and chair not strong enough, they added an eye hook latch. The door still managed to open on it's own. Now it was strange and bizarre, so they gave up trying and bought more blankets.

Later, they learned a bit of the home's history.

Years earlier one late night, a woman was stoking the old wood burning stove inside the living room for heat. Her dress caught fire. She tried to run out of the room seeking help from her husband sleeping upstairs, but the door was locked close and in her panic could not find the key quick enough. Her husband hearing her screams could not reach her through the locked door in time.

It seemed her spirit would never let that door stay closed again.

3 Days 'til Halloween: Let's Get (Creepy) Crafty!

The Halloween themed segment of GSN's SNAP I made that haunted house prop for is now online. Scroll down to the clip menu on the site and click on Let's Get Crafty. Any physical similarity between me and Steve the crafter is purely coincidental (yeah it's me).

Click here to visit the site.

4 Days 'til Halloween: My Adolescent Eye Hiding Worthy Monster List - Part Four

Here are the final three in my list of movie/TV creeps who were guaranteed to make me hide my eyes as a kid. Here are links to the previous entries so far - part one, part two and part three.

The Living Zuni Doll

I first saw this guy in a commercial or in a clip on some talk show for the 1975 TV movie Trilogy of Terror. I just remember a quick image of him running while swinging a big kitchen knife before my eyes closed tight.

For a long time, whenever I imagined something under my bed, it was him. What made him so scary, outside of razor sharp teeth, was it being a doll/puppet/toy wanting to kill you. I never had fear of that until I saw him.

Count Orlock

Hand's down, one of the scariest monsters ever seen on film. Every scene or still picture of him from the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu is creepy.

Not only did he make me hide my eyes whenever he popped up on TV for some reason, but he kept me terrified of one particular bookshelf in my grade school's library.

The picture to the left was in a book about movies. When I first discovered it flipping pages, I slammed the cover closed. I then thought all the books on that one shelf had things in it as scary as him.

And now, my number one, all-time eye hiding worthy monster...

The Hand From Chiller Theater

Unfortunately, I think only folks from the New York tri-state area who grew up in 70's would know this one. The WPIX channel 11 weekend horror movie show was called Chiller Theater. The opening had a six fingered hand in claymation emerge from a bloody swamp. For years it freaked me out. I was always afraid the monster connected to the arm might rise up and be seen as well.

The worst part was, I knew to avoid seeing it on Friday and Saturday nights, but sometimes it would show up unexpectedly early or on random weekdays. I think WPIX just used it whenever they aired a horror movie no matter what day or what time it was.

A still picture is not enough to illustrate it. Here's a clip of the actual opening. Imagine being a real little kid and seeing this. Wouldn't you hide your eyes too?

5 Days 'til Halloween: Witch Post

I created a witch post to stand near Grool in the cauldron. Perched on top, keeping watch, is the witch's familiar, an old crow I've named Nefarious. This was a really quick prop I knocked out in a couple of hours as a last minute idea. It was fun to make and will definitely get re-done for next year with extra TLC when I have more time. The post itself is just a tree branch I held onto from some summer pruning. It was going to be used for the cauldron's fire pit until I changed my mind and made it coal.

Nefarious the crow is a old, beat up store bought one from my stash. I gave him some personality with large eyes and heavy brows. They are glued on painted marbles with Model Magic sculpted around them. I heated and bent his claws so they'd grip the post top a bit more naturally.

The lantern is one from my sister Monica's outdoor wedding reception years ago. I've kept it as a souvenir for a long time hanging in the backyard. I thought fun to use as it's gotten very rusty and fits the prop really well. I'm going to put a real candle in it Halloween night. A few odd foam bones hung together are one totem and an ordinary cheap rubber bat tied up is the other. Spray gluing dirt over it and cutting a few holes in the wings as if tears give it a surprisingly realistic look (at first glance at least).

Since the post stands next to the brewing cauldron, a couple of ingredient bottles hang at the ready. This recipe calls for one cup of Ghoul Gore and Guts cooking oil and a tablespoon of Yeti Mucus. The oozing contents are blobs of white glue that I dribbled some craft paint on while still wet. As gravity took hold and it dried, it created a nice transparent look with crusty opaque bits.

The label art was done quickly in Photoshop and aged with coffee. Nothing fancy but here they are if you want to grab and use on your own prop bottles. Click on the images to enlarge.

5 Days 'til Halloween: Tales of Scary Horror Mysteriousness - Episode Three

Having shared my personal paranormal encounter yesterday, I thought an apropos time to hear niece Devin's unique telling of the ghostly sibling story in tonight's new episode of True Tales of Scary Horror Mysterious!

6 Days 'Til Halloween: Ghostly Siblings

My family has some really good ghost stories. I thought I'd share a few this week before Halloween. To begin, here's my own true ghost encounter with a particularly hair raising epilogue.

Back in the mid 90's I was living in a rented house in Burbank, CA. My dog at the time, Flannery, would sometimes just stop and stare at a wall or empty space giving a whiny small growl. I never thought anything of it. Being a dog I assumed she was reacting to some distant sound or maybe a mouse in the wall. I was wrong.

Late one night I dozed off while stretched out on the couch reading a book. Flannery's whining woke me up. She was on the floor between me and the coffee table. I reached over to pet and comfort her wondering what was wrong. She was fixated on one side of the room. I was still lying down so my view of what she was looking at was blocked by the arm of the couch.

I lifted my head. Standing there were two children holding hands. A boy and a smaller girl. Both were looking down at Flannery. They were physically real, but their clothing and features were only implied and undefined like a roughed in clay sculpture. Their coloring was washed out like an antique hand tinted photo.

The little girl looked in my direction and seemed surprised to see me. She grabbed the boy's arm tighter. At that instant I felt they were siblings. I lowered my head back behind the arm of the couch spooked and scared by what I saw. I got my courage up to look again. They were gone.

I shook it off believing it was just a half awake/half asleep still dreaming kind of thing.

Until months later that is.

I was propmaster on a talk show. One guest that week was an animal psychic. The segment producer had arranged for several people to bring their pets in for readings. The day before the show it looked like one person and their pet might drop out. The producer knew I had a dog and asked if I'd bring her in as a replacement if needed. I did. As it turned out though, they did make it after all. The producer and psychic graciously offered to give Flannery a reading after the show in thanks for having her there just in case.

During the reading the psychic asked me "Do you have children?" 

"No." I answered.

The psychic looked puzzled, then said "Odd because Flannery does NOT like the little girl and boy living in your house."

A chill went down my back.

7 Days 'til Halloween: Guess who Shatner dressed as one Halloween?

I love telling good thrifty prop making tales, so I shared with my sister and Devin today how the origin of the infamous Michael Myer's mask in Halloween was just a painted and customized, off the store shelf Captain Kirk mask sold in the 70's.

Found a fun video of William Shatner describing how he took his kids trick or treating one year dressed as Michael Myers.

7 Days 'til Halloween: Halloween Heros!

Niece Devin and sister Megan stopped by today and surprised me with a new Michael Myers mask! Yep, the much nicer one I almost bought yesterday. Halloween is saved!

This one's been nailed down.

I'm still going to dress up like Donald Pleasence and search the streets every night this week anyway, just because it seems too much fun not to.

8 Days 'til Halloween: One Robbery, One Attempted and Neil Patrick Harris

I was robbed today. Walked out to the lawn this afternoon and Michael Myers' mask was gone.

Michael's true face under the mask revealed.

Although it's a small theft, it really hurts because my display is for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. This selfish act ruins everyone's fun. Worse, no little kid did this as a child prank or dare. Only a grown up could reach it.

The old mask
I tried to get over it knowing stuff like this happens and headed over to a nearby Halloween store to get another mask. The place was packed and a real mess. Stuff thrown everywhere. I found a version of the mask I once had (which was cheap to begin with). I knew I'd pay through the nose shopping in this type of store, but nearly passed out seeing a price tag of $49.99.

I went ahead to the register, justifying the purchase as needed since Mike has become a traditional lawn presence. Plus I saw another person walk out with a mask they bought still on the foam head stand, so I'd at least get that thrown in. I was wrong.

The woman said the stand was an extra $3.99. That's when I began to steam. Both the mask and stand were pretty beat up and dirty already. Probably from being tried on and played with by hundreds of folks in the store over the past few weeks.

I snapped and just walked out. I was not going to be robbed twice in a day. I saw actor Neil Patrick Harris shopping in there and thought he was the only one who could afford their prices.

The sad new mask
I did find a sad, super cheap-o mask at Walgreens for $15.00. More within my budget but not as decent looking as the older one. Maybe I can fix it up somehow.

The morning started out great full of Halloween enthusiasm. Now I'm as depressed as my new Micheal Myers looks.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks the crooked management at the Halloween store hires thugs to go around stealing lawn decorations they offer forcing folks like me to go buy new ones from them.

I gotta get the good mood back. I feel like taking the whole display down already out of bitterness. I won't of course.

Would it be odd if I spent the next 8 days living, eating and sleeping on the lawn protecting it?

UPDATE: I'm in a much better head space about this since I first posted... I'm just going to dress up as Donald Pleasence and spent my nights this week hunting for the mask's thief! 

8 Days 'til Halloween: The Old Cow Excuse.

The past few weeks at work have been a doozy designing and making five sets including one featuring a real dairy cow.

Outside of occasional help, I'm pretty much a one man art dept. on this show and many of the props and set dressings have to be custom made. So needless to say, it's been keeping me from working on the Halloween display and getting daily cartoons posted on Para Abnormal.

It's all okay though, I'm off all this week including the big day, next Monday. It's like a little Halloween vacation to have fun finishing the yard, cartoon and just plain enjoy the season! So expect more countdown updates than usual.

Unfortunately, I think a few of the planned new zombies and prop ideas may have to be pushed back to next Halloween. At least I have a real good excuse this year and it's not just procrastination.

I blame the cow.

12 Days 'til Halloween: Eddie Izzard

Okay, I'm sure your thinking... how is Eddie Izzard Halloween related? But bear with me.

As I've mentioned in numerous posts before, I'm an Eddie Izzard fan. So is the fiancee and as a gift for her birthday last week I was able to get tickets to his midnight show at the Largo/Coronet theater here in Los Angeles last night.

First he joked about it being a midnight show and how midnight, when you were younger, was the spooky and scary time of night when witches would come out. If you saw a witch you'd say...

"Look a witch! Is it that late already? What time is it?"

Later, he was joking about ninja-like sheep versus wolves. If you know his humor, a subject like that is not odd. Describing the ninja-sheep facing off against the wolves showed his horror movie loving side...

"They'd be lined up next to each other, silhouetted in a fog.
Like the pirates in the John Carpenter movie."

Here's a very funny clip from an older Izzard tour riffing on horror movies...

For the record, the quotes above are as best as I can remember them.

14 Days 'til Halloween: Legend of the Guillotine

Quotes from neighbors and passersby over the past few days...

"Where's the guillotine?"
"Will the guillotine be back?"
"I keep hearing about this guillotine."
"When I was a little kid, I was too scared to walk under the guillotine." 
"Mommy! Look it. They got a choppy thing!"

I love this time of year.

16 Days 'til Halloween: My Adolescent Eye Hiding Worthy Monster List - Part Three

Only two creepy creeps make this post of the list. Both scared me enough to never forget them, yet I could not remember what they actually were or where from. After some detective work, these once nameless eye hiding fears have been identified. 
Mrs. Bowen
My grandmother was babysitting one night. I woke up and walked downstairs. She was watching TV and let me sit with her for a bit. I remember seeing a man stumble into a room. There was a woman in a chair singing a song. Her feet had vines growing out of them. The camera slowly moved upwards.

That was all I needed to see. My eyes closed tight fearing her face being revealed.

I've since learned it was a segment titled Green Fingers from Rod Serling's 1972 series Night Gallery.  It starred Elsa Lancaster as Mrs. Bowen. Watch the entire episode for free via HULU.

Devil in a Mason Jar 
I only remember a mason jar on a barn shelf that was glowing red and pulsating. I also knew it had the devil trapped inside.

That's it. No memory of where I was or what came before. I know I saw it on TV. I not only hid my eyes, but ran out of the room in terror. This one's haunted me for a long, long time.

Thanks to the memory of an old friend though, I've discovered it's from a TV movie directed by a young Steven Spielberg in 1972 titled Something Evil.

I found it posted in several parts here. There are numerous Spielbergian touches before they became quintessential Spielbergian touches which makes it fun to watch.

Part Four soon.

18 Days 'til Halloween: Living with Lovecraft

"Do we have rats?" 
"Not exactly."

This creepy fun short film written and directed by Todd Doldersum, could very well be the best (at least the funniest) part of your day.

19 Days 'til Halloween: Meet the Herbs... Rosemary and Basil

No one really knows what happened to the former owners of our home... Rosemary and Basil Herb. They left the house abandoned. Just disappeared some say. Or did they?

Mrs. Scaryweather's garden is coming together with these new prop additions. They're also yesterday and today's Para Abnormal cartoons. Not sure which came first, the prop idea or the cartoon. Both hit me at the same time seeing a pile of random mannequin parts I have in my stash.

Since I've titled my haunt Para Abnormal also, it's fun to actually tie the comic and display together. Plus I'm still hoping to create a little comic book telling the backstory and give away as a treat to kids, so now I've got a page or two done.

21 Days 'til Halloween: My 1000th Post!

I like the timing that my 1000th post since starting this blog has happened in October. To mark the occasion I present Episode One in a series of videos I made for Halloween this month hosted by a regular character on this blog (and in my life)...

Niece Devin's True Tales of Scary Horror Mysteriousness!

22 Days 'til Halloween: A Sign Of The Monster

I started to decorate the yard this weekend and began with a warning sign on the tree for the neighbors. A detail to compliment the new Aurora model inspired gravestone and tease the monster's annual front porch appearance.

It was a simple Photoshop creation (11"x17") printed out in sections then spray glued to poster board. I cut it to size and curled the corners. I also cut out stylized torn edges giving it some character. It was aged with craft paint and black coffee. Once dry it was thickened and stiffened with several coats of clear acrylic (brush on).

The large hanging nail is made from foamcore and faux rust painted. It's not actually holding the sign up. It was glued to a another piece foamcore mounted on the back of the sign. Wire was then glued to the back and twisted around the tree trunk to hang.

Here's the original art if you want to print out and make your own sign (click to enlarge).

Here's a night shot. Everything on the lawn will lit in orange and amber this year as if illuminated by lanterns.

23 Days 'til Halloween: My Adolescent Eye Hiding Worthy Monster List - Part Two

This list is growing. As I've been thinking about it and remembering things, I'm discovering what a real scaredy cat I was (Who am I kidding? I still am). There may be numerous posts on this subject beyond this month.

Here's Part Two.

Lon Chaney's Phantom

I was really young and remember watching some TV special with clips featuring old movies. Then the famous scene of Lon Chaney's Phantom being unmasked was shown. It damaged me.

For a long time, whenever any silent movie came on TV, I would hide my eyes in fear it was the Phantom of the Opera.

Jacob Marley

Animator Richard William's 1971 version of A Christmas Carol aired often during the holidays when I was a kid.

But once I saw his Jacob Marley, I no longer stayed awake Christmas Eve excited for Santa but in terror of Scrooge's old partner coming through my bedroom wall.

Sadly, it was not the first Christmas special that made me cover my eyes.

Believe it or not, there was a time I feared...

The Bumble

I know it sounds crazy, but listen, when you're 3 or 4 years old and see this giant, sharp toothed beast climb up over the North Pole mountains for the first time, yeah, you hide your eyes.


The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is a film I have great affection for and memory of. When it was released, I was only 8 or 9 but already knew who Ray Harryhausen was from watching his creature movies on Saturday or Sunday TV.

It's the first movie I can remember being really excited to go and see. It's the first movie I can remember seeing with my dad in the theater. It's the first movie I can remember thinking "I like girls" seeing beautiful Caroline Munro in it.

I enjoyed every single moment, except for one... when the mysterious Visier removed his gold mask. His face scared the cavemen attacking our heroes and me too.

My dad had to tell me when I could look again.

Part Three soon.

24 Days 'til Halloween: My Adolescent Eye Hiding Worthy Monster List - Part One

As a kid, I'd unblinkingly watch every horror and sci-fi movie or TV show I could, but there'd be that one monster, creep or creature that I'd instinctively lower my head and cover my eyes afraid to look at. They just plain scared the living hell out of me.

Thought be fun during this Halloween month to compile my personal monster list of monsters who always made me hide my eyes.


My earliest memories of Star Trek were sitting with my dad watching reruns every Sunday afternoon on WPIX channel 11 in NY.

I really enjoyed the show, but always dreaded the moment when a still of this evil green alien showed up in the end credits.

Because I could never turn the channel or run out of the room quick enough before his appearance. I'd often just hide my eyes in preparation.

 Forbidden Zone Mutants

 Oh how I loved Planet of the Apes movies and still do. Never missed any TV airing of any of the films. Truth is though, it was years before I actually knew what the mutants from Beneath the Planet of the Apes looked like.

The moment they began to peel their faces off saying

"Let us reveal our true selves..." 

I knew something horrible was coming and I'd bury my head.

Body Snatchers' Man-Headed Dog

Near the end of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers when this freakish dog showed up with it's man head my brain melted.

I slammed my hand up over my eyes so hard I hurt myself.

I was 13 years old... not my proudest moment.

Ben Gardner's Head

JAWS scared me before I even saw the movie. The summer it opened everyone was talking about it. I heard descriptions of it's scariest moments from other kids in the neighborhood. The one that freaked me out the most was

"... then a rotting head pops out of the boat!"

The thought of seeing that haunted me. I built it up in my imagination so much that I refused to see the movie although my little brother really wanted to and my Dad was willing to take us. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I finally did. It became one of my favorite movies but yeah, I ending up hiding my eyes when the head popped out because it was as scary as I imagined it.

To be continued another day in Part Two. I'm saving my all time personal eye hiding movie/TV monster for last.

25 Days 'til Halloween: Game Board Haunted House Craft

For work this week we filmed a funny interstitial parodying craft TV shows with a Halloween theme. I don't what to give away too much until it airs in a couple of weeks, but I had to design and make a haunted house decoration as a prop with old board game pieces.

28 Days 'til Halloween: Lawn Prop Homage to the Aurora Frankenstein Model Kit

As a kid in the 70's I grew up building all the classic Aurora Monster kits, not to mention their snap together Prehistoric Scene models too.

I have a very clear memory from the day I finished making the Frankenstein model. That night I placed it on my bedside table and drifted off to sleep thinking how cool he looked silhouetted by the hallway light.

This weekend, I made a life sized version of that kit's gravestone base for the Halloween display. It's fun to incorporate it, not just as a fond memory, but because the Frankenstein Monster has become the main character greeting Trick or Treaters on our front porch every year.

It was actually easier to make than I thought it would be. Thankfully, although the kit itself is a very old one, it's never really been discontinued. Revell now sells it and I bought one to use a reference (and yeah, maybe recapture some of my youth making it again one of these October evenings).

First thing I did, after feeling nostalgic just seeing all the pieces, was to scan the gravestone parts. I scaled the images up to the size I wanted the prop to be (30" wide) in Photoshop. This gave me an instant blueprint with measurements to build from.

I decided to make it out of foamcore board because I had some and like working with. I needed a template for the name. I created one with a similar font seen on the grave. I printed it out and spray glued in place on board. Then cut out the letters.

Next I made the whole gravestone. I added the cracks and damage seen in the model last. The larger chunks removed were refilled with expanding foam and carved away once dry to look like broken stone.

From there I coated with patching plaster and painted. There are a few imperfections in the craftsmanship I still have to fix, like some seams and plaster blobs (I found myself excited to see it finished and rushed things a bit here or there). But overall I'm pretty happy with it and look forward to putting in the display. If I get time, I'm also hoping to make the two small pillar pieces seen in the model.

Here's a pic of the finished prop with the original tiny model kit tombstone.