Monday, November 3, 2014

The Halloween Boo Bash was a bloody slashing success

This was on the Boo Bash menu and the flies offered tiny white little flavorful juicy tidbits.
Hiya Creeps, well both Halloween and the annual Boo Bash is over and what a gruesome filled week it was. Here are some highlights...
These were my passengers for the month
The Corn hole Boards turned out well
I got out a few of my specialty utensils
The bathroom was especially gruesome
The kitchen was for butchering
Of course I canned a little too
The beer pong room was a complete zombiefest
Every gore house needs a place to hang the meat
Pumpkinhead watched over the bathroom and chatted at those who entered.
And the Ouija room worked well, especially with a tarot card reader
My first costume of the week. I had never been a witch before.
It took 3rd place
My 2nd costume. Besides clowns, wicked Jack-O-Lanterns are my thing
It came in 4th...beat by Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials
This lovely ghost is all mine
Especially now that we finally put rings on our fingers
What films did I watch?

And now this horror fiend is back to writing bloody prose...reading chilling tales...and delving into the shadows.


I'm back to my column at Horror News
And I'm writing reviews for The Movie & Music Network plenty of great "B" films here!
And I created a special place for the reviews at Staying Scared

By the way, hey filmmakers, want something reviewed?

What else did I do?

*Wrote on my book, A Lawnly Existence.
*Submitted a tale called 2084 Is A Good Year To Die to an anthology. I'll let ya know.
*Did an interview on Whispers In The Dark
*Read the new Suspense Magazine

Of course, as usual, I have more than a few books to catch up on.

And so Creepsters, Ghouls, Goblins and things that go bump in the night, here's hoping your Halloween was bloody good fun too...

Stay Scared,

Monday, October 6, 2014

This wicked little holiday called Halloween

Well hello there creepsters, ghoulies, spooks, fiends, monsters, ghosts, witches, zombies and general necromancers, it's almost Halloween, our time of the year...a time when fears are raised and the darkness can harbor an abundance of horror. So, where do we begin? Let's start with some history first, shall we...

Halloween, the holiday celebrated on October 31st, is a night when unimaginable horrors are thrust upon us all, reputed to wander freely. Originally known as All Hallows Eve, the holiday started as a Celtic festival and was a celebration of the end of harvest. It was a time when the ancient Gaelic culture believed that on this specific day, the boundary between the living and the dead was overlapped or had a ripple and thus, the dead were able to return in order to wreak havoc in the form of disease or crop destruction.

During the middle ages, begging for treats was quite similar to that of Christmas wrassailing, but was called “souling.” This included less fortunate folk dressing up on November 1st (Hallowmas Day), to beg for food in exchange for offering prayers for the dead, promised to be performed on the following day (November 2nd) known as All Saint’s or All Soul’s day.

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, Halloween was virtually unknown in America and if it hadn't been for the thousands of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine, the holiday may never have become, for it was their customs that eventually evolved into the Halloween of today. And, evolve it did...becoming the most wonderfully creepiest time of the year.

Halloween Trivia

Was the Jack-O-Lantern always associated with the holiday?
No. The Jack-O-Lantern stems from turnip lanterns, which were extravagantly carved in a ritual called souling, a remembrance tribute toward all the souls lingering in purgatory.

How did bats come to be associated with Halloween?
Bats originally had nothing at all to do with the holiday. However, in ancient times, with celebratory bonfires being rampant, these fires drew insects which in turn drew bats and therefore, the flying rodents became indirectly involved.

Where did the words “trick or treat” get their start?
Originally, “treat or treat” wasn’t part of the holiday & began in Scotland with children dressing up (known as guising) and going door to door in search of treats. However, usually the child would have to earn the treat by performing a trick. i.e. dancing, singing, the telling of a scary tale, etc…

Was the treat always candy?
Not at all. With Halloween being in the fall season and typically considered to be a harvest time, apples (candied and caramelized), roasted pumpkin seeds and even roasted sweet corn were the usual offerings. In Ireland there was also a customary baked cake called Barmbrack too. This fruitcake typically had something such as a ring or a coin baked within and the ring is reputed to indicate that true love is on the following year’s horizon.

When did American costumes appear?
While there had always been costumes involved with the holiday, in the U.S. this wouldn't be fully grasped until the 1930’s, when costumes started being mass produced. Afterward, the holiday’s popularity soared with both children and adults and the tradition of the Halloween costume party began.

Speaking of Halloween parties, what is one of the little known games involved?
While most everyone is familiar with bobbing for apples and the telling of ghost stories, there are some traditions that remain unknown in popular culture. One such tradition is Scottish in origin and is called divination. This is where a person carves a long strip of apple peel and tosses it over their shoulder. The landed peel is reputed to take the shape of and offer the first letter of the first name of the person’s future spouse.

Was the holiday always associated with spooks?
Not actually and it is thought that the holiday’s association with the Pagans and the occult has created this “fear” reputation, stemming from Christianity’s negative attitude toward celebrating Paganism. This misconception is probably responsible for today's holiday being widely considered to be a night when witches and the bogeyman roam. With this notion having been deeply ingrained in our psyche, the holiday is now tightly associated with horror, monsters and fright, now offering a plethora of scary television and film and an uncountable amount of fearful attractions.  

Why are orange & black considered Halloween colors?
Orange is a predominant fall color while black represents death and darkness.

Did You Know?

* Those little, chewy, chocolaty treats known as Tootsie Rolls, a common Halloween staple, were the first wrapped penny candy.

* In 1942, Halloween took a big hit in the treat department when sugar was rationed.

* The classic 1978 film "Halloween" was filmed in only 21 days, the mask is actually one of William Shatner and it was shot in the spring using fake leaves. Also, watch closely, while the location is reputed to be Illinois, the cars actually have California license plates.

* Don't fear the spider you see on that day, for it is a superstition that it is a deceased loved one watching over you.

* In it's first year of sales, the Ouija Board, with over 2 million units shipped, out sold even Monopoly.

* Besides All Hallows Eve, Halloween is also known as Samhain, All Hallowtide, The Feast of the Dead and The Day of the Dead.

* Owls, in Medieval Europe, were thought to be witches and to hear the "hoo hoo" was an indication that someone would die.

* World renowned magician and escape artist Harry Houdini died on Halloween.

* Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

* When "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" first aired, children around the world sent candy to the blockhead as a sympathetic gesture.

Looking for the perfect frightful flick? While there are many to select from, here's 13 to get you started...

 13) House of 1000 Corpses 2003 
Mass murdering family that uses deceased skin for masks.

12) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974
While this was never a true story, it sure appears like it might have been.

11) Dawn of the Dead 2004
Zak Snyder's respectable homage to Romero's classic. However, watch the original (#4 below) first.

10) Creepshow 1982
Much like the old EC horror comics, this anthology is fast paced and scary.

9) The Exorcist 1973
One of the scariest movies ever made. I dare you to sit in the dark and watch this one...alone. 

8) The Evil Dead 1981
With both humor and horror, one never knows what to expect next.

7) Phantasm 1979
There's always something creepy about a mini flying buzz saw embedding into a forehead.

6) Jeepers Creepers 2001
Not quite a bat, but it flies and will eat you.

5) Friday the 13th 1980
Jason was simply a male name before this flick. This was the start of "slasher" flicks and don't be surprised if the haunting "cha cha cha...ha ha ha"  soundtrack doesn't stick with you afterward. 

4) Dawn of the Dead 1978
George Romero's followup to #2 below. Gruesome and frightening.

3) Saw 2004
The film that introduced us to Jigsaw

2) Night of the Living Dead 1968
The film that redefined zombies to how we view them now.

1) Halloween 1978
The all-time classic that is a must every Halloween.

What have I been up to?

Well, I've been editing and rewriting my first full-length novel (A Lawnly Existence) which takes up a majority of my writing time. Of course, I've read a number of things and watched a flick or two too.

What I'm reading now?

And I finally obtained a copy of what is considered by many to be the most dangerous book in the world. From the looks of what's on the pages inside, this is a book on witchcraft and sorcery and I should probably be most cautious when exploring it. (Author's Note: Wow was that creepy. All day I've been working on this blog and the Staying Scared website and all worked well. But, while I was uploading this picture, all of a sudden my internet service went down. This never happens and although it came back up in a short few minutes the coincidence is hard to ignore. Maybe I should get rid of this book...yeah right!)

By the way, on October 27th, yours truly and fellow cohort from Staying Scared dot com, Mary Fortier-Schutz II aka Nighty Nightmare is going to be on Whispers in the Dark. More on that later though. Read her new column here.

And here's a little creepy something for ya.

And so fellow horror fans, have a most frightening Halloween and if you see this guy lurking around...
Stay Scared,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Books, Body Parts & Teddy Bears Oh My!

Hello Creepies, Crawlies, Ghosties, Goblins, Slashers, Monsters, Zombies, and all things that go bump in the night, I’ve been away from Staying Scared for some small expenditure of time and I do apologize. However, I haven’t avoided horror and have used the time wisely. I’ve read a couple of books and a few magazines, rewritten six chapters of my new book, submitted a short tale, obtained a couple collectibles, canned some body parts and watched a few flicks. Oh yeah, there was that work thing too. Regardless, I intend to tell you all about it since this might take a while, sit up and get comfy in that casket, poke your head out of the grave, stop gnawing on the body, keep the razor knife at bay and creep a little closer to lend an ear. I promise you’ll keep it and besides, you have two of those.

Drive In Night begins at dusk and can include up to 3 flicks. Of course, one is always horror.
First off, before we officially get started, let me tell you that Adult ADD does have benefits. Besides compelling me to do a bunch of everything all at once, the condition also has me reading three books at a time. Why? Because I can. When I sit down to read, although I may be deep into a book, I may not feel like going back to it just yet and choose to delve into one of the others, usually already started. Sure, I could finish books one at a time, but my mind craves variety and so I typically find myself holding some sort of monster tale in one hand, the latest horror best seller in the other, my favorite author clutched in between big toes, all while glancing at the most recent horror mag that is lying in front of me. Thankfully & fortunately, I am quite proficient at soaking it all in. Yes, I know…there are pills for this, but why fix something that isn’t broken. I kind of like it this way and over the years have seemingly perfected and am able to keep everything in my head organized. Every evening provides a few new chapters, an article on Godzilla or Freddy or who knows what else, and just before falling asleep somewhere near the witching hour, I have already explored what I will write after the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. (Coincidentally, this has remained consistent and is my first full-length novel – A Lawnly Existence). At 8:00 a.m., the workday begins and could end anywhere between 5 & 10 p.m. depending upon workload. However, days off see a slight change in schedule, especially if Drive-In Night was part of the prior evening’s curriculum, and it is then that I find myself sleeping in a bit, all the way until 6 a.m. Did you know that by using both hands at the same time, one is also using both sides of the brain and therefore, the action tends to regulate any chemical inequity? Typing falls into this category. Some would call it a curse!
Since carnivals are my thing, especially creepy ones, two books easily drew me in; Stephen King’s Joyland and the Bloody Carnival anthology.

Personally, King could probably describe watching paint dry enjoyable, even if he does get long winded sometimes. Nonetheless, Joyland is a tale certain to suck in not only fans of the writer, but both horror, mystery and spirit world lovers too. The story surrounds a main character, Devin Jones, a college student who accepts a summer position at an amusement park called Joyland. This park, while small in comparison to the more well known amusement parks, has been around for decades and between the rides, games and such, still offers much fun. Primarily a first person coming of age story told through the eyes of Devin, an interesting cast of “carny” characters is only one aspect that will keep the reader turning pages. The other is that, unlike King’s typical indigenous horror tales, this one is a mystery that surrounds a girl who was murdered in the park’s spooky ride known as the Horror House many years ago. At 281 pages, Joyland seemed more like a novella than a novel and was a quick read. Add in the thought provocation and clue following factor, and the read is even faster.

Bloody Carnival, a 2010 Pill Hill Press offering edited by Jessy Marie Roberts is 34 tales of horrific fun surrounding everything from carnivals, county fairs and amusement parks to circuses and rodeos. There are freaks and sideshow attractions, rides so old that one may be fearful and reconsider getting on, a ringmistress with a demonic side, ghosts and goulies, spook houses and my personal favorite…demented clowns. Although the writers, with an exception of a choice few, are primarily unknown, at the conclusion of their tale a bio is offered, which yours truly began looking forward to reading even before getting halfway through the 286 pages. Most of the writing is spot on and there are only a few stories that appear slightly amateurish. This is more likely due to inexperience and with such, is certain to improve. There are also a few tales that are rather predictable, but were still fun to read nonetheless. So, want fear that surrounds carnivals, fairs and festive celebrations? Anticipating riding the latest and greatest rickety ride? Want to know what’s behind the airbrushed painted freak curtain? Bloody Carnival is for you.

And then there was and is the Writers Workshop of Horror, a 2009 Bram Stoker award winner for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction. This book, edited by Michael Knost, is a veritable who’s who of the horror world and might very well be the one single book all horror writer wannabes should read. With essays exploring everything from setting and description to dialogue and tone, these successful top of the heap writers will guide you through writing that tale from beginning to end. Plenty of insights here, discussing specific aspects of the basic horror tale and the 245 pages will probably be read more than once.
What I'm reading now.
Of course,  both Amazon and the newsstand also contributes
I've been exploring my extensive electronic collection of horror comics too. They definitely bring back memories.

What have I written?
Yet again I am going through and rewriting A Lawnly Existence. This is a horror tale with a smidgen of love tossed in and surrounds an old man who is desperately trying to fulfill his recently deceased wife’s dream. It is neither a zombie nor ghost tale and the twists are rampant. Written with short chapters, I’m consciously attempting the cliff hanging chapter aspect. Although 90% of the book is written, edits are necessary since I want to submit the best possible. Where to submit to is still under consideration and there is no time frame just yet, but as soon as I know, you will too.

And my tale 2084 Is a Good Year to Die is at Suspense Magazine. In a civilization closely monitored by government, possessing something as simple as a school history book can have mortal repercussions. It is my ode to George Orwell and his Nostradamic vision.

And, just a little heads up, Mary G. Fortier (aka Nighty Nightmare) and yours truly will be on a radio show October 27th. But more on that later.
Undead Teds
For quite some time now, I have been trying to get my hands on an Undead Ted. These grotesque, yet wonderfully macabre teddy bears are not the cuddly “for children” type. They are neither cheap nor easy to obtain, but, are certainly well worth both time and money. Artist Phillip Blackman only makes 20 or so per batch before placing them for sale. Each are meticulously handmade one of a kinds, anatomically correctly detailed, come with certificate of authenticity and are specifically tagged. I learned very quickly that one must be extremely fast and pre-organized in order to be one of the lucky few owners.
Each tag is specifically numbered
Prior, when first learning of these, I made a beeline to the website, only to find that they were always sold out. Then I signed up for the newsletter and started following Mr. Blackman on Facebook. It was the social media mecca which indicated when the next sale would be and for fourteen hours I eagerly watched the website countdown. I was ready, or so I thought. The clock struck zero and after a quick peruse of the selections, chose one. Much to my dismay, even before checking out, my selection had already been snatched up and was gone. This surprised me and I lost a few seconds lingering in awe, but regained composure and with the speed of gnashing zombie teeth, went back and selected another. This time the order went through and I had purchased. Ecstatic, I went back to the display page. There were seventeen sold signs, including mine, leaving only three left. Mind you, this was a mere 15 minutes or so after the sale had begun and, while it was not my initial intentions, I selected another, not really expecting to get it. Needless to say, I was fortunate and obtained a second and am now in the process of seeking the perfect acrylic case for which will display them both.
Interested in owning your very own Undead Ted? Be aware, they are highly sought after and time is crucial. There will be no room for error and they will sell out within minutes. This said, creep over to and good luck. One final warning, as I have intentions of adding to my collection, expect one of your competitors to be me. Mwhahahahahahaha!
Similar to the ones seen
There was a time when, while making my way through a seasonal haunted house, I came to a kitchen display, which was nothing short of a cannibal’s dream. There were boiling pots on the stove with red foam spilling over the tops and each had a various limb sticking out. This in itself was wonderfully horrendous, but not quite as gruesome as the row of various shaped jars on the shelf above, each filled delectably. To me, this was a fantastically macabre and superb display. Well, the idea stuck and I’ve since started canning myself.
Various distinct jars, a spool of gauze, a few dabs of fake blood and a liberal supply of body parts found at the local Halloween store is all it takes.

Call me demented. Call me appalling. Call me sick. Just don’t call me late for dinner, especially when finger nibbles, eyeball soup and thigh fricassee is on the menu. Heh Heh

Went and saw The Purge 2: Anarchy and must say that it is considerably better than the first attempt. Guess they listened to the fans' backlash. Now, if they can just add some gruesome gore and demented shocks, they'll be right on.

I also revisited some older flicks. Tales from the Crypt Demon Night, Basket Case and The ABC's of Death. This latter flick has become somewhat of a macabre favorite of mine and offers 26 independent directorial visions. While not all of the short films are stellar, the complete alphabet is depicted and oddly enough, I'm looking forward to part 2, which is currently in the making.

Next theater visit will be October 24th for Ouija. Who knows, maybe I'll show you my Ouija Board beforehand. Heeheeheeheeheeheeheeheeheeheehee!

Sunday October 12th, 2014 is The Walking Dead season 5 premiere. Mark your calendars zombie fans.

Now, if I could just get another episode of Staying Scared worries ghouls, I will.

And so Kiddies...until next time, keep in the shadows, aim the butcher knife well, allow the blood on the blade to dry, appreciate the quiver fluttering up and down your spine, and most of all...Stay Scared.