Found It

My thoughts on “Found Footage” type movies: It only really works once, and is dependent on spoilers not being leaked. Blair Witch had a great set up – but this was before we had the tsunami of internet spoilers of today. When Blair Witch came out, my roommate was following all the viral stories and fake interviews and when she finally saw the movie she was so scared she locked the deadbolt on our apartment so I couldn’t get in after a night out. I pounded on her window but she was convinced I was the Blair Witch coming to get her so she didn’t answer me for long enough that I was soaked by the rain when she finally did. My date was laughing his ass off. Good times.

It was really the first big success of it’s kind, but once the cat was out of the bag, it was over. No one ever really recaptured that War-of-the-Worlds type magic with Found Footage movies – the closest may have been Paranormal Activity. Without the general population *believing* that this is real, found footage, it just becomes a poorly filmed, usually kinda boring, movie. I think it has it’s place, but it works much better as something that is supporting the main feature. Like The Ring tape – it’s a film within the film. Found Footage also works as extra stuff for the credits, cut scenes, and bonus features for the DVD, but ultimately, I think it’s going to be really hard to ever make another successful Found Footage full-length feature film.

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Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good

I’m sure many of you have seen the new teaser trailer for the next Ghostbusters movie in the works – this time featuring what’s left of the original cast (?) and helmed by Jason Reitman. I first saw it on the official Blues Brothers Instagram, so it certainly seems as though Aykroyd is supporting it. If you haven’t been exposed to the teaser yet, you can google it or click here.

I saw the original Ghostbusters movie in the theater in 1984, and have been a huge fan ever since. I liked GB2, and I watched the heck out of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. I loved the 2016 all-women Ghostbusters and thought it was hugely underrated (much like the Munsters reboot, Mockingbird Lane).

We have the original Ghostbusters role-playing game, which posits Venkman has decided to turn the GB into a franchise, and you’ve bought into it. I still think this is a fantastic idea for a film, especially since there are so many “haunted” locations across the world and so much interest in the paranormal. And let’s face it – the original cast is getting on and probably not really up for running around with a proton pack strapped to their back. Stanz would be a perfect mentor for new kids, Venkman would happily take their money, and Winston would eye roll the whole time while checking up on them.
They would all fondly, solemnly drink to Egon’s memory.

And if I were to be granted a wish, it would be that the 2016 movie would be acknowledged as part of the same universe, just that they were in charge of New York now, while the boys went underground for whatever reason. There’s plenty of set up for that in the movie, if they decided to go that route (“the cat HAS been out of the bag before..”. Everyone just needs to get along and enjoy the new stories. The video game that came out was a great addition to it, too, and I wish it had sold well enough that they’d make it backwards compatible for my NextGen system, because I’d like to play it again.

I kind of hate that this is sort of steam rolling over the 2016 movie as a ‘well, fine, have it your way”, but ultimately, I like that we’re getting more Ghostbusters. Yes, more of this. Update it, bring me the snark, bring me the tech, just bring it all to me. Because I will always want more Ghostbusters.

Knock Nøkken

I love learning about monsters from mythology around the world and today I serendipitously ran into a new one to me: Nøkken. I was actually doing research on dollmaker apps and ran across this Nøkken Maker game on Doll Divine.

There’s a nice little description on the site, but basically Nøkken is what you’d get if you mixed a Banshee, The Pied Piper and a Kelpie, and then put him in Viking territory. He’s a shape-shifter who lives in the water, and drowns victims either directly, or by luring them into the water with his supernaturally amazing fiddle or harp-playing.

Adding depth to the myth, Nøkken is also portrayed as sad and lonely, and willing to do you a solid by enchanting your own musical instrument if you leave tribute. Just don’t pull the water lilies from his pond, or you’re done for. As for the banshee/bean sidhe-like trait, apparently he’ll occasionally scream at a spot in the water where a death or tragedy is soon to take place.

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Check out the wiki for some more comparisons to other water spirits. Now, I personally think this is a *fantastic* costume/Halloween haunt idea for anyone who plays the violin/fiddle. A lake or pond effect is easily created with some fake water lilies and a fog machine. Attach a glow-stick to your bow, put on some fancy clothes and go fiddle in the front yard for some trick or treaters! It’s a great way to punch-up a water-ghost theme besides the usual skeletal pirates, or a great addition to them. Maybe that’s how they died? Surround your “lake” with ghosts of all kinds!

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Summertime

Back in the 80’s, summer was when they released a bunch of new horror movies. It was the kickoff to the Halloween season, whetting your whistle for the ooky-spooky before the leaves of Autumn even began to turn. Nowadays, Summer seems to be the time to release superhero and big budget action movies. For me though, summer still subconsciously triggers my Halloween and Horror button, and I start planning and crafting accordingly.

Fortunately, with modern services like Netflix, the internet and RedBox, you can create your own horror movie playlist at any time of the year! Amazon and the local library are also invaluable resources for feeding your horror and mystery craving. We’ve finally hit the point where the craft stores are putting up their Halloween merchandise, so even outside of your home, the magic begins!

So far, I’m a bit behind on my Watch List, but I’ve finally been getting around to watching the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful” on Netflix. I’m about 2 episodes into the second season, and so far it’s decent, but not what I was expecting. I do like the way they’ve intertwined all the classic horror stories of the Victorian era – a giant “What If They All Met?” kind of scenario. I don’t want to spoil anything for you though, so all I’ll really say is – not for children: it’s a lot sexier than most parents probably want young ones exposed to. Just a warning.

I also watched the second Ouija movie, and was pleased to find that it was much, much better than the first one. In fact, you probably don’t even need to even watch the first one. Chuck that out the window and just watch the second one.
Good job on really getting down the retro nostalgia feel, too – right from the beginning with the opening credits.

Book wise, all I’ve managed to get through this summer is “Meddling Kids”, by Edgar Cantero. If the Scooby-Doo series “Mystery, Inc” combined with H.P. Lovecraft sounds like a good mix to you, you’ll probably enjoy it. I understand this is only Edgar’s second book in English, so there’s a bit of adjustment to his writing style – and at times the dialogue is written like it’s a movie script. I’m not sure if this is intentional for some reason, or a sign of editing issues. It was interesting enough that I was able to get past it though.

Craft-wise, I’m working more apothecary-style prop jars (one of my old standbys) and experimenting with some new-to-me art forms. I actually sat down with some polymer clay and am learning to sculpt. Nothing too fancy for this beginner – but it let me add some dimensions to my normal jars by embellishing the lids, creating some plants and even making some doll-house sized items. Just a few tentacle monsters and pumpkins to get started, really. You can see pictures on the Hauntcadia Facebook and Instagram pages.

I also bought some resin casting materials, but I haven’t played around with that yet. So much to do! So little time! I hope everyone else is having a great summer, and you’re managing to keep the candle lit in your internal Jack-o-Lantern!

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Would You Like to Play a Game?

We had to stop by Lowe’s today to pick up a few things, and the GameStop is next door, so of course we went there, too. Which is what leads me to today’s topic: Inspiration From Video Games.

Video-games have come a long way since I was a kid and I just wish I had more time as an adult to play them all! It truly is a great time to be alive for gamers, whether you play on a console, a PC, or your phone/tablet. And this holds true for horror fans who are also gamers. Horror games are a growing market, thanks in part to the popularity of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, both of which spawned movies based on them and increased exposure. America’s recent love of zombies thanks to The Walking Dead, has guaranteed a slew of zombie-themed video games as well.

You can do a Google search for “Horror Video Games” and get a slew of “Best of” lists if you are interested in checking out some of the options yourself. Most of the “best” games are probably going to be rated “M” for “Mature” however, just due to their nature. Fair warning.

As far as getting Halloween Party/ Costume/ Decor inspiration from video games however, you don’t necessarily have to stick to what falls into the “traditional” realm. With a bit of a perspective shift, all kinds of things can be terrifying. In fact, that’s pretty much the idea behind the twitch game “Five Nights at Freddy’s”, where the monsters you have to survive are the animatronic creatures from a children’s pizza parlor.

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As an example, last year we threw a Fallout themed Halloween party. As a post-apocalyptic style game, it’s got plenty of radiation-mutated monsters, giant robots and of course, ghouls, which fit naturally into the Halloween theme.  But the biggest tie-in, is that the big war that started it all, occurred just days before Halloween, so the game is littered with little vintage Halloween decorations and plastic pumpkin pails for you to discover as you wander the Wasteland. There are plenty of character types to choose a costume from, with infinite amounts of variations. And for those folks who like to keep it low-key, dressing as a settler, trader or farmer is always an option.
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Bioshock is another great videogame to draw party inspiration from – especially if you’re looking for a watery-theme but are getting bored of pirates. The Big Daddies in their deranged dive suits and glowing-eyed Little Sisters are sure to spice up your pool-area.

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The fantasy RPG series Dragon Age is positively littered with demons, magic-users, possessed corpses, old gods and monsters. The characters go on several haunted adventures in-game, and it wouldn’t be hard to integrate some of that into your own theme.

These are just some ideas, of course, based on my favorites. I imagine there are quite a few video-games that could be easily tweaked for spooky fun if you put your mind to it. And even if you decide not to go with a video-game theme, you can certainly leave a few up and running during your party for your guests to play, as added entertainment! For something quick and easily shared among multiple people, I highly recommend one of the themed pinball games from Pinball FX:

“I’ve Always Loved Tiny Things”

“Ive always loved tiny things” – Queen of Hearts, Disney’s Through the Looking Glass movie

We’re halfway to Halloween, and you know what that means? Time to start planning for Halloween 2017!  Today I want to talk about something that doesn’t get as much attention in the haunt community as I think it should: Haunted Dollhouses and miniatures.  There’s just something about dollhouses and miniatures. Making something tiny instantly makes it adorable, regardless of the subject. Except maybe spiders. But that’s another topic.

Dollhouses can also be spooky, and there are plenty of horror movies and tv shows who have used that to great effect. The Dollhouse Murders, The Amityville Dollhouse, The Woman in Black 2 are some examples – there’s even an episode of Doctor Who that involves them getting sucked into a creepy dollhouse.

Once upon a time, dollhouses were all the rage, and it seemed like everyone had one. Even Walt Disney had them – you can still see his collection of miniatures at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Nowadays however, it seems like an underutilized haunt attraction I think we can give a bit of a boost.

Now, I plan to come back to this topic and deal with specifics in another post, for the moment I want to talk more about how you can use a dollhouse and the different options you have available.

There are several ways you can use a dollhouse in your Halloween decorating and even your haunted attraction.  The nice thing about miniatures, is they’re perfecct for small spaces. If you’re one of the many Halloween-loving apartment dwellers out there, a miniatures display or Dollhouse is the perfect way to get your fix.  It also works great for those tiny alcoves in a haunt or any other place that needs a little extra spooky.

“Haunted Dollhouse” doesn’t even have to mean one of those full gothic mansion creations, either (but those are awesome if you have the space!).  You can create a single room in miniature, anything from a seance room to a witch’s kitchen,  and display it in a variety of ways. In a Box, in a tin, in a knick-knack cabinet or shelf, in a carved out pumpkin or under a glass bell jar, perhaps? Got an old aquarium that lost it’s fish? Set up an “underwater” display! You can even just dedicate one of the shelves on your book case for your display. There’s no wrong way to do it – you can use your imagination and adapt to the space you have!

Another great thing about them is the investment can be very small – items for your dollhouse can be cheaply purchased or even easily made yourself. There are many tutorials on this topic – everything from modifying existing pieces to building from scratch (something I plan on trying myself).

A haunted dollhouse would go great with a model train set-up (something I’ve always wanted to try!), they make a great window display, and would also make a great centerpiece at your Halloween party. Maybe it doesn’t fit on the table? How about setting it up in a corner of the patio to help add to your backyard decorations?

Craft stores sell little wooden coffins and boxes that are perfect for crafting a miniature scene, or you can improvise your own with a candy tin. It makes a great, creative gift as well, for that Halloween fanatic friend of yours (hint hint, my birthday is in July)!

If you have your own haunted attraction or yard haunt, the dollhouse or miniatures display can be a great focal point for a room or area.  Set one up in the ticket-booth area behind the cashiers!  Set up a series of mini gory scenes behind glass in a hallway patrons have to walk down. Have a waiting room or area? Surrounding it in a miniatures set-up will give them something to focus on while keeping the mood.

A static display is standard for most people, but you can add any number of extra effects to your haunted dollhouse. Make things move. Add some lights. And you can always change it up when you get bored with a scene!

Working in miniature is also a fun way to plan out future designs and themes for parties. You’ll be able to really see how everything goes together, or explain to partners how you want things to go. It’s also a nice way to keep a little Halloween up year-round

Hopefully I’ve inspired some of you to venture into a smaller world – if you’ve got a haunted dollhouse or miniatures display, please post in the comments! I’d love to see them!

If Pinterest is your thing, I’ve got a board of ideas for you under “Miniature Halloween” that you can check out.

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