Friday, December 31, 2010

Julebukking

While discussing the Krampus with some family members, my mother mentioned that, during her pregnancy with me, a Swedish aunt of hers had told her of a deer or goatlike creature called the "Julebukk" which helped pull Santa's sleigh.

From what I've been able to tell, the tradition started with the legend of the Norse god of thunder, Thor! Thor was said to ride across the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnj├│str (roughly translated as "Toothgnasher" and "Toothgrinder"), the sound of which created the sounds of thunder rumbling. According to the "Prose Edda," Thor was known to kill the goats in order to have food, which he would share with others. After the meal finished, Thor would use his powers to revive them as if nothing happened. This led to a now-defunct Swedish winter tradition of having someone dress up as a goat, pretend to get sacrificed and is later "revived." But as Christianity spread throughout Europe, all references to Thor were stripped away and the creature was transformed into a Yule Goat or "Julebukk" (roughly translated as "Christmas buck").

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chris Scalf Rules

If you have yet to see any of Chris Scalf's amazing artwork, then you're seriously missing out. From the pages of G-Fan (who, along with Bob Eggleton, have become the-in my opinion-top artists for the magazine) to the covers of various Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica comic books, Mr. Scalf's work has graced numerous publications and pleased fans worldwide. To be honest, I'm shocked that a cult DVD label has yet to hire him to spice up the cover art for their releases.

Those intrigued by my praise for the man are highly advised to visit his official website, blog and Youtube channel to see examples of his work. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Wish You a Mythos Christmas

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has given the world a ton of cool Lovecraft-themed goodies, from the modern silent movie version of The Call of Cthulhu to the "Dark Adventure Radio Theatre" audio drama series (as covered in my review of The Shadow Over Innsmouth installment). They've even released not one, not three, but two Christmas albums! Both A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice are chock-full of creeped up Christmas classics and the only thing scarier than the subject matter is just how good the singing is! But don't take my word for it, just check out this fanmade video for "I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth" from A Very Scary Solstice by aabeeceed.



As if that wasn't enough, the HPLHS also has a page with free sheet music and clips from the albums!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christma(dnes)s

Well, it's that time of year again. Last-minute shopping and schedule-rearranging, coupled with the weather and other surprises are at their maximum this week and the resulting stress is killer. So, as a warped tribute to the madness so prevalent before the big day, here's a collection of weird 'n wild Christmas-related horror goodies that weren't lengthy enough to get their own separate articles:

Ho ho ho!  I took on the Martians and won, so these goblins don't stand a chance!
The above graphic comes from Elizabeth Anderson's children's tale, The_Goblins' Christmas. It's an odd little tale that hasn't gotten much attention since its initial publication in 1908 and I'm fixing that by providing you all with a direct link to the illustrated full text. Just be warned that some of the language used isn't very politically correct and some children might find the eventual fate of the goblins upsetting.

Speaking of stories, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol greatly helped give Christmas its current focus on familial togetherness and generosity, as its celebration had previously been dwindling and focused more on drinking and wild partying (Wikipedia offers a brief-yet-informative look at Christmas before and after its "reformation"). However, it had one other interesting effect on the holiday: It forever linked ghosts and Christmas in England! Not only was Dickens soon forced to pen other ghost stories (both directly Christmas-related and standard spooky stories without a holiday theme), but it became customary to tell ghost stories at Christmastime.

Don't believe me? heck out the description in this audio drama collection of British ghost stories or the introduction of this excellent review of The Stone Tape (includes spoilers). Like A Christmas Carol, The Stone Tape had a lasting impact...on paranormal studies. Come to think of it, I wonder how much Dickens' membership in The Ghost Club had to do with A Christmas Carol (or vice-versa).

Oh look, someone decided to give the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies treatment to A Christmas Carol, how...unnecessary. What's next, a zombie-filled version of Edison's Conquest of Mars?

On the plus side, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies isn't nearly as obnoxious and its humorous carols are a great way to spice up a winter zombie walk. Or, if you prefer reading stories to sheet music, The Undead That Saved Christmas anthology should be more appealing. Both links give you free previews of each book, which I highly recommend checking out.

Despite being known primarily for spooky music, Nox Arcana has also released two Christmas albums (with a touch of darkness). They also offer Christmas cards featuring Joseph Vargo's amazing artwork on their official website!

The Amazon.com preview for Monte Beauchamp's The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards offers a wealth of vintage art depicting our old friend the Krampus.

For those wanting a Merry Fishmas, I recommend this festive plush wreath featuring Cthulhu.

Those of you who read my Man or Astro-Man? article might remember their robot-themed side project, Servotron. But what you might not know is that they did a Christmas-themed vinyl EP called There Is No Santa Claus! featuring cover art by Shag!

Finally, here's the Google Books preview for I'm Dreaming of a Fright Xmas by Alan-Bertaneisson Jones. It's a highly informative and surprisingly lengthy (given the subject matter) tome devoted to Christmas-themed horror movies. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek

Although I'm not a fan of Doctor Who, I must admit to having a fondness for Daleks. Their unusual appearance is both visually pleasing and does an excellent job of hiding the fact there's a human performer inside. This was an intentional (and brilliant) choice by Dalek creator Terry Nation and designer Ray Cusick, which gives the Daleks a truly unearthly appearance and sets them apart from the
the series' plethora of goofy-looking alien creatures and robots. Is it any wonder that the Daleks have been repeatedly mistaken for robots, both in the context of the show (they're actually octopus-like mutants in mechanical suits) and in terms of the special effects used to realize them onscreen? Besides, you have to love their frequently badass lines.

It should also be noted that the Daleks' distinctive plunger arm is due to it being a last minute replacement for a mechanical claw the original costume used. One of the actors allegedly voiced concern that people could get injured by the claw and a spare toilet plunger was all that could be found on such short notice.

I wasn't the only one captivated by the Daleks, as "Dalekmania" swept across the UK immediately after their debut in the second serial of the first season of Doctor Who in 1963 (and continued through February 1964). Not only would battles with evil aliens become cemented as a regular staple of the program, but and tons of licensed merchandise (and two feature films) soon followed. Said merchandise including a 1964 holiday novelty song called "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek" by the Go-Go's:



As you've probably gathered from the song, the Go-Go's in question are not the ones who did "We Got the Beat." These Go-Go's were a 60's group consisting of Mike Johnson, Alan Cairns, Abe Harris, Bill Davison, Les McLeian and Sue Smith (who provided the childlike vocals in the above song). Surprisingly, famed British songwriter Les Vandyke penned the song, albeit under the name "Johnny Worth!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gravedigger's Local 16 Christmas Flashback

Although most of our Christmas content is posted in December, there have been occasions where such articles had to be posted before December rolled around. As a result, they have sadly become under-appreciated.

So to remedy the situation, please let this entry act as the Ghost of Christmas Past (of the non-cybernetic variety of course) and take you to some selected
winter and Christmas-related articles from years past:

Winterbeast
Krampusmas
Happy Horrordays!
Christmassacre in July
Nixon and Hogan Smoke Christmas
'tis the season...FOR HALLOWEEN SHOPPING?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chanukkill

Cut his effin' head off!  YOU CAN DO EET!
Long-time readers will remember my struggles with coming up with a good idea for a horror-related article about Chanukkah (and Kwanzaa, for that matter). Although I'm still clueless about what to do for a Kwanzaa article, I wound up stumbling across something that blew away my original idea for an article about golems.

For you see, my reading through the Wikipedia entry for the holiday lead to me seeing a painting of a woman holding a severed head! Although it wasn't the same one used in this article (Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder), Cristofano Allori's Judith with the head of Holofernes was a still an attention grabber. As it turns out, there's a minor Chanukkah custom of eating cheese and other dairy products that is linked to the story of Judith and Holofernes.

According to book of Judith ("Yehudit" or "Yehudis" in Hebrew), Bethulia was under attack by the Assyrian general Holofernes and his men, who strengthened their control by blocking of the village's sole supply of water. Things were looking very bleak for the inhabitants, until a widow named Judith approached the village elders with a plan. She would go to Holofernes while pretending to be someone sent by God to aid him until she was able to lull him into a false sense of security and do away with him. Needless to say, the plan worked perfectly and the general was smitten by the beautiful stranger. After spending three days at his camp, Judith feed him wine and cheese until he fell asleep. Seizing the opportunity (and the man's own sword), she quickly cut off his head and secreted it out of the camp. Some accounts claim that she was assisted by her servant, apparently done to differentiate the story from that of Salome, which is similarly decapitation-based. In any case, Holofernes' men were demoralized by his death and the sight of his head inspired the villagers to drive off the invading army.

Now, despite the fact that the book of Judith is deuterocanonical (not a part of the Hebrew bible and is thus "non-canon"), some sources credit Judith's actions with allowing women to be included in the obligation of lighting candles for Chanukkah. In any case, the account is very popular and has inspired numerous works of art in addition to the previously-noted traditions. Come to think of it, this also makes the Local horror-themed nickname for Chanukkah more appropriate than originally thought.

Happy Chanukkah!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Forget Turkey Day, it's Turtle Day!

We here at Gravedigger's Local 16 celebrate Godzilla's birthday every year, but what about Gamera?

Regular readers of this site are no doubt familiar with Japan's favorite giant, flying turtle (that breathes fire to boot). If not, then you need to read this. Now. In either case, what you may not realize is that the first Gamera movie came out all the way back in 1965 on this very da...What? It came out on the 26th? Seeing as how I'd have to wait until 2015 to have this article posted on the correct day and still have it be Thanksgiving at the same time, I'll think I'll just celebrate a day early. I'd probably still be too busy being in a food coma to write this up tomorrow anyway.

In honor of Gamera's birthday, I wanted to post something really unique and special. So let's look at the Gamera movie that never made it. After 1971 Gamera vs. Zigra (the 7th film of the original series), Daiei planned on pitting Gamera against a giant serpent called Garasharp. Although things apparently got to the point where a costume was made, Daiei's bankruptcy effectively ended the project. Sadly, the costume was either unavailable, unusable or forgotten when the Tokuma Shoten publishing company bought Daiei and released Gamera: Super Monster in 1980. It's a shame, too, as doing so would have spiced up what little new Gamera footage was shot for the film (which largely consisted of stock footage from the previous entries in the series).

However, fans did eventually get a chance to see Garasharp. For you see, a short film was created about the film for the release of the Gamera series on laserdisc (and later carried to DVD). Using a combination of interviews and narration over concept art, storyboards and models, the basic plot for the film was revealed. Thanks to kaijusroyaume, we can watch it right this instant:



I don't know much Japanese, but the basic jist of the video is that Gamera would fight and eventually kill Garasharp. Although Garasharp dies, it was able to give birth to either two offspring or a single two-headed creature. Being the friend of all children, no matter what species they are, Gamera spares the offspring's life by flying it to a deserted island to live out its days in peace. The end also offers a tantalizing glimpse at another monster in addition to Garasharp: a bulky orange monster on four thin legs that isn't shown in the synopsis detailed in the video. Apparently, this creature is named "Malcobkarappa" and its name seems to indicate that it's a mutated fungal growth of some kind, presumably something that was originally growing on (or in) Garasharp.

Hopefully, Kadokawa Pictures (the company that bought Tokuma Shoten and now owns Daiei's assets) will see fit to revive Garasharp and Malcobkarappa for a future Gamera film. Until then, we'll have to make due with the information gathered here. I'm just thankful they made that video showing what could have been.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy (Early) Birthday Gamera!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Edison's Conquest of Mars

Oh no, nothing phallic here...

No, this is not a book/DVD release of an old silent movie like Edison's Frankenstein. It's actually the unauthorized sequel to H.G. Wells' classic novel, The War of the Worlds!

The year was 1898. Wells' alien invasion classic had been published in complete book form after being serialized the year before in Pearson's Magazine. During that same time, an unauthorized version of the story was serialized in a New York newspaper and 1898 saw another unauthorized serialization published by the Boston Post, that was retitled as Fighters from Mars. In both cases, each of the pirated versions changed the setting of the story to the city the newspaper was published in, something that only increased Wells' dismay over the unauthorized works.

Although such flagrant acts of intellectual property theft might seem mind-boggling, such things were all too common in America during that time. Bootleg books were a big business back then, with the USA being the 19th century equivalent of China today when it comes to unauthorized DVDs. Despite pleas from famed authors like Charles Dickens, a combination of isolationists and those who profited from said bootlegs successfully pushed for the government to refuse signing any international copyright agreements. In fact, it was not until about 1988 that the United States signed onto the Berne Convention, which had been in existence since 1886!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rampage

As a fan of Japanese monster movies, it should be no surprise that Rampage is one of my all-time favorite video games. For the uninitiated, Rampage is a 1986 video game by Bally Midway that allows players to control one of three giant monsters and wreak havoc across the USA by smashing buildings (but being careful not to be on one as it collapses) and eating people. The monsters in question are George the gorilla, Lizzy the lizard and Ralph the werewolf. But those names meant nothing to me as a little kid when I first encountered the game during a family vacation in Vermont; I knew King Kong and Godzilla when I saw them. I had no idea why there was a giant werewolf and even to this day I'm still not entirely sure. My best guess is that the programmers decided to throw in a non-traditional giant monster so they could claim that had only used enlarged versions of random animals if the owners of Godzilla or King Kong ever threatened a lawsuit. I also recall being baffled over Lizzy only breathing fire after eating certain items that took away health and how the monsters turned into human beings after losing too much health, but I still had tons of fun smashing cities anyway.

Although not the first game of this nature, an honor that belongs to 1981's Crush, Crumble and Chomp!, the influence of Rampage cannot be denied. Is it mere coincidence that The Movie Monster Game (notable for actually licensing Godzilla) came out that same year? The game Ramparts (not to be confused with Rampart by Atari) came out a few months after Rampage debuted and has been accused of being a thinly disguised knock-off. If not for the success of Rampage, it's quite possible that the 90's King of the Monsters series and 2003's War of the Monsters might not have come into existence.

Said success eventually resulted in the release of 1997's Rampage World Tour, which added a storyline, bonus superpowers and the occasional computer-controlled monsters that had to be defeated. The series continued (and added new player-controlled monsters) with Rampage 2: Universal Tour, Rampage Through Time, Rampage Puzzle Attack and Rampage: Total Destruction.

Although the original game is often available as an unlockable bonus in many of the above games, there's also a way to play it if you don't have them. Just make sure you have Shockwave enabled and click here for some city-smashing fun!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Costume Crazyness 2010

Back when Weird Jon wrote "Son of Shameless Cross Promotion," he had no idea that the "Costume Crazyness" series would be dropped from URBMN the very next year due to changes in the site's format and would be moved to Gravedigger's Local 16. Neither did I, for that matter, but the site had changed so much since then and both the owner and I agreed that it would make more sense over here, Sadly, this happened after I had written my update for the Halloween countdown and what little free time I had was soon devoured by other things. So rather than disappoint fans of the series by not doing a 2010 installment I decided to post it in November, just like a Halloween episode for any given animated comedy series on Fox. But enough about that, let's get to the knock-offs and other assorted costume oddities!

Holy crap, they made a Pai Mei knock-off? That's...pretty cool, actually. It's a shame they referred to a Chinese character as a Japanese "sensei" rather than the proper "sifu." They also lose style points for not calling it a Bak Mei costume.

Scream knock-offs? That is so 1996. I am somewhat impressed by the fact that the last one is also a knock-off of Ex Mortis' Stalkarounds. You rarely see something rip off two different costumes at the same time.

This is just a "Ragga Muffin Sailor" costume and not Raggedy Andy. Right...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest Writer: Mr. B. Bertram

[Recently, we got in touch with one Mr. Bertram Bertram, soliciting his expert opinion and analysis for our readers. As one of the foremost Haunt Experts around (you may find his expertise readily available here), we were incredibly pleased to hear back from him and are honored to present his writing here today.]

Observations on a Peculiar Entertainment
by Mr. Bertram Bertram

When I was first contacted by the Gravediggers Local to contribute to the publication, I demurred. My time was simply too restricted to allow for proper reflection and coherent narration upon the subjects to which I am most engaged. Yet now that October has again given way to November (which seems to happen with increasing regularity), I found myself idly wandering the stacks of the manor library in vague disquietude.

My manservant, Walter, concerned with my saturnine mood, suggested that I revisit the Gravediggers’ invitation to share with you my vast experience in the field of haunted attractions. Walter’s reminder was timely. After fortifying myself with his excellent cucumber sandwiches and black coffee, I was ready to embark upon this project that I know will be as educational for you as it is enjoyable for me.

The Basic Idea
“Haunting” and being a “Haunter”, in my field, refers to working in the haunted attraction industry. In the broadest possible terms, a haunted attraction (or “haunt” for brevity’s sake) is any dedicated venue that seeks to entertain patrons using elements of horror, the macabre, and/or the supernatural. This definition does not include horror movies or horror based theater plays because the theaters in which they are experienced feature many different genres over time.

However, films, film technology, and many elements of theater are incorporated into modern haunted attractions. Further, dark rides, such as Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, are considered haunted attractions because of the overall theme, not because of any particular use of technology or level of intensity. There are, of course, grey areas to these definitions that I will explore later. But for now, this should provide a basic concept of a haunted attraction for our discussion.

What Do We Do?
Much of my work has been, first, as a performer then as an advisor to performers in haunts. We are often referred to as haunt actors, but I find that label a tad misleading. We certainly do act in our work as haunters, but it’s a peculiar form of acting that incorporates facets of several types of entertainment finally brought together into a unique type of performance.

We haunters create a form of entertainment that is similar to theater, movies, stand-up comedy, and performance art. Like theater, we create artificial characters that communicate their basic natures through costume, makeup, spoken words, embodied actions and constructed environments. We utilize technology and special effects that have been developed for theater and for Hollywood films. We interact with patrons on an individual basis each night like a stand-up comedian who finds source material in the audience, but who also must defend against hecklers. Lastly, we create immersive fantasy worlds in which to perform, complete with sound tracks, odors, props, lighting and pathways for guests. These environments are more akin to site-specific artworks than to 3-walled sets found on theater stages.

We may or may not be required to support an overall narrative. We may or may not say the same lines each night we perform (assuming that our character has lines). We may not even be performing as the same character each night. Lastly, we risk bodily harm each night from the environments in which we perform, but mainly from the guests who may be so caught up in our performance or in their own inebriation that they find it acceptable to physically attack us in ways that only the worst stand-up comedian has ever suffered.

In Closing
So you see that being a haunter is, at the most basic, a unique type of performing in a strange medium of entertainment. This is an adequate introduction to my series of short articles. I hope that I have whetted your intellectual appetite for further discussion of my peculiar field of study. I will return soon with more commentary on working in the haunt industry.

For now I remain truly,

Bertram Bertram

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For He's A Jolly Good Kaiju...

...which nobody can deny!

That's right, it was on this very day that the first Godzilla was released in Japan. So what better way to celebrate the first Godzilla movie than by watching Godzilla movies? Thankfully, Crackle has a bunch of streaming Godzilla films available online and they're all legit.

If you want more streaming tokusatsu fun (albeit not Godzilla or Toho-related), head on over to Hulu to watch episodes of Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot and Ultraman Towards The Future (known as Ultraman Great in Japan). But parents should keep in mind that level of violence might be an issue in Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot and that a character swears in the 5th episode of Ultraman Towards The Future.

Finally, here's a cool Godzilla blog that you should check out.

Happy Birthday Godzilla!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day of the Dead

It's el Dia de los Muertos! Seeing as how I explained the holiday last year, let's skip straight to the fun stuff!

Have you ever read about the delicious-sounding Mexican pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and wanted to have a taste? Well, you're in luck, because I found a two page recipe for it in John Lithgow's (yes, that John Lithgow) Boredom Blasters: Halloween Edition. Although it's not quite the traditional Mexican sugar skull, Skull-A-Day does have a recipe for sugar skull cookies.

But there's more to the Day of the Dead than just food, there's also the beautiful folk art, also known as "La Calavera Catrina" (The Elegant Skull). Both Senora Muertos and Ethan Cranke have some incredible stuff inspired by the holiday that I highly recommend checking out.

Speaking of checking stuff out, here's a picture of a Santa Muerte figure in front of a fortune teller's parlor in Mexico's Chinatown. Ain't multiculturalism grand?

Feliz el Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, Thor Style

Over the last two countdowns, I've been closing things out with a music-themed Youtube video that ties into Halloween in some way. I didn't originally intend to do it each year and I have no clue how long I'll keep it up. All I do know is that this video was the perfect closer to the 2010 countdown:



To provide a little background on the video, the uploader has a Halloween tradition where he dresses up as a musician who has influenced him and plays a ukulele cover of one of their songs. In 2006, he chose to dress as Jon Mikl Thor.

But his dressing up for Halloween isn't the only reason I chose this video. After all, Thor has been discussed here before due to his work in films like
Zombie Nightmare and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare and his live shows often feature him changing into a variety of cool Halloween masks over the course of the show. Also, many of Thor's music videos (as seen in the 2005 An-THOR-logy DVD) involve him battling alien invaders and other evil forces. Although he's not what you'd call a "horror rocker," he has done his fair share of songs about vampires, ghosts, beast women and the like.

I suggest reading his official biography page or Wikipedia entry for the full details on his career, but here's a brief summary: Jon Mikl Thor was originally a bodybuilder, eventually becoming the only Canadian ever to claim both the titles of "Mr. Canada" and "Mr. USA" in the 70's. But the music bug bit Thor, and he formed a band. Although initially using names like "Mikl Body Rock" and "Thor and the Imps," the name eventually became simply "Thor." In between bouts of guitar playing, the singing strongman would perform feats of strength, like inflating hot water bottles (much harder than it sounds) and bending metal bars held between his teeth! Although the band drifted apart in the late 80's as Thor branched out into more behind the scenes work and a few movie roles, Thor returned with a vengeance in the late 90's and has been rocking to this day.

I've often said that Thor straddles the line between awesome and cheesy, and I love his music for it. Sure, the lyrics in songs like "Thunderhawk" can get pretty goofy at times, but the backing music is pretty damn good and others songs like "Intercessor," "We Live to Rock," "Thunder on the Tundra" and "Keep the Dogs Away" will rock your face off. You might smirk sometimes, but you will rock out. Stuff like Dragonforce's "Through the Fire and the Flames" and Hotshot's "Always in My Heart," make me laugh hysterically and aren't terribly played, but I would never think for a second of buying one of their CDs. But that's not the case with Thor.

I fully believe that this mix of serious and silly is fully intentional, too. I mean, do you really think he'd allow a cover like this on one of his albums if he was dead serious about his work? The plug for his VM Sports clothing line is a great touch.

In addition to the above linked most recent release, his 1985 album Only the Strong has been re-released. If you look at his output (especially the stuff mentioned here at the local), you'll see he one hell of an imagination. Hopefully, this will all mean more Thor in future.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

From all of us here at Gravediggers Local 16, we wish you a safe and happy Halloween.

A bit early, but why not?

Thought the American Thanksgiving is next month, I would like to take today to thank each and every one of the readers we've had in the past year. GdL16 keeps growing and we're still not sure how this little experiment is going to turn out. Everyone's continual support here, on the twitter feed and over at Facebook is truly appreciated.

Thanks go out to every single shop on Etsy that allowed GdL16 to run a Tuesday uEtsy. They'll return in November but thank you for helping us grow the site by having some spooky content every Tuesday. It also allows the Front Office to tell more about the GdL16 world.

Many, many thanks go to each and ever artist that has let us review their spooky, tiki and plain awesome bit of work here on the site. It's been incredible how warm a reception we've received to offer our humble opinions and insights on another person's art.

And personally, I want to thank Weird Jon, The Abominable N. Oremac, Atomic Mystery Monster and the Front Office. I am lucky to write for this site but I'm even luckier to have these guys writing, offering fun and hilarious reads.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Go out and get some candy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big Scream TV: The Boo Tube

'Haunted Pepper's Ghost Illusions' just didn't have the right ring to it...
As noted in my last review of a video decor DVD, although the concept (and commercially available) existed in the age of VHS, it wasn't until DVD technology entered the picture that Halloween video decor really took off. One of the biggest and most influential titles to take advantage of the technology was the Big Scream TV series by Lightform Productions.

The concept behind the series is simple: a looping series of spooky talking heads that seem to float in nothingness that can easily be done at home. The DVD-R starts with a quick credits screen that notes the following performers: Bill Lae, Mike Ziemkowski, Tim Peyton and Teresa Shea. We then go to a graveyard-themed menu with looped scary music and wind effects. Three tombstones give us the following choices: "Here Lies the Untame," "Here Lies the Tame," and "Here Lies Scary Tips and Illusions."

Choosing the "untame" option starts a fourteen minute and thirty-three second long video of numerous spooky faces. The faces, realized using a combination of makeup and computer generated effects, pop up onscreen for a few seconds to either growl, laugh menacingly or make some comments before vanishing. The transitions are very well done are aren't just simple fade ins/outs. For example, the mouth monster shown on the cover is spat out and gobbled up by a giant disembodied mouth and demons appear and disappear in explosions of flame. The CGI effects also add extra touches to the fiendish faces. Frankenstein's monster shoots sparks from his electrodes, a three-eyed monster wiggles its ears and shoots steam from his nose and lots of other neat little touches that I won't spoil. Although there is some pretty creepy stuff here, it should be noted that several monsters ham it up for their performances and tell corny jokes. Also, despite the "Untame" name that implies use for teenagers and adults, several monsters makes references to children and candy, for reasons that will become clear in a bit. In a nice touch, the track loops automatically and each face has its own chapter stop (for a total of thirty).

Selecting the "Tame" plays most of the same material from the "Untame" loop. In fact, the only difference is that the demons, rotting corpse, mouth monster and exposed brain guy scenes have been removed, making the running time only seven minutes and 38 seconds before it automatically loops. It also cuts the chapter stops down to fourteen! Don't be fooled, though. There's still some material that will scare kids. Although I'm sure some of the jokes (especially the mummy that injures itself) will help them cope.

Selecting the "Tips" option will play a four minute video about the basic set-up, how to use the DVD in displays and decorating suggestions. There are a lot of great tips here, like how to adjust brightness and contrast to reduce light from TV (in order to hide the fact that a screen is being used). There's also an explanation of using the DVD to create an amazing Pepper's Ghost effect, which is clearly explained in simple terms and is actually very easy to set up using Plexiglass and household items. In a nice turn of events, the thinnest and cheapest type of Plexiglass is actually the type that works best for the effect! But even if you aren't able to do that effect, you can still play it on a TV with decorations around it (I recommend putting a frame around the screen) or put it in a darkened window. If you have to go that route, might I suggest putting in a dark room that people can't enter, thanks to the open doorway being blocked off? You can use stacked boxes, fake nailed-up boards or warning tape to both keep people from getting closer and to add to the effect.

Despite being a DVD-R, Big Scream TV: The Boo Tube has an excellent transfer. Sadly, there is no submenu for the individual chapter stops or loops for individual characters. Although somewhat understandable since this 2004 DVD was the first release in line, it would have been a welcome feature. It is possible, however, to program your DVD player to do that (or to make your own custom mix of characters). That might be the best course of action for those using it in a haunted house. The mad scientist segment alone would be a perfect introductory video to explain the rules of a mad scientist-themed haunted attraction. Depending on your tastes as to how the characters look and act, as some might not like the dialogue directly referencing Halloween if the haunt runs throughout October, then this might be the best option. Those using this on Halloween without a specific theme for their house should be easily satisfied, and use of the Pepper's Ghost effect will almost guarantee that their house will be the talk of the neighborhood. That said, I wish the loops were longer in length. I know that Trick or Treaters probably won't mind, seeing as how they'll only see a few of the faces as they visit, but I can imagine that this could get old after awhile at a party. Having this on a factory-pressed DVD would have been nice, as those tend to be more durable than recordable media. In any case, I certainly know what will be making an appearance in one of my future Halloween displays...

The success of The Boo Tube led to two more installments in the series, Funny Bones and Crystal Ball. Lightform Productions has also gone on to release a how-to DVD called Xtreme Haunted Home Make-Over, along with more traditional video decor products like Halloween Scarols and Terror Eyes. I strongly suspect that the success of these titles is why several cheap video decor DVDs started flooding the market in the following years.

Special thanks to Lightform Productions for the review copy!

Burn: Out and Up.

I need to find an official 'Gravediggers Local 16 Halloween Countdown Trophy' and mail it to Weird Jon for this is the third consecutive year in a row that he's maintained a straight countdown OR lasted longer than I have. The man is a machine.

I wouldn't say I burn out easily but that the part of my mind that is reserved for Halloween is hardwired in a way that it can't really stand repetition for long. I like spooky but I like spooky that's different. This is a problem because spooky things (movies, books, music) usually, to me, end up sounding/being derivative, bland and somewhat dull.

So. A few days ago, I come across The Order of the Fly's 'Rot':



I was generally excited because here is a band that had a song under two minutes. Ecstatic! Holy cow, here's something new. A death punk band keeping it brief and heavy. Sort of different. The singer's voice wasn't trying to emulate Glenn Danzig, Peter Murphy or Elvis. Seemed something new.

Of course, the under two minute song was not the norm. Which, I can now see, makes sense. The Order of the Fly has two singers and two keyboards (keyboard + keytar) so it's kind of hard to have a discography made up of solely two to three minute songs without half your band getting bored.

They're still a good band. If you want to find a band that infuses punk, metal and new wave into something spooky, The Order of the Fly is there for you.

They're not the only instances. Here's Blitzkid.



Blitzkid has been around for years and I have kind of overlooked them, not out of any real reason. Similarly, I catch the above video and thing 'what have I been ignoring all these years?' A two minute song that's catchy, angry and fast? Well, let's see what they have.

Similar results. Disappointment.

See, Blitzkid has some talented musicians, much like Order of the Fly. Hardcore punk, the basis of the two minute fast song, wasn't started by any text-book-talented musicians. Yeah, Minor Threat was great and so was Bad Brains. And 'Milo Goes to College' is a great album, but they kept it short, fast and sweet more because that was the attention span and anger of the time.

Cue twenty-five years later, and you got the devilspawn of hardcore and they actually have some chops. Blitzkid, yeah. They can put out an album of two minute speed deathpunk on it but after that's done, they're going to be bored. Listening to their other songs, it was clear that they have brains as well as talent, much like Order of the Fly. These are bands that think, and kind of want to be entertained playing the music as they entertain you.

So I continue on my days, looking for the mixture of Minutemen and Misfits. I'll add 'Nosferatu' and 'Rot' to a playlist and rock out for as long as I can before burning out and burning up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Michael Hedstrom

Michael Hedstrom

Official Site

Midnight Circus, Hedstorm Productions 1999
Clive Manor, Hedstorm Productions 2001
Demagogue, Hedstorm Productions 2007

The haunted attraction/Halloween community is just as prone to fads and crazes as everyone else. Asylums, pirates and rednecks are only a few of the theme ideas (be it for a room or the entire haunt) that took the community by storm, both professional and home haunters. Sometimes it's due to the success of a particular movie that sparks it (as was the case with the pirate and wizard crazes), but it's hard to pin down what sparks the others. My personal theory is that the internet's ability to share prop tutorials and theme ideas allows ideas to spread much faster than they could in the old days. So if one person's setup is popular enough, then numerous people will set out to do their own version.

In the late 90's, clowns were the big thing in haunt setups. The only problem was, there wasn't any spooky circus music available. Countless numbers of people would post at haunt forums asking for where they could find such music, only to be told there really wasn't any and they'd have to either snag a copy of the out-of-print Killer Klowns From Outer Space soundtrack or play scary sound effects over regular circus music. Thankfully, one home haunter took it upon himself to fill the void: Michael Hedstrom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Hollywood Haunts

Hollywood Haunts

Official Site

Monster Movie Haunts!, Introsound 2008

AAAAIIIIEEEE!  ELECTRO-MUMMY!
Those who browse through Halloween CDs each year may have noticed a mysterious newcomer to the field: Introsound. Initially debuting with the "Dr.Goodsound's" line consisting of Twisted Circus of Horror Sounds, Creep Show and Halloween Haunt-O-Tron, Introsound's newest line is Hollywood Haunts. Said line consists of albums designed to provide spooky dance music for parties (like the Halloween Chiller Dance Party! CD) and spooky music and sound effects, like the subject of today's review. Why the name "Hollywood Haunts?" That's because the company was started by Gary Gelfand, who has worked as both a sound editor and sound effects editor on numerous movies. Although the 2008 release Monster Movie Haunts! credits Jonathan Cooper and Ryan Teixeira with the composing duties, the reference to that work also being done by Introsound leads to believe that Mr. Gelfand also played a role in this.

Ghoul Squad

Ghoul Squad on MySpace and Facebook


Ain't gonna front - I don't know anything about this band except 1) They're from Massachusetts 2) They've been in this game longer than most of the other death rock punk bands these days 3) they might be broken up and 4) the music is incredible. 

Last March, they said a 7-song E.P. is coming out. Hopefully, we can drum up enough interest for them to reprint 'The Witch Grows Up' and 'Dark Ride' so I can purchase copies. Or maybe they can throw their stuff up on Amazon mp3 or iTunes. Either way, don't go away, Ghoul Squad.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Dronolan's Tower

Dronolan's Tower

Official Site

Journeys in Darkness Vol. 1: Those Who Dwell Beneath, Forever Young Music 2008

I'm still waiting to hear the coin hit the bottom...
Although initially surprised by the idea of CDs designed for use while playing tabletop RPGs, I must admit that it's not a bad idea. Remember, the whole point of a role playing game is to immerse yourself in another world and what better way to do that than through music? That's why music and sound effects are so important in haunted attractions!

I first became aware of the concept from a friend, who owned an "Introduction to Dungeons and Dragons"-type set that came with a CD. Apparently, it contained both music, sound effects and characters talking and my friend mainly used it to laugh at the goofy voices. Having never heard of any other such CDs since then, I assumed it was a one-off failed experiment. So imagine my surprise when I learned that the Midnight Syndicate released an official CD for use with Dungeons and Dragons in 2003! As it turns out, enough RPG fans were buying their CDs for use in gaming sessions to attract the Syndicate's attention. This led to the band setting up booths at gaming conventions, where they got in touch with the company that owns Dungeons and Dragons and, well, you know the rest. Interestingly enough, neither this nor the first CD I mentioned where the first musical projects associated with role playing games, as shown at the following Wikipedia notations.

But they aren't the only ones producing such CDs. Research reveals that soundtrack CDs are available for both the Cybernet RPG and the German edition of Little Fears. Spaceship Zero also inspired a CD, but it does not seem intended for use while gaming. The same band behind that release, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, also produced a compilation CD for use with the d20 version of Call of Cthulhu.

But what about music designed for fantasy adventures using any gaming system? That's where Dronolan's Tower comes in. Founded in 2006 by David Allen Young in Studio City, California, the motto of Dronolan's Tower is "Music By Gamers For Gamers." With the help of a choir and Hollywood studio orchestra, Dronolan's Tower released Legends of Kitholan Vol. 1: Tales of the Long Forgotten in 2007 to immediate acclaim. The album netted three awards in that year's Radio Rivendell Fantasy Awards: "Best Fantasy Album," "Best Unsigned Artist," and "Best Song by an Unsigned Artist." This was followed up in 2008 with Journeys in Darkness Vol. 1: Those Who Dwell Beneath, which focuses on dungeon crawls and darker themes than the general fantasy-based Legends of Kitholan.

So if gamers can use spooky ambient music CDs for use in games, then why can't Halloween enthusiasts and haunters do the reverse?

The Meteors

Thirty years ago, three lads from the isle of England put together a band called The Meteors and from there, some say, the genre of psychobilly was born. Punk rock and rockabilly mixing together, with elements of horror mixed in with classic roots rock country.



Thirty years as a band is pretty impressive, even more so when you see the Meteor's prolific discography (including front-man and original member P. Paul Fenech solo and side projects.)



They're really catchy and much more high-energy than some of the other bands who utilize the upright bass. More electricity fueled speed. It's no wonder why Meteors fans have adopted the name 'the Wrecking Crew.' It's like this band is out to demolish everything in its path. Seems like they would be a fun show.



You can find them at the modest website of KingsOfPsychobilly.com to check out news and tour dates, though the only ones on the books so far are off in Germany (the Germans sure do love themselves some psychobilly and death rock.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Buzz Works

Buzz Works

Official Site

Zombie Influx, Monolith Graphics 2009

Look at his shoulders.  He is so doing the dance from

If you read yesterday's installment about Nox Arcana, you might remember how I teased about another new release of sorts from them. That's due to their involvement with Buzz Works...

Dissecting "Alien Autopsy"

While going through some videos made by the company responsible for that King Kong-inspired birthday party that I used in my last article, I noticed that they had done a video inspired by the infamous Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? TV special. Although the slightly gory video was done as a tongue-in-cheek promotion of their Alien Autopsy party package, the fact that they almost nailed the look of the alien inspired me to look up more on the matter in order to see if any other recreation-type deals had been done. What I found was far more interesting...

Had a wife. Couldn't feed her.


When I think to myself "I better go down to the basement. I have two that I need to take the knives to, today," I realize it's thoughts like those are why I wouldn't be a good schoolteacher, but a great one.


The two pumpkins I secured over a week ago had held up, thanks to a tip from the forums over at www.zombiepumpkins.com. Keeping them cool but not too cool is advised, so instead of having them deflate in my apartment, I stored them down in the basement.

As you can see, they're frightened. You would be too if some strange guy kept you underground for ten days. Thankfully, I was able to hypnotize the one on the left. The other one developed Stockholm Syndrome and was eager to go.


The history of the Jack O'Lantern is that some dude who could head not to heaven nor to hell decided to wander the earth with a hollowed out turnip as a lantern. Being that turnips are small and gross, I think we've made the right decision to upgrade. As you can see, I have the cheap four-dollar pumpkin kit that features two blades, a scoop, a pounce wheel and a 'drill.' The last two would break during use, having me sing out 'CHEEEAAAAP PLASTIC' in a mocking fashion.


I chose The Ghastly Ghoul because, as noted before on this site, I first got into surf (and spooky) music thanks to The Ghastly Ones. When Patchmaster General Ryan revealed the 2010 Ghastly Ghoul pattern, I knew I had to do it. The cat is done in favor of my own, Jack. He's a black cat so by nature, this holiday is for him but I don't think he grasps the concept of Halloween and, to be honest, who does anymore? I figure that I might as well throw out some props to him so maybe he won't wake me up in the middle of the night anymore.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Nox Arcana

Nox Arcana

Official Site

Blackthorn Asylum, Monolith Graphics 2009

You'd have to be crazy not to get this.

For years, I had thought the Midnight Syndicate was the only group out there doing spooky ambient albums based around a single theme. So as you can imagine, I was pretty blown away with I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry for Nox Arcana. Elated by the idea of even more cool haunt music being out there, I immediately started researching Nox Arcana.

Formed in Cleveland, Ohio by Joseph Vargo, the name "Nox Arcana" is Latin for "mysteries of the night." Since 2003, the famed horror artist and his bandmate William Piotrowski have been cranking out albums devoted to everything from horror authors to ghost pirates.

Given that Mr. Vargo used to be a part of the Midnight Syndicate, it might be tempting for some to label Nox Arcana as a Midnight Syndicate clone. However, that is just not the case. If you go read my history of the band, you'll find that Vargo was huge part of the reason the Syndicate adopted that style (so Nox Arcana is merely doing more of the kind of music he's always been doing). Besides, Nox Arcana includes lots of extra bonuses with their albums, such as opening narration, bonus tracks and lengthy liner notes filled with details to help draw draw listeners further into the world the album's music has located. They're often filled with puzzles and injokes, too. How can you not love a group that would name a song after an obscurity like this?

The Trail of Terror

Photos by Jonathan Matthews, jon (at) krative.com.

Located in Wallingford, Connecticut, The Trail of Terror (www.TrailofTerror.com) celebrates its 16th year of operation in 2010. Thankfully, haunt expert Bertram Bertram invited me to come visit and partake of the Trail's spookiness.

This year celebrates 'Sweet 16,' marking the anniversary of the Central Valley Hospital massacre that saw the gruesome results of what happenes when you combine madness and teenage girls.

The story in itself is much more creepy than I can summarize here, so head to the website and explore.



Since its inception, the Trail of Terror has been a not-for-profit operation, donating the money it raises to both local and international charities. Having worked with the Red Cross in the past, the Trail currently raises money for the Wallingford Emergency Shelter. It also works with C.R.E.W., a student-based group that does community service projects as well as participates in Housing for the Homeless. Last year, the Trail of Terror gave $75,000 to the Wallingford Emergency Shelter and $12,000 to C.R.E.W.



Seventy-five THOUSAND dollars. That is unbelievable. Wrap your head around that number right now and think about it, because none of the participants are paid. They are all volunteers, doing the equivalent of part-time work and giving their weekends up to help operate this.

The Trail works with local high schools. While the management, area/scene supervisors are adults, most of the volunteers there are of that high school age, getting early work experience but also able to express their theatrical and spooky sides.

Each weekend in October (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) the Trail accepts visitors from around 7pm to 11p. People start to line up around 5:30, if not sooner, to avoid having to wait possibly three or four hours before they get in.



Once the haunts and monsters are all ready by showtime, the distinctive opening bars of 'Thriller' hit the air, causing the packed lines to shout in joy for the Trail of Terror is open!

You can find directions to the Trail here. There are two more days that they're open. Speed Passes have sold out so if you're going to go, show up early and bundle up.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Music to Haunt By: Midnight Syndicate

Midnight Syndicate

Official Site

The 13th Hour, Entity Productions 2005
The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates, Entity Productions 2008

If you hang out in forums devoted to Halloween and/or haunted attractions, then you've probably heard of the Midnight Syndicate. Their music is held in very high regard and always comes up in discussions over what makes for the best spooky soundtrack. Their music has appeared in TV shows, numerous movies and professional haunted attractions. But who are they?

Formed in Chardon, Ohio in 1995 by Edward Douglas, the original Midnight Syndicate was a very different animal than it is today. Although Edward Douglas composed the music and the trademark "soundtracks to movies that don't exist" theme was there, the 1997 debut album didn't only feature the scary instrumental music like their work does now. Instead, it also included music from the following genres: "rock, rock-a-billy, techno, rap, new age, humor-pop, jazz, and space [music]." As you can see from that link, they also used to have a much larger lineup. Things got a little more familiar for modern fans in 1998, when the lineup was cut down to Douglas, Gavin Goszka, and artist Joseph Vargo. Opting to do an album consisting solely of the music the Midnight Syndicate would become famous for: dark ambient music. The resulting Born of the Night (for which Vargo provided the name, cover art, vocals and creative direction) was a smash hit and forever cemented the Syndicate's style. Although he left the group in 2000 to work on a book (and eventually start his own band), Goszka and Douglas kept things going and have continued to release albums to this day.

PURPLE!

Rest Up

We're one week from Halloween.

Yeah, vampires, anime and the Groovie Ghoulies. Kind of a hodgepodge of medi-core but it's Sunday. 


Saturday, October 23, 2010

The 2010 Halloween Contest Winners!

It was a pretty good first contest, here at Gravediggers Local 16. Before we go any further, we want to extend our gratitude to all of those who entered. A contest without entries is the saddest pumpkin on the block. You took time out of your day to craft together some effort - could have taken an hour or a minute - it was still time that you gave to this little website. Thank You.

We have received word back from our celebrity judges, the Freakshow Family - Bernie, Loretta and daughter, Poinsettia. We've tallied up the scores and are ready to present the winners of the 2010 Halloween Contest here at Gravediggers Local 16. 

First off:

THE LIMERICK CONTEST

We received a wide range of limericks, offering our judges the chance to puzzle at the clever wordplay offered by you, our readers. It came down to Mike's entry that won the Grand Prize - a copy of Halloween Hootenanny on CD, a Bath O'Lantern organic vegan soap from BubbleGenius, a membership to ZombiePumpkins.com and, in addition, he will receive a pumpkin themed metal Luminary that Weird Jon has donated from his wild traverses across this haunted globe.

Mike
The Halloween party was rocking,
The zombies in top hats were shocking,
The trouble all came,
When a man with no brain,
Got caught sniffing somebody's stocking.

The runner up prize goes to Ellen Hudson, who vividly captured one of Weird Jon's best kept secrets - his lifelike animal calls. How she knew, we'll have to leave to private eyes and mystic mediums. But her clairvoyance and witty writing will earn her a copy of Halloween Hootenanny on CD. 

Ellen Hudson
The Gravedigger’s Local was in for a scare.
Weird Jon would arrive dressed as a bear.
He’d let out a roar,
Making guests run for the door.
Leaving the gravediggers alone in their lair.

Congratulations to the winners of the Limerick Contest! Not for nothing, everyone who submitted demonstrated a clever grip on rhyme, and we would like to share all the entries with you! 

Ronni Burke
At Gdl16 his favourite time is Halloween,
With Spooks & Ghouls & Vampires too,
And the odd witch wtih witches brew,
So at Gdls Party on Halloween Nite,
Jump out of the shadows and give Gdl16 and his Followers a fright!!!!!!!

There was a young fella called Bela,
Who was a scarey young fella,
With capes and bats and blood you see
Only vampyres like him,
Scare the crap outa me!!!!!

There was a man called Vlad,
Whose life was very,very sad,
With heads on spikes,
Twas nothing he liked,
Biting necks he declared, I might like that.

(Roni actually sent in four limericks, but since the contest stated three (3) limericks maximum, we only counted the first three in the contest. Not to diminish his limerick ability, here is the fourth, which is a humdinger if ever there was one!) 
Two gents called Burke and Hare.

Robbin graves was a job theyd share,
Into the graveyard theyd creep,
And dig down deep,
A fresh corpse theyd bring to the air.


Johnny Saturn

It's Hallowe'en and our party's been drinking
So much that now we're all stinking
We've crashed Gravedigger's Local
where the owners are vocal
About wanting to know what we're thinking.

I'm creeped out by Weird Jon and Strange Jason
Calling out to some lady they're chasin'
It doesn't get too much better
When they finally get her
For the result's what you might call "debasin'"

Talking to Weird Jon for a minute
About the contest and how I will win it
But I have a strong hunch
After tasting the punch
That someone's slipped arsenic in it!

Mike
The once was a creature from hades,
Who had quite a thing for the ladies,
At the Halloween do,
He picked one or two,
To give birth to his hell spawny babies

The party was ever so booming,
But the shadow of death it was looming,
It came in through the door,
Threw up on the floor,
And all of the guests went a zooming.

Jason Darrick
Weird Jon had a coffin full of cash.
To buy music to make sure the party was a smash.
He cleaned out the store
Bought spooky records galore
But the hit of the night was the Monster Mash.

Strange Jason had a wonderful affinity
That had party goers howling with glee
His costume was tied
His makeup was applied
And he walked the local's halls handing out candy.

Marina Monstro
All dark and spooky on Halloween night
The party raged on with fiendish delight
As the moon rose high, there came a knock on the door
Zombies looking for brains, could this party supply anymore?
Every ran and hide from these undead creatures

The zombies moaned and reached for their heads
Spooky Jason threw what he could, zombie heads spilling out red
The nerve of those zombies, trying the ruin the party
We'll have to use their guts and make something arty!

Jim Phillips
Pale faces looked on with distain,
at the lad looking smug & quite vain.
Though he thought "I'm the highlight,
A buff vampire from Twilight!"
He was looked on as something to drain.

Ellen Hudson
On Halloween night someone spiked the punch.
Atomic Mystery Monster lost his lunch.
No one had a clue,
Just what to do.
Drink up the punch, was my first hunch.

Surely the party would be great,
Even Strange Jason got a date.
Dressed as a cat,
She looked like a rat,
But Jason was sure he found his mate.

THE ART CONTEST

It was a close contest here. With a narrower field of entrants, it came down to a hair - one of Bernie's - in deciding who would walk away with the grand prize.

But it was Ellen Hudson, whose uncanny ability to capture the Atomic Mystery Monster in art form - something photographers have failed to do for decades - won her the Grand Prize of Scarecrow brand custom fitting vampire fangs, the high end Blood Gel to go with the new fangs, Perfect Creature on DVD and Heart On anatomical heart-shaped vegan soap from Bubble Genius.


As for the Runner Up in the Art Contest, when we said it was close, it was. In fact, all three other entrants, Cheryl Dmetruk, Mike Roberts and Miss Wendy Thirteen will all receive a copy of Perfect Creature on DVD because the contest was that close. Bernie, Loretta and Poinsettia all had their favorites in the other pictures and instead of causing a family feud that might render our favorite freakshow family asunder, it just made sense to reward all entrants on their great submissions!

Cheryl Dmetruk! 

Mike Roberts! 

Miss Wendy Thirteen!

And with that, the Gravediggers Local 16 2010 Halloween Contest comes to a close. With one week left until the big night, we hope that all of you have a blast getting ready for a great holiday. Thank you again to each and everyone of you who entered. Thanks to the Freakshow family for helping out with judging this year's contest. And thanks to you, dear readers, patrons and union members. We wouldn't be here without you.