Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chivalry is Undead Series by Kira Shaimanova.

Hi Frightners!

Hope you guys like this post because I know I do! I've come to find that while writing this blog I am always keeping my eye out for cool and interesting content to post about other than my own haunt related stories but sometime it is hard to keep everything in the haunt/halloween/horror genre but I do find those gems sometimes like today!

Today I was reading the latest issue of CMYK MAG and they are presenting 100 works from some of today's most talented and emerging artists and to my delight I came across Kira Shaimanova. I was so impressed with her series "Chivarly is Undead" that I had to write about it on the blog.

Sculpted out of Clay, her "undead" characters are both disturbing and sweet at the same time. Each photo shows a zombie interacting with a human or animal. The scenes are fun and well set up and I think it is just amazing how much detail and life she brings to each of these little vignettes.

If you love these pictures and want to learn more about the Kira's process behind making her characters and shooting the photos than please mosey on over to her BLOG. She explains everything and seeing the creative process of any artist is always a real treat.

Enjoy the pics, get inspired and stay Frighful Frightners!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Works of Thomas Ott

At least once a week I head up the block to my favorite comic shop to take a peek at what's out and what's new. There are a few main stream comics that I love to follow but I do like to take a peek at the Indie section and I am always looking at the art books to find inspiration.

Today I found the awesome works of Thomas Ott and I instantly became a fan. Thomas Ott is from Zurich Germany and he draws wordless scratchboard comics which in my opinion are pretty awesome. He most always uses silent cinema as a motif and his plot twists will delight fans of classic horror and will haunt you long after you've put the book down.

I invite you to go to his WEBSITE and take a look at his art (it's in German so you will need to use bablefish.) Also he has a FACEBOOK fan page that you can stroll on over to and see more of his work.

If your interested in buying any of his books you can at FANTAGRAPHICS I suggest R.I.P Best of 1985-2004 which I have pictured below. It's one of my newest favorites!

You never know when you will find a good suspense/horror story that will get those gears in your mind turning but today I found a whole book of them by Thomas Ott. I hope you will check them out and if you do please let me know what you think. There is some good stuff in there and for all you Halloween and Haunt fanatics I am sure you will both enjoy these stories and find some inspiration in them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Grave Grabber Prop Build.

Hey Frightners!

Well yesterday I went to my NJ/PA Make and Take groups build for a one armed grave grabber. It was a great build and fun prop to make. It was my first prop using a motor and it was a great learning experience. These deer motors that we used for the props are great little motors. They are very durable, weather proofed and inexpensive which make them great for use in a number of props.

If you have a make and take group and are looking for a new build to do or even if you yourself are looking for a new prop to build I do suggest this one.  If you have all the material (listed below) tools and knowhow this could easily take you no more than 5 hours to build. I had a lot of help by some very handy and talented people but if you have some skill you can surely do one of these in less than half a day.

I will post a parts list below if your interested and I hope you enjoy the video. Once this guy is fully detailed I will do another video so you can see but for now this is what he looks like fully working in his bare bones!

Grave Grabber Parts List:
1 Piece of scrap 2” X 8 ” wood at least 12” long -Base
1 Piece of scrap 2” X 4 wood at least 7” long -Arm Slider
1 Piece of 3/16” X 3’ round Steel rod (Lowes or HD) -Skull support, Skull Prongs, Pivot, Stop.
1 piece of Aluminum Flat 1/8” X ¾” X 4” long (8’ Makes 23 pcs) -Linkage 
1 Piece of Aluminum Flat 1/8” X ½” X 16” long (4’ makes 3 pcs) -Grabber arm
1 Piece of ½” “CPVC” at least 12” long (10’ makes 10 pcs ) -Grabber arm
1 White Bic Pen -Arm Guides
1 Foam Skull (Group Buy if Necessary? Most of us have one already) -Scaryness
1 Section of Pipe insulation 1” X 12”-14” (6’ length makes 6 pcs) -Shoulder
1-Roll Duct Tape (Most of us have it already, (Have?-Share?) -Fingers/hand
1 5' section of Heavy ceiling wire -Fabric Guards
1 Pkg Cotton balls (Only need a few, Most of us have already, share?) -Hand texture
1 Small tub Latex BlackCat has some -Hand texture
1 Can Black spray Paint (1 can probably paint 10 Grabbers. Buy Share?) -Camouflage
1 paint for your hands (personal preference, White, Grey, black, red? -Finish touch

1 Burlap, Netting, or whatever you want to dress her in (Jeff said he has a TON of burlap) -Finish touch
15- #10 Washers @ 4 cents each -Various applications
1- 5/16” Washer @ 5 cents -Motor arm Linkage
4 Thumbtacks or short roofing nails ` - Fabric Attach
1 ¼” nut -Extra Spacer for Pivot arm height
Parts List Continued: 

1 Deer Motor From Kindy's -Motion =$10.00

1 Piece of scrap Finish grade wood about 1” X 2 “ X 3” long. -Skull Pivot -Free
1 piece of 1/2” square steel tubing X 7” -Pivot Linkage =30 Cents
4 – 1 5/8 “ Deck screws @ 5 cents each -Motor mount & Arm Guides = 30 cents
4 - 2 1/2” deck screw @ 6 cents -Head pivot & Guide Block = 24 cents
1- 12” piece of thin Picture Hanging wire Head Movement = 03 cents
1 Section of Thin Ceiling hanger wire 6’ long (Have or Buy and Share?) -Make Hand
1- 6” 1/8” Auto-vac tubing Retainers = 15 cents
4 – Fence Staples-Free from My stock Secure 3/16” rod to wood = 00 cents
3- # 10-32 X 1 ½” @ 5 cents Linkage and Arm attach = 15 cents
3- #10-32 Lock nuts @ 5 cents Linkage and arm attach = 15 cents
2- # 7 X ½” Hex screws (Black) @ 5 cents Motor Mount = 10 cents
1- Small dab of automotive grease Arm Slider Lube = Free
1- Few drops sewing machine oil Linkage lube = Free

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Grave Grabbing Time!

Hey Frightners!!

Well tomorrow I am headed to the NJ/PA Make and Take. We are working on a one armed grave grabber prop that uses a deer motor to move the arm and head of the prop. I am pretty excited to start building and getting into some props and this one is perfect to start off the season. This will be a nice addition to the Grimlock Manor Graveyard this year which I am looking to really revamp.

I am building thicker more durable tombstones this year because the past two years the weather has not been favorable for us NJ Haunters. This past year we had winds of 40-50mph which did a lot of damage to my cemetery so I need to pay extra attention to the props I make and ensure that they can withstand a nuclear explosion! AKA..Wind and rain.

I am going to take a lot of video of the build tomorrow and should have shots of my finish prop for everyone to see so be sure to check back in tomorrow night for all of that.

In other news.....

I bought two new albums the other day for this years haunt.

The first is by the ever popular (and rightfully so) Nox Arcana with their 2010 CD "Theater of Illusion." It's a great CD that I already listened to a few times. The music invites you to enter the realm of magic and dark fantasy with melodies ranging from haunting piano & harpsichord to music box chimes and dramatic orchestrations.  It's a total of 67 minutes long and I highly suggest it. To read more about it or to buy it check out Nox Arcanas page HERE.

The second CD is from In A World and it is titled "Hallows' Eve, The Horror Vol. 2" At a little over 30 minutes In A Worlds Hallows' Eve CD provides a great selection of music ranging from Seance themed music, Dark Carnival and various dark soundscapes. I am particularly fond of the Funhouse tracks which remind me of Danny Elfmans Beetlejuice Tracks but I hate to really make that exact comparison because Danny Elfman is just amazing! For more on In A Worlds CD offerings check their site HERE.

Overall, both are great CD's to add to your collection or even if there are a few specific tracks you need you can head on over to iTunes to purchase just the few you really like. Either way check them out!

Well it's time to round up my supplies for tomorrows build so keep it scary frightners!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great Stuff Foam Casting Failure!..Kinda...

So I think the video will say it all and I am sure there will be a few laughs here! I am really trying to "expand" (no pun intended) the use of Great Stuff foam insulation. We all use it for vines, guts, slime and even a skull cast here or there but I really want to try and perfect some sculpting techniques with it and I know that is going to be hard given the expanding qualities of great stuff, it's just tricky to work with as you can see in the video but I am dedicated to trying to break the mold of what we use it for currently and come up with some really cool stuff..some "Great Stuff" god I am a laugh riot huh!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Duct Tape Body Form

Hey Frightners!

Ok...I have to say this next video makes me laugh with it's techno music and all but every video I looked up on this subject I thought was funny. The video is on how to make your own duct tape body form and I think it's a good thing to learn how to do for us home haunters especially if your building your own characters for your haunt.

The process seems pretty simple though it is time consuming but hey...what isn't time consuming when building a quality prop for your home haunt right?!

Now it seems all you will need an old shirt, Duct Tape, some scissors and some Great Stuff but I have seen people even do papier mache over the form when it was done which is also a good idea and alternative if you do not want to use great stuff. I suppose you could just stuff the form with old shirts or paper as well. If you really want to go nuts go check out FX Supply which supplies and expanding foam mixture which is two parts. You can get 2 pints of this mixture for $20, 2 Quarts for $36 and 2 Gallons for $130. Remember this stuff REALLY expands when it is activated so I doubt you will need more than the 2 quarts to do a torso mold but do not take my word for it because I have not tried this just yet but I will do so this year so expect that video down the line.

If anyone happens to make a form in the near future please do share but until then I hope you enjoy this video and hopefully it will spark the creative fire to get you to make your own full body or half body character prop....these could be great for groundbreakers! Add some liquid latex and paint and Ta-Da!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NYC Library Tour

Hey Frightners!

Finally was able to upload my video of the NYC Library which I did a quick walkthrough of. I have been going there a lot these last two weeks to just do some haunt research and think in quite while I concept the haunt this year. This library is really an amazing place. It's the third largest public library in North America and is one of the largest most significant research library systems in the world. The cornerstone of the library was laid in 1902, but work progressed slowly and eventually costed $9 Million to complete the library. There are 75 miles of shelves and it took over a year to move and install the books. The library itself was opened to the public on May 23, 1911 under a ceremony presided over by President William Howard Taft.

It's not every day that I can take a trip out of the country to see some pretty amazing things but sometimes I forget that I work in one of the most amazing cities in the world which has some pretty amazing sites to see and luckily this one is right up the block from where I work. The romanesque architecture coupled with the amazing statuaries and beautiful wall and celling paintings that are intergrated into the structures are beautiful to look at and from a haunters perspective there is so much great reference that you can put to use into your own haunt. I can imagine in the right lighting with the right soundscape that the library could be a perfect haunt atmosphere!

If you live by or are ever taking a trip to New York I highly suggest adding the NYC Public Library to your list of landmarks to go se while in N.Y. They do offer tour and you can take pictures and video of the majority of the inside however the reading rooms and main halls are off limits to pictures though I was lucky to find a few online to share with you just so you can see the enormity of the entire space which again is quite amazing.

I hope you find some haunt inspiration in this video and these pictures below as I know I did and if your interested in learning the full history of the library check HERE or if you want to learn a little about the part the library took in the making of the original Ghostbusters Movie you can read about that HERE.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guillermo Del Toro To Reboot Disney's Haunted Mansion.

So the hot news seems to be that Guillermo Del Toror director of movies such as Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy just to name a few will be directing a new version of Disney's Haunted Mansion. The movie is supposed to revolve around the popular character known as the Hatbox Ghost and Del Toro promises that this version would be truly scary, unlike 2003's Eddie Murphy vehicle. Let's hope he's right!

For more on the story check HERE.

Alice, Madness Returns!

Hey all!

Video games these days are really starting to become more and more like playable movies with the addition of huge story lines, characters we can connect with and visual styles and worlds that are just exhilarating to look at and immerse yourself in.

I have always loved the Alice in Wonderland books and was a fan of Tim Burtons re-imagining of it for the movie and now we have the sequel to the first twisted game version of American McGees's Alice called "Alice in Madness."

In October os 2000 EA games released American McGees's Alice which was developed by Rogues Entertainment. The game featured a more cynical and macabre incarnation of Alice and it was one that I personally liked. The look of the characters and the environment was really creepy and I instantly (being a halloween and haunt fanatic) thought making a haunt that was a direct translation of the game would be so cool!

I have seen a few attempts at creating an Alice in wonderland style haunt and if I can find the videos of them I will follow up with another post but overall my point is even though this is a video game I think there is some great reference in it that can be translated into various scenes and settings into your haunt scenes.

The 2011 sequel "Alice in Madness" promises to be even better than the first game and the characters and world itself seems to be even creepier than the first so I highly suggest checking it out. To read more about the game check out EA's website for it HERE.

I think we are all looking for inspiration when building our haunts weather pro or home and I think it is always worth your while to keep an eye on the video game industry for inspiration. I mean we look to movies for inspiration but in today's gaming industry games have developed so much and there are so many more unique ideas to pull from now, cool character designs and visual designs that can easily translate into a haunt seen, prop or character that you create for your haunt. You don't have to be a gamer to find good haunt inspiration in a video game. Besides Alice in Madness which comes out this this June 14th I also suggest taking a peek at Bioshock, Deadspace & Silent Hill Homecoming for more haunt inspiration.

Always keep an open mind when your thinking of new designs for your haunt because you never know where you might find inspiration just like I did in video games. Check out the trailer of the first Alice game below and directly below that the trailer for the sequel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So Your Here for Me Lucky Charms Are ye?!

Happy St. Patty's Day All!

I am getting this post in a bit early since I was already drinking and thinking after a long days work! Doesn't our good friend Warwick Davis look like he is ready to break into an amazing Irish Jig?!

I wanted to do a St Patty's Day post and make it Haunt related somehow and this is all I was able to think of. Now I have never seen the movie Leprechaun but I am thinking maybe tonight or tomorrow I will give it a try. How can you beat a film about a leprechaun who goes on a killing spree? Why didn't they just pick up and punt the little bastard...I mean come on! Anywhoo!

A Happy St. Patty's Day to one and all!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Interactive Haunted House @ Transworld 2011

Hey all you frightners out there!

Quick update on Transworld. Mr Skeleton Demos was able to get a tour of the on sight interactive haunted house they created at Transworld. I think this was a great idea which allows you to see most of the vendors props from the show in action in an actual haunt setting so you really can tell how it could look in your own haunt. There was a lot of great stuff in the video. I personally like the Night Frights Ghost bust and their new ghost mirror which I wouldn't mind getting myself. I also liked the Pale Night Productions Boiler. So take a look for yourself and remember to check out Youtube for video from this years Transworld, there are already a ton posted featuring most of the vendors and there is some really great new stuff out on the market.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Transworld 2011 Videos.

Wow! Two posts in one day in a matter of hours that's nuts!!

Well I had to post this because two days ago I did a quick radio show called Fright Radio and I spoke about this season Halloween Conventions that just started with Transworld which is going on right now!

Already I have seen some videos posted on Youtube and I wanted to point out Mr Skeleton Demos who I think does a great job with his videos. Not only does he take videos of every vendor and what they are offering this year but he gets some good interviews with those vendors and has them explain what they have so I think it is very insightful.

Check out his videos at the link below, I am sure there will be more updates and videos as the weekend moves on.


The Tale of Three Brothers.

Good morning my Haunt friends!
I am sure everyone has seen the latest Harry Potter already but I just was thinking of the Tales of Three Brothers story from it the other night. I love the animation that they did of it in the film and I though the story was really cool. I loved how they portrayed death in the animation to be this whispy ethereal figure with long boney fingers, it was really cool. Overall it's just a great story and I loved how it works into the film which makes me think of how important a haunt backstory could be in determining the look and feel of your haunt. I know mine is developing and I think I may take the time to actually start writing the story of Griswald Grimlock and Grimlock Manor! In the mean time please feel free to read the Tale of Three Brothers below.

"There were once three brothers who were travelling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river, too deep to wade through, and too dangerous to swim across. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands, and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water. They were halfway across it, when they found their path blocked by a hooded figure, and Death spoke to them. He was angry that he had been cheated out of three new victims, for travellers usually drowned in the river. But Death was cunning. He pretended to congratulate the three brothers upon their magic, and said that each had earned a prize for being clever enough to evade him."
"So, the oldest brother, who was a combative man, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence. A wand that must always win battles for its owner. A wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death. So, Death had crossed to an Elder Tree on the banks of the river, fashioned a wand from a branch that had hung there, and gave it to the oldest brother."
"Then the second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death. So, Death picked up a stone from the riverbank and gave it to the second brother, and told him that the stone would have the power to bring back the dead."
"Finally, Death turned to the third brother. A humble man, he asked for something that would enable him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And so it was that Death reluctantly handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility." 
"In due course, the brothers separated, each for his own destination. The first brother travelled for a week or more, and, reaching a distant village, sought out a fellow wizard, with whom he had a quarrel. Naturally with the Elder Wand as his weapon, he could not fail to win the duel that followed. Leaving his enemy dead upon the floor, the oldest brother proceeded to an inn, where he boasted of the powerful wand which he had snatched from Death himself and of how it made him invincible. That very night, another wizard crept upon the oldest brother as he lay wine-sodden upon his bed. The thief took the wand, and, for good measure, slit the oldest brother's throat. And so, Death took the first brother for his own."
"Meanwhile, the second brother journeyed to his own home, where he lived alone. Here, he took out the stone which had the power to recall the dead, and turned it thrice in his hand. To his amazement and delight, the figure of the girl he had once hoped to marry, before her untimely death, appeared at once before him. Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as though by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there, and suffered. Finally, the second brother, driven mad by hopeless longing, killed himself, so as to truly join her. And so, Death took the second brother for his own."
"But though Death searched for the third brother for many years, he was never able to find him. It was only when he had attained a great age that the youngest brother finally took of the Cloak of Invisibility, and gave it to his son. And then, he greeted Death as an old friend, went with him gladly, and, as equals, they departed this life."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fright Radio!

Hey everyone!

Welcome to my first "test drive" of Fright Radio! What is Fright Radio? Well every day I take the train to and from work to the city (New York City to be exact.) My time on the train is the time I take to catch up on my favorite blogs, watch my favorite Vlogs and simply get up to speed with the latest haunt industry news weather it's in the professional realm or home haunt realm. I don't always have the time at night to write a blog or do a vlog but I have a short amount of time from the moment I get off the train to my ride home in my car so I decided just tonight to do a quick recording on my phone. I figured I would take that time to talk about anything that stuck out to me and maybe highlight a few things that I think everyone should check out because you never know what you may be missing while your doing your daily surf through the net.

Fright Radio is totally non scripted and off the cuff. I'll try to focus on at least one or two specific things a day if I can and hopefully you will enjoy my quick rant and raves about everything Halloween related. Now please enjoy the first ever Fright Radio!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Narrative of Victor Karloch

Hi all!

I have seen this video starting to make its way around the net on various sites and it's starting to get more and more attention and I think for good reason. I did a post awhile back about puppeteering and how I miss seeing TV and even movies using puppets in their films. I don't think its a lost art but with the emergence of CG animation it has just become easier to make an animated character these days for film and TV. I miss the days of watching full length movies like the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Neverending Story. I didn't think much of it then but now I appreciate it so much more knowing what went into making those films.

In this short film and live stage performance we see 3 stories about 15 minutes each which are all told using these unique character designed puppets of 30" tall. They are rod puppets used against rear-projected elements and full scale props.

The stories revolve around Victor Karloch who is an alchemist, scholar and ghost hunter. Victor battles the supernatural forces of the unknown throughout the original 15 minute stories. All in all it looks pretty cool and is gaining acclaim by many people in the industry such as Richard Taylor of the Weta Workshop and creator of Hellboy Mike Mignola.

I hope to at some point be able to see this myself but for now please enjoy the trailer and for more information check out the website THE SPIRIT CABINET for more details, production art and information about the creator Kevin Mcurk.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Home Haunter DVD Collection!

Hello all!

I have been meaning to post about this since last week but haven't had much time lately so here we go!

The Home Haunter DVD Collection has graciously been compiled by Chris and Jeff Davis of the Davis Graveyard and is ready for sale! Please check out their post about it HERE and CLICK HERE to purchase it if your interested. The set is $25 for five packed DVD's of some of the best home haunts around! Grimlock Manor included!

If your a home haunter or simply love Halloween than this set is for you. It's countless hours of some truly amazing haunts from all over and it is sure to be a great set to own either for the pure fun of watching it, for inspiration for your haunt or even for some of the tutorials that may be featured on it for some props you may want to build in the future.

For anyone who does not know who Chris and Jeff Davis are, they are the wonderfully talented couple who put on one of the most amazing home haunts around The Davis Graveyard. Their attention to detail has won them numerous awards within the home haunt community along with numerous amounts of press and televised coverage of their haunt. Their prop building skills and techniques using foam and monster mudd have been taught to hundreds of people who use the same techniques in their home haunts today. To learn more about Chris & Jeff and their helpful crew of minions please check out their website HERE

Also if you live in or around Loisville, Ky and would like to meet Chris and Jeff and learn many of their prop building techniques along with a chance to go home with a complete cemetery of your own then make your way on over to HAUNTCON one of the largest Haunted Attraction Tradeshows around. Chris, Jeff and their minions will be teaching various classes at Hauntcon. You can learn how to make one of their signature Davis Graveyard Tombstones, a stack of books with a skull & candle prop or you can go for the all day class where they will teach you how to make over six different types of props for your very own cemetery! For more information please check it out HERE.

The Davis Graveyard was one of the first haunts I came across when I started really getting into haunting and began searching other haunts on the web. They have been an inspiration to me and many, many  other home haunters out there and I am sure if your not a home haunter yet and you check out their site you will quickly get inspired to try and make one of their many props for yourself and will certainly get the itch to start your own home haunt this Halloween season.

Many, many thanks to Chris, Jeff and their crew for all their hard work and constant contributions to our haunt community, they continue to inspire and create that drive for all of us to make the best home haunts we can.