Monday, May 16, 2011

An Interview with The House of Marrow!

Hey Frightners!!!

It's been a long while since I posted an interview in the "Dead Time Stories Page" but we are back with a great interview with Marrow from House of Marrow.

You may have seen his video on the Home Haunters Video Awards DVD, on Hauntforum or Youtube or read his BLOG (which is pretty great if I might say so!) He has a great style and look to his props which is a bit reminiscent of Pumpkinrots which Marrow talks about in the interview. 

He is a young haunter with his best years still ahead of him but he is already doing our community and better yet Halloween proud. Please enjoy my interview with Marrow below!

Also don't forget to check out the Dead Time Stories Page to the right for our past interview with Mr. Macabre. Next up will be Joiseygal of Bloodcrest Manor so stay tuned!

Stay Frightful!


Late last year I stumbled upon some great photos of a haunt named The House of Marrow which reminded me a lot of Pumpkinrots. The props, scenery and setting where all beautifully displayed and SCREAMED of Halloween. The most interesting thing about this to me was two fold. First, it is done in a small storefront window in Wellington New Zealand. Second it is done by a teenage haunter that goes by the name of Marrow.

When I found out Marrow was only 13 years old I was blown away! His artistry rivals some of the best in our community. I seriously thought The House of Marrow Haunt was being done by a haunter with years of experience but I was proven wrong. It goes to show you that no matter what the age, the passion for haunting and love of Halloween can inspire anyone to make such wonderful works of art.

Marrow has truly taken his passion for haunting and has ran with it. Though he works in such small spaces he brings those spaces to life using his unique ability to set the scene with great lighting and beautifully hand crafted props.

I want to thank Marrow for taking the time to answers the following questions and share his "Dead Time Stories!"

1) Tell us a little about yourself. Where did the interest in Halloween and Haunting come from?

I was first exposed to Halloween when I was three years old, and I immediately latched onto it. I began 
drawing countless vampires, ghosts and monsters. I had a particular obsession with Ghost Trains and Haunted Attractions, and fell in love with a book called ‘Come for a Ride on theGhost Train’. You can read about it on my blog I read heaps of Goosebumps books and loved movies like Scooby Doo on Zombie  Island, or The Haunted Mansion. Every time I visited the video store I would run over to the horror section, sit on the floor and just stare at the covers. The obsession grew, and when I was five I stumbled upon I was fascinated by all the gory props, the animated electric chairs and the elaborate masks. And all for sale! I began printing off photos of costumes and props, then writing short horror stories about them. I still have all the stories in the attic, and I’ll post some on my blog sometime. Eventually, all the scary-bloody stuff became too much and I got sent to a psychologist. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It was really intense for about nine months, I was washing my hands till they bled and terrified of germs and poisonous things (e.g. Foxglove plants). I overcame it when I was 7 and was taken off all the macabre stuff, (secretly still really interested in it). But around the age of ten or eleven, I started watching horror movies, and getting back into my spooky groove. One day in 2009, I was looking through Magic Trick videos and stumbled upon ‘How to make a Halloween Corpse’. I set to work and corpsed an old plastic skull with a t-shirt soaked in brown paint. I didn’t want to go for the whole PVC body,(which the video instructed), so I browsed the internet for better corpse how-to. Almost immediately, I came across SpookyBlue’s awesome Groundbreaker tutorial. I made a rolled newspaper body and corpsed it with cloth. I called him Archibald.

Addicted, I made a scarecrow, a groundbreaker, a paper mache pumpkin and a Spookyflicker light. I found my way to Pumpkinrot and Stolloween, and the rest is history.
2) What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people you are only 13 years old? It must be a good feeling to know so many people appreciate the artistry of your work at such a young age?
I get a lot of people on HauntForum really amazed by it. It’s really cool to get such nice and encouraging feedback from y’all, thank you to everyone. However, people here in Wellington always say the exact same thing. “You should be at Weta Workshop!”(Peter Jackson’s Effects Studio). Every time. It’s really nice of them, but I’m sooo sick of it. Can’t blame them, I live very near to the place, so it’s all anyone ever goes on about when they see my props.

 3) You’re from New Zealand, what's Halloween like there? Are there any other haunters there, halloween conventions, etc?
Ick.  Halloween doesn’t exist. Important to note, Halloween is in the spring here, so there’s none of that Halloween magic stuff - leaves falling, smoky autumn air, darkness descending faster than normal. It’s a shame.
There is ONE other haunt in the neighbourhood (and probably the only other one in the country). You can see photos here. They got on the NATIONAL NEWS. ON TV. I guess I’m kinda jealous. Not of the haunt, hell no, not jealous of the haunt. See, they got 1138 trick or treaters a few years ago. We got two.
4) What or who inspires you the most when creating new props?
I have to say I am an absolute PumpkinRot fanatic. I check the blog far too many times a day. His site is my main source of inspiration. Other blogs, artists, movies and even music have also inspired plenty of dark ideas. I find that I get a big creative burst when I’m on holiday. Something about the change of scenery.
I keep a ‘Haunt Book’ with me, and when I get ideas I scrawl them down in it. No-one else has any idea what I’m going on about in the book. It’s written in my own language. You tell me what ‘Sticky Igor Steampunk’ means.

5) Your haunt is very unique since it is designed in a small store front window. Can you elaborate on the process of designing a haunt in such a small space and what is the story behind landing the spot that you display your haunt in currently?
I was walking home from school one day in late August, and I saw a big display window with a sign on it saying ‘Window for Lease – Display purposes only’ and a phone number. I had recently been feeling a little frustrated that my groundbreakers and witch had nowhere to go on Halloween - my front yard is tiny and completely filled up. It was 100% unsuitable for haunting. So the idea suddenly popped into my mind that I could set up here, in this window.
 It was perfect. Two large display windows with a path up the middle. And it was on a street with a lot of foot traffic, next to a busy intersection. Cars would stop at the red light, and children peering out the car windows would be in for a surprise. I tried multiple times to get hold of the window owners, but never got any replies. Until one October afternoon, five days till All Hallows Eve, they phoned us back. They had really taken their time to reply. They said no.
 I began frantically looking for other display windows, and found that the answer was right in front of me (almost). We know a lovely lady called Jeanie, she runs a florists very close to home. She has a little workshop on a corner, with a juicy big window. She kindly let me use the window, free of charge. And she had no idea what the display was going to look like.
So I had four days to put together a haunt. I made some crosses and a cauldron stand, and I ventured up into the woods, collecting up bags and bags of pine needles and branches. I bought some coloured lights, and my dad made a sort of string, with lightbulb holders attached to it. We actually started setting up the haunt on October 30th. We ran wire across the room, then draped black cloth over it to form the backdrop, set up the props and lights, added tree limbs and littered the ground with pine needles. It was all pretty frantic on those few days, be we got it done. Thanks Dad, I could never have done it without you.

6) What are some of your favourite materials to work with when creating a new prop? Do you have any tips or tricks you can share with other haunters?
I’m a newspaper and mache person, so the props are mostly newspaper and masking tape. I like playing around with using different techniques for corpsing with tissues, and experimenting with veins and tendons. Making guts is the best part, just tissues soaked in white glue and water, rolled up and arranged carefully. I also like to gloss the entrails for the freshly spilt look.
 I’ll let you all in on a trick I came up with for deep, black eye sockets. Once I’ve finished making a mache skull, (SpookyBlue style) I cut out the eye sockets. I then tape toilet paper rolls in where the sockets were. This gives a much deeper eye socket, so when it’s painted black you can’t see any end to it. They look like deep, black pits of evil. This technique was used on my Wind Ghost, Santa and Wallbreaker Ghost.
7) The back story you created for your haunt is great. A lot of haunts these days are starting to work back stories into their haunts. What was the process of coming up with yours? Do you see it as story that will continually evolve?
I think I knew when I started making the haunt some basic backstory about it. It was a graveyard in the middle of a forest, without proper tombstones. Maybe the people buried were murderers, and whoever buried them had no respect for them. Maybe they were victims of the Black Plague, or something like that - only a small part of a mass burial. Or maybe the haunt was set centuries ago, before tombstones existed, or in a very primitive village, away from civilisation. Nonetheless, there is a witch in the graveyard. She has brought along her cauldron and is now casting spells to bring the dead back to life. The spells work.
I’ve always been into writing, so it seemed fitting to make a backstory. Plus I really wanted to say “putrid black entrails spilling from beneath their exposed ribs,”. I just sat down at the computer one day and blurted out the whole story. It had been sort of floating around in my mind and I needed to get it down on paper (or pixels). There will definitely be a backstory for my next haunt, and all my future haunts. Plus the 2011 will be VERY different, so the backstory will be different too.

8) What advice would you give to a novice haunter or even anyone of the same age who thinks that maybe they can't do the same things you do because they are afraid to take that first step or they think they are too young to start haunting?
I’ve taken some fencing lessons before, and I saw parents bringing in their 4 year old kids, teaching them to fence. They started out early - the same goes for haunting.  You can’t start too young. Eric, who runs the amazing HAUNTED OVERLOAD attraction starting haunting when he was 12. Since then, his haunt has grew to a professional level, and is known as one of the best haunts in America.
A message to all haunters starting out, no matter what age – jump into it. I recommend that you sign up to HauntForum or HalloweenForum (I did this far too late). You can get LOTS of feedback and help on the forums, the people are really nice and supportive. Start up a blog too, so other haunters have an easier way to see photos of your props and your haunt. And don’t start with really hard props, or really expensive ones. I’m not really qualified to say which are the best props for beginners, ask someone on the forums.

9) If you had an unlimited budget to build the prop of your dreams for your haunt what would it be?
Does a ghost train count as a prop? J
One of my life-long dreams would be to own or make a ghost train. I’d give it one of those old-school front facades, with the spray painted monsters. You step into the carts (which have big evil skulls on the front of them) and the cart takes into a big door made to look like a monsters mouth. You enter the mouth of the beast and darkness smothers you. I won’t give you a whole run-through of the ride, but there is a haunted forest, with monster trees that grab at you, there is a long dark tunnel, with skeletons popping out of the walls, there is a graveyard, a pumpkin patch and cornfield, a vortex tunnel, a swamp, a mad laboratory - with a Frankenstein of course. And I would hand-make all the props. Top-of-the-line animatronic inside/rotting Marrow-mache outside. Plenty of strobe lights and cheesy evil laughter – ghost train essentials. There would be all sorts of monsters – bats, spiders, zombies, skeletons, vampires, the mummy, pop-open coffins and a few signature haunting props too.
Sorry for blathering. I’m sure you’ll hear more about my dream Ghost Train on my blog sometime. And for the record, I have never been on a Ghost Train J.

10) What's in store for the future of The House Of Marrow?
*places hands over crystal ball* In the near future, I see... A ghost, with a gown as black as night, and a skeletal face full of malice and menace. Reanimated corpses spewing forth from the earth. And soon, so soon, I see a trail. There is great evil at the end of this trail, and YOU, alone, must walk it.
Out of gypsy mode now. Yep, there is a new wind ghost. I finished it a few days ago, but I won’t post pictures for a month, at least. I am trying to keep the blog balanced, the juicy posts regularly spaced. The blog was bone dry between my Santa Claus and my Wallbreaker, it was all just filler, and I don’t want that happening again. I’m starting some groundbreakers too, they’re easy and keep me in my comfort zone (Santa and my Wallbreaker were very difficult). And as for that whole trail thing, you’ll find out soon enough.
I’m thinking of setting up an Etsy Shop sometime, and selling things like Wind Ghosts, and Trophy Heads. Things that won’t cost a fortune to get shipped to America. I’d also like to set up a proper website, but I don’t have the right skills, or enough material to fill it - maybe in a couple of years. I’d like to start making more abstracty props. Things a little out of the ordinary, a little surreal. I’ll be exploring that sort of abstract stuff with the haunt this year.
Thats wraps up our interview with Marrow from The House of Marrow! We want to thank Marrow again for taking the time to answer our ten questions. We hope you all enjoyed as much as we did. Stay Scary!


The Frog Queen said...

Thank you so much for this interview....I feel stupid for not thinking of this idea. That is why I love you are more brilliant than me!! This is why I hang out on the blogs...someday I will be this cool!

GREAT interview....from a great haunter....truly inspiring. Thanks to both of you.


BloodcrestManor said...

Awesome interview!

Grimlock Manor said...

I am so glad you both liked this interview. Marrow did a great job and he is so talented!

GhoulishCop said...

I love how he says he waited too long to sign up for the forums! As he's 13 or so, I wonder what that means for me who didn't find them until my mid-40's! Very good interview.

The October boy said...

Nice work, thanks for taking the time to share with the rest of us.

Marrow said...

Thanks so much everyone! :)

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