Recipe Corner – May 2018

It’s never too early to start collecting quick, easy and delicious Halloween dinner and party appetizer ideas.  The one I found over at High Heels and Grills is perfection.

Now, they’re called Meatball Mummies, but I can’t help thinking of the Invisible Man when I see these.

Meatball-Mummies
Meatball Mummies from High Heels & Grills

Ingredients

  • 1 tube crescent roll sheet
  • 14 oz. frozen meatballs
  • 4 oz. can sliced olives drained
  • Marinara sauce

You can find the whole recipe with instructions over at:
https://www.highheelsandgrills.com/meatball-mummies-recipe/

Once you have the recipe, don’t get too wrapped up in the details. I bet you could even swap meatball flavors, add mozzarella cheese or go gluten-free.

12 Great Ghost Flicks

Best thing about ghost movies is you can watch them any time of the year. Ghosts and haunts will never go out of style and you do get extra points for watching in the dark, alone. Below is a list of my faves.  Let me know some of your favorite ghost thrillers are in the comment section.

12. The Haunting

Based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this is the original haunted house movie that set the bar for all others. Directed by Robert Wise of West Side Story and Sound of Music fame, Mr. Wise made good use of camera tricks and special effect devices to achieve the claustrophobic feel and distort images.  Truthfully, this should be number one, but it’s always on all the top ten lists of favorite horror films. Just trying to mix it up today.

the haunting

11. Lady in White

Lukas Haas plays a bullied new kid in school who accidentally witnesses a ghostly murder of a little girl, who haunts him until he helps her solve the mystery of who killed her.  This classic ghost story is based on a real urban ghost myth of the Lady in White in Rochester New York. Perfect for Halloween time.

lady in white

  1. The Orphanage

Guillermo del Toro helped produce this creepy tale about ghost children haunting a woman after her own child disappears in her old childhood home. Lights out, subtitles on, trust me you’ll be hiding under the blanket.

orphanage

  1. Paranormal Activity

Take one yuppie couple, one yuppie California track home, one yuppie camcorder, and mix in a bad spirit, it’s scary goodness for those who don’t watch Ghost Hunters on a weekly basis. There are a few genuine freak-you-out moments that will stay with you long after the movie is over.

paranormal activity

  1. The Devil’s Backbone

Another brilliant Spanish language thriller from Guillermo del Toro. This isn’t necessarily a horror story so much as it is a drama with horror elements. Set after the Spanish Civil War, the film has lush cinematography, great acting and a unique story about greed, lust and revenge, topped off with things that go bump in the night.

devils backbone

  1. Stir of Echoes

Even the undead can be connected to Kevin Bacon, who plays a man haunted by the ghost of a young woman after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law. Instead of asking to be re-hypnotized to forget everything, like normal people, this guy decides to go in search of the mystery that is plaguing his mind. Careful what you ask for. This story will scare the pants off anyone, but mostly homeowners.

stir of echoes

  1. The Others

Nicole Kidman hides her photo-sensitive kids in the dark while waiting for her husband to return home from WWII off the coast of England. Strange noises and occurrences are only the beginning of their troubles. This is a classic ghost story with brilliant cinematography and a unique twist. Ms. Kidman even garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.

the others

  1. Poltergeist

Not as scary as the others on the list, this blockbuster directed by Tobe Hopper and produced by Steven Spielberg, lays down the classic laws of all house hauntings and manages to send a strong socio-political message as well. Don’t f*** with Native American burial grounds. The tragic untimely deaths of several of film’s young stars in years following its release, only cemented Poltergeist’s spooky legacy.

poltergeist

  1. The Sixth Sense

This movie put M. Night Shyamalan and his trademark plot twists on the map. By now, everyone knows the twist of this one and that’s a shame, because it’s a damn fine ghost story if you overlook the gimmicks and allow yourself to be invested in the relationship between the characters. Seeing dead people has never not been scary.

sixth sense

  1. Session 9

Remember all the movies David Caruso made after leaving his brilliant-on-fire TV career? Neither do we. He did make one hidden gem, however, and this is it. Abandoned mental institutions are not places to screw around with. They’re filled with otherworldly rage, sadness, violence and pain. If you decide to take job pulling out the asbestos in one, make sure you’re in good mental health, or you never know what else you might pull out.

session 9

  1. Ju-on a.k.a. The Grudge

This might be my favorite on the list. Ju-on or ‘curse grudge’ is basically the belief that when a person dies with a deep and powerful rage inside them, a curse is born. The curse doesn’t stay in one place, instead it spreads by killing anyone who encounters it. That’s right, a never-ending ghost story. You can watch either Ju-on, the Japanese version, which is told out of chronological order and might be slightly confusing, or the American version, The Grudge, with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar. Both are equally terrifying because filmmakers brilliantly decided to use the same actors to play the vengeful spirits in both films. There are sequels and such, but only the first movie lives up to the hype.

Ju-on

  1. The Shining

What evil weird things happen in creepy hotels, stay in creepy hotels—for like, an eternity. This is perhaps the greatest movie to show that there’s a fine line between the supernatural and insanity. It’s very, very thin line. Luckily, if your kid has a psychic gift, a.k.a., the Shining, you’ll know when to bail on room service before you get checked out for good. From the lush cinematography to its wildly metaphorically indulgent story, Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece is my pick for the scariest ghost story ever presented on celluloid. Good to watch with friends or all by yourself, if you dare. It’s a MUST watch in the dark.

the shining

Notable Mentions:
Blair Witch Project – Before there was paranormal activity in the suburbs, there was paranormal activity in the woods.
Audrey Rose – Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins and reincarnated children. Creepy.
The Changeling – George C. Scott and an old spooky haunted house. Nuff said.
The Entity – Barbara Hershey can’t escape this sadistic ghost, based on real events.
Trick ‘r Treat – Trick r’ treat demon reminds us of the real spirit of Halloween, which includes of course, a lesson in not messing with the dead.
The Eye – The reason against reusing other people’s perfectly nice organs. The original Japanese version is much better than the American version.
1408 – Another haunted hotel, this time with fancy special effects and the always dependable John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson.
Ghostbusters – Not scary, but totally funny and it does have lotsa ghosts. A real fun time.
Thirteen Ghosts – If you like ghosts who cut victims in half, this is the movie for you.

 

 

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How (much to spend) on Vintage Halloween Collectibles

Hello future collectors! Apologies, it’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been busy making more content for readers. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that shopping for vintage Halloween collectibles was a cool activity. So, I decided to expand a bit on the topic of collecting.

WHO
I believe collectors fall into three types of categories:

  1. Professional collectors: Collecting, trading, buying and selling is their business. They do it for a living. They might own a physical shop or an online business. They know everything there is to know about vintage Halloween, including company details, origin dates and prices. You can talk to them online on their web page forums, or at collector shows, or find them in social media groups. The professionals love to talk vintage Halloween and share their knowledge.
  2. Serious collectors: This group is also quite knowledgeable and passionate about vintage Halloween, but they don’t typically make a career out of it. Usually, these types of collectors are not open to trading or selling, and their collections tend to be plentiful, rare and quite expensive.
  3. Casual collectors: If you don’t have a cabinet full of vintage Halloween wares, this is probably the category you fall into, for now. Casual collectors may or may not be as passionate or knowledgeable, but they’re always learning and on the prowl for cool vintage stuff.
vintage collectibles
Vintage Halloween Collectibles

WHAT
What to buy is purely subjective. Generally, the rarer or the older the item and the better the shape, the higher the value. Some people work hard to build a collection of specific types of items, like blow molds, lanterns, Kokomold plastic candy holders, or die cut cutouts. Others buy whatever they can get their hands on.

In the past few years, Retro Halloween, or replicas of old Halloween decorations, have become all the rage with retailers. Owning retro items is totally cool, so long as you understand you are not buying authentic vintage collectibles. Watch out for online sellers who label retro items as vintage items. Also, keep in mind that even reputable shops could sell knock-offs, not necessarily because they’re trying to scam buyers, but sometimes even shop owners cannot tell the difference between authentic vintage and replicas. I once got suckered over a mislabeled black cat Paper Mache lantern that I bought on a whim. When shopping for Paper Mache lanterns, arguably the most sought after and yet most difficult to determine authenticity, look for a ring pressed in at the bottom. Smooth bottoms or crackled paint are sure ringers for a replica.

 

 

Determining the difference between authentic vintage, replicas or retro and knock-offs can be difficult. Over time, labels and logos disappear. Information gets lost if there was any to begin with. Don’t get discouraged. The Halloween gods are generous sometimes. Information on embossed die cut cutout decorations, Halloween party books, or blow molds is easily accessible online nowadays. Two of the biggest and most popular producers of Halloween party decorations and paper collectibles are Beistle Company and Dennison Manufacturing Company, both whom typically marked their products with the company name or logo. Dennison merged with Avery years ago, but Beistle is still around and making replicas of their own merchandise. Empire, a popular maker of blow molds and pumpkin pails, almost always placed their imprint near the bottom or back of their products.

 

It’s important to do your research and ask questions before making purchases. Do not be afraid to sound stupid. Most sellers of authentic vintage Halloween collectibles know what they are talking about and are happy to answer your questions.

WHEN
There’s no need to wait until October. Off-season shopping might yield lower prices, whereas, in-season, you may find more vintage wares but at higher prices. It’s not unusual for antique shops to put out merchandise according season, just like retailers. During off season, depending on the condition or rarity of the item, you may have better luck convincing store owners to accept lower offers. During the peak Halloween season though, don’t be surprised if they don’t budge.

vintage halloween snowman
Kokomold Halloween Snowman Plastic Candy Container

WHERE
Vintage Halloween collectibles are usually found in antique stores, thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, collector shows and specialty stores. Vintage Halloween postcards often can be found at collector or paper shows. You can also shop online for all vintage collectibles, at places like eBay, VintageHalloween.com, Etsy, and specialty stores. Typically, retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Hallmark, or Spirit Halloween stores, do not carry vintage collectibles, only replicas.

2015 walmart replica halloween blow mold
2015 Walmart Replica Halloween Blow Molds

WHY
Most people get into collecting because they love vintage Halloween, but some are hoping to make money. Either way, remember do your research and ask lots of questions. There are collectible and price guide books available in book stores or online. Many of these books are from the 90s but are still great resources. One of the most current guides published is Mark Ledenbach’s Vintage Halloween Collectibles – Third Edition from 2014.  It’s a fabulous book, full of detailed information and over 700 color photos. You can find out more about his book and wealth of information on vintage Halloween collectibles at his blog here: http://halloweencollector.com/ 

VHC 3ed Ledenbach
Mark Ledenbach’s Vintage Halloween Collectibles – Third Edition, 2014

HOW (much to spend)
If you make a cool find in antique or thrift store somewhere, and not sure if it’s worth the price tag, Google it! Check eBay for a price comparison. Never let yourself feel pressured into buying anything. If you’re on a budget, stick to it. If you’re uncomfortable with the price, go with your gut. Missed opportunities do happen. It’s the worst feeling in the world,  but so is being in over your head or in mountains of debt. Best advice I’ve ever received, only pay what you fell the item is worth.

You may have noticed I didn’t talk much about Halloween post cards. That’s because it’s a special category and deserves its own blog post. 🙂

Happy hunting, collectors!

Beistle black cat die cut cutout 1933
1933 Beistle Black Cat  Die Cut Cutout