Hot Ghoul Summer

Happy first day of summer! While Covid-19 is here to stay, the pandemic is winding down. Things are opening up and wearing masks is optional, but please stay safe and be smart. This summer, nobody has a boo-kini body. We can all breathe a little sigh of relief over the fact that nobody cares if we didn’t get in shape. We’re all just doing the best we can and don’t let anyone make you feel bad, especially yourself. It’s gonna be a hot ghoul summer! Rather than groan about the insufferable heat and humidity, let’s exert our energies in more positive ways until September. Here’s a few good ideas to try and events to go to this summer:

SPOOKTACULAR SUMMERWEEN WEEKEND
In what I hope will be the first of many, Spooky Weekend brings together an online shopping event for Halloween lovers, featuring over 100 vendors. This weekend only, Halloween enthusiasts will have access to exclusive sales, discounts, and deals, along with chances to win amazing giveaway items. It’s never too early to start planning Halloween or get the jump on your holiday shopping. The best part, getting the chance to support independent owned businesses and artists across the globe.
http://www.spookyweekend.co.uk/

THROW A GOTH POOL PARTY
Why should Hollywood celebrities and pop stars have all the fun? Go buy some black pool floats and summer gear from Blackcraft Cult and take your chubby self to the beach, or the lake, or the pool. Now, relax. We deserve it!

SUMMER READING
Looking for a nice, safe, entertaining place with air conditioning? Then, head on over to your local library! Libraries are full of ghosts. The ghosts of thousands of books that have been sitting untouched on the shelves for over a year, maybe longer. There might even be some real ghosts, test your side vision. Beside that, you can learn new things, like tarot or costume-making, read spine-tingling tales of horror or mystery, and immerse yourself in fantastical worlds. Libraries are great places to find new passions. As long as you’re quiet and respectful of others, you too can haunt the library all day long.

Find your local library here: https://www.worldcat.org/libraries

Ghostbusters, 1984 ©Sony Pictures

SUMMER PUMPKINS
Watermelons are the second cousins to pumpkins. Whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, is debatable, nonetheless, you can hollow them out like a gourd and carve a jack-o’-lantern face on the rind all the same. Have fun by using your Halloween cookie cutters to make spooky shapes of delicious, juicy melon. Decorate the outside and practice your carving skills all summer long. By October, you’ll be a pro!

TO COSPLAY OR NOT TO COSPLAY
Hot ghoul summer dictates that we be ourselves. There’s no judgement or bullying allowed. Walk or run away from all monsters. Have fun. Do your thing. Wear spandex and a cape. Don platform shoes. Dye your hair blue.

©BoredPanda

San Diego Comic-Con will be held as online event only this July 23-25, 2021, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still dress up. If anyone says anything rude, just tell ’em you’re trying on your Halloween costume. They can’t fault you for being an excellent planner, right? Go ahead, wear the costume.

SCREAMING ROOM
The pandemic dampened the spirits of Midsummer Scream creators for a second summer, but restless souls do not go quietly into the night, thus, the Screaming Room Film Festival 2021 was born. Curated and presented by HorrorBuzz.com, this unique short film festival will feature two years worth of the submissions of the best horror and Halloween shorts, originally planned for Midsummer Scream conventions 2020 and 2021, respectivefully. This spooktacular event will take place the weekend of July 10-11 at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, CA.

The Midsummer Scream Screaming Room Film Festival 2021 presented by HorrorBuzz.com

AWAKEN THE SPIRITS
Proving there is indeed no rest for the wicked, the Midsummer Scream creators found themselves a second location to summon all the other spooky spirits into a grand mini celebration and preview of what’s to come this Halloween season 2021.

Awaken the Spirits will held in the Pasadena Convention Center this August 14-15, 2021. It’ll be a smaller venue and missing a few elements from Midsummer Scream, namely the Hall of Shadows and the Black Cat Lounge, but the Halloween vibe will be strong enough to rattle the bones and bring the dead back to life.

The Midsummer Scream presents Awaken the Spirits!

Book Gift Ideas for Halloween and Horror Fans

I’ve compiled a list of great holiday horror and Halloween books that your favorite Halloween and horror fan will love this Creepmas. I live in Los Angeles area so some of my suggestions reflect my current location, but free feel to check local bookstores in your area. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Horror:

We Bleed Red and Green by Jeff C. Carter

Hot off the heels of his October anthology We Bleed Orange & Black: 31 Funsize Tales for Halloween, Jeff C. Carter is back with 12 new tales of Christmas terror.

Secret Santa by Andrew Shaffer

There’s a lot to unwrap in this fun, festive horror set in the big, bad, cut-throat publishing world of the 1980s.

Nos4A2 by Joe Hill

Time-travel, immortal vampires and Christmas make for one terrifying tale for the holidays. When you’re done reading, check out season one of the TV adapation from AMC Channel on Amazon Prime.

Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas by Michael Dougherty (Graphic Novel)

From the creator of Trick ‘r Treat, Michael Dougherty shares his Krampus vision in a new graphic novel form, filled with stunning artwork.

The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch

Come check out the Yuletide tales of witches, elves and ghosts, Perfect winter reading. Keep an eye out for the new Audiobook coming on December 22, 2020.

Krampus’s Great Big Book of Yuletide Monsters by Amanda Woomer

Come explore the spooky world of Krampus and other holiday monsters in this latest book from author and paranormal investigator, Amanda Woomer.

Halloween Books:

Pumpkins and Party Themes: 50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life By Roxanne Rhoads

I know 2020 put a damper on our Halloween celebrations this year, which only means we should come back hard in 2021. This book is full of ideas and DIY designs to help get us ready for the perfect party next year!

Creating Your Vintage Halloween: The folklore, traditions, and some crafty makes by Marion Paull

What a fantastic way to learn all about Halloween traditions. This beautiful, fully-colored little book is a dream for vintage Halloween collectors and Halloween lovers.

The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo

From author and illustrator Rhode Montijo, follow along with the adventures of the mysterious masked defender of Halloween. Word around town is there’s an animated show in the works.

Other Horror Related Books:

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

This LA Times Bestseller, which topped all the 2019 ‘Best Of’ lists, uncovers the mysterious life of former Disney animator, Milicent Patrick, the only woman in history to create a Hollywood classic movie monster.

Graven Images: The Best of Horror, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction Film Art from the Collection of Ronald V. Borst (Hardcover), Introduction by Stephen King

I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful, bright, fully-color collection of vintage Hollywood movie posters. It’s a great read for film lovers and filled with the history behind some of Hollywood’s best classic horror and sci-fi movies.

Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory, Stephen Sommers (Foreword)

Come explore the magnificent legacy of Universal Studio’s Monsters, learn all about the characters, their mythologies and get behind-the scenes insights into Hollywood’s golden age of horror.

The Spirit Guide: America’s Haunted Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries by Amanda Woomer

I predict once this pandemic is over, travel will come roaring back to life and 2021 will be the perfect time for a paranormal adventure. This awesome read breaks down what to expect when you visit some of America’s most haunted bars, breweries, wineries and more!

Classic Books:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot) by Agatha Christie

Wicked Art Wednesdays

Australian illustrator Selina Fenech is one of the world’s most popular fantasy artists. She creates beautiful magical worlds filled with fairies, mermaids, goddesses, unicorns and other enchanted creatures. Her art has been featured in books and magazines and is available on licensed products worldwide, ranging from clothing, coloring books, dolls, figurines, jewelry,  tarot decks and dozens of other items. She is also a published author of YA fantasy novels titled: Memory’s Wake TrilogyCompanionGuide_3D.jpgArtist: Selina Fenech
Website: https://selinafenech.com/
Where to purchase goods: https://selinafenech.com/shop/
Social Media: https://twitter.com/selinafenech  https://www.instagram.com/selinafenech/

 

Selina also offers free coloring pages to her fans on her website: https://selinafenech.com/gallery/free-stuff-for-fans/

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Rhode Montijo

This October, we celebrate Rhode Montijo, children’s book author & illustrator and creator of curious oddities from Southern California.

United_by_Rhode_Montijo
©RhodeMontijo

Artist: Rhode Montijo
Company/Studio: The Fantasmical World of Rhode Montijo
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book conventions, special events, etc.
Website:  http://www.rhodemontijo.com/
Social Media:  https://www.instagram.com/rhodemontijo/

Why we love them:  Rhode Montijo specializes in that vintage Halloween look, where his works truly capture the whimsical innocence of Halloween. When browsing through prints, be prepared for a flood of childhood memories to engulf you and remind you why you fell in love with Halloween in the first place.

 

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Diana Levin

This October, we’ll be sharing some great Halloween and horror art from awesome artists.  We’re kicking the season off with a fantastic indie artist out of Los Angeles:

DianaLevin Artworks sm
©DianaLevin

Artist: Diana Levin
Company/Studio: Ghoulish Bunny Studios
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book and horror conventions, special events, etc.
Website: https://www.ghoulishbunnystudios.com/
Social Media: https://twitter.com/ghoulishbunny

Why we love them:  Creepy cute art blends the best of two worlds. Diana Levin’s colorful and whimsical style mixed with the dark Gothic tones is a feast for the eyes. In addition to drawing some delightfully creepy versions of pop culture and fabled characters, her own original character drawings are exquisite. Diana’s creative art inspires the imagination, which might explain how partner Shawn Givens comes up with all those spooky stories for their book series, The Ghoulish Grimoire.

 

 

Top 10 Back to School Horror Films

It’s that time again. Time for all the kiddos to go back to school. Hollywood has long picked on teens to sell their worst nightmares to the delight of horror fans all over the world. Just when you thought there was nothing scarier than teenage angst and rampant acne, here’s ten Back to School thrillers that will make you glad that you’ve already graduated.

Prom Night (1980)

Chance of being killed is absolutely a good reason to skip the prom.

Four high schoolers, who made a pact in grade school never to reveal their involvement in the accidental death of a friend, are stalked by a masked killer on Prom Night, the anniversary of the death.

prom night

Unless you’re a diehard Idris Elba fan (which I am), I suggest watching original over the 2008 version. With Halloween and The Fog under her belt, star Jamie Lee Curtis secured the title of Scream Queen with Prom Night. The movie’s disco soundtrack became more popular with fans than the movie itself, but a copyright lawsuit killed its chances of US release. Original soundtrack was only released in Japan, making it a rarity among collectors but bootlegs are easily found these days.

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

No one sleeps through the night in this neighborhood.

Four teenagers are stalked through their dreams by the vengeful spirit of a janitor, and alleged child murderer, who was killed by the teen’s parents, years ago.

nightmare on elm st

This film gave birth to one of horror’s most iconic killers, Freddy Krueger, played by the charismatic Robert Englund, and superstar Johnny Depp, in his film debut; and, it also saved New Line Cinema from bankruptcy, when the film made a killing at the box office. The screech of Krueger’s clawed glove is second most hair-raising sound in horror, the first being, the infamous chainsaw.

Continue reading “Top 10 Back to School Horror Films”

Midsummer Scream 2018 Recap

Halloween lovers and horror fans (aka screamers) gathered over the weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center to kick-off the unofficial start of the 2018 Halloween season, as Midsummer Scream returned for its third year. This spectacular convention celebrates Halloween, haunts and horror. Here’s a recap of convention highlights:

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Hall of Shadows

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The Hall of Shadows was split this year between haunters, vendors, filmmakers and special effects on one side, and the interactive scare zone on the other, where SoCal’s top haunters previewed their upcoming spooky haunts for fall.

The Hall main stage featured everything from zombie burlesque to the classical quartet Nostalgic Nebula. The flexible and talented Decayed Brigade, SoCal Sliders, returned with a brand new show. My personal favorites were Murder House Production’s Trick ‘r Treat maze and The Haunt Store’s display of those awesome AtmosFX projections.

Six Flag Unleashed showed off their glow-in-the-dark world, with the most talented folks on stilts I’ve ever seen.

Warner Bros. Studio Tours showed off costumes and props from It and The Nun, in promotion of the upcoming Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights, starting in October.

The Show Floor

This year, there was an abundance of creepy and unique creations from some exceptionally talented artists and creators, where screamers could find everything and anything relating to Halloween and horror.

Screamers over 21 were able to get a blue wristband and purchase adult beverages at bar stations around the convention hall, or one of two cash bar attractions hosted by Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place and Slashback Video, courtesy of Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.

SoCal Valley Haunters & Classrooms

Thinking of creating your own decorations for Halloween but don’t know where to start? Well, Midsummer Scream had you covered. On the Show Floor, SoCal Valley Haunters taught screamers how to create their own tombstones, carve foam pumpkins, make lanterns and village displays, with the help of Dept. 56. Down the hall, classes on Halloween floral arrangements, budget decorating, yard displays and more, inspired a whole new generation of Halloween designers.

Theater Macabre, Black Cat Lounge, Screaming Room and Second Stage

Screamers flocked to the upstairs second floor, where they could fall in love with rescue kittens in the Black Cat Lounge, or attend haunt shows and theater presentations from Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Urban Death, and many others. Inside the Screaming room, screamers could watch horror shorts and listen to spooky stories. A nice respite for weary feet.

The Grand Ballroom

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The Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2100 people, offered sneak peek presentations on this fall’s upcoming horror theme park and haunted attractions, and two very special panels:

On Saturday, screamers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie, where they were treated to interview clips of cast of the movie and with amusing, funny and witty anecdotes from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson.

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On Sunday, screamers packed the room again for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus and hear behind-the-scene stories. After an incredible live performance from The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus, the panel featured actress Thora Birch, who played Dani, producer David Kirschner, screenwriter Mick Garris, composer John Debney, production designer William Sandell and make-up and special effects artist Tony Gardner.

Elvira, Mistress of Midsummer Scream

mss2 curtesy of NBC
Photo ©NBC

The fabulous Cassandra Peterson spent two days signing autographs at her booth, where Elvira’s Boo-tique and Sweet Hollywood were selling candy, clothing, novelty items and other amazing Elvira wares. I swear this woman has done a deal with devil or something because she does not age! This past year, Cassandra retired Elvira from doing Knott’s Scary Farm and I heard she’s cutting back her schedule, possibly to work on an autobiography?  In any event, it’s so great to see her at Midsummer Scream. I hope she returns next year!

That pretty much wraps up my experience. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff because there’s just so much to do and see.

Midsummer Scream is now my favorite  horror convention. I have a feeling this show is only going to grow and get better. Highly recommended for Halloween and horror fans.

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Some of the goodies I bought at the show.

 

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, Rosbro or Kokomold plastic candy holders, or Beistle embossed 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
Rosbro 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