Recipe of the Month – February

Today we celebrate Women in Horror, with a tribute to a legendary queen of horror, Sigourney Weaver, star of enduring Alien franchise.

In Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien, Sigourney relished the chance to bring a smart, no-nonsense, powerful leader to movie audiences during a time when women yearned to see a strong female presence on the big screen.  Lt. Ellen Ripley proved to be way more than just the final girl, and in the 1986 sequel Aliens, Sigourney continued to portray Ripley, this time as a badass survivor and the voice of reason in this crazy new world.  In her final action-packed showdown with the queen mother of all Xenomorphs, Ripley emerged as one of the greatest female kickass heroes on film, period.

So, in honor of Queen of Sci-fi and of Horror, I found a recipe for Date and Marizpan Alien Xenomorph Eggs over at Feast In Thyme.

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Date & Marzipan Alien Xenomorph Eggs by Feast in Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 24 large Medjool dates
  • 1 (7 ounces) tube marzipan almond candy dough
  • 1 cup dark chocolate fudge (see below, or your favorite recipe)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Decorating Supplies: green sprinkles, matcha powder, cocao powder (optional)

For the full recipe and cooking instructions, please visit here: https://feastinthyme.com/alien-xenomorph-eggs/

For some insight on Sigourney’s thoughts on playing Ripley, check out this video:

Haiku of the Week

Copy of twinkling lights

twinkling lights
stranger in my house
not santa

Best Xmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers for Halloween Lovers, 2019

Halloween fans are dreaming of a dark and moody Christmas. Forget the goofy grandma sweaters and wicker baskets full of over-processed cheese and stale crackers, this year, slay the holidays with some frighteningly awesome gifts for your favorite Halloween lover or yourself!

THE STOCKING STUFFERS

Halloween miniatures, $2-$20

Help your Halloween fan get a jump on creating a miniature display for next season with these adorable little Halloween miniatures.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheLittleHedgerow?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=562375513&ga_search_query=halloween+miniatures&section_id=11989979

Halloween and horror pins, $5-20

Pins make the best stocking stuffers. Most are cheap but the collectibles can be more expensive.

https://lunarcryptco.com/search?type=product&q=pins

Vintage-style Halloween magnets, and stickers from Vintage Spooky Company, $5

Graphic designer Gary makes all his own original Halloween and monster art, inspired by vintage Halloween wares and other spooky stuff.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Vintagespookycompany

Batteries, $8-$40

Don’t laugh. Everyone needs batteries. Sure, you could go for AA or AAA, but I suggest those CR2032 batteries that go in tea lights and animatronics. Those little guys get costly. Believe me, they are so appreciated.

https://www.amazon.com/JOOBEF-Electronic-Cell-Button-Calculators/dp/B06VX7XDKJ/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=batteries+for+tea+lights&qid=1575660693&sr=8-5

LAST MINUTE BUYS FROM AMAZON

Llewellyns 2020 Magical Mystical Calendar featuring artwork by Lisa Parker, $15

Llewellyns make the best mystical, spiritual and witchy calendars, and they’ve once again teamed up with renowned fantasy artist Lisa Parker for 12 months of magical felines

https://www.amazon.com/Llewellyns-2020-Magical-Mystical-Calendar/dp/0738760056/ref=pd_sbs_14_1/136-9589722-3958451?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0738760056&pd_rd_r=22c842eb-d06b-497a-a1ef-ebb8f002945c&pd_rd_w=vq6An&pd_rd_wg=gcDFK&pf_rd_p=5873ae95-9063-4a23-9b7e-eafa738c2269&pf_rd_r=5Q1F0CPNNRM83FN8H2XT&psc=1&refRID=5Q1F0CPNNRM83FN8H2XT

Gracula Garlic Twist Crusher, $16

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The kitchen is one of the hardest rooms in the house to decorate for Halloween fans and this little garlic crusher is simply delightful. This little novelty item is probably not good for serious cooks and heavy usage but seems perfect for once-a-blue-moon meals.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076CTTZKX?creativeASIN=B076CTTZKX&linkCode=w61&imprToken=xu4iVfROQtjjhHAB4lUGoA&slotNum=41&tag=bfheather-20&ascsubtag=5212165%2C11%2C107%2Cd%2C0%2C0%2Cbf-bshp%2C776%3A1

Black Candle Pillar Holders, $20

retro candle holders

Every good witch needs a little iron and light to help ward off evil. Black candle pillar holders come in many shapes, sizes and styles, start here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cylindrical-Festival-Birthday-Candlelight-Decorative/dp/B074C34NZ9/ref=pd_sbs_201_t_0/134-2838771-8268900?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B074C34NZ9&pd_rd_r=a7fe565d-31e8-4617-87c0-2b45ff25b47e&pd_rd_w=CvVsX&pd_rd_wg=N3Y9u&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=3G0D4ZGEY73RD6R2NMKM&psc=1&refRID=3G0D4ZGEY73RD6R2NMKM

Haunted Skull Cake Pan, $28

pizza skull pan by nordic

The Nordic Ware Haunted Skull Cakelet Pan is an absolute treasure. You can make pizza skulls, skull muffins, skull burritos, Dia de Los Muertos cakes and whatever your imagination can come up with. This quality cast aluminum, non-stick pan is a must-have for any Halloween lover’s kitchen.

https://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Haunted-Skull-Cakelet/dp/B00Y6PRETK/ref=asc_df_B00Y6PRETK/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167152175681&hvpos=1o25&hvnetw=g&hvrand=15619877883895473149&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031194&hvtargid=pla-166479118326&psc=1

TIME TO SPARE

Poe Ornaments and Tea Ball Infusers by Annabel Lee and Me, $9-10

Annabel Lee and Me specialize in Poe centric and gothic wares. After you put up your dark and spooky Christmas tree covered in Poe ornaments, sit back with a nice cuppa hot tea.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/677381427/edgar-allan-poe-tea-ball-infuser-goth?ref=shop_home_active_114

Prints from the Edward Gorey Collection, $12

Eccentric artist Edward Gorey liked to draw creepy creatures and cats. He even drew the Prince of Darkness in a whimsical scene. If you’re ever in Yarmouth Port, MA, stop by the Gorey House Museum.

https://goreystore.com/

The Ghoulish Grimoire books by artist Diana Levin and author Shawn Givens, $12

Now on the 7th issue, these unique horror anthologies feature stunning black/white pen and ink illustrations, accompanied by two short stories, sometimes poems and other musings, which are always the perfect blend of creepy and macabre imagination. Back issues from this talented couple are still available. Get them before they’re gone!

https://www.ghoulishbunnystudios.com/books

Horror Movie T-shirts from Fright Rags, $25-40

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Halloween fans and horror lovers can represent 365 days a year with these officially licensed T-shirts and other cool merch from the most iconic horror films of all time.

https://www.fright-rags.com/

“United” Halloween flag 3×5 ft by Rhode Montijo, $25

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Halloween fans can now let their freak flags fly with this giant orange and black striped jack-o-lantern flag that will look great hanging on the wall. Don’t forget to pick up some adorable Halloween prints and buttons too!

https://rhodemontijo.myshopify.com/products/pre-order-for-large-united-halloween-flag

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Gris Grimly, $25

frankenstein gg ms

Citing the monster as a childhood favorite, acclaimed artist Gris Grimly jumped at the chance to illustrate the very first, full-length novel using the original 1818 text from Mary Shelley. This beautifully haunting book with stunning artwork is one-of-a-kind. Pick up a copy at his newly reopened online store.

http://grisgrimly.com/product/gris-grimlys-frankenstein/

Fine Art Prints from Killer Pumpkins, $30

Welcome to the colorful and spooky world of artist and designer John Pelico, whose digital artwork is simply mind-blowing. Whoever thought grim could be so cheerful. Only prints are available online but if you catch Killer Pumpkins at San Diego Comic Con or other So Cal conventions, sometimes they carry unique merchandise like coffee cups and lamps.

https://www.killerpumpkins.com/store

Infernal Creatures: A Collection of Rare Occult Artworks book from Century Guild, $35

infernal creatures Century Guild

Century Guild is a private museum and gallery, now based out of Southern California, that specializes in fine arts between 1880-1920s, particularly Arte Nouveau and Symbolism. This exquisite hardcover book features full-color, professionally photographed art and posters, printed on the highest resolution paper. Fascination with death and the occult is not a contemporary concept

https://centuryguild.net/collections/books/products/infernal-creatures-rare-occult-artworks

Horror Movie Burst a Box, $50

A unique twist on a centuries old child’s toy, which still features the chilling ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ tune. Choose from Billy, Chucky, Freddy, Jason, Pennywise, or Sam.

https://www.mezcotoyz.com/category/burst-a-box-cg/categories/burst-a-box/1.html

Need more ideas? Check out last year’s blog posts for great stocking stuffers and Christmas gift ideas for Halloween fans.

zombie christmas card

Tuesday Terror – The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
No one shall ever enter this room again.

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© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Pit and the Pendulum was a film of many seconds for director Roger Corman. It was the second film adapted from an Edgar Allan Poe story, written by author and screenwriter Richard Matheson, who penned such successful novels such as I am Legend and the Incredible Shrinking Man. It was second big hit for distributor American International Pictures, grossing over $2 million USD from a measly $300,000 budget. It was also the second time that Corman would work with Vincent Price and Barbara Steele, each of whom would go on to become horror icons based on their work in numerous horror films.

pitpaint
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

 

Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe of the same name, the story revolves around a tenacious Englishman Francis Barnard who goes to foreboding castle in Spain, after hearing word that his sister Elizabeth has died. He confronts his brother-in-law Don Nicholas Medina, demanding to know how she died. While there, Barnard finds the grieving don is slowly losing his mind, convinced that his late wife is haunting the castle, a site once used in the Spanish Inquisition. The don’s sister and personal physician try to sooth Barnard’s suspicions that Nicholas had anything to do with the sister’s death by revealing the tragic childhood trauma (shown in color-tinted vignette style flashbacks) that inflicts the don, but as the dark night drags by, it becomes apparent that a more sinister plot is afoot.

pitbro
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Richard Matheson creates magic here by fleshing out the Poe’s torture chamber story bringing in the doomed Don Nicholas Medina, who already believes he’s cursed with same madness that drove his father to inflict unspeakable horror on the Spanish population, as well as his own family. In some ways, Matheson’s story is better than Poe’s gothic tale, giving audiences a backstory into understanding the horror the Poe wrote about.

 

The Merchant of Menace, Vincent Price, is at his best here, playing both a grieving man losing his sanity and his sinister father in flashbacks. His acting is somewhat melodramatic but entirely encouraged by dark dreamy orchestral score by Les Baxter. The always beautiful and haunting bright eyes of Barbara Steele turn in another wicked performance, cementing her legacy as a horror vixen, and John Kerr, Luana Anders and Antony Carbone also give strong memorable performances.

 

 

Despite the low-budget, Corman’s gothic adaption looked like million dollar film, with its vibrant color, gorgeous costuming,  intricate set design, and carefully planned wide-angle shots by  Floyd Crosby, the lusciously filmed Pit and the Pendulum only took 15 days to film. Shot entirely on a sound stages in California, Corman’s meticulous pre-production with his team, in particular, set designer, Daniel Haller, who created a real pendulum for the movie’s nightmarish ending sequence. The imposing pendulum was 18-feet long, weighed over 2,000 lbs and hoisted thirty-five feet in the air at the top of the sound stage above the actors. The blade was made of rubber, but a real metal blade covered in steel paint was switched out for the close shots, giving John Kerr some serious anxiety, which shows in his perspiring face during the final scenes.

pitmad
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

This is my favorite Roger Corman and Vincent Price collaboration. It’s the scariest and best overall production, an absolute epitome of gothic horror, inspiring dozens of other filmmakers, from Hollywood to the Italian gallo films of the 60s. Horror at that time was changing in a way that the scares were no longer implied.  Horror master Stephen King remembers the Pit and the Pendulum scene which Price’s don Medina finds the decayed corpse of his dead wife, as having changed the horror landscape, King says “the most important moment in the post-1960 horror film, signaling a return to an all-out effort to terrify the audience…and a willingness to sue any means at hand to do it.”

mgm pit pendulum
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Haiku of the Week

 

night howls
serve the master
children of the night

Tuesday Terror – Curse of Frankenstein

Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
I’ve harmed nobody, just robbed a few graves!

curse 3
Curse of Frankstein ©Hammer Film Productions

Hammer Film’s first incursion into the Frankenstein mythos, Curse of Frankenstein, spawned several sequels, all of them starring soon-to-be horror icon Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein.  Directed by Terence Fisher, in what would be the first of many films that Fisher would make for Hammer Films, the film also starred a young Christopher Lee, playing the Monster, before he would go on to don Dracula’s cape for the next three decades.

Universal Films fought vehemently to protect their own Frankenstein film and its rights, which reflected heavily on many decisions Hammer made during filming. Make-up artist Phil Leaky created a brand-new look for the monster, and several key scenes from the novel were cut due to a limited budget. Despite its limitations, Curse of Frankenstein impressed many with its art direction, costuming, camera work, and the stellar cast, which also included English actor Hazel Court, (just starting out in her lengthy career as a horror queen), and Scottish stage and TV actor Robert Urquhart.

 

This story revolves around Frankenstein himself, rather than his creature, choosing to show the Baron as a more ambitious, egotistical and ruthless man; at the start of the story, he awaits execution for several murders. Hammer’s version of Dr. Frankenstein is a villainous man, willing to commit crimes, set up a man’s accidental death, aka murder, to obtain the parts he needs to create his creature, and even use the poor creature to kill opponents standing in the way of greatness. Since, the brain was damaged, it becomes apparent quickly that the monster has little intelligence and is too far too violent to control, thus, Frankenstein is forced to destroy his greatest creation. With the evidence gone, fate comes down to his younger associate Dr. Paul Krempe, the only witness to the experiments.

curse
©Hammer Film Productions

Colin Clive may have had the most memorable line in horror history, but it was Peter Cushing who was highly praised for the truly unforgettable performance of Victor Frankenstein, for fleshing out the character that audiences deemed charming and intriguing, in spite of his villainy. It was Cushing that helped inspire the mad scientist archetype and motivated Hammer to continue his story all the way into the 70s.

Curse of Frankenstein was Hammer’s first color film and considered by many to be the first truly gory film. The deep red blood and guts appeared gorier on screen than any other horror film of its time, causing a bit of uproar and scathing reviews. It even received an X rating for a time, when it opened at the London Pavilion in 1957. Despite receiving the lukewarm reviews from critics, audiences seemed to really like the film, grossing nearly $8 million, thus, putting Hammer Films squarely on the map.

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Curse of Frankstein ©Hammer Film Productions

 

Tuesday Terror – The Black Cat

The Black Cat (1932)
“Did you ever hear of Satanism, the worship of the devil, of evil?”

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Today’s black and white classic is the horror-thriller The Black Cat from Universal Pictures. Horror icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff square off for the first time in a movie about a traumatized doctor with a cat phobia named Werdegast and an American newlywed couple, who seek medical aid at the home of the doctor’s nemesis, Hjalmar Poelzig, the dark high priest of a devil-worshipping cult. The doctor’s original plans of revenge on Poelzig are changed when it is revealed the priest plans to sacrifice the young bride at the dark of the moon.

the black cat2

Produced by Carl Laemmle, Jr., the young studio head believed in director Edgar G. Ulmer’s vision enough so the man had free rein over the pic. Although presumed to be loosely based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, there are not too many similarities here. It’s a bit strange really because the movie is good enough to stand on its own merits. This perhaps one of my favorite classic films. The story is excellent, with strong performances from the entire cast. David Manners and Julie Bishop pile on the melodrama with their romance, which is now part of the charm in some of these old films, but let’s be honest, they weren’t who we’re here to see anyway.  Lugosi playing the tortured Werdegast against Karloff’s evil Poelzig in a battle for screen supremacy is one of the best horror face-offs ever found in horror. I’d say Lugosi is the clear winner, due to a more fully fleshed-out character and more dialogue to offer, but Karloff does manage to say quite a lot with just a creepy stare. Madness and secret motivations are the whole reason why this film is so scary. Clearly, something evil has hold of these men.

the black cat1

The film escaped the Pre-code guidelines but Ulmer’s first cut of the film, which included several scenes of satanic worship and skinning alive of Herr Poelzig, was deemed too dark and violent for the Laemmles (father and son). Between that and Bela Lugosi’s complaints that he appeared to be too villainous, Ulmer reshot several scenes,  downplaying the gruesome last scene, and added some sprinkling of humanity in the tragic Dr. Werdegast. In a touch of irony, while cleaning up the film’s ending, Ulmer snuck in some extra shots of Poelzig’s necrophilic menagerie. Already heavy with a dark look and satanic theme, studio execs managed to miss The Black’s Cat’s seriously taboo subject matter, or perhaps they ignored it.

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The eerie movie score runs 80 minutes contains many classical selections, including the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, only the second time a horror film featured the now cliched song.  The set of Poelzig’s mansion is considered somewhat of a masterpiece in the industry, part art deco, part haunted house. In contrast to The Old Dark House, this film is well-lit, casting defined shadows in a way that you’re unsure if you’re watching a horror film at all.

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The Black Cat is considered to be the first movie to use psychological horror, capitalizing on public interest in psychiatry at that time. Despite the audience’s distaste for the dark subject matter, it was the biggest box office hit for Universal that year, due in part to the popularity of its stars.  What didn’t work then is exactly why it works now. The Black Cat is creepy, scary, and a masterclass in great classic horror.

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Return to Spooky Season – Happy October

oct shadows

October 1st is only a few days away and it’s one big Halloween party all day, every day, around here. This season, I’m encouraging people to do two things, 1) be Green for Halloween, and 2) take the Halloween Pledge, a pledge to practice one old Halloween tradition and introduce a random new tradition into your celebrations this year.

Before I share the schedule of festivities coming in October, I have an exciting new development to report, Halloween Haiku has new message boards! You can access the forum by clicking on the spinning pumpkin on the right sidebar of the home page.

The forum hopefully will be a place where we can have a little fun together.  There’s going to be Halloween trivia, scary movie trivia, along with random chat and silliness, and a special contest on Halloween Day.

pumpdance

Halloween 2019 Schedule 

Monday Macabre

Every Monday, you’ll find spine-tingling haiku so scary, you’ll sleep with the light on

Tuesday Terror

Every Tuesday, we’ll be celebrating the best of horror cinema, dug up from the Hollywood Vaults

Wicked Art Wednesdays

Every Wednesday, I’ll be showcasing art from five of the most brilliant Halloween artists in the industry

Throwback Thursdays

Every Thursday, we’ll share in the memories of vintage Halloween and Halloween traditions

Friday Fright Nightcaps

Every Friday, you’ll find chilling adult cocktail recipes from the other side

Sinister Saturdays

Every Saturday, I’ll be serving up decadent desserts and savory Halloween recipes so sinful, you might need an exorcism on November 1st.

Poe Sundays

Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and read the chilling classics of the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe

October 31st – Halloween Haiku Challenge

On Halloween day, people will have the opportunity to post their own original, spooky haiku for a chance to win a prize bag, valued over $25 (more details to be announced).

pumpkin line 1


31 Days of Halloween (on Social Media)

Instagram – Halloween Haiku Photo Challenge
Join us in posting cool pics to match the #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge this October.  Don’t worry about missing any days. It’s Halloween, you should be out having fun. You can post anytime, just remember to use: #HalloweenHaikuPhotoChallenge

Halloween Photo Challenge (1)

Twitterween
Halloween Haiku is a proud member of the Samhain Society, and I’ll be happily sharing the Halloween fun and festivities of my fellow community-goers. Everyone has been working so hard and I’m super stoked to join in the celebrations.

Pinterest
Check out our boards for more Halloween fun ideas and inspiration. We’ve got at least 5 new boards!

Wishing you all a fun, safe and memorable, haunting season!

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Haiku of the Week

nighttime terrors
little souls full of dread
pumpkin lights

Horror’s Worst Vacations Ever

Happy September! School is back in session, summer is winding down, and that recent holiday in the sun is now a distant memory. Everyone knows vacations can sometimes be more stressful than relaxing. Between the airlines losing luggage and hotel rooms not looking anything like the brochure, to pricey tourist traps or flat out being robbed, the reality of exotic trips not living up to their expectations is a top reason why people just stay home. Let’s be honest, a lot of the disappointment could’ve been solved with better research and a Lonely Planet travel guide.

No matter how awful your trip was, just be glad you weren’t a character in an Eli Roth movie.

friday13

Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th (1980) dir. by Sean S. Cunningham

Years after a child’s accidental drowning, a group of young camp counselors prepare for the summer camp’s reopening, only to be stalked and murdered by an unseen force.

This one almost didn’t make the list because for all its posturing and preparation for summer visitors, Camp Crystal Lake never actually opened to the public. That’s right, no vacations were had, which is a good thing because after all those brutal murders, they never would have survived the Yelp reviews. The locals called it ‘Camp Blood’ for short. I mean, can you imagine the BBB rating on this place? “One star for the blood-stained bunk beds!” Never before has the mere uttering of a vacation destination sparked so much fear, because no one steps foot in a forest these days without hearing Jason’s theme ‘ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma‘ in their head.

Continue reading “Horror’s Worst Vacations Ever”