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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Tombstones: the Last Word in Mortality

One big staple of Halloween Haunts are mock graveyards filled with tombstones.  Tombstones come in many forms.  Some come from the store and are made from plastic and Styrofoam.  Others are homemade and crafted from plywood.  My experience, which often requires me to work with what I have on hand, has led me to use materials like cedar shakes, rigid foam insulation, waste paper baskets with wrapping paper and concrete patch mix--see Chapter 4 in 10 Cheap Tricks to Haunt Your Halloween.

All of these materials have their virtues and today my mock cemetery is a mix of commercial and homemade stones in different mediums with some garden sculpture thrown in for good measure.  I like to start early, or rather the beginning of October--see my post "Who Wants to Go First?"-building my boneyard slowly with a few tombstones at a time.  I usually add my Flying Crank Ghost next.  I then incorporate other elements like flame-less candles, bones and Zombies as the Halloween season builds toward the big show on October 31st.


The beginnings of my haunt.  From left to right:concrete patch mix stone, cedar shake crosses and "headstone", and a Styrofoam Celtic Cross in front of a Flying Crank Ghost.
View of the cemetery by night.


From Chapter 4
Now let us take a moment to enjoy some of the great tombstones that popped up on lawns in the 2017 season.
The above is a Halloween store offering.  It has a nice shape to it. I like how the designer has included a string of ghost lights--which are cool all by themselves. They have also clamped a bat onto the tombstone.


Above is a traditional graveyard scene.  These durable, homemade, wooden tombstones have been used by their family for years. They have also built a nice modular fence to add authenticity to the scene.  Another cool thing is the above ground crypt style of one stone in the center.  This is a rare lawn haunt find. While this picture was taken during the day,  at night this display is lit with colorful spotlights.


This lawn has gone with quality homemade stones. They have taken full advantage of the customize-able nature of homemade stones by writing their own rhyming epitaphs.  One stone is even specific to the town it is located in.

One of my favorite memories from my early haunting career was the year that I introduced the cedar shake "stones".  I handed out black permanent markers and the volunteers decorated the plain white shakes with epitaphs from their personal lives.  I still have some of those monuments.

There's nothing wrong with having a little fun with a headstone.  Halloween is about facing your fears.  Particularly your fear of mortality.  So don't worry what your tombstones are made out of; get out your rhyming dictionary and a permanent marker and write something witty.  Then put your slabs in the yard so that they can have the last word in your haunt. 

Below are some real life inspirations.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Clinton, NJ More than Just a Haunted Mill

The Halloween season is in full swing.  Homes are decorated. Candy is disappearing off of shelves and Christmas decorations are filling the stores. C'est la vie.

Central Jersey residents are  set to enjoy the famed Haunted Mill in the Red Mill Museum Village of Clinton, NJ.  However, Clinton has even more to offer. Residents are busy embellishing their already hauntingly beautiful Victorian homes for All Hallows Eve.

Below are some of the highlight from last Year's decorating contest.


The above home grabbed my attention by combining Halloween with mischief night.  I'm getting a kick out of toilet paper mummy face door.  This season, kits with plastic strips to wrap your door and the giant google eyes to go with are in the stores.  This is just plain fun.  The simplicity of the overall display is refreshing as well.  I like the placement of the bats.  There was definitely an eye for design at work here.

On the other end of the spectrum, below is a home that layered it on.  The decorators chose a trans-formative approach by covering the deck rails with camouflage
fabric to disguise the Victoria finery of the porch and transport the spectator to a medieval dungeon complete with strewn body parts.

I always like it when I see something new, and the bloody sacks are new to me. Nice job!  I also like the extension of the haunt to the fence surrounding the property.



Below is a display based on traditional motifs.  The witch, spider and jack-o-lantern combo is fun and sweet.


While beside the steps is a pair of skeletons in old clothes for a more contemporary add-on.


The final stop on our tour of Clinton is this front yard Cemetery.  I like the addition of a shackled skeleton in prison stripes.


I love seeing the re-imagining of a Victorian home for the Halloween season the gingerbread really adds to the spookiness.


My recommendation for this blog is simple, don't let the season pass you by.  Take a walk in your local downtown you may be surprised what haunting sights await.