November 18, 2009

Davis Graveyard



My friends Jeff & Chris Davis of Davis Graveyard have submitted their video to the Home Haunters Association 2009 Halloween haunt video contest. They are currently in third place, but having one of the best haunts in the contest, if not the country, they still need your support! Watch their video on YouTube (all the way through so it counts), rate it and help them get a much deserved win.

The Davis Graveyard 2009 Haunt Video

I'm fortunate enough to have seen this haunt in person, so I can tell you what a beautiful and richly detailed haunt it really is.

The House thanks you for supporting outstanding haunters.



November 13, 2009

Halloween 2009 video



Just posted this year's video up on YouTube. You can watch it above or here. I also have WMV and QT versions up should anyone want to download it.
rose2009.wmv
rose2009.mov
My thanks to Pumpkinrot for the video inspiration and also for the recommendation of Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9. It was my first time really editing a video and the program is very intuitive and easy to use.
And, of course, my thanks to Rob of Skull and Bone (without whom there would have been a lot less to shoot) for his generosity and inspiration.
Some of you may notice the conspicuous lack of actual video footage in the clip. Nearly unusable footage from an old camcorder and lack of a proper video capture on the PC were the culprits. I'm not able to acquire new hardware so soon after going just a 'smidge' over the Halloween budget, so I kind of had to make due. Better equipment is definitely on the list for next year. If at some point I'm able to get some of the footage to a usable state, I'll edit it in or do something seperately later.
Enjoy and thanks for watching.




November 6, 2009

The Halloween Tree of Woe



I always hated this tree.

It's a Japanese Maple and over the past few years it's been an overgrown lump. It was just a giant weeping hulking mass of shrivelly leaves with little to no branch or trunk to be seen. In trying to make room to be able to see more of the haunt in the yard, it became obvious that we needed to trim it back. At first I was hesitant to do so figuring it wouldn't be anough to just trim it and hacking it almost all the way back would make it even more of an eyesore.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Once we got under the canopy and took a good look underneath, I very quickly decided to lay into it. Once we trimmed up the outside, cut out all the small dead stuff and got to the knuckles, it literally became a thing of eerie beauty. All those gnarled, intertwined branches growing and twisting around and even through each other gave it a new, darker life of it's own.



I themed it as the Halloween Tree this year, but henceforth it shall be known as The Tree of Woe. The best part, though, is it's like having a built in Halloween prop in my yard all year 'round.

I love my tree.




November 2, 2009

Tribute



For Rob and Lisa... you are, ever and always, a part of the House.

My heartfelt thanks for everything.


November 1, 2009

Feilte Samhain and Happy Halloween



Though it seemed it wouldn't happen for much of the past few weeks, the weather improved and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect night. The moon was huge and bright. The air was crisp and still. The fog hung low. The lights burned dimly and for a few hours... the fates were with us and all was right with the world.

With over a hundred visitors, our first year with Rose was a resounding success. My humble and everlasting thanks to Rob at Skull and Bone for making it all possible. Thanks, also, to all those who helped as well as my family, friends, neighbors, followers and fellow haunters. You all make it worth it.

More photos and video coming soon.


September 17, 2009

The Mud Man Cometh



This is one of the other projects I tackled this past weekend. My very first Monster Mud (MM) prop... a Grim Reaper.

Believe it or not, this prop started out to be Rose and wasn't going to be made of MM.

Due to not yet having the proper materials to start out with, horribly improvised framing of the armature and "too many chefs spoiling the brew", I decided to change the design and give it to my buddy, Tony, as "compensation". He's been helping me with some of the haunt building and tools, so I figured it was only fair to get him a nice prop. Also, he's been dying to see the MM in action ever since I first told him about it. I'll be making another, but this Rose is now a Reaper.

He'd already supplied the parts for the "frame" (and I use the term very loosely). It's some kind of stand at the bottom made from thin metal rod with a metal tube up the middle, some kind of fat metal rod shoved into that for a "spine", then what I think were old tent poles for shoulders and arms, a chest wrapped in two old pillows and some duct tape. Basically, stuff he had laying around his house. Then we hung some poultry screen over that, padded the shoulders and chest with some scrap foam and then wrapped it all in some clear pallet wrap he had around. There might be some bubble wrap in the arms too.

I didn't think the frame would support the weight. Seriously. It was ugly.

But, it got the job done.

We got some joint compound, ten yards of 48" burlap and some black spray paint. I bought a hollow plastic skull at Fred Meyer (because it wasn't going to be in MY yard. HA!) and some stuff we'll use for hands later. We had several half cans of latex paint laying around so we just mixed it in. The paint wasn't black enough, so we threw in some black tint. Not the prettiest mixture in the world, but it worked.

We got the burlap mudded and hung with much grunting and groaning. I did learn that you definitely need an extra set of hands (if not two extra sets) when coating burlap in the MM. The stuff gets pretty damn heavy and you need the extra hands to strain out the excess mud. Not to mention draping it over a tall frame. I now see the appeal of smaller props. It's over 6½ feet tall, so it was a bit of a chore, but should look pretty imposing to a trick-or-treater.

We chose to go with a cleaner, untattered appearance so it would look like a robe or cloth. We refrained from dry-brushing it as well to keep it from looking like stone. I managed to get some decent folds in the material and whipped up a quick chicken wire "cowl" for the hood to drape over. After that, we just let the mud dry and then hit it with some black spray paint. It'll get hands and a scythe next week.

All in all it came out fairly well for a first effort. My buddy definitely digs it and wants to build more.

"Next year", I said, "for the House."

Kind of a shame really. It turned out pretty good and won't even be in my haunt. But it was well worth the experience and I know it'll have a good home in my buddy's yard.

I'll definitely be adding some of my own next year.


Candle, Candle Burning Bright...



Building and repair of the Haunt has commenced!

I thought I'd share one of the smaller, yet larger, projects to take on this year. That project was the faux candles that came with the haunt from Skull and Bone.

I say smaller in that, typically, PVC candles aren't very big.

I say larger by virtue of sheer numbers.

The originals from Rob were cut, grouped in some cases, and then slather-coated with "Fix-All" which is a powder that, when mixed with water, forms a sort of plaster. It bulked out the straight PVC pipe and made them look "softer". Some were also filled with Great Stuff to build up the inside and form a "shelf" for the tea lights to sit on.

Years of use and weathering had caused many of them to become brittle and unstable. During the transporting of the haunt a good many of them essentially shattered and I was left with bare pipes and piles of plaster chips. Some came apart just picking them up as the plaster makes them heavy and some of the groups weren't wired or otherwise bound together first. Many, however, did escape harm and were reusuable with the plaster mostly intact.

So, I've spent the better part of the week cleaning off bad spots, clearing out the insides, replastering, adding hot glue "drips", adding foam inserts and painting eighty-six PVC candles.

Yep. Eighty-six.

About 24 hours combined, 6 cans of spray paint, a half-gallon of acrylic ceramic tile adhesive, approximately 100-4" and 80-10" hot-glue sticks, a few lengths of sliced foam pipe-wrap for tea light shelves, and two numb and swollen hot-glue gun trigger-fingers later... I'm pretty pleased with the results.



The originals were "smoother", but I wanted to add detail by giving them more pronounced drips. I may have gone a little overboard, but I like them slightly exaggerated. Plus, they are all much more stable and durable now and should last for many years.

Now I only have to get about 30 more tea lights. =\

Work on the haunt continues apace.


April 20, 2009

What's up?

 
Wow. Has it really been over two months since my last post? Yikes. I must apologize to those who may have actually been interested in my blog. I did not mean to leave it hanging for so long. That works well for corpses, not blogs. I really don't mean to be so inconsistent with it, it's just that writing is not really my forte so it takes a little more effort on my part to get going. It also helps to actually have something to say. I promise though, I will pay more attention to it from now on. Pinky swear.

So what's been going on with the House?

Well, I've actually been fairly busy if not overwhelmingly productive. Over the last two months or so I've mostly been finishing up my 'social' pages. Not that big a deal, I know, but I'm picky. So those are done for now.

I also pretty much finished the 'facelift' of the Hauntcast website graphics and printed related stuff. I'm not a professional graphics or web designer by any stretch, but I am an enthusiastic hobbyist, so it was really cool of Chris Baker to give me an opportunity to play in the Hauntcast sandbox a little. It was fun too. Is it good work? Well, I suppose it's a little better than what was there before. I'll let others decide I guess. It did, however, lead to someone contacting me about another design project for a local/regional haunter's gathering here in Oregon. So that's encouraging. I will say this though, it kinda sucks having the skillset but not the toolset. I curse you, Adobe, and your outrageous prices. A Wacom tablet wouldn't suck either.

Additionally, I FINALLY got a web domain up for the House. While it's still freshly minted and pretty empty, it will be the new home and permanent hub of House Bloodthorn. It will mostly feature the House's haunt galleries and videos, but will also include this blog, some of my design projects and various artwork, the occasional story perhaps and maybe even the odd how-to, or rather, the odd 'how-I-did-it', as I'm no prop wiz. Of course, this is all subject to change, but that's the plan for now. It'll certainly be less time-consuming than updating 6 or 8 different 'social' pages. I'm hoping anyway.

New to the blog is the Flickr 'badge' on the right side of this page. This links to my Flickr gallery where there are images of the SkullAndBone version of THoMR and a few images of some of my older, store-bought props that I got by with pre-Rose. All staged and lit to approximate what they looked like in my windows. Most of the store-bought stuff will be cannibalized, retired or donated to neighbors.

And, finally, during this spate of good weather we've been having, I actually cleaned up and somewhat organized my garage/workshop so I can get going on some *gasp* ACTUAL haunt-related projects. Be still my thundering heart. Yes, I do actually intend to do some of that...

SOON!
 

February 13, 2009

February 3, 2009

State of the Haunt

 
At this time, the haunt is safely ensconced in my garage where it has been since I brought it home.

One of the least enjoyable things about living in Oregon, at least during late Fall/early Winter, is the weather. Lots of rain which is pretty much the norm for the season right through to late Spring. This Winter, however, it's been unusually cold. December saw record snowfalls in our part of Oregon which didn't help matters any, though it was fun for the kids. The cold also makes it exceptionally difficult to do anything in the garage. I'm a California boy and space-heaters only go so far up here. Not to mention the fact that most prop work (i.e. the use of adhesives, paints, etc.) doesn't exactly mix well with closed doors and space heaters. And, as I don't own stock in PGE, I can't exactly leave the doors open. So, suffice it to say, not much has or can be done during the Winter months. At least in the garage.

I'm still debating trying to negotiate for some workspace inside the house. I could probably swing it, but there's not that much room and far too many distractions to work comfortably upstairs. So, I'm relatively OK with waiting until March or April to start working in the garage. At least during the day. Nights still get pretty cold during Spring here.

But enough about what hasn't been done yet or why. Let's move on to the meat of it.

The Story of Miss Rose:

As heard on the Hauntcast episode or, better still, seen in SkullAndBone's haunt video, "The Story of Miss Rose", the theme of the haunt is essentially a ghost story. To paraphase...a lot, Miss Rose is a young school-teacher awaiting the arrival of her beau. She becomes lost and, distraught and forlorn, collapses in a dark forest. The local townspeople come across her body and, believing her dead, entomb her in a crypt with her locket and bell. And, as the story goes...

But just as the latch
Of the stone crypt door fell
No one heard the faint tinkling
Or the weak muffled yell

The sound was too slight
Lost in the mourners cries
Aghast in the darkness
Miss Rose opened her eyes

Her deep forlorn slumber
Alas sealed her doom
Awake now in horror
Interred in a tomb

She rang her bell screaming
Yet no help did 'rive
Her worst nightmare realized
To be buried... ALIVE

On nights just like this one
So the townspeople say
When the fall air is crisp
And the wind blows this way

If you quiet your breathing
And listen a spell
You can still hear the sound
Of Miss Rose and her bell

And so, each Halloween the 'ghost' of Miss Rose, as played by Rob's wife, would haunt the cemetery while a recorded narration played in the background. Rob himself, as well as some friends, would play the ghosts of the 'townspeople/mourners'. All this among the beautiful props, lighting and atmosphere that Rob so wonderfully created.

In my opinion it was a spooky ghost story and, at it's heart, a tragic love story that echoed, though wonderfully twisted, the real-life love story of Rob and his wife. Hence, her playing Miss Rose. It's a beautifully crafted tale and beautifully executed with all the elements that make a really great haunt. A good story and excellent presentation. Which is why it was so highly regarded. This was art. It was tasteful, well thought out and, above all, eerie and atmospheric.

And now it's come to me. (Insert doom music here)

More in the next post.
 

What's Going On

 
A friend reminds me that I've been less than diligent about keeping this blog up-to-date on what I've been doing lately and what, if any, plans I have for the haunt. I thought I'd correct that oversight. I have been busy and I do have plans.

Let me begin by saying that the response to the story of how I acquired Miss Rose has been exceptionally great and has truly warmed the cockles of my black little heart. Lots of folks, including fellow haunters whose work I respect and admire, have had nothing but nice things to say about the story. I am very grateful and I truly appreciate all the kind words. Thank you all.

On the flip side, it's also brought about a fair amount of attention which, as cool as it's been, has taken a little getting used to. This includes a featured story on the very first episode of Hauntcast and mentions in several blogs including one of my very favorites, Pumpkinrot's. It's weird, and thrilling, to see or hear your name in something you and many others read or listen to all the time. It can be a little daunting. Hopefully I'll be able live up to some this attention. Though, mostly, it's been even more inspiring. My thanks again for that.

So after receiving the haunt and the response that followed, I figured I should have some kind of web presence as I know there are some people who are interested in both Rob's work on Miss Rose and what will become of it in my hands. Also, just to be able to share with the many that have inspired me what their inspiration hath wrought.

Having not had a presence on the web in about 7 or 8 years, I felt the easiest and quickest way to get back to it was to create a blog with the intention that it would become a 'part' of a future web domain. Kind of an ass-backwards approach for me as I am more of a visuals person than a writer (obviously). I never really intended for it to be a daily kind of thing as there are far better blogs out there for that. Personally there are several that I follow or check nearly every day. I intended to keep mine pretty much HB/Rose-specific and, hopefully, post once a week or so and keep folks abreast of how the haunt was progressing.

A quick backstory pertaining to my web background. Back in the late 90's I created and operated a short-lived free web-goodies (graphics, wavs, midis, etc) non-domain site called 'Tomb of Fear'. I had been a fan of other sites like Kevin Greggain's 'Night Gallery', Carrie Carolin's 'Dark Side of the Net' and Chad Savage's early work on 'Sinister Visions'. These were the inspiration for me to learn how to do web design and graphics, not that I ever got very good at it. In 2001, right around the time CSS and improved web-coding were being implemented and after several computers went down the tubes, I kind of got tired of playing keep-up-with-joneses and upgrading every six-months and I dropped it all. I switched to laptops and became just a lookie-loo. Fortunately, that seems to be less of a concern these days as hardware and software seem to have a little longer lifespan. So I'm back on a desktop and trying to catch up. But, I digress.

Essentially, I've been brushing up on my web skills and getting a presence out there so people can keep track of the haunt and it's progress. Most notably Blogger and social networking sites like MySpace, HauntSpace and Garage of Evil. I also still post occasionally on HauntForum though I've never been a prolific poster anyway. I've also admittedly gotten a little sidetracked as I've most recently been tweaking another friend's peripheral sites. It's something I enjoy doing and has lit a fire under my butt to maybe get some classes under my belt to learn how to do it better. We'll see how that goes.

In the coming weeks, I plan to get a domain up and running and then maintain a minimal presence on the 'social networking' sites. The blog will remain and I'll be using it as I orginally intended to. I'm debating about keeping it on Blogger or using WordPress. I'm curious to check that out. Again, we'll see how that goes.

So there's what I've been doing. It's been fun and I've met some really cool people since all this happened. As I've said, I can only hope to inspire some as so many have inspired me.

In case you haven't noticed, I procrastinate and get easily distracted. LOL. I will try to do better. =)

More in the next post. Thanks for reading.
 

January 13, 2009

And Now Your Host...

 

"Don't stay up late. It's not worth it."

Bob Wilkins
1932-2009

Of course, it absolutely was worth it. Growing up in Northern California during the early 1970's, "Creature Features" was my introduction to Horror movies and the TV Horror Host. With his trademark cigar, skull candle, dry sense of humor and deadpan delivery as he skewered the less-than-stellar features being presented, he made staying up late Saturday nights and "sneak-watching" that much more satisfying. He was always about the films and the genre rather than glorifying himself as the host. His show was a major influence on my childhood and he will be remembered and missed.

Blog Wilkins

The Official Bob Wilkins Site