Saturday, October 31, 2009
Due to rain in the forecast, we decided to break with tradition and set up the display the day before Halloween. Got a bunch of photos before a light rain started to fall around midnight. Bean and I wished each other a Happy Halloween as we stood there listening to the tapping on the leaves. Then we put the props into the garage and drove home. If the haunt gets rained out tonight, it'll be comforting to know that the display was technically up and running on Halloween (and during the witching hour). Cool.
That's the Fourth Witch sitting in the shadows. A prop costume I made to hand out candy.
Happy Halloween, everyone.
Hope it's clear and dry for you.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
He ran out of work and rushed to the store.
Then sped to his home and shot through his door.
With pumpkins and candy and black cardboard cats.
With cornstalks and devils and tiny witch hats.
He strung purple lights and soft orange crepe.
He hung paper bats with two-sided tape.
He gutted the pumpkins, the best in the bin.
He stabbed each some eyes, a nose, and a grin.
He rushed to the lawn – The Front Yard of Fear.
And set up his zombies he built through the year.
He constructed his graveyard with tombstones of foam,
And placed a cloth ghost in its gloomy crypt home.
He dressed his new scarecrow with a hat and a coat,
And staked in a post for a sign that he wrote:
He laughed a small laugh and smiled with pride.
Then scattered some leaves and ran back inside.
He heated up cider and warmed up some pie.
He colored white frosting with goblin-green dye.
He filled giant bowls with popcorn and treats,
Toffee and chocolates and soft sugared sweets.
He changed from his suit and slicked back his hair.
He donned a black cloak and sat in his chair.
He popped in his fangs and gave them a bite.
Then smiled sharp teeth and waited for night.
Now that his planning and hard work was done,
He listened for sounds of laughter and fun!
He imagined kids running in white ghostly sheets.
Hobos and monsters on shadowy streets!
With masks made of plastic and rubber and paint.
He thought he heard children distant and faint!
He pictured their parents, excited and proud,
Escorting small creatures, eager and loud!
They’d spot his great house, then gather and flock.
They’d block up the street and clog up the block!
They’d line up for hours for a look and a treat.
He thought he heard sounds of scurrying feet!
It was only dry leaves swept along by the wind.
He breathed out a sigh, his proud smile thinned.
His dreams and his hopes of Halloween fame
Blew away with the leaves. Nobody came.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
We did it. We experienced Haunted Overload this weekend.
The drive to its location at Coppal House Farm was the start of the attraction. Lonely roads with complete darkness behind us. We were fortunate enough to have our friend Jon driving us to the event so we could take it all in. He had gone last year and mentioned the incredible atmosphere of the tree-lined drive as you approach the farm. No fanfare, no oversized gaudy signs like I'm used to seeing in Pennsylvania for the local haunted hayrides. Just a small sign and a darkened bumpy approach. Some hay bales along the road. And a large unfortunate cracked pumpkin on the ground off to the side, showing some guts. I joked about us driving into Sleepy Hollow.
Jon was right. The approach to the farm told us that this wasn't a haunted attraction. It was going to be something special. No massive flood lamps for parking, just layers and layers of stars overhead, and a pale yellow moon. The tops of trees off in the distance were illuminated with blues, greens, and reds. Then the sounds. People screaming, laughing, and the most delightful (and tasteful) music and sound effects. This WAS going to be special.
A view from the parking lot as we approached.
We were welcomed by the kindest people and exchanged our online receipts for our tickets. Then we were directed to a massive cornfield off to the right.
We were greeted at the entrance of the corn and given some advice - don't forget to look up. Truly the coolest and most appropriate advice ever. The corn maze was beautiful. I've never been in a cornfield at night. And the rural surroundings, woods on every side of the farm, made this the most perfect way to prepare us for Haunted Overload. The maze releases you onto what we called Pumpkin Alley. A long straightaway of pure atmosphere - tons of jack o'lanterns (each lit with real flickering candles [I think that's VERY important to note]), bales and bales of hay, sticks, branches, cornstalks, old wooden fences, torches - and evil tree sentinels watching over us.
You could FEEL the scent of toasted pumpkin. I cannot express the emotions of standing there with Bean as we studied each carved face. Completely surrounded by Halloween.
Then I smelled the sweet smell of smoke from a wood fire. Up ahead, at the end of Pumpkin Alley, was the most disturbing prop - an old witch in a rocking chair, rocking quickly and eerily, as her steaming cauldron rested above a real fire pit of flame and smoke. Heaven. This has been something I've discussed often. I NEED to do this at my own haunt, and it was amazing to finally see the real deal. I spent WAY too much time absorbing this prop. The old witch in the shadows, rocking away impatiently, as her fire slowly burned down.
Image supplied VERY kindly by Eric at Haunted Overload (taken by Artifact Images).
I'll leave the rest of the event to your imagination, with some photos that Eric allowed us to snap.
He sent us VIP passes and gave us a personal tour after the last of the patrons dispersed. The guy is amazing. We were blown away by his energy and generosity. Being surrounded by Haunted Overload, you realize just how much this man loves Halloween. It's an over-sized home haunt, NOT a haunted attraction. I'd say that the word "Overload" in the haunt's name isn't in reference to the towering scarecrows and creatures, but rather the detail that surrounds you. It's impossible to take it all in. Eric is obsessed with the detail. It's everywhere. It's in the shadows. It's over your head. It's on your clothes when you get back into your warm car for the drive home.
To finally experience Haunted Overload. I never thought I'd be standing beneath those massive props. Can't thank Eric enough for giving us the VIP tour and hanging around after hours to chat with us. Such a pleasure.
If you live ANYWHERE near New Hampshire, and you love Halloween, you really must make the effort to see this event. This isn't just some empty "You gotta check this out!" This is from a guy that craves detail and worships Halloween.
Heck, we drove eight hours to see it.
Eric sent me these AMAZING images (taken by Artifact Images):
Buy Tickets Here.
(I snapped a ton of photos and will post them soon)
So we got an invitation to a Halloween Celebration & Pumpkin Carving Party called The Pumpkin Massacre. And it was way up in New Hampshire. And we went.
The master of ceremonies was my good friend Jon. It's the sort of Halloween party that you wish for. A house loaded with decorations, horror movies playing non-stop on the television, and a spread of the most amazing food. Crockpots filled with meatballs, stews, and soup. The biggest tray of lasagna I've ever seen. And delicious pulled pork and lamb.
Hot spiced wine for ladeling and smooth pumpkin ales were among the beverages.
Then the guests started to arrive with their pumpkins. And their knives. A massive tent in the yard waited for us, with rows of tables sporting plastic pumpkins (for pumpkin guts). Gifts would be awarded for the best in each category: Funniest, Most Creative, Most Frightening, Best Traditional, Best Painted, Best Lovecraftian, and finally - the Best In Show.
We carved and laughed and listened to Halloween music filling the yard. As we finished carving, tea lights went into the completed Jack O'Lanterns, lights went off, and we left the darkened tent for the judging to commence. Jon and his wife selected the winners as we all waited in the house, musing about our orange works of art. We returned to a tent of flickering pumpkins, their toasted scent was everywhere. The winners were announced among laughter and applause. Happy to say that I took first place for Best Traditional pumpkin. Awesome.
The weekend before Halloween is usually spent writing and rewriting lists, reworking props, buying supplies, and panicking about being ready for the big day. I'm so glad I broke that tradition. Meeting Jon and his incredible wife and family was the official (and perfect) start of Halloween. I can't think of a better way to kick off this week of weeks. I feel charged, excited, and lucky.
And we better get invited next year.