Friday, November 3, 2017

Happy Halloween

Halloween, 1921

It was another odd year by way of weather.  A giant storm packed with heavy rain and wind passed through and finally gave up the ghost at 8AM on Monday, the 30th.  I ran outside and began work on mushy ground.  The winds were surreal.  To date, the worst ever while prepping a Haunt.  We worked through the day and around 9PM, just as I was whining that the night shoot photos would have to take place in the early hours of Halloween, the wind stopped.  I ran for the bags of leaves in the yard and began spreading them like a man who had lost his mind.  But they stayed in place.  And the candles stayed lit.

Halloween morning, the winds returned.  Hours of heavy gusts that literally removed every leaf from the porch floor and whipped the clothesline around until the clothes were wrapped around each other and the line.  I yelled "My Laundry!" to no one.

Then, in the late afternoon sun of Halloween, the wind ceased.  I ran for more leaves.  And our cameras.  Success.  The evening was calm and cool, and everyone seemed excited about the display.  I think the lighting and the clothesline created a depth that my Haunt hasn't seen before.  And people seemed to really dig the effect.  Thankfully. (Though someone did say "So what's with the clothesline?")

So below are the photos which answered the question I kept asking myself throughout the build - "What would I make if I lived in 1921?"  I hope you enjoy them.






















































































58 comments:

Rot said...

The usual overabundance of photos...though I personally love when folks upload a ton of shots. it's like being there...like moving around through their display.

The Creeping Cruds said...

Wondrous! The twig hair is a nice touch :-) No shortcuts whatsoever. Every detail is to perfection. I only wish I could see it in person.. I really hope there's a haunted barn somewhere with the corpses of Rot past all perfectly placed..
Nice work bu the master yet again.

Sara said...

Too much to say so I won’t. The day shots are by far the best I’ve seen you guys capture. The night shots with that one single pop of green. Amazing. But the day shots revealed all of the organic glory. The witches. Their ugly faces and I swear I want to rip off their masks and see what’s inside. So we’ll done.

Rot said...

Thanks, guys!

Sara, that made me laugh... wondering what's under those masks.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Just amazing. So much great stuff, I love LOVE the witches. And your photography is awesome, makes everything just shine. So nice.

K.O. said...

Simply INCREDIBLE!!!! I love every single one of those sepia-toned shots. And that clothesline was a stroke of sheer genius!!! Very happy to see that the weather calmed down just in time for you to work your magic.

VenomStorm said...

Such amazing detail. I loved the lighting at night. I loved seeing your artistic progression from last year into this one. The buckets of vegetables were a really nice touch. I really liked the throw back Halloween theme. It did not lose any of its fright value either. You definently wonder what is under those witches masks. So creepy! Amazing job. You are such an inspiration!

In Irons said...

Great job as always Rot...

I do like those Can-kins (the cans cutout like jack o lanterns). How hard was that to cut out?

Wren said...

This is probably my favorite year yet - wonderful :)

Rot said...

In Irons.. if you're using old cans, it's pretty hard.
But I went to the local ACME and bought two cans of decaf coffee in metal cans (cheaper to buy decaf)... but the metal is very thin and easy to cut with a box cutter. Though i'd recommend thick gloves and always cutting away from the human body... a lesson i learned early (though i still didn't do the glove thing...and wish i had).

I spray painted them a rust orange, and then painted them with terra cotta and brown acrylics with coffee mixed into the paint. Everyone thought they were really rusted out.

Rot said...

And thanks, guys! I really appreciate the kind words.

Old Hag said...

Genius...every year. Love the buckets of vegetables, clothesline, tin JOLs...all of it. I particularly love the slipknot of rope around the witches necks to keep their masks on. I, also, wanted to get a peek at the decay under their masks. Made me laugh to know I'm not the only one spreading leaves like a flowergirl at a wedding. I actually gather/steal leaves from my neighbors when I don't have enough. Actually, I never have enough. Love your haunt...

Haunted Eve said...

Great looking as usual. Love your organic haunting style. We'll be borrowing some ideas from you for our haunt next year!

Willow Cove said...

Another beautiful haunt! Well done. Those witches are so beautiful and creepy with their sack heads. And the detail in each face!
The scarecrows. So simplistic, so ephemeral- like in that book.
Love the apples, corn, and leaves. Your day shots with the sun shining thru the background is great.
The can tea lights are awesome. I think there's going to be a surge of witch cans/ Rot-cans, like witch jars.....

Holy Tarra said...

These shots are divine!!! Absolutely DIVINE!!!! I especially love the top one with the sun rays coming thru. I am still dreaming and hoping that someday you will publish a coffee table book of these photos. I would proudly have mine displayed all year every year. Truly amazing work, Rot. Thanks for being a continuous source of inspiration.

Matt said...

Absolutely stunning! Truly transports us back in time. The tin can work brought a whole new element to your display. Amazing job, as usual!

Theo said...

I want to say I’m lost for words, but we both know this is gonna be a monster of a comment.

I’ll begin by saying that this is already my favorite year of yours to date, surpassing both 2009 and 2016 in my books. The Twig Witches and Rusty-Can Scarecrows are dead f***ing cool in a million different ways, and all of the peripheral elements just elevate it something even greater. It feels like you’re really breaking new ground here, but I’m also sensing a particularly close union between this year’s display and the last. The witches definitely look like relatives of the Strawman, but the similarity is more in the overall feel of the display… primitive and somehow connected to the ancient roots of Halloween.

But while something feels deeply timeless about this display, you’ve really nailed that specific 1920s vibe with the aged photographs and rustic decor. It’s in the little things like the dark-green unripened pumpkins and buckets of turnips. Everything comes together perfectly and transports you to another era. And what works so well here is that it's no longer trying to be a forest or cornfield or graveyard of rising ghouls... it's a yard haunt, and proudly so. That seems like a strange thing to say, but with the wooden fencing and garlands of Indian corn and old clothesline hanging in the background... its status as a decorated home isn't something to be hidden anymore, but embraced.

I guess in that way it's similar to your 2015 haunt, but what's really interesting is that while 2015 presented itself as real corpses 'decorating' a killer's yard... it's hard to tell whether those three ghastly witches are meant to be taken as intricate props built by your great-great-grandfather or real creatures… or something in between. There's an unsettling ambiguity about them, with their strange twig limbs and rotting skull faces semi-hidden beneath cloth masks. So while it looks like they could raise their awful heads at any moment... they also function perfectly as static props within the 'world' of the haunt.

But all meta-haunting commentary aside, I think this year's haunt just exhudes spooky October magic. Your work always seems to have its finger firmly on the pulse of Halloween... but this feels like the closest you've come to the heart. It's the perfect balance of creepy and whimsical, of rustic manmade props and autumnal organic elements, of light and dark. It’s beyond evocative… I look at these images I hear rustling leaves, smell burning pumpkinflesh, feel a chilly autumn wind on my skin. It truly is bottled Halloween.

So bravo to you two for outdoing yourselves once again… and in ways we didn’t even know you could. Looking from your 2007 Ghost Dead display to this, I simply cannot fathom what we’ll be seeing from you in another ten years… although I can guarantee that we’ll be there to behold it, whatever it may be.

Jeff said...

Rot and Bean...

What can I say? Each year you bring the goods, each year better than the one before. True...no Strawman, no Blind Sentinel for me to pore over for 6 months, but as someone else recently said...like Corn Witch, there is just something magical about this, it's almost like a film set depicting an era long since passed. The scope and breaststroke

It's absolutely brilliant in my eyes, brilliant. Congratulations on another amazing love letter to Halloween and thank you for sharing it with all of us.

: )

Mr. Chicken said...

Fantastic. I haven't been by in some time. Great to see you're still bringing a new flavor to familiar images.

Juli Riedel said...

I feel your pain with the weather! It was a tough season this year! However, you and Bean pulled it off and the pictures are just amazing! I particularly like the pumpkin can lights! Wonderful job again Rot! Well done!

Christopher Weeks said...

Mr. J - I absolutely love this. It is akin to my Halloween soul and takes me so far back to my youth. As always, you reveal yourself to be such and incredible artist, especially of gesture and proportion. This set of photos is stunning. I could go on, but I think you know you’ve done quite well.

Thank you for being who you are, and doing what you do my spooky friend!

Jeff said...

Not a single micheals or spirit Halloween decoration to be seen, ha! I've always thought you had a vintage, timeless style but this really ties it all together. Great Work!

Amy said...

Rot your work is truly beyond belief. Honestly, more "Halloween" than anything I've ever seen. I've been trying to smell these pictures for the last 15 minutes.

JHMDF said...

Two favorite bits of detail, the twig hair poking out from under the hats, and the shadow of the pitchfork spikes going up the wall from the light underneath it. :)

Colleen said...

The wind up here on Halloween was vicious. It took one of my props and smashed it. Twice. Fixable though. The wind made set up a bitch and I had to abandon an idea all together because of it. ..and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as it was dark and the trick or treaters started, the wind stopped. Anyway, great display as usual Sir. I’m glad you made it through the crazy weather. It’s been a wild one up here!

Jay's Shadow said...

I absolutely can feel the old world Halloween in this haunt. WONDERFUL.

It’s really cool how you added the hung laundry, the small picket fence, and adding the apples, corn and turnips.
Would of loved to have just sat on your porch and enjoyed the evening amongst all of this.

This is the first haunt I would have called beautiful..........

Primwitch69 said...

This is right in my wheelhouse. I have looked and looked and looked at these photos and I cannot believe how wonderful everything looks OMG!!!!! Those “rusty” lanterns truly look like they are RUSTED! I LOOOOVVVEEE how you made the faces so rough cut and primitive looking - I’ve tried to do this but I can’t. Your witches, clothesline, barrel, jackos, apples, corn, turnips...I’m just so in love with EVERYTHING I wish EVERYONE COULD SEE THESE PHOTOS!!!!! To Bean & you...I am forever grateful to you both for all of your talent and creativity. Thank you so much for sharing these incredible photos with us!!!!!

Old Fashion Halloween said...

You really captured the creepy sack masks of the era with the witches. Love the witches hands. Texture, layering, organic materials, and lighting. Its a stunning creation.

Jeannine520 said...

What a treat these images are, better than candy to my eyes!! Such a beautiful display, the details are exquisite. That clothesline, love it! The garlic on the cross, the witches faces, and those coffee can jack-o-lanterns, just beautiful. I would have loved to see your display in person in the cold evening air. Did any music accompany your haunt?? Thank you for posting your pics - I can't get enough of them.

Rot said...

A HUGE thank you to everyone. Just can't thank you enough for the kind words.

My brother sent me an email after seeing the photos:
"There's no way to top this next year. You should kill yourself."

Rot said...

Jeannine, the music this year was a mixture of High Noon's ATMOSFEAR and a playlist using all the mellower tracks from The Caretaker's SELECTED MEMORIES FROM THE HAUNTED BALLROOM:
https://thecaretaker.bandcamp.com/album/selected-memories-from-the-haunted-ballroom

I figured music from the time period (distorted and creepy) was the best way to go, and it really worked.

Jeff said...

I'm trying to recall what I meant to say rather than "breaststroke"...and now that's saved forever in haunt comment history...

Of course, I love the build of those little witches and as others have stated, my first thought was to wonder what was under their period attire, love the stickly arms and hands, the bit of ribcage poking out and of course the straggly hair. Love the cans, the little fence, the laundry, the overall vibe is incredible.

Anyway...your brother is crazy, you two can top this, I'm not sure how...that's not my job after all. As the kids say, "you got this".

Pumpkin5 said...

I am so glad that the winds ceased so you could create this vision. I love the scarecrow witches with the vine hair, but the coffee can pumpkins are my favorite. It reminds me of going to my grandparents house when coffee cans were used for everything. Back then you didn't go to the store and buy Tupperware, you cleaned out your old coffee cans and used them. I remember going into my grandpa's work shed to bring him some nails and lifting off the lid of that old coffee can and the very faint, faded aroma of coffee-long gone, wafting up. Your pictures bring up ghosts of the past.....very cool.

Ann said...

Awesome is an overused word, but appropriate in this case. I am gobsmacked.

Love the black-and-white photographs--so evocative.

wicKED said...

You really have captured the old vintage Halloween photo feel! Some of them I swear would just fit right in with the old creepy Halloween pics of old. The organic feel of the apples and the clothesline in back make it feel real but way out there in creep factor. Well done!!!

lady M said...

Love the organic, textured feel to all your creations. Each set of pictures has its own cool vibe and color scheme. In spite of the weather, you have accomplished Halloween perfection yet again.

Jeanne Wright said...

I loved the cans. They remind me of my work as an archaeologist out here in the west where there are still cans from the Oregon Trail if you look hard enough. I've found many old campsites from the 30's and 40's all across the west. They always help me imagine what life was like then. Tobacco tins, coffee, tins and canned food cans- all with stories to tell. You haunt evoked that feeling I always get when I find old cans out in the middle of nowhere where someone stopped during their travels in an old model T and spent the night.

Steve Ring said...

Oh man that is so great.

Adam said...

Hi have you to thank for making me aware of Hauted Air. It makes me wish that Halloween still had that creepy appeal. This haunt is amazing. A whole new level if you will. I’m beyond thankful you do what you do. Praise, and thank you.

Wikkedmoon said...

I have to agree that the cans are my favorite. But I need some new adjectives! Vintage and organic do not quite cut it. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication Rot and Bean. This haunt was truly amazing. Arrrghhh! That sounds so lame! But yes -- so very cool.

Rania said...

Be still my little black heart🖤

Eric Wetherington said...

Looks great, as always!

randy cone said...

We do a couple of haunts for clients in our area here in Canada,I always get inspiration from Pumpkinrot! There is nothing out there to compare you with.I love everything you come up with.This feels like Halloween.Absolutely love the clothesline And the unkept,worn,timely look you achieved.The personalities you give a simple tin can or a carved pumpkin are asstounding.When on earth do you have time to carve all the pumpkins? I love the way you integrate simple old implements like an oak barrel,market baskets,pitchfork,sickle and Indian corn swags.Always admire the abundance of corn shucks. I would love to see it all in person and thanks for all of the photos they really take me there.So SpOOkY!

Grim said...

You nailed it! Great job, as always.

Wikkedmoon said...

I have always wondered about the pumpkin-carving too. Lots and lots of pumpkin carving.

Stephanie D said...

Love the atmosphere of this one, and the photographs are all works of art. I can just see these on period postcards. My favorites were the small scarecrow with an old shirt near the baskets of produce, and the coffee can jack-o-lanterns. Amazing rust-making job! But even creepier is the sight of those faces suspended in the background. Something about jack-o-lantern faces that you expect to see at Halloween, but on the ground, not in mid-air, is the stuff of unsettling dreams.

Mike V. said...

Perfection. I can't decide which grouping of pictures I like the most. Such attention to detail and I love the cans. The mood was set perfectly. Damn you Rot. You are very talented. You really do need to open up your own walk through haunt.

girl6 said...

my fave scarecrow/witches story(ies) belong to the mind of Lyman Frank Baum (or Frank Oz as i call him) AND..William W. Denslow was certainly the man for the job of breathing life into the OZ characters & bringing them alive on paper. unfortunately he only illustrated the first OZ book in the series & John R. Neill illustrated the others & sorta had to use Denslow's creations as a template while adding his own flair in order to tie all the illustrations of the book series together. Neill's images are also beauties but of a different sort. everything Denslow touched felt like Halloween. he made Halloween feel like it existed everyday of the year in every image he created. Neill's interpretations are mos def more glamorous. interesting enough both were Philly boys once upon a time.

all of these pics really channel Denslow for me. they are Old School Halloween Americana, which is truly the Best Halloween!!! i think anything you worked on would always feel like it was born from Halloween, just like Denslow.

http://illustratorslounge.com/wp-content/uploads/william-wallace-denslow-01.jpg

all of the books (fairy tales) Denslow worked on are deserving of high praise. especially.."the pearl & the pumpkin" a perfect Halloween story. hard to pick a fave tho.

would be SO cool to see this haunt shot on one of the RPPC cameras made by Kodak way back in the day. i can really imagine the velvety sepia. would be like time travel back to the 1920's!!!

NecroBones said...

Oh man, I'm only now getting to see these. We had a Halloween party this weekend, the first in many years (since we have friends who usually host them, and everyone we'd invite already goes to those!). We're still in tear-down mode, so now I'm "relaxing" at my desk at work, and can finally bask in the images posted by other haunters!

I have to say, I absolutely LOVE the witches this year. They have a scarecrow sort of quality to them, and its a cool blending of themes that works surprisingly well. Man, you really know how to squeeze a lot of atmosphere into a limited amount of space.

We dealt with the rain and wind leading up to the big day too. I shared your frustrations with setup. We ended up doing the bulk of it in the wind, and there was just enough of a break to take some picture that evening, only to find several props knocked over on Halloween morning. BUT WE GOT THROUGH IT, and Halloween evening itself felt like it should.

Xii said...

In one photo there appears to be a vine in the foreground with some sort of green and black spiky fruit. I love the look of this. Can you identify the plant?

Rot said...

We love that plant...and we always ask ourselves "what would a witch grow in HER garden?"... so we picked that up...sadly it's an annual, but I replant the seeds from those pods and it grows again. Neat deep purple flowers with weird white interiors...and then those amazing pods.
https://parkseed.com/ballerina-purple-angels-trumpet-seeds/p/00359-PK-P1/

Xii said...

Angel's trumpet! I've seen them with white or peach colored flowers, but not purple. I had no idea they made such dramatic seed pods. Thanks, I'm going to try that next spring.

Rot said...

I saw a bush of the white in my neighborhood ...and I think they might be perennials. though the cool purple witch ones are def annuals...the sees that come out of those pods look like pepper seeds. tons of them. So I just start poking them into the dirt pre spring...low tech...

MorbidMariah said...

WOW! I really love it! I have always loved "Olde Timey" Halloween style masks and decor. They're so primitive and haunting. You really did an awesome homage but made it your own, in the way that only you can. Bravo! And thank you for the info about the music and the cool spiky flowers. I LOVE the Haunted Ballroom stuff and would have never known about it without you sharing the info. Thanks, Rot! I can imagine how perfectly it complimented your display. I'm so jealous of all the lovely leaves! Here in Tucson, we don't really have leaves. hehe And my very favorite things of all the wonderful things in the display this year is the witches' twiggy hair and the way the fabric masks fold and wrinkle and have rough edges. It really just puts the creepy icing on the haunting cake! :)

Vintage Seance said...

Ok I'm always in love with your haunt every year, but this year... I'm obsessed! Seriously, this is a whole new level of a one of a kind haunt (which I never knew was possible) - such great work!

J said...

Just incredible!! I love the touches like the bobbing for apples, the clothes line, the rusty pumpkin cans everywhere. I love the leaves... the massive amount of leaves. I just want to walk through them and hear them crunching under my feet. Fabulous job. You always do a fabulous job. Such a work of art. Thank you!

Countess VonRauber (Heidi) said...

So. Much. Detail. Full immersion into your vision and into that time period. I can't stop staring at the witch's cloth faces. They are hauntingly fantastic. The carrot nose is just genius. The apples are the perfect pop of color and another great organic element. The old barrel blends is a nice touch. The string of garlic around the rustic grave marker is perfect. I love the ears of corn strung over it all. Every shot yielded another fine detail. I really, really enjoyed admiring this year's haunt through your photos :)

Rot said...

Thanks!!!