Sunday, November 4, 2018

Happy Halloween

Opening their treasure chests, they offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.

Matthew 2: 1-12

Pumpkinrot and House of Marrow present...
Halloween 2018: CHURCH

I look back over the last year and I remember the notion of a Haunt called CHURCH (must always be capitalized) forming in my brains.  And I knew my good friend Theo from New Zealand would approve, as he has quite the interest in religious imagery.  Here's an excerpt from the original email exchange back on December 5, 2017:

Me:  I mentioned before how my brain works...where it comes up with something and then whittles and changes down to something totally different...a portion of the original large idea.... but I did have a notion for next year's Haunt... the name alone is what would make me do it... ready? haha...

Halloween 2018: CHURCH

how funny is that?

Theo: oh you're NOT! I'm trying to go to sleep and you drop THIS? (really my fault for always emailing you at like midnight my time)

And there it was.  An idea planted.  And two minds working over the coming months on what such a Haunt should include.  I knew the centerpiece had to be some kind of Triad, but wasn't sure if it should be some sort of statue of wood and limbs or human remains from a nearby cemetery.  And I knew there had to be two sentinel Angels watching all who approached.  I also knew it had to be ambiguous.  No back story accompanying this Haunt.  No idea why an abandoned church in some overgrown dark woods would be glowing brightly from pumpkins, filthy votives, and prayer candles on Halloween night.  

And I knew it had to have real incense burning on charcoals.  

Though something was happening as Theo and I emailed our concepts back and forth - the Haunt was becoming a two-man job.  And I didn't realize it at the time.  One day he asked how I'd feel if he visited the States for Halloween, so he could enjoy an American Halloween and see the Haunt in person.  Oddly and out of character [for me], it just seemed natural and logical, so I said ABSOLUTELY YES.  And thank God I did.

Collaborating with Theo made our CHURCH the way you see it in the photos below.  Ideas became solidified.  Form and layout were defined.  Atmosphere and mood were set.  

It was three days of hard work assembling the display.  Extremely hard work (speaking for myself as Theo seemed to have a source of boundless energy).  I could feel my usual Haunting "short cuts" being tested and challenged.  I could feel myself being pushed in every way to make the Haunt bigger, better, more detailed, WAY more organic, and something quite different from all of my Haunts before it.  So many people commented in person and online that this was the best Haunt to date.   And I agree with them.  And it's due to this wonderful collaboration with Theo.

And a special thanks to Theo for his photography.  All digital photos and the video were shot by him.  

Also wanted to thank my friend K.O. for sending me a photo of prayer candles one day months ago.  Having them placed along the wooden fencing was a great finishing touch and added so much atmosphere as trick or treaters approached our church in the woods.  

A final thought...
Theo and I were engaged in some wonderful discussions with a visiting neighbor who was very impressed with this weird installation of ours.  She asked so many interesting questions about why and how we did what we did and wanted to know what CHURCH was all about.  As I articulated that for whatever reason it appeared that whomever or whatever decided to make religious iconography from human remains in an abandoned church in the woods , she asked "...but didn't YOU guys make this?  What do you mean by 'who' or 'what'?"  I answered, "We just don't know who did this...or why."  

Our CHURCH is mysterious.

As Theo put it at one point, "It's like some form of...   Dark Sacred Energy."

Click here for the video (filmed and edited by Theo).


Ragged Grin said...

Well I've seen things today I never imagined I would...and the gifts just keep on coming.
What a truly astonishing and utterly gorgeous evil monster this haunt is. Dark, sacred, energized...pure Halloween magic! Unparalleled. Just an incredible collaboration. Iconography is perfect, faces on these figures are perfect, lighting is perfect...and the brilliance of those God it is such a collaboration would seem destined to be.


Anonymous said...

It’s as if three kings tried releasing an evil to benefit their rule. But as it was unleashed, the spirit drained the kings’ energy and that is where they remained. As for the two angels, they are ancient guardians of “The CHURCH”. There is only one unknown person who is allowed to enter to light the candles and place jackolanterns to pay homage to whatever was released inside.
Anyone else that approaches will reanimate the “Angelic Guardians”, and will be struck down.

(Just my imaginative two cents) :)

Anonymous said...

You three did an incredible job this year. So cool to having Theo for the extra helping hand, and I’m sure you three had a really great time doing all of it. Great talent came together to put this creepy haunt together.

Rot said...

Thanks, gents!

Unknown said...

Yup, I’d attend this church! Just fantastic my friends. There’s not much I can add in the way of commentary, except that I am so happy that the three of you chose to collaborate in this amazing installation. This is the SPIRIT of creativity! This is the SPIRIT of Halloween. Dark, sacred, ritual of creativity.

Willow Cove said...

I am totally blown away at the detail of these pictures! Bean and Theo did such an amazing job at capturing the feeling of CHURCH. To be a fly on a pumpkin on that porch that week. Damn.
And I keep getting a "in The Mouth of Madness" vibe. Some alternative Halloween universe where its more than one day. Or even True Detective. And the Christian religious tones are presented in such a way as to not be sacrilegious but offer a glimpse of something possible even in our world. Just look at places that present saints, and their body parts adorned in jewels and gold. And the mummified remains of the monks around the world. Dark but reverent Something no one would want to come across alone in the woods. Or to wonder who is watching over it. Some ancient sites will never be explained.
Now you got me thinking about mummified angels....
I love the story of how you and Theo planned this. Way to step outta your comfort zone. seriously. For me it could be overwhelming to try to explain to anyone other than my wife what is going on in my cluttered brain regarding a vision about a scene or display. And to explain to visitors and neighbors about it. You guys did an outstanding job. Kudos and Thank you!

Theo said...

Had the best time in the WORLD putting this together and spending last week with you two. And seeing all the props and Bean's and my pics together on the blog is beyond wonderful.

That very first pic... dark... sacred... earthy... energy
And I'll never forget that moment at the end of the night when we shut off all the lights but the blue floods and the kings turned into those spectral silhouettes. Just magic.

Thanks for the wonderful write-up. I guess I'd better get started on mine!
And here's to CHURCH!!!

Theo said...

And thank you all for the wonderful comments!

VenomStorm said...

Year after year you continue to amaze. I know you don’t do this to impress us, but it is incredible that you up your game enough to surprise and amaze us. I have been following you “live” for 3 Halloweens. That means I had already poured over the 2001-2015 haunts. I had quickly seen the way the haunt had grown and evolved. I was so excited to see what the 2016 haunt would be.. to see you post pictures live on Halloween and not just as a relic of some bygone era. I had (and continue to have) a certain level of expectation out of what the haunt will look like. Reality rarely meets our own expecatations and we are often left with some level of disapointment. In your case, you always manage to not only meet, but exceed expectations. No matter how much I get hyped for a haunt, you make it better than I expect it to be. For CHURCH i was expecting something very grand, considering how complete a scene the 2017 haunt was. Even given everything I thought the haunt would be, you blew me and my expectations away. You continue to set the bar for what a Halloween haunt should be. Thank you for sharing your gift, your passion, and from time to time your expertise.

Rot said...

Thank you VERY much : )

I really appreciate that.

I can't say that any other Haunt became such a major part of my life while working on it.
A lot of research, and a lot of things outside of my comfort zone....

And Church incense....everyone seemed to get such a kick out of that familiar scent being present on the porch of a house on Halloween night.
And it was neat because so many parents/adults said it reminded them of being a child in church. Which was really cool.

drhatdi said...

Rot, what happens to all your pumpkins in the weeks following Halloween? Do you let them slowly decay around the yard? Do you take them to a pumpkin graveyard in the woods? I wonder, with your imagaination, if you ever considered creating a post-Halloween display, perhaps in a field or somewhere lonely, featuring your rotting pumpkins as the nights become longer, the days colder, and the season wanes.

I always love seeing the true diehards leaving out their pumpkins/ghosts/skeletons in the days & weeks after the holiday has passed.

Amy said...

Rot, Bean & Theo, fantastic work. It’s amazing that each and every picture is equally awesome. It’s pretty rare that the daylight shots look as awesome as the night shots, but they do.

Curious as to how trick or treaters reacted to this. Did kids actually walk up into the CHURCH?

Thanks for all your hard work, we look forward t it every year.

Rot said...

Thanks, guys!

drhatdi, I wish I had a more mysterious answer for you, but due to the fact that we carve the pumpkins the day before the photoshoot (day before Halloween usually), they are pretty soft and vile the day after Halloween. So they're hard to move outside of pushing them inside a bag and carrying them into the corner of our yard like a Dark Santa dumping orange heads. So they end up in the same location as all the other pumpkins since 2011... which is fitting. But I Love the idea of putting them somewhere in the woods...and checking in on them.

Rot said...

Amy, trick or treaters seemed to do what they always do.. ignore the surroundings. haha. They usually say "I LOVE ALL YOUR PUMPKINS!" but almost don't even look up at the figures ...happens every year.

The big difference this year was from the parents. So many complimented the display and asked a bunch of questions. The incense was key. A lot of people said it reminded them of memories when they were younger and attending church.

K.O. said...

AMAZING collaboration of three astoundingly talented artists!!!! Y'all brought this holy vision to life so perfectly, so completely. This is a powerful, sacred work of Halloween art that surpasses every single haunt I've ever seen. Congrats all around on making magic!!

girl6 said...

i thought of CHURCH while in church (HAHAHA) on All Saints day..especially, while listening to one of my favourite scripture readings from the book of Revelation. it's SO beautiful. when THE angels were mentioned (i closed my eyes & saw your haunted angels with their ruby red hearts glowing full of fire) & when the reading reveals the robes of the sinners & martyrs have been made white, because, they were washed in the blood of the lamb/christo. OMG..all their stress, pain & impurities were washed away because they had faith..they didn't have to be perfect to be perfect. they are perfect. chills me every time & that's when..i imagined the faces of your 3 Noble Lovers..SO wise & beautiful in their serenity & sadness. (like that little zombie boy of yours that i LOVE so much..same face) OtherWorldy Messengers left here from another (ancient) time. i feel as tho they're still alive. like alive in that ancient kinda, all in your head, coma, sorta way. but, VERY much still alive. the muffled beat of their ancient hearts are lost to the sounds of the wind & rustling leaves while they patiently wait. & when the time is right..they WILL RETURN with their gifts.

& You gotta..just GOTTA have a Virgin of Guadalupe (candle) homage in a religious haunt or it's just totally sacrilegious if you DON'T. No worries tho..i see that you have included one.<333 Guadalupe IS the Shizzzzzzz. she's like the Ramones..THEY ARE FOR EVERYONE..not the select few!!! her feast day is coming up in's December 12th.

i LOVE this years haunt. it's MOS Def my Fave. i suspected it was gonna be..i was like 110% sure. my second fave is now..the StrawMan..another ancient beauty.<333

SO Cool..that you got to celebrate Halloween with your favourite people. i was never a subscriber to that can't pick your family but you can pick your friends. nahhhhh!!! you can certainly choose both & i think this post proves it.

VenomStorm said...

You’re most welcome Rot.

That’s funny about the Tots. As I try to up my game Ive been curious about how “normal” people react lol. My graveyard got lots of compliments, but youre right, tots seem to love pumpkins the most. Parents appreciated my work on the other stuff the most.

Btw, I can literally smell that incense every time you mention it. I know exactly why it got the reaction it did. Perfect choice.

Spinwitch said...

This is jaw-dropping my gorgeous. I think the haunts with an element of beauty touch something in our psyche. Blood and gore tries to scare but is only a cheap imitation that gives only a surface reaction. This one is visceral.

Holy Tarra said...

I am nearly left speechless by how beautiful these are. All I can say is if this were on my front porch I would have an incredibly hard time dismantling it.....would leave it there until after Christmas at least. Amazing job you guys!

Rot said...

Thanks, guys!

Holy Tarra, totally could have worked as a Christmas display!

wicKED said...

The contrast between day and night shots is sublime! I cannot decide which I like the best! Absolutely outstanding job gentlemen! BRAVO!

Rot said...

Thanks, guys!

Girl6, thanks for sharing and for such a nice post : )
So glad this Haunt was your fave.

Rob said...

Rot, Theo... you two continue to inspire! Stunning work! I just watched the video on YouTube. How eerily beautiful, captivating and mesmerizing!

Forde said...

The beauty of the unholy beautiful and organic it looks like the remains of a lost cult. Thanks for all the inspiration you provide to so many!

Unknown said...

Every year, I eagerly look forward to seeing your work--and I have yet to be disappointed. The YouTube video was amazing, and I wish that I could see all this in person. Stunning and inspiring, Rot!

Rot said...

Thank you VERY much.
We appreciate that : )

Evil Vines Cemetery said...

I still come back to look at this version of your haunt. After 12 years of catholic school so much of this imagery resonates with me. And even though I'm a cafeteria catholic that's left the café, I've got catholicism on the brain right now. Please tell me you guys are watching Midnight Mass on Netflix. I think you'll dig it.

Rot said...

Thanks! So glad you dig this Haunt so much. Definitely was a labor of love and the most work on a Haunt to date for me (not Theo, as he never tired).
I JUST got into watching Midnight Mass (very late to that game)....and am loving it to pieces.