Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Dreams

I've been having trouble... sleeping... lately. Not nightmares exactly, just bland disorderly dreams. I've been admonished by friends, that I ought to try mugwort. It's supposed to help with dreams, purportedly intensifies dreaming, can help develop lucid dreams and even prophetic dreaming. I saw that they had bulk mugwort at the New Frontier market, so I purchased a bit. It smokes nicely, it's easier to keep lit than the more dense and moist tobacco, and has a pleasant herbal smell. I'll be making some tea with it before bed too.

Oh, and the beer is superfluous, except that it's really good, really pumpkin-y, and the label says that its dedicated to the Púca.

Also, a sneak glimpse of one of my Halloween props for this year. It's up to you to deduce what exactly it is that's glowing over there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Tired

Ooh, up all night and this morning shooting and watching dailies. It was a fun shoot, all about saying rude words, stabbings, pools of fake blood, and smooshing rubber heads into birthday cakes.

Pic by our lovely makeup and effects artist Serina Woodcock

This is Lenny St. James, or actually, just his head. This practical effect was lovingly handcrafted over the course of months by our dear director Gary Wilder. Because we believe in latex rubber and corn syrup, damn it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First of the Season

In with the equinox, rainclouds blew to finally cool things off. Some of the stores are finally getting their Halloween stuff in. The S*P*I*R*T is up and running, great location in the mall, black walls standard.

I headed out on this drizzly afternoon, nabbed a slice of cheese pizza and an espresso, and perused the Halloween aisle at Bi-Mart. Meager compared with previous years, but man are these pumpkins ever fresh.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Minions of Misery

wicKED of the "Something wicKED this way comes" blog picked me to be one of the inheritors of the "Minions of Misery" title. Something like a chain letter, only with the dark piquancy of terrible secrets. So, I am bound to share with you A) Dark Book, B) Dark Film C) A Dark Secret of my Past, before passing on this mantle to three lucky souls.

Dark Book

The House With a Clock in Its Walls
-By John Bellairs
and illustrated by Edward Gorey

Not particularly dark, being a children's novel, but this book had a huge impact on me when I was a child. I read it one summer, as part of the library reading program, and being the weirdo monster kid that I was, I only really read books about devils, werewolves, and vampires.

But The House With a Clock in Its Walls is something special. The characters stuck with me long after reading. I had vivid dreams of adventures with Lewis, Jonathan, and Mrs. Zimmerman. The house at 100 High St seemed something out of my own unconscious mind.

It begins with recently orphaned Lewis Barnavelt arriving in the quaint town of "New Zebedee" Michigan, where he is to become the charge of his good-hearted Uncle Jonathan, who turns out to be a gen-yoo-wine wizard. Jonathan lives next door to his best friend, and honest to goodness witch, Florence Zimmerman. Jonathan's house is a grand mansion built by its previous owners, the malevolent wizards Isaac and Selenna Izard.

Lewis discovers that Jonathan roams the halls of the mansion after hours, stopping all of the hundreds of clocks in the house for the night. All but the one he can't find, the titular clock in the walls, a mysterious device left somewhere in the house by the insidious Izards, to tick away the seconds 'til doomsday.

The mystery of the clock aside, Lewis settles in to a happy life with Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman, and his not quite as happy life at school. Lewis is bullied by the other kids, he doesn't quite fit in. He only has one friend, Tarby, a kid who is seemingly everything that Lewis isn't. Strong, brave, and coveted for his talent at sports.

But their friendship is tenuous at best, so Lewis plots a plan to secure their flagging friendship. He'll use Uncle Jonathan's magick books to cast a spell, just a little Halloween trick to impress Tarby.

I really sympathized with Lewis, myself being a shy-uncoordinated-tubby little dork. I knew painfully well the feeling of alienation on the schoolyard, and the fear of losing your one and only, but largely incompatible, friend. So I understood how Lewis could stumble into dark powers, with only the best of intentions. How Lewis could unleash the dark forces that he did, without intending to.

I picked up a collection of the Lewis Barnavelt stories at Smith Family Bookstore, and I still read this every year. It's written for children but it doesn't pander. The author John Bellairs respects the intelligence of his juvenile audience and like the best children's cinema, it's just as heartfelt for adults as it is for kids.

Dark Film

Sante Sangre (Blood Saint)
-Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky

I debated whether I should choose this for my dark film. It's more than just dark, and more than just a horror film. It delves into the fractured psyches of characters with broken souls.

Much like Peter Medak's excellent "The Ruling Class" it's a movie that seems to delve deeper and deeper, darker and darker. There are no reprieves, no cinematic hand of god, to save the characters from the fates that unfold for them. It has no mercy, much as life shows us no mercy.

More than anything, it reminded me of how it felt to be a child, growing up in a world of seemingly mad adults.

Sante Sangre is a film about a boy, Fenix, the son of the abusive circus ring-master and knife thrower. Fenix mother is a trapeze artist, and the leader of a sacrilegious catholic cult, that worships a saint of their own choosing, a little girl whose arms were cut off during an assault. Alma, deaf and mute, is the daughter of the tattooed lady, the target of the knife throwing act, and mistress to the knife thrower. Together, Fenix and Alma perform a magic show in the circus, and rely on each-other to weather to excesses of their parents dark compulsions.

The film follows the story of Fenix and Alma's traumatic childhood, and then their traumatic adulthoods. A story of pain, and perhaps catharsis. I don't want to say too much, I think that the film needs to be absorbed moment by moment, without expectations. I was more or less paralyzed while watching it.

Dark Secret

It's really hard to think of a dark secret. I'm not altogether secretive, and honestly, my conscience is pretty clear. If I've done misdeeds, I'm pretty open about them. But I thought of one story that I haven't had cause to recall recently. It probably is a secret, if the others involved don't recall it.

When I was kid, I had two friends on my block, one was a girl and one was a boy. We had a creek, despite growing up in the city, around the ghetto, a thin sliver of jungle forest ran behind my house. We played in the creek sometimes.

One time, we were exploring, when we found a dead cat. I think it was black, and it laid, dry, flattened, and tough, safely away from the waters edge. We were sort of overcome with the revelation of death, entranced. We agreed that we should do something with this cat. Maybe we wanted to honor its life, offer it a proper burial. Maybe we were a little drunk on feeling of triumph over death.

We each found a stick, and pushed it down the creek bed, chanting a song about the dead cat. I don't remember the words, or the meaning of the chant. I think we went a little mad. It was ritual, compulsive and inexplicable. We slid it over concrete and sand. Down the creek-bed, to the waterfall. The water poured off of a concrete wall, over a fifteen foot drop, into a pool that flowed into a man-made tunnel. We cheered as we pushed the dessicated cat over the brink. It stayed there for a while, in that pool. Stupid street kids went swimming there sometimes, the water was probably toxic, running through the city as it did. But it was also tainted by that dead cat.

I'm not sure what came over us that afternoon. We reveled in what we were doing. Afterwards I was frightened, I've been a very composed person since, afraid of the dark forces that I learned could overcome people. I became hyper-sensitized to my own unconscious compulsions.

Years later we would explore further down the creek, even into the tunnel. We always fancied we could see the cat's skeleton, still bobbing in the algae black water.

-=~ & ~=-

Now, three more victims, I'll choose:

V is Vivienne Moss inhumed by a vamp

N is for Necropolis who choked on a nail

D is for Dr. Theda found dumped in a ditch

Monday, September 19, 2011

What To Do With Your Soul

Shots from the set of the shoot last night. I assumed that some of these set dressings were African in origin, well you know what assumptions make me. Our producer Dave set me straight, actually these are from Fiji:

This is for whacking you on the head and stealing your soul...

Whereas THIS is for trapping your soul once you've been whacked

Incidentally, the boars head is handmade by my brother, who makes these weirdo fur monster masks. They've got sweet jaw-action. Just thought I'd mention, in case anyone is interested in commissioning one.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Corpse Instruments

Not sure if this would be more appropriate on my art blog, but I made these corpsed instruments for our feature length motion picture: "Blackbird Pie".

I found the little ukulele at St. Vinny, and the guitar was donated by our awesome makeup artist Serina Woodcock. I de-stringed 'em, and then corpsed them with paper mache. Paint, lacquer, and re-stringed with gorilla glue.

Then we rocked out with them for our weird Cab Calloway/Flesicheresque song and dance number. This movie is going to be really weird.

Bonus prop: Tombstone

This was kind of a neat challenge, it had to look modern enough to be from the 90's, but old looking enough to match the other tombstones in pioneer cemetary. I gave it a blocky modern shape, and then weathered it down with a sanding block and acetone.

I cut two sheets of styrofoam insulation in half, and then layered them together with glue. I printed out the epitaph and cut it out with a craft knife. I printed it too small though, the full epitaph read:

Richard Turner
phd. dds. bs. dor. etc.

beloved father and husband

Born 1969 Deceased 1999 At the unsightly age of 30

Here lies Dick
Who dug in the dirt
He found what he looked for
And now lies inert

Backstory y'all! Also, some terrible puns. Richard doesn't lie inert for very long, in fact we exhumed him to accompany us on mandolin during the song and dance.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crack dem bones,

In my fury and haste I backed over a box of Halloween props that I was lending to the movie shoot on Sunday. Everything seems to be okay, except my brand spanking new plastic skull. Darn it, I was looking forward to lighting a candle on this sucker. Oh well, shattered skull sounds like an intriguing base for a papier-mâché prop.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It Blew in with the Wind

Original Pic by Jason Willis

So, with a snap of his spindly fingers, August summons September. It was summer hot just last weekend, but come Monday it was cool and overcast. Already feels like autumn, and the trees have already started to turn.

A lot of haunters seem to get impatient with summer, but I've always enjoyed it. Even when I was a little kid the summer was really just an extension of the Halloween season anyway, spent reading EC horror comics and working on Halloween masks.

Plus, once summer is over, Eugene gets rainy, and I'm not looking forward to that.

On the plus side, 59 days till Halloween. I've got a few pieces started, and given the rate I've been finishing them I should have a nice handful together for the big day. Think this is gonna be a good year.