Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lazy Before Halloween?

Well, too lazy to post anything. There have been a few things I've wanted to post, but finding the time to sit down and actually write them up has been a losing battle this week (funny when you consider I spend a good eight hours or so a day -- virtually every day -- on the computer).

However, I have been keeping myself occupied building a Monster Mud wall crawler prop. The form's been made, the paper mache hands and head attached, and now I just need to cover him in Mud. I still want to build at least one or two ground breakers yet as well as another hanging corpse. I also have plans to build another Monster Mud creation, an evil fellow who will be sitting on a parapet overlooking the door where the ToTs will come, but that depends on my time management skills.

Home improvements (building a closet in an attic with a (obviously) sloping roof was a fun challenge, particularly considering the heat captured there), diverted a lot of my time, as well as moving my daughter into her college dorm.

However, I did manage to compile my latest list of great posts by my fellow Halloween bloggers which I've posted on the Fire & Brimstone page. Maybe a day late (okay, two days!), and the picture up there is one of the props being built. Looks like it's going to be a great haunt greeter!

Now that we're entering crunch time -- is there really just 62 days to go?! -- I'll need to focus my own efforts a lot more on what I want to accomplish. So much to do so little time. There's never really an end though when you want to improve and update your haunt on a regular basis.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A New Feature at Devil's Eve

I love reading what other haunters are up to and try to follow as many Halloween- and haunt-related blogs as I can. I'm sure others enjoy it too, but with the vast number of such blogs out there, it can be a challenge to stay on top of things. So I figured it might be useful to provide a weekly listing of some of the top posts from the prior week's scribblings.

Obviously it will be a subjective list, posts that I think are worthwhile or notable for whatever scrambled reason I may have. However, if in your own meanderings through the blogosphere you come across a post you think is worthy of bring it to the attention of your fellow haunters, send it to me and it may just show up in that week's list.

I'm always interested in finding new blogs to follow and I try to check out the ones you're following to see if I may be interested in them too. You can always check out "Lucifer's List" there to the right (you may have to scroll down a bit) to see if I'm following your blog or one that you follow, and if not, drop me a line or make a note in the comments.

There are some great writers out there and a fabulous collection of prop builders who inspire me to do more in my own haunt. I think it's only right that they be recognized for their efforts and get as wide an audience as possible.

Check the Fire & Brimstone page at the top right or click here to see the first installment of this week's top blog posts!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Deadgirl

Growing up is never easy when you're an outcast. School's a drag, the top jock dates the girl who at 12  gave you your first kiss, and your home life is ruled by a drunk leaching off your mom. Your only friends are losers just like you.

But what if you and your friends found something that could change all that? Where it didn't matter who you were or where you came from? What if you could have all your desires fulfilled? Would you grab at the chance?

That's the dilemma facing Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) in Deadgirl, a surprisingly well-made and well-acted "coming of age" film about two high school social misfits who decide to skip school and hang out inside an abandoned mental asylum. After being chased by a vicious dog into a basement room, they find what appears to be a dead girl chained completely nude to a gurney. Scared the killer is still nearby they're startled to see the girl breathe.

That sets up their first dilemma: do they free her and call the police, as Rickie wants to do, or do they use her for their own carnal pleasure, as JT argues they should? Rickie flees horrified as JT moves to act out his desires.

The next day JT persuades Rickie to return, that there's something he needs to see, that it can't be explained. As they approach the room, JT tells Rickie of his sexual exploits with the girl, but in a rage after she tried to bite him, he killed her. JT then takes a gun from Rickie and pumps three bullets into the girl. "I killed her three times," JT tells Rickie. The dead girl, it seems, is not dead at all. She's undead.

The movie slips into a bit of "zombie porn" (but it's tastefully done!) and there's definitely some humor to it. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I don't like comedy in my horror movies; I want the subject matter treated with the respect it deserves. Deadgirl keeps the humor in line with the movie, and while there are certain cliche parts, as should be expected with any teen angst tale, it really took the zombie genre in a different direction.

Now before you rush out and rent it, you should be forewarned that if you're the least bit prudish you probably don't want to watch this. There is definitely deviant sexual behavior displayed, but in the scheme of the movie the necrophilia (or is that un-necrophilia?) is not gratuitous. The plot is original and the ending, while not predictable, is not much of a surprise either.

It is a story with moral implications about how far you are willing to take your friendship and stretch your own ethical code. It's not a movie for everyone, but for a movie with an apparently miniscule budget, the cinematographer did a heckuva job making it look good. It's controversial, as the bondage, physical and sexual assault, not to mention the necrophilia, will turn some (a lot of) people off. But then again, I liked Human Centipede, which also seemed to freak a lot of people out. This is an intelligent zombie movie and worth viewing if you're not to squeamish about immoral behavior.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zombie Outbreak Solution

There's always a simple answer to life's difficult problems. Take, for example, this obvious and simple solution to an otherwise complex question: What do you do if there's a zombie outbreak?


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monster Muddin'

I've been trying to pick up the pace with my prop building now that there's less than three months to Halloween! Despite plodding along all year I feel like I haven't accomplished much. We know that's not true, but I still need to get some more props built for my haunt.

To that end I've started working on a figure called "The Acolyte." Anyone who has visited Steve Hickman's awesome Terror Syndicate site should be immediately familiar with this figure. Although similar in most details, I decided to try my hand at making the head rather than using a mask. To do that, I thought I'd use a combination of techniques: the insulation mache clay used by Stolloween and the cloth mache technique popularized by Dan Reeder, the Monster Man.

I previously used Stolloween's paper clay on a test dragon I made (you've seen him in the corpse group photo) and I wasn't exactly enamored of it. However, I was thinking that was because I didn't make the clay properly and so wanted to give it another go. I figured my Acolyte head would be a good place to restart.

While I've been building my props, I've also been looking at Dan Reeder's website, Gourmet Paper Mache, and reading through his book "Papier-Mache Monsters." His technique for constructing the mache forms look so easy when he did it I thought it would also be a good time to implement that style too. Okay, admittedly I've got to practice a little bit more with this whole thing, but in the end I decided I really liked both. I'm willing to use these methods again and again. I think things will improve as I move forward.

What I like about Reeder's mache method is that it's not the time consuming strip mache style commonly used. He uses big sheets of paper, or only slightly smaller torn sheets. It saves bundles of time for a similar outcome.

Once I had my basic head shape, I switched to Stolloween's paper clay to add details such as a more prominent nose, brows, etc. Once that dried, I went back to Reeder and used his cloth mache. This adds a lot of character to the features but will be an area that I'll need to use a little more patience with. The resulting face looked a little too "busy." Although in the daylight the Acolyte's head doesn't look all that great, at night -- under an LED spotlight -- he'll look creepy enough!

Inspired as I was, I decided to use both techniques to build my next prop, the Pumpkin Reaper. There's a little bit of Grim Hollow Haunt's pumpkin creep (I forget what John Graham calls it) but I think mine will be different in several respects. Right now, though, all I've got is the beginnings of the pumpkin head -- papier mache underneath, paper clay on top to accentuate the ribbing. Tomorrow I'll be adding the cloth mache and that's where the differences will really become apparent (or so I hope!).

Today, though, was a day for Monster Mud. The Acolyte was coated in two coats and I'm enjoying the look of it (with all the caveats mentioned above taken into consideration). But there's a lot more to build, a lot more Monster Mud to play in, and more to paint. Onward!
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