Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old tubes.

Cathode ray tubes, first.

This is the sort of thing we always seem to have running on the Philco Predicta TV over the bar...

It just goes on and on like that between all of the great monster movies, Hallowe'en specials, and other spooky goodness that we seem to pick up on the TV in this ol' place.

A TV, a jukebox... and next week, come the birthday of the pubkeeper here, the S&P is getting a radio -- an old lowboy console radio -- whose original owner tells me still has the remains of old thriller and horror radio dramas collected on the grids and plates of the old tubes, just waiting to be heard again, waiting to haunt another dark room and bring some old thrills to some new ears.

Oh I can't wait. 


Monday, June 21, 2010

One year ago.

This very day.

Of all days, oddly enough, the Summer solstice.

Here's what you found if you happened to stumble across this place on June 21st of last year:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Kindly step all the way in please...

... and make room for everyone.
My name is Mike.
My passions are Hallowe'en, classic horror films (and related 'things') and horror literature.
My intention is to post pictures, links to video, audio, and anything else I've created (or am lucky enough to have stumbled upon) regarding the greatest holiday in the known universe.
My hope is to do so with enough regularity to keep people interested.
My conscience tells me that's not likely.
My gut says it is.
My brain hurts.
My, my.

Does the World Wide Interweb need another Hallowe'en-related blog?


Yes it does.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sorry for any inconvenience...

... however,

I have to close up for the weekend --

-- the S&P has to prepare for its 


Can't believe it.


Monday, June 14, 2010

I love Summer, but...

Just breathe...

It'll be here soon enough.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another heads up.

Whistle while you work... (A B A G F# G A)...

Oh, hey folks. Doing a little dusting, I haven't been in here lately. Lots of work and some projects going on, sorry 'bout that.

I trust everyone's been in good health and has lots of summer-ey things to do.

I have all kinds of things to do myself but needed to take a second to point out something I find curious and neat.

Last Sunday we took Kiara to one of the myriad miniature golf courses in town. She wanted to play at the one with the all the giraffes and alligators and elephants, so Gator Golf it was.

Inside the ticket counter/arcade/concession house I was paying for our game when I suddenly snapped my head to my left -- d'you know that feeling that something in the room is familiar, important, something you want to see, but you're not yet sure what it is? You cast your gaze about, searching, searching...

It took a second but I finally found it, rocking slowly back and forth inside the shooting gallery:

Now, to the untrained eye, this is just some local yokel character in the typical Ol' West bank shooting gallery game... but to the informed observer, it screams Disneyland!

This HAS to be based on a famous face sculpted decades ago by Disney legend Blaine Gibson, who gave the world the Hitchhiking Ghosts, the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey, every President in the Hall of Presidents, and almost every memorable character face from the classic Disney rides.

Here's a cast of the original creation at bottom center (and a very 
lifelike bust and hands of Walt Disney, don't you think?)...

... and here's a cast from that face as it occupies a shelf at my 
friend Dr. Shocker's House of Horrors.

... and in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the prisoner standing up
uses this face. 

This face is used in numerous characters in the Pirates ride and in the Haunted Mansion (a princely ghost among the tombstones most notably) but I could not locate any decent images of them. However, I know you've seen this face for many, many years.

It's why I snapped to attention and began looking around... I knew I'd seen something that was very important to me, something that is a part of my visual set of tools, my childhood memories.

So now, look again at the rockin' chair fella from the Ozarks:
... and try to tell me that whoever made this figure for Gator Golf wasn't trying his or
her damnedest to copy Gibson's well-known and iconic style!

I love it, by the way. I mean, if you're going to steal a look for life-sized figures from another artist, you can't do better than stealing from the now 92-year-old genius Blaine Gibson.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making Hallowe'en... 2010!

So here it is... the first proper report from the lab for Hallowe'en 2010!

There is talk about combining my display with others for a big Hallowe'en Weekend shebang, but until I have real answers about that I'll have to simply say 'stay tuned'.

Yet for the moment, no themes have really come to me this year... not yet, at any rate.

But some time ago I had this dream where this mad scientist-kinda-lookin' thing was working on some crazy robotic nightmare on a table, a 'la Frankenstein... and I knew I wanted to have something from that dream in my display.

So here is the currently nameless Mad Doctor, thus far... click to enlarge, as they say:

He lights up nicely, too...

I am not sure if he will have a doctor's greens, or if he'll have a big shaggy head of steel-wool-ish 'hair'... I am leaning toward the latter.

A foam skull, hot glue, various wires, a demolished camera, and LEDs (and brass and paint and...) all add up to a very odd and unique character.

I took some video for you too, just to see how he looks in decent light...

So, who knows? With sparks flying and instruments clanging, he might be creating some real spooky fun this year!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Back in the soil again.

We planted pumpkins this weekend.

We can hope...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fire smirks.

This is so neat.

This was sent to the S&P by loyal patrons and good friends Joyce and Virginia.

According to Joyce, this was a random picture Virginia snapped on her phone during a Memorial Day display on Table Rock Lake. When Joyce saw it she immediately recognized it for the ultra-cool Fireworks Skull that it is and they knew it needed to come to the pub!

Excellent image, and thanks for sending it to the ol' Skull & Pumpkin where it surely belongs.

The only odd thing is that every time I see it, the skull-snake tattoo on my forearm gets all wriggly...


Saturday, June 5, 2010

A voice in the darkness...

Well, my voice, to be precise.

Singing, yes, I've always loved to sing -- it's how I've made my living for decades.

But I have always loved 'doing voices', too. Making my puppets and Hallowe'en figures required voices to go with them, and growing up a TV and radio lovin' kid, inspiring character voices were always around, whether from cartoons, the news, the DJ, even my teachers were inspiring voice characters (and you know who you all are)!

If you've seen video of my Great Pumpkin or Captain Jack Lantern you have heard a few of my default spooky Hallowe'en voices. They all still sound pretty much like me -- I don't know that I'm any good at it, I just enjoy doing it -- but what the heck, I work cheap and am always available when needed.

This Spring, I was very jazzed to become a part of a very cool area attraction specifically because of my ability to do voices on the quick-n-dirty!

The Castle of Chaos attraction is a unique and rather bizarre mixture of dark ride, horror film and shoot-em-up video game, where players sit in high-backed gothic chairs with glasses and guns at the ready, and the entire seating deck spins around to show you three different superb 3D screens at various stages of game play. Mists and smells waft through the dark arena, voices whisper right behind you, and you have to blast away at the evil entities on the screen to find out what happened to the characters while animatronic ghosts and ghouls scream and cackle, and all in stunning, immersive stereo surround sound.

Sound like it might be a cool haunted attraction? Oh, trust me.

So, how did I get involved with this neat thing?

Well, the Castle of Chaos (and the dizzying Hannah's Maze of Mirrors) are a new part of the Hollywood Wax Museum on 76 Blvd.

The people that own and run this entire property are a remarkably kind, smart and savvy family of entertainment & business entrepreneurs which began with the original Hollywood Wax Museum in Hollywood CA created in 1965 by the late, legendary Spoony Singh.

Spoony's family partnership became Kuvera Attractions (among other successful enterprises), and they have brought a great energy and ambition to imaginative entertainment in Branson. We're very lucky they showed up.

So, last year they opened the cool Hannah's Maze of Mirrors and the Castle of Chaos...
... and families were lining up down the block. The Maze especially attracted thousands of people (and continues to do so).

The Castle of Chaos had a few minor birth pains because the technology is so new and unique. One particular issue was needing some new dialogue and voices to make the story of the ride a bit more fluid and natural... and that's where I came into the picture.

My cousin Tom, who runs Backstage Connections here in town, had been working with Raubi and the Sundher family for some time, helping them create and maintain the great things they'd brought to Branson. Tommy is also an audiophile and a long-time recording engineer and when they needed a bit of help for new ideas and talent, Tommy called me and we got together in short order to record new voices and sounds for the revamp of the attraction.

The main voice I did is a bit of a mix of my Great Pumpkin and my pirate Captain (I told you, I don't know that I'm any good at it, I just enjoy doing it!), but I also added a kind of cartoony British gentleman, the typical, throat-clearing, heavy-lipped ol' dunderhead you'd recognize from, say, the Walrus in the original Disney Alice in Wonderland.

So, I can proudly claim that my voice is a major part of a very unique and fun spooky attraction in my own hometown, and a part of something that is touched, however indirectly, by the inimitable Spoony Singh... and an attraction that is a member of the IAHA, the Haunted House Association, and the Darkride & Funhouse Enthusiasts.

If you're ever out this way, let me know. And please go visit all of the above attractions. They're the best in town.

Just trying to make a little Hallowe'en every day of the year.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alone time.

But only for a moment.

See... this morning I listened to strangers recount their memories of a very dear and trusted old friend. 

This afternoon we laid him to rest.

This evening, we toasted his life and our own.

And while this is not a sad place, and I am not a sad person, I just wanted to mention, as I sit alone after cleaning up, something that is important and needs to be said sometimes.

Be happy.

Even in sorrow, be happy in the knowledge that it's only a passing thing, that it is gladsome and right that we will smile, laugh and love once again.

Cynicism is for the joyless. Realism is for dreamless cowards.

Find what you want to do and don't put it off, love that which you love, love whom you love. No reservations, no doubts, stop mucking around with it and do it, do it loudly, abundantly, expeditiously. 

Understand that there will never be enough time. Accept that you will never be able to fully express your deepest love to those you love best. 

There is no way to live forever or love perfectly... so just be happy.

Choose joy. It's a real, conscious, daily choice. 

Be happy.

Just a thought.
All of you make me very happy indeed.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June, spoon, croon...

... TUNE.


It's June. 

Summer doesn't officially begin until... you know what? Memorial Day IS the beginning of summer, and I'm actually getting rather tired of reading/hearing all over that it's not. Today got up to 89, tomorrow will be 92, it's hot, humid, sunny and full of bugs and by God it's SUMMER.
And please -- anywhere it hasn't already felt like summer is a place where it never really feels like summer anytime of the year anyway.

Summer is here because June is here, and so a little new music in the jukebox is in order.

Remember that the first song will always be The Great Pumpkin Waltz, and the last will always be Pumpkintime.

Next I thought a little spooky summer-ey grooviness was needed.
The Classic IV's beloved 1968 hit Spooky got the job. A classic. OH right, it's their name.

Then I figured "You know something? Summer means a lot of things, but fun, freaky movies are always a wondrous part of the season for any Horror, Sci-Fi and Hallowe'en lover!"

And movies need theme songs...

Yes, Eddie Wood's masterpiece Plan Nine From Outer Space was released in July 1959, and while no one thought it was worth the trouble back then, it has since become a cult favorite and an American cinema legend. The Main Title felt just right.

Now, I wasn't around when Plan Nine was first released, but one of my most favorite memories is of a summer when a fine horror film was rocking box offices all over the country. It was June of 1982, and the film was Poltergeist!
The basic plot of Poltergeist was 'Scare Mike to death,' though I have forgotten any nightmares I suffered the night I first saw it at the UA6 in the San Fernando Valley... but the lilting, seemingly-inappropriate theme music has stayed with me ever since.

Of course, Poltergeist is not the only Spielbergian (it's a real adjective now, has been for a long time) summer horror blockbuster. Indeed, it wasn't even the first.

That would've been June of 1975's Jaws. And while I could post any one of a trillion different well-worn images of the shark, the swimming girl, and the guys on the boat, I felt this is the one that caused me the most terror, and therefore the fondest memory, of the Summer of '75 movie theatre experience:
Yeah. It was Ben Gardner's boat alright.

Now, speaking of sharks and underwater dead guys...

In June, 1980, America was introduced to the previous year's Italian blockbuster horror epic Zombi.
Among the many scenes of hyperviolent imagery is a rather unique and remarkable, nigh stunning, scene wherein an underwater zombie (what need for scuba gear?) battles a 16 foot long tiger shark. Seriously.
The pulsing, brooding theme song is fine pub fare.

Now, I think Bix Beiderbecke's Flashes, added last month, is going to stay for a while. It's been a very welcome addition and needs a little more listenin' time.

Summer's an interesting season for the Hallowe'en fanatic. It's so completely NOT anything like Autumn, nosireebob. Yet it's the time when you realize that you're only one season away... the time to think and create and build and plan... heck, we're only 150-some-odd days away!