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Gortraits by Morbid IndustriesOther than the Attack
Alligator Prop
that I mentioned a few days ago, a house full of haunted portraits are top on my list of Halloween props to get when I’m rich. Unlike the alligator, lenticular portraits don’t go for obvious shock, but instead create an eerie mood. Guests in your haunted home will have time to look at the pictures from a distance and perhaps shiver a bit when they realize they are surrounded by creepy old paintings. As they begin to approach, a distinct change occurs within the frame, and the eerie mood culminates with a shock as your visitors realise there is more to the portrait than they first assumed. It’s a more sophisticated way to scare people than just using gore, as it takes time to absorb the full scene, which totally messes with their minds.

There are a few artists creating image-changing haunted portraits, but since I know I’m not the only one on a budget, I’ll begin with the most affordable of the lot. Morbid Industries makes a long line of creepy pictures, suitably called Gortraits (shown at left). Their “after” images are the most graphic so if you’re looking for the biggest shock factor, these are the portraits you want. These are set apart from the competition in that they are the only portraits to include a frame, and these frames are actually really cool. They are ornate and often in very unique shapes that add a lot to the portrait, even though the quality is in line with the price point. Both SpiritHalloween.com and BuyCostumes.com sell them for about $17-$30 depending on print size, but their selections are different so check out both stores for a full selection.

Haunted Portraits by Eddie AllenEddie Allen‘s work was the first set of haunted portraits I had seen in person. (There are many of his pictures shown at the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach if you’re in So. Cal.) His changing portraits are perhaps the most widely recognized of all artists, and in my opinion, the funnest. His choice of changes often include wiley eyes, and funny (yet horrible) facial expressions. There are some limited edition prints, including Terrible Timmy, the evil clown. His smallest prints are 5″x7″ for $15, and the largest 16″x20″ prints costs $100. Eddie sells directly through his website, which is the best deal, but you can also purchase from Gorey Details.

Haunted Portraits by Norm LanierLike Eddie, Norm Lanier is also from southern California and has a penchant for Disney’s Haunted Mansion. In addition to offering free blueprints of the Mansion for download, he has also created a portrait called The Phantom Ship, which was inspired by the ride. His work is the most varied with images that are subtle or graphic, horrifying or silly. Norm also takes commissions for custom Ghost Portraits where anyone can pop in and out of a portrait just like a ghost. His smallest prints are 5″x7″ for $15, and the largest 18″x24″ prints costs $135, all available directly through his site.

Tim Turner also offers a “spooktacular selection of deliciously evil changing portraits” from his site The Ghoulish Gallery. They’re a little easier on the wallet, ranging from $50 to $75. I feel as though I’d be beating a dead horse if I mentioned where he was located or what Disney attraction also inspired him, so I’ll skip that part. Tim has worked in the entertainment industry for over 24 years making monsters so if there was a way to determine qualifications for making horror themed lenticular portraits, he would be considered “dang qualified.”

Or if you’ve got the time and inclination, you could always make your own haunted portrait. Just don’t get one of those pirate or witch portraits that are new this year and available at Target or Buy Costumes. I’ve seen them in person and they’re far more sad than scary. Patronize a real artist and purchase from one of the fine stores mentioned above.

Posted on October 9th, 2006 in
Halloween Decor, Spooky Art by Lauren

fair trade halloween kit As consumers, we have a lot to consider before making purchases; value, durability, style, environmental responsibility, and even the conditions under which the product was made. Some items are notorious for being manufactured using unfair labor practices, and unfortunately cocoa (the key ingredient in chocolate) is one of them. In 2001, the US was concerned with this subject when it was found that child slavery was involved in producing 43% of the world’s supply of cocoa! In response, Global Exchange says that, “…the US chocolate industry agreed (via the Harken-Engel Protocol) to voluntarily take steps to end child slavery on cocoa farms by July of 2005. Unfortunately, this deadline has now passed, and the chocolate industry has failed to comply with the terms of this agreement.” Nice. Is it just me, or does it seem a bit perverse that child slaves in Africa are making the chocolate that American kids are given to enjoy on Halloween?

So what can you do to help end child labor in the production of cocoa & chocolate? Simply spend your money with companies that adhere to Fair Trade practices. There are lots of retailers who produce Fair Trade chocolate, and there is even a Fair Trade Halloween kit available to take things a step further. In the kit there are (in addition to 42 delicious chocolates) 42 festive Halloween postcards to hand out that give knowledge about the importance of Fair Trade, all for just $15. (Spend $20 and you can enter coupon code ftm2006 to save 10%. Why not buy 2 or more kits to get this discount?) So you can still give out yummy chocolate candies, but toss an informative postcard into their candy sacks at the same time and you’ll help spread the word, too. Another alternative: give non-chocolate goodies on Halloween.

I haven’t sampled many of the brands that are available, but I love Lara Bars (their Maya line uses cocoa) and Dagoba, and have heard so many people rave about Green & Blacks and Endangered Species. What’s your favorite brand of Fair Trade chocolate?

Posted on October 8th, 2006 in
Halloween Food by Lauren
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99 Cent ShippingWe just got word of an excellent shipping promotion going on over at BuyCostumes. Starting today and only lasting 6 days, Oct 7-12, they are offering $0.99 shipping on all orders over $30. If you don’t know already, BuyCostumes has more costumes than your local costume shop without all the crowds. So avoid the traffic and have your costume delivered for under a dollar before it’s too late.

Target .com Free Shipping for CostumesTarget.com is also offering a great shipping deal on Halloween costumes. You get free shipping on all costumes purchased online from now until October 14th. We went to a few local Target stores on the first of October and they were already sold out of a bunch of Halloween items. They have some nice decor items that look like they will sell out real quick as well. So hurry and buy online while the shipping is free and the best stuff is in stock.

Up to 50% Halloween Boo-tiful DealsBuy.com is also pushing their Halloween section with up to 50% off their selection of costumes, toys, scary movies, and more. There are some scary movie box sets that look pretty appetising with this added discount. These deals die on October 31st. In addition to this up to 50% off deal Buy.com is offering $10 off any purchase of $30 if you use Google Checkout to buy the item(s).

Check back later for some more Halloween steals and deals as it becomes closer and closer to the night we’re all dying for.

Posted on October 7th, 2006 in
Halloween Costumes, Halloween Websites by Sean

Socket To MeBeing a zombie, whether for Halloween or your local Zombie Walk, calls for some blood stained clothes and makeup to get that rotting corpse look. Having been a zombie myself I wish I would of had some good looking prosthetics in addition to my makeup and dried blood. Just a little something like an exposed broken bone, part of my brain showing, or even have the whole side of my face peeling off would have been an excellent addition. So in an effort to help others get their full enjoyment out of their next zombie costume I’d like to suggest some prosthetics that would look great on any zombie.

The most popular place to put a prosthetic is on your face/head region as that’s where every one is staring to see if they should be ready for the Zompocalypse or if it’s just a costume.
My personal picks would be; Chomped Makeup Kit

Broken BoneA simple prosthetic add-on that can make a big difference without altering you face and perhaps creating usability problems while snacking on food at your Halloween party is this Broken Bone. Another simple add-on that doesn’t involve the face would be to slap on some bullet wounds. We all know zombies don’t care about bullets so I’m envisioning these placed upon your chest or arms with holes in clothes so you can see them. Only put them on your head below the eyes, because you wouldn’t be shambling anywhere if you sustained a shot to the brain.

If you’d rather get the personal touch and go the DIY route there are some places online where you can get some good tips and suggestions. So you wanna be a Zombie? has good explanations and pictures to help with ideas and techniques. There are also some decent tips and a few pictures for zombie makeup here.

Posted on October 6th, 2006 in
Halloween Costumes, Zombies by Sean
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Even though Halloween is expected to generate over $5 billion in sales this year*, you don’t need a ton of cash to transform your home into a haunted house. Sure, that $8,900 Attack Alligator prop would be amazing, but what really sets the mood is lighting. Every Halloween event, from home Halloween party to professional haunt, needs spooky lighting to create realism with mood. Fake cobwebs and dangling rubber bats look pretty lame in the light of day, but place them in a dark room with flickering candles or well placed spot lighting, and they create the foreboding atmosphere they were intended to. The best part is that great lighting can be achieved quickly, easily, and on the cheap.

Candles are an obvious first choice, and can be used in a lots of ways. For a dramatic, gothic feel, try a candelabra with tall tapered candles like the one featured above from Illuminations. Luminaries are a common Halloween lighting solution, and new styles are breathing life into this old idea. The owl is not a common symbol of Halloween, but this black Own Lantern uses unique cut-outs to create a slightly menacing look that is perfect for the season. Bats are much more commonly used, but there isn’t much diversity in their design usage. I like how this iron Bat Lantern can be hung upside-down, like a real bat, and has a stomach that resembles a furnace. (Maybe it’s just me, but those thick grates remind me of eerie basements and horror films.)

Real candles can be used in any of these items, but fake candles have a lot of upsides worth considering. For flammable items such as real pumpkins and paper bag luminaries, electronic candles are required to avoid a call to the fire department. Even in flame-safe environments, fake candles will eliminate soot, smoke, and all fire hazard. Some places restrict use of open flame, and kids+candles should never be left unattended, so LED candles make great choices for dorm dwellers and children.

More spooky lighting is available from Fright Catalog and BuyCostumes, and Yard Haunter has some good lighting tips to further inspire you.

*Article via Ghost Droppings

Posted on October 4th, 2006 in
Halloween Decor by Lauren

Pumpkin TreeSolanum Integrifolium is the Latin name for what is sometimes known as the Pumpkin Tree*. The nickname couldn’t be more appropriate; just look at those beautiful little “pumpkins”! Cuttings from this plant make gorgeous decor items for Autumn or Halloween and can be used in centerpieces, as ornaments on a Halloween tree, or on their own.

I’ve been seeing these for sale a lot recently at places like Trader Joes, farmers markets, and a few grocery stores. When I did a little research about them I found out why: San Diego County (where we are located) is where most of them are grown, due to the mild desert climate. Cut branches, adorned with the bright orange faux pumpkins, are becoming popular in fall flower arrangements, so you might be able to find them at a florist if you are not in southern California.

Pumpkin TreeLike the Latin name suggests, the Pumpkin Tree is a member of the solanum family, which includes the likes of potatoes and eggplants. As you might infer, this means the little pumpkin shaped fruits are quite different inside than their namesake. Inside it resembles a pepper, with loose seeds and a mild peppery taste. However, westerners tend not to like the flavor and prefer to use it ornamentally. In Asian cooking, the tiny “pumpkin” peppers are more popular.

I tried to find an online retailer of the Pumpkin Tree, but came up empty handed. Seeds are available, but no mature plants or cuttings. If you know where to buy Pumpkin Trees online, please let us know in the comments!

*Other names this plant is known by are Chinese scarlet eggplant, Japanese golden eggs, ruffled tomato and tomato eggplant

Posted on October 3rd, 2006 in
Halloween Decor by Lauren
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