Nov 07 2017

Reincarnation Is Theme

Do you believe in the theory of re-incarnation? Do you think that a man dead one hundred years can come back to life and take up his place in the world where he left off? Houdini, in his initial photo-drama for his own company, “The Man From Beyond,” which begins a seven days’ engagement at the Leathbridge Theatre, commencing Monday, has treated this theory in a picturization that is most novel and unique. It is a master production in the fullest sense, with a story of heart interest, mystery and thrills.

Houdini, in the title role, will be seen in a part unlike anything he has heretofore attempted. Aside from an unusual display of histronic talent, he indulges in a series of spectacular feats which outrival any of the mysteries for which he has been long famous.

“The Man From Beyond” opens in the Arctic regions, and tells the story of a man brought back to life after being entombed for one hundred years in a mass of solid ice. How he again takes his place in the advanced state of civilization, meeting what he believes to be a reincarnation of his sweetheart of a century ago, his fight to bring back the love so long denied him, and culminating with his rescuing the girl after being whirled through the surging waters of Niagara rapids to the very brink of the falls itself, provide unusual entertainment.

Houdini is supported by a strong cast, including Nita Naldi, who is soon to be seen as Dona Sol with Rudolfo Valentino in “Blood and Sand.”

[This post is based around one of many prepared articles included in the pressbook for The Man From Beyond. With the exception of adding dating information and theater name in order to mimic how this would have looked in an old newspaper, the article has been unchanged. To see more, head on over to From Zombos’ Closet.]

Nov 02 2017

Daytona of the Dead

I finally found the video I mentioned all the way back in 2011! I also rediscovered the bit in which Pontius and Steve-O originally debuted the characterizations they use in “Daytona of the Dead.” You can enjoy both videos thanks to WildboyzVidz:


I don’t know if I’ll have any material for Day of the Dead article next year, but I’ll see what I can do.

Feliz el Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead!

Oct 31 2017

Music to Haunt By: Halloween

Virgil Franklin
Official Site
Halloween, Lame Duck Digital 2015

How on Earth did I miss out on reviewing Virgil Franklin’s Halloween when it came out in 2015? It’s gets even more bizarre when you factor in how I actually plugged it in my review of his big comeback album! But I can either spend my time reviewing it or trying to figure out how it happened. I think you know which choice I’ll be making.

Otherworldly tones weave in and out of “So It Begins” to create a feeling of mystery and uncertainty. It’s not unlike something you would hear being played on a glass armonica. Of course this would have to be a glass armonica which somehow blends creepy chirping and beeping tones into the musical background at times. The slow snippets of piano work in “By The Fullness Of The Moon” steadily increase in both speed and volume. Eerie backing tones and wordless female vocals soon join them, only for the piano to take over. Soft chimes briefly show up near middle of track (and return for the ending), but it’s the vocal effects that really shine here. There are vocal tones and the alternating female vocals and male vocals. Said vocals seem very distant and also alternate with the piano work. “Worms” offers heavy synth tones with some occasional light touches. But even heavier tones worm their way in (har har), only for light and unearthly tones to assert themselves later. In fact, they often sound like screams. Heavy pounding drums kick off “Midnight Has Come.” The ethereal notes and backing tones are joined by crackling static and other startling effects. It use of tambourines is surprisingly effective! There’s even a point where only the soft, low musical backing is heard, although the drums do eventually return. The use of drums in “Behind You” should remind you of numerous classic movies with a gothic horror feel. The tolling bells and menacing tones are perfectly combined with piano work and gongs. In contrast, “It Hungers” has a comparatively more modern approach. Feedback and other distorted tones create the feeling of something slinking about in the darkness. The distortion effects even get turned all the way up halfway through the track. The addition of sci-fi synths give this potential for use in a laboratory or alien spaceship scene. But even if those synths weren’t present, it would still be a perfect fit for a dark maze. Grasping about in the dark to find your way is so much more thrilling when you can’t shake the feeling that something is after you.

Like many tracks I’ve reviewed for the 2017 countdown, “Insane In The Membrane” has a low, slow opening build. This time said build consists of spacey synths and a soft throbbing tone in back. Sometimes all you can hear is backing! Wailing tones and other synth touches pop in occasionally. When the spacey synths do make their return, they’re kind enough to bring new touches with them. This would work well when played back-to-back with the album’s final track. The pounding drums, ominous string work and horns in “A Bump In The Night” have a surprisingly epic feel. There’s also a music box feel to the background music and a violin solo. The drums come back after a brief pause of silence and the horns take things back to normal. A track with such a grandly dark tone deserves to be used as the soundtrack for an encounter with Dracula or a visit to a room with a spooky throne. “Flies,” as the name might lead you to suspect, uses vaguely insect-like synths to conjure up a swarm of buzzing and flying pests. Although many of the album’s tracks make great use of stereo effects, this one particularly stands out. not only does it make you feel like you’re surrounded, but it could also make people swear a dark room is moving! So take that a step further by directing guests into a room with low lighting conditions and Gianni Sarcone-style optical illusions painted on the walls! Alternately, this could be used as the soundtrack for a stationary vortex tunnel or creepy kitchen. “Carol Ann” is indeed a reference to the Poltergeist franchise, as evidenced by tuning effects and touches of static. Otherworldly and sci-fi synths put in appearances while the backing tones add feel of menace. Speaking of guessing the contents of a track using its name, “Skeleton Dance” is not a haunting ballroom waltz! The music box opening and circus-like percussion music used to represent skeleton bones make it clear this is cute rather than scary. You could use it in a haunted circus or nursery right before the scary stuff happens or just make some dancing skeletons. In “Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble,” blowing winds lead to noises indicating that something slimy is being stirred. Dripping and the occasional moment of bubbling can also be heard, along some evil synth work in back. But the bubbling picks up once the ghostly tones enter the scene. Sewers, swamps and laboratories could get as much use out of this as a cauldron could. Tolling bells start start the appropriately named final track, “Fine’.” Chirping crickets and dark synth work soon take over, with interesting percussion effects and return appearance by the bells at times. Unease is created through its only using synths for awhile, only to layer in bells for the rest of its duration. This practically cries out to be used in a graveyard or haunted forest.

Virgil Franklin’s Halloween proves that good things come to those who wait. All tracks can be looped individually to suit your haunt’s needs and the album could be played on a loop on the holiday it’s named after. But you might want to include some decorations to play off the mechanical and science fiction nature of certain tracks if you go that route. Having Frankenstein’s monster peer out through a window would easily do the trick if you don’t feel like constructing crashed flying saucers and the like. Although his most recent releases after this aren’t ambient, I can confirm he’s hard at work on a new album full of the spooky atmosphere you crave. As a special Halloween treat, Virgil has temporarily made the album available on a “Name Your Price” basis!

Special thanks to Virgil Franklin for use of the image!

Happy Halloween!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 31 2017

6’+ Episode 214 (The 2017 Halloween Special) is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“HAPPY HALLOWEEN! This year, KRAIG KHAOS takes STRANGE JASON, THE GDL16 INTERN, MONSTERMATT PATTERSON and IGOR to a cabin in the woods to avoid the monsters lurking around this time of year, but a chance meeting with a store clerk leaves everyone wishing they stayed home. SO MANY GUEST STARS and SO MANY GREAT HALLOWEEN SONGS!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oct 30 2017

Music to Haunt By: Pumpkin On Your Stereo

Sam Haynes
Official Site
Pumpkin On Your Stereo, Haunt Music 2017

Sam Haynes has been as busy as ever. Something Wicked and Something Wicked II both came out in 2016, with the Bandcamp release of the former having some exclusive bonus tracks. But those who already bought their copy elsewhere can get the same tracks from his side project Scaretrax. Reviewing either of them was tempting, but the delightfully retro cover art of Sam’s 2017 release Pumpkin On Your Stereo was just too cool to resist!

“October Moon” starts things off with a bang. Its extremely catchy opening beat has a dark, moody backing. Pounding tones takes over for a spell and the final result is perfect for general listening throughout the year! But those focusing on October usage should try it at a Halloween party or as a way to entertain people waiting in line at their haunted attraction. “Ghost House (Haunt Mix)” opts for a softer, slower opening. It’s much lower key and creepier than the last track. There’s even some unearthly touches thrown in with the sinister synths for good measure. A whispering sample brings in a louder dance beat similar to the original version. There’s lots of interesting electro variations which overwhelms the pianos in the background. The dueling pianos manage to crawl their way to the front for the last leg of the track, along with some wordless female vocals. Bursts of creepy organ work and eerie synths open “Demons of the undead (original mix)” and the repeating sample about “demons of the undead” gives the track its name. It has a very loud and lively beat. Although creepy variations come in later, this is more of a dance track than a haunted ambience track. “Pumpkin Jack” starts with soft sounds and even softer music. But a plinking music box builds things up. The spooky strings and synth combo which follows does slow down a bit towards the end, but it’s still energetic enough to dance to. There’s soft music box break at times, but it always goes back to normal. Well, except for the ending. “DeathNotes” takes us back to the world of haunted ambience. Its incredibly soft dark opening sounds almost like footsteps at times. It grows in both volume and intensity thanks to a very different music box melody and some pounding tones occasionally appear. Factor in some slow piano work and you have one very unnerving and scary package. This is a perfect choice for rooms involving spooky dolls.

You can barely hear “Shockwaves” at first. But it’s dance time once the electro beats start up! The soft string work in background is a bit moody and there’s some interesting synth noodling, along with the numerous drum machine beats and circus-like music in the back. However, the sound of chirping crickets replaces music for the ending. You can easily get away with using this for a clown room. “Midnight creeping” has dark maze potential thanks to its overall sneaking feel. It’s got soft freaky noises, steady distorted drums, creeptastic beats and even the obligatory music box segment. Let’s not forget the moaning backing tones! “House of the dead” has plenty of dark synth variations and its eerie nature grows along with the volume. Some drum strikes and strings lead to a music box and electro beat. The rest of this dance track is backed by steady drum beats. Piano work opens “The Hypnotist,” but drums and electro touches soon follow. There’s also some interesting lighter touches thanks to his use of a xylophone. This is another track best suited for a haunted playroom or circus scene. The eerie and unearthly beats of “Spirit of Samhain” twist and turn. Other synth tones and music box chimes join in with the drums for a track best suited for parties and entertaining. The low and heavy “Blackest eyes” is filled with hint of menace and unease. I love how well the string work goes with the piano parts. The pounding distorted buildup and woman screaming near end add to the effect. The creepy “Crawlspace” is the most haunt worthy of the dance tracks. This is thanks to its sneaky synth opening, eerie electro touches, distorted vocal snippets and pounding drums. Sam’s trademark electro feel is taken to new heights in “ElectroShock.” This catchy little number also includes scary synths, devious drums and a music box cameo. Its mix of whimsy and spooky make it a perfect match for a people eating pumpkin! “Samhain” has a soft ‘n slow steady beat. Synthesizers come in later with some soft piano work. It’s mostly synth work for bulk of track, though. It has a low key creepy feel but the drums do admittedly kick things up. “The Coven” is brimming with haunt potential thanks to its creepy piano work and backing tones. The music box, drum bursts and string work help as well. I love the name “Demons of the undead (rave digger mix).” This time around the track has a creepier opening beat and doesn’t use the full sample. The organ work is wonderfully varied and even gets a bit spooky once it slows down. “Deathnotes (remix)” begins with a soft music box tune which gradually builds in volume and synth strikes join in for good measure. Here’s a fun way to use it in the last part of your attraction if you want a more family friendly approach to haunting: Have visitors walk into a monster party! Performers can all wear duplicates of the costumes and makeup used for the previous parts of the haunt to give the impression all the monsters have secretly made their way to a going away party for the guests. You can even use standard Halloween party decorations and have a snack table where free candy is given out!

Pumpkin On Your Stereo is best suited for parties and entertaining those waiting in line for a haunt, although there are a few tracks which can work inside of a haunt. In those cases, looping the tracks individually won’t be an issue but looping the entire album (if at all) is better for the first two options I suggested. It’s also a fun way to make handing out candy on Halloween extra special. I also imagine it would be more fun to sit around listening to this during lulls than listening to scary sound effects while waiting for more trick-or-treaters to arrive. I would have preferred some bonus tracks without samples, especially since it was difficult to make out what the samples actually said this time around. But that is an admittedly minor complaint.

Special thanks to Sam Haynes for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 29 2017

Music to Haunt By: The Haunting

Darkmood
Official Site
The Haunting, Notic Reign Records 2016

The album description for The Haunting bills itself as “one of the scariest albums of all time.” This is a very bold claim and there’s no shortage of things making promises as being “the scariest” and failing to deliver. Which category does it belong in? Let’s find out!

The opening of “House of Horrors” uses tuning sounds and plenty of synth work to create an eerie, off-putting experience. A creaking door is heard, along with electrical equipment and wordless female vocals. Echoes and screams soon follow as the track takes on the feel of music from a horror movie. You’ll know what I mean once you hear it. A pounding buildup leads to breathing and scattered whispers, along with distorted screams and moans. There’s also some vaguely sci-fi touches, string work, monster noises and too many other things for me to even attempt to catalog. An electro beat takes over for a spell and is later joined by whispers, only for the scares to resume control in the end. This would be great for a mad scientist’s laboratory, especially if it is located near rooms featuring captured victims and caged monsters. “Scared” uses strings and LOUD pounding drums to create another track with a cinematic horror feel. This is followed by wind chimes, buzzing and other creepy touches I can’t place. I suspect this inability only makes things more unsettling. The track takes on a mournful feel before a monster is heard breathing, along with menacing whispers and other strange touches. Aside from the pounding and breathing, the track takes on a vaguely science fiction feel with its use of static, distortions and echoing vaguely spacey notes. Metallic distortions and a (brief) sci-fi undercurrent also turn up in “Within the Night.” Most of the track’s synth work has a has a John Carpenter feel, with the sounds of breathing and a faint heartbeat which come later adding to the effect. The buzzing noise is the background is soft at first, but picks up after some impressive string work is heard. Various electrical noises are heard, only for the disturbing sounds and Carpenter feel to eventually return. Closing the track with the distorted sound of a woman screaming was a perfect touch. This could work in an alien room or laboratory, in addition to both dark and chain mazes. You could even use it as the soundtrack for an entire garage haunt. The medium paced “Evil Comes” maintains a constant ominous feel. Don’t be surprised if you start to feel like something is after you while you listen. The sinister synths are aided by piano work, wordless female vocals, frenzied violins and heavily distorted talking. The music here really cranks up the feelings of evil and something not being of this world. So why not use it as the soundtrack for your haunt’s vortex tunnel? “All Hallows Eve” is fairly fast paced and comparatively light compared to the rest of the album. But keep in mind how “light” for this album is still darker than the music you’ll find on other artists’ albums. I don’t know what I love more, the piano work or its overall ambience of evil. Some sci-fi stuff appears about a minute into it but you can get away with using this in non sci-fi haunt setting. The way the swarming synths seem to surround you is an impressive effect. The fact its piano work sounds like something from a John Carpenter movie lets you use this in a slasher room, while the heavy static also allows for use in a room with a haunted television. Come to think of it, you can either use a television playing static as a prop in your slasher room or you can use the haunted TV effect I noted earlier with a mannequin dressed up as a slasher acting as misdirection.

I doubt I have to explain the significance of the title for “Redrum.” Synth work makes its way into the opening ambience and altered horns, along with some chime work similar to what plays when a movie character falls asleep and has a nightmare. The pounding notes and various effects eventually give way to a When Time Ends-style dance break and heavy static. The distorted screams and low, heavy synths make for a killer close. “Book of Blood” has a low opening fade up. Whispers and menacing music box synth notes give way to pounding music about midway through. The half heard and distorted whispers to “Get out” lead to speedy tribal drums and a violin outro. Given the name, I suggest using it in a room with a prop spellbook. Despite what the name implies, “Demon Doll” sounds nothing like the music one would expect to hear in a haunted nursery. The electrical zapping, synths, disturbing background noise and tuning see to that not being an option at all. It has a surprisingly catchy beat while its heavy use of distortions and scary strings live up to the first part of its name. The ending slam and evil voice should provide a nice extra scare no matter where you play it. Otherworldly ambience opens “Cabin Terror.” Is the wailing supposed to be the wind or spirits? You be the judge! The screech which comes later seems to indicate spirits (but it could be bird). Wind can definitely be heard next, along with music that might be somewhat peaceful in a different context. Well, at least before the distorted violin work comes in. The synth tones and vocal (you know which kind) mesh well with said violin. Monstrous sounds take over, complete with howls and echoing screeches. The heavy but trippy ending synths make for a most unique closing. This could easily work in a room set up to look like a haunted cabin scene. This also has potential use as the soundtrack to a theatrical séance also long as the room has a “window” implying there’s a forest outside. The introduction of “Into the Woods” is a mix of creepy sounds and synths which comes complete with unearthly screeches and ominous distortion effects. I’m very fond of how it uses string work to build up tension. A slam and distorted static take the listener to a segment with touches like the music from modern horror films. It overwhelms you with evil for the rest of its running time. Aside from a distant howl, most of the effects are disturbing because you can’t place any of them. The pounding beats dueling with tribal drums works wonders for the overall mood. Be sure to use this in a haunted forest, especially one with wailing trees. “Lost in Darkness” brings us more tribal drums, along with pounding synths and moaning tones. There’s even wordless female vocals at times! It picks up with a scarier feel once the disturbing chirps and other sounds join in. The drums get solos at times but work best when they’re paired with piano work. This is a must for your next dark maze and “The Howling” would work in either a werewolf scene or haunted forest. Its loud, pounding heavy synths and distant high pitched howls see to that. It has more focus on dark synths than the howls and it’s interesting how the howling gets so loud it sounds almost like a siren at one point. The tribal drums and synths create a sense of being chased, so you might want to time a scare at that point. Otherwise you can just let the intense synths reign supreme and fade out. The album’s final track is appropriately named “13.” The deceptively soft opening contrasts with its later focus on loud creepy synths and effects, complete with scattered metal clanks. Distortion abounds and womens’ screams all have an echo effect. There’s also some callbacks to the previous tracks mixed in with all the new stuff! The tribal drums and breathing get supplanted by extremely heavy breathing that seems to close the album. Only for the surprise appearance of a woman loudly screaming acting as a jump scare.

Darkmood really outdid himself with this wonderfully unsettling album. It wasn’t just hype; The Haunting really does deserve to be in the running for recognition as the scariest album of all time. It’s easily the scariest album I’ve heard so far. Given how many of the tracks are over five minutes in length, looping individual tracks is no problem. There’s enough of a loose continuity of certain song elements to allow for looping the entire album as well. The only possible negative aspect of this release is how it might have too many sci-fi touches for those searching for pure horror. Playing other artists’ ambient music on Halloween can create an atmosphere of creepy fun for trick-or-treaters, but you should play Darkmood’s The Haunting if you want to make them too scared to even come near your house. That way you can keep all of the goodies for yourself!

Special thanks to Notic Reign Records for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 28 2017

Music to Haunt By: Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack

Midnight Syndicate
Official Site
Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack, Linfaldia Records 2016

To say Twilight Creations had a hit on its hands when it released the board game Zombies!!! would be a gross understatement. It’s spawned numerous editions, expansions and sequels (along with numerous bags of plastic figures). So their tapping Midnight Syndicate to come up with a soundtrack makes perfect sense. Who else would makers of a zombie board game with RPG-like elements turn to than the artists responsible for both numerous horror ambience and the official Dungeons & Dragons soundtrack?

Mild reverb guitars and slow creepy buildup open “It Begins.” I love the piano work and percussion, along with how the overall feel track gets your skin crawling. So you could play this in a bug or spider room if you don’t want to stick with the album’s zombie theme. It can also work with other themes thanks to its use of different eerie touches I can’t quite place. One part sounds like jangling chains, so there’s definitely some dungeon potential. “Where Did Everybody Go?” uses soft and moody string work to create a feeling of desolation and loneliness. The thudding drums add to the feel. It also builds up as it goes along, complete with moaning tones, for a very loud finish. The pounding drums of “They’re Coming for You…” sound like a heart beat. Snippets of percussion and the sounds of shuffling and junk being knocked over soon appear. It creates the sense of following or being followed. A distant motorcycle and soft zombie sounds are heard before the music takes back the focus. The complete effect is something dangerous getting closer, so you could use this with other monsters besides the living dead. Why not try using it as the soundtrack for a room set up to look like a basement or storage room? The stored boxes could form a maze of sorts for the monsters to lurk in. You could also get away with passing off the sound of the motorcycle as the sound of a chainsaw. I’ll leave it up to you if you actually want to have a character menace visitors with a prop chainsaw. A gong strike brings us into “Slight Miscalculation.” You’ve never heard drums and strings used like this before! Although it starts at about medium volume, it gets louder as the track speeds along. There’s plenty of tension as creepy woodwinds and zombie sounds are heard. It creates the feeling of running…until the track switches gears by musically implying safety is found. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to scare people while their guards are down. “Last Day to Live” blends pianos and synth tones (along with some distant gongs and wordless female vocals at times). This is another track where the volume builds up, but it has lots of details which sets it apart from the others. I like how the vocals and piano play off each other later in the track. Percussion and synths with John Carpenter-esque feel join in. Then something weird happens. Although the music stops at 3:28, there’s a period of near silence and a soft eerie tone until the track ends at 3:49! The loud and rumbling opening of “No Escape” makes great use of string work. It’s all quite unnerving, especially the soft bursts of piano work. The pounding and horns make it feel like you’re being chased by a giant, so why not have a giant monster chase people in your haunt? Midnight Syndicate fans will recognize this as a shortened selection from the Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan soundtrack. The sounds of breathing and whispering have been added as well. “Town Square” is a soundscape of sorts that opens with storm sound effects, soft synth tones and wordless male vocals. Empty swings can be heard blowing in the wind and zombies are rattling metal fences. The music is appropriately sad and mournful given how track implies civilization is in ruins due to a zombie apocalypse. We also get to hear breaking glass, bursts of gunfire, wordless female vocals, wordless unisex vocals and a woman screaming in the distance. It’s perfect for use with an area made up to look like a deserted city street. Well, as deserted as a street can be when zombies are on the prowl. People will assume all the sound effects they hear which don’t match up with anything they actually see is supposed to be happening elsewhere in the city. I highly recommend including zombies restrained by a fence.

The incredibly soft opening synthesizer buildup of “Zombie Master” gets very loud very fast once the strings and gongs appear. The drums and horns help give it a classic horror movie feel. Soft wordless unisex vocals layered in background are only one of the track’s spooky touches. Although it briefly loses its grand feeling for a creepy segment, it goes back to the epic feel for its big close. The heavy use of sound effects in “Raiding Todd’s Tool Shop” makes it feel like an audio drama without any actual dialogue. A gun is loaded and a little bell lets us know someone had entered the titular store. Suspenseful strings and drums play while our unseen protagonist walks around. The sound of another door opening leads to sounds of ransacking and a radio being turned on. It’s hard to make out due the static, but it appears to be a broadcast about shelters. The music stops and fades up once the radio is turned off. There’s pounding at the door and zombies are heard. They must have heard the noise! The sound of breaking glass lets the listener know the zombies have gotten inside. The person runs away, only for the track to suddenly end…only for a loud zombie snarl to act as a jump scare. The slightly shorter version of “Veiled Hunter” from The 13th Hour is still piano horror at its finest and its synth touches still remind me of Friday the 13th. It creates the sense of frantic running so it practically begs to be used in a slasher room or for when a haunt performer follows guests down a dark hallway. The tense, sweeping tones of “Into the Abyss” aid its epic orchestral feel. It feels like a taking a journey and you have to love the drum work. The string work and drum strikes go well with the wordless vocals. It develops a chase-like feel at first, only to quickly go back to the original feeling of grand menace. The moody opening “Alternate Food Source” leads to the sound of a creaking metal door being opened and a person walking around. As they check stuff, the sound of a shotgun reloading and a shell popping out can be heard. Slavering zombies and shaking metal can also be heard as the frightening strings and drums build their way up to the track’s climax. Similarly, there’s a soft, gradual build at the start of “Fear.” Light echoing notes and soft string work are aided by some violins in the back. Thunderous drumming and an intense beat take over, only yo lead to the crackling static of barely audible radio broadcast. But when the man broadcasting is eaten by zombies, the radio stuff goes away and the music grows into a frenzy. “Adrenaline Rush” has an appropriately intense feel thanks to its pounding percussion, pianos and strings. There’s lots of different percussion instruments on display and its gives something of a machinery or factory feel to the track. A motorcycle is heard (but could pass for a chainsaw) as well. The music fades as an out of breath man is heard trying to escape zombies on a motorcycle. You had better believe the music returns with a vengeance for the end. If you try using a chainsaw scare in a haunted factory scene or industrial maze in your haunt, you can get away with using this track. The super soft opening of “Dusk” ushers in light, steady piano work and backing vocal of the wordless female variety. Some zombies are heard at times, but the track eventually becomes a mix strings and (at 1:16) strange soft noise until the ending. “We’re Screwed” is another track with haunted factory or industrial maze potential. Machinery and steam are both heard among the pounding tones and percussion, along with some brief touches of piano. There’s also lots of breaking glass effects, clanking chains and ominous string work. In “Race to the Helipad,” tense tones and suspenseful strings play as a helicopter is heard. I love how the percussion is used to indicate urgency. Drums and strings make the listener feel like they have to run as fast as possible. This is aided by the sounds of a man breathing, zombies, guns and a hovering helicopter. As Naturally, everything goes silent once said helicopter leaves. This is the sort of track which works better in a haunted trail rather than a haunted house. With all the effects going on, people might assume they’re hearing something from another part of the trail that they can’t see. The chance of hearing a helicopter at night without actually seeing it is also more likely outdoors and the trail’s patrons just might write it off as noise pollution from local air traffic!

Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack offers plenty of material for haunted attractions of all kinds. But having zombies in your haunt admittedly makes things easier and I personally recommend selecting individual tracks to play. Its use of sound effects in certain tracks to tell a story might make it more difficult to use the album in full at a haunt than other Midnight Syndicate albums. But that’s to be expected since this was intended for use with a board game. It’s supposed to be like having a movie playing in the background for atmosphere, but without any visuals or plot to distract you from the game. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the periods of silence I noted earlier were meant to give players a little extra time to concentrate or talk among themselves. Said periods could also be used as an opportunity to a scare when people least expect it. Other reviewers have noted the presence of tracks from previous Midnight Syndicate albums on this release. I haven’t heard all of the albums cited in that link, so I couldn’t comment on them all. What I can say is how many of these tracks now have sound effects and seem to have been altered or newly recorded for this particular release. I suspect this was due to timing issues brought on by a combination of their having released another album the same year and the preparations for their 2017 live show at Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. But this isn’t the first ambient album about zombies with some tracks from the artist’s earlier albums and I only brought this particular up as a matter of trivia. People looking for an album with a zombie theme should definitely consider checking this out; it’s a no-brainer (and not because a zombie got hungry)!

UPDATE: Midnight Syndicate got in touch with me to share some details about the album’s origins. It turns out many people who play Zombies!!! have been using Midnight Syndicate albums as background music for many years. This led to plans for a compilation album made up of tracks selected by fans and the game’s designers (along with a few new tracks). But as the project started to take form, it was soon realized more original material was needed to create the proper mood demanded by the game’s setting. The final product consists of 9 new tracks, 4 favorites from past albums and 5 newly recorded takes on old favorites (with new effects added in for good measure).

Special thanks to Entity Productions for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 27 2017

Music to Haunt By: Dying Within

Grave Tone Productions
Official Site
Dying Within, B@Home Wreckordings 2017

It’s been awhile since I last reviewed one of Grave Tone Productions’ albums, so let’s catch up on their releases. 2015 saw the release of their kid friendly single “Jack the Jack O’ Lantern” and the debut of their short film Who’s There? on YouTube. 2016 brought us Found Remains: Songs from the Grave and now we have the subject of today’s review!

The opening track, “Home Is Where the Horror Is,” starts with a message warning about the album’s content. This is soon followed by another warning in Spanish! Low synths, spooky strings and snippets of piano then guitars take over. I realized this was going to be more “rock” than “ambience” once the speedy drums joined in. But it is admittedly very catchy and works as a standalone song. I especially enjoyed the guitar noodlings towards the end. Bursts of guitar open “Death Bed” and some piano work puts in a few brief appearances. There’s interesting use of a guitar and this time the rock feel is backed by eerily ethereal noises. A crackling record effect brings in some wordless female vocals, along with a woman saying a prayer in Spanish. But the guitars, piano and ethereal noises take things back. There’s also some nifty alternating drums and guitars and even the sound of breaking glass! If your haunted attraction has a room where a record player turns itself on, make sure to use this. You can even have one of your performers sneak up on guests as they’re distracted by the radio. “Murder House” is fairly soothing at first. But the soft piano work and strings are briefly interrupted by bursts of guitar work. The piano takes the spotlight for awhile but then guitars and percussion put in a more lasting appearance. Said guitars take on a reverby sound for a bit and the end result reminds me of the soundtrack to an old European horror movie. The guitar work is creepy even when the reverb stops. The creep factor increases once the sinister strings and elegant piano work take over for the ending. “Don’t Open the Door” uses guitars, drums and cymbals to grab the listener’s attention. The voice who warned us about the album’s content return to remark on how every life comes with a death sentence and the instruments take the track back to play us out.

“Dying Within” has a somewhat Western feel to it at times. Perhaps the metallic noises it occasionally uses are meant to be spurs? The opening guitar work is slow and low key, but picks up with a reverby feel. Things take on a more rockin’ tone and eventually transitions into super speedy 80’s metal before the two styles are combined. I simply love the drum work and guitar variations. It takes on a steady, determined feel once the medium piano bursts and wordless unisex vocals kick in. There’s also some booming and militaristic drums for good measure. This is the perfect track for those looking to do something a little different with their haunt’s ghost town scene. In “Deathtime Story” a little boy asks if his father will read him a bedtime story. A xylophone plays as little girls sing “Ring Around the Rosie,” but this yields to slow, mournful circus music. The xylophone returns after a spell, only for buzzing guitars, clapping hands and a calliope join in. There’s plenty of high pitched electric feedback and some sneaking tones are heard every so often during the calliope segment. After we hear the melody symbolizing the “We all fall down” part of the classic nursery rhyme, an announcer tells us that all houses where men and women have died are haunted houses. A little girl is heard asking “Daddy where are you?” and children sing a menacing song asking people to come out and play. As if things weren’t eerie enough, a kid’s voice is heard in the distance! More clapping, buzzing and guitars are heard before the calliope returns. After some feedback and sounds of children playing, the little boy from the beginning says goodnight to his father. I couldn’t help but come out of this thinking of evil spirits trying to lure the unsuspecting into an eternal game of Hide and Seek. This can be done in your haunt by playing this as visitors enter an area decorated to look like an empty child’s room. Toys and other items could move by themselves when the kids are heard to suggest their presence. Then a spectral child materializes and appears to be facing a wall to count down while the others hide. As said child starts to fade away, their head suddenly spins around to reveal a terrifying face! This can be accomplished by making a motorized version of “Creepy Shelly” set up with a Pepper’s Ghost effect. “Panic Room” has plenty of guitars and interesting percussion. There’s some unearthly music in back at times as well. “No Way Out” features incredibly fast marching drums and heavy guitars. A spooky voice warns us there’s no way out and we later hear what appears to be a sample about punishment of Biblical proportions. The track even ends with the sound of an explosion! I could definitely see this working in an escape room. “It Was Only a Nightmare” combines extremely creepy synthesizer tones with string work and piano. Drums slowly come in, as do guitars. A slow acoustic guitar suddenly takes over, only for the other instruments and eerie stuff to find their way in. But if the guitar was your favorite part, you will be pleased to learn that it comes back for a soft solo performance at the end.

Dying Within is an interesting haunt soundtrack which I personally feel is better suited for entertaining people waiting to get into a haunted attraction (or for people coming to your door on Halloween) rather than using it in the haunt itself. But as I noted earlier, there are some exceptions to this and in the end it all depends on your own personal preferences for haunt audio. I can also see haunted attractions located in areas with large Spanish-speaking populations being especially interested in this release. Scary music albums featuring spoken word segments usually focus on a single language and its nice to have one with something for everyone. It’s also a wonderful listening experience which can be enjoyed throughout the year. So don’t be afraid to check it out even if you prefer orchestral material for haunting!

Special thanks to Grave Tone Productions for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 27 2017

6’+ Episode 213 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“As the fog rolls in and the night grows cold, don’t run and hide…instead, let the mood take you. Give in to the haunting sounds of Six Foot Plus’s yearly terrifying tradition: Ambience and AtmosFEAR. Chill in delight as you hear the frightening sounds of VERSE 13, DULCET JONES, JEANNIE NOVAK, SECOND GRAVE, MIDNIGHT SYNDICATE and more. The most horrifying sound ever? Could it be…THE MONSTERMATT MINUTE?”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oct 26 2017

Music to Haunt By: Horror Trilogy

Dulcet Jones
Official Site
Horror Trilogy Part One, Green Cottage Music 2017
Horror Trilogy Part Two, Green Cottage Music 2017
Horror Trilogy Part Three, Green Cottage Music 2017
Horror Trilogy, Green Cottage Music 2017

Horror Trilogy is one of the more unique releases I’ve seen in the world of scary ambient music. The “album” is actually three separate tracks with a track combining all three in order thrown in as well!

“Horror Trilogy Part One” uses beautifully slow guitar work to create a sense of eerie elegance. It might seem like it’ll drift into pleasant listening music territory, but a classic spooky riff always brings it back. It’s perfect for the opening room of your haunted house. While that track was based on the same classical guitar work he uses in his Solo Guitar Originals album, “Horror Trilogy Part Two” combines a more traditional rock feel with synth work. Unearthly guitars and percussion combine for a medium paced (and volume) opening. Synths get eerily ethereal when the guitars and drums pick up. Sometimes there are also sweet spooky guitar solos followed by drums and more moaning synths. The feel gets really heavy as the track adds some distortion and electrical tuning effects about a minute and half into it. I just love the ending fade. “Horror Trilogy Part Three” is pure synth work consisting of a pounding beat and vaguely bell-like tones. It really ups the scare factor when said bells take a break. There’s lots of creepy synth touches on display as well. “Horror Trilogy” combines all three for an end result which runs for a little over eight minutes.

Horror Trilogy packs in a lot of spooky ambience in one small package. Buying the individual tracks separately will cost you buck fifty while just buying the combination track only costs a dollar. Either way, it’s a low cost investment with a high cost sound. Each track can easily be looped and they go with just about any scary scene you can think up. Personally, I recommend using one (or more) of the tracks with a misdirection scare featuring a gargoyle. When Dulcet Jones first contacted me about this album, he had started playing in a folk band and wasn’t sure when he would do another horror project. But I have since learned that has slowed down and he’s currently looking into starting a band with a horror theme. That way he can release material throughout the year rather than only focus on Halloween! So be sure to contact him if you’re interested (especially if you’re a vocalist). Oh, and he also revealed that he used to live in the house shown on the cover! That’s the one of my favorite things about Dulcet Jones: he combines great music with cool trivia about the creation of his works.

Special thanks to Dulcet Jones for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 25 2017

Music to Haunt By: Mark Harvey

Mark Harvey
Official Site
Pumpkinland, Nobody Records 1999
Pumpkinland II, Nobody Records 2000
Pumpkinland III, Nobody Records 2001

The late 90’s were a very important time in the development of modern haunted attraction music. Midnight Syndicate had settled into the style which made them famous in 1998 and Michael Hedstrom entered the scene in 1999. That year also saw the release of Pumpkinland by a California native by the name Mark Harvey. He created the album due to the difficulties he had finding the right soundtrack for his “Pumpkinland” home haunt. As this was before the explosion of ambient horror music, he was limited to the various scary sound effects albums which used to flood supermarkets and drug stores each October. They offered more sound effects than music and many of said sound effects were inappropriate for children (who were the haunt’s intended audience). So he decided to just make his own custom mix of music and effects. Thank goodness he was an experienced musician with his own label!

Maerk Harvey’s music career traces back to 1985 and he created Nobody Records in 1987 to release his band’s first album. The Screaming Paisleys were only the beginning of his working with others, as later years saw him playing as a member of Rain Station along with Beth Eyre and Month of Sundays. He also spent much of the 90’s as a solo act performing under the name “mopehead.” Pumpkinland not only spawned his recording studio, but its success led to his “HauntScapes” (as he calls them) appearing in haunted attractions and dark rides around the world! His work has also appeared in television, radio, commercials and film.

The opening track “Pumpkinland” features a slow, rumbling buildup which carries on through entire track. There are also touches of musical instruments to keep the tension up. It’s not too overwhelming for children while still being creepy enough for everyone else. It’s great for pumpkin patches, graveyards, boiler rooms, etc. If you go with a pumpkin theme, make sure to build a pumpkin arch to help with the mood. The track’s mild lurking feel helps it flow into the next track as well. “Creature” turns up the lurking sensation and oozes with unease. It’s all atmosphere with no additional music. That is, unless you count how the track “throbs” at times. You’ll understand once you hear it. “Swamp” picks things up a bit with hissing music and a feel that’s almost like breathing. There are the occasional distant cries heard as well. I really enjoyed the direction the music took toward the last leg of the track, especially the groaning tones. Maybe it’s due to the drum beats, but this has something of a Midnight Syndicate feel as well. You had better believe that’s meant as a compliment! “Ghouls” is a grand orchestral track. The amazing organs and horns are sometimes joined by vaguely mystical or spacey touches. It’s a bit insect-like at times, so it could work in spider or bug room. “The Pumpkin Patch” is an epic soundscape whose length depends on the format you purchase it on. The digital download runs a little over 25 minutes but has a brief silent pause about 17:14 into the track. This is due to Bandcamp’s size limits and the uninterrupted 34 minute version can only be found on CD. There’s wailing wind, creaking branches and night birds. There’s even some howling wolves, crickets and thunder at times for good measure. On the music side of things, there are the occasional touches of instruments. But they come and go too quickly to let you make any identifications.

Mark Harvey made a truly impressive impact upon the world of ambient Halloween music with Pumpkinland. With the shortest track only being a little under 4 minutes, looping isn’t a problem for any of the tracks. That is, unless you purchase “The Pumpkin Patch” as a digital download. They also flow into each other well enough to allow for the album to be looped as a whole. Naturally, a sequel soon followed and the year 2000 saw the release of Pumpkinland II.

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Oct 24 2017

Music to Haunt By: The Return

So what’s new in the world of spooky ambient music? Jerry Vayne released Blackmoon Asylum has been unleashed and World of Fright (whose work has appeared on our podcast many times) released his first album earlier this year. Both Shadow’s Symphony and Prelude to a Nightmare are working on new material while the second part of Verse 13’s Shadows and Dusk is still in the works. Just like last year, I’ll be sharing more news as the countdown continues. Until then you can enjoy last year’s “Music to Haunt By” articles:

Music to Haunt By: The Return
Music to Haunt By: Psych Ward Psymphony
Music to Haunt By: When Time Ends
Music to Haunt By: Horror, I’m Afraid
Music to Haunt By: Prelude to the Afterlife
Music to Haunt By: Ghost Stories
Music to Haunt By: Cellblock

Let’s not forget the 2016 episode of the podcast which tied into those articles!

I’m sure you’re practically salivating over the annual free downloads. Fry Height’s “Eerie Escalation” and Caleb Hines’ “Buried Alive” are two great tracks that are just perfect for unnerving visitors. Their relative obscurity will also decrease the likelihood anyone else in your area will be using them on Halloween.

As for the annual advice on using music and sound to scare people, let’s check out Mr. Maniacal’s The Art of Fear: Theories of a Dark Entertainer. It’s fulled with great tips about audio use in haunted attractions. Well, except the part about mixing selections from copyrighted movies and albums to create your own soundtracks. Please don’t tell me you need an explanation of why I think that’s a bad idea.

Come to think of it, now seems like a good time to clarify the purpose of this series. It’s primarily aimed at home haunters rather than professional haunters. That’s why I offer free downloads and sometimes look at unusual choices for haunting music. The constant references to handing out candy on Halloween are an admitted hint as to the articles’ target audience but I think a little clarity would be helpful. Sure, professional haunters can still get helpful ideas and leads of music to use, but I would expect them to license the use of anything which the artist didn’t specifically say was available for royalty free use.

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting or downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 23 2017

Fear For Your Ears VIII

The Owl Field is a company specializing in binaural audio (3D sound) and their free story “Overnight” makes things even more immersive by making you the star! The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets have created a radio play which ties into their Lovecraftian science fiction RPG Spaceship Zero and I highly recommend it.

The website Bleeding Critic offers many streaming audio tales in addition to its news and reviews. In honor of these works often being referred to as “Horror Medication,” I have selected the story “Chest Pains.” Similarly, Irrational Fears has a streaming audio book presentation of Elias Witherow’s “Seven Minute Sacrifice.”

Mabel describes itself as a podcast about “ghosts, family secrets, strange houses, and missed connections” while That Horrible Woman refers to itself as the “new vibe of horror and speculative fiction podcast.”

Return Home is a serialized tale of a man who returns to his home town after many years of being away. But when the name of said town is “Melancholy Falls,” you know it won’t be a pleasant experience. Diary of a Madman is, as the name implies, a collection of recorded audio diaries from an unnamed madman.

The Wicked Library has a wealth of horror story readings (including some appearances by people whose work I’ve covered in the past). Both A Night of Horror and FateCrafters Studios are home to many a scary tale.

Spotify has so many wonderful audio stories. Both the Sleep No More collection of classic horror stories, the popular Little Evil Things series can be found there. That’s right, Volumes II, III, IV and V are available as well!

Mike Arnzen has a Bandcamp page where you can stream several collections of his short stories and poetry, including the expanded digital edition of AudioVile! The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is another old friend with a Bandcamp page full of streaming goodness, along with a “Name Your Price” download of The Dweller in the Depths.

The Elegant Skulls specialize in both music and poetry (as read by Boneyard the Poet Ghoul). Although Boneyard’s reading of “The Raven” can only be streamed for free, the reading of “The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly” by Vachel Lindsay and the audio drama special Halloween Extravaganza can be downloaded for free. Since it would be obnoxious to keep specifying what can be downloaded for free and what can’t, I’m just going to focus on the content for here on. The Elegant Skulls aren’t the only band with some audio goodness for you. The Mission Creeps have a chilling take on Edgar Allan Poe’s “Shadow – A Parable” and Covered In Bees have a short comedy skit called “Dude Meets Dracula.” The Mechanism’s short retelling of Frankenstein is very different from the original while Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks’ Halloween Is Here is a hilarious parody of old Halloween records (complete with a few stories). Mark Binder’s tale The Zombie Cat is much longer (and more gory) than one might expect from the name and Drew Chial has a nifty tale of soul selling called Terms and Conditions. M. Amanuensis Sharkchild ‘s audiobook adaptations of “The Unlike Light” and The Spirit Collectors are sure to enthrall you.

Let’s move on to SoundCloud. Blue Hours Productions’ revival of Suspense is well worth your time. Big Finish has the full Doctor Who audio drama Last of the Titans, along with the complete first parts of The Rani Elite and The Highest Science. They have a festive offering from their The Confessions Of Dorian Gray line called Trick or Treat available as well! RadioCliff has a live radio drama performance of Dracula, David Graey reads H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dagon,” Chris P. Fuchs created a radio play called “Dark Nights” and Nate Edmondson has an abridged version of Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Lukas Arbogast’s original audio tale “Shadow Over Brooklyn” feels like a portion of something bigger. That reminds me, both Colin J. Schwager’s “I love you” and prologue for “They Walked Among Us” were definitely made to promote a larger future work.

Kid Congo Powers, of Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds fame, has launch a podcast on iTunes where he reads poetry by Edgar Allan Poe (and other authors). iTunes also brings us The Lost Cat, The Bridge, Tunnels, The NoSleep Podcast, A New Winter and Spines.

Still not satisfied? Not only is the Six Foot Plus 2016 Halloween special available, but there’s plenty of other audio dramas to be found at Audio-Drama.com. As a final bonus, here are all of the installments of Za Frûmi’s dark fantasy albums I could find on Bandcamp:

Za shum ushatar Uglakh
Tach – Chapter 2
Shrak ishi za migul – Chapter 3
Legends Act 2 – Vampires
Legends Act 3 – Cults
Legends Act 4 – Orders
Special

You might recall how one of the members went on to form Atrium Carceri. I will leave it up for you to decide if these mark a new form of audio drama or if they are just music tracks that are heavy on dialogue.

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading or streaming from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Some downloads may not work in certain regions. Blah blah blah…

Oct 22 2017

Make Your Own Spooky Sound Effects II

It’s been a few years since I last discussed how to make custom sound effects and I have been spending that time seeking out more sound effect ideas. Speaking of last year, remember how I noted how one could imitate a cricket using only your mouth? Fred Newman’s MouthSounds has detailed directions on doing so (in addition to mimicking a buzzing fly).

How to Build Hair-Raising Haunted Houses by Megan Cooley Peterson is one of the few modern kids’ books about home haunting that actually provides suggestions about creating sound effects. In this case, she discusses how to make storm effects and the sound of rattling chains.

That isn’t the only book aimed at younger readers which contains sound effects ideas that haunters of any age can use.
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies by Melanie Watt shows how the sounds of chewing, writing on a chalkboard and clothes in the dryer can sound spooky when removed from their usual context. Although Karen Latchana Kenney’s Cool Special Effects focuses more on the visual side of things, her instructions on creating “Singing Glasses” can be used to create sounds with a mystical or otherworldly feel. Oh, and you know the old “blow across the top of an empty glass bottle to create eerie moans” trick? You can change the sound by adding some water into the bottle prior to blowing! Changing the water level of the “Singing Glasses” also works the same way.

The Concise Encyclopedia of American Radio by Christopher H. Sterling and Cary O’Dell has a fascinating method of creating the sound of screeching monkeys and rats. Although they say to use turpentine, I have seen other sources say using a cork dipped in water can make the same effect.

Robert Gardner’s Experimenting with Sound Science Projects has some truly unique methods of creating the sounds of rain, fire, creaking doors and galloping horses. If you can’t find any heavy cellophane to use for the fire effect, just crush some cling wrap into a ball and record the sound of the ball as it expands. Do you remember the heartbeat sound effect from Pink Floyd’s classic The Dark Side of the Moon album? According to Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd by Nick Mason, the effect was created using a padded drum! Those without one can try drumming their hands on a mattress or padded seat instead.

An electric guitar and its related gear can be used to create lots of interesting sound effects. Guitar Shop Series: Tricks and Special Effects by Ethan Fiks shows how to create the sound of a creaking door and two different ways to make bell sounds. I don’t know if he discusses creating a chainsaw sound effect in the full version of the book, so I’ll play it safe and share this Youtube tutorial on the matter.

Musical U has plenty of great articles about creating haunting audio for Halloween. One discusses some novel methods for creating the sounds of chains and thunder, in addition to = a great suggestion about enhancing ghostly wails. I also enjoyed the article about using chords and scales to create scary music. But you don’t need to be a skilled musician to use instruments to make scary audio. A quick screech from a violin and slamming down on piano keys are two great ways to create startling sounds for your custom soundtrack.

The classic old time radio series Inner Sanctum Mystery used some interesting methods to create the sound of a creaking door.

Rick Allen Creative’s website has instructions on creating booming impacts and a cartoon “boing” effect that’s a must for any haunted circus.

YouTube is rapidly becoming the top destination for sound creation tutorials. Here’s an especially impressive one uploaded by SpanglerScienceTV:

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Oct 21 2017

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat Beer

One of my October traditions is trying at least one new pumpkin or “spooky” beer each year. My discovery for 2017 is a pumpkin ale from the MillerCoors owned Blue Moon Brewing Company. The company has been making pumpkin beer since 1995, so I’m assuming the “limited release” notice on the label is a reference to its seasonal availability. They also claim this product was the first pumpkin ale to be nationally available. The label artwork depicts a full moon and a crate of pumpkins, but my description makes it sound much more Halloweeny than it appears. Their website notes it was originally created with Oktoberfest in mind and I suspect that’s why the art is more “harvest” than “horror.”

My fellow pumpkin fans will be pleased to hear how you can really taste the pumpkin whenever you take a swig. The cinnamon and nutmeg (and other pumpkin spice ingredients) give it a fairly sweet flavor, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s only slightly sweeter than Wormtown Pumpkin Ale. Speaking of that beer, I actually had a bottle of Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat Beer rather than my draft-only experience with Wormtown’s beer. Sampling from a glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar was a pleasant experience. It tasted a little bitter after I had started drinking it with my meal of homemade beef stew, but it still works pretty well as a dinner beer. Others have noted the presence of cloves and a toasted malt flavor. I was also surprised to learn this beer is vegan friendly (both in terms of the brewing and packaging processes). So it looks like there are lots of different incentives for people to give Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat Beer a try!

Oct 21 2017

Video Store Day Is Here!

If you missed our note about Video Store Day from earlier in the Halloween Countdown, the event’s official Facebook page has all the information you need about the event.

Although most remaining video rental stores focus exclusively on DVD and Blu-Ray, you can sometimes find some which still stock VHS. Many who look back fondly on the days of VHS often wonder why movie cover art has become so different. While covers using photographs weren’t unheard of, painted or drawn artwork used to be the most popular way to go. So what happened? To get a full understanding, let’s take a quick look back at the history of video rentals and poster art.

When the video boom first started, the idea was to attract the most attention to your company’s product as possible. So naturally many video companies decided to make their box art look like painted posters. After all, posters had been done this way since the silent era and could be relied on to draw attention (especially to low budget productions which lacked the star power of films from major studios). This in turn led to the “big box” method of packaging VHS cassettes. This gave more room for the artwork and helped certain movies stand out from those packaged in smaller boxes. This was especially important in attracting the lucrative teen renter market, who often rented multiple movies at the same time. Some companies even put rainbows or other distinctive banners at the top of the box to draw more eyes to their boxes. Such concepts weren’t unlike DC Comics’ “Go-Go Checks” and other artistic methods of attracting readers to their comic books. But somewhere along the line, box sizes shrunk and “sleeves” became the new standard. Money was most likely a factor, especially since some store chose to cut out portions of big boxes to fit them into plastic cases and threw away the rest. Why spend money on something nobody is going to use or see?

But the smaller box size wasn’t the only factor at play. Artistic posters were starting to fall by the wayside (although this might not be case for long). The most common explanation you’ll see online for this is due to changes in contracts for performers. A quick look at articles about “equal likeness” clauses and movie posters shows this isn’t just some internet myth. Not only have poster artists weighed in on the matter, but it’s even been alleged the original poster art for The Rocketeer was phased out of theaters since it didn’t bring enough attention to the stars in the cast! The rise of photo manipulation programs and the presumed lower cost of making artwork that way on computers probably also helped all but completely kill off traditional poster art. Which in turn worked over into the world of home video. This issue is apparently discussed in the documentary 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters. So you might want to keep an eye out for it during your next trip to your local video store!

Happy Video Store Day!

Special thanks to Eyesore Cinema for use of the image!

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