Music to Haunt By: Icky Ichabod

Icky Ichabod
Official Site
Halloween Music, self-release 2009
The Haunted Organ, self-release 2016
Darkscape, self-release 2016
Hall of Mysteries, self-release 2016

Kevin J Gardner created his “Icky Ichabod” identity in 2009 but had been involved in music long before then. His compositions have been heard in numerous radio spots, films and television shows. But being Icky Ichabod let him stretch his legs. Not only could he create spooky music for Halloween and haunted houses, but he also released the book Paranormal Poems in 2014! So let’s start at the very beginning with his debut 2009 release, Halloween Music.

“Samhain” starts the album off with low piano work. Creepy light backing tones with touches of percussion soon join in. While the piano work changes things up, the rest turns into the very definition of “cacophony.” But then it dies down until only soft, squeaking creaks and gusts of wind are left with the piano. Things pick up for a more mild version of the cacophony from earlier. Only this time some strange synth tones join in as well before the addition of scattered light notes lead to a great closing fade. Chimes reminiscent of a music box are combined with a soft, pounding beat in “Skeleton Bones.” Some whispering effects appear at one point and snappy percussion foreshadows the change in chimes. Odd, somewhat sci-fi tones get a soft solo before chimes and otherworldly effects take over. Soft drums and a coughing laugh can be heard too. Although the snaps vaguely suggest rattling bones, the other parts make it possible to work in a haunted nursery. You just need to make sure you have a clown doll with an arm positioned like it’s coughing and a toy robot to match up with certain parts of the track. “The Thinning Veil” offers moody chimes and backing drum beat you can dance to! There are brief recurring appearances by breathy wails and a fuzzy drum machine. Chirping and an otherworldly effect like passing through another dimension make repeated appearances throughout the track. They’re also joined by chimes and snippets of clinking noises. It’s just what your vortex tunnel needs! “Ghost Ship” makes interesting use of synth effects and multiple pianos, along with the occasional drum beat. A tambourine briefly joins in to pick things up while cymbals and other percussion effects join for a spell. The tambourine then returns with a vengeance and new piano variations join in to create the feeling of distant lands. The complete feel of the track creates the feel of a ship in rolling waves without using any sound effects. It appropriately dies down and fades out like a ghost. One use for this track would be to play it in a room decorated to look like the inside of a pirate ship. But others might prefer to construct a prop with dead pirates hanging from it and play the track soft enough so people only hear it when they get close to the prop. Cymbals, drums, piano work and a backing beat take us into “Ripper.” Very fuzzy tones join in, along with some frantic piano work. This gives the track a sense of fleeing (especially when things up pick up). It all builds up, only for a piano solo to fade us out. This could be used to enhance a chase or to liven up a static scene based on Jack the Ripper. Such a scene would be a great way to make a staircase spooky. You can either print or make your own sinister silhouette. If you want to prevent people from going up the stairs, block it off with some caution tape and leave out a prop newspaper nearby with a headline about a recent string of killings similar to the original ripper murders. Having another article whose title suggests a supernatural connection will add to the effect.

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Music to Haunt By: Morbus Tenebris

Morbus Tenebris
Official Site
Shadows On The Wall, self-release 2018

You might remember Benjamin Fouché as the man behind Spookinite Valley. This year marks his debut novel, Shadows On The Wall. This year also marks his musical debut with a tie-in album for the novel under his side project, Morbus Tenebris. It’s a story of a haunted house-themed sideshow attraction called “Gravestone Manor” whose facade artwork delivers exactly what it promises. Sadly its monsters and supernatural beings are all too real…and all too deadly. They also have the ability to leave the attraction! It has claimed many unsuspecting victims as it materializes in various carnivals and fairs and the novel tells of the protagonist’s life being forever changed by three beings from the attraction: The spectral Funereal, the monstrous Odious and the vampiric Luminita. I’ve only had a chance to read a little of it and it’s kind of like if H.P. Lovecraft got sick of tentacled horrors beyond imagination and decided to write about a haunted attraction that’s truly haunted.

The version of Shadows On The Wall I’ll be reviewing is actually the remastered reissue. The original was released earlier in the year with different artwork, different mixes and even a few different tracks. Mr. Fouché eventually came to the conclusion that the artwork was too cartoonish and he became dissatisfied with the quality of the music. It took some time and money (and a new artist), but he was pleased with the final results. He even created some new tracks to replace those he felt couldn’t be salvaged. These new tracks are “Sanguivoriphobia”, “Nocturnal Wandering” and “Gravestone Manor”. I only bring this up as an interesting bit of trivia, as this sort of thing is far from unheard of in the world of haunting ambient music. After all, both Prelude to a Nightmare and Verse 13 have replaced cover art and swapped around tracks for their old albums. But I’m getting off topic…

Creepy organ music takes us into “Lost at Midnight.” It offers lots of variations until it briefly stops and takes on a grander (and vaguely circus-like feel). The use of soft wordless female vocals and the constant tolling bells near the end were great touches. “Shadows on the Wall” also has a grand feel thanks to its soft piano work, mysterious strings and pipe organ work. Tolling bells briefly join in to contrast with piano. Fans of string work will particularly enjoy this track, especially the solo segment. This eerie track is perfect for a haunted mansion. “Mural of Horror” uses mournful strings and wordless female vocals to create a creepy, almost mystical feel. There’s also some nice use of heavy piano work towards the end. But don’t think you’re limited to using this with scenes involving witches and wizards. Halls of portraits and graveyards would also benefit from being paired with the track. You could also use “Midway Memories” with a graveyard scene due to its sad and dismal feel. It’s a combination of both heavy and light piano work mixed with violins and occasional blasts from a pipe organ. Its circus midway feel isn’t “in your face” and sometimes vanishes from the track, so let’s use it in an area where that works to its advantage: a haunted sideshow. After passing the signage and ticket booth, guests enter a room with several displays. In addition to the “FeeJee Mermaid,” they can also see exhibits like strange fossil, a skeletal human spider, creepy things in jars and a caged gorilla. Said gorilla’s cage is directly across from the exit so it can chase people into the next room when it escapes. The dark tones and interesting string work of “Sanguivoriphobia” remind me of a predator surveying the area. Although the title refers to having a fear of vampires, you can use it with any monster scanning your haunt for victims.

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6’+ Episode 239 is Up!

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

“Gather ‘round, as we instill some fear in ya, with this – our annual foray into ambient and atmospheric tracks. Listen to selections from NINE INCH NAILS, MORBUS TENEBRIS, GUSTAV HOLST, VERSE 13 and more. Monstermatt Patterson gets into the mood by getting into a coffin, and we bury him alive in another 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.

Music to Haunt By: ExPsyle

ExPsyle
Official Site
Collection of Creepy, ExPsyle Music 2014
Music Box Melodies, ExPsyle Music 2013

ExPsyle (pronounced “Exile”) is a composer who has been creating music since 2013. She creates royalty free music since she recognizes how independent game developers, filmmakers, YouTube channels, etc. might not have enough money to license music or commission custom soundtracks. All she asks is that you give her proper credit after you purchase and use her work. But she is available to compose custom material for those who can afford it, which is why some of her albums aren’t available for royalty free use. Her work has appeared in several video games, including Fox Detective, Rain Clouds, Princess of Ruin and Afternoon in Depression. I can’t find any evidence that her work has been used in haunted attractions, despite ExPsyle specifically mentioning the possibility of using her work in haunted houses on the Bandcamp page for Collection of Creepy. It’s time to change that…

“Cold Breath” combines slow, chiming bells (which might remind you of a music box) with otherworldly backing touches. Said backing touches change to compensate for the track’s steady backing beat. Some parts sound kind of like gusts of wind while others sound like cries or vocals. So why not use it in a room set up like a haunted nursery? Having a hidden oscillating fan blowing the curtains would be a great touch. The low pulsing tones of “Coming After You” ooze darkness and dread and creates feelings which live up to its title. Since some parts remind me of a chiming grandfather clock, let’s recreate the sinister chamber from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Hanging black fabric all over the room is simple enough, but the story’s braziers of fire projecting light through panes of red glass will have to be replaced with fake flames and temporary walls with red plastic windows. Creating a prop grandfather clock is nowhere near as difficult or expensive as one might think. Just be sure to paint it black too. The flickering lights will keep it from blending in with the background. I recommend having the Red Death sneak up on visitors while they’re inspecting the clock, but you could modify the clock so a performer can leap out of it if you wish. The costume for the Red Death can be a black hooded robe covered in “Creepy Cloth” and the mask can either be a corpse mask painted red or one of those red metallic masks which flood stores every October. Don’t forget to sprinkle on some fake blood! “Deep In Chaos” offers eerie low tones from beyond while “Resonant Evil” picks things up slightly with an undercurrent of evil. Its increase in volume wonderfully implies something has been summoned, so it’s a must for a séance. It also flows nicely into “Something Powerful Approaches,” which delivers the feel its name promises. You could even use this as a substitute for a distant storm approaching if you play it at a low volume. “8-Bit Vampire” is a surprisingly happy keyboard track. The contrast between the backing music and main beat is nice, although it’s not very scary. But it is a great track to switch over to if kids find the other music too scary while they approach your front door on Halloween. “Brooding Saint” is a wonderfully creepy organ composition. There are plenty of variations and is a more lively than your standard “haunted organ” track without sounding too happy. I love its very rich sound. This and a strobe light will make any static phantom organist prop seem more alive. I only wish it faded out rather than suddenly stopping. That way it would be much easier to loop.

But don’t let such a minor quibble keep you from picking it up, as Collection of Creepy is worthy addition to any haunter’s music collection! It’s not the only ExPsyle album with spooky music! With that in mind, let’s take a look at Music Box Melodies.

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Music to Haunt By: Vampyre – Symphonies From the Crypt

Midnight Syndicate
Official Site
Vampyre – Symphonies From the Crypt, Entity Productions 2002

Midnight Syndicate is currently performing in their live “Conspiracy of Shadows” show at Cedar Point’s “HalloWeekends” event. Not only will they be performing several shows every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 28th, but you can meet them afterward to take pictures and get merchandise signed! It wouldn’t surprise me if many fans bring copies of the band’s early album Vampyre – Symphonies From the Crypt, the artwork for which was created by famed Dungeons & Dragons artist Keith Parkinson.

The uneasy opening of “Awakening” uses soft wordless vocals and tapping to slowly build up to crashing gongs. Said gongs bring in a sweeping, regal feel and the pipe organ work brings classic Hammer horror movies to mind. The use of bells and horror movie stings further enhanced the mood. This could easily be used in a haunted throne room, vampire’s lair or even the opening room of a haunted house with a vampire theme. “Graveyard” can be used in a graveyard or funeral parlor scene thanks to its moody low opening and soft light touches which lead to mournful string work. The touches of wordless female vocals are greatly appreciated. Its great ending build leads to “Unhallowed Ground,” where the loud crash of a gong snaps listener out of mood from the previous track. More gongs, wordless unisex vocals and piano work soon follow. Amazing organ work takes over for a spell, but the other touches soon find their way back in. It’s spooky and epic, with plenty of great piano variations. A pipe organ solo gets more variations and is joined by new wordless unisex vocals which react to musical changes. The overall effect is simply breathtaking. “Crypt of the Forsaken” begins with a low creepy tone and gongs. Wordless unisex vocals and string work joins in, although I should note how the wordless female vocals are easier to make out than their male counterparts. The overall feel is pounding and steady. If you have a vampire’s crypt in your haunt, why not use a variation of the “girl to gorilla” illusion? Guests hear a vampire hunter yell for someone not to do something just before they enter and see a vampire’s lackey pull a stake out of a decayed vampire’s chest. As the lackey struggles with the vampire hunter, the prop corpse (or skeleton) suddenly changes into a fully restored vampire! Naturally the guests will be chased into the next room. It turns out that “Winged Fury” is one Gavin Goska’s favorite tracks and is “broken into different movements revealing different sides to this creature of the night.” The clashing cymbals and driving violins get the listener hooked before it occasionally adds in soft gongs, an interesting harpsichord effect and other musical tones I can’t quite place. Wordless male vocals can be heard in the distance add to the feeling of something stalking and flying about in pursuit. Wordless female vocals join in for a nice contrast with the variations in the wordless male vocals. I loved the focus on violins at one point and how it added creepy musical strikes later on (which were enhanced by more wordless vocals). You simply have to experience this for yourself. Haunts with a vampire theme could use this in a bat cave, but haunters using other themes might want to consider pairing this track with zombie birds.

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Music to Haunt By: Audio Zombie

Audio Zombie
Official Site
Centralia, Audio Zombie Sound 2014
Penumbra, Audio Zombie Sound 2015

Audio Zombie has made a huge impression on the haunted attraction industry since its debut in 2010. If you go to any forum devoted to haunted attractions and look up discussions about the best audio for use in haunts, Audio Zombie will be definitely mentioned. Their work has appeared in numerous haunted attractions and amusement parks, which would still be impressive even if their services weren’t also used by musicians, animatronic designers, museums, escape rooms, radio programs, ghost tours, web masters and filmmakers! Audio Zombie also won the “Best Audio Design” award at the Project Twenty1 Film Festival for their work on the movie Fallow Ground. It’s no wonder they’re one of the top sound designers in the world of horror. But who are the people behind Audio Zombie?

The company’s official Facebook page notes they are “composed of a small group of professional producers, audio engineers and musicians whose work can be found on countless projects ranging from independent films to national touring musical acts.” Jason Ruch is the owner, chief sound engineer and sound designer while co-owner Jonny Croce is the lead composer and studio musician. Kerri Edelman is a clinical psychologist who acts as the company’s director of marketing and public relations, in addition to recording her own music and voice-overs. Each of the three have over a decade of experience in the music industry and their experience

I got in touch with Audio Zombie while researching an article about providers of royalty free audio for haunted attractions. Not only did they confirm they offered several albums which haunts could use without paying royalties, but Mr. Ruch kindly offered to speak with me over the phone! We wound up talking while he was preparing to go record a storm. It wasn’t that Audio Zombie didn’t already have storm sounds, mind you. No two sounds are ever exactly the same and the company knows the value of having a large library of effects to work with. He also told me how all effects are either created in studio or are recorded in the field instead of being made entirely on a computer. One such example was how they had gone to Centralia, Pennsylvania to record hours of live audio. The place has been all but abandoned due to the mine fire that’s been burning since the early 60’s. I mentally filed away that particular album as the first Audio Zombie album to review. We both agreed that sound is one of the most overlooked aspects of haunting despite its ability to enhance scares. He also noted how he likes to use metal parts and other objects one wouldn’t normally associate with music to create disturbing sounds people won’t be able to identify. My favorite anecdote from our conversation demonstrated how Audio Zombie’s services extend beyond just offering albums or being hired to create custom audio. One haunted attraction Jason Ruch had been working with had an empty room and they couldn’t figure out what to do with it. So Audio Zombie crafted a track which, when played on a speaker in the dark room, made people swear the walls and floor were moving!

“Mineshaft” opens Centralia with a rumbling and creepy burst and becomes amazingly moody. Soft metallic chimes are often heard, but they are nothing like the relaxing ones you’re used to! Moaning tones are also a constant presence and sometimes there are noises which sound a lot like bursts of wind. This track flows into “From Above,” which creates a feel of dread and power thanks to its moaning tones and soft unnerving noises you can’t identify. I wound up looking over my shoulder a few times while listening to this despite being in a brightly lit room! You can also use the previous two tracks with “The Ashes.” That track, much like the album it appears on, oozes atmosphere. Metallic chimes and a low backing tone create a sense of menace. This is enhanced by other light (but creepy touches) and occasional appearance of a wailing woman. “Eve” has a great buildup in terms of both volume and scare factor. The backing tone and use of soft noises make this another track to use when you want your guests to feel menaced by something. The backing tone volume actually increases at times and soft plinking tones often join in. In fact, they take the spotlight for the last part of the track, but not before some softly played string work appears. I can easily see this appearing in a haunted playroom or nursery. The disturbing low tones of “The Devil’s Well” conjures up an intense sense of unease. There’s also soft wordless female vocals and plenty of other eerie touches which are sure to remind you of something from a modern horror movie. It’s a versatile track which can be used in several types of scenes, but you can make a Devil’s well of your own by combining a fiery bottomless pit with a prop well. Just be sure to do the carving outdoors! For added chills, you could hide the audio player inside the prop so it sounds like the audio is coming from the depths of the well! Playing it softly so people can only hear it once they get close to the well further adds to the effect. “Devoid” marks the album’s first use of crackling fire sounds, but the low backing tones and various creepy touches make this more than a fire effects track. This makes me imagine spirits flying around a burning pit, so why not combine fake flames with projected ghosts when you play this at your haunt?

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Music to Haunt By: Verne Langdon

Verne Langdon
Official Site (Label)
The Phantom of the Organ/The Vampyre at the Harpsichord, Electric Lemon Records 2000 (Original release dates: 1972 and 1974)

Verne Langdon had practically done it all before passing away in 2011. He had worked in television and movies, he ran a wrestling gym and created countless monster masks for the legendary Don Post Studios. In fact, he once co-owned that particular company! As someone who started practicing music as a child it was only natural that he would end up creating numerous albums for labels like Dejavu Record Company and Electric Lemon Records (the latter of which he ran with his friend Milt Larsen). There were releases filled with romantic music, comedic tunes from his “Johann Sebastian Bork” character and, yes, he got to indulge his love of the macabre many times. Verne Langdon was sort of a one man Midnight Syndicate in his day. In addition to the subjects of this article, he also created themed albums like Music for Magicians, Halloween Spooktacular and Dr. Druid’s Haunted Seance. That last album acted as both the soundtrack to and instructions for a theatrical séance, complete with haunting voices from beyond! Although these vinyl releases were sold in stores, many know them from their appearances in the “Captain Company” ads which appeared in countless magazines from Warren Publications during the 70’s and 80’s. Selections from his various albums have appeared on the radio and on numerous television shows and his spooky music has appeared in numerous professional and home haunts across America. After a lengthy hiatus from that genre, he eventually returned with Music For Zombies and Music For Dead Things in the early 2000’s.

The story of how The Phantom of the Organ and its kin came to be is an interesting one. The year was 1972. Milt Larsen and Verne Langdon were having drinks at the Magic Castle and discussed how their 1967 album An Evening with Boris Karloff & His Friends had been pulled from the shelves due to licensing issues over movie clips, which were apparently caused by a lawsuit between Bela Lugosi’s heirs and Universal. They had been unable to regain control of the album at the time and decided to create their own album of scary music. As Langdon has provided the music for An Evening with Boris Karloff & His Friends and the backing music for the Magic Castle’s Houdini séance, he was a natural choice to create the music for their new project. The decision to create an entirely original collection of music for Halloween was commendable considering how many “Halloween albums” of the time were content to reuse material over and over again. The only reuse here was how it was recorded at the same studio and on the same Wurli-Morton pipe organ used for the séance! The release was a smash success and fans quickly requested more albums like it. The rest is history.

I love the creepy introduction to “Horror of Erik.” It’s a perfect blend of moody organ work and other instruments (along with some soft moaning). Not only does it provide something you can use instead of “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” in your phantom organist scene, but it also sounds like something you’d hear as the theme to an old horror anthology show! It’s also a neat reference to the Phantom of the Opera. “Depression” has an eerie buildup which transitions into low, slow organ work. It admittedly sounds bit like something from an soap opera at times, but that could be said for many of the organ tracks. “Symphony of Death” starts off powerful and heavy, only to tones things down later. However, the sense of unease is always present. That’s why I think it’s perfect for any haunted house’s funeral home. The organ work in “Dementia Macabre” might begin with a soft, lurking feel but it picks up soon enough. The track certainly lives up to its name and would fit in with any spooky room. It’s also a great opening track for the first room of an attraction themed around a haunted mansion. The moaning and moody tones of “The Devil’s Love” are like something out of a dark soap opera. “Sound Trip Through the Catacombs” is the album’s longest track and runs over 8 minutes! The listener can hear the sound of a horse-drawn carriage on cobblestones, along with talking people and soft music. But then the Phantom of the Opera strikes! His heavy breathing and evil laughter immediately cause a commotion and he’s soon heard running through a wet catacomb to escape. Although the authorities can be heard, this doesn’t stop the Phantom from terrifying more people. There’s even some storm sound effects thrown in for good measure! Play this softly in some catacombs of your own when guests exit your phantom organist setup. That way it will sound like the organist is out wreaking havoc in elsewhere while looking for your guests. “Echos of the Organ” closes things out with some epic “bad dream” music and spooky organ work.

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Music to Haunt By and Sounds to Scare By: The Return

It’s been a big year for news in the world of haunting ambiance. Midnight Syndicate has a new live show at Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends event called “Conspiracy of Shadows.” Performances will happen every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October 28th and guests get to meet the group after the show! Although Jerry Vayne has joined the band Seven For Eden, he’s also working out some ideas for an upcoming album that’s tentatively titled “The Dollhouse.” Sam Haynes released Season of the Witch, Music For Haunts recently put out Clown and Dulcet Jones unleashed his new single Ghostflight. There’s a new Verse 13 EP called Killiope which consists of “The Netherworld Circus” from Prelude to the Afterlife and “TerrorKlowns.” Darkmood is working on Slasher after having spent a lot of time on his Infinite Mindscape side project’s new release SPACE (which isn’t a scary ambiance album). Rustyknife’s Sounds of Gore Compilation is no longer a Gore Galore exclusive and can now be found on several online music stores.

You can enjoy the following reviews from last year while you’re waiting for the new ones:

Music to Haunt By: The Return
Music to Haunt By: Mark Harvey
Music to Haunt By: Horror Trilogy
Music to Haunt By: Dying Within
Music to Haunt By: Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack
Music to Haunt By: The Haunting
Music to Haunt By: Pumpkin On Your Stereo
Music to Haunt By: Halloween

Oh yeah, let’s not forget the 2017 episode of the podcast which is linked to those articles!

The 2018 selection of free downloads will consist of both music and sound effects in celebration of this year’s theme. Prelude to a Nightmare has a massive collection of audio goodness you can download for free over at ReverbNation. But since I suspect that might be only available for a limited time, I’ll also point out how Prelude to a Nightmare’s official SoundCloud page has some free stuff as well. The selection is smaller and you’ll have do a little digging to get them, but the freebies are there. Speaking of SoundCloud, that’s where you can find a frightful field recording from SALA called “moans of a pine tree.” It’s amazing how a simple contact microphone on a tree can transform a gust of wind into spooky groaning sounds.

Sinful Audio has some very informative articles filled with advice on using audio to scare people. But that should come as no surprise given how the company creates original recordings specifically for that purpose!

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.

Video Store Day Is Here!

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

Although the improved image quality and scene selection abilities of DVD (and later Blu-Ray) helped sell the public on switching away from VHS, many people also note how special features helped convinced them to make the switch. But, depending on how one defines “special features,” it can be argued the concept originated on VHS!

While the first commentary track appeared on the Criterion Laserdisc release of King Kong in 1984, Warner Home Video unveiled a special line of VHS releases called “A Night At The Movies” in 1982. As noted on the packaging, the tape started with a cartoon, newsreel, and trailers (all of which had been released during the same year as the feature presentation). But it’s also possible the concept dates back even further! The VHS release of the 1979 obscurity Satan War includes a 15 minute bogus “documentary” on voodoo in order to make up for the short running time of the movie. However, the scarcity of information on the film prevents an exact determination of whether or not the film was released directly to VHS. If it wasn’t released that way on 1979, it’s even possible the “documentary” was included during its original release. Depending on which eBay listing you see it under, Video Gems’ VHS release of The Young Tiger was either released in 1980 or 1989. All that is known for sure this how a short featurette about Jackie Chan was included despite his not actually being the the movie (although he did have a minor role in a different film with the same name). Similarly, an 80’s release of The Terminator in Australia and New Zealand apparently included a behind-the-scenes look at Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. Numerous anime video releases in Japan included features like “clean openings” and music videos, but cataloging all of those would be an article in and of itself! The same goes for the countless bonus features on wrestling VHS tapes.

But let’s get back to a precise dates. 1985 saw the release of Prism Entertainment’s “Marvel Comics Video Library” line, which included two bonus cartoons in addition a cartoon featuring the super hero (or villain) depicted on the cover. That was a huge deal considering how many children’s entertainment releases, Marvel-related or not, were often limited to a single episode per tape. This even lasted into the 1990’s (but thankfully stopped). A Dokken music video was included on the 1987 video release of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors and 1988 saw the inclusion of Thriller on the VHS release of Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It’s not too often you see what should have been the main event being included as a bonus feature! Especially when one considers how documentaries about the making of a film were usually sold separately. In 1989, Cabin Fever Entertainment’s release of Solarman included a bonus interview with Stan Lee.

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Vile Verses VII

Alfred Tennyson’s “The Kraken” is not only a great poem, but it is believed by some to have influenced H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu.” Tennyson also wrote moody works like “All Things Will Die” and “Song (A spirit haunts the year’s last hours).”

Let’s return to the high seas with George Guyon’s marvelous untitled poem about a sea serpent sighting and “Dave” at aSmarterU’s untitled pirate poem which he created for a home haunt prop! And getting back to sinister serpents, Wikisource has all three versions of Emily Dickinson’s “A narrow fellow in the grass.”

Amazon’s preview for Halloween Howls: Spooky Sounds, Stories & Songs includes the Shel Silverstein classic, “Blood-Curdling Story.” The haunting “Can you tell me maiden fair?” can be found in the Amazon preview of Chris Lambert’s Tales from the Black Meadow. Ray O’Bannon is no stranger to this website, but this is the first time his poetry has ever been discussed here. The library at Ravensblight contains his numerous poems (which are marked with an icon shaped like a piece of paper), such as “Carve A Pumpkin.”

Stephen Brown’s Glitterville’s Handmade Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting! differs from other Halloween craft books in that each tutorial starts with a poem about the craft! So you can enjoy some verse and learn how to make some decorations when you read “Oh-So Wicked! Party Hat,” “Chenille Pumpkin,” “Halloween Candy Garland” and “ButterScream Frosting Ornament.”

Phyllis J. Perry, Lalia Mitchell and Dean Collins have all written different poems called “Halloween.” Similarly, both Jack Ogilvy and Ruth M. Cole have penned two different works called “The Harvest Moon.”

Eerie occasionally printed poems submitted by readers, like “Poem” by Danny Massoni and “A Dragon’s Tale” by Brad Linaweaver. South Dakota Educator is another magazine which printed poems, although both “Jack-O-Lantern” and “Ghosts and Goblins” seem to be the work of an uncredited staff writer.

I’m feeling festive, so let’s read a pumpkin poem by John Agard, “Corn Maze” by David Barber, “It Must Be October” by Pearl N. Sorrels, “October” by Dale M. Hewlett, “Haunted” by Helen M. Hutchinson and “At Halloween” by an anonymous author.

In “Edgar Allan Poe,” Tom MacInnes paid tribute to the man responsible for several iconic horror poems. “Gravedigger’s Birthday” by B.J. Ward was impossible to resist given this site’s recent 10th birthday and Wilfred Owen’s “Shadwell Stair” is most eerie. Jared von Hindman’s review of Swamp Thing includes a nifty haiku and Ambrose Bierce’s ghost story “The Death of Halpin Frayser” has a haunting poem embedded in it.

Can you guess the secret connection between Lu B. Cake’s “Ghoses in the Barn,” Charles J. Leland’s “Howling of the Witches,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Dance of the Dead,” Thomas N. Weaver’s “Jack-O’-Lantern” and the anonymously penned “Goblins” after reading them all?

Look Ma, “Hands” on Poetry by Adele Steiner collects numerous poems written by her students, including untitled poems about a black cat and aliens by Lennard Long and Anna Jepsen. “One Stormy Night!” by Natasha Moiseev and an untitled ghost poem by Aseem Peshwa are our next selection. We close things out with “Healing Mixture” by Hannah Jung, followed by “Spell Poem” by Caroline Torrey.

You can head on over to DLTK-Holidays for more Halloween poems and to Wikipedia to learn more about “Graveyard poets.”

Speed of the Living Dead

Arguments about whether “fast” zombies or the traditional shambling undead are scarier usually bring up the same few points. Proponents of running zombies often note how slow zombies would be easy to evade once the initial shock of seeing wore off. Traditionalists will then point out how you can’t run forever and the dead will eventually get you. The subject of today’s post offers a humorous new wrinkle to the ongoing debate. Philip Pugh’s horror short Speed of the Living Dead can be found online thanks to Hammer:

Yes, that’s the same Hammer behind numerous classic horror movies starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. They’re hosting this, along with many other films that were submitted to the London Short Film 2017 “90 Second Horror Challenge.” Here’s hoping we see more great shorts from those parties in the years to come!

Friends Productions’ Haunted Woods

Location: 430 Salem St, Wilmington, MA 01887 (Directions)
Dates/Times: Oct 19, 20, 26, 27 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm (Dates/Times and prices subject to change as years go by)
Admission: $7 per student, $10 per adult
Phone: (978) 933-1066
Website:
http://www.friendshauntedproductions.com/

The Harnden Tavern in Wilmington, Massachusetts is home to many things. Having been in place since the 18th century gives it plenty of history and rustic charm. A museum devoted to local history is housed within it walls and every October its woods become a haunted attraction. Well, it houses several attractions according to the haunt’s website, but I’m counting it as a single haunt since those attractions are just themed individual segments of the haunted woods. Keep in mind how the Friends Productions website actually discusses the theme of each segment, so only visit that part of the site if you don’t mind spoilers. But I’m getting off topic…

Friends Productions was founded in 2009 by Stephen Valenti. Stephen, along with his parents and friends, had always enjoyed visiting haunted attractions and it should come as no surprise this led to him wanting to do one of his own. He launched the first annual Haunted Woods that year (albeit at a different location) His friends and parents have been with him from the beginning (his father even helps with the construction and lighting) and the event is supported by the Wilmington Town curator, Wilmington Historical Commission and Wilmington Minutemen! There’s also plenty of student volunteers from the local middle and high school and the proceeds are used to help with the upkeep of the tavern and its museum.

I visited in 2017 on their second night of operation. My visit was later in the evening than I had originally planned on, which might explain a few things I’ll be noting later in the review. It was very dark on the road to the tavern and I was getting concerned my GPS wasn’t working properly, so it was a huge relief to see a sign and partitions explaining you can’t park in that area and where to go for free parking. The realistic Jason Voorhees dummy was a great touch and being able to see some projected lighting effects on one of the buildings helped increase my anticipation. I was directed into to a grassy area by a traffic guard and old men in colonial gear. Screams and a chainsaw could be heard in the forest nearby and only a little light could be made out among the dense foliage. This was a very promising sign of things to come. As I passed by the historic tavern, I noticed the door was open and people were inside. Looking back, I wish I had tried going in since it looked really cool in there. But since there wasn’t anything haunt-related in there, I pressed on to the waiting area. There was a food tent to the right of the ticket table, but the really interesting stuff was near the stairs on the side of the old black building. Not only was one of those red and green “light show” devices you often see in December aimed at the building, but there was also a projection of bloody messages appearing on white area (complete with sound effects)! Sadly the projector was out in the open on a table. Hopefully they’ll come up with a cool enclosure for it next time. What wasn’t so noticeable was the evil butler prop peering out a window. Despite it being lit by a dim strobe light, the effect was very subtle and those who aren’t paying attention might miss it. The wait in line wasn’t too long, but I did appreciate the other distractions. A red spotlight was pointed at the rules and it was nice to see a haunt actually have their no photography rule out in open for a change. But the two performers who occasionally came out of the entrance to interact with people weren’t the only live entertainment. Sometimes masked evil mimes would go on the stairs and do creepy little performances!

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Fear For Your Ears IX

William Meikle has a wonderful selection of audio book adaptations of his short stories available on his website. Similarly, Tales from the Potts House lets you stream readings of various works by William Hope Hodgson. Speaking of Mr. Hodgson, the Wikipedia entry for his short story “A Voice in the Night” also has a free audio book available to stream or download. Fans of classic horror should appreciate Quicksilver Radio Theater’s audio drama version of Frankenstein. The Overcast features tons of great story readings, including one of “The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23” by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein. Death, Dying, and Other Things describes itself as a podcast specializing in “scare, spook, and unsettle” and has a new episode on the first Thursday of the month and the Old Gray Goose has a tale of “Memories From The Graveyard.” Film critic Scott Foy has an unsettling experience of his own when his attempt to review the Asylum’s bid to cash in on Cloverfield resulted in the first “found footage” review that’s also an audio drama of sorts! The Lovecraft Covenant is a gripping series about a serial killer whose crimes are connected to the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

We’ll get back to Providence’s favorite son later on, but I want to focus on Edgar Allan Poe for now. Demon Man has a chilling reading of “The Masque of the Red Death,” Psyche Corporation has their own take on Poe’s classic “Annabel Lee.” and 4dio offers readings of both “A Dream Within a Dream” and “The Tell​-​Tale Heart” Although their name is the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, the HPLHS gang has created a free audio drama version of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” for their Dark Adventure Radio Theatre line. However, they sometimes give away free Lovecraft installments from the series on their official Facebook page. Finally, Storytime With Miss Vallene has another reading of “The Tell​-​Tale Heart” along with one of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Horrid Lore has several readings of classic horror tales (along with ones of the narrator’s original stories). Those who prefer classic fare will also enjoy HorrorBabble’s take on The Shadow Over Innsmouth, JSmith Reads: Horror Short Stories and Doug Bradley’s Spinechillers line. That’s right, you can year scary stories narrated by Pinhead himself!

The Factory: Recording 741 finds a detective tasked with finding a missing person, only to wind up in something much more complicated…and terrifying. The Beast of the Western Wilds is a lengthy work of dark fantasy about a witch hunter and Vultures Over Low Doves can be downloaded for free! The Night Keep combines a radio play with a concept album while the lengthy sample chapter of Thomas Zimmerman’s Nine Rooms Deep is an intense and disturbing ride.

Now comes the annual Doctor Who audio selection. Big Finish Productions has uploaded an astonishing number of complete stories from their Doctor Who and Dark Shadows lines onto Spotify! This is huge news for those who previously only had access to the samples and trailers on Big Finish’s Dark Shadows SoundCloud page and the 15 minute preview segments scattered across the Big Finish podcast on their primary SoundCloud account.

Not only do the Moon-Rays have a performance of the old ghost story “Till Martin Comes Home” but they also have the classic that is “The Raven (for Beatniks).” While we’re on YouTube, let’s look at some official uploads of old kiddie monster story albums! Godzilla: King of Monsters is split into “Godzilla vs. Amphibion” and “Godzilla vs. The Alien Invasion.” Similarly, Famous Monsters Speak is divided into “Frankenstein Speaks” and “Dracula Rises.” I also found Baron Dixon’s poem “The Thing That Lives in the Toilet.”

Speaking of creepy poems, SoundCloud is the home of Mike Galsworthy’s “She Will Be My Witch.” Don’t let its name fool you, the Thrilling Adventure Hour has plenty of horror material. This is also true for Twelve Chimes It’s Midnight.

Before we wrap things up, let’s stop by iTunes and check out The White Vault, Station Blue and Limetown.

Astrophobia is an upcoming “Lovecraftian Space Opera” and you’d better bookmark that link so you don’t miss it! Finally, let’s not forget last year’s Six Foot Plus Halloween special.

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…

What’s In A Name?

As I noted in the most recent installment of the “Horror Trivia” series, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was originally going to be called “The Brain of Frankenstein.” It’s hard to imagine audiences going to a film with such a title and expecting a comedy. I imagine many would write it off as yet another entry in the franchise and it wouldn’t have been the smash hit which revitalized interest in the Universal monsters. A title can make or break a movie. Can you imagine as many people would have been interested in checking out Shriek of the Mutilated if it didn’t have such a striking title? That’s why I’m convinced the generic titles many of the classic Gamera movies were saddled with for their American release helped make the character more obscure in America than he was in Japan at the time. This is also true for novels, as Bram Stoker had gone through several proposed titles before settling on Dracula. It seems unlikely the character would have been as popular if Stoker had gone with The Dead Un-Dead” or “The Un-Dead as the title of his novel, especially if he had used his original name for the character: “Count Wampyr.”

Troma certainly knows the marketing power of an interesting title. It goes all the way to back to when the decision was made to change the name of “The Health Club Horror” to The Toxic Avenger during the production of said film. This understanding is also why they changed the title of Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake to Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell and created A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell by some extra footage and narration onto “Dark Fortress.” Although it appears the film was only publicly released as A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, not unlike how Roger Corman’s “Prehistoric World” was retitled as Teenage Caveman by the distributor.

Night of the Living Dead went through several proposed titles before settling on the one we all know and love. The earliest version was a horror comedy about aliens called “Monster Flick” but the comedy and aliens were eventually phased out in later drafts. A work print for the film bore the title “Night of Anubis” in reference to the Egyptian deity associated with embalming and death. This eventually became “Night of the Flesh Eaters” and was to have been the actual title for the film before the distributor decided to change the name.

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Taking Care of Masks

Odds are that anyone reading this website has at least one latex mask they want to preserve. Maybe it’s to wear again on future Halloweens (or haunts) or maybe you just want to display it. Whatever the rationale for this perfectly reasonable desire is, don’t store them on styrofoam wig heads! This might seem like an odd thing to say, given how costume and party stores often display masks on those, but it can potentially ruin your mask if used for long term storage. Don’t believe me? Perhaps you’ll be convinced by the following video from AJ Good / The House of Masks:

His suggestion for using bottles to display masks is better, but I’d personally avoid filling the bottles with water in order to prevent potential mold issues. In fact, I skip bottles entirely and stuff my masks with old shirts. Those curious about permanently filling masks with foam to display them will also appreciate AJ’s video on the matter:

6’+ Episode 238 is Up!

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

“Do you dare listen to a show made completely of the MONSTER MASH? With versions by ZOMBINA & THE SKELETONES, BANANACONDAS, THE DUMB FOX, VINCENT PRICE and more. Plus, MONSTERMATT PATTERSON does the ‘Transylvania Twist.'”

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.

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