Absolute Dice Halloween

I’ve only just recently dipped my toes back into the world of games and boy do I have some catching up to do! One of the things I missed out on was a line of games called “Absolute Dice.” Then again, that might also be because the game seems to be more popular in the UK than the US. But hopefully the subject of today’s review just might change that! The game’s popularity since it debuted in 2016 has spawned numerous variations: there’s a word version, a drinking version, a Christmas version and of course, a Halloween version.

In addition to the awesome orange velvet bag, the game comes with a total of ten dice. There’s a black number die, a black icon die, six orange icon dice, an orange silver icon die and an orange golden icon die. You don’t need a game board, although you might want to supply your own pencils and scrap paper depending on players’ memory skills. Let’s look at what you do get:

I tried to get a photograph of the nifty branded plastic bag the game came packaged in, but it defied all of my attempts to photograph it without the reflections coming off the clear plastic portions of the bag ruining the shot. The dice originally came in a resealable plastic bag packaged inside the velvet drawstring bag, but it’s really up to you if you want to keep using it.

The rules are simple: Players roll two black dice to determine what Halloween icons they need to collect and the number of turns they have to roll the orange scoring dice. For example, let’s say I roll a ghost and the number four. This means I have four turns to roll the dice to see if I get any ghosts. Each ghost I roll gives me one point. If I end up rolling a silver ghost, I get a point for that die and double points on all other ghosts I rolled for that turn. Rolling a golden ghost nets me triple points on all the ghosts I roll for the turn, in addition to a point for the golden icon itself. Something special happens when you roll both golden and silver icons, but you’ll have to get the game to find out! The game continues until one player scores one hundred and one points. But you’re welcome to make up your own house rules and the official Absolute Dice website includes some alternate rules as well. If you notice the black “Absolute Dice” tag in the above picture, that’s not just there for show. It’s actually a folded card which contains the rules! I had no trouble reading it, but you can print out a larger version from the game’s website if you so desire. Due to the size of the dice, this game is not suitable for children under the age of five. However, the only minimum number of players you need is two. That’s right, there’s no maximum number of people who can play!

The game is easy to understand and is great for people who just want to jump in and start playing. I tested the plastic dice and they didn’t seem to favor any particular side. The smooth edges of each engraved die means they will roll for awhile, so be sure to keep that in mind if you’re playing at a small table. Especially given how fast and furious dice rolls can be when players get drawn into the game! So skip bobbing for apples and bring Absolute Dice Halloween to your next Halloween party. The bag easily fits in your pocket, even when filled with the dice, so bringing the game along on trips (or to a friend’s house) is not problem at all. It sure beats carrying a traditional board game around. Similarly, rolling festive dice with family and friends is much more fun than gargling their backwash while trying to bite an apple!

Special thanks to Absolute Dice for the review copy!

How To Make A Prop Chainsaw

Do you need a fake chainsaw for Halloween and require something with more heft than a papercraft version? Fear not! The Prop Master’s Handbook has posted a tutorial on YouTube which shows how you can make a fairly realistic one for very little money:

This also gave me a great idea for a haunted house room or Halloween window display. First, make a prop chainsaw according to the above video’s instructions. Once it’s finished and everything’s dried, put it on a table. Adding a few fake body parts is optional and if you can’t splash some fake blood around, lit the scene with a red light. Then print out and hang some appropriate warning signs in the background. That’s all you need for a simple window display, but you should probably include a surprise visit from a performer if you’re doing this at a haunted house. Since people would expect to be attacked by someone with a chainsaw, perhaps someone could sneak up on them and either scream “Get away from my saw” or attack with a different prop weapon? Or maybe the table the chainsaw is displayed on has some plastic covering which hides someone underneath? Whether they attack with another prop chainsaw (and appropriate sound effects) is up to you, as I doubt anyone would expect a chainsaw attack like that!

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 those sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed in a video). Attempt at your own discretion.

Free Horror Movie Commentaries VI

I honestly thought my previous article about free commentary tracks for horror movies was going to be my last installment. So when a whole year went by and I came across a free commentary for Spookies and nothing else, I went back an slipped it into the article as a secret bonus. But one year after that and now I’m suddenly swimming in free commentaries. Some are filled with nothing but jokes and others are serious discussions about the film. Some are free downloads and others can only be streamed for free. But they’re all worth checking out!

VHS LIFE has done numerous downloadable commentaries, including one for Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead. Although I linked directly to a commentary for a non VHS source, the title of the podcast should clue you in as to the format to use when you watch the movies associated with their other commentary tracks.

The Podcast Under The Stairs also has its share of commentaries, like the ones prepared for the 80’s Invaders From Mars remake and Demons.

There’s an “unofficial” commentary track for Lights Out which was apparently uploaded onto SoundCloud by the film’s director!

The Kaijusaurus Podcast’s live discussion of Tristar’s infamous attempt at a Godzilla movie just barely qualifies as a commentary. You’ll understand once you hear it. However, ComicBookCast’s commentary track for the 2014 American Godzilla movie is a true blue commentary.

Fantom Publishing has a line of unofficial commentaries for various Doctor Who serials available for sale. In order to help promote them, they’ve released the one for the first installment of The Sea Devils for free! I’m afraid I don’t know how well it works with the NTSC release of that serial since it appears to have been recorded for use with the PAL release. greatestshowinthegalaxy has one for The Day of the Doctor as well.

Time travel fans might also appreciate the free fan commentary track for Primer despite it having nothing to do with the series noted above.

Searching around SoundCloud has also brought me tracks for District 9, My Bloody Valentine, the original Halloween II, The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), Aliens, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. You can search for more using the “commentary track” and “movie commentary track” tags as well!

You can also search the “commentary” tag on Bandcamp, but I thought I should provide you with some direct links as well. Find The Computer Room has free downloads of commentaries for Cloverfield, the original Night of the Living Dead, the original Halloween II and Nosferatu. However, Drunken Zombie’s commentary for Insidious and the commentary for Scanners by Uncle Jerk’s Commentary Corner can only be streamed for free.

Here’s the complete list of past installments:

Free Horror Movie Commentaries!
More Free Horror Movie Commentaries
Even More Free Horror Movie Commentaries
Still More Free Horror Movie Commentaries
Yet More Free Horror Movie Commentaries

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 from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Blah blah blah…

6’+ Episode 237 is Up!

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

“How about a second helping of the podcast that makes you get into the Halloween spirit? We double-down on the pumpkin spice with music from THE YOUNG WEREWOLVES, THE ROAD SODAS, SPEEDBALL JR., and more. Plus, the MONSTERMATT MINUTE and KILLER KUT!”

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.

Creepy Cocktails and Devious Drinks VI

Kaye Hamm’s Kreepy Katering offers many tempting beverages like the “Rotten Apple Martini,” “Mad Scientist” and “Eyeball High Ball.” Bakingdom’s “Sparkling Apple Cider Slushies” are also worthy of note.

The Haunting Grounds has recipes for “Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate” and “Candy Corn Milkshakes.” Speaking of candy corn, NellieBellie has a wonderfully simple take on “Candy Corn Punch.”

There are countless people who were suspected of being Jack the Ripper. Now it looks like there are different drinks bearing the name of the legendary serial killer, as evidenced by 1001Cocktails’ “Jack the Ripper Cocktail” and Bar None Drinks’ “Jack The Ripper #2.”

Speaking of legends, the “Wyooter Hooter” recipe at DrinkInHand has quite the story behind it. Jack Daniel’s created the drink as part of a Halloween promotion, complete with merchandise. Although I initially suspected the monster the drink is named for was cooked up by Jack Daniel’s marketing department in the 80’s, a reference to the Wyooter can be found in Joe Clark’s 1971 book Lynchburg. So perhaps the humble Wyooter is actual “fearsome critter” like the Snallygaster Or maybe it just means it’s 70’s fakelore. I don’t know. All I can say for sure is how the company has been known to revive said promotion every so often.

DeKuyper USA’s “Vampire’s Kiss Halloween Cocktail” and Sugar, Spice and Glitter’s “Vampire’s Kiss” differ in more ways than their names.

The Spruce Eats’ “Black Cat” would make a good companion to any witch (of legal drinking age). The Flavor Bender’s “The Witch’s Heart,” FYI Television Network’s “Witch’s Stocking” and HGTV.com’s “Witches’ Brew.” Just be sure to be very careful since “The Witch’s Heart” uses dry ice. Since “Witch’s Brew” is described as having a “Caribbean kick” in its recipe, why not serve it alongside Rated R Cocktails’ “Hula Ghoul” and Common Man Cocktails’ “Dead Doug” at your next spooky shindig?

Please drink responsibly!

Freaky Food V

If you want to learn how to assemble your own “Hob-Goblin Cake” like the one above (along with some fortune cakes), be sure to check out Volume 21, Issue 10 of Table Talk. Notice how I said “assemble,” as it’s a guide for decorating a molasses fruit loaf to look like the above image. The Dixie Cook-book has a recipe for a “Fruit Loaf Cake” using molasses. But what about the fortune cakes? Epicurious.com has the recipe for the “Spiced Chocolate Cookies,” Mrs Mulford’s Cakes reveals how to make “Chestnut Icing” and Circular has the “Maple Icing” recipe! I strong suggest that you skip adding in the optional fortune items in order to reduce the risk of choking. Thankfully, the similarly vintage recipe for “Night-Owl Cakes” from Volume 81, Issue 44 of The Country Gentleman tells you pretty much everything you need to know. However, the more recent Ladies Night: 75 Excuses to Party with Your Girlfriends by Penny Warner returns to the “assemble” method for its “Spider Cupcakes” and “Pumpkin Cake.” Seeing as how one of the ingredients is a Twinkie, I’ll pass on looking up the recipes for each component this time around.

Just when you think you’ve heard of every possible Halloween recipe ever, Karen Jean Matsko Hood’s Halloween Delights Cookbook: A Collection of Halloween Recipes comes along to prove you wrong with “Green Pond Slime” and “Eyes of Newt” (among many others)! Ghoulish Halloween Recipes: Halloween Recipes by T. M. Fuller also offers many recipes including (but not limited to) “Old Fashion Candy Corn Fudge” and “Classic Candy Corn Up-side Down Cake.” Some of the many recipes packed into Annie Rigg’s Halloween Treats include “Gingerbread Jack-O’-Lanterns” and “Eyeball Cookies.”

Eyeball cookies and candy corn also describe the next few recipes I have in store for you! 100 Directions has some “Oreo Cookie Eyeballs” POPSUGAR Food’s recipe for last year’s infamous “Candy Corn Pizza” is exactly what you think it is. There are a surprising number of recipes for different types of “Candy Corn Pizza.” Gourmandize’s “Candy Corn Pizza” and Inside BruCrew Life’s “Peanut Butter Candy Corn Pizza” are two different dessert recipes while Tablespoon.com’s “Candy Corn Pizza” is a special cheese pizza with slices which look like candy corn instead of tasting like it! Those seeking an even more unusual look for their pizza will love Hungry Happenings’ “Stuffed Pizza Skulls.”

But we just can’t stay away from the sweet stuff! The Simple, Sweet Life offers “Braaaaaains (Cupcakes),” Tastes Better From Scratch has “Halloween Graveyard Brownies,” the Halloween Museum has a festive gelatin sculpture and Campfire Marshmallows’ “Ghostbusters Marshmallow Skewers” should please fans of last year’s recipes.

Foodies of FB’s Halloween album and gallery of fan creations don’t link to any recipes, but several of the foods showcased are so simple you don’t need instructions! /but if you want somewhat more complex fare, head on over to Haunted Bay’s Halloween Recipe Database.

As a special bonus, here are generous previews of three cook books with recipes from Vincent Price:

A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price

Cooking Price-Wise: A Culinary Legacy by Vincent Price

Mary and Vincent Price’s Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book by Mary and Vincent Price

They might not be scary or festive, but who cares when it’s from master of the macabre himself? Bon Appétit!

Haunted Attraction Tour Videos II

It was a hard search, but I managed to find enough haunted attraction tour videos which met the criteria I discussed last year. I enjoyed the range of audio options used this time around (although this year’s selection admittedly starts off with several videos featuring music from the same artist). Hopefully next time’s selection will have even more variety!

Please keep in mind that strobes and other flashing lights might be present in the following:

Continue reading

6’+ Episode 236 is Up!

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

“After a bit of silence, we return with a BURST! A FLASH! of orange and black, as we kick off Halloween season with songs from FORBIDDEN DIMENSION, CALABRESE, THE LONG LOSTS, and more. Monstermatt Patterson pops by with some pumpkin donuts, but one bite, and it tastes like 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.

Castle of Horror Trivia

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was originally going to be called “The Brain of Frankenstein” and was also supposed to feature appearances by Kharis the Mummy and Alucard, the son of Dracula! Anyone who has seen Son of Dracula will find that idea particularly baffling.

Have you ever wondered why Michael Myers is sometimes referred to as “The Shape” in discussions of the Halloween franchise? Although some have claimed the script’s use of that name it was a reference to a term used in the Salem witch trials, John Carpenter revealed it was actually his way of suggesting that Myers is a human being with the humanity “bleached” out of him.

Popular rumor has it Disney had expressed interest in making a softened version of A Nightmare on Elm Street back when Wes Craven was shopping the original script around the entertainment industry. However, Craven has gone on record to say he has no memory of Disney ever approaching him.

One common criticism about Anabelle was it seemed unrealistic for anyone to want to purchase such a creepy doll. As it turns out, the makers of the film had once considered making the titular doll look like Raggedy Ann (as was the case with the real Annabelle doll).

The famed Alien imitator Creature almost had a sequel, but the director the script was offered to convinced the producer to make Deep Space instead!

Have you ever wondered why a movie about an insect monster is called Blue Monkey instead of something more appropriate for the subject matter? The film started development as “Green Monkey” because the executive producer wanted to make a horror movie with that title and the first draft of the script featured a monkey-like alien creature. Then the executive producer requested that the space angle be dropped and a later draft by a different writer changed it into a tropical parasite. Somewhere along the line it became “Blue Monkey” and the completed film included a scene where a child refers to the monster as a “blue monkey” after having a nightmare about one.

At one point Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence was going to include a woman impregnated by the title character.

Pay special attention to the armed forces confrontation scenes in Gorgo the next time you watch it. That way you’ll notice how the ammunition used actually gets less and less powerful with each battle!

There were lots of unused jokes about Ash’s possessed hand pitched for Evil Dead II, including a scene were it would fly through the air wearing a Superman cape!

Ed Wood’s favorite psychic once wrote a stage production of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The Crypt Keeper literally has Chucky’s eyes!

Jungle Manhunt was supposed to feature a scene where Jungle Jim battled a dinosaur. Although a dinosaur costume was made for the film and the scene was allegedly shot, the battle doesn’t appear in the final version.

The script for The Collector was originally written as the prequel to Saw. On a related note, Saw II started out as a standalone horror script called “The Desperate.”

There’s an interesting controversy regarding the gore in Nightmare. The opening credits claimed Tom Savini did the makeup effects, but Savini denied that was true. However, the director has a different take on the matter…

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (& Other Loathsome Locales)

There’s a special village tucked away in New York. It’s so quiet and pleasant that one could even describe it as being “sleepy.” If not for one infamous resident, most people would think it would be an ideal place to visit. But we’re not “most people,” now are we? So let’s read the Halloween classic that is Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Speaking of the greatest holiday ever, “The Ledge” by Kiddferd P. tells the tale of a sensitive soul’s encounter with menacing trick-or-treaters while “Come See Old Witchy” by Ken L. Jones takes us into a most unusual garage haunt. It also demonstrates why one should never destroy someone else’s Halloween decorations.

What terror tour with be complete without a trip to a graveyard or two? “The Graveyard Speaks” by Hunter Shea takes us to one where a ghost appears over a gravestone each night. A graveyard also appears in “Horror At Vecra” by Henry Hasse, but the back-country New England town of Vecra isn’t haunted by any mere ghost. The eldritch tomes in the room at the back of Eb Corey’s house made that very clear. Did I mention how people who sleep in that room often have the exact same dream…or how those who have that particular dream usually disappear?

Now we travel from New England to the original England. Leighton, to be precise. That’s the home of scenic lake Henpin and the structure nearby which locals refer to as “the abbey.” It’s an ancient stone building with lots of subterranean chambers. And secrets. You can learn more in Paul Tobin’s “The Drowning At Lake Henpin.”

The nature of our next destination is obvious thanks to the story’s title: “The Thing In The Crib.” You might also know it under the alternate titles author Tom Smith gave it, “The Task of Carter Randolph” and “Cthulhu Cthild Cthare.”

“The Graven Image – Being the Narrative of James Trenairy” by William Sharp brings us to a remote house in Kensington which contains a most disturbing work of art.

Let’s hit the high seas by taking a ride on the good ship Kamtschatka. But maybe it isn’t that good of a ship after all, since passengers keep throwing themselves overboard after staying in a certain room. Francis Marion Crawford will reveal the sinister secret of “The Upper Berth.”

Sinister secrets also come into play over the course of “The White People” by Arthur Machen. In it, friends who gather at a moldering old house discuss the nature of evil read the unsettling diary of a young girl. There’s trips to white realms with hills as high as the moon and hidden places were rocks grin and twist. I’m amazed the creepypasta community never latched onto this like they had previously done with other older works of fiction.

While we’re in Europe, let’s head on over to a mountain in Spain haunted by undead Knights Templar. If that reminds you of Tombs of the Blind Dead (exception for the part about the mountain), that’s because “The Spirits’ Mountain” by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was the inspiration for it! His work also inspired Jesús Franco’s Mansion of the Living Dead and Cross of the Devil. The upcoming Curse of the Blind Dead is also based on two of his stories. Many of these works can be found at the same link I provided for “The Spirits’ Mountain.” The book’s table of contents claims these are actually legends collection from around Spain but I don’t know if this is true or if it’s another classic use of a “false document” in horror fiction.

Since we’re on the subject of authors whose works have inspired numerous horror movies, let’s move on to H.G. Wells! Everyone knows how The Island of Doctor Moreau takes place on a tropical island where inhumane experiments lead to inhuman creatures, but how many of you know about his short horror story “The Red Room” (which hasn’t inspired numerous cinematic adaptations)?

M. Grant Kellermeyer usually collects and republishes vintage scary stories at Oldstyle Tales Press, but he’s also been known to create his own tales of terror. “Shadow and Dust” finds a man who sleepwalks into his basement each night. Why does he do this and what does it have to do with his children’s nightmares about someone standing over their beds at night? “Lost and Found” takes us to a family gathering by a lake. But when someone finds a watch and decides to go home alone rather than go with the others, he has a chilling discovery about his new timepiece’s original owner.

Robert McCammon plenty of short stories to choose from, but “Lizardman” and “Black Boots” immediately caught my eye. The first story takes us to a swamp, but the beast lurking in it isn’t a humanoid reptile! No, it’s something far more unusual and you’ll have to read the story to find out. As for the second tale, it follows a cowboy being followed by something nasty in the desert.

If you’re sick of the great outdoors, head inside the Victorian house which figures so prominently in the climax of “Reflections In Black” by Steve Rasnic Tem. Or perhaps you might prefer a trip through Rhianne Purificacion’s “Hall of Statues” at a museum? This tale differs from the others since it actually stars…YOU! The Noctrium’s library and Horror Garage have more frightful fiction as well!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Hang-Ten Hangmen

The Hang-Ten Hangmen
Official Facebook
Live at the Shameful Tiki, Rocket Rod Productions 2011
This is Boss!, Dionysus Records 2018

Surprise! Once again Dionysus Records has once again convinced me to do an extra installment of the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari. The label’s upcoming vinyl (and digital download) release of This is Boss! The lack of any obvious horror content, not counting the band’s executioner hoods, was a hard sell for me but it was enough to warrant a look into their previous albums. Thank goodness for that, because I liked what I found! The Hang-Ten Hangmen’s discography is filled with plenty of horror and sci-fi content, in addition to awesome energetic music and original spoken word segments. Said segments are often so incredibly produced and authentically written that I actually had to double check to see whether or not a few were samples from other works! So after talking with both the label and the band, I’m ready to close off summer with a double album review!

The Hang-Ten Hangmen’s origins can be traced to Canada in 2010. Vancouver, to be precise. 2010 also saw the release of their albums Terror Tube/Death Rattle/Beyond Damascus, Surfin’ & Swingin’ with The Hang-Ten Hangmen and the futuristic concept album Surf Banned! 2011 saw the release of more EPs and 2012 brought their first full album, Slaughter Beach Party. Naturally even more releases have been produced since then. In addition to being the house band for a Polynesian restaurant called “The Shameful Tiki Room,” the band has performed at Tiki Oasis and done their fair share touring.

Founded by the mysterious man known only as “Rocket Rod,” the Hang-Ten Hangmen consist of:

Rocket Rod: Guitar, keyboard and backing vocals
Boris Verbalotte: Guitar
Hombre Mysterioso: Drums
Mr. Chardonnay: Bass

I should note how this might not be the same lineup heard on the first album I’ll be reviewing, Live at the Shameful Tiki. The cover art for that release, Tales of the Hang-Ten Hangmen and Surf Banned only depict three members while their first two albums show four members. The above list of members came from the 2016 release Destination Saturn, which seems to have come out after the group’s call for a new drummer that year.

Although we hear some audience chatter at the beginning of “Zombie Stomp,” the opening drum beats and guitar work quickly captivate the previously distracted crowd. Although I admittedly can’t tell if it’s the audience or the band who occasionally yells “Yay!” at times. It’s a very moody track and the live nature of the recording provides an interesting audio effect. Speaking of effects, the musical one which closes the album is amazing. The soft cry for brains was a great touch as well! The drums which kick off “Jungle Sunrise” sound exactly like something you’d hear in an old Tarzan movie. The reverb on the guitars has an especially “exotic” feel which helps create the sense of trudging through a dense jungle. The surprise appearance by a tambourine also goes well with the vaguely “Middle Eastern” guitars. This track never settles on anything for too long and that’s not bad at all! The speedy and steady “Attack of the Trophy Wives” has a great buildup using drums, guitars and cymbals while “Cactus Alley” nails the feel of an old western. This is due to both the mood created by the guitar work and the other musical touches you’ll recognize upon hearing this. It’s faster than other western-inspired tracks I’ve heard, but that’s not a bad thing. It, like the other performances on Live at the Shameful Tiki, deserves all the applause it receives.

Jumping ahead to 2018, This is Boss! will mark the both the band’s first full vinyl album and their first “Hi-Fi” release! “Back Alley Rumble” is a tribute to the famous Link Wray track and has a rollicking feel which suits the title. As always, the guitar and percussion work are amazing and help make this an incredibly introduction to the album. It’s easy to imagine a bunch of stereotypical 50’s greasers cruising around town to this song. The title track, “This is Boss,” also references the 1950’s. In this case, it’s how “boss” was slang for “great” back then. The heavy percussion and reverbing guitars provide lots of power and plenty of variations. Although drums are the clear star here, the “This! Is! Boss!” chant was a great touch. “Electro-Matic Twist” provides a somewhat eerie feel to the opening “coo” before blasting into guitars, saxophone work, clanging percussion and sizzling snares. The interesting guitar work makes this a personal favorite. “The Wind and the Sea” is dead-on perfect tribute to spaghetti westerns thanks to the moody plucking. Although I’ve never heard a saxophone in a western track before, consider me converted as to wanting more bands to do so! I also enjoyed the nifty touches of vocals. Could it be that the band’s doing multiple western songs could be a reference to the appearance of hangings in such movies? Or maybe it’s just because spaghetti westerns had amazing soundtracks. “Beer Can” features an appearance by Mark “Malibu” Sanders of Mark Malibu & the Wasagas fame. It’s a real head bopper whose speedy opening and sax work layered in the background also bring the 1950’s to mind. Although the clapping hands might not be 50’s enough for some, I thought they were a welcome touch.

The peppy yet smooth “Sunset Strip” sounds like what you would hear in a driving montage from a vintage movie. It also features plenty of clapping hands and flows nicely into the next track, “Yeah!” However, that track quickly revs up to the pace we expect from the Hang-Ten Hangmen. The saxophone gets the spotlight, although the guitars do deserve some praise for having reverb which practically says “Yeah!” It would have been easy to just have someone say it, but it takes true talent and imagination to pull off something like that. “Boogaloo” combines jingle bells and super sweet guitars. Although the bells come and go, I think the other instruments still carry a feeling of holiday cheer. “The Incredible Hip Shaker” lives up to its name thanks to its expert use of the combination of instruments we’ve come to love over the course of the album. Then the Hang-Ten Hangmen surprise us with some expert organ work and drums which might remind you of rolling waves. The organ returns for “Last Day of Business,” which has a softer and more restrained pace than the previous tracks. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. “The Big Beat” picks things back up for the big finish. There’s plenty of shaking maracas and touches of vocals, along with what appears to be a crackling Northwest Airlines ad sample. If this was actually an original creation, then they did an incredible simulation despite my personally feeling it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the track. But if it’s an actual sample, then I think this is a creative step backwards for the band. The best comparison I can think of to describe my opinion is a restaurant who used to make gourmet quality meals with fresh ingredients suddenly adding portions of reheated TV dinners into their specials.

My complaint about one aspect of the final track aside, the music of the Hang-Ten Hangmen is not to be missed and the album lives up to its name. This is Boss! is scheduled for release in October, so try to keep that in mind while reading the upcoming Halloween countdown. They have plenty of other affordable albums to enjoy while you wait, so consider the albums reviewed in this article as the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully the Hang-Ten Hangmen will continue to be prolific when it comes to new releases!

Special thanks to the Hang-Ten Hangmen and Dionysus Records for use of the images!

6’+ Episode 235 is Up!

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

“Happy Birthday, Gravediggers Local 16. GdL16 turns 10 on Sept. 8. We celebrate with tracks from FORBIDDEN DIMENSION, LUGOSI’S MORPHINE, THE NEVERMORES, THE DEAD NEXT DOOR, HAUNTED GEORGE and more. Monstermatt Patterson plays pin the tail on the Igor in the MONSTERMATT MINUTE, and Kraig Khaos slices up cake in the KILLER KUT.”

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.

Happy 10th Birthday, Gravediggers Local 16

Ten Years ago, a post titled “Happy Halloween” popped up on a Blogger site. This meandering post, with its wayward sentence construction, was published as a declaration, that this corner of the Internet would be known as Gravedigger’s Local 16.

Who knew that ten years later, this site would still be here? The site would gain a domain name, migrate to a different platform and still have those outdated links in the top left. While the site will always remain in desperate need of a makeover, it remains functional, albeit a bit behind the times. That seems a bit fitting, since we’re in the business of “digging up” things often overlooked on the first time around.

Though I no longer write regularly for GdL16, there’s still a place in my heart for this little blog, and for the immense effect it has had on my life. Through GdL16, both Weird Jon and I have been able to connect with so many like-minded weirdos, all while trying to make the world just a little bit better for the spooky creeps out there. I personally have forged friendships with some amazing people through this site (and the subsequent podcast, Six Foot Plus) and for that, I am extremely grateful for GdL16.

In the early days ahead of this blog’s creation, it was decided that this site would name itself after a “gravedigger.” It was meant to be a show of appreciation for both the unsung blue-collared heroes in this world – a sanitation worker is far more valuable to society than any movie star, music act or politician – but also a way to celebrate a ghastly figure that sometimes, doesn’t get his or her due. Vampires are sexy. Werewolves are feared. Gravediggers are often there (just off in the background.)

And so, ten years later after that first post, Gravedigger’s Local 16 remains here, continuing to provide a little bit of creepy content to make your day a little bit better.

To all those who have contributed to this site over the past decade, and to every single reader who graced this small corner of the Internet, I have two words to say: “Happy Halloween.”

…and, Thank You.

The Edge of Time

The basics of aging paper are absurdly simple- use tea to stain the fibers and allow the sheet to dry. Like many others, I learned that method in grade school and have been using it with minor variations for decades. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it does a reasonably good job of reproducing the browning and oxidation of old paper.

With some minor tweaks tea staining can also recreate the darkened edges found in old documents. While your sheet is still damp simply sponge more tea along the edges, allowing the paper fibers to soak up more of the tannic acid in the solution. In essence you’re accelerating the natural process of wicking that causes the edge discoloration/oxidation in real fiber papers and parchments.

When trying to create the look of something truly old, like an ancient scroll, you also need to create the ragged edge produced when tiny fragments of paper break off over time. In the past I’ve used a deckling blade to produce that effect, but I think I’ve stumbled on a better method.

Previously, I would rip the paper along the deckling blade to get a rough edge and then begin the staining process. Now I stain the paper, wait until it’s almost dry, and then use the sharpened end of a bamboo skewer to flake off bits of paper. Just press the point of the bamboo into the edge of the paper and tear off small pieces using a flicking motion. It sounds tedious, but once you get the hand motion down the process goes quickly.

Here’s a look at the results using a standard sheet of printer paper. Just click through for a higher resolution version.

The skewer technique produced a wonderful worn edge, and the exposed fibers soaked up another sponging of tea to create the darkened oxidation border of old paper. Here’s a closer look.

I experimented with some internal wear and the results were generally good. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was the paper bunching seen along the edges of the wear spots, particularly the one slightly left of center. The fix for that is easy- once you’ve made your initial tear use the skewer tip to rip small flakes toward the center of the hole instead of ripping outward.

This all might seem a bit picayune, but it’s the little details like this that help make a convincing prop. Live action props are the most difficult kind to create, more so than anything on stage or film, since they’re subjected to minute, detailed examination. Paying attention to the edge treatment not only produces something that looks more realistic, but feels more realistic.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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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 (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). Attempt at your own discretion.

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Zombie Surf Camp

Zombie Surf Camp
Official Site
Zombie Surf Camp, self-release 2009
Halloween 2010 Live, self-release 2010

Not much is known about Zombie Surf Camp. The basic details are that the band formed in 2005 in San Diego, California and its members consist of:

Moon Zoggy: Vox, synth and theremin
Resin A. Gain: Bass, vox and piano
Raul DeGul: Guitars
Gene Poole: Drums

Now would be a good time to point out that “vox” is short for “vocals.” The band’s official Facebook page claims their origins lie in a group of surfers who accidentally got caught up in a nuclear waste spill on a beach near the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Their self-titled debut album was released on Halloween in 2009, so you know I had to check that out.

Zombie Surf Camp opens with an incredibly catchy little ditty called “What’s Eating You?” The titular question is practically howled throughout the track. The band’s punk influence is obvious thanks to the guitar work (not that I’m complaining, mind you) and the use of reverb reminds us this is still a surf song. Appropriately retro-style guitars and oddball effects set the tone for “Flipper,” whose lyrics tell of dolphins killing humans due to pollution. “Sewage” features narration in which Resin A. Gain encourages Moon Zoggy to discuss things he hates. Its speedy, reverby guitars are joined by great drum’n percussion work which leads into the guitars and theremin work of “Surf Zombies R Go!” You have to listen to “Corpse in a Barrell” (sic). NOW. It both piles on the reverb and displays some amazing guitar work. It’s the closest the band comes to an instrumental in this album, with Moon Zoggy’s throaty “Goldthwait Growl,” laughter and other interjections replacing the lyrics you’ve come to expect. The catchy “Now, I Am a Zombie” details the radioactive origins of the band. It’s got guitars, percussion…you know the drill. It even has some theremin cameos, too! “The Kelpie” features fast and heavy guitars mixed with crashing cymbals. I couldn’t make out the lyrics, but assume
they’re about the mythical Scottish creature the track is named for. After all, the lyrics for “Midnight Sun” are about the land associated with the natural phenomenon. It’s heavy on percussion and that’s not a bad thing! “Surf Zombies on Parade” starts off fast and furious, but slows down the guitars, adds some reverb and gives the drums an almost reggae-like feel. Even the singing slows down to a conversational feel! But this is Zombie Surf Camp we’re talking about, so things pick back up pretty quickly. Both singers get to showcase their skills in “Culture of Life,” which also displays some great keyboard and musical effects. “Remains” opens with some slow, moody guitar work and has an interesting militaristic drum break. Sadly the lyrics are a bit hard to understand in this (and other) tracks. Similarly, “Wet & Wreckless” has moody and slow retro-stlye opening and I did have some trouble understanding some of the lyrics. Thankfully, I was able to understand enough to realize this was about the victims of a female zombie stalking a beach. The backing zombie groans and the humorous surprise at the end were perfect touches.

Minor nitpicks about lyrics aside, Zombie Surf Camp has a lot going for it. It’s got captivating performances, an awesome blend of surfpunk and plenty of amazing endings to tracks that you don’t ever want to end. In addition to its original CD release, Zombie Surf Camp put it up on Bandcamp as a “Name Your Price” download, so you have no excuse not to give this a try. Speaking of Bandcamp, let’s look at the other album they put up there!

Halloween 2010 Live consists of live versions of selected material from the above album and their 2010 release Reefbiter. I think you can figure out when they released this particular album. “What’s Eating You? (Live)” is longer than original and proves once and for all that I need to see Zombie Surf Camp perform live. Somehow they managed to make their music even more mind-blowingly awesome and this time I had no trouble understanding the lyrics. This would also prove true for the majority of the album. Moon Zoggy’s introduction to “Zombie Twist (Live)” is killer and the song as a whole blew me away. I can only imagine how the crowd reacted to this. “Wet & Wreckless (Live)” is shorter than original, but that might just be due to its superfast music. It should be noted how they slightly toned down the lyrics for the live performance. “Don’t Run (Live)” is a new personal favorite thanks to its pacing and heavy opening guitar work. “Monster (Live)” features some blazing fast guitars combined with drums ‘n cymbals for one hell of a ride. The lyrics to this were admittedly a bit hard to understand, but that doesn’t stop the song from kicking ass. “Disco Diablo (Live)” changes things up with creepy guitars and some interesting musical variations. You might remember this from our 7th anniversary episode and there’s a reason it was selected for that episode. It’s because it ROCKS! However, it seems to cut off someone talking when the track ends. But, to be fair, it’s a free album so it’s not like I can complain a lot about that and not look like a total douche.

I liked their first album but I LOVED Halloween 2010 Live with every fiber of my being. It’s a Halloween treat better than any candy bar and you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy! Here’s hoping Zombie Surf Camp has more albums in the works. Now excuse me while I go check their tour schedule…

Special thanks to Zombie Surf Camp for use of the images!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Hawaiian Spotlighters

Hawaiian Spotlighters
Official Site (Label)
Mauna Kea Breeze, Dionysus Records 2017 (Original release date: 1964)

You may recall how I briefly brought up this album last year as a preview of sorts for the 2018 Freaky Tiki Surf-ari. Mauna Kea Breeze might not have a single shred of a horror connection but it’s still worth discussing due to its importance to the Tiki scene. The original pressing was one of the most sought after and expensive albums in the Tiki revival. It turns out that rarity was due to it being pressed by the vinyl equivalent of a vanity press service. With only 200 copies in existence, actually finding a copy was tough work. Scraping together enough money to afford it was no easy task, either. But the winds of change started blowing in 2015. That’s when exotica expert Jeff Chenult managed to snag a copy. Enchanted by the music he acquired, he scoured the internet trying to find members of the band. It was a hard search but his perseverance paid off when he located Al Pabilona Junior on Facebook! Al Pabilona Junior had played drums in the band with his father and other family members as “Al’s Spotlighters.” The band played several weddings and other such events in Hilo, Hawaii before the family moved to California and the band became known as the “Hawaiian Spotlighters.” This was also around the time they decided to record Mauna Kea Breeze. Mr. Chenault quickly got Dionysus Records involved and arrangements were made for a full restoration and reissuing of the album through its Bacchus Archives label.

The opening track “Adventure in Paradise” is everything you could want from old school exotica. The opening percussion and chimes build up to a cymbal clash, which takes us into a world of soft vibes, various bird calls and even more chimes. There’s also moody saxophone and piano work mixed in with some unusual percussion work. The inclusion of “Misirlou” might surprise you at first. Although popularly thought of as a surf song, it’s actually a traditional Eastern Mediterranean song Dick Dale decided to do a cover of. There’s plenty of hand cymbals and piano work, but the guiro work is the star. “Un Like No a Like” appears to be a misspelling of “Ua Like No a Like.” It features guitars and extra soft percussion which carry the listener through the rest of the track with only minor contributions from other instruments. “Yellow Bird” is both soothing and calm thanks to its blend of soft guiros and vibes. That said, the vibraphone work does pick up once the guitar strumming guitar and interesting percussion effects join in. “Beautiful Kahana” has an equally beautiful opening using complimentary guitars rather than dueling ones. Although other instruments are barely heard in the background, it’s not a bad thing in this particular case. “Filipino Love Song” is proof positive that music doesn’t have to use a ton of instruments to be enjoyable. In this case, all you need are dreamy vibes and bouncy guitars.

“Mauna Kea Breeze” was composed by Bill Pabilona and appears to be the sole original track on the album. It’s got tons of chimes, guiros and claves combined with frenzied bursts of guitar work. It’s one of those tracks which keeps the album from getting too relaxing. “Sweet and Lovely” features a sensational old school cymbal buildup (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it) and a mix of vibes and piano work. As someone who used to play drums, I was very fond of the use of snare drums in this track. Even if we put the rarity of the album aside, it’s tracks like “Kawohikukapulani” which make it easy to understand why this album was so sought after in the Tiki scene. Its opening vibes and soft, slow guitar are so smooth the track feels like a musical Mai Tai. Similarly, listening to “Caravan” will have you imagining moving horses. It all but screams “Freaky Tiki Surf-ari” thanks to its mixture of guitar reverb and exotic percussion. We’re talking bursts of hand cymbals paired with some really cool guitar effects (and variations). “Nola” is another track that’s best described as “bouncy and light hearted.” It’s all thanks to the masterful use of guitar work and snares, along with touches of reverb. “Harbor Lights” uses musical instruments to fill in for the sound of boat horns and the effect is perfect. It’s close enough to make you think of a busy port but just different enough so you know they didn’t just dub in some stock sound effect. The musical buildup of soft, slow guitar and vibe work leads to the track’s normal volume (and pace). But you’d better believe it picks up for end! It’s a great closing to a great album.

Mauna Kea Breeze was quite an experience and I mean that in the best way possible. One listen will make you wish the band had released more albums. Each and every one the the cover songs gives the original versions some serious competition. It also doesn’t hurt how the restoration makes it sound like everything was recorded yesterday. Although you can only purchase Mauna Kea Breeze as a vinyl LP, it does include a digital download code you can enjoy even if you don’t own a turntable. Unlike the original pressing, this edition of the album is readily available in several majors retailers. Oh, and here’s another bit of interesting news: Al Pabilona Junior is still performing! He’s in a band with his daughter Olivia and it’s called “The Good Vibes Duo” (formerly “Undertow”). Some sources even refer to the band as the newest incarnation of Hawaiian Spotlighters! But even if it’s not the same band, it’s nice to know Hawaiian Spotlighters’ musical legacy lives on.

Special thanks to Dionysus Records for the review copy!

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