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Review: Pumpkin Cinema – The Best Movies for Halloween

Book Cover

Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies for Halloween by Nathaniel Tolle is my favorite Halloween reference guide as of this year. It might also be my favorite horror reference guide, and it is certainly the book I will be reaching for whenever I periodically need to take a break from whatever show I’m binge watching at the moment. (Sorry, Hannibal.) The premise of the book is incredibly simple. Mr. Tolle spent years researching and watching films and shows in order to determine which of them best bring to mind Halloween and autumn. He has a few simple rules . . .

  • The cinema has to be fun to watch and cannot be mean-spirited or cruel. Tolle proclaims, rightly, that people should be miserable on their own time and not subject their Halloween guests to melancholy or dreary titles. (Sorry, Texas Chainsaw Massacre!)
  • The cinema cannot repeatedly present seasons/locations/weather that contrasts with autumn! (Sorry, Jaws!)
  • The cinema cannot exceed two hours running time and must be relatively quickly paced. Tolle mentions that this knocks out Alien as a choice, but I am comforted by the fact that there are eleven other months in the year in which I can enjoy Ripley.
  • If the cinema isn’t scary, it must directly be associated with Halloween in some fashion.

The list of movies and television (all 165 pages of it) is arranged alphabetically and includes all of the information one might need to locate it, such as the year of release, the director, and who starred in the movie. The rating of the film is included largely for the benefit of the parents who enjoy the spookiest month of the year. Tolles also provides a brief synopsis of each film before he elaborates on the content and why it is appropriate for his compilation. Tolle and I have two things in common. One is our great devotion to and fondness of Halloween, and the other is apparently our taste in movies. His picks are clearly well researched and argued for; I have yet to read a description that I disagree with. This gives me great hope that I will also adore some of the movies listed in the book that I have yet to see. Since he covers movies from classic Universal Monster days to modern day flicks, there are quite a few that have eluded me.

Although the book is very much a reference book in a lot of ways, the author keeps things fun. His tone requirements for the cinema (namely the “fun” requirement) are supported by his writing tone as well. There were several instances where I would quote the book aloud as I read from it to whomever was nearby and would listen, my favorite quote is by far the synopsis for Frankenstein (1931):

“Synopsis: A talking bag of turnips auditions to befriend a ballerina with bwarzenblassphobia (fear of radishes) just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. You know what Frankenstein is.”

That quote, and several others, had me chuckling and kept the book from having a dry, strictly informational tone. Honestly, the fact that it is so enjoyable to read is probably what will keep the book on my coffee table long after the Halloween season has passed.

The final selling point is that if you don’t feel like scouring the entire book for a film or episode that will tickle your fancy or meet your needs, Tolle compiled a set of “Top Five” lists at the end of the book with useful themes such as “For the youngins,” “If you want to be scared out of your mind,” and “If you want to show your friends something they haven’t heard of.” There really is something for everyone, and I think that even non-horror fans would benefit from and enjoy this book.

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Minimalist Horror Movie Posters

Over at HalloweenCostumes.com‘s blog there’s a collection of minimalist horror movie poster wallpapers, created by Tommy St. James, free to download and enjoy. Can you guess which poster is for which movie? Most of these were fairly easy for me, but I’ve included quotes as captions to help nudge those of you who might need a hint.

 

americanpsycho

“Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!”

 

"Sin never dies"

“Sin never dies”

 

"I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know and what would a note say, Dan? "Cat dead, details later"?"

“I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know and what would a note say, Dan? “Cat dead, details later”?”

"There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady"

“There’s nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady”

 

For more posters check out the HalloweenCostumes.com Blog!

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Creepy Crafts: Halloween Cat-o-lanterns, Spooky Centerpieces, and More

This year, Boris and Meg both got crafty and made some creepy DIY creations for Halloween.

Boris and her mother were inspired by a picture of black cat jack-o-lanterns and decided to recreate their own versions. Meanwhile, Meg has been busy crafting for an epic Halloween party. We hope your inner creative demon is inspired by the cat-o-lanterns, festive center pieces, spooky bouquets, and bloody aprons!

 Black Cat Jack-O-LanternsBlackCats

Cat-stuffSupplies & Tools:

  • Pumpkins of varying sizes for bodies and heads
  • Thick craft foam
  • Black exterior (or interior/exterior or floral) spray paint
  • Tails (You can use other gourds or get some cheap cat tails from your local costume shop. I used a cat tail and a fluffy raccoon thing – old and forgotten accessories from my parent’s costume collection.)
  • Knife
  • Tea light candles or LED lights

 

 Instructions:

Step 1: Set up your work area with newspapers or a tarp you don’t mind getting painted. Make sure you have created a safe spray zone that is well ventilated (outside is ideal).

Step 2: Cut out some triangular cat ears from the craft foam, making sure that you leave a rectangular base so that you may secure them on top of the cat head.

Step 3: Designate which pumpkins will be the heads and then cut the tops off and gut them like the beginnings of a traditional jack-o-lantern carving.holes in head

Step 4: Carve out the eyes. You could do these without guidance or find a template online. I did a quick free-hand  penciling of the eyes before I start carving them. Do interesting cat eye shapes, slits, or stick to the styles shown above.

Step 5: Place the ears as far or close apart as you would like and then trace the bottom of the ears so that the rectangle may easily slide into the hole you are about to cut open.

20141019_180047Step 6: Stuff some newspaper into the eyes but make sure not too much to avoid newspaper drooping onto your pumpkin when spray painting begins.

Step 7: Fit the head on so that the cat is facing where you want it to face. Perhaps a quizzical head tilt or maybe a straight on stare? Begin spray painting everything black, including the tail(s) which are chilling by the wayside.tion

Step 8: Let it dry. Really, really let it dry.

Step 9: Place them on your front porch, by your drive-way, in your window, or wherever else you’re inspired to have black cats!Then, lift the heads to situate your candles or tea lights (if using candles, best to have them in some type of glass or at least on a dish to keep the wax in check) on the pumpkin body.

Tips: If you’re in a hot and sunny climate, make sure you don’t keep your cat-o-lanterns in the sun during the day. Black paint + pumpkins + direct sunlight and heat are not going to preserve your cat-o-lanterns for very long.

 Also, if you want to stabilize the cat head, jam a few plant stakes in the body so that they fit just inside the hole of the pumpkin head.

 

 

Halloween Centerpieceshalloween_centerpiece_done

 

Supplies & Tools:

  • Foam pumpkins (I chose black – feel free to get creative! They offer them in orange and white as well.)
  • Spiderwebs, one 200-ft bag should be plenty. (I made ten, if you’re only making one feel free to buy a smaller bag.)
  • Red roses
  • Leaves (Fake, available in your local fabric store.)
  • Bag of eyeballs
  • Spiders
  • Hot glue
  • Black plate (1 to 10, however many pumpkins you have should = same number of plates.)
  • Additional trimmings (I chose skulls and skeleton hands, as well as the wooden Halloween wording plates from a craft store.)halloween_centerpiece

Instructions:

Step 1: Hot glue pumpkin to the plate.

Step 2: Glue leaves around the bottom of the plate protruding out of the pumpkin.

Step 3: Glue eyeballs into roses.

Step 4: Attach roses and trim with leaves.

Step 5: Adorn with skeleton hands, heads, etc.

Step 6. Wrap the pumpkin in spiderwebs. Feel free to glue these to the underneath of the plate for stability  - no one will see it.

Step 7: Attach spiders!


Halloween “Boo-quets”

booquet_done

Supplies & Tools:

  • White and black fabric roses
  • Bag of eyeballs
  • Hot glue
  • Ribbon (Any spooky color of your choice)
  • Spiders
  • Red  paint

booquet_blood

Instructions:

Step 1: Take the white roses outside, place them in a disposable cup. Splatter with blood! Or red paint. Whichever.

Step 2: Glue eyeballs into the black roses (or the white ones if you wish).

Step 3: Combine the black and white roses when dry.

Step 4: Wrap tightly with ribbon  & secure with glue.

Step 5: Seal with a spider.

Caterer Outfits

Having caterers at your Halloween event? Or spending some time serving guests yourself? A simple thing to do is order cheap white aprons from Amazon and have some fun with red paint. Bonus points if you can find a kid willing to let you paint their hand for the creepy , child-sized, bloody hand print effect!

bloody_aaprons

If you find the time and inspiration to craft these projects or something similar we’d love to see your work! Please share  your pictures with us on the Gores Truly Facebook page!