Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Games: Halloween Sale on Steam

This is only a short entry, mainly because I liked the graphic at the top (which you can see above). It is a sale thats going on right now with lots and lots of Horror games of lots of different genres. There are a few different images that appear randomly. Like this one below!

Anyway, there are also a few Halloween events going on (some of them on free games), and several of the games mentioned here, are on sale!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Advertising: Nospurratu

The above cartoon appeared in a recent issue of the free newspaper Metro, as part of Anthony Smith's Learn to Speak Cat series. Nospurratu is a play on the title of and scene from silent film Nosferatu, and is subtitled "Unfed fiend." underneath. It's a pretty accurate description of my cats waiting for their dinner! Especially one of the black cats, whose name is actually Nosferatu, haha.

The parodied scene featuring, Max Schreck, from Nosferatu

Halloween Giveaway Winners!

The giveaway is now over and the winners have been selected - many thanks to everyone who entered!

Halloween Pack Winner: Hikma S.
Vampire Pack Winner: Stephanie G.
Zombie Pack Winner: Dianna E.

Congratulations, your prizes will be sent out tomorrow! :)

29th: Food: Spider & Bat Cupcakes

As I mentioned in a previous post, they have chocolate bats at Sainsbury's this year. So when I also got this bat cupcake decorating set (above) from Asda, I decided to combine the two and make some spooky cupcakes (below)!

They're really simple, so I didn't do a proper tutorial about them. Just use whichever cupcake recipe you prefer and, once cooked, then leave them to cool.

Following that, ice them all, put a bat-topped cocktail stick in and spider chocolate on each one and you're done! :)

This post is part of The Countdown to Halloween

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Places & Events: Model Village Halloween Evening of Mini Horrors

The Halloween flag
The Halloween Evening of Mini Horrors at Model Village in Babbacombe, Torquay,  is running this year from October 22nd - October 31st. Prepare yourselves for zombies, vampires, werewolves, witches, pumpkins, ghosts, monsters and more, all set in a miniature world!

A shot of some of the miniature models and real plant life
I didn't know quite what to expect from the evening, as the last time I visited Model Village was for school, with some German exchange students when I was about 14 and I don't remember liking the place much. However, The Evening of Mini Horrors was pretty great! I think what struck me the most about the event was how much effort was put into it. Model Village is not usually a horror attraction, and the Halloween event only lasts for 9 days, but nearly every part of the venue - inside and out - was transformed into a ghoulish spectacle, or at least decorated in a spooky way. Even the roof of the ticket booth had a giant tarantula on it, which my friend and I nicknamed "The Yeti Spider", and the woman behind the counter was wearing a ghost ring that I really wanted!

"The Yeti Spider"
So, on to the event itself...during the evening sessions, which run between dusk and 10pm (last admission at 8pm), there are various things to see and activities in which you can take part. First of all, there's the park, which covers 4 acres of land (not including the indoor areas) and has a multitude of moving model displays of varying sizes, interspersed with greenery and - at this time of year - Halloween props.

I don't want zombies on my lawn♪
It really pays to look closely at the scenes that are set up, as you often find unusual and interesting additions to seemingly everyday scenes. Even in the zombie scene above there's a random pumpkin head shambler! 

The Wicker Man display
After dark, many of the displays are illuminated and some even have pyrotechnics and sound effects going on too. The Wicker Man, The Addams Family house, (what I perceived to be a) haunted mansion, and castle with fire-breathing dragon displays were my particular favourites during the visit.

The Addams Family house
Gomez & Morticia get amorous
Pugsley & Wednesday "looking after" the baby
As we walked around the park, we ran into some of the undead staff who were floating around. They told us that although they didn't mind being photographed, the camera might not be able to see them. Luckily enough for us though, it did!

Apparently this was the first year that the park hired actors for Halloween and they really did a good job of staying in character, whilst also being amusing and entertaining. I did notice a few little children skirting around them, wide-eyed though - haha. Speaking of which...

Workshop of Horrors animatronic
The Workshop of Horrors tour is something of a cross between a haunted house and a spooky behind the scenes look at the model-making workshops. If there was one part of the evening that I thought perhaps wasn't suitable for very young children, it was the this. There are a lot of eerie sounds, life-size animatronics and models, scary stories and it's also fairly dark throughout.

A skinned dungeon dweller
That's not to say that all 6 or 7-year-olds would find it scary, but some younger, or more sensitive kids might find it a little disturbing. On the other hand, I loved being scared and creeped-out when I was a child, so it really does depend on the each individual's personality I think. 

Werewolf chained to a tree
The park does have plenty of signs warning parents about what the workshop tour entails though, and the actress leading the tour makes it very clear at the beginning that people can leave anytime they want if it's too frightening. Besides - upon exiting, this inflated cuteness (below) is just around the corner - who could be scared of that?!

Creepy-cute pumpkin ghosts
Apart from the displays and actors, there was also a 4D cinema with that showed an animated version of Dracula in the evening. What made it 4D, you ask? Well, in addition to wearing 3D glasses, the seats shook and rocked, blew jets of air at us and squirted water at opportune moments during the film. One of the moments was particularly gross, as even though I knew it was water, due to what was happening on the screen, it didn't feel like water. 

The Dracula 4D poster
Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and probably something that children over the age of 5 could watch without being frightened. It was really a light-hearted, horror-themed comedy adventure though, so it wasn't supposed to be scary.

This Dracula prop was at the door to greet us!
Overall, The Halloween Evening of Mini Horrors was enjoyable, well-put together and a lot of fun. If you're really only interested in being shocked and terrified, this isn't the place for you. As the MV website states, the Halloween event "is largely aimed at families with a light-hearted Halloween theme, it's not a scarefest". However, if you're looking for a spooky evening out - with or without children - that's a bit different, I'd definitely recommend this event!

Animatronic Uncle Fester (dressed as Dracula) in the gift shop
Babbacombe Model Village
Hampton Avenue
Devon TQ1 3LA

Tel: +44 (0)1803 315315

This post is part of The Countdown to Halloween

↓To see more pictures, click the cut below↓

Friday, 26 October 2012

Book Reviews: Dark Water (2004) by Koji Suzuki

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki (author of Ring and Spiral) is a collection of short stories that are all connected to the theme of water in some way. You might recognise the title, as the film, Dark Water directed by Hideo Nakata, was based on the first story Floating Water. The book was originally released in 1996 in Japanese as Honogurai mizu no soko kara (Translation: From the Depths of Dark Water), which I think makes more sense in the context of the theme, but it's not really important.

The book opens with a prologue and closes with an epilogue, both of which are half of a story about a grandmother weaving eerie plots to entertain her granddaughter. These frame the collection of tales well, although only the last story Forest Under the Sea seems to be directly linked to them. I'm not sure if the other stories are supposed to be the ones which the grandmother is telling, but they don't really seem like something you'd tell a little girl, so I assume not.

Koji Suzuki's writing style is fantastic! Admittedly, I haven't read the original Japanese version, but the translation manages to make a detailed account of a man fixing a tap (in Watercolors) really interesting. I'm not sure how that's even possible, but Suzuki managed it. He's also extremely talented at building up tension and creating creepy scenes, which makes Dark Water a lot of fun to read.

However, there are two big problems with this book: the characters and the endings. For the most part, Suzuki portrays the female characters as neurotic or annoying and the male characters as violent and cold, but doesn't really add anyone with a personality that makes you care what happens to them. Adrift, Forest Under the Sea and, to a certain extent, Dream Cruise had somewhat likable characters in, but the endings were predictable. 

In fact all of the stories had predictable or unsatisfying endings to them and that, more than the characters, was the disappointing aspect to the book. Some felt unfinished, whilst others just made very little sense. I don't mind open-ended plots or fantasy / paranormal-based tales, but it often seemed like Suzuki had begun writing a full-length novel, couldn't think of a good ending and so turned it into a short story instead. 

Overall, while I did enjoy Dark Water and Suzuki's way with words is wonderful, the endings ultimately let the book down. It's worth reading, but it's not, by any means, Koji Suzuki's best work.

Posted as part of the Month Before Halloween event:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

23rd: Carving Pumpkins...With a Gun

The zombie uprising isn't for a few months, but lots have people have been getting prepared early! This one man Mr.  has apparently combined zombie preparedness with Halloween festivity and now uses this to carve his pumpkins!

This man has videos going back to 2009 of this method, and has released one for this years season!

It does have the bonus of carving both sides at the same time! Though the face is a little :- | it would be a very quick method for some last minute pumpkins during an assault of the undead!

This post is part of The Countdown to Halloween

Monday, 22 October 2012

Toys & Art: Eyezon Tank at Double Punch

The Eyezon Tank is a vinyl and resin custom with glass eyes and a switched colour changing LED unit that illuminates the eyes.  It will be displayed at the Kaiju Eyezon 5th Anniversary show, along with various other pieces, at the Double Punch Store & Gallery. The gallery is located in the North Beach district of San Francisco, California.

Each Eyezon Tank is signed and dated by Bob Conge of Plaseebo, and will be at Double Punch from November 3rd - December 2012.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Documentaries: Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary
Ocean's Light Productions

Press release:
"Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is an independent documentary taking an extensive look at the making of Pet Sematary, the origins of the story, the stories of cast and crew, memories of the Maine locals who helped make the film, and the legacy the film has established among horror fans and scholars of Stephen King's work. In addition to featuring many cast and crew members never before interviewed about their involvement in the film, this documentary will also take fans on a tour of all the filming locations. With never-before-seen photographs and footage from behind-the-scenes, original props from the film, media coverage of the 1988 production, and new stories about the Hollywood production being on location in Maine, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is an all-encompassing documentary by fans for the fans." 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Book Reviews: Raggy Maggie (Invisible Fiends 2) by Barry Hutchison

Raggy Maggie, the second installment of the Invisible Fiends series by Barry Hutchison, continues the story of Kyle, the 12-year-old boy who is forced to battle against vengeful, forgotten imaginary friends whilst confronting painful memories from his past. Whereas the first book, Mr Mumbles, dealt with Kyle's own made-up pal, this second book sees the imaginary friend of Billy the school bully returning. She isn't quite what Kyle expected: Caddie, a little girl with a doll named Raggy Maggie. That doesn't make her any less dangerous though and she kidnaps Billy, threatening to kill him if Kyle doesn't play a game with her.

Although this is the second book in the series, apart from quoting short sections of Mr Mumbles near the beginning, it doesn't really further the plot threads started in that book. The "Darkest Corners" is explained a little more and Kyle's father is introduced as a more important character, but many questions about Kyle's parents, his mother's imaginary friend and Ameena's background aren't really even mentioned, let alone answered. That's not necessarily a negative though, as the series spans six books in total and revealing everything in the first two would make the other four somewhat redundant.

Hutchison's writing style is still quite vivid, although, unlike Mr Mumbles, Raggy Maggie definitely seems more like it was written for children and young teenagers. The descriptions of the friendship / fights between Kyle and Billy are particularly written in a style more suited to older children but it is, after all, a children's book. This didn't, however, cause the characters to become annoying. Kyle and Ameena's "battle talk" was once again trying too hard to be sassy and just ended up being embarrassing though.

Overall, I don't think Raggy Maggie was as good as Mr Mumbles, as it felt much like a filler in a series. While it did progress the plot surrounding Kyle's father a little, missing out this book wouldn't be greatly detrimental to the set. Still, it was an enjoyable and easy read and I'd recommend it to anyone who liked the first Invisible Fiends book. On the other hand, if you haven't read Mr Mumbles yet, then definitely start with that one instead.

Posted as part of the Month Before Halloween event:

Friday, 19 October 2012

Blogger Virtual Zombie Walk 2012: Books - Zombies: 'The Complete Guide to the World of the Living Dead' by Zachary Graves

So, the Blogger Virtual Zombie Walk is finally here! Last year, I decided to let some zombies make a cake, but their tastes seem to have changed to my brains and so simply writing about a zombie book seemed like a better option for 2012 (yes, shocking as it is, I do have brains :P).
"They have always lurked in the shadows, soulless and terrifying, but now zombies have come lurching back into our hearts."

Zombies: The Complete Guide to the World of the Living Dead (2010) by Zachary Graves is 192 A4, full-colour pages of everything from the origins of zombie mythology to the evolution of horror zombies to zombies in pop and more. The sections included are: The Voodoo Zombie (Haitian Vodou, The Bokor, Zombie Powder, Zombie Magic etc), 'Real' Zombies (The Zombie Myth, Zombie Sightings, Felicia Felix-Mentor, Clairvius Narcisse etc.), and The Horror Zombie (Zombie Apocalypse, The Romero Zombie, Evolution of the Horror Zombie I & II, Zombie Comics etc.). 

It's a very entertaining read and whilst, as with anything that references popular culture, it will probably be out of date quite soon it still serves as a good introduction to the history and origins of modern zombies in various media formats. Obviously, none of the subjects covered are discussed in huge detail, but the author does try to give various, balanced points of view and approaches to each topic, rather than simply stating his opinions. This is particularly evident in the sections about Vodou, Voodoo, necromancy etc.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in zombies, zombie-related mythology and zombie pop culture. While it may not be as in depth on each subject as some books, as an overview of everything zombie it's a great book!

Don't forget that you can also win the Zombie Prize Pack as part of our Halloween Giveaway!

↓Now you've finished here, you can shamble your way over to the other blogs taking part in the Virtual Zombie Walk below!↓

Zombies Everywhere
Halloween Blues
The Southern Northerner
Martha's Journey
Annie Walls
GingerRead Review
App'y Talk
Kweeny Todd
Jenny's House of Horrors
Bubba's Place
Fictional Candy
herding cats & burning soup
Author Sherry Soule Blog
Paranormal research Group Blog
Adult Urban Fantasy by Sherry Soule
Moonlight Publishing Blog
Candid Canine
Ghost Hunting Theories
Above the Norm
A Dust Bunny In The Wind
Faith McKay
Zombob's Zombie News & Movie Reviews
Flesh From The Morgue
The Living Dark
Some One Else's Cook
Stumptown Horror
Forget About TV, Grab a Book
Zombie Dating Guide
Strange State
The Paranormalist - Renae Rude
Idée Fixe
Random Game Crafts
WhiteRoseBud's Tumblr
Book Me!
Carmen Jenner Author
Sarasota Zombie Pub Crawl
Not Now...Mommy's Reading
Love is a Many Flavored Thing
Its On Random
Ellie Potts
Attention Earthlings!
Horror Shock LoliPOP
The Spooky Vegan
The Story In...
DarkSide Detectives Blog
Something wicKED this way comes....
Julie Jansen: science fiction and horror writer
Author/screenwriter James Schannep
The Zombie Lab
Creepy Glowbugg
Sharing Links and Wisdom
Midnyte Reader
This Blog Has A.D.D.
Carol's Creations
Jeremy Bates
Vanessa Morgan

Thursday, 18 October 2012

18th: Halloween Decor - Skeleton Garland

This spooky skeleton garland is from Asda and was given to me yesterday as a "get well" present, along with a bag of other Halloween goodies! The garland consists of five skeletons, which are made of painted plastic and held together on a length of twine.

Each of them has jointed arms and legs, which means they can each have a unique pose. Their head also turn slightly, but I haven't moved them too much, as I'm not sure that this was intended.

These are really fantastic and I think when they've ceased to be Halloween decorations I'm going to transform them into a necklace of sorts, or pin them to a shelf in my room (it already has a large, jointed skeleton hanging from it...).

Although the skeleton garland isn't available on Asda's online store, they do have some other great Halloween horrors:

Also, Cherry Neko informed me that they have big chocolate skulls at some Asda shops as well :D

This post is part of The Countdown to Halloween

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

17th: Halloween Food - Chocolate Spiders

This year spiders seem to be everywhere for Halloween - even the food is full of them! Sainsbury's have some milk & white chocolate spiders (okay for vegetarians too, but sadly, no dark chocolate for vegans).

They come in packs of 12 and are each about 2cm long. I think they'd be great at parties or as a spooky surprise for someone!

This post is part of The Countdown to Halloween
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