Creepy Kroger: Halloween Finds at Your Local Grocer

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Kroger is the largest grocery chain in America and operates food stores under various names including Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, Ralph’s, and Smith’s.  They usually carry a decent selection of Halloween-themed food products, and this year is no different.  Check out the great Halloween Tombstone Pizzas featuring Dracula and Frankenstein…

Tombstone Halloween Pizza

Tombstone Halloween Pizza

 

In addition to offering up frightful food offerings, they have a number of devilish decor items that are also quite unique.  Check out this miniature haunted house.  It is one of three illuminated haunted house designs available.

 

Kroger Lighted Haunted House Figure

Kroger Lighted Haunted House Figure

 

And check out this awesome pumpkin carving kit.  Unlike the usual pumpkin carving kit that may offer only a saw and a scoop, this is a full-blow playset.  This Pumpkin Pro Carve-a-Scene pack includes a saw, strobe light, ghost picks, and a grave yard.  Instead of carving a face, you carve a window into your pumpkin and use the decorations to build a scene.  How cool is that?

 

Pumpkin Pro Carve-a-Scene Pumpkin Kit with Ghosts and Graveyard

Pumpkin Pro Carve-a-Scene Pumpkin Kit with Ghosts and Graveyard

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The Greatest Halloween Packaging of All Time

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In the history of mass-produced Halloween decorations, there have been many remarkable boxes and packages that have housed decorations both stellar and less-than-stellar.  However, there is no artwork that matches this beautifully macabre scene.

SONY DSC

Behold the morbid and the macabre!  What sort of heinous decoration could be housed in such a gruesome box?  There are bats, skeletons, zombie hands, graves, mausoleums, and spider webs…  and this is only the bottom of the box!

SONY DSC

Gruesome Ghoul Artwork

Gah!  Look at that drooling ghoul in his eternal shroud!  And what is that, a toppled cross below him?  This must really be some sort of sick and demented decoration.  But wait!  There’s more!

SONY DSC

Gruesome Ghoul Artwork

This must be the grimmest of reapers!  Look at that snake protruding from his eye socket!   He’s even wearing another serpent as a scarf!  Could whatever is inside this box be as terrifying as this?  Could it ever live up to the utter fear that this image inspires?

Believe it or not, this packaging is from a company called Funny Toys.  Funny Toys.  There doesn’t seem to be anything funny about this box.  Perhaps they should’ve called themselves “Great Packaging” instead.  Okay.  Okay.  You have waited long enough.  Here’s the big reveal, the “funny toy” that was inside of this petrifying packaging…

SONY DSC

1990 Funny Toys “Spooky Coffin” Animated Figure

 

Behold the Spooky Coffin, released in 1990!  For 1990, this probably was a pretty gruesome Halloween decoration: a miniature coffin, a vampire rising from it, creepy creaking sounds, menacing music playing, and evil laughter.  Taking all that into consideration, it was pretty advanced for its time.  One thing is for certain, they don’t make ’em like they used to…  And that includes the packaging!

 

2015 Family Activities Guide for October and Halloween

1

eek's ideasOur friend, Eek the Owl, has shared with us some frighteningly fun ideas to make the Halloween season even more enjoyable.   He has the whole family covered: chefs, crafters, adventurers, and board game aficionados!  There’s something for everyone in our Halloween Family Activities Guide!  Feel free to take a gander and try out some of these activities with your family this Halloween season!  And be sure to subscribe to The Big Scare for even more ideas!

Any opinions expressed in the following article do not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   The following is for information purposes only.  Any instructions are for information purposes only.  The Big Scare cannot guarantee you will experience the same results as we did should you opt to use these instructions.  Feel free to share ways to improve the instructions in the comments section below.  All activities should be conducted under adult supervision.

BEWITCHING BAKING

Our first wise idea involves everyone’s favorite holiday activity — baking.  And, as Eek points out, it’s not just for wintertime.  Halloween provides the opportunity to create all kind of creepy concoctions.  From cut-out cookies to brownies, they all make perfect October baking projects.

HALLOWEEN BROWNIES

While brownies are devilishly delicious by themselves, there’s just something even more appealing about a Halloween Brownie.  Making Halloween Brownies is just as easy as baking regular brownies.  You do exactly what your favorite recipe (or box) tells you to do, but you change up a few things before putting the batter in to bake.  Rather than just pouring the batter into a pan, you want to line the pan with greased aluminum foil.  Basically what you want to do is rip out a piece of baking foil and place it in your baking pan, pushing it up against the sides, making sure the whole thing (meaning the entire bottom and all the sides) is well covered.  Press the tin foil against the sides of the glass or metal pan so that it hugs it and assumes the pan’s shape.  Ensure that there is enough room left to lift the foil up out of the pan when the brownies have baked.  Then proceed to grease (and flour) it as you normally would or as you are instructed to in the baking directions, so as to prevent the brownies from sticking.  Bake the batter as directed.  Remove from the oven and let set until cool.

Rather than cut the brownies in the pan, you are going to remove the entire brownie cake, hence the foil.  Once cooled,  you can remove the brownie cake by lifting the sides of the aluminum foil or turning the pan upside down, a method preferable in cases of wide pans.  Place the brownies on a clean surface covered in powdered sugar and remove the foil lining.  Your brownie cake should have maintained its shape.  (If at anytime it appears that your brownie cake may be breaking, consider cutting the brownie cake in the pan and removing it in smaller portions.)

Now comes the fun part.  Take some open  Halloween cookie cutters (meaning ones that are just outlines that do not have tops which would prevent the cutter from cutting through thick brownies) and cover them in powdered sugar.  (Make sure your cookie cutters are deep enough to cut through the thick brownie cake.  You can buy these cookie cutters at a number of major retailers.  They usually come in “tubs.”)  Press each cookie cutter all the way through the brownie cake, just as you would with cookie cutters in cookie dough.  Carefully remove your brownie shape and place it aside.  Continue to press cutters into the remaining brownie cake until the area of usable brownie cake has been cut.  Take the cutout shapes and decorate them with frosting, powdered sugar and candies.  Use the “scrap” brownies, the unused edges that are leftover, to add layering and detail to your treats — or just eat them!

GRISLY GAME NIGHT

In a world seemingly run by electronic entertainment, it’s sometimes hard to remember that other forms of fun exist., like board games!  And when those board games have a Halloween theme, their fun level quadruples.

There are a number of Halloween-themed board games available on the market, and plenty more that can be purchased secondhand.  One of the easiest games to track down is Halloween Boo-Opoly.  Much like the game from which it derives its objective, Boo-Opoly allows players to buy properties, many of which will be familiar (like Elm Street) and many of which will be new (Gourd Walk).  The old railroads are now different creatures of the night, and the utilities consist of Jack-O’-Lanterns and Witch’s Brew.  Instead of houses and hotels, players may buy Haunted Houses and Full Moons.  The gameplay is quite similar to Monopoly, but there are some slight differences.  Overall, it’s a fun game with a nice design.  The only thing that would make it better would be if the playing pieces weren’t just plain plastic pawns, and instead were shaped in the forms of Halloween characters.

And if Boo-Opoly isn’t quite your game, there are plenty of other options.  From vampire games to zombie games, a trip to the local toy store is certain to reap a nice harvest of spooky entertainment — especially at Halloween.

FROM TRIP TO TREAT

WHAT’S IN A PATCH?

Most families pick up pumpkins from their local grocer (or the super-center which has invaded their neighborhood).  And while it is great to have access to affordably-priced pumpkins, there is just something missing from the experience.

So, while you may opt to get your larger carving-friendly produce from the grocery store, a trip to the local (or not-so-local) pumpkin patch should be in order for your family this year, even if you don’t make your big pumpkin purchase there.  Not only do many patches provide fresh, right-off-the-vine pumpkins, they also provide a ton of activities for your family.  The experience that pumpkin patches provide is unprecedented.  Many of them have games, hayrides, corn mazes, and photo opportunities that the grocery store can’t possibly match.

So, even if you can’t afford a large pumpkin from the patch, your family should still make a visit, maybe pick up some Indian Corn or smaller pumpkins, and take advantage of everything that is offered.  It will be a memory your family will never forget.

BAKED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Now that you have found the perfect pumpkin and are already to carve it, you probably are wondering what to do with all of those insides!  We have the perfect solution — for the seeds at least!

Here is our recipe for delicious baked pumpkin seeds…

1.  Immediately after carving your pumpkin, remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly.  After they have been cleaned, pad them dry and let them sit for several hours in a warm place.

2. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Once the pumpkin seeds are completely dry, place them in a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon melted butter for every one cup of seeds.  Mix the seeds so that they are completely coated.

3.  Sprinkle in garlic powder and salt, enough to taste.  Mix until every seed has a light covering.

4.  Pour the seeds onto a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread the seeds so that they form a single layer.  It is important not to have them overlapping.

5.  Place the seeds in the oven and let bake 50 minutes, mixing them every 15 minutes or so.

6.  Add additional seasoning as desired and enjoy!

CREEPY CRAFTS

BOX OF BOOS

FRIGHTENING FOAM

If you have ever wandered into an arts and crafts store in the fall, you have undoubtedly seen a variety of pre-packaged art projects that can be used to dreary up any bright October day.

Kid-friendly foam kits, which let you and your family create haunted scenes out of small pieces of pre-cut foam, are just one example.  The variety of these kits has really expanded in recent years, and now you can create all kinds of things: graveyards, haunted houses, masks, monster boxes, cars, and more!

A lot of these kits don’t actually require much skill.  Some come with foam stickers, meaning you don’t even have to glue anything!  That is why they are good for the younger set as well as the older crowd.  But each kit is different, so be sure to read the box for details before considering a purchase.

One of the nice things about these kits is that they allow for a lot of customization and personalization.  You have the freedom and ability to place characters and other scene-setters in a variety of places on the foam bases, while still maintaining the same structure suggested by the manufacturer.  You can even add your own foam pieces or mix pieces among a number of kits.

These kits get the whole family involved in the building process and make great decorations when finished.  And there are a variety of ways you can incorporate the kits into your Halloween festivities.  You can buy one to assemble with the kids on a stormy evening, you can buy a number and have a family foam-building contest, or you can have a variety available at a kids’ Halloween party, set up tables, and have the party-goers bring their own creations to life.

CREEPY COOKIES

Another great option is the Cookie Decorating Kit.  We all know the classic Gingerbread House kits that come out at Christmas.  In recent years, many manufacturers have introduced Halloween-themed kits.  Take for example, the Cookie Graveyard kit from Target.  It is easier to assemble than a house, but just as fun.  The kit contains a cookie base, cookie tombstones, icing, as well as bat, bone, and ghost decorations, in addition to other candies that can be used to help decorate the edible display.  If you can’t track down this particular kit, check for alternate versions at other retailers.  There are a ton to choose from!

CHOCOLATE CHILLS

While you may already have enough chocolate in your house during the Halloween season, you may still be tempted to get some more, especially when you can create your own candy concoctions!  Companies like Wilton produce a lot of chocolate molds and kits that function as great activities for the whole family. Spooky Chocolate Dipped Pretzels are just one example.

The kit includes everything you need to decorate your pretzel rods:  6 fun-shaped mold designs (4 Rat molds, 3 pumpkins, 3 bats, 3 spiders, and 3 skeleton molds), 16 oz. Wilton Candy Melts brand confectionery coating, 4 disposable decorating bags, 1 decorating brush, 20 pretzel bags with ties.  The only thing you will need to supply is the bag of jumbo pretzel rods.  (You may also want to buy some additional chocolate.)

All you need to do is stick the chocolate in a bag, put it in the microwave, squish the bag with your hands, and then pour into the molds.  Stick them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  And voila; you have some awesome Halloween treats for all those special little boys and ghouls in your life!  What a terrific idea for parties!  And these would make great gifts for the office staff on Halloween day!

The best molds are definitely the rats.  These things are huge – and you get 4 rat molds, so you can make a whole family at one time.  The second best molds are the skeletons, followed the pumpkins.  The bats and spiders are fun, but my final versions didn’t turn out as great as the previously mentioned molds – though they are still pretty nifty.  Regardless, this kit is well worth the affordable price.  It makes for a great weekend activity to do with the kids or with yourself.  Plus, how can you beat the spooky, edible payoff?  The product is available to purchase at various locations: craft stores and other retailers.  And if you aren’t a fan of homemade chocolate creatures, there are plenty of other food craft kits out there – like the JELL-O Jigglers and the Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins.

OTHER CRAFTY CREEPS

But not all craft projects come out of boxes, and Eek always wants to foster as much creativity as possible, so he suggests you head out to your local retailer to find materials for your next project.  Some craft shops sell Paper Mache.  Recently, Michael’s offered up miniature Paper Mache skulls.  Eek had a lot of fun with these and wanted to share some paint-scheme ideas to get you started:

1.  Paint the skulls the colors of your favorite sports teams.  Even consider painting a logo on the top!

2.  Paint your skull with a base color and then add “metalic” coloring for a shiny look.

3.  Give your skulls a classic Halloween treatment by painting them orange and black.

4.  Give your skulls a tie-dye look.

5.  Use stencils to add images to the top and back of the skulls.

Once you’re done, consider adding them to your current Halloween decor.  Or how about using them as table toppers or as party favors?  The possibilities are endless.

We will be adding to this page as we think of more activities, so why not subscribe to The Big Scare for the latest undead updates?

2013 Family Activities Guide for October and Halloween

0

eek's ideasOur friend, Eek the Owl, has shared with us some frighteningly fun ideas to make the Halloween season even more enjoyable.   He has the whole family covered: chefs, crafters, adventurers, and board game aficionados!  There’s something for everyone in our Halloween Family Activities Guide!  Feel free to take a gander and try out some of these activities with your family this Halloween season!  And be sure to subscribe to The Big Scare for even more ideas!

Any opinions expressed in the following article do not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   The following is for information purposes only.  Any instructions are for information purposes only.  The Big Scare cannot guarantee you will experience the same results as we did should you opt to use these instructions.  Feel free to share ways to improve the instructions in the comments section below.  All activities should be conducted under adult supervision.

BEWITCHING BAKING

Our first wise idea involves everyone’s favorite holiday activity — baking.  And, as Eek points out, it’s not just for wintertime.  Halloween provides the opportunity to create all kind of creepy concoctions.  From cut-out cookies to brownies, they all make perfect October baking projects.

HALLOWEEN BROWNIES

While brownies are devilishly delicious by themselves, there’s just something even more appealing about a Halloween Brownie.  Making Halloween Brownies is just as easy as baking regular brownies.  You do exactly what your favorite recipe (or box) tells you to do, but you change up a few things before putting the batter in to bake.  Rather than just pouring the batter into a pan, you want to line the pan with greased aluminum foil.  Basically what you want to do is rip out a piece of baking foil and place it in your baking pan, pushing it up against the sides, making sure the whole thing (meaning the entire bottom and all the sides) is well covered.  Press the tin foil against the sides of the glass or metal pan so that it hugs it and assumes the pan’s shape.  Ensure that there is enough room left to lift the foil up out of the pan when the brownies have baked.  Then proceed to grease (and flour) it as you normally would or as you are instructed to in the baking directions, so as to prevent the brownies from sticking.  Bake the batter as directed.  Remove from the oven and let set until cool.

Rather than cut the brownies in the pan, you are going to remove the entire brownie cake, hence the foil.  Once cooled,  you can remove the brownie cake by lifting the sides of the aluminum foil or turning the pan upside down, a method preferable in cases of wide pans.  Place the brownies on a clean surface covered in powdered sugar and remove the foil lining.  Your brownie cake should have maintained its shape.  (If at anytime it appears that your brownie cake may be breaking, consider cutting the brownie cake in the pan and removing it in smaller portions.)

Now comes the fun part.  Take some open  Halloween cookie cutters (meaning ones that are just outlines that do not have tops which would prevent the cutter from cutting through thick brownies) and cover them in powdered sugar.  (Make sure your cookie cutters are deep enough to cut through the thick brownie cake.  You can buy these cookie cutters at a number of major retailers.  They usually come in “tubs.”)  Press each cookie cutter all the way through the brownie cake, just as you would with cookie cutters in cookie dough.  Carefully remove your brownie shape and place it aside.  Continue to press cutters into the remaining brownie cake until the area of usable brownie cake has been cut.  Take the cutout shapes and decorate them with frosting, powdered sugar and candies.  Use the “scrap” brownies, the unused edges that are leftover, to add layering and detail to your treats — or just eat them!

GRISLY GAME NIGHT

In a world seemingly run by electronic entertainment, it’s sometimes hard to remember that other forms of fun exist., like board games!  And when those board games have a Halloween theme, their fun level quadruples.

There are a number of Halloween-themed board games available on the market, and plenty more that can be purchased secondhand.  One of the easiest games to track down is Halloween Boo-Opoly.  Much like the game from which it derives its objective, Boo-Opoly allows players to buy properties, many of which will be familiar (like Elm Street) and many of which will be new (Gourd Walk).  The old railroads are now different creatures of the night, and the utilities consist of Jack-O’-Lanterns and Witch’s Brew.  Instead of houses and hotels, players may buy Haunted Houses and Full Moons.  The gameplay is quite similar to Monopoly, but there are some slight differences.  Overall, it’s a fun game with a nice design.  The only thing that would make it better would be if the playing pieces weren’t just plain plastic pawns, and instead were shaped in the forms of Halloween characters.

And if Boo-Opoly isn’t quite your game, there are plenty of other options.  From vampire games to zombie games, a trip to the local toy store is certain to reap a nice harvest of spooky entertainment — especially at Halloween.

FROM TRIP TO TREAT

WHAT’S IN A PATCH?

Most families pick up pumpkins from their local grocer (or the super-center which has invaded their neighborhood).  And while it is great to have access to affordably-priced pumpkins, there is just something missing from the experience.

So, while you may opt to get your larger carving-friendly produce from the grocery store, a trip to the local (or not-so-local) pumpkin patch should be in order for your family this year, even if you don’t make your big pumpkin purchase there.  Not only do many patches provide fresh, right-off-the-vine pumpkins, they also provide a ton of activities for your family.  The experience that pumpkin patches provide is unprecedented.  Many of them have games, hayrides, corn mazes, and photo opportunities that the grocery store can’t possibly match.

So, even if you can’t afford a large pumpkin from the patch, your family should still make a visit, maybe pick up some Indian Corn or smaller pumpkins, and take advantage of everything that is offered.  It will be a memory your family will never forget.

BAKED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Now that you have found the perfect pumpkin and are already to carve it, you probably are wondering what to do with all of those insides!  We have the perfect solution — for the seeds at least!

Here is our recipe for delicious baked pumpkin seeds…

1.  Immediately after carving your pumpkin, remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly.  After they have been cleaned, pad them dry and let them sit for several hours in a warm place.

2. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Once the pumpkin seeds are completely dry, place them in a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon melted butter for every one cup of seeds.  Mix the seeds so that they are completely coated.

3.  Sprinkle in garlic powder and salt, enough to taste.  Mix until every seed has a light covering.

4.  Pour the seeds onto a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread the seeds so that they form a single layer.  It is important not to have them overlapping.

5.  Place the seeds in the oven and let bake 50 minutes, mixing them every 15 minutes or so.

6.  Add additional seasoning as desired and enjoy!

CREEPY CRAFTS

BOX OF BOOS

FRIGHTENING FOAM

If you have ever wandered into an arts and crafts store in the fall, you have undoubtedly seen a variety of pre-packaged art projects that can be used to dreary up any bright October day.

Kid-friendly foam kits, which let you and your family create haunted scenes out of small pieces of pre-cut foam, are just one example.  The variety of these kits has really expanded in recent years, and now you can create all kinds of things: graveyards, haunted houses, masks, monster boxes, cars, and more!

A lot of these kits don’t actually require much skill.  Some come with foam stickers, meaning you don’t even have to glue anything!  That is why they are good for the younger set as well as the older crowd.  But each kit is different, so be sure to read the box for details before considering a purchase.

One of the nice things about these kits is that they allow for a lot of customization and personalization.  You have the freedom and ability to place characters and other scene-setters in a variety of places on the foam bases, while still maintaining the same structure suggested by the manufacturer.  You can even add your own foam pieces or mix pieces among a number of kits.

These kits get the whole family involved in the building process and make great decorations when finished.  And there are a variety of ways you can incorporate the kits into your Halloween festivities.  You can buy one to assemble with the kids on a stormy evening, you can buy a number and have a family foam-building contest, or you can have a variety available at a kids’ Halloween party, set up tables, and have the party-goers bring their own creations to life.

CREEPY COOKIES

Another great option is the Cookie Decorating Kit.  We all know the classic Gingerbread House kits that come out at Christmas.  In recent years, many manufacturers have introduced Halloween-themed kits.  Take for example, the Cookie Graveyard kit from Target.  It is easier to assemble than a house, but just as fun.  The kit contains a cookie base, cookie tombstones, icing, as well as bat, bone, and ghost decorations, in addition to other candies that can be used to help decorate the edible display.  If you can’t track down this particular kit, check for alternate versions at other retailers.  There are a ton to choose from!

CHOCOLATE CHILLS

While you may already have enough chocolate in your house during the Halloween season, you may still be tempted to get some more, especially when you can create your own candy concoctions!  Companies like Wilton produce a lot of chocolate molds and kits that function as great activities for the whole family. Spooky Chocolate Dipped Pretzels are just one example.

The kit includes everything you need to decorate your pretzel rods:  6 fun-shaped mold designs (4 Rat molds, 3 pumpkins, 3 bats, 3 spiders, and 3 skeleton molds), 16 oz. Wilton Candy Melts brand confectionery coating, 4 disposable decorating bags, 1 decorating brush, 20 pretzel bags with ties.  The only thing you will need to supply is the bag of jumbo pretzel rods.  (You may also want to buy some additional chocolate.)

All you need to do is stick the chocolate in a bag, put it in the microwave, squish the bag with your hands, and then pour into the molds.  Stick them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  And voila; you have some awesome Halloween treats for all those special little boys and ghouls in your life!  What a terrific idea for parties!  And these would make great gifts for the office staff on Halloween day!

The best molds are definitely the rats.  These things are huge – and you get 4 rat molds, so you can make a whole family at one time.  The second best molds are the skeletons, followed the pumpkins.  The bats and spiders are fun, but my final versions didn’t turn out as great as the previously mentioned molds – though they are still pretty nifty.  Regardless, this kit is well worth the affordable price.  It makes for a great weekend activity to do with the kids or with yourself.  Plus, how can you beat the spooky, edible payoff?  The product is available to purchase at various locations: craft stores and other retailers.  And if you aren’t a fan of homemade chocolate creatures, there are plenty of other food craft kits out there – like the JELL-O Jigglers and the Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins.

OTHER CRAFTY CREEPS

But not all craft projects come out of boxes, and Eek always wants to foster as much creativity as possible, so he suggests you head out to your local retailer to find materials for your next project.  Some craft shops sell Paper Mache.  Recently, Michael’s offered up miniature Paper Mache skulls.  Eek had a lot of fun with these and wanted to share some paint-scheme ideas to get you started:

1.  Paint the skulls the colors of your favorite sports teams.  Even consider painting a logo on the top!

2.  Paint your skull with a base color and then add “metalic” coloring for a shiny look.

3.  Give your skulls a classic Halloween treatment by painting them orange and black.

4.  Give your skulls a tie-dye look.

5.  Use stencils to add images to the top and back of the skulls.

Once you’re done, consider adding them to your current Halloween decor.  Or how about using them as table toppers or as party favors?  The possibilities are endless.

We will be adding to this page as we think of more activities, so why not subscribe to The Big Scare for the latest undead updates?

Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: House of Dark Shadows, Night of Dark Shadows

4
Editor’s Note:  1/10/12 This post has been updated with a note about the image.

Today is our final installment of our Halloween Home Entertainment Preview.  Be sure to check out our previous updates for all of the great deals on disc this Halloween season!

The News:

House of Dark Shadows starring Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Joan Bennett will be released on October 30.  Night of Dark Shadows starring David Selby, Lara Parker and Kate Jackson will debut on the same date.

The Views:

Many of you have probably heard that the original films based on the popular supernatural TV series, Dark Shadows, will be coming to DVD and Blu-Ray disc for the first time on October 30.  And while this is great news in and of itself, it isn’t as wonderful as it seems.  While House of Dark Shadows, the more popular of the two movies, is a must-have release for your collection, the release of its sequel, Night of Dark Shadows, is rather disappointing — not because Night is a bad film, but because Warner Bros. has decided not to release it in its fully-restored state.

Night of Dark Shadows was originally a rather lengthy picture, but MGM, the studio that originally released it, had it cut down significantly right before its debut.  What is left of the movie may seem garbled or confusing to many.  But fans still enjoy it for what it is.

For years now, one Darren Gross has been working on intensive restoration efforts for both Dark Shadows films.  And he managed to recover a good amount of lost footage from Night of Dark Shadows in the hopes that it could eventually be released in a form closer to the original vision of Dan Curtis.  For reasons which have not been disclosed, Warner Bros. turned down the project and we are left with the standard release, which, to many is rather confusing and incoherent.  Regardless, it is good to see the film make its disc debut, along with House of Dark Shadows, but it’s upsetting that we won’t get to see all of the hard work put into the restoration.

*Note: The “Ad” image in this post is fan-created.

Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: Pet Sematary, Mad Monster Party, Meet Frankenstein, & More!

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 This week, we have a complete lineup of the “must-have” home entertainment releases of the season.  Check out our round-up below, and return tomorrow for our take on the upcoming release of the original Dark Shadows feature films on Blu-Ray and DVD.

The News:

The 1989 adaptation of the Stephen King classic, Pet Sematary is coming to Blu-Ray on October 2!  The film features Fred Gwynne, best known for portraying the lovable Herman Munster on the classic monster sitcom, The Munsters.  Gwynne’s character is not quite as lovable in this, but his inner-Herman certainly shines through (at times).  Over all, in our opinion, the story is both frightening and compelling, and we don’t think the classic theme by The Ramones can be beat…  Let us know your thoughts.  And read more about the film here.

We also wanted to note that there were a number of Halloween Blu-Ray releases that occurred earlier this month that we didn’t have a chance to cover.  You can check out our round-up below:

The Rankin/Bass animated classic Mad Monster Party was released on Blu-Ray disc for the first time on September 4.  It’s a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, so you will receive both discs if you should decide to pick it up.

The Disney Halloween cult classic Hocus-Pocus was also released on Blu-Ray disc on September 4.  It also comes in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

In addition, yesterday, we mentioned that Meet Frankenstein was not included in the Universal Monsters Blu-Ray collection, but the terrific film is available on Blu-Ray disc.  It came out on August 28, another release in celebration of the Universal Studios centennial.  It stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.  The film follows the comedic duo and their hilarious encounter with Count Dracula, whose sinister plans are thwarted by the Wolf Man and an out-of-control Frankenstein Monster.

You can purchase all of these Blu-Ray releases online, and some of them may pop up in a store near you!  So be on the look-out!

And now we want to know… What are your favorite Halloween films?  Will you be picking them up on Blu-Ray?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

*The pictures on this page are not from any film.   They were taken by THE BIG SCARE.

2013 Family Activities Guide for October and Halloween

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eek's ideasOur friend, Eek the Owl, has shared with us some frighteningly fun ideas to make the Halloween season even more enjoyable.   He has the whole family covered: chefs, crafters, adventurers, and board game aficionados!  There’s something for everyone in our Halloween Family Activities Guide!  Feel free to take a gander and try out some of these activities with your family this Halloween season!  And be sure to subscribe to The Big Scare for even more ideas!

Any opinions expressed in the following article do not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   The following is for information purposes only.  Any instructions are for information purposes only.  The Big Scare cannot guarantee you will experience the same results as we did should you opt to use these instructions.  Feel free to share ways to improve the instructions in the comments section below.  All activities should be conducted under adult supervision.

BEWITCHING BAKING

Our first wise idea involves everyone’s favorite holiday activity — baking.  And, as Eek points out, it’s not just for wintertime.  Halloween provides the opportunity to create all kind of creepy concoctions.  From cut-out cookies to brownies, they all make perfect October baking projects.

HALLOWEEN BROWNIES

While brownies are devilishly delicious by themselves, there’s just something even more appealing about a Halloween Brownie.  Making Halloween Brownies is just as easy as baking regular brownies.  You do exactly what your favorite recipe (or box) tells you to do, but you change up a few things before putting the batter in to bake.  Rather than just pouring the batter into a pan, you want to line the pan with greased aluminum foil.  Basically what you want to do is rip out a piece of baking foil and place it in your baking pan, pushing it up against the sides, making sure the whole thing (meaning the entire bottom and all the sides) is well covered.  Press the tin foil against the sides of the glass or metal pan so that it hugs it and assumes the pan’s shape.  Ensure that there is enough room left to lift the foil up out of the pan when the brownies have baked.  Then proceed to grease (and flour) it as you normally would or as you are instructed to in the baking directions, so as to prevent the brownies from sticking.  Bake the batter as directed.  Remove from the oven and let set until cool.

Rather than cut the brownies in the pan, you are going to remove the entire brownie cake, hence the foil.  Once cooled,  you can remove the brownie cake by lifting the sides of the aluminum foil or turning the pan upside down, a method preferable in cases of wide pans.  Place the brownies on a clean surface covered in powdered sugar and remove the foil lining.  Your brownie cake should have maintained its shape.  (If at anytime it appears that your brownie cake may be breaking, consider cutting the brownie cake in the pan and removing it in smaller portions.)

Now comes the fun part.  Take some open  Halloween cookie cutters (meaning ones that are just outlines that do not have tops which would prevent the cutter from cutting through thick brownies) and cover them in powdered sugar.  (Make sure your cookie cutters are deep enough to cut through the thick brownie cake.  You can buy these cookie cutters at a number of major retailers.  They usually come in “tubs.”)  Press each cookie cutter all the way through the brownie cake, just as you would with cookie cutters in cookie dough.  Carefully remove your brownie shape and place it aside.  Continue to press cutters into the remaining brownie cake until the area of usable brownie cake has been cut.  Take the cutout shapes and decorate them with frosting, powdered sugar and candies.  Use the “scrap” brownies, the unused edges that are leftover, to add layering and detail to your treats — or just eat them!

GRISLY GAME NIGHT

In a world seemingly run by electronic entertainment, it’s sometimes hard to remember that other forms of fun exist., like board games!  And when those board games have a Halloween theme, their fun level quadruples.

There are a number of Halloween-themed board games available on the market, and plenty more that can be purchased secondhand.  One of the easiest games to track down is Halloween Boo-Opoly.  Much like the game from which it derives its objective, Boo-Opoly allows players to buy properties, many of which will be familiar (like Elm Street) and many of which will be new (Gourd Walk).  The old railroads are now different creatures of the night, and the utilities consist of Jack-O’-Lanterns and Witch’s Brew.  Instead of houses and hotels, players may buy Haunted Houses and Full Moons.  The gameplay is quite similar to Monopoly, but there are some slight differences.  Overall, it’s a fun game with a nice design.  The only thing that would make it better would be if the playing pieces weren’t just plain plastic pawns, and instead were shaped in the forms of Halloween characters.

And if Boo-Opoly isn’t quite your game, there are plenty of other options.  From vampire games to zombie games, a trip to the local toy store is certain to reap a nice harvest of spooky entertainment — especially at Halloween.

FROM TRIP TO TREAT

WHAT’S IN A PATCH?

Most families pick up pumpkins from their local grocer (or the super-center which has invaded their neighborhood).  And while it is great to have access to affordably-priced pumpkins, there is just something missing from the experience.

So, while you may opt to get your larger carving-friendly produce from the grocery store, a trip to the local (or not-so-local) pumpkin patch should be in order for your family this year, even if you don’t make your big pumpkin purchase there.  Not only do many patches provide fresh, right-off-the-vine pumpkins, they also provide a ton of activities for your family.  The experience that pumpkin patches provide is unprecedented.  Many of them have games, hayrides, corn mazes, and photo opportunities that the grocery store can’t possibly match.

So, even if you can’t afford a large pumpkin from the patch, your family should still make a visit, maybe pick up some Indian Corn or smaller pumpkins, and take advantage of everything that is offered.  It will be a memory your family will never forget.

BAKED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Now that you have found the perfect pumpkin and are already to carve it, you probably are wondering what to do with all of those insides!  We have the perfect solution — for the seeds at least!

Here is our recipe for delicious baked pumpkin seeds…

1.  Immediately after carving your pumpkin, remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly.  After they have been cleaned, pad them dry and let them sit for several hours in a warm place.

2. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Once the pumpkin seeds are completely dry, place them in a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon melted butter for every one cup of seeds.  Mix the seeds so that they are completely coated.

3.  Sprinkle in garlic powder and salt, enough to taste.  Mix until every seed has a light covering.

4.  Pour the seeds onto a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread the seeds so that they form a single layer.  It is important not to have them overlapping.

5.  Place the seeds in the oven and let bake 50 minutes, mixing them every 15 minutes or so.

6.  Add additional seasoning as desired and enjoy!

CREEPY CRAFTS

BOX OF BOOS

FRIGHTENING FOAM

If you have ever wandered into an arts and crafts store in the fall, you have undoubtedly seen a variety of pre-packaged art projects that can be used to dreary up any bright October day.

Kid-friendly foam kits, which let you and your family create haunted scenes out of small pieces of pre-cut foam, are just one example.  The variety of these kits has really expanded in recent years, and now you can create all kinds of things: graveyards, haunted houses, masks, monster boxes, cars, and more!

A lot of these kits don’t actually require much skill.  Some come with foam stickers, meaning you don’t even have to glue anything!  That is why they are good for the younger set as well as the older crowd.  But each kit is different, so be sure to read the box for details before considering a purchase.

One of the nice things about these kits is that they allow for a lot of customization and personalization.  You have the freedom and ability to place characters and other scene-setters in a variety of places on the foam bases, while still maintaining the same structure suggested by the manufacturer.  You can even add your own foam pieces or mix pieces among a number of kits.

These kits get the whole family involved in the building process and make great decorations when finished.  And there are a variety of ways you can incorporate the kits into your Halloween festivities.  You can buy one to assemble with the kids on a stormy evening, you can buy a number and have a family foam-building contest, or you can have a variety available at a kids’ Halloween party, set up tables, and have the party-goers bring their own creations to life.

CREEPY COOKIES

Another great option is the Cookie Decorating Kit.  We all know the classic Gingerbread House kits that come out at Christmas.  In recent years, many manufacturers have introduced Halloween-themed kits.  Take for example, the Cookie Graveyard kit from Target.  It is easier to assemble than a house, but just as fun.  The kit contains a cookie base, cookie tombstones, icing, as well as bat, bone, and ghost decorations, in addition to other candies that can be used to help decorate the edible display.  If you can’t track down this particular kit, check for alternate versions at other retailers.  There are a ton to choose from!

CHOCOLATE CHILLS

While you may already have enough chocolate in your house during the Halloween season, you may still be tempted to get some more, especially when you can create your own candy concoctions!  Companies like Wilton produce a lot of chocolate molds and kits that function as great activities for the whole family. Spooky Chocolate Dipped Pretzels are just one example.

The kit includes everything you need to decorate your pretzel rods:  6 fun-shaped mold designs (4 Rat molds, 3 pumpkins, 3 bats, 3 spiders, and 3 skeleton molds), 16 oz. Wilton Candy Melts brand confectionery coating, 4 disposable decorating bags, 1 decorating brush, 20 pretzel bags with ties.  The only thing you will need to supply is the bag of jumbo pretzel rods.  (You may also want to buy some additional chocolate.)

All you need to do is stick the chocolate in a bag, put it in the microwave, squish the bag with your hands, and then pour into the molds.  Stick them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  And voila; you have some awesome Halloween treats for all those special little boys and ghouls in your life!  What a terrific idea for parties!  And these would make great gifts for the office staff on Halloween day!

The best molds are definitely the rats.  These things are huge – and you get 4 rat molds, so you can make a whole family at one time.  The second best molds are the skeletons, followed the pumpkins.  The bats and spiders are fun, but my final versions didn’t turn out as great as the previously mentioned molds – though they are still pretty nifty.  Regardless, this kit is well worth the affordable price.  It makes for a great weekend activity to do with the kids or with yourself.  Plus, how can you beat the spooky, edible payoff?  The product is available to purchase at various locations: craft stores and other retailers.  And if you aren’t a fan of homemade chocolate creatures, there are plenty of other food craft kits out there – like the JELL-O Jigglers and the Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins.

OTHER CRAFTY CREEPS

But not all craft projects come out of boxes, and Eek always wants to foster as much creativity as possible, so he suggests you head out to your local retailer to find materials for your next project.  Some craft shops sell Paper Mache.  Recently, Michael’s offered up miniature Paper Mache skulls.  Eek had a lot of fun with these and wanted to share some paint-scheme ideas to get you started:

1.  Paint the skulls the colors of your favorite sports teams.  Even consider painting a logo on the top!

2.  Paint your skull with a base color and then add “metalic” coloring for a shiny look.

3.  Give your skulls a classic Halloween treatment by painting them orange and black.

4.  Give your skulls a tie-dye look.

5.  Use stencils to add images to the top and back of the skulls.

Once you’re done, consider adding them to your current Halloween decor.  Or how about using them as table toppers or as party favors?  The possibilities are endless.

We will be adding to this page as we think of more activities, so why not subscribe to The Big Scare for the latest undead updates?