The Greatest Halloween Packaging of All Time

1

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!

 

Spook Spotter: Grave Surprises, Franken-Families and More!

0

Big Scare spook spotter

Ghastly Greetings, Boils and Ghouls!   We’re baaaaaaaaaaaack with some of the best products available for purchase this Halloween season.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

Grave Solution

Hands down, the best tabletop animated Halloween prop available this year can be found at The Home Depot.  (A similar prop is also available at CVS).  Behold, the rising Grim Reaper and tombstone!

SONY DSC

Rising Grim Reaper Tabletop Animation

This beautiful, animated table-top piece is reminiscent of the old Telco Motion-ettes and the 1990s Gemmy line of animated figures.  It features a Grim Reaper that pops up from inside a gravestone.  When you push the button or make a loud sound, the Reaper will rise from the grave and utter eerie phrases of doom, accompanied by a soundtrack of haunting music and crashing thunder.  Not only do the Reaper’s eyes illuminate, the tombstone also puts on a fairly elaborate light show, probably intended to be lightning to go with all of that scary thunder.

There are also some other great items out there that we feel you have to know about, including a set of Wilton candy cake decorations featuring Frankenstein, the Bride, and their family.  These can be purchased at Target.  Another must-mention item is the Halloween party plate and napkin set that is available for purchase at Rite Aid.  Check ’em out!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And let us know what cool products you have found this year by leaving a message in the creepy Comments section below!

Spook Spotter: The Best Halloween Decorations of 2015 II

4

Big Scare spook spotter

Welcome, foolish mortals, to The Big Scare’s 2015 Countdown to Halloween.  Every other day, from now through October 31, we will be posting preposterously posthumous ponderings of the Halloween season.  We begin October with another installment of the Spook Spotter.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

World of Gods and Monsters

Last year, Cost Plus World Market debuted a line of officially licensed Universal Monsters dinnerware featuring The Frankenstein Monster and his Bride.  This year, they are expanding the line with all new platters, ceramic plates, and mugs.  World Market also carries vintage soda bottles featuring the creature and his mate, lollipops with The Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as Bride of Frankenstein tote bags.  What’s really creepily cool is the fact that the ceramic plate of Frankenstein’s monster features an image of Glenn Strange in the role as opposed to Boris Karloff.  Glenn Strange as Frankenstein is more iconic and recognizable to Monster kids, as it was Strange, not Karloff, who was featured on the Monster Craze merchandise of the 1960s.  Hopefully we will see more Universal Monsters at World Market next year.  Perhaps they can cut a deal with Bela Lugosi, Jr. next year and do a Dracula line of dinnerware.  “I never drink…” wine glasses, anyone?

Bride of Frankenstein Plate (World Market)

Bride of Frankenstein Plate (World Market)

More of the Night He Came Home

HomeGoods (A TJX Company) has come through again this year with some amazingly haunting display pieces for your home of horrors.  Take a look at this skull pumpkin, very reminiscent of the jack-o’-lantern featured in the opening sequence of John Carpenter’s Halloween II.  This terrifying display piece features a dramatic display of color-changing illumination.  Perfect for any fan of Halloween or Halloween.  Other pieces for sale at the TJX stores include spooky busts, haunted miniature hearses, snow globes, and glass pumpkin candle holders (pictured in the gallery at the end of our post).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mind-Blowing Blow Molds

The final item featured in our Spook Spotter today is a mind-blowing find – a vintage blow mold cat and jack-o’-lantern being carried at…  Wait for it…  Walmart.

The king of big box stores is carrying mass-produced reproduction vintage blow molds.  The first of these is the famous Hobo Jack-O’-Lantern.  The next is the cat with the jack-o’-lantern on its back (pictured here).

SONY DSC

Vintage Reproduction Blow Mold (Walmart)

These blow molds have not been seen in dime stores in years, but now they are back.  Granted, they aren’t 10 cents anymore, but they are better than 99% of the other Halloween decorations out there and definitely worth the $9.00 price tag.

Now, check out other great finds from this season in our ghastly gallery…

Spook Spotter: The Best Halloween Decorations of 2015

4

Big Scare spook spotter

Ghastly Greetings, Boils and Ghouls!  The Big Scare is, once again, preparing for the Halloween season.  As such, we want to give you a creepy heads-up on all of the menacing merchandise on sale at retailers this year.  Here are some of the best products available for purchase this season and where to find them.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

Creepy Clings

We begin our first 2015 Spook Spotter post with not only one of the most affordable products out there this season, but also one of the best looking.  Behold, these wonderfully wicked window clings available for purchase at Winco Foods.  These beautifully illustrated clings appear to use hand-drawn artwork, something that has become impossible to find in this age of digitally-designed decorations.  Nearly all of the Halloween cutouts and window clings available in stores today have been created by someone behind a computer.  These clings harken back to the days when blood, sweat, and ink went into the creation of Halloween decorations.  Seeing these in the store should bring back a lot of memories for Halloween fans who grew up in the 20th century.  The clings are available for purchase for $0.98 and are produced by a company named Mello-Smello.

Illustrated Window Clings (Winco)

Illustrated Window Clings (Winco)

Scary Scarecrow

The next item featured in the Spook Spotter is a creepy, lighted scarecrow available for purchase at Ross Dress for Less stores.  This scarecrow is a large, almost life-sized hanging decoration.  When you first see it, it looks like a traditional scarecrow with straw hands and a tattered cap, but upon closer inspection, it is far more forbidding.  Beneath the cloth covering, you can see the scarecrow’s head is that of a skull.  What’s even more alarming is the fact that the skull illuminates!  The scary scarecrow has multiple lighting settings.  It can change colors, flash different colors, or remain a single color.  This prop is extremely effective and would make a great addition to any haunt.  It retails for $19.99 at Ross.

Creepy Lighted Scarecrow (Ross Dress for Less)

Creepy Lighted Scarecrow (Ross Dress for Less)

Raucous Ravens

Raven Candleholder (Michael's)

Raven Candleholder (Michael’s)

The final item featured in our first Spook Spotter post of 2015 is an elaborately sculpted candle holder from Michael’s Arts and Crafts.

This beautiful black raven candle holder has an incredibly lifelike sculpt.  It is part of a new line of Halloween merchandise targeted at home haunters named Ravenshead Manor.  All of the products in the line are indoor pieces that can be used to build frighteningly fashionable interior displays.

This beautiful piece is highly-detailed and can hold either a taper candle or a pillar candle.  Michael’s is selling Halloween-themed LED taper candles this year that could probably be used with this product.  The raven candle holder is one of the most elegant and affordable pieces anywhere this season, coming in at $14.99.

Be sure to check out the gallery below for more photographs of all of the monstrous merchandise featured in today’s post, including a high-resolution image of this Ravenshead Manor piece.

We will be back October 1 with another installment of the Spook Spotter, followed by regularly scheduled postings every other day through October 31.  In the meantime, let us know what cool products you have found this year by leaving a message in the creepy Comments section below!

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?

Universal Monsters Hawthorne Village Collection Guide

9
The following does not constitute an endorsement of any product or retailer.   It is for information purposes only.

In the mid-2000s, the Bradford Exchange acquired the license to the Universal Studios Monsters and began to produce highly detailed collectibles based upon these timeless characters and their respective films.  The company created a train set (featuring images of the Monsters), as well as miniature figurines, and, of course, a haunted holiday village comprised of several famous buildings and structures from the Universal Monster movies.

The collection, part of the Hawthorne Village, could be obtained by purchasing a subscription, where a new 7″ building and scale figurine would be shipped every month.  With the help of our Internet friends who own the collection, The Big Scare has compiled the following collector’s guide.  Special thanks to Ms. Mapes for sharing photos of her collection with The Big Scare, and for allowing us to snap some of her very spooky scenes during our visit.

***

THE BUILDINGS

The following list is the sum total of the buildings issued in the Universal Monster Collection.  They are listed in order of their release:

Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab with Frankenstein Monster figure
Dracula’s Castle with Count Dracula figure
The Mummy’s Tomb with Kharis figure
The Creature’s Black Lagoon with Gill Man figure
The Wolf Man’s Lair with Wolf Man figure
Frankenstein’s Burning Windmill with Monster and Henry Frankenstein figure
The Bride of Frankenstein’s Castle with Bride of Frankenstein figure
The Phantom’s Paris Opera House with Phantom figure
The Invisible Man’s Inn with Invisible Man figure
Transylvania Train Station with Train Conductor figure
The Mummy’s Museum with Imhotep figure
Frankenstein’s Cottage with Frankenstein and Maria figure
Burial Site  (Frankenstein) with Fritz figure
Gothic Cathedral  with Lurking Dracula figure
Fortune Tellar Campsite with Bela the Gypsy figure
The Creature’s Haunted Rita with Dr. Reed figure
House Of Dracula with Dr. Edelman figure
Castle Frankenstein with Monster on rock figure
Ritual Chamber  with Boiling Pot figure
The Invisible Man’s Demise with Policeman figure
The Creature’s Excavation Site with Excavation figure
The Wolf Man’s Mansion with mustached Talbot figure
 

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

The first house in the collection is Frankenstein’s Laboratory.  Like all the buildings, it measures about 7″ in height.  The design is partially inspired by the lab as seen in the 1931 classic, but it takes influences from other famous movie structures as well.  Bats and torches adorn the walls.  And Fritz, Frankenstein’s mad assistant, can be seen peeking out from the window.

The second piece in the series is Dracula’s Castle.  This one is almost completely inspired by the castle seen in the 1931 movie.  It is very detailed.  There are evil trees surrounding the property, vines climbing the walls, and dozens of bats – including some encircling the topmost tower.

The next building in the collection is The Mummy’s Tomb.  This one is very neat, because it has a whole area where you can display figures on the actual piece.  You can position characters just outside the entrance to the tomb and all along the walkway.  Of course, that makes for great scenes, especially when Kharis is involved!  This one even has torches that light up!

As you can tell by the photos, the Hawthorne Village pieces are very detailed, most of that detail comes from the delicate sculpting.  Every shingle has texture.  Every stone in the wall has depth.  This is what sets these pieces apart from similar villages from the likes of Department 56 and Lemax.  The paint schemes, however, fall somewhere between those of  the detail-oriented Department 56 villages and the mass-produced application of Lemax.  But they aren’t really anything to complain about, considering that these buildings are actually smaller than your average Lemax or Department 56 piece.  Taking that into consideration, they are actually fairly good.  The pieces don’t give off too much light, but that is where exterior ambiance lighting comes into play.  And the Universal Monsters buildings lend themselves wonderfully to that!

The Wolf Man’s Lair is the fifth structure in the collection.  This one takes a lot of liberties, but it is one of the most desired of the collection nonetheless.  It comes complete with its own full moon and an interior courtyard that is perfect for making little scenes with the monster accessories.

The seventh piece in the series is the Bride of Frankenstein’s Castle.  This one lends itself well to the Gothic theme of the village.  With its series of chimneys and vine-covered walls, it manages to combine the classy with the creepy, just like the Bride herself!  This piece comes along with its own Bride of Frankenstein figure, striking a very familiar pose.

The eighth structure in the collection is the very forbidding Phantom’s Paris Opera House.  This building has the most unique design of all and is very detailed.  It has a ton of windows, but the “stone” figures which adorn the roof are probably the most eye-catching decorations on this one!

Issue number nine is The Invisible Man’s Inn.  It is probably one of the most-detailed in the collection.  The accessory that comes along with it, the Invisible Man himself, is also one of the best accessories in this village collection.  He’s not all there – you can see through his hand!

The final piece we will be showcasing comes from later on in the collection.  It is called the “Haunted Rita,” based on the boat of the same name in Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Coming in at issue number sixteen, it is probably one of the most popular pieces – if only because it is one of the most iconic images from any Universal Monster film.  Can you spot the Gill Man’s claw coming from out of the water?

VILLAGE ACCESSORY SETS

While the buildings themselves each came with a “free” accessory, the Bradford Exchange offered a separate line filled with additional figures and scene-setters.  There were thirteen sets of figures released in total.  Each set included two to four figures.  The following list details the contents of each set.

1.  It’s Alive! – Dr. Frankenstein, Fritz, and the Monster rising from his slab
2.    Dracula Rises – Dracula and victim, Dracula rising from his coffin, Dracula hiding in the garden
3.    Mummy’s Curse – Imhotep, Mummy in Sarcophagus, Ankh-es-en-amon and Imhotep
4.    Black Lagoon – Captain Lucas, Dr. Reed, Creature in the water, and Kay on the rocks
5.    Beware the Full Moon – Maleva in the wagon and the Wolf Man trapped in the forest
6.    Frankenstein’s Town Mob – Man with dogs, Villagers with torches, and the Monster
7.    Bride of Frankenstein – Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Pretorius, and the Bride in bandages
8.    Phantom of the Opera – Phantom Fleeing, Phantom and Christine in boat, and Christine at tomb
9.    Invisible Man – Invisible Man in lab, Invisible Man outside, Villagers
10.  Uncovering Artifacts – Various Archaeologists, “tools,” and “maps”
11.  Dracula’s Vampires – Count Dracula in the catacombs and his three brides
12.  Grave Robbers – Fritz with cart, Elizabeth, Dr. Waldman, and Priest
13.  Searching for the Creature – Archaeologists and “Creature Claw Rock”

The figures are only a few inches tall, but they are jam-packed with detail. Take a look for yourself.

Universal Studios Monsters Village Frankenstein Scene

Thank you, Ms. Mapes for sharing your collection with all of us!

If you enjoyed this page, check out the other sections of the site for more articles about haunted villages, decorations, and, of course, the world famous Universal Studios Monsters!