Halloween Book Find: Halloween Crafts – Eerily Elegant Decor

Last week, I told you about finding free-to-read back issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland on archive.org

This week, I’m going to begin highlighting some free-to-borrow books on Open Library. Once you’ve signed up with your own account, you can “borrow” any book on the site as long as another user doesn’t have that item checked out. 

Finding Halloween-themed books on the site isn’t difficult through a search, but you find a lot of books that don’t have a lot to offer. Luckily, there’s me, who loves to go through the offerings to see what the years have brought us in the way of Halloween publishing. 

This week’s find is a book called, simply, Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor by Kasey Rogers and Mark Wood. What’s especially interesting about this particular book is that it’s co-authored by Kasey Rogers, who portrayed “Louise Tate” on the television series, “Bewitched,” taking over the role when Irene Vernon left the series. Though she has since passed away, this book and a number of others suggest a prolific crafting and DIY life.

When I began sifting through this book, I was initially unimpressed, but I wound up enjoying a lot of the projects presented. Also, it’s good to remind yourself that many of these books were written before YouTube was around. So what might seem like common knowledge (such as using hot glue to simulate dripping candles) wasn’t common knowledge at all. 

Some of the ideas didn’t appeal to me, but I found merit in quite a few of them such as using granite-style spray paint to create stone-style Jack O Lanterns as in this tutorial. 

I’m honestly not even sure if they make that particular brand of granite-style spray paint anymore, but I’m sure there’s something comparable on the market now. 

I was also taken by this tutorial on how to make Jack o Lantern finials. This is one I’m definitely going to try in some capacity. What I’ll do with pumpkin finials is beyond me, but I love it so…

There was also this basic tutorial on how to make a wooden armature for life-size props that I thought was pretty thorough for a basic form. While there’s a lot of videos out there of this kind of thing, I typically find a few good pointers in older tutorials that sometimes get looked over by those of us making the new stuff.

And finally, I really loved this idea. Using a Mrs Butterworth bottle to make a decorative Kitchen Witch. 

What I really love about these forgotten books is that they sometimes get the creative juices flowing, so even if I don’t do something exactly lik the book instructs me to do, it helps me to come up with ideas inspired by the projects in the book. 

Keep up with me on Halloween Meow in the coming weeks and months when I highlight other free and unexpected older sources of Halloween goodness. You can borrow Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor at Open Library.

Where’s Your Halloween Candy Made? M&M Edition

Have you ever wondered where your Halloween candy is made? Welcome to the first in a series of articles on Halloween Meow exploring the origin of your Halloween candy. What’s the first candy up for discovery? Naturally, it’s one of the most popular candies of all time: M&Ms. 

M&Ms began as a “copycat” candy of the popular British Smarties. They were sold exclusively to the US Military during World War II as a candy that soldiers could carry with them that wouldn’t melt in their pockets (“Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”). Eventually, the candy went “public” and now, the candy is so popular that it’s manufactured at three different facilities in the United States. 

Since 1958, the Mars Wrigley Confectionery has been producing M&Ms at their facility in Hackettstown, New Jersey. However, as demand for the candy grew, they opened another facility in Cleveland, TN in 1978, with the facility expanding in 2018 to incorporate the hazelnut spread (read: Nutella) flavor. 

In 2014, Mars Wrigley opened up a third manufacturing plant to meet the demand for the candy in Topeka, Kansas. Just this year, the Topeka manufacturer announced it would be adding three new flavors to their manufacturing line-up: Mexican Jalapeño Peanut, Thai Coconut Peanut and English Toffee Peanut.

Given that these candies are produced at one of these three factories, it may be confusing to figure out exactly which factory produced the candies you’re munching on. However, if you take a look at the back of your M&Ms package, the package will tell you exactly which of the three factories produced your candy.

Of course, there’s one step that they might miss if your brand of M&M is one with a peanut center: the peanut. Most of the peanuts used in Peanut M&Ms are sourced at their Albany, Georgia plant. These same peanuts also find their way into Mars Wrigley other peanut centric candies such as Snickers. 

Are M&Ms your favorite Halloween candy? If not, what’s your poison?

Halloween Color Palettes for Crafting, Designing, Etc.

Over the years, “Halloween colors” have evolved from the traditional black and orange to include all manner of colors across the spectrum. Colors such as purple and green have become traditional since the days of Dennison’s Bogie Book and now, you can even find pastel Halloween palettes.

A traditional color palette with a variety of orange and yellow along with customary black.

I love color and love playing with it, so I cooked up some color palettes for fun. They’re inspired by everything from vintage Halloween to slasher films. Enjoy!

I used the packaging of an old Ben Cooper Halloween costume box for this palette.
Inspired by the colors of the traditional look of Frankenstein’s monster.
Read more

Did You Know Back Issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland Are Available for FREE Online?

There’s a tendency among those who love horror to trash new horror and revere old horror. In reality, there’s a lot of good new horror out there and a lot of bad old horror.

And vice versa.

But there’s just something about vintage horror that makes me happy. It’s easy to find fault with a lot of the campier stuff, but there’s so much fun to be had with the older, way campier stuff. The practical effects, the creativity and just the nostalgia of it.

Read more

The Great Stephen King Reread: The Shining

This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive compensation. For full disclosure, please visit my disclosure page.

The Great Stephen King Reread continues and this time, it’s one of King’s most famous masterpieces: The Shining.

And it is a masterpiece. So far, I’ve found that most (but not all, and we’ll get to that) King’s books get even better with the reader’s age. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed near-crippling anxiety, depression and whatever else (that’s its own horror tale). Seeing Jack Torrance struggle with his own inner demons made the terror for both Jack and Danny more real for me as an older reader. Whereas some horror loses its ability to scare, I’ve found that The Shining has the ability to scare me in a completely different way than it did as a teenager. And I find that utterly remarkable. 

As a teen, it was the possibility of the supernatural that terrified me. As an adult, it’s the creeping terror of being at the mercy of your inner demons. 

Read more

How Technology Has Changed Horror

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

Until the early 2000s, there was one trope in horror that was reliable and so familiar to audiences, it’s become an online joke:

The call is coming from inside the house.

Despite the fact that this line still gives me a bit of a chill, there’s little way it makes sense for me now. I haven’t had a landline phone for over ten years. Sure. The call could be coming from inside the house, but there’s no way I could know that without seeing the person who’s making the call. Unless they’re somehow on an iPhone and they have Find Friends and they’re on my list…

Technology has changed vastly since Jason Voorhees picked up his first machete or Freddy terrorized his first dream. Whereas in 1984, being home alone meant that someone could, conceivably, cut the telephone line to your house, leaving you stranded without much hope of rescue, we’re now surrounded by “the internet of things,” making it much more difficult for this type of horror to work.

Granted. It’s not impossible. Just more difficult.

This “phenomenon,” for lack of a better word, became starker when I was rereading Salem’s Lot by Stephen King not so long ago. While I have no doubt the story could be updated with today’s technology and still be just as scary as it was when it was first published, the isolation that came naturally to the town really added a layer of terror to the story. There was no internet for anyone to look up symptoms. No Siri or Alexa to call out to when the vampires were knocking at the door.

While there are still locations where this type of horror would be effective, most modern movie-going audiences or readers are going to ask, “Why don’t you just use your cellphone?”

However, where certain mechanics of horror past might not work as well as they once did, this opens new avenues for storytellers. The gothic horror that was once popular over 40 years ago only plays well now for certain audiences wanting to revisit that genre now. Slashers, demonic possessions, and zombies took over for the put-upon mistress in the sprawling haunted house. So this is certainly not the first time that horror has changed with the times.

Now, technology serves up its own horror. AI, intrusive technology and automation make for all new horror tropes that had only been idealized before in sci-fi/horror hybrids. Movies such as Cam and Unfriended have capitalized on the evergrowing intrusiveness of technology and how humans (and those not-so-human) can manipulate it.

The idea behind new tech and horror is that, instead of someone attempting to enter your home to terrorize you, thanks to the internet, they already were in your home. In many ways, this brand of horror is often more effective because, in the case of technology, you may be watching the movie on the very device that is terrorizing the protagonist of the film you’re viewing. No amount of locking the doors or flipping on the lights will save you from this beast about to strike. If anything, you may willingly put yourself into the earlier horror scenario of isolation in order to rid yourself of your would-be modern villain. A phone with connectivity? No thank you. Cut the lines!

At the heart of all horror, whether it relies on being in an isolated cabin in the woods or in the heart of a metro area surrounded by AI, it all boils down to one thing: how our minds perceive the world around us. If we’re alone with no hope of rescue, every tree and every darkened window will pose a threat. If it’s technology at large that’s out to get us, it won’t matter that our neighbors next door can hear us scream because the killer was always just a text away.

Horror changes and evolves with each change in society, whether that change is technological, societal or political. Fear is a powerful emotion and it’s always right there, which means no matter how times change, there’s always a way to scare the living daylights out of us.

Summer Horror Movie Watch List

This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive compensation. For full disclosure, please visit my disclosure page.

We tend to associate horror with the early twilight of fall and the foggy atmosphere that comes with it. The crunch of leaves portends a killer headed straight for us. The snap of a dead twig give us away as we attempt to flee his grasp.

But ask any kid who cut their teeth on hockey masks and chainsaws how scary summer camp is and you’ll realize that horror isn’t just for autumn. Here’s a list of summer horror films sure to keep you up at night — even if night doesn’t get on with it til close to 10. 

Cabin in the Woods

This is, absolutely, one of my favorite horror films ever. It gets a lot of flack for technically being considered a horror comedy, but it’s a brilliant exploration of a genre and all the tropes that come with it. Though the movie gets way bigger than the title suggests, it has all the hallmarks of a good summer horror romp including the vacationing kids and the weird guy who lives in the woods. 

Read more

Playlist: Deadly Summer Camp

horror movie playlist

This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive compensation. For full disclosure, please visit my disclosure page.

Summer: carefree, bright, joyful and full of memories of teenagers trying to get away from maniacal machete wielding psychos at summer camp. Am I right?

Of course I’m right. Whether it’s Friday the 13th or Cabin in the Woods, there’s a movie out there that screams good old horrific fun in the summertime. To this day, I can’t go into a green, leafy state forest for a nice summer drive without picturing some dude peeping behind a tree while wearing a hockey mask. Surely I can’t be the only one, can I?

Maybe you’re headed out for a summer camping trip. Maybe, like me, you like the idea of the outdoors, but sleeping out there with all those bugs and potential serial killers doesn’t sound like a good thing, but you still want the ambiance. 

Here. Let me help. I’ve made a playlist to (hopefully) evoke the feel of a good, old-fashioned horror flick out in the mosquitoinfested, humidity-drenched woods. 

Keep in mind, this is filled with songs that I hoped would fit the trope, so some may feel like head-scratchers to you, but I assure you I was absolutely thinking of summer fun cut short by Jason Voorhees with each choice. 

So without further adieu, here are the songs. You can snag the Spotify list above or use the graphic to add the songs to your Apple Music, etc. Enjoy!

Candy Best-By Dates: When Can You Start Buying Halloween Candy?

halloween candy

The heat has ramped up, the swimming pool is open and likely the last thing on your mind is all that Halloween candy you’re going to be buying in October. But what if you found a good deal on the best Halloween candy ever (!), Milky Ways, in the middle of July? Or maybe you wanted to spread out all that spending over the next few months instead of dumping a wad of cash all in one month.

But the sell-by dates! Won’t they go bad before then?

The good news? The candy you buy right now, in June, won’t likely go “off” until spring or summer of next year, depending on what you buy. You know what that means? 

You should start buying candy now. 

Over the next few months, I’ll be highlighting all the candy deals and finds before Halloween, so you’ll be ready to go on Halloween night. According to CandyStore.com, you can follow these guidelines when storing candy for next Halloween.

Does Candy Expire. Candy Shelf Life from CandyStore.comSource: CandyStore.com

But before you start buying, there’s some things to keep in mind.

I took a trip to Walmart to have a look at what was on their shelves and to get a glimpse of the “best-by” dates currently on the shelves. Rule of thumb? ALWAYS check the dates on the bags of candy. No matter when or why you’re buying it.

For instance, here’s a bag of snack size Reese’s Cup. While they’re not out of date, this was on the shelf on May 22, 2019. If you don’t eat these pronto, they’re not going to be “in date” in a month. But it gets better!

Here’s some Kit Kat Dark. Looks just spectacular, doesn’t it? Let’s check the date.

It’s May 2019, but this was out of date in February. Moral of the story? CHECK THE DATES.

However, there’s still no reason you can catch sales or start stocking up because most of the candy was a decent best-by date that would work for trick or treating. Such as this one:

Fun-Size Twix is typically one I pick up for my Trick or Treat bags and this one, while not currently on sale, is a decent date as well:

Perfect. Especially since most of the candy you give out on Halloween night will almost certainly be consumed before November 2.

Keep an eye out for all the latest candy deals here on Halloween Meow starting in July so you can get ready for October 31st. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Halloween / Spooky Thrift Scores – May 27 – June 2

This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive compensation. For full disclosure, please visit my disclosure page.

It’s time for another Halloween thrift haul! This was a combo of Goodwill & other assorted thrift outlets. Let’s see what we’ve got this time around. 

I found yet another ceramic pumpkin, albeit smaller and unmarked like the last one. Also without the electric lamp inside.

Always a cat photobomb in this house.

It did have a surprise inside, though. This little honeycomb pumpkin. Aww.

Read more