Halloween is coming

Halloween fans: With the days getting shorter and cooler, the Halloween season will be upon us before you know it.

During this week I will be re-activating the monster blog to help spread the word about Halloween events. As I’m currently living in Athens, OH, I will be focusing on Columbus and southern, OH. However, I will gladly cover events from all over.

If you know of a party, haunted house, pumpkin patch, ghost walk, or any other type of Halloween event, please let me know so that I may add it to the list.

 

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Zombie Prom 2012 (Columbus, OH)

 

A zombie invasion is crawling into Columbus this fall. Join PetPromise, Inc. on Friday October 26th for Zombie Prom 2012 at Flannagan’s in Dublin (6835 Caine Road, Columbus, OH 43235).

This event features music by Ohio Pro DJ, a 50/50 raffle contest, special event souvenirs, cupcakes from the Tremont Goodie Shop, and more! From 8-10 pm, Valerie Haulk will be on-site to capture pictures of the undead. At 11 pm, the Zombie King and Queen will be announced, so dig out your best zombie costume and join this inaugural party!

Individual tickets can be purchased online for $20 each, or 2 for $35. Sponsors can reserve a private 6-person table for $220, which includes 6 prom tickets, 6 event souvenirs, and a bottle of bubbly. All proceeds go to PetPromise and the building of the first cage-less animal sanctuary and adoption center in central Ohio.

Purchase tickets: ZombieProm.BrownPaperTickets.com

More information may be found on their Facebook event page.

 

Michigan City Zombie Walk 7/27/2012 (Michigan City, IN)

The first annual Michigan City Zombie Walk will be held on Friday July 27, 2012 at Washington Park, in Michigan City, IN.

Zombies are encouraged to congregate at the JC stage in Washington Park at 5pm.  A number of zombie friendly bands will be performing from 5pm-10pm and the walk itself will begin at 6pm.

Following the walk, adult zombies will head over to Ryan’s Irish Pub for an undead after-party with more live bands from 10pm-2am.

In addition to the walk itself, the organizers will be holding a costume contest and dance contest throughout the evening.

The event is free of charge, though everyone is encouraged to please bring along some non-perishable food items for donation to the Northern Indiana Food Bank.

More information may be found on the Facebook page for the Michigan City Zombie Walk.

HUGE zombie movie to be filmed in Columbus, OH

Think you’ve got what it takes to join the ranks of the living dead?  This summer you may have the opportunity to prove yourself.

Arch & Pillar Productions is planning on shooting the most extravagant and largest zombie movie in Ohio.

All of this is to take place over the course of just 48 hours!  The project is being conducted for the 48 Hour Film Festival (July 27-July 29) and their main shooting day will be July 28.  The film will be shot at a location to be announced in or around Columbus.

Their goal is to have the largest collection of zombies in the Mid-West, essentially they want a zombie army.  They are looking for as many people as possible to act as the zombie horde.

In addition, to help “zombify” everyone, they need some talented make-up artists to prep and maintain throughout the day.  Also in need will be volunteers for crew and support roles.

For more information:  zombie48oh@gmail.com 

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Thank you for reading.  If any of you think you might like to take part in this, please drop me a line.  Sounds like fun but I’m down in Athens, all by myself.  I’d gladly drive up if I had some other zombies to hang out with.

ZombieWalk Columbus 2012 Recap

Took my monster out to support the zombies.

There were so many little kids. This little guy was too cute.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending ZombieWalk Columbus 2012.  I have yet to hear a final count but would guess the crowd to have been in the ballpark of 4,000 people. The undead mob met at Goodale park in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Participants were asked to bring along canned food items for donation to to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and indeed, the donations came pouring in.

Shambling sea of zombies

Of all of the Halloween & zombie related events that I’ve ever participated in, I would have to say that the crowd here was the most diverse.  There were people of just about every age, race, and background represented.  It was like a great undead melting pot!

Once the parade began, the mob shambled its way through the streets of downtown Columbus, with the help of the Columbus Police Department (many of whom were smiling from ear to ear at the sight of the undead horde).

No parade is complete without a marching band. These guys were fantastic.

Local business owners and their patrons seemed thoroughly entertained by the procession.  The streets were lined with smiling faces, most of whom were frantically snapping pictures of the zombies.

Returning to Goodale Park, the ghastly parade was met by all manner of zombie fighters, lead by the local S.T.A.R.S. chapter.  This motley crew made short work of the zombies and the day’s event came to a close.

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S.T.A.R.S. members discuss battle plans.

Thank you for reading.  I have posted the rest of my photos from the event here.  In addition, you will find links on my Facebook page to the albums of a number of professional photographers who captured some truly awesome coverage of the day’s events.

Did you take part in ZombieWalk Columbus 2012?  Would you like to join in the fun at some future event?  Leave me a comment below and stay tuned, as I’ve got some more fun events to share with you soon!

The Nightmares Fear Factory “Fear Pics Remix” contest

Shortly after I started my blog last year, I wrote a post about Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Having spent the past 25 years catching every haunted attraction I could find, Nightmares has always remained my favorite.  I wanted to spread the word about this spooky little gem, in hopes that other folks could share in the chills.  I had no idea at the time that my favorite haunt was about to become an Internet sensation.

Over the years, Nightmares has taken to snapping some rather amusing pictures of their patrons and posting them to their Flickr feed.  If you’re familiar with the way that big theme parks take photos of roller coaster riders, you’ll have a general idea of what they do.  The difference here is that instead of bracing for a big fall, Nightmares customers are photographed while having their wits scared out of them.  The resulting “Fear Pics” are often quite entertaining, if not downright hilarious.

Well, in early October of last year the currents of social media picked up on the Nightmares Fear Pics and they went viral.  All types of media started buzzing about the pictures and Nightmares was even featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ABC News.

Building on all of this publicity, the folks at my favorite haunted attraction have come up with a new idea which is sure to be entertaining.  From April 9th-June 8th of this year, Nightmares Fear Factory is holding a “Fear Pics Remix” contest.  Entrants are asked to break out with their Photoshop skills and transform one of their existing Fear Pics into something even more fun and creative.

The first place prize will be a 8GB iPod Touch, 4 Tix to 4 premier Niagara Falls Attractions (Nightmares & 3 Ripley’s), & Nightmares T-Shirt.  Voting will be in the hands of the fans, so you’re welcome to enlist the help of all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  Full contest rules may be found here.

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As always, thank you for reading.  If you’ve ever visited Nightmares Fear Factory, please share your experiences.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Midwest Haunters Convention

Calling all monsters!  If you’re a Halloween enthusiast who is counting the months until your favorite holiday, the Midwest Haunters Convention (MHC) may be just the ticket.  From June 8th-10th, the MHC will be coming to the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH.

The MHC is the largest Halloween show of its kind in the US serving Haunted Attraction Industry professionals and enthusiasts.  The MHC features a tradeshow, education, chartered bus tours and entertainment.

Nearly 8 years have passed since the original MHC was held at Cooper Stadium in Columbus, OH.  Now, this event has grown from a few hundred attendees to host thousands of haunt owners, actors, workers and enthusiasts to celebrate Halloween and Haunted Attractions.

The MHC Trade Show will feature a 60,000 square foot show room floor with over 100 vendor booths.  Educational seminars and workshops as well as networking activities are offered.  The 2012 MHC features a 2-day bus tour of Ohio/Michigan haunted attractions, a Monster Masquerade Costume Party featuring the Body Art Fashion Show and contests including the Bloody Mary Monster Makeup Wars Competition, Ms Midwest Scary Pageant & the Scariest Character Contest.

While many of the events and seminars are geared toward operators or staff of haunted attractions and home haunters, there is plenty of fun available for even the most casual of Halloween fans.  For example, for the ridiculously low price of $5, trade show registration gives you weekend access to vendors offering the latest in costumes, props, and all sorts of Halloween goodies.

If you’re looking for a bit of spooky fun to get you through the summer, consider paying a visit to the Midwest Haunters Convention.  You can read more about the event here.

 

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Zombissage….Massage with an Undead Flair

Running from the living dead can be tiring work.  Jumping fences, dodging trees, and catching a few winks on a hard floor can leave a survivor feeling pretty stiff and sore.  It’s comforting to know that there’s at least one zombie out there who isn’t looking to eat your brain.  Zombissage offers massage with an undead flair, to customers who are both living and otherwise reanimated!

A couple of weeks ago, while at HorrorHound Weekend in Columbus, I first heard about Zombissage.  It seemed like wherever I went, people kept asking me, “Did you see that there’s a zombie massage therapist in there?”

This all just sounded like too much fun so I had to learn more.  I tracked down Erin Farnlacher, the creator of Zombissage and UMT (Undead Massage Therapist).  She was happy to answer my questions and I thought I’d share her answers with you all.

I think folks will get a big kick out of hearing about your service.  How did you come up with Zombissage?

I’ve been a horror freak all my life, absolutely obsessed with zombies–my younger sister and I ignored every other section of the video rental place we went to as kids.  I’ve been a Licensed Massage Therapist for 5 years, and started Zombissage last year.  My friends had introduced me to Horrorhound the year before; they always go in costume, and I went as Janine Melnitz for their Ghostbusters theme.

After hours of walking around the con in high-heeled boots, my feet and legs were killing me, so I looked around to see if there were any massage therapists with a vendor booth.  There weren’t any, and I figured that I couldn’t be the only one getting sore and tired after all the festivities, so I started working toward combining my passions for massage therapy and the horror genre.

This past Horrorhound Weekend was my first convention as Zombissage; I had a great time and a very encouraging reception, and I’m very excited to see how this goes in the future.

Your service is quite unique, especially considering the “typical” fare for these type of events.  How did you find the reaction of folks during your first time out?  I would imagine they were a bit timid at first and then opened up a bit once they saw you with a customer.

Yep, that’s about how it went; people passing by seemed amused and intrigued, but it took a bit for momentum to build.  For my first con, I thought it went very well.  I was very grateful to the fantastic people at the Troma booth next to me, who helped promote me, and even took some of my business cards to some of the guests.

Your make-up is fantastic (and to be honest, scary as hell).  Do you actually talk with your customers or do you sort of stay in character throughout the process?

Thanks!  I wasn’t sure how I should approach the character, and decided to play it by ear.  I ended up just talking to people more or less like I would in my regular practice; part of that was the giddiness of being at a horror convention (I started grinning even before check-in, as soon as I started seeing familiar faces outside the hotel) and the excitement of being a first-time vendor.  In the future I might play with the character and try making the interaction more zombie-appropriate.  I’ll see how things go and what people seem to enjoy.

Did any of the celebrity guests at HHW happen to stop by your booth, either as a customer or just to see what was going on?

Ken from Fright Night Film Fest (who was a massage therapist for 16 years) brought Tyler Mane to my table, and we worked on him in tandem.  Tyler was super nice, and easily the tallest person ever to be on my table.

So, with HorrorHound under your belt, what’s next?  Do you have any other appearances planned?

I’ll be at Blood on the Beach in Virginia Beach and the Cleveland Zombie Walk in April, Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville, Kentucky in June, Days of the Dead III in Indianapolis in July, hopefully returning to HHW for the Indianapolis show in September, and possibly some other events this year.

If folks want more information or someone would like to book you for an event, where can they find you?

I’m on Twitter and Facebook as Zombissage, most active on FB.
https://www.facebook.com/Zombissage
https://twitter.com/#!/Zombissage

Finally, what’s your favorite horror movie?

It’s always hard to pick one, isn’t it?  Pure cheese, but I always go back to my first zombie love, Return of the Living Dead II.  My little sister and I (we were probably around 8 and 10) discovered it at the local video rental place and became obsessed with it and anything else involving reanimated corpses.  We were… weird kids.  And now we’re happily weird adults, especially with being surrounded by our childhood obsession in popular culture.

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As always, thank you for reading.  For myself, I just love hearing about someone being able to take their hobby and run with it.  Know of any other unique businesses with a spooky twist?  Leave me a comment or drop me a line.  I’d love to help spread the word.

The ZESTY Nest (or “How the Monster got new pants”)

Today I’m going to stray a bit off from my usual posts.  That said, I suspect that most folks will find this rather interesting.

I started my “career” of running around as a 9′ tall monster back in the fall of 1988.  In the years that followed, my monster-suit has undergone many revisions.  However, the one item which stuck with me through the years was my lone pair of stilt-pants.  You see, stilt pants don’t exactly grow on trees.

At almost every event I’ve ever worked, I’ve had someone come up and ask me whether it’s hard to walk on stilts.  My answer to them has always been, “No, you can be walking on stilts in no time…..it’s finding the pants that can take years.”

In the 1990s, with the internet still in its infancy, you couldn’t just flip through the yellow pages and find someone capable of creating a pair.  I also couldn’t just ask another stilt-walker for their source, since it was years before I ever met another stilt-walker.  When I did start to meet other stilters, it was common that the first thing out of their mouth was, “Hey, do you know anybody who makes stilt pants?”

Oh, I’ve certainly had a number of people attempt the task.  I can think of at least a half-dozen folks who were certain that they could whip a pair right up.  Unfortunately, stilt-pants are not simply “really long pants”.  If made incorrectly, you either end up swimming in fabric, or with something that allows the outline of the stilts to be made noticeable through the pants.

With modern computing, I’ve occasionally come across companies who were offering to make them.  However, the prices were always prohibitive and I feared dropping that kind of money for something which might not work out.

Rolling out of this past Halloween season, my poor pants had just about had it.  They were threadbare and had been patched and re-patched so many times that I had lost count.  I had to do something.

Then, one evening I happened to be surfing Etsy.  On a whim I entered “stilt pants” into the search box.   Much to my amazement, there was the answer to my search, The Zesty Nest.

The Zesty Nest, owned by Emily Carpenter, specializes in custom-made stilt pants.  I immediately fired off a message requesting more information. Over the course of the next few days, Emily had answered a number of my questions, taken all of my specific information, and set to work on my new threads. My new pants arrived the following week, packaged with care as if they’d come from a fancy boutique.  I might add that all of the was for a VERY reasonable price.

My pants were a perfect fit and I debuted them this past weekend at the HorrorHound Weekend in Columbus, OH.  Driving home from the show, I found myself wondering how someone ends up becoming a “maker of stilt-pants”.  I figured that there must be some back-story there so I fired off some questions to Emily and thought I’d pass her answers along to you all.

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How is it that you ended up making stilt-pants and selling them on the internet?  I started stilt-walking in 2003 in an unlikely place—aboard a ship. I was part of a four-person sketch comedy group with Royal Caribbean.     We did 27 different sets a week, and two of them were parades (our only non-sketch sets). We even did one parade as we pressed through a hurricane—yikes.  While there, I met my husband, a fellow improv performer and stilt-walker.

Years later, when we no longer had our pick of stilt pants from the dressing room, I looked and looked and –beyond stilts pants being an almost impossible find— when I did find them, prices were prohibitive and I found many preferred you came in to be measured, I didn’t have my pick of fabric or pattern, etc.

I put my costuming education to work (yay for theatre degrees!), spent some time experimenting, and started making stilt pants. I eventually started my Etsy store in hopes that if someone else was looking, they’d find my more affordable option. I love making these pants. The first pair I made were for my husband, and he was elated to finally have a pair he didn’t have to cinch up with suspenders. I love that each pair of pants is custom to the exact performer inhabiting them.

What type of stilts do you use?  We use the dura-stilts. We’ve just found with characters that sometimes mingle and interact with audience up to 4 hours at a stretch, these work best. We also pick children and babies up for pictures and I feel better with more of a foot under me!

Do you and your husband still perform on stilts? If so, what type of gigs do you do and what does your act consist of?  We do–but it’s mainly Seth now. It depends on the gig, a babysitter, and the length, etc. I really had to re-train after each pregnancy, my balance was so off! Seth can do 4 hours at a stretch, I find one hour is plenty for me now! Seth mainly does audience interaction or parades, grand opening, parties, etc.

I mentioned that I’ve had a really hard time finding stilt-pants over the years. Despite this, I meet other stilters at Halloween/horror events each year. Have you crossed paths with any other folks who use your pants for monster costumes, haunted houses, or cosplay?  I haven’t yet, but I’ll keep you posted. I only opened the store in December 2011, so I’m hoping to meet a wide range of stiltwalkers from all over the world!

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Thank you for reading.  I know that this was an extremely narrow topic but if just one other monster out there can find a new pair of pants, I feel I will have done my job.

My visit to HorrorHound Weekend Columbus, OH 2012

     For years now, I would get excited at the approach of Halloween.  As October would arrive, I would tune up my stilts and prepare for the fun that was to come.  Finally, during Halloween week I would pick up a few gigs and have the time of my life.  However, without fail, November 1st would leave me feeling sad that it was all over and that it was again time to say goodbye to my big, green alter-ego.

     This past year I decided that something needed to be done about this.  At 42 years of age, the years were going by too fast.  I realized that my days of tramping around as a 9′ tall monster were numbered.  I decided to search out new events throughout the year where I could “suit-up”.

     Zombie walks were my first discovery and my brushes with them thus far have yielded nothing but joy.  During the couple I managed to take part in last year, I not only had a blast but also met many wonderful people…err, zombies.

     Rolling out of the holiday season, I began to feel the itch for another event.  Perhaps I could find a spring zombie walk or even a “halfway to Halloween” party.  Well, my search ended upon reading a post on the Terror from Beyond the Daves blog.  For those of you who may not be aware, the “Daves” write a lovingly crafted blog which pays homage to horror movie hosts and all things relevant to the genre.

     At any rate, they had written a post about the upcoming HorrorHound Weekend convention in Columbus, OH.  With celebrity guests, vendors, movie screenings, and guest panels, this sounded like it would be right up my alley.  I immediately started making preparations.

     The event was held at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North in Columbus, OH.  I arrived in town on Friday evening and it was immediately apparent that I was in the midst of “my kind of folks”.  I checked in, made my way to my room, and suited-up.  Before you could say “trick-or-treat”, my monster was in the thick of things.

A chilling bride

     While this was my first horror convention, there was a very familiar feeling about it.  It’s hard to explain but I guess it’s a shared experience thing.  It was not unlike the feeling that I would have while hanging out with the crew from a haunted attraction or sitting around chatting with a bunch of home haunters.  You take this big bunch of people, from all different age ranges and walks of life, and because of a shared interest, there’s just an electricity in the air.

Ben from Fright-Rags

     There were a fair number of costumed folks around and I must say that the vast majority of them were absolutely fabulous.  Heavens, some of the make-up was just amazing.  I felt a bit like a girl who’d worn a burlap bag to the prom.  Nonetheless, I didn’t get the feeling that anyone was looking down on me.  Quite to the contrary, folks were coming up to introduce themselves and take pictures left and right.

     In the dealer’s room, I was able to meet Ben Scrivens from Fright-Rags.com (an amazing horror t-shirt company from my hometown of Rochester, NY).  I also bumped into Marlena Midnite & Robyn Graves, the hosts of Midnite Mausoleum.

The gals from Midnite Mausoleum

     I caught glimpses of or literally bumped into a number of the celebrity guests during the evening but there was one in particular who I was dying to meet.  You see, I met Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) years ago in Massachusetts.  However, I didn’t have my monster with me at the time and I’d always hoped to get a picture of her with the monster.  Well, I managed to check that one off the list.  Let me just say, that at 61, she’s just as lovely as ever (and still quite quick with the one-liners).

Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

     Much of the rest of the evening was spent drinking and mingling with other convention-goers.  What a friendly and easy-going bunch of folks.  I swear you could walk right up and talk to just about anyone without it being the slightest bit awkward.

     It was during this later part of the evening that I was able to cross paths with and grab a picture with the “Daves”, who had been responsible for me learning of the event in the first place.

The "Daves" from "Terror From Beyond The Daves"

     On Saturday, I went in on foot and did a bit of shopping.  The venue, was considerably more busy (due in large part to the throng of people waiting in line to meet Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead).  Despite this, folks were still quite friendly and in good spirits.

     While I could have easily spent the night and all of the following day, I decided to hold off and get back home.  Again, I’m really feeling the desire to tinker with my costume and come up with something truly fantastic.  It’s simply not built for these types of appearances.  I will have to see what I can come up with so I can be ready for next time.

     Thank you so much for reading about my adventures.  If you happened to be at the show or have any questions or comments, please leave me a note below.  I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures.  If you care to see all of my shots, you can find them here.