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MAY 24-26, 2013 Rosen Center, Orlando Florida
What NOT to wear…the Halloween edition
When looking to get the most enjoyment out of Halloween, nothing can compare to the camaraderie and good cheer of a costume party. A masquerade can provide the perfect ice breaker and allow friends and family to cut loose in the spirit of the season, once you’ve managed to wrap your head around how to conceive and create the perfect party presentation. Around this time of year there are any number of over-the-counter options available through a variety of outlets , from your local department store to specialty costume shops to that 24/7/365 magic mall known as the World Wide Web. From the silly to the spectacular, it’s never been easier to find a suitable suit of scary for that special spooky celebration, and whether you prefer straight-from-the-package or strictly custom, the possibilities are endless.
There is no shortage of places to snag simple suggestions for inventive and fun Halloween costumes. A quick web search and you have a virtual catalog of suggestions, from the basic bed sheet-turned-ghost to some of the most elaborate costumes imaginable. You’ll find prop companies, craft suggestions, templates, patterns and images galore. In the year 2012, if you hear someone say, “I just can’t come up with a good costume idea”, they are likely living in a cave or looking for a reasonably believable excuse to skip your party altogether (sorry, it happens). But what may be of even more valuable use is a resource for what constitutes a wrong turn in the bewitching wardrobe arena.
That’s where we come in.
There are a great many factors to consider when assembling that perfect Halloween ensemble, from basic common safety sense to the physics of mobility. What may initially seem ingenious can easily detour into disaster without the proper calculation on the front end. For instance, that mummy idea where you wrap yourself completely in bandages from head to toe, leaving openings only for eyes, nostrils and mouth, would make for a wicked get-up. Until you’re just finished your fourth drink and realize you’ve wrapped yourself completely in bandages from head to toe, with openings only for eyes, nostrils and mouth…
Starting to get the idea?
So, what are the primary pratfalls to avoid? Obviously, the first consideration is safety. No one wants your Halloween holiday to become an annual reminder of an evening that ended badly due to poor planning. For your sake – and the sake of others in your proximity – choose carefully so as to not endanger anyone or anything:
Always place automobile safety at the forefront of your Halloween planning. If you have to drive your five-speed forty-nine blocks to your company masquerade party, that mermaid costume is going to prove problematic at best, and deadly at worst. If you’re determined to make the most of your custom human-snow-cone design, stash it in the trunk and change at the event, or better yet, catch a taxi or a ride with friends. No party is any fun if you never make it there to begin with.
The same is true if you don’t make it home. Use caution and good common sense. If you intend to be the life of the party, leave your keys with the host and have a safe ride home lined up in advance. If your preference is to celebrate at a local club or public event, do a bit of research before finalizing plans. Many places offer complimentary cab service – don’t be afraid to take advantage. The scares you experience during your Halloween season should be the fun and harmless sort, not the harmful type.
Also be aware that pedestrian presence is going to be considerably higher, with trick-or-treaters scurrying about from door to door looking for goodies. A mask or costume which impedes your vision and reaction time is now even more of a potential problem, putting others at risk.
Avoid sharp or pointed items or aspects that could prove harmful. If you decide to attend the neighborhood costume party, nobody expects your barbarian outfit to contain actual swords, knives or axes. Your design credibility and reputation do not garner any more respect by carrying a real working spear. It is, after all, a party. That should equate to FUN, not looming danger of impalement.
Again, never inhibit your peripheral vision. While it may make for an amusing YouTube moment, careening back and forth between walls and cabinetry is not the desired effect of that cardboard box robot suit you spray-painted silver after cutting out two quarter-sized eye holes and a slot mouth. No host, regardless of how gracious, wishes to see their lamps and vases shattered as you knock them to the floor stumbling about like a monstrous machine toddler. If for no other reason, you want to be able to see that wayward spearhead coming your way from the guy who didn’t read the previous suggestion.
Try not to bind yourself in a way that makes mobility difficult. We can all agree that the Morticia dress is sexy and iconic, but keep in mind that she was on a professional soundstage, surrounded by a crew who could catch her if she lost balance, and help her in and out of chairs and up and down steps while she walked along in two-inch strides. The best you can hope for is not making enemies of the people in your fall radius who get knocked down like ten-pins when you stumble over the family pet. Injuring yourself or another in order to look fabulous is not commonly considered proper party etiquette. Smart is still sexy, in any scenario.
Stay away from the need to power anything attached to your body. This one should need no real elaboration. Suffice to say, electricity and punch bowls do not mix.
Try not to keep ropes or chains or vines or any other loose-hanging objects waving too freely in your wake. Getting hung up in the refrigerator door or hooking onto someone else’s costume or being jerked over onto your back when someone steps on one is a prescription for disaster. Consider your poor taxi driver, who ends his shift to find you still clinging to his car because your six-foot long tail was accidentally closed in the door when he dropped you off four miles back. The horror.
After ensuring your choice is danger-free, take a few steps to make sure it is socially comfortable. I don’t know about you, but I never, in any situation, want to be remembered as THAT GUY, the one who not only killed the party, but dragged its lifeless corpse out to the back yard and buried it. Although you may end up as the center of attention, try to bear in mind that the party is for everyone to enjoy and everyone should be able to enjoy the party:
Know your surroundings. If the party host is well-known around your circle of friends for their extensive vintage ceiling fan collection, the three-foot high Bride of Frankenstein wig may become an issue. The elaborate hand-blown glass swan collection your neighbor cherishes might prompt you to 86 those outstretched dragon wings you were thinking of donning for the evening.
Respect the spirit of the invitation. It sounds easy and inexpensive to simply throw on a ski mask and say you’re dressed as a robber, but someone opened their home and paid for all the food, drink and decorations at this shindig – surely you can put a bit more effort into decking yourself out for the event. Wearing your clothes backward, or pulling your old crutches out of the closet and throwing on a wool sweater to call yourself a ski instructor will likely not win you the Most Original Costume prize and kind of says “Since I HAD to come here I put no real energy into putting together a costume worthy of your hospitality”. Think back to the guy who wore the tuxedo-printed t-shirt to junior prom…see him invited to many of the parties you attend lately?
Consider your crowd – if you’re Halloweening with a sensitive soul, try not to adorn yourself in anything offensive. While controversial costumes can be timely and humorous to many, be aware that not everyone sees the humor in certain topics. Ideally, we want everyone to wake up on November 1st with fond, festive memories of the previous night’s celebration, not anger and resentment. Save the mean-spirited stuff for the upcoming in-laws’ Thanksgiving dinner.
If leaning toward a ‘pun’ or ‘mash up’ costume, remember one very important guideline: a successful Halloween outfit, much like a good joke, should require no explanation. Granted, the first time that you have to say “No, see, I’m Darth Raider of the Lost Ark” may produce some genuine chuckles, around the thirty-fifth time you have to spell it out you’ll seriously wish you’d stuck with that mummy idea you were kicking around.
I think you’re starting to get the general idea. Essentially, Halloween is the one day of the year that you can be whatever, whoever you wish, with no limits. You have the opportunity to howl at the moon as a rampaging werewolf, slink about as a comic book femme fatale, sail the seven seas as a pirate or even walk in the shoes of your favorite celebrity or historical figure for a bit. With a good dose of imagination, a little spare time, and some basic common sense, you can transform into absolutely anything your heart desires. But even more importantly, it is a chance to create some fantastic fun memories for both yourself and everyone you encounter. Take full advantage and make every Halloween the best one ever!
Your Friends at NETHERWORLD Haunted House www.fearworld.com
Witch and ghost make merry on this last of dear October’s days…
Every holiday has its own traditions. Most are well-known, such as hanging a stocking from the mantle in hopes of receiving deodorant and dental floss (just me?), while others are more obscure and not quite as famous (like the dental floss thing…). Most are familiar and comfortable, as they have become second nature and welcome to us year after year, while some border on the…well…bizarre.
Probably no other annual holiday makes more sense for the strange and unusual than Halloween. I recall growing up that there was a family in our neighborhood who lined several coffins up in their living room, leaving the front door open with a sign reading “Enter – If You Dare”. Once inside, the brave of heart found the room candlelit and empty except for the coffins, emblazoned with more signs that said “Free Candy”. Each coffin contained a member of the house’s family, holding a bowl of treats. Although we knew in our hearts that the bodies inside weren’t really dead, it still sent a chill down our young spines. See, the trick was to have enough nerve to approach, take candy, and get out, hoping that one of the “corpses” didn’t spring to life before you made your getaway. The anticipation was often almost more than we could bear, and occasionally one of our gang of trick or treaters would panic and flee, forfeiting confections in favor of not having to endure the torment. Understand, these were FULL SIZE candy bars we’re talking about. Not little packs of candy corn – regular over-the-candy-counter portions!
The next day it was the talk of the neighborhood, and the stories became more and more embellished with repeated tellings: of how Robbie watched for fifteen minutes and none of the bodies ever breathed. Or of how Jack reached in for candy, and when the body inside grabbed his hand it was icy cold and clammy. And better yet, of how when Vic leaned in for a closer look at one of the residents, he saw the faint trace of a skeletal visage pass over the face before the eyes quickly opened wide to reveal nothing but blackness. Within a few days, the tales ran rampant – mostly made up or exaggerated to the point of the ridiculous – and we were already determined to witness our own supernatural occurrence, planning our strategy for next Halloween. We were such suckers for that gag, and year after year we returned for more. Eventually the family moved away and was replaced by a normal old couple who just handed out chocolate bars. Miniature candy bars. Bite size. Our tradition was over.
But to this day, if you mention Halloween, I can’t help but think of those cool autumn evenings spent walking back and forth in front of that tiny house, mustering up the courage to take another shot at local legend hood. And in that way, I guess it still lingers on as my tradition. At its base, that is what tradition is – an opportunity to capture a feeling or event that means something special to us, that evokes comfort or happiness, or guards memories that quite often are far more grand than the actual moment they represent. For some, however, they present protection and peace of mind. A security blanket against the unknown or unimaginable. In many parts of the world, Halloween traditions in particular provide this for the superstitious. While the basic meaning behind the holiday is fairly standard across the board, how people celebrate it around the globe and what it means differs greatly from what we may consider routine…
For instance, it was once believed by the Welsh and Celtics that on October 31, the ghosts of dead relatives would visit their living family members and friends. The Celtics took to wearing masks and costumes in order to avoid being recognized by these visitors from beyond.
In Japan, many celebrate the O-Bon, from July 13 – 15 (some celebrate it from October 13 – 15). During this time the graves of relatives are decorated with fruit, cakes and lanterns, and many gather for a slow hypnotic dance known as the Bon-odori.
Teng Chieh – or The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, as it is known – is the celebration of Chinese Halloween. Taking place in July, the Chinese people believe that soon the gate to the underworld will open, and offer food and drink in front of photographs of deceased family members. Lanterns are lit so that the dead may easily find their way back to the world of the living.
In Germany, people put away all knives at Halloween, in order to keep from hurting returning spirits.
Italy’s Halloween custom involves baking cakes in the shape of beans – known as Beans of the Dead.
In Poland, doors and windows are left open to welcome the visiting spirits of loved ones.
The Northern Irish once sprinkled their children’s heads with oatmeal and salt, as a way of warding off fairies which would come to claim the sleeping youngsters. They believed the fairies to be fallen angels, bent on harming others on Halloween night.
Regardless of the locale, Halloween is rife with traditions – many based upon superstitions. Throughout the years people developed some rather unusual ideas about the holiday and the other-worldly presence it summoned. It was once believed that if you heard footsteps behind you on Halloween, you must not turn around, or you would find yourself looking face to face with Death. At one time some thought that wearing your clothes inside out and walking backwards would place you in the path of a witch. Some legends claim that if you see a spider on Halloween, it is actually the spirit of a loved one looking in on you. Bonfires became a staple of All’s Hallow for some, and fires were lit to stave off the unknown. It was believed that if your home fire were to go out on Halloween, evil could gain entry to your house – if your fire flame turned blue, a visitor from beyond had already found its way in.
To this day tradition is a very important part of the Halloween holiday, particularly for those who find it their favorite time of the year. Whether it’s an evening filled with beloved scary movies, or a costume party with friends, or a twilight tour of haunted hot spots, October 31st holds a very dear place in all of our hearts.
So if you’re looking for a new tradition to mark the occasion this year, try your hand at your own bean-shaped baked goods, or wear your costume inside out and stroll in reverse. But take it from me – if you’d like to avoid having your windows soaped, go with full-size candy bars, and avoid handing out floss…
Halloweenify your holidays!
If you’re like us at Netherworld Haunted House, you live for Halloween. You cannot wait for October to roll around, for the leaves to turn, the air to cool off, and independent pumpkin patches to sprout up along the highways. The rest of the year serves as nothing more than an eleven month waiting period for your favorite day to arrive.
But why wait? 364 days is far too long to endure while you plot and prepare your home haunt and the latest and greatest jack-o-lantern designs. With just a little bit of imagination, you can turn every holiday into a Halloween-infused celebration. Don’t let the greeting card companies dictate the aesthetic of your monthly festivities – with year’s end decorating in full swing, let’s take a quick look at a few ways to “Halloweenify” your holidays, and make every celebration feel like 10/31!
First of all, forget silver, gold, red and green. There’s no rule that says your Christmas tree can’t flourish in orange and black. If you’re going the artificial route, there are a number of different color options available, including black.
A white or red tree can make a dynamic base for your Halloween holiday tree, as well, depending on how you intend to accent it. You may wish to start with some red icicles, or for an even eerier effect try glow-in-the-dark icicles
Now you’ve prepped the canvas – time to spice it up!
Ornaments are an easy outlet for your creative expression. You can turn pretty much any Halloween icon into a tree-ready bauble, with a little bit of finesse. Rubber bats, mini skulls, or even plastic toy spider rings can be used to adorn the branches. If you feel crafty, a quick search online will produce tons of vintage Halloween images. Simply print them out and cut them to fit a frame ornament, available at most hobby stores . If you prefer straight-from-the-box to do-it-yourself, there a few companies that offer stylish Halloween ornaments .
If your tree lights don’t give off heat, why not string up that leftover candy corn for a different type of garland (don’t want a dripping mess one evening!)? And you can always pull out those strings of jack-o-lantern patio lights to drape on your tree or fireplace mantle.
Tree topper? How about a decorative pumpkin or black cat candy bucket? Just cut a small hole in the bottom, slide it over that top bough, and you’re all set. Or a grinning skull in a Santa hat may be more to your liking – the possibilities are endless. However you choose to spruce up your spruce for the season, there are plenty of options available to make it a unique statement and help continue to enjoy Halloween into the New Year (speaking of which, there’s no need to count down the seconds watching a shiny ball drop – a leering jack-o-lantern can be just as effective).
Of course, you can always add a splash of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or some fine Krampus gear for a bit of flair in your Halloween-themed holidays – there’s a fair amount of items to be found around the web to make that happen. So whether you decide to cram a bit of spookiness into this year’s season, or start planning for your 2012 holidays, we hope you’re able to unleash a little mad-scientist skill and enjoy All Hallow’s year round!
What are you supposed to be?
It’s a simple enough question, really. You hear it every year, when your homemade Ronald Reagan-as-a-rapper costume doesn’t go over so well, or the folks at the office Halloween dress-up party don’t get your whole Star-Trek-red-uniform-zombie idea. You tried – you had a unique idea and you were depending on the intuitive powers of those in your orbit to catch the joke. Oh well, there’s always next year.
But more to the point, what ARE you supposed to be? Is there a method behind the madness of Halloween costumes? A spark that ignited the masquerade craze flame? Where exactly did this notion come from, and what does dressing up say about us? To answer these questions, we have to dig way back in the history books, to where it all began…
The holiday of Halloween, taking place every October 31st (in case you didn’t already know!), is believed to have experienced its birth in the Celtic festival of Samhain. This marked the end of harvest, and the beginning of the “dark days” of autumn and winter. It was believed that around this time of year the mortal and supernatural worlds were closest to one another in proximity, and in order to ward off evil spirits large bonfires were lit. People would walk between bonfires with their livestock, believed to be a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered animals were thrown in. Sacrifices – possibly human in nature – were made to the gods in an effort to aid in this endeavor. Although most historians disagree that Samhain is the proper origin of Halloween, at the very least this lent influence to the evolving traditions of the holiday, paving the way for many of the customs we now embrace as part of this celebration.
Later, the Christian holy days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, falling on November 1st and 2nd, paid tribute to the saints and recently deceased souls which had not yet ascended to heaven. It was believed that these spirits walked the earth until All Saints’ Day, and on All Hallows’ Eve – October 31st – the dead had one final opportunity for revenge on any who had wronged them in mortal life. In order to hide themselves from any such vengeful entities, potential victims would disguise themselves with masks and costumes.
The practice of donning a costume and knocking on doors for candy for the holiday appears to have begun around the fifteenth century in Western Europe, evolving into the late 1800’s when Scottish citizens would masquerade (known as guising) and visit homes with carved out turnips – not pumpkins – to receive cakes, fruit and money. All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day’ were celebrated with costume parades and parties, and while rural farmers celebrated the holiday as a fertility rite in the United Kingdom, their cosmopolitan counterparts in the cities took a more carnivalesque approach. It wasn’t until 1911 that guising hit North America, with children taking up costumes and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood in Kingston, Ontario.
Early Halloween costumes tended to reflect the pagan and gothic nature of the holiday, and for the most part were considered child’s play. Costumes traditionally featured spookier elements, depicting ghosts, witches, devils, skeletons and a variety of other supernatural icons, obviously influenced by the superstitious roots of the holiday itself. They were strictly homemade, until the 1930’s when companies like Ben Cooper, Inc. began to release manufactured costumes at the retail level, to capitalize on the increasing popularity of trick-or-treating in the United States. As the years progressed, the motif of costuming evolved to include historical figures and pop culture characters, and today it’s possible to find a Halloween costume depicting pretty much any aspect of modern life. Now knowing the original purpose of the disguise, you may want to be a bit more selective in your choice of costumes – you never know who an angry displaced spirit may be looking for.
Large retail chains now stock plenty of costumes and props every year as Halloween rolls around, featuring everything from children’s’ costumes to adult fashions to outfits designed for pets. Role-playing on the fan convention circuit has produced an entire generation of advanced costumers, who seem to make any day of the year Halloween with lavish self-produced ensembles that rival the best of Hollywood. Needless to say, this is one tradition that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
So next Halloween, when someone spots you in your cape and mask made of various Louisville Sluggers and asks “what are you supposed to be?”, instead of answering “Batman!” (get it?), look them square in the eye and reply “I’m hiding from an earthbound evil entity wishing to exact vengeance upon me”.
That’ll have them scratching their head!
Fans of The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” will have plenty to sink their teeth into this Labor Day weekend, as Dragon*Con presents series stars David Anders (Heroes, Alias) and Sara Canning.
The series follows events in the town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. The main storyline focuses on the love triangle between human Elena Gilbert and Stefan and Damon Salvatore, vampire brothers with dark pasts. Adding to the drama is the appearance of Elena’s malevolent doppelganger Katherine, who seeks revenge against the town, Stefan, Damon, and Elena. The show has been renewed for a third season, debuting in September 2011.
“The Vampire Diaries” (filmed in and around the metro Atlanta area) currently airs Thursday evenings on The CW- visit the official website at cwtv.com/shows/the-vampire-diaries
Dragon*Con’s Dark Fantasy track will present panel programming spotlighting this cult phenomenon.
Netherworld Haunted House is a proud sponsor of the Dragon*Con Dark Fantasy track.
Please visit us at our Dragon*Con booth, September 2-5, 2011, located on the Marquis level of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. We’ll have plenty of surprises and fun going on all weekend, and you can find us featured in the Dragon*Con parade Saturday morning. fearworld.com
Few names are as synonymous with horror illustration as Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson. A master of the macabre, Wrightson is well known to fans for his lavishly rendered work on DC Comics’ horror titles of the 1970s.
Bernie Wrightson returns to Dragon*Con in 2011, as part of its silver anniversary event. Lending his instantly-recognizable talent to Batman, The Punisher, Spider-Man (graphic novel and film), Stephen King novels and 80s comedy movie blockbuster Ghostbusters, Wrightson’s legendary, intricately detailed work on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is considered by many to be his masterpiece.
Fans can meet Bernie all Labor Day weekend at Dragon*Con, and can catch a special panel program spotlighting his work during Dragon*Con’s 25th anniversary celebration. Visit his official website at wrightsonart.com
NETHERWORLD Haunted House is a proud sponsor of the Dragon*Con Dark Fantasy track.
Please visit us at our Dragon*Con booth, September 2-5, 2011, located on the Marquis level of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. We’ll have plenty of surprises and fun going on all weekend, and you can find us featured in the Dragon*Con parade Saturday morning. www.fearworld.com
Every year the HARVESTMAN grows out of the flesh of a new host. We have captured a transition picture as he alters the form of his new body and becomes a living gateway to the outer realms at NETHERWORLD Haunted House.