This is opportunity for you to learn more about your favorite Halloween"ish" bloggers and me to get more information from them without making it look like the stalker that I am.
So, my first victim, I mean volunteer is The Captain ...aka Jason. I know we have all been dying to chat with you and find out what makes a normal human being become obsessed with Halloween?
There are a whole lot of other holidays, why the obsession with Halloween decorating?
I’ve loved Halloween since I was a kid. I blame err no I mean contribute most of my love of the holiday to my childhood neighbors the Kutchs. They would always have really cool parties on Halloween. All of us kids would decorate the yard with webs in this big walnut tree and make dummies out of old clothes and last year’s masks.
(I’m not in this picture but the walnut tree is. Loria Kutch is the leprechaun, my sister Danielle is rocking the awesome home-sewn Rainbow Bright costume, I don’t remember what my little brother Nick is in the foreground, something with a cape I’m sure.)
(That is actually the first pumpkin I designed from scratch and carved all by myself. It’s an owl, that’d be why it’s in a tree.)
But it was their dad Ron, and his friend Mike that really made the whole thing magical. Ron and Mike would carve tons of pumpkins, 20-30 pumpkins. No simple jack-o-lanterns either, these were highly detailed faces of devils, creatures, and whatever the popular cartoon characters of that year happened to be.
This was the late 70’s and there wasn’t any pattern books to buy, no Internet to download patterns from, and no fancy carving tool kits like they make now. They were using anything that would work as a good carving tool, clay shaping tool, razors, I don’t even really know. Their pumpkins were the first time I ever saw the technique of shaving different depths on the pumpkin to get different colors.
They had a long driveway that went back between two houses, so it was like walking down a gauntlet of Halloween to get to the house. I remember one year when I was older (young teen) I stayed in the yard to scare people. I wore big clothes like one of the dummies and this awesome monster mask I had for years. The jeans I was wearing had rips in them so I stuff the holes with wadded up newspaper so people would think I was a dummy. I laid up against the big walnut tree and would move my head or foot just a little when people weren’t quite looking at me. “Did that thing just more?” or “I thought I saw him move!” and “whose in there?!” But I would just sit still and try not to laugh; I was back behind a rope so people couldn’t touch me.
I have always carved a pumpkin or gone out dressed up on Halloween as an adult. Since we bought our first house about six years ago Halloween has gotten bigger and bigger for us. I am fully obsessed with Halloween, not a day goes by were I’m not thinking about Halloween in some form or fashion.
How long have you been haunting?
I helped as a kid at the Kutch’s house, and we lived next door to them for about ten years until we moved to Oregon. Halloween 2010 will be the fifth year at my own home that I would call it a haunt.
What was the first prop you ever made?
Wow, that’s a hard question the 70’s is a long time and a lot of abusive living ago. I would have to say a dummy for the yard at the Kutch’s house. Overalls, flannel shirt, work gloves, and a mask stuffed with news paper sitting on an old sharpening wheel with a real scythe.
(That’s me sitting down, on the right.)
In my current yard it would be a dummy we named “Chet” after a hated neighbor. He was made of a rubber head, one rubber hand, one rubber foot all connected to a piece of wood and a frame of chicken wire, then wrapped with the cotton batting from an old quilt. We slapped some cheap webs and spiders on him and tossed him up in a super cheesy 15 foot spider web. It was a bad as it sounds.
Tell us your favorite thing about haunting?
We don’t get a lot of trick r’ treaters at our house, 25 is the most we’ve ever had. But, I love it when the little kids walk down the driveway and they fixate on that one prop that they are scared of or worried about. They walk towards us for the candy but never take their eyes off that one prop that for some reason stands out to them as “the one that’s gonna get me”.
I’d be a liar if I didn’t mention all the compliments I get from strangers and friends at work. I also like being know as “that house”, I try very hard to be “that house”. If you haunt, you know what I mean.
What prop are you the most proud of?
That’s another hard question because it’s always changing. Each year my zombies get more detailed and I get better at creating them, so every year I have new favorites. I guess from last year’s batch I would say the Captain is my favorite.
At our Halloween party everyone was talking pictures with him out in the yard. I also like the first female zombie we ever made, her name is Candy and she has real human hair. She just has a really natural looking pose and she gets a lot of compliments from people.
How much of the display do you change every year and when do you start planning?
I’m still building up my numbers (of props), so I haven’t scraped any of my zombies yet. Chet got used the first two years and then spent a Halloween in the attic only to come back for our party last year as body parts in the bath tub. I won’t be using any of the witch’s minions from last year in this year’s display, but they are all still intact (so we may see them in some form in the future. Actually Sac the minion with the burlap mask is a permanent display piece in my computer room.
I am always planning and adjusting plans. I have ideas for next year before the current year is complete. I have ideas that I sit on till I can figure out how to create them or until I can afford them. I’m going to go a little different route this year and actually have some non-undead characters this year.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere! The Internet, movies, nature, TV, peoples trash on the side of the road. You see a pile of junk on the curb, I see potential prop parts. Most of my props are made from trash. Household stuff mostly, newspaper, paper towel rolls, old coat hangers, old clothes, cardboard, and plastic grocery bags. Every finger on every zombie except the first three zombies are made from cut up Mt. Dew 12 pack boxes.
My initial inspiration to make zombies came from finding the most wonderful website entirely by accident. I was looking for a skull pattern for a pumpkin and I came across pumpkinrot.com and I feel in love with Halloween all over again. I looked at every picture on his website at least twice that first night. I had questions! How did he do what he does? Was it paper mache’? How did he make those awesome teeth? So I wrote him an email and asked every so bluntly I’m sure, how did he do it? I never heard back anything from that email; I’m sure he gets that same sort of email all the time. So the hunt was on to figure out how I could make my own wonderful dark art. Then again mostly by accident I found spookyblue.com and his wonderful tutorials. I quickly realized that there are no rules to creating props and that I could take the methods I liked and add my own twist to them. I thanked both spooky blue and rot by email after I made my first three zombies, sent them a link to my video which also had a special thanks to both of them as well as to Ryan Wickstrand of ZombiePumpkins.com, and my wife Jen. Rot has featured my haunt twice on his blog PUMPKINROT.COM: What's Brewing (http://pumpkinrot.blogspot.com/) which to me is like getting nominated for an Oscar or a Grammy.
New ideas for 2010? Are you trying something you have never done before?
Oh yeah! I can’t say too much, but like I mentioned before I am including some non-undead characters this year. I want to work on my lighting a bit more this year. If funds allow I would like to build some sort of fencing so that I’ll feel a little better about setting up my props earlier then the day of.
Most valuable piece of advice you would give to a fellow haunter?
Don’t be afraid to do something. If you have an idea, just do it. If it doesn’t come out like you had it pictured in your mind, do it again differently next year. Be original. Haunting is its own art form so there is no wrong way to do something, if it works for you then do it.
Tell us your favorite yard haunt story.
Last year (2009) it was probably around 8:30PM on Halloween night and we decided that we would just order some pizza for dinner. We live in a rural area; we have neighbors, but its country. The few trick r’ treaters that we did get had already come and gone, and the night was winding down. I had taken my costume off already because I was hot, but I left my white contacts in. I was out in the yard with my camera and tripod taking pictures of our props when the pizza guy showed up. He pulled up but didn’t pull in the driveway. I went to the front door and yelled for Jen my wife to come out and pay the guy. He was walking down the driveway toward the house. He waited by the house looking at the graveyard, the soundtrack was blaring, fog machine blowing, and me tinkering and adjusting things for photos. I don’t even know if he noticed me out there. Jen came out of the house fully dresses in her costume and make-up to pay him. He was probably about a 19 or 20 year old, Five foot six black guy. Up until this point I hadn’t really be close to him yet. As Jen handed him the money I heard him say “I like your yard”, I walked up from behind him and stood right next to Jen to grab the pizzas for her. I’m six foot three with white contacts in and pale make-up on dressed all in black staring right at him and I’m not saying anything just staring at him. He just looked at me and said “I guess I better go before ya’all don’t let me leave.” We laughed for like an hour about it after he left, all we have to say to each other now is “remember that pizza guy” and we laugh. We got a story and so did he, isn’t that part of what Halloween is all about, funny spooky stories.
How did you get started blogging and how long have you been blogging?
I started blogging on September 14th 2008. I honestly don’t remember what possessed me to start blogging? I do recall that Carrie Mae of Creepy Cupcakes (http://creepycupcakes.blogspot.com/) and Joseph of Mr. Macabre's Hallowe'en Cerebrations (http://mistermacabre.blogspot.com/) were the very first blogging friends I made. As Halloween people of the South need to stick together.
Favorite thing about blogging?
I don’t know why I started blogging, but I continue to blog because I have made the acquaintance of some of the nicest people I’ve never met. Halloween bloggers and horror bloggers overall are the nicest most generous people I have never met. It is so cool and weird at the same time to have friendships and acquaintances with like minded people who you have never actually met. I guess that would be my favorite thing about blogging. Also the sharing of Halloween and horror info that I might not have heard about if it weren’t for the blogs that I follow.
Blogs you would like recommend/favorite blogs?
WOW, nothing like putting me on the spot Chris! I already mentioned a couple; Creepy Cupcakes (http://creepycupcakes.blogspot.com/), Mr. Macabre's Hallowe'en Cerebrations (http://mistermacabre.blogspot.com/), PUMPKINROT.COM: What's Brewing (http://pumpkinrot.blogspot.com/). I have to mention my favorite source for spooky tunes that are mostly new to my ears, George Van Orsdel's MONSTER SPOOKSHOW RADIO! (http://monsterspookshowradio.blogspot.com/), a couple more of my frequent haunts are Orange and Black, and (http://spiritofhalloween.blogspot.com/), ShellHawk's Nest, (http://shellhawksnest.blogspot.com/). I have the strangest feeling that I’m forgetting somebody’s blog that I check every day, even sometimes from my phone. I don’t know, I must be tired or something, Fish on The Turnip sounds kind of right? (http://strangelittlegirlblog.blogspot.com/)
Tell us about your day job, I hear you are called "The Captain" for a reason.
Yep, I actually do drive a boat for a living. Well it’s not so much a living, but it’s a paycheck. I am currently a yacht captain for resort services at Universal Orlando. I have been with the company for just over six years and my current position is head trainer. I teach all of our new captains how to drive our boats. It’s a very satisfying job; I give people the skills they need to handle a 44-foot yacht full of 45 people. The pay is bad but the hours are great, so I will stick around until I am finished with school. I finished getting my Associates in Business about a year ago, and I’m about a year away from finishing my Bachelor of Science in Business/Human Resource Management.
So you haunt and bake all kinds of goodies? You may just be the perfect man. How did you get such a perfectly split personality?
|(Checking my pretzels)|
I do almost all of the cooking at our house. I have loved to cook as long as I can remember. Growing up I was the oldest of three kids in a single parent household, so I learned to cook basic stuff to help my mom out when she got home from work.
In the seventh grade I took a cooking class with Mrs. Adams and loved it, the next year my best friend and I were both teachers’ aids for Mrs. Adams’s seventh grade cooking class as well as taking her advanced class.
If I have a recipe I can probably make it. I do bake a few goodies, but it’s the candy making you want to be around my house for.
At Christmas time I make Peanut Brittle, Fudge, Peanut Butter Fudge, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Cashew Roca, Popcorn Balls, and sometimes if the humidity is low enough I’ll make Divinity for my Mom. I lost my Grandfather when I was in my early twenties, he always made tons of candy for everyone around the holidays, so I have taken up the tradition. The one day of the year I do absolutely no cooking (unless we fry a turkey) is Thanksgiving, that’s Jen’s big day and we have her Family over for dinner.
Should we move Halloween to the last Saturday in October?
No, we’ve be OK with it on the 31st all these years why should we change it now so a certain Halloween store can make a bigger profit because more people will party if it’s on a Saturday. I am not even going to mention the store, but I don’t shop there.
Do you carve pumpkins every year?
I use to, but now I use mostly fake pumpkins. Real pumpkins are so expensive in Florida, plus they seem to go bad quickly down here. I do have a 26 plant pumpkin patch growing in my backyard this year, so hopefully we will be carving both real and fake this year. A lot of fake this year, you’ll see.
Favorite TOT costume you have seen at your haunt?
I had a year where I carved a Freddy, a Jason, and a Michael Myers pumpkin. We had two kids probably about ten years old come to the house and when I opened the door they were doing the Freddy Vs. Jason face to face pose because they knew I was a fan. I stood out in the yard with them for a few minutes and they asked about the pumpkins and how I carved them. I was cool to see young fans dressed up as the classic monsters of “their” day.
Your least favorite thing about decorating for Halloween?
Being paranoid that someone will screw with, steal, or damage my outside stuff. For inside decorations it would have to be packing it all away for another year.
One thing you would do in your haunt if money were no object.
That’s easy! Work on it all year instead of having a job! Oh and maybe hire a security guard so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. AND we are already looking for a hearse to fix up.
AND . . . . . . . .
:) I know how you feel....I could go on forever too. Thanks (thank you, thank you, thank you!) Captain for helping out the Frog Queen. I hope everyone enjoyed my folly as much as I did. You are the best....and still one of my favorite bloggers.
So....who is next? Wouldn't you like to know :D ?
*applause* I really enjoyed that and I'm looking forward to the next interview!ReplyDelete
Great interview.... I am in full halloween mode already too!. actually I have been since july, you know-6monthes of planning! ;pReplyDelete
Great interview-- this should be a fun series!ReplyDelete
Great interview and I loved the pics! I can't wait for the next one.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great interview and all the spooky details!ReplyDelete
Interesting interview. Looking forward to more.ReplyDelete
Oh what a perfect person to interview, Chris! His yard sounds FABOO! I'm all about the zombies. This would make for such a neat yard to jaunt to! (And his pizza story...LOL!)ReplyDelete
This guy sounds like a real "winner"!ReplyDelete
Thanks Chris, this was fun to do. Thats why I stretched it out for so long of a period of time.
Great interview and nice idea. Looking forward for the next one.ReplyDelete
HOW DID I MISS THIS!?ReplyDelete
Oh you featured two of my favorite bloggers in these first interviews (the Captain and Mr. Macabre).
<3 I feel all giddy after reading this.