Apr 25, 2019

The Pumpkinrot Pilgrimage

If there's anyone that truly needs no introduction to the followers of this blog, it is home-haunting legends Rot and Bean of PUMPKINROT.COM.

I first came across Pumpkinrot in early 2010 at the tender age of 12. I remember trawling through the site like a treasure chest, completely awestruck at the tableau-like beauty of the annual installations, the sculptural detail of each individual prop, and the sheer originality of the entire Pumpkinrot oeuvre. I had only recently discovered the online world of home haunting, let alone begun to dip my toes in it myself, but it was immediately clear to me that this 'Pumpkinrot' existed in a league of their own. Haunting elevated to art - mysterious and magnificent and completely untouchable.

I became obsessed, a fanboy to the nth degree. So to say that Rot's work was a large influence on The House of Marrow is a colossal understatement. Every prop showcased on this blog is indebted to his innovations, from the torn-gauze finishing touches right down to the rolled newspaper bones.  But the inspiration was more than just practical - the works and images presented on Rot's blog and site fundamentally shaped my idea of what Halloween is all about. Growing up in New Zealand, many of the core elements of American Halloween simply aren't part of the equation - the falling leaves, the orange pumpkins, the creeping cold and the growing darkness. Reading Rot's blog every day not only fuelled my love for the holiday, it also helped me to see it in an entirely new light. And it became a dream of mine to spend a Halloween in the US.

Last October that dream became a reality - and if you'd told 13-year-old Marrow the reason why, he would've either laughed in your face or asked to be put into a seven year coma.

Several years after I stopped posting on this blog, Rot and I had got in touch over email, and although we weren't really in contact during my House Of Marrow days, it immediately felt like speaking to an old friend. A few emails ended up turning into a lot of emails, and by the time 2018 rolled around, we were scheming together on the theme for that year's Halloween display. At that point all we had was the name, but even the name alone seemed to promise something great and terrible and truly monumental: CHURCH.

We had talked before about how I'd need to fly over for Halloween one year in the future, but around April or May I started to think that it needed to happen sooner rather than later. There was no reason I couldn't come that year, so why wait? The tipping point for me was probably an email from Rot outlining the concept of the 'angels' - disinterred corpses with their ribs pried open and grave candles flickering in place of their hearts. At that point CHURCH became something too spectacular to miss, and before long I'd booked my flights.

I've tried many times to write this post since Halloween, and each time I've gotten stuck attempting to put the week at the end of October down in words. My thinking was that if my 13-year-old self knew that the mysterious and almighty Pumpkinrot had collaborated with another haunter, I would want to know every last detail. But after many lengthy and failed attempts at that sort of write-up, I've realised that perhaps those memories are best kept to myself. What I will say is that Rot and Bean are two of the sweetest, coolest, most generous and talented people I've had the pleasure of meeting. Bean wrote somewhere that the two of them "live and breathe Halloween"... and I can testify that this is no exaggeration. They are true keepers of the October flame, and there is absolutely no way that my first American Halloween could have been spent in better company.

Out of respect for their privacy (and in the interest of living in the moment and all), most of the photos I took over that week were of the mental variety - snapshots of late-autumn magic and home-haunting madness that will exist forever in my mind. But after the three-day construction of CHURCH was over, I did pull my camera out to document what had been created. Most of those shots are compiled here on Rot's blog, but I wanted to share three that didn't make it onto the official post. They're more on the behind-the-scenes side of things, but aside from what was mutually identified as The Money Shot, these three photos feel like some of the most special ones to me.

That third photo was taken in the early hours of November 1st, long after the last trick or treaters had come and gone. Rot and I had spent the final hours of Halloween eating leftover candy, nerding out over creating the perfect fog shots for the video, and just soaking up the atmosphere of the night. It was all putting off the inevitable - I don't think either of us wanted it to end, so shutting the lights off was a bit of an emotional ordeal. But as each bulb went out the atmosphere of the haunt changed, until the only ones left were the two blue 'moonlight' spots behind the kings, and the space took on an entirely new energy. Without the obligatory front lighting, the haunt felt dark and mysterious and weirdly real. We sat down on the porch and looked up at the dark silhouettes and beams of 'moonlight' and marvelled at this as a final private iteration of CHURCH... like the directors cut of a favourite movie or an alternate recording of a song.

On November 1st the display stayed standing, and on November 2nd we made some feeble attempts at beginning the pack-down before I had to say goodbye and head back to the train station to carry on with my trip around the East Coast. It wasn't my first time doing the silent undercover cry in the back seat of an Uber, but they were happy (silent undercover) tears. I left with a booklet of Bean's polaroids, a head from the Corn Witch display and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to the universe and the gods of home haunting for allowing CHURCH to happen.

Usually the shine wears off from most experiences once a little time has past, but last Halloween has shown no signs of doing so for me. I remember thinking in the months leading up to October that the plane ticket price had already been worth it in the sheer joy it brought me looking forward to the trip. And now looking back on it is something even more special.

So here's to CHURCH and to Pumpkinrot and to this beautiful, bizarre, brilliant hobby. This is Marrow signing off for the last time (again). Happy Halloween forever and always!

Oct 21, 2018


Something very, very, very special coming this Halloween which has been in the works for a long time. To anyone still following here... you'll really wanna stay tuned for this one.

Photo from 2011

Mar 1, 2018

Full Circle

So I promised myself that 'Epilogue' was going to be the last post on here, but after such a wonderful warm response to that write-up, I couldn't possibly leave it there... so here we are once again. Hello all!

Since my last post, I've begun and completed my first year at Elam School of Fine Arts. The course started out rather rocky for me, but I found my feet in the second semester when we finally got the chance to embark upon a proper independent project. It was hugely re-energising, and a whole lot of thoughts started to click into place then. So going into second year now, I am hell-bent on materialising as much new work as I can.

And I've been thinking a lot (perhaps too much) about what kind of work I want to be producing. I'm certainly a different person today to the kid who ran The House Of Marrow blog, but the grotesque and macabre continues to find its way into just about everything I create. And I'll forever be sentimental about rolled newspaper ribcages and paper mache corpse skin... so over the holidays I finally gave in to those old urges.

I'm not sure where this falls on the spectrum of yard haunting / prop building, but here it is. A bit of the old and a bit of the new. The House of Marrow 2.0 (or something like that).

I intend to set up some sort of web page to store my work eventually, but until then I'm making like a proper art student and finally putting stuff up on Instagram. So for a weird mix of my creative and personal stuff, you can head over to instagram.com/theodorehs

Jan 1, 2017


Well, this is going to be something of a bittersweet post, but it's one that I've been meaning to write up for some time.

Back in 2013, I came to the realization that I was slowly burning out on the whole Halloween/Haunting thing. I had a few projects that year which kept the blog semi-afloat, such as the 'Skeletons' short film and my final installment of The Backs, but deep down I felt like I was just bailing water out of a sinking ship. So after the pitiful 'trilogy' of posts on Halloween 2013, I decided that I'd just leave the blog to die a quiet death instead of trying to drag things out further.

It was sad and a bit scary to leave The House of Marrow behind, because my love for Halloween and horror was such an integral part of myself for so long, but I ended up discovering different ways to channel my creativity. I took up painting and photography at school and started writing and recording music in my own time. I found new things that resonated with me and carved out an identity for myself that was more than just 'The Halloween Boy'. And most recently I ended up living in northern Iceland for 10 months as an exchange student, something which I would never have pictured myself doing a few years ago... at the very least I would've chosen the USA as my host country.

There were certainly times when I considered returning to haunting. Every so often I'd be struck with inspiration and start designing props and planning out displays, but nothing ever advanced far beyond that point. As much as I love them, paper-mache ghosts and ghouls feel like already-covered ground to me... so after several years of consideration, I've decided to close this book once and for all.

The good news is that as one chapter ends, another begins. In just a couple of months I'm going to be moving out of home and starting a four-year degree at a proper art school. I'm beyond excited and I don't know if I'd be heading down this road if it weren't for the creative awakening that haunting and prop-building gave me. So really I'd just like to thank my blog followers and everyone in the haunt community that inspired and supported me through my short-lived adventure with this crazy, wonderful Halloween hobby. I don't know how many of you will end up seeing this, but it truly meant the world to me.

Happy New Year and Happy Halloween for all to come,
Theo (Marrow)

Oct 31, 2013

Halloween 2013 - Pt III

“And I tell you, it was way, way out in the middle of nowhere. Weren’t no road or path for miles around and yet there they were. Masks and pumpkins and scraps of cloth floating in the breeze. And all of them standing and hanging and waiting in this clearing, like some sort of ritual thing. Like an offering to some unholy god. And then, as the sun went down over that hill, it was like someone held a matchstick up to the gasoline clouds and the sky turned this fiery orange. And at the same time, this horrible ringing sound started in my ears and then the leaves on the ground rose up like a tornado in slow motion and just sort of hovered there in midair. And all of them ghost things hanging from the bare branches turned around and faced me with their hollow eyes in their flat white faces and I was gone. I ain't never run so fast in my life."

Halloween 2013 - Pt II

A small tribute to the 1990s Nickelodeon horror anthology 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?'. Music by me.

Click here to see the original opening sequence.

Halloween 2013 - Pt. I

They call her 'Sister Slipper' and 'The Ghost of Fever Hospital'. Every night, she'd be sent out to check on the patients in only her dressing gown and slippers. Except that one night, she never came back. You can still see her sometimes, wandering the hospital grounds, searching for candles and lanterns to guide her through the dark...

Oct 7, 2013


I was planning on making a celebratory 1st of October post, but it appears that the date has snuck up on me and slipped by unnoticed, so this is a little late. Feels strange that it's less than a month until Halloween and I'm not working furiously on props and preparing for the big day. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm scaling back a lot this year. I have this weird constantly-lingering guilt about not doing much propwork or blogging, but otherwise it's been a nice and (mostly) relaxing 10 months.

I'm currently halfway through a two-week school holiday, which has been pretty busy so far. We decided to give my bedroom a complete makeover - painting over the weird blue walls, tearing up the worn and paintstained carpet, shifting and getting rid of furniture... It's brighter now and feels much more clean and spacious. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

I also did an interview with the awesome Damian of the awesome 'Misadventures of the HalloweeNut' blog several weeks ago as part of his '13 Days of Halloween' series. It was heaps of fun and got published on his blog a few days ago. Click below to check it out:

A huge thanks to Damian - it was fantastic to be a part of this.