Nov 3, 2012

Marrow House 2012 - Geisterbahn

The ghost train stood in the center of the abandoned amusement park, flooded in moonlight. The wooden beams holding up the front facade had begun to collapse. The once vibrant skeletons and ghouls that adorned the walls and roofs were now cracked and faded. Ivy crawled over the walls. Trees had grown up through the holes in the rotting floorboards, branches twisting through the tunnels and rooms. The years of rain and sea spray had rendered the building a sad ghost of its former self. There was no denying that the place was spooky. Most of the town kids had heard stories about the old ghost train being haunted, but very few knew the truth about what happened there many years ago, one fateful Halloween night. Rummaging through a pillowcase bloated with candy, Elliot's older brother, Owen, produced an orange flashlight. Holding the glowing torch beneath his face, features shadowed and skewed, he spoke in a deep and mysterious voice.

"On a dark Halloween night, many years ago, two kids - nine year old twins - were finishing up a long evening of trick-or-treating. Reluctant to call it a night, they decided to walk home through the amusement park. It was nearly closed, and they were the only kids there. That was when they spotted the ghost train. Neither of them had any money, so when the owner wasn't looking, they snuck into one of the carts, and disappeared into the darkness of the ghost train. And they never came out..."

Owen paused for a moment, and then, words dripping with melodrama, continued with the story. "They were halfway through the ride when the lights turned off and the cart crashed to a halt. As the twins sat in darkness, the owner, unaware that the twins were in the ride, locked up the ghost train and drove home. The mechanically locked seatbelts that lay tight across the twins' waists wouldn't budge an inch. As hard as they tried, they couldn't wriggle out of the cart. That night, the ghost train owner died in his sleep, and the ghost train was left to rot. And so were the twins..."

Elliot glanced over at the crumbling building, which now looked more like a tomb than a theme park ride. "But the story doesn't end there. One November night,  a witch laid eyes upon the empty ghost train and decided to take up residence there. I mean, what better a home for a witch than an abandoned ghost train? So she must have been delighted to find the two children waiting for her. No-one knows if they were dead by the time she got there. Some say they had died of starvation. Others say they were poisoned by the witch. And some say the witch slit their throats right open...” He grinned, running a finger from his left ear to his right.

"Well, eventually the entire theme park went under, and the rides were all shut down. Some of them have been demolished, but the ghost train remains. And so do the witch and the two dead twins... But on every Halloween night, every year, the witch brings them back to life. The twins, and the ghost train. The lightbulbs glow with a supernatural energy. The rusting mechanisms jerk back to life. The ghost train props awaken, animatronics creaking into motion... And the twins, imprisoned in the rotting carcasses that used to be their bodies, are forced to ride the ghost train... Round and round, until sunrise..."

Owen clicked off the flashlight, and the two of them sat there in the murky darkness, hanging off the words,  daring each other to move or speak. A cold breeze blew over the park, and a strange sound drew their attention to the ghost train. The structure began to glow with an eerie luminescence. Green light poured from the cracks and holes in the walls, projecting ghostly light onto the sea fog that now swirled around the building. The sounds of the ghost-train echoed through the twisting corridors and out into the chill Halloween night air. The scratching of rusty cogs grinding against each other. The screech of wheels scraping across metal tracks. And rising above the mechanical wails of the ghost train,  the bone-chilling cackle of the witch.








Dedicated to Colin and Jacqui Hawkins for the inspiration 
And to my dad for the endless help and support

Oct 31, 2012


Happy Halloween!

Best of luck to all haunters out there, especially those on the East Coast. May the weather have mercy on you. Have a fun, safe and spooky Halloween, everyone!

Oct 1, 2012


Without a doubt, the best month of the year.

I'm thrilled to say that I am currently sitting at the start of both October and a two-week school holiday. That leaves me a whole lot of time for working on props, going on Halloween shopping sprees, watching all my favourite horror movies, listening to Mumford & Sons' fantastic new album and generally enjoying the Halloween season.

Sep 28, 2012

A Dearth Of Pumpkins

As much as I ponder it, I can't think of a way to incorporate jack o'lanterns into my display this year without them feeling out of place. At the very least, this one (paper-mache) jacko will making an appearance.

Sep 19, 2012

Dear Ti West

I first heard of 'The House Of The Devil' via Pumpkinrot's blog. I decided to look up the film and was blown away by the awesome posters, and then again by the awesome title sequence, and then again by the awesome limited-edition VHS. I went into a state of what the youngsters these days call 'extreme fangurlin' - wailing, falling over, hyperventilating, crying, etc...
I managed to sway my parents, and quickly bought a copy of 'The House Of The Devil'. I didn't even rent it first to make sure it was good. Popping it into the DVD player, I knew I was in for a real treat. And I was.

From the first frame, 'The House Of The Devil' is a piece of art. The film is styled to look, sound and feel like the low-key horror films of the 70s and 80s - every last detail of it. While the opening credits proudly and loudly announce the retro style early on, it is never overblown, and it never distracts from the actual story. 'The House Of The Devil' is a slow-burning horror flick, with not much happening for most of the running length. Regardless, I never find myself bored watching it. The long, drawn-out sequences feel oddly comfortable, which I feel is helped by the wonderful colour palette and cinematography. Many reviewers and horror fans criticize the film's climax, saying that it is a let-down due to the suspense and build-up beforehand. I couldn't disagree more. The crazy and dizzying final act is the highlight of the film, and something which I have watched over and over.

For many years, I never understood the role of a film director. I always pictured them as someone who bosses the cast and crew around. Of course, I worked out what a director actually does long ago, but I never really understood a director. Watching 'The House Of The Devil', I made a sudden connection. It was a truly epiphanic moment. I realized that 'The House Of The Devil' was not constructed by a myriad of writers, producers and co-directors. Every aspect of the film felt like it was carefully crafted by one singular person. Like the horror-fueled dreams of a creative genius had sprung to life on my TV screen. For the first time, I felt a real connection with the director of a film. I had to find out who this guy was.

This wonderful portrait (couldn't find out who the artist was) pretty much sums up the way I feel about Ti West. He is the writer/director/editor of some of the 2000's finest horror films - The Roost, Trigger Man, The House Of The Devil and The Innkeepers. He is surely one of the best horror directors of the past few decades.

I have yet to see 'Trigger Man', but I can wholeheartedly recommend 'The Roost' and 'The Innkeepers' to any and all fans of horror. 'The Roost' is a crazy and imaginative Evil-Dead-esque affair, presented as part of a late-night horror show. 'The Innkeepers' is an old-fashioned ghost story, full of screams, shivers and (surprisingly) laughs. So get off my blog and go check out his movies. They're awesome.

To round off a post of gushing and adulating:

Dear Ti West,
I LOVE your movies and old-school style.
You make me want to become a horror director.
Keep making movies, man.
Sincerely, Adoring Fanboy

Sep 9, 2012

The Ghost Train

It stood in the center of the abandoned amusement park, flooded in moonlight. The wooden beams holding up the front facade had begun to collapse. The once vibrant skulls and ghouls that adorned the ghost train were now cracked and faded. The years of rain and sea spray had rendered the building a sad ghost of its former self. There was no denying that the place was spooky, and most of the town kids had heard stories about the old ghost train being haunted, but very few knew the truth about what happened there many years ago, on one fateful Halloween night...

Image by Colin & Jacqui Hawkins

Aug 30, 2012


I've been incredibly busy building props over the last few weeks, and haven't found any time for blogging.
Hopefully I'll get back into it soon.

Aug 16, 2012

The Graveyard of Failed Ideas

I recently re-discovered a plan of my haunt I made back in July 2011 - a scanned drawing that was then coloured and shaded in Photoshop. 
It's surprisingly similar to what the haunt ended up looking like, with the exception of a few minor changes.

When I was planning my 2011 haunt - 'The Second Great Plague' - I had a very strange and creepy design in mind for the Nachzehrer groundbreakers (what on earth does that mean? click here). The 'Nachzehrer' were believed to chew through their burial shrouds in an attempt to satisfy their hunger. When the plague hit Europe and the mass graves started filling up, the gravediggers found that they were running out of cloth for the burial shrouds, and they ended up only covering the faces of the dead. When they dug up old graves to fill them with more bodies (which happened a lot), the gravediggers would often come across corpses that had appeared to have chewed through their shrouds, which led them to believe that they were the Nachzehrer. It was later proven that the 'chewed shroud' was caused by the bacteria in the mouths of rotting corpses, which made the cloth around the mouth decay much more rapidly than the rest.

I decided to apply this nice little piece of history to my groundbreakers. I planned to cover the faces of my groundbreakers with torn gauze, leaving a gaping hole where the mouth was. I'd stain the cloth with brown and black paint, giving it a nasty dripping-with-corpse-juices look. It would have looked cool, but most people wouldn't understand what was going on, and I couldn't bear to cover up the faces that I had worked so hard on. I never went through with it.

But that wasn't all. I tore up Kutsuu and used his body and head to build a groundbreaker (his hands were donated to other groundbreakers). He always had an somewhat agonised pose, his arm bent back behind him, his mouth stretched open in pain... but in the end he got off easy. He was originally going to have a brick jammed down his throat - a reference to the 'Vampire of Venice'. It wasn't until the final stages of the build that I changed my mind. It looked quite odd and I figured I'd be forever explaining to people. 

Pictured below is Groundbreaker II, whom I had planned to make the 'fat groundbreaker'. Obesity lends itself well to zombies, I think, and I'd always wanted to make a nasty bloated groundbreaker. But I couldn't get it to look the way I wanted, and so I laid that idea to rest in the graveyard of failed ideas.

But let's face it, he still looks a little chubby.

Jul 28, 2012

Green Ghoul

Starting work on props for Marrow House 2012. There's going to be a whole lot of green this time round.

Jul 12, 2012