Site for a great home haunt book

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Empty Grave Acres

I've been reading a lot about the importance of a backstory for a haunt. This prompted me to ask my wife, who is not only my better half, but the creative one out of this duo, to write a backstory. And this is what she wrote:

*Empty Grave Acres*

The stories have been around longer then any of us can recall, but they all ring true. Once a year, a graveyard appears out of nowhere to collect more bones. Funny thing about this bone yard is, the dead never stay at rest and the graves are always empty.

My great Aunt first told me about this roaming “God’s Acre” when I was barely old enough to know the meaning of the word. She told me some spirits cannot stay dead long enough to rot. That sometimes when there is so much evil in one place, the place becomes a living thing of its own. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to my great Aunt’s tale especially after finding my late Uncle’s diary in the town’s archive.

Recovered Diary

W. C. Dalesandro

Dated October 1- November 1, 1821

October 1st. I know something is not right. The birds are not singing their morning songs and the fog has lain unusually thick for October. I feel in my bones a strange uneasiness as I set out for town this morning. I have hope that others close by are noticing the same sense of caution I am feeling.

October 3rd. The Sea seems to have stirred up the ghosts of our past this season, for everyone I spoke to while in town can feel odd air blowing in off the Gulf.

October 4th. I slept very little last night. I heard, God have mercy on my soul, the sounds of boots on the road leading to my fields. When I rushed out armed to defend my land, nothing confronted me. The air was still. But the dirt was unsettled leading into the darkness.

October 10th. Again I greet this morning having slept little in six days. I fear for my sanity as the night sounds increase to match my own panic. I have begun to notice the crows are no longer startled at my presence and have doubled in numbers. Tonight I will pray until sleep delivers me into rest.

October 13th. I have returned from town with less peace of mind then when I left early this morning. My closest neighbors the Bentley’s are indeed experiencing the same curiosities I am. My proximity to these events seems to have increased my experience; two nights from now, James Bentley will sit with me, armed with his pistol while his wife Mary stands watch armed with her Bible.

October 15th. Forever I will be haunted by the sights seen and heard last night! What I can only describe as a march of the dead has shaken my home to its very foundation! Tonight, the Bentley’s and I bore witness to the ground giving up its most rotting foul hearted dead. Some still wore the hangman’s noose and black hoods of their death and burial. The most disturbing sight was of the long dead Spaniards shakily dragging their bare bones still draped with Spanish rags towards the back acre of my land. James was overcome with fear and unable to fire a single shot and Mary fainted dead away I tell you! Never have I imagined such things were possible, I leave today to tell our local Priest of these events and pray he will grant me the strength to see another night in Pensacola.

October 20th. Father Constantine Maenhaut has recommended I stay at St. Michael’s until I come to my senses. Five days have passed and I am sick with worry at what might come of my land in my absence. I hold hope that all is well and safe in the glory of the lord and that his light will shine down on these cursed fields.

October 22nd. I left St. Michael’s with a promise from Father Maenhaut that he would come to my land in ten days time and bless my home while he eases my mind. I have found moss and vines covering every inch of my fields; I am grateful for the early harvest but must not let my land winter in this state. I say the Lords prayer every second I am outside of my porch. God have mercy!

October 25th. I have cleared my lands of the odd vines but found the most disturbing traces of the nighttime activities I have until now, only guessed at. These evil dead have constructed a cemetery on my back acre. On my land now stands a damned acre of God’s land. The sight of the nearly decomposed men and the smell! The smell of those rotting fingers at work! They toil even in death, unable to find God’s light. Why have these foul souls come to my land to build such a fiendish monument?

October 30th. The Bentley’s, having left their land after what we experienced, are no longer here to take comfort in. I find myself unable to leave the safety of my home even during the day. At night, the light coming from the Acre of Empty Graves is a beckon to those lost and damned in death. Not even a butterfly dares to trespass onto my land while the dead walk here. I pray while the fog belches into every inch of my home that I will survive long enough to land in Gods good graces.

October 31st. The screams are howling on this night of All Hallows Eve! I cover my ears and yell the Lords Prayer with all my breath, please let the sun rise and wash this place clean of the walking dead!

November 1st. LORD BE PRAISED! The Father came this morning as he had promised. I took him to the spot of evil monument that had been constructed, only to find all traces of it gone! Everything has been torn down and removed as if it never stood. I cannot explain all that I have witnessed but pray to never see anything like it in my lifetime. The crows now stand as my only other witness to the horrors of my Acre of Empty Graves.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today was a good day

Here's a pic of my girls (l to r. Jen, Vivianna, & Katelyn) hard at work on their paper mache pumpkins ala Stalloween Pumpkins. This is their first attempt at making anything paper mache and I think they're doing a great job. Maybe by the weekend they will have them finished, but who knows. It may have to wait for Vivianna to get back from visiting her mom in Arizona, but I think they'll finish this set of pumpkins this week. Today has been a day of progress here at our house. Gavin and I finally started back up on the columns. We measured and cut two sides of foam board and glued them to the frame. (We would have done more but we ran out of foam friendly glue.) I took the opportunity to help teach him the concepts of how to read a ruler. Yeah, I know, he learned this at school, but this was way more fun. I asked him what his favorite part has been so far and he promptly replied, " The chalk's messy."
Tomorrow while we are out, we'll get more foam adhesive and get the other sides on this one. Maybe we'll even start on the trim. The plan for the column construction has been evolving as we go along. It started as the version in Brent Ross' The DC Prop Builder's Handbook Volume 1 and is now a hybrid of several versions. I'll get a review up about the The DC Prop Builder's Handbook set sometime this week. Anyhow, time to go read.
~ Bill

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ramblings of a Mad Man

     I've started putting up banners linking to other sites. They are sites that I personally go back to for either inspiration (the Davis Graveyard), to see if they've published a new book yet (How to Haunt your House), or because I've purchased a product from there and I had a good experience from it (Terror Syndicate). I am in no way affiliated with any of them and they have not offered me any "kickbacks" to link to them (and I doubt if any of them even know I link to them).
     I personally think it's very important to get the word out about my hobby (of home haunting) and the links I put up I feel are essentials (or they were for me anyway). I can remember several years ago stumbling on Steve Hickman's (Terror Syndicate) and thinking to myself "Whao!!! This guy made all of this himself!!! I want to do that!!!" I think his site was the one that really got me thinking about home haunting like I do now. ~ I know, one might ask, then why has it taken you until this year to jump into building your own props?? Simple answer, I'm lazy. Actually in all fairness, I think it was Steve's site and another one DC Cemetery that got me all in a crazed like obsession with home haunting... (and the way that at the end of all the america's scariest home haunt clips Danielle Harris would say, "remember Home is where the Haunt is!!" but that's a whole different story
     The one thing I've left out of all my reviews (I think) is that no matter how good the book or DVD is I've learned something from every single purchase I've made. I tend to sometimes focus on the negative, because that is usually what I remember, but so far every single one of my home haunt books have taught me a lot. It may have been something as simple as seeing how someone else has done something which in turn made me start know that works but I wonder if I modify this or that would it still work?? or even giving me a base of knowledge so I could come up with my own "twist" to a prop.
    So I started scouring the web for ideas and inspiration. In my scouring of the web I definitely have found sites (read people) that I find to be truely inspiring. One might even call them my home haunting heros... Last year, I was on facebook and I did a search for Graveyards. Well the Davis Graveyard came up. I looked at the pictures on their page and was blown away. I even called my wife to the computer and shown it to her. I had been trying to explain to her what direction I wanted to go with my yard haunt but couldn't come up with the right words... the Davis Graveyard did it for me with their pictures. I have since been able to describe what I am after. I want it to be believeable. I find that with monsters and gore it's easy to scare the ToTs, but I usually fall short on the adults. The way the Davis Graveyard looked to me in the pictures I saw I could easily talk myself into thinking it was a real graveyard. It got me thinking, what am I scared of... well for one, I am scared of cemeteries at night. (When I was a younger me (about 14) growing up in BFE South Carolina one of the most terrifying things I remember was one night a bunch of my hoodlum friends and I were up to some trouble. We had actually just toilet papered the high school principal's yard. well he was home and was chasing us... we decided that we would run through the cemetery across the street to get away. In my running I stepped on an old grave and the coffin must have rotted away because I sank to about my knee... I thought I was being pulled in...) So I want to go for that realism... Another awesome site that makes me wish I was more artistic is Stolloween... This man is amazing... go look, I think you'll agree...I of course have to give props to the folks at the Mitchell Cemetery I am so stoked that this year I get to see their yard in person... they only live like 5 miles from me so there is no excuse for me not to see their haunt. There are others actually many others that inspire me but only a few that I constantly go to to check for updates....
   Well, I guess I've rambled enough... It's Sunday and I have a lot to do....
~ Bill

Thursday, June 3, 2010

DVD Review - Bad Boys Scenic Design: Styrofoam Masons

Ok, I finally received it from the “How to” rental site. It was worth the wait in my opinion. I first ran across Bad Boys Scenic Design about a year and a half ago. I was on one of the haunt forums and there was a post about them so I googled them. And I was impressed with what they do.

I’ll start with the technical aspects of the video. It seemed put together well. If I had to guess, it looks like it is a “home-made” video that was created with a DVD creating software. The video quality is good to excellent, meaning that you can see the details of what they are trying to show. I would have liked the audio to have been recorded a little “hotter” because I had to turn the volume up a bit so I could hear it. (But that could be because I am constantly in a noisy environment and I could be losing some of my hearing.) My wife however, agreed that the narrator was a bit soft spoken; however, my 12 year old said she heard everything perfectly fine. The DVD has menu’s and all and if I would have purchased it (verses rented) I would have little complaints about the quality of the audio/video.

As far as the content, it is exactly what I needed and hoped for. I am a visual person so seeing these techniques being done was a huge help for me. Like with a lot of home haunt techniques, I had read about these techniques on several of the forums but seeing it in “action” solidified things for me and I feel I can confidently move forward with some projects involving Styrofoam. What my wife liked about the video was that it gave her enough of a base level of knowledge that she feels confident that she can expand the techniques with experimentation. I appreciated some of the safety warnings… and my wife and I both laughed when we were told to use a respirator when using acetone only to see the guy in the video not use one…

So bottom line, if you can get a hold of this video it is a must have for the beginner foam mason. It describes what I feel are essential basics for a beginner. I would love to see another video from them with some more advanced techniques…