Samhain. Dia de Muertos. Allantide. All Saints Day.
October and autumn are gone, and winter begins.
The ghosts, goblins and ghouls go back into their crypts, caves and cemeteries to rest for another year (or so we like to think).
And I hang up my cobwebbed mantel of Horror Trailer Host for 12 months. Did you enjoy this year’s selection? Did any of the trailers cause you to seek out hidden gems or guilty pleasures?
This was a difficult October for me. Not on the trailer front, but as so often is the case I felt like the month got away from me and I didn’t utilize the days of it well enough.
My kids were out of town for two weeks of the month, including Halloween itself- kind of a crushing blow, as next to Christmas it is the most important day of the year for me to be with them. That sucked.
But I kept the yearly tradition of watching a lot of Horror Movies (and tv). I got to go to a spiffing Halloween Party (which I helped decorate a few days in advance). And I had my share of goody shivery scares.
We usually decorate for Halloween at the end of September- if mainstream Christmas celebrations start at the end of November, then by gosh our month of the macabre can be stretched out. Halloween ain’t just a day, y’all.
Between decorating my apartment and helping friends at their house, I realized an important oversight to Halloween prep: the ready-bag, or decorating kit, that should always be handy.
Things a Haunt Decorator should have handy:
1. Flashlight- this is important, as a lot of Halloween decorating will happen last minute (after work, at night) even if you plan in advance. And since most Parties are gonna be after nightfall anyways, you should be prepared to walk the grounds in the dark to know what sort of conditions the guests will encounter. I have a great little Blueline compact light. It gives off 180 lumens, and is water resistant and shock-proof (the last is good, as I drop stuff). It also has a dual direction steel pocket clip, but I find that it can be used to clip onto the brim of my hat, making it an effective hands-free head-lamp. Bonus!
2. Pocket knife. Or utility knife (box-cutter). You should always have one, really, if you are doing any kind of house/yard work. But even more important for Halloween decorating is…
3. Shears. No matter how sharp, even the serrated edge of a pocket knife doesn’t easily cut through strands of commercial cob-webbing, but a good pair of kitchen or medical shears can do the job. I need to get a pair of paramedic’s shears, since the blunted tip keeps them from poking holes in pockets.
4. Museum Putty. Vital. Never decorate without it.
5. Extra batteries- various sized. A lot of Halloween decorations use batteries- watch batteries, AAAs, AAs, and even some big hefty Ds.
6. Chemlights. Also called glowsticks (pfft, raver). These come in a lot of colors and from a lot of manufacturers, my experience is that green chemlights actually put out the most light for the longest- surplus stores often carry Cyalume Snaplights, which are a good brand- usually for 1-2 dollars a-piece. These can be great for adding ghastly lighting accents to some scenes (split one open and you have instant Predator blood!), non-flame lighting for jack-o-lanterns or paper lanterns, or lighting a dark corner of your yard or haunt.
7. Work gloves. Never a bad thing to have, especially if you are working out-of-doors.
8. Dark string or twine. Some decorations need to be hung- or tied down. Store-bought stuff doesn’t always come with a long enough (or durable enough) piece of line.
9. Gaffers tape, duct tape, electrical tape (your mileage may vary). Ranging from taping down power strips and extension cords, to actually doing minor repairs on faulty connections (a lot of light-up Halloween decorations have pretty shoddy innards that can be fixed with a little wiggling and some electrical tape).
10. Plastic zip ties- they can do the same work as above, but without the sticky residue. They come in black too.
11. Additional tools. Doing a lot of outdoor work? a step-ladder of painter’s ladder will be a real help. Hanging lots of lights? Get some carpenter’s staples and bring your hammer (and a pair of needle-nose pliers). Know what you are in for and plan accordingly.
12. A flask of some warming beverage, whether it be tea or whiskey or hot water with some lemon (or bitters) thrown in. Even in LA, it can get pretty chilly at night.
Next year, I’m going to have my Halloween ready-kit prepared by the end of September.
Have Halloween, will travel.