DIY Spiderweb Cake GONE WRONG! (Sort of)

Welcome to my Halloween video bonanza for October. First up is a perfect example of what happens when I do a DIY – it progressively becomes a failure.

Bill and I had a go at a spooky cobweb cake which is meant to look something like this:

 

But I think we can all agree our final result is… a bit different. However, it tasted amazing and was probably the nicest cake I’ve ever made, and I have made a few despite appearances.

See you next week!

Advertisements

When Burlesque, The Gothic And Jazz Age Collide In An Autumnal Extravaganza

Sorry about the title, I’m probably a bit sleep deprived. I’m at my friend’s working on a new book while he does art stuff.

From next week I’ll be posting a spooky themed video made by myself each Tuesday of October, but I thought I’d start Halloween early by sharing other people’s videos of burlesque performances. I like any kind of burlesque but if it has a Gothic twist, or twenties, or circus sideshow it’s even better.

I’ll start with Missy Macabre, partly because I once interviewed her for Bizarre magazine and partly because she manages to combine the twenties, Gothic and sideshow all in one human:

Next is Obskyura, who is basically a modern Josephine Baker in this act:

Tesla Tease is a Gothic mermaid.

Mam’zelle Plum’ti does the Charleston with a bunch of balloons:

Enjoy, I’m off to do more words out my hands, toodle pip!

Amazingly Creepy Horror Illusion Make Up

Just over a month to Halloween!

If you’re creatively inclined with your hands (I’m really not, everything handy I try to do comes out looking a little depressed) maybe you can have a go at this insane horror illusion make up for Halloween. Some people make it look so easy, and SammyLovesFossas is one of those people.

Here’s a Matrioshka (Russian dolls) effect:

Eye Popping Make Up:

The Last of Us:

Human Gruel facepaint:

Ghost facepaint:

Honestly there’s so much more, please visit her channel for more amazingness. See you soon!

Bizarre Book Club: Caitlin Doughty From Ask A Mortician

I read this book in a single day, which should tell you something. No, the book wasn’t two pages long.

I chanced upon a YouTube channel called Ask A Mortician and found her not only informative on all things death related, but also funny and charming. Caitlin Doughty seemed like someone I’d want to hang around with.

This in turn led me to her book Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (And Other Lessons From The Crematory). I expected and enjoyed the anecdotes of working with corpses and the awkwardness of experiencing another culture’s grieving rituals for the first time (the segment on the Chinese family is fascinating).

The horror from outsiders, too, wasn’t a surprise, such as a hospital security guard’s distaste at her picking up ex-babies, that “it didn’t matter how many times I smiled at her, expressed my new-on-the-job status with bumbling Hugh Grant– esque apologies. This woman had decided that I was dirty and deviant. Handmaiden to the underworld.”

I also anticipated moments that made me laugh out loud, such as when “the family had placed a Häagen-Dazs coffee-and-almond ice-cream bar between her hands like a Viking warrior’s weapon. Those are my favourite. So I yelled, involuntarily, “Those are my favourite!””

What I didn’t expect were the many literary quotes and philosophical thoughts. Not that I didn’t think mortuary workers were capable of them, but I didn’t expect to be thinking about them so much afterwards. Caitlin believes the West’s relationship with death has gone astray, that “death might appear to destroy the meaning in our lives, but in fact it is the very source of our creativity. As Kafka said , “The meaning of life is that it ends.” Death is the engine that keeps us running, giving us the motivation to achieve, learn, love, and create.”

She feels that hiding death away and pretending it doesn’t happen is creating greater fear of the  inevitable end. She advocates for a more natural, eco-friendly approach, and for not allowing funeral homes to dictate to the family how the final proceedings should go. I’ll let her explain it in this Ted Talk:

She also believes (more in America, not so much here) that embalming is often sold to people as the only way and is expensive and often unnecessary:

At first I thought, well, is it really so important to be more involved with a body before a funeral? How much can that really change things? Then I thought hard on her point that we also hide old age, stashing the elderly and infirm in sometimes substandard homes, while other cultures move ageing relatives in with them to deal with the consequences of the years together. I wonder if maybe she’s right. What do all of you think?

Caitlin also began The Order of the Good Death, where “funeral industry professionals, academics, and artists explor(e) ways to prepare a death phobic culture for their inevitable mortality.” I’d like to go to one of their talks one day. I’ve also pre-ordered her book From Here To Eternity, in which she travelled far and wide gathering information on the death practices of various civilisations.

As an added bonus, here are a few fun videos from her Ask A Mortician series:

Crematory Scandal That Changed The Death Industry

Victorian STANDING Corpse Photography?

The Punished Suicide

The Self Mummified Monks

Medieval Zombies?!

La Pascualita: Mannequin or Corpse Bride?

Lead Based Make Up Tutorial For Spring

Merry Halloween! John Waters This Filthy World

It’s here! Later tonight I shall be watching Derren Brown and stuffing my face but until then here is something to amuse all you weirdos out there. It’s like that programme An Evening With, where the star shares charming anecdotes with the audience, except in this context it involves burlesque, horror, trash and cult cinema and fetishes. It’s very funny.

BE WARNED: Much of this is NOT for children. Do not watch if you’re under 18 (or whatever age you think it’s OK). Happy Halloween!!

John Waters This Filthy World (2006)

Bizarre Book Club – Spooky Halloween All Hallows Read Horror Special

This post is brought to you by the Parlour of Horror Blog Tour. Parlour of Horror, nothing keeps your teeth whiter.

poh-november-horror-fiction-blogathon

Last week I went to The Sherlock Holmes pub in London, near Trafalgar Square, and took some pretentious pictures for my next batch of mini-reviews:  sherlock-holmes-pub-1sherlock-holmes-pub-2

I genuinely liked it in there, the weird Victoriana made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Anyway, on to the horror.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The night when the whole world as one raises the dead and eats so many sweeties (candy) that we glow iridescent with e numbers.

I’m sorry that I can’t send these out to you personally as you’re supposed to for All Hallows Read, but maybe you can pass them on after purchasing them this year. Let’s begin!

The Haunted Book by Jeremy Dyson.

As well as being a member of The League of Gentlemen and a playwright and author, Jeremy Dyson is a big fan of Robert Aickman (as am I). This is definitely noticeable in this themed collection of ghostly weird tales, which is a fictional account of a journey across the UK to collect local scary stories. Like Robert his stories are often not spelled out, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions about what happened and why. It’s very clever, atmospheric and genuinely creepy.

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi helen-oyeyemi

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a nice children’s book about a married couple who are foxes, but it’s not. There are barely any real foxes.

I found Helen Oyeyemi‘s book very exciting simply for the way it bent my mind. Was it a collection of short stories? Not really. A novel with a single, flowing narrative? Well, no…

Mr Fox is an author who kills off all his female leads, and Mary Foxe is a character of his whose head he chopped off (there are many references to the Bluebeard fairy tale). Or perhaps she was his real wife whose head he chopped off? The pair of them imagine various scenarios in which she’s a romance novelist, a florist, a model and many more, the stories getting darker and stranger but always beautiful.

Helen Oyeyemi manages to take an idea that was cliche by the time it appeared on The Twilight Zone, a character speaking to it’s creator, and turn it into something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. My brain crackled like popping candy and I think yours will too.

100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories by Michael A Arnzen

These flash horror stories are deviously good fun. Split into sections covering the different aspects of horror (gory, supernatural etc) they often don’t become clear until you’ve thought about it for a few moments, and then you’ll be pondering them for quite a while afterwards.

If you have a spare few minutes you can dip into any section and read a tiny story, or sit down for hours and read lots in one go.

Ecstatic Inferno by Autumn Christian ecstatic_inferno_cover

These short stories are very beautifully written and there were so many sentences that made me green with envy. They span science fiction, fantasy and horror, but each tale has a dark Gothic magic behind it.

You’ll find Siamese (conjoined) twins navigating their sexuality, something happening to the children of an earth colony on a cold, barely inhabitable planet, Gods running the government and much more. Nicely creepy and very intelligent.

Ta dah! Have a wonderful Halloween and try not to eat too many sweets (who am I kidding, stuff yourselves silly).

Scary Days Out: London Ghost Bus Tours

The fear countdown continues! Commence terrified screaming and running about in 5…4…3…

Or…do something fun for Halloween like go on a horror bus tour of London, mwa ha haaa

ghost-bus-tours

Promo:

OK, I don’t personally believe in ghosts, but I do suspend disbelief for entertainment purposes, especially around this time of year. Also the tour focused on gruesome events more than haunting ones, so you’re fine either way.

Instead of pointing out pretty buildings (although there was some of that too) we were shown the spot where the largest gallows stood and the place where people were boiled in oil. I won’t give away too many stories else there’ll be no reason to go but I must share one in particular.

We stopped at an unassuming side street called Cock Lane. In 1762 one of the houses was the site of a reported haunting. Apparently the ‘ghost,’ named Fanny, was given to odd scratching sounds in the night, thus a number of newspapers gleefully reported on Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane. Bear in mind that in the UK fanny means a lady’s front parts and not someone’s bottom.

Incidentally the group who exposed the case as a fraud (sorry) included Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English Dictionary. cock-lane-ghost

The bus looks great, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was black: madeleine-swann-london-ghost-bus-tours

And inside there are spooky lamps dotted about and curtains awfully reminiscent of a hearse. I was certainly nervous:

madeleine-swann-london-ghost-bus-tours-2

The video below gives you a good idea of what it looks like inside, plus the tour guide from our particular trip:

The guide had to fight against a number of things including slow traffic and rain obscuring the windows, but he was very good at incorporating things around us and making everyone laugh. The tour itself included some spooky theatrics which were enjoyable, campy, Gothic fun. All in all we had a very good evening and I think you should go.