2016 Halloween Merchandise Review: Lowe’s

Lowe’s is a regular weekend trip for my husband and me, so I was very pleasantly surprised last weekend to see that they’ve finally put out their Halloween item.  I have to say, last year’s Lowe’s Halloween merchandise was lacking.  I think they upped their game this year.


Just check out the lovely display they have as you walk into the indoor garden section:


Doesn’t it just get you in the mood?  For Halloween, that is.

And they had another cute display pretty close by featuring some light-up decorations:


One thing they had over other places is a large selection of blow-up yard decorations, including the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, a pumpkin, a spider, minions, a dragon, and – my favorite – a grim reaper shown below.



I thought these metal and wicker pumpkin decorations were pretty cute.  If you’re going for a folksy theme, these would be perfect.


They had two animatronic props: a witch and a ghost.  Unfortunately, my video is too large to post right now, but I’ve shared them on Facebook if you want to see them.  And you do.  They’re pretty cool.  And while you’re there, follow my page.  Just do it.

Home Invasion Horror Movies

Don’t Breathe hit theaters over the weekend, and it seems to have struck a chord with moviegoers.  It has impressed critics and topped the box office, so it got me thinking; what else can I and other horror movie fans do to satisfy our home invasion horror movie craving?

Never fear, because there are quite a few horror movies out there involving home invasions.  Here are my faves:

The Collector (2009)

This movie is pretty gruesome.  A man doing helping with maintenance at a family’s home is revealed in the beginning to actually be (SPOILER ALERT) casing the residence to break in while the family is away on vacation.   He follows through with his plan, but after he’s inside, he finds himself in a house rigged with Saw-like booby traps and the family being tortured.  It’s pretty crazy, but if you can’t take so-called  “torture porn,” you might want to watch this one with your finger on the fast forward button.

The Strangers (2008)

This movie gets a lot of flack for the poor decisions made by the lead characters played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, but I still love this movie.  An on-the-rocks couple is spending some time at an isolated house, and terror comes knocking on their door in the form of a skinny, young lady looking for “Tamara.”  She ain’t, and soon the lady and a few other masked creeps begin to freak the hell out of the couple and (SPOILER ALERT) ultimately kill them in a “gut-wrenching” way.

That was a pun I just made.

Silent House (2011)

Elizabeth Olson is helping her father and uncle renovate a cabin to get ready for its sale and soon becomes isolated from them.  She gets trapped inside with intruders and has to try out a few hiding places in the house.  I don’t want to give anything else away, so just watch it.  This one is creepy and filled with some great twists and turns.

The Purge (2013)

The Purge movies have become pretty popular, and although I like Anarchy and Election Year better than the first, it’s still a pretty great example of home invasion horror.  Even a super-rich family with all sorts of security measures protecting their home isn’t safe from annual purgers after their son lets in a man trying to escape being murdered.

High Tension (2003)

This is one of my favorite French horror movies, and I love the craziness of it all.  A woman travels to her family’s country home to visit and brings along her friend.  They’re brutally attacked, and the thrill ride that follows is so stressful and insane.  I love it.


That’s only a small portion of home invasion horror movies out there.  If you run through those, you can try The Last House on the Left, The People Under the Stairs, or the French movies Martyrs or Inside.  I haven’t seen Inside yet, but I plan on remedying that within the next week or so.

And I only recommend Martyrs if you’re ready to be messed up for a little while.  That movie, man.  It’s rough.

2016 Halloween Merchandise Review: Michaels

I. Love. Michaels.  Every year, I look forward to their Halloween merchandise, and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed this time.

Unfortunately for me, my town doesn’t have a Michaels, so I have to settle on going to the one near my parents.  Fortunately for you, I was due for a visit this past weekend, so I was able to go look at all of their wonderful, creepy goodies.


First of all, let’s talk about Spooky Town.  I love miniatures, so of course I’m going to love a little town of mini creepy houses and creatures.


They had some really cute new miniatures, including my two favorites:


Ain’t they adorable?

As always, Michaels has a great mixture of creepy props, fun decorations, and craft supplies.  They’re definitely my favorite of the craft stores when it comes to Halloween.






This guy right here will be mine at the end of the season.  I should have used a banana for scale, but I didn’t think about it at the time, but he’s pretty big.  He’d look great next to a witch’s cauldron.


This animated prop was pretty awesome, too.  A tad overpriced in my opinion at $69.99, but still cool.  Again, I screwed up, this time by not getting a video of the guy in action, but he basically just moves back and forth with his hands while shouting profanity and racial slurs.

Just kidding.   I wanted to make sure you were paying attention.  He moves around and groans. No offensive language for Michaels.


And I don’t know what it is about these ceramic heads, but I freaking adore them.  They have skulls, Frankenstein’s monster, jack o’lanterns, mini skulls, and skeleton hands.  You can paint these to fit your decor, or just leave them as is and pair with anything you want.


I would totally recommend going to Michaels if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area.  The items aren’t overpriced, and if you’re a cheapo like me, you can always use a coupon or just catch them on sale.

Where to Buy Halloween Merchandise

I was out on the town this weekend, and I was happy to see that so many stores are already putting out their Halloween items!  Spirit Halloween and Halloween Express have still not opened their doors for the season yet (at least not here), and Walmart and Target are still peddling school supplies, but never fear!  You can  satisfy your Halloween shopping fix by visiting the following stores:

Hobby Lobby: They might not have a lot of truly creepy items, but if you’re looking for cutesy stuff, Hobby Lobby has you covered.

Michaels: My favorite thing about Michael’s Halloween merchandise is their cool Spookytown Village miniatures.  Minis make me happy.  Plus, Michael’s also has a lot of cool small props, decorative items, and craft supplies.

JoAnn: I love JoAnn’s skeleton animals.  This year they have two different kinds of dogs, cats, owls, and vultures.

Kirkland’s:  This is another one that doesn’t have any really creepy stuff, but, like Hobby Lobby, if you want cutesy, Kirkland’s has it.

TJ Maxx: Skulls, skulls, skulls.  I love the variety of decorative skulls and skeletons TJ Maxx has.  Check out my review of their 2016 merchandise here!

Home Goods: They have some similar stuff to TJ Maxx, which makes sense seeing as they have the same parent company, but check it out anyway even if you have both in your town.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m slowly working on reviewing all of the merchandise at each of these stores, so I’ll post them as I finish them.  My favorite so far has been Michael’s.  I’ll post some pics soon.

Countdown to Halloween

August is only now halfway  over, and I’m sitting here like:


I’m getting antsy for the holiday, so I thought it would make me feel better to think about what I have to look forward to between now and October 31.

August 26: Don’t Breathe premieres in theaters.  This movie has great reviews on both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.  I’m going to watch this one in theaters for sure.

September 1: By this date, a lot of Halloween stuff should be out.   I already posted about TJ Maxx, and I’m pretty sure Michaels has their merchandise out, too.  I asked Party City when their items would be on the shelves, and they told me that everything should be ready by September 1.  Target and Walmart will probably drag their feet to get the most that they can out of back-to-school sales, but they’ll follow suit shortly.  I’m sure Spirit and Halloween Express will not disappoint me.  I even think (*fingers crossed*) that Spirit might actually be opening much earlier.

September 1: It’s only 60 days until Halloween!

September 14: The 6th season of American Horror Story starts!  Who the hell knows at this point what this season is about, but I can say the promos for them have piqued my interest.  I’ve read that some of them are red herrings, but they haven’t disappointed me yet, so I’m excited.

September 16: Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights begins.  I won’t get to go to this, but I like reading about the new stuff they have and watching videos of the creepy attractions.  Someday I will make it to the actual event.

October 1: Duh.  It’s the beginning of October, so the season is in full swing.  And I get to decorate my yard!!!  I’m pretty regimented about my decorating.  It’s got to be up on October 1st and down on November 1st.  Otherwise, I might keep it up all year.

October 16: My favorite Halloween tv event premieres tonight:  The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXVII.  That’s a lot of horror.

Those are the big things on my countdown right now.  If you need a little bit to help you through the impatience of waiting on Halloween, write out your own list.  It helps.

DIY Halloween: Skills You Need

For my last DIY Wednesday post, I gave you a list of materials you needed to gather for your Halloween projects.  Materials, however, are nothing without skills.  What skills? I thought you’d never ask.

DIY Halloween_ Skills You Need(1)

1. Making a budget


I know.  It’s not fun to think about (unless you like math – like me), but budget plays a big part in your Halloween DIY process.  Why make a prop if you can buy it cheaper?  My main impetus for prop-making instead of prop-buying is saving money.

Also, I’m a little vain, so compliments about my work are a big factor, too.

When I’m about to start my seasonal prop-making process, I like to sit down and write a list of a) the props I want to make, b) the materials I need to make those props, c) the approximate cost, and d) where I can buy materials for the cheapest amount.  You don’t want to just start buying a bunch of supplies that you may or may not need.  That’s just wasteful.

2. Knowing what will come in handy


I’m not recommending for anyone to become a hoarder, but if it’s close to Halloween, keep an eye on your garbage.  Many of the things we call trash can be very useful for a prop.  Milk jugs can be cut up to become fingernails, newspaper can be used for papier mache, paper towel/toilet paper rolls can become prop arms, etc…  The list goes on and on.

For example, we use plastic grocery bags for trash bags in our house.  I felt like we were suddenly getting covered up in them, so I almost threw them out.  I stopped myself, though, because plastic grocery bags are pretty great for filling out prop bodies.  Now, I have a small bunch of them being stored for the Halloween season.

3. Having basic hardware knowledge


This might seem a little elementary, but props need tools.  That’s just a fact.  Know when to use a hammer, a power drill, nails vs. screws, etc…  Watch some tutorials online.  For real.  YouTube is a valuable resource for just about anything, and that goes for prop-making, too.

4. Knowing how to use electronics, motors, etc…


This is more for advanced prop-makers, but who doesn’t love a moving prop.  Or even an immobile prop that lights up.  There’s just a certain oomph that electronics give to props, so don’t be scared.  Dive in. The YouTube comment from the last section goes for this, too.  There are also schematics online to help with wiring.

It doesn’t have to be that complicated.  You can use oscillating fans for moving heads.  You just have to know how to rig everything up and not blow out the motor (I learned my lesson on that one).  Or you can just start small with lights and batteries from Radio Shack.

Don’t. Be. Scared.

5. Painting


Painting can make or break your prop.  It’s the final step (usually), so you don’t want to screw up your prop at the very end.  It’s just as easy to make a prop look terrible with paint as it is to make it look awesome.  You don’t want to get to the end of making a severed head or gravestone out of styrofoam and screw up by using spray paint.  Your prop will be eaten, and you will be sad.

That’s the first step: know what type of paint to use.

The second is knowing how to use paint.  If you have a large prop, it’s best (in many cases) to give it a base coat of one dark color and then dry-brush on your accent color to give your prop depth and character.  If you need to use spray paint, MOVE YOUR ARM CONSTANTLY.  And use light coats.  Some props might benefit from the gloppy, drippy look, but many will not.  Just go one step at a time, and when you’re happy with the look, stop.

6. Sewing


I wish I could say I saved the best for last.  I wish I could say I’m an expert sewer.  I wish I could say sewing is fun.

I wish for a lot of things.

But I suck at sewing.  I hate  it.  The fact is, though, that sewing is pretty useful.  And the great thing about making Halloween props is that the sewing doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect.  You can do it by hand or use a sewing machine.  Some props might benefit from a nicely-tailored outfit, but some might benefit just as well from burlap and a chunky twine stitch.  Use whatever you need to make it look good.  No one’s going to be inspecting them too closely, so don’t freak out too much about it.


I could go on and on, but these are the main skills I think any good prop-maker needs.  You don’t have to start off as an expert.  Learning is a process, and there’s always a bit of trial and error with this DIY stuff.  Just keep your cool, and don’t get discouraged.  You’ll do fine.

And if not, you can always buy something.

2016 Halloween Merchandise Review: TJ Maxx

As I’ve been saying, Halloween is approaching fast, and with the swift approach of our favorite holiday comes the arrival of Halloween merchandise.


As usual, TJ Maxx is one of the first to put out their Halloween products for the year, and since I went there this weekend, I thought I’d snap a few pics.  Just look at all the goodies!


One thing I really like at TJ Maxx is their selection of metal jack o’lanterns.  These always look classy, and I like that you can use them  with whatever theme you want.  Just dress them up with flowers for a cutesy Halloween (not my preference, but whatever) or just put them with your creepy stuff.  They’ll fit right in.


They also had a few cute Day of the Dead skulls in the mix.  They’re just so festive.


There was also a selection of orange and pumpkin-themed decorations found at another part of the store.


This was probably my favorite item.  You can’t see from this pic, but the jack o’lantern’s head is actually a candleholder.  I’ll probably be picking up this guy before all is said and done.


This was also one of my favorites.  It’s two skeletons carrying a plate.  I think it’s meant to be used as a candleholder, but I thought it would be cool to put a few treats on it for your Halloween party food spread.  The large faux-stone skull to the right of it is pretty awesome, and I also love the skull and crossbones candleholder to the left.



I thought TJ Maxx had a pretty good selection this year.  They always have a large amount of skull-themed items, so I enjoy looking at their stuff each Halloween.  If you’re looking for actual props, they probably won’t fulfill your needs, but if you’re looking for purely decorative items, you should check TJ Maxx out.

One last thing I’ll talk about is this fun little phone I played around with for awhile.  I’m worse than a kid with this stuff.  (Sorry for the weird video format!)

Halloween Is Coming Soon!

We’re at less than 90 days left until the big holiday, and I see signs of it everywhere I look.  I posted this pic last week:


That’s a Halloween Express that’s being set up in my town.  And yesterday, I snapped this shot:


Excitement! Happiness! Elation!  It’s almost time!

Another sight that makes me so happy to see is this:


That’s a section of school supplies that’s been up at a local Walmart.  You know what comes after school supplies, right?  HALLOWEEN STUFF!!!

So if you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about what you need to do to get ready for the big night.  If you haven’t, you might have read the first sentence of this post and thought, “HOLY CRAP! LESS THAN 90 DAYS!  I DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME!”

You’re right.

And to help everyone who reads this blog, my Halloween season schedule will be a little different.  You can expect the following posts in the next few months:

  • Merchandise Reviews: I plan on reviewing which stores have the best Halloween items and how they rate on originality, costume selection, quality, and price.  I’ll also do store comparisons (i.e., specialty store vs specialty store, etc…).
  • Decorating on a Budget: What is your budget?  10? 20? 50?  I’ll give ideas for various budgets to show anyone can decorate for the big day.
  • Halloween Food Specials: Stores and restaurants always have fun holiday items, and I’ll make sure to point out any I find.
  • TV Specials:  Are you curious about when “The Great Pumpkin” will air or if your favorite show will have a Halloween episode?  I’ll be your guide.
  • Haunted House Reviews: These will probably only be beneficial to local peeps, but I’ll be going to local haunted houses and reviewing them here.

Those are just some of the topics I’ll cover.  I hope that I can help at least a few people with their Halloween.  If you have any other ideas for blog posts or if you have specific questions, just let me know in the comments!

A Nightmare on Elm Street: TFO’s 5 Scariest Scenes

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my all-time favorite horror movies.  The original movie had Freddy Krueger in all his terrifying glory, before he became a murderous comedian in later sequels.  I love psychotic, funny Freddy just as much as the next person, but scary Freddy is my favorite.  Well, as much as a burned-to-death child molester can be.

These are my top 5 scariest scenes of A Nightmare on Elm Street:

5.  The Takedown

Nancy was the original Kevin McAllister, Home-Alone-ing the bad guy way before little Kevin even knew the word ‘booby-trap.’  She comes up with a plan to intentionally fall asleep and set an alarm to wake herself up so that she can grab Freddy to bring him to her world.  At first, it seems like her plan didn’t work, but Freddy pops up behind her in jump-scare fashion and then chases her through her booby-trapped home.

4.  Nancy’s School Dream

Nancy falls asleep in school while a classmate recites a scene from Hamlet.  This nightmare starts off slowly but so creepily as the classmate quotes in a whisper, “O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”  Nancy walks outside and sees Tina’s bloody corpse wrapped in a sheet and being dragged down the hallway.

3.  Bathtub Hand

Yeesh!  Nancy falls asleep in her bathtub while reciting the famous Nightmare rhyme, and of course, Freddy makes an appearance.  Knees spread to either side of the tub, Nancy passes out, and Freddy’s knife hand slowly emerges.  The sight of those sharp fingers close to such a tender area always made me cringe.  And it still does.

2.  Glen’s Death

Poor, poor Glen.  Cute, baby-faced Johnny Depp.  He just didn’t take this whole thing seriously enough.  I don’t know what exactly happened to him when he was pulled into and under his bed, but it certainly wasn’t pretty and it left his parents with a hell of a mess to clean up in his room.  Even when I just have this movie playing in the background while I’m doing something else, I always take a second to watch this scene.  His mother just walks in to a fountain of blood exploding from her son’s bed.  So much blood, so much gore.  Always a fan.

1.  Tina’s Death (and Long-Armed Freddy)

Poor Tina. You just had to do it with your boyfriend, didn’t you?  Don’t you know that’s forbidden in a horror movie?

After she and Rod have some (unnecessarily loud) sex in her mother’s bedroom, Tina falls asleep and has one of the creepiest nightmares of the whole series in my humble opinion.  I don’t know what it is about Freddy with his long-ass arms scraping down the alleyway, but it’s the scene that has stuck with me ever since I was a little kid.  Creepy. As. Hell.

Tina’s death is also arguably one of the most iconic scenes of the series when she’s dragged screaming and bloody from her post-coital bed, up the wall, and across the ceiling.


Bonus Scary Scene:  The End. What was up with that damn mommy mannequin?

What about you?  What do you think was the scariest scene?

International Clown Week: Laughs & Scares

We’re at the tail-end of International Clown Week, and there’s no way I can just ignore a whole week that celebrates those creepy bastards.  After all, one of my favorite horror characters is a clown.


Not him, but he’ll do.

So I present to you (drumroll):

7 Fun and Creepy Clown Facts

1.  The fear of clowns is called coulrophobia.  Scientists say this widespread fear is due to the “uncanny valley” effect in which something looks almost human but not quite, creating an unsettling feeling.

2.  Serial killer John Wayne Gacy used to perform as a clown for children’s parties, fundraising events, and parades.  His performing name was Pogo the Clown.

3. Johnny Depp is terrified of clowns.  He’s stated they “have a potential for real evil.”


Him? Nah…


4. American Horror Story’s Twisty the Clown caused an uproar in the clowning community because the character was so scary.  Many professional clowns are against the scary clown trope because it promotes coulrophobia.  Their anger is understandable because that has got to be bad for business.

5. Masks from Killer Klowns from Outer Space were used to make some of the trolls in the movie Ernest Scared Stupid.

6.  Actors from the TV miniseries of Stephen King’s IT stated that they avoided Tim Curry on set because his portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown was too damn frightening.

7.  Two separate budding filmmakers frightened residents of their respective towns by dressing up as clowns and appearing creepily in places.  The incidents occurred in 2013 in Northampton and in 2014 in Staten Island, and both kept their identities a secret for a while, increasing the mystery and fear.


If you feel like celebrating clowns and all the fear they incite, you still have time.  Why not watch some scary clown-related movies like Stephen King’s It, Carnival of Souls, or Poltergeist (murderous clown doll, anyone?)?

Or maybe just dress up as a clown and pop up in random places around your home town.  You know.  Just to get the word out.