20 Things You Didn't Know About The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the handful of Halloweenish movies that is still appropriate for the Christmas season, which is one of the many reasons we love it. But if you need more reasons to love the movie than what's on film, Buzzfeed has some amazing facts about the making of the film that show just how much effort went into the stop motion masterpiece. For example, the characters had to be moved 24 times for each second of footage and that meant one minute of footage took an entire week to film -adding up to a total of three years for the film to be completed.

Oh, and Jack Skelington had over 400 heads to ensure he could express any emotion he might have and sync his mouth movements up with his words at the same time. Even if you don't love the movie, the article might very well give you a new appreciation for it.


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The Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween Party

When I decorate for a party, I tend to put up some streamers and balloons, and, maybe a streamer if I'm feeling really fancy. But I'm not a film or set designer, so my guests don't really expect that much from me. That's not the case for our Facebook fan Michael Aiello, who sent us pictures of the decor for his Halloween Nightmare Before Christmas party.

If I put this much effort into party decorations, I'd keep them up for a while. Fortunately, with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme, you can use it again for Christmas -assuming you're inviting a different set of party guests that is.

Either way, I want to go to your next party Michael.


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11 Lawn Decorations That Sparked Controversy

A few weeks ago, John shared the story of a man in England who was told to tone down his Halloween decorations because they were too scary and made a little boy cry. As it turns out, he's not the only person who had the authorities called on him because his Halloween decorations are too scary. 

This Oddee article has the story of a few other home owners who were told to tone it down, though not all of the controversial yard decor is related to Halloween. Some of the complaints are a lot more political in nature, though personally, I prefer the classic scary Halloween decorations and the middle finger hedges.


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Paperman Cosplay

Paperman is an Oscar-nominated animated short film by Disney. It's a touching, magically romantic story of a chance encounter between a man and a woman on a busy street.

Nico Colaleo, a cartoonist and filmmaker, attended a Halloween party hosted by Titmouse, a t-shirt company in New York City. He snapped photos of great costumes from that party, including this one of George, the lead male character in Paperman.


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Great Costumes By The Readers of The Mary Sue

While The Mary Sue didn't post up pictures of their readers' costumes throughout October like we did, they did still do a round up at the end of the month. While there are plenty of great ones in their collection, this take on Microsoft's dreaded "blue screen of death" is a great example of how to turn a concept into a tangible costume. I particularly love Rachel's use of Perler beads as the Windows logo hair piece -and her blue hair only helps sell the costume.

Beth's Totoro dress is also quite cute and something that she could wear throughout the year, if she's nerdy enough.


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Lucy Skywalker Has One Heck of a Father

Say hello to Lucy Skywalker and her trusty tauntaun that will hopefully not be converted into a frozen rebel incubator. This adorable little Jedi owes her impressive costume to her pop, Paco Allen, who has apparently not joined the Dark Side as he is still lovingly slaving away to be a great daddy.

Make talked to Paco about what he needed to do to create this masterful costume, and you can find out everything you need if you have any intent to attempt to recreate his brilliant design for your own aspiring Jedi nect year.


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The Empire State Building Halloween Light Show

(Photo: The Empire State Building Realty Trust)

The Empire State Building in New York City has a sophisticated new light system. Last night, it lit up for Halloween festivities. You can view many more photos here.

In the video below, you can watch the musical show, which included songs from The Nightmare before Christmas and Ghostbusters as well as Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” and Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”


(Video Link)

-via Core77


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NASA's Pumpkin Carving Contest

(YouTube link)

The annual pumpkin carving contest at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had all the geeky elements you'd expect: power tools, laser etching, gears, animation, lights, smoke machines, and spaceships. They also had a couple of things you wouldn't expect, like a pumpkin aquarium and a chocolate fountain disguised as an alien chestburster! Each contestant had only an hour to finished their project, although any of these would have taken the rest of us mere mortals days to pull off. No mention about who won.  -via Digg  


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Historically Accurate Snow White

We previously featured Claire Hummel's drawings showing how Disney princesses would dress if their costumes were historically accurate. Now here's a cool take on her Snow White drawing turned into an actual dress by DeviantArt cosplayer Tsu-yaa. In case you're wondering, the story takes place in Germany in approximately 1500-1550.

The pictures look particularly great considering that they were shot in a small Austrian castle. If I was Snow, I would be wary of that giant mirror, mirror on the wall. That thing is just bad news, even if it is just being honest.


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The Best Tweets of Halloween

With kids knocking on your door every five minutes, it's not like you'll have time to form a coherent, complex thought. So just turn off your brain and log in to Twitter tonight. Here are some of the funniest tweets of the evening.


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The Most Haunted Graveyard in the World

The cemetery Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, was established in the 1560s. That has given it plenty of time to gather restless spirits, legends, paranormal sightings, and famous residents. It's the home of the MacKenzie Poltergeist, the supposed spirit of George MacKenzie, whose tomb was broken into in 1999. They say he has wandered the graveyard ever since. The cemetery butts up against a prison to which 1200 would-be revolutionaries were incarcerated in 1679. Only 257 of them came out alive. Even today, visitors to the cemetery report strange phenomena, including attacks by ghosts. But what may surprise you the most is the link between JK Rowling's fantasy world of Harry Potter and Greyfriars Kirkyard. Read all about this haunted cemetery at The Daily Beast. -via Digg

(Image credit: Margaret W. Carruthers)


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Of Wolves and Men and Delicious Little Girls

The legend of the werewolf has evolved over centuries, but its genesis is the wolf. Only a couple of hundred years ago, wolves were plentiful in Europe and posed a real danger to the people who lived there. In the rural area of Gévaudan, France, wolves attacked and killed people sporadically for almost 100 years (1674 to 1767), causing the citizenry to live in terror lest they, too, be eaten by a wolf. Over a hundred people were killed and eaten before the horror finally ended (however, many more wolves were killed).

In some places, the terrifying and uncontrollable attacks were explained by accusing people of making deals with the devil in return for being turned into an animal themselves -although why anyone would want to do that is never fully explored. Atlas Obscura has a rundown of the history of wolf attacks and werewolves. Curiously, the same area of France where the Beast of Gévaudan once killed citizens left and right now has a wolf sanctuary where wolves can roam free and protected.

The post is part of their 31 Days of Halloween series, which wraps up today with a post recapping each story. You can also browses articles from previous Halloweens at Atlas Obscura.


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14 Awesome Geeky Jack-O-Lanterns

Ready to carve your pumpkin just in time to put it on the porch before the trick or treaters show up? Then perhaps these 14 great geeky pumpkins on Make Us Of can provide you with a good source of inspiration. They have everything from comic book characters to Minecraft creepers to the Death Star blowing up. I'm a particularly big fan of this Guy Fawkes pumpkin that would make any member of Annonymous proud.

Of course, if you aren't much of an artist (I'm not either) then perhaps a V like the one from V is for Vendetta would be a little easier.


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Let Them Eat Candy!

After a summer of watermelon and popsicles, today we enter the season of candy holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter (and someday they will figure out how to sell lots of candy for Thanksgiving). For kids, Halloween is all about the candy, since there isn't much about the holiday for them outside of trick-or-treating. But parents worry about that big bag of candy their children will haul home tonight. That many sweets can't be good for a child, right?

Many parents restrict the amount of sugar available to their kids as an ongoing habit, and are tempted to confiscate or ration trick-or-treat candy. But unless your child has an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, a once-a-year binge will cause no lasting damage. And science says that restricting your kids' goodies may make them crave them even more.

This idea isn’t just based on speculation. In a 1999 study, Penn State researchers identified three types of snacks—wheat crackers, cheese fish-shaped crackers, and pretzel fish-shaped crackers—that a group of 4- to 6-year-olds found equally tasty. Then they split the kids into groups and seated them around tables. They allowed all of the kids as many wheat crackers as they wanted but put either the cheese fish-shaped crackers or pretzel fish-shaped crackers in a clear container in the middle of the table and told the kids they couldn’t have them. After several minutes, a bell rang and the groups were each allowed to eat as many of the formerly banned crackers as they wanted in addition to the wheat crackers. The researchers found that the kids talked positively about, asked for, and ate whichever type of cracker they had been denied—far more than the always available wheat crackers. Interestingly, the kids who became most preoccupied with the forbidden crackers were those who had parents who restricted certain foods at home.

Further experiments show that restrictions will even increase a child's desire for treats they don't even particularly like! Of course, any child can excitedly overindulge on trick-or-treat candy and become sick, but that's temporary and they might even learn a lesson. As kids mature, they learn to respect their own limits, but only if they get an occasional chance to test those limits. Read more about the science behind candy craving at Slate.

(Image credit: Flickr user Rochelle, just rochelle)


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The Death of Harry Houdini

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Few men (or women) in any field of human endeavor rise to become the unequivocal, undisputed, unquestioned "top dog" #1 person in that field. Shakespeare. Babe Ruth. Michael Jordan. Thomas Edison. Fred Astaire. The list is a very short one.

But ask almost anyone on the planet to name a famous magician and take the proverbial "dollars to doughnuts" wager that they'll say "Houdini!" The Houdini legend persists, and indeed, seems to grow larger with each passing year. This fact stems, at least partly, from a hugely popular 1953 film called Houdini starring Tony Curtis. This very successful film was a largely fictional account of the life of the great Houdini (even the fact of the magician's physical appearance was untruthful).

Houdini himself looked nothing like the Greek god-looking Curtis. The magician was actually a squat, fairly severe-looking Jewish fellow. Other facts are ignored or omitted in the movie.

Houdini, in his storied life, was also a moderately successful movie actor (he appeared in several silent shorts) and was also a highly successful airplane pilot -he made the first successful, sustained, powered flight in the continent of Australia. Be that as it may, the legend of Houdini the magician/escapologist lives on, and if Harry Houdini (born Erich Weiss), the most famous magician/escapologist of all time, lives on as legend fodder to each passing generation, his death has become a key part of that legend.


The story runs like this: Houdini was in Montreal, in his dressing room after a show, when a young American student named J. Gordon Whitehead was shown into his dressing room. After they chatted, Whitehead asked Houdini if it was true that punches in his stomach didn't hurt him. Houdini replied in the affirmative, and Whitehead promptly asked if he could punch him in his gut.

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Pixel the Zombie Fighter

If your dog is not going to be a monster for Halloween, she might as well be a badass monster-fighting warrior! Nadine Gilden's pug Pixel is all dressed for Halloween as Michonne from The Walking Dead, complete with her katana and her pet zombies trailing along! Pixel won the Scariest Costume prize at the NYC Pug Meetup Halloween Bash, which happened on the same date as the season premiere of The Walking Dead. Pixel is also a contestant in a photo contest sponsored by Petco.


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The 50 Greatest Horror Movie Posters of All Time

The art that advertises a movie is crucial to getting people in the theater seats. However, we've all noticed the trend in the past twenty years or so for all movie poster art to combine the same elements in the same order -only the names and faces change. Still, some posters are works of art, and the art of horror can instill a terrible sense of dread that will make people buy movie tickets.

As in all such lists, the choices are subjective. But I think you will enjoy looking at these horror posters. As several posters are usually done for a theatrical release, you may not have seen these at all in a theater near you. And be aware that some are from outside the US, and some contain nudity. See all fifty posters at Film.com.  -via mental_floss  


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Halloween Directions for Every Stage of Life

College Humor has a set of Google Maps-style directions for negotiating Halloween. The "early childhood" panel shown here is only the first: there are also directions for late childhood (in which you are the older sibling), the teenage years, college, and the adult years. The adult version is my favorite, for more than the obvious reason. It took a real genius to come up with the scheme of putting an empty candy bowl on the porch, since every trick-or-treater will just assume the kids in front of him took all the candy! You can pretend that it was an unintentional slip, but we know better. Check them all out!


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Dinosaurs Made From Jack-O-Lanterns

We've seen plenty of elaborately carved pumpkins before, but never a set of pumpkins that make up one image so large -or so delightfully geeky as a dinosaur skeletion. It's like a Halloween version of a natural history museum.

These cool dino creations were featured at the Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze in New York this year. While they apparently always have some dinosaurs, there were more than ever this year in all shapes and sizes. 

The event features over 5,000 pumpkin carvings including a tunnel o' pumpkin love and jack-in-the-boxes that actually pop out real pumpkins.

Via Geekologie


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Happy National Candy Corn Day!

October 30th is National Candy Corn Day, as if we didn't have a candy holiday already scheduled for the next day. National Candy Corn Day is a creation of the National Confectioners Association, as a way of reminding everyone to go buy some. In honor of the occasion, Time Newsfeed presents An Oral History of Candy Corn, which they call "the most polarizing confection of them all." I guess that's true, because everyone seems to either love candy corn or despise it. My household goes through tons of it every October, but as soon as it's gone, we don't think about it for another year. Hey, those Halloween shelves in the stores empty out to make room for Christmas candy, after all! -via Digg


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Dead Man's Bones

(YouTube link)

Every Halloween needs a dancing skeleton (or more than one). Comedian Nathan Barnatt (previously at Neatorama) dances all over dressed as the bones of a dead man, accompanied by the 2009 song "Dead Man's Bones" by the group Dead Man's Bones. His lanky, creepy moves are just as you'd imagine a skeleton would dance -if that skeleton were a decent dancer! -via Buzzfeed


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Unfortunate Vintage Candy Wrappers

You might think some of the candy offerings for children available now are unappetizing (cough*Nerds*cough), but imagine finding a Whiz and a Plopp in your trick-or-treat bag! These are just two of the unfortunately-named candies from the past in a gallery at Collectors Weekly. Some are unappetizing, some are racist, and some were packaged to resemble dangerous stuff, like the candy you might mistake for a kitchen-cleaning pad. What were they thinking?

(Image credit: The Candy Wrapper Museum)


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Now That's How You Do A Dalek Costume

Go to any convention these days and you're bound to see plenty of Daleks, but Costume Works reader Michelle might just have made the ultimate Dalek costume for her little Whovian daughter. That's because it doesn't just have a great outer shell, but it even has a gross, shriveled Dalek body bursting from the inside. 

And, if you look closely, the little girl inside is wearing a red dress, which could be a shout out to everyone's favorite Dalek minded human -Clara Oswin Oswald. Best of all, her sister even went as a TARDIS. If I saw these two trick or treating on my street, I'd just give them the whole bowl of candy and tell all the other kids I just ran out because these two won Halloween.


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The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board

In the time of Halloween, the serious and not-so-serious often turn to parlor games that verge on the occult, in trying to contact ghosts and spirits that we don't think about during the rest of the year. The common Ouija board is one way to either pass the time, have a few laughs, or scare yourself silly. But where did it come from? Ouija historian Robert Murch found out over twenty years ago that no one had completely documented the history of the Ouija board, outside of the reason for its popularity.  

The Ouija board, in fact, came straight out of the American 19th century obsession with spiritualism, the belief that the dead are able to communicate with the living. Spiritualism, which had been around for years in Europe, hit America hard in 1848 with the sudden prominence of the Fox sisters of upstate New York; the Foxes claimed to receive messages from spirits who rapped on the walls in answer to questions, recreating this feat of channeling in parlors across the state. Aided by the stories about the celebrity sisters and other spiritualists in the new national press, spiritualism reached millions of adherents at its peak in the second half of the 19th century. Spiritualism worked for Americans: it was compatible with Christian dogma, meaning one could hold a séance on Saturday night and have no qualms about going to church the next day. It was an acceptable, even wholesome activity to contact spirits at séances, through automatic writing, or table turning parties, in which participants would place their hands on a small table and watch it begin shake and rattle, while they all declared that they weren’t moving it. The movement also offered solace in an era when the average lifespan was less than 50: Women died in childbirth; children died of disease; and men died in war. Even Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the venerable president, conducted séances in the White House after their 11-year-old son died of a fever in 1862; during the Civil War, spiritualism gained adherents in droves, people desperate to connect with loved ones who’d gone away to war and never come home.

Which explains why it became so popular, but the story of how the game came to market is even more fascinating. There were homemade boards to tell fortunes before the Ouija board was patented. The businessmen who rushed to patent the game knew they had to prove that it worked before they could secure a patent. And they did just that. Read that story, plus how the Ouija board really works, at Smithsonian.  


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Your Most Memorable Halloween Costumes

Over a month ago, we asked you to send us a picture of a memorable Halloween costume from your past to share with everyone on the Halloween blog. Quite a few Neatoramanauts did just that, and we got some great pictures, and some great stories about them!

We also awarded t-shirts from the NeatoShop to five of these folks. In case you missed the costume parade on the Halloween blog, here they are all together! They are presented here in no particular order, except that the five winners are first. Clicking on the name will take you to the original post with the story behind the costume. 

Jen Cornwell led her class back in elementary school dressed as an order of McDonalds french fries! Her mother always made great costumes. Now she can dress in a t-shirt from the NeatoShop. See her California Raisin costume, too!

Mindy sent in pictures of costumes she made for her children -and they are awesome! When her daughter wanted to be a house, they made her Alice in Wonderland, in the scene where she grows as big as a house! The Link and robot costumes are great, too.

Another year, Mindy's son asked to be a squid. That had to have been a lot of work! For being such a creative Mom, Mindy gets a new t-shirt.

Jamie C and her husband Lucas made this couple's costume on a tiny budget, but it turned out to be a real hoot -they are contestants on the TV game show The Price is Right! Note that she outbid him by a dollar. This costume won Jamie a shirt; be sure to check out their Lego costumes as well.

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Allie Brosh's Dinosaur Costume

Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half has a story for us about Halloween in her latest post. At age 4, she attended a preschool Halloween party dressed as a dinosaur. The dinosaur costume gave her power, and she became the dinosaur, which of course, leads to a strange and completely believable story that unfolds with delightful illustrations.

And Brosh is now a published author! Her book, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, is now on store shelves. Wired got an interview with Brosh about the book. Now that it's out, let's hope that Allie has more time to post more wonderful stories on her blog! -via Boing Boing

Previously: More from Allie Brosh.


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13 Great Pieces of Haunted Mansion Fan Art

When Halloween rolls around, I can’t help but think of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Of course, if you actually visit Disneyland this time of year, you’ll be treated to The Nightmare Before Christmas version, which is great, but still not the classic we’ve all come to love. So, since no one can enjoy the traditional version of this great attraction in person, we may as well enjoy it through art. While a few famous artists, like Shag, have been commissioned by Disney to create artwork based on the Haunted Mansion, the most heartfelt creations are those by fans with nothing but love to motivate them. Here are a few of our favorites:

Your New Ghost Hosts

Here’s a creation that does a great job branching between the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion with the original by imagining Jack and Sally dressed up in the iconic ensembles worn by the ride’s cast members. Artist Brianna Garcia also did a great job illustrating the famous bride from the Haunted Mansion in this piece.

Happy Haunts Materialize

Adam Taula’s take on the Haunted Mansion is quite refreshing. It not only just shows the exterior of the building, but it also illustrates just how creepy the building itself is.

A Villainous Turn of Events

There are a whole lot of fan tributes to the stretching portraits and a lot of them are good, so you’ll just have to excuse the number of them in this article. With that in mind, it’s hard not to love seeing DeviantArt user smallvillereject’s version with some of the many classic Disney villains. Humorously, Madame Medusa’s positive relationship with her pet alligators makes the tightrope portrait take on a whole new vibe.

Is Toy Story Actually Stretching?

Similarly, I don’t think Jesse has much to worry about as long as Rex is the only “monster” under her tightrope. And this time, Hamm is pretty much OK as well, considering a barrel of monkeys isn’t exactly as dangerous as dynamite. If Woody weren’t dead in this scenario, Chris Raimo’s Toy Story mashup wouldn’t even be all that spooky.

Wall-To-Wall Creeps of Gotham

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