Creepy Reef Art – Sunken statues that are supposed to be pretty, but…yeah. Kind of creepy. (Hat tip to chas)
Sea Glass Candy – Instructions for making jewel-tone candy that looks like sea glass. I can envision a lot of dessert-decorating ideas for these.
It’s Happy ‘Thulhu – Dork Tower did this cute little Old One as a clickthrough cover for a vaguely NSFW cartoon, and it got such an overwhelming response that they’re making T-shirts and printable versions available.
Chain Wine Bottle Holder – This is just one of those “gravity defying” bottle holders, but I like the spooky look of the chain.
ROFLSpiders – Like LOLCats but with way more legs. (Hat tip to xJane)
Following on the heels of the author recommendation I did for Tim Powers, I dug up reviews of two other science fiction authors that might also interest thriller/horror fans. These were both written a couple of years ago, so both authors have published more novels in the interim, including the first book in Morgan’s fantasy series, The Steel Remains, and Simmons’ appealingly gothy Drood.
Incidentally, if you’ve got your own suggestions for spooky SF-type writers, let us know in the comments!
Simmons has done quite a bit of work in the horror genre (Summer of Night, Song of Kali), and his science fiction is tinged with a lot of cringe-inducing imagery. However, his descriptions are amazingly rich and detailed, and his characters seem like real people instead of coatracks to hang ideas on (a complaint I always have about Asimov).
Books to look for include:
Hyperion – A group of “pilgrims,” all with dark secrets, travel toward a mysterious, ancient, and deadly shrine on an alien world. Written in the style of The Canterbury Tales, each traveler has his or her own chapter, and they all tell their tales in a distinct voice. Simmons explores some of the things that humans might become, and some of the dangers that may await them in the future.
The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion (the sequels) – None of these are as powerful as Hyperion, but they’re all worth reading. The Fall of Hyperion ties up, more or less, the loose ends from the first book, but it has a tacked-on feeling to it, as though Simmons hadn’t really intended to write a sequel. The two Endymion books explore characters in the same universe, whose fates are related to the goings-on in the Hyperion novels, but the ties are fairly loose.
Prayers to Broken Stones – A collection of short stories (including one which became a chapter in Hyperion) covering topics as diverse as the familial implications of returning from the dead, a combat theme park in Vietnam, and psychic vampires, Simmons really shines with short stories.
Ilium and Olympos – Three planets (Earth, Mars, and Jupiter), two major literary themes (The Iliad and The Tempest), loads of AIs, cyborgs, hypersentient thingummies, and a couple of confused humans. I haven’t read these two yet, but I’ve had endless paragraphs quoted at me by my husband, whose judgment I trust in such matters.
Dave Lowe recently did a series of “Sinister Saint” cartoons on Para Abnormal, highlighting saints who are the patrons of things like gravediggers and swordsmiths. He decided to turn a couple of them into novena candles for Halloween props, and posted a how-to on his blog.
He’s got the “candle-ready” images he used available for download, but the same method could be used for the image of your choice. Adding stained-glass effects to a picture is fairly easy in Photoshop (this is one method, but there are lots of other tutorials available for the googling), and if you have access to a color printer it’d be easy to turn out lots of these pretty quickly.
These might make interesting favors for parties or weddings: Browse through the Big List o’Saints* to find appropriate patrons,*** fancy up their icons in Photoshop (bonus: Old-time saints tended to get sainted by dint of being gruesomely martyred, so the artwork depicting them frequently looks like something Clive Barker dreamed up), print, glue, and done!
I’m a big fan of projects that look like they took much more time and skill than they actually did, and this is something that even the most thumb-fingered amongst us should be able to accomplish pretty easily.
*Not its real title.**
**Although, frankly, given that there’s patron saint of knife-grinders and a saint you’re supposed to pray to for in-law problems, it’s hard to think of it by anything grander.
***Incidentally, the patron saint of the Internet is St. Isidore. Despite having lived around 600 AD, when broadband really wasn’t widely available, he was nominated as the patron of computers, computer techs, and the Internet in 1999.
I bet the hardest part of being a sushi chef is cutting the heads off mermaids.
I’m not trying to point the finger of blame at Hogwarts but what the fuck were the wizards doing 1939 through to 1945?
I went to donate blood today, but they said they didn’t want it in a Ziploc baggie, and also it had to be mine.
I’m pretty sure that the best laid plans of mice and men involve cheese and lube.
We’ve all been talking about your paranoia.
With all of these location-based social networking services, you’d be crazy not to try a little serial killing.
The one trick pony is the laziest of all the animal prostitutes.
Some parents count to 10 to get their kids to behave. I use a similar technique where I string out crime scene tape and fire up a chainsaw.
Vampires drink blood. Human blood, specifically. They don’t get to just drink animal blood, go on their hunky dory way without any type of drawback and then make idiotic jokes about being “vegetarians.” Vampires stay out of the sunlight lest they burst into flames. They certainly do not sparkle as though somebody blasted them with a shotgun full of rhinestones. Those are called pixies. And as for vampire baseball… fuck you, Meyer.
— Topless Robot, commenting on Twilight vamps
Here’s a box that will make a statement, no matter what gift is inside. Noah Fentz made this for a haunter’s group gift exchange. It’s papier mache and paint with a faux barbed-wire “ribbon,” and makes a nice companion to the gift box he did the previous year which appeared to be sewn from Santa’s skin. You can see photos of both here.
He doesn’t provide details on what the faces are made from, but I’m assuming they’re lightweight plastic or carved styrofoam (they might be wig heads similar to the ones he used on his pillars of lost souls). He mentioned that his papier mache technique was inspired by Pumpkinrot and Spooky Blue, but Stolloween is also a wonderful resource site.
This is a relatively simple but undeniably effective idea, and ripe for all kinds of customization. You could cover a box with pretty much any lightweight object that would hold up to hot glue and papier mache: Spiders, skulls, cryptic runes, writhing tentacles; anything you can purchase, carve from styrofoam, or model in clay. Glue to a sturdy box (one with a separate lid is probably best), cover with papier mache, and paint as desired. With a box this cool, the gift is probably optional.
Fossil Coprolites – You can buy dinosaur poop for as little as $8. Jewelry made out of this would be an amusing gift.
Reading – Not really goth, but I quite like this Non Sequitur cartoon.
The Mended Spiderweb Series – Artist Nina Katchadourian used red thread to repair torn spiderwebs. These are really neat. (Hat tip to pdq, who suggests a comic strip based on the premise of spiderweb repair. I like it.)
Evil Clown is a Scary Success – Hire a clown to stalk someone for their birthday. I would love to know what mixture of pharmaceuticals was involved in creating this business plan.
I’m not sure how much the seller charges (the shop is temporarily closed), but it would be reasonably easy to do a DIY version inexpensively.
Moss is easy to maintain (there are instructions for creating a moss terrarium here, here, and about a zillion other places on the Web), and it’s great for very small containers. You could also try air plants (like those used in this terrarium-in-a-light-bulb tutorial) or miniature ferns.
In addition to the glass drop used here, you could also try laboratory flasks, canning jars, or even the big glass “decorate it yourself” ornaments sold at craft stores. If you want a slightly larger container, brandy snifters, goldfish bowls, and lidded glass kitchen canisters are all possibilities.
Miniature headstones are available from some dollhouse suppliers, although if you’re doing a particular teeny design it might be easier to make them yourself out of Sculpy or polymer clay. Add a few rocks (dabbing them with diluted yogurt will encourage the moss to grow all over them) or other appropriately somber-looking decorations, and you’ve got a little pocket of gloom perfect for your desk or windowsill.
I think a little twisty-looking bonsai tree on mossy ground would look especially nice surrounded by tombstones.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. Country Living Magazine featured a home ostensibly made over for Halloween although the decorations are so minimal and restrained that their “Whooo, spooky” is more subtle than my everyday decor.
However, I really love these ravens.
The ones shown here are just paper cutouts (the article includes a template) in glass vases, but you could do something a little more permanent using (depending on your budget) plastic or taxidermied specimens. You can usually find decent-looking crow props around Halloween, and they’re also available online from outdoor suppliers some toy companies.
Square glass vases are easy to find at florists and craft suppliers, although if you’re planning to display them in the bathroom or other high-humidity area you would probably want something sealed. You might look for cloches and bell jars or for the kind of glass case used for displaying dolls or other tall collectible items.
I like the varied height of the specimens in the example, so you might arrange one on the floor of the case, one on a rock or other low mount, and the last on a perch: For a “Victorian curiosity” look, a simple wooden T-shape is good (available at pet stores, or just make your own out of a couple of dowels), and an interesting branch is good for a more natural setting.
This sort of accent is the kind of “stealth goth” project that’s great if you want to inject a little darkness in your decor without being overt about it. The look is somber but sophisticated, letting you entertain dreams of Poe without making your in-laws nervous.