This is Halloween...

Welcome to our nightmares and fantastical dreams.

Each year for a few we've done something over the top in our garage on Halloween while tying in a snapshot of the story of God Himself from some pretty unique angles. Preachy? Not so much. Bizarre? Sure, why not?

I learned from the best long ago, generosity gets attention. (No matter where you lived in my neighborhood growing up, on the last day of October you visited the guy handing out Happy Apples.) We also know people love a show. So we try to go big with both.

Here you'll see what a classic rock couple with a taste for the creepy and strange can do with a regular garage, a little imagination and a lot of time.


2014: It's ALIVE!

Our teaser from early October, as we started bringing this monster to life:

> It's ALIVE!
This Halloween, perhaps you'll stop by for a visit to the lab? We've pieced together that there's a new girl in town. And a certain doctor you might find truly electrifying.

> The Backstory

Guests to the lab this evening passed by some crosses marking freshly covered graves, and a very suspicious shovel lying nearby. Upon entering the lab, they were treated to an array of gadgetry inside castle walls, a questionable box labeled "PARTS," and a very still figure (with a goodly amount of hair) lying on a table before them. A very busy and wildly white-haired figure in a lab coat stood behind the table fidgeting with various chords and switches. Sounds of electricity filled the room, and distant thunder could be heard.

With appropriate variation, this is what happened next...

Frankenstein: Welcome to the laboratory. I am Dr. Henry Frankenstein, and you have been invited here tonight to witness something spectacular. Through my experimentation, I have discovered the secret of which God Himself is so jealous. The formula for LIFE!

[The doctor holds up a jar with a faint flickering inside.]

Frankenstein: This has not gone without some trial and error, of course. My hair was recently altered a bit during an electrical "incident." But I believe I am very close to completing my latest project. 

I just need to make a few adjustments...

[The doctor fiddles with lab equipment and gadgets.]

Frankenstein: Now if I just press this button...

[Techno music suddenly plays along with flashing light. Elsa begins to shake on the table to the rhythm until the tune ends.]

Frankenstein: That wasn't supposed to happen.

[The doctor fiddles some more.]

Frankenstein: Let's just try this instead.

[Thunder crashes. Elsa's eyes open and she rises up slowly, bandaged arms outstretched.]

Frankenstein: IT'S ALIVE!

[Elsa, looking around bewildered, turns and hisses at their guests.]

Frankenstein: Elsa!

[The doctor hits Elsa in the back of the head with a mallet. She lies back down and becomes still again.]

Frankenstein: Well, that's gonna need a little more work...
I do thank you all for coming. Please see my lab assistant on your way out for a little memento of the evening.

[Dr. Frankenstein continues his work.]

The doctor was also able to wake Elsa back up again. She might then reach out to someone in the crowd and ask, "Friend?" (As it went, Elsa only had one actual taker to hold her hand.)

Watch the slideshow. (A 404 may pop up, but it still plays.) On mobile, click "View all" below.:

> The Trick
We discussed developing this concept for a few years (and secretly referenced it in 2012's "Picture if You Will" post), but probably cemented on it last year upon obtaining an appropriate hair style for our lady monster at a post-Halloween sale. The development took a rather comedic turn, and we started to work on it well before revisiting "The Bride of Frankenstein" film for ideas.

As "The Monster's Mate," so-called, was not given a name in the films any more than Frankenstein's original monster ("Frankenstein" is actually the doctor's last name), we decided to name our reanimated female "Elsa" after actress Elsa Lanchester, who portrayed her in the film (though was credited merely as a question mark "?"). Ms. Lanchester also played Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the true author of the "Frankenstein" story, at the beginning of the film.

We were also able to do a bit of research at this year's Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando's Universal Studios theme park at their very fun Horror Make-Up Show building, where we were able to take a good look at the original movie poster and read some history of the film. It's always fun to read how dedicated the classic actors were to their craft, Elsa Lanchester being no exception.

We went quite traditional with Elsa's appearance, using the full wig and recreating a white sheet into something very close to the design of the original outfit (with thanks to the sewing genius of his mom), bandaging arms and hands, and even sporting a "surgical scar" on the neck. However, the doctor took a bit of a wild turn, his hair more a nod to Doc Brown in "Back to the Future" (appropriately explained as the result of an "electrical incident"). By all rights, our doctor became slightly more like the antagonistic Dr. Pretorius from the film, though this was not by design. (However, some tiny bones featured in the "PARTS" box were in homage to Pretorius' miniature human creations.) Our doctor's t-shirt featuring his previous creature was also a recent procurement from Universal.

Much thanks to our lab assistant (her mom) for crowd control and treat distribution, our nephew for loaning us his plasma ball (and his dad who delivered it), and our friends at Pale Night Productions for allowing us to borrow some especially fitting lab coats.

Freaky Fact: In the film, Dr. Frankenstein's first name is Henry, and his wife is Elizabeth. It just so happens these correspond to our own middle names.

On a fun note, our final visitor this year was non-human. A cute little mouse scampered beside the garage doors after we closed them and were getting our final shots. We suspect the little guy came in to get out of the cold, but found himself trapped. He probably just wanted to get away from that crazy doctor and whatever he was up to...

> The Treat
This year's treat included one of four costumed rubber ducks (a vampire, wolf-duck, witch or Frankenstein's monster, since there were no such "brides" to be found), Gummy Body Parts, pretzels, a new variety of our standard candies, which now included chocolates, and some Laffy Taffy. ('Cause who couldn't use some awful jokes now and again?) Despite the sudden cold that descended on us that night, our lab assistant distributed about 47 bags.

In "The Bride of Frankenstein," discussing why she wrote Doctor Frankenstein's story, Lanchester as Shelley states, “The publishers did not see that my purpose was to write a moral lesson: The punishment of a fellow mortal man who dared to emulate God.” In truth, we had not rewatched the film before the card (below) began coming together, but this made it even more suiting to the story.

It was also intriguing to take in the following dialogue between a conflicted Henry Frankenstein and his wife, Elizabeth.

Dr. Henry Frankenstein: “I’ve been cursed for delving into the mysteries of life.
Perhaps death is sacred, and I’ve profaned it.
For what a wonderful vision it was. I dreamed of being the first to give to the world the secret God is so jealous of: The formula for life.
Think of the power, to create a man. And I did. I did it. I created a man.
And who knows? In time I could have trained him to do my will. I could have bred a race. I might even have found the secret of eternal life.”

“Henry, don’t say those things. Don’t think them. It’s blasphemous and wicked. We are not meant to know those things.”

Henry: “It may be that I’m intended to know the secret of life. It may be part of the divine plan.”

Elizabeth: “No. No. It’s the devil that prompts you. It’s death, not life, that is in it all and at the end of it all."

Clearly, Elizabeth got it. Here's our card from this year, which was printed on parchment paper...

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Thanks for stopping by. And, hey, go easy on the candy. ;-)