Sunday, May 31, 2015

Planning the Ultimate Adult Pirate-Themed Party!

Pirate party! Who doesn't want to go to a pirate party??? 

There seems no better way to end this horror-in-the-sea month on GHT than to have a post about how to plot and plan a dream pirate-themed party!

*Be sure to look for "links" to finding items online. The highlighted words are links you can click on to find where to get these items at reasonable prices*

It's the perfect summer escape. Some might enjoy hosting it indoors, but I highly advise you enjoy the summer sultry weather and take it outdoors where it can take on the sweat and the grit of a real pirate mash up. 

Consider putting down two long wide wood boards side by side from your back patio into the yard so people can "walk the plank" to enter the party. Make it even more awesome by taking some chain (fake or real) or rope and attaching it to the end of the board in the yard and then up to the sides of the house or porch awning up high so it looks like it was let down like a real plank - 

The Layout

The cost of props, prizes, party favors, and plates/cups and the such should be kept to a minimum. Spend the money where it should be - drinks and food. Most props can be made with reused or found items so they look appropriately grungy. Use a wheelbarrow as a place to dump ice and canned or bottled drinks.

Get the right music (later in this post is a list). Put some red colored bulbs in the backyard lighting. A fog machine is an extra special touch, as is a black light and fluorescent paints! 

And, if you are willing to be creative with cardboard, you can make a bow of a ship as a wonderful backdrop jutting out of a wall or hang tattered sailcloth that is tea-stained from the trees and create wonderful hidden nooks to sit and talk or a fire pit to drink your rum around. 

If you have a pool, get a red pool light lens and a blow-up shark, a few blow up boats with oars and a floating ice chest with cupholder.

For decorations, plates, cups, and the like, I really think it's hard to beat either Oriental Trading or Party City. They have great prices and lots of choices. Color combos that work - red and black or blue and green.

You can take a table and put a cloth down and top that with netting or use an old white sheet stained with tea and torn and tattered. Cheesecloth can look good too. For placemats, you can take paper grocery bags and cut the placemat, burn the edges carefully to make it aged, and then draw a rugged pirate map with an X on it.

Lighting is critical for an appropriate pirate party. You can do fog machines, but without the lights, you lose some excitement and mood. 


Pirate drinks are critical for the thirsty summer crowd. You want folks to start talking like Jack Sparrow....

When making pirate drinks - think in terms of tropical ingredients like coconut, mango, pineapple, and citrus, rum, coconut vodka, blue curacao, and grenadine. Punch is an ideal drink, as is several types of rum; spiced rum, white rum, gold rum, black rum. And, don't forget a beer keg. 

Put some pineapple chunks and marashino 
cherries on toothpicks to drop into the drinks. Keep out lots of ice to clink in the cups and perhaps some iced tea and Coke for mixers too. 

Aruba Rum Punch Recipe
1 oz. Myer's Rum
1 oz. Mount Gay Barbados Rum
1 oz. Bacardi White Rum
1 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Sour Mix
Splash of Grenadine
2 dashes of Bitters
Pour all ingredients over ice in a hurricane glass, and stir well. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a slice of orange, and serve.

For a large array of pirate drinks, check out this link at TalkLikeAPirate.

Dirty Pirate Popsicles:  1 part spiced rum, 1 part Kahlua, 3 parts Coke. Make these in the small Dixie cups and use popsicle sticks. Bring out a tray of them when the party is going well. These taste amazing! 


Caribbean foods are a great choice - lots of tropical fruit salsa, jerk chicken, rice, and recipes can be found here.  You can hollow out melons, pineapples and citrus halves to put sauces, dips, and treats in. 

Take a pineapple and cut a slice off the bottom so it can stand up. Cut the top off the pineapple. Now, cut into the pineapple as it stands up, to make a hollowed out core where you can place a bowl into it with dipping sauce. Take wood skewers with strips of chicken ribboned on them and grill with pineapple marinade on them and stick into the pineapple's sides like a porcupine with a spicy dip.

1 c. pineapple juice, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/3 c. soy sauce. Heat to just boiling and then turn off and cool. Let cool 5-10 mins. Cut chicken into long strips about 1/2 inch wide and about 1/4 inch deep. Marinate it in the fridge in the marinade for at least 20 minutes but up to a day. Now, work them onto wood skewers that have been soaked in water. Grill. 

This one is a Paula Deen recipe for a dipping sauce that would be ideal - 1 T. butter, 1/2 to 1 jalepeno seeded and minced, 1 tsp fresh ginger grated, 1 18-oz jar orange marmalade, 2 T. lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt. Melt butter in saucepan. Add ginger and pepper. stir and reduce to medium low and stir in marmalade, lime juice and salt.  Simmer 5 mins, stir frequently. 

Consider taking cardboard boxes and painting them like little sea chests and prop them open to allow guests to gather popcorn or candies from them. Decorate the table with decorative gems  or a spray of seashells

Consider taking cardboard and paint and turning the serving table into a boat. 


I got this costume from Pyramid Collection, but there are lots of cool ones to be found - 

Consider; eye patch, stuffed parrot, hook, jewels, rings, head scarf, hat, large belt buckle, sword, musket, Jolly Roger jewelry, vest, tights, knickers, boots....

Selfie Backdrops

Set up areas in the party one where people can do some selfies with a pirate backdrop. Hang up a tricorn hat, an eye patch and pirate sword, cheap costume jewels, a ceramic rum jar, stuffed parrot, or other fantastic prop items. You can hang netting on the wall or a tattered white sheet dipped in tea to stain it old looking for a tattered sail. If you are ambitious, head scarf, clip on earring, a Jolly Roger. Consider taking cardboard and painting old wood crates and jugs could be fun too! If you want to make it really dark and awesome, consider putting a red bulb light on the area or blue to cast a cool lighting on the subject.

(Jolly Roger reference)

(crates and jugs reference)

(Fish netting reference)

(Tattered sail reference)

For $39.99, you can get a life-sized cardboard Jack Sparrow for people to party with, pose with, and keep it after the party for your kid's room or yours!


A scroll is the way to go. Most people do electronic invites, so a little Photoshop or other photo program manipulation and you can take one of these scrolls and make them into an invite. (I found these by doing a Google image search for "aged paper scroll wallpaper" and found tons.) 

Another great idea is a pirate map that would show the map to your place with an X there. (I found these by doing a Google image search of "pirate map wallpaper")


You want to set the music for revelry and pirate plundering, but you don't want to be cliche. There are so many ways you can go with a pirate-themed party. One of the most obvious concepts is to use Jimmy Buffet music and turn it into a parrothead paradise of island lovers. You could go Reggae. You might also consider epic swashbuckling soundtracks like Nox Arcana "Phantoms of the Seas," "Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack," or "Pirates, Guitars and Beachfront Bars" album. For a really comprehensive playlist, try this posting.

To get in the mood - pirate your face

Enjoy and be certain you have a wild, but responsible pirate party. If need be, toss pillows and cushions on the floor and let the pirates sleep off their rum delirium. 

You're never too old to plunder. How about a pinata filled with things the adult partiers might like? 

hemp bracelets ($2.39)

Other potential pinata additions -
scratch lottery tickets
individually wrapped rum truffle candies
one pair men's pirate g-string underwear
one pair women's pirate thong panties

Should you decide to hold out and do your pirate party for Halloween, there's some great examples to follow....

Enjoy mateys! 

**Tomorrow's post "Bigfoot Cases of Missing Time in the Woods"**

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Killer Fish: Barracudas, Piranhas, and Frankenfish

It's summertime and "Jaws" might be the first horror you imagine when you hit the ocean, but what about other horrifying fish of the sea?


The barracuda can grow up to nearly 7 feet in length. If that isn't enough, these saltwater fish can hide along reefs and shoreline reeds. If it's any consolation for swimmers, it is found in tropical regions from the eastern Atlantic region to the Caribbean sea. 

Here is the account of a victim of a barracuda attack. 

There have been only about 19 confirmed cases in the US in 100 years, Hawaii being the location. But, it is considered exceedingly rare and the only reason attacks happen is a barracuda mistaking something for prey, such as shiny jewelry and reflective camera equipment. 


Piranha are found in South American waters, a freshwater fish fond in rivers. Interestingly, legitimate piranha are found in the Amazon basin as their originating source, but some have been found in a lake in Bangladesh and how that is possible has evaded the researchers. Some have been spotted in the rivers in China. So, it would seem that these freshwater fish managed to be around the world in isolated locations of freshwater and we cannot assume they swam the salty ocean to get there. Questions remain. 

Some assume that piranhas swim in schools to devour victims in groups, as they are not terribly big fish, but it would appear that going in groups is protective against other predators. They are not just meat eaters either, they eat plant matter as well. In fact, some say that piranhas are simply fish with teeth. 

Source:  Attacks resulting in deaths have occurred in the Amazon basin. In February 2015, a six-year-old girl died after being eaten by piranhas when her grandmother's boat capsized during a holiday in Brazil. In 2011, a drunk 18-year-old man was attacked and killed in Rosario del Yata. In 2012, a five-year-old Brazilian girl was attacked and killed by a shoal of P. nattereri. Some Brazilian rivers have warning signs about lethal piranhas. In 2011, a series of attacks in the Brazilian state of Piauí resulted in 100 people being injured. In the state of São Paulo, another attack in the Tietê River resulted in 15 injured people. In the city of Palmas, Tocantins, 190 piranha attacks were reported in the first half of 2007. On 25 December 2013, 70 bathers were attacked in Argentina.

According to one study in Suriname, piranha attacks tend to peak in the dry season when food is relatively scarce and the water levels are lower, leading to heavier than usual concentrations of fish in the water. Fatal attacks are rare, and most attacks take the form of individual nips and bites to extremities such as the feet and hands. Splashing tends to make piranhas more likely to attack, and children are often attacked for this reason.

Piranha are more likely to go for toes and feet. Noise, splashing and blood are attractive to them. Some are cannibals and some are vegetarians. 


The "Frankenfish" is a name for a fish called the Snakehead. It's ugly appearance and reputation gave it the popular nickname. These fish are angry and predatory and top of the food chain without others to kill them so they can be invasive when they get into an ecosystem. In fact, these fish are so bad that in America it is illegal to have a live one. They have been found in ponds along the Eastern US and even the Potomac River. 

Some attacked nudists including a honeymooning couple (LINK)

Of course, such creatures inspired some pretty intense horror movies - 

Piranha  The 1978 version is the one to see. It's campy fun of a summer resort being flooded with experimental piranha.

Barracuda  This one came out in 1978 also and had to do with a coastal town being under attack by barracuda. 

Frankenfish This 2004 movie is about an investigator coming to see why a man was killed in the swamps of Louisiana. 

**Tomorrow's post is the last of Terror-in-the-Sea month and amazing! It's all about how to plan the ultimate adult pirate-themed party - everything you need to know. Be sure to bookmark this one! **

Friday, May 29, 2015

Underwater Cemeteries

Neptune Memorial Reef is an interesting cremation memorial where you can put your loved one's ashes off of the shores in Miami. They get to become part of the reef.

But, intended underwater burials aside, what about underwater cemeteries that were flooded? 

Lake Texoma

In 2011, a drought brought the lakes to their lowest state, exposing a submerged cemetery.


An eruption from a volcano in the 1800s had this cemetery submerged. Today, it is a marine sanctuary.

Lake Vyrnwy

The town of Capel Celyn is submerged. It was flooded in 1965 to make a reservoir.

Lake Jocassee


This cemetery was the impetus for the opening scene of "Deliverance" where they were disinterring graves for a lake coming in. This cemetery is now 115 feet underwater.

Mayan Bones in Underwater Cave

The floors of two chambers in a cave in Mexico has spooked the locals. Under the water inside, there are so many human bones, it makes their skin crawl.

It was believed that humans were sacrificed into there to appease the gods and some today even drop food and gourds within the opening to the water below. Most interestingly, a female's adult skull they found showed evidence of flattening or supposed purposeful cranial deformation. There were also animal bones and skulls. Upon further examination, the researchers are leaning toward the concept of an unconventional cemetery.

... and let us not forget underwater animals .... 

**Tomorrow's post is ""*Killer Fish: Barracudas, Piranhas, and Frankenfish*

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Terror on Doll Island!

Isla de las Munecas or "Island of the Dolls" (popularly coined "Doll Island") is a thing of horror for many. Why would an island filled with dolls for decades, laid to waste by the elements and neglect, be terrifying? Well, let me introduce you to its most unsettling beginnings.

Don Julian Santana was unhappy with city life and moved to an island on a canalway south of Mexico City for peace and quiet. It was there that the legend begins and takes on a life that is animated enough to bring the dead to life.

Don reported that a little girl had drowned in the canal 50 years ago and he believed her spirit to be troubled and haunting his little island. 

He said that he was out one day when he saw a doll floating in the canal and scooped it out, hanging it up on a tree near the drowning spot to make the girl eternally happy so she would not haunt and scare him. 

He then became consumed with finding more and more dolls, fishing them out of the canal, sorting through trash bins, and even bartering until he had, over the decades, covered the island with dolls. 

There are many legends about the dolls moving, opening and closing their eyes on their own. It is said to come alive after dark. In fact, "Destination Truth" and "Ghost Adventures" have both done episodes from the island. 

Ironically, in 2001 Don was found drowned in supposedly the same spot in the canal as the little girl. 

People believe that the dolls killed him. The island since then has become a thing of fear for locals and visitors. To some, it is considered the creepiest place in Mexico and to others, the entire world


If this has put you in the mood for creepy dolls, here's some movies to satisfy - 
*Descriptions from IMDB, my favorite movie facts site.

Poltergeist (1982)
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts.
Saw (2004)
Two men awaken in the secure lair of a killer who forces them to play a deadly game that will determine life or death.
Child's Play (1988)
A single mother gives her son a much sought after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.
Magic (1978)
A ventriloquist is at the mercy of his vicious dummy while he tries to renew a romance with his high school sweetheart.
Pin (1988)
A doctor has a lifelike, anatomically-correct medical dummy, with muscles and organs visible through its clear skin, named Pin (after Pinocchio). Via ventriloquism, Pin explains bodily functions in a way kids can relate to. When the over-strict doctor and his wife are killed in a car crash, his son (Leon) transfers his alter-ego into Pin, whom he always believed was alive. He starts using Pin as an excuse to over-protect his sister (Ursula) from admirers and deflect unwanted intrusions, even to the extent of committing murder.
Fear (1996)
When Nicole met David; handsome, charming, affectionate, he was everything. It seemed perfect, but soon she sees that David has a darker side. And his adoration turns to obsession, their dream into a nightmare, and her love into fear.
Dead Silence (2007)
A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.
Tourist Trap (1979)
A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by the owner of the place, who has the power to control his collection of mannequins.
Devil Doll (1964)
An evil hyponotist/ventriloquist plots to gain an heiress' millions.
Death Doll (1989)
Disaster follows a couple that uses a fortune teller machine.
Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Three bizarre horror stories all of which star Karen Black in four different roles playing tormented women.
Dolls (1987)
A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers, and their haunted collection of dolls.
The Conjuring (2013)
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.
Annabelle (2014)
A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

And, let's not forget Talky Tina -

How to make and use creepy dolls

This inherent terror is part of the basis of many past Halloween displays I've made - 

The doll ahead above, I aged myself. I painted her face a kind of chalky deep brown, almost a mauve-brown. Then when it was dry, I put on crackle medium and when that was ready, I put on an ivory and some blush cheeks. When it cracked, the old dark color showed through. Doll heads are super cheap if you buy baby dolls in secondhand stores and Goodwill and such. You can take and alter them many ways, even removing their eyes and putting a glow stick or battery operated tea candle inside. You can string them on Xmas lighting for a very macabre effect - 

When lined up in windows, these dolls can be very creepy on Halloween. Of all the displays I've ever done, more kids stop to look at mannequins and dolls that are aged, creepy, and have mood lighting on them or flashing lightning. Sometimes, the kids forgot to ring the doorbell for candy. It's even creepier if one of the mannequins is you in a costume and you move at just the right time....

Don't forget ventriloquist dolls, they are always creepy! Here's my sidekick, Dale the Doll (has a fan club on Facebook) 

Here is where I took a simple unpainted mannequin head from online (found it on Amazon for cheap). And then, I did some paint magic with her to make her look vintage and aged and abandoned - 

This was one of my favorite pieces of work. It took many layer to get all the subtle but creepy effects and when it was done, I rubbed her down with a black aging glaze and then rubbed it off, so the glaze just left a stain and seeped into the cracks. It does a wonder for aging things! You could probably do something similar with one part black paint to three parts water. 

I am likely going to be selling her in an etsy shop I am opening up called MadamCurio. I want to do more mannequin parts for horror props and possibly some arms and legs to hang on the wall for a "ghost coming out of the wall" effect, as well as Ouija art, spiritualist vintage looking art, ghost mirrors and more. I will share on here when the shop opens. 

This doll above, I found in a bunch of abandoned trash near abandoned trailers in the desert. I chopped her hair off, dirtied her up and put her inside this bird cage I also found.

In fact, the Halloween display in the above photo, I put the dolls in front of a shed where I projected a movie. Here's the creepy doll movie I used  - Brothers Quay "Street of Crocodiles"

About the island

**Tomorrow's post is "Underwater Cemeteries"**