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Amy Bruni and Adam Berry: America’s Favorite TV Ghost Hunters Talk About Kindred Spirits – The Big Seance Podcast #76

Amy Bruni and Adam Berry: America's Favorite TV Ghost Hunters Talk About Kindred Spirits - The Big Seance Podcast #76 - BigSeance.com

 

Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, America’s favorite TV Ghost Hunters, talk with Patrick Keller about their new project, Kindred Spirits on TLC. Plus their favorite paranormal tools, what makes them nerds, and putting a conspiracy theory to rest!

 

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Jack-O-Lanterns and a Beautiful Fall Evening in the Cemetery: An Update in 8 Photos

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

Yesterday I carved my jack-o-lantern for 2014. As usual, I decided to go with a classic look that is very close to last year’s grin. And yes, that’s the Halloween Altar in the background, with the addition of the Beistle reprints that I ordered this year. As usual, I always have difficulty choosing which photos to share with you, so you’re getting several.

 

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

 

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

It has been so warm for October lately, and our 80 degree days will kill a jack-o-lantern in no time. I’ve decided that for the next few days we’re bringing them in late at night when we blow them out. That way they’ll be much more comfortable inside and away from the sun and heat during the day.

 

Halloween Polka Dot Disco Jack-O-Lantern 2014, Big Seance

 

As you may know, Joe always has to break the mold with his jack-o-lanterns. Here is this year’s polka-dotted disco ball jack-o-lantern! We like the reflections on the post.

 

Halloween Altar 2014, Big Seance

 

Another look at the Halloween Altar.

 

Fall Leaves in the Cemetery, Big Seance

 

This evening I took a trip to the cemetery to pay my adopted souls a visit for my 2014 grave adoption project. I discovered so many beautiful trees that weren’t in this condition on my last visit. It cooled down quite a bit by the time I got there, and so it was beautiful weather. It’s still weird to be wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt in a cemetery on the week of Halloween.

 

Fall Leaves in a Cemetery, Big Seance

 

 

Fall Leaves in a Cemetery, Big Seance

 

 

Grave Adoptions 2014, Rühenpohl, Big Seance

 

One of my grave adoptions for the year. The small pumpkin is still going strong from 3 weeks ago. All of my small pumpkins that I kept in the comfort of my home rotted long ago, so I’m pretty impressed.

 


An Evening With The Uninvited (1944)

Last night Meril and I were burrowing in blankets on a chilly and windy evening at home alone, as Joe is away for work this week. We decided to catch up on another film on my list of movies to check out this fall. The weather the last few evenings here in the St. Louis area could not have been more perfect for an old black and white spooky film, so we made hot beverages (well I did, anyway), lit several candles, and popped in the recently released 1944 film The Uninvited. The cast includes Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Dorothy Stickney, Barbara Everest, Alan Napier, and Gail Russell.

When it was over, we went out for our bedtime walk. Not only was it bitterly cold, but the earlier rain and wind had turned many of the trees naked for the first time this season. The misty cloud cover in the moonlit sky created an eerie, muted, black and white scene. Our day was closing with quite the Hollywood ending, minus having to retire to a quiet and cold bedroom by ourselves. I resisted turning the heat on and imagined we lived in an earlier time, wishing we had an old fireplace to take the chill away.

 

Some of my brief thoughts about the film

Meril watching (or not) The Uninvited.

Meril watching (or not) The Uninvited.

It appears Meril missed quite a bit of it, but I loved the movie. In this DVD, released by The Criterion Collection, the film is completely remastered and presented in its original aspect ratio on widescreen televisions. For the few times I got lost in the plot, I was able to refer to the very informative booklet included with the DVD. It includes several pages (with photos) of an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme and a 1997 interview with Lewis Allen, who was actually a first-time director for this film.

The special features include a “visual essay” by filmmaker Michael Almereyda, which discussed some of the details of the film, the people involved, etc. It was very detailed and interesting. One of the things he mentions is how Gail Russell, who plays Stella, was plucked out of high school by the studio for her beauty. She was horribly shy, not confident, and the stress and anxiety drove her to drinking at such a young age. It was the alcohol that killed her at the age of 36. Apparently it was a common opinion, even by the director, that she was a poor actor with a studio contract who they were stuck with. Since I found her performance to be beautiful, it all surprised me. I felt that Donald Crisp, who was a respected academy award-winning actor by this time, had a horrible performance. It is said that at the time he was insulted to have to work with such a newcomer with no talent and experience. With the exception of Crisp, I thought the cast was spectacular! But what do I know?

I also want to point out that this 1944 film did an excellent job on several scenes with incredibly spooky ectoplasmic ghost manifestations. I expected to laugh at dated effects, but they really held up and are actually quite beautiful and impressive for 1944.

The film includes an original song, Stella by Starlight, which in the plot is written by one of the main characters, and in real life was later arranged with lyrics and covered by many famous artists. Here’s an overly dramatic but beautiful orchestral version. It is definitely not this dramatic in the film.

 

 

A haunting bit of information regarding this song was shared in the special features. Apparently in 1961, Gail Russell was known to frequently call into a particular radio station and request to hear Stella by Starlight. It is rumored that the night before she was found dead (apparently alcohol related), she had called in for her traditional request. 

Like many of these old films that I like, if you require your spooky old movies to include the classic old house (a beautiful and massive one), having to use candles in place of electricity, a séance scene (which you KNOW I enjoyed), and some really fantastic ghostly moaning, then add this to your list for sure! Click HERE to see the original trailer for the film. 

 

Next up! This year’s pumpkins turn into Jack-O-Lanterns!

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Danvers State Insane Asylum and Session 9 (Big Séance)

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Rosemary's Baby (1968) (Big Séance)

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The Conjuring Movie Review (Big Séance)

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A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations

 

Have you ever decorated a Halloween Altar? Do you know what a Halloween Altar is? There are different types of these altars. Some are downright spooky and clearly meant to be, but others are very reverent and sometimes referred to as “Ancestor Altars”. These altars are used in the Mexican Day of the Dead traditions, but they were used by other cultures as well, like the ancient Celts and in the Gaelic festival of Samhain. In the Ancestor Altar, one would place photos or artifacts belonging to their ancestors on an elaborately decorated table, which even sometimes displayed fruits and vegetables from the harvest. According to psychic medium MarVeena Meek, in the beginning, these altars were designed out of fear that one’s recently passed family members would come back to haunt them if they didn’t show that they were honoring and remembering them. She also says that often altars were used as a plea to passed on spirits to help them (from the Other Side) make it through the winter after the harvest. The skull is almost always a part of one of these altars, and apparently they’re symbols of the wisdom that we gain with each and every life we live. Other “dark” items like this are sometimes meant to ward off evil spirits. 

By no means am I an expert on this topic, but in my research I’m finding that there are many versions of these altars, and their meanings and their personal elements depend on the tradition or culture. It seems that some modern Halloween Altars are more fun and about decorating with all sorts of trinkets, candles, and anything else that says “Halloween”. Please see my related links below for more information on Halloween or Ancestor Altars.

Now for my spin on this tradition. I wanted to try something a bit different for my first altar, but also decided to tame it down a bit while I continue to research them . Mine falls into more of a fun Halloween Altar category. I’m not even convinced I’m done with it, but let me know what you think. 

 

As you can see, I used the buffet in my dining room for the main altar. I extended the idea onto the dining room table. 

 

I love this little guy. I used him for no other reason than he looks awesome and he’s even holding his own skull. He just had to be center stage. 

 

Behind Mr. Skeleton is a still from a movie that most of you probably recognize. This photo was used in the final shots of The Shining from 1980. I’ve always loved that moment from the movie, and I thought it would add just the right amount of subtle creepiness. 

 

I want to point out that all of the photos used in my altar decorating were found online. I searched for spooky retro photos and printed them in 4X6 and 5X7 sizes, with the exception of the still from The Shining, which is an 8X10. Some of the frames I had, but many of the frames were purchased from Target and Walmart for anywhere from $1 to $3. I was going for a classic or antique look.  

I’d seen the photo above before, and though I don’t know much about it, be sure to look closely in the back off to the left. See it? Yeah. Good luck sleeping tonight.

 

Many of the other photos that I printed were simply fun (and super creepy) shots of children in costume from the old days, like the one above.

 

The other end of my altar displays two more retro photos of adults and children in costume. Candles are on my list of favorite things, so along with the other candles, I just HAD to have skulls that have the ability to bleed through the eyeballs when lit. The two center candles on the altar are bleeding candles as well, which is why they are a pinkish white color. 

 

Along with some seasonal artificial floral and beautiful leaves, the dining room table is decorated with copies of various vintage Halloween cards and ads from the turn of the century, some from old magazines. This idea was inspired by my previous Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) post. 

 

With most of these photos and printouts, my goal was to find things that would spark a conversation, like this one. You can find an easier to read page with this poem HERE

 

Finally, I took some of the remaining photos and spread them throughout the house. The one above is on a book shelf next to the front entry.

 

I just love the two pictures above. These are on my piano in the living room.

 

Anyone planning on trying a Halloween or Ancestor Altar? Let me know! Send me pictures! And if you have experience with or knowledge on these altars, please feel free to enlighten us in the comments.

 

Related Articles:

Day of the Dead, Decoded: A Joyful Celebration Of Life And Food (NPR’s The Salt)

Ancestor Altars (Psychic Medium MarVeena Meek)

Sybilees Samhain (Halloween) Altar (Sybilees Witchcraft School)

Samhain (Halloween) Altar (Jen Minkman)

 


It’s October!

Well even though I celebrated Autumn way too early (because I get so excited), it is definitely here now… and tomorrow is the first day of the spooktacular month of October! October just makes me feel good. There’s just something about the crispness and the electricity in the air. And now is the time to break out your hoodies! 

Here is a pictorial tour of things about October that get me totally excited. 

 

I really kick the candles up a notch in October...

I really kick the candles up a notch in October…

 

Apple Cider… especially for trick-or-treaters…

 

Me as a kid… a clown for Halloween.

 

Another Halloween… this time as a bunny rabbit with my Bampa…

 

This picture is just funny to me. My sister never really got into Halloween. This may be the only year she (as Casper) dressed up. According to what was written on the back of this photo, apparently I dressed as “a Mexican”. 🙂

 

Trips to the Pumpkin Patch…

 

Meril showing off our pumpkins last year…

 

 

My 2011 punkin head….

 

Our annual shot of the punkin heads on the porch from 2011. Joe was feeling very artistic and creative with his pumpkin (on the left)…

 

This is Meril’s first dress up experience a few years ago. He’s a punkin head. He’s much cooler with it all now. He won’t be very happy when he finds out I posted this.

 

The witch my mom surprised me with yesterday…

 

A tree from the front yard of my parents’ house.

 

A walk down historical Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri… It’s where Joe and I first met…

 

More from one of our walks down historical Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri… It’s where Joe and I first met…

 

The movie Hocus Pocus

 

“Welcome to the tunnel of terror… ah ah ah… Please, join us.” From Roseanne’s first Halloween episode from season 2.

 


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