This Halloween season, jack-o-lanterns continue to dot front porches and windows in anticipation of children dressed in robes and broomsticks dashing from house-to-house for a spooky night of trick-or-treating.
While outdoor activities are ramping up, the very nature of the pandemic is scuttling indoor events. Fewer creepy parties or supernatural unveilings for instance.
CanScare, an Edmonton based horror arts collective that builds frightening haunted Halloween houses targeted for adult fun, is shifting its focus to the family.
The driving force behind CanScare’s 13 Days of Frightful Fun is Brendan Boyd, lead puppet master of The Odd-Lot Puppetry Co. formerly based in St. Albert. CanScare has partnered with Jube School to present a free Halloween web series of craft tutorials for families leading up to Oct. 31.
“A lot of people know we do adult themed events, but we’ve also wanted to do more family stuff. The way the world was going, this seemed to be the right time for a family friendly event,” Boyd said.
The first tutorial was posted on Monday, Oct. 19, exactly 13 days prior to Halloween. Each day, a new episode will be posted. All tutorials will remain online for the duration of the Halloween season.
“It’s 13 days of fun, 13 days for varying skill levels. It’s all crafts and a few food-related activities. They’re all accessible and affordable and will help you create your own traditions at home,” said Boyd.
Examples of some of the decorative crafts or edible treats vary from making haunted portraits and zombie hands to baking pumpkin spiders and gingerbread coffins.
Jake Alabaster, a friendly ghost puppet, will host each of the 13 episodes while eerie monster hands demonstrate each craft step-by-step.
Boyd, a former in-person instructor for Jube School’s Enquiring Minds Program who taught puppet workshops, pitched the idea for the episodes after the pandemic forced the closure of live presentations.
“The Jube was looking for online programming and they jumped at the idea,” Boyd said.
His motivation for creating this filmed parade of activities goes back to childhood memories packed with Halloween traditions.
“We had very artistic parents and we decorated the house full out. Halloween was bigger than Christmas at my house.”
Not content with releasing a one-camera product, CanScare collaborated with Cadden & Bell Productions on a seven-day studio shoot to create a polished product layered with special effects.
Prior to filming, the CanScare team spent two weeks constructing a miniature set so a camera mounted on a crane could fly through it filming a flashy 40-second opening segment.
“David Baron (cinematographer) shot a beautifully complex intro segment which is a throwback to classic horror movies. It’s quite spectacular.”
At the writing of this article, Boyd was overjoyed at the response from across Canada.
“When we started this, we were not sure of the interest level, but we were 100 per cent excited to share it. It’s 100 per cent a passion project for us and with so many people willing to share it, it’s made it all worth it.”