Good evening, ladles and jelly spoons!
Tonight, I am honored to pull up a chair next to Mort Castle and Nez Wilburn as Mangled Matters continues to celebrate around the Halloween Round Table!
Mr. Castle is one of the most respected and hard-working authors of the last fifty years, with a sprawling catalog and a personality that has earned him a reputation for being one of the most outgoing gentlemen in the field. From personal experience, I can attest – Mort is a class act through and through and an incredibly valuable voice to listen to if you’re ever given the opportunity to chat with him!
Mrs. Wilburn is Halloween personified, year round. Nez’s work has been spotlighted literally all across the haunt and Halloween landscape. The proud owner of Dark Spectre Custom Couture, I still haven’t been able to pin down exactly when Nez sleeps and I can’t confirm that she actually does. It’s truly astonishing just how many incredible costume projects this woman creates on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
So, who is ready to get creepy? Read on!
With every day being like Halloween for you, how do you make Halloween stand out?
MORT CASTLE: I often turn up Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” way loud and have it blaring out the windows and project Nosferatu on the front windows.
NEZ WILBURN: While the spooky never stops here at Darkspectre, the way we truly make Halloween pop for us is by putting on our own little macabre production right here at home! Who wouldn’t want to walk barefoot through their very own graveyard and toast the spirits with spirits? We’ve been building a home haunt complete with full-sized spooky sets and throwing giant parties every Halloween since at least 2000 and every year we get bigger, better and scarier. Not only do I design and create costumes but my better half and I also are exceedingly clever at prop and set building. I highly encourage anyone nearby to come see us on Halloween – you’ll get plenty of treats right alongside the tricks! It’s also our wedding anniversary so we do it up scary-proper and invite our favorite creeps and ghouls to attend. Killer food and awesome music and lighting make for a haunting night you’re sure to never forget!
What is the best haunted house you’ve ever been to as a visitor? Bonus points to you for naming the best you’ve ever participated in, too!
NEZ WILBURN: Ohhhhhhh! The best haunt we’ve been to by far was Scare Fair in Lima, Ohio! They have several attractions plus a cornfield and their Toxic Trauma and Hatchet Creek attractions stand out for me the most as they were superbly done and really fun. Understand – we don’t scare… like, at all. If you manage to make one of us jump you’ve more than done your job. So, while they didn’t scare us, we were extremely visually stimulated and had a lot of fun exploring the entire event. It’s a must-see if you’re local!!
MORT CASTLE: Nah, not my glass of tea. Amling’s Flowerland, a commercial greenhouse and nursery, used to sponsor one when I was a kid. It wasn’t scary. Aladdin’s Castle at Chicago’s famed Riverview Amusement Park offered more weird stuff, but not scary.
What was your favorite Halloween costume you ever wore, growing up?
MORT CASTLE: Here’s the picture. Stepped out from behind my sister’s door with the knife. I was 15 or so. She was ten. I still hear the screams.
NEZ WILBURN: This is going to sound completely ridiculous knowing what I now do for a living, but my absolute favorite costume as a kid was a plastic costume with a plastic mask and it was…..Darth Vader. Don’t judge. Darth Vader was a super villain and the shit back in those days! I loved the smell of the vinyl – that mask I couldn’t see out of had that new car smell and I got shit loads of candy in it so there you go. Favorite costume growing up. Come to the Dark Side…we clearly have cookies.
What is your favorite scary urban legend and/or campfire tale? Bonus points if it’s from your hometown or one you grew up near!
NEZ WILBURN: You’re going to love this! We spent two weeks every summer in the mountains of Northern California visiting my aunts on my mother’s side. It was always a girls only vacation and we had a lot of fun roughing it up there as my aunt’s place had no electricity and no running water. And it had a fucking spooky as Hell outhouse. I don’t know why we city girls were terrified of that thing but we were. Especially at night, up in those mountains hours away from civilization where you could literally see the Milky Way at night and not much else. This is wayyyyy up north where the Donner Party got snowed in and resorted to cannibalism. Well, my Aunt Debbie is extremely good at telling scary stories. I mean, that woman terrorized us with her tales of the surreal and horrifying. We all would sit in a semi-circle at her feet, in the dark, with the only light being the light of the cherry on her cigarette and she would weave a tale in her deep, husky voice…
“There were 3 little girls, right around your age….and they were away on vacation to their aunt’s house in the mountains. They were city girls and not real used to being in the country and so they were shocked that they had to use an outhouse as a restroom. The girls were scared of the outhouse because of the lizards and spiders in it, and the smell as well. One night as they lay down to go to sleep…they heard a still…small voice….coming from the outhouse. And this tiny spooky voice said “When the log rolls over we’ll all be dead”. The girls looked at each other shocked and scared gasping “Did you hear that??” and then they heard it again….a little louder this time. “When the log rolls over we’ll all be dead!”
One of the girls was a brave one…and was determined to solve the mystery of the tiny, spooky voice. Flashlight in hand…she led the way outside, following the voice all the way. And it got louder and BIGGER and CLOSER. “When the log rolls over we’ll all be DEAD!!” The two other girls wanted to go back to the cabin where the grownups were, but the brave one called them both pansies and made them go with her. They followed the voice all outside the cabin until they ended up outside the open facade of the outhouse. Booming from within they heard “WHEN THE LOG ROLLS OVER WE’LL ALL BE DEAD!!!”
The 2 little girls yelped and ran back to the cabin as fast as their legs could carry them leaving the one brave little girl behind, flashlight beam shaking, standing outside the outhouse. In the light of her flashlight she couldn’t see anything but an empty outhouse….toilet seat down..and a lonely roll of toilet paper sitting on the floor. Suddenly the disembodied voice boomed from the darkness “WHEN THE LOG ROLLS OVER WE’LL ALL BE DEAD!!!”
With only one place left to look….the brave little girl stretched her hand forward and shakily raised the lid of the toilet seat….and quickly shone the light down into the hole…only to find…….
2 ants…..floating on a turd in the muck…..crying out at the top of their tiny lungs “WHEN THE LOG ROLLS OVER WE’LL ALL BE DEAD!!!!”
My aunt Deb had a sense of humor too. (laughs)
As we got older, the stories changed to subject matter that was way more truly disturbing and delved into twists on urban legends as well but this one will always stand out in my mind as we really really thought there was a boogeyman in the outhouse. We were fucking terrified all the way up to the very last line of that story. I was probably right around 9 years old, which would have made my sisters and cousin 4 years younger. That’s a great memory!
MORT CASTLE: Nah—didn’t hear many and didn’t believe any of those!
What is your favorite and least favorite candy in the trick-or-treat bag?
MORT CASTLE: Repulsive as they were, my favorite: those popcorn balls, especially if they were really stale. Hated Mary Janes, even the color and design of the wrappers.
NEZ WILBURN: My absolute favorite Halloween candy is a Kit-Kat bar and I’ll freeze them before I eat them. Those are yum. The ones I miss the most that you can’t seem to find anymore is salt water taffy and the ones I still despise to this day is black licorice. Why they ever though making anise flavored candy was a good thing, I’ll never know. Happy Halloween Everyone!! *blows kisses*
Check out Darkspectre for all of your incredible Halloween costume needs!
Do yourself a favor and check out Mort’s library, as well!