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  • TIKI-WEEN – Having your wild retro Halloween bash at the Tiki Bar

    Posted on October 16th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 10 comments

    tikiweenIt ain’t no secret that Tiki & Halloween go together like peanut butter and chocolate. In addition to bright tropical flowers and pretty Hula girls, Tiki culture incorporates lots of dark mysticism, Voodoo, human sacrifice, zombies and spooky jungle intrigue. Some Tiki idols (such as the Moai) are even believed to embody the souls of long-dead ancestors (which is pretty kreepy, if you ask me). And no Tiki bar is complete without at least on shrunken head sitting next to the Voodoo Tiki Te Quila. So why not throw a rat-pack style Halloween cocktail soire at your Tiki Bar? Here’s a few tips to make it wild, kool & swingin’:

    The Invitations:
    Now I, being a Creative Director/Computer Graphic Designer for years, lay out my own custom invitations each year. This year I actually threw together a web site invitation with photos of previous parties, video, a Google map, and info on the party. One year we did a horror movie theme, and invitations were tickets to the creature-beyond-tiki-bar-poOscar-like award party. Another year the invitations were movie posters. Let your creativity go nuts. But if you’re not good with graphics, with zillions of on-line custom invitations available, you’re going to find something that fits your mood. Make sure your invitation clearly explains your theme so everyone is hip to it, how to dress, and what to bring (if anything).

    The Decor:
    With your Tiki Bar & collection of spooky Tiki gooodies, you’re already half way there. All you gotta do is embellish it with some retro-style Halloween decorations, and a few extras. You can go as crazy as you want with decorations, but try to stick to the old standards: Paper cut-out skeletons (some haven’t been changed in 50 years), skulls, black & orange crepe paper, cob webs (a nice touch that makes halloween-disco-skeletonseverything look old), black balloons, etc. You can even find actual vintage decor on eBay (usually) for decent prices. Since Retro is ‘in’ many department stores (i.e. Target) and party stores (i.e. Party City) have some very kool vintage-style props & party-ware, too. If you want your party to keep the faith with the old style, stay away from decor with slick, computer-generated graphics and plastic props. Lots of real pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and Jack-O-Lanterns mixed in with the palm plants and Tiki masks will put your party in the right place.

    The Music:les-baxter-savage
    Bust out the Les Baxter and Martin Denny, kids, it’s gonna be a wild jungle night! The mystical sounds of Exotica take on an eerie, spooky tone when played behind cobwebs and skeletons. Set a cut-off year for songs, say, 1963, and only play music recorded before that year. Sprinkle in a few favorites like the Monster Mash, Artie Shaw’s Nightmare, Duke Ellington’s The Mooch, and Glenn Miller’s Swingin’ at the Seance for a little extra flavor. For suggestions on Exotic music, click here.

    The Ambiance:
    Nothing wrecks a good party faster than bright lights. Turn off ALL the lights, unscrew the bulbs, tape up the switches, don’t leave any way for guests to turn on a light. You’re going to do some lighting effects. First and easiest: Candles. They set a great mood, keep the room dim, and sometimes even smell pretty. You can even get black candles this time of year at many art supply stores and, of course, candle shops. The above-mentioned outlets also often have spooky skull, witch, or ghost candles. Decorative candles coffin-candlemay cost a little more, but they’re a load of fun. I especially like the candles that melt down to reveal bones or blood underneath. And don’t be afraid to light them…you can buy more next year.

    If candles aren’t your bag, consider black light. You can pick up black lights cheap ($15-$20) at places like Walmart & Kmart. One is usually good for a small room, two for a larger living room. You can buy ultra-violet paints that glow under the lights at Spencer’s or most art supply stores. They’re water-based, so you can highlight stuff, then wash it off later. (don’t be stupid and paint your antique furniture. It will wash off of non-porous stuff like your Tiki Mugs, not your vintage wooden Tribal masks). Red and Blue party bulbs in your lamps also create a kool, creepy look. If possible, place lamps on the floor so the red glow seems to shine upwards. Depending on the crowd, you might want to keep things pretty dark…more fun to feel your way around…

    Another fun touch is to add a fog machine to the mix. They start at around $20 in department stores, but they tend to be noisy and might not have a timer. For around $100 you can get a small pro model, with an auto timer that sets off fog blasts at an adjustable setting. They can be used indoors, as long as you have a a way to circulate the air so people don’t choke to death…

    The Drinks:
    You’re going to want some hip cocktails to serve at the party. Here’s the thing: There’s nothing worse thantiki-galore-drink working through your whole party making complicated drinks for a ton of people and not getting to socialize, so if you have a lot of people, keep the drinks simple. If you have a small group, go for some fun exotic things like Zombies and Mai Tais. Even though you’re a Tiki lover, many of your friends won’t be (unless you live in an exceptionally hip town), so be prepared for the usual bar stuff – good wine, decent beer, the basic liquors and lots of vodka. You can feature 50’s mod drinks like Martinis and Manhattans, but give them a Halloween touch by adding a few drops of yellow and red food coloring to make them orange. Call them “Madhattans” and “Martiantinis” too. And a Scorpion bowl or Volcano are great for Halloween, of course. Just be careful of your collectible barware…if it’s a light drinking crowd, it’s ok to use your good Tiki Farm mugs and vintage rocks glasses, but if it’s a boozer crowd, stick to plastic. I know it’s not kool, but there’s nothing more un-kool than throwing away your broken collectibles along with the empties. Remember, just because you appreciate the value of a retired Tiki Farm Volcano Bowl, doesn’t mean your drunken friends do!

    halloween-buffetThe Food:
    If you really want to have a blast, pick up a copy of a cookbook or party-planner pamphlet from the 50’s. You’ll get a kick out what people were really doing back then. Although you’ll have to do some updates, try to used the old recipes. Use the book itself as part of the display on your buffet table. Great conversation starter. A quick, old-style finger food menu might look something like this:

    • Chicken Teryaki skewers with sweet & sour dipping sauce
    • Cheese & pepperoni platter, garnished with parsley and surrounded by crackers (use Halloween themed toothpicks from the party store)
    • Boiled hot dogs, cut in half and served on small dinner rolls (add saurkraut with red or green food coloring to make it look evil)
    • Deviled Eggs (you can add food coloring to these, too)
    • Cold Cuts platter
    • Grave Yard Cake (Chocolate cake with a mini grave yard scene on top)
    • Fondue with toast points (you can add salsa and chunks of tender beef or chicken to the fondue and tell everyone it’s made with body parts)
    • Sour cream onion dip & chips (use blue, green or red food coloring)
    • Celery sticks with chive cream cheese
    • Iced Shrimp cocktail (shrimp is scary)

    You can poke around the net for different kookie ideas on how to make these foods look more Halloweeny, like making the rolled up ham look like fingers, etc. It’s also fun to name the food after old movies, i.e. Forbidden Plandip and Mark of the Deviled Eggs.

    austin-powers-cpThe Costumes:
    Since this is a Tiki themed party, you should encourage your guests to come dressed in Tiki costumes, or if it’s a retro theme with Tiki undertones, get everyone to dress up like a different character from Mad Men. Or, you can go the authentic route and get everyone to dress as movie monsters from the 60’s & earlier, such as Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, etc. A challenging and fun variation is to have it in “Black & White”…do all of you decor in BW, and have your friends come dressed in costumes and make-up that are made of Black & White only…not as easy as it sounds…but when everyone gets together, it looks very kool.

    The Day of the Party:
    Back when I was a dumb kid, I used to decorate the day of the party. Then by the time the party got rolling, I was already beat…So now I start early. Depending on how elaborate your decor is, allow yourself a few days to a month to decorate. I kick things off in September, but then again I build props and sets for my house (because I’m a nut case, certified). As for the food & bar, do all your prep work the night before the party. Have the bar set up, fruit sliced, and the food ready to cook so you have less work to do right before the big event. On party day, you should only need to set up your platters, cook your finger foods, and buy ice!

    The Time of the Party:halloween-uncle-fester
    After 20+ years of throwing my own Halloween shindig, I’ve been made hip to two important things: Always have the party on a Saturday, and never start it before 8:30. If Halloween falls on a Saturday and your friends all have kids, only have it on that day if you want the kids to come. If it’s an adults-only gig, have it the week before. Starting the party earlier than 8:00 will make people thing you’re going to serve dinner. Having it later will automatically drop off some people who don’t like to stay up late.

    halloween-deskIt’s 8:20 on the day of the party. The candles are lit, the ice is in the bucket. The Tiki torches are fired up, and The Haunting (1963 version) is playing on the TV with the sound off. Quiet Jungle emanates from the Sears Select-o-matic hi fi. Fix yourself a Zombie, have a piece of cheese and get ready to have a blast!

  • Fun old scary movies in time for Halloween

    Posted on October 12th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    ghost-storiesIf you’re into old movies, I don’t have to speil about the wonders of the original Dracula, Frankenstein & Wolfman. You’ve probably seen them, or they’re already on your list. So here’s a few creepy flicks that may have escaped your radar…some you’ve heard of, but maybe never got around to witness. Some you’ve probably never heard of, but take it from this kat, they’re fun to watch and might even give you the heebee-geebees. I’ve included the IMDB link so you can get more info. So here goes, in no particular odor (I mean order. Damned spellchecker.)

    The Haunting (1963)
    One of the first ghost stories I ever saw as a kid, this black & white thriller sets three unsuspecting volunteers in a secluded, creepy mansion with a scientist conducting an experiment on sleep deprivation. Secretly the well-intended scientist believes the mansion to harbor spirits, and his volunteers have been selected for their apparent sensitivity to the spirit world. The spirits come. It’s krazy. A well-crafted movie from a well-written book, you’ll want to watch this one with the lights off and some spiked hot chocolate.

    The Uninvited (1944)
    Ray Milland leads this Noir thriller centering around a haunted house on the English coast. He and his sister move into the lovely old home only to find there are skeletons lurking in every closet. A well-written and well-acted movie, this one is at the top of my ghost movie list.

    Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980)
    Jack Nicholson at his craziest/finest. Stephen King may have hated this adaptation, but there’s no denying this is one of the creepiest, scariest, most disturbing movies ever made. From blood pouring out of the elevators to butchered children to eerie music from a not so distant past, The Shining will leave you with chills and craving for more. The sets of the Overlook Hotel are so evil and creepy looking that the hotel itself becomes one of the main characters (as intended). Even the opening credits are scary!

    A Bucket of Blood (1959)
    Beatniks, jazz, pretty girls and ‘innocently’ unintentional murder for the sake of art. This early Roger Corman film is as dark as dark comedy can get. Creepy, BW & even an actual bucket with blood in it. This is one of those movies where you’ll be saying “They got away with THAT in 1959?”

    House of Wax (1953)
    No Paris Hilton, but plenty of Vincent Price at his best. Murder, wax and insanity. Need I say more?

    mark_of_devil_posterMark of the Devil (1970) (aka Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält)
    Hot 60’s European chicks getting tortured as witches. Amazingly realistic and gory for the time, the plot centers around Inquisitors using their power to satisfy their sadistic lusts. Pretty damned disturbing, actually. The American version is dubbed pretty well, so you don’t have to read subtitles. Lots of torture devices, dirty villagers, and torture of pretty medieval women that borders on a snuff flick. Don’t let the kids near this one.

    Young Frankenstein (1974)
    It’s not easy to pull off a really great spoof of a really great movie, but they really nailed it with this one. Mel Brooks in his heyday with Harvey Korman, Peter Boyal, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, a cameo by Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder at the reins. Wilder plays the grandson of Victor von Frankenstein. He refuses to believe his grandfather’s work had any merit until he visits the ‘old country’ and finds his journal. When he decides to try the experiments himself, hilarity ensues. Shot in black and white with the same techniques as movies from the 30’s (and with some of the same sets as the original “Frankenstein”) this flick is timeless, with great gags, great writing, and Teri Garr looking like a real honey.

    The Exorcist (1973)
    Speaks for itself. If you ain’t seen it, see it. It’ll blow your mind. Scary, evil, disturbing. Interesting note: Max von Sydow played Father Merrin, the old priest. He was only 43 at the time. He also played the role of Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and Director Burgess in Minority Report (2002). Talk about a career!

    the-changeling-posterThe Changeling (1980)
    Probably the best Ghost Story I’ve ever seen on film. George C. Scott stars as John Russell, a music composer who moves to a secluded vintage mansion outside of Seattle, hoping for some peace and quiet. What he gets are strange noises, visions, and visitations. As he unravels the mystery he gets drawn deeper into the web of the strengthening spirit. I don’t want to give anything else away! This has been one of my favorites from when I first saw it as a kid. Even though it was released in 1980, it has that old 60’s-70’s production style that makes it even creepier than any of the newer flicks can go for. Sure, new movies have great effects, but when they’re too slick they just don’t have that gritty creep factor.

    Ghost Story (1981)
    What happens when you get Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks and John Houseman together in their retirement years? A very creepy ghost story, that’s what. Add Patricia Neal, Alice Krige and a 50 year old bloody secret and you’ve got the makings of a very spooky film. 80’s production values are laughable, but if you can get past that it’s a fun flick to watch.

    christine_poster1Christine (1983)
    “She’s Death On Wheels” was the movie’s slogan. Another Stephen King adaptation, this time by John Carpenter. Nerdy teenager finds a beat to hell ’58 Fury “That’s uglier than he is”, spends all his time fixing it up and driving it, all the time becoming possessed by the demon car. It follows the book fairly well, but the way Carpenter translated the story to the screen has become legend. There’s even a Christine Car Club dedicated to restoring and preserving ’58 Plymouth Fury Christine clones (and a few real movie cars). With no computer graphics to help them, 25 Plymouths were used in the film, with about 15 of them being destroyed (which brought car guys like me to tears). It was later said that many of the destroyed cars were junkyard dogs anyway, didn’t run, didn’t even have engines, and were just painted rustbuckets used for the shots. A little Trivia: When my family and I went to see this in the movies around Christmas, 1983, we drove to the theater in my father’s ’64 Caddy. When we came out, people were pointing at his finned car and yelling, “It’s Christine!”…even though it was powder blue and didn’t look anything like a Fury! A few years later my Dad and I bought a ’59 Plymouth Savoy (with a ’58 front end on it) with the intention of making a Christine Clone. Turns out the motor was shot, and it was too much trouble to do it so we sold it back to the guy we bought it from for the same $200 we paid for it.


    Posted on October 6th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 12 comments

    halloween-comethHey, Bone Daddys & Halloween Kittens! Did you know the Tiki Scene was so hip in the 50’s & 60’s that Ideal Manufacturing came up with a board game with a Tiki-VooDoo Theme??? Dig it, from 1964,

    MYSTIC SKULLmystic-skull-game-box
    …with the mysterious moving skull!

    Ohhhhh man! This is one of my all time favorites. The graphics on the box are kookie, a little scary, and wreak of mod-tiki art from the middle of the last century. The game itself is as krazy as it looks, too, with VooDoo dolls, pins, a couldron and of course the MYSTERIOUS MOVING SKULL.

    cimg1756 I had one of these when I was a kid back in the 70’s. Always loved the box. When I was 32 and we were moving to Florida, I decided to sell it (couldn’t take everything with me). I remember I paid $.100 for it around 1977. I sold if for $40 before moving. When I got to Florida, I missed it so much I started looking for a replacement. I found one on eBay a year later for $15, and scooped it up. That’s the one you see here.


    The Skull hangs from a mysterious plastic branch that sticks out of the couldron. When it’s your turn, you stir the couldron with a bone, and the skull mysteriously begins to shake, rattle and roll like krazy! Old Bone Head decides your fate as you encounter snakes, spiders, shrunken heads, and of course ZOMBIES! I tell ya, just checking out the graphics of this game will transport you back to the days when life was game and games looked like they were made by the same kats who drew Mr. Magoo. So if you dig Tiki, try to get your hands on a MYSTIC SKULL Game. There’s a couple of em on eBay right now..but mine ain’t for sale, baby!


  • Been on the slab, new post comming up in two shakes

    Posted on October 6th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    I think I caught Zombieitus when we saw Zombieland Friday  night. 101 fever, achy, skin turning green, etc. Well I’m a little better now and promise a real fun post tonight!

    As for the movie (no spoilers here) go see it. If you haven’t heard already, it’s one of the funniest, most fun to watch movies to come out in years. Can you dig it? Then nut up or shut up!

    Later kids,


  • YIKES! ZOMBIES EVERYWHERE as Zombieland opens this weekend!

    Posted on October 2nd, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    moonfaceblueYou know the Halloween season is in full swing when the Zombies start coming out of the woodwork. ZOMBIELAND promises to be the Primo un-dead movie of the year, with Woody Harrelson & Jesse Eisenberg knocking the brains out of more walking dead than Planters has peanuts. What I already like about this movie is the way the art director has handled the look of it…the amusement park, the logo, even Woody’s hat have a distinctive little retro jive to them, which sets us up for what should be an old-time Zombie-bashing flick with plenty of blood and plenty of laughs to go with it.

    But wait! There’s more! It just wouldn’t be Halloween without a good old-fashioned Michael Meyers Halloween movie…and Rob Zombie has once again put his spin on the neo-classic with his gritty version of Halloween II, in theaters now. Haven’t seen it yet, but if it’s anything like his other movies, it will no doubt be a gruesome mix of 70’s Texas Chainsaw-style cinematography, 80’s body count and 00’s special effects. If you haven’t seen House of 1000 Corpses, see it. It’s one of the most disturbing (in a good way) movies I’ve ever laid eyes on.

    Looking for some old time classic horror films to get you in the haunting mood? Coming up soon in a new post will be a groovin’ list of some best (and worst) B flicks of all time.