Halloween & Mourning Tour 2016 review

The Heritage Square Museum Halloween & Mourning Tours have their second and final day from noon to 4pm today. As usual, the Sunday version is more kid-friendly, with trick-or-treating, a scavenger hunt, and other games.

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The museum’s authentic Victorian mansion are still decked out in decor illustrating Halloween and funeral customs from a hundred years ago and more, with costumed characters explaining the underlying beliefs, but if you have not attending the Halloween and Mourning Tours for the past few years, there have been some notable additions, including a fleet of funeral cars on display and a civil war theme for the mock funeral procession, including several volleys of rifle fire.

The Shaw House presents a 1930’s Halloween party, where you can spin a wheel which will assign a task to be completed to win a prize. We learned a little about the rise in popularity of Halloween parties during this era: in response to increasing incidents of vandalism during Halloween, there was a movement to give trick-or-treaters some kind of positive alternative to do to keep them off the streets, where they might indulge in mischief.

The séance has been moved to the Octagon House. It’s a more low-key affair, illustrating the ritual. What’s been added is a follow-up explaining the history of spiritualism and explanations debunking the practice, including photos of the Fox Sisters (who launched the Spiritualist movement in the U.S.) and examples of noise-makers (e.g., small bells attached to shoes) used to create mysterious sounds in the darkness.

Our Favorite: In the Colonial Drug Store, 3-D Space presents some  examples of stereoscopic photography, including Diableries. These are photos of hand-carved scenes depicting skeletal and demonic figures engaging in pandemonium. The black-and-white images are cleverly enhanced by backing them with tinted fabric and carefully cutting pinpoint-size openings to allow light to flow through.  The result is that the 3D images look sepia-toned in normal lighting, but when viewed with a very strong back-light (such as sunlight), the tint shows through, suddenly giving the demons glowing red eyes! It’s amazing imagery – worth a look if you can get there.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.