From the Redroom Creative Media who created the documentary “Hanging Elizabeth Reed”, comes a perfect treat for this Halloween in the form of Joseph Tury’s documentary “Merry Spirits of Halloween”. Here’s our spoiler-free review of the documentary now available on Amazon Prime Video.
The Merry Spirits of Halloween is an independent documentary about the season of autumn and the celebration of Halloween. The stories told are locations in Illinois and include House Haunt (extreme home decorating), Pumpkin Patch (a seventy-acre, working farm transformed for Halloween), and Ghost Story (stories in the most haunted city in Illinois, Alton). Part fun. Part fright.
Official Information from the Kickstarter Archive:
The Merry Spirits of Halloween is an independent film about the season of autumn and the celebration of Halloween. The stories told are locations in Illinois and include 3 Chapters.
House Haunt A homeowner, Dr. Chris Merli, transforms his front lawn and home into a haunted display. Chris builds his own mechanical props and decorations to create the “Edgewater Mortuary,” a free display in Mount Zion, Illinois, that draws visitors from near and far away. He has been building his house haunt since 2003 and puts in 200+ hours a year designing and developing props and features. This is a behind-the-scenes look at effort needed to create a professional display and the reactions of visitors. A unique sight and sound experience for families to enjoy, this primer will get you in the mood for the Halloween experience.
Pumpkin Patch. Located near the Amish Community of Arthur, Illinois, The Great Pumpkin Patch is a 70 acre, working farm that is transformed into an amazing celebration of autumn and Halloween for people of all ages. Owner Mac Condill tells the story of this 150 year old, 6th generation homestead that hosts thousands of visitors during the Halloween season. Features include a pumpkin patch, multiple mazes, historic buildings, creative displays, and a diverse collection of beautiful animals. The Great Pumpkin Patch has been featured on Martha Stewart’s show and has decorated the White House lawn with its multi-varieties of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. The Pumpkin Patch story is an adventurous exploration through Illinois heartland that harkens simpler times and a journey full of wonder and nature and takes the viewer smack dab into the spirit of Halloween.
Ghost Story Author Troy Taylor, who has written nearly 130 books on the paranormal and has appeared on T.V. and in film, takes us on a journey through one of the most haunted towns in the U.S., Alton, Illinois. Taylor expertly weaves tales of historical accounts and guides viewers through the most haunted locations in Alton. He then focuses on the civil war era with stories of Illinois’ first state penitentiary that was closed for inhumane conditions, and then reopened as a confederate penitentiary. Troy masterfully finishes with a hauntingly spooky tale that takes place in Alton National Cemetery that involves the restless spirit of a Union soldier. The rich, historical beginnings of Alton add to the authenticity of these paranormal tales that are both entertaining and frightful.
Directed by Joseph Tury Starring Troy Taylor, Mac Condill, Chris Merli
Spoiler Free Review:-
Halloween has been a subject of pop culture and celebration for many generations. Albeit, due to the glamor, people sometimes overlook the importance of the festival in the culture and community. The educational and entertaining documentary by Joseph Tury & Redroom Creative Media provides a joyful, entertaining and scary look at the origin of Halloween, how it helps keep a closely knit community and also some scary ghost stories to give you an enjoyable experience along with the informative parts.
The 50 minutes horror documentary starts off with a familiar scenario of dry leaves on a lawn, and people’s routine during the autumn time. Immediately, we are told about the origin and meaning of Halloween. Greeted by a warm and friendly narration, it is easy to get intrigued by all the information being shared which feels authentic yet has a professional feel to it.
The first section shares the information about a man and his props which are loved by the kids of Illinois. The Home Haunt Creator- Dr.Chris Merli has a lot of personal experiences to share, and many wonderful & scary props to show. The Edgewater Mortuary Mt. Zion is shown from the time before the Halloween, and also in the full glory of the Halloween Eve when all the skeletons climbing the house greet the Trick or Treaters! Dr. Chris Merli shares how he feared that the neighbors might object but then how the decorations had the acceptance by neighbors and the kids love it too.
The second section is about an Illinois pumpkin farm that’s trying to help people realize the importance of pumpkin vegetable, and also educate about farming. There’s a corn maze nearby, and a sweet shop 2 miles away that stands as a symbol of repurposing an old structure for something positive as a community building place. Mac Condill, who shares his experiences & works while we see many places from the farm, and around the farm. The Center School at The Great Pumpkin Patch, Arthur, Illinois is about the importance of pumpkin, art of growing one, and how underutilized it is. The owner appreciates the diversity of animals, culture, and this love has led to the colorful attractions loved by many. We get to visit the Wanda’s Crib Haunted House attraction which looks fantastically scary and well made. Two Mile Sweet Shop, which was ready to be demolished years ago but was saved by the people & converted into a sweet shop. We learn about the art and ordeal of creating a maze using a farm and crops when we get to see the Corn Maze which is nearby. It’s not just a scary maze to be experienced, but also a way to experience farming in a fun way. This section truly makes us realize why The Great Pumpkin Patch is an educational & scary fun for the entire family.
The final exciting section is a cherry on top as it is about ghost stories of Alton, Illinois – a Haunted city in the US with civil war history. Well known author, Troy Taylor shares ghost stories and folklores. Journalist Elijah Lovejoy’s ghost is said to haunt the city. Then starts the scary visuals, stories, real people accounts of the places from Alton. The McPike Mansion, once a former mayor’s house with many tragedies and deaths. The First Unitarian Church in town, where a suicide happened. The Old Mineral Springs Hotel. I like how we get to explore the social effect of the places when we also get to know about the American advocate for the mentally ill, Dorothea Dix‘s objection of The First and the Only Penitentiary due to the conditions there (Also known as Alton Military Prison). Still hearing sounds, apparitions, noises in the empty prison. Then became a haunted parking lot with a prison monument. Alton City Cemetery- with claims of the sightings of orbs, soldier apparition story, history, Lovejoy connection, and the origin of the cemetery, and how it wasn’t supposed to be one, all such stories are educational and often unexpectedly frightening.
The horror & educational mood is set by the intermissions between these stories. There are some melodic, dark and beautifully crafted poems, short stories, quotes as intermissions to help us relax a bit, and have a clear division between the sections. Banjo, guitar, synth music, and overall score is well made, and sets the mood right. Sometimes cheery, often scary, but always perfect for the visuals. The sights, Halloween facts, and all the editing makes the Halloween theme feel consistent.
Overall, Joseph Tury’s Halloween documentary not only entertains & scares the audience with the visuals and music but also educates about Halloween, and its importance in the history of Illinois, if not in every human civilization in different autumn festive forms. Available on Amazon Prime Video, this is among the best documentaries available to watch this Halloween season which feels so entertaining that calling it just a documentary feels like an injustice to the creators. It’s an informative, yet entertaining documentary that would be a priceless gem for everyone living in or associated with Illinois , and of course for those who have the love of Halloween & horror in their heart.
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Our initiative for the season:- Lets Save Halloween Together [Updated 10/08/20]
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