Penguin Dry Ice’s Halloween video contest winners are #frightfullycool

If you were to make a list of the Top 50 things that I love, Halloween would rank #16 and Video Contests would rank somewhere in the low 20’s.  That might sound surprising for a guy who runs a website about video contests but keep in mind that my list would include things like cookies (#8), my loved ones (#1-5), and hilarious cat videos (#14).  So Halloween and Video Contests are a big part of my life.  Every fall search the web for new Halloween-themed video contests that I can enter but unfortunately, they’re not as popular as you’d think.  I’ve found and entered a few of them but I’ve never been able to win one….until now!  Back in October I read about a photo & video contest that was being sponsored by Penguin Dry Ice.  I’ve always loved dry ice (#47 on my list) and I’ve bought many bricks of it over the years for Halloween parties and video projects.  So I really wanted to win this contest.  The sponsor wanted to see #frightfully Halloween displays that used dry ice.  There were a lot of great entries but I managed to win the $1,500 grand prize.  Here’s my submission:



I gotta say, I’m really proud of my little display.  It was actually kinda easy to set up.  I just bought some empty paint cans from Home Depot and spray painted them black.  Then I dribbled on florescent green paint and added some homemade florescent radiation stickers.  I turned on a pair of blacklights, put some green, battery-operated LED Christmas lights in some of the cans and then added some water and dry ice.

If you’d like to see the other photos and videos that won prizes, click here.

BOO! Here’s the winner of some random website’s Madea-themed video contest

madea-3
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Have you seen the trailer for Boo! A Madea Halloween?  It looks like Tyler Perry bought some clown costumes at Party City and then shot his new movie over Labor Day weekend.  I know the Madea films are popular but I think Perry might be getting a little lazy.  He veered dangerously close to “direct to DVD” territory this time.  Seriously, I’m not kidding about those Party City clown costumes.  The evil clowns in the trailer are literally wearing the $29.99 costumes that I’ve seen in stores.  What kind of major motion picture has a costume designer that would allow the director to use cheap costumes that come in vinyl bags?

Well anyway, to promote and/or piggyback off the film, the website Comed-Hype (which may or may not be officially associated with the Madea films) ran a video contest and asked their fans to submit their funniest Halloween stories.  Here’s the $1,000 grand prize winner:

Click the screenshot to watch the video on
Click the screenshot to watch the video on Pictagram (whatever that is)

Ok, that story seemed pretty made-up and I guess the filmmaker gave up on his plan to do something with that green screen.  But still, I liked this entry and I’d much rather watch a new movie staring that guy than the new Madea film.  Happy Halloween, everybody!  Have fun and please watch out for amateur Freddy Kruegers tonight.

Home Run Inn Pizza: Your Halloween video contest is bad and you should feel bad!

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Pizza, Halloween and video contests are three of my favorite things.  So as far as I’m concerned the only thing better than a Halloween-themed video contest about pizza would be…oh I don’t know….a boob-themed roller coaster about chocolate cake.  Unfortunately, those only exist in my dream journal.  But Home Run Inn Pizza actually does run a Halloween-themed video contest every October.  They’ve held the contest for the last four years and each time they re-launch it I get excited, read the rules and then get bummed.  It would be so easy and fun to shoot a wacky, funny, scary video about pizza but for some reason the folks at Home Run Inn let votes alone determine the winners.  So the people that enter this contest don’t really need to TRY when they create their entries.  I could shoot a video of myself in a hockey mask cutting a pizza with a chainsaw and I could win the $2,500 grand prize if I was willing to spend 2 weeks hustling for votes.  Now that I think about it, the people who won the contest this year probably spent 4 hours shooting and editing their submission and 40 hours trying to get enough votes to win.

I understand WHY Home Run Inn would run their contest this way; they want to try and get a ton of new people to “like” their facebook page and accept their app.  But people who like a page so they can vote for their friend’s entry are junk likes.  Most of those people will probably delete the HRI app and un-like the company’s page after their friend loses the contest.  And let’s be real….there’s a good chance that a whole lot of the votes cast in this contest are fake.  So the whole thing really sort of feels like a pointless exercise.  If Home Run Inn really wants to increase the number of fans they have on facebook, and if they don’t care whether or not those fans are real people, they should just save everyone a bunch of time and buy likes in bulk from spammers in India.

Home Run Inn announced the winners of this contest on November 1st but I’m not going to bother posting the winning video because WHO wins this contest doesn’t actually matter.  This is a voting contest, not a video contest.  I think the thing that bothers me the most about this promotion is that if the sponsor’s just tweaked the rules a tiny bit it could be a really awesome contest.  Instead of letting “the public” pick the winners, why not let votes determine a set of finalists and then Home Run Inn judges could select the best video?  If they did it that way, HRI would get the traffic and likes they desire and they could also get some free press and some facebook “shares” if they posted a winner that was actually entertaining enough to re-post.
 

Home Run Inn Pizza’s super creepy Halloween video contest winner

Boo!

Well, tomorrow is Halloween so it’s only fitting that today I post the creepiest, most disturbing video to ever win a video contest.  I must warn you that once you see this video, you can never un-see it!  So prepare yourselves for the horror that is the grand prize winner of Home Run Inn Pizza’s Halloween Video Challenge!

Grand Prize Winner.  Prize: $2,500 and a Halloween Party Pack:
 

 
Yo, that is some seriously freaky s#$%! If you think I’m being sarcastic, I’m not. There is just something about that video that makes my skin crawl. I’m sure the person who made that video didn’t intend for it to be so disturbing but that’s how it turned out. That flat, emotionless, robotic narration coupled with that simple and repetitive animation is just kind of haunting. And those monsters are just creepy as hell. What is up with the brown Frankenstein!? And does Dracula have such a big, fat head?? And why the hell are all those monsters walking in place like that!?

As you can probably guess, Home Runn Inn picked the winners of this contest through a public vote. And when a company holds a public vote, that is the kind of winner you get. In fact, who wins is basically irrelevant. The whole contest is just an excuse to get people to “like” the sponsor’s page on facebook. Some day I hope a company has the nerve to skip the part where people have to create an entry and just run a straight-up voting contest. If your name gets the most votes, you win!

I actually entered the Home Run Inn contest this year and no joke, I am glad this video won. I was just hoping to land in the Top 15 so I could win a year’s supply of free pizza and a special Flip camera. (I did!) So I got what I wanted and as a bonus, HRI Pizza wound up with a winning video that is totally insane. As weird as it is, you do have to respect the amount of work that went in to that entry. It might not be super slick but it’s better than any kind of animation that I could do. Of course, I think it’s possible that all those monsters were stock characters. And they were probably already programed to “walk” and that’s why they walk in every shot, even when they’re not moving forward.

This contest got a whopping 68 entries and if you’d like to see them all, head here. Happy Halloween Everybody!

Putting together a cheap-o Halloween make-up kit

Back in grade school and high school I was one of those kids who’s “thing” was “making movies.”  My friends and I always had some kind of video project in the works but of course we did most of our filming in the summer.  And like most 14 year old screenwriters, we were mainly interested in stuff like monsters, zombies, aliens, serial killers and drunken clowns. (ok, maybe that last one was just me.)  We were shooting our mini-epics long before google or amazon so if we ran out of clown makeup or fake blood in July, we were pretty much screwed.  So every year I really looked forward to the week after Halloween since all the stores would sell their make-up, costumes and props for 50, 60 or even 90% off.  Come November first I would stock up on a year’s supply of stuff like this:

So realistic!

Unfortunately, the days of the “post-halloween” sale are pretty much gone.  In fact, I’ve noticed that some big stores start pulling their Halloween stuff off the shelves BEFORE October 31st!  The reason is that the Christmas season now officially begins on November 1st.  So the masks and costumes need to disappear fast to make room for all the fake trees.

That sucks for several reasons but the good news is that a lot of stores now start reducing the prices on their Halloween merchandise before Halloween. I almost never use effects make-up in my video contest entries so I haven’t stocked up on cheap Halloween make up in many years.  But recently I was in JoAnn Fabrics buying some hot glue sticks or something when I saw a small plastic box with different sized slots in it.

Click the image to order one of these things

It was called an “Art Bin” but for some reason, when I saw it I immediately thought “this would be perfect for storing tubes of Halloween make up!”  It turns out that for the last 15 years or so, I had been subconsciously waiting for a solution to a problem I had when I was a kid.  You see, I always stored my Halloween makeup in a ziplock bag.  And I can still vividly remember how gross that bag got.  I’d open a thing of white makeup, use it and then toss it back in the bag.  So in no time the inside of the bag would be covered in cheap, greasy makeup.

So even though I have almost zero use for effects makeup, I had to buy that box and fill it with $1.00 tubes of fake blood, green and blue makeup and black nail polish.  When it comes to stuff like this, it’s better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.  And actually, there are a lot of things you can do with the kind of cheap Halloween makeup you can buy at target or walmart.  For example, you could do what a lot of filmmakers have done and shoot your own Twilight or Zombie-themed contest entry!  And a little purple and brown makeup can make a pretty realistic bruise or black eye.  Oh you know what else is good to have on hand? A can of white hair spray.  It’s great for giving scientist or politician characters a little extra pizazz.  However you probably want to avoid featuring realistic blood, gore or injuries in MOST of your video contest entries.  I say “most” of your entries because every so often, I’ll see a video contest that kind of has a hardcore edge to it.  So if a contest is kind of edgy, you could push the envelope a bit and include a little violence just for the shock value.

If you actually try and put together a low-budget, effects makeup kit of your own, there are a few other items you should include.  If you see spirit gum and spirit gum remover in the Halloween isle, grab some.  That stuff can come in really handy.  And while your at it you might as well buy a few fake mustaches.  Why?  Because fake mustaches are freaking funny, that’s why.  To finish off your kit you’ll want to add some Q-tips, makeup sponges, and wet naps.  And or of course, you can’t forget the toothpicks!  Toothpicks are how the pros scratch themselves so that their makeup won’t smear.  But I bet you already knew that.

If you’re like me, once your $7 makeup kit is complete, you’ll look at it, feel proud for about five seconds and then you’ll shove the box into the back of your closet.  I doubt I’ll actually use any of the stuff in my kit but next summer if I find myself inspired to shoot a video contest entry about a mime or a vampire or a sports fan with a painted face, I’ll be good to go.