October Instagram Giveaway of Doom II

Win a box full of morbid curiosities for the 2nd annual Instagram Halloween contest.
Memento mori box of weird featuring macabre oddities
Memento mori

Last October I asked Cult readers to answer trivia questions by posting photos or videos representing the answers on Instagram. The photo with the correct (and most creative) answer won a “Box of Weird” filled with Halloween trinkets and a copy of Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch’s book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

There were a lot of great answers using skulls, bones, Legos wearing necropants, hand-drawn art and more. So…I’ve decided to do it again. Except I’m upping the ante this time. Last year’s zombie finger puppets, rubber bugs, plastic skeletons and nose-shaped pencil sharpeners were fun, but I’ve been gathering things all year to make these boxes of weird much weirder.

Since Cult of Weird deals in morbid curiosities, I decided to dig up four MEMENTO MORI themed boxes featuring macabre contributions from a few of my favorite brands, as well as a haunting new release by author Colin Dickey from Viking Books.

What’s in the box?

There are only 4 boxes, available exclusively through this contest. No, sadly none of them contain Gwyneth Paltrow’s head. But each one does include:

Dead Sled Brand buttons and patches from Poison Apple Printshop
Coffin keychain, Dead Sled Brand buttons, “The Pallbearers” patch from Poison Apple Printshop

Black spine Halloween candle from Grave Digger Candles
Black spine candle from Grave Digger Candles

White scarab specimen preserved in lucite
White scarab specimen preserved in lucite

Ghostland by Colin Dickey
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

How to Enter

Follow Cult of Weird on Instagram and watch for a new question to be posted every Monday morning throughout October. Get creative and share a photo or video representing the correct answer on Instagram. Mention @cultofweird in the description and include hashtag #cultofweird so I’ll see it.

The winner will be chosen on Fridays.

UPDATE: 10/29/2016 The contest has ended. Here are the results:

10 Morbid Must-Reads for the Fall Season

Morbid and fascinating book recommendations for the fall season from the Cult of Weird book club.
2016 Cult of Weird fall reading list

If you’re looking for a macabre read for the fall season, something to curl up to while the air turns crisp and the veil thins, look no further. The list below has some compelling new releases, as well as some older work you may not have been aware of, to keep your brain cells tingling and your spine chilling this Halloween season.

Related: Weird Book Recommendations

Morbid Curiosities

Morbid Curiosities by Paul Gambino featuring the oddities collection of Ryan Matthew Cohn
Paul Gambino examines the truly extraordinary and bizarre objects in the collections of Ryan Matthew Cohn, Evan Michelson, and more. These macabre curiosities are showcased, some for the first time, with beautiful photos and accompanying descriptions illuminating the dark corners of history through skulls, occult objects, sideshow ephemera, mummified body parts, vintage spirit communication devices and other oddities.


Ghostland by Colin Dickey
Ghostland is a haunted roadtrip through history by way of America’s most notoriously dark places, where the spirits of the past refuse to rest.

A Season with the Witch

Halloween in Salem, MA is the focus of A Season with the Witch by J.W. Ocker
J.W. Ocker, travel writer and chronicler of strange destinations on Odd Things I’ve Seen, spent a Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts to see what makes it the “Capital of Creepy.”

Anatomical Venus

Anatomical Venus by Joanna Ebenstein
Joanna Ebenstein of the Morbid Anatomy Museum explores the grotesquely erotic wax anatomy work from the past depicting beautiful female figures in varying stages of dissection.

Tales of the Peculiar

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs, author of the enchantingly odd series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, expands on the bizarre mythos he’s dreamed up with a new installment of stories from the secret history of the peculiar world.

The Ghastling: Book Four

The Ghastling book four
The Ghastling is a series featuring genuinely chilling short stories by various authors. Book #4 is the latest installment, and it promises to be even more gruesome than previous issues.

The Victorian Book of the Dead

Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodward
Victorian-era dead and mourning traditions, ghost stories, premature burials, post-mortem photography, and bizarre tales unearthed from newspapers and journals from the 19th century.

Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities by Gordon Grice
A beginner’s guide to creating your own cabinet of curiosities, from finding and identifying specimens to preserving and mounting them for display.

The American Way of Death

The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford
First published in 1963, then later updated for modern trends in 1996, Jessica Mitford’s celebrated book exposes the US death industry with wit and humor, tackling the embalming process, cremation, funerals and more.

The Rose Of Paracelsus

The Rose of Paracelsus: On Secrets and Sacraments by William Leonard Pickard
From the description: “A Harvard graduate student and researcher explores a global entheogen system, discovering their practices leading to cognitive enhancement and, arguably, the next human form.”

Looking for more? Check out these Weird Book Club picks from previous years:

2,000-Year-Old Human Remains Found on Antikythera Wreck

Ancient skeletal remains that may still contain DNA have been uncovered at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck in Greece.
Antikythera skeleton remains
A skull fragment with three teeth found in the Antikythera shipwreck

Nature News is reporting a significant find at an ancient shipwreck site near the Greek island of Antikythera: 2,000-year-old human remains preserved under sand and pottery shards.

Discovered in 1900, the wreck has yielded numerous artifacts over the years, including the Antikythera mechanism, an intricate clockwork device used to model the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets to accurately predict celestial events. The first human remains were found in 1976, when an excavation conducted by Jacques Cousteau turned up the scattered bones of at least 4 individuals.

The newly discovered skeleton, uncovered on August 31st, consists of a partial skull, two arm bones, several pieces of ribs, and two femurs that appear to belong to a single individual. Both petrous bones, which are known to preserve DNA better than other bones, were found among the skull fragments. Scientists are hopeful that it may be possible to extract genetic material, which would be a first for such ancient remains.

The bones have been stained red by oxidizing iron fragments, leading researchers to believe the individual may have been a slave shackled inside the ship when it sank.

Read more about this discovery right here.

Halloween Came Early at the 15th Annual Hearse Fest in Hell

The denizens of Hell gathered for the 15th annual Hearse Fest and we were there for all the ghoulish fun.
Greetings from Hell, MI
Greetings from Hell, MI

The annual gathering of hearse owners and enthusiasts known as Hearse Fest was held Saturday in Hell, Michigan. Hell’s own Just Hearse’N Around hearse car club, of which Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) and Elvira are members, have been organizing this unique event for 15 years, and it was about time we checked it out. I mean, how often do you have the opportunity to utilize so many Hell puns in one day?

Cult of Weird resident mad taxidermist Rob Reysen and I departed for Hell with boxes full of Grave Digger Candles at about 2am. The burning question on my mind at that point was: Which circle of Hell is the coffee on?

The road to Hell from Wisconsin was a 6-hour drive through pouring rain and dark, desolate countryside. It was still raining in Hell when we arrived – just long enough, apparently, to make setting up our chapel of beeswax abominations as complicated as possible. Soon after, however, the sun came out, the humidity rose, and Hell lived up to its infernal reputation. Still, the quaint little town, which seems to be no more than a few houses, two bars, and Screams (the souvenir shop) was surprisingly pleasant. Where else can you experience Hell on Earth while enjoying mini golf and the best ice scream this side of the Styx?

A wide variety of hearses of all makes and models came out for the festivities, with an equally diverse range of vendors selling original art, preserved dead things, bones, jewelry, and more. I didn’t get a chance to stop by every booth like I wanted to, which was probably a good thing because I would have wanted at least one of everything. But I did manage to finally meet the ghouls behind my favorite purveyor of monochromatic grime Dead Sled Brand.

Dead Sled Brand at Hearsefest 2016 in Hell, MI
Yes, they really are B&W in real life.

Dead Sled Brand enamel pin, button, and t-shirt
Brought some Dead Sled gear back from Hell!

The hearse used in the flyer design by Robert Paul Nixon
Custom diecast hearse made by Ronnie Duke.

The diecast hearse used by Robert Paul Nixon in the design for this year’s flyer was made by Just Hearse’N Around member Ronnie Duke. It was auctioned off at the end of the day.

Diecast Johnny Lightning and Matchbox hearses
Huge thanks to Ronnie Duke for the new additions to my humble beginner hearse collection!

Trick or Treat came early this year in Hell. Zombies, monsters and devils crawled out of their spider holes to haunt Hearse Fest for the Halloween costume contest. We spent the day beside a nun who was happily flogging anyone who would stand still and bend over long enough.

Dedd Fredd with candy at Hearsefest
Take the candy or Dedd Fredd feasts on your brain. You decide.

Oh yeah, Hearse Fest has hearses, too.

Hearses at Hell's Hearsefest 2016

Old Packard hearse

Ghostbusters hearse

You're going to be dead a long time

Going to Hell...for Hearsefest

Undertaker hearse

I tried to share more photos throughout the day on the Instagram feed, but it turns out phone service isn’t so great in Hell. Some comments questioned if it could really be Hell if there was coffee, and the answer is yes! I did find coffee in Hell. Unfortunately, Deadly Grounds didn’t make it because their hearse broke down en route, but I managed to find some at Screams instead.

Deadly Grounds Coffee
I found Deadly Grounds coffee in Hell.

It was great to meet everyone and see the meat wagons. Can’t wait to do it again!

The Periwig Maker animated short film

The Periwig Maker: Animated Short Film About Plague-Ridden London

A wig maker locks himself inside his shop and watches as the plague spreads death through the streets of London.

The Periwig Maker is an animated short film based on the 1722 novel A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Dafoe. It premiered in 1999 and went on to win numerous film festival awards the following year, eventually being nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2001.

The film is a bleak tale set in 1665 London, when the city was in the grips of the Great Plague and an estimated 100,000 people went to their graves. In the film, a wig maker (who uses cadaver hair for his wigs) isolates himself in his shop, documenting the grim scene as the city dies around him.

Author Dafoe was a young child when the plague struck the city. His family took him to the country, but his uncle Henry Foe remained in the city. A Journal of the Plague Year is considered a mostly factual historical account of that time, believed to be based at least partially on Foe’s personal experiences.

The Periwig Maker animated film

The Periwig Maker was directed by Steffen Schäffler and narrated by Kenneth Branagh.