As fall progresses, I become one of those candle people. But I hate the majority of the sickly sweet stuff that comes out of the Yankee Candle factory, and most soy candles barely seem to make any sort of olfactory impact. One of my favorite recent candle finds is the Rewined line. These soy wax concoctions feature the inspired top notes of your favorite grape varietals. So the chardonnay candle is a heavenly combination of butter and cedar. The merlot offers violet and plum with a vanilla finish. All your preferred wine-store selections are available, from cabernet to champagne, and are packaged in repurposed wine bottles. They make great gifts, or just grab a few, light ’em up, and curl up on the couch with a good book to enjoy the autumnal hibernation season. [Gwen Ihnat]
FromSoftware’s family of Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne) has inspired a community of dedicated internet archaeologists—forum-dwellers, YouTubers, and wiki-writers working to piece together their dense mythologies from the developer’s hundreds of scattered breadcrumbs. The impending release of Dark Souls III has led one of the most famous and prolific of Souls experts back to the original game’s land of Lordran for a tremendous last hurrah. In From The Dark, Marcus “EpicNameBro” Sanders combines four years of research and speculation into the ultimate Dark Souls Let’s Play. It’s a front-to-back look at every inch of this mysterious game—every well hidden dialogue, weapon, item, and spell and the precious bits of lore held within—with EpicNameBro’s charming conversational delivery guiding the way. Installments run anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes, and at 32 episodes in, ENB has just about reached the halfway point. That each video is a pleasure to watch and includes tons of eye-opening trivia, even for a Souls disciple like myself, is just as much a testament to FromSoftware’s incredible vision as it is ENB’s craft. [Matt Gerardi]
Those blessed to live in the greater Chicago area have an abundance of riches this year when it comes to haunted houses. You’ve got your rides covered with Six Flags’ Fright Fest, but when it comes to the actual business of having people jump out and scare you, two great options stick out among the others. First up is Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, a gigantic, spare-no-expense haunted house that delivers the best live version of the director’s white-trash aesthetic imaginable. Providing far more narrative than the normal Halloween haunts, this one is based upon the world of his films—specifically House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, but up to and including his upcoming film 31. The first section is a 3-D Day-Glo nightmare billed as “Captain Spaulding’s Clown School,” featuring rooms and experiences as fun as they are spooky, with genuine laughs that made it a treat. The second area, based on The Devil’s Rejects, was—as you might imagine—much darker, with lots of creepy dad-on-daughter violence and all manner of explosive surprises and jump scares. (A Ph.D. dissertation could be written about the gender politics of this second attraction.) The last one, based on 31, should be kept a surprise, but suffice it to say, I was impressed with the inventiveness and commitment to telling a story on top of the people jumping out to scream at you. If you ever experience more people calling you a “motherfucker” in close proximity than at the Great American Nightmare, it’s time to reexamine your life choices.
For a more traditional haunted house experience, but one with a profound attention to detail and commitment to doing absolutely nothing but try and make you jump, the House Of Torment should meet your needs admirably. A little ways north of the city, this attraction doubles down on the darkness and scares, with every single corner dedicated to hiding creatures and worse that will do their damnedest to catch you off-guard. And catch you they do: I legitimately jumped no less than a dozen or more times during my journey through the place, often by someone who managed to make screaming into my face somehow fun, as opposed to any other time that happens in life. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it’s a two-for-one deal: After being chased out of the haunted house (dubbed “Contagium,” and if you have a fear of germs, holy hell, will this be your nightmare) by a chainsaw-wielding maniac, we walked right into a second one, with just as impressive a setup and arguably even more scares. I’m not surprised it made HauntWorld’s list of the 15 best haunts of 2015. Between these two attractions, I’ve got the perfect night out for unsuspecting visiting family members. [Alex McCown]