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Spooky fun: iOS apps for Halloween

I love Halloween. As kids we anticipated the night we'd canvas the neighborhood in plastic costumes, visiting house after house. Especially that one crazy lady who dressed as a witch and tried her best to scare us.

We had fun, but we didn't have iPhones. Today a slew of digital treats lurk inside the App Store. Here's a selection of our favorites.

Getting ready

There are prerequisites to Halloween fun. You've got to choose a costume, carve a pumpkin and set a creepy mood. Here are some apps to get you started (all prices are USD).

Costume Decider (Free) Can't decide on a costume? Let your iPhone help. This app from GS Design features two "wheels" for you to spin; one features adjectives such as "super" and "Vulcan" while the other offers nouns like "nurse" or "granny." Flip through the 625 possible combinations to find a winner. We'd like to see a Vulcan nurse, actually.

Haunt Finder ($2.99) Trick-or-treating not your thing? Check out Haunt Finder, a mobile database of haunted houses and and other frightening attractions across the US. Powered by HauntedHouse.com, Haunt Finder will list all the spooky goings-on within 200 miles of your current location. Listings include a description, distance and URL.

Halloween Soundlab ($0.99) If you intend to host a Halloween party, you'll need an eerie soundtrack. Halloween Soundlab offers 13 spooky loops that can be played solo or in combination to produce a horrifying soundtrack.

Kids

Like many other holidays, Halloween is mostly about the kids. Help them channel that sugar-fueled energy with a bit of iOS fun.

Carve It ($0.99) Carve a virtual jack-o-lantern with Carve It from ABCya. There's no sharp knife, fistfulls of goo or burning candle to worry about. Plus, if Jr. makes a mistake, he can just start over. Choose from 8 characters and enjoy the mini-game (it's kind of like Plinko) once the novelty of carving virtual pumpkins wears off.

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin ($0.99, universal) This app is based on one of my kids' favorite Halloween books. Poor Spookely isn't like the other pumpkins in the patch, he's a cube! A not-so-spooky soundtrack enhances the charm of Susan Banta's illustrations.

Halloween Postage ($1.99) If your kids are like mine, they adore looking at themselves. Embrace that tendency with Halloween Postage from RogueSheep. Take a photo of your costumed children and then add a postcard theme, creepy effects, titles and more. Finally, share it with far-flung family and friends via email, Facebook and more.

Reading

The air is getting cooler, the days getting shorter (here in the northern hemisphere at least) and the time is right to curl up with a good, scary book. Of course, we suggest doing so with your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Here are a few Halloween suggestions.

The Masque of the Red Death ($0.99) This digital interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe's classic tale is rather unique. As you read, a soundtrack creates an effective mood. It's more than music, though. Actions described in the text can be heard in the soundtrack: doors slam, maidens scream, chandeliers crash to the stone floor. As you read, the app notices your pace and times these sounds to almost the very moment you read the corresponding words. It's uncannily accurate and a lot of fun.

Incidentally, the Vincent Price movie is also quite good.

Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition ($4.99) Here's another enhanced book app. This title goes beyond a soundtrack by offering lots of fun stuff to do. As you read, you'll swing a lantern to reveal text, open letters tucked inside envelopes and blow the leaves off of a tombstone. You'll also find vintage photographs from the Dracula legacy, some released for the first time with this app. It's an unusual reading experience -- more of a game than a book -- and a lot of fun. Plus, it's got the full blessing of the official Stoker Family Estate.

Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book ($0.99) Here's one for the kids. Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book from Disney offers a cute tale plus a few fun activities. Read the story and then complete the various puzzles. You can even record your own voice, turing the app into a personal read-along.

Games

Forget bobbing for Apples, we've got A5 chips! Here are a few picks for iOS gaming, both light-hearted and hardcore.

Plants Vs. Zombies HD ($6.99, $2.99 for Plants Vs. Zombies for iPhone) It'd be impossible not to mention this smash hit from PopCap Games. It's a tower defense game with an undead theme. You're job is to stop the invading horde from entering your house by hurling all matter of plants at them. It sounds crazy and it is. Crazy fun!

Dark Meadow ($5.99, universal) Built on the Unreal Engine, Dark Meadow is serious fun with serious graphics. Part first-person-shooter and part puzzle game, your job is to unravel the mystery of the abandoned mental hospital, battle baddies and eventually escape. There's a lot of story here, nice battle mechanics and good looks.

Monster Dash ($0.99, universal) This platform shooter has you blasting away all sorts of bad guys across various worlds, from back alleys to ancient Egypt and icy tundras. Grab yourself a jet pack for high-flyng fun.

There you have it, a dozen apps to enhance All Hallow's Eve. Have fun, and don't eat your candy all at once.

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