even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Taylor Swift holds all top 10 spots in Billboard Hot 100 as she announces first major tour in nearly 5 years

Taylor Swift performs on the stage in concert at Mercedes-Benz Arena on May 30, 2014 in Shanghai, China.

Vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Taylor Swift said Tuesday she’s heading back out on tour, as she occupies all of the top 10 spots of the Billboard Hot 100 with songs from her new album “Midnights.”

She is the first artist to ever achieve the Billboard feat. Her album has enjoyed massive success since its midnight release on Oct. 21. The song “Anti-Hero” has the top spot, followed by “Lavender Haze” and “Maroon.” Two official music videos for “Bejeweled” and “Anti-Hero” have combined over 60 million views on YouTube since the album’s release.

Swift also announced her next tour, her first in nearly five years. “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” is scheduled for 27 dates at U.S. stadiums beginning in March. Swift said international dates will be announced soon. She described it as “a journey through all the musical eras of my career.”

Her “Reputation” tour in 2018 broke records at the time.

Along with “Midnights,” Swift has yet to tour with her albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” which were released in 2021. She also released “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” the same year, as she looks to reclaim the rights to her early works.

Swift has an ongoing feud with music executives Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta. Borchetta’s Big Machine Records released all of her album’s through 2017’s “Reputation.” She said their business practices were exploitative.

“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in,” Swift wrote in a Tumblr post in 2019.

“Midnights” was released under Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, and was produced by Swift and Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff.

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Homebuilders say they’re on the edge of a steeper downturn as buyers pull back

A worker drills plywood on a single family home under construction in Lehi, Utah, on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.

George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The once-hot housing market is cooling off at an alarming rate, and some homebuilders say it will only get worse come the new year as new orders dry up.

Fast-rising mortgage rates have caused once-frenzied homebuyers to turn on their heels and become worried about their potential investment and the health of the overall economy.

“There’s this cliff that’s happening in January,” said Gene Myers, CEO of Thrive Homebuilders in the Denver area, which was one of the hottest markets in the years leading up to and through the coronavirus pandemic.

Pending home sales plunge 31% versus one year ago amid rising mortgage rates

U.S. homebuilders were a major beneficiary of the Covid economy. Record low interest rates, combined with surging demand from consumers looking for more living space, caused a run on housing unlike most had ever seen before. Home prices surged over 40% in just two years, and homebuilders couldn’t meet the orders fast enough. They even slowed sales just to keep pace. All of that is over.

Housing starts for single-family homes dropped nearly 19% year over year in September, according to the U.S. Census. Building permits, which are an indicator of future construction, fell 17%. PulteGroup, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, reported its cancelation rate jumped from 15% in the second quarter of this year to 24% in the third.

The public homebuilders that have reported earnings so far showed surprisingly strong results, but that is because much of it is based on a backlog of homes that went under contract last spring. That was before mortgage rates crossed 6% and then 7%.

Now builders are preparing for what’s coming next. Myers said that his company’s balance sheet is incredibly strong right now, thanks to a backlog of homes sold at high prices, but he predicted that the market will be “ugly” by the start of next year.  

“It is definitely a hard landing for housing,” he said. “Any hope of a soft landing really evaporated last spring, when it became so clear that our customers who are accustomed to such low mortgage rates just were going to go on strike.”

Myers was around during the last housing crash, which was brought on by a faulty mortgage market where just about anyone, qualified or not, could get a home loan. It caused a massive run on housing, based almost entirely on speculative buying and selling by investors. Single-family housing starts fell a stunning 80% from January 2006 to March 2009, but Myers notes that it was a slower turn compared with what is happening now.

“I think we’re seeing the most abrupt change in the market in my career, and I’ve been around a while,” he said. “I’ve never seen sales just turn off, which for us happened in May.”

Downward spiral

Barely six months ago, single-family housing starts were still up 10% year over year. That was just before mortgage rates really started to jump quickly. To go from a 10% annual gain in construction to a 19% drop in that time frame is an historically sharp turn.

While sales of newly built homes are falling, prices are still higher compared with a year ago. Much of that has to do with still-inflated prices for labor and materials. Part of the price strength may just be indicative of which homes are selling, namely the more expensive ones. But that may change soon, as well.

Sheryl Palmer, CEO of Arizona-based homebuilder Taylor Morrison, which just reported strong earnings for its third quarter, said entry-level buyers are clearly struggling. But she also admitted that higher-end buyers are not flooding in the door either anymore.

“When we look at our move-up and our resort lifestyle buyers they absolutely can still afford to buy, but emotionally, you need to have the confidence,” Palmer said Friday on CNBC’s “Mad Money.” “Even at today’s rates, both our FHA and conventional buyers have a great deal of room, but being able to afford it doesn’t mean they have the confidence, given everything that’s going on in the economy today.”

Demand for new homes down 86% since last year

Palmer told analysts on the company’s earnings call that new orders were down “sharply” in September, and that the slowdown has been felt across a wide range of price points, geographies and consumer groups. As a result Taylor Morrison is pulling back on land investment, lowering its pace of new construction starts and offering buyers additional incentives.

Sales of newly built homes dropped below pre-pandemic levels in September, and cancelations are now double what they were a year ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“This will be the first year since 2011 to see a decline for single-family starts,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a release. “While some analysts have suggested that the housing market is now more ‘balanced,’ the truth is that the homeownership rate will decline in the quarters ahead as higher interest rates and ongoing elevated construction costs continue to price out a large number of prospective buyers.”

Supply of newly built homes remains elevated, unlike in the existing-home market, where listings are still scarce. NAHB reported that one-quarter of builders are now slashing prices.

And that is the big unknown. Prices are cooling down for both new and existing homes, but analysts are divided as to if they will actually show year-to-year declines, and how wide those declines might be. Myers said he has heard talk of a 20% drop in prices for new construction.

“And it sounds really harsh, but when we were looking back, because our construction costs have gone up so rapidly, we only have to dial back a little over a year to be 20% less than we are now,” Myers said. “So to think about, well, we’re just going to go back to 2020 doesn’t sound nearly as crazy as a 20% price correction. But I think it definitely has to happen if we’re going to get velocity back.”

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Disinformation has long been a feature of American politics. Mudslinging, smear campaigns, dirty tricks. Yet wading through the muck ahead of this year’s midterm elections in one fiercely contested state, Pennsylvania, shows just how thoroughly it now warps the American democratic process.

In July, a tweet made the rounds spreading a falsehood about voting. “BREAKING: Pennsylvania will not be accepting mail-in ballots,” declared someone using an account called the Donald J. Trump Tracker.

In September, mysterious letters began arriving in mailboxes in Chester County, on the old Main Line west of Philadelphia, falsely telling people that their votes might not have been counted in the last election.

No, the Democratic candidate for United States Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, does not have tattoos of the Crips, the notorious street gang from Los Angeles, as Newt Gingrich said on Fox.

contentious primaries, Pennsylvanians have experienced a deluge of false or misleading posts, photographs and videos on social media, as well as increasingly partisan, bitter and at times unhinged claims on television, radio and live streams to a degree that no one recalled seeing before.

“I’m not saying the politics was ever, you know, perfect,” Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia from 2008 to 2016, said in an interview, lamenting the seemingly bottomless depth of the problem.

“I think what’s changed is you go back 100 years and you’d have had to put a whole lot more effort into spreading lies,” he said. “Now, you can just push a button.”

FactCheck.org.

A lot of attention has focused on a stroke that Mr. Fetterman suffered in May, just as he clinched the Democratic nomination. The stroke left him with an auditory processing disorder, a condition that affects the brain’s ability to filter and interpret sounds, which Republicans have said makes him unfit for office. His speech has also become more halting, and he stumbles over his words, as he did multiple times in the debate last week against his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, the television personality known as Dr. Oz.

Opponents used his verbal gaffes in misleading ways. A video montage by a Republican campaign operative, Greg Price, exaggerated the effects of the stroke, while a Twitter account impersonating BuzzFeed falsely claimed that Mr. Fetterman had apologized for urinating on a campaign staffer. Mr. Price did not respond to requests for comment.

Other false claims have, again, questioned the machines that count votes, while a recent flurry of posts on Telegram, the app created in Russia, have incorrectly accused the state’s top election official of not complying with legal rulings about mail-in ballots. ActiveFence, a cybersecurity company, said that these claims have spread across platforms, garnering tens of thousands of impressions.

Jill Greene, the state representative for Common Cause, the national good-government organization, said that the many unfounded and untruthful claims posed a challenge for voters.

pledged to remove or marginalize false posts ahead of the midterms.

A doctored post on Facebook, to cite one of scores of examples, showed Mr. Oz kneeling to kiss the star of Donald J. Trump along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (In the original, he was kissing his own star.)

being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

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Gearing up to report this year’s midterm election results, American television networks are facing an uncomfortable question: How many viewers will believe them?

Amid rampant distrust in the news media and a rash of candidates who have telegraphed that they may claim election fraud if they lose, news anchors and executives are seeking new ways to tackle the attacks on the democratic process that have infected politics since the last election night broadcast in 2020.

“For entrepreneurs of chaos, making untrue claims about the election system is a route to greater glory,” said John Dickerson, the chief political analyst at CBS News, who will co-anchor the network’s coverage on Nov. 8. “Elections and the American experiment exist basically on faith in the system, and if people don’t have any faith in the system, they may decide to take things into their own hands.”

CBS has been televising elections since 1948. But this is the first year that the network has felt obligated to install a dedicated “Democracy Desk” as a cornerstone of its live coverage. Seated a few feet from the co-anchors in the network’s Times Square studio, election law experts and correspondents will report on fraud allegations and threats of violence at the polls.

one-third of adults in a recent Gallup poll expressing confidence in it.

“I can’t control what politicians are going to say, if they choose to call an election result into question,” said David Chalian, CNN’s political director. “You’ve got to be clear, when it’s a partial picture, that nothing about that is untoward.”

Two years ago, TV networks prepared for pandemic-related ballot headaches and speculation that President Donald J. Trump might resist conceding defeat.

“blue wave” had fizzled and that Republicans would retain control of the House. It was Fox News again, working off a proprietary data model, that made the correct call that Democrats would take the chamber.

controversial Arizona call in 2020. Although Fox’s projection was eventually proved correct, it took several days for other news outlets to concur, and Mr. Trump turned his wrath on the network in retaliation. The network later fired a top executive, Chris Stirewalt, who was involved in the decision to announce the call so early; another executive involved in the decision, Bill Sammon, promptly retired.

“What we want to be, always, is right — and first is really nice — but right is what we want to be,” said Mr. Baier of Fox. “In the wake of 2020, we’re going to be looking at numbers very closely, and there may be times when we wait for more raw vote total than we have in the past.”

“It’ll be a lot smoother than that moment,” he added, referring to when he and his fellow co-anchors were visibly caught by surprise as their colleagues projected a victory for Mr. Biden in Arizona. Fox officials later ascribed the confusion to poor communication among producers.

“I think,” Mr. Baier said, “we all learned a lot from that experience.”

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Brooklyn Nets condemn Kyrie Irving for promotion of antisemitic film

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on June 07, 2021 in New York City.

Steven Ryan | Getty Images

After Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving promoted an antisemitic film and book on social media Thursday, his team and team-owner Joe Tsai issued statements Friday condemning his actions.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai wrote on Twitter. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

Irving posted a tweet Thursday linking to an Amazon page for the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes,” according to an earlier report from Rolling Stone. The movie was released in 2018 and is based on a 2015 book by the same name.

The Nets condemned Irving’s actions in a statement Friday.

“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in the statement. “We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), who have been supportive during this time.”

In a tweet on Saturday, Irving said he “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”

“The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday,” he wrote. “I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”

He has not removed his original tweet.

Irving’s post on Thursday follows a series of antisemitic comments made by Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, in recent weeks. Adidas, Gap, Foot Locker and other organizations have since cut ties with Ye and cost him his billionaire status.

The Anti-Defamation League, StopAntisemistism and the International Legal Forum applauded the move by Adidas on Tuesday.

Irving was previously benched by the Nets in 2021 for refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. It is unclear whether his social media post will impact his ability to play.

The Nets will play the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

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Audiences are still discovering John Carpenter’s cult classic ‘Prince of Darkness’ 35 years later

Alice Cooper in John Carpenter’s 1987 movie “Prince of Darkness.”

Source: Shutterstock

John Carpenter is the king of Halloween. And not just because he directed “Halloween.”

He’s the creative force behind spooky season classics like “The Fog,” “Christine” and “The Thing.” A lucrative new trilogy of “Halloween” sequels to his 1978 original just wrapped up with “Halloween Ends,” which Carpenter helped score and executive produce. He and his spouse, the writer and producer Sandy King Carpenter, oversee Storm King Comics, which just turned 10 and features dozens of horror and science fiction titles, including special releases each year for Halloween.

But this year, one of Carpenter’s more obscure movies, “Prince of Darkness,” which teems with insects and metaphysical dread, is having a moment and finding new audiences.

The movie’s 35th anniversary was just last weekend, in the heart of the peak time for scary movies. Highbrow film-streaming service The Criterion Channel is featuring it this month as part of its Halloween programming. And it’s been released three times on boutique home-video company Shout Factory’s horror-centric Scream Factory label, the most recent edition being an acclaimed 4K high-definition disc last year. (Carpenter is the most represented director at Scream Factory. “We tried to get all his films,” marketing executive and co-founder Jeff Nelson said.)

That’s quite a turnaround for “Prince of Darkness,” which critics panned when it was released in 1987. New York Times critic Vincent Canby called it “surprisingly cheesy.”

The movie is now regarded as one of Carpenter’s best and most interesting movies. Phil Hoad of The Guardian called it “maybe the director’s most underrated film.” Gizmodo’s Cheryl Eddy said it “contains one of the most disturbing depictions of evil ever.”

The reappraisal sits just fine with Carpenter.

“It makes me feel good. That’s a good feeling, as opposed to a bad feeling,” he said, with a dry emphasis on “good” and “bad,” in a recent interview with CNBC.

Liquid assets

“Prince of Darkness” tells the story of how Satan, in the form of demonic green liquid, breaks out of his cannister-slash-prison in the bowels of a Catholic church in Los Angeles, brutally murdering and possessing a series of graduate students and scientists. It was a modest hit, grossing about $13 million on a mere $3 million budget.

At the time, Carpenter was coming off a streak of bigger Hollywood films, such as “Starman” and “Big Trouble in Little China,” and wanted to get back to his indie roots.

“He shows how great he is when you don’t have a huge budget and you have to be creative,” said Cliff MacMillan, Scream Factory’s other co-founder.

Director John Carpenter and co-creator Sandy King sign copies of comic book “Asylum” held at Golden Apple Comics on October 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Albert L. Ortega | Getty Images

Carpenter agreed to a multi-movie distribution deal with Universal Pictures and independent studio Carolco. All the filmmaker had to submit to the studios were one-paragraph synopses for the movies, according to Sandy King Carpenter, who was the script supervisor on “Prince of Darkness.”

The first project was “Prince of Darkness.” The second, 1988’s “They Live,” a bitter sci-fi satire of Reagan-era politics, consumerism and economics starring pro wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, has become a cult favorite in its own right. (A planned third movie, called “Victory Out of Time,” wasn’t made.)

Because of the small budget for “Prince of Darkness,” Carpenter and his crew had to pull off some tricks to achieve the movie’s ambitious imagery.

“That’s where you get innovative, when you have no money,” Sandy King Carpenter told CNBC.

The script called for tons of bugs to swarm all over characters, so that meant real insects. Thousands of beetles, Sandy King Carpenter said. It was such a spectacle that the band Aerosmith showed up one day to watch the filming of their longtime friend Robert Grasmere’s big, disgusting insect scene, she added.

Aerosmith weren’t the only rockers who showed up to watch the gnarly special effects in action. Shock rock icon Alice Cooper, whose manager Shep Gordon executive-produced “Prince of Darkness,” visited the LA set to watch Carpenter and crew film a scene involving a mirror that acts as a doorway to another dimension.

That’s when you get innovative, when you have no money.

Sandy King Carpenter

producer and writer

Next thing he knew, Cooper told CNBC, Carpenter was telling him to put on a stocking hat and act in the movie as the de facto leader of killer demonic street people who swarm outside the church as the plot unfolds. He became one of the most prominent images in the film and its marketing, even though he didn’t have one word of dialogue.

Carpenter also asked Cooper to repurpose one of his notorious stage show gags – using a microphone stand to “impale” someone – for a death scene that would end up featuring the rock star’s title song for the movie playing in the background.

“‘Can you put a bicycle through this guy’s chest?'” Cooper said Carpenter asked him. “I said, ‘Sure, you’ve come to the right guy.'”

Cooper also stuck around to watch the filming of the mirror scene, which showed how far Carpenter was willing to go to get the right shot on a tight budget.

“We needed a shot of the hand coming out of the mirror,” Carpenter said. So he and his crew dumped out the mercury that was serving as ballast for a camera crane and used it to simulate liquid glass.

“It was very dangerous,” the director said. But Sandy King Carpenter was quick to explain that it was a fake hand, not a real one.

“We weren’t psychotic,” she said, “just a little daring.”

Disclosure: CNBC, Universal Pictures and Peacock, which is streaming “Halloween Ends,” are part of NBCUniversal.

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