Saturday, October 31, 2009

31 Days of Halloween - Finale

For a while it looked like we were going to be rained out, but the weather turned in our favor except for some pretty strong winds which kept me from hanging the candle filled plastic Jack O'Lantern buckets from the trees and eliminated the use of a fog machine. You can see what the winds were like from the picture of the tiki torches below.

As usual, the kids need to rush off trick or treating kept me from getting many good photos of the yard in all its glory. We have a crescent shaped driveway. Both entrances were flanked by two pairs of tiki-torches with skulls mounted on them. Within the crescent was the bigger than actual size skeletal horse and rider, with the other giant human skeleton off to the side.

The driveway was outlined by clouded jars containing candles (which were constantly being extinguished by the high winds), then forming a path to the Jack O'Lantern' at the front door. Flanking the door this year was an all new set-up of 16 graves and six ghosts (two ghosts were carry overs from the last two years ) lighted with green and blue lights, with a third, red light coming from the upper floor of the house. A new Nosferatu was meant to stand on the balcony over the front door, but didn't get finished in time. I had to jettison the old Nosferatu when I moved last Spring for lack of space.

The ghosts (except for the animatronic beheaded bride) are made of plastic wrap and packing tape, with a couple of clothing embellishments made from transparent plastic shower curtain liners. The organ player had an internal skeleton, hair made from fishing line, and arms that could move, powered by the wind (unfortunately the device rigged to catch the wind to do this, broke early on) so that he's appear to be playing the organ. The organ itself was a free find that someone had sitting on their driveway free for anyone willing to take it away. I'd hoped to transform it into a pipe organ but became too busy to do so.

I don't have any real good pictures of Mark, the scuba diver who swam too close to a shark, but he's a scuba diver ghost with one arm, and part of his torso bitten away, trying to swim away from a ghostly shark emerging from the ground and swallowing his leg. This ghost took the most damage and will most likely need to be rebuilt from scratch next year.

The grave stones are all made entirely of cardboard, most using Fed Ex boxes as devised by Dave Lowe . I hand cut all of the letter from slightly thinner, compacted cardboard and glued them in place before painting and then aging with a spray on mix of paint I call "moldy grave." It sounds labor intensive, but actually took very little time overall. I did end up with some serious carpal tunnel problems, but they turned out really well, and for 16 graves the total cost was $4.00 which I paid for a can of "mismixed" gray paint at Lowes.

To finish everything off, I had two different sound mixes playing, one was appropriately spooky organ music. The other ghostly sound effects. The whole set up went up over a period of less than four hours and came down last night in about 45 minutes. I spent maybe $60.00 total, and most of that was for packing tape.


Dane said...

That is some amazing stuff. I can't believe the work you put into that, or how awesomely it turned out. I LOVE the ghosts near their gravestones.

Dave Lowe said...


I am speechless.

Thank you for such a amazing mention and epitaph.

The yard if fantastic. I have a 365 days now to make my ROZUM crypt out of refrigerator boxes in return next year.

Jay Watson said...

Thanks for posting these pics. You are an inspiration to me; next year I've got to try doing something, anything, to spook up the front of Castle Rogueevolent.

Stephen said...

Man, John, I love those cellophane ghosts, especially the second to last shot. Too bad I couldn't see them in person! Thanks for another great October - I hope you can recover by next Halloween!

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Wow, great pictures and thanks for sharing the "how to" bits all the way through.


Sorry about the wind. But the pictures look fantastic!


suzanne said...

Looks great. Love the ghost and the organist!

And I share your pain regarding the wind on Halloween night :(

Thanks for another great countdown.

Unknown said...

In the middle of creating my first packing tape ghost (bride),I have found some clear rice lights on a silver wire that randomly twinkle(Crate & Barrel $18).
My next ?/problem is what color stake silver/grey BLK/wht? It will be full height 5'6"+/-. I also am working on a shiatsu F zombie.Theme is movies- Bell
Book & candle,Harry Potter candles, swamp thing, Woodman etc.hit me up with any suggestions