Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Finale

The yard haunt took most of the afternoon to set up and about an hour to dismantle. There were only two set backs this year. One, a shortage of extension cords and power strips which was a poor thing to discover at the last minute since it was not an issue last year. Two, I have the music and sound effects burned to two separate CDs (just to show you what a backwards, no frills kind of operation I'm running). We were down to one CD player and the one I borrowed wasn't playing CDs either. A laptop in the bedroom window saved the day. Three, my usual nemesis -- the wind. I decided to put up the plastic jack o'lanterns with lit candles in them this year. Last year was too windy, and we're moving in the Spring, so I wanted to have them. During the early part of setting up, there was no wind to speak of. Once the jack o'lanterns were hung from the trees though, the wind started picking up and blowing them out. Most of them were out by the time trick or treaters began to arrive and by the time my kids were ready to go out (with me accompanying them) the wind had died down without any relighting having occurred. 

Things still turned out pretty well. 

I added three new graves this year. The above and two others. All were made from FedEx boxes, using a method similar to Dave Lowe's with hand cut out letters and adornments. 

The second grave, above, was for my son in memory of his dearly departed cockatiel. The third, I neglected to photograph, was an old faded headstone covered in moss.  To make up for it, here are some I didn't get pictures of last year that I reused.

The skull impaled tiki torches made a return, flanking the ends of our curved driveway. Here they are, not so impressive before dark...

And much more effective after dark. There were eight of them in all. 

At the time of the daylight shots above almost all of those plastic jack o'lanterns were still alight. A few hours later and what should have been a sky full of glowing orange orbs looked more like what you see above. 

All of last year's ghosts made it back this year, though Mark (who swam too close to a shark) is going to have to be completely replaced for next year. Cowboy Bob, the decapitated bride and the organ player were all back in fine form. 

New this year was a completely rebuilt Nosferatu. I had originally made him for a store window display, then the following year he migrated to my yard. When I moved from Ann Arbor, there was no way for him to come with me. He simply would have taken up too much valuable space in our shipping containers, so I removed his head and hands and saved those, and over the course of a few days build him a new body which was a vast improvement over the old one. We have a balcony overlooking the front yard that i wanted to station him in, and that's what I did.

You can see him much better in person than in the non flash photo above. The red light is a result of the extension cord shortage. The light was meant to go forward and below, and not visible from the ground, and I forgot to fix that once extension cords were obtained by my wife. You can't tell from the photos but I placed a small battery operated strobe light inside his head, so his eyes flickered. 

No, it's not Jesus risen. I had wanted to test a new concept I had on improving my plastic wrap and packing tape ghosts, but did not have the time this year to implement it. It will have to wait until next year. I did want at least one new ghost though, so I resorted to a scarecrow like figure which was just a big T made of pvc pipe, with a slight curve in the arm bar so the arms are reaching forward a bit. The hands are papier mache, the head is a plain white mask and a blonde wig attached to an empty plastic milk jug (1 gallon) with a sheet and sheer curtain and a hood. The eyes are battery operated rice lights fed into the milk jug. It cost about $8.00 to make, since I got the sheets and curtain at a thrift store on a 50% off day. In person it looked pretty great. You couldn't see the support pole at night, and she billowed and moved a bit in the wind. Kids were pretty creeped out by her and the vampire. 

As a bonus, here are some realistic earthworms I made for dessert for my son's sleepover the night before  and three views of the mask I made for him for his zombie pirate costume. 

I also made both my kids lanterns out of orange juice cartons with battery operated flickering lights that were very convincing. They wanted these because I was told that a pirate corpse and a Gypsy would not be carrying flashlights. 

Overall it was a pretty good Halloween, and a pretty good Halloween season. I hope it was for all of you too. Thanks to everyone who stopped by over the month, and hope you'll stop by out of season too. Everything goes back to normal here starting tomorrow, though it may take a couple days to change my banner. 


I am now going to take a much needed rest. 


Steven Altis said...

Happy Halloween! Another fantastic countdown all around!

Drop Gallow said...

well-crafted tombstones invoke such deep envy in me.

Beautiful haunt all around, John. Well done.

Scary Mary said...

A lovely haunt you got there, and horrific props!! Love the plastic wrap ghosts, they look awsome in the dark with the lights shining through them:) Can imagine it must be quite a job getting it all up before the night..

Michael Jones said...

Glad to see you're keeping the faith!
Thanks for a good countdown and a peek at some true Hallowed spirit.

Stephen said...

What fun! I love the decorations, John. And I was thinking of making those worms, too, but didn't get around to it. Maybe next year!

Mic said...

Nice pics! We miss you guys and not seeing your wonderful display in Ann Arbor - Ryan & Mike

Carrie said...

I really enjoyed your posts all through this month. So hard to post every day - I am amazed! You did a great job. Thank you!