Quick Tip: If you need wood but don't have money find some pallets businesses are throwing away.

Budget Effects

Ghoul coming through wall

This is a really simple but effective scare. Just cut a hole in a 4 x 8 panel big enough for someone to lurch out of. Paint the wall black. Cover the hole with overlapping pieces of black material. Use a low watt blacklight to provide illumination. The blacklight will make the black material on the black wall virtually invisible. Our actor merely poked his masked head through the opening and held the material with his hand. At the proper moment he lunged through the wall at the unsuspecting visitors.

This was one of the highlights of this year's House of Pain. Coupled with other scares in the same room, we created a new game called People Pinball.

Shrunken Heads

Peel a large apple, I like a very firm Granny Smith apple. Carve the apple to resemble a human face using a sharp paring or x-acto knife. Detailing the face is not that important as the apple will shrivel to 1/4 size. Soak the apple for twenty-four hours in a mixture of three tablespoons baking soda and enough water to cover the apple. After soaking, hang the apple on a string and let it dry for three weeks. Do not allow the apple to dry on a shelf as mositure will seap to the bottom and rot the apple. After the three weeks, dip the now shriveled head in a sealer, preferably polyurethane to keep it mold free.

from the book, "A Halloween How-to" by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Living Faces 1

So you want to get the biggest bang for your buck! Get a "Living Face" mask kit. Forget the mask and the makeup, it's the plastic outer covering you want. Ok so the mask is a bonus! These kits are available around Halloween so shop early. As soon as I find a reliable place to get them on the web, I'll post it. Anyway, Be gentle with the shell, we'll be using these for a couple of projects. First, the shell makes a great plaster mold for both positive and negative molds. I cast four of the "skull" masks using ordinary plaster of paris. Buy the plaster at a home improvement place rather than a craft store, it's cheaper and you can buy in pounds. I spray the inside of the shell with "PAM" cooking spray but it's really not a requirement. Don't use vaseline, it's to hard to clean. Cast the mold then let it sit for 24 hours. Carefully remove the casting, it may take a little effort. It may feel a little damp, if so let it dry another day. Paint it and mount it. Put on a shelf and you have a faux candle holder or a good place for a rat to sit.

Living Faces 2 Following Faces

  This is a simple Disney Optical Illusion Trick that can be found all over the web. Take the "Living Face" shell and carefully trim away the plastic around the face of the mask. Build a box that surrounds the mask. Cover the inside of the box with black satin, felt or cloth. Take the mask shell and paint the inside of it with flourescent paint, orange, yellow or a pale color works best. If you're using the Skull Mask be sure to paint out the eyes and around the mouth. Mount the inverted mask in the box. Put the finished product on a shelf. have a small blacklight or other light shining on it. It's also important to keep the product at eye level several feet away from spectators. As your guests move through the room, the Face will seem to follow them. It's really spooky but just an illusion. Want to make alot of these, use the shell to make negative castings in plaster of paris or portland cement. Cellulose insulation (Blow-in) can be used to keep the weight down. Be sure to leave 2 inches on each side and at least a inch on the bottom.

Living Faces 2 The Grimoire

This was a trick we used during last year's haunt at the opening, when the plot was being explained to the guests. Key to the plot was a book that no one dared see. When the book was opened, a glowing skull was revealed within the pages. The book was made with cardboard but a notebook works as well. The mask shell is concealed within the pages. Lightly overspray the mask with red paint. On the back inside of the notebook mount a small 1.5 volt lightbulb with a switch that can be activated from the outside back of the notebook. A small audio playback circuit could be used though we didn't last year. Mount the mask over the lightbulb to the back inside of the notebook. Cover the notebook with black material covering the area where the mask is mounted. To save paper we put strips of styrofoam around the mask then glued one sheet of paper to them to cover the mask. More paper was added to give the illusion of a real book. To make it old paper, when soaked the pages in really strong black tea then dried them in the oven on low heat. When the page was opened to the mask page the light was turned on and the face was visible in the pages. It set the tone for what was to come.

View the Haunt page to see how it fit the story
The Grimoire also figures into the 2003 haunt, see the scripts page

More to come