By Stu McIntire, John Dolan
Here's a few quick hints and tips to decorate, detail,
and add interest to your haunt. From the twisted minds of the ScaryGuys.
Weatherproof 'stone' coating for styro props:
To make a thinset cement coating for styrofoam props mix 3:1 Throseal
and Acryl60 and coat styro prop. Throseal and Acryl60 are available at
building supply stores... Throseal usually comes in 5 gal buckets, and
Acryl60 comes in 1 gal buckets ...
Corpsing out skulls, bones, skeletons:
Get a bag of flux brushes (also called 'acid' brushes). plumbers use them
to apply flux to pipes before soldering. or any really cheap disposable
brush Get absorbent cotton rolls Get slush casting latex(or any cheap
latex). Securely place prop in clean area over drop cloths (process is
very messy). Unroll cotton, and separate layers into thin sheets. Brush
on a light coating of latex on the prop to act as a tack coat to hold
the cotton sheet. Apply cotton sheet over area to be finished. Brush on
latex to cover cotton. Poke holes in cotton as desired to simulate flesh
holes and brush in latex to add detail.
For torso, hot glue base layer of cheesecloth or fine wire mesh. Cover
with tack coat of latex, apply cotton sheet, and cover w/latex tear and
pull as desired to create decayed areas ...
For skulls, thicken the eyebrow area to add statement to face for example,
turn it down at the nose for an evil/mean look.
If making a mummy, before latex is dry, dust with fullers earth, shake
Let dry before painting. to accelerate drying/curing, use a heat lamp
or floodlight about 18"-24" above prop to gently heat it. To
paint, cover w/base coat of 'fleshy' colored paint, then airbrush darker
to lighter tones to finish. To add a glossy/yucky finish, paint on a gloss
clear coat ...
A Face In A Tombstone:
This is a large tombstone (not a simple, typical slab of granite). It's
hollow inside, or maybe the back (out of view) is open. The front - or
a portion of the front of the stone - is actually a scrim, the same color
as the stone, so from a distance is not obvious to the naked eye. Inside
the stone is a small TV or monitor (attached to a VCR). On a tape is a
'talking head' - the face is filmed with a black background to cut out
From the customer side of the stone with the tape running, you see a face
appear on the front of the tombstone, talking to the customers...warning
them...the regular drill...when the tape isn't running, all you see is
a "normal" tombstone.
Basically, a doorway is "built down" and made to look like a
cave opening. (Adults will have to bend down to see into the cave.) In
the background inside the cave is a victim who has been mostly webbed
up by a giant spider - all but the head, perhaps. You see the web and
the wrapped up victim, who is pleading for assistance. All of a sudden,
WHAM!, the spider comes flying towards you, coming to an abrupt stop only
a foot or two from the customer's face.
The spider is hung about a foot or two inside the doorway and a second
line is attached to the spider's rear end, with the line running up and
back through a pulley in the direction of the webbed victim. Since the
webbed victim is only seen from the neck up, his/her hands are free to
operate the rope and pulley. When they see people's faces peering into
the cave, they simply let go of the rope, letting the spider fly. To hoist
the spider back, they just pull the rope back until the spider is back
in position. It doesn't matter if people see the rope coming from the
spider's rear end since that's where the spider's spinneret is located
anyway. The basic lighting scheme is blacklight, but a strobe could be
activated when the spider swings down.
Magic Spider Rings
We give all our patrons a glow in the dark spider ring at our entrance.
(They cost us about a penny a piece.) Each victim (adult and child) is
told that these are "magic spider rings. They will protect you and
guide you safely through the Haunted Hall. If you do not wear your ring,
there are no guarantees you will make it safely through." The adults
laugh and the kids eat it up. Often times the kids will walk through holding
their ring hand up as if a shield. Occasionally we have a child drop their
ring and refuse to go any further. We now have all cast/crew carry a few
rings for these instances. During our season, we have kids (young through
teens) who will even come back different nights actually wearing their
other ring(s), collecting more! I don't know if this is the kind of thing
you are looking for, or want just prop/set ideas. Feel free to use it
if that is the case. Thanks a lot. Hope to meet you in Chicago on Saturday.
"Possessed Radio" Prop:
This prop is pretty cool because it will only cost you about $70.00 in
materials, and take about an hour to put together.. (actually only 5 min.,
if you already built a PIR activated outlet box) ...
And it's really an easy way to add some professional style atmosphere
to a scene that may otherwise be lacking ...
The first thing you need is an outlet box controlled by a PIR (passive
infrared) detector. (Since there are so many web-sites that already deal
with this in detail, it would be needless to offer a description here
We took one of these outlet boxes and mounted it to the underside of a
table with the PIR unit facing the customer's path of travel. Into this
box, we plugged a reproduction vintage radio that you can pick up at a
lot of novelty stores (and now, many dept. stores).. The radio has to
be of the variety that has a cassette tape player built in (most do, but
a few versions don't).
In our set, the radio sits on top of the table and is in plain view ...
Next you need a loop tape (Radio Shack), a tape recorder, and a radio
with a rotary style tuner (digital won't work) ...
Record on the loop tape, the sound of the radio playing as you rotate
the tuner dial (flip thru the stations) ...
Sooo ... your recording will be of: a radio station (playing briefly)
... static (white noise) ... next radio station ... static ... and so
on ... for the length of your tape. It's best to use a short loop tape
(30 sec. or less) and you may have to rotate the dial at first in one
direction, and then back... until the recording stops (ie. first clockwise,
and then counter-clockwise) ...
Once you have completed the recording, you simply pop it into your reproduction
radio, and hit the play button of the cassette player ...
And what you get is ... As the patrons pass by the sitting radio, they'll
trigger the power to the tape player so the "possessed radio"
comes to "life"!!
This project can be built in about 3 hours time and for less than $100.00
in materials if you take advantage of surplus part suppliers. It would
be an easy project for someone building their first animation project.
How we built this:
We started with an inexpensive electronic blinking LED kit. Following
the manufacturers instructions, we soldered all the parts together (approx.
20 min.) but left out the two LED's. In their place, we soldered 2 pairs
of wires, and connected these to some surplus solid state relays (SSR's)
we had on hand. A good place for used SSR's is www.hosfelt.com.
The SSR's were then used to trigger two 120v solenoid valves. The solenoid
valves each operated air cylinders that were mounted "screen door
style" to a pair of hinged shutters ... built into a "house
Both the solenoid valves and air cylinders were surplus items purchased
from C&H Supply ( www.candhsales.com )
With assembly finished, the end result is that the electronic flashing
LED kit acts as the "controller" that...(through the use of
the SSR's)... triggers the solenoid valves to operate the air cylinders
... causing the shutters to slam open and shut alternately, back and forth.
Copyright 2002 Stu McIntire, John Dolan.
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