Over the Top Halloween Display (inc. updated Pepper's Ghost & More)

Picture of Over the Top Halloween Display (inc. updated Pepper's Ghost & More)
I go overboard for Halloween. Its the only holiday I know of where the do it yourself spirit is embraced and encouraged. I see many commercialized American households buy off the shelf displays and call it a day, but in any given town there is at least one house where the display is a true labour (British spelling for emphasis) of love... In St Johnsbury, VT, that house is mine

We have a plethora of young children in our secluded little neighborhood; however, there is a distinct lack of Halloween spirit. If any display is attempted at all, it tends to be either saw-toothed Jack-o-lanterns or a Wal*Mart air-blown decoration. This saddens me deeply.

This year, in addition to the standard pumpkins and ghouls that adorn my porch and front lawn, I wanted to make one undeniably great, totally believable prop that would not so much scare or horrify the neighbors, but through its "Shock and Awe" factor, would coerce them to put up a half-decent display or their own.

I decided that, with the little I know about Stagecraft, I should be able to create a totally realistic ghost, so long as it was non-interactive, and non-examinable. With these caveats in mind, I settled on "haunting" an upstairs bedroom. It was too far away to examine, had a limited viewing angle, and was currently unoccupied.

That lead to the creation of "Pepper's Bride".

I also expanded upon my previous "Bone Phones" instructable, to create a truly frightful Grim Reaper to greet the children.

This instructable will cover the two big props in addition to a few scene-setters that really made this year's display "pop".

oh, and did I mention, I was pretty broke this year, so a lot got reused, and i used a lot of scrap.
stumitch1 year ago
I like your ideas although i am having a tough time getting your corpse bride avi to work. Do you have another way that i could download it? I am using it for the haunted house at the school i teach at.
gschoppe (author)  stumitch1 year ago
Hope This isn't too late... It's really tough to find a workable video, and this is certainly not optimal, but it's the best I could do
gschoppe (author) 6 years ago
I've still got a little while to get ready, and i've got an idea to mix a pepper's ghost with a bottomless pit effect using a flicker circuit... it may take some doing... but I think it's possible to have a "wishing well", that spews fog and red light, that seems to sink into the ground endlessly, but has a terrifying ghost attempting to climb out... not certain if it might be too scary for the kids... I'll have to think about it.
how do you do the bottomless pit effect a series of screams form bellow would also add to the horror
gschoppe (author)  tinker2343 years ago
basically you build a crate that puts a piece of "privacy glass" (the stuff used in police lineups) on one side, mirrored side in, and a normal mirror on the other, mirrored side in. you light the crate from the inside, and what you see, looking through the "privacy glass" is a repeated view of the inside of the crate, going on forever...

I had written a really detailed description of one I built professionally last year, but it failed to post properly. If i get time, I'll rewrite it later.
i hope you could thank you i love the idea of a endless pit
I wonder how it would look if you made a round pit, then used a fog machine and a fan to create a vortex. I also wonder how well a 'Pepper's Ghost' effect between the mirrors would work. (FWIW, heat-shrink plastic window film works very well as a half mirror for PG.)
Hi, how do you make the stand for the glass or know where i can get one made?? thanks!
gschoppe (author)  jrmeehan19913 years ago
I made it pretty easily, but your exact design is going to depend on your use. because my ghost was in a window, I took two 7 foot pieces of wood (1" pvc electrical conduit might be easier because small notches act like clamps) and made a 48"ish long notch, starting at one end, for the glass to sit in.  I notched a third piece (48"ish long) for the glass to sit on and connected the three pieces into an "H" shape, with all notches facing in, then I built diagonal braces to stabilize the "H", similar to "|x|" in the lower half (the part that isn't visible).. Finally, I built T-shaped feet for the unit, to stand it up

if it had been made out of dry-fit PVC, it would have been easy to break down and store, but as it if, it sits awkwardly behind my furnace
Also, I have tried using a standard projector but the image just goes straight through to the wall, any advice on how to get it to work properly?
Remember, only scattered light can reflect off of glass, not a direct projection. Using the refraction from the wall would be the correct thing to do. Basically, you need to bounce the light off a diffusing material.
gschoppe (author)  jrmeehan19913 years ago
There are a few things...

-try dirtying the glass with a very fine dusting of white spraypaint
-make sure your room is dimmer than your projection.
-try projecting from the opposite side of the glass, so that the projection passes through the glass and onto the wall, then the refracted reflection of the projection hits the glass.
-replace projector with a plasma tv.

Your biggest issues are likely focus and lighting. Try putting a white piece of paper on the glass, so you can focus the projector properly. Then control the light in the room... it needs to be significantly dimmer than the projection.
thanks so much!
tinker2343 years ago
wow the bulb idea i really love all the ideas in here if could explain the bulb to me in a Little more detail i a m still confused on how it works
gschoppe (author)  tinker2343 years ago
basically, a fluorescent starter is a little device that keeps flicking power to a florescent bulb on and off, until the bulb 'catches'.. the mechanical ones, like the SF4, flick pretty much at random. when connected in series to an incandescent bulb, the power draw never drops low enough for them to treat the bulb as 'caught', so they keep flickering forever. with the right hardware, you can build these type of circuits into a tiny space, so that you can add them to every bulb in a house, making ALL the lights flicker at random, without any of them synchronizing.

The amazing thing about haunts, is that an artistic individual needs NO specialty equipment to pull off professional-level effects... just a hell of a lot of improvisation.
thnak you you seem to know alot about haunts i really hope you might post some basic fx tutarials
Psyoon7 years ago
We always do the same thing, over decorate in a non-decorating neighborhood. We use stuff from year to year and it is usually more low tech and still very creepy. This year my mother used makeup to "gouge out her eyes (it looked realllly realistic). I moved a Table in our front yard, amongst the fake tombstones, say a tv on it, plugged it in and sat very still for a few hours watching snow (static, white noise, ect.) and moved only when people came by me (i was strategically placed so people had to walk directly by me) to slowly turn and watch them walk. sometimes i would wait for them to have gotten candy from my mother to look at them on the way out... we got a lot of screams... Also my stepfather did minimal makeup and walked around aimlessly, sometimes watching the tv with me. For my makeup i did a dribble of fake blood coming from my nose, eyes and ears (kinda like a serious case of ebola) and whited my face, and i wore dark clothes. All in all, lot of screams for a little money, low tech and good makeup. One last note, jump and scare tactics no longer really work, your best bet now is the psychological attack for the maximum scare.
yeah i works better i really like the idea of the gorge out eyes
HADLEY Psyoon7 years ago
SkizMaroo4 years ago
Lol, this is out of control. And I thought I loved Halloween. Dude, any time you need some barrel style connectors, male or otherwise, let me know. 2 thumbs up!
holy rap hehe i love this idea i'm going to try to apply it this year thanks
rredmon4 years ago
there's always the good ol' fashioned slingshot...those darned kids.

I've hated several street lights over the years while trying to do my yard haunt...the only solution I've ever found was to erect a curtain of black plastic sheeting. It's time consuming and a little costly depending on the size, but it can be worth it, plus you have the added benefit of a little bit of wind control, if the wind is coming from that direction. I live in South East Texas, so our Halloweens are always windy and not exactly cold. Needless to say a fog machine becomes moot when you have the wind blowing its arse off.

Nice ible :) hope you get that light problem fixed.
leoishungry5 years ago
 Nice, Raven, Edgar Allen Poe. Yeah the poem...
This is wonderful, the inventor was named Pepper, no? I've seen the magic in most neighborhoods slowly stopped caring about Halloween here in So-California. And High School Seemed like no fun with just Football teams and bloody pep rallies. I've got a trick up my sleeve though, thanks to you I may have a good chance at pulling off another Haunted House. Would like to extend a big thanks and wish you the best of luck Halloween 09'! Happy Haunting! - Tonka the Whimsical Weasel
Bill Door! Classic.
you should like pattent this and sell it dude
flaresam6 years ago
You should have just turned the street light by pointing a laser pointer at it, i do it all the time!
carpespasm6 years ago
Darn, that display blows mine out of the water. I'll get you next year! I might have to put together a flicker-light for the light on my spider web before the big day.
misemono6 years ago
where did you get the video for the ghostly image in the window?
gschoppe (author)  misemono6 years ago
its a highly modified version of a clip I took while riding "the haunted mansion"... emphasis on heavily modified
Yeah cool inscrutable, I hate the fact that they put a street lamp outside my house now it just ruins the idea of a dark entrance. I plan on breaking into the switch compartment and ripping out a few cords.
ll.137 years ago
I officially HATE this streetlight!

Maybe you could try sniping it out with an air-rifle or something similar, make it an Instructable!
porksoda ll.137 years ago
An astronomer on TV got a, I think, charcoal grill cover (for its high temperature tolerance). At night when he wanted it dark for viewing space stuff, he draped this black cover thing over and around the street lamp loosely; too tight and the lamp could overheat and drop dead.
chuckr44 ll.137 years ago
Not to be a Mr. Buzzkillington, but he could be charged with: - Destruction of city property - Unlawful discharge of firearm. In many cities an airgun is considered a firearm.
ll.13 chuckr447 years ago
I know.... but if it could be done in some discreet way. ;-)
chuckr44 ll.137 years ago
Of course. I was initially thinking of my very loud 1000fps airgun, which is louder than a 22 caliber gun. However your typical "dinky" airguns are much quieter.