Zombie Horde on the Cheap





Introduction: Zombie Horde on the Cheap

This project brought together two of my favorite things:  Zombies and not spending a lot of money.  Overall cost of this project was less than 50$ (provided you already have the tools), and only took a few hours to complete.  If you want the best looking yard this Halloween, give this a shot, it is limited only by your creativity (as in, you don't HAVE to do zombies, but seriously, why wouldn't you want to?).

BONUS:  if you scare away all the trick-or-treaters, guess who gets all that sweet, sweet candy...

Step 1: Step One: Stuff You Will Need

Like I said, this project is relatively cheap and you can get everything at your local big box hardware store.  I made 2 zombies for my yard so the equipment list reflects that; if you want more or less than 2, amend as needed.

Supplies you will need for fabrication:
1.  (2) 8'x4'x1/2" Sheets of plywood
2.  (2) Cans of exterior grade black spray paint
3.  (1) Permanent black magic marker (or pencil, or crayon, or chalk)
4.  Tape Measure
5.   Zombie picture from the internet, or natural artistic ability
6.  Sandpaper or a sanding sponge

Supplies you will need for display:
1.  Several 1-1/4" screws (2 per stake)
2.  12" wooden tent stakes, or wood stakes cut from scrap, you will need 2 per zombie (it's Halloween, so be sure not to use any from your vampire defence kit)
3.  (1) 500 watt halogen shop light that is suitable for wet climbate use (in case it rains/snows).  I got one at the Depot for $6.
4.  Extension cord

Tools you will need:
1.  Circular saw
2.  Jigsaw
3.  Tape measure
4.  Something to drive screws (I used an impact driver because I am lazy, but you can use a drill)
5.  Small sledge hammer

Step 2: Step Two: Cutting the Wood

1.  Lay your plywood out on some supports and measure off the excess.  I made my first zombie 6 feet tall (72") and my second 5 and a half feet tall (66").  Cut off the amount you will need to make your zombie with your circular saw and save the excess for later.

2.  Using your inspiration picture from the internet or natural artisitc ability, quickly sketch your zombie on the wood you just cut with your marker (the black magic marker was easy to see on the wood).  Don't fret if it doesn't look beautiful (or horryfying) right away; it's a zombie, not Michaelangelo's Pieta.  Unless it is, but then you probably don't understand Halloween.

3.  Use your jigsaw to cut out the shape you drew.  Save the larger pieces of excess for other projects.  I used some of the larger pieces to make tombstones and a hand coming out of the ground.

4.  Sand the edges a bit after to cut out your shapes to avoid splinters.  The effect of a Zombiewood splinter could inadvertantly bring about the Zombie Apocalypse.

Step 3: Step Three: Paint 'em

1.  Cover the front (dislay side) of the wood with black spray paint.  Make sure to use exterior grade, so it doesn't fade and look silly (sillier) by Halloween.  You can also use regular black paint, but I find spray paint quicker with no clean up.

Step 4: Step Four: Preparing to Mount

1.  Using 1-1/4" screws, attach your wooden stakes to the back of your zombie.  You will need about 6" to pound into the ground (depending on the wind in your area).  You can use less (about 4") for your tombstones.

2.  Using a small sledge, pound the stakes into the ground.  I started with a dead blow mallet, and after my first stake was in my arm was smoked.  The sledge made the stakes cut through the ground in fewer hits.  You may want to use a chair to prop the zombies up while you pound, or have someone hold them.  If you can't hit the stakes easily, set another piece of wood against the top of the stakes and strike it.

Step 5: Final Step: Display

1.  Set up your light behind the display so that it cannot be seen from the streets (the tombstone is a good spot) and point them at your house.  Plug the light into your extension cord and plug it in to a power source.  This will light up your house and show off your silouettes toward the street.

2.  Scare the neighborhood.



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18 Discussions

hey i made a groundbreaker sorta silhouete and i just wantted to thank you for the inspiration....... i made mine out of thick corigated cardboard and sealed it.....

2 replies

You're welcome! Yeah, there really are a lot of applications with this one. Sadly, my pieces were too big to take with me in the move, so I had to cut them up and trash them (nobody wanted them). I wonder what my garbage men thought of that! Yeah, I got my idea from something else I saw that was really small and used a tea candle to project shadows on the wall.


i would of took them!........ yeah cardboard is like the easiest material when you cant get to a powersaw and plywood is expensive...... i know how to make tombstones outta cardboard that look really good and it gives the good old fashioned, non gory halloween look..... ill make an ible when i get the time......

thot # 4 - maybe a couple of holes, 1/2" or so, for eyes. Some lightly colored (red, yellow, orange or blue, whatever) transparent plastic across the back of the holes would add a glowing, spooky look. Anything too dark won't show well.

thot # 5 - fog machine!

thot # 6 - on that blinking C9 light thingie, separate the lights by skipping a socket or 2 or 3. The wider angle of light incidence would give more apparent motion to the scene. I would suggest using at least 3 bulbs- they go on and off at their own intervals which gives and nice random look.

thot # 7 - keep the halogen for general background illumination. Most of these units have Hi/Lo settings- try both.

thot # 8 - MORE tombstones... and HANDS coming out of the ground... and maybe the odd head or 2.

This has been lots of fun thinking about! It's sometimes amazing what a good seed can produce. Thank you!

Nice concept and well executed!

thot #1 - perhaps adding some bits and pieces of black cloth, clothes, bandages could help the effect. Light weight toll or chiffon would move around with even a litle breeze.

thot #2 - for lighting, some of those old, big, C9, Christmas lights, the blinking bulb kind, would also add some drama. A combination of red and green, with maybe the odd white/clear bulb along the string. Arrange the light string along one side of a 1x8, or 10, board to hide the bulbs. Paint the board dark on one side and white, or silver, on the bulb side to help reflct the light against the house. Some AL foil behind the bulbs, crinkled a bit, would reflect some interesting patterns.

thot #3 - those fancy Christmas light controllers, the ones that switch banks of lights to music triggers, could be very effective here. A CD of Spookey Sounds might be a LOT of FUN!

THANKS for the inspiration! I can see I'm going to be busy for the next 11 months...

Dayton OH

Thanks for the lighting tip. I have a witch and a couple cats that I made a few years back (following Martha Stewarts instructions) but every year I fuss with how to make them really look like shadows. I've pointed the light at them from the back, from the front, even from the roof, never quite getting it right... Never thought of turning the light around and aiming it at the house... Next year, it's on!

That was what fueled my idea to make a compact version!
I made a small size, and added some moving parts. Tested it out a while back and it looks like a real bunch of zombie buddies! I addes a flashlight and moved it back a bit to have a kind of shadow puppet effect.

Oh, and if you lack artistic ability or a zombie pattern, just have someone lie down on the plywood in the desired pose and trace around them! Once you have the basic shape and proportions, you can alter it to make it more zombie-like before cutting it out. Now, I need to go buy some plywood!

2 replies

I usually put a strobe out in front of my house, and I am wondering if that would work almost as well as the halogen, especially with my smoke machine running...

1 reply

I had thought about that, but I didn't want the homeowner's association poking around my yard. But that does sound great!

You need a crawling torso too. Every horde of undead has a crawling torso

I love your sense of humor:
"...it's a zombie, not Michaelangelo's Pieta. Unless it is, but then you probably don't understand Halloween."

I would imagine a really strong light pointed at a small diorama of the scene could project a fuzzier version, but not require such large cutouts. I might give that a shot.

Love this! Here's another idea for mounting them that I think works better. Screw some conduit straps onto the back of the zombies (just be sure to use short enough screws so they don't come through the front). Then hammer some conduit of a matching size into the ground, and slide your zombies down onto the conduit. This is very stable and holds up even in pretty strong wind.

Great idea! The proper lighting to throw zombie shadows is important too.

This project could, of course, be done cheaper & w no sanding if you use cardboard...if rainy weather isn't an issue where you live. Just find some big cardboard boxes from a big LCD TV or washing machine, etc., and follow the same steps.

Very nice!
Simple, classy, and classic. I love the extra hand reaching up from the gravestone.