This year's Halloween haunt was a bit too scary for some of the younger kids who went screaming from the house before even getting to the front door. Perhaps I shouldn't have chased them in full makeup but I couldn't help myself. All of the props along with the lighting and a little dry ice made a downright horrifying effect.
Nearly all of our props were homemade or adapted from dollar store finds with a few bigger ticket items thrown in that we got on the day-after-sale at the Halloween store last year.
Step 1: Brick Factory Wall
this brick wall was made with a large roll of corrugated cardboard that we purchased from a local packing/shipping company - 24"x 250' for about $40. We also went to the local paint store for mis-mixed paint, which you can get for next to nothing. We also shopped at the dollar store for bottles of acrylic paint, which allowed us to mix the colors we wanted. The paint store also threw in two industrial metal paint buckets which we also used as props by creating a template for a nuclear symbol and spray painting it onto them.
Back to the brick - first we cut lengths of the corrugated cardboard that we would need to cover our walls & wall frame. Then we rollered on grey paint, let it dry and taped it with painter's tape (also from the dollar store since we used about 6 rolls!) to get the mortar pattern for the bricks. Then we rollered on the brownish-red color of the bricks. It dries pretty quickly since it's on cardboard too. Finally we mixed up some greenish brown and some black acrylic paints and distressed the bricks before removing the painter's tape. When it's all dry, just peel up the painter's tape to reveal the brick pattern.
To hang, we simply used a staple gun and two people - you really need two people for that job!
Step 2: The Factory Window
The factory window was actually the starting point for our factory and drove the creative ideas for the rest of the setup. The window is a frame of wood that we painted and distressed to look like lead frames found in an old abandoned factory/warehouse. The panes themselves are a stack of clear plastic book report covers that we got at a local office supply store. We had intended to use printer transparencies but the book report covers were a lot cheaper! Then we painted one side of the clear covers with a cream color paint in circular motions to make it look like it had been soaped up. Using and exacto knife we cut some of the panes to look like broken panes and then we stapled them into place. the stapled panes were then covered with thin strips of painted lath and the final step was to cover the back with black landscape cloth, which we had plenty of on hand. In full light, you can see through the background to the 'brick' but when the lighting for the night of, is in place, it looks as black as night!
I added the some blood splatters and a crow that were also dollar store finds!
Step 3: Toxic Waste Barrels
The toxic waste drums were also made of the corrugated cardboard. We cut a circular base out of scrap wood and stapled the cardboard around it. To add the barrel rims, we used self sticking weather stripping around the barrel. Then we spray painted black and distressed it to add weathering and the oozing goop. We also added 'slime' that we made by mixing white glue, food coloring and borax to get a dripping oozing slime. The tops of the barrels were made with more cardboard and old plastic lids painted black and secured to the cardboard. The toxic label was printed on a computer and glued into place.
Step 4: Boarded Window
To create the look of a boarded up window, we used Styrofoam sheets that we purchased at a big box DIY store and a couple of colors of acrylic paint that we got at the dollar store. First we cut the foam into strips like wood slats and painted them with a black base coat. The we used a coat of brown and a wood graining tool, that can be purchased at a DIY or lumber store for under $5, to create the wood grain look. We then stapled them into place on our faux brick wall. This worked well since this part of the 'wall' was simply a wood frame with no real wall behind it. It also gave us a place to mount our leaky pipe that dripped colored water into the toxic waste barrel. To complete the look we hung some of that black landscaping cloth behind the window and shone a green spotlight there. The slime was added to the pipes as was the severed hand and more dollar store blood spatters.
Step 5: Hazardous Waste Pipes
We created overhead pipes to simulate the factory environment and they also gave us a place to mount our lighting for the haunt. The lighting was one of our more expensive props - it is a yellow rotating emergency light that we bought at a local surplus store for about $25 - but this light really brought the whole scene together and added just the effect we were seeking.
The pipes are cardboard tubes - our neighbor owns a flooring store and these are tubes in which vinyl flooring is delivered. He gave them to us for free and we painted them with metallic paint, also from the dollar store. We then made some stencils and spray painted them onto the 'pipes' and hung them overhead.
Step 6: Industrial Fan
The industrial fan was something we saw at the Halloween store last year but the cost was $500!! A bit out of our budget so we set out to make one. It is a wooden frame, painted and distressed. The fan blades are actually one piece of scrap wood that we cut to shape with a jigsaw and painted with metallic paint as a base and then distressed to look greasy with our acrylic paints. The cover of the fan is some broken plastic aquatic grid sheeting that we had int he garage. Yes, we have a lot of stuff lying around int he garage. We broke it further to create the look we were after, spray painted it black and added some rust color acrylic paint. It was then glued to the top of the frame. The fan blade was glued onto a central wooden shaft to support the motor to turn the fan. The fan background was a piece of the corrugated cardboard that we drew rough circles on with a sharpie tied at the end of a piece of string (to get the circular shape) and then the whole thing was painted and glued onto the back.
Step 7: Cemetery
For the cemetery we had a couple of projects. We started with styrofoam tombstones that we got at the dollar store. However, they are cheap and flimsy looking so we had to kick it up a notch. We purchased some thick styrofoam from the big box DIT store along with some really cool stone textured spray paint. We cut out shapes from the styrofoam to correspond with the purchased tombstones, spray painted them with the stone textured paint and glued the dollar store versions onto them to add detail and depth. We then mounted wooden stakes onto the finished tombstones to make them easier to install and keep them from blowing into the neighbor's yard!
For the zombie grave, we staked down a black plastic bag and scattered rubber landscaping bits over the top to simulate a freshly dug grave - then we put in our zombie stake set. The small fence around that grave was something we bought at the dollar store last year before we 'upgraded' this year.
This year's cemetery fence consists of pvc pipe, painted black along with black painted styrofoam cones we picked up at the craft store which were nailed to the tops. The skulls are plastic dollar store door knockers and the black plastic chain, we picked up on sale at the DIY store.
Finally we added a hose to the fog machine hidden in the bushes and piped it out into the grave area, covered with dry leaves.
Step 8: Final Touches
Our final touches were lots of details. We created a faux metal tool box with cardboard and red & silver paint so we had someplace to put our zombie baby. Painted ordinary cardboard boxes to look like metal crates so that we had a place for our candy bowl, covered the floor with corrugated cardboard which we taped up with red, black and white duct tape to simulated the painted lines on factory floors. We added lots of little spot lights from the dollar store to round out the lighting, added lots of dollar store rats and of course, piped in music and zombie sounds that I created in a sound editor and played both indoors and out.
Things don't have to look perfect in broad daylight because the sum of the parts is greater than the whole! The lighting, sound and added makeup and acting will round the whole thing out for a devastating effect on trick-or-treaters!