Intro: Shiatsu Zombie Grave Escape
This is a Halloween prop I originally made several years back, however, the original site with the instruction seems to have disappeared. The base for this prop is a shiatsu kneading massager which has two nubs/arms allowing motion for both an arm and head. The project itself is pretty simple, but most of the time will be spent tweaking the motion.
I'll go over the basics for building the guts of the prop and leave it up to you to decide how you want to finish it off.
- Drill w/ 7/64 bit
- Phillip screwdriver
- Shiatsu kneading massager
- You want to try to find one that the nub/arms are NOT at a sharp angle. Originally, I used the Homedics Shogun.
- Hanger/plumber tape (plastic)
- 2 x 2'-3' pieces
- 6 x 1 ¼" screws
- Additional 6 screws or PVC glue to secure everything.
- ¾” PVC Pipe
- 2 x 6"
- 2 x 12"
- 1 x 8"
- 2 x 45° connectors
- 1 x 90° connector
Step 1: Prepare the Massager
- Cut away the cloth covering the nubs on the massager.
- Remove the the plastic nubs on the massager. If the plastic can not be removed from pole, you may need to replace them with some bolts. In the end, we want a short piece of metal stick out.
Step 2: Prepare the PVC
Now we need to assemble the PVC which will make up the neck and arm. Assemble the PVC pieces and connectors in the following order:
- Arm: 6” PVC + 90° + 12” PVC + 45° + 12” PVC
- Neck: 6” PVC + 45° + 8” PVC
Step 3: Pilot Holes
Now we'll drill some pilot holes for our screws.
- On the shiatsu, drill 2 screw holes into each handle near the ends. Make sure the screws do NOT go into the electronics or interior parts of the massager!
- On the arm and neck, drill a pilot hole just below the connector on each of the 6” PVC pieces.
Step 4: Attach the PVC
Now lets attach are neck and arm to the base:
- Use a screw to secure the center of a piece of the the plastic tape to the pilot hole on the 6” PVC.
- Place the 6” PVC end of the appendages on each nub/screw on the base.
- Loosely loop the plastic tape around the PVC and down to the pilot holes on the massager base. Secure with screws.
Step 5: Adjust the Movement
This step will take some patience. Due to the random nature of the movement, you will need to adjust the plastic tape to get the movement to look right. You want to something that look natural, not jump or violent (which fair warning, you can get some pretty crazy movement).
- You will need to fiddle with the plastic tape until you get movement that you are looking for.
- You can also adjust the angle of the PVC for the head and arms.
Lock everything in place:
Once you’ve got everything working and lined up the way you like, drill some pilot holes thru the PVC elbows and into the PVC inside. You can then use screws to keep the PVC connections from moving but yet still allow you to take pieces off/replace if needed. I take the arm off of my guy for storage. Use a marker to mark the PVC/elbow for aligning the holes.
The other option is to use PVC glue, but that is a little more permanent.
Step 6: Dress It Up
This step is completely up to you!
Having PVC waving around isn't really that scary, so I suggest adding a head and arms. Here are a few recommendations/comments to finish up the prop:
- Use lightweight items.
- This will help your prop stand up to year after year of usage. If you use stuff that is two heavy, you might wear out the PVC or the nub/arms of the shiatsu.
- Add a head and hand.
- I used a cheap plastic skull for the head and made the hand from wire+tape. Just be sure to count if you make the hand or you'll end up with a 6 fingered zombie like I did.
- I also attached part of a plastic hanger to the neck to create a kind of shoulder to help keep his shirt on.
- There are various methods for corpsing out there, just find one that you like and give it a go.
- I did mine by wrapping the PVC with plastic bags for bulk, then covered with paper towels dipped in latex.
- Again, there are lots of tutorials out there for destressing clothes. Grab an old shirt and have at it.
- You dont' have to enclose the prop as long as the guts are covered. However, it does make for a nice effect. I built the top of a coffin around him from fence boards.
- A good zombie grow and a strobe light does wonders for the complexion.