Second Night

On the second night of Halloween
My true ghoul gave to me
Two skeletons
And a vampire bat in a cave

Spooktacular Props

You, too, can build impressive effects to creep out the kiddies when they come knockin’. Just a little elbow grease and a few dollars will get you going. Here are three classics.

A Pepper’s Ghost is a theatrical trick using light and reflection to make objects seem transparent. John Pepper’s 19th-century modification of a more complex technique by John Dircks has become a staple of theater and haunted houses. The effect is created by buliding two scenes separated by a specially angled plate of glass, then lit to make one scene or the other visible.

A Flying Crank Ghost (also called FCG) is a wonderful effect that gives you an animated figure moving body and arms in a separate, smooth motion. The delightful folks at Phantasmechanics have put together a kit so you can get everything to build your own in one place. That kit link also includes complete instructions for the more adventurous. Here’s another set of simpler instructions, and here’s a bit on how not to build an FCG.

Finally, in the cheap, fun, and satisfying category: tombstones. Gotta have ’em! Mine are carved out of 2″ pink insulating foam ($13 for a huge sheet at Home Depot) with a hot wire knife (ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!). The lettering is a three step process: print out on computer, lay on stone and trace with pencil to make an impression in foam, then carve out with an xacto knife. The stones are then sanded and painted with couple coats of gray primer, the letters are filled in a bit with something darker, and details are added with dry-brushing. Great tutorials and extras:

Can’t get enough projects? Check out my lifeline: the Monster List.

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