Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nightmare Playgrounds 2008: Zombies: Prep and construction

The cool thing about doing a haunted house and having a kid like mine is that I am NEVER without a willing test subject for new fun things. This is my girl modeling the latest in blood fashion, gell blood. This stuff is gooey and syrup like when warmed but as it cools it becomes solid. Looks wet, but doesn't get everywhere after it sets. She liked it plenty. After spiking the set...ah, ahem, sorry, theater term. Putting masking tape down to mark how we wanted the garage laid out I decided we needed some tombstones this year. For some reason no hardware store here stocks the blue cell foam that makes good tombstones. Instead we got to use the craptastic large cell white board. But that did not stop our aspiring DaVincis of Death....see the two in back? Nope, not supervisors. EEE on the left and Kemper on the right. Dave foreground.

This is Dave. Dave is an artist. Artist is a nice way of saying showoff. Dave made me die a bit inside when I looked at his product and mine. I must admit, pouting was involved. And not on his part.

I threatened to cut the "supervisors" salary in half if they didn't help. It wasn't until they had done one tombstone and started another they remembered I wasn't paying them.

Being much larger than I am I decided if I looked busy AND had a hot foam cutter in my hands they might think better of helping me into a new form. Pretzels are nice... but not when made out of me.

Say it with me....."showoff...ahem, artist." In all seriousness Dave did some beautiful work. If we weren't so pressed for time in building the actual haunt we would have done some nice distressing and texturing of the tombstones. As it was they turned out nice, not the works of art that I have seen other haunts do, but perfectly fine for a home haunt where we charge nothing. Pay attention to the angel tombstone later. And remember he did it freehand.

One of my favorites.

I don't believe in child labor laws. If she gets to help me scare the crap out of people then she can help. Oh, and see how my daughter is painting, too? The adult on the left is our good friend Tiffany.

Musical interlude. Donations appreciated.

Wardrobe boxes affixed together, wooden support structure to brace them to walls and strengthen them. Wrapped in rosin paper and variouos foam accents attached to them.

Shelves attached so we can do som knick knacky goodness and ambient lighting later....wait for it.

Paint it up with more slave...ahem...child, ahem....volunteer labor. Sorry. My buddy Dax and again, my sweet cherub...ah, who am I kidding, the kid plays "zombie" and chases me through the house.

The bricks are my BRILLIANT and BEAUTIFEROUS wife's idea. They are those weird green foam blocks used for flower arrangements. Sliced lengthwise and fastened on to the exterior. When we added the faux brick painting later it looked pretty good. She is great about bringing the haunt into a more 3-D feel (see last years haunt for further proof).

I are the smart one.

Trying to fugure out how delicately we can tell OSHA... kiss our heiney. Hey, there is safe and then there is HOLY CRAP! HALLOWEEN IS WHEN?

I know fellas...the lumber, the power tools, the impending scent of children loosing bladder control and running into the night while their parents are bent double in brings tears. Really. Frank and I are working on the main mausoleum. You walk into the garage on either side and the door to the main crypt is in back. The layout acts as natural crowd control and we put enough nooks and crannies in the haunt that people don't want to rush by and risk missing a spot where someone is hiding.

Their problem is that I built a BIG nook and cranny for actors to hide in so when they go by they have bad zombies behind them. This was covered in tarps and further camoflaged with the netting we put over our carport.

Bad zombies like this guy. Oh, wait, that is Dax "normal". I think I told him we had to wait to drink until after we were done using power tools. Notice the oh-so-subtle scowl?

My little painter. Oh, and my daughter, too. The guy on the left is Tom. I have known him since highschool. If you watch my wedding video he is mouthing "I do" when my wife and I are saying our vows. Oddly, I think he was the tamest of my groomsmen.

So, thrift stores are our friends. The two objects you see at the bottom are from an old lamp we tore apart. The curved center is transluscent and made an AWESOME way to make it look like candles were lighting the mausoleum from the inside. We taped pictures of mausoleums to the outside of the structures so our helpers could do their own work without us directing everything. Our friends are awesome. We can't thank them enough for all their help.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE! Oh, is. We need to get to work anyhoo....

"Hello, joke police? There is a bald guy here and he needs some of your attention."

This is sweet Maili. As soon as she is mobile I am strapping a paintbrush to her diaper and recruiting her. Her daddy, Dax, and Mommy, Sena, have been our good friends (and enablers) for several years now.

"THIS IS NOT A DRILL....oh, wait it is....and it is called "compensating."

Sorry, Frank, you know I love you. Frank is the friend that you sit down and actually have "the Zombie Plan" conversation with. If you don't have a friend like this...well....good, you might slow down the zombies long enough for us to enact ours.

"Zombie Plan?" Don't worry you are a part of it Maili. Sena, too.

Troy and Kemper covering our main mausoleum in cardboard. You have no idea how many of the storage rental places kept asking me "what do you plan on doing with all these wardrobe boxes?" Come on, people, it wasn't like I went in getting shovels, duct tape, plastic bags and sleep aids...ummm.... at least this week.

My very first coffin. I am so proud. My friend, Christy, in the middle, and Tom. I have known Christy about as long as Tom. She brought us some of the most creepy reeds....and she got them from Ikea. Who knew...

I built this coffin with hinge pins so I could collapse it and store it. I was very pleased with it and it turned out exceptionally sturdy with no flex or give at all. I really want to build one as a permanent wine bottle holder...but convincing the wife....welll....we will see. Not holding my breath....mostly because the floor hurts when I pass out.

We used the carport tent again. This was the best hundred sumthin' bucks we have spent. It makes more haunt, hides the inside from those on the street and acts as crowd control.

Troy, Frank and Dax working on my coffin in the weeee hours of the moring.

I designed collapsing crowd contol barriers. I wanted something sturdy but storable to funnel people in a line. It turned out awesome. More pics of this later. The poles are what I used to anchor the cross boards into the stands and bases. The skulls were cheap plastic ones that were epoxied to the top of the pole and a drywall screw drilled in for extra vandal proofing.

"Seriously, Mr. aren't safe here. Have you seen what my dad does to baby dolls? You should go...quickly."

You want some uh dis CLOWN BOY!?

Partially to mostly finished

Here is my coffin unpainted. Due to time I didn't get to add all of the features I wanted. I hope to add some really nice decorative trim, and handles.

I added some cool resin pieces we got from Ross for cheap we painted it brown.

You can see the people barriers put together. I think these turned out really good and bcause of their materials they were substantial enough. Really pleased with this project. And since they collapse down they are much easier to store.

The angel with blood tears was nice and creepy. The effect was more for us to enjoy because there a lot of small detail that gets missed by TOTs. The lighting was bright enough that if you looked at it you could see it but when busy looking for the next bad-thingy-that-wants-to eat-your-brain it gets missed.

Top of a mausoleum. Got the skull statuette from Big Lots and the leafy metal decor from Ross.

Another view of the mausoleum with statuette. To its left is a concave, three piece, tall mausoleum. It made a nice cupping shape and hid the nook just behind it well. A false wall was put across the nook that led to the back yard. Just another place for my bad things to hide. I had hoped that we could "kidnap" volunteer TOTs from their group and take them in the back yard. Thier group would wonder where they went (maybe they got eaten). Meanwhile we would be zombifying them with our skilled makeup artists and sending them back out into the crowd. Due to rain the zombification process was cancelled.

We made some of the mausuleums have a Dia De Los Muertos style. The Mary picture was pretty cool. It took a lot of resolve to not paint on a skull head or make it all bloody.

Better picture of the concave three piece mausoleum. The pieces to the left and right had these cool shelves. You will see what made them cool in the finished portion...just remember it.

Knick Knacky stuff. The sculpted piece below the angel is a wooden decorative piece, gotten from Lowes. Votives, candle holders, and wierd pot thing from Ross.

More decor and our pet mummified cat. On the ground you can see the creepy plants that add a lot of 3-D to the haunt.

The skulls were these really cool paper mache things we got from Lowes (Hecho in Mexico). Sturdy, lightweight and each one was stained (looked like by hand) so that they were all different. You can see the other two sides of the dismembered lamp attached here. Remember the brickwork on the plain brown box earlier? This is it textured and painted. BTW I hate painting straight lines.

Creepy plants attached and nicely hiding the support brace that anchored the main mausoleum. That big white garage door you see up top was hidden by plastic roll table cloth attached to ceiling and droaped over top of the main mausoleum.

This is the view from the back of the garage looking out.

Same area looking back into the garage.

About the same spot as the picture above it but looking at the main mausoleum. The coffin is insdie this and we did a creepy altar where TOTs had to get candy.

Finished Haunt

One of two cool gargoyles that we got this year. My wife actually talked me in to these. Yeah, I find that funny, too.

Remember that guy Dave. The angel there is his work. He even used a dremel and etched in the dark lines. The lines were painted after in a darker color.

This is the altar in the main mausoleum. The rectangular bowl in the middle held the candy. You can see all the candy on the floor from TOTs either dumping it and running or throwing it at our actors in fear.

Altar with uber kewl lighting. We used over two hundred LED tea lights for this effect. My wife and I have grown to not like blacklights so much. The ambiance is so artificial from the bluish lighting. Looking in to the bulbs is blinding and when you walk into a haunt and say "Oh, look, a blacklight," it looses its effect. I think the pictures below will show how nice and creepy it turned out.

Remember the concave three piece mausloeum? Add lighting and the shelves become even cooler.

Altar again.