Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Halloween Retrospective

Unfortunately, my camera decided to break and the battery on the camcorder became inoperable so there's no real photos or video of the haunt. The one to the right was a little dark so I tried adjusting the photo settings and got something more along the lines of the ones below, even darker and more washed out. Then the camera chose to die.

Here's the only bit of video I was able to get before the battery went kablooey.

As can be seen (or not), the yard display was very dark so next year I'll need to get more flood lights to set an eerie tone for the yard and then highlight individual props, tombstones, etc. with the LED spots I made. Viewing the yard from the sidewalk directly in front of the house it looked okay, but it became apparent as soon as you walked up the path that it was very dark. Time to go read Skull & Bone again.
In all Halloween was better than it's been in past years. First, I didn't run out of candy this time (a first!) and we had more trick-or-treaters than in any year before. In prior years we've had anywhere from 10-20 kids, but this year we almost hit 30. We actually would have had more, but I enforced a strict "no costume, no candy, no exceptions" rule this year and actually turned a few older teens away who thought they could get away with getting candy while walking home from wherever they were coming from. I didn't include them in the totals.

By 8:30 p.m. though all of the ToTs that were going to come had come, no doubt because it was a school night. So I was able to run and return a Redbox movie, but upon my return found two adults strolling through the front yard with their dog admiring the display. One of them said they had come by last year with his granddaughter who ended up being too afraid to approach the house and would only look at the display this year.

There were a lot of compliments this year, and it was nice to hear as one group of kids left and were heading to my neighbors (undecorated) house, someone shout, "You've got the best house in town!" That was gratifying.
There were a number of new props I displayed this year, including my ScareFX-style Rockin' Granny. It did generate a bunch of scares as I had set it up to go off with a motion sensor so that was fun, and I enjoyed my Flying Crank Ghost. I thought it looked nice moving on the front porch. However, what seemed to creep out most people was my "wall crawler" Monster Mud prop, which actually became a roof crawler.

I had him situated at the end of the eave, looking over the roofline and illuminated him with a flashlight on Halloween night. However he was up there the entire month. As two brothers walked by during the afternoon, one stopped and said, "You've got a lot of really great things out here, but the one that really creeped me out the most was that one," and he pointed to the roof. "The first time I walked by I felt that something was watching me and when I looked I saw it sitting up there and it scared the hell out of me."
A lot of the kids were actually scared to come up the walkway because of it sitting up there, and my wife wants a bunch of similar props to display up there next year as if they're climbing up onto the roof. 

The graveyard is really just the scene setter and doesn't seem to carry much weight, at least not as much as the other props. I guess it provides the ambience for the other props to give their chills. But next year I need height. Almost all of my tombstones were of a similar (low) height, so I plan on introducing some obelisks and maybe a sarcophagus similar to the one the Davis Graveyard displayed. That would look splendid in the yard.

Other than the wind that ended up whipping up late in the morning, there wasn't much to complain about. The breeze really didn't threaten the props, as I heard a number of haunters say happened at their homes, but it made it impossible to use the fogger I had at the ready. I had been hopeful because the day dawned bright, clear, and still but by 11:00 a.m. a steady breeze was blowing making it impractical to use. That's two years in a row now with no fog.

The only prop I wasn't happy with was my reindeer/cat/rabid dog prop. The movement was much to subtle to bring any notice to it and I was unable to synch my iPod with it to have it snarl and growl. Because I had hooked up the player to the motion sensor as well, the "Play" button needed to be hit each time it was activated. I tried taping a nut to the play button but that didn't work either so I'll need a better option next year.

In all, I was happy with my display. The props, the look of the yard, and the increased number of ToTs that came by all made the work I did all year long satisfying. I think some better lighting options next year, a few more props (still want to make my gravedigger), and perhaps introducing ambient sound will make it even better. This was a learning year for me -- such as learning to make sure my camera works before Halloween -- and I'm looking forward to an even better effort next year.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post. You really think about your haunt. It is so cool that your wife wants more of those wall crawlers. Kyle told me that he wants to make some props for next year. Make sure to get yourself a good camera. Mine is pretty good for me and I had so much fun taking photos. You need to show off all your work.
    Happy Haunting


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