Thursday, November 5, 2009

Haunt 2010 Begins

Today I began working on my haunt for next year. I wanted to get right back into the prop building again before the embers of excitement that I felt before Halloween this year cooled.

I've been casting about for a theme for my haunt because I don't want it to be just a jumble of props here and there. I want to create an atmosphere that's chilling all by itself and I think I've settled on an idea that can continue to play out over the years.

The Bastille
France's notorious prison, The Bastille, I believe lends itself to the image I want to create, aside from having French roots myself. While the legend of the prison was actually far worse than the reality -- imprisoned nobles actually lived quite comfortably, with their own servants brought in -- it is the legend we remember. In particular, it is the fall of the Bastille, and the subsequent Reign of Terror, that offers much of the impetus for the haunt, with the vast use of the guillotine to exact a certain amount of justice. While I had wanted to call the haunt "Reign of Terror," one already exists using that name so I'll need to cast about for something different.

After the nobles were beheaded, the heads were placed on pikes and planted around the city. That sounds fairly creepy and opens up possibilities all on its own. And the Marquis de Sade was a prisoner in the Bastille at one time (as was Voltaire). And the Man in the Iron Mask had taken up residence there until his death.

As I write this, though, I begin to think about the possibilities for the Tower of London. That was truly an evil place and torture is part and parcel of its existence. I may need to think about this a little further.

Another thought I had at the time of mulling over the Bastille was a theme of the Grand Guignol. This was a macabre theater that ran from the late 1800's until the late 1950's, early 1960's that had as its purpose terrorizing theater goers with violence, death, mayhem, and taboo subjects. It's said that early on patrons would pass out from fright at what they saw, such as various forms of torture. It finally came to an end after World War II because it was said it couldn't compete with the horros served up by real, modern warfare and the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis.

A rare film clip I saw showed a mad doctor using a hacksaw to cut off a woman's arm. This was over-the-top horror, with lots of blood, which I'm not exactly into featuring, but the theme does offer a lot of possibilities. Obviously I need to think about the further still.

Yard Haunt Plans
What I'm looking to do is expand my haunt. Right now it is positioned only on my front lawn and certainly additional props can be added there, from headstones to zombies, but I'd like to extend the haunt around to the side of the house as well. I think forcing the trick or treaters to walk through the graveyard and up a narrow haunted side yard could increase the creepiness of the haunt. And my wife is correct when she says our display needs to be creepier. That will be the focus of my projects this year.

And to start I'll be making corpses that will be hanging from poles, as if they had been tortured and left to die on the stake. The ravages of time and nature tearing and rending their flesh. A series of them hanging along the side of the house seems like it could create the right atmosphere.

Since I'm not running a haunted house, but rather a walk-thru haunted yard display, I want atmosphere. I want to have chills developed just by looking around at what is presented. I will look to the masters on the web for inspiration, but I can already tell that some of the plans I had previously sketched out in my head will be changing.

For example, I had wanted to do a Pumpkinrot-like scarecrow with a leering pumpkin head. He got that look just right and it was something I wanted to transfer to my yard. However, as I've looked around the web, it seems everyone has such a scarecrow in their yard and it's no longer such a novelty, at least to me. I know my wife wants me to make one, and I'm sure most people would not have seen one like that before (so it may still find its way in some form or other), but I'm looking to create something unique and simply copying what has been done before doesn't excite me so much.

Who knew that get a Halloween display just so coudl require such deep thought. While I'll need to spend some time thinking about the overall progress I want my display to take, building zombies and corpses can certainly fill in the blanks until an overarching theme is found.



  1. Ah, such thoughts get my own head spinning with 2010. As for the Bastille, oh just the word strikes fear in my heart - I bet it is the same for alot of people.... and the Tower of Londone... I think you are really on to something here...

    As for wanting to build a Pumpkinrot.... don't get caught in the same trap that I often do... trying to decorate for your haunt friends on the internet, but for your neighbors, friends and family instead. Tot's dont surf our sites and forums, and think an elaborate foam tombstone is the coolest thing they have ever seen - just because the Pumpkinrot, FCGs, pvc fences, shiatsu groundbreakers, etc are allllll over the web doesnt mean that it wont bring you BIG ooh's and ahhh's from your average never-been-to-a-Halloween-site trick or treater. I'm with your wife - build it!

    Great blog, by the way, love your writing. Cant wait to follow it!

  2. Hey Dixie,

    Only a couple of months late, but thanks for the compliments. Going to have to change the settings to notify me when someone comments so I son't have a similar faux pas in the future.

    But you're right about who I should be decorating for. It is easy to get caught up in the doings of all the online artists. I'll keep your admonitions in mind.



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