I decided to post a few old photos from our Halloween nights during the 90’s. To this day, October 31st is still a family affair, but ten (plus) years ago everyone got heavily involved. Back then I used to take a week off from work so my grandfather and I could build these long enclosed hallways that led up the drive to the front door. Inside the halls were windows which opened up into separate rooms. As the trick or treaters passed by the windows, a scene would unfold inside each room- and since I needed actors to create the scenes, my family came in mighty handy.
Every year there were different themes inside the rooms. We had a corpse rising from a grave, a machete sharpening ghoul, a straight jacketed asylum patient, an axe wielding fiend and several other undead looking things roaming around the hidden panels inside the hallways. These hidden panels allowed a couple of actors to move in and out of the flow of trick or treaters, undetected, to provide a great scare.
The hallways and rooms were always built from sturdy lumber and covered with heavy duty cardboard. The cardboard was then covered with box upon box of black trash bags. It wasn’t all that spooky under the flash of the camera, but in the darkness, with strobes and black lights, it had a creepy appearance. The topper, however, had to be the fog chiller. With the entire haunt being enclosed, including a door to get in and out, the wind was kept to a minimum. This allowed the fog machine to produce cool, low lying fog that caressed everyone’s ankles and kissed the ground the entire length of the haunt. Man, I miss that effect since I’ve gone to an open air, yard haunt.
Now, I have to admit our costumes weren’t always that great and the props used to fill the inside of the haunt weren’t very professional looking- especially the Spirit Store plastic blucky skeletons, but we had loads of fun! The neighbors were and have always been great and very receptive of our “productions.” And the trick or treaters and their parents consistently provided kind feedback. My favorite experience was bumping into someone in public that knew of my Halloween pursuits. They were always curious as to what we had up our sleeve for that particular year.
There is a part of me that misses doing something as elaborate as setting up a large enclosed haunt, but the creative expression and outlet I have found in my yard haunt design more than make up for it. Still, I find myself tempted to revisit my Halloween roots from over a decade ago- with better looking props of course!