After sharing some of my more quirky Halloween experiences, it got me in the mood to relive a few of my other favorite untold haunt endeavors. Coming off our mid to late ‘90s hallway haunt and prior to starting the 2006 haunted cemetery display, my home haunt motto was, “Anything goes — the kookier and stranger the better.” Case in point: one year, I stood next to the house (in a decrepit looking old man costume), beating my fists against the wall and squawking gibberish about so-called prophetic, apocalyptic visions.
“It’s been one-hundred years since the signs foretold this night’s approach,” I’d yell, “Inky darkness is oozing across the land and all is lost. It’s the end of the world, I tell you. Hell’s coming to swallow us up.”
Of course, since I was ranting and raving about hell, I received the usual smart aleck, “Then shut up and go to hell, old man,” responses from a few of the trick-or-treaters. (If you’ve read my other entries pertaining to some of the kids attending our haunt, this should come as no surprise.)
I’d quickly snap back with, “Oh I will, but you don’t understand the prophecy. You see, hell’s where you’re going, too! You’re all going!” Then I’d tilt my head backwards and bust loose with some crazy laughter. The laughter alone stopped many of the trick-or-treaters in their tracks!
Another Halloween, while wearing one of my funky, obscure masks, I ran through the yard with a slouched Quasimodo-like posture, acting completely possessed and feverishly pounding two big sticks together over my head.
Don’t ask me what I was supposed to be. I couldn’t tell you. I just knew it looked totally bizarre, so I went for it and sold it in a big way. Not to toot my own horn, but if there had ever been movie auditions for a “leading man type” who was a funny looking, slumped over fiend, beating on two tree branches like an idiot, I could have been a huge star.
During another Halloween, I purchased an oversized, inflatable head piece, filled it with air, strapped it around my neck and shoulders, and placed a mask at the top. The entire costume was covered in a long shroud that hung over my feet. I’m about 6’ 2” but this rig gave the appearance I was over 8 feet tall (pictured at the top, I’m on the right). I had to duck to get under doorways while wearing it.
Visually, the costume was fine, but it didn’t function very well. Maneuvering through a dark yard while wearing a mask perched twenty-five inches above my head, and a shroud that could fit the Jolly Green Giant proved to be quite comical. More than once I “biffed it” going after trick-or-treaters.
By Halloween 2005, I decided to get the heck out of the yard and away from oversized costumes. So, I retreated to the highest point available where I could still provide a few scares: the rooftop. The house is covered with a tin roofing material and has quite an arch to it, but I enthusiastically thought that wouldn’t be a problem. After all, the location could make for something unique and unexpected since the kids already anticipated me being on the ground.
Outfitted with a brand new zombie mask and zombie gloves, I crawled up the ladder (in the backyard), climbed onto a flat portion of the roof, and then scaled my way up to the arched peak. After reaching the top, I carefully slid down the front side and into position just above the front porch. Sounds like a piece of cake so far, huh?
Earlier in the day, I had prepped the location by strapping my trusty strobe light to the top of the garage, which sat adjacent to my sweet scare-spot. The strobe was aimed at me and dialed in at its fastest setting, in the hopes it would enhance the illusion of me coming off the roof. To further disorient the trick-or-treaters, I also had my fog machine “polluting” the entire front walkway and porch.
For the first hour or so, my plan was working well. The fog and strobe light provided the perfect atmosphere for me to hide just behind the edge of the gutter. Some saw me, but they assumed I was simply decoration. In my usual startle-scare fashion, I let the first two or three in each group walk under me without making a sound, then I’d kick and scream and act as if I was coming over the edge to get the trailing members of the group.
However, there was a problem with this plan: I was lying on my stomach and my body was going downhill. After a while, the blood began rushing to my head and once again, the strobe effect had me extremely disoriented. Add in the fact it was getting cold, causing moisture to condense on the tin roof, and I was completely screwed!
In case you haven’t noticed by now, I take my duties on Halloween night very seriously. I never break character, even when I’m having rocks thrown at me, getting punched in the face or choking on a Snickers bar!
The same was true on that rooftop back in Halloween ’05. Not once did I take off those zombie gloves, my jacket, or that new mask. Diligently, I watched and waited, never wanting to miss an opportunity to scare the next batch of candy seekers. Due to my diligence, I failed to get the memo informing me the rooftop was turning into a skating rink!
At one point, I really went for it, throwing my body weight into the movements, thrashing about and acting like I was going to jump into the crowd of trick-or-treaters. The kids screamed and ran, unfortunately, I overestimated my ability to maintain my position.
Thanks to slick tin, I slid sideways. Coming halfway off the roof, my hands clung to the gutter system (picture Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation”), and my left foot desperately tried to find traction while my right leg simultaneously dangled free and clear over the edge.
Closing my eyes and awaiting impact with the sidewalk below, I realized my left hiking boot had hooked onto an overlapping groove in the tin. Amazingly, the gutter had also held up, despite applying some weight to its structure. Thankfully, I didn’t fall off, and the even bigger blessing – I didn’t fall on any kids or their parents!
I crawled back into position and toned my movements down a little more, playing it safer for the rest of the night. And so this zombie lived to see another Halloween.
They should really add my experience as a cautionary tale to those Halloween safety videos:
“Kids, don’t dress up like a zombie, climb ladders, scale rooftops and muck around like a fool on wet tin. If you do, always wear a reflective strip on your costume and make sure mom and dad check your candy for anything suspicious afterwards.”