Friday, October 24, 2014

How to make a Haunted Basement without using real ghosts

This story starts 3 years ago when I designed a haunted house for my kids in our basement for their birthday party. At the time they were turning 6 so I kept it light and it was a lot of fun. Ever since then they've asked me to build them a new one for their birthday. This year I obliged and here is what and how I did it. Enjoy!

Location, location, location

My basement is unfinished and the kids play everything from Nerf War to Baseball in the basement. So for the Haunted House I wanted to create a place they didn't even recognize. That means building walls and disorienting the kids. I want them to be so in awe of their surroundings that they forget they are in their own house. This of course is going to result in bigger, yet fun, scares .... or so I hope! (They still haven't seen it yet!)

I started by creating a "floor plan" by laying out some 2x4s in places I wanted to create temporary walls. Temporary meaning I could take them down at some point, but strong enough to stand up and not be knocked over. I also figure that once halloween is over, we can remove the decorations and they can use the walls for a nerf war zone!

My original designs included hanging chains and a well for a monster to hide in. Those ideas transformed into other things, but still were important to helping form my ideas. Not only that, but I have some great ideas for next year!!

The Tree!

The spooky tree was by far one of the ideas I found most inspiring, but I was concerned it might consume too much time. In the end, it really didn't and was fairly simple to create.

Thanks to Croglinvampire for sharing his technique and process on how to create one of these trees! I'm not going to reiterate what he has already explained, but I will mention a few "aha" moments I had while creating the tree.

I bought the cheap foam from Walmart, don't! Go to Lowes and get the 'Great Stuff' expanding foam. It's the same price as the Walmart stuff and works way better! The Walmart foam didn't setup right and was difficult to spray.

Leave the saran wrap on until the foam dries completely. It will pull right off. And what doesn't you can use a lighter to burn off.

Getting an awesome mask is crucial in my opinion to making the whole tree look really great! I searched for masks made for people but didn't find anything I liked. I found much better solutions when I started searching for "tree sculptures". Here is the mask I ordered:


The Ghost!

I saw some amazing ghosts on a blog and just had to give them a try. I did some googling and found how to make a cast of a person using packing tape. You basically wrap a person in packing tape with the sticky side out and then wrap them in more tape sticky side down. And voila!

I tried saran wrap under the packing tape which helped cut the person out of the tape cast, but it was annoying when putting lights inside the cast.

Do the bottom and lower halfs separate and tape them together afterwards.

These are the lights I used inside the cast:

Have your volunteer go pee before you start taping!

Spooky Candles

This was a fun project! Basically just cut up PVC, add hot glue, and paint/stain them! They look great! There is a great tutorial on how to make these. Thanks Xipotec!

You will use a lot of glue sticks! About 3-4 per candle!

These are the tea light candles I used:

The Fireplace

I saw a picture of a fireplace while looking for inspiration. I decided a great way to enter the haunted house would be through a secret passage in the back of a fireplace! The fireplace was a refactoring of a rocket ship I had made for the boys when they were much younger. I just added some textured spray paint to it and cut it in half.
I followed this tutorial to make glowing coals kids would have to climb over and a cheap backdrop for behind the mantle. The fireplace actually leads to a caged in tunnel!

Zombie Danger!

No Haunted House is complete without Zombies! So i mounted some skids, added a few fence boards, attached some body parts from the dollar store and added some red light for dramatic effect.

I did add some gray spray paint to the hands to "dirty" them up a bit and make them look more realistic.


The Spider Cave!

I was originally going to create a creepy room with a well, but it has turned into a room full of spiders and hanging skulls!! I created the effects with black lights, skulls from the dollar store, and lots of fake spiders and spider web.

Not done just yet!!

There are a few more surprises in the works! Including a caged monster and draculas's chambers! I'll post more pictures as the Haunted House is completed!

Happy Halloween!