Tuesday, November 11, 2008


So you wanna be a Haunter? You're probably like me; I want to be Spookyblue, Grim, or Pumpkinrot when I grow up. In spite of the fact that my dad did visual effects for a living, the closest I came to knowing anything about building special effects was when the crew stashed the head of a sandworm under my desk when I was on a break from answering phones. I was 16 and completely clueless as to the career I could have chosen. (By the way, the sandworm's teeth were the tines of white plastic forks, proving that you don't have to go to great expense to get a great effect.)

We all have to get our start somewhere. My start was one fine day when I threw my back out (by sneezing, no less) and was stuck in bed on pain killers and muscle relaxants with nothing to do but surf the net on my laptop. I have a Halloween "favorites" folder you would not believe. It covers everything from pumpkin carving to building your own fog chiller, to blogs (of course!), to professional prop houses.

In my search, I ran across this book at http://www.amazon.com/. Halloween Propmaker's Handbook by Kenneth Pitek. Mr.Pitek is enthusiastic about his hobby, and like most haunters I've run across, very happy to share info. He goes through a number of painting techniques. He talks about the tools in our arsenal, such as spray foam, tonic water, and LEDs.

This is a really good beginner's book, with decent pictures and detailed instructions. Don't expect any tutorials on how to build huge props, though. This is strictly a book on smallish, manageable props. Great place to learn the basics.

Another great resource is http://www.hauntspace.com/. A website for all skill levels and levels of excitement, Hauntspace is an endless source of inspiration and information. Absolutely busting at the seams with pictures and videos posted by its members, Hauntspace is a great place to get your feet wet and start planning for 2009. It is also a very safe place for young haunters, as the mediators are very strict and don't allow any questionable content on the site. And, no, they didn't pay me to post that here!

Take some time in this post-Halloween season to explore and find sources of information in the areas you feel moved to explore. Next year, it'll be your pictures that inspire us all!


  1. Ah... the old throwing your back out by sneezing manuever. I've done that a couple of times myself and it sucks... Good post! I don't know where my haunt would be today without the internet. Nowhere near what it is now, I can tell you that.

  2. Stewie ows his existence to the net, and that day my back went out!
    Thanks, Grim!

  3. Muscle relaxers,no wonder you see strange things!!Between QueenMorgueAna and Hauntspace I had a whole yard full of props compared to a small graveyard the year before!!Had more trick or treaters than ever before!!Many parents said they wanted to see my stuff and were just stopping before they went anywhere else!!It was the best Halloween ever!!

  4. I can't tell you how much joy it gave me tonight to find out the sandworm teeth were plastic forks. Much of the reason I love my work is the fun of re purposing things. There's a real magic in it (when it works). Dune is a guilty pleasure movie of mine as well.

    I'm enjoying your blog.

  5. Dave,
    I enjoy your blog, too! We did your moving monster eye project this year, but alas, in the last second insanity, it was forgotten in the garage. Next year, though...
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I'm with Dave. Plastic forks as sandworm teeth... oh, that's just the very best.


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