Necromancers, please hope me!
August 25, 2011 7:29 AM   Subscribe

We've got two months - help me put together the most badass creepy halloween seance ever!

So - we'll be putting together a Halloween party at my place at the end of October. My housemates, myself, and our friend the amateur magician / hoodoo showman have decided to hold a spooky seance, and try to have the event loaded with classic spiritualism tricks illusions. We'll open with some slight-of-hand / mentalism biz from our magician friend, move on to a rigged ouija board controlled by a hidden rare-earth magnet on a stick under the table, and hopefully finish with a straight-up ectoplasmic manifestation a la this, drawn from the mouth towards the ceiling via invisible thread. We're trying to include a couple other illusions as well - faking up a bleeding mirror, etc.

SO! What I'm trying to find are resources explaining in specific detail how some of these were done, and where to acquire some of the props needed to accomplish the deeds. Rigging the ouija board is simple, and we can work out the mechanics of the ectoplasm projection... but what kind of cheesecloth/gauze works best for that sort of thing, and where does one get it? I know there's a fairly basic chemical setup to making an object bleed, but my initial round of googling has only pulled up a bunch of yahoo answers threads about 'Is catholicism a hoax?', which doesn't help at all.

We're also looking for a few other filler 'events' - anyone have info / suggestions on other spooky parlor illusions that can be done to amuse and terrify a crowd? I'm hoping for specific 'here's a link/book that shows how to do (neat thing x)', but 'wouldn't it be cool if...' ruminations could help as well. We are fairly craft-enabled in our household, so construction / rigging / some mild electronics wiring is entirely expected to complete this task.
posted by FatherDagon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Iphones, arduino, etc seem like the open up a ton of possibilities for this sort of thing.

Also, the new school j-horror, creepy-pasta vibe of just things appearing with no fanfare -- staring faces, shadows, weird skittery sounds, etc..

Also, I'm going to guess your friends are going to be all cynical and lulzy about everything, so perhaps set things up to fail, revealing the mechanics, and then have a second layer of tricks that seem impossible based on the previous reveal.
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Surprise everyone with the head drop trick.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:18 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just some ideas...

Audio. Hide a whacking great sub-woofer in the room and pump out a sub 20hz (infrasound -- notably used by cinema and Hitler) rumble. Barely perceptible but a great way to create an ambience of unease in the room.

Maybe add in some olfactory effects: tobacco smoke/perfume/sulphur... (box of spent tobacco/an atomiser/rotten eggs...?

A case of dry ice, opened in the dark, might have some effect on the room temperature. The attendees might sense something ghostly if the vapour spills over them.

Story arc. Get the audience into a very dark place. Some kind of denouement and resolution -- end with the infrasound turned off and the room warm again.

Some kind of maguffin. Something to 'lead the audience in'. Raudive voices would be fun.

One fucking loud noise to scare the shit out of everyone.
posted by run"monty at 9:20 AM on August 25, 2011

Response by poster: I like the infrasound idea, and we do have a whacking great sub we could hide! I was going to have Lustmord's 'Rising' playing quietly as a spectral soundtrack, and a bit of added audio disturbance is great. I'd love to have a bunch of tiny tiny speakers tucked in various places that we could trigger sound fx to - nothing outrageously loud, but enough weird things burbling from odd places to set everyone on edge. That'd just be a question of a) setting up some sort of switchbox like this hooked to an ipod with the creeptones queued up, surreptitiously switched and then played on demand, and b) finding 6-8 cheap very small speakers.. all the small speakers i'm finding are like Bose microspeakers, way too pricey. Anyone got a lead on speakers that are both teensy and like five bucks a pop? Not looking for high fidelity here, just something that can produce noise and has RCA hookups (altho I could get adapters if needed).
posted by FatherDagon at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2011

I once went to a classic 1920s style seance, with spirit knocks and messages written on slate and all that (here's how a lot of it is done, and it's great fun). At the climax of the seance, in the dark, one of the performers opened their mouth and produced glowing ectoplasm. It's just cloth or paper under a black light, pulled out of somebody mouth with fishing line or the like. And, when you see it live, it's utterly astonishing and terrifying.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That seance site is definitely on the right track, and that head drop trick is GREAT! (and exactly the kind of thing we can assemble for home use).
posted by FatherDagon at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011

Borrow an old photo album from a relative. Photoshop in some photos of someone who is going to be at the party into an old looking picture of the house you're going to be in. Have the medium find the photo album in the course of the seance. Maybe it falls off a bookshelf or something..
posted by empath at 3:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

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