Got Spook?
September 14, 2006 3:03 PM   Subscribe

OMG only 46 days to Halloween! We'd like to create a spooky forest. Forest is already in place, we need some spook.

We have a small forested area between our house & the road. We'd like to create a halloween display in it for people walking by on the road (sidewalk is on the other side of the street) to look at as they go on their way. What kinds of things would you do? By Oct 31st, it's night by 6pm here, so it'd have to be something that could be seen in the dark. I was thinking glow in the dark eyes peering out of the trees, but after that I get stumped. Any suggestions?
posted by Salmonberry to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Jack-o-lanterns with glowsticks or LED lanterns inside?
posted by dersins at 3:11 PM on September 14, 2006

This site can provide a spooky soundtrack for no charge.
posted by wsg at 3:22 PM on September 14, 2006

wire a tree for sound, inconspicuously. pipe whatever unrecognizable audio you want in, as long as it's not music anyone will recognize. Something like the Conet Project would work quite well, I imagine. Voices without a source in a forest is quite spooky.
posted by duende at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2006

Make like Peter Parker, and spin some (cob)webs.
posted by rob511 at 4:21 PM on September 14, 2006

Cobwebs sprayed with glow-in-the-dark paint. A fan directed at a glow-in-the-dark sheet hung high in a tree. Orange and purple lights in the trees. Dress up as a mummy and periodically shamble around.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:23 PM on September 14, 2006

I've put little tiny cheesecloth ghosties in the trees in our front yard. Lots of them, but little ones, some of them very high up.

Technique: find your mold (I used little styrofoam balls, tennis/softball sized, but water balloons would work better), and drape some cheesecloth over it to see how big you should cut the piece. They'll need to be on top of something so the bottom will drape, but 16-20 oz water bottles will be big enough if you're using small ones. Cut the cheesecloth to size. Then make a kind of dilute solution of white glue and water, and dunk the cheesecloth in this and then over your mold. Shape the drapery if you want, then let dry.

To hang in really tall trees, get some heavy black thread , string it through the ghosties, and tie one long end to a stick. Throw into trees. Adjust ghostie. Repeat.

No eyes. Luminscent paint in with the glue if you want. Definitely a little bit weird.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:45 PM on September 14, 2006

I used to subscribe to a listserv called halloween-l back in the late 90s. It looks like this is their current website, but I'm not 100% certain it's the same group. Either way, a romp through their archive will give you all sorts of prop ideas, many of which will probably require more work than you want to expend, but hey. There are a few gems in there.

Your main concern is going to be security/liability. If you have anything within reach of people on the ground, expect that they will try to reach it, and destroy it if they can reach it. Each display will need its own strategy here, but you may want to plan on spending your time somewhere with a view of the street, for the good of your property.
posted by Alterscape at 5:01 PM on September 14, 2006

You need low-lying fog to make the forest spooky. Nothing says, "creepy, ravenous, drooling, glowy-eyed wolf-creatures lurking in the woods" like low-lying fog.

Basically, the idea behind it is an application of Charles's Law - that is to say that the density of a gas is related to its temperature. The colder the gas, the more dense, and the lower it will lie. If your fog is cold, it is heavy, and will hug the ground.

There are several commercially available fog chillers designed to work with any fog machine. It is also not too hard to make your own -- anything that will sufficiently cool the fog will work. I used a cooler full of dry ice one year, with two holes for hoses cut into it. One on the bottom of one side ran to the fogger, and one on the top of the other side was my exit nozzle.

Commercial fogging fluid is designed to be long-lasting, which means that it will probably last too long for a good low-lying fog display. As it heats, it will rise, and your forest will eventually look like a Spinal Tap concert. What you'll want is a fog that will dissipate at a lower temperature. There are several recipes online for making this, as well as places to buy commercial quick-dissipating fog fluid.

Something else that would fit in well with the creepy forest theme would be glowing eyes. Make light-tight boxes out of cardboard and electrical tape and cut creepy eye-shaped holes out of one side. Line the inside of the eyes with colored cellophane, and stick a light in each one. Hide somewhere in the scrub.

Oh, and zombies. You'll need lots and lots of zombies.
posted by kaseijin at 7:31 PM on September 14, 2006

Oh, something else. Many costume shops sell jugs of liquid latex. Get some of this, and pour some into a bowl. Mix in some red food coloring and just a drop of blue. Add some oatmeal and shredded tissue paper.

Take this glop and plaster it all over a styrofoam mannequin head. Gouge the area around the eyes out and carve out the lower jaw.

Now would also be a good time to clean out your hairbrush. That oozy, pustulent looking latex on that mannequin head is gonna be sort of wet and sticky. Why not plaster some of your discarded hair onto the top of that head for extra realism?

Once the latex is dry, paint the eye sockets black, leaving a faint lip of white around them to simulate exposed bone. Maybe do the same for the nasal area.

Place your head upon a large, sharpened stick, and stake the entire assembly into the ground somewhere visible, but not inspectable.
posted by kaseijin at 7:37 PM on September 14, 2006

Motion far back in the trees. Get some kind of lightweight scrim, hopefully an old one that's been discarded from a community theater. Tatter it a little, and hang it a dark area between two tall trees set well back from the road. It'll blow in the wind, and people will see motion way back in there without knowing what it is.

What you really need is someone, or several someones, to hide just inside the woods. Yes, everyone does this, but attention to detail is what makes the difference here. Put someone in black, and the kids will be all "Lame, someone else's dad is going to jump out at us." Make someone really and unnoticeable, and the same kids will be "AUUUGH AUUUGH SAVE ME." The costume's got to be great -- scariness doesn't matter; invisibility does. And whoever's doing it can't be shifting their weight, coughing, sniffling . . . it needs dedication, but when it works, it's beautiful. I am not responsible for any heart attacks that may occur as a result of following this advice.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:52 PM on September 14, 2006

Neighbors of ours back in Florida once created a "Pilgrims hanging a witch deep in the forest" tableau that was just visible from the road at night, using a bunch of mannequins they found in a dumpster behind Wal-Mart . The first time I saw it I nearly fainted.
posted by saladin at 6:36 AM on September 15, 2006

Googling for "halloween haunts" usually yields interesting results. Good luck!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:40 AM on September 15, 2006

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