Ten Days to Setup

October 12th, 2013

There are only ten more days to finish making props before we have to set everything up.

This week Bill (my Dad in Law) and I finished the Gallows (redesigned after we finished so no pics), some coffins, and the tree to which witches would be tied to when burnt alive.


These trees are concrete form tubes that have been mached with cheap ground covering cloth ($7 a roll at biglots) and latex exterior paint. We added some limb stumps with pink foam. These will get a Great stuff rub down to give them some bumpiness then spay paint them flat black and a touch of grey dry brush for ashiness.

This is one of the coffins that will be half unearthed in the grave yard. One of 14 coffins in our haunt. Coffinriffic!

Today I built the Scabtree facade where you would enter the covered section of our haunt. This is the sketch and then the plywood facade.



I have been working on a lot of other props but I gotta keep something secret until Halloween so stayed tuned!


Confession House: Completed!

September 29th, 2013

Whew! After weeks of hard work designing, building, and putting together the Confession House, we can finally say that it is DONE! Overall, it wouldn’t have taken that long to complete, but we’ve been bouncing back and forth between various projects, so it just seemed to take a long time. It’s been really fun to have it assembled in our backyard, and we’ve been playing around with the scares by yelling, “Confess! You’re a witch!” Which surely has been perplexing to our neighbors.

The final piece to be completed for the house is to fabricate plexiglass windows that we can bang on from the outside for a scare. But we’ve already framed them out, and we’ll install the plexiglass when we construct the house on-site in Simi in a few weeks.

Here are some pictures of the construction and final product:

Confession House-15

Completed and assembled (roof was not on yet)

Side view, scare windows

Side view, scare windows


Placement of Sign

Placement of Sign

Happy to be finished!

Happy to be finished!

Here’s a close-up of the sign. It was carved in pink foam using a dremel, and the wood texture was created with a tool from the Hot Wire Foam Factory kit.

Confession House-29

Craig stained the outside of the house using a paint sprayer (we chose the stain color “Early American,” which seemed very appropriate). The fumes were terrible! Shortly after this photo was taken, Craig wised up and put on his respirator.

Confession House-19 Confession House-21

For the roof, we used different stains and a template to create a shingle pattern on lightweight luan panels.

Confession House-23

We’re also working on filling up the inside with props. Craig and Bill constructed a “torture table,” and we’ll be hanging up ropes, chains, and other scary implements.

Confession House-34

Finally, here are some photos of our slat-light test. It was hard to photograph with just a handheld camera, but it looks really cool in person. We can’t wait to hear all the screams coming from the Confession House on Halloween night!

Confession House-26

Confession House-25

The Watcher

September 21st, 2013

Construction on the haunt is coming along, slowly but surely. We are close to completion of the Confession House and Coffin Wall. These two things are our main “set pieces” for this year, and our goal is to complete them this weekend. Our last major set build is the facade of the interior entrance, which will be formed to look like a giant tree, in which the witches of ScabTree Hollow reside. Most of that construction will have to be undertaken at the actual Hellizondo location in order to get the fit and scale just right.

In the meantime, we present “The Watcher.” This prop was actually finished a few months ago, but we haven’t posted it here yet. The Watcher will be positioned in the interior of the haunt (on the porch), where he watches and points the way for victims.  The design of his face will be a motif in our haunt, seen also on the “wraiths” in the graveyard scene. The face design was inspired by the artists Wayne Barlowe and HR Giger:

Barlowe 1

Wayne Barlowe

HR Giger

HR Giger

Here are the photos of the completed prop:

Watcher face

The Watcher
Watcher face 3

And here’s a video of the prop in motion:

The Haunted Forest Comes to Life

September 2nd, 2013

Last week, we brought you some construction pictures of the sets/structures being built for our brand new haunt theme. This week, we’ll focus on some of the props we’ve completed.

First up is the mysterious “Manatree.” Is it a tree? Is it an old man? Look into his eyes:


This tree began as a black wire-frame prop we bought at Target several years ago during their Halloween clearance (90% off!). We paid about $8 for it. It was covered in purple lights, and its arms (limbs) move, as does the top branch on its head, and the eyes also open and shut. We never pass up an opportunity to buy a cheap prop that already comes equipped with motors. This is more or less how the prop looked originally:

Tree - before

Patty has repurposed and totally remade the tree by maché-ing the entire outside and adding a face, extra branches, leaves, and a raven:

_MG_7808The Manatree will be painted with invisible UV paints so that he can readily fit in our blacklight area, which has a forest theme.

We also had a black wire frame motorized cat that has received the same treatment from Patty:


Here’s a video of the two props in action:

We’ve also been working on pumpkin groundbreakers for our haunted forest/pumpkin patch blacklight area. We’ve given their bodies a twisted, root-like appearance. They’re made using PVC frames and papier-maché skin. Their heads are the foam pumpkins available at Michaels (or any other craft store this time of year):

pumpkins frame-1 


kendra Pumpkin Creep 2


craig pumpkin creep 2

pumpkins 1-1

      Craigs Pumkin Creep




In addition to groundbreakers, we’ll also have one pumpkin creep hanging above guests’ heads, suspended in a tree:



kendras Tree Pumpkin CreepLook out below!



August 25th, 2013

Since it’s almost September, we figured it was finally time to get to work on building some sets. It feels like we’re actually finally making some progress, but with a whole new theme this year, we still have a long way to go.

First is the “wall of coffins,” which will fill in a space that comes immediately after people walk off the bridge. This has more or less always been an empty space in our haunt, and we’ve filled it in with a plain black tarp before. But this new wall will provide a transition between the witches’ lair/cauldron scene and the demented pumpkin patch.

There will also be a scare within the wall. A hidden “boo door” will be positioned about head height, and our actors will be able to pull a cord that will lower a spring-loaded door.

Coffin Wall concept art

Coffin wall concept art.

Coffin Wall construction

Coffin wall construction, halfway done.

We’ve also been working on construction of the “Confession House.” This structure will be near the immediate entrance to the yard, and guests will have to walk through it to proceed. We’ve added a couple of windows to the structure to allow for extra scare opportunities. The inside will have various implements of torture, devised to elicit a “confession” from the accused witches.

Confession house concept

Confession house concept art.

Confesson house construction

Confession House consists of many panels, built separately for easier storage and transport.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the Confession House’s walls are made of individual boards with carefully measured spaces in between. We’re planning to use a “slat light” effect inside here, one of our favorite lighting effects. Of course, this is via use of fog machines and well-placed lights to get those ribbons of lights coming through the slats. Here’s an example from Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor:

Queen Mary slat light

Example of slat light effect.

We’ve only been able to accomplish these builds with the help of Kendra’s dad, Bill, and our friend Derek, from our SoCal Valley Haunters group. It’s been great to get the assistance, also on the some of the hottest days of the summer!

Bill constructingBill uses the chop saw for the Confession House.

Confession house construction 2

Craig and Bill constructing in the backyard.

Also this weekend, Kendra worked on making a sign that we hope will help provide the back story to our haunt. We’ll be placing this on the hedge near the front entrance. We hope that people see “Massachusetts Bay Colony” and the year and figure out that we’re in the era of the witch trials. Nothing is worse than creating a whole back story for your haunt that nobody gets. Although surely, more people will get this theme than our previous one (ie, a carnival during the Russian Revolution).

Town sign Kendra and Dremel.

Town sign halfway done

 Wording done.

Craig will be adding an image of a tree being hit by lightning, further adding to the story of ScabTree Hollow. He’ll also be texturizing it to look like old wood. Stay tuned for the finished product!

Our next blog post will focus on some of the props we’re working on, including pumpkin groundbreakers and a mysterious “Manatree.”