Decay over time

September 10th, 2014


We haven’t posted in a while now so let me bring you up to date on what’s going on with The Haunt at Hellizondo.

We were going to be on TV. ABC’s Great American Fright Fight contacted us about being on the show. We did an interview, answered hundreds of questions, took pictures and videos, filled out contracts and background checks. We were told that we were on and to start building and that the official word would come down in a week or two. 3 weeks later I called them and their response was “yeah…..kinda sorry but you’re not going be on the show, um, but maybe next year blah blah something blah” Super. Great. Fantastic. We had about about $500 worth of lumber and supplies we couldn’t return and had already cut up. They contacted us in late June, and we were supposed to have the haunt up in August for filming, so we had been working like crazy. Then the bottom fell out. So we had a lot of plans and materials but took a huge morale hit.

To get on the show, we had to send a list of new stuff we were gonna build this year. Apparently, no matter how awesome your haunt was last year, they want to show something new. We had always had this idea of creating a themed town set for the driveway as part of the queue, so we thought this would be a cool thing to add for the TV show.

Here are the 3D plans for the town set in the driveway:




So now, even though we’re not on the show, it is still mostly built. Just two panels to go and some framing, shimming, and last-minute adjustments to get it to stand upright on the driveway’s incline.

I cut most of the parts for the facade with a CNC router table at work. Kinda interesting. Once you get your designs right, you could really make a lot of haunted houses quite quickly.


Here is a pic of me at the depths of despair over building this set:

house with sad craig

Here is one of the plexi windows I printed at work. It will be backlit to make it look like there is candlelight inside (looks like its upside down,oops):

with window

Building the sets by myself in the heat and humidity had just about ruined me on Halloween forever. Kendra pointed out that Halloween would be easier if I didn’t make such big projects for myself. She’s right.

I have considered shuttering the driveway set this year and just finishing it next year. We’ll see what happens.

This is the design for the cemetery gates we are adding to the graveyard. I have this all cut out of foam and PVC sheeting (thanks CNC router!). I need to get these painted and weathered this week. The white PVC sheet with be textured and painted like rusted metal, and the pink foam will be weathered old wood. It will be flanked on either side by flagstone pillars made from Styrofoam.





This weekend we decided not to sweat it out in the tropical heat and started building monsters and props. Kendra made the armatures for roots that will be covering the inside of our tree facade. I finished off  the last of the 2″ pipe we bought to make more candles.



Here is the original sketch, but I knew when I drew it we’d have to scale that back:

Scabtree Hollow sketch 3

This is what it looks like currently. That’s Emily, one of our favorite scare-actors.


emily drop panel


To add a little more detail, we are adding some roots coming down the walls. We have also started making some roots to form hands that hold candles along the inside of the tree walls.


These are similar to the candle tree we made earlier this summer.

Scabtree Hollow sketch 4



vine hand

Here it is almost done.

tree nearly finished

I finally started making monsters for this year on Sunday. This is going to be the centerpiece of the yard, where had the carousel in Carnival of Risk and before that, the shaman prayer tower in Haunted Tiki Island. Here are the sketches that have evolved over time. The original idea was to have something like a werewolf as one of the abominations burnt at the stakes with the witches.

The Sacrifice

However, I started making these abominations that were skeletal remains of horrible creatures, some with no faces left, some with horrible bony horn-like growths, all emblazoned with the mark of their master. So, the cross-creature will be more like those.

faceless IMG_20130711_121212_170

Here are some sketches I made more recently. Just quick rough sketches trying to sort out what it should look like.



Here is the head I am building for it. It has red LEDs in the eyes, but I just want them to show through faintly between the root-like cluster of horns or teeth growing from the face.







We’ll post more as we finish this stuff up. It’s going to be tough to finish half of what we were going do.

Halloween 2013 – The Witches of Scabtree Hollow – Year 1

November 9th, 2013

sign and patty

Gallows and sign

Bobby the Town Cryer

 Craig as Judge Hearththorne

confession house

confession house witch

confession house weapons

rat on boxes

Albert the Werewolf

burnt witch and house

burnt witches 2


coffin wraiths

Courtney the Witch

watcher horiz


Bill the Ghoul

wraith and tree


emily drop panel

Kendra the Hag

three sisters

pelican and buzzard witches

humming witch 2

humming witch

skeleton curse


skeleton curse and horny bones

black light forest overall



creeper and the king



Forest left


bat thing reborn

7 days left, a prop short, and one resurrected

October 22nd, 2013

We are in the final stretch to Halloween. While most other haunters have had their displays up for days or weeks already we will be building, painting, and setting up until the last minute. I blame this on ambition creep, the urge to make it a little bit bigger, a little bit better each year. We have been doing this for 6 years now. We should have it figured out, finish on time or early, and not be rushed or panicked.

This is the prop I am not going to try and put out this year. I had to finish building all of the sets, make all of the other props, and handle the electrical work this year. I didn’t have enough time to make him to the level of detail that I wanted. If I had done that then all other other props would have to be lacking in detail for the time taken away from them. So I abandoned this prop for this year to add detail to all the other props and sets. He’ll be in the haunt next year for sure.

However I will be resurrecting this guy, our 3 axis skull. I made a trade for him in 2009 and he was featured in the final year of our Haunted Tiki Island theme.

This weekend we rented a U-Haul and brought all the sets that were built at my house and took them over to Simi Valley. We started painting the sets and leveling large set pieces to compensate for the incline of the driveway.

Patty and Kendra started painting the gallows.


Joe started painting coffins. Lots of coffins.


I started painting all the props that were built but not painted. Here are some of the signs with their final paint jobs.




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