“The American Scream” is the latest feature from “Best Worst Movie” director Michael Paul Stephenson who changes subjects here from beloved z-grade movies to three households in the small Massachusetts town of Fairhaven obsessed with Halloween.
One of these “home haunters” is Victor Bariteau, who every year dedicates his time and effort to making his home the most outlandish, larger-than-life destination for trick or treaters. And with Halloween just around the corner, he’s offered to share some of his home haunting tips with you.
Tombstones can be made with blue 1” polystyrene insulating foam. Cut the foam into the tombstone shape you would like using a utility knife, jigsaw or hot wire foam cutting tool. A creepy or whimsical epitaph can be carved with a rotary tool using a cutting or sanding bit. Paint the tombstone with a medium to dark gray latex paint. Be sure to use latex, as other paint will dissolve the foam. When the 1st coat of paint dries, brush on a lighter gray in some spots. Use a spray bottle to spray water on to the still wet light gray paint. The paint will run, giving your tombstone an old, weathered look.
2. Bloody Guts
Spray insulating foam sealant from a can onto a severed prop limb, a dinner plate or other item that you want to look gory. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles as this foam sticks to everything it touches. Once the foam is dry, paint it dark red. After the first coat dries, paint the higher surfaces of the foam with a bright, glossy red. This will make the foam look like bloody, disgusting guts.
3. Spooky Message Mirror
Take an ordinary mirror and carefully remove the cardboard or paper backing. Write a spooky message like “GET OUT” or “HELP ME” on the back of the mirror with a pencil. Be sure to write the message and letters backward, so it can be read properly from the front. Carefully use a hobby knife to scrape away paint and silver underneath the letters. Replace the backing, but cut away any areas of the backing that will cover your letters. Hang your mirror. Your message will not reflect light. You can us a small LED light in the back of the mirror if you would like your message illuminated.
4. Zombie Skin
Store bought skulls are great, but they look even better with a little bit of old flesh clinging to them. To make this disgusting skin, you’ll need latex, paint and low loft cotton batting. Pour some latex into a disposable cup or bowl. Mix in a touch of green, gray or brown paint for color. Tear small pieces from the cotton batting sheet. Dip the cotton batting pieces in the latex so they are saturated. Squeeze excess latex from the cotton batting. Apply the cotton batting to the skull and let dry. It will look like your skull has been recently exhumed. You can use this same method to customize your store bought mask too!
5. Zombie Clothes
Instead of using scissors to cut up your clothes for a zombie costume, make rips and tears with a rasp or rough wood file. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and mix in just a little bit of black or brown water based paint. Spray the clothes with the tinted water to give them a dirty appearance. Use layers of tattered clothes to increase the creep factor.
6. Yard Monsters
Stuffing clothes with leaves to make a monster for you front yard doesn’t cut it anymore. Use 1” PVC pipes to make a frame for your monster. You’ll need a cross fitting to connect the neck, shoulders and upper torso, two 90 degree elbows for the shoulders, a T for the bottom of the torso and hips and two more 90 degree elbows to attach the legs. PVC pipes for the neck, torso, shoulders, arms, hips and legs can be cut to size with a PVC cutter or wood cutting tool. Once the frame pieces are assembled, chicken wire can be used to fill out the torso. The arms and legs can be fleshed out with pool noodles. Stuff the mask with plastic bags and slip it over the neck pipe. Add clothes and gloves complete your monster.
7. Creepy Fog
Foggers are great for a yard haunt, but fog looks extra creepy when it crawls along the ground. To create this effect, the fog must be cooled. Cut two holes in a plastic trash barrel, one near the top of the barrel for the fog to enter and the other at the bottom for the fog to exit. Attach flexible aluminum duct used for dryer vents to the bottom hole on the inside of the barrel using duct tape. Wind the tubing around the inside of the barrel and attach the opposite end to the upper hole. Fill the barrel with ice and place the cover on the barrel. Pump the fog into the top hole. The fog will exit the bottom of the barrel and creep along the grass, just like it does in the horror movies.
8. Monster Mud
Monster mud is a substance used by both home and professional haunters alike. It’s a mixture of 5 parts joint compound and 1 part latex paint. Most cloth materials can be dipped in the mixture and it will cause the material to become hard when it dries. Monster Mud can be used to make statues, monsters and other spooky props that need a hard surface.
9. Red Light Trick
Did you know that red light can make red makeup and red paint invisible? A face with red marks or wounds looks perfectly fine in red light. Switching on a different colored light will suddenly make those wounds appear out of nowhere. Try painting creepy messages on a white surface. Add red light and the message disappears. Switch the lighting to any other color and that message magically reappears!
10. Burnt Flesh
Another great makeup material is gelatin. Just the plain old, grocery store bought, unflavored gelatin. Mix it according to the directions on the box. Apply it to your skin with a Popsicle stick. You can create bubbly burns or cuts. Add fake blood and see how real your wounds will look!
11. Spooked-out Spider Webs
Store bought spider-webbing lacks a certain spooky factor. Dip a little bit of the webbing in a dark colored latex paint before stretching it over your Halloween props. Now, instead of a new, bright white web it will look like your cobwebs have been in place for a long time. Just take care as to what you put it on. You don’t want to do this on your new dining room set because the paint won’t come off after Halloween.
12. Eerie Sound
Sound might be the single most important thing you can use to haunt your house. You could go without using a single Halloween decoration, but if your house is dark and you have creepy sounds playing, the trick or treaters will still be hesitant to approach.
13. Want to be a home haunter, but you’re not sure where to start?
You just need to know where to look to get inspiration and instruction. Here are some great online resources for building your own scary props:
If you want to check out “The American Scream,” it will be airing on October 28th at 8:00 PM on the Chiller Network, with a limited theatrical release throughout November (you can find screening locations here or request the movie for your town via Tugg.com).