The year was 1999. Just to take you back, the internet was still pretty much in it’s infancy. AOL was the main player, and it was a dial up – pay by the minute service.
That said, I started to do research. On Haunted House attractions. Home Haunts. Props, effects, sound, etc. I absorbed it all.
It became my hobby. Some guys come home from work and tie fishing lures. Others collect comic books or baseball cards… I built corpses. No big deal. I guess it goes without saying that we also invested a lot of money. An average of about $2,000 out of pocket each year for the next 6 years to be exact.
My routine, which was honed and perfected over time, was to begin thinking about the year’s event in about March or April. Thinking about the concept (Unique each year), designing the blueprint of the design layout, rooms effects, light, sound placement, etc. That part of the process was done by June 1.
My next step was to put together a budget for new props, building materials, equipment and sound purchasing, etc. By July 1 we had a garage full of new stuff. August was usually spent building props. Our neighborhood got used to watching me spend weekends in the yard airbrushing a disemboweled corpse, or creating a “Bucky”, as they are known in the industry.
An aside…. A “Bucky” is basically a decomposing corpse. I found a company that manufactured classroom skeletons – the real high quality ones -and they would sell be deformed or damaged ones…for under a hundred bucks, as opposed to thousands for the new ones. In any case a life size skeleton.
I would then apply liquid latex and cotton batting to the skeleton in places. The effect after it dried was bits of flesh sticking to the bone. I would then apply a light wood stain to the exposed bone, it gave the frame a weathered look, and then airbrush stain and gray and brown and black paint to the latex parts to simulate decomposition.
Anyway, back to my story. September was usually spent building – both inside my garage, and in later years, down the driveway, and eventually spilling into our neighbor’s yards as well.
October was spent with finishing touches, dry runs, then dress rehearsals , all leading up to Halloween. That’s right folks. All that work and effort for one glorious night. A week later, everything would be carefully boxed and shipped to the storage
site we had to purchase just to hold it all.