The year that followed, and all the way to 2006 was a time for growth and taking it to the next level.  I reached a point in 2002 where I had done all I could with atmosphere, music and simple effects and store bought props.  As Halloween was becomming more popular and more and more people were starting to “Haunt their Homes” each year, we started seeing the same old masks, dummies, smoke and fog gags, etc.
So I did two things.  First, I went to Disneyland.  Rode the Haunted Mansion a few times.  looked at the stuff popping up for jump scares….   hydrauulic?  pneumatic?   Hmmm.   I also went to a store about 10 miles away that sold nothing year round but Halloween stuff.  Got ideas from looking at the professional fun house type props.  Got more ideas… and second, I went online and found a guy that was amazibg back east somewhere, I think he was a contractor, and made his own props.  Found another guy on line that showed me how to make life size corpses with cheap materials…  I think the company was called Gore Galore.  Yup.  And they are still in business.
So 2002 was a very memorable year.  I stepped up my game.  It became more interesting.  I was crafting skeletons, (Buckys), described in a previous chapter, I was creating monstors instead of buying store bought cheesy ones, and I started dabbling in making animated props with Pneumatic pistons, servos, and tripping systems, along with sound integration and effects triggering.
Over the years, and by 2005 – the last year we haunted our home, I got pretty sophisticated.  And the effects becaome pretty eleborate.  One of my favorite effects of all was something I created for our 2004 haunt “inner Sanctum”.  Here’s the set up.
The guest came to a long hall.  It was a mausoleum, and all along the wall were tombstones, and as you would expect, little vases to hold flowers.  It was lit by one very faint blue light bulb, and the hall was a little hazy with fog.  As you came to the last of the tombstones at about eye level, you realized that the tombsone was cracked,  almost broken.  Before you had a chance to react, the entire wall slammed down with great force, exposing the grave within.  All at once the blue light went off, a sinister decomposing head shot out from the grave directly at the guest, an ear piercing scream blared from the grave, and alternating red and white stobe lights activated in the grave, illuminating the head as it shot out towards the guest.
All in one fell swoop, then head returned to the grave, the wall rose back up to it’s original position, the tombstone was repaired, the blue light came back on, and it was as if nothing had happened.  The whole effect took about 7 seconds for the whole cycle. It was horrifying, and it reset hundreds of times that evening without fail.  The mechanics behind the effect, were another story.  It took me almost three months to engineer that one
But I digress.  We had a great run.  2005 brought me the reality that we had grown too big.  We had visits from the fire marshall, building code folks, we must have tripped the house breakers 50 times that night  We had meetings with the neighbors over the noise and commotion, the traffic nightmare, and so forth.  Sadly the haunt was destined to be over.  or was it?

Here is a gallery of setting up one of my favorite haunts…”Inner Sanctum”  It took three months to build and another three months to create and develop.  All for one night’s performance.

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