Thursday, October 28, 2004

GHOST HOST REPORT: The Mystery & Your Help

I have now come to believe that James Sweeney and the Disciples of the Opus Machina were successful in creating a functioning Well of Soul, a strange device capable of generating a stable portal between this world and "the other side."

It all has begun to make sense.

The Well of Souls requires only one fuel: And that is fear.

Somewhere within the dank,dark labryinth under the Sweeney Home, I believe The Well of Souls still resides. As the days approach Halloween, and the collective fear of the city rises, the machine flickers to life once again. This explains why certain people are able to see the events of The Sweeney Family Horror acting itself out all over again. It also explains why James Sweeney didn't remove his family from the Sweeney home when the hauntings began to occur. He needed their fear to fuel the machine.

Ancient texts say the Well of Souls is kept open by a being known as The Gatekeeper. The writings suggest that well can be shut down if enough brave humans are willing to make a direct appeal to The Gatekeeper.

So, I write this plea. Join me on Halloween Night. Brave the horrors of the Sweeney house and find The Gatekeeper. The journey will not easy, but the ancient writings suggest that anyone brave enough to come face-to-face the gatekeeper will be rewarded. Together we can, at least for this year, bring an end to The Sweeney Family Horror...

Monday, October 25, 2004

Behind the scenes: Halloween Night


Traffic on this site has been unbelievable in recent days and we wanted to say a quick thank you. We appreciate your comments and your thoughts. We will repost this information again later in the week, but wanted to remind you of the scoop on Halloween night.

Here is the low down:

We open promptly at 6. We close promptly at 9. If you are in line at 9 we will let you come through Sweeney House. But no one will be allowed to join the line after 9 p.m. Sorry!

If you do NOT want to wait in the line or if you don't wish to go through Sweeney House, you can get your treat from any Sweeney House Greeting Ghoul and be on your way! Last year we estimated the average wait to be less than 10 minutes though there was a brief stretch where a few folks had to wait nearly 20. The walk through itself is pretty brief but eventful, and, of course, absolutely free.

All ages welcome but we find that Moms And Dads and kids ages 5-12 like Sweeney House the most. It's a little intense for kids under 5. A little lame for teenagers.

Our rules:

No weapons (plastic or otherwise) allowed.
No smoking.
No running.
No being a grumpy pants
Touch nothing, and nothing will touch you.
Parties of 5 or less at a time. No exceptions.
One piece of candy per kid. (Sorry...we have LOTS of kids)

Happy Halloween! We hope to see you Halloween Night

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Behind the scenes: Safe Halloweening

To All Fans of the Sweeney Family Horror:

We have had an increasing number of folks venturing off the sidewalks and into our yard to see the props. This has resulted in some minor damage to some of the props. More concerning than that, however, are the electrical cords that run through the yard. They are very easy to trip over. Particularly in the dark.

We want to keep you safe and our props intact.

So, once again, we request that, if you choose to exit your car, you kindly stay on the main sidewalk to take in the display. If you are curious about the props, feel free to leave a comment here and we'll glady answer your question. Or, if you happen to be driving or wlaking by while we're working in yard give us a yell. We are more than happy to talk to any guest about the display.

Thanks for you consideration and Happy Halloween.

Behind the scenes: Thanks

This week the Sweeney Famiy Horror was fortunate to host nearly 50 guests who enrolled in our Communiversity class "Hardcore Halloween Decorating."

To all who attended, thanks! We had a great time and hope you did, too.


As you know, I have been studying James Sweeney's diary for insights into what really happened on October 31, 1925. We now know that James Sweeney was an upstanding family man by day and the leader of a secret society known as the Disciples of the Opus Machina (DOOM) by night. Translated this means, "Disciples of the Great Machine." The immediate question is what "great machine?"

At this stage, I cannot tell you exactly what the "great machine" was (is?) although I have one grave suspicion.

Within the dank chambers of the Sweeney home I found a tattered piece of paper that had clearly been torn from a much larger document. The corner contained a scant drawing of what, I believe, could be a fragment of a diagram of something called the Well of Souls.

The Well of Souls is a reputed to be a device capable of generating a stable, localized gateway between our world and "the other side." According to legend, the living keepers of the device would have dominion over the unliving creatures transported through the gateway. This, however, makes little sense. How can the living, bound by the physical rules of this Earthly world, rule creatures who not subject to the same contraints? In other words, how do you keep a ghost in a cage? And what of the powerful and frightful denizens of the underworld who strive to find a way to manifest themselves in the physical world? Would one really think they could be controlled?

Was DOOM attempting to build and activate The Well of Souls? What, beside the Spirit Board, did James Sweeney acquire in New Orleans? Was poor Kate Sweeney and unwitting pawn in her father's dangerous game? Is Sweeney House still home to other mysteries?

Sweeney's diary seems to be raising as many questions as it answers.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Behind the scenes: Ta-Da!

Originally uploaded by Ghost Host.
And here is the wraith painted, distressed and placed in the yard haunt. We continue to experiment with lighting to make the figure more discernable at night.

Behind the scenes: Unfinished Wraith...

Originally uploaded by Ghost Host.
Meant to take a photo of the wire frame but didn't. Sorry. Here is a pic of the unpainted and undistressed wraith.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do you do this?
Well, we didn't plan this exactly. We had a couple of Halloweens where we had only one or two trick or treaters. So we thought, "Let's do something to encourage the kids to come to our house on Halloween." So, we put up a small display of cheap stuff we bought at Target. Well, the kids loved it and we had maybe 20 or 30 trick or treaters. The kids told us they had fun seeing it all and we had fun putting it all out. So, then we thought, "we can make something better than the decorations we see in stores." So, we ditched the Target stuff and built a few items ourselves. That year we had more than 50 TOTs. Then we expanded a bit more. And then a bit more. Last year, we had more than 400 folks come through the haunted basement. Despite the fact that it's become more time consuming and expensive than we could ever have imagined, it's still fun for us. Along the way, we've observed that whole families are creating fun memories and spending a extra little time together while they take in the "haunt." We figure that's a pretty good reason to keep making the effort.

Where do you get all this stuff?
99% of what you see in our yard display and on Halloween night was built by hand. Most of the items we built ourselves. A few items were built by other people who share an interest in this hobby of halloweening. Exceedingly few items in our haunt were "manufactured."

Okay, what's it all made of?
The gargoyle and the wraith sign holder are "monster mud" creations. Their "skeletons" are PVC pipe (bought at Waldo hardware). Their "muscles" are chicken wire bent into shape. Their skin is cheap, lanscaping burlap that is dipped into "monster mud." Monster mud is joint compound mixed with latex paint. You dip the burlap and wrap it around the wireframe. We let it dry for a few days. Then we paint it. Fancy paper mache, really. The tombstones are 2" pink insulating foam carved with a dremel tool. Kate's ghost is NOT a projection as many of you have wondered. She is more like a marionette and is made out of cheese cloth and a wig form.

How did you learn how to make this?
If you read some earlier posts you'll see a few of the places that we went to learn. You can learn, too. Visit the Web sites we talk about here. And visit the link sections of those sites. Before you know it, you'll be "undertaking" a haunt of your own.

Where do you keep it all?
It's becoming an issue. Got any space in your garage or attic?

How do you broadcast the ghost story on the radio?
A very small FM transmitter. This kind of transmitter has a very short range and is often used in applications such as a school radio stations.

Does it bug you when people are outside your house in cars or on the sidewalk?
Of course not! We work hard to make "the haunt" worth your attention so we're happy when you to stop by to take it in. We're always glad to see families getting together and enjoying the spooky season with us. If you drive by, we encourage you to simply pull over to curb, safely park your car and turn off your lights while you listen to the radio show. We don't mind at all and believe this practice to be far safer than sort of creeping along in the middle of the street. Our only request: Our props are durable but not indestructable. If you're curious, we don't mind a gentle touch of the props. However, slapping, knocking, kicking and/or hanging on the props is, for understandable reasons, discouraged. Also, there are electrical cords running through the yeard so, for your safety, we strongly encourage walking visitors to stay on sidewalks.

What age is appropriate for the haunted basement?
All ages are welcome, but parents (or guardians) should be the final judge of whether or not their trick-or-treater will really enjoy the haunted basement. We try very hard to live up to our tagline: "Just scary enough for everyone." But, clearly, what is scary enough for a ten year old is significantly different than what is scary enough for a four year-old. We are prepared to make the tour more or less scary depending on the age of the guest, however, our experience says that kids 5 through 12 probably have the best time on the tour. It's pretty intense and scary for kids under five. And pretty boring and "lame" for teenagers.

We like your haunted house but boy do we hate the line. Anything to be done about it?
Last year we had some folks wait 20 minutes or more. We know that's a long time. Especially when you've got a trick-or-treater eager to increase their candy haul. Remember, though, that the line is for the haunted basement. If you just want some candy, any Sweeney Family Horror ghoul will be happy to give you your treat out front and you can be on your spooky way. If you want to take the tour, you'll need to wait in the line. Although this year, we'll do our best to make your wait a little more entertaining. If you do choose to wait in line (and we hope that you will), we do ask for your patience. Remember, running a haunted attraction is not our day job. We want everyone (us included) to have a good time. You can help us by being good sports (and 99% of you always have been. Thanks!)

Can adults go through the haunted basement without kids?
Sure. And if you are very good, say trick or treat, and are over 21, we're happy to pour you a glass of red "vampire blood" to help take the chill out of the Fall evening if you so desire. Hey, Mom & Dad need a treat, too!

Do you charge for this?
Nope, this is just for fun. At this time, we don't accept donations or tips either. Maybe there will come a day when we find we need to seek donations or sponsorships. But not today.

What do your neighbors think?
We have to thank our neightbors for being the best sports on the planet. Overall, our neighbors have been very supportive, although they have had to increase their candy budgets more than they would like. We actually see more of our neighbors this time of year than any other. In fact, some of them are starting to get into the act. And we think that's pretty cool. In Wichita, Kansas there is a street where every house has a "haunt" that's every bit as good (and in most cases better) than ours. We're not sure our neighbors are up for that quite yet. But we're holding out hope.

So, you plan to keep this up?
We'll continue to do this as long as it remains fun for us, our neighbors and our guests.

Want to know more?
Leave a comment here. We'll do our best to answer!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Behind the scenes: Welcome

We have had a rush of unique users since we put out this year's display. For those of you who are new to a "blog" the most recent posts appear first. If you would like to read the Sweeney back story from the beginning you'll want to start in the August archives and read forward. Welcome! Happy Halloween! And don't forget to sign our guestbook.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

GHOST HOST REPORT: James Sweeney's Diary

It is safe to say that James Sweeney's diary is a disturbing and revealing read. As you know, I discovered James Sweeney's diary in the catacombs beneath the Sweeney home. What it reveals will come as a shock to students of the Sweney Family Horror.

There is no easy way to say this.

James Sweeney lived a double life. On one hand he was an upstanding family man and member of his community. On the other hand he was the leader of a dark secret society bent on harnassing the powers of the spirit world for their own gain.

In my opinion, the elder Sweeney's diary exonerates Kate Sweeney of any real wrong-doing. Kate's dabbling with a Ouija board has, until now, been cited as the genesis of the events that doomed her family. I still believe that the Ouija board was the key that unlocked the barriers between this world and that of the spirits. But James Sweeney's diary leads me to believe that "Kates mistake" was really part of a larger plan put in play by the elder Sweeney. In fact, I feel compelled to point out that Collen, Kate, Quin and Molly Sweeney seemed to have no idea about James' dark side.

In the coming days, I will reveal to you the details I have gleaned from the diary. Details including that of the secret society that Sweeney led known as the Disciples Of the Opus Machina. A group whose acronym is, fittingly, DOOM.