Monday, October 31, 2005

Front Porch Magic Mirror

Once again, the "Well of Souls" or "Magic Mirror" was our Halloween surprise. You can't see the face, in this shot, but you can see the frame where the face "appeared." Our Halloween guests were able to chat with the spirit in mirror and pick up their treat. This effect (from our friends at ImaginEERIEing is a lot of fun. Last year we mounted this in the basement. this year, as you can see, we built inside our front entry way. Worked very well. Didn't get any in process photos but I'll pop a few when we take it down later this week so you can get a behind-the-scenes look.

Happy Halloween 2005

The January Family hopes you had a very happy Halloween. It was a perfectly spooky night for it. We were glad to see so many of you turn out...and as you can see by this would seem there were many spirits haunting the yard! We went through more than 700 pieces of candy. Though, I am pretty sure some of you took more than one piece!

Now, some of you wondered why we didn't do the haunted basement this year.

The reason is pretty simple: time.

With two little kids at home and other things like work, time is very tight. The basement takes me at least three weekends to build out, and it just couldn't be done this year. In addition, the haunted basement is pretty expensive. We put most of our budget into the haunted column this year. We watched many of you have fun with that, so we hope it was a fair trade-off.

Will we bring back the basement next year? Can't promise it. You may consider if you would be willing to help us work it on Halloween night! With enough help, the chances are much better that we'd attempt it.

But all this is discussion for next year. For tonight we just wish to say; Happy Halloween! Thanks for sharing this neighborhood tradition with us.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Part of the scene

This gives you a daytime look at part of the tableau we've created as our yard haunt. Here you can see the drop panel column, to right of it is the moving tombstone (from Lothars Lair)our repaired and improved gargoyle over the front door and, if you look on the screened in porch, you can just make out the FCG. Lit at night, the static and animated props work together to create an intergrated scene which serves as the backdrop for our Sweeney Family Horror radio play that our guests can listen to in their cars. Each of the props is weaved into the story as are the Sweeney famiy graves. You can't believe how many people ask us if the story is true. If you scroll down a few entries you can see what lies in wait inside the drop panel prop. This prop would not have been possible without the assistance and guidance of Bret Ross at Devious Concoctions.

Drop Panel Close-up

Here's a good look at the drop panel column in the day. The gap you see is because the pneumatics are currently turned off. When pressured, the panel raises to its ready position. Next year, we'll add an air cannon to this prop for extra scare power. In the background, you can see out gatekeeper prop holding a sign that invites people to tune in the radio play which is broadcast 24 hours a day.

Drop Panel Column Cemetery Fence

Here is a day-time view of the Sweeney Family Horror cemetery fence. The column with the drop panel is in the distance, along with our gatekeeper figure. Our yard haunt is designed to create a night-time tableau that is accompanied by a five minute story broadcast thru a low-wattage FM transmitter. Carloads of families listen to each night. On Friday, October 28th, we a steady stream of cars between 7 and 11:00. It was a lot of fun to watch so many families and friends out on such a great Fall night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stones at night

A detail of one of our tombstones. Here you can see some of the detailing that's not readily apparent from 25 feet away. The cracks and pitting really add a lot of realism to the stones. These have been incredibly durable. They are the oldest props we have. I keep thinking we'll remake them...but they do the job. The skull detail is from our friend Steve Hickman over at Terror Syndicate

The Sweeney Family Spirits Request...

We are thrilled to see so many of you enjoying the haunt together this year. That's why we do it, of course. We love seeing families together on these spooky Fall nights. A few requests for everyone's enjoyment:

Share the view! Do your best to enjoy the haunt and make sure others can, too.

Lights off! Particularly if your lights are shining into the back of another car. Plus, it's just not as creepy when your headlights part the shadows.

Stay on the sidewalks! The lawn is not safe. Besides the possibility of coming face-to face with a spirit, there are electrical cords and guy wires that are just waiting to trip you.

Be gentle with the props! It's okay to touch them lightly, but do not obstuct movement or grab them in a manner that might cause damage.

Hands away from the haunted column! 'Nuff said.

Tell your friends! We see more of our neighbors this time of year than any other, we're glad to see you at our home.

Night is best! Most of the props aren't turned on during the day. Plus the whole thing just isn't as spooky in the light of day.

If you see us say hi! You are welcome. If we come out to check on the functioning of a prop, don't be shy. We're always glad to answer questions.

See you Halloween night! More behind the scenes pics coming soon!

Column Gargoyle and the moon

Thanks to Jim Dawson for this awesome photograph of the gargoyle that tops the haunted column. Is that moon perfect or what?:

Column Open Night

Here, the column has fired, the panel has dropped and you can see the Column Dweller. This has been an outstanding prop and is a big favorite. I'm still a little worried about how it will fare in the rain, but hopefuly, all will be well....

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Column Dweller

A "Flat Back" prop who resides inside the column. I am not happy with the amount of light that hits this prop, however, that's probably something that will be addressed next year. Plus, this guy is a little creepier than most of our props so, maybe it's best you can't really get a great look at him at night. We've named him "Cuthbert." Not sure why. And, he is mentioned in the radio play if you listen closely to the end.

Column guts....

Here's a good look at the stuff that makes the column go. You can get a good peek at the cylinder here. The mess of wires are connected to the controller which fires the cylinder, the lights and the sound...Thanks again to Brent Ross at Devious Concoctions for all the help. And to Bryce Miller for giving up a Saturday to help out with the "skinning" of the columns.

Overall, the column props add a lot, we think.

Haunted Column in progress...

The new Haunted Column before Amy got her paint brush on it.

Repaired and Installed

And here is the repaired and rejunvenated Gargoyole. We changed the angle of his neck. In year's past he always peered downward so he stared at you as you passed under him. This year he looks out toward the street and I think he's more engaging that way. Note the new, larger wings as well. I think he looks better this year than when we was new.

Behind the Scenes: Gargoyle Repair

Here is the gargoyle...his arm now wrapped in the burlap that will soon be dipped into the monster mud. In addition, we changed the angle of the head this year so gargy looks right at you and we gave him new wings. All in all a successful job.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Welcome to The Sweeney Family Horror 2005

Sweeney House is up and running in 2005, We're happy you've stopped by our haunt, This year we did not get to all our projects, but we did manage to install large new columns (with an added surprise) and we repaired and restyled the Gargoyle. We also "freshened" the radio show with some new dialogue and lot of added SFX. We hope you enjoy it. In the coming days, we'll post some additional behind the scenes pics and we'll repost more of the Sweeney Family's backstory. Let us know what you think.