Though not strictly based on descriptions in Mary Shelley's original novel, the square-headed, green-skinned Frankenstein's monster of the 1931 movie is an iconic part of horror film tradition and instantly recognisable. A homemade monster in this shape, lying still on a slab and waiting to be animated, will add a classic macabre touch to home Halloween decorating as well as amateur haunted houses.
Making the head
Inflate a balloon to roughly the size of a person's head.
Shape the head. Wrap a strip of cardboard around the crown of the balloon (the thickest point) and affix with masking tape; this will create the classic square head of the monster. Tape the empty duct tape roll to the bottom of the balloon, over the nozzle. Tape a wide, U-shaped piece of cardboard with a thick bottom to the point where the bottom of the face would be to form the shape of a chin.
Coat the head in papier mache. Tear strips of newspaper, soak them in wheat paste (see Resources for a recipe) and wrap them around the balloon shape. Stretch the strips across the ring of cardboard to make the box-shaped head and over the U-piece for the chin. Use at least six full coats of papier mache strips. Let dry in a ventilated area until hard and dry to the touch.
Paint the head. Apply two base coats of light green paint. Let dry. Paint the top of the head black with ragged, triangular edges. Give the monster facial features, ears, and a line of painted stitching across the forehead in black.
Glue the large bolts to either side of the neck.
Making the body
Lay out the clothes on the table and stuff them with newspaper. Wad the newspaper into balls to give the clothes a proper body shape.
Stuff the boots up to the top. Use enough newspaper to make them fully stiff.
Make the monster's hands. Stuff two dishwashing gloves with wadded-up facial tissue. Paint the gloves with the same shade of green paint you used for the monster's head.
Pin the clothes and boots together. Stuff the hands inside the sleeves of the jacket.
Attach the head. Slide the neck of the papier-mache head into the neck of the shirt. Pin the head in place using thumbtacks, pressing them in from the outside through the clothing and into the papier mache. Colour the heads of the tacks with black permanent marker.
Create "restraints" using long strips of black duct tape to strap the creature to the table. Stretch one strip across the monster's waist, one across the top of the head, and one on each ankle and wrist.
Things you need
- Corrugated cardboard
- Empty duct tape roll
- Masking tape
- Old newspaper
- Wheat paste
- Acrylic paint
- Large metal bolts
- Rectangular wooden table
- Large fitted men's black shirt, long-sleeved
- Large black men's trousers
- Large black men's boots
- Thick dishwashing gloves
- Safety pins
- Black permanent marker
- Black duct tape or gaff tape