Halloween decor can be cute and kid-friendly, or it can be creepy and hair-raising. Creating a truly frightening ambience requires sorting through the witch windsocks and grinning ghosts, opting instead for realistic looking laboratory specimens, or warnings written in blood. Smiling Jack-o-lanterns are warm and welcoming; phantoms clambering out of mirrors, on the other hand, may send visitors running--in this case, a good thing. With a little ingenuity, you can create homemade scary decor and enhance the fright factor of your Halloween season.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Tape measure
- White butcher paper
- Heavy-duty tape, like duct or gaffers tape
- Flat thumbtacks
- Double-sided tape
- Plastic container
- Red water-based paint
- Black water-based paint
- Old clothing or a painter's smock
- Thin disposable gloves, latex preferably or polythene food-handlers gloves
- Apothecary jars, specimen jars, test tubes
- Food colouring
- Fennel bulb, cabbage, cauliflower, noodles, rubber Halloween toys
- Tea light candles
- Printable labels
- Inexpensive mirror, any size
- Painter's tape
- White spray paint
- Picture hook and nail
- Pin spot light
- Artificial cobwebs
Measure the dimensions of your front door with a tape measure. You will need two sheets of butcher paper the length of the door plus 2 inches. Save several feet of scrap paper to place on the floor for spills.
Place the two sheets of paper on a flat surface with the long ends overlapping and the short ends facing you. Adjust the overlap evenly from top to bottom until the width measurement of the door is obtained. Tape the seam from top to bottom. Press firmly.
Flip the butcher paper over. Adhere the flap on this side using loops of tape stuck between the two layers, concealing the tape as you close the seam. Press firmly. This is the front of the design.
Hang the sheet from your front door by draping the top 2 inches over the door and securing with flat thumbtacks. Attach the paper to the door around the edges using loops of tape, smoothing out any lumps.
Make a tiny dot where the doorknob will poke through the butcher paper. Cut a seam from the closest edge to the dot. Cut 3-inch lines radiating outward in all directions from the dot, so that the knob can slip through the paper without tearing. Adhere loose edges with double-sided tape.
In a plastic container, mix a large quantity of red paint with a few drops of black paint and a few drops of water until desired consistency and a convincing colour are obtained. Wearing old clothes and thin plastic gloves, dip a paintbrush in the mixture and fling it at the butcher paper to create "blood spatter."
Pour some of the mixture into your glove and make handprints, all the more terrifying if they look as if they are sliding down the wall in a red smear.
Write "Beware" with your fingertips or a heavily soaked paintbrush, sending rivulets of red trailing down from the letters.
Frightful Message Written in "Blood"
Collect several apothecary jars, specimen jars, and test tubes. Fill these with water and one to two drops of food colouring, creating tinted "formaldehyde."
Cut the stalks and root off a large fennel bulb, leaving the "heart" and the exposed "arteries." Place in a large jar with pink-tinted water.
Present a head of cabbage or cauliflower inside a large, round container filled with green-tinted water for a convincing brain.
Suspend store-bought rubber eyeballs or plastic rats in medium-sized jars filled with tinted water.
Cook spaghetti or translucent Thai rice noodles and place in a glass receptacle; floating in yellowing brine, the effect is reminiscent of innards.
Find a free Gothic font online (see Resources), and use it to create custom labels describing grotesque items such as "Rat Innards" or "Vampire Brains." Use your computer's drawing program to colour the label's background to look yellowed and aged.
Peel labels and affix to the fronts of various jars.
Illuminate the horrible scene from behind with tea lights.
"Organ" and Other Slimy Specimen Display
Cover the frame of an inexpensive mirror completely with newspaper and painter's tape.
Choose a well-ventilated area, and cover your workspace with newspaper. Lay the mirror on top of it.
Grab an assistant. Wearing gloves and an old, long-sleeved shirt, place your hands on the mirror with fingers spread as if you were clawing at something. Have the assistant apply white spray paint from a distance of about 1 foot, misting the mirror lightly for a frosty-edged effect while leaving the impression of scratching fingers.
Mist the remaining edges of the mirror, adding more handprints. With a finger, write the letters "H-E-L-" in the wet paint, trailing off as if the plea was interrupted. Allow to dry.
Remove the newspaper and tape.
Prop the mirror against the wall or hang using a picture hook and a long nail.
Illuminate the area with a pin spotlight. Drape a thin film of artificial cobwebs on top of everything for an extra haunted feel.
Phantom Mirror to Terrify Unsuspecting Visitors
Tips and warnings
- The "bloody beware" is even more effective if you have a long hallway leading to your door. Cover the walls and even the floors with butcher paper attached with loops of duct tape or clear thumbtacks. Apply handprints to look as if a person has been dragged down the hallway against his will.
- Any errant "blood" stains can be washed away with a soapy sponge after the holiday.
- Make sure that you properly light your props; you don't want them lost in shadow. At a minimum, cluster tea lights to draw attention to the eerie elements.
- Applying tape to certain surfaces will cause the paint to peel off. Test your tape first in a hidden area or use tacks or small nails to attach the butcher paper.
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