2008 Halloween Countdown #2

I need your help...

A quick back story first. I know it might seem nuts to be so into Halloween decorating but it's just too much fun. It's also hard not to go bigger (and I hope better) every year when I know I've created some good memories for kid's in the neighborhood. A parent told the Fiancee last Halloween, his kids make our house the first stop of the night and the last stop after making the rounds trick or treating. To me that's a huge compliment.

So far the yard has been traditional...gravestones, zombies, pumpkins and the usual. That's not a bad thing. It just always feels a bit eclectic and thrown together no matter how good an individual prop looks. I always intended to design the haunt as I would a set for work, creating a theme, tying it all together. I talked about wanting to do this last year, but I fell into my usual pitfall. I jump right into making prop after prop having fun without giving much thought to how they all relate. So, before I pick up my hot glue gun and a skeleton bone, I'm going to sit down at my drawing board and design the space.

The finished yard last year. Click on to enlarge

Here's where I need your help for the fun of it. I have many possible themes in mind that I'd love to do but need to narrow the list. I'm curious which ones you like best...I don't expect a ton of responses but if by some miracle a ton do come in, who knows, maybe I might actually take this a step further and have a "Halloween Idol" and all can vote for the yard theme I will do.

Here are my ideas so far...

Traditional Haunted House
Our house itself really becomes the focus dressed up with all the details. Boarded up windows, ghosts in windows, etc.

Indiana Jones

The yard is done up to look like the opening of Raiders leading kids to the idol (and candy) on the front porch. They walk past Mummy skeletons, spikes, traps and maybe a giant rolling boulder. The house would be given a jungle temple like facade.

'50's Alien Invasion.

The house gets a simple 1950's Halloween decor (pumpkins, classic cardboard bats and ghosts in the windows) but the Martians have landed. Crashed UFO on the roof, Martian war machine on the lawn, aliens climbing everywhere with ray guns, giant robots.

Giant Monster party

This would take all the time spent on little details and focus on a few huge elements to blow the kids away. A life size King Kong arm holding the candy coming out of the front window. Maybe seeing the top of Godzilla's head peering over the roof. Giant squid tentacles reaching out from the bedroom windows. Giant bugs. Massive foot prints in the lawn.

Pure Frankenstein

The front porch becomes the laboratory with all the equipment and the monster. The front lawn has Igor searching for body parts in a graveyard. The house gets a dark Gothic facade, torches, gargoyles, etc.


A popular theme by many in past years but I'd love to give it a shot.


This would be all ghosts with personality, similar to Disney's Haunted Mansion graveyard.

Subtle but Spooky

This is an idea I've had for awhile. At first glance it doesn't look like any decorating at all. Everything just has a added creepy twist. The trees have faces. The flowers in the garden bed all have teeth. The chair on the porch is constantly rocking with no one in it, etc.

Any of the above themes are a challenge but I think possible. I'm going to post sketches of the ideas as I draw them, but welcome any thoughts now.


  1. I'm torn between '50s Alien Invasion and Giant Monster, but in the end, I have to go with '50s Alien Invasion. I think that could be fun/tacky, and since you've been drawing so many robots, it'd be cool to see some of them in 3D.

  2. So many good ideas, but I love the last one! I can just see "masks" on the trees, etc.

  3. Some '50s Alien Invasion movies to inspire:
    * Little Shop of Horrors
    * Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

  4. Personally, I'm torn between Giant Monster and Pure Frankenstein... Looking forward to seeing photos no matter which way you go (and wish I could talk my wife into doing something similar!).


  5. Saw Halloween candy for sale in the grocery store this weekend. It was July 27th. Earliest I've ever seen it. Amazing. Oh, it was candy corn too...

  6. Mellissa,
    If I go "traditional" I'm going to add the faces to trees as well. I experimented with a neat way of making "masks" for them a few months back.

    The more ideas bounce around in my head, The more I find myself leaning towords '50's Alien movie.
    Who knows? Those are 2 great movies. George Pal's War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet and Mars Attacks are fun inspiration as well.

    Jon K,
    I got lucky a few years back. My Fiancee was always rolling her eyes and wanting me to make the Halloween decorating less of a priority in life. Then her parents came to visit one season and her Mom loved what I was making and actually got upset I wasn't adding more during her visit. The Finacee's attitude changed with her parents's blessing and now she has come to accept it (although I always knew she secretly had fun with it all).

  7. Dave, I figure when my kids are older and more interested in it (my son's 4, my foster daughter just turned 1) and won't be scared of it, then I can make an effort to bring more Halloween into our lives... in the meantime, I'll focus my energies on the Halloween Countdown all us blogs do!

    By the way, I've started seeing Halloween stuff for sale, too... but won't start buying anything at all until after my vacation is over on Aug.11!


  8. Jon,
    I saw some Halloween stuff start to show up a Micheal's art and crafts already (They seem to put stuff out earlier and earlier every year).

    I've always tried to keep my yard fairly kid friendly (as in, no heavy gore or extremely horrid things), it's a fine line to walk though. One of my favorite memories from last year was having my 6 year old niece help me decorate. It was a blast!I hope when the time comes for you and your kids it's as memorable!

    It's also fun to see Halloween countdowns starting on the web.

  9. Dave - I love the stuff I see at Michael's, even if my wife thinks I'm crazy to want any of it.

    I do have a dream that, once my kids are older and not going to be scared by things like, say, daddy dressing up like the Frankenstein monster (for example), I can do some kind of annual Halloween show/haunted house, like what I've read Bob Burns has done in the past... but it'll take getting the kids wanting to be a part of that to get it past my wife!

    My wife, Jessi, has never really been into Halloween, thanks to her upbringing (raised primarily by her grandparents during the important trick-or-treating years) and isn't into monster movies, so she's a hard sell.

    But I've got to tell you, my favorite Halloween to date was about six years ago, when I was the Frankenstein monster for a haunted house when I lived in a different city... I didn't wear a mask, I created my own makeup and appliances for it! But I think I'd enjoy creating the stuff and getting it put on other people more -- let's face it, Lon Chaney I'm not!

    I'm definitely holding off on starting my own Halloween blog countdown until October 1 -- not that I don't have plenty of monsterrific stuff showing up regularly anyway!


  10. Although I know that you're leaning toward the alien invasion, Dave, I like the Frankenstein idea. Like Jon, I am not into the scary ideas until my daughter and her friends mature. There are ideas popping into my head on how to develop the Frankenstein theme that I may try out. I can't wait to see what you develop!


  11. Giant Monster Party!