The witching hour is almost upon us! Yep, come the end of the month, the ghouliest ghouls and the creepiest creeps will stalk the streets in search of tricks and treats, as Halloween night descends over Britain.
While the 31st of October bash is more of a big deal in the States than it is over here, every year us Brits get more devilish in our fright night antics. Whether you’re throwing a party or putting together a haunted house to scare the bejeezus out of ickle trick-or-treaters, this Tech Digest guide to decorating your home in the most frightening way possible will get you screams and smiles in spades.
STEP ONE: Cover the walls
First things first, you’re going to want to cover up your lovely flowery wallpaper. Halloween comes but once a year, so don’t go crazy and start painting the place. Instead, head down to a local hardware store and grab some inexpensive black tarpaulin and pin it to the walls, or pin some black bin bags to the walls. If you shred the the bin liners and hang them from door arches, they make for creepy tentacle things too.
STEP TWO: A bit of mood lighting
Your IKEA lamp shade just isn’t going to cut it in a haunted house, so take any covers off your lights for a creepy dangly exposed bulb. White lights wont do at all either; pick up some red light bulbs for a hellish, warm glow. They’re inexpensive and can be picked up from places like Maplins or even your local £1 Store. You could also buy a strobe light too, but they’re very expensive. For a cheap alternative, head over to YouTube on your Smart TV or by hooking up a laptop, and do a search for strobe lighting videos, like this one:
These can be then played through the telly stretched to fullscreen, downloaded and then set to replay over and over through your media player of choice for a far more cost-effective scare. Flashlights too dotted around in unusual places can cast strange shadows as well.
STEP THREE: Atmosphere
Nothing says “graveyard chic” like a bit of fog. You can achieve this two ways; either grab some dry ice, or get a hold of a smoke or fog machine. Dry ice is a pretty tough material to get hold of, is expensive, and can really damage your skin if not used correctly, so grab a smoke machine instead. They’re available from Maplins too.This one’s probably best if you’re building some kind of outdoor event, but it’ll work inside too, providing you keep an eye on how hot the smoke machine is getting. They can be very hot indeed, so handle with care, and make sure not to leave them near anything flammable, nor where someone could easily spill a drink over them.
STEP FOUR: More gore
This step is not for the feint of heart. To really send a shiver down the spine, you’re going to need to get some fake blood. Gallons of the stuff. The bathroom is always a good place to splatter some of the stuff as it is easier to wipe tiles clean than, say, carpeted rooms. For a fake blood recipe that doesn’t stain, try this concoction we found on Yahoo Answers (use at your own risk!):
Take a teaspoon or two of Arrowroot (a white powder used in baking that you can easily find in health food shops) and add to water heated on the stove. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes gloopy. Add a small amount of red children’s non-toxic powder paint and stir in. The mixture should now be bright red. Add a tiny amount of brown powder paint or coffee concentrate (make this by adding a small amount of water to coffee granules) to darken the blood as required. Store in a bottle or jam jar and thin by adding water to make the blood the required consistency as and when you need it.
Once you’ve got the bath all covered in red, try plopping some fake body parts in there, which can easily be picked up from joke shops. If you’re truly committed to getting some scares though, head down to your local butchers and ask for a bag of offcuts and offal. That’ll be all the weird guts and stuff they don’t sell, maybe even a pig’s head if you’re being truly messed up. It’ll be a really convincing scare, but also one hell of a clean up job afterwards.
STEP FIVE: Demonic Decorations
With your haunted house starting to take shape, it’s time to start pulling together some of the finer details. Plenty of household items, if used correctly, can look pretty darn creepy. Gardening tools, for instance, look really weird and creepy if taken out of context and put inside your house. It might not just be flower bulbs buried with that spade, if you catch our drift.
But many decorations can easily be found in second hand shops and charity shops if you need to grab some more bits and pieces. Old photographs black and white, especially weathered or torn ones, can look really scary. And there’s nothing like a line up of old fashioned dolls to freak someone out with.
Then there’s the classics, like fake spiders webs, and of course a carved pumpkin. Brownie points for inventive designs, of course.You can pick up plenty of props from toy shops and joke shops too, but shop around and you’ll get some real treats. The Box O Zombies from Firebox is great, detailed little toys that you can dot around the house.They come in packs of 6, measuring roughly five centimetres each and cost £8.99. You’ll get a real chuckle out of your mates when they come across these hidden around your flat.Really just try to think out of the box and be a bit creative with it. Got an old bit of rope lying around in the shed? Then you’ve got yourself a hangman’s noose. An old sheet with holes in it? The world’s simplest ghost if you put a torch underneath it. Put your mind to it and you can make a dark, dingy den for just a few quid.
STEP SEVEN: Games
Once you’ve got people to come to your haunted house, you’re going to want to give them something to do. Bobbing for apples is a classic, so grab a decent sized barrel or container, fill it with water and apples and challenge your mates to pick a few out in under a minute. Mix a few red ones in with a load of green apples, and you can even offer a prize to those who can fish out the winning colour.Or go a bit more techy. The Ghost Hunt game available from Firebox is a bit like a Halloween laser tag; it features a little Billy Bones ghost toy that projects spectres onto your walls, and screams when you shoot them down with the included laser pistol. It costs £29.99 and will be great fun for little ones.
Bigger kids may want to test fate by having their fortune told. Firebox also sell a beautiful little set of Zombie Tarot cards for £13.99, featuring 78 wondrously weird designs.STEP EIGHT: Spine-tingling tunes
With the party ready to get started, you going to need some tunes. Try this Spotify playlist that we put together. It’ll put the bump into your night, Monster Mash and all:
Also, if you’ve got a spare iPod dock lying around the house, load up an MP3 player with some creepy sounds (chalk board screeches, crow calls, rustling wind, wolf howls etc) and hide them around the house. Friends will get a real scare when they hear a random scream coming from behind the toilet.
So how did we do? Creepy enough for you? Or did we wuss out like a toddler on a ghost train? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!
By Gerald Lynch | October 17th, 2012