Halloween has always been an important time of year for me, as it offered me a time to have fun making things and putting together items that could come together and make a little theme- costumes and decorations were always a must. Slowly, the small yard displays I started creating when I was about eight or nine from store bought items grew larger and larger. With help from my mom, we started making our own costumes. I started to play music mixes on speakers. In 2015, I used my first projector.
In 2018, just after moving to Santa Ana, I did my first coherently themed display. The "Halloween" reboot had just released, and I decided to throw together a last minute setup using average Halloween decorations that could represent an average residence of the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Because we had just moved, it was very slapped together; I didn't even have the chance to pick up a good quality Michael Myers mask. But my 14 year old self was committed, and I used a sheet and sunglasses to play him in a scene which occurs in the finale of the movie.
Since then, my haunts have been intricately planned and made into full productions. I've learned much from these experiences, and adore the process.
"Happy Birthday, Haunted Mansion!" (2019)
With the move to Santa Ana being complete by Fall 2019, I had much more time to do a larger scale setup. I consider this to be my first official yard haunt. With that year marking the 50'th anniversary of the classic Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland, I knew right away what the theme needed to be. I got right to work in summer, and the resulting experience I created, (while rather crude to my current standards), was one that seemed to impress and entertain the entire neighborhood.
Final Show Images
Selection of the best images (and video) that represented the atmosphere and best parts of this haunt. Unfortunately, it was not highly documented- something I've learned to consider much more.
Having some sort of representation of the infamous bride found in the attraction was something I knew we had to have. Not just for her popularity as a character, but also because we had a perfect attic window for her to look out from! Made from a wig display, a cheap costume veil, and two small lights, she eerily peered out onto visitors all night.
Final Show Overview
The overhead on the far left was the final layout I drew to represent the layout of all the props and where visitors would travel. This path would evolve as my haunts continued.
"60 Years of Psycho" (2020)
With the Coronavirus Pandemic looming over the entire world at this point in time, making a yard haunt had a few extra challenges involved. But I knew I wanted to do something for the season, and decided to use the pandemic as a good creative challenge.
Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" turned 60 that year, and having been a long time fan of the film, I thought it would be fun to bring the Bates Motel to my Santa Ana home for the neighborhood to view safely! Because we could tell Halloween wasn't going to be the same as usual this year, I prepared the yard haunt to be a multi-night display that lasted the week up to Halloween. That way, I wouldn't rely on Halloween night crowds only, and the display could be seen by people over a prolonged amount of time.
Final Show Overview
The overhead on the far left was the final layout I drew to represent the layout of all the props and elements. The driveway was blocked off this time around due to the pandemic- which gave me the chance to actually use my mom's car as a prop representing Marion Crane's sunken car and skeleton!
No yard haunt of mine is complete without a graveyard. Finding a way to fit one into the theme of a motel was a bit of a challenge- but I decided to have a bit of fun with it. My story was that, due to the pandemic slowing down motel business, Norman Bated got into the cemetery business, and buried his victims here!
Made with carboard and tape- and a lot of measuring.
Mother in the Window
Of course, Norma had to find her way in somehow. Made with a room divider, a sheet, a plastic skeleton, a Norma Bates costume, a small upward facing battery light, and a thin sheer fabric to obscure the set as a whole.