DIY Halloween: create the creepiest house on the block

  • Illustration by Anthony Dimitre
  • Floating Glowing Ghost Illustration by Vic Kulihin
  • Cool Hologram Illusion Illustration by Vic Kulihin
  • Self-carving Pumpkin Illustration by Vic Kulihin
Date:22 October 2013 Tags:

Halloween is the one night of the year when frightening children is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Yet building Halloween props can be a chilling experience – especially if they end up looking crappy, not creepy. PM teamed up with, where DIYers share ideas, to unearth some hair-raising ghoultide projects. After all, if trick-or-treaters are going to hit you up for free treats, you may as well make them work for it. By David Agrell

Spook the neighbourhood kids before they even reach your property with a Halloween Cemetery Fence from Instructables user Spiderclimber. Cut 12-mm PVC pipe to various lengths for the pickets, and cap them with plastic finials. Drill holes in 50 x 50 stock for the rails, assemble the pieces, and spray with flat black paint. Decorate with cobwebs and novelty skulls for extra-nightmarish effect.

Who doesn’t love Yard Zombies? Lots of people, which is why life-size cutouts of the undead make excellent Halloween props. Use a jigsaw to fashion them from 12-mm plywood or oriented strand board. Or, better yet, do what Lime3D did: take a digital vector file of your design to a local CNC operation where zombies can be fabricated for you. Glue lengths of 20-mm PVC pipe to the monsters’ legs, and slip them over metre-long pieces of rebar pounded 30 cm into the ground.

Cute can often be unsettling. To make Electric_piano_5k’s delightfully deranged Floating Glowing Ghosts (see image 2), attach battery-powered LED lights – the disc-shaped kind used for under-cabinet lighting – to both sides of the lid to a large jar. Draw a face on the jar with a black marker, screw on the lid, and throw a white sheet over the assembly. Make a few – more is better – and hang them from trees in swarms.

Turn your well-kept home into an eerie wreck with professional-looking sets. Briansierra built his Halloween Mausoleum from rigid foam insulation boards, which are lightweight, easy to shape, and available in large sheets up to 9 cm thick. Carve the pieces with a Dremel rotary tool, and glue them together with foam adhesive. For a creepy Gothic look, add decorative mouldings and coat everything in latex paint.

Don’t be scared off by the freakish number of knots in Nolte919’s 6 x 4-metre Gigantic Halloween Spider Web. If you’re game, you’ll need more than 150 metres of braided clothesline rope. Anchor the outer frame to the ground with trucker’s hitches wrapped around bent rebar. Complete the web with a combination of bowline knots, overhand knots, taut-line hitches, double-sheet bends and literally hundreds of clove hitches.

Rotting corpses emerging from the ground will bring life to any Homemade Halloween scene. To build anatomically correct skeletons, Garnoft suggests wiring together 12-mm and 20-mm PVC pipe. Create putrid-looking flesh by covering the bones in papier-mâché. Use off-the-shelf Halloween skulls as heads.

Create a classic graveyard effect with low-hanging fog. But to get the fog creeping slowly across the lawn, you need to chill it first. Why? Warm air rises, leaving the cooler stuff hugging the ground. Achieve this with Admanrocks’s Super Cheap and Easy Fog Chiller. Start with a 90-cm length of 100-mm dryer vent pipe. Grab a Styrofoam cooler and cut 100 mm holes near the bottom of each end. Pass the vent through the cooler, and cover it with ice. Attach your fog machine to one end of the vent.

If the local kids make it to your front door, you’ve got to step up your game. A floating apparition should do the trick. NK5’s Cool Hologram Illusion (see image 3) reflects phantasmal images seen through a large window. You’ll need an old computer monitor – the older the better; in fact, a CRT monitor works best. Lay it on its back in front of a window, and position a sheet of glass or clear acrylic at an angle above it so the monitor’s reflection can be seen from outside the window. Finally, play back a spooky CGI movie – a floating skull is ideal – and dim the lights.

If all this sounds like work, why not have the beasts of the night do it for you? And by beasts we mean squirrels. Though Igough calls his project a Self-carving Pumpkin (see image 4), it’s actually your local rodents that do the carving. Start by drilling 3-mm holes into a pumpkin around the areas where you want your jacko’- lantern’s eyes, nose and mouth to be. Drill right through the skin and the flesh, but don’t bother opening up the pumpkin to scoop out the guts. “The squirrels do that for you,” Igough explains. Next, smear peanut butter into the holes, and leave the gourd outside for a few days for the squirrels to gnaw away at its face. Yes, it’s as horrific as it sounds.

For detailed plans and photos of each project, head to and search for the projects highlighted in bold type.

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