Beasties, and ghoulies, and frights.
I’m starting to like Halloween more and more. After all, how often do we get a socially-sanctioned opportunity to be weird, make carvings out of vegetables, and scare the beejeesus out of little kids? The other neat thing is that it gives us “older kids” a chance to play dressup, and generally let our imaginations run amok.
Over the years I had settled on a pretty standard routine. Put a couple of bales of hay in the front porch with plastic pumpkins on top … the “happy face” pumpkin is always lit, but the “evil face” pumpkin is hooked up to a standard motion sensor and lights up only when someone opens the porch door. I hook up a magnetic switch onto the porch door, and attach it to the serial port of a MSDOS-based PC (yep, an old clunker) and a program I wrote runs a series of sound clips whenever it senses the door opening. The sound clips are randomized, so a different three (from a set of a couple dozen) are picked each time. I get the WAV files off various web sites, and from various games. The sounds can be pretty scary (wolf howls, shrieks, moans, monster roars, and the like). The kids really get a kick out of ’em, and a good scare (judging from the comments I’ve overheard). In addition, when I hear the door-sensor kick in, I fling open the door before they have a chance to knock, and that by itself gives the little buggers a good shock. Some years I’ve added some makeup effects (open oozing sores, fake blood, that sort of thing), but I’ve not had time to do that the past few years … hey, by the time I get home from work, I’m lucky to get everything put out and hooked up in time for the kids!
Well, in 2003 I decided that it was time to try something new, so I carved up some pumpkins and made some new props. That was so much fun that each year since then I’ve made some new props to scare the kids with … and it works!
The most amazing thing is the reaction of the kids, who seem to thrive on “safe scares”. Heck, I’ve had kids thank me for putting up the displays! I think they really appreciate the fact that someone went to the trouble to make something rather than buying it. Sometimes the parents even thank me! So of course now I feel obligated to make each year better than the previous. That’s all I need … more pressure in my life. I’ll show them. I’ll show them ALL.