What’s Halloween without masks?
Let’s start with the basics: masks. Whether you put them on your homemade Halloween creatures or you wear them yourself, a mask is a good starting point for any fright fest. “The best way to start for yard haunts is masks,” says Bud Stross of Cincinnati’s Dent Schoolhouse. “They’re very inexpensive these days. Latex masks, you can find anywhere from a Kmart to Wal-Mart, or you can spend grand amounts of money, which I used to do. A mask can cover a body, it can cover a kid, and it can still be spooky for your yard.” (Photo: Bud Stross)
Halloween is fast approaching, which means that it’s time to start showing up your neighbors with your intricate and superscary Halloween yard display. Because nothing says civic pride better than scaring the bejesus out of passers-by.
Of course, there are some “yard haunters” who go a little overboard for Halloween, turning their front yards into the set of a Wes Craven film.
“There’s an entire community of people who home haunt all over the country,” says Ben Armstrong, co-owner of the famous Atlanta haunted house, Netherworld. “They’ve made decorating their home into an art form.” Armstrong says some people get so into the Halloween spirit, they drop upwards of $20,000 decorating their front yards with props and expensive animatronic monsters.
“Halloween just keeps growing in popularity; you kind of get addicted,” says Bud Stross, co-owner of the popular Cincinnati haunted attraction, the Dent Schoolhouse. “You buy a piece, and then it’s like, ‘That’ll be good for next year. Maybe we’ll add pumpkins.’ And then before you know it, you have a yard full of really cool creepy-crawlies.”
Armstrong and Stross have more in common than owning popular haunted houses: Before turning pro, they each started as amateur yard haunters who went nuts decorating their own front yards for Halloween. “We did all that stuff back in the day,” remembers Armstrong of his pre-Netherworld days. “As a kid, I was always doing haunted houses and decorating my yard and doing all that sort of stuff.”
Stross has the same story. When he was a kid, his parents gave him free rein to creep up their yard with his homemade cemeteries and zombies. He got so good at it, neighbors eventually let him take over their front yards to create a superscary three-yard Halloween extravaganza. “We were getting so much traffic from people looking at our yard, it was shutting down the street,” he laughs.
The good news for current amateur yard haunters is that anybody can do it. “You could spend almost nothing or there’s no limit,” says Armstrong, who notes you could have a good homemade Halloween display for as low as $50 to $100.
Stross adds that a good home Halloween display is time and money well sent. “You never know,” he says, “maybe it will lead to you actually owning your own haunted house one day.”
These two former amateur-turned-pro frightmasters shared with Yahoo Makers some tips on how you can make your own DIY Halloween display in your yard.