Bryhanna Greenough on ‘we’ening your home.
This Halloween I want to do something to make it fun for the neighbourhood kids. But I want something that isn’t too frightning… or time-consuming.
I didn’t have to look far to find an expert frightsmith—my friend’s mom Judi Levesque is a legendary, albeit semi-retired, Queen of ‘We’en. She loves a little mischief, and rarely misses a good opportunity to throw a good scare into people. This time of year is one of her favourites.
When trick-or-treaters come to visit, Judi has been known to answer the door in a gorilla suit. …Throw on a cassette of Spooky Sounds of Hallowe’en, flick on a strobe light, and you’ve travelled into a new dimension.
“As soon as I open the door the kids look up and see a great big gorilla moving towards them in slow motion,” she says.
When her kids were young, Judi used to go all-out. She did the classic haunted house, with a repertoire that included intestines in a bowl (spaghetti) for blindfolded kids; ‘Hand’—a mechanical, creeping, severed hand; a convulsing, voice-activated dummy dressed in her daughter’s old rite of Communion dress; and one of her dearest pieces—a battery-operated rat in a trap.
“It came to the point where some people thought the stuff was really real,” she says. “When my mom (the kids’ grandma) came over I’d have to hide all rat stuff because she was petrified.”
For her signature prank on trick-or-treaters, Judi dressed in a bulky man’s shirt, gloves, and an old man mask, and she’d sit on a chair out on the front porch.
“I’d just sit there holding a big plastic axe,” she says. “There are three other doors next to mine, so the kids would be going door-to-door”
“I wouldn’t move. They thought I was just a dummy, because a lot of people had dummies sitting in front of their doors. Then as soon as they’d ring my door bell I’d go ‘wooooo’ and start moving.”
Some kids just turned and ran.
Judi would often take off her mask to show people it was just her.
“The ones I really ended up scaring, they got a reward in the end,” she says. “And so did I, because I’d be laughing so much.”
Idon’t have kids but I’ve noticed a couple live ones in the area, so I’ve been thinking of ways to show them I’m into the whole Hallowe’en ritual, and not giving out candy just because I feel obligated.
Something simple? LED lights.
Recently it’s gotten easier to find LEDs. Since they are small, battery-powered, cheap, and super-bright, they open up a lot of new possibilities for frightening children.
One easy and cool thing to do is make a pair of glowing eyes which appear to be looking out from the scrubby bush near the house.
All you need are two small cardboard boxes—maybe a mac and cheese box cut in half, or a soap box—with two eyes cut out. Toss an LED inside, cover the holes with a piece of red or yellow cellophane, and camoflage the whole thing with electrical tape, then plant them in the bushes or under your step.
Next: the tree ghosts. I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something elegant about a well-made ghost. Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, blow up a balloon, cover it with a white sheet and tie it loosely around the base with a piece of string. Attach another string from the top of the ghost’s head and suspend it in a window or from a tree outside. For the finishing touch, shine a sickly bluish LED—or even better, flashing!—onto the white sheet.
How about this one? Stuff a pair of pants with newspaper, attach some shoes, then throw your lawn mower on top of it all. I wonder how that would rate on the kid-o-meter?
To get the most bang out of your lazy buck, buy one of those rubber bats on a string and suspend it so when you open the door for trick-or-treaters it drops to their eye-level. But be sure to practice this a bit to make sure it’s not lame.
Unfortunately, the porch of my house is not as eerie as the bumpy lower section of the Anglican Cathedral grounds—“are those knees, or elbows?”—but with a little effort I should be able to dole out a few scares with that candy.
Illustration by Kira Sheppard.