How to Build a Monster House

by on Jan.03, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

One of my nightmares is a house that comes to life. From the stretching hallway in Poltergeist (1982), to the transforming walls in The Haunting (1999), to the animated motherload of Monster House (2006), to Christine McConnell’s monstrous creations, houses that should be safe havens can be scary monsters. 

My Monster House Halloween 2018 display was a very simple concept but on a very large scale and created entirely from scratch. The horns on the roof are 4 feet tall, and the mouth is 8 feet tall and about 14 feet wide, complete with an 7-foot tongue. The eye in the window is an animated projection (from AtmosFX) which made this monster come to life. Finally, red lights flowing on the bone littered porch suggest a river blood of blood to lead trick ‘r treaters to the front door – and their doom!

I should also note the video above is the very first video I purposefully shot (with help from my friend Ariel Germanaz) and edited (after learning Adobe Rush), so it’s a bit rough.

How I Built a Monster

The project started with two 4-foot horns made of chicken wire, PVC, lots of tape, paper mache, and plaster cloth along with paint, more paint, and spar urethane. Since these were going on a sloped roof, I also weighted them and built a V-shaped wood support to let gravity keep the horns in place and protect against our high winds (that even topple nearby castles!). 

I then moved on to cutting out out the teeth from two 4×8′ sheets of 2 1/2 inch thick insulation foam from the Home Depot. After chiseling the ends a bit, I added paper mache to bulk up the teeth and covered the whole with several layers of plaster wrap. I was quite surprised at how durable this product was. We kicked the hell out of the bottom teeth every time we climbed over them (since they were at our front door). For a subsequent year (2020), the goal will be to reformat either set (upper or lower) teeth to make the mouth comp on command.

The final piece was the 7-foot tongue. Originally I wanted to build a gimbal-style support to allow the tongue to weeble wabble but ran out of time when the nine foot tongue met an unfortunate accident. I quickly reformed the tip and ran through the build procedure and coloring. I will likely rebuild the tongue from a lighter material next time to allow for easy movement.

The eye projection comes from AtmosFX’s Eerie Eyes collection magnified 10 times to a full window display with the color slightly re-hued green. When I was concepting Monster House in 2017, I kept wondering where I would get an eye from. I thought about filming my eye and begging my friend to edit it for me but that fall, AtmosFX introduced this very projection. Problem solved!

I plan to revisit my Monster House in 2020 with a few design modifications and perhaps a few added surprises!


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