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How To Build A Haunted House Out of Imagination and Cardboard

Updated on July 13, 2015
LillyGrillzit profile image

Libraries saved her. As a child she sought the protection of words and pages. Superhero librarians fed her brain and imagination.

Librarian of The Dead

The first of two creatures seen by haunted house visitors. Fake blood, white powder make up, and "scars" from a make-up kit.
The first of two creatures seen by haunted house visitors. Fake blood, white powder make up, and "scars" from a make-up kit. | Source

Welcome To The Library Of The Dead

"Welcome To The Library of the Dead" I cackled so loudly that if there were any haints(a) about, even their ectoplasm (b) could not help but to stand on end. "Brains for fines, Fines for brains. Anybody need a hand?"

Those few sentences of my ad-lib script were an amazing coordination between the entrance of Patrons into our Haunted House, and my "Brain-Dead" laboratory zombie assistant "Z-Gore,"

It would be tough to convince those children 12 and under whose parents decided to ignore warnings against younger kids touring the Haunted House, that behind all of the bloody faces, horrifying masks, smoke and strobe lights; was a lot of cardboard, trash bags and concrete blocks.

A usually empathetic person, I could not help but do break into screeching laughter, as another child broke from Mom or Dad, looking terrified, and screaming for their lives. They had been warned.

Haunted House 2014 - More Info - Do's & Don'ts

In 2014 our haunted house outranked the scariness level of last year in fright. Our stuff was so scary that a group of teens busted some of our cardboard and aluminum foiled lined walls down trying to escape from the caged creature at their feet!.

Our library has a Teen Advisory Board or TAB. These are groups of volunteers who give their time and effort to the public library branches, and in other parts of the community. Our TABs are creative to the nth degree.

One of our TAB members was instrumental in the design and ideas behind our Haunted Insane Asylum.

If I were not a participant (scarer), I could not have gone through our Haunted House! It was so scary.

The thing is; it was so dark that none of our cameras, the GoPros, videos, nothing much was captured. But we know! Patrons who see me on a daily basis had to ask after it was over who was the mad Dr. screaming, "Brains for Fines, Fines for Brains" while doing brain surgery on a girl clothed in a hospital gown with ramen noodle guts streaming out of her stomach. I held a hatchet (plastic) in one hand, and a staple remover in the other. I clicked, and clicked shaking my freaky head. My scream is piercing.

My little spiel was the signal for the next "rooms" of the asylum to come alive. In between the screams and shocking terror, once silent, a girl in a hospital gown, carries a baby doll in her arms softly singing "Ring Around The Rosies" and we all join in. It is making the hair on my arms stand right now.

Anyway there are few photographs, but this year we will change a few things around, to make sure we get some good pictures and video.

I was unable to speak for about four days afterward for the terrifying screams I was belting out, but I have never felt more psychologically cleansed!


Shortly Before Halloween Photo Retouched

A day riding the backwoods. Light was hitting the center of a group of trees. It is awesome regular. I colorized this, and inverted colors with Picassa. The images visible were not added.
A day riding the backwoods. Light was hitting the center of a group of trees. It is awesome regular. I colorized this, and inverted colors with Picassa. The images visible were not added. | Source

Free Haunted House - Pope County Library - Heritage Hall

A
116 E Third Street, Russellville, AR:
116 East 3rd Street, Russellville, AR 72801, USA

get directions

Pope County Library System - Main Branch - Russellville, AR 72801 (479)968-4368. Heritage Hall October 30 -31, 2014 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM

B
Russellville City Hall, Russellville, AR 72801:
Russellville City Hall, 203 South Commerce Avenue, Russellville, AR 72801, USA

get directions

Blocks away from the Pope County Library Main Branch, Russellville, AR.

C
Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR:
Arkansas Tech University, 1605 North Coliseum Drive, Russellville, AR 72801, USA

get directions

The topic of presentation on October 29th 2014 will be Haunted Tech, our local college.

Can We Turn This Into A Hall of Horror in Time?

With two hours to go, I am being bossy, because we must get this thing built -NOW
With two hours to go, I am being bossy, because we must get this thing built -NOW | Source

Heritage Hall - The Historic Original One Room Library

We used the original library building, which is on the Historical Register, a one room house, it was built shot-gun(c) style, has high ceilings, and large rectangular windows which I have never seen opened.

How could we build a Haunted House on a budget from 1979, having hopefully several hundred participants file through, give them enough of a show, and make the trek long enough for them to be entertained, and frightened?

Imagination, very hard work, volunteers, necessity, and a benefactor from Little Rock, who has his own collection of the macabre, in decorations and masks.


Leftovers From A Zombie Apocalypse

Three months earlier we had hosted a "How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse" - Teen Event, and and still had extra make-up, a strobe light and a sometimes consistent smoke machine.

We learned during the Zombie event that a smoke machine can fill up a room very quickly. Although it was not smoke from a fire, the vapor was so thick that we worried for our automatic sprinkler system, and that it would engage. If that happened, we would all be Zombies looking for different jobs.

Another tip: People who suffer asthma and any other COPD related illnesses may be sensitive to the smoke machine vapors. It would not be too bad for a haunted house visitor who is just passing through, but if your workers, or volunteers are exposed for a long time, it can cause problems. Try to keep the smoke down, and give everyone an occasional burst of fresh air.

Heritage Hall could sustain no damage during the Haunting, so to begin with, we used blue paint tape to make a "blue-print" of our walls. That type of tape comes up easily and leaves no residue.

We created an entrance at the official front door, into a foyer where all the visitor sees is like a vestibule with a nice side table, and framed photos on the wall.

As visitors come around the wall, they are greeted by The Librarian of the Dead. (me) We kept each new party to a maximum of three people so they could each get the individual greeting, watch me and Z-Gore share Jello/Gelatin frozen brain, and then be handled on through the labyrinth of and / or crawl spaces, and the four hallways, of the entire Haunted House.

Reference Desk of the Darned - Before

This is the Before Pictures. Getting all bloodied up, the cloth will be wrapped around Z-Gore's head, where the LotD will take chunks of Jello Brain
This is the Before Pictures. Getting all bloodied up, the cloth will be wrapped around Z-Gore's head, where the LotD will take chunks of Jello Brain | Source

Under The Bloody Tablecloth

As explained earlier, we had to be very careful with design and construction. We could not hang anything from the ceiling or directly onto the walls.

In order to get the walls to stand up, we used concrete blocks, wrapped in clothing. Still, if one of them came unwrapped, it could scratch this historic floor, so we used blue painter's tape, to tape down cardboard under where the blocks would rest.

This is visible in the photograph above.

Behind The Scary Scenes

With just a few hours to go, the walls are going up fast, all of the scary props are just waiting to be used.
With just a few hours to go, the walls are going up fast, all of the scary props are just waiting to be used. | Source

The Photograph Above - Between The Walls

  • Photographs that will go onto our cardboard/trash-bag walls
  • Duct Tape.
  • Wigs
  • Scissors
  • Snacks
  • Braided (with plastic strips from the bags) wall supports. We used those behind the walls where volunteers would hide, while sticking their arms through camouflaged holes. We also used them at the top of the walls, forming a type of bridge, which was covered with more trash bags.
  • Glo-Sticks
  • Tape measure, rulers, pens and pencils.
  • Giant spiders
  • Webbing
  • Horrifying Rubber Masks

That table, once all of the items were cleared off, was used as a crawl space from the Librarian of the Dead Reference desk, into the next chapter of the Library of the Dead held. Our biggest consternation was that individuals in wheel-chairs or those who could not get down on their hands and knees, had to be diverted around this "Crawl Space of Creepy Things." Oh yeah, that feeling of something brushing against their backs or necks, was really small plastic spiders, dangling from the top of the crawler.

Volunteers

Without our teen and tween volunteers, we would have never been able to pull this off.

Everything the Pope County Library System does for the public is for free. Many of us at the library are Part-Timers, so without volunteer labor, it would never get done.

The imagination and free-spirited expression of artistic ideas really brought our first Haunted House together.

This year, we are a bit more organized, have reserved Heritage Hall for a week instead of the day of, like last year.

This Sunday, October 26th, 2014, staff and volunteers will gather to hopefully get the main construction done, on Monday afternoon, our Teens will apply the finishing touches.

This year, in following our Summer Reading Program theme of Science and Technology, we are going to have a Mad Science Laboratory / Castle theme. We had some cool old laboratory stuff donated during the summer, and we cannot let that go to waste.

If you are in the area on Thursday, October 30th, or Friday, October 31st, come by and visit if you aren't too scared. But if this is a bit to chilling for your tastes, Ms. Emily will have her "G-Rated" program, next door at the library, starting at 3:00 PM. Everything is Free, so come, and wear your costumes.

If you would like to meet a John Mimms, author of "The Tesla Gate," Arkansas author who was once a ghost hunter, we will be having a program with Arkansas Historic Preservation Society educator Shelle Stormoe; who will present "Haunted Arkansas Tech"...This is another Free event which we will be holding downtown [a few blocks from the Library], at Russellville City Hall. Mr. Mimms will have copies of his books available.

Haunted Places in Arkansas

Citations and Definitions

(a) Haints: "Southern colloquialism def., ghost, apparition, lost soul." (Urban Dictionary.com)

(b) Ectoplasm: 2."a supernatural viscous substance that is supposed to exude from the body of a medium during a spiritualistic trance and form the material for the manifestation of spirits." (Google Search)

(c) Shotgun Style Building: A shotgun house typically has one room leading into the next without hallways. This style of house is particularly well suited for hot climates because one can open the front and back doors, and the breeze will flow through the entire house...(www. datacenterresearch. org/)

"The Tesla Gate," by Author John Mimms

"Haunted Places in Arkansas" - YouTube by The Magical Mystery Tour

*Pope County Library System, Russellville, AR 2013 - Before photos

© 2014 Lori J Latimer

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      We did this one year at a library where I worked in Baltimore County. My hubby volunteered to be the corpse in a cardboard casket and he came to life to scare each group as they entered that section. The next day his stomach muscles were really sore from doing all those sit-ups. For some reason, the library had blackout curtains stashed in the storeroom and we used those to make the rooms. It was so much work, we decided not to repeat the next year.

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Oh no, I guess you didn't have a chance to read the entire article. Our library puts on a haunted house each year, on a shoestring budget - the photos are of the original library building (1939) now a historic registration, next door to our newer library (1973).

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      you really your house into a haunted house? My hubby would be pulling off his hair!

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      sheilamyers Thank you for the positive feedback. I wish you were going to be here for this year's shenanigans. It is going to be scarier. This year, one of our Teen Ambassador Board members took the lead, and he loves horror. I am lucky to be in it, because I would be to chicken to go through the HH, knowing what I know! Thanks again.

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Genna East, Thank you for coming by, giving this a read, and leaving positive feedback. :0)

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Ms. Ruby, one of these days we must get together. I think I've said this before. If you stop by the main library branch on most Tue, Wed, and Fri mornings I should be there, unless I am off teaching Computer Literacy with our Partner Connect Arkansas. If you are in town tonight, or the next two nights we are going to hava a scare-tacular "haunted insane asylum." free to the public. Thank you for your feedback (always).

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 

      3 years ago

      This is an awesome idea for a way to create a haunted house on a very limited budget. I bet the kids love it. If I lived close to you, I'd be there.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Terrific project just in time for one of my favorite holidays – Halloween. Duct tape works wonders as does cardboard, webbing and giant spiders. This is imagination at its best. And I enjoyed the video, too. Happy Halloween to everyone! Voted up ++.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I've been to Russellville a few times and my son lives in Ark, heck, I was married at Pocahontas Ark many moons ago, so your hub seems like ' old home place ' Clever ideas and a fun time I'm sure. If I were in the area I would certainly go. Thank's for sharing..Oh, I watched the video, scary..Boo!

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      MJsConsignments, last year we put it up, and took it down, and cleaned all in the same day. You sound dedicated to having fun. Thank you for asking the question to begin with, as we are getting ready to embark on our 2nd year of our Haunted House, your question inspired me. Thank you, and Good luck with your Haunted House, I wish you good success.

    • LillyGrillzit profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori J Latimer 

      3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      That was hauntingly quick @billybuc! It is almost as if you were a spider in the corner. Hee hee hee hee. Thank you for the read, and quick response! I am too chicken to go through a scary haunted house, but it is fun being in one. Thank you again sir!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love projects like this one. When I was a teacher I learned early on the benefits of cardboard boxes....you hit a homerun with this one.

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