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Everyone's welcome to Mannie's home at Halloween! Lettering done by hand w/ woodburner (M. Liscum).








Gate-Keeper of the Liscum Graveyard - I got the initial idea for this display item from The Terror Syndicate (great site BTW!) and a gate-keeper shown on their site. Mine is much the same except I am making one improvement which I think will add dramatically to the already effective display...animatronic motion!!! The right arm of the keeper moves up and down to beckon visitors in.

Here's a photo of the "welcome stone" the gatekeeper is be huddled over before the project was complete.

"Stone" is actually a piece of particle board painted with "granite stone paint"...the kind of spray paint that gives things color and texture of stone. Lettering hand painted to make it look like it is stone-carved (M. Liscum, early Oct 99)

Completed Gate-Keeper. This is an initial photo and I'm hoping some of the later shots come out a bit better. Although my initial engineering thoughts were to make the right index finger alone move, I confirmed my right decision to go into Biology rather than Engineering, as those attempts failed. However, the final animatronic arm works pretty well. I added the mask under the hood at the last minute as it really seemed to add to the effect, especially once I inserted green LEDs in the eyes. Hands were carved from wooden dowels like last years Zombie hands. (Photo by R. Harper, Oct 30, 1999)

Details on animatronics of the Gatekeeper will hopefully be posted SOON...


Graveyard scene for 1998 (mid-Oct.). Zombie on the right actually lifts itself ~ 12 inches "out of the ground"...details on the mechanism here....Photograph shot after dusk with a 35mm (w/flash) (M. Liscum).


Graveyard scene for 1998 (mid-Oct.) - the ambient green light and glowing red eyes of the zombies really make this exhibit work. The photograph, however, doesn't really do it justice. Photograph taken with a 35mm (w/out flash) - green light provided by two green incandescents, red eyes of the zombies provided by red LEDs (M. Liscum).


Graveyard scene for 1999 (Halloween night!) - These shots were taken Halloween day (top) and night (bottom).


Tombstones - A variety of tombstones used in the graveyard scene at the Liscum House of Horrors. Lettering hand painted on gray-painted 2x12's (M. Liscum).

This one will take some knowledge...W. H. Pratt is the real name of horror legend Boris Karloff. The caption says it all: "Was more man than MONSTER" (1997)

The companion to the Hjalmer Poelzig headstone...Dr. Verdegast was the character played by Bela Lugosi. The doctor gets his in the end! (1999)

An obscure classic horror movie reference that most visitors won't get. Hjalmar Poelzig was the character Karloff played in "The Black Cat" - Herr Poelzig was a WWI vet and satanist who "disposes" of his rival, played by Bela Lugosi, by skinning him alive! This was one of many great Karloff characters. (1998)

Nothing necessary here...no graveyard would be complete without a "grave-robber". (1997)

Again, nothing needs to be said here...some more undead to keep the corpses company. (1997) (the caption says, "The Blood Is Life")

Another not so obvious reference to a movie character...this time the character played by Lon Chaney Jr. in "The Wolf Man"...the caption provides a the clue to who this character is - "A man who was pure in heart and said his prayers by night". (1998)

Another tribute marker, this one to director George Romero (who is thankfully still with us). GR directed the granddad of all zombie movies, "Night of the Living Dead". Given the theme of the graveyard this headstone seemed quite appropriate even if Mr. Romero is still alive! (1998) (the dates refer to dates associated with GR's living dead trilogy)

This (and the following) headstone should be obvious to any fan of John Carpenter or the movie Halloween...I felt that after the latest and final (it's about time!!!) entry into the movie series (Halloween H20) I could finally add this stone, as the SHAPE is FINALLY dead! His resurrection worked beautifully for the first movie, but after that ol' Mike was fated to be like Jason and Freddy...overdone to the extreme...I'm glad they finally retired him. John made him and others ruined him. (1999)

This stone accompanies the previous stone. JMM was the first victim of the SHAPE. Let's just say she doesn't care for clowns anymore. (1999)

This one is a nod to the producer who probably did more for the monster movie genre in its talky infancy than anyone. Laemmle Jr. was producer of most of Universals giants - Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Bride, The Invisible Man, and on, and on....(2003)

Anyone at all knowledgeable about the horror movie genre should know this one. Whale was the director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (among others). His tortured story - gay man in 1930's Hollywood - was recently dramaticized in the pseudo-docu "Gods and Monsters". My graveyard didn't seem appropriate in the absence of the man who "yearned to be understood" (2003)



Animatronic Zombie (1998) (some info added 9/99)- In order to create the illusion that one of two corpses was leaving its grave I rigged one with a simple piston-type drive (see diagram and photo) to physically lift the torso ~12 inches off the "grave site", and return it, and so on. The most difficult task of this effect was getting the piston/motor set-up to move smoothly on the side glides (see diagram and photo). The most dangerous task turned out to be the simple drilling of a hole in one of the L-brackets that holds the motor in place (see diagram and photo). Like an idiot I held onto the razor-sharp (now I know this) metal bracket with my manly (yeah) bare hands, only to have the drill bit catch and spin the bracket free...the effect was to slice my left index finger to the bone (hence my long delay in putting these display descriptions up...I am still pissed at my stupidity). To all you kids out there...use a clamp to hold objects you plan to drill or cut, otherwise you drill or cut your flesh which is not the desired outcome!

I use an infra-red garage door opener to trigger the juice to the effect. This works pretty well, since I can turn the effect on at "strategic times" and save the motor from wear-and-tear when no one is there. In 2000 I am planning to use motion sensors to trigger all animatronic effects!

All in all this display worked out pretty well and most who got close not expecting it to do anything were surprised. Although it really needs sound I haven't been able to come up with anything cheap and good (both are necessary!)...I'll try again in 2000.

Diagram of piston mechanism
Photograph of actual piston mechanism

Click to enlarge

Zombie at lowest point in movement.

Zombie at highest point in movement, with piston mechanism exposed.

Close-up of piston mechanism.





Zombie hands I built in 1998. They are anatomically correct (at least in terms of numbers of bones) & were hand-carved from wooden dowels. Not too bad for 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there in the evenings, huh?