Halloween has become one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. While haunted houses are available in every town, it is actually very easy to transform your garage into a neighborhood fright fest that everyone will enjoy. When it comes to planning how to make a haunted house in your garage you should consider the same things that I did: cost, ease of installation and removal, and ease of operation. In this article I will give you my plan for a custom haunted house for a two car garage. It is easy to alter and add your own stamp of personality to it, but it will give you a good template and maybe some great ideas for your own haunted garage!
I will be referring to Diagram 1 (below) quite a bit. My photos of the night are dark and blurry and I didn’t know I would ever use them to help others, but given the overwhelming positive reaction to my setup by the neighborhood I decided to offer my tips so others can enjoy a creepy Halloween at home.
This venture does not have to be expense. The first consideration is how to make a fun pathway that creates a long route through a garage, but is also safe and easy to install and remove and blocks out light. This is quite a list of demands, but the answer is simple black plastic sheeting. I was able to purchase a roll of 4 mil 12’ x 100’ black plastic HERE for less than $50. This makes instant walls for the haunted garage (plus lots leftover for future painting projects). Diagram 1 is an overhead view of my 20’ x 25’ two car garage. I am lucky to have exposed rafters and the plastic was easy to hang with just a staple gun. The plastic is fairly light and strong tape may work, too. The thick black lines marked “BP” are all sheets of plastic suspended from floor to ceiling. This does many things. It blocks out all light so the garage door can be left open and trick-or-treaters can enter from the street. It creates a maze to allow for a longer trek through the garage and to allow for more places for monsters to hide! The layout also creates an “inner core” where an assistant (or two) can hide to perform various acts of mayhem! We’ll get to that in a bit.
Cut the plastic to measure. I allowed it to pool about 6 to 8 inches onto the concrete floor and tacked it down snug with duct tape. In the spots marked “X” I actually hung two separate sheets that slightly overlap. This created a nice slit for an entrance or exit without allowing light in from the outside. If you have a finished ceiling then you will need to stretch wire or cheap nylon rope from wall to wall and drape the plastic over it like a curtain rod. The plastic can be folded over the rope or wire about 3 to 4 inches and then stapled together to create a simple “tube” around the support wire (click on Diagram 2 for clarification).
Once the plastic sheeting is hung (I had plenty left over for other things), I attacked the window on the side of the garage. I not only wanted to keep light out, but to also add a scare attraction to those approaching on the street. The solution was to build a lightweight “shadowbox” out of rigid foam board insulation that I had left over from insulating my garage door (see Diagram 3 below). I suspended a skeleton and bats inside the box and also placed a small black light and used glow paint to add some scary and fun touches. A small hole in the back piece of the foam board allowed the cord to be plugged in to a nearby electrical outlet. Because it was built to the window’s custom dimensions the whole thing just sandwiched right in the window frame. I ran a bungee cord from each side of the window and around the back of the “box” to hold it securely in place. It looked great from outside the garage.
Now comes the fun part – preparing the props and scare tactics! If your garage is like mine, you probably have lots of fun stuff to use. On Diagram 1 below at points A, B, C and D I created some sinister areas. Point A was a table top made of more foam board and placed over two sawhorses. My son (in scary makeup) had his head pushed up through the table and appeared to be a severed head amidst plates of gross food and slimy drinks! Once the guests made their way around the corner, he ducked out of the tabletop and hid back inside the “inner core” (marked IC) and put on a mask to await another chance to scare at point D. Point B was my large bandsaw (with cord UNPLUGGED and tied up in a small bundle – SAFETY FIRST!), which featured a severed arm and fake blood as well as pre-recorded saw sounds triggered by my Mad Carpenter (my other son in disguise). Point C is my double basin utility sink and I had it filled with spaghetti “worms”, fake blood, rice “maggots” and other goop along with more fake limbs as well as a body hanging in a noose from the rafters. At Point D, I had a stuffed “dead body” strapped in a chair. While the group was distracted by this ghoul, my son jumped out of the “inner core” behind them to deliver another scare! At this point, the small group of brave souls can exit through the slit marked X and receive some candy.
There are so many things to do. I used three different small strobe lights in key areas to add thrill and hidden speakers to deliver Halloween screams, groans and rattling chain noises. Tombstones cut from more foam board insulation and partially sunk in some leaves from the yard makes a quick and easy graveyard inside. A cheap fog machine or batch of dry ice works wonders inside a small garage space. Your imagination is your only limitation. I spent less than $100 on the entire project and relied on paints and scrap parts I had around the garage. Clean up the next day was a breeze. The plastic sheeting comes right down and can be saved for next year or used as floor protection for that next painting project.
Making a haunted house in the garage is great fun for the whole family. Word will spread and you will have a blast delivering some thrills to the neighborhood. Share your garage Halloween tips and comments, too!