For the last five years, we’ve had the honor of being on the team of volunteers who help Dick Van Dyke bedeck his house in Halloween horror at the end of October. For the full scoop on how we got started and why Halloween is Van Dyke’s favorite holiday, see this post. And to see our handiwork from last year, click here. And to see bonus photos of neighbor James Cameron’s Halloween haunted house, read through to the end of this post!
This year the planning got started early, and the event was spread out over multiple days: a dress rehearsal on Sunday night and the full show on Wednesday. Every year he worries no one will show up, so this year Van Dyke also appeared on a couple news stations to promote the party and made up flyers.
When we got there Saturday, many of the main pieces had been hauled out of storage, borrowed from prop houses and swapped with family (it seems like whatever was the newest, scariest effect the previous year usually gets swiped by one of Van Dyke’s relatives for their own Halloween display!).
We got to use the neighbors’ side yard again this year—it makes the perfect graveyard!
Poor Michael Myers’ hairpiece needs some work. I guess 35 years of murdering teenagers takes its toll…
Now there’s something most people wouldn’t expect to find in Dick Van Dyke’s driveway!
This year’s biggest new effect was this ginormous monster guy who pointed and welcomed people in a scary voice. You can learn all about how he was built and see interviews with Dick Van Dyke and his right-hand man, Alex, on this episode of the Travel Channel’s Making Monsters.
Alex and Dick aren’t sure what they’ve gotten themselves into…
Patrick has an entirely different reaction!
This guy pops out at you, swings a cleaver and makes horrible noises. He was the big new thing last year, and I guess he’s too gruesome for even Van Dyke’s relatives to want to swipe!
This lenticular portrait usually hangs in a place of honor.
Rocky Van Dyke helped out by jumping in the pool a lot and sticking his nose where it didn’t belong.
The side yard is our favorite place to work because it gets more of the classic Halloween treatment and less of the guts and gore. It’s also fun to come up with a different tableau in each of the “windows” created by the trees.
Well, a *little* less of the guts and gore…
Trust me, this guy’s gonna be WAY scary with the right lighting!
The graveyard has been a fabulous addition to the scene. The hillside is the new home of Van Dyke’s beloved “skeletons dancing to ‘Thriller’” projection added a few years ago.
There are actually two of these guys, but at a mere 7 or so feet tall, they’re dwarfed by the new giant.
On Wednesday night, the gates of the community where Van Dyke lives were opened to all who dared venture to Monster Alley. Here’s how it turned out!
This video doesn’t really show you the giant effect, but you can hear it (augmented by the fellow who hid in the giant’s robes and popped out at just the right moment)!
You can see video of this lunging hell hound effect in last year’s post.
This re-dressed St. Nick figure always cracks me up. I guess all you have to do is scramble a few letters to turn “Santa” into “Satan”!
This burn victim is brand-new, but you’d never know it…
Four new figures were added Monday, including this writhing zombie.
Look who didn’t heed the Zombie Xing sign!
There was some kind of failed exorcism going on on the front porch. Van Dyke’s Linda Blair Exorcist head pops up in a different place each year, and this one was perfect!
This figure had a nickname among the decorating team, but it’s not printable on a family website…
Bonus Round: James Cameron’s Haunted House!
Word was spreading through the crowd that Dick Van Dyke’s neighbor, James Cameron, had his own Halloween happening this year. Cameron stops by to see Van Dyke’s display each year, and one year he surprised all of us decoraters at dinner to tell us what a great job we’d done! Word on the street was that last year he had a little display of his own going, but it couldn’t hold a flickering battery-operated candle to Van Dyke’s. So this year Cameron pulled out all the stops. Let’s take a look!
OK, you can’t really tell, but the Count Dracula standing between the lady in white and the guy in red is Academy Award-winning director James Cameron! He was doing the Count’s accent and everything!
The haunted house didn’t look too grisly from the outside, and Count Cameron assured me it wouldn’t be too scary, but this is from the guy who directed Aliens…
OK, creepy rocking granny-zombie in front of the TV…
From that room to the next there were people sticking their arms through the walls to grab you. Then this room…
This room had a strobe effect going, and a grisly corpse that scared the pants off me by dropping from the ceiling.
I dunno what was going on in here, but there was a scary live person who sidled up to you.
By the time we got to the clown-butcher room I was moving too fast to take pictures. Bursting out of the haunted house, I was never more glad to see a fake mausoleum in all my life!
In all, it was a spectacular way to spend Halloween. And I can’t wait to see how Cameron and Van Dyke try to top each other next year!