MILAN, Ill. - This is the third year for Tom Wendel's "Nightmare Village," built mainly from scratch on the front lawn of his Milan home, and he has added four new props.
The newbies are:
-- A grave keeper made from "monster mud," a combination of drywall compound mixed with black latex paint
-- A 20-foot-long snake made from drainage tubing and "Great Stuff" insulating foam sealant, with fake teeth and marbles for eyes
-- An "electric chair" that involves the use of an electric palm sander to create the special-effect vibrations. "This can be used for photo ops," Wendel says.
-- A skull candelabra
Wendel will provide how-to sheets for the candelabra in case visitors want to make their own. The basic materials are PVC pipe, a plastic skull, Italian lights, plaster of Paris (for the base), paint and hot glue.
"It's pretty neat," he says.
In addition to his new creations, there are favorites from the past, such as the Grim Reaper, a flying ghost, numerous tombstones, a howling wolf and a blood-flowing birdbath.
As creative as Wendel's props are, what makes them come alive is the motion supplied by small motors from devices such as rotisseries and windshield washers. Black lights provide illumination.
Through the years, he has found many ideas from online Halloween forums and the Ironstock Haunt Conference in Tell City, Ind., a gathering of "haunters" such as himself from across the country.
By day, Wendel works at the John Deere Parts Distribution Warehouse in Milan.