There might have been a time when throwing on a white bedsheet with two little round holes for Halloween could pass as quite scary. However, the very nature of celebrating those “things that go bump in the night” has always been about making the supernatural as super-realistic as possible. At parties, for instance, awards for the best costume typically go to the most detailed and impressive fabrications. A costume, after all, is only as frightening as it is believable. Even haunted houses today have become extravagant and sophisticated showcases that rival some Hollywood productions.
“In the beginning, people would joke about spaghetti for brains and grapes for eyeballs,” haunted house producer Steve Kopelman told NBC News in a recent report. “Now you have animatronics dramatic advances in technology … so you get the realism you couldn’t have until the last decade.”
But since we can’t all go all out like that neighbor with the Wi-Fi networked robotic zombies in his front yard, here are five high-tech suggestions for keeping up with the Uncle Festers this Halloween:
1. Meet the Ghost Drone
If your neighbor happens to be YouTube user Alton Porter, then good luck figuring out how to out-creep the locals. He recently gave everyone a preview of how he plans to greet trick-or-treaters this year when he uploaded a video showing a R/C quadrocopter drone dressed up as a flying (remote-controlled) ghost, complete with led lights for glowing eyes. And as he mentions on his YouTube page, it didn’t cost much at all—that is if don’t already own a quadrocopter, which would run you about $500.
“I was shopping at Target and saw the complete ghost hanging up on the Halloween rack for $10.00,” he wrote. “I installed the led lights. The ghost is very light.”
2. When Being Yourself is Creepy Enough
For those who are all out of costume ideas, the website thatsmyface.com has an idea that lets anyone get away with showing up at Halloween parties as just themselves—without coming off as “lame.” The startup, based in Beaverton, Oregon, offers a service in which customers can send in a photo of themselves to be used to manufacture a wearable 3D printed mask. Comprised of a material the company describes as a “hard resin composite in full 24-bit color with a matte varnish,” the $299 facial replication features holes through the eyes and nostrils and, as you can see from the video, is eerily lifelike. Customers can also order action figures of themselves and, for the extremely vain, a full bust can be printed for $2,000.
With thatsmyface.com, customers can also thoroughly freak out their friends. Surreptitiously order a mask, using a photo of a friend, and dress as that friend’s doppelgänger.
3. For When Rubber Body Parts Just Don’t Hack It
Need something more convincing than those contrived gushing wounds with rubber organs poking out? Well, there’s an App for that. NASA engineer Mark Rober has recently released iWound, a fake-wound latex insert that cleverly features a slot for a smartphone. Once placed securely inside, the smartphone’s touchscreen can create the illusion of a real-life beating heart by running a free app that plays video of the live organ in a continuous loop. The entire set-up also includes a selection of bloody stab wound T-shirts for $23.50. The iWound insert itself costs $34.50.
4. Turn Your Room Into a Horror Movie
If you’re the type who thinks spooking someone out is worth any price, look no further than the “Exorcist bed.” ScareFactory, a haunted house warehouse, packages the steel-frame bed as an elaborate fright gag setup, with an optional levitator and grip switch, for upwards of $5,000. Spastically-possessed actor is sold separately.
5. …Like a Really Scary Horror Movie
Fans of the Exorcist bed might also like to double up on the fright factor with a rigged door that creates the illusion of zombies violently trying to break in. Hi-Rez Designs sells a HD quality video panel that can be installed on any entrance to make it appear as if there is a clear window in the door; in this particular video, a vicious nurse touting a menacing syringe approaches the window from a hallway. The company also offers full prop kits ($149) that feature mechanical hands reaching through the door to enhance the effect. With gorifying your own home becoming so much easier these days, who needs to go to a haunted house?
Use the Force, But What Ever You Do, Don’t Take It This Far!
A company named WickedLasers, has taken the concept of science fiction movie props into a perhaps all-too-realistic realm. Their Spyder S3 is the first mass-market product to feature a 445 nanometer wavelength direct blue diode portable laser that projects a powerful 1 Watt beam, which is enough heat to burn skin or blind someone. For $299, anyone can start wielding one of these babies and what’s perhaps even more surprising is that the company guarantees that the Arctic Spyder S3 is “100% legal under U.S. federal law and federal safety requirements.” The company also sells a Star Wars-inspired light saber for $200.
As frightening as an ultra-realistic light saber can be, this is one case where it may just be best to stick to fake guts or simple facepaint.