The real reason many people buy houses isn’t for the extra room or because it’s a sound financial investment. It’s so that every October they have a place to go completely overboard with Halloween decorations and turn their front lawns into haunted horrorscapes.
Every neighbourhood has that one house with a lawn full of nightmarish vignettes — be it zombies, corpses, monsters, witches, or a good old-fashioned graveyard — and cars lined up the street hoping to catch a glimpse of the horrific displays. If you’ve ever dreamed of being that house, and don’t mind blowing a small fortune to impress the neighbourhood kids and enrage the neighbours, here are some of the spookiest animated Halloween decorations you can buy.
Master of Disaster Shocktronic
Working off an unsettling idea introduced in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, a monster is ridden by a mad scientist who’s trying to control the beast’s movements using a control panel and electric shocks. Some complex animatronics bring both the scientist and the monster’s flailing arms to life, but after the creature is electrocuted it lunges forward thanks to a real person cleverly hidden inside a costume.
Electric Chair Revenge
There are few things more unsettling than watching someone being put to death in an electric chair, so what better way is there to ensure the local kids don’t get a lick of restful sleep on Halloween night? Thanks to a body made of flexible rubber, the victim strapped to the chair appears to violently flail about while sound and smoke effects really make it appear like they’re being horrifically electrocuted.
Despite the fact that Prowling Jack doesn’t actually prowl and instead remains exactly where he stands while animatronics bring his upper torso and head to life, it’s still an impressive piece of decor. Not only does he taunt visitors with pre-recorded messages, but he also has some back-and-forth banter with a jack-o’-lantern in hand whose face is brought to life using a projector inside. Throw a Santa hat on Jack and you can keep him on display right through the Christmas holidays.
Yes, Home Depot’s 3.66 m tall skeleton is impressively tall, but it just stands there and does nothing. You’re better off spending your hundreds of dollars on this Reaper’s Ride featuring a skeleton wearing a tattered black robe riding a demonic horse that rises up and kicks its front legs. The Reaper’s eyes light up, and while his head moves from side to side and his jaw moves, he says one of six different spooky phrases. For an added effect a fog machine can be hooked up to a hose which will make smoke pour out of the steed’s nostrils.
Got a problem with the neighbour’s cat using your gardens as a restroom? Cauldron Cat-Tastrophe will passive aggressively let your neighbours know what you think about their cats running around on their own all day and night. A sorceress stands in front of a bubbling cauldron (made all the more eery if you toss some dry ice in there) and cackles while dangling a mangy cat by its feet, ready to drop it in to complete her potion. Both the sorceress and the hissing cat feature sounds and animatronic actions, and they’ll automatically come to life thanks to a hidden motion sensor that detects visitors.
Little Top Clown
The only thing more terrifying than a clown is a 36-inch tall miniature clown that talks with glowing yellow eyes and animated head, mouth, and arms. It thankfully can’t actually walk in real life, but probably will in your nightmares.
Nope, scratch that. The only thing more terrifying than both a clown and a miniature clown is a possessed doll. If the cracked face, glowing eyes, moving mouth, turning head, and waving arms and spooky sayings aren’t enough to send a shiver down your spine, a demented music box lullaby slowly playing in the background surely will.
Puke the Vomit Man
If you’re more into grossing out the locals than terrifying them on Halloween, you can skip the ghosts and ghouls for this mulleted mannequin affectionately named Puke the Vomit Man. Can you guess why? A hidden pump makes the posable character continuously vomit a steady stream of whatever you feed into the pump. On its own it’s unsettling, but with the included sound effects, kids might just lose their appetite for candy.
Junior the Hillbilly
Sometimes there’s nothing more terrifying than family — especially if that family is your cousin, uncle, and nephew all at the same time. Straight out of the film Deliverance comes Junior the Hillbilly who looks like a cautionary tale about inbreeding. Even though the animatronic simply rocks back and forth with a dead eye stare while groans and banjo music play in the background, this is still one of the more unsettling ways to celebrate Halloween.
There’s a lot of backstory missing from poor Cotton Candace. She appears to have found herself trapped inside a cotton candy machine, endlessly spinning and swirling amongst the popular carnival treat. But how did she get in there, why has no one turned off the machine, why hasn’t she climbed out, and is being stuck inside a machine that makes delicious cotton candy really something to scream about?
Welcome trick-or-treaters with the ghost with the most — aka Beetlejuice — perched atop a tombstone in your front yard. The life-size animatronic turns its torso from side to side while its mouth moves in sync with real Michael Keaton quotes from the Tim Burton movie — no need to say his name out loud three times.
Wall-Mounted Dragon Legend
Throwing a Halloween party instead of welcoming candy collectors to your door? Swap out the stuffed deer head that grandpa shot with this life-like dragon head you can claim another distant relative slayed with a sword back in the medieval era. There’s no animatronic movement, but an internal fog machine will blast out a puff of smoke every few minutes that changes colour thanks to a set of glowing LED lights inside the mouth.
Ghost Candles With Faces
Another great option for your indoor Halloween decor is a simple haunted candelabra featuring three ghastly candle faces topped with flickering LED flames. It looks innocuous enough. But when the simulated flames are blown out, the three candles suddenly lurch forward, because there’s nothing better than terrifying party guests.
Tug-of-War Animated Clowns
Sometimes you just have to wonder what the work week is like at companies responsible for churning out Halloween animatronics. Are there actual board meetings where executives debate the fabric choices for a pair of demonic clowns playing tug-of-war with a little girl? Do focus groups help decide if they go with curls or pigtails for the little girl’s hair? Does someone sketch out storyboards for the animations? What must the process be like?
The scariest thing about a talking 7-foot-tall demonic clown holding two little kids upside down from their feet while they scream and struggle to get free is that for the other 11 months of the year this thing has to hide out in a corner of your garage or basement, leaving you terrified every time you turn the lights on and forget it’s there. Maybe it is just best to stick to a couple of pumpkins on the porch.