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Undead Pirate Haunted House Pages:    Main    Drunken Pirate    Prisoner    Monkey    Skull Light

Undead Pirate Haunted House Room: The Pirate Prisoner

As mentioned on the main page, the pirate prisoner was the first addition to the room after the Jack the undead monkey. He didn't really fit with the original concept of the room, but that's the great thing about a haunted house - no one really knows the difference. (In fact, past experience has shown that few people even recognize a scene from a movie as being such. Most are too busy waiting nervously for someone to jump out at them.)

The room containing the prisoner was always intended to be some sort of distraction. Because I paid for the skeletons and I wanted to keep them, I had always intended to protect them with something - usually that something is chicken wire. However, the prison concept popped into my head and I realized that it would do the job nicely. I would protect my skeleton and provide a period relevant element. This is why you see the wood bars in this final production picture.

The prisoner is hung in front of a door to give the patrons something to worry about. Whenever there is a door, there is a potential for something to pop out of that door and get them. In fact, the door does not open - if it did, my skeleton would go flying. It's not really very good prison placement on behalf of the pirates when you think about it.

The haunt worker was actually standing on the other side of the wall to which the prisoner is chained. I created a small hole which allowed me to attach a wire to the skeleton's left hand shoulder. This allowed the haunt worker to push the prisoner's left shoulder forward, allowing the skeleton to be turned so that she would be looking at the patrons.

This was the first thing that occurred to me when I came up with the haunt design - if there were a prisoner and a door, the people coming into the haunt would be worried about the door and would look at it. That way, when the prisoner moved, it should make them jump and then... nothing else would happen. Until Jack the Monkey flew into the other section of the haunt, of course.

I really like the effect of the bright white bones against the darkness of the grey I used as the mottled skin on this one.


I started the prisoner out with a skeleton that I had bought several years ago for another haunt. It is actually a female skeleton, but I figured no one would notice this.

While I was able to use a pre-made head for the drunken pirate, this girl didn't cooperate quite as nicely. Because the female model of the skeleton is smaller than the Bucky skeleton, my pre-made head props looked somewhat grotesque on her; they were far, far too big for her little frame. So I decided to do a very quick sculpt on the skull and fill in the details with liquid latex and toilet paper.

I started by digging out some old glass mannequin eyes I had rescued a few years ago. I packed them into Sculpy and popped them into the head. Due to the shape of the sockets in the skull, the eyes would not stay straight, giving her something of bug-eyed look. Well, she was to be a prisoner after all...maybe because she couldn't site prey properly. I did not heat the Sculpy, leaving it pliable for easy of removal when I went to salvage the skeleton. I also blue taped the entire head with the intent of attaching an old wig.

The skeleton itself proved to be a bit tricky to pose because she kept wanting to flop over.

With a bit of ingenuity, some careful positioning and a whole bunch of bailing wire, I got her in roughly the right position (seen at left. The bailing wire is behind the monkey who is hanging around in the pic. Heh.)

You may also notice that the skull is now more completely taped so that I can apply the liquid latex and paint onto it without permanently altering the skeleton. Every area where you see blue tape is either going to be covered in liquid latex and paint or it being protected from the covering process.

A lot of pre-work went into this one, just like her brother. The clothing used was purchased for cheap. A wire brush, rough hand saw and utility knife came to my aid for the shredding of the clothing. I selectively covered parts that I didn't want to have to bother putting skin on. The hand saw was used extensively to "scrape" the clothing giving it a very ragged look.

I also spent a lot of time tramping this clothing into a box of soot gathered from my chimney. This produced a dirty effect, which, as a bonus, got all over the skeleton because it was so caked in that it drifted off while I was working on her. It really added a nice look to the bones - (I just hope it comes off as easily as it went on).

The tape proved very amenable to the liquid latex and paint. It stuck well to the skeleton without peeling. Again, I just hope it comes off as easily as it went on.


On either side are some views of the prisoner in production.

Although I had left it untaped on purpose, I didn't like the way the Sternum looked - it was too white and clean to match the rest of the prop. So I wound up going back over it with a bit of tape and some more liquid latex to blend it into the rest of the skeleton better

I think the head came out particularly well on this one prop.

Glass eyes always add a lot to the final product in things like this. (Notice that it still looks bug-eyed, however.)

You will also see that a lot of the blue tape is still showing. Much of the tape was still on to cover sensitive parts like the joints because I knew I was going to go back over the thing with a second coat. So that would be removed. (Knees, feet and elbow in particular.) The edges are also still unpainted, primarily because they wouldn't be seen once the coat was released. In these photos, it is tied back so that the paint wouldn't get on it. Nice head of hair, isn't it?

Here are some views of the final prisoner in the room. He has a little wire tied to his left hand side rib cage in the back so that the haunt worker (on the other side of the prisoner's wall) can push him forward and make him move a bit. A little added touch to throw patrons off balance.

I notice that these photos reveal a bit of the blue tape in the "moved" view. While sloppy, keep in mind that you're seeing it with intense lighting. Normal patrons would only have the dim flicker bulb in the "candle."

This prop looks wayyy to happy for a shackled prisoner. Ah, well. Skeletons can be like that.

Undead Pirate Haunted House Pages:    Main    Drunken Pirate    Prisoner    Monkey    Skull Light