This is Halloween...

Welcome to our nightmares and fantastical dreams.

Each year for a few we've done something over the top in our garage on Halloween while tying in a snapshot of the story of God Himself from some pretty unique angles. Preachy? Not so much. Bizarre? Sure, why not?

I learned from the best long ago, generosity gets attention. (No matter where you lived in my neighborhood growing up, on the last day of October you visited the guy handing out Happy Apples.) We also know people love a show. So we try to go big with both.

Here you'll see what a classic rock couple with a taste for the creepy and strange can do with a regular garage, a little imagination and a lot of time.


2018: The Invisible Man

Even our website teaser was invisible this year, but a few #HallowsGarage posts began to hint at exactly what you wouldn't see this go round...

The Invisible Man!
> The Backstory
Visitors were greeted at the door by a very chipper lady with a very British accent. Her name is Gloria, the pub keeper.

Gloria, the pub keeper, welcomes you.
"Oh, we have guests! Welcome to The Lion's Head! You look like you've all traveled a great distance to get here. So, I s'pose you'll be wantin' to see him then?"

She pauses for recognition, then continues, "You know, the doctor. Dr. Griffin. Dr. Claude Griffin? The one that's been messin' 'round the the monocane invisibility... The Invisible Man! Yeah?

"Right, well he's so well known 'round these parts. This fellow had a great, great... something ancestor who stayed here many years ago. Caused a bit of ruckus. We didn't like that at the time. But this fellow, he's alright. He's actually working to reverse the invisibility formula, isn't he? And he does draw a bit of a crowd.

"But, I do want to warn you... When they were first working with this monocane powder they tested it on a dog. It turned the dog stark white, but also stark raving mad. So, you might say our doctor is a little loose in the attic. He's fairly harmless though, so, would you like to see him? I mean, you can't actually SEE him, can you? But maybe we can see what he's working on. Come on in!"

She leads you through the pub and into the current quarters of Dr. Griffin. While he's nowhere to be seen, his typewriter is working furiously.

Dr. Griffin's lab set up in his room at The Lion's Head. The typewriter... just types.
"Oh look at that!" she exclaims. "He's typing up some notes, isn't he?"

Suddenly a male voice is heard talking and laughing strangely about some "experiments." Test tubes begin to bubble. One lifts in the air, seemingly on its own.

A test tube suspended in mid air? Not unsettling at all...
Gloria spies a vial on the table and picks it up. "What do you s'pose this is?," she asks. Suddenly, her arm lurches forward and she spills some of the contents onto a handkerchief.

"Don't touch that!" shouts the unseen voice. "Look at the mess you made!"

Gloria pulls away with a look of disdain. "Sor-ry," she retorts, "You don't have to be so grabby."

While the seemingly disembodied voice continues to go on about his experiments, Gloria eventually notes that, while the doctor can see us, we can't actually see him. "Do you think you can make it so we can see where you're at?" she inquires. "Oh sure!" he says. "Give me a moment. I'll be right back."

Turning to her guests, Gloria grimaces a bit. "Right, it's a bit awkward, innit? He's... going to get dressed. I told you, he's a bit loose in the attic. But if we wait just a moment we might actually be able to "see" the Invisible Man. Are you ready?"

A hanging top hat is suddenly removed, and out steps a gentleman fully robed, and fully covered even over his face and hands. "Now you can see me, and I can see you!" he declares.

The doctor offers to show us one final trick. Producing a colorful duck and a bag full of monocane, he places the duck in the bag, shakes it and asks Gloria to reach in. She hesitates. "You want me to reach my hand in the bag?" He insists. She does so reluctantly and pulls out... a completely white duck! "Oh, it's bleached, innit?" she exclaims. "Just like the dog!"

Gloria also notices the stain on the handkerchief is now completely invisible as well!

The doctor then suggests each of the guests receive their own special duck while he continues his work. He goes on typing as Gloria sees the guests out, each with their own bag of treats, including a monocaine bleached duck and a little bit of the doctor's formula. "But don't drink that. It's not candy," Gloria warns, wishing everyone, "Happy Halloween!"

Dr. Griffin and pub keeper Gloria have become friends. Even if she does think he's mad.
Inside the Lion's Head. The change on the table was in British coins.
A better look at the doctor's mostly modest quarters.
Just in case you'd forgotten where you were.
Some of the doctor's belongings. I wonder what he's reading?
Beneath a book of ancient world history, seven fanciful tales by H.G. Wells.
The third story inside? The Invisible Man.
Another look at the doctor's lab and equipment.
Just a friendly game of cards to pass the time in the pub.
> The Trick
This being a mid-week Hallow's Eve, we wanted to stick with the classics, and "The Invisible Man" was one of the few Universal horror flicks we had yet to recreate. 

While our scene was set at The Lion's Head pub and inn where Dr. Jack Griffin briefly stays hoping to reverse his invisibility formula undisturbed, we chose our doctor to be a descendant of the original, much in keeping with the film sequels. We did, however, give our doctor the name Claude Griffin, a direct reference to Claude Rains, the actor who portrayed the first Invisible Man.

In addition, our pub keeper was called Gloria after Gloria Stuart who played Flora Cranley, the love interest of Dr. Griffin in the movie.

The Lion's Head sign, as featured outside the pub and inn in the film, was painstakingly redesigned by creating a hand carved stencil from some enlarged art found online and then hand painted on repurposed wood. The border was also a repurposed piece glued on.

(Here's a link with a look at the original.)

The original stencil being created. That took a minute.
The fully finished final result. Not too shabby.
As it happened, an old pub scene wasn't too hard to create. Wiring everything up, however, proved a bit more of a challenge, and occasionally we'd have to claim some type of "pub accident" while trying to reset for the next show. (Honestly, the wires just snapped a bunch.)

Lots of plastic wires, some modified test tubes, flexible tubing, baking soda and vinegar, some dish soap, and a little bit of Flavor Aid drink mix were all part of the creation of our makeshift lab.
Wiring up the backstage prop mechanisms.
Hey, it's floating again! Wait, how many invisible persons are there?
Freaky Fact: The doctor's formula is referred to as "monocane" in the first film, and "duocane" in the sequels. Both monocaine or monocane and duocaine are real life anesthetics. Both were referenced in our doctor's page of typed notes with the "i" included in the spellings.
Some of the doctor's secret notes on his formula. Dangerous stuff.
> The Treat
We were a bit nervous with rain in the forecast, but a handy tent borrowed from our church and some brilliant timing on the heavier downpours worked out great. We still managed to hand out about 80 treat bags, along with a number of glow sticks for our early visitors which we were gifted by local police after a recent neighborhood National Night Out event. Thanks, police! And, thanks as always to mum for some very visible crowd control through it all.

The rain put a damper on our haunted wagon friends, but they showed up anyway, this time in a small caravan of regular vehicles. This year we learned that we are affectionately identified by this group as "The Duck House," a title we happily embrace.

Freaky Fact: Speaking of ducks, this year's themed duck was a bit accidental. Purchasing began before film research, and a very plain white duck seemed best to mimic invisibility. It wasn't until we watched "The Invisible Man" again and heard the mention of a bleached dog in early monocane experiments that we realized we could actually work the duck into the presentation, which quite nicely tied the whole thing together from start to finish.

Our treat bags also contained some pretzels, assorted candies, and a fun treat NOT to eat—a bottle of magic disappearing ink, a.k.a. the doctor's formula.

The story on this year's theme card played on some visual references, in part to draw out the reality that even if we can't currently see God when we look around, we can definitely see what He's doing. It was printed on some classic blue parchment paper, and read just like this:

Want to know more about The Big Story? We can send you a Bible or another helpful book about Jesus absolutely free. Just fill out this form, or stop by if you're in the neighborhood.
(All ages welcome. Kids under 18 must have parent/guardian permission.)