We've been doing this for four years now, and we're starting to get a reputation. People are remembering us and starting to drop by just to see us, which tickles me immensely. We have a whole bunch of fake tombstones set out, two fog machines, a couple of hanging dummies with glowing eyes, creepy music, jack-'o-lanterns, and, this year, a couple of great new props. One was a jumping spider - it's about three feet across, has glowing eyes, and when you pressed the footpad, leapt out about three feet with a terrible noise. I scared a lot of kids (and a couple adults!) with that one; it was worth its weight in gold. The other was "monster in the bushes." It's a pair of glowing red eyes attached to this rattling box. You wired the box to branches of a plant, and whenever it was activated with movement or sound, it growled and rattled and the eyes flashed like there was something there ready to leap out and pounce. Marvelous!
This year, our friends were both faceless, robed black shadows, silent and menacing. (All of us were robed this year, because it's often quite cold and you can fit more clothes under the robes; this year it got down below freezing by the end of the night.) The wife (a small woman) would sneak up behind kids as they had their backs to her getting candy, and freak them out when they turned around. The husband is a big, tall guy (used to be a linebacker in school) who also does swordfighting as a hobby, and brought one of his blunt metal swords. Which looks great, and he can prove it's real metal, but isn't sharp enough to hurt anyone. He guarded the stairs up to the yard (we have the rest of the yard fenced off to prevent kids from sneaking up behind us) and would sometimes follow groups of people a short way down the street, which also freaked people out.
Mr. Chat was the Devil himself, with a scary demon's mask with lots of spikes and horns, red and black hooded robes, and a skull-topped jester's scepter (we couldn't find a good pitchfork and Mr. Chat has an evil sense of humor). I was an executioner. I have this really awesome axe that looks like it's made from bone, gray robes, and this hood and mask which looks like a grid of metal bars over my face. Because you can see through the bars, I added some more scares to it this year. I got this facial appliance (who's been watching Face Off? I have!) that made it look like my eyes were gouged out. My friend got it on me, then painted my face pale and added bloody tears. It was a little hard to see under the bars, but I didn't want to be too overtly freaky because we have a lot of little kids in the neighborhood. Also the edges wouldn't stay down, so the mask actually covered our inexperience with prosthetic application.
We scared the living daylights out of many small kids (and not-so-small kids), and had a lot of fun doing it. Now we just have to figure out how to top ourselves next year!