2005 'Tree of Death' Concept

Serpents slither through the boughs
In the shadow of the hangman's rope
From those who seek the prize within
Venomous stings may steal all hope

This year, we're planning on adding a Tree of Death to our haunt, which dares our visitors to stick their arms into the gnarled knotholes of a hangman's tree. Inside lies great reward, but the tree is guarded by all manner of foul serpents, hornets, scorpions, and spiders.

But we are not so diabolical as to not give the TOT's fair warning. Hanging from the tree branches are two skeletons dangling from hangman's nooses. On Halloween, the spectral forces animate the pair, allowing them to talk. Their conversation carries clues to the nature of the prize and the dangers that guard it.

The Idea

The idea is to build a faux spooky tree large enough for a person to comfortably sit inside with a box of candy. As kids reach into the deep knotholes, the person inside has a variety of things he or she can use to spook or reward kids that brave the tree. The really good prizes come from the tree.

To entertain people waiting to try their luck with the tree, the two skeletons talk to each other. We can do this with a single CD player with a channel splitter going out of the tree, along the branch, and down the ropes into the skulls of each skeleton. The left stereo track controls the motion of the left skeleton's jaw, and the right stereo track controls the motion of the right skeleton's jaw. We'll also need speakers, obviously.

Things that can be used to increase apprehension:

Things that can be used when someone sticks their hand in:

The Skeletons

The two skeletons, despite their spooky appearance, are quite personable, having been California surfer dudes before they shuffled off their mortal coils. Their conversation may go something like this:

Skeleton 1: "Dude."

Skeleton 2: "What?"

Skeleton 1: "You think they know about the scorpion nest in the tree?"

Skeleton 2: "I dunno man."

Skeleton 1: "Should I tell them?"

Skeleton 2: "P'yeah. As if they'd listen. People been sticking their hands in that tree looking for the prize for years."

Skeleton 1: "That's my point, dude. Remember what happened to those kids last year? Maybe if they knew, they wouldn't do it this year."

Skeleton 2: "Maybe, but they knew about the poisonous spiders last year."

Skeleton 1: "True."

Skeleton 2: "And the rattlesnakes."

Skeleton 1: "True."

Skeleton 2: "And the hornet nest."

Skeleton 1: "True."

Skeleton 2: "And...that other thing that we don't know what it is."

Skeleton 1: "True. Dude, you're right. With all the other creepy crawlies living in this tree ready to sting them, I guess a couple of scorpions wouldn't bother them."

Skeleton 2: "That's all I'm sayin', dude."

Skeleton 1: "Yah..."

Skeleton 2: "I sure miss surfin', dude."

Skeleton 1: "Yah. ... Hey, you wanna 'hang out'?"

Skeleton 2: "Dude, that joke is so old even my pet dinosaur didn't laugh at it."

Skeleton 1: "Hey, I've only got so much material to work with here, man."


Here are some sources we can use for reference.