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Topic: Miniature Haunted House
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 2, 2004 09:23AM)
I just picked up a copy of plans and routine for The Great Leon's Miniature Haunted House by Magic, Inc. I was thinking it might be a fun thing for kids' shows and/or Halloween.

Has anyone built and used one, and if so, how was your experience?
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 2, 2004 05:39PM)
Michael, when I was working with Kozak we put one together and rehersed it but never put it in the show. I don't remember why now though. I'll ask Kozak!!! I bet it would play big for a kid show though. Kozak caters to adult type comedy so maybe that was the rub.

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 2, 2004 08:09PM)
Thanks for the info there. Haven't seen Paul in awhile. He used to play the Comedy Club here for years. We partied around a bit during the off hours. Your name came up often and way back.

I think I'll experiement with the house thingy. I do a lot of family stuff, so it just might fly. Still just doing the mental hashing on the precise concept. Gotta have a slant, ya know?
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 2, 2004 10:25PM)
Koze is a great person as well as being funny and a super magician as you well know. He's fronting the World's Greatest Magic Show in Las Vegas these days. He's been trying to get me out there and I want to go. Trying to get far enuff ahead that I can swing a month on the road. I just don't want to get on an airplane these days and would have to drive out.

Wanna go???

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 3, 2004 01:11AM)
Month long road trip??? Probably not until late July... maybe then. Maybe we can set up a lecture tour between here and there.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 3, 2004 10:21AM)
Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm not in any position to take off for a month right now either but if I hit the Powerball tomorrow night we'll all be going in my new tour bus!!!

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Dec 3, 2004 11:09AM)
Message: Posted by: Anverdi-museum (Jan 23, 2005 09:57PM)
Hello Michael, Happened to run accross your question about the Leon Haunted House.
I would strongly suggest that you build one, I did so about eight years ago. I used it at school assemblies in the month of October to a great respons, it is not just for adults. I spruced mine up a bit with a modern twist. In Leon's plans he tells how to "catch" the ghost by making 'mist' appear in a mason jar. There are several electronic devices on the market that can do just that without the use of dangerous chemicals. You can also use an electronic spirit bell in the house, etc. etc. The sky is the limit! You can let your imagination run wild here. I had a lot of fun building my haunted house, I found a moderate sized doll house at a thrift store and went from there.

Hope this helps,


p.s. you can see my house on my collection site at: http://caputocollection.tripod.com/
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 23, 2005 11:15PM)

Thanks for your ideas and input. I had planned to tweak the original Leon ideas anyway. I could see a lot of potential in this when I first saw the Ebay ad selling the booklet. That's precisely why I bought it. It is actually in the construction queue. I typically run as many as 8-12 projects at a time. That's just me. So fleshing it out may take some time, but for now, I am dealing with the basic structure. Did you have the original rigging method, as well? And if so, did you find it necessary to have a specific backdrop (curtain, etc.) behind the house so the area between you and the house was "properly textured"?

Very nice collection you have! Thanks for sharing.

Message: Posted by: Anverdi-museum (Jan 30, 2005 11:39PM)
Hey Michael,

I did hook up the original method (both of them), I rarely use the internal one. The first one that opens the door and the window is excellent. I used a moderate sized doll house so it had the door and window already, for the door I only had to attach an internal spring hinge. The window had the shutters on it so I just had to build the wire gimmick as per the instructions book.

I do have a cloth backdrop for the effect that has a "broken Pattern", it makes everything virtually invisible even at close range. I found out that you do not even need the backdrop accidentally one time as I simply forgot to take it with me. I keep the miniature haunted house covered with a foulard prior to performing it. When I remove the cloth I secretly attach the first line that operates the door/window, I non-chalantly hold the foulard in my opposite hand ( one furthest away from house ) with elbow bent. As the motion needed to perform above effects takes place the cloth in your hand covers all. Try it as it does work!
You may have to attach rubber feet to the bottom of the house so it does not slide when operating the above actions if performing on a hard tabletop.

Another quick idea, I added to the opposite window with the "apparition" on my house a "spinning window shutter effect". This works by radio control, when transmitter is activated by myself the entire shuttered window visibly rotates slowly....very eeerie!
Like I said previously, you can let your imagination run wild with this effect.

Have fun with it.

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 31, 2005 08:41AM)
Hi Chuck,

Thanks again for your thoughts and ideas. Here is a quote from another thread post of mine (pun), concerning this same thing.

[quote]I am actively in the pre-construction phase of mine right now. I wanted to make sure I had a "look" for the house that I could work with... more than just the generic house, as described in the book.

I believe now I was looking in the wrong direction, and should have been looking closer to home. Last night, the idea hit... I live in Alabama, and there is an author, Katherine Tucker Windham, who wrote "13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey". It concerns specific haunted sites around Alabama, many from the post-Civil War Era.

So my thought was to loosely play off that theme and design my mini haunted house in an Antebellum style. After an extensive internet search, I was fortunate enough to find a photo of an Antebellum home that is also consistent with the design necessary to make the Leon House operate properly. So, armed with that photo, I made a cardstock mock-up of the house to study the roof pitch requirements and the necessary angle to construct the gabled porch (I know there's a mathematical formula for this, but it seems to be eluding me!).

Anyway, I can now say that the ball is rolling. The theme now also gives reason and credibility for some of the props that will and can be used in the routine. I never wanted to just copy the Leon routine.[/quote]

Since that posting, I have cut the main pieces for the house, except for the gabled porch, and have found a very nice patterned fabric for the interior and backdrop. Still working on that geometric formula for finding the angle for the gabled porch. I'd rather hit it right right initially, than keep to trimming until it fits.

I liked your idea for the shutter. I'm gathering from your collection and Café id, that you have a certain background in that type of electronics. The rubber feet is also good. That thought had crossed my mind as a possible need, because I have a couple other thread activated props that I have built. You should be able to spot a couple of them [url=http://www.themagiccompany.com/Craftsman_page.html]here[/url].

Thanks again,

Message: Posted by: tabman (Feb 4, 2005 05:46PM)

When are we going to get to see a picture of your new haunted house???? I can't wait!!!!


Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 5, 2005 12:05AM)
The main pieces are cut, have been primed and base-coated. Detail painting will happen in a few days, then line the inside with fabic. The front will take longer, because of additional detail and gaffing... still working it. Then the accessory props will be added along the way. Not a timid project... not as complex as building and painting my Zig Zag (wink), but there are a lot of different things to be tended to. I usually shoot photos of projects during construction. I'll post some in a couple days.

Message: Posted by: tabman (Feb 5, 2005 10:08PM)
I'd like to get by there sometime and see it in person. You do great work.

-=el tab
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 5, 2005 11:27PM)
Door is open anytime.
Message: Posted by: joespc (Feb 15, 2005 07:56PM)
I have always been interested in this effect. I have the booklet, but have never found the time to construct one of these. Please post some pictures.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 15, 2005 08:52PM)
I have started a webpage to track the progress. I haven't been able to do much work on it in about a week, but as I do I will add to the webpage. If you wish, bookmark it and check it every so often.

[url=http://www.themagiccompany.com/haunted_house.html]Miniature Haunted House[/url]
Message: Posted by: joespc (Feb 17, 2005 06:43PM)
That is looking very good! Nice detail!

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 17, 2005 10:02PM)
A bit more happening this week. Built a couple props for the manifestations and did a bit more painting. When it comes to layered paint colors, I like to let things sit for about a week between coats, so as not to lift or bubble paint, or have masks pull up previous layers. That can be a real pain.
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (Feb 18, 2005 09:04AM)
Looking fantastic! I'm impressed and jealous!
I recently found a copy of one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, "Collected Ghost Stories", by M.R. James. In that book is a story about a haunted house that, though not shockingly scary, was pretty spooky to a 7 year old future magician.

BTW, what premise are you using for your routine with the house? (If you don't mind sharing...)

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 18, 2005 01:53PM)
It probably seems like I am working this backwards, but as mentioned above, this will root itself in the post-Civil War Old South. the house is decidedly Antebellum. I will be re-reading 13 Alabama Ghosts by Katherine Tucker Windham. Although I plan to flesh out an original back story and performance plot, I'm sure to get some inspiration from that book.

A reason for the haunting is a decided necessity, and as with Leon's original plot, foul play is not out of the question. I think a visit from a backwoods lower class female is in order. Someone with a knack for conjuring that borders on an extremely hermetic religion, in the manner of someone who, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, "...has a family tree that does not fork."

The contrast between this person and the residents (or resident???) of this high society home, could make for some interesting developments.

Another idea stems from a short film entitled, "A Rose For Emily". This could be tweaked and adapted to fit the Old South setting at hand.

I had even thought of vampires, as in an Antebellum version of "Dark Shadows", but I am still undecided.

I have to decide for the sake of clarity, how many characters will be in the story, and from those, how many get developed beyond their initial introduction and relevant justification.

The house is the main thing to finish at this point. It can be very adaptable. Once I have a chance to sit back and look at the finished house, I can relax enough to visualize the plot.

The items to involve in the manifestations, I will build according to their authenticity to the period. How many of them will actually become part of the story, is anyone's guess right now.

I will likely develop different stories and presentation angles to accomodate the intended audience (kids, adults, or families). The nice thing about the modus operandi, is that most everything is accomplished the same way, with the exception of any self-contained effects. This fact alone makes this trick very, very versatile. The house essentially becomes a miniature stage, albeit with a defined set. I like that!

I'm not in a hurry...
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 17, 2006 12:05AM)
Well... after my last comment that I was not in a hurry, I guess I proved myself right. So many other projects had to be placed ahead of this "fun" project, but I have managed to drag out the pieces and do a bit more work on it.

I have just taken the new [url=http://themagiccompany.com/haunted_house.html]photos[/url] and added them to the progressive web page.

Check them out.

Message: Posted by: Ralis (Jun 14, 2013 06:02AM)
That is gorgeous! And got me thinking of a New Orleans French Quater style house I was there this past October and some people really decorate for The Holiday!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 14, 2013 08:47AM)
Although I'm from the Midwest, I lived in Alabama for a long time. Antebellum homes were pretty common all through the South. That and the regional "ghost lore" seemed a natural to combine the two concepts.

Similar but definitely unique, New Orleans has its own share of cool background elements, architecture included. Anne Rice was only one who took great advantage of that. I was lucky enough to work with her once.
Message: Posted by: Paul Budd (Aug 19, 2013 10:02AM)
What's the status on this???? This is SOOOOOOOOOO cool!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 19, 2013 10:16AM)
I really never completely finished everything, but for no other reason than I want to have a GOOD story to go with it. In the meantime, it is fully set up in my magic room, so I see it every time I walk in there. I think I also need a show appropriate for its use. That will force me to do something about it. One day...
Message: Posted by: Magiguy (Sep 1, 2013 09:52AM)
If you subscribe to the Carney 2013 series then you already know this, but the August edition is devoted to Leon's Haunted Doll House. Clever stuff, as you would expect from John Carney.
Message: Posted by: CharlaineC (Sep 3, 2013 12:30AM)
Beautiful work. I have been thinking of doing thi but with a light house. with the catching the ghost in the beacon
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 18, 2013 01:06PM)
On 2013-09-03 01:30, CharlaineC wrote:
Beautiful work. I have been thinking of doing thi but with a light house. with the catching the ghost in the beacon

Oh, I would LOVE to see this!!
Message: Posted by: The Cardfather (Sep 22, 2013 05:27PM)
Beautiful work.
Message: Posted by: Sean-Paul (Jun 4, 2014 04:21PM)
That is beautiful!

It belongs in a magic museum!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 4, 2014 05:26PM)
Thanks. If you consider my magic dungeon a museum, then it's already in one. Ha!
Message: Posted by: Anverdi-museum (Feb 13, 2021 12:48PM)
Nothing like breathing new life into an old thread. House of the Unusual put out a brief video of myself performing the Miniature Leon Haunted House I built:


Chuck C.