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Algernon Prop Small Photo

I always thought Algernon was a strange prop. I believe it was the third one I created (but don't quote me on that.) The idea sort of came from the first prop I had seen in a local Hallowe'en store in 1991 which someone had clearly made and stuck in their display case. The prop that was for sale there was also a polyfoam skull that had been placed on a plastic platter (much like my own prop I-Scream) and then had all sorts of weird junk embedded in it - bullet casings, razor blades, plastic knives and such. This set off my nonsense detector. Skulls are far too hard to have such things stuck into them. Plus it was over-kill. Who would commit a murder by doing all that stuff to some poor guy's skull? You know?

So I thought a nice simple skull with a huge whacking hole in the back of it would be more realistic. To have it buried in the earth in a basket with flowers thoughtfully planted around it (not to mention in it) would complete the effect. It was an easy one to make. The earth was made of liquid latex (my first adventure in this direction as I recall.) The most complex part for me was finding flowers I thought would look 'appropriate'. I wanted muted colors in oranges, reds, blacks and similar dark colors. Naturally I wanted a lily in the teeth as the pièce de résistance. One of the best things I found were the dead-looking black twig things. (I must confess, I do wonder what floral arrangers use such things for.)

Then there were the worms. The worms were the gross touch for the horror folks - ya' just gotta' have that if you're going to create an effective prop. So I stuck two plastic fishing worms into the prop. (I believe I still have the bag of remaining worms in collection of HEDZ junk. I'm not much for fishing.) The significant worm was coming out of the teeth/mouth for best effect. Oddly, the worms were totally overshadowed by the flowers; many people didn't even notice them. I felt this sort of muted its effectiveness as a prop.

Algernon Photo Selection Strip Click the images above to view photos of this prop in the window.

The real trouble with this prop was that I didn't really know what to do with it. It looks like something you would put in an old woman's drawing room. "That old thing? Oh, that's George, my first husband. He was such a pain in the arse that I whacked him in the back of the head with a fire iron." Not a real great prop for a haunted house room except as a piece of bric-a-brac. (A piece of bric-a-brac which would be ignored by 98% of the people searching the room for the guy in a raty old dress who would inevitably jump out with a bent and bloody fire iron.) So he mostly wound up in the ticket booth window when he'd fit.

There was never any thought of making this one into a commercial prop. There were too many parts that would have made it expensive to make and, as I mentioned, it probably wouldn't seem very appealing to most buyers.