The Frankenhand Table

Frankenhand Table

Re-animated hand The theme here is a mad scientist's laboratory. He's re-animated a wiggling severed arm which hangs from a frame in the center of the table. White mist from an ultrasonic humidifier drifts down over the hand from a tube above it. A light inside the tube gives the fog an eery glow. Two huge ceramic insulators tower over everything on either side of the table. Several illuminated flasks and test tubes with various colored liquids bubble on the table. They have air pumped into them by aquarium pumps bought at garage sales. Most of the table's surface is covered with equipment and tools: small bottles, a mortar and pestle, scalpel, battery, pipe cutter, and diagrams. Hand-colored anatomical diagrams of the human hand photocopied from library books hang on the back wall. Not visible in the picture, the area beneath the table is filled with various gothic equipment: chasing lights, a TV tuned to static, an old analog electrical meter, and the guts of a television.

In the center, a green liquid bubbles violently in a tall tube. It has air pumped into it by a 12v tire pump about 15 feet away in another room to reduce the noise. It's connected by a long air tube with a power wire wrapped around it. The green tube is lit from below by a 50 watt projector lamp. One year the lamp melted the plastic base which was glued to the bottom of the glass tube and the whole thing fell over. We had tested it, but not for as long as it would run on Halloween night.

Jacob's ladder On the left, a 7,500 volt spark climbs an 18" Jacob's ladder making a nice "buzz.... pop!" sound. It's powered by a neon sign transformer bought at a surplus store for $35. This is a lethal voltage/current. The spark will instantly set a piece of paper on fire. The visitors are kept away from the table (for obvious reasons) by a metal mesh stapled to a wooden frame screwed into the door frame. The Jacob's ladder has a cooling fan on the side.

Bubbling flask On the right, a flask containing oil and water of different colors boils over a real Bunsen burner flame. It looks something like a lava lamp. The water is colored with food coloring and the Crisco oil is colored with candle-coloring powder. The boiling flask is lit from behind by a 50 watt projector lamp. We had to add water to the flask half-way through the night because it boils off. The Bunsen burner is actually fueled by alcohol. The base was sealed and a tube run from it to a reservoir of alcohol with an inverted bottle to keep the level steady. (This set-up caught fire more than once. Consider yourself warned.)

Rat with turds Blood and bubbles flow through a loop of tube on the table going through the arm and through a rat immobilized by a rotating hypnotic disk. Tony rolled up some plumber's putty to provide evidence that the rat had been there awhile. He didn't tell me what he'd done, and when I saw it I burst out laughing.

Closeup of hand bones The hand is one of those sound-activated deals which just wiggles the middle finger. We modified it to run continuously, and we hung it in such a way that it moves more. I built the bones out of dowels and hot glued them inside the hand. I drilled holes in the ends and then put jagged cuts into the edges. The bloody flesh is made of shredded paper towels soaked in red food coloring and stuffed into the hand.

[ Previous Effect: Sound effects ]

[ Main Halloween page ]

[ Next Effect: Dangling Crank Spider ]