Animatronic axe-murderer prop door

Etsy seller Patricaia Rodriguez has created an astounding Hallowe'en prop: an animatronic door inset with an LCD that looks like a window showing a corridor beyond it. An axe-murderer stalks down the hallway, glares menacingly at you, then begins to attack the door with his axe. Each blow of the axe is synchronized with a mechanism that makes the door shake violently and causes "dents" to appear in the material, bringing the illusion to life.

You can buy the door and video together, or just the video and detailed instructions for recreating the door.

Update: from the comments, Emily Rugburn sez, "As someone who has produced fx for the haunted attraction industry, I feel compelled to tell you that this is a rip-off of another company's effect from 2 years ago - Pale Night Productions, with whom I am not affiliated."

(via Red Ferret)


  1. As someone who has produced fx for the haunted attraction industry, I feel compelled to tell you that this is a rip-off of another company’s effect from 2 years ago – Pale Night Productions, with whom I am not affiliated. The fx I produced for AtmosFearFX have also been ripped off. Several times.

    1. I like how the original effect is shown off on youtube with no watermark at all, then someone duplicates the idea whole cloth and drapes a huge obnoxious watermark across the demo of it, as if only they are allowed to lift things from other people.

    2. but that was 2 years ago. i wouldn’t call it a rip-off unless the company in question is still actively producing and promoting it, and hence getting substantial income from this product. if the so-called rip-off is of better quality and have better features, that only gives consumer more options.

    3. The link you posted is for an entirely different effect.  While I don’t doubt that this is not the first time the effect has been used, if it is not exactly like the one Pale Night (or whoever) produced, it’s not a “rip-off.”  I’m sorry you feel so hurt that someone might actually like the work enough to copy it, but unless you have copyrighted and patented the design (and the image), it’s probably not yours.  I am also not affiliated, just observing the vitriol with which you attack the producer of this effect piece.

  2. The lazy axe murderer is okay, and the door effect is pretty neat, but I’d find it too distracting, I think. A view of a busy space station, with all sorts of critters wondering by on incomprehensible business, would suit me better.

  3. The denting effect is pretty awesome. I wish they had restrained themselves from making a “psych ward” version too.
    From my experience visiting my wife in the psych ward a few times, a more realistic scene would be a patient hanging out at the nurses’ station trying to get their cigarette break earlier than scheduled, or making collages and joking about how the nurses ask every night if they’ve moved their bowels. I realize it’s an archetypal thing that everybody fears, but some people would be scared of a Big Black Man prop door, or Cancer Ward Zombie, or Man in Turban summoning a Djinni — that doesn’t make it acceptable.

    1. The one time I’ve been there I had someone try to bribe me to bring him beer.

      I can understand your sensitivity to the issue, but I think most people realize this is a warped version – a caricature – of a psyche ward and that they aren’t like that. Well… not anymore, at least.

      1. Right, people realize it’s a warped version and a caricature. So would it be more acceptable to have a scary film of Keith David looking out from a window and saying, “Hide your wife, hide your kids, I’m coming to get them, especially if they’re white.” Flickering lights illuminating watermelon rinds and buckets of fried chicken in the hallway behind him?
        As far as judging them acceptable or not, the substantial difference between a racist stereotype caricature and a stereotype caricature of a person with mental illness is that there are a lot of people organized who would complain about racist stereotypes. They’ve spent years raising awareness of it, and the general public has been influenced, whereas the movement is still growing to raise awareness of stigmatizing mental illness. There are people who write letters every year complaining about damned straight-jacket costumes at Halloween USA, but I’ve already gotten burned out on that.

        1. “So would it be more acceptable to have a scary film of Keith David looking out from a window and saying, “Hide your wife, hide your kids, I’m coming to get them, especially if they’re white.” Flickering lights illuminating watermelon rinds and buckets of fried chicken in the hallway behind him?”

          This is NOT AT ALL the same thing as what you describe.  What makes you even THINK about such offensive imagery?

          1. I’m just bringing up common racist stereotypes, not ones that I believe. But I thought you had this thing called freedom of speech, you have the option of moving on, you can police your own thoughts, right? Now why is it offensive enough for you to make a fuss when someone brings up racist stereotypes, but inoffensive enough for you to defend free speech when someone creates disgusting stereotypes of people with mental illness?

            There could be a lot of different factors, but I’m guessing you trust your personal judgment about what’s offensive enough and what’s inoffensive. Is it possible that your personal judgment was affected by the work of generations of people influencing society about racism, people raising awareness of how it hurts them? Is it wild to think the same could happen and should happen for mental illness stigma?

          2. Sorry, I should have added the /sarcasm tag.

            The fact is that you came up with the image you described, and that means it exists somewhere in your heart and mind (I am not condemning you as a person, we all hold darkness in our hearts to some degree). 

            Mental illness can be a scary thing.  Dealing with mental illness is most certainly harrowing for all involved.  Mental illness is also a common theme in horror imagery.  That doesn’t make all mentally ill people axe murderers, but as a society, we like to think that a NORMAL person would not willingly commit heinous acts, so we envision the axe murderer as deranged and psychotic.

            Hockey players and burn victims are not usually scary people, but there are a couple of well known characters who co-opt the imagery for some scares (and laughs).  All I’m saying is that it seems like you’re so close to the subject matter that objectivity to an entertainment product cannot be viewed objectively.

            Yes, I’m still defending free speech.

          3. People with mental illness are stereotyped as violent. Just because a lot of people think it’s true and are afraid of it doesn’t mean we should accept it more than fear-based racial stereotypes.

            I’d have to dig for a proper citation somewhere, maybe read it in NAMI literature or SZ magazine, but if I remember correctly, people diagnosed with schizophrenia who are in treatment and not abusing drugs or alcohol are statistically more likely to be victims of assault by “normal” people than to be perpetrators of assault. They have more reason to fear “us” than we have to fear them.

            Re: hockey players and burn victims, your analogy fails because those are not groups that experience stigma or discrimination. Are there many people living under constant threat of being fired or evicted or beat up when their bosses or landlords or neighbors find out they are hockey players or burn victims? Meanwhile, suicide is associated with some kinds of mental illness, which makes it reasonable to tread a little more lightly with them, not play up stigma and stereotypes about violent mentally ill people just to sell a few more books or movies or Halloween nicknacks. Usually when taunting people for being PC, we could joke about their delicate sensibilities and over-sensibility. When we’re talking about people with mental illness, some of them are literally over-sensitive and irrational, and could be pushed over the edge by a few insults.

            Re: free speech, my position is sometimes dismissed as being PC or endorsing self-censorship, but I think we can have a reasonably open society and still condemn people who use racist stereotypes. Same with stereotypes of mental illness. I’m not saying corporate or govt overlords should shut down purveyors of stereotypes, but it seems reasonable to ask purveyors to stop doing it.

    2. I’m guessing that the horror effects shown are not meant to be representative of your experience in the psych ward (or your wife’s for that matter). If you realize they are playing upon common fears, then you also realize that SOME people will not find them acceptable.  Thankfully, we have this thing called freedom of speech and expression, and when an idea or image is not acceptable to you, you have the option of moving on.   I can police my own thoughts, thanks.

  4. I wonder how the denting effect is done. I’d love to see the mechanism.  I wish there was a haunted house tradeshow in the bay area.

    1. The surface of the door is a painted rubber sheet, beneath which are several axe head shaped forms.  When triggered, pneumatic pistons push the axe forms onto the rubber door face from behind, causing it to distort.

    2. Edit – just read Mockiovelli’s reply below.

      From the ones I’ve seen, the door is made of a spandex-like material. The dents are just objects pushed into the material from behind.

  5. Apparently Halloween isn’t allowed to be fun anymore. People with metal illness are never self destructive or violent anymore either. Certainly the majority of them aren’t, but just like in every walk of life, dangerous people do exist, and in some places they are still tied to beds, or put in restraints.

    I get that it’s a sensitive issue for you, but hey, most people know someone with a diagnosed form of mental illness. My uncle has Bipolar Affective Disorder and has had several stints in a hospital when he’s gone off his medication. My Aunt is Schizophrenic and without her medication believes the government is stealing her thoughts. These things aren’t funny to me, or something to be made light of. A obviously made-for-halloween-to-scare-kids depiction however, is what halloween is about.

    I imagine you’re the kind of person that goes to a comedy show, and walks out because (spoiler alert) the comic was offensive.

  6. Does the listing say she made it? I thought it was just a reselling of a prop she had used, and so could actually be by Pale Night Productions.

    I thought Deidzoeb’s arguments were well reasoned. It’s a good point to bring to the table…period. In posting his point, he educates and adds counterweight to the images.

    It’s also possible to enjoy this on the level of a “scare” and not be evil. Scary is what we’re afraid of. It is a scary idea to not be in control of yourself, to be abused by people who are supposed to be taking care of you and to be so far away from the norm. It’s also scary to see a stereotype that’s supposed to represent you or your loved one and wonder what it says about your safety in such a society.

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