How-To: The Crypt of the Phantasm

Crypt in the moonlight
A lonely girl long ago
From this world was ripped
Now her floating ghostly form
Haunts her lonely crypt

This project creates a spooky crypt for your graveyard scene, where you can house the ethereal, floating form of a ghost.

We introduced this prop to our haunt in 2004, and it was a great success. We had a steady stream of gawkers coming to check out our animated ghost, and she served as a considerable draw for our other attractions.

As always, unless you want to be the ghost haunting the crypt, make sure you take all necessary safety precautions.


The total cost of this project runs in the $350 range, although there are several opportunities for cost savings, depending on what you're willing to sacrifice, or what you might have lying around your home. If the price is too steep for you, you can also spread the cost of this project over two years by having a static ghost the first year and adding the motorized puppet platform the following year.

The Ghost

You have two options for creating your ghost:

Option One: Motorized "Flying Crank" Ghost - $180 or less
First, you will need to build a Flying Crank Ghost. The people who originally created this effect, the good folks at Phantasmechanics and assemble it, provide full instructions on creating the ghost, and require only a moderate skill level. You can also purchase kits online (although, sadly, Phantasmechanics no longer sells them). You can reduce the cost of this option dramatically if you can scavenge a motor that turns at about 3-5 rpm.

Option Two: Static Ghost - About $10
If you don't want a motorized ghost, you can simply fabricate the puppet from the aforementioned Flying Crank Ghost instructions, and leaving out the motor assembly. If you want a little motion, you can use an oscillating fan. Note that you can use a static ghost your first year and add the motor platform the following year.

Just to help you make up your mind, here is some video of our "Flying Crank Ghost" in action. This should give you an idea of the sort of motion you can achieve with the motor platform.

The Crypt

To build the crypt, you will need:

These materials create a crypt that is about 7'6" tall and has a footprint of about 4'4" square. The roof is wider than the footprint, and is about seven feet from end to end.

The foam we use comes from Home Depot. We were unable to find it at our local Lowe's.

Note that a real crypt wouldn't only be four feet deep, unless it was for a very short person or a child. Since our visitors would only see the crypt from the front, this wasn't deemed a problem, but if you need a more realistic adult-size crypt, use these instructions and plan ahead to make a double-deep crypt.

Continue to: Introduction - Construction - Skinning - Detailing - Conclusion