Events - Bob Burns Halloween 2002

Hollywood Lost and Found
Bob Burns Halloween Extravaganza 2002

I can't say enough good things about Bob Burns. Besides being the custodian of one of the largest collections of movie props and memorabilia anywhere, he's one of the nicest guys you could ever find.

Like many of us, Bob's favorite day of the year is Halloween. And Bob has always celebrated in a very big way. Starting in the late '60s, Bob, his wife Kathy, and his friends have put on a show at his house in the San Fernando Valley for trick-or-treaters of all ages. These shows began as small presentations, and evolved into very elaborate productions. There were monsters, spaceships - and a few big scares along the way. There were also long lines around the block as hundreds of people waited an hour or more to see the show.

Celebrities in the film making community - including make-up effects artist Rick Baker, Industrial Light and Magic's wizard Dennis Muren, and "Star Trek" original series scribe Dorothy Fontana, just to name a few - graciously donated their time and their talents to Bob's shows. Occasionally, even the movie studios themselves helped out. For a show based on the movie "Alien," 20th Century Fox donated many of the original props and costumes to Bob's production.

After Halloween 1982, Bob and his pals took a break - for 20 years. There was always talk of another show someday... and in the last few years, rumors of a show based on the 1951 film "The Thing from Another World" circulated in town.

Then one day, I got a call from Bob. It was really happening. "The Thing" was going to attack on Halloween 2002, and Bob asked if I'd make a few sound effects for the show. I was thrilled! Although I had seen a couple of Bob's shows years ago, I had never contributed to them. I couldn't volunteer full-time to the construction, but I dropped by a few times in the couple weeks before Halloween to see how things were going. Dozens of volunteers scurried about, helping to assemble a large structure in Bob's front yard and driveway for the show's set.

I watched the original movie again, then designed a few sounds for Bob's production - including a few cold Arctic winds, and bursts of electrical zaps for the big climax. Composer Christopher Drake created the music for the show, including a Theremin sound reminiscent of the classic '50s monster movies.

On the night before Halloween, Bob's crew and their friends arrived for a special preview - the first dress rehearsals of the show. My wife and I, along with my sister-in-law and nephew, arrived to see that a long line had already assembled on the street leading to the newly constructed "theater" in front of Bob's house. We took our place in line, right behind the notorious Drew "Moriarty" McWeeny, contributor to Harry Knowles' website Ain't-it-cool News. We also spied monster maker Rick Baker, director John Landis, and director Mick Garris.

Kathy Burns walked up the line to say hi to everyone, and thanked us all for coming - and informed us that groups of 15 people at a time were being led into the show, which was about 7 minutes long. Sure enough, as we got closer, we could see groups herded into the dark structure... and minutes later, screams could be heard from the building. Uh-oh!

After what seemed like only a few minutes (was it really an hour?) we reached the head of the line. Our group included Walt Disney Imagineers Tony Baxter and Bruce Gordon, as well as Oscar nominated model maker Greg Jein (who built the Mothership in "Close Encounters," among many other famous spaceships).

We watched a grainy black-and-white video "transmission" from the panicky Captain of a group of Arctic researchers, then entered the building and suddenly found ourselves in the very station the S.O.S. was sent from. The Captain (played at our show by Bob's friend Daniel Roebuck, who was in "The River's Edge" and "The Fugitive") suddenly arrived on the scene. He explained to us that the scientists found a creature embedded in a block of ice that they brought back to the station. But now the creature had thawed out - and was loose!

The Captain rushed us around the station, explaining that we were in grave danger. There were several scary surprises as we moved along... and as he led us to the far back corner of the station, we saw something moving toward us slowly...

...Oh, I'm sorry... I'm ruining the surprise, aren't I...?

Everyone I was with loved the show - and screamed LOUD. You can't help getting into the action and excitement when you're right in the middle - it was like watching a play being performed all around you.

Upon exiting the set, we were all presented with a commemorative button. Bob was at the exit, talking to friends and fans. Before I could thank him for the great show, he thanked ME for my contributions. He is such a great guy!

There are not enough people in the world that would go to such a huge effort to entertain everyone and share some real magic like Bob does on Halloween.

I hope we don't have to wait 20 years for the next show!

- Steve Lee
31 October 2002

View 360º Pictures from the Bob Burns 2002 Halloween Show on

The Official Bob Burns Website

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