Arts & Culture News

After His Halloween Decor Prompted Multiple Police Visits, Artist Steven Novak Is At It Again

Artist Steven Novak goes big on Halloween. Too big for some people.
Artist Steven Novak goes big on Halloween. Too big for some people. Steven Novak
Last year, a house in east Dallas' M Streets neighborhood made headlines worldwide for its gory Halloween decorations. Media sources from South America to Russia editorialized about whether Dallas artist and engineer Steven Novak had gone too far with a lawn full of gruesomely murdered mannequins. Novak's realistic Halloween bloodbath prompted multiple visits from the Dallas police, called by neighbors who believed they'd stumbled onto an al fresco crime scene.
click to enlarge The scariest part might be that people see this scene outside a house in the M Streets and say to themselves that it could be real. - STEVEN NOVAK
The scariest part might be that people see this scene outside a house in the M Streets and say to themselves that it could be real.
Steven Novak

“All the cops that came out last year were an absolute gas. I welcome them to come out and take more selfies,” Novak says with a laugh.

Though his work went viral around the globe last year, Novak doesn't feel pressure to outdo himself. He views his new Halloween project as a way to keep his mind off the pandemic.

“This year has been rough for a lot of people," Novak says. "I think we can agree that this project is functioning as a pressure release valve.”

click to enlarge The wood chipper is the pièce de résistance in Novak's Halloween display this year. - STEVEN NOVAK
The wood chipper is the pièce de résistance in Novak's Halloween display this year.
Steven Novak
Novak surveys his yard with the pride of a new parent whose kid has done literally anything and points to each of his creations


“Last year’s hits remain: the safe, ladder, chainsaw, Roof Guy and my girlfriend," he says of his actual partner. "Also the fake blood made of corn syrup on the sidewalk. But there are lots of new details; 55-gallon drums are now out by the curb filled up with the shredded party [of guests]. And I made the body parts this year by cutting up mannequins then filling them with skeleton parts and Great Stuff insulation foam.”

The biggest piece in his gory front lawn gallery this year is a refurbished wood chipper that spits out gallons of fake blood across his yard.

“There are lots of new gimmicks to this year’s caper," Novak says. "The wood chipper blood fountain being the clear centerpiece and easily the most challenging prop. It took me months to find an old wood chipper for sale. The sellers were not pleased with its new purpose.”

A stream of fake blood also sprays out of a commercial fountain head at a staggering 3,000 gallons per hour like a gory geyser.


The "blood" then soars through the air over Novak's walkway into a kiddie pool covered in shredded mannequin remains.
click to enlarge Blood donations welcome. - STEVEN NOVAK
Blood donations welcome.
Steven Novak

Despite the blood-red theme, Novak is quite green at heart, and says the fountain is set up as to not waste water.

“It’s all powered by a submersible water pump inside the [kiddie] pool which then leads back to the wood chipper fountain," he explains. "You can turn that pump on with your foot by pressing a hidden pedal switch.” 
click to enlarge Knocking on Hell's door. - STEVEN NOVAK
Knocking on Hell's door.
Steven Novak


The blood fountain is not the only innovation made by the Halloween engineer. Novak created an optical illusion for the front door that makes it look like his house has been broken into by an axe murderer, because why wouldn't he?

“I bought a door, matched the house paint, smashed it, and mounted it to swing out on hinges," he says. "The real door to my house behind it, I then painted with a product called Black 3.0 that reflects very little light so it almost looks invisible.”

The innovations are impressive in their creativity and craftiness, even from an engineer, as much as they are macabre and disgusting, earning Novak the unofficial title of Dallas' King of Halloween.

Because of the great cost that Novak incurs to entertain and terrify his neighbors, this year he's welcoming donations and has included his Venmo account in the display.

“It’s been a tremendous amount of work and dough, but it’s worth it because people love it so much," Novak says. "People get as tickled looking at my massacre as they do looking at puppies!”

And Novak likes to give people what they want.

"Next year’s gonna be nuts,” he says.
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