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Thread: Creating a hand from the grave graveyard scene

  1. #1

    Question {Resolved} Creating a hand from the grave graveyard scene

    In a couple of weeks I'm participating in a short film festival. The story is basically finished and we'll start filming next week. However, there is one scene that leaves me mildly desperate. In the film we'll do a hand-from-the-grave-grabs-hold-of-someone's-arm-scene (I know, it's been done a million times, but I think it'll work well in the story).

    As far as I can tell, it really involves burying someone in a box under a thin layer of dirt (so that's my first question, are there alternatives to actually digging a hole
    somewhere and stuffing somebody in there?)

    If digging a hole is necessary, I was thinking of filming a grave yard but shooting the actual scene somewhere else (because I doubt we would be allowed to play around in the actual graveyard) and somehow insert that little patch of dirt in the graveyard footage, but I'm afraid I will not be able to make it blend together. Also, I thought of just making a fake grave somewhere, but then how do you make people believe that one grave is actually located in a graveyard?

    In short, who has any ideas to make a kick-ass, pee your pants, hand from the grave, graveyard scene? I use Vegas Pro 8 for editing.
    Last edited by patinageartist; 04-25-2013 at 06:15 AM. Reason: Problem resolved

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    My suggestion would be:

    You shoot the lead up scenes in the graveyard.
    You get (or build) a shallow tray about a meter square, make a hole in the bottom and get someone to lie underneath and stick their arm through. Fill it with soil. Then, anywhere, film the close-up of the hand thrusting out and grabbing the victim's arm (as in Carrie).
    Back in the graveyard. Quickly, before you get caught. You get someone to lie on the ground and grab the victim. Have a low angle shot of the victim struggling to free themselves of the corpse's grip with gravestones in the background. Cheat out the body of the "corpse".

    As a bonus (but worth it) If you can get an arm from a shop-window dummy, simply plant it in the ground, on a fresh grave, and get the victim to "struggle" with it for a ONE SECOND mid or long shot.

    Then leg it.

    The secret is to keep the shots short and don't be tempted to let them linger too long on the screen. One frame too many can be enough to destroy the illusion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    I remember seeing the end scene from Brian de Palma's "Carrie", in the cinema, when it came out nearly 40 years ago and it frightened the shite out of me.

    "Carrie" - Brian De Palma, 1976 - scena finale - YouTube

    Now that I look at it on youtube, it seems quite tame which shows that it's the build-up which is the important part.

  4. #4


    Thank you so much Rembrandt Rob! I can definitely work with this!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    London, England


    FWIW, my thought was to make a tray that's covered in grit like that found on graves. If there is a small hole covered in cling-film an actor can pierce the film and the hand (arm) appears as you shoot.
    - In a quiet corner, you might get away with it, Also it will give filmmakers a bad reputation in the community, so don't risk it.
    - - - but better might be to align the prop with an upright suitably painted to represent a tombstone, -if it's out of focus it shouldn't show. (but match the lighting+shadows!).
    Track from the real graves to the fake using a transition. If the camera focuses on a pretty flower (sunk into the fake grave), that should help maintain viewer interest and make the appearance even more unexpected.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by vidmanners; 04-24-2013 at 12:07 AM.

  6. #6


    Thank you so much Vidmanners!

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