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Discussion Starter #1
Which do you focus more on when you start planning your Haunt? It's not to hard to startle most people but how important is the actual 'scare factor' to you? I like when people are running out the last part of the haunt screaming all the way out!
 

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Startle definitley short sharp shocks with just the right amount of pause in between. That way they get to enjoy things but still get scared.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I like a big startle then keep it going with the scare (tonned down for smaller kids), but after that I agree about needing a pause, We put a lot of turns/zig zags to slow people down to get ready for the next event. We spread the scarier scenes between the less scary ones and try to save the best for last. I guess one determiing factor would be how big your haunt is.
 

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Well since this is my first haunt, im just hoping for people LOL. I guess i prefer to be startled, there isnt much thats going to make me run out screaming when i know its fake. I will scream if startled though so I guess its the same effect.
 

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While I feel that both have a place in a haunt, I've gone through many that rely far too much on startles. By the end of the haunt, it's just annoying, and predictable.

Set the mood, creep 'em out, and keep the startles few and far between.

That's what I always say... well, not always...OK. not very often at all, actually...
 

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I don't have a haunt going yet, but I agree that you need both. Use the startles to set up the scares. If you keep them on their toes with the startles you can misdirect them, you know.......they're watching the prop saying to themselves "this thing is going to jump, I know it's going to jump.......any second it's going to jump" BAM!!!!!! an actor comes out from a hidden spot behind them weilding a chainsaw! You just need to have the set interesting enough to keep them them there waiting.
Just my 2 cents
 

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Atmosphere.

Let the situation be scary, and then provide misdirections fluxing between props and startles. Too many startles is too monotonous IMHO.
 

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I just go for an overall creepy atmosphere. Subtle lighting effects (except for the lightning/thunder), lots of fog, lots of the undead coming out of the ground, and a talking Grim Reaper to warn the TOTs about them. One or two sound effect startles; loud cat screeches in unexpected places, that sort of thing. I don't do a full-blown haunt, just a graveyard display, but I go for the most disturbing scenery I can think of.
 

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I agree, a startle should involve a good set-up, so the victim gets to laugh at the same time ("yeah, you got me good, there...") After about the third time some actor jumps out from somewhere hidden and screams at you at close quarters, you just start rolling your eyes. Each one should have something distinct and novel about it.
 

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I totally agree with those who have said that there should be a mixture of the two -- startles and scares. I try to have both in my haunt, as well as a place or two to laugh. This year, we are going to try and incorporate scenes that are just there for eye candy, too. Such as the "Half It" room were everything is halved. (Half a chair, half a coat rack, half a trash can, etc.) It was inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. ;)

Startles can come from anywhere and takes but a second -- the creature is there and then gone like a flash. A startle usually results in a scream with a person's feet still planted as the threat is no longer a, well, threat.

A scare takes longer and is a process --a process of building up emotions and working on their fears. When combined with a startle the results are usually the feet taking the customer away from the scene.

I've found that it takes more $$ to create a good scare than a startle (Black mazes not included ;) ). Scenary, lighting, sound effects, music and detail, detail, detail ALL take a part in a good scare.

I try to never repeat a startle more than twice. It becomes old hat after that and predictable. BUT, variations on a particular startle work well. For example, drop panels are GREAT and are almost always a guaranteed startle if it is disguised correctly. I have two drop panels ( one regular that goes straight down with a bang and one that goes out from the wall on chains). But, I also have a cabinet door that the actor pulls in towards himself and leans forward through the opening for a startle and a HUGE white trunk mounted on the wall with the words "First + Aid" written on it that the actor pushes the lid open on and bangs against the table in front of it for a good startle.

Animatronics/Pneumatics can be used for a startle and can set things up nicely in a scary scene, too. We are using them for both. Air cannons are great startle equipment and Coffin Risers can be used for both (depending on PSI). I could go on and on...but, I won't. LOL! :D

Have fun making them scream and run!! You're only limited by your Scare-magination! :)
 

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If you build up enough anticipation, it should be easy to have a bunch of startle scares. But you definately need to fit in some actual scares for what people will really remember
 

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I've noticed in watching videos of a lot of the big-name popular pro haunts that they'll use the elaborate animatronics as build-up and diversion pieces. Creepy environment, ominous sounds, nice well-made room, and there's the dismembered steaming cadaver squirming around or the thrashing strait-jacket guy or whatever, and people are just so sure it's going to do something that they're watching it closely as they go through, not paying attention to that shadowy area just around the corner.....

"RAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!" Actor gets the 2 points, with the expensive toy getting the assist. Philosophically that just seems right to me, too.
 

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That seems ideal, yet i see far to many haunts using animations without the actor... comes down to the age old argument of actor vs animation
 

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To some extent maybe, but commonly it comes down to the age old question of how many people are going to show up tonight. Haunt actors aren't necessarily the most reliable bunch in the world; from most people I've talked to, everyone wants to work Halloween night but you never know how many will come in on any other nights. You might have 38 people one night and 5 the next. At that point the animatrons are all you have left.
 

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I'm in the atmosphere boat right now since I don't really have anyone helping me with the haunt (such as it is). I do get in some startles though from a perfectly timed bloodcurdling scream when kids are trying to make it to the front door and don't know I'm right behind them, or when I am in the cemetery in the fog and they can't tell if I am real or a dummy... and I suddenly lunge and scream.
 
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