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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in a huge debacle and I've heard so many different inputs but I just dont know what to go with. Theme limits what you can build but can sometimes make it more scary if executed correctly. Tell me your thoughts on what's better theme or no theme?
 

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We originally planned on having a theme, but decided not to.
The enormous camp where our haunt is located (it takes up the whole camp, the woods is our part, then there's like five cabins used as haunted houses and there's a pirates exhibit by the lake; the place is HUGE) is actually located RIGHT next to a cemetery, so I thought we could have a theme like "the dead rose up from the graves and trudged along into the woods, and these woods are now their home" haha. But we realized that our thing includes a torture chamber, a shack with a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and scarecrows that are fake (maybe... ;]), so that wasn't exactly what the undead would do on their spare time; build a shack and a torture chamber (to torture eachother?).
We decided to not go with a theme and do straight up scaryyyyyyy! :D
 

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Take Inventory

Although a theme may keep you from putting your entire halloween collection on display, a well thought out theme can make your haunt really stand out and more memorable. The general scary and gruesome graveyeard may give scared Trick-Or-Treaters a good adrenaline rush for the evening, whereas a theme could give them something to talk about later with their buddies and add your place to the MUST list for next year.

I would say, take inventory of what you have and make a list of different themes that spark your interest. If you've got enough stuff that really supports a specific theme, go from there, and Go With What You Know. (If you want to do a movie theme like Chainsaw Massacre or something more subtle like Harry Potter, but have never seen the movie(s) - don't do it!)

I think doing a time era theme would be fun. The Old West could have dead cowboy bodies from a shootout and saloon doors leading to a poker table with skeletons. Or something more historical like a time warp into a North vs. the South battlefield where ghosts still haunt.
 

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im a pretty big stickler for having some sort of theme - or at least making the rooms somewhate integrated - one of the things we as haunters do to make the experience scarrier is try and make the atmosphere as realistic as possible with cool scenery, mood setting sound effects/music, lighting, even smells for some, however, in my opinion, if you dont have a haunt that flows at least a little bit, you take a few steps backward from making it realistic and kick yourself in the foot - - - so yes, you might be able to have some really scary rooms by themself, but you will lack buildup and momentum through the whole haunt as well as make it more unrealistic - - - we have a hard enough time trying to make our show feel like the place really is haunted, so why put a clown room right after a burial chamber? it may still be scary for some, but some of the older people who are harder to scare wont be as impressed and wont be scared even if each room is executed well. getting the people in the right mindset to be scared is just as important as the actual scare. a little analogy....take one of your favorite rock songs or any genre for that matter - take your favorite 10 second clip out of the song and put it beside a couple other clips of songs you like. while that still may be a really impressive part for whatever reason, i bet you wont get goosebumps like you do when the third time the chorus roles around and the guitarist goes crazy or that key change happens - know what i mean? we feel that way cause of the buildup and the rest of the song has put us in the minset to be impressed

the way i approach it is this - instead of making props specifically for a theme, try and make a theme that encompases a lot of your existing props - it may take a little more work to create a backstory that way but spending a few days mulling over a good story is better than spending a couple hundred bucks and a few weeks making very specific props to your theme that you could possibly never use again - - just using my haunt as an example - - just a few of the rooms are a childs room with maybe clowns, a bathroom, an endless pit, a toxic room, and a chainsaw room. now at first glance that dont seem like they have anything to do with each other, but when you read the story and go through the haunt it will still flow nicely

the story involves an undertaker who worked out of his home - the facade will be of a turn of the century srtyle house - this explains the childs room (which is the only way i can think of getting clowns involved while still keeping a theme other than circus) and the bathroom - however, since the undertaker was a crazed killer, he didn't want to do his slaughtering in the open, so there are secret passages in the house, in a particular room the style of scenery will take a drastic change from house like rooms to more of an underground/old forgotten passageway sort of thing - this is where the pit will be - once a mineshaft/ a pit to throw bodies? you decide - - - the toxic room will be labeled with embalming fluids and stuff he would need for his practice, and the chainsaw guy could be the killer himself trying to claim you as the next victim - so instead of having like all pirate stuff, or all vampire stuff, i was able to have a lot of variety while still being able to keep the haunt flowing and make it as believable as possible

sorry for the long post - hope this helps someone a bit - riley
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As a first year haunted houser, I belive a general halloween theme seems to be the best way to start out. A theme can be very challenging, if the general theme has some success the first year we can move onto a theme the next. I will go heinz 57 until it is perfected where people are saying, "that was fricken sweet, you deffinitally got the bang for you buck by coming here" I'm 14 and I'll admit in having a pretty creative mind but themeing the first year just seems like too much to shoot for. The haunted house won't be like... 1 room a spider room, 1 room something that looks like an actual house. It will all kind of play along to hopefully make a great halloween experience. The whole trail will be outlined in corn stalks with random walk through hallways similar to www.hauntedoverload.com Thank you for your help and any more sugjestions are welcome!
 

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Similar to what 1031 said, having a certain theme doesn't mean that you are limited to what props or effects you can use. For example in this years haunt the guests will go through a graveyard, two elevators, pass an oncoming train, witness a living torso on a table, travel through an old house full of ghosts and finally go through the gates of hell. So yeah believe it or not, having a theme really doesn't limit you too much. And while I try to keep the story for the haunt relatively short (b/c lets face it people just want to be scared) in the end everything ties together.
 

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I think a theme makes for a better overall experience rather than a collection of scares. Context adds to creepy. You're right. A theme may cause you to edit. But it really doesn't limit you. Our story of a family haunted to death can incorporate any number of ghoulies because the family opened up the barrier between life and death. Who knows what comes through that, right?
 

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If you truly want to emerge your visitors into your haunt, a theme is what the mad doctor ordered. Remember...THIS IS YOUR WORLD! Anything can be used to bring your theme forth. You are only limited by your own imagination. Open your mind and think outside the box. It's all good. :jol:
 

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Theme Sign

So, let's say you've chosen to go with a theme. You've got an old shelf sitting on your porch with potions and bottles of jellyfish tentacles, frog legs, etc as well as a cauldron, a broomstick, and spell book. I'm guessing most people will see this as something to do with witches in general.... But what if you meant it to be a Harry Potter's school closet? Do you let the audience see their own thing? Or do you post a sign that advertises the true theme? (Perhaps the school marquee at the street and a storage closet sign above your display?) Granted, having additional accessories like Harry Potter glasses and a goblet may be enough to show some people what your intent is, too.
 

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So, let's say you've chosen to go with a theme. You've got an old shelf sitting on your porch with potions and bottles of jellyfish tentacles, frog legs, etc as well as a cauldron, a broomstick, and spell book. I'm guessing most people will see this as something to do with witches in general.... But what if you meant it to be a Harry Potter's school closet? Do you let the audience see their own thing?
That's where what type of haunter you are comes into play. Are you subtle and give your guests time to look at their surroundings or are you a hard hitting haunter with quick scares that won't allow your guests time to comtemplate on things? Me? I'm the later -- I'm hitting you hard over the head with it. Is your haunt more of a narrative type haunt where there's guides and a bit of theatrics or is it a fast-paced and in your face? Again, I'm the later. So, I'm putting up signs and having a first room actor there acting their butt off to make sure they know exactly where they are and they know it quick.
 
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