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What do you think is most scary as a theme? General, clown show, original horror characters, a mix of all? I'm basically wondering because with the new haunted house in the works I want this to scare the crap outa ppl and not just be a dumb little walk through. Kind of going along with this can you think of any props or scenes that really made you scared or jump? Thanks in advance.
 

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Alot of people do haunted carnivals or clowns but I won't do that. Little kids love the circus, and I won't spoil it for them by making the clowns so scarey they can't enjoy it any more. I also won't do anyone hanging or anything really bloody or gorey. I think the scariest things are the ones you DON'T see, the things you anticipate and make up in your own mind. Does that make any sense? Sorry if it doesn't....I've been out in the sun all day and I think I may have fried what was left of my brain!
 

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I guess to me the scariest is when the audience is made to get involved with the 'story' of the haunt. That's something that many pro attractions do very well- instead of just having a random walkthru and people jumping from hidden corners and screaming, get your audience emotionally involved. Of course if you give *too* much story your audience loses interest (too much opening narration, too many 'stop and tell' moments).

And I always appreciate safe ways of not feeling... *safe*. Like having a ringer walk through with each group and at some point in the haunt having something happen to the ringer so the rest of the group thinks 'oh crap they're not supposed to do anything to *us* and something happened'.

I know this isn't exactly what you asked for but I hope it helps.
 

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Though I am relatively new to this, I think the right mood will make any theme good. Personally I agree with trishaanne, I don't like things that are 2 gruesome or gory, and its thinking you're gonna get scared, the anticipation, that gets you. Years (and years) ago I went to Universal Fright Nights when they first opened up Bates hotel. I remember coming up on a walk through closet lined on both sides with coats hanging up, thinking someone would defintely grab me while waling through. No one did, but the anticipation was great! I am still learning how, but I think sound and light plays more of a role than anything. Ever gone through a cool ride and notice how many different sound sources you are surrounded by?

Having said all of that, the best theme I pulled off last year was a swamp room; soundtracks of crickets and frogs, and things walking through the water. We used old tree limbs as trees, scattered leaves and twigs everywhere, and used scattered black lights. Very Spooky. We also had an outdoor cemetary with scattered soundscapes playing. This year I want to add blinking eyes, bush shakers (just a little, like someone sneaking up on you), and sounds of bats coming from speakers up in the trees. Things like that to set the mood.
 

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heresjohnny- as a brief aside, do you have any pics of your actual haunt on your website? I love your project pages, etc but would like to see the whole deal. :)
 

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I agree with the "anticipation" theory. I am cool with horor movies and such, but you wont catch me in a haunted house! I just wont do it, the anticipation is too great for me. I cant play hide or seek as well because I start thinking about someone lurking or bugs etc.... My heart races just thinking about it. But i am a Hypocrite in the purest sense as I have my own haunted areas - go figure.
 

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Definitely the anticipation is the thing that gets me toooo. When I go in a haunted house I am looking all around knowing the places that someone/something should be coming out and when it doesn't happen but takes place when your guard is down is awesome. I know who put the haunt together is thinking along with same lines as me.

I also think it makes for a good horror film when there is a scene that grabs you. It's nice to have the special effects and stuff, but just an old fashioned scare can make me feel like I got my money's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks alot guys, do you think its scarier to have someone walk you thruough? I don't because then your not really all by yourself in the dark haunted house.
 

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I like going in with a group because even though I love haunted houses, I'm a scaredy cat!!!! I hide in between everyone.
 

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Anticipation is a big one for me but, I think atmosphere, which allows you to scare yourself, is just as important. If done right nothing has to move in a haunt to scare people, that's what I'm aiming for this year.

We visited a local haunted house last year ( http://www.lazarusmaze.com/ ) and the building itself, and the inside, were all done extremely will but, the actors ruined most of the experience for me. They were to "in your face" trying to scare you instead of letting the atmosphere do most of that for them. The two best room were the "spider" room and the "lost girl" room. In the spider room there were cocoons in the webs which moved slightly and you got to imagine what was inside. In the lost girl room there was a small girl (6 or 7) in the corner saying things like "can I please leave with you before they get back", "there are scary things in here", and "where's my mommy" and starting to gently sob.

The scariest theme for me would be demons and possession. I'm not a big religious person but being raised in a southern Baptist home I've heard all the stories. I would love to do a "cased out of heaven theme". Have a dark angel (the devil) sitting on the ground, head hung low and wings spread wide, like he had just landed on earth after being cased out of heaven. There would be fire and smoke around him and he would be dirty and tattered like he had just been through a battle.

My Devil would not have the traditional Devil look but would be a gorgeous man, after all he was the most beautiful angle created. He would have Long brown hair, a weight-lifters body, and dark wings but, red glowing eyes. I would have the rest of the haunt themed after the 7 deadly sins to finish the haunt.

That's just one of mine haunt ideas.
 

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Being an actor, I like having a tour guide. The guide is a character that sets the mood and makes sure people follow rules so they don't hurt themselves or your props.

As a benefit, the guide is able to keep the group moving along so nobody takes too much time in one spot and there are no stragglers.

My plan is to set up my first large-scale haunt in 2008, but it's a bit different than some other haunts that go on around here. Much of it will be theatrically based.
 

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The two scariest things I've ever done in a haunt were as follows.
One year we did a fund raiser for my wives gymnastic kids so we had lots of help. At one part of the haunt we had the guests walk past a set of double doors on our deck. Unknown to the guest in each group was one of the little kids from gym. My wife would peek through the curtains and wait for one of the girls to walk by. Just the fact that she would throw both doors open scared the crap out of people, but when she would grab one of the screaming kids and pull her into the room and close the doors. Man, that was really off the chart on the scare rating. Kids would come out of the haunt saying things like, "Mom, a monster grabbed one of the kids and took her in the house!!" Sounds kinda' weak here, but let me tell you they would be looking over their shoulders, dragging their parents away from the house in an effort to escape as they said these things.
The second was even more simple. Between two "rooms" of the haunt we had a short hallway, maybe 5 feet. We hung the ceiling and walls with black plastic. Two layers of black plastic for doors on each end made a pitch black room. One of the girls was dressed all in black. Black hat,shirt,pants and shoes. All she would do is reach out and touch people when they were almost through. Talk about scream!!
Once again, your mind will often create something that is way worse then is actually there.
 

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ShadyHallows,

just like so many have said, it does not matter what theme or scene you use in your haunt. What matters most are the surroundings. That is-how you set it all up. Overload their senses! For example, if you have a popup coming from a barrel, don't just have it popup and go back down. Although it will scare some, most have been through haunts and have come to expect such a thing. However, if you add darkness to the mix making the room dim, and a sensor that triggers a red spotlight on the barrel and a horrible scream all at the same time the popup engages, you've overloaded their senses with sound, sight AND anticipation. Throw in an actor with a hideous mask coming from the opposite side and you've got enough for a serious scare! A One, Two Punch!
It's all about the setup and doing the unexpected. It's about taking their minds and putting their thoughts on one place only to let their release of anticipation (SCREAMS!) come from another. Scare them 360 degrees - from the left, from the right, from up high, from the middle and from down below. They have come to your haunt and in doing this they have pretty much said, "Here..take my mind and do with it what you will." Don't disappoint them...do what they ask. :devil:
 

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kevin, I agree. There's something about a blue-litten graveyard with the dead rising from the fog-covered ground that makes the TOTs eyes get real big. I sometimes scare myself!
 

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I hate haunts that just have people/actors jump out at you. How difficult is that? They could do that any day of the year and scare people. I think the atmosphere should create a sense of fear. Leave the rest up to their imagination. There's nothing scarier than that.
 

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Empress Nightshade said:
ShadyHallows,

just like so many have said, it does not matter what theme or scene you use in your haunt. What matters most are the surroundings. That is-how you set it all up. Overload their senses! For example, if you have a popup coming from a barrel, don't just have it popup and go back down. Although it will scare some, most have been through haunts and have come to expect such a thing. However, if you add darkness to the mix making the room dim, and a sensor that triggers a red spotlight on the barrel and a horrible scream all at the same time the popup engages, you've overloaded their senses with sound, sight AND anticipation. Throw in an actor with a hideous mask coming from the opposite side and you've got enough for a serious scare! A One, Two Punch!
It's all about the setup and doing the unexpected. It's about taking their minds and putting their thoughts on one place only to let their release of anticipation (SCREAMS!) come from another. Scare them 360 degrees - from the left, from the right, from up high, from the middle and from down below. They have come to your haunt and in doing this they have pretty much said, "Here..take my mind and do with it what you will." Don't disappoint them...do what they ask. :devil:
Very good advice, Empress! Makes alot of sense. Love your Avvy too!
 
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