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Discussion Starter #1
My hunts have always been "PG" or even "G" rated, but now that my daughter is 15 and wants to help with Halloween, I want to amp it up a bit. Last year we did a hunted house in the garage and I spent most of my time/money on walls. This year I am looking for a way to give a really good scare (to the older TOTs) but I don't want it to be too scary for the young ones. I want it to be an addition to the Haunt.

I am good at static props but I wanted to try something a little more challenging. So, I started to think of some options:

1) Stalk-a-round
2) Animatronics
3) Guillotine


What do you think? Other option will be appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Ah, the perpetual struggle.

Our goal, always, is "we want kids clinging to parent's legs, but not up all night with nightmares."

This means for us, mostly static, or subtle animatronics, not jump scares. And, that leaves a hole where teens typically find things cool and interesting, but not SCARY.

The last couple years, thanks to more help, we have actors...

This has made it possible for some scaring of the teen crowd.

The gatekeeper up front (me) determines how individual kids and groups are handling things. Little kids that are nervous get a glow bracelet/stick and explicitly instructed to hold it up REALLLLLLY HIGH and it will scare the monsters.

Actors are instructed to NOT JUST NOT SCARE THESE KIDS, but act afraid of such held glowsticks. It has worked fabulously. Little kids nervously trotting down the line with a glowstick way over their head shaking and clinging to a parent/sibling (one of the best sights of all time) come out the exit confident and wanting to go fight monsters again. Meanwhile, teenagers scream effectively as they run out the exit (unless they were in a group with a little kid).
 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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If you don't have one, then I recommend a cauldron creep. I have yet to see two that look alike so you can always put your own touch on it.

I think if I was to up the scare factor, I would have to start corpsing a bunch of my skeletons.

Another thing I am horrible at that would add a lot to a haunt is good ole haunting music that kicks up a ambiance a notch or two.

Other than scissor props, my best scares come from my daughter hanging out in the funeral carriage. She just lies their letting people guess if she's a mannequin or real, then she'll situp and slam the glass. This year she had to work and I had a mannequin in there and people kept waiting for it to jump...it was funny...
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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Actors are instructed to NOT JUST NOT SCARE THESE KIDS, but act afraid of such held glowsticks. It has worked fabulously. Little kids nervously trotting down the line with a glowstick way over their head shaking and clinging to a parent/sibling (one of the best sights of all time) come out the exit confident and wanting to go fight monsters again. Meanwhile, teenagers scream effectively as they run out the exit (unless they were in a group with a little kid).
What a great idea!!!

Our walk through haunt is intended for ages 12 and up, people try to take their little ones through, we warn them, but at the end of the day it is up to them. Our drop panels consistently get good jump scares and our electrical panel.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ah, the perpetual struggle.

Our goal, always, is "we want kids clinging to parent's legs, but not up all night with nightmares."

This means for us, mostly static, or subtle animatronics, not jump scares. And, that leaves a hole where teens typically find things cool and interesting, but not SCARY.

The last couple years, thanks to more help, we have actors...

This has made it possible for some scaring of the teen crowd.

The gatekeeper up front (me) determines how individual kids and groups are handling things. Little kids that are nervous get a glow bracelet/stick and explicitly instructed to hold it up REALLLLLLY HIGH and it will scare the monsters.

Actors are instructed to NOT JUST NOT SCARE THESE KIDS, but act afraid of such held glowsticks. It has worked fabulously. Little kids nervously trotting down the line with a glowstick way over their head shaking and clinging to a parent/sibling (one of the best sights of all time) come out the exit confident and wanting to go fight monsters again. Meanwhile, teenagers scream effectively as they run out the exit (unless they were in a group with a little kid).

We used a code word, and it didn't work that well. (too hard to hear) I think your glow stick idea sound great. I'll try that this year.

We do the glow-stick thing, too. It works pretty well.
Our most effective addition to our haunted maze last year, scare-wise, was a drop panel.
An oldie, but a goodie.
We had a drop panel too, and it work well. But it still wasn’t scary enough for the older kids.
If you don't have one, then I recommend a cauldron creep. I have yet to see two that look alike so you can always put your own touch on it.

I think if I was to up the scare factor, I would have to start corpsing a bunch of my skeletons.

Another thing I am horrible at that would add a lot to a haunt is good ole haunting music that kicks up a ambiance a notch or two.

Other than scissor props, my best scares come from my daughter hanging out in the funeral carriage. She just lies their letting people guess if she's a mannequin or real, then she'll situp and slam the glass. This year she had to work and I had a mannequin in there and people kept waiting for it to jump...it was funny...
That’s funny. My daughter was chained to the wall with a big which hat and her head down. When people walked by she would pick up her head and scream. She got quite a few people off guard.
I did not have sound in the background. I will have to add that as well this year.
My 1st prop was a cauldron creep (a witch version) She has long since been retired, but maybe she needs a make over. Good idea.
Now a scissor prop sounds interesting. I always want one. I just think that might break the budget. (well knowing me, it would break the budget)

These are all good ideas. But I'm looking for something that will really make the older kids scream or at least come out saying "That was awesome". Keep the ideas coming (PS I am not a fan of the chain saw gag).
 

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We had a drop panel too, and it work well. But it still wasn’t scary enough for the older kids.


That’s funny. My daughter was chained to the wall with a big which hat and her head down. When people walked by she would pick up her head and scream. She got quite a few people off guard.

These are all good ideas. But I'm looking for something that will really make the older kids scream or at least come out saying "That was awesome". Keep the ideas coming (PS I am not a fan of the chain saw gag).
This is meant as constructive, if it sounds otherwise, just figure it's been a horrid day:


It really sounds like you are ALMOST there. What you're missing might NOT be the big prop, or the BIG scare but something more elusive...

ATMOSPHERE, (and to quote my sig) PRESENTATION!

You've admitted a lack of music.

Lighting and music, IMO are the first 2 pieces of any haunt. Nail those, and a lot of other things can slide and still come off excellent.

I assume you ran with this layout last year?



Let's look at that:

Scene 1 and 2 appear to be things you walk by and look at, by the very flow they appear to be separated from the audience. This is NOT a good thing when trying to set atmosphere to prime the scares. (it might be deceptive and you might have had the crowd going into thos scenes, just going by this sketch)

We have the drop panel, which you admit was effective but not scary enough. Might I ask how it was pulled off? Too soon/late or too expected KILL a drop panel scare. The Reaper might not be distracting enough, it might be better placed on a corner or not in the middle of the long hallway there.

This back corridor is a prime location for an actor to block the way and interact with guests as well. Move in, invade body space (DON'T TOUCH), act afraid of those glow sticks, etc. INTERACT. It's also a prime setup for a well done dot room. Cliche, I know, but they are so effective they cannot be overlooked.

I'm assuming your daughter was one of the 2 scenes? How about letting her work in concert WITH the drop panel? She scares from the front, the panel hits from the side/behind. Classic 1/2 scare. Setup, then deliver.

Bottom line, one of the most important aspects OF a scare is the setup. Not everything/everyone needs to be the star scarer. Maybe you've gone too overboard with scares that there is not enough setup?
 

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If I were preparing this haunt using the above layout:

Scene 1 would be what I term the staircase scene. This is the scene to let the audience know they are leaving behind the ordinary world and entering something else all together. Pure atmosphere, maybe an actor that is NOT TRYING TO SCARE.



For me, this is our front yard. Brightly lit, just me. It changes a bit year to year, but more or less holds similar.



Next comes that back hall. I would want this DARK, claustrophobic, with a clear destination at the far end. Mild scares can happen in this space, but nothing major, YET. (the number that walk to this point and STOP might surprise you)

For us, this is the side of our house:



Now you come to scene 2. THIS is where you want to focus your startle scares, get the screaming/running for the exit.

For us, I don't have a good pic, as this is an almost entirely actor driven area in our back yard.
 

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My place has no sound track, no music,no fogger and is probably the best lit haunted house anyone has ever seen.
I do a totally humorous "Chain Saw "Routine which when played right will still make them jump and scream, using a purely ethereal substance known as .

"Anticipation", something fairly rare when trying to chase 1,000s of bodies through a house as quickly as possible which is sure Not the case here. To create anticipation it requires the time to communicate, story telling, which many have no time for when" throughput" is your aim or your business necessity. We need income too,but I like to think people will return if they enjoy our presentation and enjoyed the tour.
We speak with the small children before anyone buys them a ticket. We promise them we will not chase them in the dark,we will not turn off all the lights,we Will turn On more lights in the first room if they need it,which we often do. After they have been entertained by us we ask them if we can now turn off that one extra light?
Probably THE BIGGEST THING FOR SCARED KIDS.. is to make them a part of the show,and they get to push a button, ex cetra which activated something that might scare their Parents and siblings, THEN the scared little person has a big smile upon their face!
Real small kids might be whinning, crying as they enter the first room, but it is amazing what happens to that child as soon as my wife brings her very friendly "Puppy" into that room (Or a "Kitty) It is like switching a light switch "WHAA!-"KITTY!" OR WHAA!--Doggie!"
We have never had gory displays here,or bloody costumes or Hollywood monsters. I have managed in 28 years to fill the house with my own art and creations and devices .. and the old 1865 Inn is actually Haunted,whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, which may also be very entertaining some times.....
www.hauntedravensgrin.com
 

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My dad once told me about a haunted house he loved going to. Particularly one "room" that always got him. You would go into this room and it would be really foggy. 2 of the walls were glass and filled with dense fog and glowing dimly. It was quiet and the ground was made to look like an old paved road with the glass walls representing both directions down the road. You just stood there in the dark silent road when suddenly in less than just a couple seconds the headlights of a tractor trailer would come on and ghastly horn would blast, a mock up of the tractor trailer would come shooting towards you then stop at the glass wall. My dad told me he would always fall backwards and scream and he wasn't a small man. It was set up so that this sudden ghost truck that's about to hit you would come from either direction without any warning. Sometimes if there were a group in there both trucks would come.
 

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I agree with unorthodox. Presentation is huge! Actors are scarier than props. IMO, props should be used to distract from the real scare, an actor.
By the way, most drop panels fail because of poor timing. The second thing that makes them fail is the actor leaving the panel down to long, it should be down and up, that's it. If the panel is left open too long the guest loses the startle response.
Just some thoughts.
Jan
 

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I was thinking on your choices you would like to try but like me - always do static props. I probably wouldn't try the guillotine as the first attempt at animatronics. Or you can lure people into it and say "put your head right in there....I want to see what happens, haven't tried it out yet.";)
I've joked with friends about guillotines. One particular person I worked with claimed they had a real one, though doubtful. I joked once with him about using it as prop. I suggested much the same as the above quote adding only the statement, "It's rather dull so it may take a few drops. You don't mind do you?" I would sometimes offer options like being face up if preferred for comfort. I've relayed this joke with others sometimes changing the wording but always said with subdued anticipation and a creepy smile... I've scared a few friends at times with my ability to "be creepy" at will. :D
 

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I'm a fan of the double hit.

Visitors enter and spy what may be a possible hiding spot, a semi-likely location for 'attack' or a scare.
Bada-bing - hit them from an unexpected angle or place, then almost immediately...
Bada-boom - hit them from the original likely spot, which no longer has any attention on it.
 

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OR, Spats...

Allow them to find a hiding place for themselves from which to scare another customer, they hide in that place,but the haunts creep is already in that small dark place, now right behind them (Closely) and will they scream and jump when they find this out? You BET they will!
Much to everyone else's complete amusement!

The semi scare of the truck coming at you was done slightly different in Clinton , Iowa by the JCs. their haunt was an old Rail road station, so they made a train front end with lights and whistle, then for the exit they had people carefully crossing the tracks (real ones),then "WHAA! WHAA!" The "Train" is right there coming at them!
Someone tripping, falling across real steel tracks might have been a real hazard though...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This is meant as constructive, if it sounds otherwise, just figure it's been a horrid day:
UnOrthodOx , I enjoyed your constructive criticism. And agree with it.
I had 7 actors for my haunt. All teenaged kids (13-15). There was a scene for the boys and one for the girls.

Scene one was a vampire in a lining room with many cob webs feasting on her latest victim. It looked creepy, but my vamp showed up as a post modern Vamp. and didn't really fit in.

The drop panel was operated by one of our youngest boys. He did a great job. I think his timing needs just a little work and he seem a bit shy after the panel dropped. He kind of just stood there.

Scene two was an operating room. This had some blood and guts. They were my over the top guys. We had one of them stick their leg
through the table and the other looking like he just removed it.

My daughter was chained to the opposite wall just were the scene ended and her friend was the dark creeper (which got changed in an insane asylum girl. last min.) and she stood around the corner.

Lighting was dim but lit enough that guest could see clearly. We has fog as you enter/exit (outside). Again No music.

I really like the idea of changing the walls up so it is more interactive. And the idea of letting the guest know that they are leaving the normal behind as the enter. I think having a roaming actor might do well as so. (We did get a few more volunteers this year.)

My main reason for the big scare, is because I enjoy making props. Yes, the kids have fun Halloween night, but my fun is the other 364 days of the year getting ready. In short I am looking for my next project.

I really enjoy all the help from everyone's post. Sorry I could not respond to all of them.
 

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My main reason for the big scare, is because I enjoy making props. Yes, the kids have fun Halloween night, but my fun is the other 364 days of the year getting ready. In short I am looking for my next project.
THAT I can totally understand.

looks around nervously

Halloween is much more work than 'fun' for me. I enjoy the building up, and our night before party is where my fun comes in.


So, you want a prop that has a wow factor...

What about a witch doctor's revenge type? (I'm calling it that as it's the first I saw the illusion, though you could certainly theme the idea to your need, and I've seen other versions since, it might technically be called something else)

http://www.thehorrordome.com/witch-doctors-revenge-halloween-prop.aspx


It's not a particularly DIFFICULT illusion to pull off, and if I could have ever found the damn mirrors I would have done it myself (as a photo op, LOL).

Ages ago I even outlined it to some baffled friends and built a model when they still didn't understand. Let me see if I can dig up those pics.
 
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