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Help for a beginner haunter

1387 Views 13 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  TheCostumer
Although I've put together a few front yard cemeteries and made a few props, I would like to crank it up a notch for next year (not enough time for this year with the big day less than 2 weeks away).

I know there are a lot of awesome haunters out there. How did you start? How do you decide on the overall plan? I would really love to pick your brains!
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I would say you have come to the right place. Start digging and surfing through the Forums. Also if there is some area that you want to focus on use the search function. Example if you want to focus on a witches lare, do a search on witch or witches. Also look through the pictures on google and do a home haunt search on youtube.

Good luck and haunt on
Welcome to the Forum.

Remember that, for most of us, it's incremental -- meaning, that we add a bit more stuff every year . . . Until you finally achieve whatever look you're going for.
First of all, welcome!

Second; the best bet is to begin with lights, fog, and music/sound.

From that foundation, all else is born. This forum is literally FILLED with ideas, notions, prop tutorials, themed displays, and more to inspire your planning for next year.

I'm looking forward to seeing a Halloween 2015 thread devoted to your 'next level' haunt...
Hit every after Halloween clearance sale you can afford to. I think a lot of us build their haunts over the span of years by buying cheap and building what we can. I keep my eyes open year round for items on my wish list or things I can scrounge or repurpose. I am fortunate to have a long history with art and a lifelong interest in horror, fantasy, and science fiction so things kind of evolve on their own for me as I go. I know what direction I want to go with my display and will spend a lot of time hitting those sales for what I need. This year it's gonna be bones. I need lots and lots of bones for next year lol!
Hey Deb! Welcome to the forums. Defenestrator is right. Lighting would probably be the number one thing if you haven't considered it, and it'd be quick to add some for this year if you don't have any. The right shadows can effectively double the spookiness of your haunt. And just a couple of floods would likely be all that you need to start (although you can be very particular about lighting once you get into it.) You could also look around the house and see what kind of lights you have...even things like flashlights and trouble lights could be used in creative ways.

The way we got started was basically stuffing old Halloween costumes to make yard monsters. Then we started picking up masks on clearance and getting a little more...discerning about how we dressed the creatures. Then we added proper frames for the monsters, so we had more control over the poses, and the last couple years we've added some animated stuff using reindeer motors. We've also started making custom tombstones.

We do the thing where we basically just build on what we have, adding a new creature or two each year and rearranging the old stuff. I think some of the best haunts are ones where people come up from a plan from scratch and then build whatever is required, but that's a daunting task from a time and expense standpoint, especially if you're just on your own.

I think another thing to consider is what you like to do. If you're good with woodworking, that'll take you in one direction. There's a number of great haunters here who do the majority of their stuff in paper mache. If you don't have any faith in your skills just yet (it'll come) you may want to go with existing props and modify them to be what you want.

One small project that everyone seems to love, is quick and fairly straight forward, and really adds to a graveyard is the PVC candles. Here's a tutorial, but you can likely get by with just led tea lamps, PVC, white paint and a glue gun.
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As defen said - lighting is crucial. Go to Spirit's after halloween 50 % off sale buy the outdoor LED Spots in all kinds of colors. Buy the super long Blacklight tubes. Buy their candelabra.

Also, go to home depot, Lowes, even Walmart often. Though Walmart is not as cheap (believe it or not) as HD or Lowes. Get all the oops paint in small jars that you can get. Browns, whites, off whites, camo greens, whatever you think you will need. The only one you always have to buy is flat black. You will end up using them all. I even got a big can of red one year! These will prove useful and cheap way to faux paint your props / update props you have bought to make more realistic. And the best thing - they are usually only 50cents! Look for the spar urethane oops cans too. These are great to seal props.
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We started with a little cemetery too. Then, a couple of 4-ft-tall skeletons that we dressed up in different theme-like outfits. They were dressed as a bride and groom, then as beach bums. That led to more skeletons doing more things. Now we change up our theme every year.

Another thing that helped us was finding some basic pieces to stage around. A cheap bistro set, wooden crates, whisky barrels, old chairs, things like that from rummage sales. Also look at yard sales and such for fabrics, old curtains, clothing, sheets, and use those for backdrops to set the scene.

I liked the Halloween clearance suggestions too. Good for fog machines, lights, and more basics.
Grab a theme and run with it! Plan early and if you'll be doing any construction, do it early. Definitely do some searching on the forum as well as Youtube for some ideas! Good luck, and keep us posted :D
Actually, I'd say you might be able to find some stuff on sale now. I know I bought a fog machine 50% off about a week before Halloween one year and gave it to the neighbour. If you're talking big box stores, I think a lot of it is on sale now, or gone already.
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