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Haunt is about illusion. We plan our layout, our lighting, sounds, etc. to create an atmosphere that seems to be more menacing than it is. We use hot glue, PVC, and paper mache to create the illusion of things that simply cannot exist.

Stage magic is about illusion too. The magician puts the audience in a position of "seeing" what is simply not true. Why, then, do I see so few references to magic type illusions in haunts?

Don't get me wrong. I am no more interested in card or coin tricks than I am in watching an Oprah marathon. That does not mean that stage magic has no appeal for me.

I have mentioned before an idea I had about using the knife thrower prop in a haunt. It could be a circus themed haunt or simply a knife "throwing" maniac. The illusion is relatively simple, quickly reset, and convincing in the right setting. I actually built mine into ninja stars in a night table for use in a play, but it is the same illusion.

"Pepper's Ghost" is actually a magician's illusion turned to haunting, and the beloved FCG was taken from Disney's "It's a Small, Small World" ride, as I recall. I think there are many more illusions waiting to be haunted.

Ever see those cabinets where the woman gets in (upright) and then gets cut in half and separated? Andrew Mayne has a similar one made of cardboard boxes that is really convincing:


Now, what if you simply remove the bottom part of the body and add some dangling entrails to the person hanging in the box? Actually, I have a different idea I will share after I test it out, but maybe you see where I am going here.

What about the French Arm Chopper? I think it is a great effect as is. You can use it in a mad science scene or something like that. You can even use volunteers, since the trick is entirely mechanical and requires no special cooperation from the volunteer. Dissected and re-created haunter style, I see it as a great guillotine effect. Imagine if a living, talking person is in the guillotine, and the audience "sees" the head cop off and fall into the basket. Have a mannequin head in there that gets pushed down a chute or something and you have a crazy scary effect.

I'm sure a little more thought will find many more illusions that either work for haunters as-is or can be hacked into hauntworthy props. I personally plan to use "In Half" for a little dungeon scene myself this year, with new illusions each season.
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