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This is the every year argument with my family on my side is me, I like spooky not scary almost funny like Disney Haunted Mansion or Mad Monster Party look. on the other side is my son and wife who want it to be a bloody chainsaw weilding body part splattered mess. and all the props to be the stuff of nightmares.

Now my stuff still scares kids to come to the door so I've been sticking to the creepy and spooky but not nightmare level.

What do you guys think? Should displays be rated G with some chills or rated R with some blood spills?
 

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I think it all depends on who is doing it. On the other hand, we do a lot of scares, some gore (depending on the theme of that year) BUT we do not scare the very little ones and they tend not to notice the gore as much anyways. We have a pneumatic jumping spider and a trash can trauma that can scare them and they are on a wireless remote so I can pick who gets it.
 

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I am somewhere in the middle, I like creepy over gory thought some of my corpsed skeletons and zombies are kinda nasty looking. I don't do much in the way of splatter stuff.
 

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Yep....it depends. I'd hate to think I caused some small children to hate Halloween for the rest of their lives because I traumatized them. Now if I traumatize teenagers and adults...then I've been successful! Chose your battle depending on your audience!
 

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Wild Fandango
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I always find it hilarious how whenever a thread like this comes up everyone says they prefer scary and not gory, yet there's dozens of threads for fake blood, rotting corpses, body parts, crows eating eyeballs, etc. :D

I like gory, but creepy gory, not "I think someone just blew up a cow in the front yard" gory. Try to compromise, maybe? Get a list of ideas from them and see which ones might fit "creepy" and not "I'm gonna throw up!"
 

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Gory is not what scares so much as creepy scary realistic props that could always be possible to occur in real life. Mixing scary with funny or child appealing props can sometimes tone down the scary for kids. A lot of times the kid will only look at the fun and not notice the scary. Gory should be limited but not necessarily eleminated. Unless it is Adults only. Too much gore and the kids will not come to or be allowed at the house anyway.
 

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Like they say Xane, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! My sister and her daughter gross out at same stuff most kids would run up to and say, "COOL!!!".

I say decorate to your liking because YOU are the artist. Yes, be considerate to your audience but again, it's the art that should move you.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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I don't do gory or bloody scares in my yard haunt. It is spooky and creepy, and the scariest things would probably be the giant skully we hang over our garage peak and the skeletons used in the yard. We have a few battery-op motion activated props (a spooky ghost that moves and lights up - but is hung at a height that the little ones won't activate it) and a skeleton grave grabber, but we keep it PG and even come down to the bottom of the driveway if there are some really little TOTs too scared to come up to get their candy.

I don't want to scare a kid so bad that they have nightmares... and end up hating Halloween.

I don't mind gore or bloody stuff, I just don't put that stuff out for general TOT time. The gross and odd and gory stuff is inside for the party... :D

(oh, and the excessively gory stuff doesn't do it for me. I like the idea of a pop of gross or scary or a scene setup where they have to think about what happened there...and let the person's imagination fill in the rest, so we don't have excessively gory stuff inside either - more like implied gory scary stuff; that's my style - but I'd never tell someone else how to decorate! That is dependent on THEIR style! :) )
 

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Ridin' The Storm Out
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I've never been fond of super gory stuff. You can certainly be scary without chainsaws. (Chainsaws are so overdone, anyway.) I definitely prefer the subtle spookiness over general shock value. Great atmosphere is what does it for me, not just random bloody characters jumping out at you.

I have to say that the one thing I hate, hate, HATE in any haunt is spiders. But that's my own personal phobia. So I don't do any spiders myself.

So I guess my choice would be more leaning towards the "friendly" side, if you want to call it that. I mean, the subtle stuff isn't ALWAYS kid-friendly, but it's certainly not OMG-IN-YOUR-FACE.
 

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Evil Wizard
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With an 18-month old, I've decided to go with a spooky but (mostly) kid-friendly graveyard scene. There will be one or two darker elements, but such that my son and other kids probably won't even notice them. Much like the progression of the Harry Potter novels ( :D ), I do foresee my Halloween display becoming progressively darker in tone over the years, as he gets older (and, I'd imagine, wants to help decorate and/or build some props.)
 

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I would say you're on the right track. Number one, your stuff is AMAZING, and number two, you still want the wee ones to come to your door for trick-or-treating. I know a lady whose grandson got so scared by someone that he is terrified of all Halloween related things now because some idiot chased him with a fake chainsaw when he was 5.
 

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Warlock
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I haven't done much in the way of gore but when i get around to it i'll aim for about a PG-13 level. When people say 'spooky' I hear 'cute', so I aim for 'eerie', 'creepy' and 'scary'. My concession to 'spooky' is a pumpkin patch full of blowmolds for the little tykes and I can short cut the tiny ToTs and the wimps stright there while I make everybody else brave the cemetery.
 

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I dont care for gory in my haunt. I like it creepy, sinister and very very scary. But if there is a small tot that is too scared to come get candy I take off my mask and go to them. When they see that it is just a person under the mask they are much more at ease. I put my finger in front of my mouth and go "shhh...dont tell." I put my mask back on and sit down. They small tots then smile and watch as other come to get candy and I scare them. The littles ones are usually laughing at that point. My haunt has gotten much bigger this year so we will see how it goes this time.
 

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I have a split personality. Outside, I'm the first to tell you- I don't do cute. Not gory, but creepy and spooky. Lots of animatronics. I like a real haunted house display. Inside, my heart warms a bit. I enjoy whimsical and cute things. I have lots of indoor decorations that are back from when I was a kid too, including carboard characters and ghosts and blow molds in the windows. So I'm a real split personality I guess! Depends on where I am- indoors or out!

Dan
 

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I have a simple theory about this, based on my experience with haunts. My theory is the only people who get scared are people who know to be scared. I've seen hundreds of way little kids walk up to our scary house, go right up to my son in his spot-on Michael Myers costume, bloody hands covered in blood and wielding a real 14" knife, without the least bit of hesitation. They go up to him, open their bags, and say trick or treat. It's only the people who have been exposed to Halloween movies or other scary stimuli who get scared because they recognize there is something to be scared of. So for the most part, anyone who gets scared at a haunt has been exposed, "traumatized" if you will, to the horror experience somewhere, or by something, else.

Tiny kids will run right up to a growling dog without hesitation, right up until they are conditioned to be wary of dogs either by getting bit or getting punished by their parents. Same thing with scary stuff. Until a person perceives something as a danger or a threat, they aren't afraid of it, so if they're afraid of something at your haunt it's because they've been conditioned before they got there to be scared. That's why kids about 8 and younger, who don't get to watch many scary movies, have no fear of my house; but older kids and many adults do scare.

As for decorations, the only thing I don't like are the Hallmark-type ones that just ooze cuteness. Gory is good, creepy is great, but cute... save it for Easter! :)
 

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I do creepy. I am not into gory, blood and guts severed limbs sort of things... For me I like creepy, gothic, door slowly closing, creaking floor boards... and the Headless Horseman :D

I love ghosts and vampires, so my cemetery has a very spooky air to it, eerie... So the chainsaw thing really isn't for me. I prefer lit jack o'lanterns smiling at you waiting to get you when you turn your back ;)

Bottom line is you should make your haunt your own, but since there are three of you perhaps compromise? Have an area in the yard where everyone can pick their displays and have an overall theme that links it together?
 

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I have always been into the scary not gory. I prefer demons rising from hell and ghosts and zombies coming from their graves not body parts flying in all directions. I don't have an issue with body parts in fact my werewolf will have a human leg in his food bowl. But I have issues with the blood splattered walls and organs laying all over. It just doesn't do anything for me. When I was a kid I would easily pass up a house giving out king size candy bars for a scary house that had celery sticks at the end.

As for the cutesy stuff I must say yes I can admit it is cute but I have a strong aversion to it. For years while hubby and I lived in an apartment I let him get away with setting up all his cute stuff inside. Although I couldn't help but make comments here and there. Now that we have a house he gets cutesy fall time for September and part of October but Halloween is for the ghouls and goblins.

This post does bring up something in my head though about the difference between scare and gore. It isn't about houses it is about movies. I like scary not gory. I was watching the new Halloween the other night and in the scene where the sister is in the attic as Michael Myers beats down the ceiling to get her down, I turned to hubby and said now that is a scary movie. I have been complaining for some time, well since Saw came out, that movies are no longer scary they are just how gruesome of a way can we kill these people. I want a movie to make me jump or have me on the edge of my seat with its scare, not turning my head because I know what is coming and do not want to see it. To me that is repulsion not scare. Okay that is my rant.

On another note that will unfortunately reveal my soft squishy cute loving insides- "Where is Hocus Pocus?" I have not seen it on tv this year. And that is some cuteness I can totally live with.

And to Bruzilla's theory about children being exposed to stuff being the reason they are scared of it. While I believe you are on to something I also know there are some scares that just seem ingrained in people. I have seen kids who have never seen a clown before just freak out bloody murder screaming when they see one.
 
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