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Things have changed a lot in haunts over the past few decades! We now have big commercial haunts unlike anything that ever existed before, and a huge market for props and masks, in diversity exceeding anything in the past. With that sort of $$$ behind your average big haunt, you will see at least as much prefabricated stuff as homespun stuff. Neon clown masks, 3D wall hangings, rubber props of all kinds, fully mechanical (and fully awesome) rubber dummies and monsters (and all costing a pretty penny).

I look back on the home garage haunt of old, the basic neighborhood haunted home decorations, the local community center haunt of the "old days," and I recall a lot of cheap, rough-hewn decorations with their own special charm. Cheap and cheesy as heck...but with a lot of heart.

My favorite thing to see nowadays, absolutely, is anything that reminds me of these old-school techniques.

Even as far back as the 90's, I remember finding this simple stuff to be refreshing. By that time, you see, in Los Angeles, we were already starting to see a lot of the newfangled haunts. They were popping up all over the place with their prefab props and stuff. The Halloween I remembered from the 1970's had changed, and by the 90's it was starting to feel more like plastic. But here and there you would stumble across someone doin' it OLD SKOOL, with spray paint, food coloring and cardboard. And it would be the biggest thrill!!

I am talking about your cardboard cemetery with leaves gathered from someone's backyard, simple incandescent colored lightbulbs and incandescent blacklight bulbs instead of the newer, more powerful fluorescent tubes. The 59-cent vacuform Halloween mask as opposed to the 59 dollar rubber mask. And best of all, that clear sense of the performers all pretty much doing it for free, volunteering! Or in other words, there was value beyond the money. It wasn't about how much they were spending on the show--or making on the show. It went deeper than that.

I'm not knocking commercial haunts, not at all, I got to them as much as I can. But this simpler stuff is what I miss.

Do you guys have any fond memories of this simple fare?
 

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Yeah, the simpler stuff always makes me smile in a way that extreme realism doesn't.
When I was an elementary school kid, we got to have a Halloween party for the last couple hours of school, and that included a walking parade where the kids from each class in turn would walk through the other classrooms and show off their costumes. It was a big deal to us. There were a lot of the vacu-form masks, but there were some unique creative gems, too. Some amazing parents put a lot of time, though generally not a lot of money, into their kids' costumes. They could take scraps of things they had on hand and work magic with them. It was always fun to see (and fun to participate).
 

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My Mother bought herself a mask of a Werewolf/Bat? when I was in High School. Up until a few years ago it still had most of it's face. I think it is not latex but some other kind of plastic, though pliable.
Now it is just a bunch of faux black hair but I still am scaring people with it every week( Ravens Grin Open every night)
What is "Scary" about a clump of "Hair"?
when i place my fingers against the small scrap of vinyl left attached to some of the hair, then run this hair-ball up the edge of a doorway in a dark room,the vinyl makes a slight sound and people assume it's a Rat-mouse,or some kind of a critter.
It helps to have a white wall behind the black hair-ball too.
My personal "Enthusiasm" is mostly motivated from the expectation I have concerning the customer's reaction.
I have been telling people this for a few years now:"I must be simple-minded, because I never get tired of this." (Hearing them Scream! , then Laugh!)

I have no professionally designed or made props here. I have five items that require compressed air.
Many other things simply "Move" using no electrical current.
A "Perfect" tour here as far as I am concerned has people jumping, screaming, then laughing at what just scared them.
It may be more difficult to hold a grudge if something so simple and home-made made them scream?
Add to this the fact that this is an actually "Haunted" house with an extensive haunted history .. well,how much more "Old-School" can it get?
Some who have had those experiences sometimes don't come back for the next ten years,I have discovered.
But, they do come back.
 

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I remember my mom and a friend's mom put together a spur of the minute Halloween party for about 10 kids probably in the early 80s. I remember my friend and I making decorations out of construction paper and I don't think we even had sound effects in the background, but we had a blast.

Of the early haunts I remember two, one which was sponsored by a fire department and took place in an actual abandoned house. It was creepy and the only commercial prop I remember is the talking Cryptkeeper. It was mainly actor driven. Unfortunately the last year this was held, it rained and rained and rained. The field used for parking turned into a mud bog and I'm sure it took alot of work to get it back in shape for hay production the following year.

The other one took place at the county park and was a haunted hayride. My mom and I took my employers two kids and my niece. The girls were OK, but the boy (who was the oldest) was freaked out when one of the actors wearing a gorilla mask and wielding a chainsaw approached him in line and ran. When I caught up with the poor kid he had his unopened pocket knife in his hand as he actually thought he was going to be hurt. Years later, when my hubby and I started dating, I found out that he was that gorilla mask chainsaw yielding menace. I often wonder if that boy still has nightmares.

These were really tame when compared to today's haunts but were a blast at the time.
 

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I think most everyone reaches that point of longing for a simpler time from our past once they hit a certain age (which is different for all of us);) High tech haunted houses and home haunts are great and I love seeing people try to find a 'new' spin to get people scared in our very desensitized world. But I love coming across homes and little haunted houses where they use simple classic props and retro décor. It is like going back to childhood a little bit. Myself I try to mix a little of both although where I'm currently living very scary would be highly frowned upon:rolleyes:
 

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My Halloween memories start in the beginning of the 90's (born in 1985). My dad made simple plywood tombstones, my mom threw Halloween parties for the neighborhood kids in our spooky old carriage barn. Things were very simple and classic: bobbing for apples out of a silver tub, hitting piñatas that my mom made herself, most of the kids wore homemade costumes.

I definitely have nostalgia and love those memories but appreciate the current times too. I purchased a projector last year and used the ghost maid projection. My (at the time) 2 year old LOVED the ghost and would wave to her every night. We went camping in October last year and a neighbor's camper had amazing kaleidoscope lights that made it look like there were bats in the trees. I will always appreciate the simple, low tech days but also like to see the new products and ideas.
 

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Things have changed a lot in haunts over the past few decades! We now have big commercial haunts unlike anything that ever existed before, and a huge market for props and masks, in diversity exceeding anything in the past. With that sort of $$$ behind your average big haunt, you will see at least as much prefabricated stuff as homespun stuff. Neon clown masks, 3D wall hangings, rubber props of all kinds, fully mechanical (and fully awesome) rubber dummies and monsters (and all costing a pretty penny).

I look back on the home garage haunt of old, the basic neighborhood haunted home decorations, the local community center haunt of the "old days," and I recall a lot of cheap, rough-hewn decorations with their own special charm. Cheap and cheesy as heck...but with a lot of heart.

My favorite thing to see nowadays, absolutely, is anything that reminds me of these old-school techniques.

Even as far back as the 90's, I remember finding this simple stuff to be refreshing. By that time, you see, in Los Angeles, we were already starting to see a lot of the newfangled haunts. They were popping up all over the place with their prefab props and stuff. The Halloween I remembered from the 1970's had changed, and by the 90's it was starting to feel more like plastic. But here and there you would stumble across someone doin' it OLD SKOOL, with spray paint, food coloring and cardboard. And it would be the biggest thrill!!

I am talking about your cardboard cemetery with leaves gathered from someone's backyard, simple incandescent colored lightbulbs and incandescent blacklight bulbs instead of the newer, more powerful fluorescent tubes. The 59-cent vacuform Halloween mask as opposed to the 59 dollar rubber mask. And best of all, that clear sense of the performers all pretty much doing it for free, volunteering! Or in other words, there was value beyond the money. It wasn't about how much they were spending on the show--or making on the show. It went deeper than that.

I'm not knocking commercial haunts, not at all, I got to them as much as I can. But this simpler stuff is what I miss.

Do you guys have any fond memories of this simple fare?


To this day, I still don't know who it was, but someone used to wander my neighborhood, dragging chains.

I can't say whether they had a mask or not or what the costume was, I was too busy running from the SOUND of those chains dragging.
 

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When I was a kid my grandmothers house was just a few doors down from us and her house was very creepy. Over 100 years old, in need of a coat of paint, and with the right imagination it wasn't had to see it was haunted without any help. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on decorations or anything back then but she would always let me come make over her house for Halloween. These were the cheesiest decorations ever; made by a 10 year old girl and an 80 year old lady. We have balloon/sheet ghosts, cardboard tombstones, and old clothes stuffed with leaves to make a scarecrow. And to top it all off we made our own sound effects tape to play in the background.

I really love doing that stuff and as much as I love the high tech stuff I see around today, I like seeing the little stuff too.
 

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tomanderson, you need to head to the East Coast and attend Knoebel's Amusement Park's Hallow-fun nights...preferably during the Covered Bridge Festival. A great, old school amusement park, their chills are kinda cheesy (think Bluckys) but a tremendous amount of fun. During the Covered Bridge Festival there is a gathering of DAFE (Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts), ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts), a Halloween Costume Parade through the park, a bonfire, and just a lot of l'time Halloween goodness. Their Antique Car ride is tricked out in a way that challenges other larger parks. Throw in the Haunted House (consistently rated as one of the best dark rides in the U.S.), The Black Diamond Mine Car Ride (tame but nice visuals) 2 great wooden coasters and the Flying Turns, the only rail-less roller coaster in the U.S. No entrance fee, free parking... I love it.

Pbeck, sounds like a treasure-trove of great memories.
 

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tomanderson, you need to head to the East Coast and attend Knoebel's Amusement Park's Hallow-fun nights...preferably during the Covered Bridge Festival. A great, old school amusement park, their chills are kinda cheesy (think Bluckys) but a tremendous amount of fun. During the Covered Bridge Festival there is a gathering of DAFE (Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts), ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts), a Halloween Costume Parade through the park, a bonfire, and just a lot of l'time Halloween goodness. Their Antique Car ride is tricked out in a way that challenges other larger parks. Throw in the Haunted House (consistently rated as one of the best dark rides in the U.S.), The Black Diamond Mine Car Ride (tame but nice visuals) 2 great wooden coasters and the Flying Turns, the only rail-less roller coaster in the U.S. No entrance fee, free parking... I love it.

Pbeck, sounds like a treasure-trove of great memories.
I've been there a million times during the summers, but never the fall. I've seen their Halloween weekend advertised, as I think after Labor Day or thereabouts they're only open on weekends. Do you know if everything is still open there during their fall weekends, like for instance around the wood carving and blacksmith area where there is a merchant with lots of neat stuff (last year I bought a pig made out of a log), walking sticks, other little cool items, and sometimes they even carry produce like cantelopes, etc.
 

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tomanderson, you need to head to the East Coast and attend Knoebel's Amusement Park's Hallow-fun nights...preferably during the Covered Bridge Festival. A great, old school amusement park, their chills are kinda cheesy (think Bluckys) but a tremendous amount of fun. During the Covered Bridge Festival there is a gathering of DAFE (Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts), ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts), a Halloween Costume Parade through the park, a bonfire, and just a lot of l'time Halloween goodness. Their Antique Car ride is tricked out in a way that challenges other larger parks. Throw in the Haunted House (consistently rated as one of the best dark rides in the U.S.), The Black Diamond Mine Car Ride (tame but nice visuals) 2 great wooden coasters and the Flying Turns, the only rail-less roller coaster in the U.S. No entrance fee, free parking... I love it.

Pbeck, sounds like a treasure-trove of great memories.
We do this EVERY YEAR!!! :D
Part of me says "yes, tell everyone about it because it's so awesome" and part of me says "No! Keep it quiet so that it doesn't get ruined by lots of crowds!" LOL!
Back when I had free time (no kids!), I was a member of ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) and that's how I first found out about Knoebel's Covered Bridge Festival/Phoenix Phall Phunfest. Been going now about 15 years, although we had two years we skipped due to my best friend expecting one year, and me being 9 months pregnant another year.

The Antique Cars are *fantastic* at night with all the stuff they put out, and we love the train ride that goes through the woods, into the campground area, under the roller coasters, through a tunnel - it's PERFECT to give a Halloween POV to everyone even if they don't like "scares". I really cannot say enough about Knoebel's altogether, but especially during the Phoenix Phall Phunfest (BTW, it's the weekend of 10/10 this year).

TheMyst - YES, the blacksmith area is still open, but even better - the fall amusement park happens in tandem with a GIANT craft festival in all of the picnic pavilions & throughout the parking areas. My DH calls it an amusement park ride for the nose, what with all the food carts & extra food stands that come in! It's really just amazing - last year we bought a large owl carving from a log for my Dad that had a solar light in it. He loves it!
 

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I'm definitely taking a step back, towards "cheese". I'm not planning on anything expensive, aside from skeletons, and eventually, a bubble fogger. I may at some point, buy a light control system, but no more expensive props. And honestly, mine aren't that expensive to begin with.

I bought the Home Depot genetic talking witch, talking pumpkin man, and CVS' talking Headless Horseman last year on clearance. (Less than $100 combined).

I don't even know if I can space them far enough apart to use all three, and have them be heard plainly!

I may just sell them off, and just go all-out vintage!
 
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