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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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I ran into a guy at work yesterday who has been home haunting for the past 20 years. He gets around 500 TOT's at his place. We chatted about how much easier it is "these days" than in the past. I started in 1984, and never dreamed I'd still be doing it all ether years later. This other guy buys all his stuff; I make 95% of mine, lights and fog being the only purchases.
Haunters today can get anything they want, need or can afford. Back in the day I had to RENT foggers, RENT strobe lights. And of course return them again. We made all our stuff, from tombstones to animatronics. It was a hassle setting up sound systems using audio cassettes and boom boxes. Now we have IPods and Bluetooth. And you can download virtually anything from frogs croaking to babies crying.
And when amazon.com got started, ANYTHING became available. Twenty years ago it was really hard to find Black Light fixtures. Now they're everywhere..
I know we have some longtime haunters on this forum, anyone care to chime in?
 

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20 years ago finding black light fixtures was a snap. If you had a Mall, you had a Spencers and black light fixtures. Problem was they were quite expensive. You are right about them being able to buy any animatronic they want, BUT, They are made so cheaply these days that they only last a couple years and replacement parts are impossible to find. Hence why i make all my own as well still. Thing is after a couple years I can take mine all apart and remake it all into something else to make it all different without having to go out and BUY a different one.
 

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I'm old enough (and been doing this long enough) to remember the days when a strobe light was practically unheard of and black lights were not the easiest thing to find. (and when I though I had, it was a purple lightbulb, hard for a 10 year old to get swindled on that)

I think the biggest thing has been the internet for me, though.

Prior to the net, I'd ATTEMPT to find books on the hobby (good luck), and a lot of the haunted houses were not about to give out secrets to a kid. I don't know how many I talked to before one finally took me aside and showed me how things work. (My mom still complains about some of the mailing lists I got her address on...)

But, the internet changed all that. Even if it is sometimes hard for me to let go of some of the ways I learned to do things for ways that are cheaper and better now.
 

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I've always loved haunted houses as a kid but didn't build anything until I was in my early 20's....About 1993 I built a yard display...First I made a haunted house facade out of 3 sheets of plywood standing on end...Then I made a bunch of tombstones out of plywood and airbrushed the lettering (Dracula, Wolfman, etc).....Then I built a fence out of 2X2's painted black around the house....Then a cemetery sign over the entrance with a flicker bulb lantern hanging in the center....Finally I built a coffin, stuffed a shirt with newspaper and put a stuffed mask on top for the head, stuck a strobe light and fogger in the coffin and 2 spot lights on either side shining shadows of tombstones on the haunted house facade....It was quite extravagant for the time period....That fog machine cost around $300 and I had that one store I could go to to buy the fluid....It was a theater company, they had lighting , fx, etc....You could rent costumes too....The internet absolutely changed the possibilities today....ZR
 

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Yes, the black lights and strobe lights were expensive, but they were QUALITY. I got mine from DJ catalogs. I still have one strobe left from '99 and it is my favorite in terms of effect. The foggers put out small amounts but they didn't burn out like the current ones at the stores. I think we paid $325 for a 400w. The best cheap objects are now lasers - used to be $120 for a single beam and was the size of a Harry Potter novel, but now they are the size of my phone for $25. I used to just setup and plug in the lights knowing they would work. Now, I expect them to last one, maybe two seasons.

I prefer the DIY as it is unique. Otherwise your neighborhood looks like one large Spirit store.
 

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The foggers put out small amounts but they didn't burn out like the current ones at the stores. I think we paid $325 for a 400w.
That fogger I bought in 1993 still works! Weighs a ton too.....I bought about 6 small foggers around 2011 from party city so I could have them in a lot of different areas....Last time I checked 2 were still working....Not very good reliability....ZR
 

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In the 60's I took an old record player apart and turned it into a strobe light by putting a bright light behind it and cutting a pie slice out of the part that you set the records on to play them. It was subtle compared to commercial models but at 78 speed it worked pretty good. The trick was to cut a hole for the light at the right spot.
 

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I ran into a guy at work yesterday who has been home haunting for the past 20 years. He gets around 500 TOT's at his place. We chatted about how much easier it is "these days" than in the past. I started in 1984, and never dreamed I'd still be doing it all ether years later. This other guy buys all his stuff; I make 95% of mine, lights and fog being the only purchases.
Haunters today can get anything they want, need or can afford. Back in the day I had to RENT foggers, RENT strobe lights. And of course return them again. We made all our stuff, from tombstones to animatronics. It was a hassle setting up sound systems using audio cassettes and boom boxes. Now we have IPods and Bluetooth. And you can download virtually anything from frogs croaking to babies crying.
And when amazon.com got started, ANYTHING became available. Twenty years ago it was really hard to find Black Light fixtures. Now they're everywhere..
I know we have some longtime haunters on this forum, anyone care to chime in?
Get off my lawn you kids! Why. when I was a kid, we had to walk to school, uphill...both ways!

Just kidding. :)
 

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Soccer and Lacrosse Dad
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Way back in 2009 when I got started things were a lot different. Spirit had 3 stores in Ottawa that all sold the same things. Now we have 1 Spirit a couple Monster Stores which sells worse more expensive stuff and Halloween Alley which didn't last more than 2 good years (4 total). Sorry my way back isn't that long ago.
 

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In 1977, I was frightened out of my Ben Cooper's "Mr Spock" costume by a lady who I knew to be an otherwise pleasant and trusting neighbor; she hung a big kenwood speaker over her front door, attached to a record player that played the "screams and groans" track from "The Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted Mansion" when I unsuspectingly rang the doorbell. That simple, yet highly effective setup started me on my quest to impart a little fear of my own on All Hallow's Eve's to come!
 

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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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Discussion Starter #11
Wow! Hacking a turntable into a strobe light back in the '60's... I can't touch that. Last summer I was hitting yard sales searching for a turntable that I could use for a green fire tornado...nothing. Can't even FIND a turntable these days.
For me, LED lighting has been a great leap forward. Tiny, fast, effective, cheap and you can take them in every night. I wrap mine in colored cellophane to get tones.
 

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Wow! Hacking a turntable into a strobe light back in the '60's... I can't touch that. Last summer I was hitting yard sales searching for a turntable that I could use for a green fire tornado...nothing. Can't even FIND a turntable these days.
For me, LED lighting has been a great leap forward. Tiny, fast, effective, cheap and you can take them in every night. I wrap mine in colored cellophane to get tones.
Yeah, now I feel like a dolt, having hacked one with the same method, but to get the slow fade in/out on a pepper's ghost. Never even THOUGHT of upping the speed for a strobe. DOH!
 

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Wow! Hacking a turntable into a strobe light back in the '60's... I can't touch that. Last summer I was hitting yard sales searching for a turntable that I could use for a green fire tornado...nothing. Can't even FIND a turntable these days.
For me, LED lighting has been a great leap forward. Tiny, fast, effective, cheap and you can take them in every night. I wrap mine in colored cellophane to get tones.
Yeah, now I feel like a dolt, having hacked one with the same method, but to get the slow fade in/out on a pepper's ghost. Never even THOUGHT of upping the speed for a strobe. DOH!
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Wow! Hacking a turntable into a strobe light back in the '60's... I can't touch that. Last summer I was hitting yard sales searching for a turntable that I could use for a green fire tornado...nothing. Can't even FIND a turntable these days.
That's because vinyl is back big time.
 

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I think the internet has to be the big thing. We haunters are pretty few and far between, so without a way to unite us, we're all running uphill. The sheer amount of information and tutorials available on the internet makes a huge difference. Teenage me would have loved having this as a resource. Other tech is helpful, no doubt, but simply having the ability to easily learn from one another is an amazing leap forward.
 

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redrum
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For me it's the LED bulbs. Do you remember tripping breakers cause of all those floods? Had to run wires everywhere to even out the load across multiple breakers. Then I started importing LED floods from China around 10 years ago ( so expensive but still using most of them today). Now I just pick up what ever LED I need at a big box store for a fraction of the price. The Internet is right up there too as stated multiple times.
 

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I remember tying lightweight strips of fabric to the grill of a house fan and shining a spotlight through the dancing fabric to project a moving light effect. Now, I have a whole bin of colored moving LED lights in my collection - plus two more bins of flame lights and four different projection setups.
 
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