Halloween always brings back memories of scary stories and scary costumes. Lets face it, its about being scared. So, what better way to scare trick-or-treaters, than a haunted house in your home or yard. A haunted house can be very intricate, with a large budget, or simple and inexpensive. I’ll show you some tips and tricks along the way as we set out 5 simple steps for planning your own haunted house.
Step one: Location, location, location
Your location for your haunted house is critical. The desired theme should match the actual location as closely as possible. For instance, a graveyard should be in a field or back yard, and not indoors. Where as a laboratory, would be better suited in a garage, or kitchen. If your space is limited to one room such as a garage or shed, its possible to take tarps and sheets to divide rooms leading up to or away from your “main room”. In this way you create a maze or labyrinth. Imagination is the key here in this decision, and the minds the limit on what you can dream up.
Step two: Theme
We discussed briefly how theme works with the location, now we will discuss how the theme works with the special effects. The theme of a good haunted house is fear. Most peoples fears stem from one or more phobias. Focusing on several common phobias is always a sure fire theme. Enclosed spaces, snakes, dead people, insects and elements of a surprise attack, all induce the fight or flight mode. This is when people get scared the most. During this reactionary phase, people either attack or flee when a frightening experience occurs. It is a primal instinct carried out to protect oneself from the imminent danger of a predator. Create a theme that works with the phobias above or choose your own, and create away!
Step three: Draw a blueprint
Drawing a blueprint may sound like an awful lot of work for just a haunted house but it can give you vision for creating areas of fright. A simple sketch in a notebook will do fine. Choose your entrances and exits well, so as to maximize space and element of surprise. Draw out the path from each doorway with arrows or a dotted line. Try to add as many rooms and corners as possible. Now you should label your scare zones with whatever spooky frights you have dreamed up. I’ll give you some advice for scare tactics at the end of this story.
Step four: Create some props and special effects
This is where your talent kicks in. Try to build special effects to compliment your theme well. For example, if your theme was scary clowns, the whole circus thing could go well with that. Build a big top type tent, or throw some hay around some animal cages with fake blood, and a sign ” Ferocious tiger, risk of escape, danger” or something to that effect, you get the idea! Start on all your small props first, fitting them into each scare zone, and making sure each room has its own point of view piece. What I mean by that is try to have something in the room stand out, like a corpse, or live actor,which can draw peoples eyes away from the fact their standing in your kitchen.
Step five: start building!
Once you have your location, theme, blueprints, props, and special effects ready, its time to get some help building! Start by working from beginning to end. Put up all your walls, and ramps needed over steps. Remove all the furniture or items not part of the haunted house (Don’t leave grandmas picture on the mantle) Clear the path so people don’t stumble over your furniture or breakables in the dark. Put all your special effects in place and turn it on! Do a test run the night before to make sure its as spooky as you want it. Now when your all done, enjoy scaring those kids…and adults!
Here are a few ideas for props you can make at home easily!
- Boiling cauldrons are easy enough with a big pot and some dry ice mixed with soap solution together. Throw in a colored glow stick into the pot and you’ve got a pot of bubbling potion!
- Take a scary mask or statue and put a small glow-stick or night light behind it for a spooky shadow effect.
- You can make all the fake blood you need with a little creamy peanut butter, white corn syrup and food coloring. Just mix the creamy peanut butter and some cheap white corn syrup until its runny enough to look like blood. Add in some red food coloring and presto! Blood by the gallons, and it doesn’t taste to bad either!
- You can Google hundreds of different sound effects from various sites for free! Don’t forget the sound effects!
- Having live actors are some of the best scares going! Have your friends and family participate to make it even more realistic!