What’s Halloween without a haunted house? The trick to a successful haunted house is to make it scary but in a fun way. Older kids may enjoy having their hearts stop at the sight of a hatchet embedded in someone’s head. Little kids may leave with nightmares. With any haunted house you should always have a quick exit set up for those who become uncomfortable, uncontrollable or wet their pants.
Basements or garages are ideal sites in your house. Even with limited space you can have a great haunted house that will take more than 10 seconds to go through. As the first illustration shows, create a maze (similar to what banks have you go through before you see a teller). Use sheets or blankets hung from the ceiling as walls. Have scary/fun things happening around each corner so that your guests won’t know what’s ahead until they get there.
The second type of layout is to have your guests walk around the room so that they have to look into smaller sections. The layout should also feature sections that cannot be seen until your guests turn a corner. A smaller section can be set-up in the middle so that someone can operate any sound or lighting effects without being seen.
Safety is extremely important. Guests should not be struck, pushed or pulled especially if there are “live” characters hiding inside. Footing should be non-slippery and the floor clear of any obstacles. Any wires or extension cords that must cross your guests paths should be secured with tape.
Haunted House Special Effects
A few of the effects that I’ve seen and used in past haunted houses are:
Sea-Weed Effect: Cut green garbage bags in half length ways. Cut strips so that they remain attach (it should resemble a hula skirt). Fasten or tape a few of them to the ceiling, one after the other but have them set off to one side to make it difficult to see right through. Use these prior to “scary/fun” spots where they will have to go through this sea weed only to be confronted by something else.
Sound Effects: Tapes and CD’s with sound effects are readily available for sale at the larger record stores and some party suppliers. Check out your local public library or the internet for freebies. If you can’t find any why not make your own? You can have hours of fun coming up with scary sound effects like wind, howling and moaning. These should be similar to the sounds made when many people get out of bed far too early in the morning. Record the sound of a metal garbage can crashing as your teenager takes his first driving lesson, the noise made by the neighbors cat as you chase it away from your garden and the high pitch scream you’ll make when your kid comes home with pink hair and a pierced face. Remember – try to have fun with it!
Set up a portable music player in one central area or use a few throughout that can be heard only when you are near.
The characters you use should be very animated and let your guests know that they are there.
Light Effects: Christmas lights with the bright colors replaced with darker ones are ideal for adding atmosphere. Carefully string them around displays and areas you want to highlight such as a zombie coming out of a coffin. Flood lights placed on the floor and pointed upwards against a wall or backing are great. Try placing items in front the lights to create an eerie shadow effect. Some flood lights are available with a motion detector. Replacing your regular bright lights with dark colored lights also work well.
Fog: Dry ice placed in a container with some water will create an eerie fog. Try placing the ice inside jack-o’-lanterns.
Mist: Using a standard spray bottle, filled with water and set on “mist.” Aim nozzle upwards so that a fine mist gently falls on the unsuspecting guests. The mist may not be detected at first, but when it is…!!!
Guts: A very large bowl filled with wet, cooked macaroni is set upon a pedestal or table. With a “gate keeper” standing by, a sign above says that the only way to proceed is to open the door by grabbing the handle inside the bowl of human innards.