View Full Version : controversial topics

02-18-2010, 03:16 PM
well, as you see it. this thread needs it

i have talking to some of my co-works at a haunt and as for myself and some others. we been trying go from actors to haunt owners. now here is my thing i have to ask..

we been thinking of some rooms that mite be a little over the top. like a butcher shop that has props that mite have Nudity and some other things in it.

also we are thinking of have a Church-like set, that will have a satan like person in there. telling our victims that there are doomed.

and how far is to far?? as in gore, blood, horror, scares???

it's just that i need some info on here.. i heard before that some haunt are controversial, aka The House of Shock. but when is it to the point where you mite be shut down because you have a haunt that likes to push the envelope. and some times a bit to far???


Allen H
02-18-2010, 04:27 PM
I see "controversiality" as a crutch. I dont think you need it to be scary.
Ask yourself two questions
1. Will this make my show better (Scarier, Funnier)
2. will this limit my audience
That is my general answer. I will address the specifics now so you have my complete thoughts on your question.
"like a butcher shop that has props that mite have Nudity and some other things in it."
The brain of a haunt patron is a fragile thing. The average haunt audience is between 12 and 25 (thats a very strong demographic at least). To scare people they have to be in the right mind set, the brain of the 12 to 25 year old male will switch mindsets very quickly. If they see a breast or penis, or vagina then their brain will switch into sex mode and out of scared mode. Everyone snickers a bit when they see a surprise penis. I do not want them to snicker while Im trying to scare them once the switch is flipped they are hard to scare and the laugh releases the tension that the sets and sounds build up, I want the scare to release the tension in a scream not a snicker. So I do not do it.

"we are thinking of have a Church-like set, that will have a satan like person in there. telling our victims that there are doomed."
In the 1500's I would have said that this would have been a great room in a haunt, but ever since then eternal damnation has not evoked the strongest of fear responses. The devil has stopped being the fearable unknown and has become an icon. Freddy Kreuger, Jason, and the devil in a haunt is almost on the same level as them but he is actually a peg or two lower on the scare level. The devil did not have a movie out in the 80s or 90s when many haunt customers were in prime fear formative years. The devil suffers from a lack of street cred. They have never seen the devil kill someone, I haven't and I watch a ton or horror and monster movies. In every story told about him he loses, he even loses in a country song to a guy playing a fiddle. I do not think anyone is scared of the devil.
Now picture yourself as the actor in that room the group comes in the room and you say "you are all doomed".....what does the audience do then. They say "Ok were doomed" or "funny I dont feel doomed" and move on, or worse they wait for you to do something scary and you have to resort to "get out of my room!". So word of that set will limit your audience and not get scares. Im not sold on the idea.
I try to avoid putting actors in a position where they have to make promises they can't keep. Your actor cant take their soul and they wont wait long enough to see if they are really eternally damned. They need to say things that create a visual in the mind of the patron and illicit an immediate fear response.
But i digress I think your ideas are controversial and will not help you get business, nor will they make your haunt scarier.
Allen H

02-18-2010, 05:07 PM
there ,s a place in columbus ohio that is pretty over the top..called haunted hoochie/dead acres.... that there first scene is a possessed zombie that take s a shot gun and blows his head off....its pretty graphic

Jim Warfield
02-18-2010, 06:04 PM
There are probably some that will drive 250 miles to see that, and there are people a mile away from there that will never see it.
That's the way it goes.
Attempting to lure (and get to come back) a sizable audience is (in my opinion) a balancing act and part of that balance is reading the group before you because what just worked for the last group might not work at all for the present one. Flexibility, awareness help tons.
I know of at least one very popular place that all any of their customers can say when describing it is that "alot of people are banging on the otherside of the walls and screaming the whole time".....to me this sounds very unlike something that I personally would spend my time and money to go see...but...?
Whatever "Works"..."Works"....
The freedom to try your own vision of what a haunted house should be is a great and scary thing (for the person doing it) just so "Freedom" doesn't end up being "just meaning that you have nothing left to lose."--Janis Joplin-Big Brother and the Holding Co.

02-19-2010, 07:55 AM
I have found I get a lot of church youth groups at my Trail of Terror because word has spread I am not bloody gore and not a demonic event. More of a in your face scare by favorite hollywood bad guys with other things for them like vortex tunnel "that was awsome" , moving floor "whoa" Scarefactory "thats cool" props. They get to go to a Halloween event which is hard for many church youth group leaders to approve of. But Jason coming out of corn, or clown distracting them while chain saw guy fires up right behind them lets them participate without feeling like they have crossed that hard to define line of proper or not for them. My brother who helps set up our trail is licensed to "marry & bury" as they say and on local church staff. Don't read that as he pushes this to other churches; he DOESN"T....but word spreads when you are good.

Rocky Mountain Terror
02-19-2010, 08:02 AM
Back in 2005, we had a haunt here in Denver which went way over the top. You had to be over 18 and sign a waver before you went in (keep in mind that if you have nudity, it will limit the minimum age of your audience to 18, and you will loose most of the high school demographic).

They had a naked girl strapped to a bed with a guy who cuts out her vagina and then shoves it in your face, along with naked zombie poll dancers. By signing the waver, they were also allowed to touch you. It was interesting, but the scariest thing that happened was wen one of the actors accidentally knocked over a prop, which scared him too.

This haunt was one and out. They set up without the local haunt market really knowing they were even there, and they never set up again after that year. The only thing that really crated any hype for them was the "waver" thing and talk of them having nudity.

But, above all, I think that if you are thinking about doing this, as I mentioned above, keep in mind that if you have nudity, by law it will limit the minimum age of your audience to 18, and you will loose most of the high school demographic.

Best of Luck,