View Full Version : Scare Inspiration!?

freak 'n' stein
03-02-2010, 03:29 PM
I think this is the first year I have been at a COMPLETE roadblock during the creative process. Two weekends ago we held our first idea session for the 2010 year, late - I know. The ideas that were tossed around are ALRIGHT, however, after seeing amazing attractions like Netherworld and soon, the Darkness, I feel our show is lackluster. I'm more of an artistic person in the process, so I'll bring the final design to life and make it visually stunning...


What I mean by this is, if you have a really cool LOOKING room, how do you decide what the scare-factor will be? In my head, there are only so many places you can pop out of and yell boo, so they must be re-invented!?

any tips would be great!!!

+ postscript...CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU GUYS AT TW2010!!!

Jim Warfield
03-02-2010, 09:46 PM
Infiltrate the customers. Have a "Shill' in their group pretending to be a customer.
I always wanted to do this(but never did) have the shill complaining and harrassing the hired help , then threats get traded then the lights go out, "WhomP!""Splurt!"
Lights go on , the hired helper is holding that complainer's head! Where's the body?
You right now have quite an amount of lead-time to make a realistic head of a few of your helpers.
Yes, you may only scare the customers for a fraction of a second before they figure it out ..but that fraction of a second could be the moment they won't stop thinking about, talking about, which translates directly into becoming on-going free advertising lasting sometimes for years.

The second new scare could be found in a haunt actor or two who are allowed to take the time to really communicate (act) at a slower , human speed allowing higher levels of comprehension , thereby wonder and dredd, thereby making a new scare in a room where there might be very little in the way of build time, money or props happening.

03-05-2010, 09:48 AM
Inspiration will never come if you force it...

Dreams, songs, movies, ANYTHING can trip inspiration. The trick is you have to be ready for it when it hits.

My girlfriend laughs at my "little yellow notebook of haunting" that I've carried for years... when an idea hits its straight on paper. On the off chance I don't have my notebook I put it in my BlackBerry.

freak 'n' stein
03-05-2010, 11:16 AM
Inspiration will never come if you force it...

Dreams, songs, movies, ANYTHING can trip inspiration. The trick is you have to be ready for it when it hits.

My girlfriend laughs at my "little yellow notebook of haunting" that I've carried for years... when an idea hits its straight on paper. On the off chance I don't have my notebook I put it in my BlackBerry.

haha, I have a pad and BB backup too!!

Jim Warfield
03-05-2010, 10:19 PM
concerning your idea notebooks.....has any sweat stained those pages yet?
No sweat, it doesn't really ever count. (sorry to be the bearer of this news, I am)
I realise not everyone can pull the load up the steep hill.
We all do what we can. I do too.
I'm old, the hill is steeper now.
My back hurts. My feet hurt, I laugh alot inspite.
Go for it , don't want to be sitting in the chair saying someday, "I shoulda, coulda, woulda."

Allen H
03-05-2010, 11:24 PM
I wrote a thorough response to your question a few days ago, but a computer glitch caused it to go away, I was so frustrated I did not retype it. since there are not to many responses I feel obligated to give you input.
Mostly nature is where I get my inspiration from. I watch alot of animal documentaries and especially I watch Predators attacking prey. when I train actors I give them animal terms they can understand "come out of the closet like a trap door spider going after a bug". The imagery, postures, methods of attack are primal and functional for scaring people. If you think about it they say that about 9 out of 10 attempts of a predator fail. That means that the nine times they just scared the shit out of another animal! They are haunted house Actors!
Always design the scare first, have an entrance for the actor and an escape for the actor.
I will write down a general theme for a show, then I will list rooms or areas that fit within that theme. At the same time I will make a list of characters and creatures that fit into that theme and those rooms. Normally from there I have to pare down to what will work and what I have room for.

"there are only so many places you can pop out of and yell boo, so they must be re-invented!?"
Only the ones that work get reinvented, the ones that do not work should get dropped out of the rotation. I have a spider web drop that scares the whole group at once, it drops from 14ft high to seven feet and they all drop. When I change themes I always incorporate that scare, the year I did the yeti I made the spider drop into an igloo that they walked into. I tied styrofoam to the web and it looked like a big igloo. then it drops and the foam made a great noise like ice collapsing. I always make that scare work because its a good one.
Reinvention is necessary to keep your attraction fresh. just my thoughts,
Allen H

03-06-2010, 01:28 AM
I've found most of the best scares come from blatant misdirection...the same "secret" to most magic. The best interchangeable scare I have witnessed was a two part popout door setup. Say you have a front of house facade that the patrons walk by, with a door on it...everyone is going to assume that someone is going to come running out of the door. Well while an actor can pop out of that door, there is also a false wall door built into the same facade a few feet over. So the actor literally comes popping out of the wall. Then as long as the actor(s) alternate which one they use, it will keep it fresh for return visitors.

And like others have said inspiration can come from anywhere, cant count the times I've been doing something with my wife and out of nowhere..."i just had this sweet idea" and start explaining to her and/or writing it down.. Then she feeds her input on it and voila a great idea comes to fruition. Its good to get input too. Also, there is no use fighting for something different in a specified area you may be changing. If you have something that has proven to work...just alternatively "reskin and repackage" the same effect or scare to match a new motif. Keeps it fresh and effective.

Just my thoughts on the subject...

Mike "Pogo" Hach

freak 'n' stein
03-06-2010, 07:47 AM
Thanks Mike and Allen...AWESOME advice as always!!

The Nightmare Factory
03-21-2010, 12:12 AM
You have taken the first step in the right direction, you are asking question from those of us that have been arond the bend a few times. Plus you want to make sure youhave a good show, good for you I say!

We play off fears, we do not not copy films, everyone has seen them and it's crazy to try to re-create those sets with a haunters budget.

We change up every year, at least two or three parts of the haunt.

We try to make sure we are not doing the same things other haunts in Oregon are doing, we go to our comprtition and visit with them. We ahve a great realaitonship with most of the haunted houses on Oregon.

Scares - from above and from below are my favorites. people know you are going to try to get them on the ground level, but if you can get them from above or below. awsome. I saw a haunt that used the clastrophobia from Oak Island and put adtors above it. LOVED IT! We have a portion of the haunt that is dirt, we dug out pits put bridges over the pits actors go in the pits.

Make people uneasy, cresendo the music, when it hits a climax, cut it, then dead silence for a minute, just the sounds of the haunt, wind effects with thinders, then wham, bring back a soundtrack.

I am going to share with you one of my favorite designs of all times, use it if you like.

We designed our haunt so that you double back . At one point you are very close to the beggining of the haunt. We built a room off a path big enough to hold ten people. the room enterance is hidden to look like a part of the wall. An actor is stationed at the door, most of his night is spent scaring guest in the hall.

Once in a while he will open the hidden door, and allow people into the trap.
Once inside the people are shut in. NOW WAY OUT? the actor on the other side of the trap room, IE at the beggining of the haunt, opens the door and lets them out... Only to do the entire haunt over again.

People will try hard to find this room. It became legend for a while and we are bringing it back this season!

We break up groups, people get so confused, where's so and so, where did they go!?!?!?!?! One year we had an actor inside the trap room with our guests. Poor guy got really abused.

WORD OF WARNING HERE! If you do this design, you must, must, must have communication with both sides of the room at all times. You never want to lock people in and they get stuck there. We make sure that now we have an alarm that goes of with an infared sensor in the room, that when it's beam is broken the alarm goes off.