View Full Version : How do you scare?

10-11-2007, 11:46 AM
There are many ways to work a scene. Which do you prefer? Which do you use(not always the same thing)?

Every haunt has it's jump out points, and every actor will use them at one time or another---but how?

Do you hit the beginning of a group?

The middle?

Do you go for the person who looks most scared?

A girl?

What do you do when you've got a full house and jumpouts won't work?

Or do you prefer the non-jumpout scare?

I go for the scared...cull the weak(though I like being in an early scene--one in which I'm one of the first scares they get)

I prefer creepy and disturbing to the jumpout. I want you to walk into my scene fully aware that I'm there and be so creeped out by what I do that you're running before you're halfway across the room.

How do you scare?

10-11-2007, 02:11 PM
i evaluate each group and then do what experience tells me will work best for them. Sometimes it's jump out and boo, other times it's a dialog/funny conversation, or just creep out scares or whatnot.. I try to tailor it as much to the group as possible, and I listen to the actor in front of me that they encounter first, because that can give you a very valuable clue.

This question is kind of like asking a programmer how to write code. Your response will vary greatly.

10-11-2007, 07:29 PM
I have the wonderful advantage of being armed with an air hammer and a whole plethora of metal and wood to scrape it against.

I've found that if I give them a little taste of the air hammer before I actually come out full force with it, I can get two or three scares out of a group.
Suspense is key, at least for my taste. I love banging on the walls and yelling things like "I'm waiting!" as they approach my scene.
I also have a spotlight, so I like standing in plain view, not moving a muscle. The whole time I just stare at them while idling the air hammer, giving them little jumps here and there. I wait until they're cowering in fear and anticipation, then I throw on the spotlight and just go ape shit.

I also like getting down on all fours and pressing the air hammer into the floor while crawling towards them, that gets even the toughest of tough guys.

10-11-2007, 08:42 PM
I will agree with Imax on this one. You must tailor your scare/entertainment to the group. One of the things I like to do is to come in low at a group. People are not expecting this. I also like to cirlce a group while looking for the victim to zero in on. Keep them offguard not knowing what you are going to do next.

10-12-2007, 06:30 AM
Oh, I know I'll get wildly different answers--that's the point. I want to see what people like to do.

Take tailoring...while everyone does it, there are ways and there are ways. Some people do it so much that they lack character consistency. People get scared, but it's just a scare, there's no real flavor to it. Granted, you're still getting the scare--it's just that your audience isn't getting all they could.

Others come up with versions of what they're doing. I've done a Nosferatu-looking vampire that goes from the refined routine to totally berserk in seconds--sometimes during the transition from one sylabble to the next.

But truthfully, I'm not trying to critique scare styles, I'm just wondering what types of scares get the actors blood racing, which do you consider your own, y'know?

10-12-2007, 02:30 PM
I have been a zombie the past 2 years not a lot of talking this year mostly grunting or growling although the one time I did talk because I got her name "Jessica" she started crying real bad(go me!) I did feel stupid though because I don't think zombies should talk.

My favorite is when they fall down. As soon as they do this I drop immediately too and start crawling at them. I kinda consider it my signature scare.

10-15-2007, 01:19 PM
Just do the generic jump out from the corner and yell.

Ghost River Duck
10-15-2007, 02:49 PM
Experience. It turns into instinct after the first 200 or so scares. It will also keep you from getting mocked, left looking like a fool, hit in the face, scolded by your boss, etc. Just tried and true experience. Sometimes you hit the front and then backoff and flank. Sometimes you hit the middle. It's just experience.

11-05-2007, 01:57 PM
What I do sets me up perfectally for a scare. I have so swing out into the crowd from a 2x4 approx. 6 1/2 ft off the ground. Usually what I do is focus most of my energy to the front of the crowd. This usually pushes them back into the rest of the crowd and makes them anticipate whats going to happen next, which always makes them more scared. I always try to get into the middle of the crowd when I swing, which has resulted in a couple of hits to the face, but hey, if I don't get hit, that's a sign that I'm not scaring well enough. I work out at the Haunted Hoochie... you should check it out if you're in the area.

Jim Warfield
11-06-2007, 05:31 PM
This will be a long post: They arrive here at The Ravens Grin after usually a long drive into the rural , desolate part of neglected Illinois seeing only empty fields and some wildlife along the dark highway.
Then they stand outside the house taking it all in, this is where it begins.
Those imaginations begin to ponder, the outside decorations help this to begin, being pretty "different" with the whole old-house thing also stimulates their imaginations for me to then have more to work with as far as influencing them once they are going through the house.
Once actually inside (If I haven't already scared them as I sold them their tickets?)
They see my front room. What would you imagine a front room would look like in a haunted, haunted house? There is real furniture and surreal furniture, old stuff, things I have created, artwork, nutty things(if you happen to look close)
I try to tell them alot of the actual haunted events that numerous of us have suffered within these walls since 1925 (First haunting that I know of) I usually tell it with alot of humor because it goes down better this way, if I tell it straight some get too scared or upset to continue, maybe because they realise that I am being truthfull with them.
There is almost no screaming at customers or jumping out at them, I prefer none, but employees, sometimes might do alittle of it(at their own risk)
I have always told them all :"No scaring- jumping because you might get punched, don't get closer than an arm's length (that punch-thing)
This house is probably very well lit up compared to most "Dark" attractions, it is almost all things I have made, they paid to see it , so allow them to see it!
The anticipation thing plays very well here for me, it also allows me to get into position to do the scare since I am usually alone leading the tours(except in season)
I have built several helpfull paths around the house to fascillitate my being able to be where I need to be when I need to be there.
Some of our scares here are sometimes left subtle, allowing real fear to manifest itself as doubt takes over . Of course subtle can't work in the middle of a screaming track meet, but I am willing to bet anyone anytime that those undefined subtle scare experiences stick in their brain many times longer than readilly knowing that someone just screamed in your face, they take that mystery and wonder home with them, it ferments and they return to possibly find out the truth.
I have scared people with items that the majority of the population would never think of as being scary or being able to scare anyone with.
Sometimes this requires a little set up to put certain ideas into the customer's mind so they are already operating on that track when the big train runs over them.
Sort of like mentioning "Anal Drip", then alittle later (in the dark) the sound and confession that "I just shitt my pants" is forthcoming! This gets them, almost every time!
I have complaints at the tour's conclusion from people who claimed their faces hurt...from laughing too much!
I have been open for tours almost 20 years(every night & SAt.& Sun, afternoons) quite a LONG season by anyone's standards!
This is a tourist attraction and being gross, bloody, overly aggressive would cost me alot of ticket sales all spring and summer long when the family in the van has little kids or Grandma who would then be remaining in the van.

11-06-2007, 07:37 PM
Anyone can jump out, or you can differentiate from a majority of your own haunts scenes and the many other haunts alike. I watch and wait from a distance often giving that feeling there’s someone there, moving from a distance in the vague little light allowing them to hear my foot steps and see something coming. Slowly approaching the group they grow accustom to your presence then you can dart across the front of the group where that female that thinks there being protected on the other side of you is. They feel secure being the farthest away from you while there being set up for having the closest encounter.

11-06-2007, 10:32 PM
I look at haunt acting as a pressure thing... you exert levels of pressure to make your guests nervous leading to fear... this can be done in an aggressive second or over time.

I am kind of jumpy aggressive but I work with my wife who is very observant and thoughtful. We are that way in life and it almost always translates into the "how" of our acting. So usually if I am just stupid as a zombie ... or too much gore... or whatever.. she comes in and is very soft and creepy and stares... and whispers... THe people I can't get to, she often can.... ANywho... things I liked to do this year as the zombie.... my 07 guy...

For 2007 I like to stare from a distance and let them know I am there... then creep up fast (unseen) into a close up area with them and make all the noise and motion your creature of choice can.

Where to scare... wherever looks good... I like to hit the leader and scare the group from him... or her... take out the strong and scare the weak all at once.... :)

When you get in on a group move with them and size them up. There is a natural response of the brain done in the "reptilian brain" that moves you when something is coming at you. Its done BEFORE higher brain function. You can do such things as move in FAST and low and then come up to a guest in their space as a collision object and then stop where they are. You are gonna get HIT doing this.. some people give the fight response first... expect it.. and WATCH for it. You can really mess with a person if you are paying attention and backout when the swing screaming and making noise.... you can usually get those people to break down at about that point... since you exceeded their ability to defend.... if you can do this well.. you can get most men to yell in fear...

My wifes thought on the above was she always freaks the other kid out more by talking about "what do you fear" for ten minutes.... so there is always anther way....

Mirrors and actions taken to a calm uninterested person in the view of a person freaking out work as well. There have been some great studies on people feeling pins and things poked into their image in a mirror. Take that into account and look for ways to appear to violate their space, or the space of the friends by walking slowly to them and then attacking behind or along side one and stepping up to another. The impression of action is usually far more valuable than doing anything....

If the look is good hell, you can always just sneak up and stare at someone... you would be amazed at how often the "cool" guys say "Ahh F%#$&" when they realize you have been there... simple yea... but if you can creepy out the leader of a group the rest are easy.

Pick up on names.... A great thing done to my wife in Hades in Chicago when we were 18 was someone picked up on her name and the woman just kept screeching and whispering and yelling and moaning her name... she would pop up all over the place. My wife was freaking out... it made the event personal... they knew her... That kind of personal interaction can work....

Notes / Other:

Never say things like "boo", or "blah", or "get out"... make sure if you speak its right for who you are and not cheesy.

There are tons of scares...NEVER do the same thing the guy before or after you is doing. Give the people something more for their time at your show! You can stare, scream, moan.. jump at some fast, drop in from above, come up from their feet, hide in a corner in plain sight and moan, run in screaming, run right by the guest and past them to set up the second actor (I love doing this), hide in with the props, use multiple people where all of the props are people (again, great gag), the list goes on and on...

Expect not everyone to be scared and expect to get some crap.. prep some simple response ... even if they are dumb.... in the blood of the guy above if people got dumb I was just the janitor... you can default to playing along and then get creepy once they get relaxed and drop the aggression...

Always stay as who you are while a guest can see you... even if they get freaky and you have to back off don't drop your character. You can apply pressure to the people that are freaking just by how close you are... so back off but don't drop the character people always see you....

So... yea.... its a pressure thing... find the person that you apply pressure / fear to the best with the way you act... that's your hit....

K... so that was my 10,000 word essay.... LOL

Jim Warfield
11-06-2007, 11:12 PM
Working really well I have had 15 people laughing, then screaming, then laughing then screaming again all within the scope of a ten minute single room routine.
I felt so powerfull! I could anything!!
(You just have to learn to control Mr. Ego too)

09-21-2008, 08:57 AM
This is my first year to work in a big upscale haunt. I was picked to play the scarecrow because of my large/tall stature. I stand 6'4". The costume and mask were custom made. (BAD ASS COSTUME!!) I have alot of good ideas already but still am looking for tips on mannerisms/tactics to add to it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Scare ya later: THE SCARECROW!!!!!!

Jim Warfield
09-25-2008, 09:37 AM
Scarecrows aren't supposed to be alive or moving so play to this preconception and be very still at first, the oldest scare ever, the human manniquin that comes to life!!!
If I was doing it, I would only begin with very slight, subtle movements, seen only by one or two people near you, then pause as long as you can get away with it, then maybe make a vocal sound but don't move, some will not figure out where the sound came from, give them some time to ponder this, then make your big, quick move or vocal sound whatever it will be, actual words, grunts a scream, groan....
So ideally if 8 people are walking passed you, the first one or two sees your slight movements, the next two hear your vocals, the two behind them worry because they can't tell where the sounds came from (or what they are) then the final two people get your big, quick move which scares more than just those two because it happened loudly, quickly and behind 6 of them!

01-15-2009, 12:17 PM
Im not going to go into much detail because it vary so so so much depending on he group how well of a scare you're going to get what kind, and how you should approach it.


Two things that have been working really well for me is using my heighth to my advantage, im quite short and can move quietly, so i use that to sneak up inches behind someone. More often than not if they're in a group the reactions on their friends faces will trigger an alarm to them and they spin around see me and freak. But occasionally i will shake my head and indicate to their friends not to react to me and target one or two lone people..i will move right up behind them and gently blow on the back of their neck with a rasping noise....then duck FAST.....because more often than not the person you blow on will quickly flail about in an attempt to turn around and get away from whatever they think is behind them.

Also working out front in the Q line u get to know the people you work wiht very well, so use that knowladge to set up a scare. Alot of the guys i work with we do a very straightforward setup. One character will engage a patron or a set of patrons and the other partner will sneak up behind them. The first patron will tell the group that all they have to do in order to get them to go away is play a game. usually the group says yes and the first character say count to three and turn around, at this point one of two things happen, they either turn around withought a second thought encounter the second character and freak out, or they realize that they have been set up then get to scared to turn or even move.

its hysterical when they work right


01-17-2009, 12:22 AM
As soon as they walk in the room I start taking about what ever scene the haunt has me in like for the 2 years i was in a graveyard. I can raise my voice from my chest almost like an amp i do that at the ones that seem more scared.

My lines i love to use:
Rest In Damnation,Meat bags,Worm food,That they pathetic feces,Maggots,Baldy,Blondie, I can wait to bash their skull with my shovel, Hell is like heaven after what we will put you though, I can't wait to see you bleed.
Heart warming things like that.

I used a shovel to make a loud cracking noise behind them.

I can laugh at high pitches like Mark Hamill's Joker from Batman TAS.

I also can roll back my eyes.

Here is a couple videos of me one is a movie and one is me in action.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Fba7uc2cqIg&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Fba7uc2cqIg&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/D9hEk5SAHOs&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/D9hEk5SAHOs&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

i'm the 1st guy on the 2nd video

Jim Warfield
01-17-2009, 06:27 AM
After about 90 minutes as I lead them through my house.
Want to scare the more timid one hiding behind the braver one?
I have a pitch black spot where everyone naturally hesitates. As the brave one moves into this extreme darkness I pinch a collar or arm(I can see them) and gently pull them towards me. Often times this works, that person not crying out or really making any warning sound, then I place them beside of me in this darkness as we watch the victim move toward us, thinking everything is all right because of no reaction from the first, braver person.
Then all I do is take my finger off of the little kill-switch, which turns the light on as I make a "Meow" which startles or scares them but at the same time possibly reassures them because it just might be a real animal,.. cat?
Of course if the first person walking into the dark happens to scream as I go to pull them towards me, so much the better as this scares the people behind them. ("they screamed !? And they are braver than me!!??")
Some things that I do when I'm running the house by myself I do not want my October employees doing since the situation is so different then. The customers and the employee do not get to spend 90 minutes with one another and touching the "wrong" person is not something that should be happening.
I also believe that this is why I have never been punched by a customer (am I cursing myself by publically saying this now?) They see and hear me and see what I am not doing to them throughout the tour so very possibly a trust developes, they trust me not to do or say certain aggressive things.
I am too busy slowly creeping into their conscious perceptions and planting little doubts which can play very well as their tour here progresses......

02-02-2009, 08:27 PM
Not speaking at all. Grunting and snorting like a pig would.
Found that a spot light is very effective. You can sort through the crowd and single one out and have at it. Cut the light off and every time they see the light hit them they usually take off.
I work the Q lines and ticketing so creeping into the lines and standing right at someones back or beside them until they turn my direction and let it play out from there. I will go to the bleachers and sit next to someone eating and minding my own business. Usually clears the area around me. I think it's the sweat running out of my pig nose. lol
My problem is that they see me so much that by the end of the night I am doing photo shoots non stop but that is what the owner wants. A personality that will play the crowd and interact