View Full Version : Scare or Detail

04-25-2004, 08:14 AM
What do you think is more important. Scare or detail. Last year we went for the scare. People liked it.

04-25-2004, 09:11 AM
Scare definately! Use detail for distraction to set up the scare.

04-25-2004, 11:17 AM
Bottom line...

If your haunted house doesn't have detail you're just another run of the mill attraction. ANYONE can have a scary haunted house if thats all you're aiming to do...and those haunts can and will do some people.

But the attraction that do the big business have both.

Your eye candy (detail) sells the attraction to the public first and foremost, and secondly they expect to get scared. It works in that order.

Example: No one knows if they're going to get scared until after they've bought a ticket, and gone through the show.

But they don't know whether or not they're going to buy a ticket until after they've reviewed your website and seen what your show looks like.

Detail first and scares second, but in order to be super successful you've got to have both.


04-25-2004, 01:37 PM
I have to dissagree larry, you see there are haunts that can use alot of dark some lighting, and mabe 4-5 detailed scenes and put through ove 200,000 and then have them come back the next year or even week! its not the detail always, its more the way the scare is arranged, taking a drop potrait for instance, The common one drops inside the frame, this makes it disguinshable from the "real" pictures, but if the frame fell with the picture it makes the scare that much harder to see, plus the room doesnt have to be very detailed. you do need both, but everywhere doesnt have to be detailed, if it looks good it looks great but really, you dont have to be detailed to be
super successful
Just my 1 3/4 cents, Steve

Jim Warfield
04-25-2004, 02:05 PM
When it comes to creating a detailed set or scene let your imagination" go"(or if your's is weak or faulty use a house pet's imagination).
I believe a large part of anyone wanting to have a night out is to see and experince something different, and the more different it is, the more likely they will remember it and maybe even tell their friends.
If your mindset is basically the business side of it all, find someone who is the artistic type and encourage and support them and them stand back and be amazed at what they might create! A little encouragement can often do wonders!
Of course money also must be forthcoming to provide the materials, expect to spend money, expect to then see results.

Jim Warfield
04-25-2004, 10:11 PM
Steve, "Detail" ? Does this mean have alot of props and things for the customers to jump backwards into? This makes life more interesting doesn't it!
How about my Pants-Drop scare?
How about my picture-drop that doesn"t drop, it rotates on a 3/4 inch steel shaft through sealed bearings, built to last!! Detail!

John Coen
04-26-2004, 10:23 AM
If I go to a haunted house and am not scared, I won't be a repeat customer. I would, however, return to a haunted house where I was scared if the detail was minimal. After all, the point of going to a haunted house is to be scared.
In our town, a detailed house that isn't scary is called a "tour of homes".

Ideally, detailing AND scares are the better choice. But for the big business I vote for detail, scares, Elvira and free coke and pizza! :)

04-26-2004, 12:25 PM

I agree with you that having dark mazes or whatever is a great asset to any haunted house and they're indeed not detailed what so ever.

However I never said you shouldn't have area's that aren't detailed due to those areas being more scary. I totally agree you should should sacrfice detail in some area's if it would interfere with the scare as in the case of black mazes as I have black mazes.

Bottom line it's a fact that detailed haunts do more business.

The most visited haunt in the world is Disney's Haunted Mansion, that isn't scary what so ever but the detail and the effects are worth their weight in gold. I know that is a bad example in some light because it's inside Disney, but i f you took that attraction and put it anywhere it would still be as popular.

Bottom line: detailed haunts will always do more business.

They must be scary, I'm not in any way shape or form saying they shouldn't be scary, I'm only saying a haunt that is scary that has great detail will always do more business.

I leave you with this...

Jealousy aspect...THIS IS TRUE BTW. Everytime I talk to another haunt owner in some town, I'll ask about this haunt which I hear does great business. The guy I'm talking to always says the same thing no matter what state, no matter what country I'm in..."Yeah it looks good, but everyone says our haunted house is scarier".

They know the neat looking haunt does more business, they know its more well known, but they always through that curve bell saying "but everyone says our haunt is scarier".

Well then I wish someone would tell me why if everyone with the scarier haunt doesn't do as much business as the haunt that is more detailed and not as scary??? Two words: PRODUCTION VALUE!

Fact #2: The guy with the detailed haunt isn't neccessarily not as scary the problem they're having is scaring all those people who're going through the door. The guy with the non-detailed haunt can scare them better because he's only doing half the business on any givin night and thats why that was is scarier.

Anyone who's ever put through 3 thousand people in one night knows just how hard it is to scare the people, opposed to a night when you do only 300 people.

I remember one time some newspaper reporter was doing a story on haunts in our area...and they said this one charity haunt was scarier than our haunted house. They said our looked a million times better but theirs was scarier...they went on to describe how every actor chased them around the entire house, they were being mauled by actors and finally chased them right out to their cars.

WOW...hmmm. Well on that same night we did over 3000 people and they did like 30 people. Yeah I guess every actor can leave their scenes and chase every single customer right to their cars. So i wonder if it was that scary why in the world didn't they do the business???

Because it's NOT all about scaring people, it's about entertaining people.

Entertaining people comes in all different forms not just making people cry for mercy!

Keep in mind if you scare someone to much they'll never come back.

What a dilema, huh?


04-26-2004, 04:52 PM
I vote for scare. It's harder for us to judge this because when we go through a haunt we're looking for the cool props and detail things. But the average person or teenager that goes through a haunt that isn't that scary isn't going to say to they're friends after "well, that wasn't very scary but did you see all that detail?!?" Detail is improtant to add if you can, but i think its more important to get the scares down first.
Just my opinion...

Jim Warfield
04-26-2004, 08:28 PM
"It wasn't scary!"
Don't you love it, this comes out of the mouth of the young guy who was quivvering , trembling and begging to be walked around a potentially scary part of the tour just a few seconds ago.
I think alot of guys don't like going into a haunted house environment because they seem to feel that their manhood will be tested and graded via their reactions, and afterall, this is the great unpredictable unknown, right? At least the rest of us all hope that it is to make it an interesting , entertaining experience and give out a positive vibe for all haunts by osmosis.
So Larry, what would your estimate be as to the number of employees a haunt would have to have to have everyone of 3,000 customers in one night have someone chasing them through a haunt?
Employees wear out being so physically ambitious afterall.

04-27-2004, 12:52 AM
I agree completely with what Larry said...and Jim of course. Very scary is fine but you're greatly reducing the amount of customers you could have. We don't try to be the scariest and to be honest the thing I think about most in bed the night before opening is, "Is it scary enough???" But it always seems to be just scary enough once the actors get into the groove.

We also go for funny, cool and neat. There for, we have 10 year olds all the way to Grandparents on a regular basis. Yes, they get scared, but not horrified. They have FUN. They come back next week to see what they missed (cause of all the detail) and they come back next year because it was so fun. Lots of people won't come back if it's too scary or if the actors "milk" the scare trying to get more screams (I HATE that).

If you go big on scary and not so big on the other stuff that's fine and you'll get pleanty of high school kids. We are loaded with high school kids but their parents love the place too. We much prefer the crowd that's heavy on 30 and 40 something folks. Less distructive, less vulgar, they have more money and love being ENTERTAINED. The crew loves the whole mix too and the busier we are the more they get into it.

If a house isn't scary, they won't come back, maybe so, but if ALL it is is scary there's a LOT of people that won't even go. As Larry said, entertain them and you'll broaden your customer base.

Dan Faupel
04-27-2004, 08:18 AM
What is "SCARY"? You may get a few startles out of the big black maze, but I think people will actually feel more "scared" (without anyone even getting in their face yet) being in well detailed scenes where there are things going on all around them. You definitely need both. I agree with LK, Jim, and Gypsy wholeheartedly.

04-27-2004, 09:36 AM
I myself believe it's 50/50. Without detail, there is no mood, no atmosphere, nothing to build up the scare, nothing to play with their minds and get out everything you possibly can in one opportunity. Like Larry said about the Haunt Mansion, the detail itself is incredible and thats part the reason people want to go back. It is, however, the things the details does that makes everything in the haunt seem that much better. The theatrical mood and setting is placed all around you, from detail with all the sound, lights, props, the staff and even the slightly chilling temparature inside. Once you set all this, once the anticipation has been built and their attension grabbed with the detail....this is where the scares are at their best.

04-27-2004, 09:36 AM
I myself believe it's 50/50. Without detail, there is no mood, no atmosphere, nothing to build up the scare, nothing to play with their minds and get out everything you possibly can in one opportunity. Like Larry said about the Haunt Mansion, the detail itself is incredible and thats part the reason people want to go back. It is, however, the things the details does that makes everything in the haunt seem that much better. The theatrical mood and setting is placed all around you, from detail with all the sound, lights, props, the staff and even the slightly chilling temparature inside. Once you set all this, once the anticipation has been built and their attension grabbed with the detail....this is where the scares are at their best.

Dark Attraction
04-27-2004, 11:19 AM
I voted 50/50, but I think its more 75/25, with scares being more important.

I can understand Larry's point of view, he makes a living selling attractions (as do I) and his customers, paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, expect highly detailed scenes.

The actual customers of the attraction, however, wants to be scared, and a majority of the time don't care about, or won't even NOTICE the distressed wallpaper, patina finish, dusted cobwebs, etc.

I disagree with Larry that anyone can create a truly SCARY haunt. It is an artform. While anyone can get a group of 15 year old girls to scream and hide their eyes, it takes a lot of skill and talent to make the typical adult male jump. It is even more dificult to scare other haunters... most of them have seen it all. If you make them jump a few times and can really keep them guessing about where that next scare is coming from, they will always have a great time, regardless of how much wallpaper you use.

04-27-2004, 12:17 PM
Let me off another point here...

First off I will say yet again...ANYONE CAN MAKE A SCARY HAUNTED HOUSE. If you can scare your mother, your wife, your brother, in your house for example...they don't know you're there you jump out, or you sneak up on someone, blah, blah you can scare anyone, anytime. Scaring people is nothing new...we've all done at one time or another, be it in our home, in the movies, or where ever.

I will say that is is getting harder and harder to scare people. As haunts have become more popular and haunts copy each others idea's the customer has become more keen than ever before about such things as drop pictures, etc.

Still a good actor is 90% of the game...that actor can either do it or he can't. You could have a haunted house with NO drop pictures, no secret doors, nothing and that actor would still scare people.

With that being said, let me make my last point.

If you have one of those haunted houses that lack detail, thats filled to the brim with black mazes and cheesy scenes you're haunted house is truely lacking scare potentional and I'll tell you why.

Wihtout DETAIL your haunt will NEVER live up to the scare because you have no distractions. If your customers are walking through cheesy black hallways, or no solid eye candy then you have no distractions.

If you customers are walking through a highly detailed haunt, checking out all the cool scenes, and detail, and scares are cleverly hidden away within that detail you'll be more effective at the scare.

If an actor jumps out of a trunk, and that trunk is part of an attic scene, so that trunk just looks like an old trunk amoung a bunch of other old jumk tucked away and cobwebbed up attic your customers are scanning the entire room because everything in that room looks like it should...nothing out of place.

You'll get a more effective scare...period.

If you have one of those haunts that lack the detail, lack the right atmophere you're missing the key ingrediant to scare people.

I will say yet again...if your haunted house lacks the detail you're probably not doing the business that another haunt is doing that does.

No one can dispute that the best looking haunts do most of the business. So again without that detail you're doing the haunt with no real potential of doing big business. Unless you do big business you can't have more fun...meaning build cooler stuff, by more animations, or whatever.

See a lot of people are starting to confuse me with someone who just wants to make money.


Right: I have a retire someday, I have to support my kids, pay my bills like everyone else. I want to buy certain things to make life better.

WRONG: I'm the biggest kid in this industry, I love toys, I love creating new things. I love to spend money and making cool things in our haunt...for me thats the most fun aspect of this business.

When you do a good business you can afford yourself more money to create yourself a better attraction...period.

Take it from me without a high level of detail you will NOT get the customers period.

Imagine this...play Resident Evil video game with only scares, no cool rooms or monsters? Woudl anyone buy that video game HELL NO!!!

One thing for sure about this thread I really have found the debate entertaining, hearing everyones opinions.


04-27-2004, 12:48 PM
I'd say both Scare and Detail are equally important. I've been to attractions that have lots of great scares and no eye candy at all, I've also been to attractions where every square inch of the place was covered down to the smallest detail, but no scares were present.

Most of the time the smaller haunts who don't have a large budget will be the places with lots of scares, but not much in the way of props or special effects. These are also the places who over use the easy scares. Drop windows are ok every now and then, but after 2 or 3 they just get annoying.

On the other side is the Haunts who have a huge budget, but absolutely no idea how to scare. I was recently in Orlando on business and had the chance to attend a haunt called Skull Kingdom. I had drove by the place dozens of times but never had the chance to stop until now. I figured since it was literally within a mile or so of Universal Studios that it had to be pretty good to still be in business. This place was covered in detailed work, from floor to ceiling. But the trip through the attraction proved to be more like a walk through a museum than a haunted attraction. It was all glorious to look at, but there wasn't anything there to scare anyone. I think there was one or maybe two people inside the entire attraction. To me this just proves that detail isn't everything. You can put as much detail in a haunt as your wallet or bank will allow, but if its not scary then its not fun.

To pick between Scare and Detail is to settle mediocre. While mediocre is better than nothing, its not very impressive by definition.

04-27-2004, 01:31 PM
I'd say both Scare and Detail are equally important. I've been to attractions that have lots of great scares and no eye candy at all, I've also been to attractions where every square inch of the place was covered down to the smallest detail, but no scares were present.

The haunts with lots of detail and no scares ... I call them Museum haunts. It's like walking a guided tour because most of the time they are trying to push so many people through that the groups are almost literally walking on top of each other :)

I think a good balance of both is needed.

04-27-2004, 04:40 PM
I'd say that eye candy can set up an actor for a good scare. On the other hand an actor can scare someone into a set with lots of eye candy. Then the set or theme of the set can take over. Now another actor at the end of the set can be set up to scare again. See a patern. I think that you need both, but your show is only as good as your actors. :twisted:

David "Vascul" Duarte
Haunted Houes Actor
Make-up Artist

Jim Warfield
04-27-2004, 07:37 PM
Over all the many years that I've had my house open for tours, I have heard many say that my house is similar to "a museum".
I have also heard many of them scream.
I think maybe some of them are afraid that THEY might be becoming a part of a display in "My Museum!"
Remember those words of wisdom from that car commercial:"Parts is Parts!"
"Jim, I'll come over and lend you a hand doing something, sometime."
No need, look in that big drawer, I've got so many spare hands now that I spend four hours a week just trimming nails."
Last night on another forum a guy admitted that even though he'd been to maybe as many as 15 professional haunts before he saw mine, he was still unnerved and actually scared when he toured through here!
He said something like the house and "Me" worked well together to make him very unsettled. He was glad to get out alive!
I took this as a terrific compliment! I'll have to thank him next time by killing him! hahahah! S L O W L Y, of course!

John Coen
04-27-2004, 07:49 PM
I think I'll sell Eye Candy in my concession stand this year. :)

Jim Warfield
04-27-2004, 08:28 PM
Don't forget the eye-napkins for those tears running down the cheeks when some glutton hogs everything down too fast.
"The Eyes have it, the vote is in favor of darker sunglasses for all of us Vampires."
Cyclops says, "What about me?"
"Here, a pirate-patch is the best that I can do right now."
"It is real dark trying to see through it too!"
"So "Cy" what was your score on you S.A.T. test?"
"Shucks, I've known how to sit for years, I didn't even have to study nuthing!"

John Coen
04-27-2004, 08:29 PM
I'll make sure I have lots of eye candy so I can mention it in my advertising! :)

04-27-2004, 10:26 PM

We're coming out with a new product that you might be interested...

GLOW EYE CANDY. You just snap them and you have instant glowing eye candy to sell to your customers.

I'll let you know when it's ready!!!!


Jim Warfield
04-27-2004, 10:56 PM
But does this product cause impotency in sterile rats?
Will the product's final destination be all -aglow after it hits the water?
Who needs the lights on in the bathroom anymore?
What's the trade secret? Mashed up lightning bugs or radioactive waste?
Gotta be one or the other, right? hahahah!

John Coen
04-28-2004, 06:49 AM
And should your food really glow? :o

04-28-2004, 10:35 AM
A few thoughts -

First - Some guests will always tell you how much better/scarier your haunt is than other local haunts. Face it, you all hear how bad/lame the other haunts are from your guests, and other haunts hear the same about you. You screw up when you start believing it.

Second - Polite haunters will aways praise your haunt to your face, no matter what they may think or say later. Haunters with a bit of ego they have difficulty restraining, will often say that guests think thier haunt is scarier than yours (see #1) and they will tell this to anyone who will listen.

Third - It is always easier to scare small groups/small crowds than big ones. Likewise It is easier to impress people with all the cool stuff you can buy/build once you have the revenue from big crowds.

Fourth - If you think you are the best you need to get a clue. You can always learn from other haunts, large or small, and only hearing the good or bad about your event will make you blind to reality.

Fifth - Really dangerous is scarier, but not worth it!

Sixth - Every individual, on every trip through a haunt has a different experience. No matter what you do, some people will love it and some will hate it. (Too scared/Not Scared enough/ Actor was funny/actor was rude/ lost cell phone/found new girlfriend etc.)

Scare or Detail it is not always really a choice. We all want our haunt to have as much fear and spectacle as we can get into it (unless we don't care about the product) The only thing that limits any of us is the time the money, the size of the crowds, the limits of our space and the skill of our crew.

If you really want to know what haunts are doing it right, find the ones that grow every year, that many people attend, that strive to improve/change the guest experience, that stand the test of time. We all have our critics and supporters, but in life as well as haunting, success may depend on how you define it, but the vote of the masses is pretty easy to measure.

Ben Armstrong

Jim Warfield
04-28-2004, 12:07 PM
I am in total agreement with you , Ben.

My haunt must have an excellant reputation as a good place to cruise for chicks, at least this is what many of my former October employees seemed to think ("former")
The limits of my work crew here is only limited by the 90 degree positive square bend in Mr. Tuxedo's measuring tail! (He can lay out a level line with too that beats any laser!)
Of course getting him to actually work and do anything, except cruise for chicks, is another impossibility in and of itself!
So for all of these years I am sweating and working here while Mr. Tuxedo and his advisor, some guy named I.M. satan Jr. just sit there telling one another stories and smoking cigars!
Catnip cigars for Tuxedo.

Frank Weidman
04-28-2004, 12:08 PM
Very good advice Ben, Thanks!


04-28-2004, 12:35 PM
Over all the many years that I've had my house open for tours, I have heard many say that my house is similar to "a museum".

Does that make you the Cillator or your museum? :wink:

I think your haunt is one of the more unique ones Jim ... it's a little of every discipline when it comes to haunting. :twisted:

Second - Polite haunters will aways praise your haunt to your face, no matter what they may think or say later. Haunters with a bit of ego they have difficulty restraining, will often say that guests think thier haunt is scarier than yours (see #1) and they will tell this to anyone who will listen.

If a "haunter" (not guest) came to my haunt and started in on the praise.. I'd be looking around and think to myself 'what haunt did they just go through?' ... lol. I love to haunt I'm just not very good at it :) I just updated my site with a picture gallery (lazarusmaze.com) and I have to admit I don't have a lot to show after 12 years of doing this ... how sad ... but at least I know and I don't delude myself :wink:

04-28-2004, 06:27 PM

Your thoughts are dead on...I will be the first to admit that I've had other haunters in our area throughout the years come to our haunted house on a Saturday and say "everyone says our house is the scariest in town'.

I usually then ask if it's so scary what are you doing here? You should have lines wrapped around teh building. YOu would think huh?

Fact is a haunted house with small crowds have the inside advantage and should be able to do a better job and scaring people. It's those haunts who do the big numbers who must entertain guests in all sorts of ways because it's harder and sometimes impossible to scare people especially on a busy Saturday night.

Detail or eye candy is very important to any attraction that brings in the large crowds.

Fact is I think almost everyone who starts off starts with a scary haunted house lacking much detail. I know thats where I started with a very small, cheesy but very scary haunted house.

As you grow you learn more often than before you can't make everyone happy all the time but you can make a lot of people happy most of the time.


John Coen
04-30-2004, 07:38 AM
Then, a boxload of ping pong balls dump onto your head while a Moose laughs at you. :)

Jim Warfield
04-30-2004, 12:10 PM
"Kids" stay up all hours to watch cartoons so why not be in one?

Ben Fox
05-01-2004, 01:36 AM
If I bcome a cartoon can i blow myself up with things that arnt suposed to be flamable(add to the hilariousness of it all)
You always have to wonder what kind of drugs the cartoonists are on to come up some of the idea that are out the now.
Actually give some of what he is smoking. :twisted:

Jim Warfield
05-01-2004, 09:05 AM
Alot of strange and goofy things get said in forums like this but what follows is not one of them, it's the truth (just for anyone's "education")
I have never done any drugs in my life.
There were countless opportunitys, growing up as a teenager and being in the class of 1967 in a town with a liberal arts college next door.
I saw drugs do destructive things to bodys and minds, setting some on a life-path to never recover.
I never thought that I was blessed with an over abundance of brain cells , so I figured that I had better try to preserve the few I was born with to help myself to more successfully negotiate this "Life" and "Living" experience.
To make oneself prematurely senile or befuddled would not be where I would want to find myself, at the mercy of handouts or instituitions, this happens plenty soon enough from 75 years of normal living on up for us.
Using certian drugs seemed to free up some people's imaginations to begin with but the confusion and destruction of ambitions that came later was not worth the fleeting advantages, real or imagined, as far as I could tell.
I eventually got very tired of telling teenagers touring my house that I did not ever use drugs. They would see my old paintings on display upstairs and make such comments. I finally made a pointed joke out of all of this by saying that I had used drugs and that I was their "real" Father!
(Would you want to think of your Father using drugs and then creating you? I think most really would not, life is a big enough "Crap-Shoot" anyway , without drugs.
We all make our choices in life, this was and is mine, so now everybody reading this knows. thank you !

(Mr. Tuxedo and his catnip is another matter, but then I do end up carrying his load around here, you know!)

06-23-2005, 11:18 AM
i believe that you must create an atmosphere for the customers before the scare happens. people seem a little distracted as they look at a non-scary prop that is an eye-catcher, then WHAM-O out comes the scare. my point is they feel relaxed/a little scared then scared when the scare happens and only if it's a good scare. their heart rate is all over the place!!

strong set design also comes in handy for those of us, as customers, who are not as or not scared at all at haunted house attractions. they can at least enjoy the detail to rooms (and their scared friends screaming and acting stupid). i don't know about you but black walls are rather dull to look at.

Jim Warfield
06-23-2005, 11:27 AM
You don't appreciate "Black Walls?"
There is a cult and a movement that is all about propagating black walls.
These walls see you as very interesting, with your colors of skin tone and clothing, they are working to absorb you as we speak.

06-23-2005, 11:33 AM
lol if these black walls offer me kool-aid while i'm in a haunted house..i'm out'a there.

06-23-2005, 12:29 PM
What do you think is more important. Scare or detail. Last year we went for the scare. People liked it.

I think a balance of both.

It's kinda hard to add lots of visual detail in a black out maze, but a library full of detail of books, desk, lamps, ect and nothing else is not very scary.

06-23-2005, 04:10 PM
HAUNT "to visit or inhabit as a ghost; to stay around or persist ;
to appear habitually as a ghost" Merriam-Webster Online

In that definition is there no mention of "eye candy." However, in order to make your place believable as a haunt, some eye candy is a must.
I'm one who is just beginning as a Pro charity haunt and our budget is next to nothing. So, our "eye candy" won't be nearly to the standard of others. However, I know something about human nature. And the fact is, if you show them details at the very beginning, they will continue to see detail even though there is none.
For example:
If you have a hallway that is suppose to look as though it is made of stones. To start the wall off with detailed stones carved from styrofoam or what have you for several feet and then taper off to only drawings of stones on the walls, the audience will never suspect or notice the difference. Why? Because you have established yourself from the very beginning. This is our intentions this year. The first few scenes will be quite detailed w/scares and the rest will be moderately detailed w/powerful GOTCHAS!

06-23-2005, 05:40 PM
Im going with Joe on this one... 75/25 with scare as the more important. Don't get me wrong, great detail is important... But it's the overall "scarefactor" that seperates good haunts from great haunts.

BUT!!! I have also toured attractions with normal people that I don't know and heard them say "Look at the detail on this wall, it's amazing!". So, some people actually DO care about detail more than the scare. But the majority will only care about the scare and won't notice a hint of detail. That's my .412589711..55 cents worth. Happy Haunting. -Tyler

06-23-2005, 06:24 PM

I agree. There ARE those who pay great attention to detail. Last year, a man, his son and another young man were taking forever to go through our small little haunt. I mean FOREVER! I asked my sister to go in and see what was going on. When she came back, she said the father was pointing out to the other two all my detailing. It rather unnerved me a bit that someone would do that. It made me feel as though my scares must have been a complete failure.

Jim Warfield
06-23-2005, 06:54 PM
Maybe thinking in these terms could explain the difference. There are haunt customers then there are tourists. Tourists spend money to see something, take pictures, pick up brochures and tell their friends and neighbors about it once they return home. tourists visit general Grant's home in Galena, Illinois. Tourists also visit the above ground graveyards of New Orleans, the physical act of just being someplace is what it is about (or seems to be?) for alot of these people, now they can say they have been there.
Buildings, objects furnishings, location, there you go, much different from someone looking for a possibly emotionally stressfull "Boo! Gotcha!" Experience that leaves them with an exhillerated heart rate.
A certain percentage of your haunt customers will be tourists, curiosity seekers who want to have "Been there, seen that".

06-23-2005, 07:46 PM
need a good split

06-24-2005, 07:58 AM
I will keep my thoughts brief on this subject because last time I posted on scare vs. detail I got bashed.

We believe we produce one of if not the scariest haunt in the Detroit Metro area. Our customers have agreed with us both years and have told us so. Many of them come back several times per season. They say that they will come back every year to see what we can through at them. They love the fact that every room is different each year. They tell us if they want museum quality sets they rarely change each year they will go down the street but they come to us to get scared. We hear every night that this or that house looked really cool but they had no scare factor. Many of them say they felt like they got ripped off. Most of the fancy haunts are charging $15.00 - $20.00 to get in. We have kept our prices fair and provided a huge scare factor with some good detail work as well.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe in haunts that are nothing but dark halls and black walls. That shows no creative ability or pride in your show. Even haunts who can't afford expensive props can still find great things to add by even just garbage picking or building the props themselves. Our first year we did not have a huge budget so we made it as detailed as we could with in our means. Last year was even more detailed, and this year is by far the most detailed haunt I've produced in my 19 years in the business. However, we have always prided ourselves on being the scariest haunt around.

I don't care how detailed your haunted house is if you don't have good actors and it's not at all scary you will probably not get many repeat customers. #1 reason in a poll we took for going to a haunt is to get scared, #2 is to have fun. If you can accomplish both you are in great shape.

I have been told by other haunt owners that because we are not a "Family Friendly" haunt that we are losing out on the family dollars. While it's true we don't see a lot of children through the door, we do see a larger volume of teens and adults who come to us for our special brand of scare the crap outta ya, in your face haunting. Michigan has one of the largest amounts of haunted house in the nation. There are about 50 attractions with in 40 miles of us. The last few years a lot of the haunts have turned to contests and gimmicks to try and get customers to their show. We decided right from the start we would never go that route. Instead we aimed for providing Michigan with something different from most of the other haunts. High impact, old school scares. It has worked out great for us! And our customers seem to appreciate the effort we put into fright level.

Our first year we had great attendance. We increased that last year by almost 2000 people mainly from word of mouth. This year because of word of mouth and the great media attention from the past 2 years it has helped us pick up some huge sponsors. With help from our sponsors we will be doubling our advertising budget from last year which we believe will increase our numbers once again. So, we must be doing something right.

Bottom line is to deliver on what your advertising. If it's a family style attraction great! But if you are promoting that you are the scariest haunted house and your customers don't get scared you will lose them forever.

Sorry, I guess it was not as brief as I thought it would be. Just my opinions.

Hope everyone has a great season,

Howie "Slobber" Erlich
Deadly Intentions Haunted House

06-24-2005, 08:23 AM

is that an electric chainsaw I see Leatherface using in your "Out of Control" video?
If so, how does that work for you?

06-24-2005, 09:14 AM
Hi Empressnightshade,

Yes it is an electric chainsaw. We would rather use gas but our current building does not have good enough ventilation. Better to go electric than have anyone get sick from the fumes. However, I must say that if you have a good actor that knows what he or she is doing the scare can be just as good as with gas. You lose the great gas saw sound but after all it's still a chainsaw. If you go electric, I suggest Craftsman saws. They are among the loudest we have tried, they hold up better than most, they are the least expensive and they come with a 90 day warranty. :P

On a side note: Spike one of my long time actors came up with a great idea a couple of years ago. He welded a bicycle chain to the blade of his saw. We then grinded down any rough edges. Although the chain doesn't spin. With the right actor and lighting (Controlled Strobe Works Best For Us) a lot of customers really believe that it has a chain on. That freaks most of them out more then caring if it's gas or electric.


06-24-2005, 09:29 AM
After reading back through all the old posts on this topic I have to say that I strongly disagree with Larry on one major point he made early on. He stated "ANYONE can have a scary haunted house if thats all you're aiming to do". WRONG!

I have been to a lot of houses that had tried to be scary and failed miserably! They were the only ones who thought they had a scary show. The customers sure didn't. It takes a lot more than wanting it to be scary. You have to start with great actors, well thought out room ideas and a good knowledge of what works and where to place the scares!

Not anyone can produce a quality scary show!


06-24-2005, 09:32 AM
Aaaaah, Slobber!
You just pointed out something that testifies to this thread's argument. Detail or Scare? Well, I would say that the Chainsaw itself is the "Scare" and the bicycle chain is the "Detail." Both added together makes a frightening experience.

Thanks for that information! I think I would feel better with an electric chainsaw and Craftsman it is!

Oh, one last thing....I noticed that the cords of the chainsaws are up towards the ceiling. I know this is to eliminate the tripping factor. Care to elaborate a bit on how that is done?

06-24-2005, 09:52 AM
very good catch empress (in reguards to the bike chain & chainsaw comment).

06-24-2005, 09:53 AM

In our building we have several outlets in the ceiling (That Helps). If possible use a dedicated outlet for only the saw. It's best if the saw is the only thing on that breaker. For the chainsaws you should use a heavy duty electrical cord. We secure the cord above the room in the rafters with plastic zip ties. Use enough to keep it in place. Make sure that you are not pinching the cord more like letting in free swing if that makes any sense. Some people also use a heavy duty retractable cord but we feel they bind up to easy.

By the way you should inspect the cord nightly to make sure it is not looking bent, twisted or damaged in any way as well as making sure it is secure. If you see any signs of wear, replace the cord immediately. Also you may want to talk to your electrical or building inspector to get their suggestion on the method they would prefer you to use.


Hope that helps a little.

06-24-2005, 10:09 AM
Slobber, it helped a lot. Thanks again! And thanks to you, too Jason! :D