View Full Version : High end effects at low prices...

11-21-2008, 07:49 PM
Hey all,

I am working on opening a charity haunt this year 09', we have (so far) a 2K budget for props, I am looking to increase that budget before July but need to focus on marketing and advertising for the event first and foremost which is all in the early stages thus far.

Not to jump ahead of the marketing but I just wanted some suggestions on a few quality props that could be beneficial to the haunt as I do want it to be a haunt people will enjoy. I have some in mind but would like your suggestions as well!!

What props would you focus on, what 1 prop could give you the most bang for your buck and not deplete the budget fully? (Lets say we have 5K to designate to our prop budget by July.)

Any suggestions are welcome as I do appreciate the help.



Jim Warfield
11-21-2008, 09:04 PM
5 big boxes of Special "K"!?
I can't feel good or right about spending that much money when I have built 98% of the things here for much-o fewer dinaros...because I HAD to! If I wanted to do the haunting thing.
Earlier tonight I had a tour for a mom and four 12 yr. old girls. The girls were full of questions they politely asked (as if in school, raising a hand first)
As they were walking up out of the wine cellar I was standing next to a corner that was very dark. They all saw me, knew I was there, I told them this is "The Boyfriend Room"
"Why do you call it the Boyfriend Room?" They asked.
I had one hand on the shoulder of a home made Yeti (Second-hand store price) just out of sight, around the corner.
"Because...Your Boyfriend is HERE!"
They shrilly scream as I tip him on his base bringing him into the light , right infront of their faces.
Cost of this effect: 50cents for the homemade gorrilla costume (or Yeti?)
Maybe a dollar's worth of old wood under him for a skeletal
Head/mask, free, one of my neighbor's early xamples of mask
making that he had given me.
Fun! Priceless!
I would now have $4,998.50 left! And no one else has a Boyfriend Room..Do they?

11-21-2008, 09:12 PM
Thank you for the advice, I will def take the "boyfriend room" into consideration! :)


11-21-2008, 10:32 PM
You can try ebay for props. I bought many props using ebay at good prices. I bought a used Kristen prop from Scare factory which is retailed for $750.00 I got it for $250.00 off ebay it great condition.

11-21-2008, 10:38 PM
You can also try www.frightprops.com they have some fairly cheap static props for sale which is worth the money i say.

Allen H
11-21-2008, 11:15 PM
It woule help us to know the theme of your haunted house, is it going to be a butcher type gore fest (very cheap to produce) or is your theme a haunted space station? (more expensive). This will help us tailor our answers into things you can use.
Allen H

Jim Warfield
11-22-2008, 06:03 AM
Dumpster-diving at NASA would be a rare and expensive treat for most haunters.
I got some small pieces of real thick-walled stainless steel pipe from NASA, it might have been used for liquid oxygen supply lines?
I havn't really figured out a use for it as of yet.......7 years later.
Maybe a heavy-duty pea shooter?
Then there is always the possibilty of the butcher shop space station, everyone on board went nuts from the outspace virus........one of the symptoms is that it makes everyone "see" their boyfriend in other people's faces and the blood flows then!

11-22-2008, 08:01 AM
Going for the haunted manor look, no over the top gore but a few good scares or illusions. Peppers ghost has been recommended as well as the hollow face illusion and I like both of those ideas, low coast but great effects.

For the older crowd we will have 1 maybe two large tents that could be set up and themed so the gore factor could be uped a bit.


Raycliff Manor
11-22-2008, 09:03 AM
One of the best returns on investment in a product for us is the mini-spotlights! Talk about an affordable way to significantly improve the quality of your show!!! You can check them out at https://www.minispotlight.com/

I also have to say the buzz we received from our Creative Visions, http://www.creativevisionsonline.com/, Greeter character and from our Skulltronix, http://www.skulltronix.com/skulltronixFlash.html, singing bust has proven to be outstanding product investments!

Hope that helps.


11-22-2008, 08:22 PM
Thanks guys for the info, kel..loved the mini spotlights!


12-01-2008, 08:45 PM
I would spend the first dollars on knowledge and tools. Don't be afraid to invest a couple of hundred on "how to" books. Videos are okay too, but books are more expensive to publish and tend to have more time, research and effort invested in them. Most cost between $25 and $50. Books on illusions can be helpful too. But with your smaller budget, you're going to have to build a lot of it yourself if you want to maximize your money. Pawn shops can offer cheaper tools, although portable battery operated tools should be bought new. You'll also need to buy lumber, or if you're clever, find a place you can get it free, like a theater department that breaks down their sets. RECYLE. Don't be afraid to dumpster dive. You can sometimes get busted pvc, cracked drywall, left over pieces of fence for free if you tell them its for a fundraiser haunt or offer to give them tickets. Since it's a haunt, damaged materials only add to the effect.

If you have volunteers, you can skip the air controlled props which will eat up your budget, often break down, and are usually not as scary. Shatter proof glass for a peppers ghost illusion can be several hundred dollars but is well worth it. Don't use regular sheet glass for big illusions. It's not worth the risk if someone walks through it.

You also need to sort out your issues with the fire department ahead of time. They can and do walk into finished haunts and say, "Sorry, you can't open until after you put in a sprinkler system ($30,000.00) and take down all those plastic sheets." They are tied in with the planning department, so trying to avoid them means risking serious fines (and getting shut down). You would think that since it's for a charity, they would turn a blind eye, but their butt is on the line if anyone get hurt so they usually enforce whatever the code is-- especially if they think you tried to sneak it past them. If you're in a state like Florida, you also have to get inspected by the Bureau of Fair and Rides (since it's an amusement) and that means $700 for the tag and inspection, plus around $1,000 more for the insurance without which they won't give you permission to open... even if you're open just a few days. It's crazy, I know, but it is what it is. If you're charging admission, they want their cut.

Now assuming you have the sprinklers, or work out a way around them (like having volunteer fire fighters on staff or something), managed to get your proper licenses and permits, etc, etc, that still leaves some serious bills to pay before you even open the doors or pay for any advertising. That $5K can go real fast. So save it any way you can. Do it yourself, use "used" items whenever possible, pick through trash, recycle... you get the picture. See what are the best props and then make them yourself. The haunt business is in someways like film making. For every big director with a big budget, there's a thousand of us who have to make a fancy looking production using cheap-o 2nd hand props held together with duct tape and bailing wire. (Thank goodness we opererate in low light!) And if you're REAL lucky, and didn't have to spend thousands on fire and code compliance, then you have that money to spend on all the other last minute things you never thought you would need.

A bottle of Aspirin is a good idea too (or a bottle of JD). Haunts can be a lot of fun but they can also cause a lot of stress!

12-04-2008, 03:45 PM
You just can't go wrong with an air cannon, if you get nothing else this will floor them.

And good luck buddy. Start asking everyone you know if they have old stuff you can have. Look on the sides of the road for crap sitting out for the trash. Contact fencing companies and see if you can procure the fence boards they are tearing down. Find companies going out of business and offer to haul off their old crap. Dude even the big boys operate this way. No one has any money in this industry.

Jim Warfield
12-04-2008, 04:04 PM
But the only chance of ever having any money in this industry is to be very industrious!
If you have family and a real full-time job it will take all of your "spare" time for a couple of years if you are building the props and the sets yourself.
Forget that 20 hours of television you watch every week, your haunt will need those hours.
If you have never had any experience in any of the building trades you will be starting out without the knowledge and thinking process that you will need to get things done and done safely, safely constructed.
If you are not a physical type person, if you just can't stand having cuts, bruises and sore muscles, along with new things to learn..maybe you had better re-think the whole idea.
Yes, you can gain all the information that you might need from videos and books and the computer but you still need to have your mind and body deeply involved to process it all and make it happen.
But then you can ignore and forget everything I have written here if you have a smart alien living in your attic who waves a magic wand to make it all take place, just the way you want it to happen....
..send him over when you're through with him, OK?