A wonderful friend of ours visits our haunt every year. This past Halloween she described our display as "decaying decadence" which made me smile because that is exactly the feel we are striving to achieve. Our props possess a ruined-victorian aesthetic which contributes to the spooky/ghostly theme. In fact, we utilize no blood, no gore, and nothing like a traditional pop-up type scare; yet our guests consistently refer to our display as 'scary'! We do enjoy the benefits of a particularly startling thunder & lightning setup which should be counted as a traditionally scary effect, but in general we prefer the etherial appeal of subtle ambient sounds, slowly moving shadows and ghostly apparitions. Don't get me wrong, I love(!) gore and horror and I am the first to celebrate a good shriek-inducing startle. But after working at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights for some years (which is essentially all blood & gore) I felt that I needed a change of pace in our own home haunt. So I am entirely pleased that our subtle, victorian haunt is capable of evoking a sense of the scary in our guests.
But now I find myself with a minor conundrum for 2012... I am simply short on new ideas!
Staying within the "decaying decadence" of a ghostly, victorian display, what would YOU as fellow haunters hope to experience if you were guests visiting a haunt of this nature?
I can respect your style of the subtle scare. My (5 minutes of thinking) idea is to add in those subtle elements that cause a disturbance without the viewer understanding why. The whole "something isn't quite right" thing. It would be great if I could be more specific, but the best I can offer is to focus on what unsettles you and incorporate it. You have the aged and decayed in play so far. Maybe an out of place bit of youth...the corrupted doll, toy, baby stuff could be the direction to look into.
I am going for the creepy shock, but minimal gore thing this year. I would love to try my hand at an old setting like you are doing. Maybe in a few more years.
It's funny that you mention "corrupted doll, toy, ..." because we have been hoping to find an old doll that we can 'possess' and add to our haunted rocking chair prop. The doll must look convincingly like a victorian era antique without actually being so rare or valuable (or expensive!) that we can't justify turning her into a haunt prop. I would like to add a prop-1 controlled servo to her head allowing her to turn and look at the guests with subtly-glowing red eyes as they approach...
We are fortunate to live in an old (circa 1860) farmhouse that lends itself quite well to our victorian style of haunting. Most of the other homes in our part of Hollywood are either entirely modern, or sixties era stucco shoe boxes, or spanish/mediterranean/mission style bungalows. But to find an aging farmhouse like ours is indeed rare and contributes a great deal to the overall mood of our haunt. By simply adding a few architectural details to the house and changing out our modern wood blinds for decaying victorian window dressings we are able to create a convincing backdrop for the rest of our Halloween display. The fact that the house was rumored to be haunted long(!) before we lived here helps too. :)
I was thinking of doing a haunted hallway with some odd statuary that would switch places with some other decoration so when guests walked back thru they would recognize that something happened. A pivoting wall/secret passage would work for what I'm planning- don't know if that would work in your situation.
Hiya Mae! Unfortunately we do not have any video of our haunt. I'm always too busy to do it (and not very good with a camera!) and I simply forget to ask anyone else in advance. I am hoping to have someone more skilled with a camera than I come take some video and stills this year. We do not have a talking bust, but that is exactly the sort of thing I should add to the list for 2014! I never could quite figure out where the HHG projector was located in relation to their bust. It wasn't rear projected, and yet there was no obvious location in front. I assume it was set at an angle to the bust with significant keystone correction, but that is just a guess. Anyway, thanks for the kind words! I will post our inevitable/eventual haunt video here. What other new projects do you have planned for this season???
I have a great cricket track I could share with you if you want. We actually recorded a particularly noisy cricket that we caught in our kitchen one evening, selected the best 'chirp' and mapped it out onto a midi-keyboard. I simply 'played' various notes/frequencies of the same chirp and looped the results. Whenever we play our cricket audio, the local cricket population goes crazy responding to it!
*No crickets were harmed in the making if this audio track*
I, too, have a toy ghost that travels back and forth on a small rope/line. If you are using the same mechanism, you will find the results surprisingly good so long as you keep the weight to an acceptable level.
I'm hoping to better document our Wandering Spirit counterbalance this spring. If I do, I will be sure to share that here! I play the Bassoon. Somehow I doubt that would work nearly as well as the flute... (tee-hee) I hope you will share pics of your projects as we move ever closer to the haunting season!