Everyone deserves a good scare come Halloween. Some people sit down to horror movie marathons, while others page through thrilling books from famed horror writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, hands-on scares can be just as effective, which probably accounts for the popularity of haunted hayrides and corn mazes.
Homeowners looking to provide their own share of scares to friends and family – or to create a scream-worthy tableau for the visiting public to enjoy – can consider some of these haunted house ideas.
Create a spooky ambiance
The fear of the unknown can be a powerful force. In many horror scenes, suspense is built by what audiences cannot see. Borrow this idea when creating the mood for your haunted house. Dim lighting by way of red or black outside bulbs will help increase the shadows and camouflage any decorations that may not be completely realistic in the light of day. In addition to lighting, create a playlist of creepy sounds. Consider how effective those grandfather clock bell tolls were at evoking fear in season four of “Stranger Things.” Pick your spooky sounds, whether it’s animals or something more supernatural.
Narrow down a theme
Decide which type of scenes you’ll want to depict and maintain continuity throughout. Graveyards, monstrous realms, insane asylum, or evil fairy tale creatures can serve as inspiration for a theme. Once a theme has been chosen, you can build props, decorations, lighting and other effects around it.
Enlist some live-action help
Gather a bunch of volunteers who can be on hand to staff your haunted house, particularly if you’re opening up your property to the neighborhood for a night or two, or if you’re hosting a party. Each volunteer should be dressed and acting according to the theme. A mix of stationary decorations with creepy people moving about can really set a haunted house apart.
Create ‘bloody’ candles
Purchase white pillar candles and get one long, red candle as well. Over a protected surface, melt the red candle and drizzle “blood” trickles over the white candles from the tops and down the sides. These candles can be placed around your haunted house.
Back-lit silhouettes made of cardboard or another thick paper can cause haunted house visitors to take a second look. Prop them up in windows or place them at the end of dark hallways to create the feeling that someone is watching. You’ll be sure to get pulses rising.
Gather old dolls
Dolls can be creepy characters, and older dolls may appear even more haunted and spooky. Set up an old baby bassinet with a bunch of worn dolls found at various antique stores or garage sales. Work them into your theme or let them be scary all on their own.
Once your haunted house is complete, set up a clearly marked path so visitors know where to walk. Create different scenes along the path to have a scare around every corner.