Guest Post: DIY Haunted House Tips and Tricks

Hello everyone, hope you are all very frightened. Today we have a guest post by fan of the show Dylan Snyder. Take it away Dylan:

DIY Haunted House Tips

Halloween has evolved into the second biggest commercial holiday in the United States with about 90-percent of all households participating in Halloween activities. While it’s often thought of as a holiday for children, in reality the most common age demographic to participate in Halloween events, parties, and haunted house experiences falls into the range of 18 to 34-year olds. When planning a DIY haunted house geared toward that older demographic, it’ll take more than bed sheet ghosts and a spooky soundtrack.

Haunted House Themes: Gore or Creepy?

Planning a DIY haunted house designed for older teens and adults begins with choosing a theme. Themes almost are limitless but the size and location of your haunted house space will play an important role in your decision as will budget and time to complete the construction. Popular themes range from Insane Asylum (can be gory, creepy, or both) to a Horror House (gory) where a madman has traps and chases his “guests” or a classic Haunted House populated by wicked spirits and chilling surprises.

When planning any type of haunted house in a residential area, it’s important to check with the local homeowner’s association and/or city to ensure there are no restrictions or permits needed.

DIY Decorations for a Haunted House

The decorations for the haunted house are determined by the theme. Plan to create several scenes, tied together by the central theme so the haunted house has a cohesive feel. It’s scarier if there’s a narrative to follow as that provides a connection for visitor. Always have a separate entrance and exit when possible – how the path is determined will likely be based on the design and layout of your home.

One of the easiest DIY decorations for a haunted house is the ghost or apparition. There are many tutorials available throughout the internet but basic materials include cheese cloth or a medium-weight gauzy fabric that’s semi-translucent. HGTV offers one tutorial for a ghostly figure to place outside — a basic form that can be tricked out to appear scarier and more gruesome with a little creativity and luminescent paint.

Experts recommend playing off any existing creepy factors of the haunted house’s venue. For example, an old and gnarled tree out front becomes the perfect backdrop for a freshly dug grave with creature beginning to emerge. Another option is to place a hanging body from one of the branches. Create the body using old clothes stuffed with newspaper or fiber fill and place a white pillow case over the “head” and angle it as if the neck is broken.

Use plywood to make a drop-down panel to create what’s considered a startle-scare, the type of surprise scare that makes visitors jump and shriek because it’s unexpected. Heavy-duty sheets of plastic are perfect for blood-spattered backdrops and even wall partitions when creating a maze-style haunted house.

DIY haunted house material must-haves usually include but are not limited to:

  • Heavy-duty sheets of plastic (clear and black)
  • Plywood
  • Cheese-cloth or other types of gauzy materials
  • Old mannequin parts or full bodies (if possible)
  • Fog machine
  • Fake blood or ingredients to make fake blood
  • Cobweb material

As you delve further into the creation of your haunted house, consider attending a trade show or event hosted by the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA). Trade shows like the TransWorld Annual Halloween & Attractions event provides the ideal opportunity to network with professional haunted house operators and designers, discover new ideas, and even purchase products that can help elevate your creations to the next “horrific” level.

Lighting Tips and Tricks

The right lighting sets the mood. From classic strobe light effects to eerie moments created by combining a violet light with fog machine effect, your lighting design can enhance the fear factor exponentially. Don’t underestimate the power black lights have to make a haunted house look and feel freaky and horrific at the same time — picture a black light illuminating a small, bloody hand print on the wall. When possible, tie the lighting design digitally with any audio being used. If you can control the lighting and audio features (as well as any animatronics) with a computer or even a tablet, it will make things easier.

The sky’s pretty much the limit when planning a DIY haunted house. Incorporating live actors to create jump-outs or act as chainsaw-wielding madmen is something else to consider as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *