View Full Version : Stumped on an opening scare - outdoor haunt
Mephisto the Great
09-18-2011, 02:04 PM
Anticipation is always key is building a scare and, as we are a haunted forest, that first shriek of terror from a guest is a great build for those waiting in line. This year, I'm a little stumped as to that first scare. Guests launch from the base of a small hill, pass through a gate / fence to block line-of-sight, and arrive in an execution area just outside our traditional old world village. There is a set of stocks, a gallows, and a working guillotine.
The original idea was a bit of a gag - have a headless character lying on a stump at the guillotine; a distraction happens, the blade on the guillotine falls with a clatter...then that character stands up and chases the guests out of the scene.
The more I've thought about it, the more I've come up with a resounded "Meh." I want something with real punch. Something that fits the general old-world style section (think 19th Century), with those props possibly still in use, but makes people scream so the guests in line can hear it.
Mephisto the Great
Dark Hollow Haunted Forest
09-18-2011, 07:20 PM
Interesting question, I have never been a big fan on the whole blade lopping off someones head and then then the actors walk toward the paytrons. When you come along to one of these sets, you know right away what will happen.
There are a bunch of 19th century things you can do, doing it the safe way is key to some of these things;
Exacusioner with a large ax
I think a headless horseman would work good for a haunt like yours and yes I know, where do I get a horse and rider??? And the costume???????
Maybe think about the horseman thing for next year, but I don't think it really matters if you start with a BANG or not. The building of the tension of the haunt and the paytrons is key to setting up the scare.
If you must have something to get they paytrons to be on edge at the starting gate, have an actor at the start to interact with the paytrons to get into their heads. These actors can really start the tension building, give your paytrons something to think about as they start to walk through your woods or what ever it is you do.
Haunted Prints (EOM)
09-18-2011, 07:39 PM
Hit them hard, fast and quick and don't let up!
09-18-2011, 08:39 PM
Our trail, I started with the chainsaw last year to get them running to the next scare. It worked, and I had a lot of places to hide, since we start them walking through an open fenced area, leading to the wooded trail. Word got out, but they never figured out where I was going to come from. Sometimes I was in front of them, sometimes behind, sometimes to their side. Also, sometimes I slipped around and worked the line.
This year, I may start with a spark fence, but I think the chainsaw dude will be missed. It's a real cliche, but a crowd pleaser.
09-18-2011, 08:41 PM
Sorry, missed the 19th century theme. Chainsaw wasn't quite an issue then.
09-19-2011, 05:51 AM
I like the guillotine idea but instead of having the character get up, how about putting a dummy in the guillotine and spraying the crowds with a bit of water as the blade falls? Not enough to get them wet, (especially if it's cold) but enough to illicit an unexpected scream or similar reaction. In the dark, they shouldn't be able to tell it's not blood...
I always dug the idea (outdoor forest haunt) of the group coming upon a moonshiner. Boobytraps, etc., the actor dressed up in overalls, hermit type character, etc.
09-20-2011, 02:48 PM
Have someone with a blackpowder muzzle loader nearby. Use only about a 20 - 30 grain load with no wadding or projectiles of any type. Have him fire it in the air as the guests are looking at the execution area, then shout that the lunatic murder has gotten away. The sound and flash of the muzzle blast will be a sure fire startle, then set the mood that there is someone or something out there lurking.
Be sure that the person with the muzzle loader is responsible and never fires in the direction of anyone, for any reason. Vary the size of the powder load depending on how close the people are. You don't want to cause hearing damage to anyone. We have done this or a variation for a number of years in our charity hayride.
09-20-2011, 04:11 PM
I think Badger's idea is the best. Simple, and should be very effective. Anytime you can get the patrons outta their comfort zone like that seems to work.
I would guarantee at least a few screams everytime.
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