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View Full Version : Why do you Haunt?



frankts1
01-04-2007, 01:01 PM
An open question, and I appreciate any and all responses you may take the time to write.

I understand that for most, haunting is the love of their life. I know some are in it for the money, others because they love to entertain. Most are moved by a combination of these and other driving forces. And of course, some of ya are just screwed up in the head.

But is there a larger, grander motivation in why you do what you do? Do you see yourself as serving your community? The world? Is there some supreme goal that you hope to meet?

Thank you, in advance, for your thoughts.

Scaremaster
01-04-2007, 01:20 PM
Why do I haunt? I guess I have a passion for it.

It all started when we were in grade school, we would have little haunted houses in one of our bedrooms for fun. We would invite a few of our friends over and tell them to wait outside of the room. Then we would make the bedroom scary, and lead our friends through it.. We did that for a few summers. Once we even took over my uncle's garage and made a haunt for our friends in that. I remember pulling someone around on a wagon and giving them a tour of our haunt. (I was about 8 years old when we did this)

I have always been fasicanted by halloween and the haunted attraction business.

I got involved in a semi-professional haunt when I was 16 in Toledo, OH. I worked as a volunteer and spent many late nights there. I guess the owners finally felt sorry for me cause they gave me a pretty decent amount of cash at the end of the season. (I wasn't expecting this) I worked at this "toys-for-tots" charity haunt for a few years until we moved to Kentucky. That is when things really started to take off.

I found an ad in the local newspaper for a haunt that needed help with construction. We built what was the best year for Nightmare Forest (1997-1998). "The Original Nightmare Forest" It was a great time, and I finally started to get the behind the scenes look at how a Haunted Attraction runs and operates. Alan Clifford (The owner) became really good friends with both my father and I.

In 1999 My father (Terry Campbell) purchased (along with Alan Clifford) the Haunted Hotel in Louisville, KY. In 2002 Things fell apart with the partnership on that haunt and my father and another one of his friends (Todd Moore) purchased the haunt outright. The haunt had been completely transformed and we were getting awesome attendence every season. It is still considered the most popular haunt in Louisville. (This is our baby) ;)

In 2006 Industrial Nightmare in Jeffersonville, IN was purchased by my father and his partner. Last season the 60K sq ft. facility was redesigned and better than it has ever been under previous ownership.

I'm 28 now, and I couldn't think of doing anything else than being involved in this business (Haunted Hotel and Industrial Nightmare). I have learned so much from Marketing, Promotions, Crowd Control, and Scaring the Sh*t out of people. It's something that I have always loved and I always will.

Look for my book coming soon to Amazon.com :)

(I know that this was probably more info than what you were looking for, but I felt like rambling) ;)

frankts1
01-04-2007, 01:40 PM
Glen, no that was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with me.

lurker
01-04-2007, 03:21 PM
I think there are three primary reasons I haunt. One is I love the fact that it combines so many different artistic disciplines. I get to paint, sculpt, write, design sets, make-up, set up scene lighting, build props, design posters, etc. Haunting allows me to be creative in so many different areas.
Also, looking at it from an artistic prospective, the creative work that I do for my haunted house elicits a definite response from the patrons. When they go through they either laugh and/or scream. When I use to have gallery shows for my painting or sculpture, people would come in, look at the work, and never showed much emotion. Whether they loved it or hated it, they remained rather stoic. I think fine art carries an esoteric stigma that makes people believe they have to show it some sort of quiet reverence. Not so with haunted house art forms. If all goes well, people give wonderful non-reverent responses to your work....they scream! It's those screams that fuel my creativity, and my creativity that gets the screams. It is great cycle to be caught up in.
Also, I really enjoy working with creative, and talented people. Being a fine artist, for the most part, is a lonely affair. Being a part of a haunted house creative team is a lot of fun. I have met, and worked with some great people over the years.
Those 3 elements, the variety, the responses (screams and laughter), and the people, have made the haunted house business a passion for me...some might say obsession. :twisted:

SSP
01-04-2007, 05:26 PM
I probably shouldn't be posting here because I don't own a haunt, I have volunteered, designed and helped operate haunts in the past, but I'm only at the beginning of my journey.

There is a great curiosity for me in the way things work, the way things flow, the way you can present a mass of people to a world of horror and have them emerge with smiles on their faces. I'm fascinated on every level by haunted attractions, from the creative end to the actual management and business that runs the framework. The lighting is an art, the sound is an art, the story, props, over all design, underlying atmosphere, the chemistry of a scare and interaction.

I've seen on here that people have theatrical haunts vs. pure scare pop-and-boo styles, but no matter how you slice it, every attraction has theatrical aspects with the way actors and certain events interact with patrons. The only frustrating part is the association of haunted houses with halloween, narrowing the field of understanding to a once a year event when in fact it's an all year round legitimate business, as is Disney or Universal.

I guess, in retrospect, the heartpounding entertainment, the feeling of amazement I would get as a little kid, it all inspired me and gave me a drive to investigate a form of business that I hope can make others feel the way I did. I am also a musician, and it's the same there, if I can inspire someone else, make them walk out of something and say "wow", it's a job well done.

slash
01-04-2007, 05:43 PM
Ever since I was real little, I always liked the fall season. It started picking pumpkins and apples up in the mountains. Then my mom started taking me to hayrides, and eventually haunted houses. I don't know, I just was always fascinated how they put everything together, and I still am. Now that I have my own, I always have fun making the scenes, and watching everyone get scared, in my creation. So, I guess it's the satisfaction and fascination of making my own haunted house, along with, just the feeling of the season. :D

frankts1
01-05-2007, 08:53 AM
I think there are three primary reasons I haunt. One is I love the fact that it combines so many different artistic disciplines. I get to paint, sculpt, write, design sets, make-up, set up scene lighting, build props, design posters, etc. Haunting allows me to be creative in so many different areas.
Also, looking at it from an artistic prospective, the creative work that I do for my haunted house elicits a definite response from the patrons. When they go through they either laugh and/or scream. When I use to have gallery shows for my painting or sculpture, people would come in, look at the work, and never showed much emotion. Whether they loved it or hated it, they remained rather stoic. I think fine art carries an esoteric stigma that makes people believe they have to show it some sort of quiet reverence. Not so with haunted house art forms. If all goes well, people give wonderful non-reverent responses to your work....they scream! It's those screams that fuel my creativity, and my creativity that gets the screams. It is great cycle to be caught up in.
Also, I really enjoy working with creative, and talented people. Being a fine artist, for the most part, is a lonely affair. Being a part of a haunted house creative team is a lot of fun. I have met, and worked with some great people over the years.
Those 3 elements, the variety, the responses (screams and laughter), and the people, have made the haunted house business a passion for me...some might say obsession. :twisted:

Lurker, thank you for your response. The juxtapostion of the two worlds, fine art, and "haunt" art, is a great demonstration of how all of us just want feedback. Any feedback, but preferably good. I'd really never thought about it at exactly that angle before. Thank you very much for taking the time to write.

frankts1
01-05-2007, 09:09 AM
I probably shouldn't be posting here because I don't own a haunt, I have volunteered, designed and helped operate haunts in the past, but I'm only at the beginning of my journey.

There is a great curiosity for me in the way things work, the way things flow, the way you can present a mass of people to a world of horror and have them emerge with smiles on their faces. I'm fascinated on every level by haunted attractions, from the creative end to the actual management and business that runs the framework. The lighting is an art, the sound is an art, the story, props, over all design, underlying atmosphere, the chemistry of a scare and interaction.

I've seen on here that people have theatrical haunts vs. pure scare pop-and-boo styles, but no matter how you slice it, every attraction has theatrical aspects with the way actors and certain events interact with patrons. The only frustrating part is the association of haunted houses with halloween, narrowing the field of understanding to a once a year event when in fact it's an all year round legitimate business, as is Disney or Universal.

I guess, in retrospect, the heartpounding entertainment, the feeling of amazement I would get as a little kid, it all inspired me and gave me a drive to investigate a form of business that I hope can make others feel the way I did. I am also a musician, and it's the same there, if I can inspire someone else, make them walk out of something and say "wow", it's a job well done.

I don't haunt anymore either, but I'm slowly re-entering the industry, so don't feel bad. You have more right to post on the subject than I do, that's for sure! Your point about the narrow window of opportunity for Haunts is a valid one. Hollywood releases horror movies all year, right? Why not haunts? I wonder if there is some innovative way to change the popular sentiment on when it's appropriate to visit a haunted house...

Thanks for responding!

frankts1
01-05-2007, 09:15 AM
Ever since I was real little, I always liked the fall season. It started picking pumpkins and apples up in the mountains. Then my mom started taking me to hayrides, and eventually haunted houses. I don't know, I just was always fascinated how they put everything together, and I still am. Now that I have my own, I always have fun making the scenes, and watching everyone get scared, in my creation. So, I guess it's the satisfaction and fascination of making my own haunted house, along with, just the feeling of the season. :D

Slash, thanks for responding! A question for you (and anyone else who wants to answer): Do you feel that you're giving the audience anything beyond entertainment? What I mean is, the purpose of the Haunt is to entertain and to scare. But do you feel you give a little something more? Do you even want to? I don't mean standing up on a pile of rotting corpses to give a speech on Global Warming, or producing something like the Hell Houses' take on religion. Nothing like that. But in all artistic endeavors, there's what's on the surface (what your audience sees), and what the artist hopes to produce (what your audience feels).

So, and forgive me if this is a stupid question, do you want to produce something more than scares/laughs?

Jim Warfield
01-05-2007, 09:21 AM
Having my own haunt and being open almost every night of the entire year (for the last 19 years?) has seen me redefining why and what I do here a few times over.
I have been amazed when I am defined by others and I realise that I didn't know why or what I was really doing here? (But it felt good to me)
I too have said , typed and thought all the insightfull things previously mentioned here, but I have come to see that , at least for me , I have a need to entertain people in a positive way. Being inside my house gives me a stage and opportunity and forever looking over my mere mortal shoulder (we ain't got a forever lease on this life) I really try to make the absolute MOST of that stage and opportunity given to me by my patrons and their dollars. ("You never get a second chance to make a first impression")
Even the people who see themselves as being much superior to me and my work here usually have to admit that I give it alot of energy both mental and physical, and more importantly, that they got their dollar's worth, somehow. Even if they find such entertainment beneath them, they will still recommennd this place to certain of their friends and this is what makes it all keep happening.
Maybe it all goes back to second grade, trying to tell a joke for the first time and make someone else laugh?

frankts1
01-05-2007, 10:01 AM
Jim, I've been to the Raven's Grin many times, and have yet to leave disappointed. Thanks very much for taking the time to respond.

ALittleFreaky
01-06-2007, 03:54 PM
"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my mind; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night" Edgar Allan Poe

I guess my fasination with Haunted Houses started back in my parents basement(Thats were they kept me chained up). Ha!Ha! My sister and I hosted Halloween party's in the basement and made our own little Haunted Trial, to scare our friends. We all dressed up, I loved it! As a teenager, I acted in a local Haunted Hayride for years. I always wanted to move to Calf. and become a special effects make-up artist. But, my interest in boys, altered those plans and I got married! Not a bad thing, since he is a little freaky too. My home is filled with props and odd things that I truely love to have out and on display. I like to look over and see Reagan sitting on her bed. Then once a year getting to open for business and invite the public to see all the wild stuff that we have been working on all year, and just showing them and their family a good time, is really what its all about. Life it short, you got to have fun with it, and I think if you have a passion for something, go for it! I also like that I get to write a script, design scenes, work on props and costumes. Its so much work, but really, all the time I spend on it goes by so fast because I really enjoy doing it! Last but not least, could I just be so into Haunted Houses cause my parents allowed me to watch Horror movies since I was about 5? The Exorcist, The Evil Dead, and great spooky shows like Night Gallery and the Twilight Zone!

frankts1
01-06-2007, 05:43 PM
Freaky, thanks for taking the time to respond. It brings up an interesting question for me. Specifically, I wonder if there are others like me that just love Halloween/Haunting, but aren't really big horror movie fans. Anyone else like that?

Greg Chrise
01-06-2007, 06:06 PM
I know of some people like that that have a large becoming very successful haunted house and trail and do not watch horror movies. It is unique what they have come up with not being influenced by movies and it is a grand family oriented event.

Greg Chrise
01-06-2007, 07:04 PM
Every Saturday night as a small child was Chiller Theater after the 11:00 PM news, two horror movies off to 4 AM with skits at every break. For some reason I got my store bought Halloween costumes for Easter? There were models of all the classic monsters to assemble. I'm old enough to have seen the Munsters and the Addams family TV show first run in 1965?

As a small child I went on Dark rides and it stood out of all the things in the amusement park as different. Also there was an old Noah's Ark attraction which is a walk thru (Kennywood Park Pittsburgh, Pa). I would see the Santa display with electric moving elves at the Mall and know I wanted to strive to do better than what they offered. I thought it wouldn't take too much. It was Kreagan displays in the infancy of their business, still offering the same stuff at Transworld some 30 years later. Back then it was Kreagen Puppets with a Santa land display and a puppet theater entertaining kids while Mommy spent money.

Somehow, instrumentation and pnuematic/hydraulic servo control and instrumentation became a job. Then later in my 20's I saw Disney World Florida and became a shut in mad inventor like Howard Huges.

Years later a major set back, Mr. Spock died in the second Star Trek Movie.

Many loads of laundry later I came to see Verdun Manor in 1998 and had a "religious" experience right there after seeing all the attractions. I can do this. All of the talents and skills I had developed were on display and it appeared to be providing an income to have gotten so large. The things I had sketched and the ideas I had thought of were actually there, someone had done it.

Finally a reason to live.

I met Jim Warfield and questioned all things living. No, actually very much the same success only a completely different take. Someone that has acted on their instincts, sacrificed and has made a go of it without succumbing to being employed by some company. They both started with nothing really and pulled it off.

More set backs. Jim Henson died. Lance Pope died. JB Corn died.

I met Leonard Pickel and he knew the information I could no longer get from people that had passed. They all knew each other and helped each other out and design information crossed over in my head.

My long term helper died. I quit looking for other haunts to help out and got My haunt together. Then I got a call to bring the thing to set up and run an event.

Over all it is still mostly just a reason to live. Nothing really. Only what God intended me to do. Why my brain was wired this way that provides service in no other possible way on this planet. Having people with similar interests late in life finally.

Ken Spriggs
01-06-2007, 07:41 PM
Well when I was young my Mom dropped me on my head.......my brothers tortured me........

Why else?

Duke of Darkness
01-06-2007, 09:41 PM
20 years ago, I had been through exactly one haunted house. It had been fun, but I had not given it much further thought. Then I was asked to do man a door for tricker treaters on a military base on Halloween. My buddy and I put together a a corny little skit with me as a werewolf and him as an adventurer. The first thing I noticed was that this was FUN! But it was more than that. It was something about how people reacted. Screams and giggles and jumping and running away. But almost always laughing when it was over.

There is just something special about bringing up emotions in people. Fear is a strong and primal emotion. And there is something cathartic about building that fear and then allowing it to be released. Often with laughter.

I have heard it said that if you love haunting, don't turn pro. There is something to that. As an actor or even as a prop designer it is all fun and games. As a manager or owner it is not only an incredible amount of work, but also very stressful. It can't always be fun. Yet, I am once again opening a pro attraction. Why? While the amount of fun may diminish, the screams are still there. The satisfaction of that scream/laugh/scream combination is as strong and addictive as ever. And that, my friends, is why I do it.

Dave

Jim Warfield
01-07-2007, 01:31 AM
Once again I must make mention of the fact (as I have experienced it) is that the entire rest of the year there are almost no real problem customers , they all arrive with the fall season. Why is that?
Of course being open all year long, I just bare up and take it in the fall, always looking forward to the better, nicer customers coming here the rest of the time.
With the majority of haunts being seasonal, you might get a different perspective of haunt customers not realising what I just said here.

The primal rush of the induced scream and fearful reaction followed by laughing is great. I have always wondered how many do it for the ego trip of creating only the fear ?

HauntedWebby
01-07-2007, 04:56 PM
I love to build things! I can't build it straight or pretty, so it's Halloween for me :wink:

Jim Warfield
01-08-2007, 10:20 PM
"Ruler?" "Level?" We dunt need no stinking rulers or levels, do we Webby?
All it must be is built strong, stronger than the mooseman banging his entire body against it.
Spider webs are very strong, maybe Webby is experimenting with a big empty room with merely spider web walls, almost invisible but they gotcha!
You will feel so much "at Home" whenever you get to see my house, Webby.
Guess what? I learned many years ago here in Mount Carroll , if you are trying to install pipework or ductwork in these ancient houses and you use a level to make it look right, it won't look right! You learn to ignore the level and install it to look right, THEN the customer is happy!
Maybe besides the crooked old beams and uneven floors it might be an optical illusion having to do with the shadows from the one 60 watt bulb in the middle of the basement?
So many houses here only had one light in the basement, a naked bulb too!
Of course when they had built the basement stairs from old wooden orange crates, that is when I get upset as I walk down, turn around and see a bright logo and the words California Oranges printed on the stair's boards.

HauntedWebby
01-09-2007, 12:59 PM
The spider room is the only one that didn't get moved for 06. We were going to move it, but then I went to move a pile of fake spiders and some of them left on their own. I decided to leave them be.

By the time Halloween rolls around the room should look pretty cool because all the real spiders have moved in and are making TONS of new webs.