I agree with everything you said. I think the problem is not that there are low quality shows because some people will go to these kinds of shows because they feel they are less scary and threatening than the big haunts out there.
The problem is that same low budget haunt will put down the big haunts and claim to be the best and scariest haunt in their market. I've seen it many times before when a bad new haunt will make the claim of being great and take shots at the proven popular haunts and then you pay the same amount of cash only to see a bunch of twelve year olds in black shrouds, white sneakers and clown masks on, jumping out at you. These are the ones that kill the forward momentum of a market.
People will be told this new haunt is great and go and realize its lame and using homemade props and costumes or Spirit Halloween props and then many customers get turned off from going to any other haunts because they now think they all suck and make false claims.
Since I'm not an owner, but rather a very active customer of haunts I have keen insight to this because I spend a lot if time on haunt websites and visiting shows and I have seen it all and heard it all. I've talked to literally thousands of guests while waiting in lines and I know a lot of the info owners would love to know, real opinions and thoughts on shows. People are much more honest with each other as guests than they are with an owner of a haunt. I've toured bad shows with guests and as we exited an employee would ask our group what we thought and they'd say oh it was great but the whole time and on the way back to the cars they'd be saying how much it sucked and not worth it.
But anyway it's not the quality of the show its how you promote it that could hurt everyone. If you are a small low budget show, let people know and people will still support you. Just don't lie to the public and tell them you are great and scary and the next big thing then throw out garbage to the consumer. That's been way to prevalent in this industry for too long.
Most scary haunt I ever went to had maybe 1k in props.. Some of the mega haunts ive been to are super eye candy but little to no scare.
It's hard to look at these pics and not think what the hell.. But we don't know the show! If he wants feedback on his set design swing away but to assume he won't have success without seeing the show is a wild guess.
Wow people, I didn't see where he posted that his haunt was charging a dime. Maybe it is free, but I am guessing he will refrain from posting again.
Here is the simple facts.
I also mean no disrespect to anyone. I totally agree that there is room for lower budget haunts. Many considered my old haunt as a low budget attraction simply because I do not believe in high cost animatronics that break down all the time. We always relied on our actors to make the difference and we were known for doing that very well.
I always promoted my haunted house as a scary as hell, in your face, make you pee your pants, cower in the corner begging to be released from the terror type of haunted house. Due to our approach we quickly became very popular and gained devoted Deadly Fans who loved us and our haunt. During our best seasons we were a top 5 locally attended haunted attraction, amongst a sea of around 50 haunts within 50 miles.
I think the problem I have and many others have, is that now these pictures are out on the net for everyone to see. Being promoted as a professional for profit haunted attraction. They do not look very professional or frankly very good. Our industry already has a less than stellar image that we all must battle with, and people may really question attending haunts if they think this is what they may get for their money.
I understand that we all have to start somewhere and that we are excited and want to show off the work that we have done. Just maybe we should not promote as a professional attraction if it does not live up to those expectations.
I know personally, I never released any pictures that gave anything away before my haunt opened for the season. I wouldn't want to give anything away to the customers before the grand opening night!
Mudsticky, I think your heart is in the right place. I think it's great that you are so excited about your event. I truly wish you much success. I do think that if you are going to post pictures, you may want to wait until you have a scene that really shows how much effort you are putting into things and that looks complete and awesome before posting. That will help you look professional and stop negative posts about you and your haunt.
This post was meant only as positive criticism and not to bash you or your show.
Where I started -
I look at the pics and remember how I started - we had a pavilion lat was about 20ft wide, and 60ft long. We wrapped the whole thing in black plastic - had black plastic walls, built props out of cardboard, spray painted things on the plastic, etc. all paid for out of my pocket because I loved doing it - each year we added to it and grew. Today we are considered one of the better haunts in Northern Michigan <I will never say we are the best....I hate getting into that game>
This looks to be the same situation to me....I am assuming its all paid for by himself so he works with what he has.....which is fine to a point.....
My two worries here are -
A: some of the items just look like pieces of junk thrown into the scene just because....which can work if there is a reason for it to be there.
B: The biggest concern would be the sticks with the caution tape sticking out of the ground....they look to be only a few feet tall....what happens the first time someone is running or trips and impales themselves on one of those sticks?? Or a small child catches one in the eye?
I'm all for people starting their haunts on little to no budget - it's how alot of us started...but if your not updating your haunt and making it better each year then your visitors may stop coming back.
Keep up the work...by the looks of it you have all the time you want to build it....so take your time, plan out some scenes and get creative instead of just throwing things around randomly....give your customers something to enjoy, something they will tell their friends about and make sure it's positive word of mouth.
I love the eye candy at the bigger haunts, but I will say that I went to over 40 haunts last year and the one that I liked the best was a low budget haunt that had some great actors. This place had a husband and wife that acted with each other and she must have been black and blue by the end the night. The were so over the top with slamming each other around, it was incredible. (may be I could talk my wife into acting) I could not even tell you what the decor looked like it was that good. That what makes a good haunt, when you walk out and feel like you got what you paid for. By the way they only charged $7 and was done as fund raiser for the deaf. You have to do what you can with what you have and keep on going.
ASSUMING we are NOT being RickRoll'd here, I applaud Mud for his bravery in showing his passion for everyone to see. I know the work I do does NOT get showcased unless it meets a certain standard in my head. That standard includes no masks, especially Walmart/Halloween store...no plastic...no can lights, etc. & It's funny because the black plastic, walmart mask-style haunt is EXACTLY the type of haunt the Jaycees were running before I stepped in and took over back in 2009. Every since then I've busted ass to try and up the detail, and it's still no Netherworld but it's a hell of a lot more than it's ever been! I've upgraded audio from cd players to all digital with Kustoms, Darklight lighting, quality makeup done by aspiring artists, etc. So everything Mud is doing, I can empathize with! MDKing mentioned this was the way 30-40 years ago, but it hasn't even been that long! Not every market has a "Top Haunts" attraction. This attitude is actually what I struggle with when I think about jumping out on my own. I know that once my market gets flooded then it's do or do not. Right now I could still get in under the radar because the top attractions would be ours and a newer show about 30 minutes from us. I'll tell you now, shoe-string does NOTHING for quality. I change my show 100% every year and it's about 3,000 sqft...I'm 5 rooms in and haven't spent a dime. Comparing our show with the new "money spending" show in our area, customers say we have amazing actors whereas they have all the cool new props because that's what they can afford. Would I like a bunch of eye candy? SURE! But for the time being my set designs and lighting combined with AWESOME actors and makeup keep our show going strong. The ONLY thing so far I can agree with is Darkangel saying the low budgets claiming to be "the scariest". That IRKS me sooooo bad. The only thing I claim on our marketing is "the midlands longest running haunted attraction", which is completely factual! We have staying power. I let customers give us any other accolades. Not to downplay two haunts that I would rate as "fly by nights" who joined our market last year, but they were less quality and filled to the brim with halloween store props/plastic walls...what our market has grown out of. Many customers told us "we left their show and came here"...So more often then not you don't have to tell the customer you're the best/scariest because social media travels faster than the speed of light.
...WOW! What a great thread. I have so much more to say but unfortunately I'm late for work! HAHA. Keep it going...and good luck Mud! The best way to tell some people is to SHOW THEM!
Thanks O'Shawn, it's a common issue you see all over the place.
A couple problems I see is that people are taking the direction that they see the big haunts with great eye candy but not as scary as a haunt with 1k in props. I call BS on that. BE HONEST, would the pics posted here scare you at all? Of course not and sugar coating it only makes you an enabler. Actors make the difference but why would an actor volunteer at a low budget haunt when they can work and probably get paid at one like the Darkness?
He will get better and will improve. But like Allan said and O'Shawn agreed that was the norm 30-40 years ago. There have been thousands of haunt since then which means any new shoestring haunt should show a modern day shoestring haunt not one from our industries infancy. You can do many things for next to nothing and still make it look great you can no longer blame no budget anymore with all the free resources and YouTube etc and this forum.
I think to start a haunt these days you should look like a new dynamic haunt on a budget.
I have visited haunts that have all the big props and eye candy and still scary as hell. Lets not get into saying because a haunt has eye candy it's not scary and low budget means scary it's simply not true it's the total experience that mattes most.
Again I ask where did he say he was a "professional" for profit haunt?
That being said, no you do not have to have a hundred thousand in animatronics to be a great haunt! Have we become so jaded that we don't think we can't put on a good show if don't look like Disneyland? We are haunts people and our main job is to scare! If we have good eye candy at the same time that is even better but it is not the whole package. I pride myself on having great detailed sets while my partners main goal is getting that amazing great scare. But I never belittle or put down anyone for what they have be it a small home haunt or a huge professional one. We are all in the same game here. Constructive ideas are great like some have done here, but putting someone down is just not nice.
You're better to invest in items over tacky masks!!! Period! I would take a room full of junk from a flea market lighted by a few cheapo LED's and a decent actor over tacky masks and half-assed props any day. I don't own a haunt, I simply help others. But when I do my own yard display, my own welded animatronics and detailed props are displayed and properly showcased.
I'm sorry to be a " stick in the mud " but I'd rather you shove out one amazingly detailed prop as opposed to 30 cheesy ones.
Just my personal opinion. Take your time, be patient, and do it right the first time.
If budget is low, get great volunteer actors, skip cheesy props, and setup your scenes to divert attention so that your actors can really deliver! Allen has great acting DVD's that ANYONE can afford.