Learning how to make a haunted house is a fun way to celebrate Halloween. With the right haunted house supplies, you can make everything from a terrifying scene of mass murder to a creepy home full of ghosts that kids will enjoy.
Plan It Out
Before you load up on haunted house decorations or dig fresh graves in the front yard, sit down and make a plan. As you design your haunted house, you need to ask yourself a few key questions that will help you finalize the overall look of your haunted house. These questions also give you a solid framework on which to build your design.
The first question is what audience will visit in the haunted house. Will they be young kids or older kids and adults? Do you want to lightly scare your visitors or do you want to terrify them? Do you want to use live actors or will you be using puppets, animatronics and still-life scenes?
Creating a Floor Plan
After you know your audience and your scare level, you can begin to lay out the floor plan of the house. It is best to have one entrance and exit, with a layout that flows from room to room. Each room should have an obvious passage to the next room. Dead ends may seem creepy, but people tend to get clogged up in them.
Allow for very low lighting in some places and no lighting in others, if this can be done safely. For example, a short hallway that connects two rooms can be kept totally black. Not only is it cost effective to keep the lights low, but also it keeps people off balance. For added effect, you can have strobe lights to give shocking glimpses of your most grisly scenes. Be sure to warn visitors about strobe lights, if you use them.
Planning the Scares
Build in as many surprises as you can. Most people travel through a haunted house in groups; having an actor jump out in front of the group only scares the lead people, since everyone else knows what to expect. If you are using actors, have them pop out randomly. You can also do this with mechanical devices by timing them to go off at different intervals. One goes off on the leader of one group and the tail of another group.
Having the actors or animatronics come from unusual locations, underneath the floor or from the ceiling, also increases the scare level.
Don't be afraid to use characters and scenes from the movies. Nothing scares a haunted house patron like Jason or Freddy jumping out of a closet at them. You can also mix it up a little by designing a vignette from a movie to look like a still life. When people approach the scene and get close enough, the actors move; this really frightens people.
Use oddly shaped rooms, mirrors, smoke and loud music to distract and unbalance your visitors. One great effect is to design the rooms with the walls coming in at a 45-degree angle.
Remember to incorporate emergency exits in your haunted house. They are not very frightening, but if something should happen, you need people to be able to exit your house safely.
It's a good idea to avoid candles and open flames in your design. Battery-operated Christmas candles with flickering light bulbs create the same effect without the risk of fire.
Need some moving haunted house props for Halloween? Try these easy-to-do props made with common household items.
Looking for a spooky getaway? Visit one of the 10 most haunted places in America.