I’m a little worn out of the typical Halloween attractions. You go through a dark and twisty maze and people in weird make up and outfits jump out at you. It is too predictable. The sound effects are predictable too. There is the boiler room, the train, the chainsaw, eerie music, and then techno beats to go with flashing lights. My favorite part of the last attraction I went to was the room with the white strobe light. It was so bright, you couldn’t see anything in front of you. You had to cling to the wall. It was very interesting and a little scary.
I like the idea of haunted mazes, but I would like more interaction with the actors. I think that I would prefer if they would be scary without trying to be scary. They should just give you the creeps, and let the feeling of terror build up in you until you reach an apex! Unfortunately for me, the haunted attraction industry specializes in catering to the 19 year old market segment which is the largest. High school kids don’t go as much to these attractions because it is expensive, and they often don’t have transportation. Adults seem to not go so often to these attractions. So, it makes business sense to appeal to 19 year olds in particular, but that is not interesting for me. I am 45, and consider myself to be a connoisseur of experiences.
A haunted bar?
There are many interesting and perhaps cost effective alternatives to the traditional haunted maze made of plywood sets. The thing that makes the maze interesting might be the sound effects or your interactions with the staff. But, at a haunted bar, you could really interact with some very creepy people without a lot of sets.
Imagine that you sign up for a haunted tour, or maze. But, before the tour begins, you sit at the bar. It is more fun if the scares are unexpected. The bar turns out to be way more scary than the maze (perhaps.) You talk to a seemingly normal bar tender. You order a drink. Since liquor licenses are hard to get, your drink might be a non-alcoholic drink. The bar tender drops to the floor after a ghoulish guy with haunted make up murders him with a huge ax from the 1400’s and then says, “I was sick of him anyway.” Your drink comes. There might be blood dripping down the side of the glass, or perhaps not. If you ordered tea, the spoon in the tea cup starts moving around on its own. That would scare the daylights out of me. Next, some very creepy girls with horror movie make up sit next to you. They look like they had a throat operation and have sharp metal objects surgically implanted into their lips which are a costume of course. They can tell you about their former boyfriend and how he did something they didn’t like and how they took care of him. Then, they come right next to you and say, “Want a date?” After they leave, some other creepy characters would sit next to you at the bar. When you turn around, the entire bar could be filled with creeps. What an experience — if done right.
The Star Wars scenario
What if on your way to your haunted maze, you had to walk down a series of long hall ways. Imagine if these long hallways had Star Wars characters walking past you in perfect outfits. I’m not talking about inexpensive costumes. Professional quality costumes that might cost $2000 or more per piece. They could be making small talk with each other about how the Federation raised taxes or why making the jump to light speed is overrated. It would be really fun to go to a Star Wars bar with that kooky music in the background. You could meet Jaba the hut and other creatures from outer space.
The Victorian House
What if you went into a house, and there was a small party in one of the lower rooms. Perhaps wine and cheese. Perhaps spooky organ music. But, what if you were to take turns moving around the house alone? Strange footsteps, odd sounds, cold spots, heavy breathing when nobody is there. There are ways to creep people out, and I wish people who ran haunted attractions would go for more subtle scares rather than assembly line people jumping out at you. They do a lot of slamming sounds in commercial haunted mazes, but there is a correct way to use slamming sounds. According to the classical haunted tales in Victorian houses, it is absolutely silent, except for the creaky sounds of the floorboards below you. You walk in darkness, or perhaps go up the stairs to an eerie second floor. You open a door — then all of a sudden there is a huge crash, and the sounds of glass breaking, pots falling, or other abrupt noises startles you. If it happens again and again it is not an authentic Halloween scare, but only a cheap commercial imitation.
With a little imagination, people could create very interesting haunted attractions. Unfortunately, this industry is only active one month a year and you have to make whatever profits you can in that limited time. It makes it kind of hard to do anything artistic in that time frame.