I ran a very successful Haunted House for many years. Each year it got better and better. Why do you think that is? Did it simply get bigger and more elaborate? Actually just the opposite of that. I learned that stripping it down and going back to the basics works better than anything. There was a time when I was obsessed with building Animatronic Props. Elaborate machines that were activated with floor switches or motion sensors seemed like the way to go. There are companies that sell professional quality Animatronic Props like you see in large scale Haunted Houses, but these normally cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can actually build these props for a fraction of the cost if you have some basic building skills. The problem with these props are there is too much room for error. The switch can malfunction or the motion sensor doesn't pick up well in the darkness. I ended up spending more time trying to keep these contraptions working than I did Scaring folks. I still from time to time use some of these props but they are normally man powered. You still get the scare factor but it's more reliable with a real person operating it. I decided the last three years I did my Haunted House that I was going to go back to simple designs with live actors. I used just enough atmosphere to set the mood and then the punchline. These were the best years ever and each one got better and drew bigger crowds. I will assume that most of you are like me and on a budget so this helps since you can build a pretty awesome haunt for very little money. When you keep things simple your haunted house will run smoother and you will have more fun. A sure fire plan is dark dreary settings with good music to set people on edge. I like to build sets that let people walk into what seems like an empty room. They know that it's not really empty but they don't know whats going to happen. Now that is fear at it's best. Once you build that anticipation up in people that makes the scare ten times better.
I have been asked to help put on a Haunted House for Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have never charged admission to my haunted houses in the past. Normally I ask for Canned Food donations for the Homeless Shelters or Pet Food for the Animal Shelters. I am very honored to be able to help raise money for an awesome cause. I lost my Dad and many other close friends and relatives to Cancer so I can't think of a better cause. Plus I get to do something I love in the process. Now that I have a location it's time to get down and dirty. As I am planning out all of the details and specifics it's time for my favorite part. Prop Building is my favorite part of the process. Yeah you can go out and buy these fantastic props that move and talk and vomit but a person can quickly spend a small fortune on very little. The idea of taking everyday items and creating some great props for a fraction of the cost and making them yourself is what I preach. I had big plans for this site in the beginning but many things happened that caused me be occupied on other grown up stuff. Once my haunted house outgrew it's location I pretty much had to give it up. But now that I have got my mojo back it's time to go to work. Since most of my original props were either trashed or loaned out and never returned I am going to start from scratch. That is fine with me since now I can post my progress and tutorials on here as I have promised for a long time. In the next few weeks I will be showing how I make Body Parts from spray foam insulation as well as building a new casket and many other things. I only have 7 years of ideas that have been waiting to be used. So if you are reading this and you have any questions or something you would like to see me build just leave a comment or drop me an email. Until next time!!!!
After a long hiatus I am officially back. Unfortunately my Haunted House outgrew my Garage a few years ago. I have decided that this year I simply can not miss Halloween. As I search for a new location with a little under nine months till Halloween it Prop Building Time. As much as I would love to be stocking up on rolls of plastic sheeting and spray foam insulation I gotta start planning.
I have about three years worth of ideas storming through my brain so it's time to start sorting them out. I think this year I will start I will start from scratch on my haunted house props. I will bring back some of the best props from past years but totally redo them. Lots of simple dark and shocking. Of course with lots of body parts and gore.
In the coming months I will be building several new Halloween Props. I plan to do a post for each one and include Photos and step by step instructions. I will go back to some of my earlier tips and tricks and show instructions on those as well. Hopefully I can get this page built up into what I had originally envisioned.
I feel I have rambled on for long enough. Check back as I plan to start rolling out some new content very soon.
This is the time to score some Cheap Halloween Props for your haunted house. It' time to start preparing for Halloween 2008 so lets start with spring cleaning. Now is the time of year when people start throwing out old junk in their garages and closets. These items are worthless to them but priceless for the amateur haunter. I have found all sorts of good props this way. Like an old chandelier, I just wired a power cord on it and threw in some flicker bulb and had one of the coolest chandeliers you have saw. I still use it to this day and I only spent about 12 dollars on it.
I have found chairs, beds, lamps and even found a hospital bed once. I just check around with people in my neighborhood. After they all found out I used this stuff for my haunted house they will call me when they have something to get rid of. I even have people who will give scrap wood that they have left over. This is awesome because lumber is expensive and needed to build a lot of projects. Getting it free can save hundreds of dollars not to mention the props you build can be reused over and over. A little tip about building props with wood is to use wood screws to build them with that way they are easy to take back apart and store. I also tend to need different props from year to year so a lot of the time the pieces that I disassemble can be used to make what I need.
As I have said before, if you know of places where naughty people like to go and dump old junk that they are too lazy to properly dispose. These are great places to find stuff. I will literally go and dig through junk to find useful items. I have found a lot of great items that became good props. Just watch out for snakes, these places can be kinda dangerous.
The main thing is think outside of the box, there are lots of places to find old items that can be turned into great Halloween Props for your haunted house. These are the items that will not cost very much at all. You can get these items for free and make them look however you want them to. Just remember that other peoples junk can make Cheap Halloween Props.
If you are like me you finish your haunted house then go around and try to make it just a little bit better. I have came up with a small list of five of my favorite add-ons for my halloween props. These are little add-ons that can be done in a few minutes and are extremely cheap. The first and easiest is to hang pieces of fishing line from the ceiling at different lengths. This is works best in rooms or hallways that are kinda dark. It feels like you are walking through spider webs. Just staple or tie them to your ceilings. You would be surprised at how effective something so simple can be. I like to hang these everywhere in my haunt. The second tip is to use blacklight paint. You can get about six bottles of blacklight paint in six different colors at spencers gifts for about thirteen dollars. This stuff is the perfect thing to add to props. You don't have to go crazy with it, just use it to touch up props. I use the yellow or the green on bones and skulls. Yellow is also good to imitate moonlight shining on branches. I have a box full of crows that I have used from time to time. I painted their feathers with the purple, their beaks orange and their eyes with the red. They look extremely awesome under blacklight. My third tip is to take a bunch of dark colored paints and mix them up in a bucket of water. Then take a bunch of cheese cloth and soak it in the water. Now wring the water out of your cheese cloth and let it dry. Once it is dry it will look old and dirty. You can rip it up and drape on props, make tattered curtains or just shred it and drape it from the ceilings. Tip number four is to cover the floor of your haunted house or just a few hallways with dried leaves or peanut shells or anything that will crunch. Just make sure that you use something that people can't trip over and fall. Styrofoam packing material also works well because it has a weird texture, the only downfall is that it will usually glow under a blacklight. My fifth and final tip is what I call body bags, These make some super cool Halloween Props. These are very easy make depending on how many you make. If you have small room or a hallway that needs a little something this is perfect. Take a large trash bag, about a thirty gallon bag will do nicely(use the hefty ones). Next get some one gallon zip loc bags(once again get the good ones) fill one bag with water, seal it then put it inside of another zip loc bag for a little extra protection. Now put the bag of water in the bottom of the trash bag and fill the bag with wadded up newspaper or something similar. Then just tie the bags and hang them from the ceiling with rope or wire. Try to keep your bags close together so that people have to push their way through them. Also hang them so that they are about chest high on an average sized person. When your victims push through them the bags of water in the bottoms feel very nasty. I used this trick a few times with great results. These tips work great to fill a hallway or dead spot, plus they are a very cheap and effective way to improve your haunted house.