Haunted Illusions: The Book
It's February, that time of year when a young ghoul's fancies turn to... Halloween? If you're anything like me, you know that the kids running around in costumes are missing out on the real fun of Halloween - namely, scaring the pants off of kids in costumes. And if you're considering "upping the ante" on your Halloween display this year, now is the best time to start!
One way of ensuring that you produce the best, most creative haunted display that you can is to allow yourself as much time as possible to prepare. Professional haunted attractions, even those that only open for the Halloween season, actually started planning for this year's holiday last November! The reason is simple - having a full year to work allows them the time to come up with new ideas, plan the construction of their displays, and purchase any materials they may need - often at discounted "off-season" prices.
Even if you're only planning a small display for your porch or garage, starting now can give you the same benefits as the professionals. A great place to start brainstorming is with a good reference book, and Paul Osborne's "Haunted Illusions" is one of the best. This book contains the plans for dozens of effects, props and gimmicks. While many were originally designed for stage performances, Osborne offers tips and ideas on how to adapt them for walk-throughs, side shows and other situations. In addition, he provides background information on how the effects came to be and advice on "selling" the illusion.
The second chapter of "Haunted Illusions" is titled "Dr. Blood's Prescriptions for your Haunted House," and is, in my opinion, as valuable as all of the illusion plans and tips that follow it. This chapter covers every aspect of setting up and operating a professional-quality haunted attraction. Concepts discussed include - safety, working with themes, choosing a "host", lighting & sound, and promotion. This chapter alone more than justifies the price of the entire book for anyone new to the haunted attraction business.
Regardless of your experience or the complexity of your display, getting started now ensures that you'll be better prepared when Halloween rolls around. In addition to the added preparation time, starting now will allow you to take advantage of any special offers on effects equipment or supplies from (ahem) your favorite special effects supplier.
Theatre Effects Customer Service Department
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Phone: 1-800-791-7646 or 513-772-7646 Fax: 513-772-3579