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Helpful Haunting Hints: Part 1

So, the guys here at Theatre Effects are busily preparing for the Horrorfind show in Baltimore. Steve's been wandering through the office making "spooky" faces and going "ooo...ooo" all week. It's really more sad than anything, but we try to humor him.

Hopefully, your plans for this year's Halloween display are progressing nicely, and don't include "ooo" noises! If, however you're still stuck for the perfect idea for your haunt, I have a recommendation or two for you. Remember, the key to a successful production of any kind, from the smallest yard display to the most complex walk-through, is planning. If you haven't started thinking about Halloween yet, it's time to start.

Theatre Effects can provide you with inspiration in the form of the Halloween-themed books that we carry. Perhaps our most popular is Paul Osborne's Haunted Illusions. This book provides detailed plans for dozens of illusions that can be worked into whatever display you're planning. Many of the illusions in this book were created by Paul for use in Halloween-themed stage shows, but don't let that discourage you. With almost every plan, he includes tips on how to adapt the illusion for a walk-through or sideshow type display. Almost as entertaining as the plans themselves are Paul's discussions of how each illusion was developed, and his hints for the best way to "sell" each illusion.

I feel that the second chapter of the book is of equal or even greater value than the illusion plans themselves, for people new to planning and running haunted attractions. Titled "Dr. Blood's Prescriptions for Your Haunted House," this chapter covers every aspect of setting up and running a professional-quality haunted house. Concepts covered include -- safety, picking a theme, choosing a host, designing the lighting and sound, and even how to promote your haunt to increase revenue. If you've never run a haunted house before (or if you're looking to improve upon what you already have) this chapter alone is worth the full price of the book.

I promised you a hint you can use in your haunted house, didn't I? Actually, this tip comes to us from Adam Sternberg, one of our loyal readers. It seems that in my article on blacklights, I neglected to mention that to get the cool Glowy-Green Vodka Tonics(tm), you need to make sure that you're using tonic water that contains quinine. I had foolishly assumed that all tonic water contains quinine, but I know better now. Anyway, it's the quinine in tonic water that fluoresces and makes the drinks look so cool. So what does this have to do with a haunted display? Read on!

Adam, not satisfied with the GGVT(tm) that I suggested, took pure quinine water and added glycerine to thicken it. He then put the quinine "gel" into a clear acrylic tube and capped both ends. When lit with a blacklight, the tube glowed like a power rod from a nuclear engine! I would imagine that this concoction would also look very cool as a "mystery serum" in a mad scientist's lair, or as a pool of acid or slime in a dungeon setting. Use your imagination, but remember that you'll need a strong blacklight source to create the most dramatic effects. As our webmaster would say, "Thanks, Adam, for that glowing suggestion." 


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