Saturday, November 14, 2009

What If...

Lately I've found myself planning a haunted attraction. One of those pie in the sky things. I think I'll blame Eric from Haunted Overload. He proved that a haunted attraction doesn't have to be packed with animatronic movements and blasts from compressed cylinders. It's all about detail and atmosphere. So the question I keep asking is - can a haunted attraction be totally static, with no movement whatsoever except for fog and flickering candles. No actors, no startling scares, just creep factor. Would visitors feel cheated? Would they throw rotten fruit at me?

One of the scenes in my display would be a massive wall-t0-wall floor-to-ceiling crypt/catacomb/ossuary. Very narrow, very dark, and very long. Corpses and smashed coffins, some tree roots, and darkness.

Sorta like this beautiful photo from Opacity.us, but vile and dank.

It'll probably never happen, but it's fun planning it in my head.

28 comments:

NoahFentz said...

Location Location Location. After seeing this years display a group of us at work began to discuss that very thought. (yes I turned some coworkers onto your blog)In NYC I can see your display more of an Art Venue. Give you a room, paper mache the hell out of it and send your patrons to a magical place. That's what art does.

If its promoted right and in the perfect location anything is possible. I know I would be the first in line.....everyday.

HalloweeNut said...

Rot, if anyone could do a walk-thru well, it would be you! I love the idea of a static haunted house; just nothing but disturbing props and Halloween atmosphere!

phillipjmerrill said...

You just described the perfect haunted attraction: static; but heavy on atmosphere. The only movement should be the hairs raising on the back of your neck.

Johnny Love said...

Ahhh.... Count me in on the team. I'll design the mysteriously long hallway, complete with old glass paned windows illuminated only by the flashes of lightning outside and adorned with blowing tattered curtains.

Eric said...

One of the common debates always seems to be scare factor/intensity vs. atmosphere. Some folks require the elevated heart rate to feel satisfied with their haunting experience, while others fully appreciate the elements that create an unsettling mood. Both sides of the debate are well grounded and equally valued in any haunted attraction. On the other hand, if either area is presented poorly ... I believe that "negative" would have a stronger effect on paying customers.

Your dream haunt looks astonishing in my mind. I've yet to see another amateur haunter put as much emotion in a single piece, but you continue to progress. The images you share of your work speak volumes. I can almost "feel" the scene, and these photos are far more static than any in-person experience. Add the third dimension, the sounds, and smells of a well produced scene ... I'm sold!

Your haunt's dead things appear to be very much alive. Perhaps they don't pop out from behind some cleverly placed scenic element or scream at innocent and unsuspecting visitors. If you're able to create feelings of anticipation or otherwise manipulate your visitors' senses, you're in control to an extent.

Sudden startles also affect our senses, but not in a controlled way. That "fight or flight" reaction comes to mind ...

Would people feel cheated? I'm almost positive some would. If you were to incorporate every animation known to man, I'm also (almost) certain some visitors would feel cheated.

Unfortunately, my opinions are terribly biased. I believe in the details, and the fact that the details require attention. I'm looking for the tricks and subtleties by nature. I can't help it. I'm a haunter of sorts.

Jay's Shadow said...

I always felt that if any one person would allow there mind to do it, their imagination would take over and they would experience more than what they are actually seeing.

If you would create a field like your corn witch theme and a home where she lives in....man that would be something real creepy!

Smilodonna said...

I would love to see a haunt created by your hand! I've since added Haunted Overload to my list of must see events (alas, the northeast is on the other side of the country and I really have to have a career-critical reason for travel at this time), and I'd certainly add a Pumpkinrot haunt to the list. I would imagine that you would need to market it differently from the usual haunt event, as I'm sure you've though about, since the loud braggart boyfriend who gropes his girlfriend and shows off to his buddies has a way of demolishing a lovely moody setting. Perhaps emphasizing the exploratory quality of the haunt would be a good way to go; I know that would hook me in an instant.

Dixie said...

I have to fess up on this one - I actually had to Google 'ossuary', and wow, am I glad that I did! Thanks for the word of the day! ;)

The Frog Queen said...

I have the same things running through my head :D

If you ever do one, I promise to find a way to be there.... :D

Cheers!

JHMDF said...

If your customers know what to expect to see and experience in your haunted attraction (which in your case your fans know your work very well), then I think it could work. People would be coming to experience more of a artistic display representing this Halloween and very dark.

I would come :)

Mr.Macabre said...

I have thought of this concept myself at times.
Most of the decidedly best haunted attractions in my opinion rely less on movement and gore and more on atmosphere (ie: Hallowed Haunting Grounds, Turbedite Manor, [and of course] Pumpkinrot,). These haunts rely more on atmosphere and staging (although I do know the the Haunting Grounds and Turbedite Manor did/do indeed have animatronics) but the Pumpkinrot display relies more on apparent movement, like a snapshot in time.
Could it be done? I believe so. I believe that it would be more enjoyed by a more sophisticated audience though. There would indeed be the group that would feel cheated because a chainsaw or decapitation wasn't involved. I would like to know where and when Halloween became a gore and bloodfest where grossout (and regrettably, scenes of torture) have become synonymous with the day when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. But that's a rant for a different day.

Of course, I'd fly out to see it, and I might even try out an airplane for once!

crudedoodle.com said...

in Philly, there is a haunted attraction each year at one of the oldest prisons in the city, Eastern State Prison. There are dozens of people dressed in costumes working there and they hide, pop out, follow you around trying to scare you.
However, the best part of that attraction for me is the walk between the different buildings where there aren't any actors or sound effects or music...just the hundred-year-old prison walls and old iron fences and small unused buildings and guard towers with some weak lighting upon them.
A man's mind starts wandering in that setting. And that's scarier than anything.

Hook's Haunted Hollow said...

I can totally see a static yard haunt. It's kinda the way we are going. I seriously like the idea of a creep catacomb. We are toying with the idea of making one garage bay have huge Gothic wood doors ToT's have to open to peek inside and glimpse our Vampire room. We are planning on making a large skull wall too. My Co-Haunters uncle used to own a ceramic store and is gonna make us some ceramic skull faces, full and half to mount on a large sheet of Polystyrene. waiting in anticipation for what you come up with. Steve, a new follower :D

Arcane said...

Rot, you would have to cater to that type of audience. Like some others have said, I think if patrons know what type of haunt they are going to, they won't feel cheated. I do think there is a particular audience out there who would enjoy and appreciate an all static haunt. It's a great idea. Your amazing props combined with the creepy atmosphere you portray would make a fantastic haunt. If this ever takes off count me in.

Der Krampus said...

I think an all static haunt, high on atmospheric things like chilled ground-hugging fog, flickering or irregularly timed strobes, a chilling soundtrack, creepy props that make you question whether they are costumed actors or static constructs...Wow! Yeah, you better get busy Rot...

Rot said...

I think the success of something like this would have to come from making static props at rest. Nothing "living" or frozen in action. That'd probably end up looking like a wax museum display.

So a catacomb would work pretty well.

An outdoor portion would be really neat. A winding path carved through a patch of oversized rotting pumpkins.

And don't get me started on the scarecrow section of the event. : )

Jay's Shadow said...

A path with rotting pumpkins showing someone or something was there, but yet new jackolanterns to show that they or it is still there. Rotting corpses hanging to warn others who go any further they will meet the same fate....
You could go on and on with this and could have a big impact on somebody's mind without having a single prop making a move.

Now you got me going....

NoahFentz said...

..adding Mr.Rot to the list of "When I win the lottery...."

FULL MOON INDUSTRIES said...

Believe it will my ŔØ✞✞éŊ friend and it shall be; all great things must start with a dream. Have the faith in yourself and make it a reality; all of the necessary ingredients are in place!
Respect~
FMI☠

Mantan Calaveras said...

As a yard haunter Rot, I'd say you're an artist. I've not seen any other haunters with the particular unique vision that you aspire towards.

Anything you build would be an experience unto itself. There are ways to convey the story, and to build suspense, fear, and even panic in your visitors, even without animations and actors. Horror resides in the emotional ramifications of an experience, not in the sensory experience itself. It's not the blood that horrifies us, it's what that blood means to the victim, and how we feel about the victim.

Probably it's best to discuss the haunt industry with established haunters, to gauge how best to approach the project, and how economically viable the investment would be.

I think you would be entering the haunt market as an Alfred Hitchcock of the medium, compared with the William Castle's currently established.

Rot said...

Really REALLY grateful for all the nice things you guys wrote about my haunt, by the way. : )

Cabrina said...

I went to a 3 attraction haunt one time and the scariest one was a maze, pitch black, and just heavy carpet like strips hanging down.

We couldn't see our hands infront of our faces. We were so scared by what MIGHT happen...and yet not one person moved or reached out for us.

So yes...it can be done. Lord knows with your attention to detail, it would be the best.

Darkrose Manor said...

This year we attempted to do something similar, though yard based and free. So no one could really feel cheated by coming through.

We focused heavily on details and atmosphere in six differently themed areas and received great response from nearly all... with the exception of three middle-school aged boys who made it a point to come through and tell us 'Is this it? This isn't scary.' Despite their intentionally snide comments, they returned through the displays 4 more times through-out the night. :)

It's definitely different for everyone. Lack of actors and animatronics in our haunt certainly did not keep the kiddies feeling safe. We were thrilled to achieve our very first crying child, even though nothing jumped out at him... and several more that would not enter at all. ;) The mind has a funny way of filling in, what most might consider, the blanks.

All that said, an attraction produced by the now legendary Rot would absolutely be the creme de la creme of haunted attractions... 'if you build it - they will come.' I know we'd find a way to be there.

Jon said...

I would just think of it like walking through an art installation. It would totally work. You might have to be creative about how you promote it but I think it could work.

The Gill-Man said...

I think something like this could be successful depending on how it is marketed. Really, this kind of thing isn't the typical "Haunted House" that the average Joe is used to, so spinning it in such a manner would be disasterous. No, you need to find the right way to put this across to the masses.

This type of thing would be, to those outside of the Home Haunters world, the Halloween equivilant of a "Christmas Trail of Lights". Finding a way to market it in such a manner would really be the key. That being said, I feel there is TOTALLY a market for this type of thing, and you could really fill a niche.

A friend of mine and I have long mused that, if we had the money, we'd do a "Sleepy Hollow" festival. It would be in the same vein as the Renaissance faires across the country, only with a Halloween/Washington Irving spin. Your type of static props are exactly the kind of thing that we've imagined throughout the grounds. (Haunted Overload is damned close to what I've always dreamed of). While we would definitely have some actors throughout the site, we wouldn't rely so much on them to provide jumps so much as adding to the atmosphere (in fact, I've always thought the majority of the actors would be portraying colonial folks in the village, with only a few spooks and ghouls roaming around for good measure).

K.O. said...

DO IT! I'm a big haunted-house fan and have always wished for one where the emphasis is on visuals, atmosphere, and amazing details. Your haunted house would be a refreshing change from the usual cookie-cutter startlehouses.

JD said...

No rot, you should have actors, but don't have them jump out. Have them move in the distance, like shadows, allowing the guests to fill in the blanks. Then have one actor stand far in front, under a tree or lamp post. As the guest stare at it from afar, the think its just another prop, until the actor tilts his head slowly to the side, like that ghost from this years haunt. Temporary fear comes from jump scares, true "I'm sleeping with the lights on" fear comes from what you imagine yourself :D

JD said...

Id WALK to see that!