Friday, October 6, 2017

How Do You Tell Your Neighbors That Their Halloween Decorations Are Too Scary?

An interesting question posed in a short article in the Chicago Tribune in which my good friend Lesley Bannatyne was interviewed.


Click below:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-fam-social-graces-halloween-decorations-1010-story.html

21 comments:

Rot said...

This is a great question, as the bulk of us are very territorial over what we do as our passion, but I think it's legit to consider the exposure of extremely gory props to small children. Like should a Yard Haunt force parents to discuss fake mutilated bodies to their four year old children who live nearby?

It's a tough one. And fortunately, I can't say I've seen many (or any) gory/bloody/violent Haunts in my lifetime.

Primwitch69 said...

I’ve not seen many either that were too bad. The one thing that traumatized me the most as a kid wasn’t anything to do with Halloween or scary movies; it was our neighbors who hung their gutted deer, from their front porch. They lived the next street up and on a corner where you’d have to stop at a stop sign. It was horrible to have to see that every year.

Jay's Shadow said...

As a kid, I never seen any gory props when I was trick or treating. But yeah, one should think of the little ones. I am not into the gore thing when I do my haunt, but I LOVE the gore in my movies.

The Creeping Cruds said...

My neighbors never complain, but barely any of them do any kind of props. I have yet to see anything remotely gory around these parts. Ironically, Nashville seems to be Haunted House central. So many large scale haunted houses here..

The Creeping Cruds said...

Surprised I never see any Dralloween coverage here.. My Day 3 was Pumpkinrot inspired :-) http://www.spookyfranklin.com/2017/10/drawlloween-2017-day-3.html

Unknown said...

Definitely food for thought! Just out of curiosity, Rot, have you ever had a parent react negatively to your yard haunt? By no means do I find it gory/bloody/violent, but I guess some parents could find it...disturbing (?). I'm not a parent, so I'm just curious! Scott Heath Cole / nynekats

Haunted Eve said...

Our yard haunt rule of thumb has always been "no gore, no depictions of violence", but it's Halloween so it's going to be spooky and scary comes Halloween night. If parents or their kids think it's too scary then they can just keep on walking down the street right past our house on Halloween night. Nobody is forcing anyone to come to our house on Halloween night for the free candy, you can opt out! One of the reasons we don't set up our display until the day before Halloween or the day of depending on the weather. Less time for people to "stew over" it. Next day the only thing left of our haunt is the jack-o'-lanterns. People get to go hog wild with their outdoor Christmas/Holiday decor and lighting for the next two or three months (or longer), so let the Halloween folk have their one night a year.

Rot said...

I've never had a negative reaction during trick or treating hours...as my haunt is a one night event, so anything that might seem disturbing appeared during the day and disappeared at night...giving the parents the option of skipping the house... no bus stop kids or passing families ever saw it outside of Halloween day/night.

The only reaction I got which i felt was negative was in 2015 when i was setting up all those corpse scarecrows....two adults walking a dog walked by and were clearly judging me... and making it quite clear it was in poor taste... with even a shaking head. but that year's display, which I felt was the most in-your-face with dead bodies (2009 never made it to Halloween...as it rained).... 2015 had the best response from KIDS of all things. Kids loved all those corpse scarecrows...and would point and LAUGH... clearly digging on the weirdness/spookiness of it all.

Jeff said...

Ironically the thing that I thought would upset people the most, the disembodied babies from last year, have become some of my most popular props. I get weekly inquiries about whether I make them to sell this time of year.

I think gore has it's place but it's not really my thing...at least for my haunt.

Haunted Eve said...

Pumpkinrot: One year in our old neighborhood and already a few years after we started doing the haunt (along with a couple neighbors on the street), the guy across the street who had two kids that were already elementary school age came across the street on Halloween night and said he thought it was cool but his kids found it "a bit intense". That was the polite "How do you tell your neighbors" approach mentioned in the above article, and my response was "Well it is Halloween." I took the "we'll agree to disagree" stance. I told Mrs. Haunted Eve what he said to me and she agreed with my stance. And let me put it into full context, we had already figured out years prior for ourselves that this family was seriously not into Halloween. No decorations, jack-o'-lanterns, and the kids never went out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. They were the "alternative Halloween party" type. We stood our ground. That's not to say we don't try to be considerate, last year by mid October we decided to shelve our "Scary Clown" theme considering all the news reports of paranoia. We had been planning the haunt theme for an entire year and already spent a considerable amount of time and money on props and builds, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We salvaged what we had already done by switching out the clowns with skeletons. We didn't want to add to the problem that year. We're not going to second guess our every haunt decision every year because what's "too scary" is truly subjective. My own grandmother scared me to the point of crying one Halloween night when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. In that neighborhood, little kids trick-or-treated during the day after school and the older kids trick-or-treated at night. I loved Halloween so much that after my mom took me out trick or treating I wanted to help hand out candy that night. So my mom assisted me at the door, when someone in a latex witch mask, hands, and witch costume came to the door. I opened the door (with my mom standing behind me) and went to give them a candy and the witch reached for me with her hands and started to push her way past the door. I was scared and ran to my mom and started to cry. My mom was also unnerved. That's when the witch mask came off and it was my grandmother. She had my grandfather drop her off before the house and he pulled around the block so my mom couldn't tell it was her (my grandmother was also wasn't very tall). She apologized and her intent was more to pull the prank on my mom, she didn't expect me to be helping her hand out candy. The experience didn't scar me for life, it was a good scare and I appreciated her Halloween prank more and more as the years went by. It's actually one of my fondest Halloween memories.

Theo said...

Well, you definitely chose a more fitting image than the Chicago Tribune did.

Interesting that they point out blood/gore as the main offender, as I feel that a creepy, shadowy prop which is well-made and realistic is going to be much scarier than a cheap mannequin covered in red paint. But maybe that's a more grown-up opinion, and it really is as simple as blood being something that scares us on a primal level.

I can see how some people would be offended by the 2015 display (to me some of the scarecrows almost look like crucifixions)... funny that the kids lapped it up. And I often wonder what the response would have been to the Corn Witch haunt. Corpses bound and gagged and hanging from trees... definitely your most viscerally violent display.

Sean Blanck said...

"You don’t want to scare little kids — that’s not the point of Halloween."
So what is the point of Halloween? I dont do gore, witches vampires and ghosts is my speed. Also what is a little kid?
I have seen teenagers ask to leave Disney's Haunted mansion.
I have parents get angry at me for scaring their kids but hey you came to my door. Typically I get more flak for wearing my Death studios swamp witch mask than any other character I have worn.
In another neighborhood I had one neighbor say she didn't like a few things. I told her I didn't see her name on the mortgage so she needed to just skip my house. Again this was just tombstones, mausoleums and the like.
Thing is if we entertain this I can see neighbors dictating our entire display eventually. Reminds me of a WKRP episode when a minister kept updating the approved playlist of songs. Its never enough.

Rot said...

The Creeping Cruds!
Sorry I missed that. I love it.
I'll totally feature your blog.
Thanks for the heads up.

Jeanne Wright said...

I like creepy atmosphere. No gore at our haunt. I used to work for a coroner's office so then I thought it was completely off limits. Now, it's just not my bag.

Jeanne Wright said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Neighbors love our haunt. They check periodically every October to make sure we are setting up. My neighbor across the street is a theater lighting pro and he spends each night after work just watching the haunt before he goes in to go to bed. That is the greatest compliment I get each year. He always tells me he wishes we'd leave it up after Halloween night. But I'm a stickler. It comes down the next day. We only run for 5 nights usually.

Shallow Grave Cemetery said...

I don’t find gore scary just disturbing that’s why I don’t use it in my displays. I’m more of a traditionalist; I want to tell a story and I use what I need to tell that story. When I first started building Halloween displays they were simple and mild – tailored to the elementary aged kids in the neighborhood. As the years passed and the kids became older I modified my themes making them more complex (scary). I now have a new batch of elementary school kids who enjoy the displays just as much as the older kids. Why, because everyone knows that I’m the Halloween House and that if any parents have issues with my “content” they can bring their kids by my workshop (aka the garage). I show the kids how I make the props and even let them help. Then when they see the “scary” display on Halloween night their not afraid, just excited. So how do you tell your neighbors that their Halloween decorations are too scary; you don’t. If it offends you then simply stay away.

Sara said...

I have small kiddos, a sensitive 8 year old son, and two little ones that would freak out at most non-gore scary props. They love Halloween and the spookiness of it all(as I type it brings a tear to my eye. They are outside ransacking my decorations and making their own haunt in the backyard. We get to walk through it tonight). They wouldn’t understand gore at this point and I shield them from it like parents are supposed to do. Like Haunted Eve said, if it’s too scary just walk on by. I would be slightly irritated if a haunt seemed family friendly and turned out to be gorey. To me the real irritation comes from people taking pleasure and joy from legitimately scaring little children, usually people without children themselves. That’s when there’s red flags for me and the holiday becomes less fun. The ONLY time I might tell somebody their props were too gorey were if we were duped. If we thought it was going to be appropriate and it wasn’t.

Sara said...

Right after I posted my reply my husband brought home a how-to haunting book from the library. We have checked it out time and time again but hadn’t noticed it was by Lesley. She really knows her stuff and I think her article and the book we checked out are fantastic. Meanwhile my son has been obsessing over his haunt and I’m really digging that he can be creative this way. He’s taking junk around the house and backyard and turning it into props. Pretty darn cool. I’m waiting for him to start asking me what the weather will be like the week of October 31, lol. Told him we would buy him a strobe and a fog machine this Halloween too if we could. He hadn’t considered those effects!

Rot said...

Soon, he'll have his first Haunter's nightmare where you're running around at sunset on Halloween trying to set up a display because you forgot it was Halloween...

girl6 said...

http://www.newsweek.com/halloween-house-making-people-call-911-because-its-so-damn-scary-669052

HAHAHHAHAHA!!!!. for once tho, cops are good for something. sike, i have a lovely friend who is a lovely cop BUT some of those guys. man oh man. they scare me.

anyway...i totally agree with the cops on this one. first off, it's NOT up to a neighbor to decide if a haunter's setup is to be taken down or not. AND as long as the haunt is NOT promoting profanity, condoning rape, exploiting victims or racism etc...then it's really just some Halloween fun!!! i think seeing a body on a barbecue grill is both genius & hilarious & maybe even scary too, depending upon on how it's executed. & if someone if passing judgement on someone's morality, etc based upon a yard haunt, then they've really got some problems. there are always THOSE people who gotta be total killjoys. they go thru life trying to castrate people they can't control & stomp on people's creativity. Get over it man.

hey, if gory props are really messing with someone's mind...then go protest Wax Museums, some of those places have some pretty gory staged scenes which ARE also on permanent display.

OR....maybe, they should have signed the petition against THE Guggenheim Museum condoning & assisting violence against animals in an exhibit that just got yanked, THANKS to the REAL caretakers who DO NOT stand for the promotion of the grotesque & obscene. where are those killjoy whiners then!?!?!?!?


http://www.vulture.com/2017/09/guggenheim-pulls-art-accused-of-depicting-animal-cruelty.html


i'm convinced that SOME people just want to beat people down because it's the EASIER thing to do, rather than go out into the world & combat the REAL issues of gore & abuse. (be informed..sign petitions & so on).

hey just take your kid somewhere else or call the cops & let them handle it.

Cole said...

"Gore = Too scary"

How I loathe that whole concept that GORE = SCARY. There is silly gore just as much as there is scary gore. And there is ever so much scary non-gore as well.

Having been down both sides of the gore "debate", this always irks me.

I had haunts where I was literally "eating" my brother's innards in a gore-fest of a display, and years where I offended adults with my too-gory makeup in my teenage years. (I may have had issues)

And I've built haunts that teens have refused to enter without a drop of blood to be seen anywhere.

Had cops called on me over both.

About 8 years ago, though, I started a more collaborative approach with the neighborhood. My goal is to have kids clinging to parents' legs, but not up with nightmares. It's a fine line, and I'm still learning it, but I'm having a lot more FUN at it, and the neighbors regularly engage with me on what we're doing through the entire year now instead of giving me that 'what the hell are you DOING?" look.