It’s that time of the year again. Time for ghosts and ghouls, goblins and orcs, and murderers and psychopaths to roam freely about your neighborhood in search of candy and whatnot. One of the best parts of Halloween, a particular favorite around the BannerBuzz HQ, is the haunted house. If you’re lucky there’s a house in your neighborhood that takes up the mantle of being in charge of it every year. Sometimes it’s in a basement, other times the garage or the carport. But with props becoming more cheaply and readily available every year, the backyard haunted house has become a fan favorite. Here are some tips and tricks for making yours a bloody successful good time.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Make a map. You don’t have to use special software or anything (though that would be cool) – just a simple drawing on paper will suffice. Will it have rooms? Is it maze-style? Are there places where you need a hidden compartment for a jump scare? See what we mean? The planning stage, as in all projects, is the most important stage of them all. Price your ideas online, get a feel for the cost – and add an extra 50% because… well, it just happens. There’s a reason Teamsters are always over budget and it’s not just because of the graft. Besides, you can’t just go to the Backyard Haunted House Store, grab your kit, and go (though that would be cool).
Price the Materials for Your Walls
These, along with a roof if you’re planning one, will be the most expensive. Folks used to use wood: 2 x 4’s for framing, maybe cement bases for the posts, etc. Might we be so bold and suggest one of the newest darlings of the DIY world for your framing: PVC pipes. These bad boys are incredibly versatile. Build the entire schematic for less than the cost of wood and it has a great deal more flexibility, not to mention it is easier it cut, fit together, take apart, and store. You still might need SOME type of wood-based product for the walls, but the framing will be so much easier for you if you use PVC pipes. For inspiration, check out Pinterest, which has a bevy of great ideas.
Buy Online in Bulk
Gonna need a lot of black draperies. And we mean a lot. So get busy and fine the best deal online. Even if you plan on painting sections, you’re still going to use a lot of black drapery. And we mean a lot. Want to get creative? What about black plastic sheets? Or ginormous, industrial garbage bags? They could bring the price down farther and they also won’t be bothered by rain. Something to think about…
Spend $$ on the Big Scares
Just like action movies that spend huge chunks for their budgets on action set pieces, figure out what your big scares are and make them as good as possible. Put extra planning and extra resources into them. That doesn’t mean go all movie studio on the problems by throwing money at them. You still need to be creative. But channel any extra funds and energy into making these pop.
Spiders Are Creepy. Period.
Only a few deranged zoologists like spiders. The rest of humanity would rather submit to many tortures before being forced to walk through a giant hallway filled with spider webs. So, it’s always a good idea to go online and get yourself A LOT of spider web material. We found 1100 square feet of it on Amazon for $13. Then get the most realistic spiders you can in bulk, and maybe spring for a couple of the most realistic animatronic spiders you can find. Or just 1. We’ve seen them range from $15 all the way to $2,000 (that included a “dead body”).
Clowns = Scary
There’s a reason why It and it’s sequel It: Chapter Two have grossed over $500,000,000 dollars. Because a scary clown is scary. That’s why it’s not a benevolent clown. Evil jumps geometrically when you put that face paint and clown nose on it. Imagine, if you will, a killer clown animatronic at your entrance. And then another inside… except inside it’s a live person made to look like an animatronic… and that live person suddenly lunges at your guests. That’s priceless terror right there. Make sure you have a camera taking pictures in that room.
Accents Can Be Had Cheap – but Don’t Forget to DIY
Ancient-looking doorways. Blood-soaked executioner’s axe. Ancient chalices. Skulls, bones, skeletons. Chains. All of these are readily – and cheaply – available. Even stores like Home Depot are carrying them now. So don’t slack off on the shopping job.
What about DIY, you ask? Well, glad you did, because there are a lot of cool, easy ways to create those accents and haunted house tchotchkes that will take your backyard scarefest up a couple notches. When in doubt - YouTube.
Put in the work. Don’t hastily throw this thing together. Get creative. Leave no gravestone unturned. Figure out your big scares and build around them. From there, you’ll be able to build and/or find a lot of cool stuff both for the big scares and for everywhere in between, from big items to accouterment, and they can all elevate your haunted house game.