How to Make a Haunted Killer House in Your Garage
Halloween 2021 is shaping up to be a big one as revelers seek to catch up in the midst of last fall’s pandemic. People are in disguise, in masks and are ready to get scared of jumping instead of the very real horror of the last year and a half. This is another reason why you should create a haunted house in your garage to gift to your neighbors’ kids – and adults! – Halloween they will never forget.
Spend your creativity, not a ton of money
We all have neighbors struggling to take vacations, with light displays likely costing a fortune on electricity bills and hyper-realistic decorations. This is cool and all, but not necessary, at least not for your purposes. Camp embrace! Go cheap.
Think about it: the haunted house is dark. Most of the lighting likely comes from strobe lights and black lights. Focus less on realism and more on quick fears. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on jewelry if you really need the basics. Hang the sheets from the ceiling to create a maze instead of buying partitions. The web of the dollar store and eerie lighting are enough. Visitors will be amazed by the creativity, not the money.
Check out your local thrift store to find unique, inexpensive jewelry that will differ from what your neighbors buy from the big box stores. Music streaming platforms are full of intimidating playlists that you can access with your existing subscription.
Invite your family and friends to help you too, and only hire paid talent when needed. No haunted house is fun unless there are some disguised horrors running around. The costumes don’t have to be extravagant, but the people who wear them do take a little effort. Make sure you have assistants you can trust.
To add bodies even if you’re understaffed, dress up plastic skeletons or create some standing mannequins. There is an added benefit here: some of your real, living characters can stay in place for a while to make people think they are dummies, and then suddenly come to life to scare visitors. Think creatively!
You can even ask for a few dollars in donation or some candy to get through the haunted house. Just don’t worry about a budget that you may not be able to recoup. Instead, focus on putting your heart into a fun activity.
Advertise your haunted house
No one will show up at your big event unless you let them know that it is happening. Post to Nextdoor, Facebook and your local newspaper’s ad section. It will be more fun if there are a lot of people involved, so don’t be afraid to flaunt yourself.
Make sure your ad really covers all the details your neighbors need to know. Not only do you need to include opening hours and address, but since this can be very scary, you need to describe what your haunted house includes. ( Here’s a guide on how to determine if kids are ready for a haunted house.) For example, clearly define for what age the event is held. If it’s a relatively cool maze, feel free to call it a family attraction. If your garage and haunted backyard has fake chainsaws and masked people chasing visitors, this isn’t exactly family-friendly, so don’t lie. It is not cool to lure people under a false pretext, and even less cool to injure small children.
With that in mind, consider – if you have the bandwidth – schedule kid-friendly hours. You will have family, friends, or hired ghouls scaring the people in your haunted house, but you can easily instruct them to chill out during the kids’ portions and work harder during the teen and adult blocks of time.
Finally, you also need to be clear about what effects your haunted house is using. It might sound like a mood killer, but pointing out if your haunted house has common phobia triggers like spiders or snakes can save you and any unsuspecting visitor from a lot of stress. The goal is to scare, not terrorize. Also keep in mind that fog lights can cause problems for people with breathing problems and strobe lights are not suitable for people prone to light-sensitive seizures. Just be open and honest about what you include.
Choose a topic
You can create a default theme for your haunted house if you like. Play Monster Mash, ask your assistants to dress up as werewolves and vampires, turn on strobe lights and start the night. Or you can choose a theme! Maybe you are in an abandoned hospital where the ghosts of past patients warn the living to turn back. Perhaps you prefer a crashed UFO teeming with hideous aliens who want your visitors to show them what Earth is.
For now, consider staying away from a compromised laboratory that threatens to infect everyone in the area with a fatal disease, but keep in mind in the next few years, okay? Good luck choosing a simple yet effective theme for your event. It will make your haunted house stand out and keep people coming back year after year to see what you think of next.
Finally, clean up your garage
Cleaning your garage is one of those tasks that you swear by every spring this summer. It’s okay if you didn’t do it again this year, but you have to remember that your lawn mower or old bicycles kind of clean up everything to do with the haunted house.
Using sheets or partitions, create a maze and also divide the part of your garage that actually stores your real belongings. Sweep the floor, rinse off oil or other stains, and simply prepare the area for company. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t be a mess, especially if people pay to enter (even if it’s just candy or donations).
And replace the lamps in the garage with black ones for a spookier effect – and to further disguise the fact that this is, well, a garage. Dullness is your friend.