Getting ready for Halloween can be pretty simple: pick up some candy, hang a cardboard skeleton on the door, and you’re ready to welcome those trick-or-treaters. But for the “haunter” community it involves way more than that.
What is a haunter? Haunters are serious Halloween fans – they’re a community of folks whose major hobby is tricking their homes out with incredibly elaborate props and scenery each and every October 31st. The haunter community even has it’s own conference, Scarefest, thrown by the Canadian Haunters Association. Although it’s a pastime, not a profession, many haunters hand make their props over the course of an entire year, which we gotta admit, we’re pretty impressed by. Which is why we just had to chat with award-winning haunter, Brad Goodspeed.
All Good Blog: All right, first things first. Brad Goodspeed, why do haunted houses capture our imagination so much?
Brad Goodspeed: I think the haunted house is fun for the scary part, but also for the theatricality of it all. I mean, what other time of the year do people put on little shows in their yard or their garage?
AGB: A lot of us are very busy; let’s say there’s only time for one or two decorations to get the home Halloween-ready. What should they be?
BG: Tombstones are classic, but you need to have at least one dead body sitting around. It’s Halloween law.
AGB: Do you have some classic decorations, things that are staples of your haunt?
BG: The only thing I’d call a staple in our haunt is the way we behave. For years now we’ve had the same schtick: we all wear masks and NEVER speak to the guests. Nor do we ever break character. I find the silence is unnerving to them more than anything else.
AGB: How old are your kids, Brad? How do they deal with the annual haunting of their house?
BG: They’re 7 and 5. They’re pretty used to seeing the props all over the house because I work on them all year. Sometimes when other kids come over, I forget there’s a zombie standing in the corner and I should cover him up. My kids hardly notice anymore!
Some haunters create preview videos for their haunt
AGB: Do you think they’ll get more involved as they get older?
BG: They say they will, although for now it’s too scary for them. I want them to get involved as soon as possible however, because they can definitely help us create a scary atmosphere. One Halloween the kids were done trick-or-treating and their auntie was getting them ready for bed, and they came to our upstairs window in their PJs. The way it was backlit, all you could see were silhouettes, and the crowd in the lineup all thought it was an intentional part of the show. Everyone was terrified by the spooky kids in the window. That made us laugh afterward.
AGB: Have you ever scared yourself with your haunted house?
BG: When you’re working late at night and there are person-sized props standing around, you always end up scaring yourself. It’s only natural that when you catch just a glimpse of a figure in your peripheral vision it’s creepy. You forget for a second what it is.
AGB: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened during your haunt?
BG: There are so many stories over the years. One year I had a mother get so scared that she ran away. Thing is she left something behind. Her kid!
AGB: When do you start prepping for your haunted house?
BG: November 1st, for the following year.
AGB: What do you think this Halloween’s biggest decoration and costume trend will be? Are you participating in that trend?
BG: Whatever the trends are, I’m not sure. We really try to be original as much as we can. The only thing I’d say is that going all out with decorating for Halloween might be a trend. The hobby seems to be picking up steam thanks to the Internet and people sharing their ideas. I hope it’s becoming more popular anyway, because Halloween rocks!
Check out this amazing haunt!
Want to haunt your house? Here are some tips for getting started:
- Plan your haunt! Drawing out a blueprint (or even just a little sketch) can help you make the most of your space and save you time later on
- Make simple things like masks or statues instantly spookier by putting a small glow-stick or night light behind it
- Set the tone early by putting some tombstones on your lawn. If you’re in a DIY mood you can make your own out of cardboard or foam from the hardware store. Cover your foam in plaster to create a stony look, then paint!
- Include an iconic soundtrack with theme songs from famous scary movies
- Add some red lights to the bottom of your windows to cast some creepy light
Turns out Brad’s haunt is pretty scary (a little too scary for the All Good Blog team)! So we’ve used images from haunter Rachel Brown’s slightly less terrifying haunt!