- Feb 7, 2014
I appreciate your perspective and would like to respond in kind by pointing out some things I have seen both at Universal and many of the haunts I have been to that are mom and pop run.Alrighty fellow horror hound - I'd love to discuss some of these points with you a little further.....
1.) Chainsaws, while they maybe overused, are still extremely effective. There isn't one haunted house in America that does not end with a chainsaw at the end. At netherworld, we have 2 and the end of each of our haunts. I personally have become immune to them and they don't effect me - but most dont either. That doesn't make them any less effective. Sit in a scare zone and watch. They work and provide an abundance of laughs. I'm also partial to the sound / smell.
2.) As a haunted house actor, I love the E-Prompts. They are an easy way of providing the trifecta - sound, lighting and a physical presence. As an actor its nearly impossible to maintain your voice an entire night (let alone an entire season). Sound is what scares people the most. If you cannot make sound you won't be too effective.
3.) interactivity is limited inside the houses (and pretty much nonexistent) because people need to move thru these attractions. The waits are already hours long - can you imagine if interaction played more of a role? It would slow things down 10 fold. Drunk guests would want to say the most idiotic things and would wanna sit and chat ad naseum. The name of the game to Boo and Skadoo. Scare and reset as fast as possible, therefore being able to hit as many in the conga as you can. If an actor is fast enough you can get every 5th person in a conga. If not more. I've seen it and I've done it myself.
4) the masks are all custom made and work of arts just like the way the make up is. Makeup takes a long time and in low visibility it just isn't cost effective / make sense. I LOVE make up more than anything - but it's a logistics / resources thing. At netherworld we have a crew of about 300 actors. I would say maybe 50 get make up (and that's a generous figure). The rest are in masks.
5.) what do you define as a boo hole? If you're talking about a legit hole in scenery, or false doors / Windows, etc; I believe it's probably because they're extremely predictable. Also, it's all about that reset. Opening and closing a door takes time, and skill in the dark.
8.) I think knowing the source material helps but isn't totally necessary. universal is about riding the movies. But you can still enjoy Harry Potter without seeing the movies the same way you can enjoy the various houses.
I totally get some of your gripes and negatives - but just giving my opinion / perspective. I think there's a lot more rhyme / reason to things than people think about. I.E. Everyone hates the conga lines - but these things are designed for the conga. It's about hitting and trying to give as many of the same folks walking thru (~2000 an hour) the same experience.
My haunt is not designed for a conga. We are designed to be "interactive" and for small groups. Towards the end of the season, we HAVE to conga or else we'd be there until 6 am. Literally, 8 hour waits and that's WITH a steady stream of people. And we are night designed for that and the experience blows. The interactive scares get lost and muddled and it because all about Scaring Forward and trying to pump folks thru.
1) I love chainsaws, I really do, but an overabundance of anything tends to make it predictable or desensitize people.
2) I understand the use of eprompts and how they help the actor, but cannot help but feel that in some instances they took away from the experience. Read my next point for further clarification.
3) Interactivity has been in HHN houses since the first year I attended. "Leave it to Cleaver" and "The Wolfman" both had moments where an actor would actually talk to the guest, even if it was only a one liner. Following years had similar features (Zombiegeddon, Hallow'd Past, HR Bloodengutz, Saws N Steam, Evil Dead, and From Dusk Till Dawn) to name a few from each year. Now, to be fair, some of these are spielers while others were actors directly in the house, but it was still effective at bringing a level of interactivity to the house. This is partly where the eprompt problem comes in as having every actor on an eprompt takes away from these small moments where they can customize a scare or a witty one liner to the person.
4) Masks are a give and take. I brought it up because in some cases they were so obviously masks that it got in the way. Also, Universal used to brag about their makeup and the lack of it this year is aggravating. Makeup is one of the areas where many mom and pop haunts are starting to excel and it is odd to not see it at Universal (the birthplace of movie monsters).
5) Yes, I meant the drop down boo holes. Like any scare, they can be predictable, but they still are effective. The last one I remember seeing was in 2010's Hades house (chime in if you know of another) so given the amount of new people coming to the event, it seems like it would really catch a lot of them off guard. From the haunt actors I have talked with, I know they are a bear to operate all night, but man do they work.
6) Finally, the source material thing is a real issue. I stopped watching The Walking Dead after season three so the lack of any sort of cohesive story to the house this year was very aggravating. Also, one of the scenes they were apparently re-enacting made absolutely no sense to me and was laughably bad because I had no idea what was supposed to be happening.