So there seems to be a growing trend in the Haunted House industry to do silly funny videos in hopes of becoming the next “Gangnam Style” or “Harlem Shake” viral sensation. I’ve done videos before in hopes of them becoming viral and I’ve pretty much given up on it. I’ve actually listened to so called “web professionals” offer advice on doing viral style videos to let more people know about your business. In the past I’ve done videos with the intention of creating something funny that might go viral. I can tell you now this is exactly the wrong approach for any video project!
First the most OBVIOUS reason: The chances of your video going viral are astronomical. There’s very little you can personally do to facilitate a video going viral. It all depends on chance. I hear professionals say that all it takes is one person spreading it to some friends to get the ball rolling but that’s a lie. It takes thousands of people finding something funny or interesting enough about YOUR video to take the time to tweet it, facebook it, or email it to a their friends. The chances of that are microscopic so why should you base your entire production on creating something that in all likelihood will languish in Youtube obscurity? Why waste all that creative effort on something that you think might be funny or clever enough to go viral?
The Most important reason however, is your brand. Let’s say you own a haunted house that’s known for being Terrifying. People make the trek from miles away just to see a truly scary haunted attraction. But then you have some actor or web professional convince you that you need to have a viral video. So you get all your scariest actors in make up and have them dancing around and singing. Boom! There goes the scary from all your featured monsters!
This really really bothers me and I’m seeing so many haunted attractions doing it lately. STOP! Why are you diminishing your brand? The whole point of going to a haunted house is to get scared and have fun. Its not to watch actors in masks frolicking around to the latest pop music sensation! You’re doing it wrong and missing the point. I don’t care how slick and professional your video looks your not selling soda pop your selling fear! So make something that compliments what you do! Make something that’s scary!
Here’s the key: Go into a video project with the intention of making something creative and representative of your attraction. If you think it should be funny because your haunted house is funny then go for it. But if you are doing a serious event that’s seriously scary then make a video that represents that. Don’t ruin your scary characters by having them acting like clowns. There’s nothing wrong with having some comedy in your attraction but that’s not going to be the biggest selling point. People go see horror movies because they want to be scared. You don’t see horror movie trailers promoting the funny bits and one liners that might be in the movie.
Bottom line: Make videos that sell your haunt. Not videos that promote a fad or humor in hopes of internet gold.
Last week I was in Los Angeles to shoot video and photos for Los Angeles Haunted Hayride! It was a fun weekend and the creative team behind LAHH were a lot of fun to hang out with! LAHH is one of the best hayrides I’ve seen! The sets are amazing and the actors do a phenomenal job of scaring the crap out of the hayride groups. My favorite scene was the satanic church complete with satan and cultists that come to life and chase after you! LAHH is also one of the only haunts I’ve experienced that uses a custom soundtrack created by a professional composer name Chris Thomas. The music perfectly fits with the action of the scenes and just gives it that extra something that really pushed it over the top for me! I highly recommend the attraction if your out in LA so go see it!
So I’ve been traveling a bunch lately. I’ve been to New York, LA and Philadelphia in the last month. A couple weeks ago I was in Philly to shoot The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride as well as Pennhurst Asylum. It was a ton of work but we had a blast! My sister came along with me to keep me company and help out and we were both blown away by how cool The Bates Motel & Hayride is! It truly is one of the best Hayrides of all time! The night culminated in recording a big group of pre teen boys and girls as they screamed their way through the hayride!
On Saturday we got to go to Pennhurst Asylum. Its been nearly 2 years since I’ve been to this attraction and it has changed in so many ways! Its become a highly polished and terrifying haunted attraction. The sets are some of the most realistic and detailed I’ve seen at any haunt. The haunt is set in the 1940′s and the characters are all dressed in period clothing. The level of make up and costuming that is going on at Pennhurst is pretty amazing! Its well worth your time and money if you live close enough to it to go.
I shot this video in the Spring at Screamworld over the course of one day. I shot on my Canon 5D mark II and a couple work lights. They’re main attraction was a slaughterhouse and its in Houston Texas so it seemed natural to allow a little inspiration from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The sets at Screamworld are pretty realistic and the slaughterhouse sets are really sticky and dirty. Its one of the few haunts where you kind of forget your in a haunted house after awhile. For more info you can visit Screamworld for tickets and directions.
A couple weeks ago I was able to get out to Indy ScreamPark with my second unit video guy, AKA Brian Lashchuk of BeyondTheGraveProductions.com. We had a great time at this haunt, now in its second year and we it feels like a very polished haunted house experience. There’s a total of 5 haunts all themed differently. Kurayami is a black out maze, Bedlam is a 3d “RAVE” maze, and Nachtmahr is a classic haunted house with slaughterhouse elements as well. But the best haunts were the outdoor mazes, The Backwoods, and my favorite Infected.
I’ve never been to a scary corn maze. They’ve always been too big, no sense of claustrophobia and the corn was always too short. Infected proved that I didn’t know jack about corn mazes. Lets start with the corn that was nigh 10 feet tall and the paths cut through them were no wider than 4 or 5 feet across. This gave you the feeling of being in a confined place and with little lighting, it was hard to know where the next scare was coming from. But the part that sold me on it was when I came around an opening in the maze that where a 2 story farm house was sitting, with a lawn and everything, right there in the middle of a corn field. It was one of those scenes that make you feel like your in a horror movie. The theme of infected is a “Zombie outbreak” by way of the film The Crazies. You have infected people trying to eat you and non-infected but frantic military personnel that have been left behind and have no hope of surviving. Its one of the few events I’ve seen at any haunt that has a storyline that it keeps in sequence and alive throughout the haunt.
The backwoods was also one of my favorites. Its your typical hillbilly haunt but its all out in the woods, with no lights and there’s a lot of old creaky shacks you have to go through in order to complete the trek. Its dark and its terrifying! After all the screaming there’s also a midway that has fire pits, food, gifts, and beer sales. This is the kind of haunt that is a full evening out and time and money well spent.
I took lots of photos of the indoor attractions which you can see on my flickr account