Way back in 1979, I assembled a team of friends and created a fairly extensive Haunted House for the public at my home on Bridge Street in Colebrook, NH. Charging just a quarter per person we were in it for the fun and at the end of our evening a massive pizza party devoured our profits to the complete and proud satisfaction of our team. My appreciation for creating such experiences runs deep and my brother Rick takes it even further as he’ll share in our guest blog this week!
By Rick Pierce
On October 26, 27 and 31st WITCHH Productions (We Invent Terrifying Charity Haunted Houses) will be running “Blind Terror” a 2020 sq ft haunted house in Manchester, NH to benefit 2020 Vision Quest. Check out our web page for more details at www.witchh.com.
I put on a haunted house just about every year for a variety of reasons. I’d like to say the biggest reason is an altruistic one: to raise money for a worthy charity. While that is definitely a reason, it’s not the number one reason.
Given the hours spent planning, recruiting help, advertising, building, etc. AND all the money spent on props, building materials, storage, and countless other things to make a haunt happen, it would be far cheaper to just hand a very large check to the year’s charity of choice and be done with it.
Studies show that people like to be scared. They enjoy the adrenaline rush. In cases like my haunts, they enjoy the story as well, because I like to build in a story with a scary climax. They scream. They jump. They shout expletives. Sometimes they laugh nervously because something got them that they weren’t expecting.
And at the end, they almost always come out excited about the experience they just had, the experience I and my volunteer crew provided them. That’s the number one reason I put on a haunted house, for the rush I get doing something that others enjoy and appreciate.
My wife and I spend a lot of time together doing the logistics work to make a haunt happen. As passionate as I am about Halloween, I’ve managed to drag her into it. She still refuses to go into haunted houses, even the one she puts so much into, but she’ll go out on her own and buy new props. She’ll help me with planning and marketing. She feeds the volunteers. It’s brought us closer together in a shared activity.
Setup is a lot of work. I won’t lie to you about that. It’s exhausting and you sometimes have to fight unexpected things like the weather. We had a hurricane last year that set us back so far that I thought we’d have to give it up. There can be long nights if you have a day job, like we do, but you also get to spend time with friends and family that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. When it’s up, you get to marvel with them at what you’ve all created and laugh maniacally with anticipation and glee at what the attendees will experience.
The times you run can be as scary for you as for your audience but in a totally different way. What if the weather is bad? Will people show up? Will they like it? Will my actors all show up? What do I do when some don’t? Will anything fail during the runs? What if someone gets hurt? (Safety is a top concern.)
So why do I do it? Scary as it is to admit, I do it because I’ve found over the years that all the hard work pays for itself many times over in hearing the reactions of our audience. It’s worth it for spending time with family and friends working together to provide a fun and exciting experience for others.
All this and I can help out a worthy cause at the same time? I guess the real question isn’t “Why a haunted house?”… it’s “Why NOT a haunted house?”