Sounds Scary To Me!
by Drew Edward Hunter
These days the use of quality sound in a haunted attraction is a given.
Only the most inexperienced haunter would ever allow guests to enter his
or her show with no soundtrack being played. The audio element of a haunt
is, in fact, as vital as the scenics and the scares. It's a lesson I learned
in the autumn of 1959.
So I stood in the hallway, listening to the loud scary music and sound
effects wafting out of the room, liberally mixed with screams of my older
classmates. I didn't know what was going on inside. I'd never been to
a haunted house before! But my imagination kicked into overdrive, fueled
by the creepy sounds and the promise of unknown terrors within. I couldn't
wait until Fun Night next year when I'd be in the fourth grade at last.
And then-t he sound stopped. To this day, I don't know if somebody pulled
a cord or the record simply ended, but all was silent in the room.
Jump forward to the following year's Fun Night 1959. Again I stood outside, listening, with my dime in hand. I remembered the no-sound room from the year before, and I boasted to my friends as we entered, "Don't worry, this is nothing!"
But this time the sound didn't stop. And it was loud! And it was scary! The coffins and ghosts and the leaping monsters seemed all too real. This time, I screamed and ran for the exit.
What a blast! Only years later did I realize the magic formula: MUSIC + SOUND EFFECTS = SCREAMS and FUN. And I've never forgotten it. For decades, music and sound have played priority roles in all my shows. Whenever possible, I've commissioned original compositions designed specifically for each themed haunt I've designed, and when that luxury wasn't available, fitting prerecorded music and sound was used.
I've always used something aural to put the show over the top. My advice is to consider music and sound every bit as important as you do your performers, your sets, your publicity and your safety. It will certainly broaden your guests' anticipation, fear and enjoyment.
So make certain, when your guests are standing in queue in front of your haunt-just like I did as a kid in front of the Chamber of Horrors all those years ago-that they say, as I did, "Hey -- that sounds scary to me!"
Copyright 2002 Drew Hunter. All Rights Reserved.
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