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101+ Ideas to Create a Scary Haunted House

Halloween—fun for children and adults. I decorate for the holiday and held annual Halloween parties.

Get ideas on themes, props, sound effects, spooky characters, and more to make your haunted house the scariest of all!

Get ideas on themes, props, sound effects, spooky characters, and more to make your haunted house the scariest of all!

Make Yours the Scariest (Best) House Around

Do you want to create a haunted house for Halloween? Make it a fun and scary experience for all who enter its creaky doors and brush past the sticky spider webs.

Most of these ideas can be used to turn your home into a mini-haunted house or transform one room into a terrifying experience. You could even set up a porch to scare the heck out of the trick-or-treaters.

Here's a wealth of ideas. Planning, mapping, safety issues, making it scary, getting props and costumes, making up the characters . . . you're guaranteed to find some good tips here.

These decorations are spooky at dusk but will be even more creepy once it is fully dark.

These decorations are spooky at dusk but will be even more creepy once it is fully dark.

Scary Rooms and Themes for Designing Your Haunted House

Consider creating a room or a whole house around one of these scenarios:

  • Autopsy room
  • Hell's kitchen
  • Potions cellar
  • Graveyard or tomb
  • Operation room or medical experimentation chamber
  • Insane asylum
  • Murder scene or chamber
  • Witches' coven
  • Cage, prison, or dungeon
  • A creature's hole or den
  • Nuclear disaster zone
  • Evil scientist's laboratory
  • Crooked hospital
  • Deserted orphanage
  • Haunted motel
  • School of the depraved
  • Ritual of human sacrifice
  • A zoo for people
  • Giant spider's web or nest
  • Medieval torturing chamber
  • A house where every member of the family went insane for different reasons
  • Ghost or demon child found torturing their stuffed animals
  • Circus of the demented
  • Crazy butcher's shop
Some friends decorated their yard with a spooky mine scene complete with railroad tracks, a mine shaft, and a creepy character with a chainsaw.

Some friends decorated their yard with a spooky mine scene complete with railroad tracks, a mine shaft, and a creepy character with a chainsaw.

The haunted mine shaft.

The haunted mine shaft.

Creepy skeleton bones next to the rail car and railroad tracks for the mining scene.

Creepy skeleton bones next to the rail car and railroad tracks for the mining scene.

14 Ideas and Tips for Your Design

  • Something unexpected is always scarier than something you saw coming, so keep that in mind when you design your haunted house. Things might pop out, jump, or fall. A well-timed scream will amplify the terror!
  • Don't forget to appeal to all the senses: sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste.
  • Having a mixture of automated (battery-run) devices and real humans playing roles adds to the fear factor, since your guests won't know which is which.
  • If you're planning on having a tour guide walking guests through, spend some time writing a really great script for the guide. A scary story can make the props even more horrifying!
  • Remember that tension, distraction, empathy, story, suspense, threat, and familiarity all add to the terror of a situation.
  • Remember: Clowns, dolls, and loud noises are always scary!
  • Something else to consider: For very young guests, some kinds of scary might be just too much. Have a plan for downplaying the terror for the young ones. You might even design an emergency exit just in case your house is too haunted for the littlest visitors!

Tips from Professionals

Here are a few good tips from Fast Company about designing awesome haunted houses:

  • Play off of the building's features. If you're doing it at your home, maybe turn it into an orphanage that was shut down by the government because of cruelty, or a place where a family member went crazy and murdered everyone.
  • Employ different types of scares. Draw people's attention towards some element, and then scare them from the opposite direction. Or, draw them in towards something and then have something pop out of it that scares them. You could also have three separate scares in a row.
  • Narrative can help improve the experience by giving context for people's enjoyment.
  • Try to construct the path so that it's difficult for people to see the scares that are coming—curves, walls, and fog can all help with that mission.
  • Use the stuff-in-face effect, where people have to push things out of their face (like cobwebs or curtains) in order to move through.
  • Think about where people will jump when they're scared. You should always try to scare them forward, not back, or into a wall or something that could hurt them.
  • There are a few things that professional scarers use that generally evoke fear: people moving from a large open space to a small space, areas where visibility is limited (such as from darkness or fog), and flickering lights, which gives the impression that something is wrong.

48 Haunted House Prop Ideas

Atmospheric Effects and Lighting

  • Flickering lighting
  • Red lighting
  • Glowing eyes
  • Jars of glowing or chemical substances
  • Fog
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Read More From Holidappy

Blood

  • Bloody limbs, torsos with missing limbs, bloody hair, eyes, and teeth
  • Jars full of bloody teeth and what looks like fingernail clippings
  • Bloody toothbrushes
  • Blood-spattered votive jars
  • Blood-spattered walls
  • Bloody rags or bandages
  • Bloody baby clothes
  • Bloody tools