101+ Ideas to Create a Scary Haunted House

Updated on September 17, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

Halloween - fun for children and adults. I was noted for my annual Halloween parties and creative costumes.

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Make Yours the Best One 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.

Photos of Haunted Houses

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22 Concept Ideas to Make It Really Scary!

Scary Rooms and Scenarios to Design for Your Haunted House

  • 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

Spooky at dusk but will be even more creepy once it is fully dark.
Spooky at dusk but will be even more creepy once it is fully dark. | Source

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!

Here are a few good tips from Fast CoDesign 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 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

Build a Backyard Haunted House Cheaply

46 Haunted House Prop Ideas

  • Anything cute and friendly that has turned terrifying and creepy, like a baby doll with its eyes cut out, or a teddy bear that's being tortured
  • Faces coming out of places, like walls, mirrors, or watching in the windows. You could make it look like a face is pressing up against the backside of a wall trying to get out.
  • Spray painted messages of doom, death, or insanity
  • Gravestones, coffins, or crypts
  • Flickering lighting
  • Red lighting
  • Make glowing eyes, put eyes on the walls, or make your windwos look like eyes are peering through them
  • Make your house cluttered and maze-like
  • Bloody limbs, torsos with missing limbs, bloody hair, eyes, and teeth,
  • Jars full of bloody teeth and what looks like fingernail clippings
  • Flies taped to the walls or doors, or floating in pools of water
  • Dead animal or corpse floating in a pool of water
  • Jars of glowing or chemical substances
  • Cheesecloth, spiderwebbing, or just old, dirty sheets hanging down from the ceiling
  • Piles of skulls
  • Hands poking out of unexpected places
  • Dolls that have been tortured or have their eyes sewn shut (video tutorials for this)
  • Hands pressing on windows trying to escape
  • Gas masks or hazmat suits
  • Zombies
  • People bound and gagged or corpses who were bound and gagged
  • Chainsaws, knives, bent forks, sharpened spoons or bloody toothbrushes
  • Cages with children's toys in them
  • Gallows
  • Black out the eyes of your photographs
  • Spellbooks (or make your books look like spellbooks)
  • Blood-spattered votive jars
  • Spiders hanging from the wall
  • Heads in a jar
  • Blood spattered walls
  • Scary red eyes on adorable animals
  • Chains
  • Fog
  • Bloody rags or bandages
  • Bloody baby clothes
  • Candelabras
  • Spiderwebs
  • Crime scene tape
  • Rats
  • Monsters
  • Bloody tools
  • Gargoyles
  • Evil pumpkins
  • Ghosts
  • Haunted portraits
  • Bats

Add Some Spooky Looking Dolls

Use makeup, paint, flour, etc. to turn a regular doll into a zombie doll.
Use makeup, paint, flour, etc. to turn a regular doll into a zombie doll. | Source

19 Creepy Things to Write on the Walls

Or on the door, underside of the toilet seat, or anywhere else that might catch a haunted-house comer's eye

  • Death to all who enter here.
  • Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh
  • HELP US!!!
  • (Scratches on the wall)
  • Doooooooom
  • Don't lose your head . . . . .
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  • darkness comes
  • bad sad bad sad bad sad bad sad bad sad bad sad
  • help me.
  • please, God, please, let me live
  • There is no God here
  • hope doesn't help
  • Forget hope.
  • FEAR.
  • Don't close your eyes
  • why me why me why me?
  • I need blood, lots of blood
  • It will be back

Using Dry Ice for That Creepy-Looking Fog

Spooky Sound Effects

Don't forget to have a terrifying soundtrack for the evening. Eerie noises include . . .

  • Whispers
  • Screams, moans, laughter
  • Banging (footsteps, hammers, pots and pans)
  • Children's songs (sung slowly or whispered)
  • Dripping, echoes, heavy breathing
  • The sound of metal against metal or nails on a chalkboard
  • Sirens or alarms
  • Wind and thunder
  • An out-of-tune instrument
  • Creepy carnival music
  • Roaring
  • Classical music (Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre, Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain)

Make your own noises or buy a CD. Mix and match to get just the right sound for your party or haunted house.

Make a Halloween Corpse for the Haunted House

Other Scary Prop Ideas

Prop People

You'll need prop people, too: How about a butler standing by the door holding a tray of disgusting "treats"? Or a devil emerging from the ground, a zombie-like mom sitting in a rocker with a ghostly baby, or a adult-sized baby trapped in a cage? How about a portrait where the face changes? You can't go wrong with a severed head or a mad scientist in his lab.

Animated Props

If you don't have many actors, you might consider making or buying stand-ins. Get something that's animated to really creep people out. Another animated prop to up your horror factor is a figure that lunges at visitors.

Tactile Terrors

Have a bowl full of overcooked spaghetti, peeled grapes, boiled tapioca, hardboiled eggs, tofu, jelly, or other gooey stuff— blindfold your guests and have them stick their hand in the bowl and guess what they're touching.

Character Roles for Your Haunted House

Scary Characters and Performers

These are just some of the roles that might need filling:

  • Scary-looking people and creatures to greet visitors
  • Guides to walk guests through
  • Mad scientists, murderers, ghosts, and other scary characters to pop out at people along the way
  • Someone (or two or three) may be needed to make realistic sound effects (screaming, moaning, banging pots and pans together, etc.)
  • Someone (or more) to stand behind the scenes to work the props
  • Hide someone with a mask on in the woods and scare people as they're coming up to the house

James explains how he prepares (with equipment and practice) for being a "slider" at an event. Dressed as a werewolf, he would make a dramatic entrance sliding in and leaping up to scare the heck out of visitors. Watch the video below to see how it looks!

My husband worked for a haunted house attraction one year. He wore his black cloak and spoke Shakespeare in a loud, creepy voice as the guests entered. He loved it.

— Granny Sage

Sliding Techniques and Creepy Characters for Your Spooktacular

What Kind of Haunted House Are You Planning?

Vote in the poll

See results

Helpful Videos

Ideas for Scaring People

Scary and Funny Ideas for the Yard

Take a Tour Through a Scary Haunted House

Some Helpful Links for Your Spook Fest

Decorate out front to set the tone. Here's how to make a giant spider web for a porch or between some trees.

How about a realistic, gooey brain covered in blood! How do you make that? Here's the recipe for an edible brain with bright red blood over it.

How to Plan for Your Haunted House

Planning is super-important. To put on a top-notch event, as soon as you finish this year's creep-fest, you should start planning for the next one. What worked and what didn't? Build on your strengths, invest in some good quality props, and next year will be your best haunted house yet.

Here's a proposed timeline to get you started.

Several Weeks Before the Big Day

Choose the space you will use and begin to brainstorm ideas. Involve the kids as much as possible! Begin going through the closets and garage to see what props and materials you already have. Ask to borrow items you don't have from friends and neighbors. If there are items you'll need to buy, you should do that as far ahead of time as possible. Note: Sometimes store-bought props are cheaper than the time and materials it would take to make the prop yourself, so shop around before you decide.

A Couple of Weeks Before the Day

Begin to enlist help and assign roles. Make a list of all the things you still need to do and then assign each job. If you are making certain items, start now so you'll have plenty of time to finish. Make sure to get the word out, too—either put up some posters, send out emails, or invite your friends!

A Week Before the Big Day

Clear out the space you'll be using. For example, if you will be using only the porch of your house, then clear it of all unnecessary items of furniture and other clutter.

Several Days Ahead of Time

Begin setting up the decorations. Plan a flow chart or a map of how visitors to your haunted house will move through it.

A Couple Days Before

Do a dress rehearsal to make sure the costumes and props work and everyone knows what to do. This is your opportunity to do a test run to make sure the flow chart will make sense to your visitors and they won't get lost. It's also your last chance to make sure the route is free of tripping, fire, or other safety hazards. Note: It's good to make some house rules ahead of time. For example, a no-touching rule is often a good policy!

On the Big Day

Arrive early. If the haunting will last for several hours, make sure you have a plan for relieving actors so they can take a break.

Afterwards

Don't forget to make assignments for cleaning up and returning any items you borrowed. You'll definitely need some help with this.

Good luck!

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Virginia Allain

    What Will You Do at Your Haunted House?

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      • profile image

        Paris G. 7 months ago

        im turning my house into a haunted house this year and i have learned a lot from this article and i will be doing lots of stuff from this. i am 13 years old and i am very excited about it. My friends will help volunteer and im inviting EVERYONE! I cant wait until October 31st. Its currently Sep 20th right now. For the haunted house...im going to be a chained up clown (it). Its going to be very fun!!!!

      • profile image

        Justine 18 months ago

        Aaa thank you for this ! For drama club , were turning our entire school into a haunted house , so this stuff is great to know ! Especially the sliding ! As a roller derby player , I can easily pull it off and the long hallways in the school will allow me to get some great distance to slide !

      • profile image

        peach 18 months ago

        Really Awesome our haunted house is gonna b lit

      • profile image

        namitha 19 months ago

        hey we're having a charity fundraiser at our school n we're making a haunted housse...u ideas helped a lot...thank u soo much :)

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        that sure is a scary hub for halloween day, great ideas

      • TonyPayne profile image

        Tony Payne 3 years ago from Southampton, UK

        Several friends of mine helped to run a commercial haunted house in Indiana. I never managed to go there but it sounded terrific.

      • profile image

        TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

        Recently we saw a screech owl flying around outside after the sun set, and my wife said it would be perfect for a haunted house. So I'd play screech owl sounds.

      • Margaret Schindel profile image

        Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

        I've never been into haunted houses, but I think you've got some fabulous ideas and product suggestions here! That gory human half-torso prop definitely would elicit some screams in the dark! ;)

      • Nancy Hardin profile image

        Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

        Heck, I could get a wig, do a little artful makeup (won't need a lot unfortunately) and be the granny in the rocker! That would be fun to scare the heck out of some people. But I wouldn't want to scare little kids. This lens sure has some absolutely marvelous ideas for a haunted house. Anyone who is planning one should definitely get in touch with this page, it's practically a chart for the best haunted house!

      • profile image

        Ruthi 4 years ago

        Great ideas you share for Halloween haunted house fare. I like that animated laughing hag. I can see her perched upon my deck in a rocking chair!

      • josietook profile image

        josietook 4 years ago

        Some great ideas here!!

      • SheGetsCreative profile image

        Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

        Love the crazy granny!

      • profile image

        ChristyZ 4 years ago

        Very creep ideas! I love it!

      • mel-kav profile image

        mel-kav 4 years ago

        Really cool ideas! I love haunted houses.

      • gottaloveit2 profile image

        gottaloveit2 4 years ago

        Stopped back by to get more ideas for a Halloween haunted house. Might decorate my own haunted house this year.

      • kerryhrabstock profile image

        kerryhrabstock 5 years ago

        Years ago, my roommate and I always loved watching the Rosanne Halloween episode. They did such great décor for Halloween on that show.

      • poorwendy lm profile image

        poorwendy lm 5 years ago

        Spinning head baby looks so creepy.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Great lens! My wife and I have a bit of an obsession with haunted houses. We travel across the country to go through nationally-acclaimed haunted houses! Love Halloween! Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

      • Brandi Bush profile image

        Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

        Wow, great haunted house ideas! That baby at the top totally creeps me out! Happy Halloween! :)

      • loveanime22 profile image

        loveanime22 5 years ago

        wow scary ideas

      • MostInteresting profile image

        MostInteresting 5 years ago

        Wow. I'd like to just live in a haunted house year round. Cool decorations.

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @SPhilbrick: How about a Haunted Porch? I have a page on that topic too.

      • SPhilbrick profile image

        SPhilbrick 5 years ago

        I don't have plans to do one, but I love a great haunted house! The last one I helped with, we had everything from graveyards to axe murderers... it was a lot of fun!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I love haunted houses they are so cool!

      • PennyHowe profile image

        PennyHowe 5 years ago

        Thanks for all of the great ideas. I would love to give it a try one of these years.

      • TriviaChamp profile image

        TriviaChamp 5 years ago

        I love Halloween. These are really interesting ideas.

      • ggruden2 profile image

        ggruden2 5 years ago

        Very nice costumes!

      • xtraneus profile image

        xtraneus 5 years ago

        Awesome decoration suggestions! The haunted house video had great tips :)

      • profile image

        barbiefashionistas 5 years ago

        An awesome lens with lots of scary stuff!

      • ShineRita profile image

        ShineRita 5 years ago

        Great stuff. Fantastic ideas!!!!

      • rachelscott profile image

        rachelscott 5 years ago

        I was so scaring while surfing your lens.

      • flinnie lm profile image

        Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

        Hi you got some scary stuff here..Booo so creepy.

      • Camden1 profile image

        Camden1 5 years ago

        My kids used to spend hours when they were little planning Haunted Houses in the basement - what fun they had! They were too young to come up with anything as amazing as these ideas.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        This is a very useful resource for Halloween decorating.

      • CoolFool83 profile image

        CoolFool83 5 years ago

        You got to have some crazy psycho in a haunted house. I enjoy this very much! Gets me in the mood of Halloween.

      • normal lm profile image

        normal lm 5 years ago

        Video was real scary.!

      • profile image

        mumsgather 5 years ago

        The scary haunted house theme sounds like a really good idea and lots of fun! Just like this lens.

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @anonymous: Maybe the spirits have decided you are a good thing for the house. Who knows...

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Oh Boy, I really could not do this as I would have nightmares. When we downsized and moved here, we were sure the house had ghosts as the shut door would be open and sounds could not be explained, Lights kept going on and off. It was weird then it settled down and things have been quiet lately thank goodness.

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @dpgibble: Wow, I'd love to find an old journal stuffed behind the floorboards.

      • dpgibble profile image

        dpgibble 5 years ago

        I helped tear down many a real haunted house. The ones where we found old money and journals were usually the creepiest. Bats and owls would occasionally startle us as we took apart their abodes. One location was the site of the last public hanging for that county in the 1800's. The ancient elm tree died, diseased, but lives on as paneling in the family farmhouse. I bet somebody could make a story out of this!

      • profile image

        bossypants 5 years ago

        I'm completely creeped out after reading this! What a selection of haunted house resources!

      • Mawkjump profile image

        Mawkjump 5 years ago

        I'll keep watching! Thanks.

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @JohnTannahill: Yep, spiders are a scary thing and I've even made a few pages about spider decor for Halloween.

      • JohnTannahill profile image

        John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

        At this time of year our house starts getting invaded by spiders. All I have to do is leave it a few weeks and the cobwebs will be enough decor for any halloween theme. You know that feeling when you walk into a fresh cobweb and you know there's a spider attached to it somewhere?

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        great info. I love a scary haunted house

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @xriotdotbiz lm: Great idea, to have music for those waiting in line.

      • xriotdotbiz lm profile image

        xriotdotbiz lm 5 years ago

        It is coming up on that season again! Last year, the school where I work had a haunted house, what was missing was scary music. Thought that would be a great addition because there was a massive waiting line where music would have amped up the anticipation. Who doesn't know the theme for Friday the 13th or Halloween? Even fun music like Monster Mash or Spiders and Snakes would help set a tone.

      • MillBucks profile image

        MillBucks 5 years ago

        You have featured some great ideas for a cool haunted house, I will definitely be using some of these for Halloween, thanks for sharing.

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

        @anonymous: Halloween is a lot of fun for grown-ups.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Cool ideas for haunted houses. You know I should go make a new Halloween lens, this is inspiring me. I like making costume lenses. :)

      • Onemargaret LM profile image

        Onemargaret LM 5 years ago

        I love Halloween! Excellent ideas!

      • OhMe profile image

        Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

        Happy Friday the 13th!

      • BestToysReviews profile image

        BestToysReviews 6 years ago

        I don't want to make a scary haunted house. I'll wet my pants before half of it is finished. Too scary for me :o

      • profile image

        slippknot12 6 years ago

        Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, thank you for such a great lens, it is awesome!

      • gamecheathub profile image

        gamecheathub 6 years ago

        That fog machine is screaming my name! LOL.

      • gottaloveit2 profile image

        gottaloveit2 6 years ago

        I already live in a haunted house. Our ghostly happenings used to wig me out but I'm used to them now. No need to add any other haunted things over here. Great lens though.

      • Tonigr profile image

        Toni Grundstrom 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

        I do not think, when I was a kid that I would have been able to trick-or-treat at your house. Too 'haunted'!

      • Pam Irie profile image

        Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

        Some of those props are so creepy scary. ha Anytime I go through a haunted house, I expect someone to jump out at me, but it still scares me every time. lol Huge variety of ideas in the lens; great!

      • Ann Hinds profile image

        Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

        This is really great. It's going to take a while to digest all the information. Angel blessed!!

      • awakeningwellness profile image

        awakeningwellness 6 years ago

        Ghoulishly good ideas!

      • Scarlettohairy profile image

        Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

        How fun! I like the smoke machines. Makes it nice and eerie.

      • pcgamehardware profile image

        pcgamehardware 6 years ago

        Not really planning a haunted house this year, but when I do next year...." I'll be back ".

        Great resources and ideas for anyone planning a haunted house... Nice work.

      • Mishael A Witty profile image

        Mishael A Witty 6 years ago

        Great ideas here. My girls are too little for this right now, but maybe in a few years ...

      • Tonigr profile image

        Toni Grundstrom 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

        I don't think that you missed an inch of the house with how to decorate it ideas for Halloween. Thanks.

      • profile image

        outsource123 7 years ago

        Great lense guys!

      • ZablonMukuba profile image

        ZablonMukuba 7 years ago

        thanks for the great advice, i love skeletons on a noose

      • Sami4u LM profile image

        Sami4u LM 7 years ago

        Hi,

        I just love Halloween, It is one of the best holidays of the year. Some great ideas to help your haunted house you have here.

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