Car chases, explosions, crazy effects – let’s face it, we all love a good Hollywood blockbuster. Despite our widespread fandom, everyone still recognizes the importance of independent films that captivate and inspire us in ways that the mainstream moneymakers aren’t able to.
Halloween haunts fall under the same rule. We adore our giant animatronics, large casts of characters, expansive mazes, and decked-out warehouses, but almost more impressive are the smaller operations that manage to stick with you as you gaze to the skies, dreaming about what they’d come up with if they had the same spending power as the big leagues.
Unfortunately, we may never know. Regardless, us goofballs here at FrightProps decided to put together a short list of home and yard haunts in 2013 that manage to put some of the professionals to shame.
5. THE WITCHES OF SCABTREE HOLLOW
Images from Hellizondo Haunt
We’ve probably spent three hours looking at the Haunt at Hellizondo blog over the last week. Visit the site and right away you’ll notice the brilliant, high quality pictures. Without reading a thing, you get a general feel and story to their Colonial witch-hunt themed haunt located in Simi Valley, CA.
Creative and resourceful, the people crafting The Witches of Scabtree Hollow combine their powers into an impressive, predominantly DIY Halloween display. They also do a lot of work with PVC piping, taking homemade figures and transforming them into unforgettable black-light creatures. While FrightProps sells motors which are better for specific projects like opening coffin lids, these clever haunters have repurposed inexpensive motorized props from places like Target and added their own stylistic touches.
The same minds behind The Witches of Scabtree Hollow are also the people behind The Devil’s Workshop, a How-To site with a lot of helpful tips.
4. CANYON TRAIL CEMETERY
A husband and wife duo deck out their yard in Carol Stream, IL to the delight of their entire community. Using a large graveyard scene, Canyon Trail is such a cool yard haunt because of the number of things you won’t catch with a five minute glance. You’ll want to spend your time with this one as you check out the detailed decorations paired with over 30 pneumatic props — Samara from the Ring, an attack spider, and a lurching pumpkin creature, just to name a few. In addition to the work on the props, one of the reasons we singled this yard out is their attention to detail. Check out the wide variety of lights that Canyon Trail uses and notice the lack of empty space in between props, filled by leaves and cob-webbing.
3. GRAVE ROCK GULCHPicture by Jonas Mohr
The people of Hollywood Haunter, based out of Glendale, CA, have created a ghost town complete with a mock barber shop, dentist, jail, and gold panning station. And believe it or not, it’s a yard haunt. They’ve even incorporated a few pneumatic props into their presentation with a drunk, farting cowboy and a thrashing hangman. Grave Rock Gulch is certainly one of the more advanced and ambitious yard haunts we’ve ever see. The best part about it is that so much of it is homemade, chronicled by Hollywood Haunters’ entertaining Youtube Channel.
2. DARKROSE MANOR
Images from Darkrose Manor
Darkrose Manor is one of the most artistic home haunts we’ve ever seen. Centered around icy, cavernous chambers filled with Elven demons, this Aurora, CO presentation shimmers with inventiveness and dedication to a unifying theme. The environments are so otherworldly that they look like they could double as movie sets.
1. THE BUTCHER OF PROVINCETOWN
Images from The Butcher of Provincetown
The Butcher of Provincetown is a prime example of the importance of creating an immersive world and story for your audience. The amount of effort put into crafting an atmosphere is what makes this home haunt have such an impact on their audience. Fashioning his own props and even creating his own masks for his skilled acting team, Brad Goodspeed of Port Union, Ontario deserves an award for his advances in the field of terror. Which is probably why he’s won “Best Haunt” awards from Canadian Haunters Association, Home Haunters Video Awards, and Dead With Dave. We could go on about all of the cool things in this haunt, but Brad has done a stellar job documenting and editing together footage and it’d be a shame if you didn’t watch it.
Like others on this list, Brad also has a YouTube channel which is a great resource for Halloween DIY enthusiasts everywhere.