Scary Haunted House Ideas & Effects


When planning a Halloween party one of the most fun things you can do is to set up your very own haunted house. This can seem like an intimidating project at first, but it’s not really as hard as it may seem. All you need are a few adjacent rooms and a little bit of imagination. Here are some scary haunted house ideas that you can use to create a frightening Halloween attraction that visitors will remember for years.

haunted house

The Set-Up

To begin with, make sure you choose a space that is well suited for use as a haunted house. If you have a long hallway you can focus your attention around that area of the house, allowing guests to visit each adjacent room for a scary surprise. Each room should have a specific theme, like a witches room, a zombie room, spider room, ect. A finished basement is often a good location as well, especially if it has no windows for light to get in, however you may want to use dividers to break the area into separate rooms.

If you are using a room with windows you’ll need to figure out how to keep the room as dark as possible. This is especially true during the day, but it can be a factor at night too when a window faces a street lamp. You can use a piece of cardboard or a thick blanket or comforter to keep the light from getting in.

For safety reasons you’ll want to make sure the room has some light, but it should be in the form of eerie, low lighting that you create using flashlights or colored light bulbs.

Cool Haunted House Effects

halloween fog machineFear is often created by the unexpected, so try to think of what you would need to really catch your visitors off guard. Everyone is familiar with the usual haunted house decor: RIP tombstones, fake cobwebs, skeletons, ect. These are all fine to use, but the most successful haunted houses add an extra element of surprise. Here are some special effects to consider.

  • A fog machine is a way to give a room a smokey look without setting off the fire alarms. These can be rented at most party stores for a reasonable amount. You can also create fog by adding dry ice to a large cauldron filled with warm water.
  • A large standing fan stationed in a corner of the room can add a creepy, chilling effect to your room. Try to keep as much light away from that corner as possible so the fan is not so visible. Better yet, use a mister fan that will spray your guests with a gentle mist of water as they walk into the room. I like to call this “witches spit”.
  • The proper lighting is important for any haunted house, which is why mini strobe lights are practically a must when you’re trying to create the perfect haunted atmosphere. Consider using strobes to accent a specific piece of the decor, like a skeleton or a big zombie mannequin. Strobes will often come with colored gels so you can change they color of the light to create the look you want.

Finding Actors

One of the scariest things you can do when setting up your house of horrors is to have people dressed in costume hide in places where your visitors least expect it. Recruit friends and family members to dress up as vampires, mummies, corpses and other frightening creatures. Then have them hide in your haunted house to play the appropriate roles.

mummyA favorite trick is to have one volunteer to dress as a mummy and have him or her stationed between a pair of life-size paper mache mummies. When visitors enter the room they see three mummy figures in the dark standing perfectly still. Then, when your visitors least expect it, your real life mummy comes to life with a scary mummy moan. If done right this can really be pretty frightening.


Sound Effects

A spooky soundtrack is also a good idea for any haunted home. This can include scary music, but what might be even more effective are scary sound effects, like doors creaking, screams, and other frightening sounds. Try to utilize different sounds in each room. You may want to hide a small CD or MP3 player in the “witch room” with the sound of a cackling witch. In another room you can play the sound of a howling wolf or a creepy thumping noise. You can keep the sounds at a relatively low volume so people are never quite sure if they’re really hearing things or just imagining it.



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