JustJimAZ

Hitchcock on Haunting

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About a year ago, I put together a blog on some things Stephen King has to say that I think are applicable to haunting.

If you have read either of my last two blog posts, you probably realize that I think telling a story is a major part of being effective.

In some ways a haunt is like a novel, and in others, it's like a movie. In many ways it's unique, of course, but I thought it might be appropriate to see what advice Hitchcock has that might apply to haunters. Ready?

Here is a classic quote form the master:
“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”
In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”


Some shorter quotes from the master, in no particular order:

On designing "scares"-
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On finding your inspiration-
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On designing the overall haunt experience -
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On designing the exit at the end -
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On a haunt designer's proper frame of mind -
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On what is "scary" -
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On the overall design of sets, costumes, and props -
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On how to "scare act" -
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Would love to hear your favorite Hitchcock quotes on haunting in the comments.
Happy Haunting!
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