The Hopps Approach to Characters

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I have mentioned that Allen Hopps has said how he develops haunts based on place, characters, and situation.

Master Hopps, naturally, does more than just decide what kinds of characters he has based on the place. He assigns them roles. Specifically, in Dark Hour, Allen has said he has a chief antagonist, minions, and enemies (or from our perspective, protagonists).

The example he gave in the interview I heard was his summer show. The story of Dark Hour is that a coven of witches rules, and each month a different witch rises to power. For the Dog Days of Summer, the chief antagonist is the "Mother of Werewolves". She is the driving force of the haunt. Her minions are werewolves of all descriptions and gypsies, and the enemy of the Mother are the werewolf hunters.

The hunters are all outfitted like stereotypical 19th century British explorers. They are trying to stop the Wolf Mother form achieving her goal. Their part in the haunt is to provide some exposition and some scares. Presumably, they try to enlist the help of the patrons.

Meanwhile, the minions are out to torment and scare the patrons.

It's an interesting way to make a haunt more dynamic and even interactive without going full immersive theater on the patrons. I have seen many haunted houses where the characters more or less fit the room, but tell no particular story. I have seen some where all the characters fit in with one back story.

I'm pretty sure I never went through one where there was a main villain, minions, and characters in opposition to the villain. How cool is that? Plus, it is the job of all three types to scare you or at least get you in position to be scared. Super concept!

I only hope this idea spreads throughout America, making ever more interesting and engaging haunts.

Happy haunting!


  1. Godzilla's Avatar
    Thanks for sharing Jim. I love Allen's work and his ethic. He is so easy, open and clever. I love to watch him live on Facebook too. I had not seen the interview you alluded to, but I will be looking for it. The idea of this haunt is another great idea!
  2. JustJimAZ's Avatar
    Allen is THE MAN!
    Here is the interview mentioned and linked to in the article: