Heroes and Their Uses

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Many years ago I was wandering through a thrift store and found a samurai army neatly folded on a table. They were dozens of silk onesies with samurai armor printed on them, like 80s Halloween costumes. They even had an opening in the back and a tie at the top of the neck.

These had been used in a movie featuring epic battles between opposing armies. No one would have believed these if they were used in close ups. No, in close ups, the main actors wore highly detailed and realistic "hero" costumes and wielded "hero" props. the minions in the background ran around in silk pajamas printed to mimic armor.

This is a common practice in pre-CGI movies, and one you can use to your advantage!

Maybe you read the entry on cheap characters and thought, "this is too cheesy and ridiculous". Well, maybe, maybe not. I can tell you that if you establish your setting with a few "hero" props and costumes, you can get away with MUCH simpler costumes in the low light, quick scare setting of a haunt.

Let's say you are doing the hillbilly/ Hellbilly haunt. Out front, you have ma and pa, with exquisite makeup and highly detailed costumes. You establish a pattern in the patron's minds. Inside, they see dirty faces, missing teeth and tattered clothes, and their minds fill in the blanks. They "imagine" all the characters are as detailed as the hero characters.

This works with anything. Let's say you decide to go with the flour sack masks. You have one character with amazing makeup or an expensive mask. They might be introduced to the patrons without the (flour sack) mask, and then they put it on. Alternatively, they might scare the patrons with the cloth mask on, then take it off to reveal the wonderful hideous face underneath. Either way, when they see the cloth masks later, they will ASSUME there is something awful underneath. They do your work for you!

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You can do this with props and sets too. Do one or two sets up 100% - all the details. Make sure those are well lit and they get a good look. Then use strategic lighting in other scenes to obscure the less detailed walls and highlight just what you want them to see. They will fill in the blanks.

Hey - want to make a cave full of bats? Hang a couple really nice looking hero bats up at the entrance. Inside, in the dark, just have flapping noises on a recording or made by actors. They will imagine the prop bats. Ditto for bugs, birds, anything you can attach a sound to.

Have you used this before? Do you think you have been fooled by a similar idea? Share!
Happy haunting!