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| November 21, 2014

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Tech-or-Treat: Tech Tips for a Haunted House

It is almost the end of October, and that only means one thing: Halloween.  The years of plastic skeletons and cotton-spun spider webs have faded, and bowls overflowing with fake brains simply don’t cut it anymore.  Technology has upped the ante for those wishing to truly terrify their guests, and the Mace and Crown would like to help by providing a short shopping list of some haunted house staples.

Fog Machines are a must whether a person is trying to spook trick-or-treaters or scare hard-core haunted house goers.  Units range from thirty dollars for the 400 watt variety with prices increasing according to wattage.  Party stores also sell accessories like zombie figures or dying bodies that can attach to the machine to make it look like they are rising from the grave or spewing smoke from their mouth.

Strobe Lighting is the cheapest way to create a chilling mood.  Twenty five watt units can be bought at Target or Home Depot for twenty dollars.  Higher wattage brings a higher prize but a more blinding and terrifying impact.

Outside, smaller tower strobes can be strewn behind grave stones, inside plastic pumpkins, and along footpaths. All of which can be purchased for as cheap as ten dollars.

A DMX system is one of the higher tech options.  Its control console gives users more precise control over pre-set light shows using a system of multiple dimmers and frequency options.  However, expect to dole out at least two hundred dollars for this advanced customization.

Most lighting triggers can be bought at party or hardware stores, but someone online Halloween stores such LightsAlive sell pressure pad triggers, perfect for surprising trick-or-treaters at the welcome mat.

Another company is Monster Eyes that produces blinking lights in the shape of, much as its name implies, monster eyes.  Place them in plastic skulls, hide them strategically amongst the bushes, or put them amongst the rafters to make it seem like bats are glaring down, especially when the colors flash red.

Animatronics can be a costly route to get a good scare, but depending on how much a person is willing to pay, the effects can be well worth it.

From bodies that dangle gasping from nooses, mannequins that reach out for unsuspecting victims or whip their heads towards those walking past, and hanging, blood clotted body bags that shriek and struggle in mid-air – the selection is as vast as it is varied.

Most can be purchased either at party stores or online, and thehorrordome.com specializes in animatronics with a selection ranging from fifty dollars for the simpler, smaller variety, to thousands of dollars for the larger mechanized haunts.

Existing technology in one’s home can also be integrated into the scaring experience.  A haunted mirror can be created using a spare PC; simply buy a frame large enough to conceal it and place it behind a sheet of glass to create the reflective quality.

For those who wish to take it one step further, a false door can be constructed around a PC secured to the wall, so that its screen resembles a door window, and play a video of a shadowy figure slowly getting closer, or the undead banging on the screen to get out.

Home speaker systems can be used to polish off a haunted ambience without purchasing additional equipment.  Just hook up an MP3 player with spooky music to create suspense or pre-set a crack of thunder or ominous howl to accompany strobe lighting.  Apps such as Soundslate make it easy to pre-set sound effects on a wireless device.

Many of these gadgets can be purchased at local stores such as Party City or Home Depot, and the variety available makes decorating for Halloween immensely customizable.  So go crazy or go conservative, just make sure to go before stores start hauling out the Christmas decorations.

By Alyse Stanley

Staff Writer

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