Scare acting. What does it mean? It certainly doesn't mean jumping up and yelling “BOO!”
What does it take to scare the public? A lot. Years ago, shadows and suspense were enough to instill
fear and dread. But over the years, due to the evolution of society, and more more importantly, movies,
people are becoming, for lack of a better term, jaded. What would have shocked and disgusted
someone in the 1950's seems almost boring in the 21st century. Home haunts and haunted attractions,
started out with sheets with eye holes cut out, and a little red paint or ketchup on various parts of the
body, or the stuffed dummy someone made. I remember making a gliding ghost as a kid, using a
fishing line tied from a tree in the yard to a column on my porch, a white sheet, stuffed with paper in
the head area, and a coat hanger for it to slide on the line. Crude, but effective. This was 1976. The
same setup would be laughable now, but it was good for a few startle scares when I was 11 years old.
I know, I'm dating myself, but it's all a state of mind. My point is simple. Evolution. Haunts have evolved over the last 36 years, and made huge leaps in production values in the past 15 years. The haunt business is now a multi-billion dollar a year industry. This figure is staggering for a holiday that started as a pagan ritual to celebrate summer's end centuries ago.
OK, enough of the history lesson. You didn't buy log on here to hear a long oration about floating sheets and pagan festivals. You want to be a scare-actor, or you are a new haunt owner and you aren't quite sure about the different roles you need to fill. Well, just as the production value of haunted attractions have evolved to the level of a Hollywood movie, the actors have to perfect their scaring techniques. Actors will always be the “blood and guts” of the haunted attraction. The set design can be perfect, the animatronics top-notch, but without the scare-actors, it's not much more than a static movie set. Just like in a movie, the scare-actors take on different roles, from “starring” roles, to support roles, to queue line entertainment.
With all the different choices, if you want to work at a haunted attraction, there is sure to be a role for you. If you have found a haunted attraction you would like to work with, or if you have been to one where you live and thought “this could really be fun”, then the first step is to make contact with the attraction, usually via their website. You can also start checking job postings around August, as well as checking out the haunt's Facebook or Myspace page, if they have one. Of course if you can find a contact number, give them a call. Some haunts may be strictly volunteer work, but a lot of them are paying jobs. If you live near a theme park, they may have a seasonal haunted attraction, such as Universal's Halloween Horror Nights or Cedar Fair's Halloween Haunt.
I remember the first time I worked a haunt. It was A LOT of work. We had rehearsal every night for a week prior to opening night. The night we opened I had a blast. I was thinking, “I finally get to scare as many people as possible AND I get paid for it? Does it get any better?” The night flew by and 7 hours later we were done . I was on such an adrenaline high that when I got home, I didn't get to sleep until dawn. What I can't stress enough is that no matter how much fun you have, this is a JOB. You will have a boss, and rules to follow, a place you are supposed to be for the scare to work. This may sound like I am trying to talk you out of wanting to do this, but what I am trying to do is make you aware of what is in store for you. I have seen plenty of 18-30 year old people come to work the haunt thinking it is going to be all fun and games, and then quitting after a couple of weeks, when they realize they actually have to work. If you are truly passionate about Halloween and the love of scaring the sh*t out of people, then it will be fun, and getting paid for it doesn't hurt at all.