Haunted Houses Are Theatre That Make Scary Profits


In the past three decades, haunted houses have become a booming industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars and includes family-friendly theme parks, huge high-tech productions with sci-fi features and evangelical Christian hell houses.



It’s the rare theatrical genre that consistently draws young audiences and makes a profit. Other cities have more haunted houses, and in most western cities the largest productions spring up where real estate is cheapest, but with the help of theater artists moonlighting for Halloween, Hong Kong has become an artistically fertile scene that specializes in the kind of extreme scares that new horror movies rarely provide anymore. HK is a bit different- because of zoning and certain laws most of our haunted houses are restricted to clubs to amusement partks but this doesn't stop theatre artists and actors from benefiting from the seasonal work. It is estimated that millions of dollars will be made in the next two weeks through the Halloween market and a large portion of that will return to our community through pop up events, makeup aritsts, costume shops and seasonal work at Ocean Park and Disney.


The most terrifying houses mix people in costumes jumping out of the shadows with inventive showbiz intelligence. But the take it to the next level in that most of the shocks take place inside your head. Giving away too much would ruin the fun, but imagine a Pinter pause dragging on for minutes. Rather than a scary movie you would watch from your couch- you're living the nightmare. 



These intense, lovingly designed productions raise the question of whether haunted houses for adults could join video games and comic books as one of those lowbrow entertainments that slowly begin to earn the audience's respect. The potential is there, especially if they continue to experiment with, and take advantage of, the conventions of the form. In particular, the interactive elements remain too crude.


By giving the player more choice, video games introduced increasing complexity to the haunted house genre. They're like living, breathing "Choose Your Own Adventure" Series. If the makers of these scary shows could figure out a way to give visitors more autonomy within the maze, without sacrificing the timing of the scares, the modern haunted house could become more intellectually stimulating, distinct from traditional theater and, most important, scary. Choosing your fate can often, although not always, be far more upsetting than being doomed to it.


Know about an amazing Halloween event? Share it with me in the comment section! If it's a theatre event or theatrical pop up, make sure to email us a press release, so we can add it to our calendar!



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