Kickstarting Horror!

And we are live!

We’ve been talking about it for a couple of weeks but now, it’s finally reality. Our Kickstarter campaign, ‘A Happy Home for Hagan’s House of Horrors’, set up to raise the rest of the funds we need for a building kit for our new haunt home has officially started. If you’re interested in contributing or at least in seeing all of the rewards we’re offering for your building assistance, please click here. If you can help us to build with a few dollars – or many dollars – we’d certainly appreciate it.

Our Kickstarter Campaign is Now Live

If you can’t help out with funds just yet, the campaign runs through May 3rd. You have a little time. You won’t be charged until we hit our funding goal and the campaign ends. If, by some chance, we don’t hit our funding goal, we’ll cry and you won’t be charged at all. Frankly, we hope that doesn’t happen! Anyway, we’d love it if you’d spread the word to any other horror enthusiasts you know who might be interested in helping a little or a lot. Every dollar counts!

From all of us at Hagan’s House of Horrors to all of you, thank you!

Cast and Crew

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New Building Kickstarter Campaign to Go Live Monday 4/4/16

We’ve been working hard here at Hagan’s House of Horrors to put together the Kickstarter campaign we mentioned in our last post to fund the building of an all new home for the haunt. It’s finally all set to go. We’ve decided to take it live this coming Monday, April 4th, 2016. Conventional wisdom says to do it in the morning but to be available to answer questions both on launch day and on the final day, 30 days later. Since we have to work to keep the dream of an even bigger and better haunt a reality – we’re only asking for the bare minimum from Kickstarter – we can’t can’t start it in the morning because we can’t be here. Look for it around 7:00 Monday evening.

Here’s the preview link for the campaign so you can get a look at it and the rewards associated with it in advance: A Happy Home for Hagan’s House of Horrors.

And, just in case the video won’t play in the preview, here it is:

That took more time to put together than anything but, we have to say, it was fun to do! Let’s hope Linda feels the same…

We’re excited to launch and we hope you can help when we do. If you can’t contribute, we’d love it if you could share the campaign link for us. We’ll publish the live link on Monday. Anything you can do helps.

You want to be scared and we want to scare you. What could be more fun than that?

 

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A New Birth for Old Horror

Spring has officially sprung in central Ohio. With it, our thoughts turn to creating this year’s haunt and making it bigger and better than ever. There’s only one problem with that. We’re currently without a home to haunt.

Two and a half years ago, our family took their tradition of creating annual haunted trails and/or of working in haunted houses and turned our personal home H2into a haunt for a couple of nights with all of the donated proceeds to benefit our local Christmas lighting in the village of Bladensburg. We raised a nice little chunk of change with our mini haunt but, even more than that, the response to what we did was so amazing, we decided to go full commercial after that and, knowing the community was poised to take over a closed school building in town to use as a community center, we went on board to haunt a large portion of that. That building was to be our our means to scare a whole lot of folks, to provide some seasonal jobs for the community, to (hopefully) earn a profit for our fledgling business and to provide operating revenue for the community center.Bladensburg School

Winter gave way to Spring in 2015 and Spring to Summer with no turnover of that building (a portion of which is pictured at the left). In late July, because we didn’t yet have access to it, we made a business decision to lease space and run run for the 2015 Halloween season in a large facility in a nearby village.

We weren’t ideally located for 2015 and we got a very late start – It was mid-August before we could start haunt building – but we were able to put a haunt together that we were proud of. Since we were essentially working in a pole barn with lighting but minimal electrical service otherwise, we had to build from the ground up and we had to add additional electrical service to power what we had. Decisions we made on rooms and displays were predicated on the availability of power.

We have an AMAZING group of friends and neighbors – who fast became friends – who worked an 11 night schedule as unpaid volunteers in 2015 to make our dream a reality. We did more with actors than we ever dreamed possible. There were nights where more than 40 actors and staffers took to the floor to scare every soul that ventured through the door. We catered to several hundred but not thousands of people in 2015 because our late start and the necessity of major construction negated any budget we would have had for large scale advertising. Still, we were happy with the outcome and we looked forward to a 2016 season in the old school building where we would finally be positioned

Well, it’s 2016. The building was due to be turned over in January and then February but now the transfer is upheld pending the outcome of litigation that could drag on for years. We can’t wait. We took a look at the property we own and determined, with some modifications and some protections for our neighbors, we could build on our own site.  First, we need to tear this 100+ year old barn down Barnthen we need to level the land for as big a building as there is room for and that we can afford to put in place.

Some family members emptied out the barn of everything we wanted. A demo crew emptied it of all the hay and straw that had been rotting away in the loft for years (the roof is in bad shape) and now they’re dismantling it piece by piece. Their intent is to re-stand it in a different location.

Once the demo crew is done, we’ve contracted to have the plot leveled. We’ve also sought quotes for the building we want to build. Before insulation, which we’ll be able to get at cost on our own through other connections, we’re looking at a total, delivered to our site cost (but not assembled) of just under $14,000 for a post frame kit. Building

We’ll hire a crew to set nearly 3 dozen 12-foot posts and a crane and operator to raise and place the trusses. After that, it’s all us and many generous friends and family members who have offered their help free, except for food and drink. We hope to have the structure raised and finished, all under roof in June. Beyond that, we’ll have to have the power company in to run service from the road and a licensed electrician to wire the building for lighting, emergency lighting, outlets and so forth.

We’ve so far been able to come up with $7,000 between savings and the generosity of family. That’s only half the cost of the actual structure, before other construction and power expenses. We estimate total cost of the project (minus insulation) to be in excess of $20,000 leaving us a bit short, at present. There will be other costs, of course, as we construct the interior of the haunt but we’ll be able to bear these costs as we go along and, we’ve made plans to cover advertising costs as well for this year. We just need to get a building in process first.

Our plan is to hold a Kickstarter campaign to kick off in early April to raise the additional funding we need. Our fundraising goal is a little steep for this type of venture at $13,000 but we’re hoping the generosity of friends and strangers alike, coupled with some great gift incentives for donations, will power us through. Here are the incentives we’re planning for those who donate:

  1. $1 donation – Our personal thanks for your interest in our project and access to project updates throughout the year via Kickstarter
  2. $5 donation – All of the above plus your name or your business name on a dedicated supporter page on this website
  3. $10 donation – All of the above plus access to behind the scenes updates not available to the public and a free ticket to the haunt
  4. $20 donation – All of the above plus a second free ticket to the haunt
  5. $25 donation – All of the above and a Hagan’s House of Horrors sticker
  6. $50 donation – All of the above plus 2 additional free tickets (total of 4) and a t-shirt (adult sizes S-4X available)
  7. $75 donation – All of the above plus a behind the scenes tour and a chance to meet some of the actors before the doors open on any show night in October
  8. $100 donation – Everything from 1-6 above plus either helping with the haunt build for a day after building construction is completed or acting for a night in the haunt
  9. $250 donation – 1-7 above and acting for 1 or more nights in the haunt at your discretion as a full part of the regular cast for those nights (tickets are transferable in this case to others not viewing the haunt with you.)
  10. $500 donation – 1-8 above plus the opportunity to consult with our set designers to theme a room in the haunt and have your name associated with the room (limit 2) and permanent public recognition as a bronze level sponsor on the website and on the haunt itself
  11. $1,000 donation – 1-8 and 10 above with permanent recognition as a silver tier sponsor (limit 1)
  12. $2,500 donation – 1-8 and 10 above with permanent recognition as a gold tier sponsor plus tickets for 16 additional people (20 total) to attend a full dress rehearsal the weekend before we open for the season and a cast party afterward (limit 1)
  13. $5,000 donation – 1-8 above with permanent recognition as a platinum tier sponsor plus permanent naming rights for the blackout maze, plus tickets for 16 additional people (20 total) to attend a full dress rehearsal the weekend before we open for the season and a cast party afterward (limit 1)

When we exceed our fundraising goal, our plan is to add on permanent covered waiting facilities for our guests to protect them from the October elements. Weather can be so unpredictable in Ohio in October ranging, as it did in 2015, with nights below freezing (early October) to nights in the 60-70 degree range (late October). Raising building funds in advance also means we won’t be playing catch up like we did last year, our first full year, and we can pay our actors with more than just food, drinks and fun. No one complained at all last year but these dedicated men and women deserve to be paid. Don’t you agree?

Zombie King H4 Cast Members IMAG0417 IMAG0441

 

 

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Happy Friday the 13th…Random Musings

Happy Friday the 13th!

It’s the third one this year…the most any one year can ever have. Just so you don’t have to check, we had them in February and March too. And no, there will never be a year without at least one. Any time a month begins on a Sunday, the 13th will fall on a Friday. In fact, it’s been proven that the 13th is slightly more likely, statistically, to fall on a Friday than on any other day.

In other news, we’ve finished tearing down the haunt for this year. We were leasing a building that’s actually the indoor arena for an MX Park. This is what it looks like now, ready for the MX track to be rebuilt:

All Done 2015

It’s 16,000 square feet of nothing at the moment. Here’s a couple of cute shots of what was going on with one of our cast/crew member’s child while we were making the building look desolate:

Cam Finds Mud

Cam in the Mud 2

He’s a two year old mud magnet. If it’s there, he’ll find it. That second mud mess actually looks bigger than it is…he’s just small. There was one little puddle and one muddy place from tires. He’s the ‘All Boy’ type that managed to find them both! It’s all good…He cleaned up even better than the building did.

Now, we’re looking toward next year. We’re still waiting on the availability of the old school building the community of Bladensburg, Ohio is acquiring. We’re hearing it’s all done but the signing now. We certainly hope that’s true. We’d originally expected the community would take possession of the building by July 1st of this year (2015). We’d hoped to have the haunt there but that just didn’t work out. We tore everything down and stored it all away for next year when we sincerely hope to be there…and never have to tear it down again…

This is where we hope to be for the 2016 haunt season:

Bladensburg School

Pretty creepy looking, eh? Right now, it’s just an abandoned school building…Come October of 2016, we hope it will be a haunted abandoned school building… Who’s in?

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Haunted Houses and Christians

Hagan’s House of Horrors is a family owned and operated haunted attraction. A great deal of our local family participated in the build of this year’s haunted house and all of them, other family members and many of our friends and neighbors worked together to operate the haunt on Friday and Saturday nights. All of the Hagan’s family (including those that married into the family) were raised in the IMAG0361Christian faith. A few are strong Christians while others are not so diligent in their practice of their faith but still maintain it on some level. Many of the our friends and neighbors that helped us out are also practicing Christians.

Clowns Clowning Around

When your haunt owners were growing up, haunted attractions were typically run by non-profits like the Jaycees (for your writer) and/or they raised money for charitable causes. In fact, that’s how we started out; raising money for a local charitable cause…but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. As Halloween grew from a Catholic Church All Hallows Eve mass and celebration tradition (with sometimes a basic little haunt thrown in for fun) into something that put more of a focus on Trick Or Treat or Beggar’s Night, so too did the adult entertainment side of the equation. Commercial, for profit haunted houses began to proliferate in the 1980’s and 1990’s. IMAG0403

Today, the haunt industry is huge. Haunts run the gamut from small inside of a single family home attractions to large mega complexes. Some haunts are real gore fests while others focus more on elaborate settings and startle scares. Ours has a little gore but even that is relatively tame when compared against some of the haunts that are within an hour or two’s drive of us. We run a more traditional, throwback operation that plays off of strengths in set design and in keeping you on edge, not knowing where we’re going to come at you next. Some of the gore fests that exist out there across the country do cross lines between what is for entertainment and what is for pure shock value.  When you’re charging $25-40 dollars a person as many of those types of haunts do, you have to deliver gore and shock at a level that most Christians would certainly be uncomfortable with. Therein lies the problem for most haunters and for many Christians.

Some of the gore fests that exist do cross lines between what is for entertainment and what is for pure shock value.

IMAG0417Our haunt is in a rural area with strong fundamentalist traditions. We respect that and we do our best not to cross lines that will be unacceptable to some of our would be customers. We understand though that we represent an industry that does not entirely feel the same and that some Christians in particular will choose to avoid our haunt – or any haunt – and will advise their children to do the same. That’s fine.

During the 2015 run-up to Halloween, we lost a potential worker in the haunt whose pastor advised against working here because haunted houses have satanic influences. He’s entitled to his opinion of course but, if he’d have talked to us, he’d know that we’re not devil worshipers, that we’re giving some proceeds back to the community, that our actors were completely unpaid this year (all volunteer) and that they were there to help create something that will provide future jobs in the community and even more proceeds for community causes. He’d have also learned that by having many of our actors there every Friday and Saturday night, we were keeping multiple persons in the 18-25 age group busy, out of trouble, and not out drinking somewhere (and one away from something much more life endangering) in an area where there is little to do on a cold fall weekend but those things. We’d have told him all of those things and more. IMAG0368

Another of our helpers and a practicing Christian was accosted at a restaurant one Sunday by a fundamentalist who called the helper a sinner and worse for their participation in our haunt. A sermon was issued by the self righteous name caller who wouldn’t listen but who only wanted to preach. So be it, our helper said. We’re fortunate that we didn’t lose a key cog in our operation but that person held fast to both their own faith and to what we were trying to do.

IMAG0391The photo’s you’ve seen throughout this post are of real people (and their children), many of them practicing Christians, who have worked to create something unique and fun for the purpose of entertainment that benefited some in the ways we’ve outlined above and that has the potential to grow and benefit many more for years to come. They’re proud of what they’ve created from scratch and sheer determination and they give thanks for the ability to do it and to share it.

If you don’t find visiting a haunted house – any haunted house – an edifying experience, please don’t go to one. There will be no hard feelings from us or from most haunt operators. If you think one will be traumatizing to a youngster who is not yet able to distinguish between real and make believe, please don’t bring them to our haunt and certainly don’t take them to any of the gore fests that exist out there. If you think though that we’re all devil worshipers, out to poison young hearts and minds, you couldn’t be further from the truth. 

P.S. After this article was created, a local friend brought in a postcard advertising a haunt in the state of Utah. Your writer expressed incredulity that a haunted entertainment attraction could thrive in such a heavily Mormon state as Utah as the one on the card alluded to have done. As it turns out, Mormons, we’re informed, don’t seem to have the same sort of disdain for haunted houses, such as the less gory types we’ve described, as some extremely fundamentalist Christians do. In fact, research we’ve done since then, has shown that they’ve been used to support fund raising for LDS causes and for local Catholic church causes. Who would have thought it? 

 

 

 

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Halloween Weekend Advice

It’s finally here; Halloween weekend! If you’re as excited as we are then we’d venture to say that you’re pretty excited. We’re planning to rock Knox and Licking counties this weekend and we hope to see you here so you can tell us how we did.

IMAG0368

Tonight, if you haven’t heard is the ‘Half Time, Half Price, Half Scare’ kiddie show for the young and the faint of heart. We’re running from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM only and it’s $5.00 a person (cash only) to get in. Bring the kids and give them a tamer look at a haunted house…break them in slow. No actors will jump out and scare them; they won’t even be here. We promise! We will have darkness, fog, music, sets, realistic looking props and animatronic props. We’ll leave it up to the parents to decide how much your children can handle.

Friday and Saturday, is all about more scary entertainment. We’ve had children as young as seven do okay in our haunt but we’ve also taken ten and twelve year old kids out who have had anxiety attacks, and seen grown women wet themselves. FAIR WARNING: Our actors will be on fire for Halloween weekend. We don’t advise you bring children under 13 that aren’t already seasoned haunt goers this weekend. If you do bring children under 13, every group must be accompanied by at least one responsible adult aged 18 or older (preferably older…and strong enough to deal with clinging, scared children…). Cast Members

Tickets are $10.00 per person, cash only please. The show runs 8:00 PM to Midnight, Friday night and Saturday night. Anyone in line with a paid ticket at midnight will be admitted. No tickets will be sold after midnight. The doors open at 7:30 PM both nights. We have an entirely covered waiting area so the outside weather will not be a problem once the doors open. Expect to wait in line, inside, this weekend for a half hour or more.

Wear comfortable shoes. This building is a set of two connected pole barns with dirt/clay floors that house an indoor motocross track and bike pits over the winter. Expect uneven floors in places.

If we can answer any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our email address is admin@HagansHouseOfHorrors.com or you can message us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HagansHouseOfHorrors.

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Half time, Half Scare, Half Price!

We have an all volunteer cast at the Hagan’s House of Horrors for our inaugural year as a ‘for profit’ haunted house. Many of our actors are parents with school age children and/or people with full time day jobs. When we set up our schedule and advertised our hours for the season, we never thought about those things because they didn’t become apparent until we started actually haunting your weekends.

Cast and Crew

We scheduled and advertised that we’d be open on Trick or Treat night in the local area, this Thursday, October 29th, 2015. Most of our actors cannot commit to that night. We said before that we wouldn’t be doing a kid friendly night because the nature of our haunted house doesn’t lend itself to that. Well, we recant!

Our actors are what make our haunt scary. Since the great majority of them can’t be there this Thursday anyway, but we’ve scheduled to be open, we’ve decided to make the evening a semi-kid friendly night after all. We’ll be open from 8:00 PM until 10:00 PM (half the usual time) and we’ll admit all comers for just $5.00 each (half the usual price).

The lighting will be low (and in one place very dark), the fog will roll, the strobes will flash, the music will play, the animatronic pieces will operate, and the scenes will be set but absolutely no one will be jumping out, screaming, or chasing anyone. Will it be suitable for the very young? Maybe not. We’ll say that we’ve had kids as young as 7 make it through the full on haunt just fine and we’ve had 10 and 12 year old children leave terrified and crying. We’re leaving the decision to come on this no actors night up to the parents. You know what your children can handle. If they’re terrified of the dark, you probably shouldn’t bring them. There are very dark places that are all a part of the fun.

We hope to see you with your children on Thursday. Come on back on Friday or Saturday night for some teenage / adult fun!

 

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The Evolution of a Haunter

People will surprise you. When you’re starting a haunted house and you need everything from the ground up, sometimes it’s the most unexpected people that step in to help. They do a little construction work, or a little detail work, or they make something totally jaw dropping that you had no idea they were capable of making. And then…and then…there are those people who ‘aren’t into it’ but they know a guy who knows a guy who…you get the picture. Guy three comes in and lights it all up.

We got a lot of surprises during the construction phase, a lot of very pleasant surprises. See our Meet Rich post for a look at one of them. The surprises didn’t stop there though. They keep coming but now, they’re coming from the actors, lots of the actors…

A quiet, shy, unassuming young man who helped with construction wanted nothing more than to be a scarecrow in the haunt. He’s now our lead zombie and doing a smashing job of it:  Zombie King IMAG0451

A guy that just wanted to help with concessions stepped in to help with door duties rocking a Teddy Ruxpin mask and he’s getting actual scares with it…who knew?!

A man who just wanted to do maintenance stepped in and did an acting job on a slightly short handed night and had teenage girls (and their boyfriends) running screaming for the door… IMAG0447

Then there’s the quiet young woman who, no matter where we put her…as a zombie, in the hospital…anywhere, just rocks it. She talks barely above a whisper normally but when she’s in character, look out!IMAG0440

There’s so many more: The mom of three who gives alien invasion a whole new name…the other mom of three who is the terror of the ‘black hall’…who knew? IMAG0441We sure didn’t but we’re ever so glad to have them. Come out and meet them tonight and see for yourself!

They’ve impressed us and scared all of our friends. We’re willing to bet they’ll scare you too!

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Musings on Opening Weekend

There’s an old saying that goes, “Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.” Opening weekend for Hagan’s House of Horrors last weekend gave us a little of both scenarios.

On Thursday the 1st, we found out our building had no power. AEP intended to get it back on and they were hoping to be out on Friday afternoon but they wouldn’t commit to that. Now haunted houses are, by nature, very dark places but power is, nonetheless, quite a necessity. Those waiting area lights (we’re all under cover), those animatronic props and many of the strobes and other room/prop lighting elements do need electricity to operate. We were dead in the water with the small generator we had which powers our home during electrical system failures but which wouldn’t power all of 16,000 square feet of cool stuff to look at.

The man we’re subleasing the building we’re using off of rented a massive generator for the weekend. After a little trial and error that took us to the wire on Friday, we got it all figured out and the show started on time. We had a full slate of actors that were stoked and ready to go.

Generator

Then, Mother Nature threw us curve ball number two. Friday morning started out with rain and it continued to rain all day and all evening. Aside from that, it was unseasonably cold, ‘see your breath’ kind of weather. Even though we have a completely covered waiting area and haunted house, we were as sunk in the chill, muck and mire as everyone else that tried to run a haunted attraction in central Ohio on Friday night, the 3rd. We had one good deluge right as we opened then, after the big cloudburst, it continued to sprinkle throughout the evening, much as it had all day. The rain kept crowds really low. No one that did brave rain, wind and cold waited in line more than a few minutes.

At one point Friday night, one of our set designers Twisty the Clownand an actor (both in full costume) went out to the normally busy main road that passes by our haunt. They saw only a few cars after standing out there several minutes and one of those was a County Sheriff on patrol. Our actors stayed positive even in the face of only getting to get a handful of good scares each. They all proclaimed Saturday would be better and it was…sort of.

It rained lightly on and off throughout the day Saturday. The night sky was gloomy  at opening and we actually started off again with a little rain but it did let up. Parts of our parking area were soup but we made some lighting upgrades in the rainy daylight to compensate for that and we think they helped. The crowd was a little better and a lot more scare prone. The actors fed off that and had a great time.

Overall, we received some very positive feedback, especially Saturday night. People loved the dual mazes and intend to come back again to do the other side (and a few paid again the same night to do it).

Hagan's House of Horrors Dual Mazes

A seven year old made it through everything and didn’t find it ‘too bad’, while a grown woman (and a family friend) thought it was way too scary for her tastes. To each his own!

In the interest of full disclosure, we also received one very negative reaction: A young local man (senior high school age) demanded to talk to someone in charge and then told us ours was the worst haunted house he’d ever been to. He was adamant that we’d designed it poorly by wasting a lot of space. He apparently wasn’t aware that we started with one large room consisting of 4 walls, a roof and a dirt floor, constructed walls like crazy, decorated and themed it for hours on end and turned that shell into more than 20 distinct themed areas in about 6 weeks. It was no easy feat. His friends meanwhile (he came in with several others) all wanted to know if we were still looking for actors…

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Hagan’s House of Horrors Opens Tonight!

Tonight’s the night! It’s opening night for the Hagan’s House of Horrors!

The stage is set, the house is ready, the actors are ready…are you? We hope so because it’s on! Here’s just a little ‘lights on’ photo montage of what’s in store for you… See how many of these you see tonight or any night you happen to visit with us and be running through in the dark and fog:

Haunted House Picture Collage

Come see us any Friday or Saturday night in October or on Thursday the 29th, if you can’t make it tonight. We have all of those cool things and more in store for you! We’re located in the indoor arena at the Route 62 MX Park, 2671 Millersburg Rd (Route 62), Utica, Ohio 43080. The park is about 6 miles out of Utica, OH, just outside of the village of Martinsburg.

P.S.: There’s no waiting outside in the October elements. We have all indoor waiting.

 

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