Halloween Pranks!

Halloween pranks to scare 'em out of their wits!

Caveat: As with any scare tactics, please use good judgment with these ideas for Halloween pranks. Please don't try to scare the real tiny trick-or-treators that come your way. Save it for the ones old enough to handle a good scare and their parents/chaperones. After all, they are generally expecting (and often hoping) for a few houses to be "scary" on Halloween night!

But for some of those tiny tots, it's their first Halloween and they don't know what to expect. Besides, one day they will grow up and you don't want them to remember you as the one who gave them nightmares. Also, their chaperone is probably nearby and may not take a liking to you scaring their little one out of their wits!

So hold back the scares till the "bigger kids" arrive. And most of all, if you hear one of those smart-aleck types bragging about how the last house didn't scare them, well then, you know what to do… :-)

One thing I've learned about Halloween pranks is that there is a paradox of sorts that goes on in regard to spooking. For example, if you want to have your place dimly lit so you can surprise people by jumping out of a really cool looking coffin and chasing them, well, you may just end up with a boring night as you sweat away in your prop that no one ever sees! That's because people figure a house with a darkened porch/yard is not participating. They'll fly by you faster than Drac can change into a bat!

On the other hand, too much light kills the entire spooky effect naturally. So you have a few options...

One option would be to keep your porch dimly lit, but use an attention-getting device out in the yard aimed down the street to draw in your "victims". This could be a good strobe light or a loudspeaker playing creepy music by Midnight Syndicate (or use both!). Or, you might try incorporating the strobe light into your scare tactics/Halloween pranks as shown in the example further down this page.

The 3-Part Setup

Here's an example that uses a strobe light to draw the attention of trick-or-treaters. I call this technique a 3-part Setup. The first part is the "drawing card", the second is the "diversion", and the third is the "scare tactic".

It was a couple Halloweens back when my friends Burt and Ricky called me up and invited me to help them give out candy and a few scares over at their place. We had a spooktacular evening to say the least!

First, the drawing card...

In this case, they had a strobe light aimed at the street as well as spooky music playing out their living room window. The bait was set! "Hey, this place looks cool…wonder what kind of scary stuff they have in store for us?…"

Second, the diversion…

Ricky dressed up in a fantastic witch costume. Her face makeup was a work of art and she really looked wicked stirring her cauldron there on the front porch. Next to her cauldron was as a jack-o-lantern and gigantic bowl of candy. "Oh, is that all it is? I can handle that…let's go up to the porch…"

Third, the scare tactic (aka "the payoff")…

Burt and I had donned a couple of Scream costumes and were hidden behind the wooden fence just to the right of where Ricky was passing out candy. We'd wait patiently for just the right moment as trick-or-treaters approached the porch.

Then, just after they got their candy from Ricky, Burt and I would jump up from behind the fence and yell at the top of our lungs out of our Scream masks (after our voices gave out, we had to resort to simply jumping up and shaking the gate ;-)

The effect? Well, put it this way…I recall how one of the "victims" ran away so fast that he lost the hat to his costume! And once realizing it was missing, thought twice about coming back to get it out of the yard. Now that was a great Halloween night! :-)

So remember the 3-part Setup technique…it can work very well in your scare tactics for Halloween pranks and haunted houses!

A tisket, a tasket, a really scary casket...

Well, if you've already read "My Story", you already have an idea of what a freaky place Miami, FL was for a little kid in the late 70's/early 80's. We had Halloween pranks going on everywhere.

Did I tell you about the time my sisters took me to the 7-11 and a man followed us in with a head on a platter? I just remember this bald zombie head being carried around on a platter. Man, that thing really creeped me out. But that's another story...back to the program...

Okay, here's a great example of someone incorporating the "drawing card" (in this case a strobe light) into the scare tactic itself. Notice that there's no diversionary step in this setup. What you see is what you get, but what you see and get is pretty dang scary even without a diversion!

The scene: late 70's…a warm Halloween night in a neighborhood called Norwood in Miami, Florida. A little kid (yours truly) is out on one of his first trick-or-treating sessions.

I hear screams as I walk down the street. There it is waiting for me a few more houses down the block...a bright light flashing at a mesmerizing rate, giving a peek into the darkness. As I get closer, I see the bigger kids running out of the yard. I'm finally close enough to see the neighborhood's "main event"… a life-size coffin laying there in a yard.

As trick-or-treaters approach the home's front door in hopes of getting candy, the coffin's lid lifts up and a scary figure jumps out and chases them away (in "slow motion" thanks to the strobe).

[Remember how I warned you not to scare little kids with Halloween pranks? There's your proof of the lasting impact it can have…just look at how I turned out! I still remember this stuff from when I was a just a little spook for heaven's sake!]

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