Last year’s The American Scream provided a heartwarming spotlight of a group of folks who spend hefty portions of their time and income on transforming their suburban homes into houses of horrors every Halloween. Halloween Home Haunts, the new documentary from Apprehensive Films, follows in the same vein, but takes a less introspective approach. While it may not dig as deep into the psyche of the home haunters and their families, HHH is still a good time and fiends of the almighty holiday will definitely have a good time with it.
HHH highlights about eight diverse home haunters and divides them into site-specific categories like “yard haunters,” “garage haunters,” and “pro haunters.” The haunted set-ups range from props bought from a Halloween store to elaborate home-made items of Hollywood quality. All of the home haunters are interviewed by a host in TV news fashion, or like something you’d see on a reality show. It’s pretty dry and edited rather blandly, but it works and still enjoyable to watch.
One really cool aspect that HHH does well is walk-through the individual home haunts. The format works nicely: after a home haunters spend some time talking about the various props they’re excited about, we’re given a nice little POV tour of their show in action. This is a welcome element kinda lacking in The American Scream.
The film also goes behind the scenes at Night Frights, creator of state-of-the-art Halloween props and effects for home haunters. We’re talking insane 3-D projection effects and my personal favorite, the Scary Mary mirror, which would have probably ruined me as a child if I encountered it in a haunted house. One of the honchos of Night Frights details some of their latest effects as they set up a “test run” inside a garage haunt. Judging from the Night Frights section of the doc, the future of home haunting is going to be some Hollywood-level effects shit, and also really expensive.
Some heavy time of the doc is given to Larry Scholl, an unassuming older man who built a freaking haunted train yard on his property. It’s a legit ride filled with tons of animatronics, fans, and, allegedly, scares. That’s devotion, man. One of the film’s special features also highlights another attraction Scholl has in his yard, an animatronic Tiki show. The film also looks at the Heartstoppers haunted attraction in Sacramento, CA, run by a former haunter turned pro. He provides some great insights about what that kinda huge shift in haunting is like.
HHH is pretty cut and dry, but shit, it’s a documentary about people obsessed with and devoted to Halloween. The subject matter alone makes it a fun watch, so getting past the bland presentation isn’t an issue. While The American Scream displayed the assortment of colorful characters who are obsessed with home haunting, Halloween Home Haunts focuses more on the haunts themselves. Check it out and hurl yourself into the Halloween spirit.
The Halloween Home Haunts DVD is presented in 1.78:1. It’s got a crisp image transferred from the camcorder it was shot on. The 2.0 audio mix sounds perfectly fine for what it is.
A lot of trailers.
Spotlight of the Hauntcast podcast, geared towards home haunters.
A look at Larry Scholl’s Tiki Room, that I mentioned in the review.
Alternate opening that differs from the Halloween tribute one contained in the film.
Behind the Scenes at Night Frights, the prop company mentioned in the review.