Haunted House was chosen as the 'Featured Haunt' for more than just
it's appearance. The passion that the crew has for this attraction is
nothing short of inspiring. Armed with only a handful of volunteers and
a shoestring budget, they show that you don't have to be the biggest or
the best to create a lasting attraction. So sit back and enjoy as we
take you to...Hinton Haunted House.
Who ever said that you need a high budget, theatrically trained staff or hollywood-style sets to
create a haunt that people will go to? Hinton Haunted House, located in Webster, Florida, is the
perfect example of a haunt done out of love for the genre. While not a professional attraction
and certainly not a "home haunt", Hinton Haunted House, or HHH, rests somewhere in between. Built
and staffed by volunteers at a location given to them by the city, it opens its doors for only one
weekend each year, with part of the
proceeds going back into the community. I had a chance to
talk to Eric Suiter, who does sound and lighting, in addition to helping build props for HHH to
find out what keeps this charitable event going.
Started back in 1993, Chuck Hinton had wanted to create an annual event for the children of the
community. Rallying together with help from his family and the community, he sought out to make
this dream come true. The site for the haunted house was donated by the city of Webster, as well
as police protection and liability insurance. Additional donations were solicited from local
businesses in the form of building materials. Members of the community also donated both time and
money to help create this attraction. At the end of the season, once additional
are covered, the rest of the proceeds go towards a community center building fund. 10 years later,
it still seems to be an event that is well received and loved by the community, as the volunteers
rally to get this attraction together in a short amount of time, while the rest of the community
is eager to pay the admission price to get a scare and help the city while they're at it.
Construction begins inside a de-commissioned double tennis court is transformed into a haven for
nightmares within a couple of days. The ten foot high chain link fence provides ideal protection
for the haunt when it is "un-manned" A team of about 15 volunteers offers their time and labor to
set up the 4,000 square foot attraction. Starting with the frames, which are erected out of hard lumber,
are connected and braced together, then nailed down to the ashphault surface of the tennis court.
The roof is made of the same material used for the floor and any additional bracing that becomes
necessary is done using lumber nailed to the walls, ceiling and floor. After the "guts" of the
haunt are constructed, it is then time for the facade to be raised up into position. "In the past,
the entire facade was assembled, face-down, and lifted into position. This year(2002), we
recruited the help of a local heavy machinery operator to lift sections of the facade prior to
assembly. This was faster, safer, and easier on the structure." Explains Suiter.
For you technical junkies out there, the hallways in HHH are lit using two circuits(incandecent bulbs).
All of the rooms require seperate lighting set-ups, ranging from single blacklight fixtures to
switching incandescents, strobes, and effect lights. The facade is lit with four banks of (4) par
cans on timed circuits. For the sound, the front-of-house P.A. system is a high-power component
type set-up capable of pushing 2000 watts and room sound systems range from small portable sund
reproducing devices to semi-surround sound systems (depending on the requirements).
This past year was almost the year that wasn't. Rain threatened to
prevent them from opening, but
luckily, for the crew, Mother Nature decided to clear the skies up on
the opening night. Roughly
800 people attended 2002's show, each paying $1.50 to get into the
attraction. You may be saying to yourself, "$1.50?? That's insane! How
are you going to make a profit from that kind of price?!?"
That's the beauty of HHH, they're not in it for profit. To the cast and
crew, it's all about having fun and helping the community that helped
them realize their dream of creating a haunted
house. Some of the highlight rooms from this past season included the
lab scene, the graveyard
and the dungeon scene, in which Eric Suiter had a helping hand in. He
also built several props
that were used in the haunt, some of which included "jumping"
mechanisms, pop-ups as well as a few others. In addition to creating
some of the props, Eric has also contributed sound and lighting to this
seasonal attraction as well.
Overall, it's not how much money you make, it's how much fun you have and how much your heart is
into it. Hinton Haunted House has certainly proved that you can make your dreams come true with even just a
shoestring budget and a little help from the community. This is truly the story of an underdog
with a goal who made his idea a reality, for himself, for his family and more importantly, for
the people in the community around him.
For more information and even more pictures of HHH, be sure to check out Eric Suiter's website at http://vilethings.com.
There, you can see photos from previous years, see some of the props
that Eric has made for the haunt and check out everything else on the