The concept behind the modern zombie is one of conformity, a mass of individuals seeking to consume your independence. We live in a confusing time where individuality is preached but acceptance of collectivism seems required. No matter what you do, you will not be able to quench everyone’s personal thirst for blood and will wind up in an insane asylum if you try to do so but to an extent, you need to heed and submit to your mass audience. The old saying goes the person is smart but people are not. In regards to public opinion and feedback, the opposite is truth.
Since we began our journey through this blog series, I have tried to follow (what seems to me anyway) a logical order for starting a haunted house. From Location selection through a multitude of advertisement considerations, it is now opening night at your haunt. Patrons are showing up and screaming through. Now all you have to do……. is listen.
Staying true to your vision, you still need to talk with and pay attention to your audience. Be a student of human movement like Fast Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. Like mentioned in Dance of the Dead (issue #7 of Corpsetagious), listening to our audience and acting staff, we are implementing changes set to begin this 2016 season. It seems thrill seekers are acquiring a taste for more realistic characters through make up effects as more than one person expressed a desire to see less actors in masks.
Sometimes, even suggestions made by a mass audience should be avoided. If a mob of people say they want to see something that does not fit in your world, avoid subtracting from the suspense of disbelief unless a way shows itself for the idea to make sense in the truth of the story you are telling.
Again, if you try to appease everyone you will loose your mind. We shy away from established characters at the barn but one night anyway, an actor showed up in a complete Michael Myers outfit. I lost my cool a bit and reminded him that was not in the design of how we do things. He was absent the next night while a customer came through saying over and over how he hopes he does not see Michael Myers! Another time, someone all but demanded I put an arrow sign about half way up the driveway because they thought that is where they were supposed to park (which blew my mind because it was a dark area absent of any cars) and walked a long way from their vehicle to get to the festivities. Although they always stay in the back of my mind, since both of these were isolated incidents, no action was taken on them.
It has been a running joke around the haunt for years now. “You know what you should do…..” which is usually followed by a disemboweled concept. Sometimes, lightning strikes with the offering of a fresh perspective. If that suggestion is reinforced as a shared vision of many, perhaps it is time to take it under advisement. Don't be a haunt that looses actors and business because you fail to keep your finger on the pulse of what they want and need.