Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Haunted houses need a certain atmosphere to be scary. For the most part, when one thinks of haunted houses, one does not picture a sunny beach house or grass hut in Tahiti.

One thinks of a dark house. Preferably on a lonely hill where the entire town must look at it daily, eyes drawn to it unwillingly. Looming. Foreboding. A haunted house the kids dare each other to break into, or at least touch the front door.

When the kids get there on Halloween night, they will feel chills, and the
hair standing up on the back of their necks. They will see lightning and hear thunder, but there will be, for now, only the threat of rain. There will be eldritch lights inside the house, flicking in and out of existence at the edge of their vision.

They will notice for the first time the graveyard next to the house. They will notice the odd green lights in the graveyard.

And they will notice the fog, clinging to the ground, reaching for them from amongst the gravestones. They will know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that something will come shambling after them from out of that fog.
Fog is a lovely weapon in the haunter's arsenal. It suggests evil, rotting, hidden things. If used properly, the cool temperature of the fog itself will reach down your TOT's neck and tickle those little hairs to attention. Remember, the movie is called The Fog because of fog's naturally creepy tendencies!
When I lived in L.A., I bought a dinky little 400 watt fog machine. (For those of you who don't know, fog machines need to heat up your fog juice in order to create the fog effect. The higher your wattage, the longer your output of fog.) Unfortunately for me, I couldn't seem to find the right spot for the fog machine because of a lack of outdoor electrical outlets and a funky house configuration. My first year in our current house, I was still a newbie in the fog department, and my results weren't at all what I wanted. I decide to hunt the internet for the 411 on fog. (Go to Got Fog? for some great info.)

What I discovered was this: I wanted a bigger mach
ine. More fog, less time to warm up in between cycles, and a programmable remote that allowed me to set it and walk away. I did some research and bought two Chauvet 1700 watt machines, because they had the highest wattage and the price was right for my budget. From what I've seen, once you go with wattage higher than 1700, you have a much larger and more expensive professional machine that is not nearly as portable as you might wish for a small home haunt. Do your research on the machine and get the one that suits your needs best. (Cheap DJ Gear has a 1/2 price sale that ends today, by the way!)

The down side was that by the time Halloween of last year came around, I was short of time and didn't do a dry-run with my fog machines, other than to make sure they were functioning. We placed one by the front door, which would have been fine except every time the door opened, the fog rolled in and hung around for a long time. We had to move the machine a bit...

Speaking of hanging around for a long time, if you want that deliciously scary low-lying fog, you need to a) chill the fog first, and b) purchase the right fog for that purpose. I'll address the chill factor first.

Build a chiller. It's worth it. Haunt Project has a number of projects to choose from and takes into account the average haunter's budget. I happened to use the fog chiller design from Got Fog? I liked it so much, I'm building a second one this year from a cooler found at a garage sale for $5. I'll do a little modification with a flat rain diverter end to disperse the fog in a wider pattern.

The type of fog juice you use is important. Many juices have irritating chemicals in them that will make asthma flare up for many people. (Think lawsuit, people!) For this reason, I went with Froggy's fog. Their fog has no irritants and was develo
ped for the son (now owner) who is asthmatic. It's great quality stuff. Again, choose the product that's right for your uses. Thanks to a Haunt Cast interview with the owner, I've purchased Froggy's Freezin Fog for this year at a fantastic sale price. (I can't wait till it arrives so I can play with it a bit.) You may need a fast-dissipating fog for the inside of your haunt-if you use a thicker fog, people literally will not be able to see (and say hello to your lawyer again!).

Froggy's Fog is also very knowledgeable about how to
best use the fog and get the effect you're looking for. Again, go to the Haunt Cast interview for that. I learned that if I mist my front lawn before using my fog machine, I can give the fog molecules something to bond to and thus enhance the low-lying fog effect. I also found out I can adjust my fog valve on the inside of the machine to better regulate my flow.

So folks, take time to think of your fog in advance, so you can pull down the great deals and also have control over it.

And above all, stay out of the fog!


  1. Great post. Love fog...lots of rolling fog.

    Big fan of Froggy's too - I know, big suprise. :) Not only is there a frog in the name, but as you said, the fog is great. Been using Swamp Juice for years!

    Great guys! Have you seen their new fog chiller!!! Oh my! Want one of those :)

  2. Verrrry useful post, thanks so much!!!


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