City Tech's Haunted Hotel 2004

By Josh Flower

with Len Peralta

Immediately, you can sense something is not right with this hotel. The boards at the front are rotting and broken and around you are the inhuman moans and screams emanating from the upstairs bedroom. You can cut your fear with a knife, yet you continue on knowing that there is no turning back now. Your heart pounds hard in your chest as you think you see what looks like a ghostly apparition floating before you up ahead. Before you can turn and run, the door slams behind you and the terrified screams of your friends echo all around you. It is clear, you will not be going anywhere tonight.

And so goes another successful night at the New York City College of Technology's Haunted Hotel, a volunteer haunted house put on by the students and technicians at City Tech College in downtown Brooklyn. The hotel, which has been a favorite over the past few Halloween seasons, is full of good old fashioned scares and surprises fueled by dozens of atmospheric lighting and sound effects run in part by Stage Research's SFX.

Behind all the ghoulish delight is City Tech volunteer Sound Designer, Josh Flower. Flower, along with his crew, took on the ghastly task of bringing to life all the undead guests of the Haunted Hotel.

"I wanted to take on the challenge of redoing most of the sound design because it has been the same for the past three years," explained Flower. In his own words, Josh explains the method to his madness and how SFX helped create the bone-chilling environments.

"The story behind the hotel is that it is an old hotel out by Coney Island. There are guests that have come through and died here, and also service people who have taken the long walk off the short wharf. (Because of that) there's an animatronic pirate at a broken down wharf that tells a story of how he got there and encourages visitors to venture onward through the hotel."

"We used SFX in our Haunted Hotel to playback sound effects throughout the rooms in the maze. All of the effects were triggered from sensors in each room that told Medialon to fire specific cues within SFX which were set up for that specific room of the hotel. So my goal for the maze where I used SFX was to put in startling sound effects that fit the theme of the room. For example, a trigger was set off at the dumb-waiter and a loud wooden crash would be heard. Then, a light would flicker behind the patron effectively startling them to jump and scream."

"In one of the rooms, I threw in an out-of-place music clip that was like elevator-type jazz music. This room was supposed to be the receptionist area where the dead bell hop would take your baggage and show you to your room. In this bedroom there are a bunch of moving set pieces, from a dresser to a door. When the door into this room was opened, SFX played a cue of a wooden door creaking. When the door closed another cue was triggered, this was of a door slamming with that large hollow room sound, like you would see in a scary movie."

"Another effect carried out by SFX was one involving a skeleton and witch figure whose jaws move and eyes light up in sync with the audio cues run through them. From SFX I sent a stereo sound with one voice hard left and the other hard right making these figures appear as if they are having a conversation with each other and with the visitors."

"Throughout the whole maze and the house, people can sit and watch themselves and others go through the hotel on a video screen. SFX played an underlying track of music created by David B. Smith specifically for the hotel which was able to heighten the dramatic experience of the whole event and creep-out the visitors even more."

All in all, the Haunted Hotel did it's job: scaring customers and leaving enough tingle to have even more dying to get in for next year.