THERE'S NO QUESTION about it: people like the thrill of being scared out of their wits. That's why they flock to horror movies, seek the biggest roller coasters, and rush to do their income taxes. Well, maybe not that last one so much.
But Halloween is the time of year that really gets us all in the mood for a high-intensity freak-out. If you have the nerve, here are 7 ways to elevate the fear factor this Halloween:
Go on a Ghost Hunt
Even if you aren't member of a ghost investigation team, many ghost hunting groups lead ghost hunts for the general public at a local haunted location. They might take you to a haunted mansion, an abandoned asylum or hospital, or some other dark, mysterious site where ghosts have been reported.
They'll give you the grim history of the building and a rundown of the paranormal activity people have experienced there, including apparitions, shadow people, and poltergeist phenomena. You might get to use some of the equipment (or you can bring your own) with which you can possibly capture an EVP or some ghostly image. Trust me, creeping around in a crumbling, haunted building at midnight with only a flashlight will set your nerves on edge.
Don't worry, the team won't let you venture off on your own... and you should be grateful for that.
Go to a Haunted House
The number of staged haunted houses has absolutely exploded in the last few years. Now, there is almost certainly one - or perhaps several - in your area. (Check your local newspaper for ads.) And they have really upped the scare factor with elaborate special effects, convincing actors, and fright techniques learned from the movies.
You'll encounter every manner of creepy-crawly thing, ghosts, monsters... you might even be stalked by a flesh-eating zombie. These haunted houses are competing with one another, so they are always pushing the boundaries to give you the scariest experience possible.
Watch a Scary Movie
Hollywood always pushes out new horror and paranormal-themed films in October, such as the currently playing Sinister or Paranormal Activity 4. Consider going to see such a film by yourself. When you're with friends, that helps you distance yourself from the film experience; if you go alone, you have no one's hand to grab when things get too intense. You're on your own.
If there are no spooky films in the theaters to your liking, rent a DVD or stream a paranormal film to your TV - one that you haven't seen before, or one that has terrified you in the past, such as The Exorcist or The Ring. Again, if you want to maximize the fear, watch it alone... with all the lights off. And try this: Watch the film, then turn off the TV and ALL the lights, and sit there in the pitch-black darkness. See how long you can stand it before you sense something in the corner of the room... or a hand slowly reaching over your shoulder.
Play a Scary Game
If you're having a Halloween get-together with a few close friends, there are a number of "games" you can play that will excite the nerves and maybe - just maybe - result in some genuine paranormal or unexplained activity. They seem to be most popular with teens, who enjoy daring each other to try them, and then sometimes scaring themselves into hysterics.
The games include "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board," "Bloody Mary," "Spoon Bending," and, of course, the Ouija Board. You can get the details on these games in the article, "The Scariest Games". Just make sure everyone at the gathering can handle it.
Spend the Night in a Haunted or Abandoned House
It's the premise for many a horror movie or television show, but would you have the guts to spend the night in an abandoned house or building, or a house that has a reputation for being haunted -- alone?
You'd have to get permission from the building owner, of course (trespassing is never a good idea and could wind you up in an even scarier place: jail). So with the proper permission, take a flashlight, warm clothing, a sleeping bag, and lock yourself in. Sorry, no radios or cell phones allowed, if you're going to do this right. You don't want any distractions from the creaks and groans... the disembodied footsteps... whispering from the dark corners... or shrieks of terror. Could you do it?
Stay at a Haunted Bed & Breakfast
There are a number of bed and breakfasts around the country that claim to be haunted. This might not sound very scary on the surface, but many a guest at these places have reported some very unsettling experiences. You can read about such an experience at the renowned Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisianna here.
What can you expect? The bed and breakfast hosts will no doubt fill you in on the history of the establishment, the murders, deaths, or other gruesome goings-on that took place there in the past. Sometimes, a certain guest room is the focus of the paranormal activity, where you might feel touched, hear voices, or, if you're "lucky," see a grinning apparition hovering over your bed as you try to fall asleep. Good luck.
Conduct a Séance
There's nothing that says Halloween like a good old-fashioned séance. We're talking about more than just a Ouija board here. Gather your friends around a table, light a candle and turn off the lights, hold hands - and try to contact the spirits of the dead. Perhaps you know someone who is a medium or considers him- or herself a "sensitive." He or she could be the channel for the spirit to come through.
Who knows, you might get some table-tipping going (the table tips on its own in response to questions; once for "yes," twice for "no," for example). You can get details on how to conduct a séance in this article. You don't have to conduct the séance in a haunted location, but it would certainly add to the atmosphere. You never know what might happen at one of these spirit summonings. But there's a good chance that someone will go screaming from the house.