Trinkets and Treats for Movie Inspired Halloween Events

Ettington Park HotelPumpkins and ghosts and witches, oh my! These are typical Halloween party decorations. Event planners who want to kick things up a notch will find inspiration from movies for decor, sound effects, and Halloween treats. Many decorations can be picked up at the last minute. Be sure you get all required licenses and permission to legally use movie props, music and footage.

The Haunting

Footage from the movie is a must. Send out a link to the trailer with the invitations. Screen scenes during the event. The 1963 version of this psychological thriller is much more frightening than the re-make. IMHO, of course.

Stage the movie at a mansion. If you can find one with a library and a spiral staircase, that would be a plus. The location for the original movie, now Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford-on-Avon, UK, would be perfect.

Dim the lights inside and outdoors and use lighting to cast shadows with dramatic effect. Strategically place mirrors and candelabras throughout the venue. Since the movie was shot in black and white, ask guests to wear black and white.

This theme begs for live characters re-creating memorable roles such as Hugh Crain, Dr. John Markway, the professor, and Mrs. Dudley, the gloomy housekeeper. Dress the female wait staff like Mrs. Dudley.

Unfortunately, a soundtrack for the original movie is not available on CD but a portion of it is on YouTube.

It is possible to order the soundtrack for the 1999 remake of The Haunting from Amazon. Play it in the background in various rooms throughout the mansion.

Wizard of Oz

With lions, tigers, bears, and witches, a Wizard of Oz theme will breath new life into Halloween events. Picking up props is easier than you think. For example, a number of years ago after taking in The Wizard of Oz on Ice, I collected plastic popcorn pails with lids that many audience members had left behind. They were the perfect place to store table props for centerpieces. Use one or two pails for each character.

Over the years, I've collected ruby slippers, witches' hats, and character figures from Toys R Us and Toys, Toys, Toys.

Every year Hallmark introduces a new Wizard of Oz ornament for Christmas. They are in the store now. You can pick up ornaments from other years from Amazon or at The Ornament Shoppe website.

Other decor can include a welcome carpet with a yellow brick road, an emerald city backdrop, bales of hay, corn husks, a rainbow, a hot air balloon, large or small, and a scarecrow. A venue with a corn maze would be interesting.

Movie posters can be obtained at Amazon or from The Movie Poster Shop.

Live costumed characters  or Animatronics, animated life-size figures will add a touch of fun.

Meet Me in St. Louis

This Judy Garland movie, set at the turn of the 18-century's Gay NIneties, is the ideal inspiration for a family-friendly party. Use period decor consisting of vintage household item (these are available through PropRentalsNY). Invite guests to wear period costumes such as those available through

Start a bonfire in the yard. Decorate with masks.

Other Suggestions

If your group really wants a terrifying experience, think the Halloween slasher movie series, Psycho,  its spin-off Bates Motel, and other picks from Reader's Digest's 13 Halloween Movies that Will Scare You Senseless.

For the faint of heart (like me), find inspiration from vintage TV shows like Bewitched or  Halloween Movies That Won't Scare You Senseless: 10 Picks for Scaredy Cats.

For just about any theme, order props, masks, CDs with scary music and sounds, costumes, decor, and Animatronics from Halloween Asylum or head over to Spirit Halloween Store with retail outlets in just about every state and Canadian province. Vintage Halloween Store has vintage treats, invitations, stationary, and decorations.

Finally, from, how about a life-sized haunted house to place inside your event venue? They are available at various price points.


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