The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News
Need a unique, last minute Christmas gift and/or party gag gift? The Phantom of the Ville haunts some of the quirkiest locally owned shops to find the strangest and most magical curios in town!
Happy Holidays from the crypt! It’s less than two weeks until Christmas Eve, and I’m sure that those of you that read the Phantom Gazette with any regularity probably know a couple of people with unconventional tastes. What do you get those folks for Christmas that haven’t even taken down all their Halloween decorations yet? Or maybe you need a white elephant gift for a company Christmas party?
This week I stopped by a few of my favorite locally owned curio shops and discovered a few interesting items that just might fit the bill. I encourage all of you to shop locally this Christmas, which both keeps more money in our local economy and also keeps Louisville weird.
ALCHEMY: The Marvelous, Magical Olde World Emporium on Market
415 East Market Street
Alchemy is a magical place filled with tonics, candles and fantastical items of all shapes and sizes. They also have a wonderful selection of books sure to please the black sheep of the family and the oddball at the company Christmas party.
Check out Lemony Snicket’s “The Lump of Coal,” or if you know someone worthy of a lump of coal in their stocking, you can get them a big lump of Coal Soap.
Other books worth considering are “Walking Your Octopus” by Brian Kesinger, “Santa Claws: A Scary Christmas to All” by Laura Leuck with illustrations by Gris Grimly and, especially, “Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man.” Davis, one of Walt Disney’s top artists, animators and graphic designers, did most of the art design work on the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, and this wonderful art book dedicates a chapter to each of those haunting attractions.
For the spooky kook in your life, check out Alchemy’s Bone Head Bottle Openers and museum quality replica skulls. There are also some beautiful and evocative Christmas ornaments for sale. Check out the golden dragons wrapped around the candy cane sticks.
WILD AND WOOLLY VIDEO
1021 Bardstown Road
Louisville’s best video store for going on 18 years, Wild and Woolly is really the only game in town for serious film lovers and for those that crave more than just the Top 20 Hollywood blockbusters. It’s also a horror movie fan’s best friend.
While it’s mostly a rental store, there are some great titles for sale in stock on Blu-ray and DVD for the film lover on your Christmas list.
A perennial holiday bestseller at Wild and Woolly Video, “Evil Roy Slade,” starring John “Gomez Addams” Astin is available in a tin boxed set with the Astin starring Western comedy “Brothers O’Toole.”
If you’re looking for a cheap and mind melting Christmas movie, you can pick the K. Gordon Murray version of “Santa Claus” for $4.98. This re-edited and dubbed Mexican holiday kid’s film features an ongoing ‘Spy VS Spy’ battle between Santa Claus and Satan himself. In one scene, Santa shoots the devil right in the derriere with a bow and arrow. You won’t see that in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Highly recommended to our readers is “Halloween: The Happy Haunting of America,” a documentary that explores the reasons why we love Oct. 31st and which tours some of the best haunted attractions in the country. You can also pick up the Blu-ray boxed set of “Halloween: The Complete Collection” for the Michael Myers fanatic on your list.
Other interesting choices include “WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete Series,” which has been restored with all the original music, correcting the sin committed when it was initially released with all the rock music replaced due to unresolved music rights issues. You’ll also find “Freaks,” directed by Louisville born director, Tod Browning.
960 Barret Avenue
Ultra Pop is a little corner of Louisville heaven that serves as a home for imported vinyl toys, art design books, designer t-shirts and local art prints. The owner is a serious lover of Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman and other Japanese giant monster flicks, and you might both find these movies for sale and playing on the shop’s big screen TV.
A recent stop into Ultra Pop turned up a couple of gems that you may want to add to your Christmas shopping list. First, Ultra Pop is carrying a tin box of Krampus greeting cards! This might be all you need to complete your holiday shopping. Just send one Krampus card out to everyone you know and spread the devilish Christmas joy.
I also spotted a series of Universal Monsters Pop! Vinyl figures, bound collections of Bernie Wrightson trading cards and a whole wall of framed monster related art prints by local artists at very affordable prices. Also, check out the owner’s amazing display of Rankin-Bass Christmas Special action figures and play sets.
1583 Bardstown Road and 806 East Market Street
WHY Louisville is a tastefully tacky curio shop that sells Ville memorabilia, locally made t-shirts and oddball trinkets that will make your Grinchy heart grow three sizes this season. The original Highlands location proved so successful that they’ve recently opened a second store in NULU.
My favorite “must own” item in the store pays tribute to Louisville’s cryptozoological legend, the Pope Lick Monster, also known as the Goat Man of the Pope Lick railroad trestle in Eastern Jefferson County. Get your loved one a “Goat Man Lives” t-shirt this holiday season!
While you’re there, you can pick up an inflatable, remote control great white shark to have swimming around your tree on Christmas morning. Don’t forget to properly decorate your tree with WHY Louisville’s golden Bigfoot Christmas tree ornaments.
Next to a creepy un-lifelike figure of Walt Disney wearing mouse ears and over-sized Mickey Mouse gloves, I also spotted some Beetlejuice Bobbleheads which strike me as the perfect Christmas gift for anyone.
There are plenty of other locally owned shops out there. Caufield’s Novelty at 1006 West Main Street, for example, is a great place to buy latex monster masks, magic tricks and vintage style Christmas decorations. Don’t forget to shop locally and Keep Louisville Weird!
Charles Dickens’ Christmas spooks add a little chill to the warmth and splendor of the Galt House’s downtown holiday spectacular!
As a child who loved both Halloween and the whole fall season with its splashes of red, orange and gold colors, I was also a child who dreaded the dark and cold of winter when the world would lose its color, the trees would become bare and an icy chill would bite at the skin. Christmas, however, was the bright spot in the long, cold winter and was full of its own special magic. When the post Halloween blues hit me in November, I always found that Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was the perfect bridge to get me in the holiday spirit.
“A Christmas Carol” is, of course, a ghost story filled with incorporeal spirits and creepy phantoms from the world beyond, and a couple of them are downright terrifying. My favorite version of Dickens’ ghost story is the Oscar Award winning animated short film from 1971, which was produced by legendary animator, Chuck Jones, directed by Richard Williams, narrated by Michael Redgrave and features the voice of Alastair Sim, who also played Ebenezer Scrooge in the much beloved 1951 British live action version of the film.
It was Jacob Marley’s Ghost in that cartoon version that sent chills up my spine in a grade school classroom screening one December afternoon many years ago that I’ll never forget. The hideous faces of Ignorance and Want beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present also left their scars on my elementary psyche. Unfortunately, that version of “A Christmas Carol” isn’t available on Blu-ray or DVD, but it can be found on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN6IMZFwY50).
Actors Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” has become a 39 year Louisville holiday tradition, while the Galt House’s “KaLightoscope” Christmas event is only in its fifth season. The first four years of KaLightoscope put visitors inside a candy colored holiday fantasy land, but this year the whole area has been completely renovated to immerse guests in the wintry world of Dickens’ turn-of-the-century London.
That means haunted door knockers, chain-bearing ghosts, ghastly reapers and graveyard scenes!
At a cost of $2 million, the Galt House flew 20 artists from China to Louisville who spent two months creating the larger than life scenes in the style of Chinese luminaries. Massive structures were built out of metal, silk and LED lights to create a walk-thru attraction that tells the story of “A Christmas Carol” from beginning to end with animations and a synched audio track. Live actors also interact with guests in some of the scenes.
If you’ve been to KaLightoscope before, I can tell you that this year’s version feels much smaller and quite a bit shorter than the previous incarnation, but the ticket price is also much cheaper and the scope of the entire event has actually increased. Adult tickets in previous years were $20 each, but kids could get in for free. This year, adult tickets are only $12 and kids are $5 each, making the event more attractive to curious adults without kids.
There’s plenty more to see beyond KaLightoscope, however. Both sides of the Galt House are decorated in shiny and colorful old-world Christmas charm. Many of the antique, animatronic figures that once graced the shopping center windows of the old Stewart’s building downtown at Christmas have been restored and are now appearing in the windows of different model buildings along the path you follow after leaving the KaLightoscope area.
There’s an entire mini Dickens-style village to explore, and for the kids, there’s an Elf show, a Christmas train ride, a Snow Fairy castle with a meet-and-greet area and, of course, a chance to tell Kris Kringle himself exactly what you want for Christmas. There are also craft and gift shops and a chance to buy holiday treats.
Dickens’ holiday ghosts always help me to make the transition from Halloween to the Christmas season much easier, and I hope that the larger-than-life spooks haunting KaLightoscope this year help you stomp out any humbugs from your own incorporeal spirit. Merry Christmas.
If you spot any horned, hairy beasts with long, forked tongues wandering about your neighborhood this Friday night (12/05/14), lock your doors and pray you’re not on Santa’s “naughty” list.
Krampusnacht is upon us. The evening of December 5th, on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, legend tells of a devil-like beast that accompanies Saint Nicholas down from their frozen Arctic home to visit the homes of children everywhere, passing judgment on the nice and the naughty alike. While Saint Nicholas rewards the good children with candy and gifts, his devilish companion, the Krampus, punishes the naughty ones severely.
Depending on just how naughty you’ve been during the year, the Krampus’ punishment can range from leaving you lumps of coal and sticks in your Christmas stocking instead of gifts to whipping and swatting misbehaving kids with birch branches all the way to snatching up particularly naughty children in his sack and carrying them back to his lair for unspeakable torment.
Not many Americans are aware of (or are prepared to deal with) the Christmas Krampus, but this is quickly changing as Krampus Festivals are popping up all over the country from New York to Los Angeles to Dallas to Philadelphia, and the fork tongued beast even has his own website at www.krampus.com.
The Krampus has even reached the Louisville city limits in haunted attractions at Halloween. He appeared last year in the Haunted Hotel’s “Bloody X-mas” event (www.hauntedhotelky.com) in a mask and costume specially built by owner Kevin Stich’s and manager Kristen Warf’s Sinister FX Studios (www.sinisterfx.com). He also appeared in a brand new Christmas scene debuting at the Devil’s Attic (www.thedevilsattic.com) in 2014.
Krampus has discovered America and he’s coming to your neighborhood this Friday night.
I first heard about the Krampus years ago, but didn’t learn his true name and identity until recently. I was working at a locally owned business here in the Ville where I often met and befriended many eclectic and well-traveled customers, one of whom had recently returned to Louisville after several years working in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
One year, Christmas season came around and we found ourselves chatting about local traditions, and he told me about a tradition in Prague, which he likened to American traditions of giving gifts of chocolate Easter bunnies at Easter and chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day, except this tradition involved the gifting of chocolate devils.
I don’t think he understood the tradition in its entirety, but he was fascinated by the local grocery stores’ shelves, which were full of tin foiled wrapped devils every December. I spent several years Googling “Prague” and “chocolate devils” trying to find evidence of this intriguing tradition to no avail until a few years ago I chanced upon a YouTube video of a Krampus Festival in Central Europe and had a name to connect the dots: Krampus.
The Krampus appears to have roots in Germanic folklore going as far back as the pre-Christian era. He is often depicted as a hairy, horned beast with cloven hooves and a long, forked tongue that would make Gene Simmons envious. Like Jacob Marley’s Ghost, the Krampus carries a ponderous chain, often accompanied with bells, which is thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He uses this chain to make a tremendous racket that instills fear in the hearts of naughty children.
The tradition of Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, is still celebrated across the Alpine countries in Austria, Romania, southern Bavaria, South Tyrol, northern Friuli, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. There are many regional variations of the tradition, but most involve a parade of creepy Krampuses marching through the center of town, clanging their chains and scaring the locals. There is also a tradition of giving and receiving Krampus greeting cards that dates back to the 1800s.
Just like the burgeoning tradition of zombie walks, akin to Louisville’s annual Zombie Attack, there is a rapidly growing base of annual Krampus Crawls springing up all over the nation that seek to replicate the frightening winter festivals across the pond, all of it leading up to the Feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6th.
So if you’ve been naughty this year, lock your doors and bolt your windows before dusk this Friday night, or risk the wrath of Santa Claus’ unsavory partner, the Christmas Krampus!
Are you ready for one last great Halloween adventure tonight? For the price of a canned good for Dare to Care, you can experience the highest tech, biggest budget haunted house in town that NOBODY knows about!
I thought I was finished for the season. I’d survived every haunted woods, escaped every haunted house and toured every glorious Halloween event this town has to offer. I had handed out all the candy to the little ghosts and goblins on my street, turned off my Halloween blow molds and blew out the flame on my jack-o-lantern. It was about 9:45 PM and I was just about ready to settle in for a couple of classic horror movies with a Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale and a bowl of hot buttered popcorn.
Just as I was about to turn off my computer for the evening, I got a cryptic Facebook message from the Pumpkin King.
13070 Middletown Industrial Blvd in Middletown. Take a can of food.
It’s a haunt; the highest tech one in town outside of Industrial Nightmare. I want you to write it up.
Are you serious? What’s it called?
No name. It’s a charity. It’s set up in a warehouse in Middletown. Bring a canned good.
I grabbed my leather jacket, my camera, a can of green beans and a can of tuna and headed out to the car only to find it covered in a layer of slushy ice. As I waited for the windows to defrost, I looked at the clock on the dashboard, noting that it was 10 o’clock as I pulled out of the driveway and headed for Middletown.
I got off the Gene Snyder in Middletown and turned down North English Station Road as directed, and then turned right onto Middletown Industrial Blvd. There’s nothing but warehouses and storage facilities in the area and everything was closed and dark. There were no signs. No lights. No indication anywhere that a haunted attraction existed in the area.
Looking for the street address, the numbers got closer and closer, but I still found no evidence of this “haunt with no name.” Suddenly, I spotted a small hand written sign at the bottom of a gated driveway that said “Haunted House” with an arrow pointing towards a completely dark parking lot behind a dark, empty warehouse.
At this point I begin to get really, really uncomfortable.
It’s Halloween. Is this some kind of prank? Am I on some kind of Snipe hunt? Have my Louisville Halloween partners in crime cooked up some elaborate tomfoolery or– even worse– did they send me on this assignment based on some kind of Internet rumor about a secret haunt in the middle of nowhere with no name?
I’d recently seen the trailer for a movie called “The Houses October Built,” and the scenario I was currently entering felt a lot like what I’d seen in that trailer, and I’m pretty sure that movie wasn’t headed for a happy ending.
It suddenly occurred to me that I had told no one where I was going, and in my haste that I had forgotten to bring my cell phone with me.
When I reached the back of the parking lot, I could see a human sized pumpkin man pointing towards a nondescript door in the back of the warehouse. At this point, any sane person would have left tire marks for 50 yards as they sped away from the scene.
But it was Halloween, and I’m the Phantom of the Ville, so I parked the car and prepared for whatever fate had in store for me. What I saw inside that warehouse blew my mind.
Inside I met owners/operators Todd Stephens and Dr. Jim Phifer, along with their special effects guru, Mike Bisch of Kentucky Special FX (www.kentuckyspecialfx.com) and actor’s director, Bobby Parker. These four local Spookmasters have been conspiring for several years to enter the professional haunt business in Louisville, and what I was about to experience was sort of a test run for what they hope to present next Halloween in a bigger, more visible venue.
“I’ve been collecting these props and animatronics for about the last 15 years,” Dr. Phifer tells me. “They started to take over my house at some point.”
Dr. Phifer is an extreme Halloween enthusiast that isn’t kidding around. Inside that warehouse, you’ll find over $500,000 in some of the best haunted sets, props and animated terrors in the country and that isn’t even all of his collection. They couldn’t fit all of it into the limited space they acquired this season as a temporary showcase for it.
“I guess we could call it the Haunted Warehouse this year,” says Todd Stephens when I asked if they had thought of a name for their little house of horrors.
The four horsemen of this secret haunt in Middletown want YOU to come out and see what sights they have to show you TONIGHT, November 1st from 7 PM through 11 PM. It’s FREE! Just bring a canned good for the Dare to Care Food Program. They desperately need peanut butter, cans of soups, macaroni & cheese, rice or anything that could make the centerpiece of a meal.
For your canned good donation you will be treated to one of the most elaborate and special effects loaded haunted houses you’ll ever experience. You’ll pass through an entire Western town full of ghouls, discover a full size pirate ship with a skeletal crew, see a circus freak show full of creepy clowns and uncover a Mummy’s Tomb! You’ll find all the classic Universal Monsters inside, including Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolf Man!
If all the medical and laboratory equipment on display looks realistic, that’s because it’s real. Dr. Phifer has also been collecting antique and unusual medical equipment for 30 years, and you can see his amazing collection amid the displays.
My camera can’t really do justice to all the special effects and high tech scares inside, but I tried to give you some idea of what you’ll encounter inside that dark, foggy warehouse in Middletown. You’ll see effects like those you may have seen at Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion, in David Copperfield magic shows and movies like “Blade.”
It’s a cornucopia of animated monsters, detailed sets and unexpected shocks in a maze jam packed with non-stop, jaw-dropping visuals. The way it’s set up this year, and in accordance with the fire marshal who graciously allowed them to open so quickly and secretively, you’ll be taken through in groups of no more than five with a tour guide to lead you through the twisting hallways.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have one last good scare this year, TONIGHT between 7PM and 11PM at 13070 Middletown Industrial Blvd in Middletown. It’s absolutely FREE! Just bring a canned good for the Dare to Care Food Program and help our community while experiencing one of the best haunted houses in town that NOBODY knows about!
The secret is out, and it’s no trick! I’ll see you in Middletown tonight!
WAVE 3’s Dawn Gee, who will be undergoing surgery for kidney cancer this Halloween, is undeniably “one of us”!
I’m not sure how many of our Louisville Halloween readers are aware of this, but WAVE 3’s News Anchor, Dawne Gee, is a hardcore horror fan and Halloween enthusiast! As some of the singularly unique characters in Louisville born director Tod Browning’s “Freaks” (1932) proclaimed, she’s “one of us.”
I’ve personally bumped into Mrs. Gee on more than one occasion while she was out meeting some of her friends and family on the opening night of some new ghostly thriller at local movie theaters. Her own Facebook page posts some of her extensive horror movie memorabilia collection, and she has created, shot and edited a number of supernatural related stories for WAVE 3 such as her recent Kentuckiana’s Monsters, Myths and Legends series.
In the interest of full disclosure, Louisville Halloween was consulted for the Sleepy Hollow Road segment of that extremely popular series. Off camera, Gee’s enthusiasm for the spooky, the unexplained, the haunted and monstrous is clearly genuine. She spoke excitedly about a segment she had recently shot which found her spending the night in a real haunted house.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Gee will be spending Halloween in the hospital having surgery to remove a tumor on her kidneys and we wish her well for both the success of the operation and during the 4 to 6 week recovery period. This isn’t the first time Gee has fought a battle with tumors. In 2009, she underwent a risky operation to remove a benign brain tumor.
I, for one, appreciate her presence in the local media as a positive role model for horror fans and for those with big imaginations and bigger dreams. When I was a little Phantom, one of my favorite local news journalists was Byron Crawford, who also did a series of investigative segments for WHAS in search of local urban legends, ghosts, haunted houses and Bigfoot-like creatures. In fact, the junior, 10 year old Phantom of the Ville put on a series of “theatrical productions” for my parents and neighbors wearing a fishing hat and a robe that doubled for Crawford’s trench coat. Each production ended with me running off stage in mock terror from some unseen supernatural force or legendary creature.
I think Crawford’s supernatural news segments, combined with Darren McGavin’s 1974 “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” TV series, were probably the primary influences that eventually led to the column you’re now reading on Louisville Halloween, and I truly believe that Dawne Gee’s infectious love of the unusual and her own creepy series of local ghost stories are currently inspiring a new generation of imaginative fans.
Louisville Halloween wishes Dawne Gee a Happy Halloween and a speedy recovery! There are some Charles Dickens-styled Christmas ghost stories awaiting your attention this December!