The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News
Creepy Ghouls, Eerie Automatons and Rock n Roll Demons: The Horrifying Life and Career of Ken Kelly!
Louisville Halloween’s exclusive interview with iconic fantasy artist Ken Kelly!
Welcome, my friends and fiends, to a very special edition of the Phantom Gazette. It’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from this weekend’s VinylFest at the Crowne Plaza Hotel where I was lucky enough to score a sit down chat with a man who has become an icon in the world of fantasy, horror and Rock n Roll. I would wager that you could take Ken Kelly’s epic painting that graces the album cover of KISS’s “Destroyer” to just about any country on earth and show it to any passerby on the street, and they will immediately recognize both the iconic image and everything it represents.
Ken Kelly was born in New London, Connecticut in 1946, but was moved as a toddler to Brooklyn, New York and has lived most of his life in the Long Island area. His proclivity towards art began to manifest itself almost as soon as he learned to walk.
“There was a plain, white wall in our house, and I decided to draw a picture of Mickey Mouse on it,” remembers Kelly. “I thought it was a good idea, but my mom disagreed. I got spanked good for that one.”
A tough upbringing and a fractured relationship with his father found Kelly living on the streets from the age of 14 until 17 years old. “Let’s just say that I didn’t get along with my old man, so as soon as I could get out of there, I got out,” relates Kelly.
“I can thank my career and my life to my High School art teacher, Mrs. Valarous,” says Kelly. “She was really my life saver. She recognized my interest and early talent in art, and I took every class with her all the way through High School.”
Mrs. Valarous even helped the young artist score his first professional job. “Mrs. Valarous recommended me to a local community college that needed some promotional art done, which I did some sketches for, and a couple of weeks later she came back to me with a check for a couple of hundred dollars. I couldn’t believe I actually got paid for doing it. I was rich!”
“If the art career hadn’t worked out, I would’ve probably become a career Marine,” admits Kelly. “After High School, I joined the Marines, and for four years I had a ball! I traveled to every port of call all over the world, and then the Viet Nam War broke out.”
“After my time in the Marine Corps, I came back home and got a job working at a gas station,” says Kelly. “I still had this idea of being an artist, and probably my biggest influence was my uncle Frank.”
Kelly’s uncle was, in fact, legendary fantasy artist and Conan the Barbarian cover artist, Frank Frazetta. “I remember as a little kid, sitting on the back porch watching Frank draw sketches of Daisy Mae (Editor’s note: Daisy Mae was the “pin up” love interest in the classic “L’il Abner” comic strips).”
“I ran into Frazetta at my father’s wake and decided to show him some of my work,” says Kelly, “but he wasn’t very impressed. He said I need to refine my drawing and painting, and so I took a year off, moved to Europe and did nothing but work on my technique. Finally, I completed a painting called ‘The Lurking Terror,’ in which I used the buildings outside my window in Cannes, France as the model for the backgrounds. Once I finished that painting, I knew I was ready.”
“My sister bought me a plane ticket back to Plainview, New York, and I came back to Long Island and showed ‘The Lurking Terror’ and some of my other work to Frazetta. This time he liked them. He liked them enough to take them to Warren Publishing, where he was getting a lot of work, and showed them to publisher, James Warren.”
James Warren is probably most familiar to readers of the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X as the publisher of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine, as well as the iconic horror comic magazines, “Creepy,” “Eerie” and “Vampirella.” Warren signed Kelly to a contract to paint 13 covers for his magazines, and this led to a five year working relationship with Warren Publishing until the two men ultimately clashed.
“Jim Warren was an asshole,” states Kelly. “He screwed a lot of artists over back in the day. He really was a cheap, greedy bastard. I was lucky, and he ended up giving me my original art back only because I was Frank Frazetta’s nephew. Even Warren didn’t want to fuck with Frank.”
Ironically, it was one of the “Creepy” magazine covers that Kelly did for Warren, a piece Kelly calls “The Tin Man” from Creepy issue number 72, that ultimately led to the job that would change his life forever.
“I got a call about a job from a record company, and I went to a meeting in Manhattan,” says Kelly, “and when I pulled up, there was a whole line of Rolls-Royces parked in front of the building. I knew right then, this was it. This was the big opportunity.”
“The office we were meeting in was completely painted this artificial black. Everything inside was black, and inside there was Gene and the guys.” Gene, of course, was Rock n Roll demon, Gene Simmons of KISS.
“They wanted Frank Frazetta, but they couldn’t afford him,” admits Kelly. “They were trying to get him for cheap, and they just couldn’t work out a deal. So apparently, Gene went down to the newspaper stand and found a copy of ‘Creepy’ with ‘The Tin Man’ on the cover. Gene brought the magazine back to the record company and said, ‘This is the guy,’ and two days later I was standing in their office.”
KISS’s first three albums had failed to generate the sales that Casablanca Records had expected, but the band was building an audience via constant touring and the live shows were providing a buzz in the music industry. An idea was hatched for a live album to try and capture the energy of the live concerts and in 1975, “Alive!” hit the charts and gave the band their first big hit. They needed to make a big impact with their follow up studio album.
“I had never heard of KISS before,” admits Kelly. “I thought they looked ridiculous. I had no idea they were headed for anything, but I also saw all those Rolls-Royces parked outside and I knew somebody with a lot of money thought they were good.”
Kelly’s first submission for the “Destroyer” cover was rejected by the record company. “They thought it was too violent,” says Kelly. “I drew the band standing in front of a burning building, and they thought it made the band look like that’s what they did. They came to your town and burned it down.” (Editor’s note: Kelly’s original cover was eventually used for a remixed and re-mastered version of “Destroyer” known as “Destroyer Resurrected.”)
“The band also changed costumes for the new tour, so I re-painted the same image with the new costumes and put the burning buildings in the far background,” relates Kelly. “Destroyer” was released on March 15, 1976 and it immediately catapulted KISS to the top of the Rock n Roll world. Kelly’s signature artwork has become the band’s single best known image, and is still used to sell thousands of KISS products around the world today.
After experimenting with another artist to design the cover of their next album, Gene demanded the record company to hire Kelly back to paint the cover of “Love Gun” in 1977 even though the company’s art director didn’t want him for the job.
“I put every stitch of energy I had into those covers,” Kelly says with confident authority.
After Kelly’s worldwide success with KISS, the offers started pouring in. Just like his uncle Frank, the artist contracted to do a series of “Conan the Barbarian” novel covers. In 1976, the MEGO Corporation hired him to design the packing for the popular series of “Micronauts” toys. TSR, creators of “Dungeons and Dragons,” hired him to create imagery for their popular series of role playing games. Other rock and heavy metal bands like Man-O-War and Rainbow hired him to bring a little of the Ken Kelly magic to their album covers and careers.
Just two weeks ago at the time of this article’s publishing, on August 19th, Ken Kelly made a triumphant return to the KISS Army when the album cover he painted for former KISS lead guitarist, Ace Frehley’s new solo album, “Space Invader,” hit store shelves.
“I tracked Ace down at a Chiller Horror Convention where we were both appearing a year or so ago,” says Kelly. “Ace and I have been friends for years. I had heard he was working on a new record, so I cornered him at the convention and said, ‘If you’re doing a new album, I want to be the guy to do it,’.”
Kelly is also currently in bu$$iness with Gene $immon$, hand painting a series of high end art GS Axe and GS Punisher bass guitars for extreme KISS fanatics.
Like KISS, Kelly shows no signs of slowing down. He has a long list of commissions and projects in the works, and in fact was working on a new King Kong sketch for a private collector during this interview. On behalf of Louisville Halloween and all his fans in the Ville, I want to thank him for all the dreams and nightmares he has conjured for multiple generations of horror, fantasy and Rock n Roll fans.
Thanks also to the fine folks at VinylFest for bringing him back to the Ville and making this interview possible.
The Devil’s Attic to Conjure up the Spirit of Edgar Allan Poe to Add to Its Collection of Demented Souls for Halloween 2014!
Louisville Halloween takes an exclusive early tour into the dark nether regions of the Devil’s Attic’s fifth haunting season.
Greetings, my River City reapers, it’s the Phantom of the Ville back with another exclusive preview of one of our city’s best haunted attractions, The Devil’s Attic, which exists in a lonely building at 647 West Hill Street. Infamous for its collection of some of the most evil souls to ever terrify mankind in literature, legend and horror films, the Devil’s Attic has spent the last five years adding to its morbid collection of madmen and monsters.
This year will see the addition of scenes depicting the madness and dark fantasies of American author and poet, Edgar Allan Poe.
This weekend I met with owner/operator, Jason Besemann, to discuss his evil schemes for the Devil’s Attic this Halloween and to take a journey through some of the most detailed haunt scenes in the haunted attraction business. Besemann and some of his signature characters are going to be quite busy even before the haunt formally opens on September 19.
“We’ll be having an event at the Sportsdrome Speedway in Jeffersonvile,” says Besemann, “We’ll be at ScareFest in Lexington and our characters will be out in full force at the Gaslight Festival parade in J-town. This year we’re also one of the sponsors of the Louisville Zombie Attack.”
The Louisville Zombie Attack 2014 (http://www.louisvillezombieattack.org/), which takes place this Friday, August 29 at 8:29 PM in the Highlands, will play host to many of the Devil’s Attic’s most popular characters. “Our Devil will be the MC of the zombie costume ball at the after party at the Highlands Taproom,” says Besemann. “It’s going to be huge this year. Lyndi (Lou) and John (King) just got their clearances from the city to block off an entire city block for the after party and The Devil’s Attic will have its own stage where we’ll be giving away lots of swag.”
“Our make-up artist, Izzie Jones, will be there doing zombie and all kinds of monster make-ups,” says Besemann. “We’ll have Green Screen Photography there taking photos of the zombies with different back drops, and we’ll be announcing this year’s big give-away contest. The last couple of years we’ve given away motorcycles, but this year we’ll be giving away a Caribbean cruise.”
It was time to brave the haunted hallways of Besemann’s creation, and I can testify that this haunt is even scary with the house lights on. When I arrived at the Devil’s Attic this weekend, I couldn’t find Besemann or any of his staff, so I crept around the building and found the front door open. I called out, but was met with an uncomfortable silence, so I pushed forward into the cobwebbed, gore covered walls in search of Jason or one of his crew.
The door to the Devil’s throne room creaked open as I passed into the labyrinth, and I was immediately overwhelmed with the incredible detail Besemann and his crew put into this attraction as I traveled down a skull covered hallway and into a Gothic vampire’s crypt. I could hear someone walking the hallways somewhere in the distance, but I couldn’t tell which direction the footsteps were coming from.
Finally, amid the monsters and the corpses, I ran into one of Besemann’s managers who guided me through the disorienting back passageways to the Devil’s Attic’s elaborate make-up room and found Besemann hard at work on one of his new scenes.
“This year we’ve added a whole new section based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe,” reveals Besemann. I was taken to a turn-of-the-century dungeon area right out of one of Roger Corman’s Poe movies starring Vincent Price, including a working “Pit and the Pendulum” set. This new part of the haunt reminds me of one of those ‘House of Horrors’ chambers you’d see in a wax museum sequence in old movies like “House of Wax” (1953). Except instead of passing lifelike figures, you’ll be confronting real screaming torture victims and masked tormentors and executioners who might want to put you in their pillory or iron maiden.
Then Besemann took me back to the Devil’s throne room, turned off all the house lights, and turned on the mood lighting & some of the animatronics so I could get an idea of what the rest of the haunt was going to look like in operation. The lighting in the Devil’s Attic is incredible, simulating flickering candles and torches that cast red hues on the walls in early scenes, and ghostly blue hues later in the “13 Ghosts” sequence and the “ghost hallway.”
The original music composed by Matt Clayton is pumped into each scene, adding the appropriate atmosphere to each different area of the haunt.
You’ll encounter a blinding tunnel that hides a demonic surprise. After you face the vampires’ crypt, Frankenstein’s laboratory and the Poe torture chamber, you’ll experience Jigsaw’s disorienting maze, a whole area devoted to ghosts and phantoms (my favorite part!), a cornfield in Sleepy Hollow, an exorcism in progress and you’ll meet a witch with the power to summon the curse of Pumpkinhead. You’ll also find out what happens when someone messes with the Lament Configuration before a final trip through the back roads of Texas.
“There’s also one more new surprise this year,” reveals Besemann. “We have another new character and scene that we added this season.” In the new, incredibly detailed scene, you’ll be taken through a Victorian era house during the Yuletide season for an encounter with Krampus, Saint Nicholas’ demonic sidekick that deals with all the children on the naughty list.
The Devil’s Attic is already impressive this season, and this is without the cast even in the scenes to bring them to life. Besemann’s haunt promises a good mix of large scale animatronic monsters, highly detailed sets and a talented cast. I can’t yet speak to the detail involved in the costumes and make-ups, but I look forward to returning for a full review when it opens on September 19.
Louisville Halloween gets an exclusive early tour into the maze of madness that is the 7th Street Haunt’s third season.
“Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!”
The Emperor, “Return of the Jedi” (1983)
Greetings, Boils and Ghouls, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the haunted space at 2900 7th St. Road right next to the Expo Five. When owner/operator, Travis Boling, invited me out to preview the third season of his old school haunted maze, I did not realize that his haunt was already finished, fully operational and fully staffed with dozens of costumed maniacs.
“If we needed to open this weekend, we could,” says Boling. Actually, Boling was engaged in training his cast and working out the final bugs this weekend, but you wouldn’t know that his haunt wasn’t already operating at full steam.
Now in its third season in the same location, the 7th Street Haunt is returning this year bigger, better and more confident than before. Among the numerous additions and improvements this year is a fully themed and interactive queue that will allow patrons waiting in line to step inside the cursed town of Fort Harmony for a couple of good scares before they even step into the first scene of the haunt.
“After Halloween last year, we took six weeks off,” says Boling, “but by January 1st we were back here at the haunt working to make it better than it was before.” Boling has a full staff of 50 people helping him build and run his haunted attraction, and a cast of 42 actors working inside the haunt on any given night.
“This year our story focuses on what has happened to the residents of Fort Harmony,” reveals Boling. “Every one’s inner demons are–(Boling pauses dramatically before cracking an evil smile ) —manifesting.”
Just like the 7th Street Haunt’s first two seasons, Boling’s secret weapon this year is Set Designer, Nancy Poindexter, who can make a corn field out of empty water bottles and a cave out of crinkled paper and paint. This year, Poindexter has really outdone herself by creating a climax that will take patrons right into the fiery, volcanic pit of Hades!
“It’s mostly mattress foam and Christmas lights,” admits Boling as I gawk at the glowing lava flow running through the Hellish scene. One of the things I love about the 7th Street Haunt is the old school, DIY nature of the whole enterprise. There is absolutely nothing in Fort Harmony that was purchased from a Halloween trade show or FX company. Everything is built from scratch on site by Boling, his family, friends and devoted staff.
Even the musical score was written locally by Boling’s partner, Matt Clayton, under his musician’s pseudonym of “Kitten.” Clayton has also delivered the score that will be used by The Devil’s Attic this season.
“In our first season, we sold 849 tickets,” admits Boling. “Last year we sent 7,161 people through, and this year we hope to scare even more people.”
While Boling was upfront with us that not everything was 100% finished, and that there were special effects, lights and other things that still needed to be tweaked, he let us experience the 7th Street Haunt in its early, trial version and we can give you a sneak peek at what you’ll be able to experience yourself this Halloween.
You enter the haunted saloon in the queue line, and turn a couple of creepy corners before you’re faced with a line of video screens that give you the rules of the haunt. Then you must pass through the hospital doors and into the terrors awaiting beyond.
You’ll pass through ruined hospital rooms populated with unspeakable demons right out of “The Evil Dead,” padded asylum cells and a fog filled room where you can’t see two inches in front of your face. You’ll then have to get through a demented child’s room and into his delirious dream world filled with creepy clowns and twisted circus attractions. This area contains one of my favorite new additions, a gigantic ventriloquist’s dummy that’s serving as puppet master for a human puppet!
From there, things get darker and more Gothic as you pass through a haunted cave, an ancient crypt and the world’s creepiest church. Then you’ll go from house to house through Fort Harmony to experience the evil that has invaded the whole town through voodoo ceremonies and Ouija board possessions. Ultimately your dark journey brightens up. There’s a light up ahead! Unfortunately for you, it’s the blistering fires of Hell and your nightmare has just begun!
The 7th Street Haunt opens to the public on Saturday, September 13th, but they also want you to know about a big, family oriented Halloween event that they’re hosting on Saturday, October 25th which will include free trick-or-treating throughout the haunt for kids. It’s a themed car show called the Halloween Car Show and will take place in the 7th Street Haunt’s parking lot.
A $5 registration fee benefits Crusade for Children. All cars, trucks and motorcycles are welcome. There will be over 25 awards given out, including the Top 13 Best Halloween Displays. There will be music, food, games, door prizes and, of course, monsters. For more information, contact Travis Boling at (502) 759-1295 or email@example.com.
The third year looks like the charm, or in this case the curse, for the 7th Street Haunt. If you liked the old school feel and locally crafted look of this haunt during its first two seasons, then I think you’ll scream for this year’s major upgrades. If you’ve never visited the town of Fort Harmony before, then this Halloween it should be at the top of your haunt tour list.
Louisville prepares to wake the dead with zombie make-up classes, Zombie Night at Slugger Field and the 10th annual Louisville Zombie Attack!
When there is no room left in Hell, the dead will walk the Ville, and apparently it’s getting crowded in Hades. You won’t be able to walk two city blocks in the next two weeks without bumping into a walking corpse in the River City. Zombies are going to be on everyone’s minds, and brains are going to be on every zombie’s menu before the end of August, and there’s only one store clerk who can help you prepare for the apocalypse.
No, it’s not Ash. It’s special FX make-up artist, Athena Prychodko of Make It Up by Athena. Prychodko, who works part time behind the make-up counter at Caufield’s Novelty at 1006 W. Main Street and who also moonlights at Seindenfaden’s Café at 1134 E. Breckinridge Street, is also a professional special effects make-up artist, actress and filmmaker with fifteen years of experience.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the unofficial “zombie capital of the world” thanks to the living dead films of George Romero, Prychodko graduated from Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program in Pennsylvania before embarking on a career doing gory special effects for Toe Tag Pictures, the infamous creators of such films as “August Underground” and it’s follow-up, “August Underground’s Mordum.” Both of those “found footage” murder films were so realistically staged and disturbingly graphic that many viewers who discovered them through bootleg VHS tapes and DVDs believed they were genuine snuff films before Toe Tag Pictures finally took creative credit for their production.
Prychodko also acted in several of their films, such as “The Redsin Tower” (2006), while also serving in the make-up department. Her most recent film, “Open Me” (2014), premiered last week on her birthday at Seindenfaden’s.
Since moving to Louisville, she has started several related side businesses.
“I do face painting at various events and festivals, as well as at Halloween parties,” she says. “I’m also Vice President of the Louisville Gore Club.” The Louisville Gore Club hosts horror movies regularly on Sunday nights at Seindenfaden’s.
Prychodoko will be teaching two more zombie make-up classes at Caufield’s this August.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20 from 5:30 PM – 7 PM and
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27 from 5:30 PM – 7 PM.
To sign up, you must come in to Caufield’s and put $10 down to save your spot, as spaces are very limited. That down payment will go towards $10 worth of make-up on the day of your class, but you will also need to bring in an additional $20 cash to pay Athena on class day.
Her first class could prepare you for the first of two big zombie gatherings in the Ville on August 21st.
LOUISVILLE ZOMBIE NIGHT with the LOUISVILLE BATS at SLUGGER FIELD: Thursday, August 21 at 7:05 PM. Cost is $7 – $12. The living dead theme will be seen throughout the whole ballpark, and there will be live music and $1 beer before the game between 5:30 PM and 7 PM. If you aren’t already made up as a zombie, Caufield’s representatives will be on hand to turn you into one for $5. There will be zombie costume contests, in game zombie promotions and zombie photo-ops. Upload your pictures to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #BatsZombieNight and you could win free tickets to Zombie City provided by Asylum Haunted Scream Park!
The second, and probably the biggest, zombie gathering this month takes place on August 29th at 8:29 PM, and this year marks its 10th anniversary.
THE LOUISVILLE ZOMBIE ATTACK 2014: Thousands of zombies are expected to march through the Highlands, killing and eating every living thing along the way, as they shamble from the corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway to the Highlands Taproom at 1058 Bardstown Road where the world’s biggest zombie jamboree will be held. Bands scheduled to play include Dead Dick Hammer, The Vice Tricks, Dead Halos, We Are Hex, The NulyDedz and The Trophy Wives.
This year, the Louisville Zombie Attack is being sponsored by The Devil’s Attic haunted house! There will be a costume contest and much more. If that’s not enough zombie action to hold you over until Season Five of “The Walking Dead” premieres on October 12, then you’re likely already dead and only care about eating brains anyway.
Explore this new, mysterious curiosity shop which has suddenly materialized on East Market Street that seems to have sprung right out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!
Step up, my friends, step up. Step up to the marble columns outside of Alchemy at 415 East Market Street in downtown Louisville. Let your eyes take in the turn-of-the-century font etched onto the front window glass: “Tonics and Treasures! The Marvelous Magical Olde World Emporium on Market!”
Step inside. The first thing that hits your senses are the scents of exotic tonics and otherworldly potions that fill the air just before your ears pick up on the dreamlike music being pumped through the shop’s stereo system. In my case, it was John Williams’ score to the Harry Potter films. As your eyes become accustomed to the soft, natural lighting and star shaped light fixtures, you find yourself in a waking dream world of fantasy and imagination.
I’m not kidding when I say that Alchemy looks like it could have been magically transported from one of Universal Studios Harry Potter attractions in Orlando directly to East Market Street across from McDonald’s due to some accident of inexperienced sorcery or mispronounced spell. A wizard’s mistake is Louisville’s gain in this instance!
The current shop hours are from Monday through Saturday from 12PM – 6PM. The shop appears to operate mainly on magic. There is minimal electricity. You won’t even find a modern cash register or office phone on the premises, but the owner can be reached at (502) 540-3015.
I had a chance to speak with store creator and owner (and probably sorcerer), Ricky Moores, over the weekend and get the tour of his singular retail brainchild. Moores was born in Danville, Kentucky, but was raised from a toddler in Louisville. His most recent career adventure has seen him as a food stylist and stage designer for the food advertising business, but his creative impulse has seen him working for Disney in the past, once even interviewing as a Creative Director.
Locally, you may remember his work on one of his very first jobs working for Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in the Mall St. Matthews, where he designed and built the cave-like tunnel that customers passed through to transition from the ice cream restaurant area to the magical candy shop.
“My goal with Alchemy is creating a space that evokes memories and experiences, and that activates all the senses from the moment you walk in the door,” says Moores.
Moores’ influences, from Harry Potter to the Wizard of Oz to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, are all on full display at Alchemy, but everything he stocks is handmade or created by small family businesses. You might think Alchemy is the end result of a childhood dream, but Moores insists it was more a result of a mad impulse of delight!
“We opened about three months ago on Derby weekend,” he relates. “You would think I spent years planning this place, but honestly it just sort of popped into my head last year. I spent more time dealing with the zoning boards than I did coming up with the concept. There really isn’t anything else like this in Louisville.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. Moores took me on a brief tour of his emporium, starting with some of the tonics in jars. You’ll find Bourbon Maple Syrup that Moores says, “isn’t just for pancakes. It’s good in cocktails, on meat or ice cream.” You’ll find scented oils, lotions and soaps, including a handmade Bourbon Soap.
Alchemy also carries incredibly realistic stuffed animals and puppets. “The memories and imagination of our childhood live inside all of us, but most people won’t let themselves show it,” says Moores. The stuffed animals, some of them life sized, are made by a small company in Australia and all of them have wire armatures inside that allow them to be posed for display.
Moores also intends to carry a lot of books. Right now, he stocks the entire Ologies Series (Dragonology, Monsterology, Vampirology, Illusionology, etc.) and various Harry Potter volumes.
“I’m expecting a large shipment of Halloween related books next week,” he says. “I’ll be carrying the entire ‘Bunnicula’ boxed set, some volumes of Edgar Allan Poe and a set of Steampunk Tarot Cards.”
“I’ve also got a shipment of what I hope will be high quality skulls on the way,” he adds. “Good skulls are very hard to find. I’m looking for skulls that are detailed and well made, but also affordable. It’s hard to get both!”
“We live in an age of over consumerism and over consumption,” says Moores. “There’s so much stuff out there, and all of it is crap!”
“What I want to do is give people a place to discover things that they wouldn’t find anywhere else,” explains Moores. “For example, a company called NECA recently made a limited edition of Golden Ticket replicas from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and there was a version of which they only made 36, and I have 12 of the original 36 on the way right now.”
I noticed a series of paintings from Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride sitting in the corner. They are replicas of the four paintings found in the “Stretching Room” near the beginning of the ride. I thought that Moores had probably bought them at the Disney Store or through one of Walt Disney’s limited Haunted Mansion collector’s events, but it turns out that he painted them himself!
I consider myself somewhat of an expert on Disney’s original haunted attraction, but Moores’ replicas certainly fooled me. “There are actually many different variations of the Stretching Rooms paintings because they were all hand painted, not copied,” he explains. “There are the ones they made for the Anaheim version, the Orlando version and then the ones for Phantom Manor in Paris are completely different. No artist can ever paint the same face exactly the same way twice, so there are small differences in all the paintings.”
Alchemy and its inventory are constantly changing. Not only is Moores planning to change the stock and atmosphere of the store for Halloween, but he showed me some of things he plans to carry for Christmas including an incredibly detailed golden dragon ornament carrying a candy cane.
This magical emporium of tonics, books and creatures is a unique escape in Louisville’s downtown landscape that I think all Halloween lovers will want to discover. Tell ‘em the Phantom of the Ville sent ya!