The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News

The House on Haunted Mountain: A Look inside the Haunted Hotel at Funtown Mountain in Cave City

Take a spooky tour through one of the oldest standing haunted attractions in the country!

I remember summer family trips to Mammoth Cave as a kid, riding in the back of my father’s sky blue station wagon, cruising through Cave City on our way to the longest known cave system in the world. You can’t get to Mammoth Cave without passing Guntown Mountain, and that meant only one thing to me at the time.

Terror and fascination.

Glaring down at me from the top of the hill near the Guntown Mountain Gift Shop, with its sinister eyes fixed upon my very soul, sat that ramshackle house of nightmares we now call the Haunted Hotel. From the tailgate window I could see Charmin’ Charles in the front window tickling the ivories with his bony fingers as spooky music drifted all the way down to the highway.

Please, dad,” I begged, “I want to see the haunted house! Can we?

Unfortunately, a visit to Charmin’ Charles’ house was never on the family vacation schedule. Under my father’s breath I heard completely unreasonable terms like “rip-off” and “waste of money,” and I had to make do with being spooked by the bats in Mammoth Cave.

Years later, while attending Western Kentucky University, I would drive back and forth from Louisville to Bowling Green, and each time I passed the myriad of lurid roadside attraction signs in Cave City I could feel the gaze of those glaring eyes burning the hairs on the back of my neck, beckoning me to stop. During the school year however, the Haunted Hotel was always closed and I never got a chance to satisfy my childhood curiosity with a peek inside those dark and winding passageways.

Finally, thanks to the vision of local businessman and dreamer, Will Russell, and his project in the works to reopen, restore and rebrand the defunct roadside attraction park as Funtown Mountain, the Haunted Hotel’s doors are open to the public again, and this historic haunted walk-thru remains mostly unchanged since it opened nearly 45 years ago.

Designed and built in 1972 by a dark ride and funhouse props manufacturing company called Funni-Frite, the Haunted Hotel is the only still standing Funni-Frite attraction in the world, and it’s also one of the oldest walk-thru haunted attractions in America.

Although many of the props and scare gags inside have been moved and/or modified since they were first installed half a century ago, most of them still use the original Funni-Frite parts that were built into the attraction in 1972. The twisting, turning, disorienting maze in the dark remains pretty much unchanged by time.

The Haunted Hotel is like a time machine back to the glorious Halloweens of 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s a two-story piece of carnival/roadside attraction history frozen in time. It’s creepy and creaky, showing every year of its age through decades of screams and smiles and nervous laughter.

Ironically, the “Grand Awesoming” of Russell’s Funtown Mountain happened on Father’s Day Weekend, so I guess I can count my trip through the Haunted Hotel as one last act of very post-adolescent, parental rebellion. I can still hear dad’s voice echoing through the car as I pulled into the Funtown Mountain parking lot, but his mantra about “rip-offs” and “wastes of money” started fading as the sounds of Charmin’ Charles piano reached my ears. If dad were still here today, I think he’d change his tune too.

The Haunted Hotel still spooks.

Once the door that says “Beware” on it closes behind you, there’s no turning back. You’ll find yourself in a world of complete darkness from which you can occasionally make out shapes and images in fluorescent paint: spooky faces, glowing hand prints, desperate pleas for “Help!” scrawled in red on the black walls. It’s hard to gauge distance or direction as you make your way ahead mostly by feeling.

One of my favorite parts early in the maze is the series of disorienting keyhole doors that you must pass through. Some look like the right way, but are only painted facades, while others can be barely squeezed through.

As you progress slowly in the twisting darkness, you will occasionally step on a panel that will trigger animated shock effects and monsters including mummies, werewolves and creepy clowns. These “gags” can be loud and quite startling. I went through a few times and the machine gun goon got me EVERY TIME! Bursts of compressed air can also make visitors jump at unexpected moments.

Occasional strobe lit passageways and colored, fluorescent lit chambers change the mood as you progress forward. Wait, there’s a light up ahead. Is this the way out? No, but it will take you out onto the balcony of the second floor where you can take a breath and a moment to take in the rolling Kentucky hills and the cars on the highway passing by far below. This also makes a great photo opportunity if you have friends and family waiting down by the rusty gate.

The only downside is that if you’re visiting the Haunted Hotel during the day, you’ll be completely blinded again by the sunlight and now you must plunge back into the inky blackness with all new sensitivity to the dark.

The sneaky designers of the Haunted Hotel knew this, and they use it to your disadvantage to throw you completely off balance with a bit of misdirection involving a grisly spider cocoon and an unexpected change in elevation. It’s old school, funhouse genius. Simple, but it works every time.

Once you escape the Haunted Hotel, you can check out Funtown Mountain’s haunted glow-in-the-dark Putt-Putt Golf course and the ominous “Ouija Shack.” There’s much more fun to come. Will Russell’s plans for Phase One aren’t scheduled to be completed until next summer, but the Haunted Hotel should be open for the remainder of the summer during normal business hours of Sunday through Thursday from 10 AM until 6 PM and Friday and Saturday from 10 PM until 5 PM. Admission to Funtown Mountain is FREE and tickets to the Haunted Hotel are $5.

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Fright Nights Campout is Coming to E.P. Tom Sawyer Park Next Weekend (June 26 & 27) to Bring the Camp Crystal Lake Experience to Life in Our Own Backyard!

The summer camp of your worst nightmares is coming to E.P. Tom Sawyer Park!

“Ki, ki, ki — Ma, ma, ma”

– Harry Manfredini, “Friday the 13th” Original Score

Over the course of your lifetime as a horror movie fan, you’ve probably seen your fair share of summer camp massacres. Lurking in the dark woods just beyond the campfire light exists the hockey mask wearing slashers, killer grizzlies and deformed, hook handed former camp counselors of our worst nightmares.

But those were only B-movies playing on late night cable channels or on rented VHS tapes. What would it be like to find yourself in a real life summer camp horror story? Would you be the first victim or the virginal “final girl”?

Now is your chance to find out.

Fright Nights Campout (www.frightnightscampout.com) is bringing that experience to E.P. Tom Sawyer Park on Friday night, June 26 and Saturday night, June 27. The Louisville stop will be the second on their summer tour, following Lexington, and then heading out to Cincinnati, Nashville, Knoxville and Atlanta.

This week I had the opportunity to speak to Fright Nights owner and operator, Greg Walker, about what kind of things to expect from the overnight experience. Walker, who has eight years of experience in the haunted attraction business, got his start with the Hustonville Haunted House in Hustonville, KY. He went on to create Fright Nights at Jacobson Park and Fright Nights at Fright Night Farm in Lexington.

“We are 100% a Choose Your Adventure attraction,” says Walker. “The main attraction is the Survival Camp and Games, but we allow campers to choose their own level of intensity and interaction.”

You can purchase a Chicken Legs Tent in the “Pansy Zone” that will guarantee a milder experience where Walker says, “You can even get a good night’s sleep if you want to.” Or you can opt for the Blood Tent experience which will bring you face to face with Fright Night’s approximately 60 monsters during the night in a circle with several other tents. Or, last but not least, you can opt for the Guts Tent experience which will pitch your tent far from the company of the other campers, and also make you a target for the most savage of Fright Night’s psychos.

“I mean, these guys might even rip your tent to pieces with their chainsaws,” admits Walker.

So what, exactly, happens from dusk until dawn at Fright Nights Campout? “After registration, you get dinner and you get breakfast in the morning before you leave. That’s when campers get a chance to hang out with and bond with the monsters that have been terrorizing them all night,” says Walker.

“Campers will compete in 10 Survival Games like the Potato Sack Race, but in our potato sack race, you’ll be chased by monsters with tasers herding you directly towards 10 chainsaw maniacs coming at you from the finish line.”

“Then there’s our Skull Hunt,” explains Walker. “It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt that leads you to various monsters. You’ll have to solve their riddles to get your next clue. For example, to get one clue, you’ll have to pick it out of the nose of a psycho clown. It only gets worse from there.”

“This all leads to what I can only describe as an extremely severe ending,” admits Walker. “But if it ever becomes too much to handle, you can always escape to the Pansy Zone where you can get free roasted marshmallows, watch some of the horror movies that will be playing all night or just hang out for the entertainment. We’ve got fire dancers and all kinds of entertainment going on all night.”

“The climax of the night takes place when we send everyone to their tents for bedtime at about 5 AM in the morning.” You can only imagine where this is going, and I doubt it’s “nap time.”

“That’s not all, though,” Walker elaborates. “We’ve got three army trucks that patrol the area all night looking for victims. If they catch you, you might end up in prison or they might take you to McDonald’s and buy you ice cream. You never know.”

“Our goal is to make you laugh or make you scream,” he says.

If you’re worried about the weather, Walker says Fright Night Campout happens rain or shine. “If it rains, we all get wet together,” he testifies. “Rain only energizes us.”

If you plan on going to camp next weekend, I recommend you check out the Survival Guide link at www.frightnightscampout.com which will tell you what to bring with you. You can also reserve your tents there and choose your intensity level. I’ve got a feeling that E.P. Tom Sawyer Park might be known as Camp Blood after next weekend, so if you go and survive you can tell your grandkids you survived Fright Nights Campout in Louisville when the whole bloody affair becomes an urban legend kids talk about in whispered tones around the campfire.

Good luck.

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The 7th Street Haunt will Double in Size and Terror with a Second Attraction, “The Experiment,” this Halloween!

With the addition of a brand new high tech haunted attraction, the 7th Street Haunt will have the best of both worlds in both old school and modern, animatronic haunted attractions in 2015.

Just a few years ago, Travis Boling’s 7th Street Haunt was the underdog of the Louisville area haunted house business. Built with the imagination, blood, sweat and tears of its local designers and craftspeople, everything inside the hollowed out space at the Expo 5 center was either salvaged from yard sales and junk auctions or built by hand by local artists and set designers. Nothing was purchased from the creators of the latest high tech props at major effects companies like the ones that attend the Transworld Halloween and Attractions Show in St. Louis.

That’s still the case in the 7th Street Haunt’s Fort Harmony attraction, but this Halloween Boling has joined forces with extreme Halloween and haunted house enthusiast, Todd Stephens, who has spent the last fifteen years collecting high tech scare props with the dream of one day opening a haunt of his own.

Stephens may be new to the haunt business, but he co-produced a spectacular test haunt-with-no-name last Halloween that I attended and covered for Louisville Halloween. Take a minute to look at some of the pictures I took for that article and you’ll get an idea of the amazing props and sets that Stephens will be bringing to the 7th Street Haunt’s new attraction, “The Experiment.”

Behold: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/there-is-a-secret-haunt-in-middletown-offering-one-last-great-halloween-scare/

“We will double in size this year,” says Travis Boling. “Fort Harmony uses approximately 13,000 square feet for its haunt maze, and recently we’ve acquired another 12,000 square feet right next door for Todd’s sets and props. At 25,000 square feet, we will be the largest indoor haunt in the state.”

“We’ve also completely changed and renovated about 30 percent of Fort Harmony,” says Boiling. On a walk thru this weekend, I can not only confirm this, but I think Boiling has probably reworked closer to 40 percent of his original haunt.

“We’ve listened to our customers and heard both their complaints and suggestions,” admits Boling, “and we’re retooling the haunt to give them exactly what they’ve been asking for.”

“We will also have a mini monster museum that you can explore before you even enter one of the haunts. We want customers to be immersed in in the experience as soon as they walk in the door.”

Admission price this year will be $18 for one attraction or $25 for both “Fort Harmony’s Revenge” and “The Experiment.”

Todd Stephens explained to me how “The Experiment” will tie into the Fort Harmony mythos.

“Fort Harmony was the hometown of scientist and inventor, Dr. Jenkins, who opened a factory on the outskirts of town to work on his inventions,” explains Stephens. “One day his daughter, Suzie, disappeared mysteriously while playing in the factory and was never found.”

“Dr. Jenkins went completely mad suffering from the loss of his daughter. He closed the factory, shut and locked the doors, and then completely disappeared from town himself. Nobody knows what happened to either of them.”

“Years later,” he continues, “with the expansion of Fort Harmony, investors become interested in buying and reopening the factory, but people sent in to evaluate the property started to disappear. That’s where our story starts.”

Boling and Stephens say you will be able to discover the former home of the mad Dr. Jenkins within the town of Fort Harmony in the 7th Street Haunt’s original attraction, and this season you’ll also be able to explore Dr. Jenkins abandoned factory to discover what mysterious secrets have caused all these disappearances over the years.

“We want to offer the best of both worlds this Halloween,” says Boiling. “We’ll have our old school haunt for our fans that love that kind of experience and we’ll have Todd’s high tech props and modern scare special effects right next door.”

Fort Harmony’s Revenge” and “The Experiment” will be open for you to explore this September—if you dare!

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Last of the Boogeymen: A Tribute to the Great Christopher Lee

Louisville Halloween pays tribute to the last Classic Horror icon, Christopher Lee, and recalls his most essential genre roles in a career that spans nearly seven decades!

“My revenge has spread over centuries and has just begun!”

– Count Dracula, “The Satanic Rites of Dracula” (1973)

The Lord of the Vampires rages to his nemesis, Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), in Christopher Lee’s last of seven Dracula films made for Hammer Studios in England over a 15 year period. The quote seems appropriate, as Lee’s iconic turn as the vampire count will certainly be appreciated long after the celluloid used to capture his performance has turned to dust.

Ironically, it was one of the few sequels to the terrifying “Horror of Dracula” (1958) in which Lee actually agreed to speak any dialogue at all, choosing to most often play the blood thirsty count completely mute because the scripts sent to him were, in his opinion, laughably terrible.

I won’t, at this time, argue the wisdom of Sir Christopher Lee.

Knighted for his contribution to the theater and the arts in 2009, Lee represented the last living legend of the Classic Horror genre in a Rogues Gallery that included Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Sr. & Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Loree, John Carradine and Donald Pleasence.

He played dozens of iconic characters during his career, including Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu and Saruman the White in Peter Jackson’sLord of the Rings” trilogy, but horror fans will probably remember him best for his sinister and monstrous roles for Hammer Studios and Amicus Productions in England.

I certainly will never forget his sudden entrance in a pivotal scene in “Horror of Dracula,” bloodshot red eyes glaring, fangs bared in feral rage as one of his vampire brides dares attempt to feed on his intended next victim. Nor will I forget the pre-adolescent shot of adrenaline coursing through my veins at the climax of the local TV broadcast of the very same film when Peter Cushing’s stalwart Professor Van Helsing is fighting for his life against the savagery of Lee’s Dracula. In a last, desperate attempt to survive, Van Helsing makes a swashbuckling leap from a castle table to the lush curtains at the end of the room, letting the morning sunlight pour into the room and burning the vampire lord to cinders!

Wow, that was a formative moment in my life as a horror fan.

In his later years, his fans who also spent their formative years watching his movies grew up to be filmmakers that ended up casting him in their own movies. Tim Burton first brought him back to the attention of horror fans in a small part playing against Johnny Depp in “Sleepy Hollow” (1999). Then Peter Jackson cast him in the critical villainous role of Saruman the White in his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and George Lucas cast him as Sith Lord, Count Dooku AKA Darth Tyranus, in the “Star Wars” prequels.

Defying both age and convention, Lee also became something of a heavy metal rock star in the final years of his life, lending his deep, baritone voice to several symphonic metal albums like “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” and its sequel album, “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death,” the success of which awarded him “The Spirit of Metal” Award in the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards.

He may have shuffled off his mortal coil, but the legacy of Christopher Lee will certainly rise from the grave to terrify and entertain film fans for centuries to come. Let’s look back at some of the horrifying highlights of three quarters century of his boogeyman career.

THE CHRISTOPHER LEE ESSENTIALS

1) “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957): This film represents Hammer Film’s first Technicolor reboot of the classic Universal Monsters catalog, bringing Gothic Horror back to cinemas in the wake of the new science fiction/flying saucer craze of the 1950’s. Hammer’s monster films were gorier and sexier, more dangerous and adult oriented, than Universal’s monsters even at the outset. This is the film that introduced a legendary film career collaboration with fellow British actor, Peter Cushing, who plays Victor Frankenstein against Lee’s grotesque version of the monster. Eschewing the more sympathetic portrayal of the monster conjured by Boris Karloff, Lee’s monster is a deformed, rampaging savage.

2) “Horror of Dracula” (1958): At first aristocratically charming, and then animalistically barbaric, Lee’s Dracula remains the most terrifying portrayal of the bloodthirsty vampire ever put on film. In fact, it very nearly typecast him for life. This film is the pinnacle of collaborations with Peter Cushing, who plays the heroic Dr. Van Helsing in pursuit of Lee’s Transylvanian bloodsucker. Masterfully directed with atmosphere to spare by Terence Fisher and with an unforgettable score by James Bernard, this is the vampire film to end all vampire films.

3) “The Mummy” (1959): Lee plays almost this entire film wrapped in ancient bandages as Kharis, perhaps the most athletic mummy ever to plague archeologists anywhere. Peter Cushing is back in the heroic role, and the production is up to early Hammer Films’ high standards. Lee suffered several injuries crashing through wooden doors and glass windows in this energetic horror thriller.

4) “The City of the Dead” (1960) AKA “Horror Hotel”: Glenn Danzig wrote a Misfits song about the title bed and breakfast referred to in the American release of this British, black-and-white chiller. Lee plays a college professor who may have a sinister connection with a witches’ cult in the quaint town of Whitewood. One of best (and one of foggiest) movies ever made about witchcraft and devil worship.

5) “The Skull” (1965): One of my favorite Amicus films, a British competitor to Hammer Films at the time, “The Skull” again pairs Lee and Peter Cushing as two competing collectors of ghoulish memorabilia who both seek to obtain the skull of the infamous Marquis de Sade.

6) “Rasputin: The Mad Monk” (1966): Not entirely a horror film, but certainly a sinister historical thriller, Lee gives one of the best performances of his career as the seemingly immortal, Svengali-like Grigori Rasputin. Lee is captivating here as a lusting, boozing, controlling mystic.

7) “The Devil Rides Out” (1968): Another supernatural Hammer Horror thriller based on a Dennis Wheatley novel, in this film Lee gets a rare chance at playing the good guy! Here he plays occult scholar, Duc de Richleau, who must do battle with Satanic coven leader, Mocata (Charles Gray). In the film’s climax, Lee must protect his friends within a magic circle from supernatural attacks and demonic spirits.

8) “Horror Express” (1972): Climb aboard the trans-Siberian express to weirds-ville! Lee and Peter Cushing (again!) play two British anthropologists aboard a freight train traveling through the frozen wastelands of Manchuria to Europe carrying a cargo that includes a frozen, hairy creature that might be the missing link and may also have the power of mind control! Co-staring Telly Savalas, this is one of Lee’s strangest and most frightening films.

9) “The Wicker Man” (1973): Lee plays Lord Summerisle, the master of a nature cult, and a role that Lee claimed to be the favorite of his entire career. A strange and unforgettable masterpiece of horror, “The Wicker Man” is one part police investigation, one part musical and one part cult film. Edward Woodward plays a police constable who travels to the island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl and encounters a strange nature cult preparing for the celebration of May Day. If you’ve never seen it, don’t read anything further regarding the plot. Just prepare to meet the Wicker Man.

10) “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974): It’s Christopher Lee VS James Bond! Lee plays the world’s most lethal assassin, Scaramanga, who appears to have 007 in his crosshairs as his next victim. Roger Moore plays Bond in this series entry, who is taken off his current assignment when a threatening package including a golden bullet is sent to MI6. Bond is forced to find Scaramanga before he meets the business end of Lee’s golden gun. A final pistol duel ends in Scramanga’s bizarre funhouse.

Just the tip of his thespian iceberg, Lee appeared in hundreds of films and television programs, but these ten classic films along with Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, make up a pretty good summery of his boogeyman career. As much as I generally loath the “Star Wars” prequels, I can’t quite deny myself the absurd joy of watching Christopher Lee engaging in a light saber duel with Yoda!

Louisville Halloween salutes the King of Vampires, the Prince of Darkness, the one and only, Sir Christopher Lee.

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Love Your Local Haunts: Why the Halloween Industry is Significant in “Keeping Louisville Weird” in the Wake of Recent Business Closings.

Local business icons seem to be falling like dominos, and it’s important for all of us to recognize, appreciate and support the grass roots business projects we love in this town before the cultural graveyard is overrun with beautiful corpses.

A Phantom of the Ville Editorial

Clowns don’t scare me. Spiders don’t either. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, chainsaw wielding maniacs and boogeymen are my friends and family. The only thing that wakes me up in the dead of night with a cold sweat is the gentrification of my beloved city.

I awoke this morning to the announcement of the permanent closure of both the Phoenix Hill Tavern and Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium. The outpouring of memories of first dates and old friends filled my Facebook feed, including testimony from Louisville horror legend, John Dugan (Grandpa in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as well as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”), who had his first date with his girlfriend at Phoenix Hill.

How many Velcro Pygmies concerts did I see at the Phoenix Hill Tavern? How many games of The Addams Family pinball machine did I play there between sets of Rock and rounds of drinks? One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen took place at the Phoenix Hill Tavern in the late 1980’s when the legendary Ramones took the main stage for an unforgettable set of nearly 50 songs in 35 minutes.

The last show I saw at Jim Porter’s featured infamous mountain dancer, Jesco White AKA “The Dancing Outlaw,” tap dancing (and drinking) his way into local weirdness folklore in support of Will Russell’s Funtown Mountain project.

This city has come a long way since I was a junior Phantom growing up in Eastern Jefferson County with the fear of God and the Pope Lick Monster inspiring me with equal measure, but in recent years we’ve lost more than our fair share of local institutions.

Let’s say their names in whispered reverence: The Vogue, Lynn’s Paradise Café, ear-x-tacy and Wild & Woolly Video. These were cornerstones of Louisville culture. Don’t forget about Mazzoni’s Oyster Café, which invented the rolled oyster and served Louisville for 124 years before moving to Middletown and closing its doors within six months.

The Courier-Journal sold to the Gannett in the late 1980’s, eliminating The Louisville Times and eventually most of the locally created content. Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark have sold to a Japanese company. It seems our very essence is up for sale to the highest bidder.

There are still a handful of both old guards and brash upstarts keeping the flame from dying. Caufield’s Novelty and The Great Escape keep us in monster masks and comic book heroes while newbies like The Comfy Cow, Alchemy and Ultra Pop act as defibrillators that keep the city’s heart beating as we deal with one crushing blow after another.

All of which brings me to a subject near and dear to my dark heart, and something you may have subconsciously been aware of but never really brought to clarity. The Halloween industry is still something created and produced regionally and locally all across the country. There really are no corporate chains of haunted attractions or Halloween parades, jack-o-lantern trails and zombie walks. All of these attractions and events are the result of the passion, blood, sweat and tears of their local owners, operators and crews.

Although the boundaries of any map of the United States clearly indicate that Louisville resides in a Southern state, I’ve always felt that we better fit the description of a Midwestern town like the “sequestered glenWashington Irving painted in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” or the small town Ray Bradbury conjured in “The Halloween Tree.” There’s something in the wind here; a sleepy, dreamy concoction that evokes fallen leaves and honeysuckle that once one has breathed in, he is forever lost in timeless, imaginary worlds that only exist in the shadows of the city proper.

The magical spell of the Halloween season lasts all year here.

Louisville Halloween was created to celebrate this unique piece of the puzzle that makes this city unlike any other. The Spook Run was invented here, and Danger Run is the only annual car oriented, puzzle solving, haunted road game of its kind. The first recorded seasonal haunted houses in the country are believed to have sprung from the Jaycees in Cincinnati and Louisville. The Louisville Zombie Attack is the largest annual zombie walk in the country. Paul Cadieux of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Iroquois Park fell in love with our city so much that he actually moved here from Rhode Island to create one of the most beautiful and evocative new Halloween events in town.

We have the fantasy oriented Grim Trails Haunted Attraction with its signature Maleficent’s Castle, Asylum Haunted Scream Park with its theatrical, interactive Zombie City, the Gothic grandeur of The Devil’s Attic, the legendary and historic Haunted Hotel, the old school at heart shocks of the 7th Street Haunt, the elaborate acres of terror at Field of Screams, the midnight black, heartland corn maze at Cobb’s Haunt, the dark woods adventure in Nightmare Forest, the cavernous underground crypts of the Baxter Avenue Morgue, the historic and magical charms of the Culbertson Mansion’s haunt just over the bridge in New Albany and the incredible “super haunt” known as Fear Fair just down the road in Seymour. Of course, you may have also heard about both the real and created ghosts that haunt the Waverly Hills Sanatorium hidden in the hills off Dixie Highway in the South End, and you may also be aware that local business owner, Will Russell, is in the process of saving and restoring one of the oldest standing haunted attractions in the country, the Haunted Hotel in Cave City.

All of these attractions are locally owned, operated and terrorized by local actors, effects artists and crews. All are part of the haunted landscape we call home and all are important to our city in terms of tourism, the local economy and our identity in the regional landscape.

We’ve lost some important icons in recent days, but the soul of Louisville will not be quieted. The rest of the country will continue to hear our monster roar as long as we recognize and support those unique spirits that live, work and create here. We will not be gentrified. Not on my watch.

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