The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News
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!
What are Yard Haunts? Where can you find them this October 31st? We track the best ones across the Ville and give you an EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of “Disturbed Souls” in J-town!
“Three more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Three more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock! It’s almost time kids—“
Halloween III: The Season of the Witch” (1982)
As the Silver Shamrock ad reminds us, it’s almost time! It’s the Phantom of the Ville here in the backyard of Shawn Pulliam and Kristy Ferrell’s Gaslight District home, which has been transformed into an elaborate Halloween haunted maze full of silver screen boogiemen, creepy clowns and animatronic monsters for a FREE yard haunt this Halloween.
Yard haunts are haunted attractions put on by extreme Halloween enthusiasts in their own backyards, usually featuring members of their own family, their friends and neighbors as actors. You’re usually not going to find anything in a yard haunt resembling the same high tech quality you might find in a haunted attraction charging a $20 admission fee, however, some of these attractions might just surprise you at how much work, detail and attention goes into their construction considering they’re only built to operate for a few hours on one night of the year. They are all FREE, by the way!
“Disturbed Souls,” in J-town for example, delivers quite a show out of pure love for the holiday. I was invited to a sneak preview night on Saturday, Oct. 25th, of their third annual backyard haunted house and brought back some pictures and stories to tell about the experience.
You can’t miss Pulliam and Ferrell’s yard when you’re driving down Marlin Drive in J-town. The front yard is lit up like a Halloween beacon that can be seen from a block away. Just listen for the scary music pumping through their sound system as you turn into their neighborhood. You’ll find a graveyard scene amid a yard full of Halloween inflatables and blow molds.
When you pass the entrance to the haunt, you’ll meet a scary little girl with a scream that could break glass and her creepy grandpa who you’ll run into again towards the big finale. Then it’s into the maze, passed some poisonous snakes and caged werewolves and right into Pinhead’s torture chamber. Next it’s a jaunt into America’s heartland and an encounter with Michael Myers, and then through a fog bound, outdoor movie theater playing “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” that’s haunted by Ghostface from “Scream.”
You’ll have to feel your way through a dark, foggy laser tunnel and next you’ll have to get by Chucky and a great “Exorcist” scare including a possessed bed (hydraulic effects and everything!) before navigating a clown room full of balloons. Freddy Krueger will threaten you before you head into the final maze where grandpa returns in a scene that has him floating right up the wall just before the big shock chase out.
Not bad for a FREE haunted stop on your evenings’ trick-or-treat adventures!
DISTURBED SOULS YARD HAUNT is located in the East End in J-town at 3702 Marlin Drive. It’s FREE, and they’ll be open Halloween night from dark until at least 9 PM or until everyone in line gets to go through.
THE HETZER HAUNTED HOUSE presents PSYCHOPATHWAY this year in the South End just off Dixie Highway at 6615 North Drive. It’s FREE, but you can bring a canned good to benefit the Southwest Christian Ministries Food Pantry. They open Halloween night at dusk and close when everyone has gone home for the night.
THE TWISTED SILVER YARD HAUNT is located just across the bridge in New Albany at 1015 Silver Street in New Albany, Indiana. It’s FREE and will be open on Halloween night from 6 PM until 9 PM.
So no matter what part of town you live in, there’s a FREE yard haunt not far from you. All ages are welcome, but parental supervision is encouraged. Some of these haunts can be as scary as their professional big brothers, and you’re likely to encounter chainsaws and bloody scenes just like at the bigger haunts. Mostly, though, these yard haunts are labors of love put on by folks just like you and me that just love Halloween. Get out there and join them this Friday night!
Louisville’s Crescent Hill neighborhood is quickly gaining national recognition as one of the best trick-or-treat destinations in the country!
Looking for somewhere special to trick-or-treat with the kids this Halloween? Many long time Louisville residents already know where they can find more K-Mart cobwebs, grinning jack-lanterns, plastic skeletons and Styrofoam graveyards than anywhere else in town, but recently the rest of the country is catching on too.
Last year, AOL Travel crowned Hillcrest Avenue number nine on the list of the Top Ten Best Halloween Neighborhoods in America.
The annual tradition has been going on for nearly 20 years along the three block stretch between Frankfort Avenue and Brownsborro Road, and many homeowners on the route start setting up their elaborate displays in early October. Each participating household regularly purchases between $200 and $300 worth of candy to hand out to the average of 2,500 to 3,000 trick-or-treaters from all over the city.
That’s just on Halloween. The special effects and lights show goes on every night in October and the sidewalks are packed with people every night, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Hillcrest generally expects around 75,000 visitors to walk up and down its spooky stretch of road through October 31.
If you plan on trick-or-treating on Hillcrest this year, the official hours next Friday are from 5 PM until 9 PM with police sweeping the streets clean at 10 PM. You can keep up with the latest news at www.hillcresthalloween.com where this year they have a page dedicated to Hillcrest Selfies posted on Instagram or Twitter. You’ll find dozens of Hillcrest Selfie stations up and down the entire street.
I took a twilight trip out to Hillcrest this afternoon to see what was new and snap a few photos before the sun went down and the crowds came out. Many of the usual favorites have returned this year, including Hillcrest Cemetery, the Ghouly Garden, Area 51 and the Clown House.
I think my favorite new creation this year was the house probably inspired by the 2006 animated film, “Monster House,” which has turned an entire two story house into a raging monstrosity with glowering eyes and razor sharp teeth. It already has blood dripping from its front porch fangs, so I’d think carefully before trick-or-treating there even if they’re promising full size Snickers bars.
Have fun and be safe this Halloween, and be sure to regularly check the Louisville Halloween website for more Halloween news and reviews all next week. Our Facebook and Twitter pages will be updated with the latest news as it comes in. Happy Halloween from the Phantom of the Ville!
Get treats, have fun and give back to Kosair Charities at the huge “Boo to You” Halloween party this Saturday, October 25th!
Happy Halloween, everybody, it’s the Phantom of the Ville here! Over the last month, I’ve been bringing you news and reviews of some of the creepiest haunted houses and spookiest Halloween events in town, but today I have something really important to tell all you parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, big brothers, big sisters and anyone else with children in their lives.
This Saturday, October 25th, there’s a big Halloween hootenanny going on at the Kentucky Renaissance Fair at 955 Elm Street in Eminence, KY. The whole medieval park has been transformed into a Halloween wonderland and from 1 PM through 5 PM you’ll have the opportunity to bring your kids out for a complete Halloween experience that benefits Kosair Charities. It’s Boo to You! Louisville Halloween is sponsoring the event, 100% of proceeds go to Kosair, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.
The cost is only $10 per child and adults get in for FREE. If you’ve been out to the Kentucky Renaissance Fair before, you know how spectacular it’s going to be for this Halloween event. There are wooded trails perfect for haunted trails and trick-or-treating, and a whole medieval village to explore.
Let me tell you about all the cool things they’ll have for you and your kids to do! Of course, there will be a trick-or-treat trail, but that’s just the tip of the candy corn. There will be pony rides, bounce houses, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze and hay rides. You’ll find a fortune teller, clowns, magicians, story tellers and the League of Mascots. There will be arts & crafts, face painting and food & beverages. There will also be a haunted trail for the older kids and some of the braver adults.
There will also be a costume parade that you and your kids can participate in and a costume contest where you can win some great prizes provided by some of the sponsors. There will be prizes awarded in three different categories and age groups, and prizes include Kindle Fires!
Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak with “Boo to You” founder, Jill Childers, about this amazing Halloween event. “This will be our third official year,” says Childers, “and the first three actually took place at our home. Last year we had 500 people, and I knew that we were quickly outgrowing our space. This year, the Kentucky Renaissance Fair has graciously given us their park to use for free.”
“Our oldest daughter, Addie, has cerebral palsy,” says Childers. “We turned to Kosair Charities several times when insurance would not cover the treatment and equipment Addie needed to live a full life. Kosair Charities have impacted our lives tremendously.”
“Boo to You” is just one way that Childers and her husband have chosen to give back to Kosair Charities and it’s also a chance for you to contribute to this worthy cause while having a lot of fun.
“There are a few hidden things and surprises in store for kids,” says Childers, “but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises we have in store. The drive to Eminence is about the same as the drive to Huber’s from Louisville, so we hope people will make the time to come out have some fun with Addie.”
Besides the $10 donation, Kosair will also have the Wishing Well on site if you would like to donate canned goods.
Halloween has been a lot of fun so far in the Ville, and there’s much more to come in the next two weeks, but “Boo to You” is not only fun, but significant too. Please take some time this Halloween to make a difference to the kids in your own life and the kids out there who need your help. Thanks!