Classic Monster Fans Shouldn’t Miss Louisville’s 24th Annual
WONDERFEST This Weekend at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel!
Good Evening, My Loyal Friends. It’s The Phantom
of the Ville, here to tell you about one of my favorite weekends of the year
here in the land of bourbon and boos. As a longtime lurker of the creepy halls
of the Crowne Plaza Hotel during the area’s biggest Toy & Model/Sci-Fi Expo,
WONDERFEST, I have some tips regarding the guests, panels and film screenings
that might interest fans of classic horror and science-fiction that frequent
this spooky corner of the Internet.
The show takes place from Friday night, May
17th, through Sunday evening, May 19th, with Friday night
serving as a FREE addition to a paid admission for a one day or weekend ticket.
Adults are $25 for a one day ticket or $33 for both days. Ages 4-12 are $8 for
one day and $11 for both days. Ages 3 and under are free. You can also purchase
an Early Bird Ticket for $55 which pays for the whole weekend and gets you into
the Dealer’s Room two hours early at 8AM on Saturday morning. The
Admissions Booth will be open Friday Night from 5PM until 8PM and again Saturday
morning at 7:30AM. The Dealers Room will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10AM
The biggest draw to Wonderfest is the world famous
model contest, and the show annually draws model builders from around the world.
Even though you’ll find everything from rocket ships to dinosaurs to full size
movie props and costumes from “Star Trek” to “Lost in Space” to “Alien,” there
has always been a connection to Halloween and the classic monsters of the silver
screen according to Wonderfest Head Programmer, Dave Cononver, “Sure,” says
Conover, “the modeling hobby probably began with most of us building the classic
Aurora Monster Kits of the 1960′s and 1970′s.”
The Aurora Plastics Corporation began producing
model kits for a young demographic in the early 1950′s, mostly World War I and
II aircraft models and “slot cars.” Aurora’s biggest success came when they
licensed the images of the classic Universal Monsters in 1961 and began
producing a series of monster kits based on Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man,
King Kong, Godzilla and their whole devil’s brood. I was introduced to these
plastic wonders through the haze of the smell of cement modeling glue during the
Glow-in-the-Dark craze in the early 1970′s when Aurora re-released their monster
line with glow-in-the-dark heads and hands. One of the most memorable features
of the Aurora Monster models was the moody and evocative packaging artwork by
artist James Bama.
Just a couple of years ago, Wonderfest debuted a
documentary about this whole phenomenon, featuring an interview with Bama,
called “The Aurora Monsters: The Model Craze That Gripped The World.” It was
co-directed by Cortlandt Hull, who comes from classic monster lineage. He’s the
great nephew of actor, Henry Hull, Universal’s “Werewolf of London” (1935)
himself! He has also run a classic monster wax museum called “The Witch’s
Dungeon” (www.preservehollywood.org/) in Bristol, Connecticut since
This year, Hull and his partner Bill Diamond will
be debuting a new documentary on Friday night at 9:30PM in the upstairs Theater
A at the Crowne Plaza, “The Phantom of the Opera: Unmasking the Masterpiece.”
It’s a comprehensive look at adaptions of the Gaston Leroux novel through the
years, with focus on the silent Lon Chaney Jr. version, the 1943 version with
Claude Rains and the British Hammer Horror version with Herbert Lom. It will
feature interviews with Lon Chaney’s great grandson, Ron Chaney, Broadway
“Phantom,” Hugh Panaro and Hollywood make-up wizards Tom Savini and John
Then Saturday night there will be a double feature
of classic creeps and monsters starting at 9PM in Theater B with a screening of
Roger Corman’s classic, “The Raven” (1963), featuring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre
and Boris Karloff. The real treat for classic horror fans is the fact that Boris
Karloff’s daughter, Sara Karloff, will be there in person to introduce the film
and talk about some of the later films in her father’s long Hollywood bogeyman
career. Mrs. Karloff will also be hosting a panel about her father’s career on
Sunday morning from 11 – Noon in Theater A.
Directly following “The Raven” at 11PM on Saturday
night, Wonderfest will present “The Ray Harryhausen Super 8 Tribute Show.”
Master creature effects creator, Ray Harryhausen, who just passed away last week
was the man who released the Kraken in “Clash of the Titans,” brought the
Cyclops to life in “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” and rose an undead army
of skeletons in “Jason and the Argonauts.” Guests will marvel to the clicking
projector sounds of Super 8 digest reels for some of Harryhausen’s greatest
work. The Super 8 screening schedule follows below:
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (17 minutes)
EARTH VS FLYING
SAUCERS (8 minutes)
20,000,000 MILES TO EARTH (17 minutes)
7th VOYAGE OF
SINBAD Cyclops vs Dragon (8 minutes)
MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (17 minutes)
AND THE ARGONAUTS – Talos (8 minutes)
JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS – Skeletons (8
GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD – ‘Making of’ Featurette (6
SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (17 minutes)
Other panels of interest to horror fans include a
Saturday 4PM session with Scream Queen, Brinke Stevens (“The Slumber Party
Massacre,” “The Haunting Fear”), who will be made-up as something horrible by
special effects make-up master, John Goodwin. Lee Meriwether, who played
Catwoman in the 1966 theatrical “Batman” movie, will be giving a talk at 11:30 AM
on Sunday morning. Last, but not least, the Rondo Awards (www.rondoaward.com) will present the awards for the years’ best
efforts in the horror genre at 5PM on Saturday.
There’s much, much more going on at Wonderfest
this weekend, and I’ve only touched on the more monstrous elements of the show,
so I recommend you check out www.wonderfest.com for all the details. I’ll see you back next
week when we explore a very unique, very local and very strange new
attraction/museum/cult film/punk rock showcase that could only exist in the dark
shadows of the Ville!
Bigfoot, the Kraken and All Sorts of Legendary Creatures Have Been Let Loose on
This morning I received a strange email from
someone calling himself Gern Blanston, Chief Investigator for the Center for
Research of American Paranormal Activity (CRAPA). Blanston summoned me to a
press conference at the Frazier History Museum downtown at 829 W. Main Street.
In a room filled with local press, a slightly disheveled gentleman approached
the podium and began to show us photographs taken recently around the city
purportedly revealing the presence of legendary creatures in our midst: Bigfoot
in Cherokee Park, a sea serpent in the Ohio River and unicorns at Churchill
Afterward, he took us out on Main Street to reveal
a “Bigfoot Crossing” (SEE PHOTO) sign that he claimed was intended to keep the
citizenry on “high alert.” I was then introduced to the Frazier’s Chief Outreach
Officer, Krista Snider, who ushered me quickly into an elevator which took us to
the third floor of the Frazier’s labyrinthine building. There I discovered an
amazing new exhibit that explores the roots of folklore and fables behind the
world’s most enduring mythical creatures from Asia, Europe, the Americas and
Inside the mysterious rooms on the Frazier’s third
floor, you’ll be taken on a visual journey into the world of Cryptozoology in
search of the truth behind the legends. The tour is broken down into four themed
environments: Creatures of the Sea, Land and Air and Dragons. The first area
you’ll encounter is Creatures of the Sea, and right away you’ll discover that
most of the legendary beasts on display have been recreated “life-size” in their
full glory. The full scale Kraken’s tentacles have broken through the
floorboards and surround you as you make your way through the room. Special
lighting and sound effects make it seem like you’ve been transported 20,000
leagues under the sea.
A sense of scale is a part of the larger than life
stories behind many of these magical creatures, and Mythical Creatures: Truth
Behind the Legends delivers the intended feeling of awe. When you first enter
the 7,500 sq. ft. exhibit, you’ll encounter a 17 foot long dragon with a 19 foot
wingspan and a tremendous Chinese dragon snaking through the building overhead.
You’ll see a life-size Gigantopithecus, believed to be the foundation for the
legend behind (or at least an an ancestor of) the Sasquatch. You’ll come
face-to-face with a gigantic Roc, the mythical giant bird that Sinbad the Sailor
battled in the Arabian Nights tales. You’ll see a 10 foot unicorn in a magical,
dreamlike environment, a full sized Pegasus and much, much more.
For those with a deeper curiosity about the
cultures that spawned these creatures and the history behind them, you’ll also
find many artifacts including pre-historic fossils, textiles, paintings, stone
carvings, wooden sculptures and other cultural objects. There are also several
fun interactive stations, like one I toyed with where you turn the crank and see
a display of whale pods breaking through the ocean surface waves that could have
easily been mistaken as the humps of a sea serpent. All ages are encouraged to
touch the casts of a narwhal tusk, the lower jaw of a massive ape and the talon
of an eagle.
If you’re very lucky, and you keep your sharp
senses about you, you may even spot the legendary Sasquatch himself lurking amid
the exhibits! I spoke with the Frazier’s own, Krista Snider, about her own
experiences with the elusive creature.
“I lived in Arkansas for four years as a child,”
says Snider. “We lived in a neighborhood with a massive, dense forest right
behind it. People told lots of stories of Bigfoot sightings in the area. When I
was seven or eight years old, I had a dream of seeing Bigfoot walk right out of
the forest into my back yard in broad daylight.” At least she thinks it was a
dream. When pressed for Halloween memories from her childhood, she admits to a
classical love of traditional Halloween costumes. “I was always a black cat or a
witch. I like the classics!”
“Mythic Creatures” opens to the public on
Saturday, May 11, from 11AM until 5PM for a special Founder’s Day Celebration
which includes unicorn rides ($3 per ride) in the parking lot and animals from
the Louisville Zoo from Noon till 2PM. MozziPi will be offering authentic
Italian food and the Comfy Cow will be providing ice cream on the sidewalk. Kids
can make and take their own Medusa or Kraken headdress or their own Historical
Cyclops Magnet from 11AM to 4PM.
The exhibit will be on display through September
15 and is appropriate for children ages 4 and up. Operating hours are Monday
through Saturday 9AM to 5PM and Sunday 12PM to 5PM. Wednesdays are open extended
hours until 8PM and guests can take advantage of half priced admission every
Wednesday after 4PM! Regular admission is $18.50 for adults (18 and older),
$14.50 for students (ages 14-17 and college students with I.D.), $10 for
children (5-13) and free for children 4 and under. Discounts are available for
museum members, military, seniors and groups of 15 or more. For more information
There is currently no word on whether or not the
Goatman of Pope Lick has been spotted at the Frazier History Museum, as he seems
to stick to his old haunts at the Pope Lick railroad trestle, but all this
recent cryptozoolological activity just may bring him out of his home creek to
check things out. My investigation with CRAPA is ongoing. Stay tuned for further
The Third Street Dive Presents Ex-Misfits Frontman, Michale Graves, on Tour with His Latest Album, “Vagabond,” This Thursday (05/09/13)!
What a week in the River City, my friends and fiends! An Orb won the Kentucky Derby, and I’m guessing some of you spook loving creeps and armchair ghost hunters might have a little extra cash in your pockets if you pick your horses by their names like I do. Now I’ve just received the word that ex-Misfits frontman and talented singer/songwriter, Michale Graves, will be returning to the Third Street Dive on Thursday, May 9th.
Currently on tour with his brand new album, “Vagabond,” Graves last stopped in the Ville last September on his solo, all acoustic tour. You can find the Louisville Halloween review here:http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/michale-graves-concert-review-third-street-dive/. This time he’ll be bringing his entire band with their amps, guitars, drums and bass to rock out tracks from his new record along with some horror punk classics. If you’re lucky, you should be able to pick up a copy of the very limited new CD at the show. Local punk band, Dead Dick Hammer, will be opening the show which starts at 8PM.
Graves is also gearing up for a return to his horror punk roots. He has successfully fan funded an anthology of his horror punk classics called “The Lost Skeleton Returns” through Kickstarter and the CD is due for release on June 14th. Graves will be breaking out the skeleton greasepaint makeup once again for this new record which will include ten re-recorded classics like “Dig Up Her Bones” and “Crying on Saturday Night” from his time in the Misfits as well as solo material like “Earth VS Spider” and “Dawn of the Dead.” Most exciting for fans is the fact that “The Lost Skeleton Returns” will include four new horror punk songs, “Lost Skeleton,” “Zombie,” “Forbidden Planet” and “Something Wicked.” Find out how you can get a copy of the CD at the show and get the latest news at http://www.michalegraves.net/ .
The Third Street Dive is located in downtown Louisville at 442 South Third Street. The show starts at 8PM. Michale always hangs out after the show to meet fans and sign all of your CDs, shirts and other swag. This is the Phantom of the Ville, who will likely be lurking in the shadows of the dark corners of the Third Street Dive this Thursday night. Stay tuned for much more news later this week!
Walpurgis Night: The Other Halloween (April 30, 2013)
Gather round the bonfire, my friends, for
Walpurgis Night is at hand! I, The Phantom of the Ville, have awoken from my
winter slumber and have returned to my old haunts in the River City with
exciting news. In early June, Louisville Halloween will be unveiling a new,
improved website with a number of new features that will better serve your smart
phones and digital devices. Expect a much bigger media presence in the Ville
this year as well. There will be more news, new haunted houses, new contests,
movie screenings and reviews, horror convention appearances and panels and much
more spooky fun.
Six months of orange & black obsession begins
on May Day, the first of May, 2013. To kick things off, I might suggest you
light a candle, pick a horror movie on Blu-ray or DVD and celebrate Walpurgis
Night, also known as Walpurgisnacht. Like All Hallow’s Eve traditionally marks
the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter in America, Walpurgis Night is a
festival celebrated in much of Central and Northern Europe that marks the end of
Winter and the beginning of Spring.
Named after an English missionary, Saint Walpurga,
who was granted sainthood on May 1, she became associated with the holiday of
May Day. The night before May Day, which is celebrated with singing, dancing and
great community bonfires, came to be known as Walpurgisnacht. It is exactly six
months from Halloween.
Like All Hallow’s Eve, there is an ancient pagan
connection to witchcraft and sorcery. In Germany, Walpurgis Night is believed to
be a night when witches gather and light huge bonfires in honor of the old gods,
and like our tradition of trick-or-treat, youngsters often play pranks on
neighbors under cover of darkness. In the Czech Republic, April 30 is known as
“Burning of the Witches Night,” and straw witches and broomsticks are burned in
massive bonfires. In Estonia, people dress like witches and indulge in large
Aside from the connection to witchcraft, the
common theme in almost all celebrations of Walpurgis Night is that of the
community bonfire. Folks gather together in the still chilly night air to sing,
dance, drink and warm themselves by massive fires on hilltops all across the
land, symbolically burning away the last of Winter.
There are a couple of movies that involve the
themes of Walpurgis Night and May Day if you’re looking for something to watch
to get you through the night. “La Noche de Walpurgis” (1971), more commonly
known in America as “Werewolf Shadow” and “The Werewolf VS the Vampire Women” is
actually the fifth entry in a saga of twelve werewolf films featuring Spanish
actor, Paul Naschy, as the cursed Waldemar Daninsky. Only tangentially related
to Walpurgis Night, two college girls awaken an ancient vampire-witch queen
during the course of the night and Daninsky’s werewolf character attempts to
rescue them, but eventually succumbs to the curse of the Full Moon and gets into
a knock-down-drag-out battle with the vampire queen.
The best movie ever made about May Day and its
connection to witches covens and ceremonial bonfires is undoubtedly Robin
Hardy’s “The Wicker Man” (1973) starring Christopher Lee. In this cult classic,
a police sergeant (Edward Woodward) travels to a secluded island in search of a
missing girl only to be confronted by one of the most unusual cults ever
depicted in a horror film. A must see film for the uninitiated, the climax still
has the power to shock modern audiences.
Commence with your own Walpurgis Night bonfire or
start a new May Day tradition, but come back and celebrate with us regularly now
through October 31st for more news, reviews, interviews and
adventures in the Louisville shadows.
See TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D With JOHN “Grandpa Sawyer” DUGAN at RAVE Preston Crossing 16 this Thursday 01/03/13!
Tomorrow at 10PM, Catch an Advanced Screening of “Texas Chainsaw 3D” with a
Louisville Horror Movie Legend!
Greetings, Fright Fans, this is The Phantom of the
Ville calling from regions beyond to the human year of 2013. This post will be
short and very sweet. Old school horror fans gather ’round. It’s time to start
the year off with a proper scream, and tomorrow night you can celebrate
Halloween in January with a proper sequel to Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre” (1974). That’s right, the new Leatherface film from Lionsgate isn’t a
prequel or reboot of the franchise, but an actual sequel to Hooper’s original
film set some years after the events of the 1974 narrative.
Several original “Texas Chainsaw” cast members
have returned to either reprise their roles or play new characters, including
the original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, as “Boss Sawyer,” Bill “Chop-Top”
Moseley (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”) as “Drayton Sawyer” and even the only
survivor of the original film, Marilyn Burns. Perhaps the most exciting cameo
for local horror film fans is the return of Louisvillian, John Dugan, in the
role of the corpse-like “Grandpa Sawyer,” a role he originated in “The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre” under heavy make-up nearly 40 years ago.
Lionsgate Films presents an advance screening of
“Texas Chainsaw 3D” this Thursday night 01/03/13 at 10PM at RAVE Preston Crossing 16
Theaters at 9700 Preston Crossing Blvd in Okolona. John Dugan will be there in
person to do a live introduction to the film. Advance tickets are available at
the RAVE Preston Crossing box-office or on-line at https://www.movietickets.com/purchase/perf_id/697154497/movieid/119299 . The Saw is Family!
The Spookiest Street in the Ville is Trick-or-Treat Central on October 31st!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, all my little face paint Frankensteins and drugstore Draculas, the time is finally here for our twilight procession into the cold October 31st night in search of haunted yards, Jack-O-Lantern lit front porches and Styrofoam cemeteries. There are only a few short hours after dusk to fill your treat bags and plastic pumpkins with sweet loot, so you’ve got to have a game plan. There aren’t as many neighborhoods that truly indulge in Halloween night festivities as there were when I was a kid, and four years of a tough economy has reduced the number of participating houses even further.
Indeed, a lot has changed over the last 30 years with regards to the American tradition of Halloween. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Halloween has gotten a lot bigger in scope, but the significance of All Hallow’s Eve has shrunk to almost a footnote. When I was a wee Phantom of the Ville, the thirty days before Halloween were just a slow burn build up for the main event which started about 6PM on October 31st, rain or shine. Now Halloween starts about the second week of September when the local haunted houses start to open and the big box stores start putting out their seasonal candy and decorations. The Halloween party builds throughout the first three weeks of October until it finally coasts quietly to a stop before the actual day even arrives! I would often get the Post-Halloween Blues the morning after all the excitement was over, but now that same feeling hits me almost a week before Halloween. Maybe it has become too much of good thing; too many haunted houses, scary movies and pumpkin flavored food and beverages leads me to an early Halloween hangover. But I still say Halloween night, unless it happens to fall on a Friday or Saturday, has gotten too quiet!
The most recent news reports say that even the hootenanny on Hillcrest Avenue, which has become a grassroots neighborhood tradition, will be scaled down this year. Fewer houses between Brownsborro Road and Frankfort Avenue are apparently participating this year and crowds are expected to be between 1,500 and 2,000, down from the over 2,000 Trick-or-Treaters in the shoulder-to-shoulder madness of last year. I took a stroll down Hillcrest Avenue a week and a half ago, however, and the displays already built were nearly as elaborate as usual.
What I love most about the Hillcrest Halloween tradition is that it isn’t a civic event or a for profit endeavor. Quite the opposite, some of the participants spend upwards of $1,000 on candy alone. It’s not even an officially planned or publicly announced party. It’s something that grew organically by the neighbors of those two blocks out of the love of Halloween. Many of the home owners were ex-Trick-or-Treaters themselves who wanted to keep the neighborhood tradition alive. This year, participants are asking little ghosts and goblins to come early, as the police will clear the streets starting at precisely 8:45PM. I brought my camera with me to give you a preview of the early stages of what you can expect to see on Halloween night, but these photos just can’t do justice to seeing the neighborhood lit up, animated with stunt gags & props, spooky music pumping through sound systems and creepy characters wandering the streets. It truly is something to see.
Some of the themed yards I encountered included a Wizard of Oz yard complete with Munchkin village, a whole yard dedicated to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” with animated scenes, a Ghouly Garden with a bone-yard, a scary Tiki themed yard, a torture chamber full of “forgotten prisoners,” a clown yard, an Area 51 with aliens and a flying saucer, Hillcrest Cemetery and a crazy skeleton wedding scene including Bridezilla and the corpse of the King, Elvis Presley, himself!
Wherever you choose to Trick-or-Treat or spend your Halloween night, The Phantom of the Ville sends you his best orange-and-black wishes for wonderful, memorable nightmares to look back on for many years to come. By the way, on November 1st, you can all start referring to me as The Christmas Spirit of the Ville! I hope to see you all again next year.
Support Local Business While Your Kids Trick-or-Treat!
I love this town! I’ve been haunting it for a long, long time. Its city streets, neighborhoods and backyards are in my blood, and as Dracula is so fond of saying, “The blood is the life.” It’s up to all of us to “Keep Louisville Weird” in our own way. I thank all of you who’ve read and supported the Louisville Halloween website this season, as well as my own little contribution as The Phantom of the Ville, and I encourage you to continue to support all the local businesses that make this city unique. This Saturday, October 27th, starting at Noon and lasting until every business in the Highlands area on Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue closes, you can Trick-or-Treat and find some great deals at shops and restaurants all along the route. Halloween costumes are encouraged and kids can get candy at all the participating locations. All those businesses officially taking part are listed athttp://www.thehighlandsoflouisville.com/BardstownBound.php .
Brought to you by the Highland Commerce Guild, this event is a great opportunity for both kids to go Trick-or-Treating in a safe and community sponsored celebration of Halloween and a chance for you to give back to the community by supporting the local businesses along the way. Eat lunch or dinner at any one of the dozens of local restaurants like the Bristol or Mark’s Feed Store. Order a local pizza at Bearno’s, BoomBozz, Impellizerri’s or Wick’s. Get some hot apple cider or a pumpkin latte at Heine Brothers Coffee.
Before I shuffled off the mortal coil, I spent a number of years living and working in the Highlands area, so I’m in a unique position to recommend a few stops that Halloween fans should check out when in the area on Saturday.
If you’re looking to rent or buy a scary movie to watch on Halloween night, I recommend Wild & Woolly Video at 1021 Bardstown Road, which just celebrated its 15th Anniversary in the Ville with a Zombie Hike in the Jefferson Memorial Forest. The independent video store, which has one of the best Horror selections of any video store in the country, has hosted horror celebrity signings with such stars as Ken Foree (“Dawn of the Dead,” “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw III”), Caroline Munro (“Maniac,” “Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter,” “Dracula A.D. 1972”), George Romero (director of the entire “Night of the Living Dead” series) and Rudy Ray Moore (“Petey Wheatstraw,” “Dolemite”). They’ve also hosted concerts with spooky music legends like Roky Erickson (“I Walked with a Zombie,” “Stand for the Fire Demon,” “Creature with the Atom Brain”). They always stock up on classic and cult horror DVDS in anticipation of Halloween.
WHY Louisville at 1583 Bardstown Road, a uniquely specific Louisville themed gift shop, always puts up a great Halloween display. Each year they design and sell a new local Halloween t-shirt created by a different local artist. Past years have seen a Louisville werewolf designed by Adrian Wright and a Frankenstein shirt that says, “Louisville, Gooood.” This year, WHY Louisville celebrates the local urban legend of The Pope Lick Monster with a “Goatman Lives” t-shirt (SEE PHOTO) designed by Carrie Neumayer.
Ultra-Pop at 1414 Bardstown Road is a great place to find imported vinyl monster toys and art design books. The owner is a huge fan of both classic horror and Japanese giant monster flicks, and you’ll usually find Godzilla, Ultraman and their friends playing on the big screen TV in the back. Ultra-Pop recently hosted a “Things That Go Bump in the Night” Art Show with monster and horror artwork all by local artists, and most of that artwork will likely still be on display until Halloween before they host another horror related event with the “Amigos de los Muertos” book release party on the Day of the Dead, November 2nd.
If after a long day of shopping and Trick-or-Treating, you’d like to catch a classic horror movie in a theater, head to Baxter Avenue Filmworks at 1250 Bardstown Road on the backside of the MidCity Mall. Midnights at the Baxter presents “The Tingler” (1959) with Vincent Price at Midnight, October 27th. This classic horror film was directed by gimmick master, William Castle, who actually rigged some theater seats to deliver mild electric shocks during the sequence when the Tingler gets loose in the movie theater during its original theatrical run. Expect some type of theatrical shenanigans from Midnight programmer, Beau Kaelin, and his tricky crew.
Treat yourself and your kids to Bardstown Bound Boofest in the Highlands on Saturday, October 27th! Happy Halloween!
Local HALLOWEEN (1978) HD Theatrical Screenings and Plans for a New “Halloween” Franchise Film in 2013 for the 35th Anniversary!
Justin Beahm, Keeper of the “Halloween” Series Flame, Talks to Us About the New HD Screenings, His “Halloween: The Complete Authorized History” Book and Plans for Michael Myers’ Return on Halloween in 2013!
Happy Halloween, my friends, it’s The Phantom of the Ville here, reveling in the colors of the Midwestern Autumn foliage during this beautiful last week before our favorite holiday. In the eccentric circles of horror fans, there is a tribal ritual of identification that is customary when socializing with other horror fans not unlike the similar practice of music geeks declaring themselves either a Beatles or an Elvis fan. You can like both of them, but your tastes, lifestyle and identity must loyally align with one or the other. In the horror community (particularly when discussing 80′s horror), you’re either a Jason, Freddy or Michael kind of fan. I’ve always been a Michael Myers kind of guy.
Yesterday I spoke with Fangoria writer and author of the upcoming coffee table book, “Halloween: The Complete Authorized History,” Justin Beahm, about his supervising role in new HD, 5.1 stereo screenings of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” as well as his working relationship with series producer, Malek Akkad, about the plans for bringing Michael back to theaters for the 35th Anniversary of the original film next Halloween. “This is a whole new HD transfer,” says Beahm, “not the same transfer you’ll see on the Blu-ray, and I think fans will notice a whole new level of detail and see things they’ve never noticed before.” The screenings he is supervising with Screen Vision and Trancas International Films will be playing on over 500 screens across the country, and can be seen at three different theaters here in Louisville. Here are the participating theaters and screening times available for purchase:
October 30th at STONYBROOK RAVE CINEMAS at 2745 S. Hurstbourne at 7:30PM
October 25th and October 30th at CINEMARK TINSELTOWN at 4400 Towne Center Drive on Thursday, October 25th at 7PM, 9:30PM and 12:01AM and on Tuesday, October 30th at 7PM
October 30th at RAVE PRESTON CROSSINGS 16 at 9700 Preston Crossing Blvd. at 7:30PM
You’ll also be treated to the exclusive short film, “You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman: 35 Years of Halloween,” also produced by Justin Beahm, which takes a look at how Michael Myers has infiltrated the mainstream Popular Culture and become a cultural icon over the last 35 years.
Growing up in perhaps the most Midwestern of all Midwestern states, Iowa, Beahm was born with the Heartland of America beating in his chest. Its hills, valleys and vast farmlands pump Harvest blood through his veins. “My earliest memories are of the Fall season, the Halloween parties in elementary school and all all the festivities and decorations of Halloween,” he says. “I think the first movie I ever loved was James Whale’s “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff.”
Beahm and I both share a common gateway to John Carpenter’s original “Halloween.” Both of us were just a year or two too young to see the film during its original theatrical debut, but we were both frightened by and curious enough about the TV trailer to seek out the paperback novelization by Curtis Richards who expanded the mythology set forth in the film to include a prologue set in Celtic Ireland detailing an ancient murder and a curse placed upon the descendants of the Myers family.
Beahm’s obsession with the “Halloween” franchise has ultimately led to his work on “Halloween: The Complete Authorized History,” which is a coffee table sized tome similar to the “Camp Crystal Lake Memories” book by Peter Bracke from 2006. Scheduled for release to coincide with the 35th Anniversary of the original film in the Fall of 2013, the book will feature interviews with nearly every living person ever involved with the entire “Halloween” franchise. “I’m giving equal care and space to every film in the franchise from the original through Rob Zombie’s films,” says Beahm. “I’ve spoken to thousands of “Halloween” fans and every film in the series in somebody’s favorite sequel. That includes “Halloween III,” which was intended to spin the franchise off into different directions.” The third, infamous entry in the series was John Carpenter’s attempt to kill Michael Myers once and for all by introducing a new series of films which would debut in theaters each October with the only requirement being that the stories had to take place during the Halloween holiday. Evil would not die, however, and disappointed fans demanded the return of Michael Myers in the next franchise entry.
Even though the 35th Anniversary of “Halloween” isn’t until next year, Beahm says fans should rejoice in all the recent activity in Michael Myers related screenings, collectibles and Blu-ray and DVD releases. “Bob Weinstein originally announced last year that we’d have “Halloween 3D” in theaters this season, but for a number of different reasons, that didn’t happen. I thought we should offer something to the fans to see in theaters as a replacement this year, and that’s why I worked to make this new HD, 5.1 stereo release of the original happen.”
“It’s an exciting time,” says Beahm. “There are new Blu-ray and DVD transfers of “Halloween II,” “Halloween III,” “Halloween IV” and “Halloween V” on store shelves now. There are new Trick-or-Treat Studios Michael Myers masks on novelty store shelves at this moment. You can get the new poster for the re-release for $17.99 at the official series website at http://halloweenmovies.com/, and we’re currently secretly plotting the next franchise film for a hopeful 2013 release.”
It was time for me to squeeze poor Justin for all the top secret information about the direction of the “Halloween” franchise that I could muster. Would the next film be in 3D as originally announced? Would it follow Rob Zombie’s story thread or would it completely reboot the series again? “All options are still on the table. A number of different story-lines are still under consideration,” admits Beahm. “These days films can be shot, edited and ready for theaters fairly quickly. The plan is still to have a new “Halloween” film in theaters by October of 2013 as a 35th Anniversary tribute film. Everyone just wants to make sure we get the story right, and that the fans will be pleased with the end product.”
If you’d like the opportunity to squeeze Justin Beahm for additional information about his book or the next “Halloween” franchise film, he’ll have a booth at the HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis on November 16th through November 18th celebrating the biggest “Halloween” gathering ever assembled, featuring the FIRST and ONLY horror convention appearance by Jamie Lee Curtis!
You can also meet the original Michael Myers (as well as prolific screenwriter and director), Nick Castle, and “Halloween III” director, and fellow Kentuckian, Tommy Lee Wallace. Other actors who’ve worn the white mask include Dick Warlock (“Halloween II”) and Brad Loree (“Halloween: H2O” and “Halloween: Resurrection”). Other “Halloween” franchise stars appearing include Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Brackett in “Halloween”), Lance Guest and Leo Rossi (ambulance drivers in “Halloween II”), Brian Andrews (little Tommy Doyle in “Halloween”), Tom Atkins (heroic, but probably alcoholic, Dr. Dan Challis in “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”) and Gloria Gifford and Tawny Moyer (nurses in “Halloween II”). Rounding out the guest list are John Carpenter’s ex-wife and frequent leading lady, Adrienne Barbeau (“The Fog,” “Escape from New York”), Jamie Lee Curtis’ “Terror Train” co-star, Timothy Webber, and Curtis’ “Prom Night” co-star, Michael Tough. More guests are still being added.
It’s a great season to be a fan of “The Night He Came Home.” Evil is coming back to your own suburban neighborhoods, Blu-ray & DVD players and multiplexes this year. Indeed, it was the Boogeyman, and he lives still.
The Louisville Zoo Keeps the Magic of Trick-or-Treating Alive on a Grand Scale!
The wait is finally over for millions of kids across America. The prime Trick-or-Treating season is at hand! When I was still a wee Phantom, we had to endure the long 30 days of October, watching each twilight as the shadows grew longer and longer and the dusk came earlier and earlier, until the night of All Hallow’s Eve finally arrived to indulge in two or three hours of neighborhood candy plundering. Thanks to the Louisville Zoo at 1100 Trevilian Way, today’s little ghosts and goblins can get a much earlier start on their Trick-or-Treating adventures, and “adventure” is exactly the right word to describe the huge experience waiting for them on a nighttime trek through the entire Zoo.
It’s The Phantom of the Ville here, reporting in with a preview of the wild and woolly, family oriented Halloween hootenanny taking place over the next two weekends at the Louisville Zoo. The party will be in full swing tonight, Friday October 19th through Sunday October 21st, and next weekend from Thursday night October 25th through Sunday October 28th. You can enter the Zoo anytime from 5PM until 8:30PM. Regular Admission is $8, but discount tickets are available at local Meijer Stores for $6.50. This year the Zoo is also offering a special Adventure Ticket for $13 that includes one ride on the Haunted Carousel and one ticket to “Dora and Diego’s 4-D Adventure” at the 4-D Theater. For Zoo Members, the Regular Admission price is $4 and the Adventure Ticket is $9. Parking in the Zoo lot is $5, but there is FREE parking available at the Cyril Allgeier Community Center at 4101 Cadillac Court with FREE shuttle service back and forth.
This is an extremely popular Louisville Halloween event. I was there on Thursday night, October 19th, and the parking lot was nearly full when I arrived at 6:30PM. I passed the Zoo’s entryway to find the whole park buzzing with excitement. My first stop was the display of hundreds of lighted pumpkins carved with images of every Pop Culture subject imaginable from Rock & Roll icons to classic monsters to Disney characters. My second stop was at the feet of the Great Pumpkin himself. A giant, talking pumpkin greets kids as they arrive in costume before they set off on their Trick-or-Treat adventure. Then it was off to the Trick-or-Treat path which winds its way all the way through the Zoo through 15 different themed areas, each with its own treat station.
First you pass through the doorway of a classic style haunted house and find yourself in Fairy Tale Land filled with storybook characters, highlighted by a giant enchanted castle with thrones fit for little princes and princesses. Next you’ll pass a Western Town inhabited by the “Toy Story” characters before arriving at Hogwarts where you’ll meet the characters from the “Harry Potter” series. In perhaps my favorite Louisville Zoo Halloween tradition, next you’ll be given the chance to encounter the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Since the Zoo trains are still closed, they’ve opened up the Gorilla Trail as a great winding path to find the Headless Horseman, and some really wonderful actors will perform as storytellers, taking guests through the classic Halloween tale before meeting the headless specter.
Next you’ll enter Classic Video Game Land, decorated with scenes from Super Mario Bros., Pac Man, Donkey Kong and a really cool Tetris display incorporated into the treat booth! Then your sweet tooth will be indulged in Candy Land as giant lollipops and bags of popcorn surround you. Then every dinosaur loving kid will encounter a couple of giant inflatable prehistoric animals in Dino Land. The Zoo’s newest, multi-million dollar Arctic exhibit, Glacier Run, is where you’ll find all the classic monsters of the silver screen. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the classic Universal Monsters, and I was as ecstatic as all the children around me to see Dracula, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and the Mummy represented in this amazing attraction.
The second leg of this amazing journey will take kids and kids at heart through a huge disco dance party area down into the rabbit hole and into the world of Alice in Wonderland presented by Louisville’s own Halloween headquarters, Caufields Novelty Store! Then it’s down under the sea to visit with Disney’s “Little Mermaid,” but watch out for the great white shark while you’re down there. Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City for a great photo opportunity with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz.” Then Spider-man towers above the City of Superheroes as you enter The Islands. Into the home stretch, the big finale will be an encounter with the rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” including a pirate ship docked by the Zoo’s lake. I enjoyed all the themed music pumped into each scene along the trail and was especially pleased to hear “A Whale of a Tale” from one of my favorite fantasy films, Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in the pirate themed climax.
Trick-or-Treat adventures don’t get much more epic than the one the Louisville Zoo has in store for you and your kids this Halloween at The World’s Largest Halloween Party. Don’t miss this adventure, and stay tuned as I’ll be back soon with more Halloween and Trick-or-Treating news in the days ahead.
Making Candy for 121 Years, Schimpff’s Confectionery in Jeffersonville is Your Local Trick-or-Treat Stop for the Most Unique Handmade Halloween Candy in the Kentuckiana Area.
Good Evening, Trick-or-Treaters young and old, it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in from the Candy Museum in the back of Schimpff’s Confectionery at 347 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, IN. The museum here is like a time machine that transports visitors back through the history of the candy business, including a section devoted to vintage Halloween candy (SEE PHOTOS). You can see the World’s Largest Gummi Bear amid the region’s best collection of vintage candy containers and advertising memorabilia. It’s not just the museum that’s full of nostalgia, the 1950′s soda fountain and vintage steel ice cream equipment can serve up the best pumpkin milkshakes in town. You can also watch Schimpff’s candy being made on turn-of-the-century equipment during frequent candy making demonstrations.
During my visit, Warren and Jill Schimpff were making these AMAZING Red Hot Devil suckers (SEE PHOTO) using one of Schimpff’s most famous recipes for Cinnamon Red Hots. These Red Devil lollipops are made EXCLUSIVELY for the Jeffersonville High School Red Devils girl’s basketball team and are sold ONLY by the cheerleading squad at Jeffersonville girl’s basketball games. I can’t think of a better reason to attend a Friday night girl’s basketball game this Fall!
A family owned and operated business for 121 years, Schimpff’s in Jeffersonville was started by Gustav Schimpff, Sr. on April 11, 1891 and has been passed down through four generations of the family, but they actually started making candy on Preston Street in Louisville in the 1850′s. Twelve years ago, Warren and Jill took over ownership of the business which has since been featured on the Food Network, Paula Deen’s show and the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” the episode of which can be purchased on DVD at the shop. They actually live upstairs over the shop!
Originally from the Chicago area, Warren was a chemist who nows applies his knowledge of chemistry to making candy and Jill was a college English teacher who now applies those skills to giving history lessons and tours to visitors on a daily basis. “My favorite Halloween treat as a child would have to be homemade caramel apples,” says Jill Schimpff. “I always sought out the houses giving those away on Halloween. Warren has an interesting theory on Trick-or-Treating,” she continues. “He grew up on the streets of Chicago and went Trick-or-Treating in large groups of Chicago neighborhood kids. One Halloween, Warren suggested they all go to the rich neighborhoods to get candy, and one kid with a little more experience said that was a terrible idea! He said, “Poor people give out much better candy! Rich people got rich by not giving away anything!”
If you’re looking for the best Halloween candy around for your own little Trick-orTreaters, you won’t find it at the big box stores, but Jill admits that most folks buy their big load of give-away candy there. In fact, Halloween is actually only Schimpff’s fourth biggest sales holiday. Christmas is their biggest season, with around seven busy weeks of brisk sales followed by Easter which is their second busiest week, but their single biggest day every year is Valentine’s Day, when customers are looking for something really unique for that special someone.
If it’s something unique you’re looking for, check out some of the pictures I took of the Halloween candy on display at Schimpff’s. You’ll find white chocolate bones, bats, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, rats (!), haunted houses and bloody hands as well as handmade candy corn, pumpkin face taffy and Peanut Butter Kisses wrapped in orange and black paper. Schimpff’s is also famous for it’s caramel-covered marshmellows, known as Modjeskas, and it’s Hard Fish Candy. Don’t forget their most famous candy, Cinnamon Red Hots, made from the ingredients and instructions found in Gus Schimpff’s hand-written recipe book from the 1880′s. It’s this very recipe used in the Cinnamon Red Devil Suckers sold exclusively at Jeffersonville High School girl’s basketball games!
Schimpff’s Confectionery is open Monday through Friday from 10AM until 5PM, during which lunch is served at the Deli from 11AM until 3PM. They’re also open on Saturday from 10AM until 3PM, with lunch served between 11AM and 2PM. They are closed on Sunday. Tours can be booked in advance at (812)283-8367. Although there is no set production schedule, as they make candy when needed, you can always call in advance to see if candy is being made when you plan your visit.
Creepy Kids and Their Evil Toys Have Made the Culbertson Mansion Their Personal Playground this Halloween!
Hello, kiddies, it’s The Phantom of the Ville here amid the beautiful Fall foliage of New Albany, IN with a haunt preview of Literally, a Haunted House located in the Carriage House outside the Culbertson Mansion at 914 East Main Street in New Albany, IN. Like the Haunted Hotel in Louisville, this haunted house has a lot of history with the Kentuckiana area. It has been spooking the folks of this region since 1987. The mansion itself, which you can read about here ,http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/welcome-foolish-mortals-to-new-albanys-haunted-mansion/ , has been spooking folks even longer.
I spent the afternoon yesterday at Harvest Homecoming in New Albany, leaving just before twilight to attend the Caufield’s Halloween Parade in the Ville, but something drew me back across the bridge again to visit Literally, a Haunted House at the Culbertson Mansion. My old friend, Holly Crisler, has been working this particular haunt for many years now. Holly and I graduated from Ghoul School together many moons ago and she has been bringing her special witches’ brew of love for Halloween to this haunt every year since then. She told me months ago that this year’s theme would involve spooky kids and creepy toys, and after my experience last night I can tell you without question that the kids ARE NOT alright!
Some of the things I love about this haunt are the spirit of FUN and the sense of community it evokes. Many haunts sell themselves as the sickest, goriest freak show in town, attracting throngs of jaded, cynical teenagers looking for something depraved and sadistic enough to jolt their overstimulated attention. This haunt attracts an entirely different crowd, and puts on an entirely different show. Families and teens alike are found screaming and clutching each other as the AMAZING line characters walk up and down the queues taunting and entertaining the crowds, but they’re here to have fun with their fears. The Culbertson crew injects the ancient magic of the joy of Halloween into their haunt. This haunt isn’t meant to leave guests disturbed and physically upset by graphic imagery, but instead to give them an adrenaline shot of Halloween fun and send them off with a smile.
At least this is my theory, but that doesn’t mean the Culbertson crew doesn’t take pride in scaring the beejeezus out of people. In fact, they keep a chalkboard handy to update their score. Categories include Personal Dampening, Quitters, Pukers, Criers and the dreaded Craptastrophies! I saw them personally add to their tallies in a couple of different categories last night.
Even though there are indeed a couple of mildly gory spots and lots of scares inside the house, I would highly recommend Literally, a Haunted House to parents wishing to take their kids to their first haunt. I’m not saying this would be a walk in the park to an easily frightened child by any stretch, but if your kid shows any interest in spooky movies and/or the trappings of Halloween, this would be the perfect gateway haunted house to get them interested. It’s easily the best lit house in the region, and there are no completely dark areas to grope through, just wildly decorated chambers filled with lots of detail and colorful creepy characters.
Your adventure begins at the creaky gates of a fog enshrouded cemetery. You’ll have to make your way past open graves and coffins to escape the Monster Mash of living dead rising from their graves. Then you’ll make your way up the stairs and into the Carriage House itself where you’ll finding yourself standing atop a giant Ouija board! A ceremonial procession of possessed children will encircle you, chanting ancient spells and incantations that will open the gateway to the chambers beyond.
Your journey will take you past rooms full of creepy dolls, possessed toys and the dreaded giant Jack-in-the-Box. Ghostly children roam the halls beckoning you to come play with them. You’ll climb all the way to the attic, which is haunted by a creepy clown, and back down again until you reach “the end of the line” when one of your group will be singled out for a coffin ride while the rest of the unfortunate party will take the spinning vortex chamber to Hell! It’s not over yet. When reunited with your separated member, you’ll have to exit through the bedroom of a big kid who has grown large but never grown up, and he’s not happy about you trespassing through his playroom.
Literally, a Haunted House at the Culbertson Mansion is open every Friday and Saturday night in October from 7PM until the last screaming guest comes running out the exit. Admission is $13 and all proceeds go towards the restoration and upkeep of the mansion itself.
Halloween Parades, Zombie Hikes, Harvest Homecomings, Demonic Curses and Meatcleaver Massacres This Weekend in the Ville!
Welcome to the wildest weekend of the Halloween season, my friends and fiends, this is The Phantom of the Ville with a rundown of some of the major Halloween events taking place between Friday, October 12th, and Sunday, October 14th. As a mystical phantom with the powers of astral projection, I plan on attending as many of these events as I possibly can either in body or in spirit. I only wish you could also be in two places at the same time because all of these spooky events are worth checking out. Where to begin?
CAUFIELD’S 9th ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARADE: On Friday evening at 7PM in the Highlands, the Caufield’s Halloween Parade will roll down Bardstown Road from Rosewood Avenue onto Baxter Avenue ending at Lexington. The parade ends directly at the gates of The Baxter Avenue Morgue which will be open to accommodate guests. This family oriented event gets bigger every year and has taken on Mardi Gras style aspects with many floats and Halloween decked out vehicles throwing treats into the crowd. Bring your trick-or-treat bags.
THE DRIVE-IN OF TERROR: A HALLOWEEN EXPERIENCE: The Georgetown Drive-In at 8200 State Road in Georgetown, IN is hosting a unique series of Halloween weekends that include a family friendly haunted trail and a number of classic, Drive-In horror films all for the price of $15 per person. This Friday the Georgetown will be offering chili cooked on an open campfire while you watch the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) at 8:15PM followed by a real Drive-In obscurity, “Meatcleaver Massacre” (1977), at 10PM which is hosted by classic horror icon, Christopher Lee! Counter, family friendly, programming will be offered on the Drive-In’s second screen with Tim Burton’s new “Frankenweenie” at 8PM and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” at 9:45PM. Saturday offers homemade bean soup accompanying two screenings of the original “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) at 8PM and 9:45PM followed by “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” at 11PM. (Stay tuned the following weekend for a Michael Myers Marathon of the original “Halloween” (1978), “Halloween 4” (1988) and “Halloween 5” (1989) as well as “The Shining” (1980) and a SUPER RARE screening of the demonic possession flick, “Ruby” (1977), staring Piper Laurie and directed by cult film director Curtis Harrington.
WILD & WOOLLY IN THE WOODS: This event, which takes place Saturday night, October 13th from 7PM until 11PM, includes both a zombie hike through the Jefferson Memorial Forest at 11311 Mitchell Hill Road (see Wild & Woolly Video’s event Facebook page for detailed directions) and an outdoor screening of the cult Spanish zombie classic, “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” (1974). According to Wild & Woolly Video owner, Todd Brashear, this event is a celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the locally owned cult video store. “When we first opened our doors,” says Brashear, “we only had 100 VHS tapes and ‘Let Sleeping Corpses Lie’ was one of them.” This isn’t a haunted forest attraction, but more like the annual Louisville Zombie Attack that took place in August, only in the woods. Everyone is encouraged to make themselves up as the living dead and shamble through the forest trail. Along the way, there will be a trivia quest where you’ll stumble upon props from various horror films that you’ll have to identify and answer questions about. The winners of the Trivia Contest will win prizes provided by Wild & Woolly Video. There will also be a Best Zombie Costume Contest. The film starts at approximately 8PM. The hike is expected to take 30 to 45 minutes. You’re welcome to bring flashlights, blankets and chairs for the event. Food will be provided by Taco Punk and beer will be provided by BBC. You must be 18 years old to participate.
“CURSE OF THE DEMON” (1957) MIDNIGHT MOVIE AT THE BAXTER AVENUE THEATERS: The Baxter Avenue Theater’s Midnight Movie Halloween Series continues this Saturday night with a 35MM screening of Jacques Tourneur’s 1957 horror classic, “Curse of the Demon.” If you’ve never seen this masterpiece of suspense and terror, I highly recommend you attend this incredibly RARE theatrical screening of one of my personal favorite classic horror films. Based on M.R. James’ “Casting of the Runes,” the film stars Dana Andrews as supernatural skeptic who attends a paranormal conference with the intent of exposing Satanic cult leader, Julian Karswell, as a fraud. Karswell places a curse on Andrews by slipping him a piece parchment with ancient runes that he claims will cause Andrews’ death at a specific time. Niall MacGinnis’ portrayal of the charmingly evil Karswell is one of the most interesting and seductive performances in classic horror history. Although director Tourneur hated the addition of an onscreen demon to his psychological thriller, the resulting monster is one of the coolest and iconic demons ever put on the silver screen. You’ll see hypnotism, seances, spirit possessions, clowns and giant horned demons before it’s over! Don’t miss this!
HARVEST HOMECOMING: This year is the 45th Harvest Homecoming Festival in downtown New Albany, IN, a charming, family friendly event that takes place all weekend long just over the bridge from downtown Louisville. One of the largest festivals of its kind, Harvest Homecoming attracts hundreds of thousands of folks every year. Encompassing several city blocks, this is great place to find locally made Halloween arts & crafts, food, music, rides and pumpkins.
“SCREAMER” (LOCAL HAUNTED ATTRACTION DOCUMENTARY) PREMIERE: Premiering Saturday, October 13th, at the Sheraton Riverside Louisville in the 2nd Floor Ballroom located at 700 West Riverside Drive is a documentary about the folks behind the screams of the local haunted attraction business. The film follows haunters Matt Kemp and Phil Granger as they risk life and financial ruin for the love of haunted houses and Halloween. They were the creative force behind the dearly departed Psychomania in New Albany. Doors open at 7PM and there will be a haunted attraction exhibit and reception before the film starts at 9PM. Tickets are $12 at the door.
Follow My Phantom Hearse Across the Entire City (and Beyond) as I Decipher Clues, Brave Haunted Houses and Eat Cheeseburgers on Louisville’s Most Unique Halloween Adventure!
Good Evening, Haunt Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in from the back of my Phantom Hearse at an undisclosed location near the downtown area. Actually, I wish I could tell you my exact location, but my hearse driver apparently took a wrong turn somewhere in the Shively area and I’m desperately thumbing backwards through my Danger Run clue book trying to get us back on track. I’m sure it wasn’t my interpretation of the cryptic clues in Danger Run’s wonderfully whimsical clue book that got us lost. It must be the fault of my hearse driver, Bartholomew Ozias Blackwood III ( I call him Bob *The Phantom), and his apparent inability to follow simple directions.
While Bob gets us back on track, let me tell you about one of my favorite annual Halloween traditions in the Kentuckiana area, Danger Run! The history of the Ghost Run or Spirit Race is unique to the Louisville area, taking inspiration from an old college road puzzle game called Midnight Madness and adding a Halloween twist to the late night fun. If the only Midnight Madness you’ve heard about in this town involves basketball, let me recommend the film, “Midnight Madness” (1980), staring David “An American Werewolf in London” Naughton and Michael “Teen Wolf” J. Fox. If you’re more of a Burt Reynolds type, think of it as “The Cannonball Run” (1981) with haunted houses. Either way, the concept is that you gather the gang together in your own Mystery Machine, choose one of three starting locations and attempt to solve rhyming riddles that are actually encrypted driving directions that will lead you to two major haunted attractions in the Kentuckiana area. You’ll keep track of your exact mileage and the Top 25 groups that come the closest to the actual mileage (“Damn you, Bob! Turn Right! Right, I said!”) over the next four weekends in October will compete in the Danger Run Finals for huge prizes that can be read about on the Danger Run website at www.dangerrun.com/danger-run-includes.
The starting locations this year are all at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores; in the East End at 501 S Hurstbourne Pkwy, in the West End at 6651 Dixie Hwy and to our North at 1350 Veterans Pkwy in Clarksville, IN. You can register to start your haunted road adventure on Friday and Saturday nights in October at any of the above locations from 7PM until 11PM. Enough time has been allotted so that you’ll be able to solve the clues (“It’s a one way street, Bob! Why are you asking ME which way to turn?”), brave the haunted houses and reach your destination before closing time. You will need your own hearse driver, as no single person cars will be allowed to enter, but if you have at least four friends in your hearse you will receive $10 in FREE GAS from Speedway! I recommend someone in the car bring along a flashlight or pen light to read the clue book so the driver can concentrate on the road and not have to turn on the interior lights while driving.
With your $18.95 per person ticket you’ll also get Buy-One-Get-One-Free cheeseburger coupons from Dairy Queen, because you’ll need to fuel up your body in order to keep your mind sharp enough to follow Danger Run’s breadcrumb trail through the many sites and iconic landmarks of the Ville to the haunts. Lastly, you’ll also all get a pair of vampire fangs (“Left, Bob! Your other left!”). I already have my own.
Let me catch you up on our night’s adventure so far. The identity of the haunted attractions participating in Danger Run is TOP SECRET, and I’m under contract not to disclose their names, but they are among the haunted attractions that I have previewed (or will soon preview!) here on the Louisville Halloween website. After deciphering most of the early clues perfectly, we arrived at the first haunt to be greeted by local Louisville radio and television broadcasting legend, Jim Bulliet, who has also been known under his pseudonym, “Danger Boy,” on FM radio channel WQMF. Jim’s brother, Joe Bulleit, has been Danger Run’s head honcho since 1994. Jim helps out every year with media and promotions.
“When we were kids,” says Bulleit, “we had a tree-house that faced the New Albany Drive-In. My brother was somewhat of an electrical wizard and he wired a couple of huge speakers in our tree-house to the sound system wires of the Drive-In just past the woods, and we actually had better sound than the people watching movies in their cars! It was real stereo, man!,” he recalls.
“We had couches and everything up there,” says Bulleit. “We loved getting together and watching horror flicks from the tree-house. That’s where all this probably started.” When Bulleit, his brother and their friends were watching drive-in movies from their tree-house in the woods, it was the Golden Age of drive-in and grindhouse horror. “I remember watching ‘The Exorcist’ up there, and after it was over, everybody was too afraid to climb down and walk through the woods back to the house, so we just spent the night up there.”
After hearing Jim Bulleit’s amazing childhood drive-in/tree-house story, we put on our brave faces and entered the first INCREDIBLE haunt. We were frazzled by creepy clowns, roared at by giant monsters, shocked by lunging specters leaping from their tombs and chased out by the sons of Leatherface. (“Didn’t we pass this same Dairy Queen three times already?”) Then it was time use our FREE $10 in gas at Speedway and start trying to find our way to the second haunt.
That brings us to where we are right now, and I wish I could tell you where that was, but Bob has gotten us completely lost. I think I just saw an armadillo cross the road in front of us and I’m pretty sure that armadillos aren’t native to the Kentuckiana area. In any case, I can still recommend Danger Run as one of the best uniquely Louisville Halloween events for friends and family to share this Halloween season. If I fail to report in later this week with more haunted attraction previews, please file a Missing Phantom report with the local authorities.
The Legendary Rockers in Halloween Make-up and Comic Book Costumes Give Classic Rock Fans a Thunderous Treat in Their Plastic Pumpkin Baskets This Halloween!
Alllllright, Halloween Fans, You Wanted the Best. You Got the Best! KISS for Halloween! This is The Phantom of Ville coming to you from the ear-X-tacy graveyard with a review of the new KISS album, the appropriately titled, “Monster.” After 40 years in the music business, the Demon, the Starchild, the Spaceman and the Catman still have a little fire left in their bellies to breath into the October night on their 20th studio album in stores October 9th.
KISS and Halloween have always gone together for me like peanut butter and molasses taffy in Mary Jane’s black-and-orange wrapped Peanut Butter Kisses. Maybe it’s the memory of the 1976 “Paul Lynde Halloween Special” in which KISS played three songs as the special musical guest. Maybe it’s the memory of watching “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” on October 28, 1978 with a group of KISS obsessed kids who just got home from a local haunted house and spread across the living room floor of my stepsister’s house to watch their Rock & Roll heroes do battle with the forces of evil. In that cinematic masterpiece, the band fought robotic versions of the classic Universal Monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man in a haunted castle theme park attraction! Maybe it’s the fact that KISS injected their own blood into the red ink of their Marvel Comics magazines. Maybe it’s because collectively they breath fire, spit blood and shoot laser beams out of their guitars in Halloween make-up. Or maybe it’s just because they rock.
Peter Criss and Ace Frehley parted ways with the band years ago, but fans have eventually warmed up to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in their roles as Catman on the drums and Spaceman on lead guitar. This is their second studio album with the band following 2009′s, “Sonic Boom,” also released in October just in time for Halloween. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been the backbone of the band since it was formed in New York City in 1973, and Stanley is the solo producer of the new record. Simmons, the band’s unholy Demon, remains the band’s Halloween hook and non-stop marketing machine.
In the works for well over a year, the “Monster” has finally been unchained, preceded a little over a month ago by the album’s first single, “Hell or Hallelujah.” Easily the fastest paced track on the new album, “Hell or Hallelujah” recalls the energy and spontaneity of the hungry 1970′s KISS on tracks like “I Stole Your Love” and “Love Gun.” Like the previous record’s “Modern Day Delilah,” it was clearly written and positioned up front on the new album as a concert opener. It’s followed immediately by what I think is probably the second best track on “Monster,” the the Gene Simmons’ sung rocker, “Wall of Sound.” Clocking in at just under three minutes, “Wall of Sound” is everything a great rock song should be: simple, short and hooky. It’s meat and potatoes rock. It comes on strong, gets the job done and gets outta here before it overstays it’s welcome. The chorus says it all, “It All Comes Down to the Wall of Sound.”
Simmons’ Demon persona also shines on “The Devil is Me,” thematically recalling songs like “Unholy” from 1992′s “Revenge” and “God of the Thunder” from the classic 1976 “Destroyer.” I was less enthused about his other major vocal lead on the album, “Back to the Stone Age,” but he delivers better returns on “Eat Your Heart Out,” which begins with a barbershop quartet harmonization from all four members. Here’s a new Trick-or-Treat line for you; “Eat Your Heart Out Baby, Won’tcha Give Me Something Sweet.”
Paul Stanley gives his vocal chords a workout on the album’s second single, “Long Way Down,” which is a solid mid-tempo rocker, but I prefer the energy he brings to the album closer, “Last Chance.” Stanley’s vocals have rarely sounded this good in recent years, and recent surgery on his vocal chords seems to have repaired some of the damage done from 40 years spent shouting it out loud to Rock & Roll arena crowds. He lends his lead vocals to the catchy, “Freak,” “Shout Mercy” and one half of “Take Me Down Below.” Stanley shows great restraint as a producer here, giving all band members equal share of the spotlight and not allowing himself to front all the best tracks.
Tommy Thayer is given his second chance to provide a theme for his Spaceman character on “Outta This World,” following his similar spacey, “When Lightning Strikes,” from “Sonic Boom.” It’s a rather comfortable, familiar sounding Ace Freheley tribute, but Thayer more than fills the Spaceman’s boots. Eric Singer is a dead ringer for Peter Criss’ raspy voice on the anthemic, “All for the Love of Roll & Roll,” a bluesy, lazy Summer evening ode to Classic Rock. He can thank Paul Stanley for providing a couple of clever turns in the lyrics: “I was Thinkin’ Life Would be so Pretty, It was Pretty Mean.”
“Monster” is a solid jolt of needed Rock & Roll perfect for playing in the car on the way to any haunted house, Caufield’s Halloween Parade on Friday, October 12th, or just cruising around checking out the Autumn foliage. You’ll find an Exclusive Best Buy version for $11.99 that includes a 3-D cover and a FREE KISS ARMY membership which will get you a free membership card, key-chain and wristband in the mail. WalMart is carrying a Special Edition for $14.99 that includes a 64-page mini-magazine, but don’t forget Gene Simmons’ mantra that it really “All Comes Down to the Wall of Sound.”
Fear Fair: The Most Elaborate Haunted Attraction in the Kentuckiana Area Brings “The Walking Dead” to Seymour, IN.!
My Favorite Haunted Attraction of the Last Three Years, Fear Fair, Gets Even Bigger in 2012!
Good Evening, Haunt Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville here with a preview of one the best haunted houses I’ve ever experienced. Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights where professional theme park designers build big budget haunts inside actual film stages, and it’s my opinion that among all the local haunted attractions, Fear Fair comes the closest to delivering both the scale and the creativity of those mega-budget haunts. Somehow they do it with an all volunteer cast and crew, even using part of the profits to build school playgrounds and help the local community.
I first visited Fear Fair three years ago on a whim. I think I saw their booth at a local horror film convention. Located in The Freeman Municipal Airport at 800 A Avenue in Seymour, IN., Fear Fair is a little bit of a drive from Louisville. It takes about an hour to make the journey from the lights of downtown Louisville to the sleepy little town of Seymour, so not everyone in the Ville is aware of the this haunt fan mecca, but it’s more than worth the drive. Ever since I came running out the exit into the parking lot three years ago, I’ve been trying to get the word out about this haunt, and this year a massive new addition puts Fear Fair over the top.
Back in August, I sat down with Fear Fair’s own Dr. Frankenstein, Brett Hays, to talk about the history and inspiration he had for the haunt which is located inside an old WWII Army Barracks. You can read about it here:http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/learn-what-it-takes-to-actually-haunt-a-house-at-fear-camp/ .
Fear Fair has always incorporated local history into their haunt and this year they’ve decided to use the WWII barracks as Hangar 19 to kick-start your amazing journey into terror. You’ll be immediately dropped into a war zone as soldiers are battling a giant, roaring monster right out of a scene from “Cloverfield” just as you pass the sliding entryway door. The adrenaline starts pumping as automatic gunfire and mortars explode around you. You’ll be rushed onto an awaiting train (an actual historic train car) and then put through decontamination before you’ll even be able to wrap your mind around the experience. This is just the first act in Fear Fear’s interactive scream-play. Be prepared for a physically active experience because the twisted maze you’ll traverse is like a living M.C. Escher lithograph. You’ll go up and up stairs, down into tunnels, outside, inside, through tight spaces and low ceilings and back up again before it’s over.
The second act has you coming across the theater marquee for “The Fear Fair Film Festival.” You’ll pass the ticket booth and the concession stand to enter a movie theater full of creeps and ghouls watching a horror movie projected on the silver screen. In one of Fear Fair’s signature creative scenes, you’ll pass right through the movie screen into a bright white light and when you come out on the other side, you’ll be inside the movies themselves. A lot of haunts pay homage to the horror movies we love, but no other haunt I’ve ever seen puts as much work into re-creating the actual film sets from each movie. Before each scene, you’ll find a clapboard slate telling you which movie set you’re about to enter as well as information about the film’s director and year of release.
The first scene you’ll be transported to is a cornfield where you’ll encounter the Creeper from “Jeepers Creepers” before being chased through the school bus seen in the sequel. Then you’ll hear the strains of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” score as you enter the childhood home of Michael Myers. This is Rob Zombie’s version of “Halloween,” and you’ll pass through the early scenes of the movie right through the climatic old house set. You’ll pass through the Insane Asylum scene from “The Wolfman,” including the sadistic chair used to plunge patients into ice water for “treatment” before encountering the beast itself. You’ll find some of the horror movie classics here too, including the most elaborate Frankenstein’s Castle and lab set I’ve ever seen. All kinds of gizmos flash and buzz, and when Dr. Frankenstein flips the switch you’ll see the largest Tesla Coil ever built for a haunted attraction. This contraption is around twelve feet tall and shoots huge lightning bolts that light up the room.
You’ll then pass through a series of scenes from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series from bedrooms to classrooms with “endless hallways” to one infamous bathroom scene all the way to Freddy’s boiler room. You’ll be threatened by Jigsaw as you pass a number of unfortunate souls in deadly traps from the “Saw” series before you must face Jigsaw’s judgment in one of Fear Fair’s signature scenes. In this scene, groups will be split up into boys and girls for an experiment involving a one-way mirror that I can’t spoil here!
Next you’ll go outside into a Summer Camp scene past the Camp Crystal Lake sign where you’ll find trees, cabins, canoes and tents as the refrains of Henry Manfredini’s “Ki, Ki, Ma, Ma” theme echoes in the distance. I must give Fear Fair props for re-creating an infamous sleeping bag gag from the 2009 “Friday the 13th” remake. You’ll have to pass through the incredibly realistic mine shaft from “My Bloody Valentine” and face the killer miner before entering a fun-house type of maze full of dummy Ghostface killers (Are they all dummies?) from the “Scream” franchise to the refrain of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand.”
It’s not over yet. This year’s new addition to the movie & TV scenes includes a tribute to AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Most other haunts across the country also include a Walking Dead scene, usually involving a gaggle of actors in zombie makeup. Not all other haunts BUILD THE ENTIRE CITY OF ATLANTA in their backyard! This massive set-piece will take you through the zombie infested city streets of Atlanta as seen in the first season of “The Walking Dead,” from abandoned pawn shops and clothing stores through a hospital where you’ll find Rick Grimes battling Walkers, and then into the graffiti covered back alleys. Brett Hays went as far as buying in an actual fire escape from a building planned for demolition and bringing it back across country to make his mock buildings look more realistic. It worked!
Even after fleeing the city and escaping the Walkers, you’re not out the woods yet. You’ll find you’re only escape is through Pinhead’s puzzle box which leads straight through the boondocks of Travis County, Texas and an encounter with the infamous Sawyer clan.
I’ve enjoyed all the local haunted attractions that Kentuckiana has had to offer this year, and any haunted house you choose to visit will offer its own unique charms and scares, but the overwhelming experience created by Brett Hays and his amazing crew goes above and beyond the call to scare and entertain and takes the homage of horror cinema to another level. I can fully endorse Fear Fair in Seymour, IN as my favorite haunt of 2012.
Fear Fair will be open this weekend from Friday through Sunday, October 12th through the 14th. Friday and Saturday the hours are from 8PM until 1AM. Sunday the hours are from 8PM until 10PM. The following two weeks they will be open from Thursday through Sunday, October 18th through the 21st and October 25th through the 28th. Thursday night shows will be known as “Myctophobia,” which means a lights out journey carrying only a glow stick! The hours for Myctophobia are from 8PM until Midnight. The Friday and Saturday hours are from 8PM until 1AM and the Sunday hours are from 8PM until 10PM. They will also be open on Halloween night, a Wednesday this year, from 8PM until 10PM. The cost of entry is $15, $20 for a front of the line Fast Pass or $25 for admission and a Fear Fair t-shirt.
Fright Light! High Tech Halloween Laser Light Thrills Found At The Gheens Science Hall And Rauch Planetarium!
The Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium at U of L Offers a Dazzling Laser Show of Halloween Magic!
Greetings, Halloween Fans of All Ages, it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in to tell you about an extremely cool and unique Halloween attraction right here in the Ville that might have easily slipped your attention amid all the haunted houses, parades and parties happening this month. Don’t miss the visually spectacular “Fright Light” laser show at the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium located within the University of Louisville campus at 106 West Brandeis Ave.
Opened on April 24, 2001, the Rauch Planetarium’s structural design is based on a six pointed star surrounded by a circular, sixteen foot wall punctuated by eight-inch vertical slits inspired by Stonehenge. A massive concrete cone encloses a fifty-five foot diameter hemispherical dome that serves as a theater for the Audio Visual Imagineering Omniscan Laser Projection System which when combined with the digital multi-channel 15,000 watt surround system gives guests a 360 degree audio-visual experience like nothing else. All of this technology is put into service in celebration of our favorite spooky holiday in “Fright Light”!
Laser Light shows have become popular on college campuses over the last decade or so as late night, Rock n Roll psychedelic “trip” experiences with Laser Led Zeppelin, Laser Pink Floyd and Laser Beatles being among the most popular shows. You’ll get a taste of that type of experience in a few of the trippier segments in “Fright Light,” including sections devoted to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and Pink Floyd’s disturbing “Another Brick in the Wall.” Like those seasonal Halloween CDs that pop up every year featuring a strange menagerie of different musical styles from a wide variety of artists with similar spooky themes, “Fright Light” is a Halloween Rock Show with enough different beats to please just about everybody.
It all starts with what is likely the most popular homage to spooky cinema ever written, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” during which you’ll be treated to an extremely colorful journey into a haunted house that includes all the classic, iconic Halloween imagery you could hope for including spinning ghosts flying across your entire horizon, three dimensional jack-o-lanterns and the classic Universal Monsters. You’ll also get a chapter devoted to Japan’s favorite giant, city smashing lizard during Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a Halloween Rock show without the classics, so you’ll watch a 60′s monster cocktail party version of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” see Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” come to laser life and join Danny Elfman’s Oingo Biongo “Dead Man’s Party.” Other music artists featured include The Who, Black Sabbath, the Charlie Daniels Band and several others. The show closes with the King of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper, and an animated rampage of one of horror history’s most famous monsters during “Feed My Frankenstein.”
I spoke with the Ranch Planetarium’s “Fright Light” programmer, Kaet Barron, about the Halloween parties scheduled to accompany some of the screenings. “Kids and parents can come dressed in costumes, and the whole lobby area will be filled with games and places to get non-sweet treats. Once the party starts, every hour on the hour there will be another screening of the 45 minute ‘Fright Light’ show.” Two Halloween parties will take place on Sunday, October 21st starting at 3PM and on Friday night, October 26th starting at 7PM. Regular screenings of “Fright Light” will happen all October on Fridays at 9PM, Saturdays at 2PM and on Sunday, October 14th at Noon.
“I was a bit of a troublemaker as a child,” says Barron. “As a result, I often got grounded from going trick-or-treating on Halloween, but my favorite memory is the year I put a lot of work into my costume and finally got to go out and get all the candy I wanted. I was a genie that year.”
Barron is still granting wishes to Halloween fans across the Ville with “Fright Light.” I recommend this unique audio-visual experience to all of you looking for something different this year. The seats at the Rauch Planetarium are extremely comfortable and you’ll be nearly lying down and staring up into the darkness while bright, colorful and sometimes hallucinatory images fill your field of vision. It’s a very dreamlike experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Trick-or-Treaters of all ages should definitely check it out.
Deep Within the Dark, Dark Woods of Otter Creek Park Exists a Place Where Nightmares are Born and Innocence Comes to Die. They Call it Nightmare Forest!
Greetings again, Haunt Fans, this is The Phantom of the Ville back with a preview of a very unique haunt known as Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek Park. I’ve always believed that when it comes to scaring someone, or when it comes to getting scared myself, atmosphere is half the battle. The proper setting is critical. Old houses, abandoned amusement parks, dark hospitals and graveyards all have a psychological impact on us both because they have a connection to death, decay and the great unknown and because we’ve been exposed to these places in dark fairy tales and horror films all our lives. However, when we get down to primal fears, we all share an ancient, inherited fear of the unknown terror awaiting us in the dark. Primitive humans gathered around campfires in the night trying to keep the unspeakable horrors of the wilderness at bay.
The forest, still to this day, is a place far from our safe and comfortable civilization. Dense with living things, during the day the woods may seem like a tranquil place, but at night it takes on another countenance. If you’re accustomed to living in the city or the suburbs, where all of the artificial lights of civilization keep the darkness at bay, you may be shocked at just how black that the dark can really get as you drive along the winding road into Otter Creek Park. Just off the highway, nature takes back the night and the trees begin to reach out over the road with their spindly branches. When you reach the parking area for Nightmare Forest, it’s so dark that you can hardly see the ground beneath your feet. Strange sounds, maybe even distant screams, echo through the trees as you make your way to the start of the trail, but mostly it’s quiet. Disturbingly, uncomfortably quiet. The scene is set for real fear to emerge.
That’s when the spookmasters of Nightmare Forest take over, using the primal elements they already have at their disposal, and building an elaborate series of incredible haunted structures that guests will encounter and have to explore as they make their way through the dark woods. I met with head spookmaster, Jason Weber, to talk about the history of Nightmare Forest and the challenges of operating an outdoor haunt. Weber and his partner, Jeff Howlett, have been in the haunt business for 11 years. He started with Nightmare Forest as an actor, but his real first experience running an outdoor haunt started much earlier.
“I really loved Halloween as a kid,” Weber says. “I wanted to keep trick-or-treating forever, but when I reached 12 or 13 years old, I knew I was getting too old to go door-to-door with a costume on. I still wanted the candy, though, so a friend and I built our own haunted trail in the neighborhood and charged the other kids pieces of candy as an admission fee to go through.”
Weber’s haunted trail has gotten a lot bigger. This year, Weber had a 10-15 person crew working through the last half of the Summer building all the castles, crypts and cabins that guests will encounter on the trail. One of the most impressive features along the trail is the mood lighting. Colored gel lights and carefully placed LED lights give the scenes just enough light to make the props and sets visible, but not so much light as to chase away the darkness. There are 40-45 paid actors working on any given night plus a varying number of volunteers.
“One of the biggest challenges we’re still facing,” says Weber, “is trying to let people know that we’re actually open! When the city closed Otter Creek Park during the Recession, everybody assumed that would be the end of us as well. But we’re still here.”
It was time to face the darkness, and my adventure began at Nightmare Harvest, a corn maze added to the original trail this year. This part of the trail is anything but straight ahead. You’ll likely be re-tracing your steps more than once as you encounter scarecrows and hillbillies while the strains of Dueling Banjos (the theme from “Deliverance”!) plays in the distance.
Once you finally find the exit to Nightmare Harvest, you’ll find yourself in the parking lot of The Nightmare Forest Drive-In where horror movies are playing all night on a big screen on the side of a barn while creeps roam among the cars. You’ll pass directly under the silver screen into the horror movies themselves on the main Nightmare Forest Trail.
The main trail takes you from one horror movie set to another. You’ll pass through Camp Crystal Lake where Jason Voorhees will be waiting. You’ll make a stop in Haddonfield, so keep an eye out for Michael Myers, but the thing I was most impressed with was the huge structures Weber and his crew built in the woods. Imagine walking down a dark trail and coming upon a huge Hellraiser puzzle-box just sitting there. You don’t have to imagine it because it’s there at Nightmare Forest! You’ll enter a huge Gothic vampire castle filled with spitting demons. You’ll explore the Mummy’s Tomb!
The long journey isn’t over yet. When you’ve reached the end of Nightmare Forest, you’ll go right into The Trail of Terror, which is all zombie themed this year. It’s just as detailed as the main trail with huge graveyards, hospitals and morgues. The make-up and performances of the actors are particularly good here. These brilliant actors know that real zombies don’t run! The finale is quite shocking, but I’m not going to spoil it here. You need to make the drive out to Otter Creek Park to experience it for yourself.
Before you leave, I recommend checking out Hawthorne’s Circus of Oddities, a sideshow of strange and unusual objects found in and around Kentucky. For only $2 (one of the best you’ll spend this Halloween), Hawthorne will take you behind the curtain and into his tent of oddities. He’ll tell you stories about each of the weird objects on display, and you’ll get to see “IT”! IT was found on the bank of the Ohio River and has been examined by medical professionals who have claimed that IT was organic and was once alive. You must see IT to believe it.
Nightmare Forest is open every Friday and Saturday night in October from dusk until 1AM.
Louisville’s Newest Haunted Attraction Aims to Put Visitors Through Dante’s 7 Circles of Hell!
Welcome back, my friends from Louisville and other regions beyond, it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in with a preview of Louisville’s latest labyrinth of terror, The 7th Street Haunt, located at 2900 South 7th Street Rd in the same building complex that houses the Expo Five. I believe this is the only major haunted attraction opening its doors for the first time in the Kentuckiana area this year, but just because it’s new doesn’t mean it lacks experience in the horror biz!
I stopped in on opening weekend to chat with with the mad scientist behind this new creation, Travis Boling, and his dead-icated crew. Boling told me that The 7th Street Haunt was built and is mostly run by the same crew responsible for the sadly lamented, Psychomania: Theater of Terror, which burned down in Clarksville, IN during the off season after four years of success in the haunt business.
“I had to do something for the crew of Psychomania,” says Boling. “So many of the actors there loved scaring people and working in the haunted house so much, and they were really heartbroken by the loss of that attraction. I know because I was one of them.” Boling got his start in the haunted attraction business as an actor about 8 or 9 years ago working for Phil Granger of Fright Night Productions and the Nightmare Network, whom Boling considers his mentor in the haunt biz. “The 7th Street Haunt is a combination of the best actors and the best surviving props from Psychomania, as well as a lot of blood, sweat and tears put to work to create something new.”
Boling has been a hardcore Halloween fan all his life. “My favorite memory of Halloween was when I was five years old, my parents helped me dye my hair black and I got dressed up as a vampire with plastic fangs and all. We went way out to the country to my Great Aunt’s house, who lived in the middle of nowhere, and my mother rang the doorbell and we hid. I came running out and nearly scared her to death.” Boling’s love of all things scary continues to this day and he sites “Child’s Play” as his favorite horror film.
Before being thrust through the INFECTED ZONE doors, which were saved from Psychomania, we had our pictures taken in the electric chair and took a quick look around the concession stand and Halloween gift shop where we ran into an old friend. The 7th Street Haunt has the same lovely and mysterious Psychic and Palm Reader that told fortunes at Psychomania! Although I must admit that I forgot to get this haunting lady’s name, I can tell you that her palm reading at Psychomania was shockingly accurate.
It was time to stop delaying the inevitable and face the horrors that lie beyond those intimidating doors. I took a deep breath and passed the point of no return. Of all the haunted houses I’ve visited so far this year, this one reminds me the most of the classic haunted houses of my youth. For me, this haunt recalls the locally created haunted variety mazes of WAKY, the Louisville Jaycees and The Haunted Hotel. The 7th Street Haunt presents a cornucopia of Halloween themed rooms that run the gamut from clowns and dark carnivals to an incredibly detailed crypt set to a dusty old mansion to a haunted mine shaft to a snake worshiping church and everything in between.
I could tell a lot of creativity and hard work had been put into the set design. The crypt scene, designed by Travis Boling’s mom, is everything a Phantom could ask for. I don’t want to spoil everything, but I was incredibly impressed with the Crematorium set which features a flaming cremation machine blasting the hide off of a poor soul whose skeleton is still trying to escape his burning doom! For a second I thought real flames were licking his scorched bones! I was even more impressed when I found out the whole contraption was handmade from scratch and not purchased from a haunt industry catalog.
The 7th Street Haunt also has around 30 actors working inside who are really, really intense and will absolutely get right in your face. These are the best of the best from Psychomania, so if you miss that Clarksville haunt and its crazy cast, you’ll find them all here doing what they do best.
The 7th Street Haunt is open every weekend in October from Friday through Sunday. It will be open on Friday and Saturday nights from 8PM until 2AM. On Sunday nights it will be open from 8PM until 10:30PM. Come out and experience Louisville’s brand new haunt and celebrate the memory of Psychomania with the wide variety of classic Spookhouse thrills on 7th Street!
Ex-MISFITS Lead Singer/Songwriter, Michale Graves, Brings a Little Halloween to the Ville on the Last Night of September!
The originators of horror punk rock, The Misfits, invented the genre in the late 1970′s through the early 1980′s and recorded a coffin full of classic, catchy Drive-In influenced songs like “Halloween,” “Horror Business,” “Teenagers from Mars,” “Astro Zombies,” “I Turned into a Martian,” “Vampira” and many others. The short lived lifespan of the popularity of the punk rock genre saw the band split ways in the mid 80′s when lead singer/songwriter, Glenn Danzig, left to pursue a solo career. For 15 years, the band ceased recording new material as personal conflicts and law suits between members stalled any musical progress, but the band’s Crimson Ghost logo and legacy of material continued to generate new fans.
In 1995, founding member, Jerry Only, resurrected The Misfits and eventually recorded two new big budget records on major record labels (Geffen and Roadrunner). By this time Glenn Danzig had moved on to Satanic Heavy Metal stardom and the call went out for a new leader singer with song writing talent to continue the B-movie, horror punk concept that fans demanded. Enter Michale Graves. At 25 years old, he was pulled from obscurity and placed into the spotlight as the front man for the biggest horror punk band of all time, playing shows all over the world and appearing in movies like George (“Dawn of the Dead”) Romero’s “Bruiser.”
Last night Graves played the last night of his War of Information solo tour at the Third Street Dive downtown at 442 S 3rd Street before an intimate group of hardcore fans. This wasn’t the rowdy, mosh pit type of show you might expect from a modern punk rock legend. Instead fans were treated to an all acoustic set that included a number of songs from his recent solo projects punctuated with a fistful of horror-centric hits he wrote for The Misfits. There was no backup band, no skeleton face make-up, no Halloween costumes or props; just one man and his guitar. Minus the horror facade he projects at bigger shows, Graves’ unique, soulful voice and the quality of his lyrical content proved that these songs work even without the bombast of the punk/metal hybrid of framework they were originally recorded on top of.
When his original recordings with The Misfits were released, “American Psycho” in 1997 and “Famous Monsters” in 1999, old school fan reaction was mixed mostly due to the fact that Graves sounded absolutely nothing like Glenn Danzig, yet he was still expected to belt out the classic era songs during live shows. If you can remember back far enough to when Sammy Hagar originally took over as lead singer for Van Halen and the band didn’t yet have enough new material to fill a 90 minute arena show, Sammy was forced to sing David Lee Roth era hits to mixed results. No matter what Michale Graves sounded like live, he was never going to sound like Glenn Danzig, and as a result some fans could never see the new Misfits as anything but a cover band.
Graves’ post-Misfits career has gone forward to see him develop as both a songwriter and performer. After about five years of trial and error with a couple of different bands, he released his own solo horror punk records, “Punk Rock is Dead” (2005) and “Return to Earth” (2006), and recorded an album he co-wrote with Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three while Echols was still in prison. Recently freed and found innocent of the murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993, Echols was the subject of the “Paradise Lost” documentaries and the upcoming documentary, “West of Memphis,” produced by Peter (“Dead Alive”) Jackson. Michael Graves supported Echols during his imprisonment and mounted a tour to contribute to his legal defense.
Last night, Graves joked that he owes his voice to Tiger Pops, which he enjoyed between songs. Tiger Pops, as I learned at the show, are cheap lollipops that can be bought in bags of 120 suckers for only a buck at Dollar Stores across the country. “Tiger Pops!,” he would exclaim in a New Jersey accent after completing a song if it seemed to go particularly well.
The set list included Misfits favorites “Shining,” “Resurrection,” “Witch Hunt,” “Fiend Club,” “Scream,” the catchy sing-along, “Don’t Open ‘Til Doomsday” and his biggest hit with The Misfits, “Dig Up Her Bones.” The highlight of the set list, at least for me, was the 1950′s doo-wop inspired, “Saturday Night,” before which Graves pulled back the magic curtain by first playing the opening verse-chorus of “Tears on My Pillow,” originally recorded by Little Anthony and the Imperials in 1958. Clearly, he wrote “Saturday Night” right on top of the hook for that timeless classic, which strikes me as perfect for a song about murder, the Drive-In and exaggerated teenage emotion.
The Third Street Dive would like you to know that if this kind of music is your “thing” then upcoming this month you can catch Forbidden Dimension and The Commies on October 12th, Dead Dick Hammer and Scumbelina on October 19th and The Nulydedz and Doombuggy Attack Battalion on October 26th.
UPDATE: Michale would like thank all his fans for coming out on Sunday night! He wanted me to tell you all about his next CD, “Vagabond,” which is being released by Kickstarter. You can support his music and pre-order the “Vagabond” CD at the same time at the following web address:
Three Completely Different Haunted Attractions and One Dark Carnival Sideshow Make for a Wicked Night’s Entertainment at The Asylum Haunted Scream Park in Louisville’s South End!
Welcome back again, Haunt Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville with another preview of another massive haunted theme park within city limits! It just doesn’t seem possible that one city could offer so many first class Halloween attractions, but Louisville seems to love the spooky season more than any other. I’m not complaining, and if you’re reading this then I’m guessing that you aren’t either. This time my enchanted compass is pointing South, and my hearse driver has just taken the Gene Snyder Freeway to the Stonestreet Exit and turned right to arrive at 3101 Pond Station Road. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I realize we’ve arrived at the Asylum Haunted Scream Park.
Most of the calendar year, this facility serves weekend warriors as the premiere paintball tournament arena in the Kentuckiana area, but from late September through late October it becomes something else entirely; something much more sinister. As soon as I passed through the front gates on a chilly late September evening, I was greeted by a huge burst of flames rolling across the sky. When the smoke cleared, I recognized my old friend, Midian, the fire-breather from the Carnivale of Lost Souls! In the circles of horror conventions, cult video stores (with good horror sections!) and haunted houses, you often run into others with the same haunted interests time and again, and Midian and I have bumped into each other on many occasions over the years.
The Carnivale of Lost Souls, a FREE dark carnival sideshow, performs shows every 30-45 minutes at the Asylum Haunted Scream Park. For no extra charge, you’ll see the Human Blockhead nail sharp objects through various parts of his body, you’ll witness the Fire Dancers dazzle you with hypnotic flaming dance routines, you’ll swoon for the alluring Belly Dancers and you’ll warm up to Midian as he breathes fire into the night sky. You can also get your fortune told by an authentic psychic who will look into her crystal ball or divine your future through Tarot cards. If you really, really hate the walking dead, you can grab a paintball gun and unload on the poor chained up stiff in the Shoot-A-Zombie booth. This is a great way to blow off stress while waiting for Season Three of AMC‘s “The Walking Dead” premiere broadcast!
If you like the idea of Shoot-A-Zombie, then you’re going to love Xterminate: Zalien Attack based on the locally produced horror comedy, “Overtime,” starring WWF & WWE professional wrestler, Al Snow, and upcoming Louisville actor, John Wells. You’ll be given a machine gun that flashes a bright light every time you squeeze the trigger and sent into a massive warehouse filled with corpses that have been infected with nasty little aliens that have turned them into flesh eating monstrosities. Your mission is to find and shut down three power stations while fending off the zalien hordes, then defeat their hideous Queen (“There’s always a Queen.”) and escape with your life. This experience is like a live, interactive version of a first-person-shooter Xbox 360 video game. Actors playing zaliens will try to attack you, but will fall to the ground when you fire your weapons at them.
Since I had never been to the Asylum Scream Park before, I was a bit nervous about this attraction because I thought it might involve paintball guns, and I didn’t want to ruin my best black robes or red puffy shirt. I can assure you that you need not worry about this. All the guns used in Xterminate: Zalien Attack are light guns and do not use paintgun pellets. One cool thing this attraction does have is a pre-show video starring Al Snow and John Wells that sets up the story for the mission ahead just like the pre-shows you would see at big budget theme parks like Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.
After surviving the zalien assault in Xterminate, we met with Asylum spookmaster, Richard Teachout, for some insight into the mad genius behind these attractions. “We’ve got 40 acres of space here to use for the Haunted Asylum Scream Park and this year we’ve grown 400%,” says Teachout. When asked about why he became interested in the Haunted Attraction business, Teachout said he was taken to The Darkness Haunted House in St Louis, Missouri when he was 8 years old and was totally hooked. The Darkness, owned and operated by legendary haunter, Larry Kirchner, is consistently ranked in the top two or three haunted houses in America.
It was already a busy night at Asylum, so we let Richard get back to the business of scaring people while we took a tour of Zombie City! Whatever you might be expecting, this attraction is probably not like any haunted attraction you’ve experienced before. The focus is taken off traditional jump scares and placed more on atmosphere and story. Zombie City is an interactive theatrical experience where you travel through a zombie infected town and run into various characters who will chat with you and forward the plot as you go forward. You’ll meet mad scientists, jumpy sheriffs, trigger happy hillbillies and battle hardened soldiers, and someone in your group will get to blow up a zombie!
It was getting late, nearly two hours past the witching hour, when we arrived at the last, outdoor attraction at Asylum known as Darkness Falls. Nothing I had seen all night could have prepared me for the incredible one mile journey into darkness I was about to take. Darkness Falls is one of the most elaborate haunted forests I’ve ever hiked through, rivaling the very best years of Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek Park. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think that if you have to choose just one attraction at Asylum Haunted Scream Park, you must take the hike into Darkness Falls.
You’ll pass outdoor graveyards and a colorful, Tim Burton-esque Halloween Town while occasionally coming upon heavily themed structures you must work your way through. Darkness Falls is somewhat of a full contact haunted obstacle course. You’ll have to navigate your way over bridges right out of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” through twisted, giant mazes and into claustrophobic tunnels. One of my favorite scenes had us careening down a giant slide into a spongy foam pool! When I first pushed off into the dark downward tunnel, I had no idea how long the slide would be or how soon (and how possibly hard) I would hit the bottom. As I picked up speed, vertigo set in and I let out a scream for the history books! That’s what Halloween is all about, wouldn’t you agree?
Asylum Haunted Scream Park is open September 28th and 29th from 8PM until 2AM. It’s open every Friday and Saturday in October from 8PM until 2AM.
Now Much More Than Just INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE, This Jeffersonville Haunt Offers Four Full Sized Haunts Under One Roof!
Welcome, Haunt Fans, this is The Phantom of the Ville here, deep into my dizzying tour of Kentuckiana’s best Haunted Attractions of 2012! After my restless stay at the Haunted Hotel, my hearse driver made a deadly beeline course over the blackness of the Ohio River to arrive at 835 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, IN. Neon green slime dripped from the gargoyle covered rooftop above an already crowded parking lot full of roaming monsters (SEE PHOTO) as my driver parked in my reserved spot right next to the Industrial Nightmare hearse.
Before joining the legion of other ghouls and maniacs in one of Industrial Terrorplex’s four haunts, I stopped briefly to chat with Industrial foreman, Todd Moore, who has been in the haunted attraction business since 2002. Although I wouldn’t exactly call it a “cruel streak,” Moore clearly enjoys his job terrorizing others every Halloween season. “When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do on Halloween was to follow other kids who were carrying a big sack of candy, and take a pair of scissors and cut a hole in the bottom of their sack. Then I would follow behind them and pick up all of their candy as it leaked out of the bag.” Clearly, Moore enjoyed the “trick” aspect of Halloween as much as he enjoyed the “treat.” Afterward, he enjoyed YOUR treats!
After our conversation, Moore sent us off to explore the haunts, starting with the Terrorplex’s anchor haunt, Industrial Nightmare. This is a big budget attraction that includes headless beasts, forty foot animatronic monsters, moving bridges over water and even underwater lizard-men! The single most spectacular illusion in this attraction is still Industrial Nightmare’s signature swamp scene where guests can actually feel themselves sinking into the bog.
We next entered Dementions, which starts in a “Saw” inspired elevator scene before heading off to dozens of scenes of madness, one of which features the Greek mythological creature, Medusa, and some extremely realistic boa constrictors. They seemed so real that I leaned in for a closer look at their slithering tongues and got a face full of venom! At the climax, you’ll have to navigate a very confusing pitch dark maze that may have you going in circles.
Dementions exits right at the doors to Carnevil 3-D where you’ll be given a pair of 3-D glasses that will make passage through the spinning warp tunnel even more disorienting as you cross into Carnevil’s world of dark circus scenes and Killer Klowns. I’ve been through Carnevil before, and I’d say this year’s clown-centric haunt is nearly twice as long as previous years.
Finally, if you climb down the stairs to Terrorplex’s basement where the old elevator shaft disaster scene used to be, you’ll find their newest attraction, Infested, which is a plague ravaged, zombie overrun zone. Some of the set design reminded me of The Devil’s Attic with it’s elaborate, cave-like tunnels covered in skulls and crypts. Infested has a Gothic and mysterious atmosphere about it that isn’t necessarily trying to take you to intensity Level Ten right away, but instead builds a slow-burn tension towards a crazy finale.
What Industrial Terrorplex delivers is a total package of terror that includes a great variety of themes, each haunt being a completely different experience than the last, and a lot of time spent in the haunts. We spent over an hour inside the haunts not including any wait times. Unlike some other similar multi-haunt attractions I’ve experienced in the past, each attraction here is a FULL SIZED HAUNT. Often you’ll get one full sized attraction and a couple of other shorter sideshows that are much less detailed and/or thought out. That is not the case at Industrial Terrorplex.
Industrial Terrorplex is open September 28-29 from 8PM until 1AM and Thursdays through Sundays in October (except Sunday, October 7th). Thursdays and Sundays from 8-11PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 8PM until 1AM. I fully recommend getting the $28 value ticket which gets you into all four haunts for an entire evening of Halloween entertainment. That’s one of the best best bangs for your buck you’ll find this season.
Louisville’s Longest Standing Haunt Has Some New Blood!
Other than the long lamented WAKY Haunted House from Louisville’s Silver Age of Haunted Houses, no other haunted attraction in the Ville has yet earned the right to be considered “legendary” other than the one and only Haunted Hotel. The WAKY Haunted House, which was my first haunt experience as a wee Phantom, built a schoolyard reputation that no haunted house built of ordinary brick, papier-mache and black plastic could ever live up to. There were lunchroom rumors of gouged out eyeballs, tales of kids that went in only to never be seen again and one outrageous story about a trapdoor that dropped unsuspecting visitors fifteen feet onto a bed of foam nails!
I don’t remember much about my single trek through the WAKY Haunted House. My eyes were sealed firmly shut most of the way through, as my poor dad dragged me forward by my Mighty Mouse jacket collar. But I do remember fragments of the first of my many expeditions through The Haunted Hotel, which still sits alone at its original 3000 S. 4th Street location 23 years later. Strobe lights; Boney fingers grabbing my bell bottom pant legs; Caged maniacs on both sides of me, clutching at my clothes; An escaped werewolf threatening to rip my throat. Terror incarnate.
The Haunted Hotel was the true successor to the WAKY Haunted House’s crown, and it has held the title of Louisville’s Favorite Haunted House for 23 years with a number of memorable gimmicks and themes. Who can ever forget the tunnel of thousands of live roaches? Or the year when visitors came face-to-face with infamous urban legends? This year, as usual, The Haunted Hotel offers some unique and unusual thrills created by its new owners, true “Brothers of Blood,” Kevin and Brian Stich!
Before I checked into the Hotel this year, I went to see Kevin and Brian to find out more about what they had in store for this iconic building on 4th Street. “You’ve got to see our Nazi room!,” boasted Kevin. Uh-Oh. The Stich Brothers were the former owners and operators of Wolf Creek Haunted Forest in Shepherdsville. They’re both looking forward to not having to deal with the unpredictable problems with weather that can plague an outdoor haunt, and they’re both very happy to be getting a crack at running one of their favorite haunts growing up.
“It was really Danger Run that made us want to get into making our own haunted house, and back in the day, The Haunted Hotel was always part of Danger Run,” says Kevin. “It was our love of horror movies too,” says Brian. “My favorite horror movie is ‘Silent Hill,’ but I love ‘The Amityville Horror’ too.”
Soon enough, Kevin and Brian handed me my room key and sent me off to the check-in desk. I was put in with a group of three cheerleaders from Eastern High School (SEE PHOTO), so I already knew I was in deep trouble. There’s nothing crazed haunted attraction actors (especially chainsaw maniacs) enjoy more than terrorizing cheerleaders, so of course, we were savagely assaulted right from the first room all the way through the longest clown and chainsaw maze ever to occupy the outdoor section of The Haunted Hotel.
Touring the Hotel is like slipping into a favorite pair of house shoes. The building’s structure is familiar, and many of the classic rooms remain, but there are plenty of new gags to surprise even the most experienced fan. For some reason, I’ve always loved climbing the stairs to the second floor and this year there were snapping plant monsters chomping at our heels as we raced to the top. Actually there are quite a few impressive animatronic monsters in the haunt this year.
The dreaded “Nazi Room” is something I just can’t spoil here. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed. It’s sure to frighten some and offend others, but it certainly can’t be said that the Stich Brothers have not pushed themed rooms to their limits.
The Haunted Hotel will be open September 28-29th from 8PM to 2AM, and will be open in October from Thursdays through Sunday nights. Thursdays and Sundays hours will be 8PM to 12AM. Fridays and Saturdays hours will be 8PM to 2AM.
Climb the Rickety Stairs with Us to Take a Peek into The Devil’s Attic!
Take a deep breath, Haunt Fans, and follow me as I take a terrifying whirlwind tour of all the best Haunted Attractions in the Louisville area over the next two weeks. On Friday, September 21st, the floodgates of Hell were opened in the Ville, and a skeletal fistful of attractions opened their doors to the unwary populace. Join me, The Phantom of the Ville, as I attempt to hold onto what’s left of my mortal sanity as I plunge myself head first into every nightmare created by the twisted masterminds of these haunts.
Here at the Louisville Halloween website, we don’t like to start in the shallow end of the pool, so we’re climbing all the way up to start in the attic, The Devil’s Attic! Located at 647 West Hill Street in the old Jobson Paint Company building, which was built in 1914, The Devil’s Attic offers 10,000 square feet of terror. This is the third year in the Ville for this haunt, and it has doubled in size every year so far since its humble beginnings in a strip mall in Jefferson County.
Spookmaster, Jason Besemann, is 100% hands on with his mad creation, having done all of the electrical work and painting himself. Raised in a strict Southern Baptist family, Jason wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween as a child. It wasn’t until his early teens that he began sneaking away to friend’s houses where he saw movies like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Exorcist” that fired his imagination and set him down the road that eventually led him to open his own haunted house.
It was the horror films he saw at an impressionable age that started the germ of the idea that Besemann had about creating his own house of horrors, and it is his continued love of modern horror cinema that drives the themes and scenes in The Devil’s Attic. It all begins in a Gothic chamber ruled by the Devil himself, who warns those that are about to pass through the fiery gates of his domain to “abandon all hope” if they are to proceed. The group that I was with lost one member in the very first room; a 6 foot 6 six inch, muscularly built gentlemen (SEE PHOTO/CENTER FRAME) was left bent over, gasping for air after the first shocking scare and had to bypass the rest of the tour. Gracefully, he posed for a photo with the “braver” members of our group after we made it out alive!
The passages through the Devil’s Attic are detailed with walls covered in skulls and ancient crypts, creating an oppressive atmosphere filled with dread. I was thrilled to see scenes from classic American Halloween tales like Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” alongside moody British horror classics like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” You’ll also see great scenes from contemporary horror films, like the 2001 version of “13 Ghosts” with it’s amazing “glass house” set. If I had to pick one scene that really blew me away, it would be the “Exorcist” scene influenced by some of the recent films about demonic possession. Besemann has gone as far as to hire a professional contortionist to play the possesed girl in the scene, twisting and bending her body into postions that don’t seem humanly possible! She really, really creeped me out.
You’ll also be challenged by a room of many doors where you’ll have to choose a door to proceed in the hopes of finding the right passage or be forever lost in the twisted maze of dead ends and paths that lead right back to where you started. I don’t want to spoil all of the other surprises you’ll find deep in the dark corners of Devil’s Attic, so that’s all I’m going to warn you about. The rest of the Attic’s secrets you’ll have to either learn for yourself or be included with my group’s faint of heart gentle giant and end up just one of the many victims unable to survive the terrors of The Devil’s Attic!
The Devil’s Attic is open September 28-29 from 8PM-12:30AM and in October every Thursday night through Sunday night. Thursdays and Sundays the hours are from 8-11:30PM and Fridays and Saturdays the hours are from 8PM-12:30AM. The Devil’s Attic will also be open on Halloween night (a Wednesday this year) from 8PM-12:30AM. The official website can be found at www.thedevilsattic.com/.
Stay tuned to www.louisvillehalloween.com for many more Louisville Haunted House previews to come over the next two weeks. The first person to post a picture of yourself outside of The Devil’s Attic alongside one of the Attic’s wandering ghouls to The Phantom of the Ville’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/louisvilleafterdark/ wins a FREE Halloween gift of a classic horror DVD mailed directly to your own haunted house!
Programming Director, Lee Kirkland, Talks About Mixing the Paranormal and the Horrific at ScareFest
One of the biggest Horror/Paranormal Conventions in the country, ScareFest, is happening again this year in Lexington, KY on the weekend of September 28th-30Th. The show brings together horror celebrities like Malcom McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”) and cast members of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” with paranormal investigators like Josh Gates (“Destination Truth”) and members of the casts of “Ghost Hunters”and “Ghost Adventures.” For a full lineup of guests, see ScareFest’s website at www.scarefestcon.com. The whole event takes place at the Lexington Convention Center. The show hours are Friday, Sept. 28 from 5-10PM, Saturday, Sept. 29 from 11AM-9PM and Sunday, Sept. 30 from 11AM-4PM.
I sat down recently with ScareFest Programming Director, Lee Kirkland, to discuss the secret witches brew of ingredients that go into making ScareFest such a unique event. Lee is also the co-founder of SHOCK (Spirit Hunters of Central Kentucky). Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Lee.
The Phantom of the Ville: Good Evening, Lee. First tell us a little about the history of ScareFest and how long you’ve been involved with the event?
Lee Kirkland: Thanks, Mr. Phantom, I have been involved with ScareFest since day one. We are currently going into our fifth year and are extremely proud of the rapid growth of the event. It has become the largest Horror and Paranormal Convention in the nation.
TPOTV: One of the things that sets ScareFest apart from all the other horror conventions out there is that you also focus on real world paranormal phenomenon and investigations into cryptozoology and the unknown, and not just horror movies. How did this aspect of the show come about?
LK: Exactly. We wanted to be different. Both genres have very loyal and dedicated fans. We are all involved in investigating different aspects of the paranormal. With the explosion in popularity of the paranormal shows, including UFOs, cryptos and possessions, there is an abundance of celebrities that fans are interested in meeting and talking with.
TPOTV: Would you say that Kentucky is a hotbed of paranormal activity?
LK :Absolutely! I’ve been involved in research of paranormal activity for many years now. I’ve had the luxury of traveling all over the country to investigate some of the most haunted places out there. I have to say that there’s no place like Kentucky’s own Waverly Hills, Bobby Mackey’s, the Perryville Battlefield, Octogon Hall, Rocky Point Manor, and the list goes on and on. All which have been seen featured on national television shows.
TPOTV: I’ve noticed that Buffalo Trace is sponsoring ScareFest this year. What’s the connection between the paranormal and Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey?
LK: I love the fact that we’ve joined forces with Buffalo Trace. There are two major products in Kentucky, and Bourbon is one of them. We want to expose our fans to the best the state has to offer. It’s fantastic bourbon whiskey and it’s manufactured in the oldest active distillery in the state. With all the history of the distillery, there seems to be two different types of spirits on the grounds! Last fall the distillery was visited by SyFy’s own Ghost Hunters for an investigation.
TPOTV: One of your cryptozoology guests this year, Lyle Blackburn, is the lead singer and primary lyricist of one my favorite creepy Texas bands, Ghoultown! What do you know about Count Lyle’s work in cryptozoology?
LK: I love Lyle’s band! He is one of the top experts in the country on Bigfoot, and the main guy of intelligence on the Fouke Monster of Arkansas. This is the creature that the movie “The Legend Of Boggy Creek” was based on, which happens to be one of my favorite classics! His new book about the monster is very well written and delves into more in depth encounters and recent reports.
TPOTV: You’ve got some great horror guests coming this year. Who are you most excited to meet that you haven’t met before?
LK: There are so many, it’s really hard to decide. I’m very excited for Malcolm McDowell. I am a big fan of his and love talking with him. I may actually remember our conversation this time. The first time I met him was at another event and he invited me to sit with him at his booth and talk. The only thing I could think was, “Holy shit, I’m talking to Malcolm McDowell,” over and over! Malcolm will be doing an intro before and Q&A after a showing of ” A Clockwork Orange” for the event. I really wish I would be able to attend this, however, I won’t be able to stay off the convention floor for that long. I also love talking with Derek Mears, one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet!
TPOFTV: You also have some big music acts, film screenings and professional magicians coming. Tell us a little about that.
LK: We are VERY EXCITED to have former Misfits lead vocalist, Michale Graves, performing. And for our paranormal fans we are having the debut performance of Ghost Adventures star Nick Groff. The movies will be running all weekend and we really have several awesome screenings. We are proud to partner with the SyFy channel for the WORLD PREMIER of the SyFy original “American Horror House.” All these will be showing in the FEARnet sponsored film room. And for extra entertainment, we’ve brought in an all horror themed magician to do a free show for the fans! We’re having back one of the world’s finest escape artists and Guinness Book of World Records holder, Aron Houdini. He is deemed the last living Houdini and will be attempting to break more world records again this year!
TPOTV: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered over the years programming and pulling off such a large show?
LK: Keeping as many people happy as possible has to be one of the biggest challenges. We have to worry about celebrities, fans, staff, volunteers and even the community. We like to treat everyone with respect and try to provide an environment in which every single person has a positive experience.
TPOTV: In your position, I’m sure you see some pretty strange things. What’s the weirdest/craziest thing you seen so far while working for ScareFest?
LK: I have to admit, the absolute craziest thing was seeing a young lady have a seizure after Ghost Adventures star, Zak Bagans, said “Hi,” to her. We had to call paramedics to attend to her and she ended up fine, only really embarrassed over the whole situation. It was a definite first!
TPOTV: Lastly, on a personal note, what’s your favorite childhood Halloween memory?
LK: I grew up way out in the country, so I always remember going into town to neighborhoods. I just loved the decorations, the sounds of other kids screaming and having fun and hearing spooky music from loud speakers. I was always a little afraid when (more…)
Longer, Gorier and More Sick & Twisted Than Ever Before, The Baxter Avenue Morgue Returns with Some Old Friends and New Nightmares!
Greetings, Haunt Fans. I am the Phantom of the Ville, and I welcome you to the first in Louisville Halloween’s series of haunted house previews for 2012. It seems that Halloween is truly in the blood in this town. Louisville has more haunted attractions per square mile than almost any other city in the country, and two of them opened on September 14th this year, The Field of Screams in Brandenburg (www.thefieldofscreams.net/ ), which I will visit as soon as possible, and The Baxter Avenue Morgue (www.baxtermorgue.com/ ). Many more haunted previews are coming in the following weeks.
The Baxter Avenue Morgue is located in the Highlands at 451 Baxter Avenue on the corner of Baxter and Hull Street, just two blocks down from Cave Hill Cemetery. The building itself was the real location of the Vanderdark Morgue, which opened its doors for business in the early 1900′s, but closed under mysterious circumstances in 1940. Narrowly escaping demolition in 1976, the morgue sat abandoned until 2001 when long lost relatives Reginald Andrew Mortimus Vanderdark, aka Rig A Mortis, and Warren & Lillian Vanderdark suddenly emerged from hiding and reopened the morgue for seasonal tours.
I was invited by Warren Vanderdark himself to tour the newly renovated tunnels beneath the historic building. The labyrinthine maze of passageways underneath the historic building are a large part of what makes the Baxter Avenue Morgue such a unique attraction. You will travel down into the very bowels of the earth to discover the dark secrets of the Vanderdark family. Tight passageways and low ceilings will give unsuspecting visitors a sense of claustrophobia, and then suddenly the path will open up to vast open caverns and crypts. You’ll also come across grotesque embalming rooms that still seem to be in operable condition and living chambers still decorated in turn-of-the-century decor.
If you’ve visited the Baxter Avenue Morgue before, don’t expect to know exactly where the tunnels lead. New passageways have been excavated and new rooms have been added for a longer and more disorienting experience. New characters have been added too. You won’t find Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees here. This is an all original creation injected with all local mythology by all local talent.
The entertainment begins as soon as you pass through the Gothic gates on your way to the ticket booth as creepy doormen and mutilated freaks immediately begin jangling your nerves. As you wait in line, a local dance company engages in continuous performances of the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video which always ends with zombies wandering into the line.
This season lots of new characters have been added to the haunt, but you will see some old friends as you begin your tour. Warren Vanderdark and his lovely wife, Lillian, will meet you in the waiting room to offer some advice on your best chances for reaching the exit alive. They’ll also familiarize you with the infamous “chicken doors” labeled with painted chickens that those who prove to be less than stout of heart can take during the experience if they need to “check out early.”
This year the actors have gone through extensive “scare training” and it shows. In one room, we were relentlessly pursued by a girl with long black hair right out of a Japanese ghost flick that made the most disturbing, guttural clicking sounds I’ve ever heard. If there’s one word that describes this Highlands haunt this year, more than any other year, it’s “relentless.” I’ve never seen this many ghouls working in the morgue before. I’m telling you that this year the Baxter Avenue Morgue is filled with wall to wall FREAKS! And they WILL touch you, grab you and torment you with their agonizing screams.
This haunt is all about its characters and their interaction with the foolhardy tourists. The Baxter Avenue Morgue does not rely on animatronic and pneumatic props or prefab, haunt industry built sets and monsters. Almost everything you see was built from scratch by local artists and craftsmen, and the main focus is on the amazing location they have to work with and the make-up and intensity that their effects crew and actors bring to the table.
As you leave to go home, don’t forget that the abandoned Eastern Cemetery is right next door with its boarded up Louisville Crematorium just over the hills past broken monuments and crumbled gravestones. This notorious cemetery has a dark past of its own, and is the final resting place of many angry spirits who were buried in mass graves and forgotten. As you pass, you may recall the performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” you enjoyed earlier, or even “Return of the Living Dead.” Is that a chill in the air that’s making your neck hairs stand up, or something else?
Our final destination after escaping the Baxter Avenue Morgue was Spinelli’s Pizzeria just a block down the street at 614 Baxter Avenue. For a great Halloween experience, stop in for a pizza and check out their amazing Zoltan Fortune Telling Machine (SEE PHOTO) where for only a dollar the Great Zoltan will look into your future and give you a keepsake fortune card to take home. If you’re really nervous about your trip to the morgue, maybe you should go see Zoltan first just to make sure the fates are on your side!
The Baxter Avenue Morgue is open September 21-22nd and 28-29th from 8PM-Midnight. In October they will open every Thursday night from 8-11PM, every Friday & Saturday from 8-1AM and every Sunday from 8-11PM. They will also be open Halloween night (a Wednesday this year) from 8-11PM. General Admission is $20, but $5 OFF discount coupons are available at local participating Circle K stores.
WOULD YOU SPEND THE NIGHT IN A REAL HAUNTED MANSION?
“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still. That is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!”
The Haunted Mansion (Disneyland)
When was the last time you took a tour of a haunted mansion? I don’t mean sitting in a “doom buggy” that follows a predetermined path through a ride building past animatronic spooks. I mean a real haunted mansion of the French Second Empire style built in 1867 and haunted by spirits of our colonial past. If you could, would you be willing to spend the night? Such a place exists just across the river from the Ville in New Albany, and it’s open daily for tours. It’s called the Culbertson Mansion.
The Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site sits at 914 East Main Street in New Albany, IN. Visiting hours are from 10AM-5PM Mondays through Saturdays and 11AM-5PM on Sundays. A donation of $5 goes to the ongoing restoration and upkeep of the mansion’s three stories and grounds. Historic tours are available, but you’re also free to wander the halls alone if you choose. For this tour, I’ll be your host, your ghost host, the Phantom of the Ville.
Arriving at the mansion, I approached the massive, ornate door and rang the doorbell. Moments later I was ushered into the incredible front parlor with antique portraits of William Culbertson and his wife on the wall to my left, a beautiful crystal chandelier above me hanging from the frescoed ceiling and a view of the spiral, three story rosewood-grained staircase in front of me. It’s like a scene right out of a 1930′s “old dark house” movie.
The first floor of the mansion features incredible marble fireplaces in a large ballroom, fancy dining rooms, grand pianos and a study with an antique library. The second floor features several beautiful bed chambers with vaulted, painted ceilings, a sewing room and tea rooms. Continue up the spiral staircase to the third floor and you’ll find stained glass windows, children’s rooms filled with antique toys and baby carriages as well as a museum room filled with historical facts and artifacts. If you descend the second spiral staircase on the other side of the house you’ll find the basement area with the servant’s quarters, the laundry room, the work shed and, across the exterior walkway, the giftshop.
It’s a breathtaking journey into local history in a 150 year old mansion that holds its share of secrets and stories, but the tours close at 5PM. What would the house look like at night and what would it be like to spend the night in a, literally, haunted mansion. If you’re brave enough, you can find out during one of Culbertson’s Ghost Watch Undertaking Sleepovers! The next sleepover takes place on September 21st from 6PM-6AM. Reservations are required and no one under 18 will be admitted. You’ll enjoy a candlelight dinner, a ghost tour and a scavenger hunt through the mansion’s dark halls before attempting to make it through the night. The cost is $100 per person and reservations can be made at Culbertsonmansionshs@indianamuseum.org or by calling (812) 944-9600. If you can’t make that date, the next sleepover takes place three days after Halloween on November 3rd.
If you’re interested in hearing the many ghost stories of Culbertson Mansion, you can take one of the Ghostly Happenings Tours this Halloween season. Reservations are required and no one under 12 years of age will be admitted. The cost is $15 per person and tours will take place on October 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25.
A family friendly Halloween Tea event will also take place on October 28th from 2PM-4PM. This includes finger food and Victorian Tea with the Queen of Halloween who will be on hand to tell stories. Costumes are welcomed. Reservations are required, and the cost is $15 per adult, $8 per child 3-8 years of age and kids under 3 are free.
Outside of the mansion sits the Carriage House, which is the location of one of Kentuckiana’s longest running seasonal haunted attractions. Since 1985, Literally, a Haunted House has been scaring the wits out of foolish mortals with a dead-icated all volunteer crew of fiendish freaks! All proceeds go the restoration of the mansion itself. Head Haunter, Holly Crisler, tells me that this year’s theme is centered around scary toys. If your hair stands on end at the thought of creepy baby dolls and mechanical monkeys that play cymbals, then you should be an easy target for Holly and her twisted crew.
Literally, a Haunted House opens on the weekend of September 28-29th, the doors creak open at 7PM and don’t close until the last victim runs screaming from the exit. It’s open every Friday and Saturday night in October. Admission is $13 per person, but $2 off coupons are available in the Culbertson Mansion giftshop.
A visit to the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany for any of these events gets my highest recommendation this Halloween season. There’s an atmosphere found within the mansion that no haunted attraction, no matter how elaborate, can ever replicate. For only a $5 donation you can experience the real thing. There are no store bought props or characters wearing white sheets inside. Everything you see and experience is real. If, after your journey into the haunted past of Culbertson Mansion, you still crave the traditional scares of a great seasonal haunted attraction, stop by the giftshop to pick up your $2 off coupons and come back for the haunted Carriage House. If you think about it, that’s only $16 for BOTH unique experiences, which is still less than most Halloween attractions charge for one.
If, however, you are one of the brave souls who rises to the challenge of actually SPENDING THE NIGHT in Culbertson Mansion, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below or see your photos on the Louisville Halloween Facebook Page. The first person to send a photo of themselves outside the Culbertson Mansion to my Phantom Facebook page at www.facebook/#!/louisvilleafterdark wins a secret prize package from me, The Phantom of the Ville!
Remembering the Golden Age of Ben Cooper and Collegeville Costumes AND Discovering a Priceless Piece of Halloween History!
Do you remember the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating? I don’t mean the Golden Age of Halloween, which can be traced back as far as the Celtic festival of Samhain, and I don’t mean the traditon of going from door to door begging for treats which also has roots going back several hundred years. I’m talking specifically about the American tradition which has been documented as having its roots in the early 1900′s, but not really becoming a widespread phenomenon until the 1930′s.
I consider the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating to be roughly from the mid 1950′s through perhaps the mid 1980′s. The Baby Boomers were the first hardcore generation of trick-o-treaters. By the mid 50′s, the concept of going from door-to-door looking for treats or mischief had grown. Most typical American families had a televison set in their homes, and by the mid 1960′s the classic horror pictures made by Hollywood in the 30′s and 40′s started playing in people’s homes on Saturday nights via programs such as Shock Theater. Characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man became cultural icons and were ready made for Halloween dress up play.
That’s about the time that the retail industry saw an opportunity to sell cheap, disposable Halloween costumes to beleaguered parents to save them from having to cut holes in good bed sheets or from having to spend a lot of time and mess on junior’s one night outfit. Kids didn’t seem to mind much either because the colorful artwork and designs of these factory made costumes were cooler than what they could make with a paper bag, an old sheet and some pipe cleaners. They also looked like the characters from the scary movies they loved. The costumes typically consisted of a plastic, vacuformed mask held on by an elastic band and a vinyl smock with an image of the character on it.
Two companies rose above the crowd to become the kings of the boxed, dime store Halloween costume, Collegeville and Ben Cooper, Inc. The Collegeville company generally produced mostly unlicensed, generic costumes like ghosts, witches, skeletons, devils and monsters as well as cowboys, astronauts and princesses. This isn’t to say that Collegeville’s generic costumes were less interesting than Ben Cooper’s costumes. In fact, many of their classic designs are the very icons we first imagine when we think of this era of Halloween costumes.
Ben Cooper had been in the Halloween costume business since the late 1930′s and he had a knack for acquiring great, popular licensed characters to use for his costumes, the first of which was the Walt Disney cartoon characters. If you ever wore a Spider-man or Batman costume in the 1970′s, you were wearing a Ben Cooper costume, while Collegeville was stuck creating charming knock-offs like The Spider and The Bat. Cooper was the guy who licensed the Star Wars franchise from 20th Century Fox and sold a million Darth Vader costumes.
There was a time in the early to mid 1970′s, before the urban myths about razor blades and candy apples and the wild paranoia of overprotective parents put an end to trick-or-treating the way I knew it, that the coming of dusk on October 31st was something wondrous to behold. Just as the sun began to set, you could look out your front window to witness the emergence of a sea of little ghosts and goblins coming out of their suburban houses to claim the night. Homemade hobos joined with bargain bought Batmans from dusk until about 9 PM (with a hard closing of 10 PM), ruling the streets of their neighborhoods and amassing a haul of sweet treasure in the process.
If you were there, and you ever wore a Collegeville or a Ben Cooper costume, then you’re part of a collective, now nearly forgotten and secret club with the same shared memories. You remember the smell of the plastic mask as perspiration built up on your cheeks while running from block to block, the elastic band that held the mask on pulling at your hair and irritating the skin around your ears. You remember the sweat gathering under the hot vinyl smock which may or may not be covered with a rain jacket or a thick winter coat depending on the weather and the demands of your parents.
I remember my first Halloween costume, chosen by me at the dime store and purchased by my mother without much of a fuss. It was a Collegeville H R Pufnstuf costume based on the psychedelic 1969 Sid & Marty Krofft Saturday morning children’s program (SEE PHOTO). It was the first of three store bought costumes I wore, intermixed with costumes I made myself like the Pumpkin-headed ghost made out of a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream bucket and an old sheet, that made up the core of my Golden Age trick-or-treating adventures. The second was a Collegeville Ultraman costume based on the 1960′s Japanese science fiction series that played every afternoon during Funsville on WDRB-41 in the early to mid 1970′s. The last store bought costume I used, and probably one of my last great trick-or-treats, was a Ben Cooper Darth Vader costume. That particular costume wasn’t quite as memorable, as every doorbell I rang also played host to at least two or three other “fake” Darth Vaders that year, all of us breathing heavy to stay in character or from carrying a heavy bag of loot too far.
Now 35 years later, and about 20 odd years after the demise of the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating and the boxed dime store Halloween costume, the Collegeville and Ben Cooper costumes of that era (at least the ones that survived) have become hot Halloween collectibles. Some mass produced characters can still be found for relatively cheap on ebay, say $10-$20, while more obscure costumes like my H R Pufnstuf can go for hundreds of dollars.
This Halloween has already been a special one for me and it’s still only September. Recently, I found and now own something I never even knew existed as a kid. If I had known about it, I would certainly have wanted to wear it in place of almost every other costume I ever coveted. In order to understand my enthusiasm, you need to understand the impact one man had on my life and my imagination in my formative years. The man’s name is Ray Harryhausen.
Ray Harryhausen was a special effects craftsman and stop-motion animator that did the work of what would later be done by crews of dozens or more all by himself. He sculpted and brought to life some of the most memorable mythological creatures and magical monsters ever projected onto the silver screen including the Medusa and the Kraken from the original “Clash of the Titans” (1981) and the spectacular skeleton army from “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963). But it was his Arabian tales of the great swashbuckling hero, Sinbad, that really fired my imagination as a small child.
I remember a teacher in the fifth grade, while talking about movies in the lunchroom, telling me that he never missed a James Bond movie. I told him I never missed a Sinbad movie. Harryhausen made three Sinbad movies: “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958), “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” (1973) and “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” (1977), all distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Just a few weeks ago I stumbled onto this Collegeville Sinbad costume (SEE PHOTOS) while searching ebay for vintage Halloween goodies. I had never seen one before and neither had any of my fellow Halloween and/or Harryhausen fan friends. It turns out that Collegeville licensed the character from Columbia Pictures and released the costume for the Halloween of 1976. This is significant because “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad “ had come out three years prior and “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” wouldn’t be released until the next year. As far as I’m aware, this costume represents one of the only pieces of licensed Harryhausen merchandise made for the retail market before “Clash of the Titans” in 1981. Not only that, but careful examination of the artwork on the vinyl smock reveals an enigma. Sinbad is wearing the medallion that is a piece of the map that leads to the Fountain of Destiny as seen in “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” but behind him stands two images of the gold plated Minoton from “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” which hadn’t even come out yet! So this Collegeville costume represents a collectible from both films and an extremely rare piece of Ray Harryhausen memorabilia.
Sharp eyed Harryhausen fan and hardcore Golden Age trick-or-treater, David Conover, who also happens to be the Programming Director for Louisville’s own fantasy/sci-fi/toy and model convention, Wonderfest, recognized the drawing of Sinbad as a likely copy of the Marvel Comics adaption of “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.” The cross over mystery deepens!
I hope all of you Golden Age trick-or-treaters out there find something equally amazing in your treat bags and plastic pumpkins this year. This is the Phantom of the Ville, hoping that the magic of Halloweens past give rise to new traditions in the present that will be worthy of another similar article in 20 or 30 years. I’d love for you to post any pictures you’ve saved of you and your friends in your old Halloween costumes on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/louisvilleafterdark.com!
Come with us on a Journey to the Horror Hound Convention in Indianapolis!
Greetings, my friends! It’s the Phantom of the Ville here, just settling back into my favorite easy chair after returning home from a weekend at the Horror Hound Convention two hours North of us in Indianapolis. I saw a lot of creepy, but friendly faces at the show including Louisville Halloween’s own Pumpkin King and the amazing crew of the Movie Meltdown Podcast show ( www.moviemeltdown.com ). This post is obviously intended to be less news oriented and more “show and tell” for those of you who were unable to be there in person, so let’s start the tour, shall we?
There was an incredible assemblage of cast members from both the “Aliens” and “Terminator” franchises including, from the “Terminator” series, Linda Hamilton (Sarah Conner), Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese), Edward Furlong (John Conner), Kristanna Loken (The Terminatrix from “T3”) and others. From the “Aliens” franchise, Horror Hound brought out Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Carrie Henn (Newt), Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez), Mark Rolston (Drake), Ricco Ross (Frost) and Cynthia Scott (Dietrich).
Other horror celebrities included Timothy Balme, star of Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive,” Cassandra Peterson (better known to us as Elvira Mistress of the Dark!), “Nightmare on Elm Street’s” Heather Langenkamp and Jenny Wright, star of “Near Dark” and “I, Madman.” All of the monsters from “The Monster Squad” were there except the Gillman. Tom (“Manhunter”) Noonan was the Frankenstein Monster, Duncan (“Zorro”) Regher was Dracula, Michael Mackay was the Mummy and Carl Thibault was the Wolfman.
I had the opportunity to visit with an old friend, Ken Foree, star of George Romero’s uncontested zombie classic, “Dawn of the Dead.” Foree has been to Louisville before, signing autographs and meeting fans both at Wild & Woolly Video and at Louisville’s best fantasy and toy expo, Wonderfest. He told me that he still has and loves the Louisville Slugger baseball bat with his name on it that I gifted him on his first visit to the Ville and that he wants to come back soon and see his Louisville fans.
One of the most exciting moments for me at the show was meeting the Chiodo Brothers! You may not immediately recognize the names of Stephen, Edward and Charlie Chiodo, but you’ve likely seen and enjoyed a lot of their special effects work. These guys were the creature designers of the “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and the little furballs with razor teeth in the “Critters” franchise as well as the puppet supervisors for “Team America: World Police.” I surprised them with the DVD cover for “King Cobra” (1999), for which they built the giant snake used in the movie. They had never seen the DVD box for that obscure monster flick before! Should I have been surprised?
The greatest joy for me at big horror conventions like this one is just wandering around the dealers room and the Artist’s Alley checking out all the amazing toys, props and monster masks on display. This year the show was co-sponsered by the Halloween Mask Association ( www.thehma.net/hma/forum.php) and there was an entire, gigantic room filled with monster masks and Halloween displays. My favorite display was put on by the Universal Monster Army ( www.universalmonsterarmy.com) who set up an elaborate tribute to the history of both Topstone and Don Post masks. Skeletal hands down, the absolute coolest thing on display was the heads and hands of two figures used for advertising the release of “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” from 1943. Theatrical ballyhoo for movies from this time period is extremely rare, and these Frankenstein and Wolf Man heads are amazing to behold because they have a direct link to the theatrical releases of the classic Universal Monster series that started it all! I’ve posted a photo of the figures from the 1943 premiere and also a photo of the heads as they appear today for comparison. And, yes, the Wolf Man’s eyes still light up!
Also found in the HMA room were Trick-or-Treat Studios news masks for 2012, including two licensed masks from “Halloween II” (1981), one of which depicts Michael Myers with the “blood tears” as seen from the end of the film after Laurie Strode shoots his eyes out in the hospital operating room. (Apparently, Michael grew his eyes back 10 years later for “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers”!)
I saw the three new officially licensed Universal Monster masks, two of which will be available to purchase at Caufield’s before Halloween. Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon can be pre-ordered now at www.caufields.com, but the Wolf Man won’t likely see release until 2013.
I also had a chance to catch up with Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate (www.midnightsyndicate.com) who continues to release symphonic Halloween CD’s used in many haunted attractions across the country. The band is currently promoting their latest CD, Carnival Arcane, based on turn of the century carnivals and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury.
Check out the photos for an idea of the things you could see at a show like Horror Hound, and don’t forget that a similar show called Scarefest (www.scarefestcon.com) is taking place in Lexington from Sept. 28- 30. Maybe you’ll find me there!
Celebrate the Countdown to Halloween by Seeking Out These Horrors with a Local Connection!
Happy September, my fellow Halloween fanatics! It’s the Phantom of the Ville here, thumbing through the DVD collection in my secret underground home theater. It’s less than two weeks now until many of the local haunted attractions will be open for business, but if you’re like me, you’re already hungry for some Halloween horror.
I’ve sorted through the good, the bad and the grizzly to come up with a list of locally related horror films to feed your Halloween craving until well into October. Some of these films might be pretty hard to find, while others will likely be playing 24 hours a day on cable the last couple of weeks before Halloween. Some of them are certified horror classics while others should be certified insane, but all of them have a Louisville and/or Kentucky connection. Without further ado, let us commence au festival!
10. Dead Moon Rising (2007) None of the the films on this list are more grassroots, 100% Louisville created than Mark Poole’s low budget zombie opus. This was the film that made a local celebrity of star, Jason Crowe, who has gone on to become a force in the low budget horror film business. The production infamously amassed it’s massive zombies VS bikers climax by inviting thousands of local horror fans to show up in zombie makeup to appear in the downtown Louisville zombie apocalypse. These very extras ultimately became the customers for the first wave of DVDs pressed, all of who wanted a copy of the movie they appeared in! Genius on the Roger Corman level, if you ask me.
9. The Death Tunnel (2005) The Booth Brothers sick love song to the scariest literally haunted building in Louisville, the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, and even more specifically to Waverly’s infamous “Body Chute.” Personally, I’m not a fan of this film and it’s crazy, scatterbrained editing. It’s the kind of film where the first thing the “hot” girls do when visiting a supposedly decades abandoned sanitorium is to strip and take a hot shower in the basement. Good thing the hot water heater has been maintained all these years! On a positive note, the cinematography of Waverly’s massive and scary structure is very good and the film also features scenes shot at the University of Louisville and at Phoenix Hill Tavern.
8. The Legend of Pope Lick (1989) Local filmmaker Ron Schildknecht’s 16 minute short film is based on one of Eastern Jefferson Counties’ most infamous urban legends, the Goatman of the Pope Lick Railroad Trestles. Historically, this film has been difficult to see if you missed the original theatrical premiere and festival screenings. For years only Wild & Woolly Video owned a VHS copy, but now there is apparently a DVD loaded with special features available here: www.ronschildknecht.com/films/popelickmonster.html. I wrote about the history of the Pope Lick legend recently here: www.louisvillehalloween.com/the-goatman-blues-the-legend-of-pope-lick-then-and-now/.
7. Overtime (2011) Local director Matt Nieoff’s recent hitman/zombie/alien/action/comedy genre blender mostly works on all those levels! Two bumbling badass hitmen who only kill “bad guys” played by local wrestling legend, Al Snow, and upcoming actor, John Wells, are sent on a routine hit only to stumble into a horrorific situation where human hosts have become infected with nasty little aliens that turn them into flesh eating Zaliens! Limited quanities of DVDs were sold this year at Fright Night Film Fest, and a national DVD release is due this January. For a live action, interactive “Overtime” experience don’t miss “Xterminate: Zalien Attack” at the Asylum Haunted Scream Park which opens September 21st.
6. Dummy (2011) David Buchert, a Prospect naitive come Nashville filmmaker is someone whose horror film career I feel is worth watching. His debut film, “Blood Oath (2007),” which was written by Louisvillian David Meier Smith, is available on the Troma films label. It’s a throw back to 80′s slasher cinema, and it’s worth a look too, but this new 30 minute short film made the list because it shows Buchert’s great maturity as a horror filmmaker. It’s also a slasher film, but it has more in common with the Italian Giallo genre. The beautiful, smooth camera work and long tracking shots bare a resemblance to the work of Italian Master of Horror, Dario Argento. I bought a copy of the DVD on a two film compliation called “In the Dark” at Fright Night Film Fest. UPDATE: “Dummy” can be purchased on DVD for $10 at http://www.scarymerch.com/ and it will also screen at Scarefest in Lexington which takes place Sept. 28-30.
5. Race with the Devil (1975) It’s “Easy Rider” VS Satan! Kentucky native, Warren Oates, who went to high school in Louisville and attended the University of Louisville before becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest character actors teams up with Peter Fonda in this road movie /horror flick from the 1970′s. Oates and Fonda are on a road trip vacation with their wives in a new winnebago when they stumble across what they think is an orgy going down in the desert only to realize to their horror that they’ve witnessed a human sacrifice performed by a Satanic cult! To make matters worse, the cult members know they’ve seen them and now Oates and Fonda must fight their way to safety in a chase across the desolate back country. For more wild Oates, I also recommend one of my favorite episodes of Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” TV series, “The Hollow Watcher.”
4. Abby (1974) “Exorcist” knock-offs like “The Possession” continue to this day, but this is the only one shot completely in Louisville! William Girdler’s controversial blaxplotation demonic possession thriller stars the legendary Shakespearean actor, William Marshall (That’s Blacula himself!), as the exorcist who must confront a possessed Carol Speed in a long closed Louisville Jazz club! Lots of great Louisville locations are on display here amid the demonic shenanigans, and the movie is a lot of fun. Highly recommended!
3. Dracula (1931) The original bloodsucker and the first of the classic Universal Monster series was directed by Louisvillian, Todd Browning. Bela Lugosi and his odd Hungarian accent (he spoke English phonetically at the time) made such an impact on the popular culture that his image is now the defining image of the Transylvanian Count despite appearing nothing like described in Bram Stoker’s novel. Although the film is a bit creaky by modern standards and lacks a musical score, the first fifteen minutes set in Dracula’s castle does showcase marvelous, massive cobwebbed sets and plenty of creepy atmosphere. Browning went on to also direct the infamous, “Freaks (1932),” which would also make perfect Halloween viewing.
2. Halloween (1978) The most obvious choice on this list, Kentucky raised director John Carpenter’s masterpiece of shadow and suspense could easily be swapped with Number One on any Top Ten Horror Films list, not just a locally connected one. Its influence on Modern Horror Cinema is undebatable, and there’s very little about “Halloween” that can be said that hasn’t already been said. Carpenter’s Bowling Green, KY roots seep into every frame to the extent that even though the film was shot in Los Angeles (and palm trees occasionally slip into frame), it FEELS like the MidWestern neighborhoods we’re all familiar with in the Ville. If you turn on your television set anytime in the month of October, this film will likely be playing on more than one channel at any given time.
1. Return of the Living Dead (1985) Dan O’Bannon’s (“Alien” screenwriter) punk rock zombie masterpiece is still, and will likely remain, the favorite theatrical screening experience of my mortal life. Opening night at the legendary and much missed Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road was as much an impromptu celebration of Louisville youth as it was a movie screening. When the film’s curmudgeon Army general announced to his superiors that the Trioxin 245 zombie canisters had turned up in LOUISVILLE, KY someone in the middle of the audience threw their popcorn into the air and ran up the aisle screaming, “Nooooooo!” Production Designer, William Stout, told me that his wife was from Louisville and he believes that fact somehow encouraged O’Bannon to set the film in the Ville. Stout’s EC Comics influence gave us one of the greatest zombies ever created for the silver screen, Tarman, and a phenomenal cast of great character actors pulled off a miracle of low budget horror cinema.
Please feel free to add your own favorite local horror gems in the Comments/Reviews section below, and don’t be afraid to debate my own choices! See you next week!
Since 1920, Caufield’s Novelty, Inc. Has Been The Very Heartbeat of Halloween in Louisville!
If there is one name that is whispered in reverential tones by generations of trick-or-treaters and Halloween fanatics in Louisville, it’s Caufield’s. Currently in its third and largest retail location at 1006 West Main Street, just a block down from the Louisville Slugger Museum and Museum Row, it’s almost unthinkable for most Louisvillians to consider letting a Halloween season pass without a visit to Caufield’s. For long time residents, it would be like passing all 31 days of October without watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” You just don’t do it.
This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the inner sanctum of the historic Caufield’s building, the very nerve center of one of the largest novelty and theatrical distributors in the United States. Not many outside of family and staff get to see the massive behind-the-scenes offices, storage areas and shipping rooms that make up the second floor and creepy basements of the iconic building with the world’s largest vampire bat roosting on its side. Exploring those haunted, hallowed halls and seeing (even touching) some of the vintage Halloween treasures within is the greatest honor I’ve yet been given while working for the Louisville Halloween website. Let me take you with me on a tour!
Behind a secret door just off the showroom floor, I climbed a rickety staircase to meet with current co-owner, Tracy Caufield Johnson. For nearly 100 years now, Caufield’s has remained a locally owned family business. When Irish immigrant, Keran S. Caufield, Sr., first opened the doors of the original location in 1920, he never intended on becoming the King Of Halloween in Louisville. His business plan was to run a successful photography studio, and the studio was indeed a success. So successful, in fact, that there were often people waiting in the outer office.
Keran took a sum of $15 that he received in an accident settlement and invested it by buying a shipment of magic tricks and practical jokes for folks to amuse themselves with while they waited their turn in the photography room. These novelty items were a hit with his customers, and it wasn’t long before he started selling more magic tricks, whoopee cushions and joy buzzers than portrait photos, so Caufield abandoned the photography business and went into novelties and gag gifts business.
The business survived both the Great Depression and the Great Flood of 1937 to eventually expand beyond magic tricks and into holiday and seasonal decorations, costume sales and rentals and theatrical props for the stage and film business.
Tracy Caufield Johnson is the granddaughter of Keran Caufield and Stacy Johnson, and she grew up with the retail store as her childhood second home and playground. While looking around the backroom decorated with vintage Beistle Halloween cutouts, antique novelty gags in their original packaging, creepy zombie props and classic monster masks, I thought, “If these walls could talk–,” only to find out that they can indeed speak through Tracy.
“Muhammad Ali was a regular customer when I was a child, and a really talented amateur magician,” she told me when I asked if the store had any famous customers she could talk about. The Greatest was a magician? The Louisville Lip, the greatest boxer who ever lived, could not only throw some of the fastest punches in history but was also a master of the cup and balls trick?
“He’s very good,” she continued. “He came in all the time during his boxing career and mastered just about every trick we had in stock. In fact, he continued doing magic for friends and fans for years. Even when he was dealing with Parkinson’s syndrome and could no longer talk, he could still communicate and interact with his fans by doing magic for them.”
“My favorite memory of Muhammad Ali as a child,” Tracy says, “was when I went to the movies one night with friends at the old Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road (*now sadly torn down and vacant*, The Phantom), and Ali showed up with his wife at the same screening. There were still ten or fifteen minutes before the movie was supposed to start, and the Champ went up to the front of the theater and started performing magic tricks for the audience as a pre-show. The crowd went wild. It was my proudest moment as a Caufield because I recognized all the magic tricks as ones he had bought from us at the store.”
Ali isn’t the only famous magician to have learned the craft through Caufield’s. “Lance Burton and Mac King both worked here as resident magicians,” relates Tracy. “They’re both big Vegas magicians now, but they got their start working here.”
Magic seems to be in the blood in the Ville. One of the most famous memorials in Cave Hill Cemetery is that of Harry Collins, the Frito-Lay Magician, a Louisville native himself who was the primary influence on Lance Burton as a child. Both Burton and King are Kentucky natives. Burton was raised in Louisville and still has family and friends here, but has left his hometown to become one of the most famous and revered magicians not only in Las Vegas, but the entire world. Only David Copperfield rivals his stature in the world of magic.
“Mac King has been really good to us, and has always helped promote our business,” said Tracy. “He stays in contact with us regularly and still orders stuff from us occasionally.” Like Jackie Chan, who turned the world of kung fu on its ear by becoming its Clown Prince, King realized his personality wasn’t cut out for the suave, sexy and mysterious image projected by illusionists like Copperfield and Burton, so he focused more on his goofy and contagiously likable, childlike charm and became the King of Magic Comedy.
Manny Ehrlich has been Caufield’s resident magician since the late 90′s, and he has made quite a name for himself as well, recently even entertaining the Demon of KISS, Gene Simmons, when he was in town for the Kentucky Derby. Manny’s performance for Gene was filmed for an episode of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” Speaking of the Derby, Tracy tells me that Caufield’s second busiest sales season is Derby season, not only selling Derby decorations to locals and out-of-towners but also shipping Derby products all over the United States through their on-line business.
Early September marks the start of the Halloween season for Caufield’s, and it’s likely the staff is scrambling to get the thousands of costumes, masks and decorations in their stockroom onto the store shelves as you read this. Their world famous Wall of Masks, which has been a Caufield’s staple since the 1960′s, is stocked year round with the latest latex monster and pop culture masks. Many a child’s eyes have become as big as flying saucers trying to take in the sea of science-fiction and monster faces that spans the entire wall of the front showroom.
Back in “The Dungeon,” it’s Halloween all year long. The room is set up with an elaborate display of animated horror props that scare and amuse customers on weekends and during the spooky season. On your way to the Dungeon, you’ll pass through the costume rental room where you can browse and try on hundreds of different costumes.
“This year I believe Superheroes will be the biggest trend for kids and adults,” says Tracy. “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-man” are the movies Tracy thinks will inspire the most people this year. “We have a Bane mask from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ that we can’t even keep on the shelves,” she says. The continued popularity of “The Walking Dead” also makes Tracy think that zombies will be hot again this year.
Since 2004, Caufield’s has organized what is quickly becoming one of Louisville’s most beloved spooky season events, the Caufield’s Halloween Parade, which takes place this year on Friday, October 12th at 7 PM along Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue from Rosewood to Lexington Road in the Highlands. Leading the charge will be the infamous Caufield’s custom 1946 Cadillac Hearse!
Towards the end of my behind-the-scenes tour, Tracy showed me something that nearly blew my mind. On the wall of her office hangs an original 1966 Don Post Monster Mask Calendar. Don Post was one of the greatest makers of latex monster masks in history. Known in the business as The Godfather of Halloween, his family owned company, Don Post Studios, has been making masks for generations. He made the 1975 William Shatner Captain Kirk mask that was slightly altered and painted white to become the face of Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s “Halloween.”
The 1966 Don Post Calendar is a Holy Grail for monster fans and Halloween fanatics. I had never seen one in person and I don’t know anyone who actually owns one. Tracy insisted I hold it and flip through its magic pages. It was covered in dust (that I’m still convinced was actually pixie dust), but it was intact and colorful. I found my hands shaking a bit nervously as I thumbed through an original piece of Halloween history in a building filled with Louisville history.
Folks, the Halloween season has begun, and there’s no better way in the Ville to mark the occasion than taking a trip into the heart of Halloween on Main Street. I’ll race you there.
The 8th Annual Louisville Zombie Attack Paints the Ville Red at 8:29 PM on Wednesday, August 29th!
Board up the windows and nail shut the doors! The infection is spreading, and at near dusk this Wednesday, August 29th, ALL HELL IS GOING TO BREAK LOOSE in the Highlands! That’s right! The 8th annual Louisville Zombie Attack is the unofficial kick off to the Halloween haunt season in the River City, and we have all the up to date news so you can be fully prepared for the end of days.
This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from an undisclosed location near the Highlands where I am currently stocking up on bottled water and toilet paper in preparation for the coming siege of the walking dead. Even for the non corporeal like myself, zombies are a grotesque and terrifying lot.
To improve my situational awareness, I spoke today with the two creative Louisville natives who started the original infection eight years ago, Lyndi Lou and John King. Lyndi is one of Louisville’s premiere tattoo artists at Twisted Images and John is currently studying Popular Culture at Berea College near the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. I caught John by surprise while driving back home to Louisville to prepare for the coming assault on Wednesday when I asked him to recall his favorite memory of the first seven Louisville Zombie Attacks.
“Well,” he said, “being at the center of the whole thing, I’ve got to make out with some pretty hot zombie chicks. That was pretty cool.”
The first Zombie Attack was created as a celebration of John and Lyndi’s birthdays. As roommates who shared not only the same love of zombie movies but also the same date of birth on August 29th, they decided to make themselves up as the living dead and invite a few friends to join them on a walk from their apartment to their favorite local bar. They were shocked when the word got out and 89 zombies showed up to join them.
Last year that number had grown to somewhere between 8,5000 and 9,000. Legion.
Such monumental growth has given way to some growing pains. It’s not just a little gathering of friends anymore, it’s a civic event. For the last three years, John and Lyndi have gotten city permits, hired police officers for security and paid for expensive insurance to cover the entire event. While it’s still a FREE EVENT to the public (their local business sponsors certainly help but can’t cover all the expenses), they are taking donations on their website at www.louisvillezombieattack.org/donate. John says, “If everyone who came out and enjoyed the event just donated $1, our bills would be paid.” These donations would also keep the event FREE and run by the original creators. Recently, John and Lyndi’s little party became the target of a hostile takeover by someone who attempted to force them to sell their creative ownership in the interest of making it a “for profit” enterprise. Their zombies have attracted the sharks.
Due to some last minute changes, Lyndi wants to give our readers the latest and most updated information about this year’s Louisville Zombie Attack. The official website is www.louisvillezombieattack.org for further updates. There are four meeting places and pre-parties for this year’s shambler shenanigans:
The Back Door at 1250 Bardstown Road in Mid City Mall is hosting a screening of “Return of the Living Dead” from 6-8PM on a giant screen TV. All ages are welcome to gather in the Back Door’s parking lot at 8PM to await the surge of the living dead at 8:29PM, but John and Lyndi ask that you please don’t assault the rest of the Mid City Mall parking lot.
The Big Bar, a fairly new Highlands joint, at 1202 Bardstown Road is hosting a pre-party from 6-8PM which will feature drink specials and a raffle for a gift basket from Old Forester.
Both locations of the Highland Tap Room are hosting pre-parties and zombie walk parking lots and staging areas. The original Highland Tap Room is right across the street from Mid City Mall at 1279 Bardstown Road and the new Highland Tap Room Grill is located down the street at the corner of Bardstown and Grinstead at 1058 Bardstown Road.
No matter which starting location you choose, there will be a countdown by volunteer zombie staff members and at precisely 8:29 PM the whole grim procession of ghastly ghouls will march towards the Monkey Wrench at 1025 Barret Avenue, devouring anyone who happens to be in its awful path. This year the police will have the path blocked off plenty of time in advance, so the streets will belong to the dead.
At the Monkey Wrench, the dead man’s party is just beginning. All ages are welcome for the outdoors activities which will include food and drinks provided by Louisville’s own Taco Punk! Be sure to visit the t-shirt booth where you can get an official Louisville Zombie Attack 2012 t-shirt and sign up for the Costume Contest which will take place at 10PM. Entertainment will be provided by OK Zombie, Squeeze-bot and a family friendly performance by the Va Va Vixens.
The categories for the Costume Contest include Grossest, Zombie King & Queen, Best Overall and the always popular “Hottest Zombie.” Lyndi remembers the year that the Hottest Zombie contest ended in an all out cat fight.
“These two girls just went all out out bare knuckles,” she said. “And neither one of them even won! They were basically fighting over being the second hottest zombie girl!”
After the Costume Contest, the party moves inside and all the little zombies need to go home and get some sleep because they’ve got school the next morning. The Vivel Brothers Band, the Vice Tricks and a much less family friendly performance by the Va Va Vixens will provide the late night entertainment.
After hosting this bloody affair for the last seven years, John and Lyndi are bound to have seen their share of strange sights. I’ve “walked with the zombies” myself and I’ve seen zombies climbing on city buses, zombies terrifying unaware commuters on their way home from work and zombies attacking local shops and restaurants. I’ve seen Elvis zombies, Santa Claus zombies, Marvel Comics zombies and little kid “Resident Evil” zombies. But what are some of John and Lyndi’s favorites?
“I saw a Little Orphan Annie,” says John, “that was dragging her little dead dog behind her. That was one of the weirdest things I’ve seen,”
“I think one of the coolest zombies I’ve seen,” says Lyndi, “was this giant Hello Kitty zombie. That was amazing.”
Even though I spoke to each of them separately, they both had the same favorite pick for best zombies. I spoke to Lyndi first and she spoke very highly of the group of girls dressed as the undead versions of the Disney Princesses. When John picked the exact same group of flesh eating Disney heroine icons, I knew these two ex-roommates were still twins of evil. You can’t stop them. The dead can’t die.
For all last minute updates go to www.louisvillezombieattack.org and if you love the Louisville Zombie Attack as much as we do here at Louisville Halloween, please consider a small donation (not an arm and a leg) at www.louisvillezombieattack.org/donate.
The Phantom of the Ville Explores the Spook Houses, Fun Houses and Creepier Corners of the Kentucky State Fair!
Hello again, my friends. It’s the Phantom of the Ville here, reporting in from the Thrillway at the Kentucky State Fair, which haunts the Fairgrounds from August 16th through August 26th. There’s something mysterious and exciting about the Midway at night. The blinking lights illuminate the rides, the sounds of carnival barkers and screaming teens echo on the wind and the smell of corn dogs and elephant ears mixes with the smell of grease and sawdust. Right next door sits the abandoned Kentucky Kingdom amusement park like a set-piece from an old Scooby Doo cartoon. In other words, it’s the perfect place for readers of this website to spend an evening after twilight.
I’ll be your guide to the haunted highlights of the Thrillway this year, so keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times, but let your imagination run wild.
One of my favorite guilty pleasures of any carnival is the Spook House, also known in some places as the Ghost Train, but most commonly referred to as the Dark Ride. The classic Dark Ride has been a staple of traveling carnivals for decades, the first of which was designed and built by the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company in 1928. There are the boat ride variations like the Tunnel of Love and the Old Mill, and there are the single rail electric cars that travel through dark, winding tunnels that are more common at state fairs and regional carnivals.
Dark rides can be as expensive and elaborate as the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or as cheap and shoddy as those found in rinky dink carnivals, and there are whole websites devoted to the love of both kinds. My favorites are Laff in the Dark at www.laffinthedark.com and the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts at www.dafe.org/. After checking out those websites, if you’re still interested in learning more about the history of Dark Rides, I recommend a book that’s part of my own haunted library called “Scary Dark Rides” by Doug Higley (SEE PHOTO). Higley, an ex-carny himself, spent years driving around in just the kind of trailer rig haunted rides you’ll find at the Kentucky State Fair and has a thousand stories from the road. His book may be hard to find these days, but it’s worth the search. I’ll be referring back to Higley’s folk wisdom as we examine the two Dark Rides you’ll find at the Fair.
The first Dark Ride I encountered while circling the Thrillway to the left is apparently so scary that IT CAN NOT BE NAMED! Even though its facade is quite elaborately covered with garish, grizzly carnival-style art, animated monsters and Axe wielding executioners, it has no name anywhere on the structure. The people lining up for a ride all seemed to refer to it as “The Haunted House,” so that’s what we’ll call it here. The Haunted House (SEE PHOTO) is the kind of Spook House that Doug Higley would speak affectionately about in “Scary Dark Rides.” Even though it’s basically a cheap trailer rig attraction, the ride owner seems to have put a little love into it. The amateur artwork on the facade is charming and the interior is well maintained with clinking skeletons, light up scare gags and a little bit of zip here and there. You enter through the “crash doors,” encounter a couple of spooks and travel across the second floor balcony before hitting the second set of crash doors 60 seconds later.
The second Dark Ride I came upon was near the back of the Midway, and it does have a name. It’s called “Ghost Pirates,”(SEE PHOTO) and it’s the kind of cheap trailer rig ride that Higley wouldn’t have cared much for. It’s obviously taking advantage of the popularity of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise for its creepy theme, but the facade artwork is a little beat up and the theme doesn’t really carry forth inside the ride, which is mostly just dark and only has one gag that I noticed before depositing riders back outside 30 seconds later.
Rounding the backside of the Thrillway and continuing down the right side, I discovered a free attraction that while isn’t specifically horror related, might interest those whose tastes lean towards the Gothic/Renaissance period or just the unusual. It’s called the “Mighty 2000M” Stinson Band Organ (SEE PHOTO), a mechanical band organ comprised of elaborately carved antique, animated figures playing their instruments in synchronization. Honestly, I think it was the coolest thing I saw all night.
Apart from the Dark Rides, there are also several classic Fun Houses to explore. The first, and best, is Pan’s Royal Palace of Fun (SEE PHOTO)! While Peter Pan seems to rule the roost in the really colorful and fanciful carnival facade art, other fairy tale characters also appear. This two-level maze includes many traditional Fun House gags, including the revolving barrel, the moving floor and other surprises.
Then there’s the Indiana Jones themed, “Raiders,” and the nautical/SpongeBob Squarepants themed, Silly Seas, with its own revolving barrel knocking kids over all day long (SEE PHOTO)! I’m sure all these licensed characters are used with the permission of their original copyright holders, by the way. Lastly, if you’re afraid of clowns, you may want to avoid the Glass House (SEE PHOTO). It’s a mirror maze with creepy clowns and a burned out hippie (?) painted on the facade. That may have been the strangest thing I saw all night.
There are plenty of other scary sites at the Fair, including the gigantic, inanimate, talking Freddy Farm Bureau, who I’m convinced is going to come to life and go on a destructive rampage the next time some kid calls him “Woody,” as well as some of the more colorful fair goers themselves. You may even encounter a genuine phantom like myself amid the strange sites of the Thrillway. So Beware, and don’t eat the deep fried girl scout cookies before riding.
Investigating the Urban Legend of the Living Pan Statue in Cherokee Park
On the night of August 1st, under the light of the Full Moon and at the stroke of Midnight, I journeyed into the heart of darkness to discover the truths and myths surrounding one of Louisville’s oldest urban legends.
Most popular among residents of the Highlands area, the Legend of Pan has been passed down through several generations of Louisvillians. The story tells of the statue of the mythical god, Pan, who towers above Hogan’s Fountain in the heart of Cherokee Park luring thirsty travelers (and their dogs) to the cascading springs below him. As the legend goes, the statue magically comes to life at Midnight on nights of the Full Moon, running amok through the park and causing Gremlin-style mischief.
Over a hundred years old, Hogan’s Fountain was financed by the Hogan family of Anchorage in 1904. It was sculpted by local artist, Enid Yandell, who also sculpted the famous Daniel Boone statue guarding one of the nearby entrances to the park. It was officially unveiled to the public on August 31, 1905.
If you take the Scenic Loop through Cherokee Park, Pan’s Fountain isn’t the only unusual edifice you’re likely to encounter. Right off the Loop on Ledge Road, you will also come upon a stone dragon-headed viking ship (SEE PHOTO) even older than Hogan’s Fountain. Built in 1900, the evocative viking vessel was designed by the Clark and Loomis Firm in consultation with John C. Olmstead as a memorial to Paulina Keofoed Christensen, and was fully restored by the Louisville Olmstead Parks Conservancy in 2001.
Directly across from Hogan’s Fountain, you’ll find the Hogan Fountain Pavilion (SEE PHOTO). Built in 1965, it was designed as a public picnic shelter, but the Halloween fans that frequent this site will likely immediately imagine it as a giant witch’s hat. Between the goat legged specter of Pan and the over-sized witch’s hat, the whole area has the aura of ancient magic about it.
As the Full Moon loomed above me, I turned onto the Scenic Loop just as the witching hour was approaching. The trees on both sides of my car seemed to engulf the road as I traveled down the twisting, winding path. The Full Moon cast the shadows of spindly, leering branches across the road, making me lean back into my seat in claustrophobic unease.
When I reached the top of the hill where Pan’s Fountain awaited, I parked near the Pavilion and walked towards my destination. I’d never explored Cherokee Park at night before. In daylight, this part of the park is always filled with the sounds of family picnics, bikers, hikers, dogs and frolicking children.
Now, at the stroke of Midnight, an eerie silence blankets the entire area with the exception of the soothing sounds of water continually streaming into the fountain which grew seemingly louder as I approached.
Then, from approximately thirty feet away, I lifted my gaze to the top of the fountain and froze in my tracks. The great god Pan was gone!
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the illusion revealed itself. The stark white base of the statue stands out in the night’s horizon, but the black bronze of the statue itself disappears into the blackness of the surrounding forest, giving the appearance of its absence. It would be easy for anyone driving by to believe that Pan had left his perch at a quick glance.
At least I think it was an illusion. You’ll have a chance very soon to find out for yourself. This August 31st, the night of the next Full Moon, falls on the exact date of the 107th anniversary of the unveiling of Pan’s Fountain. Will you be lured by Pan’s flute to Cherokee Park on this historic night when the moon cycle and the statue’s birth-date come into perfect alignment? Tell us your own story if you dare.
Take a FREE Course in the Horror Business in Seymour, IN on August 4th!
Good Evening, my fellow River City creepers. It’s the Phantom of the Ville here, and this week we’ll be taking the bridge across the haunted Ohio River to the quaint little town of Seymour, IN to talk to the owner of FEAR FAIR, Brett Hays, about his FREE haunter’s bootcamp known as FEAR CAMP, which takes place next Saturday, August 4th from NOON until 6PM at FEAR FAIR.
Located in the former WWII Army Barracks in Freeman Field Municipal Airport at 800 A Avenue East in Seymour, IN 47274, FEAR FAIR is quickly becoming one of the best haunted attractions to ever spook the Louisville/Southern Indiana area. I was first lured into Brett’s web of terror three years ago, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a haunted house actor, make-up artist or set designer, this is your chance to get FREE training from the best in the business. Without further ado, let’s talk with Brett.
PHANTOM OF THE VILLE: Good evening, Brett. First, can you give us a little background on Fear Fair? What was your original inspiration and when did it first open?
BRETT HAYS: Fear Fair opened its doors for the first time in 2001. Our first two years were in an old High School gymnasium building that is still standing in Seymour. In 2003, we moved to our present building which we were finally able to purchase two years ago. I have always been intrigued with event planning and performance arts. Back in the good old days before the backlash against Halloween by churches, I hosted my Methodist Youth Group’s halloween party at my parents house. I believe I was in 4th or 5th grade at that point. With the idea of livening up the evening, myself and several other neighbor kids put together a haunted house in my parents’ barn loft. We had a blast and I guess that always stuck with me. I was a theater major for a while in college and I always need a creative outlet. Fear Fair is that outlet I suppose.
POTV: I understand the first train robbery in the United States took place in Seymour, IN. I remember your haunt originally paid tribute to that. Tell us about that.
BH: It’s always been important to me that our show have a local tie in. Our Haunt was actually named Fear Fair – Reno’s Revenge, and the first 1/3rd or so of the show for several years was a western theme loosely wrapped around the idea of the Reno Brothers. They were actually hanged by vigilantes, so it made for a nice starting point for a story wrapped around them coming back to exact their revenge on the community. We enjoyed it and I think it did well, but it was consistently not the favorite part of our show when we would survey customers. The reviews would always read something like this: “The western theme is difficult, but Fear Fair makes it work.”
I realized we were working with one hand tied behind our backs. If you start out with a theme that people don’t think of as scary, then you have to convince them otherwise. To our credit, I think we were able to do that most of the time, but we decided it was time to start out with a more scary theme and build on that. Still, it was important to have a local tie in, that’s where our new attraction, Hangar 17 was born. Freeman Field where our show is located was a WWII air training base. At the conclusion of the war, it became the foreign aircraft evaluation center. Hundreds of captured Japanese and German aircraft were brought to Freeman Field to be reverse engineered and evaluated by US engineers. So we decided, what if one of those planes held an experimental Nazi chemical that was designed to mutate soldiers… you can read the complete back story on our web site. FearFair.com
So, we’ve been able to keep the local historical tie in as well as move to a more dynamic, scary theme.
POTV: Tell us about Fear Camp. How many years have you been running that program?
BH: This will be the second year for Fear Camp. The idea was to use it s a recruiting tool for our own haunt as well as to just generally share knowledge and help everyone in our area take their shows to a higher level. I have always believed that a rising tide raises all ships. The better quality all of the attractions in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana area can become, the more attendance we will all see.
I know that we wanted not just one or two, but all of our actors, makeup people, etc. to be able to attend training classes and improve their skills. It’s just not financially feasible for any of us (haunt owner/operators) to enroll all of our cast in seminars at Transworld in St. Louis, or Midwest Haunters Convention or Hauntcon and pay for hotel rooms, etc. So we thought, what if we brought together the most talented and brightest among all of the haunts in the midwest and packed as many learning opportunities as we could into a single afternoon, then all of our people could attend and the other area haunts could afford to have all of their people come as well. The most important aspect of Fear Camp to me is that we don’t charge any fees for the classes. That way everyone can bring as many people as they like and spread knowledge and tricks of the trade.
On a personal level, it’s exciting to me to see this happening. The talent of some of our instructors is just incredible and it’s such an honor to host them all at Fear Fair.
POTV: What kind of person makes a good haunted house actor? Can anybody apply?
BH: Sure, anyone is welcome. The best haunted house actor is someone who is not afraid to take chances and really ‘move in’ to their character. Once you’ve done it, you will know if its for you. If it is, and it’s in your blood, you’ll never want to stop acting in a haunt.
I think haunted house acting gets far too little respect. In conventional acting, you are acting from a script, just delivering the lines as they were written. With haunt acting, you have to actually become that character. Let’s take the example of a queue line actor, (as an aside, we have three of the best queue line actors I’ve ever seen presenting at Fear Camp this year. Bud Stross, who plays Jasper the clown at The Dent Schoolhouse, Scott ‘Tater’ Lynd, who’s character Granny is famous and Katie Lane, who travels the country professionally acting at haunted attractions from coast to coast each season).
In queue line acting, you are with the audience for a protracted time. It’s not like acting a room in a haunt where the customers come through and then leave, no not at all. I honestly believe it’s the highest form of acting. You have to be the character, react to anything the crowd might say in the way that character would, stay in character at all times regardless. A great queue line haunt actor deserves a ton of credit.
POTV: Are you also looking for make-up artists and set designers? Does Fear Camp train for that?
BH: Absolutely, we have makeup classes, costuming classes, scene detailing classes… you name it.
POTV: In your opinion, how does working at Fear Fair compare to working at other haunted attractions?
BH: One thing that’s a little different with Fear Fair is our movie scenes. We pride ourselves on being faithful to the films in both set design and acting. The actors who portray the slashers at Fear Fair study the films to get the movements of the characters down. Our goal is an immersive experience that truly makes you believe you have stepped (or been thrown) into the world of that movie. Our characters have to be completely believable or that doesn’t work.
When we made the decision to do movie scenes, we made the commitment that they had to be the best anyone had seen, that’s not something we take lightly.
Other than that, I would guess it’s a fairly similar experience to most other haunts, we are a big family and there’s a lot of loyalty among our cast and crew.
POTV: What are some of your favorite local haunted attractions outside of Fear Fair? What have you seen at other local haunts that you thought was really cool or inspired you in some way?
BH: I am a huge haunt fan, and I know I am going to leave someone out, but here goes. Some of the best detailed and believable sets I have ever seen are at Dent Schoolhouse, the level to which Bud and Josh develop their sets is mind blowing and has been an inspiration to us. The intensity level of the actors at Haunted Hotel in Louisville and Dead Acres outside Columbus, OH is epic!! I actually have a video of one of the actors at Haunted Hotel that we show in actor training as an example of what we are looking for from our own actors. For character acting and just amazing acting from all of the cast, Baxter Avenue Morgue is something everyone should experience. There are so many others, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately.
POTV: What do you think haunt fans can expect in the future of haunted attractions? What technological advances or new props/animatronics/gags have you seen this year? What’s trending?
BH: Well, the pressure is on, big time. We have the same people walking through the doors at our haunts who just saw The Dark Knight Rises which had a $250,000,000 budget. They don’t care that we are working on a budget that wouldn’t cover their catering; they are looking for an experience on that level. We see this every year, people are just harder and harder to impress, scare, entertain.
One thing I’m seeing, which I believe is a very positive trend, is getting the animatronics out of the corner and on to the actor. The giant costumes by folks like Kevin Alvey at Gore Galore, and the actor controlled props we saw at Transworld this year really help to make things more personal. Now that giant creature can play off of the audience and interact rather than just running through it’s set routine. Makeup is getting better and better. We have seen lots of new products in the past few years that enable faster and better makeups for actors. When you have about an hour to get 60-100 actors into makeup, it’s tough to maintain the quality you would like, but new products like the Zombie Skin product where you don’t have to use multiple layers of material and wait for all that to dry between layers are awesome.
Generally, look for us to raise the bar and improve each and every year.
Trick-or-Treats and Cheap Eats on July 24th with the Louisville Bats!
There’s no need to wait another three months to break out the Halloween costumes this year thanks to Louisville’s own Minor League Baseball team, the Louisville Bats, and the folks at Slugger Field. On Tuesday July 24th, Slugger Field will magically transform into a Halloween wonderland complete with trick-or-treat stations for kids to collect candy during the game.
Kids 12 and under who come in costume will receive a FREE field reserved seat when accompanied by an adult paid regular price admission ticket, but nobody said that the adults can’t dress up too!
Among the sponsors of the event, Pepsi and Meijer will be providing $1 Pepsi and $1 hot dogs to keep the throngs of little witches, monsters and super heroes happy. Handling the Halloween aspect of the event is Louisville’s oldest and best novelty and costume shop, Caufields! They’ll be awarding three prizes to the best costumes on the field during the game, so don’t just cut some eye holes out of an old, white sheet. Get into the Halloween spirit and get creative!
It makes perfect sense that Caufields would be the mad genius behind this hootenanny. After all, their amazing shop with its world famous Wall of Masks is only a block and a half down Main Street from the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory where you’ll find the largest baseball bat in the world. Not to be outdone, hanging from Caufields building with its glowing red eyes lighting up Main Street at night, you’ll find the world’s largest vampire bat!
It’s the Louisville Bats VS the Buffalo Bisons, which already sounds like a monster movie worthy of a Roger Corman produced Syfy Channel Saturday night premiere. How cool is it that our Minor League Baseball team’s mascot, Buddy Bat, is a giant purple Chiroptera? My old friend, Count Alucard, from London would be proud (London, KY, that is!).
If you need to rent or buy a costume for the game, just mention this event at Caufields and get an instant 10% off your purchase.
Who knows, you may even spot me, the Phantom of the Ville, haunting the hot dog stand or the spooking the Pepsi booth. If you feel a slight cold chill on the back of your neck in the July heat of Slugger Field, chances are it will be me!
A Contemporary Look at the Generations Old Legend of the Pope Lick Monster
“Here There Be Monsters”
Those words can be found on many early examples of cartography when the world was still young to sea travelers and vast areas of the ocean were still relatively unknown and unexplored. Missing ships and sunken galleons were often attributed to mysterious monsters who lurked in the dark depths waiting to destroy unwary wayfarers.
These monsters became the stuff of urban legends, stories that were passed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition in camp fire tales and late night sleepovers. Eyewitnesses and documentation of these creatures of legend are generally questionable at best. The stories that are told are often based on the testimony of “a guy my brother knows who has a sister that has a friend whose uncle saw the creature in his back yard next to the illegal moonshine still.”
Welcome to the world of cryptozoology, my friends. As one of Louisville’s lurking legends myself, The Phantom of the Ville, this week I will be your host in exploring one of our cities most enduring urban legends, the legend of the Pope Lick Railroad Trestle in Eastern Jefferson County near Fisherville. The Pacific Northwest has Bigfoot. Point Pleasant has the Mothman. Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster. Tibet has the Yeti, and Louisville has the Goatman of Pope Lick.
Stories about the Pope Lick Goatman seem to date back as far as the late 1940′s, but no one seems to know the exact event that started the legend, and there are several wildly variant versions of the creature’s origins. One story says the creature was an escaped freak from a circus sideshow that survived a circus train derailment in the area. Another describes a farmer whose Satanic ceremonies led to the birth of a deformed demon from one of his own goats. In some stories the monster has supernatural, hypnotic powers to lure its victims onto the train trestle just as the train comes along, and in others it uses an Axe to hack up its victims.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to tell the story the way I heard it growing up in Jeffersontown, and I hope you will take the time to tell the story the way you heard it in the Comments/Reviews section below.
I was in Elementary School when I was first told the story of the Pope Lick Monster. The Goatman was described to me as having the upper body of a man and the legs and hooves of a goat, covered in black and white spotted hair with a goat’s head and protruding horns. The schoolyard rumor spreaders had statistics too. He could run up to 60 miles per hour and would chase any car trying to pass under the trestles after Midnight but before dawn. He lived in either a hut or a small cave nearby. If you tried to cross the trestles at night and a train would come around the bend, he would appear on the other side of the nine story drop leaving you the choice of either being hit by the train, forced to jump to your certain death or be killed by the monster!
The legends continued to circulate when I reached High School, and when I was old enough to drive, the Pope Lick Trestles became the perfect place to take dates for a good scare and a little death defiance. I did indeed climb out onto the tracks overlooking the creek, but my fear of heights didn’t allow me to go very far as the railroad ties are further apart than they look and I could see right through them to the ground ninety feet below.
There were a lot spooky stories surrounding that area in the 1980′s. Just a mile or two further down Pope Lick Road there was a farm called The Four Winds that was supposedly the place of worship for a Satanic Cult. There were rumored news reports of missing dogs in the area and speculations about ritual animal sacrifice. At the time, its wooden fence was painted stark black and red and the sign on the front gate next to a menacing red plow warned, “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PERSECUTED.”
When you’re 17 years old, this kind of threat nearly demands you to trespass. It’s like a “double dog dare.” One night a friend and I climbed over the gate and crept stealthily into the field and up to an old barn. Suddenly, we were both stopped dead in our tracks by the sound of tribal drumming coming from further back in the woods. “Did you hear that?,” I asked my friend, not sure if my nerves were playing tricks on my ears. Just as suddenly we also heard ritualistic chanting.
If the Pope Lick Monster could run 60 miles per hour, I don’t think he would’ve caught up to us as fast as we got out of there!
As the years passed the legend was retold in a short film by local filmmaker, Ron Schildknecht, called “The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster,” and in a play by Prospect native poet, Naomi Wallace, called “The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek.”
In recent years, however, I’ve heard less and less about the Pope Lick Goatman. Last month I took the drive down Taylorsville Road to the beast’s lair and was shocked at how much has changed since my High School/College adventures. The road between J-town’s Gaslight Square and Pope Lick Road used to be mostly wooded area, farmland and the occasional ramshackle barn. It was a desolate stretch of road perfect for a legendary creature to hide and lurk. Today it’s littered with strip malls, restaurants, gas stations, condominium complexes and upscale gated communities. In fact, there is a modern Kwik-E-Mart right across the street from the Goatman’s trestle with an omnipresent police car in the parking lot. The traffic at the crossing is non stop.
The trestle itself is now guarded by an eight foot fence bearing “Keep Out” signs to deter teenagers and legend tripping curiosity seekers from getting near the railroad tracks. As far as documented facts go, there have been actual recorded deaths attributed to thrill seekers falling prey to trains which still use the trestles today. At least two deaths in 1987 and another as recently as 2000 were reported in an article in the Courier Journal by local homespun journalist Bob Hill, and many believe the story of the Goatman may have been created to scare kids away from the real dangers of the area.
Is the Goatman gone forever, chased away by urban progress and the encroaching suburban civilization? Has this local cryptozoological creature of legend disappeared into the murky bog of forgotten history? Has the city’s overprotective fences and signs robbed us all of a little bit of the mystery and magic that makes our lives more interesting?
You tell me! Have you heard about any recent sightings of the Goatman? What stories were you told about the horned beast growing up? Did you ever try to cross the railroad tracks or explore the area after Midnight? Tell us your own campfire tales about the Monster of Pope Lick!
A Preview of July’s Midnight Movies at the Baxter
Good Evening, friends and fellow horror movie fanatics. This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the dark, mysterious projection room inside Louisville’s own Baxter Avenue Theater. The smell of buttered popcorn is in the air and the sound of flickering 35 MM projectors are like the cinema’s children of the night. What music they make!
This July the Baxter will chill your scorched bones with an entire lineup of horrifying shockers almost every Saturday night at the witching hour! You’ll witness three 35 MM prints of some of the best Midnight Movie Madness Hollywood has to offer made by two of the genre’s greatest masters, John Carpenter and Sam Raimi.
Although “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) wasn’t truly the first Midnight Movie, it was certainly the film that started the Midnight Movie cultural phenomenon. John Waters‘ “Pink Flamingos” (1972) and the propaganda marijuana scare film, “Reefer Madness” (1936), had played successfully in big cities and on college campuses previous to “Rocky Horror,” whose original theatrical release was somewhat of a bust.
However, two years later in 1977 the film was re-released to theaters on the Midnight circuit where audiences were a little more “lubricated” and talkative. It began in New York City and Austin, TX. People began shouting back at the screen and quoting dialog out loud. Soon enough entire scenes were being reenacted in front of the screen, toast and toilet paper were being thrown and motorcycles were being driven up and down the theater aisles. All of this led to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” becoming the longest running theatrical release in history, still in limited theatrical release almost 40 years later.
This week I spoke with the Baxter’s Midnight Movies Master of Ceremonies, Beau Kaelin, who has been programming the series since it began in 2003 with “Donnie Darko,” after the long lamented closure of The Vogue in Saint Matthews. Kaelin seems the perfect man for this job. Like a character right out of a Marvel comic book, Kaelin is a mild mannered public school Biology teacher by day who at night becomes a mad movie programmer of some of the wildest and woolliest cinema imaginable.
“We had picked up showing ‘Rocky Horror’ after the Vogue Theater closed,” Kaelin said, “and we realized that we had eight other empty theaters after Midnight while ‘Rocky’ was playing.The staff couldn’t leave anyway, so we decided to try playing another film.”
“To our surprise, ‘Donnie Darko’ completely sold out.” Kaelin continues, “The audience for ‘Rocky Horror’ was getting younger and younger. There were thirty or so regulars, but most of the audience were just kids who had heard it was a party, but weren’t familiar with the film at all. The oddest thing I’ve ever experienced was walking into the screening and the theater just being quiet!”
Kaelin says the most successful Midnight Movies at the Baxter have included “Labyrinth,” “Theater of Blood,” “Ground Hog Day,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Room,” “Zardoz” and “Amelie.” Seriously, “Amelie”? Kaelin says “Amelie” was the fastest sellout in Baxter Midnight Movie history.
The Midnight Movie Series has now played over 200 films and shows no signs of slowing down. There’s something magical that happens when sitting in a dark theater after Midnight with a full audience experiencing strange cinema together. The movie, even if you’ve seen it before, takes on a new life and there is a heightened experience that can not be replicated at home on the best home theater system. Without further ado, here is the horror you can share with Louisville’s greatest horror fans this July.
“THEY LIVE” Saturday July 7 MIDNIGHT: John Carpenter presents this paranoid vision of a world under secret alien control starring Roddy Piper as a struggling blue collar labor slave who discovers the truth about the enslavement of the human race through a mysterious pair of sunglasses. This searing satire of the Reagan era includes the longest, funniest fight scene in sci-fi cinema history. In related news, Roddy Piper will also be appearing in person this same weekend at the Days of the Dead Horror Convention in Indianapolis ( see http://www.daysofthedead.net/indianapolis/ ).
“ARMY OF DARKNESS” Saturday July 14 MIDNIGHT: Sam Raimi’s third and final entry in the “Evil Dead” saga finds S-Mart housewares clerk, Ash (Bruce Campbell), magically transported to the Dark Ages where he must find the Necronomicon to save himself (if not the world) from an army of evil deadites. Campbell’s recent appearance at Louisville’s Fright Night Film Fest generated lines that were hours long and stretched for miles through the hallways of the Galt House, so there’s no doubt this cult horror film has a ‘Rocky Horror” sized following and should prove to be a lively Midnight Movie.
“DARKMAN” Saturday July 28 MIDNIGHT: Another Sam Raimi shocker, “Darkman” is a Gothic comic book style horror film that follows the adventures of tragic hero, Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson), as he seeks revenge against the gangsters who destroyed his life and his own human skin! Working on a formula for synthetic skin to benefit humanity, he uses his skin compound to create lifelike masks and becomes a master of disguise to infiltrate the criminal underground and destroy his enemies. Will his quest for revenge make him a hero or a monster? This film ultimately became Raimi’s trial run as a comic book director which led to his directing job on the blockbuster “Spider-man” franchise.
The Baxter Avenue Theaters are located in the Highlands at 1250 Bardstown Road in the Mid-City Mall. Beau Kaelin and his crew tell me the the grounds at the Mid-City Mall are haunted, and one theater in particular is the scene of multiple sightings of a little ghost boy who appears playing in the aisles on a reoccurring basis. So the spooks on the screen this July may not be the only ones with you in the theater in the dark after Midnight. You have been so warned!
Kaelin and his crew’s successful Halloween marathon of Vincent Price films last October will be followed by another Midnight Horror Series this Fall. It’s still in the planning stages, but Kaelin says that Universal Studios has recently struck new 35 MM prints of several of their classic horror films, and he has an idea about programming each week’s feature as a spotlight on a different classic horror star from Bela Lugosi to Boris Karloff to Christopher Lee to Barbara Steele.
Keep watching this space for details! See you at the Midnight Movies!
Greetings, my Derby City friends! I am the Phantom of the Ville, the grim grinning specter of all things spooky and unusual happening in our wonderfully weird Commonwealth. Although October 31st might be the scariest night of the year, the night when the veil that separates the living and the dead is the thinnest, in this town the scariest day is spread over an entire weekend starting this Friday, June 29.
Horror Conventions don’t get much bigger than Louisville’s own Fright Night Film Fest which is taking over the Galt House Hotel and Convention Center this weekend. Just a short few years ago, Fright Night was just a little show started to bring attention to local and regional films and filmmakers whose underground horror films needed a place to be seen and to find distribution. Almost every year since then it has nearly doubled in size and scope, bringing in genre directors as big as “Halloween” director and Master of Horror, John Carpenter, and cult film master director and producing legend Roger Corman.
Fright Night Film Fest has hosted a who’s who of horror film stars, writers and artists from local horror heroes to Hollywood bogeymen who’ve haunted our collective nightmares. The exhaustive list includes a “Fright Night” (1985) reunion with Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys and a “Phantasm” (1979) reunion with Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin and the dreaded Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm (I love that guy!). The number of guests who have worn the hockey mask in “Friday the 13th” sequels or the white, altered William Shatner mask in the “Halloween” franchise is almost too large to count.
Last year Fright Night mad maestro, Ken Daniels, added yet another level to the convention called Fandom Fest, which expands the overall theme of the show from just horror to sci-fi, literature, music and pop culture so that now you might run into someone like last year’s Guest of Honor and “Happy Days” icon, Henry Winkler. Although the Fonz did it, this show is far from jumping the shark!
The fact is that this year might be the biggest yet for Fright Night Film Fest. The Guest of Honor this year is none other than every horror fan’s favorite actor, Bruce Campbell (“The Evil Dead,” “Army of Darkness,” “Bubba Ho-Tep”). I was lucky enough to meet Bruce for the first time many years ago before “Army of Darkness” had even been released (SEE EMBARRASSING PHOTO) at a Fangoria Convention in Chicago and again at Oxmoor Mall when he was on the road promoting “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”
This is a true story. Just a few weeks ago I clicked “Like” on God’s Facebook page and was immediately redirected to Bruce Campbell’s Facebook page! I clicked “Like” anyway.
Campbell will only be appearing at the show on Saturday, and I recommend checking his schedule posted on www.frightnightfilmfest.com so you don’t miss the opportunity to meet this extremely charismatic horror legend.
Also appearing this year is John (Gomez Addams of “The Addams Family”) Astin’s adopted son and star of Peter Jackson’s Oscar Award Winning “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Sean Astin. It can easily be argued that Astin’s Samwise Gamgee was the true hero and heart of the LOTR films, and you shouldn’t miss the chance to meet him.
Cult icon, Corey Feldman, star of “The Lost Boys” (1987) will also be with us in the River City. Don’t forget that Feldman originally played Tommy Jarvis in “Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter,” which is my absolute favorite entry in the Jason Voorhees saga. Little Corey Feldman actually played the character who KILLED Jason Voorhees with his own machete. That’s right, kids, Jason was technically still human in that sequel and didn’t become an undead zombie until “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.”
The horror film reunion that I’m howling at the moon in excitement over this year is the “Monster Squad” (1987) reunion of Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert and Stephen Macht. Macht, especially, is a genre hero of mine and a fine actor as well, appearing in personal cult favorites like “Galaxina” (1980) and the woefully under seen and under appreciated “Nightwing” (1979), a vampire bat horror film that mixes leather winged terror with Native American mysticism also staring Nick Mancuso and the great David Warner.
Among the list of over fifty celebrity guests, other horror favorites include Deborah Foreman (“April Fool’s Day,” “Waxwork”), James Marsters and Nicholas Brendon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Norman Reedus, Jefferey Demunn, Iron E Singleton and Madison Lintz from AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”), Sid Haig (“House of 1,000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects”), Kane Hodder (four time Jason Voorhees star and “Friday the 13th” fan favorite) and too many others to even list here.
A couple of returning guests warrant special mention. The first is Tommy Lee Wallace, director of “Fright Night Part 2” (1988), Stephen King’s “It” (1990) and the wacky love it or hate it “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982). Personally, I love it. Long Live Tom Atkins! Wallace brought “Fright Night Part 2” and some of his student films to a lecture at Western Kentucky University when I was a Phantom undergraduate in Bowling Green, and I’ll never forget meeting him for the first time.
The other is the modern Michael Myers himself, Tyler Mane (“The X-Men,” “Troy,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and “Halloween II”). When Mane was at Fright Night for the first time a couple of years ago, I got to spend some time sitting with him at his table and as a result got to know him just a little bit. As big and intimidating as he is (and at the risk of ruining his bogeyman reputation), I found him to be one of the nicest horror stars in the business. He not only cares about his fans, but he stayed around long past the call of duty just to hang out with Fright Night Staff and fans.
This year the whole show should feel happily at home in the atmosphere of the luxurious and historic Galt House, which I’ve heard through unconfirmed rumors has its share of ghosts, specters and unruly poltergeists. In any case, there will be one extra Phantom at the Galt House this weekend to be sure! See you there!
And PLEASE add your own experiences at Fright Night Film Fest in the reviews/comments section below. We’d just die to hear from all of you!
Alice Cooper Concert Review
Born Vincent Damon Furnier, the shock rock icon known as Alice Cooper has been good to Louisville. He rarely mounts a tour that fails to stop somewhere within city limits, opening his last two tours just over the bridge at the Horseshoe Casino in Southern Indiana.
The first leg of the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Tour opened at the Horseshoe and debuted the first song from his latest CD, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” before anyone else in the world had heard it. That show also debuted Distortions Unlimited’s gigantic, fifteen foot tall FrankenAlice which was filmed for the Travel Channel’s “Making Monsters” series last Fall.
This week Alice brought the horror show to the Iroquois Park Amphitheater to give us a taste of Halloween in June. I don’t think there’s a venue left in Louisville that Alice hasn’t played, from the Palace to Freedom Hall to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds & Expo Center, and I just can’t resist the opportunity to witness his perpetual descent into madness whenever he comes through town.
The show opened with a theatrical narration by Vincent Price that introduced the classic Cooper favorite, “The Black Widow,” which was appropriate since Alice Cooper has become the Vincent Price of Rock and Roll. Unlike most rockers of his generation, age has never been a factor that his critics have used against him. Like the horror stars of old such as Price, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, whose bogeyman careers didn’t even start until middle age, Alice Cooper is the villain of Rock and Roll. Age just seems to make him more sinister.
My first experience with Alice Cooper as a wee Phantom was catching sight of the LP cover for “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell” (1976) while shopping with my parents at a local department store. It scared the Hell out of me! After seeing his gruesome, green, grinning visage and hearing “Billion Dollar Babies,” I was convinced that this man who called himself Alice must be a sick and evil individual indeed. The hooks were in!
It would be ten years later in 1987 at Louisville Gardens that I first experienced the Alice Cooper nightmare in person, and I still have the ticket stub and a piece of a giant inflatable eyeball to prove it (SEE PHOTO BELOW). Alice was touring his “The Nightmare Returns” show and he had managed to fit in perfectly with both the 80′s heavy metal scene and the 80′s horror/slasher boom, even recording a theme song for Jason Voorhees, “The Man Behind the Mask,” for “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.”
Today, Alice has left his crazy rock star lifestyle behind him. He’s a reborn Christian who has traded his alcohol addiction for a golf obsession and he’s in better shape than most guys half his age. He threw out the first pitch at the Louisville Bats game (perfectly!) Monday night where he received a Bats jersey that he wore at one point on stage during the concert. His player number was “18,” and the front of the jersey said “Bats.” When he turned around, the back of the jersey said, “Alice is.” I just love the man’s sense of humor.
Alice is currently touring with one the tightest lineups he has ever played with. Bass player Chuck Garric has developed such a charismatic stage presence over the years that he can and does completely command the audience when Alice is offstage.Guitarist Tommy Henriksen is obviously having the time of his life bringing energy and joy to the show, and Glen Sobel’s stunt drumming brought the audience to the “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” of a fireworks show. Alice’s secret weapon on this tour, however, is 24 year old blond spitfire guitar goddess, Orianthi. She has shared the stage with the likes of Steve Vai and Carlos Santana, and was the intended lead guitarist for Michael Jackson’s ill fated last tour. Her blistering solos rallied the crowd at the Iroquois Amphitheater into a frenzy.
Alice played a fistful of expected classics like “I’m Eighteen,” “Under My Wheels” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” while mixing in more recent songs like “Brutal Planet,” “Hey Stoopid” and his biggest charting hit, “Poison.” He also played a couple of tracks off his latest record, “Caffeine” and the Rolling Stones influenced, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off.”
In my haunted opinion, the best moment and anchor of the entire show was an epic rendition of the too rarely heard masterpiece, “Halo of Flies.” Cooper corralled his four guitar players (including guitarist Ryan Roxie) together and stood in front of them like a mad orchestra conductor with a baton leading them through a truly face melting electric instrumental.
Shock theatrics were also out in full force, as Distortion’s monstrous FrankenAlice attacked the band during “Feed My Frankenstein” and Alice met his fate under the guillotine after his murderous behavior during “Wicked Young Man.”
The set closed with the Cooper fan favorite “School’s Out,” and the encore included giant balloons, confetti, a staged battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Cooper in a glittery tuxedo singing “Elected.”
Louisville couldn’t have asked for a better trick-or-treat on a Tuesday night in June. I even spotted local broadcasting legend and self confessed Monster Kid, Ray Foushee sitting dead center in front of me. Foushee hosted his own monster movie marathon series, “Memories of Monsters,” on WDRB-41 back in the 80′s. You can see the happy back of Ray Foushee’s head in my photo of the band opening the show (SEE PHOTO: black t-shirt, center frame)!
My coachman’s hat off to the people of the Iroquois Park Amphitheater for hosting and pulling off such a horrifying hootenanny! Until next week, this is the Phantom of the Ville, listening to Alice Cooper’s 2010 single, “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (three hundred sixty five!) until the leaves turn brown. See you out there in the Ville!
~The Phantom of the Ville
Welcome back, everyone. I hope you enjoyed our adventure at Cave Hill Cemetery. I am the Phantom of the Ville, and now we will be heading away from downtown on Baxter Avenue, turning right on Winter Avenue and then left on Barret Avenue to arrive at St. Louis Cemetery where we will find the grave of one my personal horror heroes, the Fearmonger!
Who is the Fearmonger and how did he become known by that creepy nom de plume? In daily life he was known as Charles Kissinger. He was born in 1925 and spent most of his career as an actor in Louisville, KY at Actors Theater and at Shakespeare in Central Park. His fabled career as a character actor in horror films started when he met our last subject, local cult filmmaker William Girdler. The two became lifelong friends and Girdler ended up using Kissinger in seven out of his nine feature films, even giving him leading roles in “Asylum of Satan” (1972) and in “Three on a Meathook” (1973), where he played the psychotic Pa Townsend! It was a match made in horror heaven, and part of the fun of watching Girdler’s films is spotting Kissinger in his inevitable cameos.
The Fearmonger was born out of the necessity of a lost era of local broadcasting. When WDRB-41 went on the air in 1971 it brought with it many hours of locally produced programs that ranged from children’s shows like “Funsville” with Presto the Clown to local news, farm and hog reports. To fill time on Saturday nights, WDRB-41 bought a package of horror and science-fiction films known to horror fans as the “Shock Theater” package to show as double features between the hours of 7PM and 10PM.
Kissinger was already well known to local broadcasting head honchos for his voice-over and television commercial work, and he was promptly hired to serve as the host of ceremonies on what would be called “Fright Night”! They didn’t want to spend the budget on a set or any costly props, so Charlie was the whole show. Kissinger was lit from below, an effect not unlike putting a flashlight under your chin in a dark room (and many kids did just that in their bathroom mirrors to imitate the Fearmonger!), and a spooky tune called “Spell of the Unknown” played in the background as the Fearmonger would introduce the night’s films and occasionally pop in to crack deadpan jokes at the movie’s expense.
The program ran from 1971 through 1975, introducing many future wee Louisville Phantoms to the likes of creepy characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A complete film schedule can be found on David Conover’s wonderful tribute website, The Fearmonger’s Chambers, at http://www.williamgirdler.com/kissinger.html.
Sadly, WDRB-41′s budget concerns gave way to a lack of forward thinking about cultural preservation and no footage of the program survives today. All the tapes used to record “Fright Night” were reused to tape other programs. Only one promotional image of Kissinger as the Fearmonger remains.
The Fearmonger’s grave at St. Louis Cemetery will take just a bit more adventuring to find since I do not have exact section and lot information, but I do have directions! When you pull into the front gates at St. Louis Cemetery, turn right and head for the corner. Find the huge, scary looking tree that looks as if it has been scarred down the middle by lightning (trust me!) and take twenty some paces forward from the tree to nearly reach the driveway. Look down. A local legend lies here.
Allow me to close with the immortal words of the Fearmonger every Saturday night as he introduced us to a new horror. “Lock your doors, bolt your windows and prepare for the horror of,” the next column from the Phantom of the Ville!
~The Phantom of the Ville
Hello again, my Louisville friends. It is your host, the Phantom of the Ville, back to tell you more spine tingling local tales and offer up more chilling fun to cool your Summer Halloween fever. This week we’ll be paying tribute to Louisville’s history in horror cinema where the roots run deep.
Long before Louisville was ground zero for a zombie apocalypse in Dan O’Bannon’s cult classic, “Return of the Living Dead” (1985), the River City was home to its own breed of horror film auteurs. In fact, the director of the very first sound horror film, Universal Studio’s “Dracula” (1931) staring Bela Lugosi, was born and raised right here in Louisville, KY. Tod Browning, who would first direct the most infamously lost silent film of all time, “London After Midnight” (1927), with the Man of 1,000 Faces himself, Lon Chaney, and would go on to direct the controversial “Freaks” (1932), was one of us!
Recently I journeyed deep into the Southern Gothic nether regions of our own Cave Hill Cemetery (main gate at 701 Baxter Ave in the Highlands) to pay tribute to one of Louisville’s unsung horror heroes. While many visitors to Cave Hill’s massive and majestic grounds come to visit the grave of Colonel Sanders or to see the amazing statue of the Frito-Lay Magician, Harry Collins, I recommend Halloween and horror fans seek out the grave marker of Louisville’s greatest cult filmmaker, William Girdler.
William Brent Girdler was born in Louisville, KY in 1947 and only lived a short 30 years when he died in a helicopter accident while scouting locations for his next film in the Philippines in 1978. Considering his short directing career before his untimely death, Girdler delivered an impressive number of drive-in shockers that have gone on to garner a loyal cult following. His most famous and profitable film was the 1976 “Jaws” knock-off, “Grizzly,” about a killer grizzly bear on the loose in a national state park.
There are a total of nine William Girdler films to seek out, the first five of which were actually shot in and around the city of Louisville. His first horror film, “Asylum of Satan” (1972), was mostly shot in Girdler’s small downtown studio, as was his second luridly titled film, “Three on a Meathook” (1973). After the topical revenge thriller, “Zebra Killer,” Girdler’s next two local films were staples of the popular grindhouse ‘blaxploitation’ trend of the time. The notorious, “Abby” (1974), found Girdler the focal point of a law suit by Warner Brothers who claimed his demonic story was just a black version of “The Exorcist.” I’m not saying it was, but it definitely was.
Perhaps Girdler’s best Louisville movie is “Sheba, Baby” (1975), an action film staring cult icon Pam Grier which shows off plenty of great Louisville locations including a boat chase on the Ohio River!
Then suddenly Hollywood took notice and Girdler managed to talk his way into a bigger budget film, although still far less glamorous than the blockbuster it sought to emulate. However, “Grizzly” (1976) was a major success on the drive-in movie circuit and Girdler’s career as a horror director was cemented. His next two films, “Project:Kill” (1976) and the nature-runs-amok epic “Day of the Animals” (1977), both featured the pre-comedic performances of Leslie Nielsen.
His last (and certainly his weirdest) film was the mind boggling, “The Manitou” (1978), staring Tony Curtis as a phony psychic who must do battle with a 400-year old Native American demon growing out of a tumor on Susan Strasberg’s neck!
Although I recommend making your trip to Cave Hill Cemetery an adventure, as there are many beautiful and breathtaking memorials to see, I will give you the exact location of William Girdler’s grave marker. You’ll find it in Section 30, Lot 55, Grave 7-A. Right down the street at Wild & Woolly Video you’ll also find an entire rental section devoted to Girdler’s films if you’d like to watch some of these unusual homegrown horror films.
Now let your journey begin, and I will return shortly with another related quest to another Louisville horror hero’s final resting place not far away!
~ The Phantom of the Ville
Phantom Of The Ville here, it’s time to get back on I-65, headed South again for “Halloween” director John Carpenter’s hometown of Bowling Green for our final southern destination. Along the way, keep a sharp eye for signs to Smith’s Grove, the small town Carpenter used as the name for Smith’s Grove Sanitarium from which Michael Myers made his infamous escape before his seige on the fictional town of Haddonfield. While in Bowling Green, many street names may seem familiar to “Halloween” fans, such as Russellville Road and others mentioned by police trying to track down Michael Myers in the first two films.
Arriving at the historic Beech Bend Park, Halloween fans will discover a classic dark ride inside The Haunted House. The dark ride concept was invented by a man named Leon Cassidy in 1928 while working for a company called the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company. A car would follow a twisting, winding track through a dark building while encountering various scary scenes and gags. The most famous known example is The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. The first Pretzel dark ride was installed at Beech Bend in 1954. It was reworked in the 1980′s and eventually redesigned entirely just last year.
However, the exterior remains the same as it was when I first discovered it in the late 80′s. Painted images of 80′s horror icons such as Freddy Krueger, the female demon from “House” and Bud the friendly zombie from “Day of the Dead” adorn the ride building. The interior has been updated with the latest haunted atraction animatronics. You’ll be attacked by werewolves, giant vampire bats, ghastly skeletons, ghouls and zombies jumping from their coffins. It’s classic thrills with modern effects!
I recommend you arrive at Beech Bend after 3PM in the afternoon after enjoying some of these other classic attractions, and you’ll save $10 off the price of admission for a ticket price of $21.99 for adults.
If instead of South, you head West from Louisville along I-64, in just an hour you’ll arive at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Theme Park in Santa Claus, IN. The greatest thing about Holiday World for our Summer road trip is that the park is divided into various holidays, including Halloween Land. When you pass beneath the retro-looking Halloween sign, you’ll hear Halloween related music being pumped through the park’s sound sytem. You’ll find your appetite tempted by Goblin Burgers. Wood crafts are made at Spooky’s Woodshop. There are two great wooden roller coasters inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
But perhaps the most evocative ride of the Halloweens of yesteryear and the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating is the beautifully painted and wonderfully maintained Hallowswings!Vintage style trick-or-treaters, bats, witches and skulls adorn this classic swing ride that both accomodates and pleases adults and children alike. If you’re fortunate enough to stay until dark, you’ll be magically transported by the multitude of lights that illuminate the ride against the night sky. Bring your camera.
Visit www.holidayworld.com for hours, prices and discount information.
Lastly, if your Summer road trip heads in a northerly direction, take I-71 North towards Cincinnati and Kings Island. There you’ll find another dark ride with an interactive spin. Before we take a ride on Boo Blasters on Boo Hill, a little history is in order.
Opened in 1972, Kings Island has become one of the most popular amusement parks in the United States with a history of Halloween friendly roller coasters like “The Beast” and the dearly departed “The Bat.” They also have a long history with the dark ride, the first of which was a boat ride called “The Enchanted Voyage” which opened with the park in 1972. It was a cartoon journey inside a giant television set into a cartoon world with characters like Scooby Doo and Huckleberry Hound. This ride iteself included “a spooky section” with appropriately creepier music and cartoon skeletons.
Many fans of that ride lament the invasion of little blue gnomes when it was refit as The Smurf’s Enchanted Voyage in the 1980′s. Thankfully, ghosts and goblins chased the little blue creeps out in 1992 when the boat ride was taken out and a ride system installed for “The Phantom Theater,” haunted by the insane Maestro! I liked that guy.
“The Phantom Theater” was popular for ten years before the crowds started to wane, but even when it was replaced in 2003 by the Sally Corporation’s “Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle,” the Maestro and his ghostly cohorts remained so popular that their figures make annual appearances at the Halloween Haunt in October.
The “Scooby Doo” ride introduced the interactive element to the ride, as guests could now use “ghost guns” to shoot the wandering phantoms and try to out score their co-riders. In 2009, Kings Island relinquished the rights to Scooby Doo and the Sally Corporation came in to quickly refit the same ride into the more generic ghostly version now called “Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.” It’s still a lot of fun, and I must give props to Kings Island for naming the villian of the ride “Boocifer!”
Well my friends, we have come to the end of our epic regional Haunted Summer road trip. But I, the Phantom of the Ville, will return on a weekly basis until Oct. 31 to offer more ghastly suggestions to occupy your time until our favorite holiday is again upon us. Drive safely and be sure to wear plenty of sun protection, esspecially those of you with that “living condition.”
~The Phantom of the Ville
Greetings good people of the River City. Allow me the quaint southern formality of an introduction; I am the Phantom of the Ville! For decades I have walked among you. I have creeped and crawled through your city streets, your backyards and alleyways, climbed your misty wooded hills and haunted your local theaters and movie palaces. The time has come for me to emerge and make myself known to you.
In the following months leading up to our favorite haunted holiday, I shall thrill you with tales of the strange and the unusual. We’ll journey together in search of local urban legends, haunted mansions, weird historical landmarks, infamous local personalities and places filled with the joy and terror of Halloween.
If you have what an an old friend of mine called the “Halloween gene,” then you’re likely already counting the days to the time of year when there is a chill in the air, a brisk devil wind and the smell of freshly fallen leaves in the air. Since that time is still months away, and we are currently approaching the Summer solstice, I have choosen this first article to suggest some regional Summer road trips that will ultimately lead you to creepy attractions within easy hearse ride.
So start up the Dragula, as we depart our beloved city limits and head South, North and West to get our Summer Halloween “fix.”
Our first journey into the Southern Gothic is headed true South down I-65 towards the central vortex of weirdness in all of Kentucky. First stop: Kentucky Stonehenge! Take the exit to Munfordville and follow the clearly marked signs past a large area of stone monuments and stone carved canons to a farm with a complete replica of the ancient and mysterious stones found in Whiltshire, England. It’s private property, but the owners don’t mind curiosity seekers. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate the Summer solstice this year on June 21.
Just a few miles down the road, you’ll come to epicenter of roadside attractions in all of Kentucky: Cave City! Even if you don’t plan on touring the bat infested miles and miles of underground passages at Mammoth Cave State Park, you’ll find plenty of creepy goodness to investigate.
The most hauntingly historic attraction you’ll encounter is The Haunted Hotel at Guntown Mountain. Guntown Mountain is a recreation of an Old West town just a chair lift ride up the side of a large hill that entertains visitors with staged gun fights and saloon dancers. Formerally known as just The Haunted House, this classic walk through attraction was built in 1972 by a Halloween prop company called Funni-Frite. Although some of the gags and props inside have been replaced and updated, most of the original structure remains exactly as it was originally built ( modern fire and saftey laws be damned!), including Charmin’ Charles, the ghastly skeleton playing his creepy organ music from the second floor!
The building’s facade is a beautiful representation of Halloweens long past. The twisting, turning halls inside are dark, but littered with pop up spooks and shocks. As you travel up and down the tight corridors, you’re sure to get at least one good scare before you exit onto the house’s second story balcony for a breathtaking view of the rolling hills and a photo opportunity. And then it’s back into the dark.
The owners of The Haunted Hotel have recently also built a Haunted Glow-In-The-Dark Mini Golf course next door. A trip through The Haunted Hotel will cost you $5, or for $7 you can also enjoy a round of mini golf. The Haunted Hotel is said to be the oldest still operating walk through attraction of its kind in the United States, and it belongs on your Summer road trip calendar.
Nearly right across the street, you’ll find Dinosaur World. Almost every kid’s love of monsters begins with the ones that actually existed. Nothing screams Americana like giant fiberglass dinosaurs. Taking the trip down Dinosaur Trail is like imagining all the plastic Marx Dinosaur toys you owned as a child blown up to lifesize proportions and scattered among the trees. Adult tickets are $12.75 and children between 3 and 12 are $9.75. Even if you don’t take the tour, stop in and see the greatest dinosaur gift shop in Kentucky.
Just down the road is an attraction that would make Vincent Price proud, the Mammoth Cave Wax Museum. Many people find wax figures inherently creepy, appearing life like yet not alive. Many of the figures on display were the work of artist Katherine Stubergh, whose work dates back to the 1930′s and encompasses many figures made while the subjects were still alive. My conversation with the curator revealed the fact that the Albert Einstein figure is signed by the scientist himself! When I inquired about a “Chamber of Horrors,” she informed me that the new owners are in the process of selling many of the older wax figures and soon intend to replace them with tributes to classic horror and science fiction. I was shown pictures of “Alien” (1979) heads, Linda Blair from “The Exorcist” and other memorable monsters from the silver screen. I was also informed that famous Hollywood monster sculptor, the recenty deceased Henry Alvarez, worked on many of the wax figures made by the Stubergh family. Alvarez scuplted creatures for such films as “The Thing,” “Predator,” “Robocop” and “Pumpkinhead” as well made many classic Halloween masks for Don Post Studios.
Keep driving down Old Mammoth Cave Road until you reach Big Mike’s Rock & Gift Shop, home to Big Mike’s Mystery House! For only $1 (the best you’ll ever spend), you’ll get a tour through the back work shed into a gravitational vortex of illusion and amazement. Right away, I could feel I was traveling back through time as our tour guide confirmed for me that the room full of blacklight posters we entered had been the same ones hanging there since the early 1970′s. He even showed us the dates on some of the posters!
Things only get stranger as you traverse crooked rooms that will have you leaning in odd angles as you try to maintain your balance. Water runs up hill. Humans appear to change sizes as they move about the room. Strange aliens appear to be watching your every move. All for a buck!
More great locations still to come–TO BE CONTINUED!
~The Phantom of the Ville
For the last 3 years, Wolf Creek Haunted Forest has been terrorizing patrons in Shepherdsville, KY. They featured a number of incredible scenes and characters, including one of the best Predator costumes we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, Wolf Creek is closing their doors in 2012. From what we’ve been told, they lost their lease on the property and decided to pull the plug.
However, they do have plans to open a NEW event in the future. Ideally they would like to open an indoor attraction, but nothing has been decided for sure at this point. We at Louisville Halloween want to wish the owners of Wolf Creek luck as they work towards bringing their twisted, terrifying visions back to the Louisville area in the future. We were sad to hear the news, but we are confident whatever they do in the future will live up to the caliber of haunt that we’ve come to expect from Wolf Creek Haunted Forest.
Coming up on it’s 5th season of scaring Louisvillians, this week Psychomania Theater of Terror was met with an unthinkable tragedy. After working late in the night preparing new scares for the 2012 season, the owners of Psychomania were struck early Tuesday morning with a call that their building had caught fire. The cause is still unclear, but it suspected to be an electrical fire.
The once thriving business which the Psychomania team had put so much blood, sweat and tears into had been completely destroyed. It is a terrible occurrence and an enormous loss to the haunt community. The owners of Psychomania have been creating haunts in this area for over 15 years and in an instant over a decade of work had gone up in flames. In this time of tragedy, please keep the Psychomania team in your thoughts as they struggle through this very difficult time.
An online ‘Rebuild a Nightmare’ fund has been started by another local haunter. If you can help at all, every little bit will help them try to create a new haunt to start scaring the heck out of you again. You can find the fund at GoFundMe.com.
Also, there is a Candlelight Vigil and Fundraiser planned for Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the burial ground of Psychomania. It is located at the Greentree Mall. Anyone that can join celebrate the memories shared at this once great Louisville haunt is urged to come. We hope to see you there. You will be missed Psychomania – Theater of Terror!
We at Louisville Halloween would like to take a moment to wish you and your family a very Happy Holidays! Our site wouldn’t be what it is today without your support and want to thank you for making Louisville THE city to go for the Halloween season. We look forward to many, many more years of bringing you all of the latest on everything happening around the Ville for Halloween. For 2012 we have even MORE planned to keep you informed! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Your friends at Louisville Halloween
With Halloween just four days away, we’ve rounded up some of the creepiest and kookiest costumes available around Ellisville and Ballwin.
Description: Lady Gaga is the controversial pop star who inspires comments every time she changes her outfits.
Where/Pricing: Lady Gaga accessories including gloves, masks and wigs range in price from $5.99 to $19.99 at Party City. The complete outfits at Party City range in price from $44.99 to $59.99. Accessories like gloves, wigs and masks range in price from $8.99 to $22.49 at Halloween Express. The complete outfits range in price from $54.99 to $59.97, also at Halloween Express.
Description: Don’t confuse Angry Birds with Hitchcock’s The Birds. Angry Birds is a video game released by Apple in 2009. Since then it has become an addictive, guilty pleasure of many. Characters in the video game include red and yellow birds and a King Pig.
Where/Pricing: Adult red, yellow Angry Birds and King Pig costumes are available at Party City for $49.99. The children’s Angry Birds and King Pig costumes are sold out at Party City. Halloween Express has Angry Birds masks in red, yellow and King Pig, available for adults, teens and tweens for $37.99. Adult red Angry Birds and adult King Pig costumes are available for $64.99 at Halloween Express. Infant red Angry Birds and infant King Pig costumes are available for $29.99 at Halloween Express.
Description: The soulful singer’s passing has brought her music and her life attention. Her distinct look is easy to duplicate with a wig and some eyeliner.
Where/Pricing: The Rehab Adult Wig is available for $16.99 at Halloween Express. The wig is poofed on top with long curls hanging down. Note that the wig is not sold as an Amy Winehouse wig, but rather the Rehab Wig.
Description: Actor Charlie Sheen’s recent drug problems, conflicts with CBS over the hit show Two and a Half Men, and controversial declarations about having “tiger blood” and “winning” have made him a popular choice this Halloween.
Where/Pricing: A Charlie Sheen mask and shirt combination is available at Party City for $24.99, and the mask alone is $16.99. A Charlie Sheen-esque white hat is also available (complete with a band that says “winning”) for $16.99, also at Party City.
Description: The Jersey Shore is a popular MTV American television reality series, whose participants—The Situation, Snookie, Paulie and JWoww have become popular because of their distinct qualities.
Where/Pricing: From wigs, to fake muscle tees, to headphones and complete outfits, these costumes are available at Walmart, Target, Party City and Halloween Express. Prices range from $9.99 to $49.99.
Description: The Saturday morning cartoon series, with the little blue creatures, has made a come back with a Smurf movie.
Where/Pricing: Target is offering adult costumes and masks from $22.99 to $59.99. Kid’s Papa Smurf and Smurfette costumes are available at Target for $29.99. The Smurf costumes are popular this year, infant and toddler costumes are sold out at Target. All Smurf costumes are sold out at Walmart. Halloween Express has infant, toddler, kid and adult Smurfette and Papa Smurf costumes ranging in price from $26.99 to $49.99
Description: Rainbow Brite, another animated series from the ’80s, has inspired Halloween costumes this year.
Where/Pricing: The woman’s adult costume is available for $69.99, and the wig is available for $29.99 at Target. The women’s costume is also available at Halloween Express for $69.99.
Written by Natalia Motola.
Starting the weekend off with some Halloween flair, the Caufield’s annual Halloween Parade is Tonight, October 14th. Go out dressed in costume to see all of the Halloween floats. Everything from scary floats to the not so scary floats. It is an event for the whole family and it is always lots of fun. The parade starts at 7PM at Mid-City Mall and will proceed down Baxter Avenue.
Also this weekend, you can go to Sunny Acres Farm for Pumpkinfest. Enjoy all of the different Halloween season activities that Sunny Acres has to offer. This is another family-friendly event. If you’re looking for something a little more scary, Sunny Acres Farm also has a haunted corn maze at night called Cobb’s Haunt. It’s a scary corn maze that you don’t want to miss!
In addition, you can also catch Horrorfest at the Georgetown Drive-In. In our opinion, there is no better way to watch a good horror flick than at the drive-in. It’s the perfect environment to enjoy all of your horror movie favorites. It adds to the creepiness of the movies and certainly makes for more fun! It’s also easier to scare your significant other or your friends!
Of course, ALL of the local haunts are now open and in full force. Screams are being heard all over Louisville from all of the great haunts in town. You can always get a little different experience by turning your haunted house visit into an adventure by checking out the Danger Run.
And finally, the World’s Largest Halloween Party at the Louisville Zoo is also open. This is another great annual event for the entire family. Whether your looking for family fun, a date night, fun with your friends, Louisville has got it all this weekend!
If you haven’t got your pumpkins yet, now is the time! A great weekend to carve your jack-o’-lanterns!
As many of you know, there are more things to do in the Louisville area than you can shake a stick at. However, if you are looking for a truly unique experience unlike anything else found anywhere in the country…well, Louisville’s got that too! It’s the one, the only Danger Run.
The Danger Run is an attraction that has called Louisville home for over 17 years and is one of the oldest Halloween attractions in town (and one of the older ones in the country). It is also one of the most widely known. People have driven as far as Texas just to go on the Danger Run. In fact, one year a group of college students at Gonzaga drove across the country to do the Danger Run. In case you didn’t know, Gonzaga is a university in the state of Washington!
Why are all these people going all of this way just to do a Halloween attraction? Well, if you’re from Louisville then you don’t realize that you can’t find another event even similar to Danger Run in any other city or town ANYWHERE. It is one of a kind! So when they say the one and only, they mean the one and ONLY! It is an all-inclusive haunted attraction that is designed to give you an entire night of haunted entertainment AND give you the absolute biggest bang for your buck.
Think about it! The Danger Run gives you admission to the Danger Run adventure game (which is INCREDIBLY fun by itself!); it gives you admission to TWO $20 haunted houses (TOTAL $40 VALUE); you get a free cheeseburger from DQ Grill & Chill; you get free vampire fangs; AND if you have 4 or more people in your car you also get $10 in gas from Speedway! You get ALL of that for only $16.99 per person! That’s a value that is unequal to ANYTHING we have EVER seen!
So what is it and why is it so special? The Danger Run is a haunted scavenger hunt-style game that you play in your car with your friends. You go to one of the three area starting locations (Lowe’s on Dixie Hwy, Lowe’s on Hurstbourne Pkwy, or Lowe’s on Veterans Pkwy) to start the Danger Run. You will be floored by their attention to detail. You are first told to tune your radio to an AM channel which they have set-up to help explain the Danger Run to you. This is something you would expect to get at Disney World or Universal Studios, not at a haunted attraction in Louisville, Kentucky!
As the radio broadcast goes over everything about the Danger Run, you are approached by their seasoned employees that know this event like the back of their hand. In fact, we have been told that most of the people working at the Danger Run have been involved for anywhere from 5+ years to 16 years. That is incredible dedication to stay with an event for this amount of time! They take care of EVERY aspect for you and make sure you thoroughly understand the event. They welcome questions and they cover every angle of the event. And from personal experience, they will even offer you a hint or two to get started!
At that point, you get your book of clues and then you’re off! The object is to solve the clues and make as few mistakes (wrong turns) as possible. They are able to tell how close you are to the exact mileage of the course based on the mileage you put on your car. If you’re under or over, they will know it! By solving the clues correctly, you will find your way to TWO of Louisville’s BEST haunted houses. You don’t pay any extra once you get there! Your Danger Run ticket INCLUDES the haunted destinations that you find! PLUS, if you solve all the clues without making a ton of mistakes you could make it in the TOP 50!
The TOP 50 are the groups that absolutely knocked their Danger Run adventure out of the park. These are the people that barely made any mistakes at all and accumulated almost the exact distance of the course on their car. The TOP 50 are invited back for the Danger Run Finals Party where they will compete for the title of Danger Run Champion. Very cool!
It is crazy to what extreme these guys go through to make the event what it is. They have integrated technology into the event, they base all of their changes to the event on customer feedback, it is a well-oiled machine and a local Louisville attraction that you do not want to miss this Halloween season.
If you are looking for something different, exciting, and probably the best deal in town, Danger Run is what you want to do! Best of all they have 12 different courses which means you can go on it 12 different times and get a different experience! The courses all have the same haunts, but the change the haunts up every year to give you a whole new experience every year! Check out this one of a kind haunt! More information for this event can be found at dangerrun.com.
By now, many of you have likely seen billboards or other advertisements for the Haunted Code. I’m sure you’ve also wondered “What the heck is Haunted Code?” As always, we at Louisville Halloween are here to inform you all about this new Halloween season promotion.
The Haunted Code isn’t a haunted house or event like most Halloween happenings in Louisville. The Haunted Code is a game that you play simply by visiting some of your favorite haunted attractions in the Louisville area. How do you play? Simple! You go to one of the three participating attractions and you will receive a game piece with your admission into the haunt.
Once you have your game piece, you use a coin to scratch it off to reveal your “code”. It’s very much like a scratch off lottery ticket! Once you have your “code”, you then go to the Haunted Code website and register your code to see if you’ve won cash or prizes. It’s that easy! The more times you visit the participating attractions, the more chances you have to win!
What can you win? Prizes include an XBox 360, a Nintendo Wii, a Netbook Computer, Haunted Code Swag, Haunted Attraction tickets for 2012, Restaurant Gift Certificates, and oh did we mention $10,000! That’s right! ONE lucky person will be the winner of $10,000 in cold, hard cash! Not to shabby!
More than 100 prizes will be given out by the Haunted Code. To start playing for your chance to win HUGE PRIZES head to Industrial Terrorplex, Haunted Hotel, or Wolf Creek Haunted Forest haunted attractions to get the bejesus scared out of you and get your game pieces. Good luck and have fun!
Every year, we are all faced with a question that plagues our minds…what do I want to be for Halloween? It is a difficult decision to make to have the PERFECT costume. Some years we want to stand out, other years we want to fade into the crowd. Some years we want something funny, sometimes sexy, other years we want to be vile and scary. The question ultimately becomes, if you could be ANYTHING for a night…just one night, what would it be?
Personally, I tend to lean towards the scary side of things. Put me in something rotting or something bloody and I’m good. Maybe it’s a guy thing? On the other hand, women tend to lean towards something sexy. Even if the costume is a sexy costume, it is always more fun to give it a scary twist. Many ladies want to be a Playboy bunny or some other sexy little number. Why not change it up and be a Playboy bunny zombie? It then becomes a multifaceted idea and you can get even more creative with it. For instance, many Playboy models have implants. As a Playboy zombie, the implants could be rotting off of your chest. Is it twisted? Sure, but it adds more to your costume!
However, I have been known to do the occasional funny costume as well. The best thing about humorous costumes is that in most cases you can create them in the comfort of your own home. If you are low on funds, this is the way to go! You don’t need any fancy make-up, just stuff you have laying around the house. Or you can always head to a local consignment shop and get a costume on the cheap. For example, a friend of mine found a purple jogging suit (which I am convinced was women’s clothing) which fit him quite snuggly. He used it to turn himself into “The Jesus” from the Big Lebowski. It was completely ridiculous, but extremely funny. Even better, one of my other friends came as Walter! It was a perfect combo. Had I known I certainly would have been The Dude!
Of course, kids’ costumes are always fun to conjure up as well.¬ The best thing about their costumes is that you can make them look as ridiculous as you want and there is little they can do about it. It’s like Ralphie’s pink bunny outfit in A Christmas Story. That’s all part of the fun of dressing up your kids for Halloween though! That is until they get old enough to pick out their own costumes.
So, there really is no limit to costume ideas. My only suggestion is try to put a twist on a popular idea. It gives your costume a fresh look and it makes it a lot more fun to put together. That is of course what it’s all about! Have fun coming up with your costume this year!!! If you’re looking for stores to shop around at, make sure to visit our costumes page! If you need help brainstorming costume ideas, feel free to post a message on our Facebook page (facebook.com/louisvillehalloween) or send a tweet to @lvillehalloween!
While the haunting season has begun, there are many out there that do not like haunts and just enjoy spending time with their family doing Halloween related activities. Or maybe you like haunts AND family Halloween activities. A great way you can spend time with your family this Halloween season is by taking a trip to one of the many farms to pick out your perfect pumpkin. With so many great places to go, finding that special pumpkin should be a snap…er thump, depending on your perspective! Personally, I have always been fond of the trip to Huber’s in beautiful Starlight, Indiana, but we all have our favorite places we like to go.
GREAT TIPS FOR PICKING OUT THE PERFECT PUMPKIN
We thought we’d give you a little insight on how you can pick out the best pumpkin in the patch (or the store).
If you follow these simple rules, you too can have a perfect pumpkin this Halloween season! Happy Picking!
Well the Halloween season will be going full steam ahead with the opening of most of the local haunted attractions this weekend! Most (if not all) of your favorite haunted attractions will open this weekend. In fact, some attractions were even open LAST weekend.
LAST WEEKEND’S OPENINGS – WOLF CREEK HAUNTED FOREST
One of the haunts that opened last weekend was Wolf Creek Haunted Forest in Shepherdsville, KY. Wolf Creek returned last weekend with a killer start to the season. This year, Wolf Creek actually featured 2 separate haunts in one location for one price! The new attraction at Wolf Creek is called Project Alpha. Project Alpha is centered around a zombie theme/infection theme. So far we’ve heard great things. They are open again this weekend and every weekend through October! You will even get your chance to win $10,000 playing the Haunted Code!
OPENING THIS WEEKEND – DANGER RUN THE MOST FUN YOU’VE EVER HAD IN YOUR CAR!
This weekend, one of the many attractions to open includes the Danger Run. For those of you that don’t know, the Danger Run is a scavenger hunt style game you play in your car where you will solve clues to find haunted houses which are included with your admission. The Danger Run is a unique, fun attraction that is the only attraction of its kind any where in the world right here in Louisville! Even if puzzles are your thing, the Danger Run gets you admission into TWO $20 haunts ($40 total value) with your $16.99 admission. That alone is more than double the cost of your ticket! It’s like a Groupon deal for haunts, but only better because you get the adventure game with it! You also get free food and free gas! It is definitely worth checking out! Get your tickets now on LouisvilleHalloween.com!
THE ASYLUM HAUNTED SCREAM PARK
Also opening this weekend is the ENORMOUS Asylum Haunted Scream Park at Paintball Asylum. Paintball Asylum has featured an extremely popular haunt called Darkness Falls. This year they have expanded to 3 more attractions all at that single location! It features two primary haunted trails: Darkness Falls and Zombie City. The other attractions include Zombie Hunting, a paintball arcade with real live…err…dead zombies and the Carnivale of Lost Souls. It is an enormous attraction packed full of scares and fun.
HAUNTED NETWORK HAUNTS
In addition, the Haunted Network will be opening their haunts this weekend as well! Many regard the Haunted Network to have some of the best haunts in the area. Their haunts include the Industrial Terrorplex in Jeffersonville and Haunted Hotel in downtown Louisville. Industrial Terrorplex has undergone a MASSIVE overhaul and features 2 BRAND NEW attractions! The two new haunts at the Terrorplex are CarnEVIL 3D and Infected. From what we’ve seen, both should be incredible haunts. And then of course let’s not forget the legendary Industrial Nightmare and Dementions. Of course last be FAR from least is the Haunted Hotel. Haunted Hotel has been deemed one of the best haunts in the country and is one of the longest standing haunts in Louisville. It’s a scary attraction you don’t want to miss! You could even win $10,000 playing the Haunted Code!
NIGHTMARE FOREST HAUNTED TRAIL
Then, Nightmare Forest is also opening this weekend! Nightmare Forest has been in the Ville for MANY MANY years and is widely considered to be one of the best haunted trails in the area. It too features multiple attractions all in one location featuring a secondary haunt called the Trail of Terror and NEW for 2011 is the Watch-N-DIE…I mean DrIvE-in. We’ve been told that the event is going to be better than it has ever been so we will have quite a show in store for us. If you like outdoor attractions, you won’t want to miss it!
THE DEVIL’S ATTIC HAUNTED HOUSE
Another BIG opening this weekend is the Devil’s Attic. The Devil’s Attic was new in 2010 and for 2011 they have moved to an ENORMOUS, scary new building near downtown Louisville. This is a haunt that we have had the privilege to visit and interview. Upon our visit, we got to walk through the attraction and get a firsthand look at what you will get to see at the Devil’s Attic and let us tell you…it is an INCREDIBLE haunt. Great attention to detail, amazing scenery, and a very scary ambiance. This is an attraction you’ll want to hit this season. You can even sign-up to win a hearse! Devil’s Attic’s preview will be posted soon!
FEAR FAIR HAUNTED HOUSE
Another haunt that we were privileged enough to visit recently is Fear Fair. Fear Fair is a haunt that is about an hour north of Louisville, but it is well worth the drive! Fear Fair is easily one of the regions top haunts. With film quality sets and in your face actors, this was a jaw-dropping haunt. While we were there for an interview and preview for you, we will be jumping in our car again later this season to go check it out again while it is running. Amazing enough, this is even a charity haunt! All the proceeds goes the the Jaycees! Who’d a thought such an incredible haunt would be a charity event. If you have time, go see this one!
OTHER GREAT LOCAL HAUNTS – PSYCHOMANIA
Lastly, some of the other great local attractions opening this weekend include Psychomania Haunted House in Clarksville! Psychomania is the ONLY haunted house that is located in an old, abandoned theater. It is an ENORMOUS attraction that has an incredible attention to detail, tons of actors, and scares around every corner. You can even get your tickets to this attraction right here on LouisvilleHalloween.com! You can also get tickets for Terror at the Fun Farm in Lanesville AND NEW THIS YEAR Grim Tales presented by the Haunted Yard.
GRIM TALES HAUNTED HOUSE
Grim Tales is a brand new attraction in Middletown that is being presented by the Haunted Yard. The Haunted Yard has been a Halloween staple in the Louisville area for over 20 years! It was a FREE yard haunt in Louisville and it was sooo much more than just a yard haunt. It was a haunted experience! If the Haunted Yard gives us any inclination what to expect at this haunt then it will be one incredible attraction.
THE SCAREFEST CONVENTION IN LEXINGTON
Oh…and if you’re not yet in the haunting mood, then you can take a drive down to Lexington for the regions largest paranormal convention called Scarefest. At Scarefest you can enjoy a ton of REAL haunted places, ghosts, etc. You can also see some of your favorite horror movie icons including Kane Hodder, Lea Thompson, Lin Shayne, Elvira, Lance Henricksen, Michael Beihn, Bill Moseley, and so much more! If you’re not in the haunting mood, but want to get in the haunting mood then this is the show for you!
Like we said a HUGE weekend this weekend and MANY MORE TO COME!!!
The Halloween season is starting to take shape in Louisville. With Labor Day over, Halloween is on it’s way! Events and attractions are gearing up for this season and there is a LOT to be excited about for 2011!
At the beginning of the season, you can check out one of the largest paranormal conventions in the country at the Scarefest Convention on September 23rd-25th. While it is in Lexington which is about an hour from Louisville, this is a convention worth heading to Wildcat country for. You will be able to meet a whole slew of horror movie stars, paranormal celebrities, browse the booths, and so much more. It is an incredible convention to start the season with.
The very same weekend, you can start cracking clues to find haunted houses on the Danger Run. The Danger Run is a haunted attraction unlike any other in the country and it is ONLY right here in Louisville. If you are looking a unique way to experience the Halloween season, see parts of the Ville you’ve NEVER seen before, visit TWO premium haunted attractions, have an entire night of Halloween entertainment all for one low price then this attraction is for you. It is the biggest bang for your buck with all Louisville Halloween attractions and it is an event that is different than anything you’ve ever done.
Also that weekend, most of the local haunted attractions will be opening. One multi-attraction, haunted theme park is the Asylum Haunted Scream Park located at Paintball Asylum. Asylum Haunted Scream Park has 4 attractions all located at one location. At the Asylum, you can experience one of the area’s SCARIEST attractions Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls has become widely known as one of the best attractions in the area. In addition the Asylum Scream Park has 3 BRAND NEW ATTRACTIONS! One of which is a zombie themed haunted house called Zombie City! Zombie City is a haunted attraction that is a quarantined city that was overtaken by zombies. Now you will go face to face with a zombie apocalypse! Last, but certainly not least, they also have live entertainment and games at the Carnivale of Lost Souls AND a paintball shooting gallery where you can shot REAL LIVE…err…DEAD zombies call Zombie Hunting! It is quite an attraction.
Other featured haunts in the Louisville area include Nightmare Forest, The Devil’s Attic, Fear Fair, Wolf Creek Haunted Forest, Industrial Terrorplex, Psychomania, Terror At The Fun Farm, and Haunted Yard Presents Grim Tales. All of these haunts are ranked as some of the best haunts around and you will NOT want to miss any of them! In fact, you will even be able to purchase some of your tickets right on the Louisville Halloween website! What a convenient way to get all of your haunt tickets all in one place!
If you’re looking for something NEW to do this Halloween season, then you should DEFINITELY check out Evil Dead the Musical at the Alley Theatre. Evil Dead the Musical is an off-broadway musical of the cult classic the Evil Dead. If you’ve ever wanted to experience one of your all-time favorite horror movies on stage then this is your chance! It is laugh-out loud funny and BEST of all you can even get seats in the SPLATTER ZONE! The Splatter Zone is a particular seating area that you will get drenched in blood. Don’t worry, you get a poncho and protective eye wear. However, it is one of the most unique theatre experiences you’ll ever have and you will walk out with blood and a grin on your face.
With so much to do in Louisville and SOO much more to come you won’t want to miss the Halloween season in Louisville in 2011.
With the popularity of zombie movies and AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombies are making a HUGE comeback. As a result, we are seeing a tremendous amount of events in the Louisville area that are immersed in the brain-eating theme.
To start out, this year has welcomed a new Humans Vs. Zombies game to the Louisville area. What is Humans vs. Zombies? Humans vs. Zombies is a game where there is a group of people acting as zombies and a group acting as humans. The humans are trying to kill the zombies by shooting them with their Nerf gun (or other choice of weapon) and the zombies are trying to eat the brains of the living essentially turning the humans into zombies. It was started on college campuses years ago and now it is spreading like a wildfire.
Coming up on August 29th is the annual Zombie Walk in Louisville. The Zombie Walk is every August 29th at 8:29PM. This date and time commemorate the creators’ birthdays. Thousands of folks go to the intersection of Bardstown Rd and Eastern Pkwy dressed as zombies to walk the streets to create a Louisville Zombie Apocalypse. It is an INCREDIBLE event and best of all…it’s FREE!
Then of course you also have Evil Dead the Musical. Evil Dead the Musical is an off-broadway musical being performed at the Alley Theatre. Ash’s friends are turned into zombies one by one and he is forced to make a decision, kill his zombie compadres or be turned into a zombie himself. This is a musical full of laughs and blood. In fact, there is even a splatter zone where you should go prepared to get drenched in blood!
And of course saving the best for last, this year there is even a BRAND NEW haunted house in town centered around zombies called Zombie City. Zombie City is located at the Asylum Haunted Scream Park which has a total of 4 events. Another of which is also a zombie attraction called Zombie Hunting. This is a game in which you get to shot REAL zombies with a paintball gun. What an idea?! So not only do you get to run for your life from zombie in the Zombie City haunted house, but you also get to shoot zombies in an arcade style shooting gallery. Very cool concept!
With all of the zombie events and attractions around town, you are sure to get you brain-eating fix this Halloween season!
Time to get the horror party started early in Louisville! This weekend July 22-24 is the Fright Night Film Festival at the Fern Valley Hotel in Louisville. The Fright Night Film Festival is one of the region’s largest film festivals with TONS of celebrities, movie premieres, vendors, haunted houses, and much more! If you are into horror movies at ALL or even if you’re not, the Fright Night Film Festival is a great way to spend the weekend!
You can meet and get autographs from John Carpenter (who directed Halloween, The Thing, Escape from L.A., just to name a few), Henry Winkler (The Fonz), Kane Hodder (Jason Vorhees), and many more! Then you can party the night away with a masquerade ball and a NUDE body paint show! Even if you’e not into horror, who doesn’t like a nice body paint show?! Best of all, we will have a booth in the vendor hall! So come by and say hello, catch a peep (PUN INTENDED), get some autographs, and have a blast!
Check it out this weekend, to get your tickets visit frightnightfilmfest.com. We’ll see YOU there!!
Are you ready for an experience like no other right here in Louisville, Kentucky? On July 2nd, Louisville is bringing back the dead in the ultimate game of human survival. Humans vs. Zombies! Humans vs. Zombies is played across the world by people of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. The only requirement is that you love fun. Zombies don’t discriminate by race, gender, or sexual preference/identity – they will eat you unless you work together.
It’s a game that has been all the rage in colleges across America and now it is coming to the Ville. Will you be a part of Humans vs. Zombies? Or will you be one of the sad souls that refuse to fight back and are eaten alive by the zombie takeover. Be there to fight the battle July 2nd!
A popular haunted convention called HauntCon is coming to Louisville in April. What is a haunted attraction convention you ask? It is a convention created for haunted attraction creators that haunters use to purchase props, masks, costumes and attend how-to seminars. This gives haunters a way to interact and find the BEST way to scare a bejesus out of you.
However, the convention isn’t all business. The haunt folks have been known to be a fun crowd to be around. The convention also tours some of the best local haunts to give other haunt owners ideas for their own haunts and also give them a taste of Louisville haunts. In addition, there is a costume ball and a hearse parade.
If you are a haunter, want to be a haunter or just a haunt fan, you should check out HauntCon on April 30 – May 2 in Louisville. Tickets are available online at HauntCon.com. We look forward to seeing you there!
With Halloween a mere week away, the Halloween happenings are in full force. If you ever thought there isn’t anything to do in Louisville, think again! Louisville is overflowing with things to do this Halloween.
Whether you like haunts or trick-or-treating, there is PLENTY of options for you, your family and you friends this Halloween season. Browse the site, find something interesting that you have never done and head out the door! There are plenty of FREE events for those of you on a tight budget.
Trying to stay fit? Louisville even has 2 Halloween races that you can enjoy. One of which is a race on the trails that surround the dreaded Waverly Hills. Very creepy! Get yourself out of the house and have some fun this Halloween season and experience all the Louisville has to offer!
Most haunted attractions have opened up for the season, but there are still a couple whose opening night will be this coming weekend. Opening this weekend is the Devil’s Attic, Cobb’s Haunt, and the Culbertson Mansion. The Devil’s Attic and Cobb’s Haunt are newer events, but Culbertson has been around for many a year. Culbertson is haunt that should really not be missed by ANY haunt lover.
If you’re not in the mood for a haunted attraction, Actor’s Theatre has just what you need to quench your thirst for…Halloween! Actor’s Theatre of Louisville is hosting two Halloween season shows, Dracula and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Both shows offer something different. Dracula is more on the scary side whereas The Mystery of Irma Vep is a comedy. Both shows are INCREDIBLE and offer some great Halloween season entertainment.
Looking to spruce the house with Halloween decor this season? Check out one of the local costume/decoration shops for all of your Halloween needs. If you are looking for something a little more unique, head down to Glassworks and Blow Your Own Pumpkin. It is great fun for the entire family.
It certainly wouldn’t be Halloween without getting a pumpkin. There are a ton of local farms that offer some great pumpkins to deck your house out for the haunting season.
We are only in the beginning of this year’s long list of Halloween to-do’s, so be sure to keep watching for all of the latest Halloween happenings because you can find it all RIGHT HERE on LouisvilleHalloween.com!
It is Officially here, let the screaming BEGIN! While the Louisville Zombie Attack walk kind of kicked off the Halloween season, the couple of weeks of down time sort of took our mind of things. Tonight the Halloween season officially kicks off as several haunted attractions open their doors.
So, if you’re ready for a good scare and want to get a jump start on the haunting season now is the time to get out there and visit local haunts. A word of warning, from our experience MOST haunts are not completely ready for opening night. Improvements are generally made and they are typically in better shape on the 2nd night or even the 2nd weekend after all the bugs have been worked out and actors are more comfortable.
If you plan to hit the haunts next weekend, then we highly suggest going on Saturday night. The haunts will be primed and ready to scare the living **** out of you )
HAUNTS OPENING TONIGHT
Local haunts and Halloween attractions are gearing up for what promises to be one of the best Halloween seasons in Louisville to-date! A lot of new great attractions this year and the return of some of your favorites! Some new things for the season include the show The Mystery of Irma Vep. It is a dark comedy at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville that looks like a riot!
Looking for a show a bit more on the gory side, you can also check out Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber on Fleet Street. You may be familiar with the silver screen rendition of the musical starring Johnny Depp. It is a dark and twisted show and I am pretty positive that you will walk out covered in blood.
Looking for some great haunted fun? The return of Louisville’s favorite haunted adventure the Danger Run is sure to give you what you’re looking for! It is an entire night of Halloween entertainment including $40 worth of haunted attractions, free food, and free gas for only $15.95 per person. It would hard to find a better deal on a haunted attraction ANYWHERE! Not interested in an entire night of fun with your friends? You can stop by any of the local haunts and get your 20-30 minutes of fear. One new local event that looks very promising is the Devil’s Attic. This event is new for 2010 and it looks like it could be one heck of a show.
Of course, if you’re only interested in decorating your house and Halloween parties, Louisville is stocked on all of this as well. There are tons of great local stores to get your decorations and costumes, a lot great farms to get your pumpkins, and endless amounts of Louisville Halloween parties and costume contests. You can get everything you are looking for…right here in Louisville!
Kicking off the Halloween season, the Louisville Zombie Attack walk has been unearthing thousands of zombies each year in search of BRAINS. The Louisville Zombie Attack is a zombie walk that takes place in the heart of the Highlands at the corner of Bardstown Rd and Eastern Pkwy. The tradition is to start the walk at 8:29PM on 8-29 each year.
While August 29th is on a Sunday this year, tradition is tradition. The Louisville Zombie Attack Walk occurs rain or shine and will ALWAYS be on August 29th. Nothing stops a zombie from coming out to play!
If you don’t have a costume, then make one! Most of the costumes you will see are made from scratch. If you don’t feel like dressing as a zombie, then just come down to see the zombies take over the street. It is a sight right out of a Romero movie. It is one of Louisville’s coolest events and it truly kicks off the entire Halloween season!
Check out the event details here.
This Friday is no normal Friday…this Friday is Friday the 13th. To those of us who are a fan of Halloween, Friday the 13th is the next best day! It is a day that is surrounded by a creepy vibe mostly because the horror movie series featuring Jason Voorhees…you know, the guy in the hockey mask. If you are reading this and you are completely clueless who I am talking about you need to stop reading, go to your Netflix or Blockbuster account and rent Friday the 13th. Get the original, not the Michael Bay remake. Not to say that the remake isn’t good, but to really get a good idea of what the movie is all about you need to stick to the originals.
Speaking of the remake, one very cool way to celebrate Friday the 13th is to go to the Georgetown Drive-In and watch the 2009 Friday the 13th on the BIG screen. What is even cooler about the event is that our friends over at Psychomania Theater of Terror will be there with some of their actors to REALLY liven things up. If you think you have seen Friday the 13th think again! There isn’t anything like seeing the movie outdoors at the drive-in with actors dressed as Jason creeping around the drive-in to scare the wits out of you! It is a very neat, pre-Halloween season event that you should definitely go check out.
Plus, I heard from a little bird the Psychomania will be handing out coupons for their haunt as well. So, good movie, getting scared, and haunted savings! Very nice!
The site has been up for less than a month and we are already getting rave reviews from our viewers. We are trying to appeal to everyone that visits the site to give EVERYONE all of the Halloween season information for Louisville. Like we’ve said before, Louisville is a happenin’ place for the Halloween season and there are ton of things to check out.
With so much to do, we are confident to say that we have nowhere near all of the information that we planned to have posted. There are a lot of parties that have yet to announce dates, times, and themes, there are haunts that haven’t announced themselves yet, more places to get great pumpkins, pumpkin designs, trick-or-treating dates and times, and SOOO much more.
Any information that you can send our way to help us make this site everything YOU want it to be please just let us know! In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy all of the content we have on the site thus far and keep checking back with us for new stuff, discounts on events, awards, and MUCH MORE!
Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for more great Halloween info!
For those of you that like horror movies, you are in for a treat this weekend because Louisville is the host of the 2010 Fright Night Film Festival. If you are anything like me (and I think you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this) you are a horror movie freak. I love a good, and a bad, horror movie. If it is good, I love to rave about it and if it is bad I love to complain about it.
At the Fright Night Film Festival, you will get to see it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In addition, you will get to meet a lot of really cool guests at the show including Roger Corman who will be receiving the lifetime achievement award. There will be a ton of actors from your favorite flicks including Halloween and Dawn Of The Dead, just to name a few.
So instead of sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching your favorite horror flick on dvd, head out for the festivities of the Fright Night Film Fest. It is sure to be a blast!
We would like to welcome you to LouisvilleHalloween.com. We officially launch the site on Monday, July 26, 2010. Louisville Halloween is a website dedicated to bringing you all the latest and greatest information on Halloween happenings and must sees. There is a ton of stuff to do in Louisville for the Halloween season. Take a look around our site and keep watching because we will be posting even more as we find it.
Thanks for visiting and we hope that you start using our site as a resource for all of your local Halloween needs!