The Phantom Gazette – News

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Louisville Halloween Job Fair (but Were Afraid to Ask)!

On Saturday, August 1st, from Noon to 4 PM at the U of L Shelby Campus, Louisville’s first Halloween Job Fair will gather all the major haunters in the area looking for seasonal help!

Have you ever wanted to work in the horror business? Are you one of those people who could never get enough of scaring your little brother or sister with rubber spiders and monster masks? Do you spend all summer longing for the chilly breezes of October and the sight of glowing jack-o-lanterns?

Well, listen up because we have a singular opportunity for you: a chance to meet face-to-face with the owners and creators of all the best haunted attractions and Halloween events in the greater Louisville area in one place. They need your help to scare the pants off of everyone in the River City this fall.

They’ll be looking for haunt actors (we call them “scareactors”), make-up artists, sideshow entertainers and line entertainment, set designers and builders, ticket booth operators, security, sales & administration positions and much more. If you’re looking for a fun part time job this fall, this could be your opportunity to scare up some extra cash and celebrate the spooky season at the same time.

WHEN: Saturday, August 1 from Noon until 4 PM.

WHERE: The U of L Shelby Campus off of N Hurstbourne Pkwy, 312 N Whittington Pkwy, The Founders Union Building (there will be signs directing you to the room).

WHO: The following companies will be taking applications and interviewing on-site. There will be an audition space set aside for haunt actor auditions should they wish to use it.

The 7th Street Haunt (2900 7th Street Road next to the Expo Five): The 7th Street Haunt will be doubling in size this season with the addition of a new high tech attraction called “The Experiment.” That means they need to add at least an additional 30 to 40 actors and staff.

Asylum Haunted Scream Park (3101 Pond Station Rd at the Paintball Asylum): Asylum has three different attractions that require many actors and staff to operate. Zombie City is an interactive, actor and story driven attraction. X-terminate is an interactive shooter maze and Darkness Falls on Asylum is a three quarter mile outdoor haunted forest. They also have a sideshow stage that needs fire breathers and dancers, magicians and circus style entertainers.

The Danger Run (various starting gates): For the first time in its 21 year history, Louisville’s only puzzle solving haunted road game will present two of its own new haunted attractions based on customers greatest fears. They will also partner with a local mega haunt for a total of three attractions. They will need scareactors as well as sales and administration staff to work the Danger Run starting gates and their all new attractions.

The Devil’s Attic (647 W Hill St.): The Devil’s Attic is an incredibly detailed haunted house that will be debuting three new scenes for Halloween 2015. They use some of the most elaborate costumes and make-ups in the local haunt biz and are looking for fresh scareactors, make-up effects artists and support staff.

Field of Screams (132 Darnall Ave in Brandenburg, Kentucky): Undoubtedly one of the largest haunts in the region, Field of Screams is a six acre corn maze full of elaborate sets and monsters including a haunted barn and haunted forest. It requires a huge staff and cast of scareactors to operate.

Grim Trails Haunted Attraction (12009 Rehl Rd): This East End haunted forest trail in J-town is dark fantasy and fairy tale oriented. Started as a tribute to the twisted imagination of the Brothers Grimm, Grim Trails debuted the Gothic spectacle of Maleficent’s Castle in 2014 and this year will take guests Into the Jungle. They’re looking for scareactors who love dark fantasy and magical creatures.

Haunted Hotel (3000 S 4th St): This downtown haunt is Louisville’s longest running and consistently one of its most popular. The Haunted Hotel prides itself in acquiring the most intense and scariest actors in the business. If this sounds like you, come out and show them what you’re made of.

Oak Island Creative/Scare Products (7450 Old Zaring Rd, Crestwood, Kentucky): Oak Island Creative and their Scare Products department are a special effects, props and attractions company that designs and builds props and entire attractions for theme parks, zoos, museums and haunted attractions. They’ve recently relocated to the Louisville area and are open to seeing portfolios from artists, designers, sculptors and special effects wizards.

Nightmare Forest (850 Otter Creek Park Rd in Brandenburg, Kentucky): This long running and popular haunted forest takes guests into the dark nether regions of Otter Creek Park to experience scenes from some of their favorite horror films. Nightmare Forest changes things up significantly each year and is planning a number of new scenes this year that will require new set designers and builders as well as scareactors, security and administrative staff.

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium (4400 Paralee Dr.) This massive, historic (and infamous) former tuberculosis hospital is known around the world as “one of the most haunted places on earth.” It has been featured on just about every paranormal TV show ever created from “Ghost Hunters” to “Ghost Adventures.” It also plays host to a seasonal haunted attraction located WITHIN its haunted hallways and is looking for new scareactors, sideshow and line entertainment, set builders, make-up effects artists and staff.

BONUS: Attendance is FREE! Everyone will receive a Louisville Halloween bag at the door for promotional items and giveaways, and the first 100 job seekers that come through the door will get a FREE Louisville Halloween t-shirt.

If you’re going to be out of town, at work or otherwise busy during the Job Fair, you can submit an application online at which we will forward to all the companies listed above. However, your chances of finding the best fit for both you and the haunts above is to attend the Job Fair and meet the owners/creators face-to-face.

Expect a fun, loose environment with spooky music playing and Halloween décor. Feel free to dress up in costume if you’re trying to sell the haunts on a character you’ve created, but costumes and make-up are not required. If you have any additional questions, message us on the Louisville Halloween Facebook Page ( or The Phantom of the Ville’s Facebook Page ( and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Good luck and good nightmares!

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Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972

Author Mark Voger’s new book, “Monster Mash,” traces the history of the Monster Craze in America back to its roots and explores the phenomenon that gave birth to our modern Halloween iconography!

Released this week by TwoMorrows Publishing (, “Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972” is a visually stunning, colorful look back at the roughly fifteen years span that monsters seemed to rule the world in American popular culture. Author Mark Voger’s childhood was clearly molded by the monster craze and he recounts in semi-chronological order and 189 pages, all the major elements that were combined in the pop culture laboratory that ultimately gave birth to the Monster Kid Generation.

Interviews conducted over a twenty year period with genre luminaries are spliced in between segments dedicated to TV programs, movies, magazines, toys and collectibles. It’s the stunning visual layout, however, with full page spreads featuring monster masks, model kits, board games and vividly bloody monster art that will instantly trigger nostalgia for older readers and probably melt the monster loving hearts of younger readers.

This is a coffee table book that will be right at home in the haunted chambers of Louisville Halloween followers.

The introduction was written by Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul himself, who became the first and ultimately the most famous Horror Host in history when he introduced “Shock Theater” to the world on Oct. 10, 1957. The Shock Theater package was a list of 52 films from the 1930’s and 1940’s licensed to local broadcast channels all across the nation, mostly consisting of Universal Studio’s classic monster pictures amid a number of B-movie mysteries and thrillers.

For the first time, “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man” and all their sons, daughters and brides were available to watch, late at night, in the comfort of American homes and most kids growing up in the period between 1957 and the mid 1970’s got their first jolts of terror during one of these creepy classics.

The book introduces the Playboy Magazine of monster culture, “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” including interviews with Publisher, James Warren, and Editor, Forrest J Ackerman. It covers the monster hit song phenomenon and includes an interview with “Monster Mash” recording artist, Bobby “Boris” Pickett. It covers, in glorious full page detail, the unforgettable Aurora monster model kits and their evocative packaging art by James Bama.

The very beginnings of the home video business are also introduced in the Super 8 film versions of classic horror and science fiction films through Castle and Ken Films. Back at that time, these reels were the only way to own a copy of the movie you loved that you could watch whenever you wanted. That might seem like an alien concept to kids today, but back then it required quite a bit of work and patience to see films that you would see pictures of in monster magazines.

There’s a great section on Don Post rubber monster masks as well as Ben Cooper and Collegeville drugstore Halloween costumes, and large sections devoted to “The Addams Family,” “The Munsters” and “Dark Shadows.”

Car culture is also discussed in interviews with Rat Fink creator, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and Batmobile and Munster’s Koach designer, George Barris. There’s much, much more: “Creepy,” “Eerie,” Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos, Marvel monster comics, cartoons, “Planet of the Apes” and monster toys.

The only controversial chapter of the book, which has drawn some argument from the monster fan community, is Voger’s choice to define the end of the Monster Craze in 1972. He makes a strong argument by saying, “The bloom was off the rose.” Most agree that either 1976 or 1977, with the release of “Star Wars,” was the final nail in the monster culture coffin and the rise of the modern science fiction craze, but I’ve often considered “The Exorcist” (1973) as the dividing line between Classic and Modern Horror, so 1972 seems appropriate to me.

Our own Shock Theater program, “Fright Night,” hosted by the Fearmonger, ran on WDRB-41 from 1971 to 1975, so the great “Monster Mash” went on a little bit longer here in Louisville than in Voger’s assessment, but we love our monsters here in Louisville. In some ways, the monster craze never stopped here in the River City.

Long live the “Monster Mash.”

“Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972” is a hardback edition that retails for $39.99, but at the time of this article is available at for $33.96 and at for $28.48.

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For the First Time in its 21 Year History, Danger Run will unleash its Own Exclusive New Haunted Attractions!

Danger Run is set to unveil two new terrifying haunted attractions for Danger Run customers ONLY! PLUS one monstrous finale haunt!

Halloween 2015 will represent a whole new era for Louisville’s own Danger Run, the only clue solving road game adventure in the country that takes car loads of players on a quest to find three haunted houses as they compete to see who can complete the course closest to the exact required mileage without getting lost or making too many wrong turns.

I had a chance to speak with one of the co-owners and designers of the new, secret haunted attractions, Michael Book, this week about the guarded plans under way at Danger Run Headquarters to make this 21st year a bigger, faster paced and much scarier road adventure than ever before.

“We took a couple of extensive polls during the off season to find out what really scares our customers,” says Book, “and from the results, we selected the TOP 2 phobias to center our designs around.”

“Each of the exclusive haunts,” he continues, “preys on the two things our customers are most afraid of.”

Danger Run will continue to partner with another secret monstrous haunt here in town, but will now create two original haunted attractions that can only be found and experienced by playing Danger Run as a way of offering some frightening new blood to an old favorite.

Book wouldn’t reveal the details of these haunts, but I was able to get the secret codenames to the two new attractions: Pongo’s Revenge and The Nest. I could speculate what each of these may be, but we’ll just have to wait to find out!

“This year, Danger Run will be faster paced, taking you from one haunt to the next quicker, and with shorter wait times at each destination,” says Book. “Another thing we’re changing, which might remind some of our customers of the old Spook Runs, is that at the Start Gate we’re only giving you clues to the first haunt.”

“Your goal will now be to find your next haunt where you’ll get your next set of clues that will lead you to the second haunt, and there you’ll get the last set of clues to the finale attraction.”

Another new twist this year is that the new courses are being designed, and the new riddles being co-written, by last years’ Danger Run Champion, Garry O’Brien. O’Brien, who had been a finalist in past years before finally winning the whole thing in 2014, is a hardcore Danger Run enthusiast who submitted his own fan made Clue Book to co-owner, Joe Bulleit, last year.

“Garry’s fan made Clue Book was so well done, if you hadn’t known the clues weren’t written by us, you could be easily fooled by it,” says Book.

“This year, our new attractions and their secluded locations allowed us to come up with courses that will take our customers down roads they may have never driven before and into areas they’ve never seen,” admits Book. “I’ll just tell you this: These haunts will take you into literally the middle of nowhere.”

Book says that the Danger Run crew is aiming to make the haunts this year scarier than ever before and doesn’t recommend kids under 10 years of age be taken into the haunts themselves. “Danger Run is still a family event, and kids under 10 are FREE to come along for the game, but we don’t recommend taking them through the haunts. Because we expect shorter wait times and quicker throughput this year, it should make it easier for parents to wait with their younger kids while teens and older guests go through the haunts.”

Are you ready to unlock the new terrors that await you on the desolate backroads and lost highways of Louisville’s twisting roadways? Prepare yourself for the all new Danger Run this Halloween!

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

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

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

Terror and fascination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Haunted Hotel still spooks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ki, ki, ki — Ma, ma, ma”

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

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

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

Now is your chance to find out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck.

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