Louisville Halloween News
Louisville Halloween presents a Christmas stocking full of horrific holiday themed chillers perfect for any cold December night by the fireplace with a cup of holiday spirits!
Happy Holidays, my creepy little Christmas elves, it’s the Phantom of Ville here in my cold and cavernous secret lair beneath the streets of the River City where I’m busy putting up my traditional orange-and-black holiday lights and waiting for dusk so I can decorate the Christmas tree. You see, my vampire bats are roosting in the tree and I need to wait until they leave for the night to hang the ornaments. It’s never a good idea to wake them up early as they can be quite grumpy before their first cup of blood in the evening.
I’m also busy programming my annual Christmas Horror Movie Marathon. You see, even though I’m obviously a Halloween fanatic, I also love the Christmas season. There’s a wonderful magic on a winter’s night, when the snow blankets the earth in a serene silence and Christmas lights and Santa Claus blow molds pierce the darkness. Friends gather together in front of the fireplace to exchange gifts and celebrate another New Year together.
One night every December, my friends and I like to get together for a night of “unusual” Christmas films. Of course, we all enjoy the traditional Christmas classics. We love “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story” and all of the magical Rankin-Bass animated holiday specials, but on one night during the festive season we like to indulge in a little bitter to counter the sweetness of the season; a little jangled nerves to balance the jiggle bells of joy if you will.
In this spirit, I present my Top Ten List of Christmas Horror Movies this year. Surprisingly, there are quite a few holiday horrors out there, and the list grows every year, but these titles represent some of the best of the bunch. Now, slash away, slash away, slash away all!
10) “Christmas Evil” (1980): You’ll find that psycho Santas are a recurring theme on this list! Little Harry Stradling witnesses Santa Claus getting hot and heavy with his mom late one Christmas night and develops a lifelong psychosexual fascination with Santa Claus, even spying on the neighborhood children and keeping his own naughty and nice list, until one year he goes completely bonkers and starts killing naughty folks dressed in a Santa Claus suit. The movie walks a fine line with regards to actually sympathizing with Harry’s mentally unstable character and in fact, Harry also engages in acts of Christmas kindness such as bringing a truckload of toys to an orphanage that he learns his company has failed to help in spite of promoting their intensions to do so. Watch for “The Walking Dead” alumni, Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale), in a small role as Harry’s “normal” brother.
9) “Santa’s Slay” (2005): In this horror comedy that turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected, wrestler Bill Goldberg plays Santa Claus, who we learn is actually a demon who lost a bet with an angel and was forced to become a benevolent holiday toy giver for a thousand years. When the movie starts, Santa has paid his debt in full and now wants to unleash 1000 years’ worth of pent up rage on humanity! In the amazing opening dinner scene, Goldberg slaughters an entire family of celebrity cameos at a Christmas dinner table (including James Cann!). Fran Drescher gets an especially memorable death scene. This movie would go really well with a six pack of Christmas ale.
8) “Jack Frost” (1997): Not to be confused with the equally terrifying (for completely different reasons) family film starring Michael Keaton, this clever little low budget horror comedy sees a serial killer in a car accident on the way to his execution. In the wreck, he is drenched with a freezing chemical that reacts with the surrounding snow and turns him into a living killer snowman! Hilarity ensues. While Jack Frost has not gone on to become a beloved horror icon in the leagues with Freddy and Chucky, this cheesy little gem has become a personal seasonal favorite of mine with its Rankin-Bass in-jokes and sense of the absurd. There was a sequel, “Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman” (2000), but it’s a lesser-in-every-way lump of coal that needs to be thrown out with the ripped up Christmas wrapping paper.
7) “A Christmas Carol” (Animated, 1971): Every proper list of seasonal horror films should include some version of Charles Dickens’ original Christmas ghost story. In my opinion, this Oscar award winning short film is by far the scariest version ever produced. This was the version that scarred an entire generation of elementary school children in the 1970’s when it was shown to them in schools in the days before Christmas break. I remember getting my first real “shock” of horror, the hairs that stood up on the back of my neck, when Marley’s ghost removed his scarf and his jaw grotesquely dropped to his chest. Then I was subjected to the horrific faces of Ignorance and Want beneath the Ghost of Christmas Present’s robe. Shiver! This 30 minute masterpiece was produced by animation legend, Chuck Jones, and features the voice of Alastair Sim (“A Christmas Carol” 1951) as Scrooge. Probably in an effort to save today’s children from holiday nightmares, this animated version has never been released on DVD, but you can watch it on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN6IMZFwY50.
6) “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (1984): The original pyscho Santa classic, this depressing Christmas slasher follows another disturbed child who witnesses an escaped criminal dressed in a Santa Claus suit as he shoots his father and then rapes and murders his mother. Instead of growing up to become Batman, he grows up a mentally unstable toy store employee who goes berserk one Christmas when his boss forces him to dress up as Santa for a store promotion. Punish! Punish! It was followed by an equally depressing sequel that picks up where the first one left off in 1987, and then three made-for-video sequels that really had nothing to do with each other.
LOUISVILLE THEATRICAL SCREENINGS! Fangoria Magazine and our friend, Justin Beahm, is hosting a series of digitally re-mastered theatrical screenings of “Silent Night, Deadly Night” and the Ville is included in the fun! This Friday and Saturday night, December 6th and 7th, special showings of this 1980’s Christmas slasher classic are scheduled at the Carmike Stonybrook 20. Check the Carmike box-office for show times and tickets.
5) “Tales from the Crypt” (1972): This British Amicus horror anthology’s first segment, “All Through the House,” is a truly chilling tale featuring Joan Collins as an unhappy wife who plans to murder her husband on Christmas Eve as a plot to collect insurance money. After she does the deed, she hears a radio alert that an escaped lunatic from a nearby asylum is on the loose in her area dressed as Santa Claus. Sure enough, he shows up at her door with an axe, but she can’t call the police because she hasn’t properly disposed of her husbands’ dead body yet or had time to clean up the murder scene. This frightening short segment was also re-made for the pilot episode of the 1989 “Tales from the Crypt” TV series which was directed by Robert (“Back to the Future”) Zemeckis and featured Larry Drake (“Dark Night of the Scarecrow”) as the deranged Santa Claus.
4) “Gremlins” (1984): Audiences in 1984 weren’t quite ready for the horror elements in Joe Dante’s Christmas fantasy produced by Steven Spielberg. It all starts out so cute and sweet with little Gizmo popping out of his Christmas package and singing in Billy Peltzer’s (Zach Galligan) arms, but a little spill of water and some chicken wings after midnight gives birth to a gaggle of horrible little monsters whose only desire is to cause mass carnage and destruction. Gremlins are beheaded in Christmas trees, exploded in microwave ovens and melted in sunlight. In one scene that defies all the rules and expectations of Spielbergian fantasy films, Billy’s girlfriend (Phoebe Cates) tells him the story of how her father broke his neck trying to deliver her family Christmas presents down the chimney dressed as Santa Claus, and how the body wasn’t discovered until it started to stink weeks later! The climax of the movie has the Gremlin leader, Stripe, coming after Billy with a Chainsaw in a department store. That’s fun for the whole family.
3) “Silent Night” (2012): Released direct-to-DVD/Blu-ray last Christmas, “Silent Night” is the most recent Christmas horror film on my list. It’s also a very loose re-make/re-imagining of “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” but in my opinion, it’s a lot more fun than the grim 1980’s original. Jamie King (“My Bloody Valentine 3D”) plays a small town sheriff’s deputy with some childhood scars who must try to expose the identity of a psycho Santa Claus who is murdering naughty townsfolk all over her district. Malcom McDowell (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”) plays her irascible boss and town sheriff, and wonderful character actor, Donal Logue (“Blade,” “Ghost Rider”), plays a foul-mouthed, alcoholic street corner Santa in town trying to make a few bucks over the holidays. While not perfect in its execution, this Christmas slasher film gets more right than it does wrong including the proper wintery atmosphere, chilling sense of cold and small town Christmas iconography. In the end, I just can’t resist a Christmas horror film that includes a psycho Santa with a flamethrower!
2) “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993): For any Halloween lover who also loves Christmas, this stop-motion animated modern classic is like peanut butter and chocolate. Director, Henry Selick, perfectly realizes Tim Burton’s quirky characters and story in a way that even Burton himself rarely manages to accomplish and the results speak for themselves. Disney was somewhat afraid of/embarrassed about this strange blend of holiday worlds during its theatrical release, pulling its line of tie-in toys from toy store shelves before the film even opened in theaters. As the cult following grew over the years, Disney ultimately embraced Jack Skellington and his motley crew, eventually even reworking the Haunted Mansion at Disney World to include the film’s characters during the holidays. The germ of the idea for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was certainly spawned from the Rankin-Bass stop-motion holiday specials that began with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1964. In fact, the Rankin-Bass produced, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (1971), involved the Easter Bunny traveling to all the other holiday worlds, including Halloween, in a race to deliver the most Easter eggs against Irontail, voiced by the legendary Vincent Price!
1) “Black Christmas” (1974): Still the ultimate Christmas horror film, Bob Clark’s Canadian lensed proto-slasher masterpiece pre-dated John Carpenter’s “Halloween” by four years, and it’s obvious watching it today that Carpenter had certainly seen “Black Christmas,” and in some sequences even copied Clark’s style, lighting and camera angles. The winter Canadian landscape makes “Black Christmas” feel colder than any other film on this list. It just conveys a bone-chillingly icy atmosphere. A college sorority house is terrorized by an obscene phone caller during Christmas break, and one by one the girls in the house are viciously murdered. The cast includes Margot (“Superman”) Kidder, Olivia (“Romeo and Juliet” 1968) Hussey, John (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) Saxon and Keir (“2001: A Space Odyssey”) Dullea. A couple of the phone call sequences still jangle my nerves to the bone, and the film comes to a disturbingly unresolved and unforgettable climax that will stick with you into your nightmares.
Feel free to add any of your own favorite Christmas nightmare movies in the comments section below and to our Louisville Halloween Facebook page post. May your holidays be full of horror and free from humbug!
Prolific character actor and obsessive monster fan, Daniel Roebuck, examines the roots and the hobby of monster collecting in a new DVD documentary!
In spite of his fame, which has been pieced together like the Frankenstein monster over the course of a long Hollywood career of character parts, Daniel Roebuck is one of us. Roebuck first got Hollywood’s attention with the chilling portrayal of a remorseless, murdering teen in “The River’s Edge” (1986). In a career now spanning over 25 years, Roebuck has appeared on dozens of TV shows, including an eight year run on “Matlock,” and movies including Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009). On the street, Roebuck is likely most often recognized for the pivotal role he played on Tommy Lee Jones’ team of federal agents in “The Fugitive” (1993) and “U.S. Marshals” (1998).
In the horror fan community, Daniel Roebuck has taken on another identity completely as the face of and spokesperson for the underground swelling of monster fans and rabid monster collectors everywhere. As one of the most astute collectors of classic monster movie collectibles in the world, Roebuck is one of only a small handful of celebrity monster enthusiasts that includes Metallica’s Kirk Hammett (who recently released an amazing hardback book chronicling his vast classic horror collection called “Too Much Horror Business”), beloved movie prop collector, Bob Burns, and horror film director, Guillermo del Toro. Both del Toro and horror rocker turned horror movie director, Rob Zombie, join Roebuck to discuss their own horror movie obsessions and collections in “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror” now available on DVD at www.docshocker.com.
Dr. Shocker is Roebuck’s horror host alter ego, a tribute to the infamous television horror hosts that bookended creepy black-and-white double features that networks used to fill time slots on Friday and Saturday nights from the late 1950’s, with characters like Vampira and Zacherley, through the 1980’s with the double barreled antics of Elvira. Even Louisville had its own horror host with the Fearmonger on WDRB-41’s “Fright Night” from 1971 through 1975. There is a new breed of horror hosts that have begun popping up everywhere over the last decade; “monster kids” who grew up with the tradition are putting on their own horror programs on local cable channels and internet webpages, like Nashville’s Dr. Gangrene.
Roebuck’s Dr. Shocker has assembled roughly the Avengers of the monster collecting world to discuss their divergent life paths that have sent them down the rabbit hole of obsessive monster collecting in the multiple mini-documentaries that make up the core of “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror.” In the 45 minute long centerpiece, “Monster Maniacs,” you’ll hear from celebrity collectors like del Toro and Zombie as well as other loveable oddballs and misfits like Steve Busti, owner and operator of The Museum of the Weird in Austin, TX (for more details check out http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201304/3437/ ), world renowned mask collector, Dr. Lady, and Universal Monster Army (www.universalmonsterarmy.com) editors, Raymond Castile and Bobby Beeman.
Topics covered include the Aurora monster model craze of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine and the tantalizing ads for arcane collectibles in the back pages of the Captain Company, as well as the obsession with vintage rubber Topstone and Don Post monster masks.
Roebuck also presents separate mini-documentaries that cover some of his other childhood monster obsessions like “Imagineering,” a wonderful 15 minute look at the company that gave us Vampire Blood, Evil Teeth and Scar Stuff! Roebuck clearly has a passion for these notorious novelties and his vivid memories bring their nostalgic qualities to vibrant life even for those that didn’t necessarily grow up covered in/with them. It’s the stories that Roebuck, del Toro, Zombie and others tell about their experiences growing up and how these films and toys changed their lives that really makes “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror” worth watching.
You’ll also find mini-features on the biggest collection of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” items in the world, live convention panels on the Captain Company and a “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” Presidential Debate, a paranormal tour of Haunted Hollywood and a 3D photo gallery of Daniel Roebuck’s private monster museum (exclusive 3D glasses included!).
Also included is the 12 minute short film, “How My Dad Killed Dracula” (2008), staring Daniel Roebuck and based on a real life prank pulled by the father of the filmmaker. Altogether, “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror” clocks in at approximately 2 hours of ghoulish fun; a trick-or-treat bag of both worthy information and just plain silliness.
Recently, Roebuck decided it was time to downsize his considerable monster collection, which had started to claim an entire wing of his Hollywood home, and conducted a well-publicized auction at the world famous TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. In interviews, Roebuck has discussed how his once little collection had snowballed into a massive museum of monster movie history, and how he felt it was time to “let go” of part of his dragon’s hoard of creepy collectibles.
“It all started with collecting the stuff I had as a kid,” says Roebuck in a recent fan shot tour of his collection, “and all the stuff I wanted as a kid but my parents couldn’t possibly afford; all that cool stuff I drooled over in the Captain Company ads in Famous Monsters magazine.”
“That’s the stuff that really means something to me,” he continues. “That’s the stuff I really want to keep. Everything else is just—well, stuff.” Roebuck has released “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror” to coincide with his collectibles auction, and I suspect it not only serves as a way to document his complete collection before he begins to sell it off in pieces, but also as a form of therapy to deal with the “letting go.” The film ponders the reasons why we collect things and why we surround ourselves with the stuff we love, and it also examines the ways in which we try to reclaim just a little bit of our most valued but most elusive possession, our own innocence and all too brief childhood.
“Lights Out: Zombie Outbreak” Keeps Halloween Rolling into November at the Haunted Hotel while Plans for a “Bloody X-Mas” Promise Freezing Fear in December!
Pushing the seasonal boundaries of the haunted attraction industry, the Haunted Hotel tests exclusive special events outside of the traditional haunt season.
As most Louisvillians prepare for the horrors of Black Friday and retailers replace their sale copies of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” with “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” the Haunted Hotel continues its 24 year mission to keep Halloween alive even after October 31st.
Last night’s “Lights Out: Zombie Outbreak” was the brainchild of the Haunted Hotel’s owner/operator, Kevin Stitch. The concept is that a zombie infection that started inside the hotel during the regular haunt season has spread and now the Haunted Hotel is overrun with a zombie horde. In the chaos, the power has been cut and all the lights are out. A military response team has been sent in to assess the situation, and you get dropped right in the middle of ground zero. Alone in the darkness, you must feel your way through the pitch black hallways and twisting passageways to reach safety.
Unlike the regular Halloween season attraction, “Lights Out” had an age restriction of 18 years old, allowing minors to enter only with an adult guardian, and everyone who bought a ticket had to sign a waiver relieving the Haunted Hotel of all responsibilities regarding any injuries incurred! “Lights Out” also allowed you to experience the hotel alone if you dared, with a maximum group of three at a time.
I had my suspicions that Kevin Stitch was planning an extreme trick on unsuspecting haunt fans like the one that Brett Hays pulled this year with his special event, Myctophobia, at Fear Fair in Seymour, IN. Myctophobia advertised itself as a “lights out” version of Hays’ haunted attraction, but after patrons signed the waiver, they found themselves abducted by Fear Fair’s sickest psychos, blindfolded, hands tied, imprisoned, driven around in the back of a hearse, threatened with murder and sometimes even waterboarded!
Pushing the boundaries of physical haunt tactics, including secret panic safety words given to patrons in case they find themselves in over their heads and need to escape, events like Myctophobia are a new trend in extreme thrills that have emerged over the last couple of years as an alternative to the “safer” thrills offered during the traditional haunt season. Grown men have often wet their pants during Myctophobia and everyone who makes it to the end of the experience gets a survival certificate.
Brett Hays and Kevin Stitch aren’t the only local haunters who have expanded the boundaries of their attractions with special events. Richard Teachout and Janel Nash at Asylum Haunted Scream Park have already programmed a series of Slenderman special event nights, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more events take place at Asylum before next Halloween.
As far as “Lights Out: Zombie Outbreak” goes, Kevin Stitch’s crew didn’t waterboard anyone Saturday night. Instead, to my great relief, he delivered the dark version of the traditional attraction he promised. I was lucky enough to meet a Louisville Halloween website reader outside the Haunted Hotel who offered to challenge the dark, zombie infested halls with me.
Here’s what went down in the dark.
Instead of the touchy-feely bellboy that usually greets patrons at the front desk, we were met by a military guard who checked us thoroughly for bite marks before herding us into the Haunted Hotel’s infamous elevator for an especially intense plunge into the bowels of the building. When the doors finally opened, our poor military escort was taken out by a waiting zombie and we were forced to push ahead alone into complete darkness. We had to feel our way through the twisting passageways as we heard unseen ravenous zombies lurking about and grabbing at our clothing. Suddenly a six foot drop panel slammed down and we were momentarily blinded by bright lights and attacked a hulking animatronic monster. Then we were forced back into the darkness, even more disoriented than we were before.
Finally, we reached the Haunted Hotel’s staircase, which was lit well enough to climb, but were assaulted by animatronic man eating (and girl eating) plants on the way up. At the top of the stairs we were met by another armed solider who was trying to use a drill to open up the blocked way forward. Unfortunately, a zombie started crawling up the stairs after us and the military guy just barely got the passageway open before it reached us.
After that we got turned around a couple of times, groping around for the way forward. We found ourselves trapped in a room with a chainsaw wielding maniac who chased us around as we desperately tried to find the exit. Finally, we found our way out of the dark and back onto the street. The total tour was a little shorter than the seasonal attraction because the outdoor, chainsaw maze wasn’t used, but we ended up spending more time in the hotel because it takes longer to find the way out in total darkness.
If you missed “Lights Out: Zombie Outbreak,” the Haunted Hotel has a couple of other creepy special events coming up in December. Kevin Stitch promises a complete holiday overhaul for “Bloody X-Mas” on Saturday, December 14th, and Saturday, December 21st.
“We’re going to decorate the whole hotel with Christmas lights,” says Stitch, “and the inside will be decorated as if the maniacs who live in there have decorated for Christmas.”
Stitch says the “Bloody X-Mas” events will deliver the complete traditional Haunted Hotel experience with the addition of some of the darker and scarier characters associated with winter and the Christmas season. “We’ll have Christmas music pumping though the halls,” says Stitch, “and you’ll encounter characters like the Christmas Krampus, the Grinch and the Yeti.”
“And chainsaw Santas,” he adds. “You’ve got to have chainsaw Santas.”
I’m not going to argue with him. This is the Phantom of the Ville, wishing all of you a terrifying Thanksgiving. I’ll be back next weekend with a report on the Danger Run Finals taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday, November 16th. Stay scared!
A new breed of home haunters has risen from the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating to bring the thrills and chills of the Halloween season back where they belong: the American backyard.
This is the Phantom of the Ville with my last official report of the 2013 Halloween season, and appropriately enough I’m not in a mega-budget haunted house, but in a neighborhood back yard in a quaint subdivision of Jefferson County. After the rain soaked disaster of Thursday night that sent parents and kids fleeing to the shopping malls for trick-or-treats, I had little hope that a rescheduled neighborhood Halloween event would draw the little ghosts and goblins out of their homes.
I was wrong.
As I pulled into the neighborhood where Disturbed Souls was hosting their haunted back yard on November 1st, just as twilight loomed on the horizon, I was surprised to find dozens of costumed kids running up and down the leaf covered sidewalks. At least in this neighborhood, the spirit of Halloween would not be drowned by a little rain.
There’s a new breed of home haunter out there today. When I was a kid, we were thrilled if somebody bothered to dress up like a dummy, stuffing their clothes with newspaper and donning a cheap rubber mask, and would spring to life when one of us would try to take some candy out of the bowl sitting in his lap. It’s hard for me to imagine how we would have reacted to something as elaborate as Disturbed Souls along our regular trick-or-treat route.
In Shawn Pulliam and Kristy Ferrell’s J-town backyard, trick-or-treaters find a free haunted attraction nearly as elaborate as a professional, for-profit haunt, and it’s not the only one in town. There’s the Hetzer Haunted House in the South End and the Twisted Silver Yard Haunt in New Albany too. I wish I could have visited them all, but to do so in one night would have required a time machine!
This was Pulliam and Ferrell’s second year haunting their home in Jeffersontown, but they bring to Louisville their over 20 years of experience as home haunters with their Rest in Portland Yard Haunt in Portland, KY. They spend 6 to 8 months out of the year drawing up plans for the Halloween yard haunt, acquiring new props and working on set pieces, and then spend two months building the complete haunt that will only be brought to life for a couple of nights in late October.
“It’s his mom’s fault,” says Ferrell.
“True,” says Pulliam, “I guess my whole obsession with Halloween and horror started when my mom took me to the New Albany Drive-in to see ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ when I was five years old. I’ve never been the same.”
It’s hard for me to even wrap my head around the amount of professional scare equipment Pulliam and Ferrell have set up in their backyard: full size animatronics, pneumatics, an 8 by 10 foot movie screen, fog machines, laser tunnels, a Chucky rollercoaster, a “Hellraiser” set, a graveyard scene, aliens, clowns, ghosts, werewolves, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. It’s all free, by the way.
After you pass through the entryway, you’ll come across an animated skeleton at the ticket booth before sitting down in an outdoor theater for a two minute introduction on a giant screen. This setup includes Chucky attacking on a rollercoaster and Freddy Krueger coming out of the movie screen to start you on your journey.
You’ll enter the first room to encounter Jigsaw and some other silver screen boogiemen before exiting into an elaborate graveyard scene. Then it’s forward to an alien themed area and into a disorienting, fog filled laser tunnel that includes an unexpected sparking electric scare. Next you’ll pass Pinhead and his torture playground before entering a maze with evil clowns and shocking blasts of compressed air!
Then you’re headed for the finale, but first you’ll come face-to-face with the Frankenstein monster, Michael Myers and one full sized animatronic werewolf in a cage plus a live one that has unfortunately escaped. Just when you think it’s over, you’ll meet Leatherface and his favorite toy in a chainsaw chase-out that sent several crying kids running down the street.
I saw a couple of terrified kids last night, but I bet every one of them carries this Halloween memory with them for the rest of their lives. The tears and screams coming from the back yard didn’t deter the crowds out front, where the line stretched down the driveway and onto the sidewalk. I tip my coachman’s hat to Pulliam and Ferrell for pulling off such an amazing homegrown house of horrors!
Well, my friends, the haunting season is over for this year. It’s time to put our plastic pumpkins and Styrofoam tombstones back in our garages and attics until next year. Don’t despair, however, Louisville Halloween isn’t going anywhere this year. There are still plenty of urban legends, haunted places and spooky events to report on the whole year long. Louisville is kooky like that! Although I might not be posting as often as I have in September and October, I will continue from this day forward to seek out every strange and unusual corner in the Ville. If you know of anything that needs investigating or have something you’d like us to shine a spooky light on, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three blocks and over 50 houses in the Crescent Hill Neighborhood just off Frankfort Avenue have brought National recognition to Louisville as one of the best tick-or-treating hotspots in America!
This year AOL Travel posted a list of the Top Ten Halloween Neighborhoods in America (http://news.travel.aol.com/2013/10/17/best-halloween-neighborhoods-united-states/#!slide=1271688), and Hillcrest Avenue in Crescent Hill came in at number nine. Louisville is quickly starting to build a reputation as one of the country’s most Halloween obsessed cities, slowly encroaching on the spooky old guard of cities like Salem, Massachusetts and Sleepy Hollow, New York. There are already more haunted attractions, theatrical productions and Halloween events in the Ville than in any other city of comparable size in the country, and Hillcrest is helping Louisvillians revive the majesty of neighborhood trick-or-treating.
Andrew Coombs, owner and operator of the Grim Trails Haunted Attraction, has over 30 years of home haunting experience and also has a deep affection for the ritual of trick-or-treating on the evening of October 31st. “I started the Haunted Yard just a little over 30 years ago because of the Tylenol Scare of 1982,” Coombs says. “Parents all over the country became paranoid about letting their kids trick-or-treat at strangers’ houses and trick-or-treating moved to the Malls. That really bugged me. Trick-or-treating has to take place outside at night!”
Indeed, while the celebration of Halloween has grown in scope over the last 30 years in Louisville, the ritual of trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods on October 31st has shrunk to almost a footnote. Hillcrest Avenue is one Louisville neighborhood looking to restore the tradition of trick-or-treating back to its former glory.
Nearly 50 homes along the three block stretch between Frankfort Avenue and Brownsboro Road have begun an annual, friendly competition to outdo each other with elaborate yard and lights displays that frankly put some of the most elaborate seasonal Christmas light displays to shame. Fog machines pump out a moody mist, scary music plays and costumed characters wander the streets. Kids from across the Ville are welcome to make their way through the spooky displays up to the doorstep for treats on October 31st.
Being a Louisville trick-or-treating mecca hasn’t always been easy. This is a grassroots event put on by neighborhood homeowners, not a civic event. Two years ago, it looked like the whole event might be stopped by the city due to overcrowding, gridlock traffic and rowdy behavior. It began to look like the neighborhood would need more security and insurance than it could possibly afford to reign in the chaos of the 2,000 to 5,000 folks that showed up at dusk on October 31st. Some of the neighbors decided not to participate and their houses went dark on Halloween. A plea for civility was issued and last year things tamed down considerably, opening the door for a bigger and more elaborate trick-or-treat wonderland in 2013.
I took an early trip down Hillcrest this past Friday night to get a sneak peek of what would be in store for kids this Halloween, and there were already hundreds of folks walking up and down the street. All the lights and gags were up and working, and it was like walking through 50 mini haunted attractions laid out over three blocks. Themed yards include an animated Peanuts, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” yard, a Wizard of Oz yard with a Munchkin village, an Area 51 yard, a Ghouly Garden, a torture chamber, Hillcrest Cemetery, Stately Hillcrest Manor with a ghostly surprise and a yard of famous movie monsters.
The neighbors have brought their show out of their yards and all the way down to the sidewalks as spooks on strings hanging from the trees will drop down to surprise unsuspecting parents and kids. I saw a couple of really elaborate rigs that allowed ghosts to come flying down from second floor balconies all the way down to come face-to-face with kids seeking candy.
If you plan on trick-or-treating on Hillcrest Thursday night, please bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to donate at marked locations on each block. Trick-or-treating hours this year are from 5PM until 9PM. If you come, be prepared for crowds, traffic and parking issues during peak hours.
No matter where you go or how you plan to spend your Halloween night, be safe and have fun! From all of us at Louisville Halloween, have a glorious and ghoulish Halloween!
If you’re looking for something a little different to watch this Halloween, the Phantom of the Ville has some suggestions that might add a little pumpkin spice to your regular brew!
Happy Halloween, my Monster Kid friends, it’s the Phantom of the Ville here with a few Halloween viewing recommendations from the forgotten crypt of misfit movies. This isn’t meant to be a Top Ten list, a “best of” list or in any way a comprehensive list. Not all of the titles I’m going to mention here are for all tastes, and a couple of them are even downright terrible, but all of them have a connection to my love of the orange-and-black holiday that I hope you’ll understand or at least forgive me for!
There are hundreds of fang-tastic horror classics out there to seek out, any of which would make a great Halloween slumber party horror marathon, with a tub of hot buttered popcorn and a cup of pumpkin brew. But you’ve seen all the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels, remakes and reboots. You’re all familiar with the Universal Monsters, the bloody and colorful Hammer Horror series and Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films with the legendary Vincent Price. If not, stop reading now and go seek out those classics!
Below you’ll find the most common Halloween favorites in some of the most popular sub-genres after which I will offer an alternative or two that you may not have seen. Fasten your seat belts.
THE DEVIL/DEMONIC POSSESSION
Favorite: “The Exorcist”/”The Omen”: Both of these films are classics as well as a couple of the scariest movies ever made. New on DVD this week, “The Conjuring,” is also a terrifying new take on the demonic possession genre that you should see this Halloween if you missed it in theaters.
Alternative: “Devil Dog: Hound of Hell”: Originally broadcast on October 31st, 1978, this made-for-TV shocker is a personal favorite of mine because it was broadcast on the first Halloween I skipped trick-or-treating and stayed home to hand out candy to the other kids. As I watched Richard (“Rambo”) Crenna battle a demon dog adopted by his family, I contemplated what it meant to “grow up” and still celebrate Halloween. Crenna’s kids in the movie are played by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, the psychic kids from Disney’s “Escape to Witch Mountain,” so I’ve always thought of “Devil Dog: Hound of Hell” as a weird “Witch Mountain” sequel!
Favorite: “The Lost Boys”/”Fright Night”: Both of these 80’s classics are gems of the vampire genre, although anything seems like a vampire classic next to the “Twilight” series that today’s kids have been force fed.
Alternatives: “Near Dark” (1987): Director Kathryn (“Zero Dark Thirty”) Bigelow’s weird vampire pseudo-Western staring Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton as the alpha males of a family of vampires that travels the country in a Winnebago with the windows painted black. This is one of the most criminally under-seen and underappreciated vampire films in screen history!
“Salem’s Lot” Miniseries (1979): Still the scariest vampire film I’ve ever seen, I think Tobe Hooper’s made-for-TV masterpiece actually improves on the Stephen King novel. This film has the creepiest screen vampires in cinema history, and the choice to re-invent Kurt Barlow as a Nosferatu-type creature is inspired! If you want to see star, David Soul, face off against another vampire, check out the Halloween episode of “Starsky & Hutch,” called “Vampire” from the TV show’s second season. John (“Enter the Dragon”) Saxon plays the vampire sucking the life out of Starsky & Hutch’s Halloween.
Favorites: “Night of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Return of the Living Dead”: George Romero’s classics and Dan O’Bannon’s send up of them are Halloween holy ground, and the recent explosion of the zombie genre gives you plenty of choices. Here are a couple of the weirder ones!
Alternatives: “Shock Waves” (1977): The best film of the “underwater Nazi zombies” sub-genre features Peter Cushing as a Nazi mad scientist who has created a race of undead Nazi soldiers that rise from their watery graves to attack the living!
“The Children” (1980): One of the creepiest and most disturbing little indie horror films I’ve ever seen, this one mixes the zombie and evil kid genres when a school bus full of grade school children pass through a strange green, toxic mist only to emerge as mini-zombies who burn their victims to a crisp with a hug! The only way to stop them is to cut their hands off. They don’t make weirder flicks than this one.
Favorite: “Suspiria” (1977): Dario Argento’s dizzying, art-house master thesis on witchcraft might be the most popular film on the subject with hardcore horror fans, but I have a couple of other more obscure favorites. Perhaps the best film on the subject, “The Wicker Man” (1973), will be playing the Baxter Avenue Theaters in a new, extended version at Midnight on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th, and that’s the only reason it’s not included as an alternate recommendation for Halloween.
Alternatives: “Horror Hotel” AKA “The City of the Dead” (1960): Christopher Lee is featured in this tale about the New England village of Whitewood. It isn’t Halloween without fog, and “Horror Hotel” is one of the foggiest films ever made. This movie is drenched in creepy atmosphere.
“Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages” (1922): This amazing silent film depicts images of witchcraft and Satanism in different countries and time periods, but the version I really like is just called “Witchcraft Through the Ages,” which cuts together most of the best imagery into a 76 minute version narrated by the incomparable William S. Burroughs!
“Curse of the Demon” (1957): Maybe the best film ever about witchcraft and the power of suggestion that also features one of the coolest screen demons ever created.
Favorites: “An American Werewolf in London”/ “The Howling”: You can’t go wrong with either one of these 1981 classics, or with the classic Universal Studio’s, “The Wolf Man,” but here are a couple of other hairy minor masterpieces to consider.
Alternatives: “Ginger Snaps”: This may be one of the best “coming of age” films ever told from a female perspective even without the werewolf plotline.
“Dog Soldiers”: This British, action packed horror films follows a troop of reserve soldiers on a training exercise that run afoul of a pack of beautifully designed werewolves.
Favorite: “Halloween”: John Carpenter’s little miracle of suspense and atmosphere rightfully sits on the throne as King of All Halloween Movies, but there are others!
Alternatives: “Satan’s Little Helper” (2004): This criminally overlooked, subversive Halloween gem directed by Jeff (“Squirm”) Lieberman follows a young trick-or-treater who befriends a serial killer dressed as the Devil himself as the kid follows his Halloween hero on a murder spree through his small town on Halloween. Of course, the kid has no idea that all of this carnage is real and neither does anybody else! Strap yourself in for the finale, because this one gets weird!
“Trick r Treat” (2007): No, this isn’t the heavy metal horror film with Skippy from “Family Ties,” it’s a “Pulp Fiction”-style anthology of stories that all happen on the same Halloween night, and they’re all tied together in one way or another. This might be the best film about the iconography of October 31st ever made.
Favorite: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”: Do you want to do the Time Warp again, or would you rather rock n roll all night this Halloween?
Alternative: “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park”: This TV movie was originally broadcast on October 28th, 1978, and featured the make-up wearing rockers as super powered heroes battling the forces of evil in a theme park setting. KISS fights animatronic Universal Monsters in a haunted house, robot were-apes by a rollercoaster and, ultimately, their evil robot clones! If you were ten years old in 1978, this was probably the greatest movie you had ever seen (after “Star Wars”!). It’s so incredibly cheesy, I can’t believe it hasn’t yet fostered a Midnight screening, “Rocky Horror”-type of following.
Favorite: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”: I’ve yet to miss a Halloween without joining Linus in the pumpkin patch, and I’m not about to start now, but there’s another animated film I now feel the same way about.
Alternative: “Mad Monster Party?” (1967): Long before the stop-motion animated masterpiece, “The Nightmare before Christmas,” rocked both Halloween and Christmas, there was another stop-motion classic created by Rankin-Bass Entertainment, the same company that created the legendary Christmas specials, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and many others. Boris Karloff is the voice of Baron von Frankenstein who invites all the classic monsters to his castle for a swinging party and a special announcement. Even King Kong crashes the party during the climax. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
“The Halloween Tree” (1993): Currently available on the Warner Archive burn-on-demand website, this Hanna-Barbera production is based on the book by Ray Bradbury who also serves as narrator. With an excellent score by John Debney, this made-for-TV animated feature rises to the challenge of adapting Bradbury’s evocative, time traveling Halloween epic and it cuts right to the beating heart of the dark holiday.
I’ve only scratched the surface, of course. If I had the time and space, I’d also recommend Mario Bava’s Gothic masterpieces, “Black Sunday,” “Black Sabbath” and “Baron Blood,” the Spanish werewolf films of Paul Naschy and a hundred other lesser known chilling, thrilling Halloween spook shows. What are some of your own favorite Halloween flicks that only you and your friends seem to know about and love?
In its purest and simplest form, the corn maze at Cobb’s Haunt conjures the magic of Halloween in the heartland of America.
On the night of the Full Moon last Saturday night, I entered the corn maze at Cobb’s Haunt, also known as Sunny Acres Farm at 6516 Echo Trail in Eastern Jefferson County. It was a chilly late October evening and a strange mist had crept up from the nearby lake to fill the cornfield, making the twisted paths inside the twelve foot high stalks seem like a strange, alien world. Besides the rustling of the corn stalks and an occasional distant scream, I was entombed in a world of silence. The only light was the pale, luminous light of the moon, and in the darkness and silence of this living Harvest labyrinth, I felt the icy grip of fear.
Cobb’s Haunt isn’t a high tech thrill machine. You won’t find any expensive animatronic monsters or fancy haunt industry props here. None of that expensive modern equipment would last long out there in the cornfield under the weather conditions of late October. Instead, you’ll find more of an old world Halloween experience that’s deeply connected to the Harvest season that gave birth to most of the traditions of Halloween we celebrate today. The atmosphere you’ll experience in the cornfield at night is something that money can’t buy.
It took our group nearly an hour to find our way out of Cobb’s Haunt. The ground was slightly muddy in spots, and that may have slowed our pace a bit, but it’s not likely you’ll be able to finish the maze in under 30 minutes. Unlike most haunt “mazes,” the way forward is not a straight march and there are many wrong turns and dead ends. Occasionally, you’ll come to an open area with eight to ten possible paths to choose from. If time spent in a haunted attraction is something you value, you’ll certainly find one of the longest haunt experiences in town at Cobb’s Haunt.
Due to the enormous size of the maze, Cobb’s Haunt could probably stand to add a few more creepy characters to fill in some of stretches without jump scares, but the existing cast does a great job when it counts. You might encounter the Creeper from “Jeepers Creepers” along the way, as well as scarecrows, swamp monsters and even a clown or two. The ghostly girl carrying a creepy baby has one of the shrillest screams I’ve ever heard, and I’m pretty sure it would shatter glass as easily as it rattles eardrums. You have been warned: DON’T touch the baby!
There is no touching or grabbing allowed at Cobb’s Haunt, and the whole vibe is very family friendly. This would be a good Halloween experience for families with kids who like spooky fun, but with one word of warning. If you get five minutes into the maze and want out, it might not be as easy as finding the “emergency exit.” Getting lost is possible, and you should be aware that you might be 10 minutes from the nearest exit at any point. For some more adventurous Halloween fans, that’s part of the fun!
Cobb’s Haunt will be open next weekend, Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th, from 9PM until 2AM. Admission is $15. Get out into the Harvest night and experience some old world Halloween magic!
Halloween Express in Hurstbourne has the Biggest Selection of Halloween Costumes, Masks and Décor in the East End!
The days are growing shorter and the shadows are growing longer. All Hallows’ Eve rapidly approaches. Do you know what you’re going to be this Halloween? This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the 10,000 square feet of dark holiday wonderland known as the Halloween Express store at 801 South Hurstbourne Parkway. They’ve got the biggest selection of costumes for all ages in the East End, and a lot of cool props and decorations to check out while you’re browsing.
Halloween Express is based out of Owenton County, KY, and owned and operated by Chasity and Kevin Hill who’ve been part of the franchise since 2005, running the Louisville store for the last couple of years. I spoke to both of them earlier this afternoon about the challenges of running a pop-up Halloween store in the Ville.
“It’s not easy finding a location each year that’s big enough to store the size of inventory we stock,” says Chasity. “We need a much bigger space than just a small storefront.”
“Right,” says Kevin. “We’re only going to be open for six to eight weeks, and we need a space that’s not only going to be big enough, but in a heavy traffic, hoppin’ area so people can find us.”
The Hills have found their dream space this year right next to Barnes & Noble in the Shoppes at Plainview Shopping Center. There’s plenty of room in the 10,000 sq. ft. space to stock all their kids and adults costumes, latex monster masks and animated props as well as a spacious dressing room. There are plenty of choices, but what are the hottest costumes this year?
“Minions,” exclaims Chasity. “We can’t keep minion costumes in stock. We’re sold out right now, but we have another large order coming in soon.”
“Wizard of Oz is also one of the top selling costume lines this year,” says Kevin. “Superheroes and pirates are still big, and believe it or not, Star Wars is still very popular.”
“We’ve seen a decline in the interest in zombies this year,” says Chasity, “but sexy costumes have never been more popular and we have a lot of them in stock.”
“Zombie costumes and make-up may have seen a little decline in popular interest, but the lunging zombie animated props are huge,” responds Kevin. “Those have been very popular. Anything that lunges out and scares people. Lunging dogs, spiders, rats. People love anything that makes you jump!”
You’ll find all the costumes, rubber masks, plastic machetes, creepy CDs and haunted accessories you could ask for at Halloween Express, just a couple of doors down from the Danger Run starting gate at Lowe’s Home Improvement on Hurstbourne Lane. The store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10AM until 9PM and Sunday from Noon until 6PM. The store phone number is (502)415-8769. The manager’s name is Taylor Gentry and her phone number is (502)352-0421 if you have any questions about inventory. Now, it’s time to get ready! Halloween is almost here.
Something Wicked This Way Comes to the Ville in Asylum’s Dark Carnival Theme Park!
The Asylum Haunted Scream Park at 3101 Pond Station Road is the South Louisville haunted attraction featured in the documentary, “Monsters Wanted” (http://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Wanted-Rich-Teachout/dp/B00DTTRGJW/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1382022285&sr=1-1&keywords=monsters+wanted). You can read our interview with “Monsters Wanted” director, Brian Cunningham, and Asylum co-owner, Richard Teachout, here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/monsters-wanted-haunt-documentary-world-premiere-at-fandomfest/.
In the documentary, you can watch Teachout and his partner, Janel Nash, through their trials and tribulations as they build the Asylum Haunted Scream Park with blood, sweat and tears during its first season. Now you can also experience the three haunts and the carnival attractions depicted in the movie first hand.
Asylum Haunted Scream Park is open the next two weekends on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th and October 25th and 26th from 8PM until 2AM. There are three major attractions. Darkness Falls on Asylum tickets are $20, Zombie City tickets are $20 and Xterminate: Zalien Attack tickets are $15. A discounted combo ticket for all three attractions costs $35. The Carnival of Lost Souls freakshow is FREE with admission.
Last weekend I experienced all four vastly different attractions to give you an idea of what you can expect when you take a trip to the dark carnival. As soon as you pass the entryway columns, you’ll likely be assaulted by chainsaw maniacs and motorbike riding killer clowns before you even purchase your tickets. You’ll find a carnival style food booth selling funnel cakes, hotdogs and Monster sodas.
Just past the ticket booth, you’ll find the Carnival of Lost Souls with Halloween themed versions of classic carnival games like the ring toss, shoot-the-zombie and the dreaded “poop shoot.” On the giant skull stage in the dead center of the carnival you can catch the acts of the Human Pinhead and the fire spitting spectacle of my old friend, Midian, the fire breather. Midian delivers the perfect cure for cold, late October nights.
I brought my monster mini-entourage with me this year to brave the haunts, and the first haunt we decided to tackle was Zombie City. I have to congratulate the Asylum crew for improving the Zombie City experience 100% from last season. The concept for an interactive, theatrical haunt was always a good one, but this year they really make it work. In fact, Zombie City ended up being our favorite haunt of the three this season, which was the exact opposite of my experience last year.
In Zombie City, you’ll be sent into a zombie infected area with a mission. You must carry the cure to the zombie virus through the hot zone to the doctor on the other side of town who can replicate the formula and stop the zombie outbreak. The script is much, much better this year, dispensing with all the exposition and backstory that bogged the story down last year and making the whole story much more alive in the present and action packed. You don’t want the actors to TELL you the story. You want to LIVE the story, and this year you will.
The actors are also better this year, and so is the lighting and special effects. The zombie attacks are better staged and scarier, and it all builds to a proper bombastic and “explosive” finale just like an interactive zombie movie should! I tip my coachman’s hat to the Zombie City crew in 2013.
Next, we strapped on our vests and automatic weapons to battle the extraterrestrial living dead in Xterminate: Zalien Attack, based on the locally produced and shot movie, “Overtime,” starring John Wells and Al Snow.
It’s fun to shoot zombies. Period. Being able to defend yourself from the onslaught of monsters is a unique experience in a haunted attraction. The only downside to this experience is that the line moves slowly because everyone has to get suited up and trained in combat techniques. It’s also the shortest of the three attractions at Asylum Haunted Scream Park, so I recommend you do this one early in the evening while the lines are still short.
Lastly, we braved the black woods of Darkness Falls on Asylum, the ¾ mile hike into Hell! It was getting late (around the witching hour) by the time we got through the line and were sent into the forest and Asylum Haunted Scream Park was packed by this time. The massive crowds made spacing groups out very difficult, and we quickly caught up with the group in front of us. Then the group behind us quickly caught up with us. This made the first third of the trail a bit of a disappointment, as every scare had already been triggered and exposed before we got to it.
Thankfully, the spookmasters at Darkness Falls counted on this possibility for crowded nights and built an ENORMOUS maze with many multiple passageways, wrong turns and short cuts that effectively split up the groups for the rest of the trail. It only takes one chainsaw maniac to cause everyone to run in different directions and I found myself alone for the next five minutes!
When I finally found my group again, we entered the clown maze area where things got even weirder and more fun, including a dizzying trip down a dark slide into an adult sized version of the pit full of balls at Chuck E Cheese! Then I got the biggest shock of the night from a vampire who came flying down from the sky to attack our poor group. In the dark of night, this creep’s zip line was completely invisible and his timing was perfect. I salute you, Mr. Vampire.
It’s an entire nights worth of Halloween fun in one location at Asylum Haunted Scream Park. Richard Teachout and Janel Nash have worked out a system so that each haunt offers a high level of intensity without anyone touching you, so if being touched and/or grabbed is an issue for you, you can rest easy here. But you won’t rest too easy when you get home because they will certainly serve up enough nightmares to keep you awake through Halloween.
The most fun you’ve EVER had in your car delivers twice the haunts, twice the fear and twice the value in 2013!
Thanks to my new GPS (Ghostly Positioning System), I have finally successfully completed Danger Run and survived to write about it. The roads traveled this year are the spookiest ever; you’ll be taken off the beaten path and onto the foggy back roads of the Louisville landscape. You may even pass through the lair of the Pope Lick Monster himself!
As you may already be aware, Danger Run has partnered with FOUR haunted houses this year that have never been included on Danger Run before, making it possible to have multiple completely different experiences on different nights. Even though you can start online this year, if you choose to, and drive the routes anytime you like, the haunts are only open on Friday and Saturday nights. So you have two weekends left of the prime haunting season to play Danger Run twice and experience all four haunts.
The regular Lowe’s starting gates (http://www.dangerrun.com/danger-run-locations ) are open Friday and Saturday nights on October 18th and 19th and October 25th and 26th from 7PM until 11PM. The haunted houses are open from 8PM until 2AM.
Danger Run is really the best deal you’ll find for Halloween entertainment this year. One ticket is $19.95 ($18.95 online), which gets you TWO haunted houses, buy-one-get-one-free Dairy Queen cheeseburgers, FREE vampire teeth and a $10 FREE gas card from Speedway if you have at least four people in your party. If you’re really good at clue solving and precise driving, you may also win some really big prizes come November.
I’ve braved all four of the haunts on Danger Run this season, and I can tell you there is quite a variety of completely different scare tactics on display to experience in 2013. In fact, since we’re midway into October now, I can offer you a few clues and spoilers as to what you might expect on your haunted adventure. Two of the haunts are outdoor haunts; one haunted forest trail and one cornfield maze. The other two are indoor haunts; one with a specific theme and the other more of an old school, variety spook house. One of the included haunts is my favorite haunt of 2013!
The clues this year are funny and clever, and the routes are some of my favorite ever devised by the Danger Run crew, mostly because less time is spent on major highways and more time on spooky, desolate back roads.
What are just some of the things you might see on your Danger Run adventure? A chrome 1950’s style diner, a spooky railroad trestle that’s home to an urban legend, a 20 foot skull headed creature, a Hellmouth, a haunted cornfield, a blue-glowing transparent ghost, a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, a creepy cemetery, a water tower, a voodoo priestess, an abandoned shack by a misty lake, a chainsaw maniac, a mermaid, a kid wearing vampire teeth—and much, much more.
You get all of this for about the price of one haunted attraction. It’s a no brainer, even for zombies! I’ll be back soon with even more haunted attraction reviews and Halloween news!
The Louisville Zoo hosts the biggest Halloween hullabaloo in town for the little ghosts and goblins and the young at heart!
Greetings, mortals, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the Herpaquarium at the Louisville Zoo at 1100 Trevilian Way. At this spooky time of year, I like to visit my old friends, the vampire bats, who’ve been roosting at the Zoo for the last ten years. They seem to like it in the Ville, and of course, it’s their favorite time of year too. They tell me that the blood they drink has a pumpkin spice flavor to it this time of year.
You can drop by and say hello to my little fanged friends when you’re trick-or-treating at the World’s Largest Halloween Party which takes over the entire zoo during the next two weekends. The vampire bats are excited and the Herpaquarium will be open for visitors during their Halloween adventure, so you’ll have an opportunity to see them up and partying after dark!
For over 30 years, the Louisville Zoo has hosted the biggest, longest and most elaborate trick-or-treat wonderland in the region. You can view the art pumpkin display, chat with Mumpkin the Pumpkin, wander through the Pumpkinville hay maze and trick-or-treat at the dozens of sponsored stations throughout the zoo.
This week I sat down with Louisville Zoo Media Relations Manager, Kyle Shepherd, to find out what’s new and newsworthy at the World’s Largest Halloween Party in 2013.
The Phantom of the Ville: Good evening, Kyle. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We came out to the World’s Largest Halloween Party last year and it was HUGE. It basically encompassed the entire zoo. How do you plan to top last year?
Kyle Shepherd: We encompass the entire Zoo this year as well. We’ve added a few new areas and new props and even more costumed characters. There is a photo opportunity around every corner at the World’s Largest Halloween Party presented by Meijer. For us, every night is different at the World’s Largest Halloween Party! There are always such unique costumes to be seen. We love it, especially when mom and dad get into the fun and the entire family dresses in themed costumes. And, afterall, this is the family-friendly event to be SEEN and not scared.
TPOTV: How many years has the zoo been hosting this Halloween hootenanny?
KS: 32 years! A long-standing tradition!
TPOTV: What’s new this year?
KS: We’ve added a few new areas and new props and even more costumed characters. We’ve also asked our guests to select a night and limited the capacity so that we can offer a great experience for all of our guests. We want it to be a great family memory building event!
TPOTV: One of the iconic events over the history of the World’s Largest Halloween Party is the appearance of the Headless Horseman. My niece, who just turned 16, still remembers the galloping ghoul chasing us on the zoo train. Where can Washington Irving fans find the Sleepy Hollow spook this season?
KS: The Headless Horseman no longer chases the train, but for those more adventurous they can find that attraction in Gorilla Forest. It is a storytelling stop and guests get to meet a surprise visitor on their tour. This is an attraction that has an additional fee.
TPOTV: Will the zoo train be incorporated in the event this year?
KS: The train is an added attraction for an extra fee, yes. For Halloween we’ve named it the Wizarding Express.
TPOTV: Will zoo guests be able to view any of the more nocturnal animals during their trick-or-treat journey?
KS: You can visit some of our late night Party animals (weather permitting). You are most likely to see flamingos, snow leopards, bongos, rhinos and giraffes. Many others retire to their bedrooms; some are not out for their health and safety during this event. The HerpAquarium remains open during the event so visit our creepy and crawliest inhabitants.
TPOTV: I noticed that Caufield’s Novelty is a sponsor again this year. Can you tell us about their role in the event?
KS: Caufield’s is a great resource for props and such. We even participated in their parade earlier. What fun.
TPOTV: Thanks for talking to us and for all the great years the zoo has thrown this amazing Halloween party.
KS: Thanks for letting us talk about this fun event.
The World’s Largest Halloween Party takes place this weekend, October 17-20, and next weekend, October 24-27, starting each night at 5PM. You can enter the zoo until 8:30PM. All information about tickets and parking can be found on the zoo’s event page at http://www.louisvillezoo.org/halloween/.
We chat with Butch Patrick about his weekend in the Ville! He’ll be the Grand Marshal in Caufield’s Halloween Parade tonight and a special guest at The Baxter Avenue Morgue all weekend!
Good morning, Boils and Ghouls, it’s The Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the haunted Highlands in anticipation of the biggest weekend of the Halloween season. There’s a lot going on this weekend and you won’t want to miss any of it. It’s Harvest Homecoming across the lagoon in New Albany. The weather is going to be beautiful and all the haunted houses and haunted forests are open and ready to terrify. Season four of “The Walking Dead” premieres this Sunday, October 13th at 9PM.
The biggest event of the weekend, however, happens tonight on Friday, October 11th at 7PM in the Highlands. Of course, I’m talking about the 10th Anniversary of Caufield’s Halloween Parade! Caufield’s annual celebration of the Halloween season has gotten bigger and more elaborate every year, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to make 2013 the biggest parade in its history. This year, the parade will be marching in the opposite direction from its usual starting point. It will start at the Baxter Avenue Morgue at 451 Baxter Avenue and end at Valumarket at Mid City Mall.
For the first time this year, the Caufield’s Halloween Parade will have a Halloween icon as Grand Marshal, Butch Patrick, known worldwide for his performance as Eddie Munster in the beloved 1960’s TV series, “The Munsters.” Patrick will also be meeting fans and signing autographs at the Baxter Avenue Morgue after the parade tonight from 9PM until 1AM and again on Saturday night from 8PM until 1AM. The cost is $20 for an autographed photo and a picture with Patrick.
Last week, I wrote to Butch in anticipation of his arrival in the Ville and he kindly answered all of my questions for our Louisville Halloween fans. Without further ado, here’s our interview with Eddie Munster!
The Phantom of the Ville: Good evening, Butch! This is quite an honor. Congratulations on your invitation be the Grand Marshal in the 10th Anniversary of the Caufield’s Halloween Parade! Have you ever been Grand Marshal in a Halloween parade before?
Butch Patrick: Yes, I have, but it was many years ago.
POTV: At the convention where we first met, you were seated right next to one of Louisville’s favorite horror icons, John Dugan, who played the corpse-like Grandpa in both the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the new “Texas Chainsaw 3D” 39 years later! Do you have any stories about John that are legally acceptable to print?
BP: No, not recently, but I heard stories about John when I lived and filmed in Austin, TX at the same studio where “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was made.
POTV: I’m sure it goes without saying that playing Eddie Munster on “The Munsters” must have had a great impact on your life, both good and bad. What are your feelings today about your status as a classic horror icon?
BP: I LOVE hearing the stories of the fans who grew up watching the show.
POTV: Besides your role on “The Munsters,” you also played the starring role in Sid & Marty Krofft’s psychedelic, “Lidsville”? What are your best memories of that experience?
BP: Wow, those were crazy times with Charles Nelson Reilly and the little people.
POTV: I’ve always wondered, do you remember where the title sequence of “Lidsville” was filmed? Was that at a real theme park or was it on a back lot?
BP: That was a real theme park. It was filmed at Six Flags Over Texas.
POTV: Friday and Saturday night, October 11th and 12th, you’ll be hanging out, meeting fans and signing autographs at one of Louisville’s best haunted attractions, the Baxter Avenue Morgue. Do you like going to haunted houses when you’re not appearing at them?
BP: No, actually I don’t, but I do put on a brave face when I’m appearing at a haunted house!
POTV: Can you tell us what your favorite Halloween memory is from when you were a kid?
BP: Absolutely! I remember Mike Westmore giving me a bunch of different monster masks to try on during the Halloween season when I was working on “The Munsters” set! (Editor: Michael Westmore is a legendary Hollywood make-up artist who got his career started doing make-up on “The Munsters” and went on to become most famous for his make-up work on all of the modern “Star Trek” TV series.)
POTV: You’ve probably heard people refer to themselves as a Beatles or an Elvis fan. In the horror fan community, you’re either a “Munsters” or an “Addams Family” fan. You can like both, but you have to loyally align with one or the other. Are you a fanatical fan of anything?
BP: No, I’m not what you would call a FANATIC at all.
POTV: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us at Louisville Halloween! We hope you have a great weekend in the Ville!
BP: Thanks, I’m looking forward to it.
Prepare to be threatened, throttled and thrilled in one of the most intense and longest running haunted attractions in the Ville!
Now in its 24th season at 3000 S 4th Street, The Haunted Hotel has earned its reputation as one of Louisville’s top rated haunted attractions, and this year owner/operator, Kevin Stitch, has apparently lost his mind completely. He has the let the maniacs loose to run the asylum and the results are clear from the minute you check in. This haunt is not for the timid.
As soon as you step inside, you’ll be greeted up close and personally by a fez wearing front desk clerk who will escort you into the elevator for the journey to your room. I knew I was in for a rough ride right away when the “bellboy” grabbed me by the throat, pushed me up against the wall and began to strangle me. The last time I was strangled with that much force, I was having my picture taken with Kane “Jason” Hodder at a horror convention.
The bumpy ride continued when this silk stocking-mask wearing freak pushed the elevator button and the whole car plummeted to our certain doom. Then the lights went out, and when they came back on again I discovered my tormentor apparently had the powers of Spider-man.
As soon as the elevator doors opened, a massive psychopath stepped forward and put his machete to my throat. This was only the first of several machetes, knives and cleavers that would be held against my throat in the next few agonizing minutes.
I hope you’re getting the picture here. Not only will you be touched and grabbed, you will also likely be strangled, poked and prodded by various scary looking weapons. The Haunted Hotel is clearly pushing the boundaries of physical haunt tactics and seems to be in serious competition with Industrial Terrorplex for “most intense haunt.” You have been warned.
The Haunted Hotel isn’t just about physical abuse, however, it also delivers a number of impressive animatronics. I was certainly startled by a huge drop wall that reveals a raging monster about the size of the Incredible Hulk. The man eating plants by the staircase are also visually amazing, and they really chomp close to your extremities. The special effects used this year also include simulated machine guns.
I’ve always loved the house on South 4th Street, but it was always a little too small to build a haunted house that would be over ten minutes long. Kevin Stich and his crew have solved that problem by building a huge outdoor maze next to the main building. You’ll run through trailers, ambulances and other structures as you navigate the maze while being attacked by zombies from above and below.
This is also where you’ll come under attack from an army of chainsaw maniacs. I have no idea if there were ten chainsaw maniacs in relentless pursuit of our group through the entire maze or if the same three or four chainsaw maniacs kept sneaking around corners and attacking us again. Let’s just say there are a legion of chainsaw maniacs that will hound you without mercy until you’re half a block from the exit.
The Haunted Hotel is open all October from Thursday through Sunday. Hours for Thursdays and Sundays are from 8PM until Midnight. Friday and Saturday hours are from 8PM until 2AM. The Haunted Hotel is also open the Wednesday night before Halloween (All Hallows Eve) from 8PM until Midnight and on Halloween, October 31st, from 8PM until Midnight.
The gates to the Devil’s Attic have been flung open again in 2013, tempting guests to explore one of the most detailed haunted attractions in the region!
The Prince of Darkness sits upon his throne in the opening scene of The Devil’s Attic at 647 West Hill Street, watching each group of foolish mortals as they dare to enter his kingdom. He will try to warn you about the nightmares you’ll encounter if you pass the threshold into his inner sanctum through the door beyond, but you may be too distracted by the Gothic visual splendor around you to hear his dire words.
Now in its fourth season of tormenting souls, The Devil’s Attic has ultimately become one of the most intricately detailed haunts I’ve ever explored, and this year I have to congratulate owner/operator, Jason Besemann, for delivering the best make-up and costumed characters of any haunt I’ve experienced so far this season. All the nastiest villains of literature and the movies are brought to life inside.
Besemann’s haunt has come a long, long way in just four years, and it’s his eye for extreme detail that sets The Devil’s Attic apart from the crowd. There’s so much going on in every scene that I found myself wanting to slow down and take it all in, but the actors are good enough at their jobs to keep me moving briskly along.
The walls are covered from floor to ceilings with skulls, spiders and Gothic décor as you move into the Hellish first section of the maze. The Dante’s Inferno vibe gives way shortly to a series of classic horror scenes where you’ll encounter vampires, werewolves and an elaborate Frankenstein’s laboratory set complete with a special effects laden “creation” scene. You’ll also take a detour through Sleepy Hollow to face the Headless Horseman himself.
Soon enough The Devil’s Attic segues into the realm of modern horror where you’ll encounter a circular room with many different doors, and Jigsaw taunts you to find the correct way out or suffer a horrible fate. My group chose poorly a couple of times and became lost in the winding maze before finally finding the correct door. The “13 Ghosts” glass house scene always delivers the shocks and the horrific “Exorcist” scene also returns this year.
New this year is a witches’ hut where you’ll encounter a cackling hag before you realize you’ve been marked with the curse of Pumpkinhead. It’s something of a shock to suddenly be confronted by a very realistic and full-sized Pumpkinhead demon, and it’s not just an animatronic. It can chase you.
There are also a couple dark sections filled with black plastic streamers and wall dividers that are very effective in separating groups, and I found myself suddenly alone on a couple of occasions and had to either rush ahead to catch up with my group or wait for them to find their way to my location.
For all of its detail, The Devil’s Attic is not the longest haunted attraction in town, and I found myself wishing there were even more rooms to explore, but leaving your guests awe struck and wanting more isn’t such a bad thing. You won’t be touched or grabbed inside The Devil’s Attic, but you will be taunted and chased by the fiends you meet.
Jason Besemann told me about an elaborate show he puts on once every 30 minutes or so on the second floor of the building for the crowds waiting in line. It involves Satan and simulated fiery blasts of smoke and pyrotechnics, but Saturday’s torrential rains prevented the show from going on. I’d love to see it.
The Devil’s Attic is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October. The ticket booth hours on Friday and Saturday are from 8PM until 12:30AM and on Sunday from 8PM until 11:30PM. The Devil’s Attic will also be open on Halloween night, Thursday, October 31st from 8PM until 12:30PM. General Admission tickets are $17 and Speed Pass tickets are $22.
The Baxter Avenue Morgue Presents Butch Patrick (AKA “Eddie Munster”) and Delivers a Haunt Worthy of “The Munsters”!
The Baxter Avenue Morgue has always been a unique Highlands neighborhood haunt. Located at 451 Baxter Avenue, just down the street from the crumbling ruins of Eastern Cemetery and a couple of blocks from Cave Hill Cemetery, this haunted attraction was built underground in the basement of the old Vanderdark Morgue. Tunnels and passageways twist and turn in the catacombs of the Morgue’s basement with pipes and plumbing overhead in some areas while other areas open up into vast underground crypts.
On the night of my visit, Warren Vanderdark was out “working” (most likely grave robbing to collect new props for the Morgue), and so the tour was hosted by his lovely wife, Lillian, who apparently has the power to walk through walls! She would mysteriously disappear and reappear in room after room during my trip through the Morgue.
This year the Baxter Avenue Morgue is hosting a special weekend with Butch Patrick, the actor who played Eddie Munster in the classic 1960’s TV show, “The Munsters.” Patrick will be acting as Grand Marshal in the Caufield’s Halloween Parade this Friday night, October 11th at 7PM, and afterwards he will be appearing at the Morgue from 9PM until 1AM. Patrick will also return Saturday night, October 12th from 8PM until 1AM.
The appearance of Eddie Munster seems completely appropriate for the Baxter Avenue Morgue this year, as the wonderful set design inside has been amped up with a “Munsters”/”Addams Family” vibe to it. Elaborately designed wallpaper and flickering candelabras adorn the walls this year, giving the haunt a sort of Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” atmosphere. In fact, the addition of several new props and set pieces really pumps up the Gothic flair this year, and I think this might be the Morgue’s best season ever. This opinion was seconded by the group I went through with.
In one room filled with covered bodies on the slab, there lies a wriggling half zombie trying to get loose that looks exactly like the one in “Return of the Living Dead”! In another room, I found a completely custom built animatronic character; a skeleton playing a pipe organ. This was no flimsy puppet either. This grim, grinning skeleton was passionately tickling the ivories to the music.
At the climax, you’ll walk straight through an upright coffin into the grave, and you know that can’t be good for your chances of exiting the Morgue alive.
The Baxter Avenue Morgue allows the actors to touch you, but the tone this year is much spookier and much less aggressive than last year. Most of the touching comes by way of light fingertips brushing up against your hair or the back of your neck. Some of the vampires in the huge cave-like crypt sequence will get very close to you, but no one will grab you or physically threaten you other than expressing the desire to drink all your blood, of course.
The Baxter Avenue Morgue is open through November 2nd, including Halloween night, from Thursday through Sunday. Operating hours on Thursdays and Sundays are from 8PM until 11PM and on Fridays and Saturdays from 8PM until 1AM. They are offering extended hours on the last two weekends, Friday and Saturday of October 25th and 26th and November 1st and 2nd from 7PM until 1AM.
A local dance troop is presenting continuing performances of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as line entertainment. Don’t miss this unique haunt this year. This is the Phantom of the Ville, and I will return very soon with looks at The Devil’s Attic, the Haunted Hotel, Fear Fair and more!
Starting tonight at Midnight and continuing every Saturday night through Halloween, the Baxter Avenue Theaters and Louisville Halloween will be showing 80’s horror classics on the big screen and giving away haunted attraction passes and Halloween treats!
The Baxter Avenue Theater’s Midnight Movie Programmer, Beau Kaelin, has put together another chilling, thrilling Halloween Midnight Movie Series for 2013. This year the theme is “80’s horror” and will feature classic horror films directed by John Landis, George Romero, David Cronenberg and Fred Dekker.
For the first time this year, Louisville Halloween will be co-sponsoring each screening and ticket holders each night will have a chance to win haunted attraction passes and maybe even other Halloween treats as the series progresses. Below you’ll find the schedule for the entire series so you won’t miss a chance to see your favorite flicks on the big screen with the best horror audience in Louisville this Halloween.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) Saturday, October 5th at MIDNIGHT: John Landis’ classic horror comedy starring David “I’m a Pepper” Naughton features some the most amazing werewolf transformation special effects ever seen on the silver screen by special make-up effects genius, Rick Baker. “An American Werewolf in London” was probably Hollywood’s most successful blend of horror and comedy since “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” in 1948.
CREEPSHOW (1982) Saturday, October 12th at MIDNIGHT: George Romero’s (“Night of the Living Dead”) homage to EC Comics “Tales from the Crypt” is one of the best horror anthology films ever produced.
As a young, underage Phantom, I have a funny story about sneaking into the premiere screening of “Creepshow” at the old Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road. A friend and I discovered that Showcase was running a promotion that allowed folks dressed up as monsters to get into the exclusive screening for FREE. This was perfect for us, since we could wear monster masks and heavy coats to disguise the fact that we were obviously too young to get into the R-rated screening without an adult guardian.
To our fiendish delight, we made it past the ticket booth without paying in our werewolf and fish-face masks, but when we got into the auditorium the manager came running up to us. I thought we were busted. On the contrary, he wanted us to be interviewed by a local news crew and we both ended up on the 11 o’clock news that night.
In those strange days, Showcase Cinemas had an “art gallery” on the second floor, and for this screening they were using the space for a free champagne bar and finger food. We actually had “Champagne Premieres” back in the 80’s. So suddenly my fish-face friend and I were being served champagne in plastic champagne glasses which we sipped through our monster mask mouth slots! We were still well under 17, and certainly nowhere near 21, so the masks had to stay on. Werewolf and fish-face both got a little tipsy and we watched the whole movie with our monster masks on. Obviously, it was one of the greatest movie screenings of my life.
THE FLY (1986) Saturday, October 19th at MIDNIGHT: David Cronenberg’s brilliant re-imagining of the 1958 Vincent Price sci-fi classic is still one of the only good Hollywood examples of an attempt to re-make a beloved classic. Jeff Goldblum gives the performance of his acting career as rogue scientist, Seth Brundle, whose good intentions of changing the travel industry with his matter transporter backfire when a tiny fly gets into the high tech pod with him. Louisville native, Charles Edward Pogue, wrote the amazing screenplay. This is still the grossest movie I’ve ever seen.
THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987) Saturday, October 26th at MIDNIGHT: A complete box-office flop during its original theatrical release, Fred Dekker’s homage to the Universal Monster movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s, has gone on to become a beloved young adult 80’s horror classic. Dekker basically re-worked elements from the Steven Spielberg produced, “The Goonies” (1985), but had his group of adventurous kids face off against classic movie monsters instead of pirates. I can’t watch “The Monster Squad” enough times, and since I was one of those kids who missed seeing it when it was released, I’ve never seen it on the big screen. This screening promises to be one of the best treats in the Ville for Halloween 2013!
This brand new haunted attraction in Shepherdsville has opened its doors to the ghosts of the past, and they’re back from the grave to torment the living!
There is an abandoned hotel in Shepherdsville that was built in the late 1940’s, but closed in the early 1970’s when a murder investigation discovered a number of bodies buried beneath the floorboards. This Halloween season, the Dead End Hotel at 495 South Lakeview Drive in Shepherdsville has reopened its doors to new customers, but it seems that something evil from the past is still lurking within its walls.
At the end of a desolate road, behind a chrome 1950’s style Denny’s in Shepherdsville, you’ll find Jason Weber’s latest diabolical spook house. Weber, who also owns and operates Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek Park, apparently decided his weekends in October weren’t already busy enough, so he decided to double down and give Louisville another terrifying haunted attraction in 2013!
When you first check in to the Dead End Hotel, you’ll be sent to your room only to discover a grisly murder has taken place there. With the killer still possibly in the area, you’ll have to quickly exit out the back door in search of help. Racing down the hall past the ice machines to find the manager, you suddenly realize you’ve become lost in the maze of dreary hallways. One more turn brings you to a hallway with severed heads hanging from the ceiling. Is this real or have you begun to hallucinate due to the mounting stress?
You’ll find a secret passageway behind the walls of the dilapidated building that will take you to the wine cellar and eventually the kitchen area. This “employees only” passage also leads to the secret gambling suite of some notorious gangsters. If you survive your accidental encounter with some of Al Capone’s cronies, you’ll pass the haunted nursery area and finally head upstairs to discover the secret behind one of the Dead End Hotel’s unsolved murders.
Like most haunts in their first year of operation, the Dead End Hotel had a few bugs to work out during its opening weekend. The sets and props were all solid, but the cast needed a little work to get their timing and performances up to par. Weber and his team worked hard to get everything ironed out for the second weekend, and now everything seems to be running like a well-oiled scare machine.
Among the things that impressed me the most were a couple of really well timed pop up scares, and one actor who practices parkour (free running) in his free time that delivers an extremely athletic scare. Another actress is an actual contortionist who bends her body into seemingly unnatural knots before your very eyes.
The Dead End Hotel also delivers the best Pepper’s Ghost illusion I’ve ever seen in a local haunt. For those unfamiliar with this classic visual trick, it involves using a plate of glass and special lighting to create a transparent ghost within a scene. Probably the most famous use of the Pepper’s Ghost illusion is in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion in Disney World.
Period costumes and props add to the atmosphere and help create the illusion of a hotel lost in time. The focus in the Dead End Hotel is in creating a time and place with distracting visuals while delivering scares from unexpected places. There aren’t really any high tech scare props here; it’s mostly old school haunt techniques. While the actors are certainly there to give you a jolt, they won’t touch or grab you. There is a strict “hands off” policy enforced by Jason Weber and his staff.
The Dead End Hotel is open every Friday and Saturday in October from dusk until 2AM. Advanced tickets can be purchased for $18 online at https://tix.extremetix.com/Online/?siteID=3735&cartID=4b335675-69c5-4228-9f28-1e040dfb8b35 or for $20 at the door. Speed Passes can also be purchased for $22 online or $30 at the door. There is also an UNLIMITED Pass option that allows you to go through as many times as like on a single night for $30 online or $35 at the door.
With a completely torn down and rebuilt from scratch Industrial Nightmare maze debuting in 2013, Industrial Terrorplex is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to deliver the most intense haunted attraction in the region!
YOU WILL BE TOUCHED. Let me just get that little piece of vital information out of the way first, my haunt fan friends, before I dive deeper into the terrors that await you in the four full scale haunted attractions that will taunt your nervous system inside Industrial Terrorplex at 835 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, IN.
You will be touched, grabbed, possibly groped, smeared in fake blood and you will feel the buzz of rumbling chainsaws as they make contact with your body. I’m not going to sugar coat this. Industrial Terrorplex aims to deliver as intense a physical and emotional experience as legally possible, and this year they are pushing the boundaries of haunt tactics and human shock limits beyond anything I’ve experienced before. With this information provided, you already know if this means you want to stay as far away from this haunt as possible or if this means Industrial Terrorplex is at the top of your list of haunts to bring your most hardcore horror friends.
Beyond the fact that Industrial Terrorplex is a full contact haunted attraction with stairs to climb, swaying rope bridges to navigate and plenty of chances to get “bloodied,” it’s also one of the most technically stunning and expensively elaborate haunts in the region. This ain’t no yard haunt! In fact, this is as close as it gets to the multi-million dollar haunts constructed at Universal Studios for their annual Halloween Horror Nights.
The huge Horror Museum of movie boogiemen and life-sized cinematic horror props still surrounds you in the line waiting to get into the first maze, Industrial Nightmare, but as soon as the automatic doors open you’ll find yourself in a completely new haunt built over the last year by the maniacs who run this high tech asylum. Inside you’ll find yourself in a gigantic Gothic castle with a steampunk edge.
Amid the castle’s sewers you’ll see a lot of water effects and one of best new high tech scare effects I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of rats appear to scatter across the floor, even crawling over your feet, right before you’re attacked by the largest rodent that ever haunted a castle! One of the only props and scenes that remains intact from previous years is the 20 foot, roaring monster in the pool. Industrial Nightmare’s signature invention, the sinking bog illusion, is still there as well, but it has been changed up a little bit. Industrial Nightmare looks like a Hollywood horror set this year.
The second haunt, Dementions, is probably the haunt at Industrial Terrorplex that has changed the least since last season, but even it has added a couple of new twists. You’re pretty much guaranteed to come out of this one with some slimy fake blood on some part of your body.
You’ll also run afoul of the most notorious actor ever to work at this haunt. I call him “the Gimp.” The lights will go out during the infamous elevator scene and when they come back on again the Gimp will be in the room with you. The doors are shut and there’s no way out for an agonizing four or five minutes, and you’re all alone with the Gimp. This creep is the Andy Kaufman of haunt actors, and his job is to make you as physically uncomfortable as humanly and legally possible. Like many Kaufman routines, I can’t tell if he’s kidding or is completely serious and deranged. I can’t even talk about some the things the Gimp does to guests, but I can say he does all of it extremely well.
Infected is the zombie themed third attraction at Industrial Terrorplex this year, and it has also been given some high tech upgrades. The very first room puts guests in front of a video screen to be “scanned for possible infection,” and each guest will see their own faces transform into zombie nightmares using the latest facial recognition software.
I was really impressed with the endless zombie hallway scene which uses glass panes and mirrors to make it look like endless waves of the living dead are surrounding you on both sides. Other animatronic props and special effects really lend to the feeling of being under siege by an army of flesh eating ghouls.
The last maze is not for those who suffer from coulrophobia. Carnevil 3D is just what it sounds like, a neon glowing maze of clowns and twisted carnival imagery set to blaring Insane Clown Posse music. You’ll be given a pair of 3D glasses at the entrance which will make some things pop out and other things even more disorienting. Our group was forced to all go down a slide for the amusement a giggling mini-clown. Whether you’re afraid of clowns or you love them, you’ll be treated to the longest clown maze I’ve ever experienced.
You can expect to spend at least an hour inside the haunts, not counting wait times, so the best bang for your buck is the $28 combo ticket that gets you into all four haunts. You can do two haunts for $18, but I can’t recommend anyone choosing that option when you can experience all four for only $10 more. Industrial Terrorplex is open Thursdays and Sundays from 8AM until 11AM and Fridays and Saturdays through November 2nd from 8PM until 1AM.
Again, you WILL be touched. You have been warned.
The classic monsters of the silver screen and Gothic literature come to life for Halloween 2013 at the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany!
“To a new world of gods and monsters!”
– Dr. Pretorius, “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)
For the last 28 years, Literally a Haunted House at 914 East Main Street (corner of 10th and Main) in New Albany, IN has been putting on its annual volunteer haunted house fundraiser. Every penny earned goes into the restoration and preservation of the Second Empire-style mansion which was built in 1867. Since 1985, the haunt has raised over $700,000, and the results are available for everyone to see because the (literally) haunted mansion is open to visitors every Tuesday through Saturday from 9AM until 5PM.
Literally a Haunted House haunts the Carriage House in the back of the mansion every Halloween, and it’s open every Friday and Saturday night in October from 7PM until around midnight or until every last visitor comes running out the exit. Admission is $13 per person.
Holly Crisler is the SpookMaster in charge of organizing her volunteer staff and coming up with a new theme every year. This season the Culbertson crew has drawn inspiration from both Gothic literature and the vintage black-and-white images of classic monster movies to give guests a modern jolt of traditional Halloween magic. Crisler isn’t just recycling old monster movie scenes; each set piece and monster is Culbertson’s own unique spin on these well-known vintage creature features resulting in scenes that are at once familiar and fresh.
The creepy journey begins at the gates of a fogbound cemetery where you’ll have to make your way through a clan of hissing vampires that have just risen from their graves for their nightly feeding. Once you’ve climbed the stairs to the Carriage House, you’ll find yourself witness to a Salem-style witch burning. Unfortunately, you’ll be standing in the center of a demonic pentagram and the witch’s final curse awakens all the horrific monsters of history as her revenge upon her tormentors.
As you climb up and down the stairs of the two story Carriage House, you’ll run afoul of werewolves, re-animated corpses, mummies and spooks of every size. This year there is one brief, dark area that you’ll have to navigate that will “shock” you if you’re forced to touch the walls to find your way, but 90% of the haunt is well lit enough not to cause panic for those younger guests who might be afraid of the dark.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of readers ask me if there were any haunted houses in town that were suited for younger kids. As always, Literally a Haunted House gets my highest recommendation as a “starter” haunted house for kids in the 7 to 10 year age range that express interest in visiting a haunted house this Halloween. You’ll see a lot less gore and twisted, adult themed imagery here than in most of the other haunts in the region. No one will touch or grab you, and there is nothing on display that amounts to more than a soft PG-13 rating.
However, that doesn’t mean the actors in Literally a Haunted House are pushovers! They will definitely try to scare you, and you’ll be subjected to several startling jump scares as you make your way through the haunt.
The set design is really great this year, especially in the mummy’s tomb and the monster’s laboratory. The costumes and monster make-ups are also top notch. The Creature from the Ohio River looks fantastic (even in blue jeans!), the mummy looks every year of his age and the unique spins on the werewolf and the Frankenstein monster are creative successes.
If I had one critique of Literally a Haunted House, it would be Jack the Ripper’s choice of weaponry near the climax. It’s seems Jack must have had a time machine and traveled forward in history to steal the signature murder weapon of choice from a more modern silver screen slasher! It seemed a little out of context given the classic horror theme, but I can’t say it doesn’t work as a finale. It certainly sends guests out the door with a buzz.
There’s a lot more happening at Culbertson Mansion this Halloween than just the haunted house. You can attend the Children’s Storytelling with the Queen of Halloween session on Saturday and Sunday of October 19th and 20th and October 26th and 27th at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30PM. Cost is only $2 per adult and $1 per child.
You can take the Ghostly Happenings Tour of the mansion itself on October 22nd, 24th, 29th and on Halloween night at 7:30PM. Cost is $15 per person and advanced reservations and payment are required.
On Monday, October 14th, you can have Halloween Tea with the Queen of Halloween which includes finger food and ghost stories inside the mansion for $15 per adult and $8 per child. Costumes are welcome. Advanced reservations and payment are required.
If you’ve ever wanted to spend the night in a real haunted mansion, you can on Saturday, November 2nd from 6PM until 6AM at the Ghost Watch Undertaking Sleepover. You’ll get a candlelight dinner, a ghost tour of the mansion and a scavenger hunt before trying to make it through the night. You can roam the mansion’s halls and rooms freely all night if you dare. Cost is $100 per person and advanced reservations and payment are required.
Call (812) 944-9600 or email email@example.com for more information or to make reservations.
The ancient evil spirits lurking in the deep, dark woods at Otter Creek Park are calling you to join them in 2013!
In one of the more unnerving and iconic precursors to any haunt in the Kentuckiana area, the long and winding path into Otter Creek Park, surrounded by spindly trees on both sides of the road, perfectly sets the mood for the Nightmare Forest haunted attraction before you even arrive at the parking lot.
Nightmare Forest opens its gates to thrill seekers on Friday and Saturday nights through October 26th from dusk until 1AM. Advanced tickets are available to purchase online at https://tix.extremetix.com/Online/?siteID=3735&cartID=6bfb1561-8fdc-4a61-99f3-7117e30a1c3d for $18 or $20 at the door. Skip the lines with a Speed Pass for $26 in advance or $30 at the door. This year you can also get a pass for single night UNLIMITED ENTRY, and go through as many times as you like without waiting in lines, for $30 in advance or $35 at the gate.
A lot has changed over the years at this haunt, including its ownership. Now run by Jason Weber, who also opened the brand new Dead End Hotel in Shepherdsville this season, Nightmare Forest offers five different attractions all included for the price of one ticket. The Nightmare Forest Drive-In will be playing clips from the horror movies depicted on their Nightmare Forest signature trail to entertain guests while they wait in line.
One of the biggest challenges Weber and his crew have had to deal with over the last couple of years is the new rules and regulations leveled by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Weber now has less time to setup than ever before and is no longer able to use the lake area, which was once used to deliver the most iconic “Friday the 13th” scene ever produced in the Kentuckiana area. Jason Voorhees would rise from Crystal Lake to surprise guests (even in freezing temperatures!).
Weber and his team have risen to the challenge and delivered their movie themed trail with stops in Pinhead’s gigantic puzzle box, Freddy’s nightmare house as depicted in the early dream sequence in “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors,” Camp Crystal Lake, the Mummy’s Tomb and even the house from “Sinister” where you’ll encounter Bagul!
The new regulations that have limited areas that Weber can use on this trail made the journey seem a bit shorter to me this year than in some of the legendary years of the past, but Weber has made up for it by extending the zombie themed Trail of Terror, which ended up being my favorite part of Nightmare Forest this year.
The Trail of Terror has almost eclipsed the original Nightmare Forest Trail in terms of detail and spectacle. Huge tombs and crypts are lit with moody blue LED lighting and filled with grotesque zombies coming at you from every direction. It’s worth noting that Trail of Terror employs some of the best zombie actors in town. The sets are incredibly detailed and you’ll pass through Otter Creek Elementary School and even the town of Woodbury from “The Walking Dead.”
When you’ve escaped the Trail of Terror, you’ll head directly into Nightmare Harvest, a ten foot tall corn maze haunted by the Pope Lick Monster himself, as well as a host of other nasty subhuman creatures.
If you make it back safely to the trailhead, you can take in the amazing carnival act of Hawthorne’s Circus Bizarre where you’ll meet a man who can talk to the dead and summon them to interact with the audience. Hawthorne will perform strange acts like fire eating, walking barefoot on shards of glass and even attempt to survive an electrocution in an authentic 1940’s prison electric chair. Then if you dare, enter Hawthorne’s tent of oddities where you’ll see unicorns, chupacabras, shrunken heads and the unspeakable “It.”
That’s a lot of spooky fun for one ticket. The remote, dark woods of Otter Creek Park make Nightmare Forest a unique experience unlike any other haunt in the Ville. The moon and stars shine brighter in this desolate place. Dancing lights and distant screams coming from the blackest depths of the forest make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck before you even reach the ticket booth. Be sure to tell us in the comments about your experience in Nightmare Forest where nature meets the unnatural!
In its Sophomore Season, the 7th Street Haunt gets Longer, Gorier and Crazier while keeping it “Old School.”
As soon as the fog of “Chemical 7” hit my nervous system when I stepped into the entryway to the 7th Street Haunt at 2900 7th Street Road next to the Expo Five, I began having terrible, unspeakable visions. Nightmare flashbacks of childhood trauma experienced in the legendary WAKY Haunted House in the late 1970’s came flooding back before my reluctant eyeballs. The classic haunted house was back!
Owner/operator, Travis Boling, remembers the WAKY Haunted House, the Louisville Jaycees Haunted House and the original Haunted Hotel, and he has taken it upon himself to bring back the glory of those local institutions in the 7th Street Haunt. Everything you’ll see inside is handmade and handcrafted by Boling, his staff and many times his own family members.
On a behind-the-scenes tour, I was amazed by the ingenuity and practical creativity used to build this twisted maze. Nothing here was purchased at a Halloween tradeshow or from a factory. As I passed through the indoor cornfield scene, inhabited by creepy scarecrows, I was shown that all the ears of corn are actually painted empty water bottles! Rock walls are made from plastic bags and papier-mache, but you won’t be able to tell.
The backstory of the 7th Street Haunt this year is that you’ve been assigned to investigate the mysterious town of Fort Harmony, which has become a restricted area by the government after an alleged chemical spill. Are all the unspeakable things roaming Fort Harmony hallucinations? Are they real? Or has the whole town been swallowed by a Hellmouth?
When you first enter town, you’ll pass through the triage station and the abandoned hospital where victims of the chemical leak have been brought to be “treated.” Those that escape the doctor’s clutches will be admitted to the insane asylum for “recovery.” From there, things just get weirder and weirder.
You’ll pass through a haunted mine shaft, a child’s nightmare world, a serial killer’s lair, a circus sideshow and a Satanic church as you go further and further down the rabbit hole. I particularly like the Voodoo Shack where you’ll be cursed by a Voodoo priestess and attacked by a giant snake. You’ll travel through the homes of the cursed townsfolk of Fort Harmony to see the physical and mental damage done to them by Chemical 7. If you’re lucky, you’ll make it to the hallucinatory video tunnel at the exit instead of having your soul torn to shreds by the minions of Hell!
The 7th Street Haunt has added 11 new rooms this season, making the haunt about a third bigger and longer than it was last year. Having a permanent location at Expo Five has helped Boling and his crew add a lot of detail to the sets this year. The actors are a dedicated, if unhinged, lot.
If an “old school” approach to the haunted house is something that gets you excited, then the 7th Street Haunt is for you. Beware, it is gory and doesn’t skimp on blood, guts or even feces. It’s not for the easily upset or offended. On the other hand, if you’re more of a fan of high tech haunts that spook customers with the latest animatronics, video gizmos and expensive props, then you likely won’t have as much fun with the 7th Street Haunt, and should probably get out your smartphone and go to the list of haunts on this site to find another haunt.
The 7th Street Haunt is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from now through November 2nd. They will also be open on Halloween night (Thursday, Oct. 31st) from 8PM – 10:30PM. The hours on Friday and Saturday are from 8PM until 2AM. Sunday hours are from 8PM until 10:30PM. General Admission is $18, but groups of 10 or more can get a discounted ticket of $10 per person. Coupons for $5 off admission are available to download and print at official website at http://www.7thstreethaunt.com/index.html.
In recent years, Louisville has become something of a Halloween mecca for fans of the spooky season, but 2013 looks to bring an added touch of black magic that might take the city to the next level of orange and black hysteria!
As long as I can remember, Louisville has always had a special place in its heart for Halloween. There’s something magical in the air here, where the South meets the Midwest, and when the leaves start to transform the urban landscape into a colorful wonderland of reds, browns and oranges, the people of this city start to transform themselves. They become a city of fall children ready for a jolt of trick-or-treat euphoria.
This is the Phantom of Ville bringing you my own personal Top Ten list of reasons why I think that 2013 might be the most exciting Halloween season this city has ever seen. There is no shortage of great spooky events going on between now and October 31st. Actors Theatre’s production of “Dracula,” the Louisville Zoo’s “World’s Largest Halloween Party,” the Haunted Hotel’s 24th year of terrorizing the public and trips to Caufields and Horner Novelty continue to gain new fans and loyal followers year after year.
Not every entry on my list is specific to Louisville, but they all have a connection to the Halloween spirit this city holds dear. In the end, it’s just my own personal opinions, and I’d love to hear your own favorite reasons why Halloween 2013 will be one for the history books in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
10) The Return of the Jones Halloween Sodas: While not specific to Louisville, the Jones Halloween sodas had become sort of a sugary tradition with many folks before they suddenly disappeared from store shelves during the Great Recession when the company nearly went bankrupt. This year these eight-ounce, mini cans make a glorious return exclusively to Target shelves just in time for Halloween. You can choose from the Wolf Man’s Candy Corn, Dracula’s Blood Orange, Frankenstein’s Red Licorice and the Zombie’s Caramel Apple flavors. Personally, I had been craving a shot of Jones’ candy corn flavored soda for years!
9) The Louisville Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular: From October 10th through November 2nd, Iroquois Park will host a brand new event with 5,000 carved pumpkins lining a quarter mile trail, illuminated from dusk to midnight during the week and until 1AM on the weekends. You’ll pass through elaborately themed sections set to music into an organic “art” landscape. Check out their website at http://www.jackolanternlouisville.com/.
8) “Monsters Wanted” Louisville Haunt Documentary on DVD: Bringing the Louisville haunted attraction scene, and the city’s obsession with Halloween in general, to national attention, Brian Cunningham’s (“Overtime”) documentary follows the team of Richard Teachout and Janel Nash as they attempt to bring their dream of creating Louisville’s first haunted theme park to life. It’s a fascinating, if stressful, journey into the realm where dreams become obsessions. Also featured are the Baxter Avenue Morgue, the Louisville Zombie Attack, the Haunted Hotel and Horner Novelty. You can read our interview with Cunningham and Teachout here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/monsters-wanted-haunt-documentary-world-premiere-at-fandomfest/.
7) “The Uninvited” (1944) Finally Gets Released on Blu-ray and DVD: Nothing gets my pulse going quicker in the spooky season than a classic haunted house movie, a bowl of hot buttered popcorn and a warm cup of apple cider. Thanks to Criterion Blu-ray/DVD, this classic ghost story starring Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey and Donald Crisp finally sees a proper digital release on October 22nd. The story follows a composer (Milland) and his sister as they move into a Gothic seaside house on the English coast only to discover that it is very haunted! Fans have been begging for this one for years, and now it can be pre-ordered at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Uninvited-Criterion-Collection-Ray-Milland/dp/B00DZP1C9K/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1380205321&sr=1-1&keywords=the+uninvited+1944.
6) “HauntedWeen” 20th Anniversary DVD Released: Shot in John Carpenter’s hometown of Bowling Green, KY in 1989, this local 80’s slasher epic finally received a proper DVD release just days before Halloween 2012, and this year it’s available for the uninitiated and nostalgic to relive our own local piece of the 1980’s horror boom. You know Jason, Freddy, Michael and Chucky, but do you know about the legend of Eddie Burber? The story follows a WKU fraternity as it attempts to host a fundraiser haunted attraction in the house where little Eddie murdered a young girl 20 years prior. Unfortunately for the college kids, Eddie has returned home is up to his old murderous tricks. How will the patrons of the Burber Haunted House know what’s fake and what’s real? You can read our interview with director, Doug Robertson, here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/%E2%80%9Chauntedween%E2%80%9D-1991-20th-anniversary-dvd-released/. Order your copy of the DVD at http://hauntedween.com/.
5) The Return of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy: The buzz of the monster world this Halloween is the new General Mills’ Monster Cereal promotion that sees all five monster cereals available together for the first time in history. Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy return to join Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry on cereal aisles nationwide while Target stores are carrying exclusive retro-art boxes. You can read our exclusive interview with General Mills here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/general-mills-unleashes-all-five-classic-monster-cereals-for-halloween-2013/.
4) Grim Trails and the Dead End Hotel Bring TWO New Haunts to the Ville: There’s really nothing more thrilling than experiencing a new haunted attraction for the first time. You have no idea what to expect as you wait in line, your stomach turning in knots as you approach the entrance. Halloween 2013 brings us two new haunted attractions, Grim Trails in Jeffersontown and the Dead End Hotel in Shepherdsville. You can read my Grim Trails review here (http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/grim-trails-haunted-attraction-review-2013/ ) and my Dead End Hotel preview here (http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/the-dead-end-hotel-sneak-peek-2013/ ). A full Dead End Hotel review is coming soon.
3) Classic Monsters Invade Literally a Haunted House in the Culbertson Mansion: I love classic horror! Every October, I will watch as many classic Universal Monster movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s and Hammer Horror films from the 1950’s through the early 1970’s as I possibly can. Nothing gets to the heart of everything that Halloween is about more than Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This year, Literally a Haunted House at the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, IN is bringing us a theme of classic monsters and Gothic literature, and I can’t wait to check it out. Read our haunt preview here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/literally-a-haunted-house-sneak-preview-2013/. A full review will be coming soon.
2) Double the Haunts, Double the Fun on Danger Run: A Louisville Halloween institution for the last 19 years, Danger Run is doubling down in 2013 with the biggest upgrade in its history. For the uninitiated, Danger Run is a game you play in your car, following rhyming clues across the city in an attempt to come the closest to the exact mileage and competing for big prizes. The clues ultimately lead to two different haunted houses. This year, Danger Run has doubled the number of possible haunts you can experience by partnering with FOUR new haunted houses that have never been on the Danger Run course. That means you can play more than once for completely different routes and haunted houses. They’ve also added an online starting option that allows you, if you wish, to start at your own driveway. Read our Danger Run preview here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/double-the-haunts-double-the-horror-double-the-fun-on-danger-run/.
1) Butch Patrick (AKA Eddie Munster) is the Grand Marshal of the Caufields Halloween Parade: Caufields celebrates the 10th Anniversary of its ever expanding Halloween Parade in the Highlands by bringing Eddie Munster himself to Louisville to lead the charge! The parade will take place at 7PM on October 11th starting at Baxter Avenue and Lexington Road and ending at the Mid-City Mall. The Baxter Avenue Morgue is sponsoring Butch Patrick’s Louisville visit, and he will be hanging out and signing autographs at the Morgue during haunt hours on October 11th and 12th. For more information, visit the Baxter Avenue Morgue’s website at http://www.baxtermorgue.com/. The Caufields Halloween Parade is quickly becoming the centerpiece of the entire Louisville Halloween season, and this year promises to be the year not to miss!
There you are, Boils and Ghouls, ten reasons to be glad you live in the Ville this Halloween! Let us hear about the events you’re most excited about in 2013. I will return soon with much more Halloween news and haunt reviews in the weeks ahead.
If you’re looking for something completely different to try this Halloween, the Thirsty Pedaler Haunted Historical Tours of Downtown Louisville might be your ticket to Spooksville.
While working our Louisville Halloween booth at the Gaslight Festival over the weekend, I spoke to several folks who said they were looking for something completely different and off the beaten path to try this Halloween. In a serendipitous twist, I also met a gentleman named Scott Benningfield who owns a unique 15 person bicycle and operates the Thirsty Pedaler bar hopper and historical tours in downtown Louisville.
This Halloween season, every Wednesday night between now and October 31st, the Thirsty Pedaler is offering a Haunted Historical Tour of Downtown Louisville. An expert in the haunted side of downtown Louisville will act as your tour guide and tell ghost stories about Actors Theatre, the Seelbach Hotel, The Brown, The Palace and Dish on Market as you pass these landmark buildings on your journey.
The two hour tour will stop at some of these haunted buildings, and your party can stop for drinks at three bars of your choosing. The Thirsty Pedaler bike holds 15 people, 10 pedaling seats and 5 non-pedaling seats. If fully booked, tickets are less than $30 per person. A private party can rent the entire bike for $400.
Routes begin at 100 East Main Street in the Parc Parking garage. You can either park in the street or pay to park in the garage. You can choose from the Urban Bourbon Trail or the NuLu Tour.
There are certainly other Ghost Tours in Louisville, but there aren’t any others on a 15 seat bicycle. You asked for something completely different, we give you something completely different. You can book your tour at http://www.thethirstypedaler.com/ or call (502)354-8822.
Stay tuned to the Louisville Halloween website for lots more haunt reviews and Halloween event coverage in the coming weeks!
Grim Trails is a dark fantasy haunted forest that opened last weekend in Eastern Jefferson County, and if opening night is any indication, it may end up being one of the scariest haunts in the Ville!
If film director, Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”), designed a haunted attraction, it would probably turn out something like Grim Trails at 12009 Rehl Road in Eastern Jefferson County, not far from the infamous Pope Lick railroad trestles.
Owner and operator, Andrew Coombs, has taken his over 30 years of experience as a home haunter with the Haunted Yard and turned it into an elaborate dark fantasy adventure inspired by the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Two years ago, Coombs made a first attempt at bringing his vision of a dark and twisted fairy tale world to life in his Grim Tales Attraction in Middletown. While the haunt itself was successful, it was constrained and constricted to the small space of an empty strip mall storefront, which ultimately resulted in an attraction that was not only too short, but also unable to properly convey the scope of woodland fantasy adventure Coombs intended.
After taking a year off to build the type of elaborate haunt he initially envisioned, Coombs is back in the horror business, taking four acres of misty forest in Jeffersontown and turning it into a mysterious netherworld inhabited by strange, otherworldly creatures.
Your journey begins in the rustic, woodland cabin of an odd mountain man who knows the dangers of the dark forest beyond. Once on the trail, you’ll follow a path lit by flickering tea light candles in mason jars hanging from the trees. Not only do these candles create a unique atmosphere, they also make a fun breadcrumb trail. Just as you think you’re surely lost, you’ll catch a glimpse of a solitary flickering tea light which will lead you to the next winding path.
When not following the tea lights between scenes, Grim Trails has built a number of creative structures to guide you to your next destination. Twisted, gnarly vines surround you in one area while another area is completely covered by spider webs, and you know all those spider webs have to have been spun by something!
Grim Trails does a great job of creating different atmospheres in different areas along the path between haunted huts and creepy houses. For example, one area you’ll encounter is a frozen winter wonderland complete with snow and a frozen lake where mermaids dwell.
Speaking of fantastic and mythical creatures, the beasts you’ll run afoul of in the black forest of Grim Trails are some of the strongest elements of this unique attraction. The witch in the witches’ hut gave me one of the biggest startles of the evening when she attacked from a completely unexpected direction. Some of the more ghostly characters give off a less aggressive, but more spine tingling, ethereal quality.
One of the things that really impressed me was how the monsters I encountered along the trail seemed to get bigger and bigger the further I progressed. First, I came face to face with a 12 foot, fur-covered troll who blocked my way when trying to cross under his bridge. Later, I ran into a 15 foot unspeakable monstrosity, and just when I thought that couldn’t be topped, I was chased by a cow skull-headed creature with scythes for arms that had to have been 20 feet tall. For a creature that big, that thing could really move!
What you won’t find at Grim Trails are chainsaws, movie slashers or buckets of blood and guts, so if that’s what you’re looking for in a haunted attraction, there are other haunts in town that will better satisfy your bloodlust. Instead, Grim Trails is an all original and darkly creative journey worthy of a Guillermo del Toro or Tim Burton movie that is likely to end up as one of my favorite new haunts in the Ville!
Grim Trails is open every Friday and Saturday night through October 26th from 8PM until 2AM. For more information, check out their website at http://www.grimtrails.com/.
The Phantom of the Ville sits down by the campfire with documentary director, Daniel Farrands, and producer, Thommy Hutson, to hear the tale of how they made the ultimate “Friday 13th” documentary!
Good evening, horror fans and seasonal plastic machete slashers, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from our weekend getaway campsite in Wessex County, New Jersey. I’m here at Camp Crystal Lake with documentary director, Daniel Farrands, and producer, Thommy Hutson, the creative madmen behind the new 420 minute film, “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th.”
The day is fading quickly into twilight and the three of us have been gathering wood for a fire to keep the autumn chill at bay. Later, some girls are going to be dropping by and we have a keg of beer ready to tap, but in the meantime Daniel and Thommy have agreed to answer all my questions regarding their film which just hit store shelves on Friday, September 13, 2013.
Based on the coffee table book of the same name by Peter M. Bracke, the “Crystal Lake Memories” Blu-ray/DVD combo documentary covers everything you could ever want to know about all twelve films in the “Friday the 13th” series. Unlike Farrands’ and Hutson’s earlier, “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th” (2009), the new documentary covers each film in the series with equal time and detail from the original 1980 slasher classic through the Michael Bay produced 2009 reboot. Even the TV series is given equal consideration.
“Our first documentary was really more just about the evolution of Jason through the series, and his place in popular culture” says Farrands. “While this new project goes into much greater detail about all the films themselves.”
Daniel Farrands and Thommy Hutson are not only diehard horror fans. They both have serious horror street cred. Hutson got his career started working in the animation department at Warner Brothers Studios where he worked on the scripts for the feature length animated films, “Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy?” (2005) and “Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!” (2007). Farrands cut his teeth in the horror business with another iconic screen boogieman, Michael Myers, when he wrote the screenplay for “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995).
Together, these two spookmasters have collaborated on a series of detailed, fan oriented documentaries about classic horror film series beginning with “His Name Was Jason” (2009), and continuing with the highly regarded, 240 minute Nightmare on Elm Street documentary, “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” (2010) and “Scream: The Inside Story” (2011). Hutson also produced “More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead” (2011), a documentary about the Louisville set zombie favorite and its sequels.
“We’re huge fans ourselves,” says Hutson, “and we hope we’ve made a tribute to this iconic series that other fans will enjoy.” The documentary includes approximately 150 interviews with cast and crew members from all twelve films including Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Sean S. Cunningham, every series director, every final girl and everyone who ever wore the hockey mask.
“The whole project took around 19 months,” says Hutson. “Daniel and I dedicated almost two years of our lives to Jason Voorhees. We had somewhere near 200 hours of footage to piece together.”
“Crystal Lake Memories” details the box-office successes, and occasional failures, of each sequel in the franchise in great detail, and it doesn’t avoid the controversial aspects of the series. For example, the film examines the fallout over the recasting of Jason Voorhees in “Freddy VS Jason” (2003) when fan favorite, Kane Hodder, was suddenly replaced after appearing as Jason in the previous four films and winning the hearts of Friday the 13th fans worldwide.
“It was a mistake,” says Farrands. “Don’t misunderstand me, Ken Kirzinger did a great job as Jason in that film, but the fans loved Kane, and he deserved the chance to face off with Freddy.”
“It was going to happen someday anyway,” he continues, “but perhaps that wasn’t the best time to recast. The fans are still sore about it today.”
One of the more popular reoccurring characters in the series is that of Jason’s nemesis, Tommy Jarvis, who was played by three different actors over the course of three films. The first actor to play the young Tommy Jarvis, Corey Feldman (“The Lost Boys,” “Stand by Me”), returns to the fold here as narrator of the documentary and also appears in a wrap-around campfire sequence telling the story of Jason Voorhees to a clueless group of teenagers. Rumors have swirled around the Internet in recent months that Feldman was trying to garner Hollywood interest in a “Tommy VS Jason” sequel, but neither Farrands nor Hutson could confirm any truth to the story, writing it off as likely fanboy speculation.
One member of the Friday the 13th family they were very excited to work with on “Crystal Lake Memories” was composer Harry Manfredini, who composed a completely new and original score for the film. “It has been 12 years since Harry has composed a Friday the 13th score,” explains Hutson, “and we were really pumped to have him scoring our film.”
“I totally agree,” Farrands adds, “He even wrote and composed a new version of the Friday the 13th disco theme from ‘Friday the 13th Part 3D’ that I loved as a kid!”
Since Thommy, Daniel and myself are all from the same generation of horror fans, each of us psychologically scarred from seeing the original film in theaters as kids and coming of age watching each successive sequel, I knew they must have some prized geek collectibles in their toy chests. I decided to ask each of them to name their favorite piece of Friday the 13th memorabilia.
“I like a lot of the toys,” says Hutson. “I like the Macfarlane toys and the NECA toys. I guess my favorite figure is my 18 inch baghead Jason figure from ‘Part II.’ However, I also have the original one sheet poster from the first film, and that’s probably my most treasured possession.”
“That’s an easy question for me,” admits Farrands. “I have the original vinyl first pressing of Harry Manfredini’s score for ‘Friday the 13th Parts I,II and III.’ I made my mom drive me from my home to Tower Records in San Francisco to get it. It was the only store in California to carry it. When we got there, the space in the rack was empty! I was heartbroken. But my mom started browsing other music sections and she found a copy of it misfiled in the wrong category. I went from brokenhearted to the happiest kid on earth in 10 minutes.”
As I watched “Crystal Lake Memories” the other night, it was like traveling through time and watching my life as a horror fan pass before my eyes. “Friday the 13th” has been part of my life for 33 years. As an underage horror fan, I snuck into a screening of the original film in 1980, and had nightmares for a month afterwards. Like all fans, I have my favorites and I have entries I hate. I still think “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” with its Tom Savini special effects and the appearance of both Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, not to mention Jason’s best onscreen demise ever, is the ultimate Friday the 13th film.
I still hate, hate, hate “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.”
I needed to know how Thommy and Daniel, two of the biggest Friday the 13th obsessives on earth, felt about the good, the bad and the rebooted.
“My favorites are ‘Part II’ and ‘Part VII: The New Blood’,” says Hutson. “I thought giving Jason a nemesis with psychic powers was a great idea. My least favorite is ‘Part V: A New Beginning.’ I just didn’t get it.”
“No question,” says Farrands, “My favorite is ‘Part IV: The Final Chapter.’ My least favorite is either ‘Jason X’ or the Michael Bay reboot.”
At this point, we had run out of time for our interview, but frankly Hutson didn’t care. “Well, we’re going to be late for our next interview,” he said, “because I’ve got to know how on earth you think the reboot is worse than ‘Part V: A New Beginning’!”
“Because it is! It’s terrible,” responded Farrands. I sat back on my log in front of our campfire as Thommy and Daniel engaged in a fanboy argument for the history books. As they screamed and made lewd gestures at each other, I tapped the keg and poured a few cups of beer. Then we all drank a toast to Sean Cunningham and sang some campfire songs.
It was then that we thought we heard a noise coming from somewhere in the woods just past the light of the campfire. Thommy and Daniel decided to investigate.
“We’ll be right back,” they said. With that I decided to pack up and head back to Louisville. I haven’t heard from either one of them since, but I hope they’re okay.
“Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” is available in a 4 disc set that includes 2 Blu-ray discs and 2 DVDs. You can order it from the official website at http://crystallakememories.net/buy/index.html for $29.95 where you’ll also receive an EXCLUSIVE bonus DVD with four hours of extended interview material. As of today (09/19/13), Wild and Woolly Video, Louisville’s best cult video store, at 1021 Bardstown Road has it in stock to purchase for only $19.99!
The Phantom of the Ville Spent the Weekend of Friday the 13th at one of the Biggest Paranormal & Horror Conventions in the Country in Lexington, KY!
I arrived at the Lexington Convention Center at exactly 3:13 PM on Friday, September 13, and despite the date I considered myself lucky to be working our Louisville Halloween booth at ScareFest.
Now in its sixth year, ScareFest had an A-list roster of paranormal investigators and classic horror stars on the guest list this year including Malcom McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”), a gaggle of “True Blood” stars, a number of folks from the “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween” and “Texas Chainsaw” franchises as well as the “Ghost Adventures” guys, most of the “Ghost Hunters” guys, Josh Gates (“Destination Truth”), John Zaffis (“Haunted Collector”) and Chip Coffey (“Paranormal State”). It was a vortex of the weird and the unusual all congregated in Lexington, KY with me right in the middle.
I found our Louisville Halloween table was also smack in the middle of the huge convention floor which had been expanded to include a new area for the celebrities in the back, making the show floor about a third bigger than last year.
I unpacked our gear, set up our table with vintage Beistle Halloween decorations, hung our Featured Attractions banner and prepared for a wild weekend as throngs of early attendees started filing in. After a couple of hours of greeting folks from all over the region, I decided to take a few minutes to check out some of the other dealers and the celebrity area before things got crazy.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the date was Friday the 13th, but the longest autograph line in the room was waiting to get Kane Hodder’s (Jason in “Friday the 13th” Parts VII-X”) autograph. The fans really, really love Kane and I can’t blame them. He brought something special to the character of Jason Voorhees in his unique physical performance and body language. Even though Kane didn’t originate the character, he played him more than any other actor and he embraced both the character and the fans with equal integrity and passion. I like to compare his Jason to Glenn Strange’s version of the Frankenstein Monster. Strange didn’t create the Monster on screen first either, but his physical presence as the Monster sure is a joy to behold.
Almost as popular on Friday night were Sean Cunningham (original “Friday the 13th” director and series producer), Ted White (Jason in “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”), Adrienne King (“Friday the 13th”) and Amy Steel (“Friday the 13th Part II”). The night belonged to the stars of the unluckiest day in screen history, and you could almost hear the strains of Harry Manfredini’s “Ki ki ki Ma ma” theme echoing through the room.
Saturday morning before the doors opened, I was able to catch up with our old friend, John Dugan, Louisville’s favorite son from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” series. John recently made the Guinness World Records for reprising the exact same role in a film series with a 39 year gap! He played Grandpa in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in 1974 and then this year played the same part in “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” Amazingly, even after almost 40 years, John is still technically too young for the role.
I also stopped to chat with one of my favorite character actors, Charles Cyphers (“Halloween,” “The Fog” and even the Bigfoot episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man”!), who is one of the coolest and smartest guys I’ve ever gotten to know working at shows like ScareFest.
I waved hello to Danielle Harris (“Halloween 4,” “Hatchet III”) and Ken Foree (“Dawn of the Dead”) and headed over to “the Further” where all the paranormal guests were signing autographs and meeting fans. The biggest lines by far were those for “Ghost Adventures” stars Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin. Strangely, their tables were on opposite sides of the room and Goodwin was selling an amazing amount of merchandise from his new fashion line. One of the biggest topics of conversation among fans was the color of Zak Bagans skin, which was a nice Halloween shade of orange from an apparent spray tanning incident.
Then things got weird. Saturday night brought us a spooky performance from Dead Dick Hammer in the large entry room outside of the convention floor, and much drinking ensued. One of artists at the bar, in a drunken gag, decided to introduce one of her friends as “The Paranormal Gardener.” This enterprising gentlemen decided to play along and started telling everyone in earshot how he could psychically communicate with plants and by the next morning he was at her booth signing autographs as “The Paranormal Gardner.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this psychic vegetable rockstar didn’t have a new show on the SyFy Channel by next fall.
I got the chance to meet some folks not far from us in Elizabethtown who have a haunted house I was unaware of called The Stitch Factory on 226 College Street in Elizabethtown, KY. Time permitting this Halloween, I plan on checking out their haunt. Check them out on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheStitchFactory.
I want to thank my friend, Lee Kirkland, who is both the Scarefest Programming Director and Head of Security (that means he knows his horror trivia and he can kick your ass) for welcoming Louisville Halloween to ScareFest this year. I had an amazing weekend and look forward to next year.
Can’t get enough “Friday the 13th” in just one weekend? Stay tuned. I’ll be back shortly with an interview with “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” documentary director, Daniel Farrands, and producer, Thommy Hutson. I’ll also be reviewing the entire 420 minute film which has just been released on a special Blu-ray/DVD combo package.
Come see us next weekend (Friday, Sept. 20 – Sunday, Sept. 22) at the Gaslight Festival in historic J-town!
We Interview Horner Novelty Owner, Chuck Mattingly, about his Louisville Novelty Supply Stores and Find out What’s Hot for Halloween 2013!
On this Friday the 13th, the Halloween haunting season proper begins, dragging the summer to its death kicking and screaming. The ScareFest spooks Lexington all weekend with paranormal and horror film guests galore, and several of the Louisville haunted houses creak open their doors for horror business. Now is the time to start thinking about decorating your own haunted houses and yards, and planning ahead for all the Halloween costume parties and trick-or-treat gatherings.
One of my first stops each year is the Horner Novelty mega store at 310 Spring Street just across the bridge in Jeffersonville, IN. This massive, two story building annually stocks one of Kentuckiana’s largest selection of Halloween costumes, makeup, decorations and props. Horner has two smaller, satellite locations at 3419 Breckinridge Lane in Jeffersontown and at 3315 Preston Highway, but the Jeffersonville store is the one to visit for sheer Halloween spectacle.
You won’t find near the selection of Halloween goodies on display at any of the pop-up Halloween stores that open in vacant strip malls this time of year. The entire first floor of Horner’s is filled with animated props, latex monster masks, traditional paper Halloween decorations and costumes of all varieties. There’s even a “dark room” displaying all the glow-in-the-dark stuff.
This week I sat down with Horner Novelty owner, Chuck Mattingly, to discover the history of his Halloween haven and get his expert opinion on what’s new and hot this season.
“The original owner’s name was Alex Horner,” says Mattingly, “and he opened the first store strictly as a Bingo supplies dealer back in the early 1970’s.”
“The business did well,” Mattingly continues, “I came to work for him right out of High School in 1981. Then in 1982, we added carnival supplies to the business to cater to all the local church carnival fundraisers and weekend fish fries.” The second floor of the Jeffersonville location is still mostly filled with carnival and wedding party supplies.
“Gradually, we expanded to include other holidays and events, and the growth of the Halloween industry over the last 15 years made it a natural extension for us,” says Mattingly. “Halloween now accounts for 25% of our annual sales, followed by the Derby.”
The Jeffersonville mega store opened in an old, historic building on Spring Street in January of 1987, but sadly burned to the ground in a fire in January of 2004. The new Horner anchor store was rebuilt on the same spot the next year.
So what does Mattingly think is going to be hot in costumes this year? “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are going to be big this year,” he says. “I think adults that grew up with the turtles are now getting their kids into them. Also, the Minions from the ‘Despicable Me’ movies look like they’re going to be everywhere.”
“Pac-Man is another franchise from the 1980’s that I think is going to come back this year,” he adds. “Apart from that, I think superheroes and zombies are going to continue to be big this year. We saw a huge spike in fake blood sales this year right before the Louisville Zombie Attack. We were selling blood by the gallon jugs!”
Mattingly says there’s a new trend in “yard flags” coming this year: large, tarp signs with Halloween images and slogans on them made to be displayed in people’s front yards.
“There’s also lots of new merchandise available focusing on the Day of the Dead,” he says. The Mexican Day of the Dead takes place over two days right after our traditional Halloween on November 1st and November 2nd. “I’ve ordered a few big Day of the Dead props and decorations that should be coming in soon. I’m not sure if that’s going to go over here in the States or not, but come see me again on November 1st and I’ll be able to tell you for sure.”
When I asked Mattingly why he thought the Halloween industry has gotten so big over the last 10 to 15 years, he said, “I think it’s the adults who used to trick-or-treat and love Halloween as children that have brought Halloween back. They’ve brought it back and made it better.”
“One day a year you can be a kid again. Unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s not a regimented holiday. Those holidays can actually be stressful and hectic as families have to watch the clock and travel from one location to another. Their day is packed from morning until night with responsibility. Halloween is a much more relaxed holiday without rituals and responsibilities.”
The Horner Novelty store in Jeffersonville is open regular hours from Monday through Saturday from 10AM to 6PM. The Jeffersontown and Preston Highway locations are open Monday through Friday from 10AM – 7PM and Saturday from 10AM – 6PM.
This is the Phantom of the Ville packing my extra bed sheets with holes in them in preparation for my weekend in Lexington at The ScareFest. We’ll have a Louisville Halloween booth there all weekend. Come see us for some free vampire teeth! If you’re not headed to Lexington this weekend, I recommend a trip to Horner Novelty in Jeffersonville, and while you’re there, stop by Schimpff’s Confectionery less than a block down the street (http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/schimpffs-the-best-halloween-candy-in-the-region/ ) and see if they’re making Halloween candy! I will return to the Ville soon.
The Phantom of the Ville Haunts the Halls of the Indianapolis HorrorHound Convention and Survives a Lunch Buffet with Freddy Krueger!
Greetings, my fellow Halloween and horror enthusiasts, it’s the Phantom of the Ville reporting in with a look at this weekend’s HorrorHound Convention in Indianapolis, headlined by “A Nightmare on Elm Street” fright icon, Robert Englund. The Marriott Indianapolis East was packed to the gills with autograph craving convention zombies, but I survived to tell the tale!
I arrived just after the Vendor Hall doors had opened on Saturday morning only to be met with the news that autograph tickets for Robert Englund had already been capped for the day, and word on the floor was that many autograph seekers had been turned away on Friday night. It seems that Freddy Krueger is still the King of the 80’s Horror icons!
Of course, a number of cast members from “The Walking Dead” were also in the house, including Steven Yuen (“Glen”), Chad Coleman (“Tyreese”) and Emily Kinney (“Beth”), so the crowds were shoulder to shoulder. In fact, I’d say Horrorhound has completely outgrown its hotel roots and needs to seek a larger venue. The biggest dealer room, which also was the home to celebrities like Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” “Hatchet III”) and Jamie Kennedy (“Scream”), was often dangerously overcrowded with only one entrance and exit, and lines waiting for celebrity autographs stretching out the door. Sometimes you could gain entrance to the room, fighting the shoulder to shoulder traffic to browse the aisles, only to find getting OUT of the room extremely challenging.
One of the coolest things I saw in that room was the completely restored Green Goblin hood ornament from the Happy Toyz truck in Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive” (1987). I was even able to chat with the man who rescued and restored the huge fright film icon, Timothy Shockey, who showed me the before and after restoration pictures and told me he would be bringing the Goblin to The ScareFest in Lexington next weekend (Friday 13th – Sunday 15th), so you’ll have another chance to have your picture taken with it!
Our Louisville Halloween booth was in the other big room which was reserved for the HMA’s (Halloween Mask Association) Mask-Fest. Thousands of amazing Halloween masks were for sale and on display, and many haunt industry professionals were showing off their latest creations. Some of my favorite props on display were from GAG Studios, Inc. (www.gagstudios.com), and I especially liked their Quaking Tombstone (SEE PHOTO). I’ve seen some of their props at Caufield’s, and I’ve even seen their Shivering Mummy on display at Wild & Woolly Video each Halloween.
One of the coolest things I experienced in the HMA room was a mini wax museum cobbled together inside of a huge black tent and full of the silver screen’s classic monsters. A life-sized Vincent Price stood outside the tent, welcoming visitors to explore the torch lit museum. Inside were life-sized replicas of Lon Chaney from “London After Midnight,” Nosferatu, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Frankenstein Monster and his Bride, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and others. There was even a life-sized “Forgotten Prisoner” based on the 1960’s Aurora model kit!
Among the celebrities I chatted with were character actor, Daniel Roebuck (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and “Halloween II”), who is one of the biggest classic horror fans on earth. Daniel’s horror host alter-ego, Dr. Shocker, has a new shock-u-mentary coming out this Halloween called “Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror,” which Daniel promises is jammed packed with Halloween goodness. I just pre-ordered my DVD copy of it at www.docshocker.com and if you love Halloween, you might want to order it yourself!
I also chatted with the adorable and beautiful, Megan Ward, star of such 1990’s Full Moon B-movies like “Trancers II,” “Trancers III” and “Arcade.” Megan was one the sweetest and most welcoming actresses I’ve ever met as she seemed to really enjoy talking about her horror film past, and she regaled fans with stories about diving into a fresh pile of butcher shop guts for a scene that ultimately was left on the cutting room floor!
As I floated through the convention, I spotted Barry Bostwick (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Full Moon head honcho, Charles Band, and most of the cast of “Freddy VS Jason” (2003). There were a few cancellations. Emily Perkins cancelled at the last minute, making a double signing of her and Katharine Isabelle from “Ginger Snaps,” a disappointing impossibility. Michael Parks and special effects guru, Robert Kurtzman, were also no shows.
Although I was slightly disappointed not to be able to acquire Robert Englund’s autograph, I ultimately got something even better. I got to eat tacos with him! At about 3PM, my stomach started rumbling and I was unable to locate my hearse driver or bodyguard in the throngs of zombies staggering about the convention, so I headed to the hotel’s bar area and decided to try the $12.99 chicken wings and tacos buffet. As I was alone, the staff brought me to a little private dining area enclosed in glass behind the buffet. There were maybe eight other people in the room.
Just as I sat down with a plate of tacos, I realized that Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, was also enjoying tacos RIGHT NEXT TO ME! While I wasn’t about to interrupt Mr. Englund’s meal with my fanboy blubbering, I was able to enjoy his interaction with a couple of other fans who noticed him while getting their own tacos. Robert commented on one fan’s buffet selection with his trademark Freddy Kruger voice, “How sweet! Fresh meat!” Just being there to hear that was far better than getting an autograph.
Stay tuned to the Louisville Halloween website this week for lots of news and new stories, including a look at the history of Horner Novelty, the ultimate Friday the 13th documentary, “Camp Crystal Lake Memories” and an entire weekend of horror and paranormal fun at The ScareFest in Lexington next weekend (Sept. 13 – Sept. 15)!
The Troll Pub Under the Bridge Brings the Fantasy and Magic of the Halloween Season to a Unique Underground Dining Adventure!
An eight and a half foot Troll named “Louie” points the way to a subterranean, medieval-style pub in the heart of downtown Louisville right next to the KFC YUM Center.
Contrary to popular belief, spooks and spirits get hungry too. We like a good pub as much as the living do, and I’ve recently discovered a relatively new full service restaurant downtown that’s the buzz of the supernatural community. This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from beneath the earth at the Troll Pub Under the Bridge at 150 W Washington Street right next to the YUM Center. You can’t miss the 8 and ½ foot Troll, Louie, who stands outside, pointing the way down the stairs to his own pub.
If you were raised on 80’s fantasy films like “Labyrinth” (1986) and “The Dark Crystal” (1982), or even if you were introduced to fantasy through the books and films of the “Harry Potter” series, you’ll feel right at home in the Troll Pub Under the Bridge, which serves up lunch and dinner to both adults looking for a good pint and families looking for a fun night out.
There’s an aura of enchanted magic about the whole area. When I passed under the 2nd Street Bridge across the street, the first thing I saw was an elaborate bicycle rack in the shape of a bejeweled, two-headed dragon (SEE PHOTO ABOVE). Next you’ll encounter Louie, just like the Trolls of myth and legend that lived under bridges, standing beneath the bridge next to a gaslight lamp pointing to the pub entrance. Louie is quickly becoming a Louisville icon, and folks walking by often stop to take pictures with the enormous Troll.
When I climbed down the stairs to the pub entrance, I was greeted by great oak doors adorned with elaborate faces and a door knocker (SEE PHOTO) worthy of the magic castle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (1991). Inside you’ll find the rustic atmosphere continues with medieval black chandeliers, brick walls, wooden floors and arched passageways.
While the Troll Pub evokes days of Merlin, the actual location has an amazing story to tell of local history as well according to General Manager, Ben Barker.
“The building we’re standing in is 155 years old,” says Barker. “But the local history of this site goes back even further.” The Troll Pub was constructed on the site of the original Galt House, which was built in 1834, but was destroyed in a fire in 1865.
“After the Galt House burned down and relocated to where it is now,” continues Barker, “the L&N Railroad built its headquarters right here and stayed here until 1907. During this same time, many of the Kentucky bourbon distilleries started building their headquarters along this same block, which is how it became known as Whiskey Row.”
Whiskey Row flourished in one way or another even during the years of Prohibition. “It was the great flood of 1937 that really put a stop to the whiskey business on this block,” admits Barker. “This whole area was completely underwater.”
In the 1970’s, the underground floor of the building was filled in with dirt and the whole building became an artist’s colony.
The Troll Pub Under the Bridge opened for business in October of 2011, and has always had close ties to the Louisville Halloween season. “In fact,” says Barker, “our first day of business was on the day of the Caufield’s Halloween Parade, and our Troll was introduced to the city on a float in the parade!”
Louie the Troll was designed and built by a fairly famous design company, the Weber Group of Sellersburg, IN., who Barker informed me was the same company who designed and built the giant baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum as well as the Churchill Downs entry logo icon. The Weber Group has also done design work for Six Flags, Kings Island and even our own, never forgotten Hawley-Cooke Booksellers.
Barker describes the Troll Pub’s menu as “American pub grub on the gourmet level.” Head chef, Bill Walters, is a Sullivan graduate with 20 years of experience at restaurants like Avalon and Wild Eggs. Everything on the menu is made from 95% scratch. Take a look at the menu at http://www.trollpub.com/menu/. Lunch specials are available every day for around $10.
The Troll Pub Under the Bridge is open every day from 11AM – 2AM. Lunch is served from 11AM – 3PM and dinner is served from 3PM – 11PM. “W.T.F.?” is the Troll Pub’s Happy Hour which takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5PM – 7PM. Check out their website at www.trollpub.com.
September is upon us, and I know many of you are hungry for a taste of fall magic, and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate the changing color of leaves than with Louie at the Troll Pub Under the Bridge. If you do meet Louie, please feel free to post a picture with him to our Facebook page. I’ll be back soon with more exciting news as the haunt season proper is about to kick into gear!
The return of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy make 2013 the first year in history that all five General Mills monster breakfast cereals, including Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, will be available to monster fans at the same time!
Greetings, Monster Fans, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the breakfast nook of my secret crypt in Cave Hill Cemetery with what could possibly be the biggest news story of Halloween 2013. When the news hit the Internet last week that Halloween 2013 would mark the return of both Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy to cereal aisles across the United States, every monster loving ghoul of Generation X rose from his and her graves to do the Monster Mash!
The “breaking news” sirens at Louisville Halloween headquarters went berserk, and I was quickly pressed into service to get the whole story straight from Chocula Castle at the General Mills home office. Below you’ll find the complete interview with General Mills representative, Ari Zainuddin, but first let’s set the “way back machine” for 1971 and take a look at the history of the monster cereals.
The first two monster cereals, Count Chocula and Franken Berry, were both introduced in October 1971. They were both a big hit with monster loving kids, and Boo Berry was added to the monstrous trio in December 1972. Like Victor Frankenstein’s creation before him, Franken Berry garnered himself a bit of misunderstood infamy that same year when kids came down with a case of what would be called “Franken Berry Stool.” Many parents rushed their kids to local hospitals when they saw “blood” in their kid’s stool, just to find out that it was only the type of red dye used in the Franken Berry formula!
The original fruity flavored Fruit Brute the werewolf was introduced the following year in 1974 and was produced for 10 years until it was discontinued in 1984. In 1987, the same fruity cereal was re-named Yummy Mummy and was only produced until 1993, making it the most obscure of the monster cereals.
In recent years, General Mills have started a Halloween tradition of releasing Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry to store shelves each fall, limited to the Halloween season. Ever since Frute Brute appeared in a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994, fans have been requesting the return of the fruit flavored werewolf and his copycat brother, Yummy Mummy, to store shelves to complete the monster cereal bash. This season, their wish has been granted.
Not only will all five monster cereals be available everywhere this Halloween, starting in early September, but Target stores will be carrying EXCLUSIVE retro-art monster boxes with the monsters looking the same way they did when they were originally released. Of course, new formulas have been created for Frute Brute, who is now cherry flavored, and Yummy Mummy, who is now orange crème flavored, to avoid flavor redundancy.
This week, I spoke with General Mills representative, Ari Zainuddin, about the new promotion and everything monstrous in breakfast cereals.
Phantom of the Ville: First of all, on behalf of Halloween fans and fanatics everywhere, THANK YOU for bringing back all the Monster Cereals this season! When did you decide it was time to re-introduce the world to Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy? I know fans have wanted this for years! How long has this been in the works?
General Mills: Love and passion for the Monsters continues to grow each Halloween season. So we decided to bring back two of the most-requested Monsters Cereals ever—Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute. The response has just been fantastic. Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy fans are clearly pretty excited.
POTV: What are some of the more collectible Monster Cereal boxes? Are there any that are particularly rare and sought after?
GM: Well, we think all of the Monster cereal boxes are really fun and collectible. But the Frute Brute cereal box is really quite the collector’s item. It is said to be the most sought-after vintage cereal box on the market. But the original Monster cereal boxes are all pretty sought after among collectors.
POTV: Tell our readers one thing about any of the Monster Cereals and their history that nobody knows!
GM: The first images of Count Chocula were drawn by artist George Karn. (Editor: George Karn was a children’s book illustrator who also drew the first images of Trix the silly rabbit.)
POTV: What about toys and premiums? I have a Boo Berry bank I bought at the fondly remembered Tower Records. I know Funko has created a series of bobble heads and figures. Are the Monster Cereal characters still that popular?
GM: They most certainly are! Fans still collect Monsters Cereals-themed premiums – and there are fans who still dress as the Monsters for Halloween. Love for the monsters continues to grow and be celebrated!
POTV: Frute Brute, especially, has gotten a lot of nostalgic attention from its appearance in “Pulp Fiction.” How did this relationship with Quentin Tarantino come about?
GM: That’s a question that only Mr. Tarantino can really answer, but we’re clearly very appreciative of Mr. Tarantino’s affection for our Monsters cereal. Frute Brute has appeared in more than just “Pulp Fiction.” You can also see a Fruit Brute box in the background of “Reservoir Dogs.”
POTV: Are there any Monster Cereals that were “in the lab” over the years, but never released to the world? Any chance we’ll ever see a Cereal from the Black Lagoon, for example?
GM: In the lab, on the slab… some things must remain secret. Not all of our ideas were brought to life. But at this point, it’s just the Monsters that fans know & love – Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, Frute Brute & Fruity Yummy Mummy.
POTV: Paul Frees, who did the voice of Boo Berry in the cereal commercials, is one of the most famous voice-over artists of all time. He’s known to Halloween fans across the world as the voice of the Ghost Host in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction. Do you know how General Mills was able to contract him to be the voice of a blueberry cereal ghost? Any Paul Frees stories you can share?
GM: Paul Frees was a fantastic talent, and his voice-overs are absolutely famous. His range and ability were amazing! What you may not know is that Paul’s work for General Mills was not limited to Boo Berry. He also worked on the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Green Giant – and animated characters like Boris from Rocky from the Bullwinkle show, which was sponsored by General Mills. The legend is that Paul was called on to loop dialogue for major movie actors when they weren’t available or a particular accent was needed, including such stars as Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. It is Peter Lorre’s voice that Boo Berry’s vocal pattern is based on.
POTV: Do you know how the idea came about for a cereal based on Count Dracula in 1971? What was the attraction that General Mills had for the classic monsters at that time?
GM: Monster magazines, comic books, TV shows and model kits gave a whole new generation a popular interest in the monster genre in the late 60′s and 70′s. The classic Universal Monsters were suddenly appearing on licensed goods, and “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” were two popular shows on TV. Comic books started finding ways to introduce vampire and werewolf characters, and Wolf Man Jack was on the radio. With all this interest, the idea for Monsters cereals was a natural for General Mills.
POTV: I know that fans of my generation are going to go CRAZY for the Target Exclusive retro cereal boxes. How did that deal with Target come about?
GM: We had had a strong “retro box” event with Target that was great for Target and great for General Mills. So when we began looking to take our fall monsters event to the next level with retro boxes, a partnership with Target just made sense.
POTV: A few years ago at Target, perhaps coincidentally, I picked up a Halloween CD called “Spooky Sounds from Count Chocula Castle.” What can you tell us about that project?
GM: We produced a special CD in 2009 featuring Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry in what was a combination of a radio play and a Spooky sounds CD for Halloween parties. Our creative team of Pat Giles & Manny Galan (Patman Studios and Saatchi & Saatchi, NY) helped a company called Compass and music producer, Gjerbonn, produce the CD. It marked the first time the monsters had recorded a new CD in about 10 years. It also marked the first use of the new and current voice actors in the roles of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry.
The Largest Annual Zombie Walk in the Nation comes to the Highlands on August 29th at 8:29 PM!
Greetings, my mortal friends, this is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you over the Emergency Broadcast System from my secret underground crypt. This is not a test. You have precious few hours to prepare for the largest onslaught of the undead that this city has ever experienced. Repeat, this is not a test.
Just over a week ago, reports began to reach my desk that a number of mysterious military drums had been mistakenly shipped to the Uneeda Medical Supply Warehouse in the Highlands just down the street from the Baxter Avenue Morgue near Eastern Cemetery. When I went down to investigate, Uneeda Warehouse owner, Burt Wilson, at first claimed the whole story was a hoax.
Then just a couple of days ago there was some kind of accident reported in the basement of the warehouse. Paramedics were called to the aid of two local residents, Lyndi Lou and John King, who claimed to have been exposed to some sort of gas leak or toxic chemical spill on the property. The statements of the paramedics have been sealed by the Louisville Police Department, but rumors persist they were heard muttering, “No blood pressure, no pulse,” as they were removed from the scene by law enforcement.
Denying the incident, Wilson, who has now admitted possession of the unidentified chemical drums, claims that Lou and King were never subjected to any hazardous materials. “There was no leak,” says Wilson. “These things were made by the Army Corp of Engineers!”
Last evening, I caught up with Lyndi Lou who is still very ill, but is home recuperating as she and John King prepare to celebrate their shared birthdays on Thursday, August 29th.
“It’s still kind of amazing to me that this whole thing started as a last minute birthday party idea,” says Lou about the first Louisville Zombie Attack which happened nine years ago. “We spread the word around the neighborhood and about 80 zombies showed up the first year.”
“Last year the Louisville Police helicopter counted approximately 15,000 zombies in the streets,” she continues. “This year we expect between 15,000 and 17,000 zombies.”
The Louisville Zombie Attack, now the largest annual zombie walk in the United States, remains a free public event, but the continued growth of the army of undead has added considerable cost to properly execute. “We’ve had to add to the number of paid police officers and security team members and upgrade the insurance in compliance with city regulations for an event of this size,” says Lou. “We also have a clean-up staff to make sure the streets are free of trash and fake blood by 9AM the next morning.”
“It now costs around $10,000 to stage this event,” admits Lou. “But we are taking donations that will help us keep this a free public event every year.” Donations can made at www.louisvillezombieattack.org.
Lou has some words of wisdom on how to rise from the dead on a budget. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look dead,” she says. “You can get some cheap torn up clothes from the Brycc House (also known as The Brick House), and you can make fake blood out of karo syrup and food coloring. Plain white stick candles make good bones.”
Both Caufield’s Novelty at 1006 W. Main St. (502-583-0636) and Horner Novelty on 310 Spring St. in Jeffersonville, In (812-283-5050) are prepared for the attack and are fully stocked with make-up, masks, costumes, props and anything else you might need handle the zombie apocalypse.
“We’ll also have people doing free zombie make-up at the Back Door (1250 Bardstown Rd, on the side of the Mid-City Mall) starting at 6PM,” suggests Lou.
The parking lot of the Mid-City Mall on Bardstown Rd is the staging area for the 2013 Louisville Zombie Attack, and the march of the walkers starts precisely at 8:29 PM. The undead procession will march north down Bardstown Road, turning left on Grindstead Drive and shuffling all the way to Barret Avenue where a street party will be held on the 1000 block of Barret Ave. There you’ll be treated to a free concert by Squeezebot and the Vice Tricks as well as a costume contest.
The Monkey Wrench bar will be hosting concerts with the Revenants, the All Dead, Pelts, DJ Count Gronzy and DJ Rev. Spook from 9PM until 2AM. The Barret Bar & Grill will be hosting zombie bike polo with the Louisville Hardcourt Bike Polo Club on the Barret Bar hardcourt from 9PM until 2AM.
If you plan on coming from outside of Louisville, or even if you’re driving in from outside of the Highlands, be sure to arrive plenty early, as road closures and after work 5 o’clock traffic will certainly cause delays. The Louisville Zombie Attack official website at www.louisvillezombieattack.org has created a Google map with driving directions and the entire layout.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner, who works as a mortician at the Baxter Avenue Morgue, offered this piece of advice to anyone coming to the Highlands this Thursday evening, August 29th at 8:29 PM: “Watch your ass out there.”
If there’s still a civilization out there come Friday morning, then be sure to check back with the Louisville Halloween website for a look at an interesting pub downtown underneath a bridge that’s haunted by a giant troll and an interview with General Mills about the history of their monster cereals and an exciting promotion coming this Halloween!
Fair Warning 2013: Take a Dark Ride Diversion into the Cheap Thrill Trailer Rig Haunted Houses of the Kentucky State Fair!
Rinky-dink or retro-chic? Buy your ticket and take a ride on one of these Thrillway spook-house classics!
The third week of August means different things to different folks here in the greater Louisville region. To many it means the return of the deep fried buffet with a farm livestock sideshow known as the Kentucky State Fair. You can try a Sloppy Doughnut or some deep fried Girl Scout Cookies, and wash it down with some deep fried Kool-Aid before you head over to the various pavilions to get a good smell of the livestock on display. Then, finally, you can take a ride on the Hurl-a-Whirl over at the Thrillway.
For the rest of us, the third week of August means it’s still three weeks until the Halloween stuff finally gets stocked on the store shelves all over town. But never fear, this is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the smell of grease and sawdust at the Thrillway of the Kentucky State Fair to tell you how you can get a little taste of Halloween while Grandma and Aunt Edna check out the Conway Twitty cover band in the Country Music Tent.
First of all, when passing through the West Wing, don’t forget to check out the 4-H and FFA exhibits room to see Dwight Slone’s award winning 1,304 pound pumpkin! Next stop, the Thrillway.
Through this Sunday, August 25th, you can take a sixty second journey into darkness inside one of the traveling trailer rig dark rides that pass this way once a year. Last year I wrote about the haunted dark rides and funhouses of the 2012 Kentucky State Fair, and most of those same attractions are back this year. Funhouse fans will find Pan’s Royal Palace of Fun, the Silly Seas and the Glass House.
This year also sees the return of the House That Can Not Be Named, which you can read about in the previous article here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/fair-warning-take-a-ride-to-the-dark-side-of-the-fair/.
New this year is a dark ride called Fear Factory. I really enjoyed gawking at the garish carny artwork adorning the façade. Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster and Christopher Lee’s Dracula melt into a hallucinatory metal tapestry filled with demons, devils and werewolves. You’ll see Chucky from “Child’s Play” and Benicio Del Toro’s “Wolfman” alongside a pseudo-Linda Blair “Exorcist” and a sort-of “Evil Dead” deadite. Hundreds of hours were likely spent painting this lurid wall of horror, and in true carnival tradition, about fifteen minutes were probably spent designing the interior.
Inside you won’t see anything you couldn’t buy at Horner’s, Caufield’s or Target during the Halloween season. Actually, most of the props were likely picked up at the Dollar Tree and hit with a coat of day-glow paint. There are a few rubber bats and spiders and one of those lenticular paintings that changes into a scary face as you pass by. There’s a pop-up, gnarly head with its eyeballs hanging out that is so cheap and cheesy looking that it goes all the way around 180 degrees to being kind of disturbing. Mostly, it’s just dark.
Granted, I’ve never seen a carnival dark ride as elaborate as the one in Tobe Hopper’s “The Funhouse” (1981), or the one Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette ride in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” (1994). When it comes to façade-meets-interior, the best dark ride experience I’ve had in years was at Beech Bend in Bowling Green, KY, but that’s a permanent attraction not meant to be folded up and driven to the next town on an 18 wheeler.
So sit back and slam through the painting of Freddy Krueger on the “crash doors,” and take spin on Fear Factory for a (very) cheap thrill at the Fair this year. I’ll be back soon with new movie reviews, haunt news and an update on a possible zombie outbreak brewing in the near future.
Just as the Summer Theme Park Season is fading into Twilight, the Maniacs at the Asylum Haunted Scream Park are Fueling up Their Chainsaws, Sharpening Their Knives and Preparing to Open the Gates of Hell!
Welcome back, haunt fans, to another sneak preview of a massive haunted attraction returning to Louisville for the 2013 Halloween season. This is the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the Paintball Asylum on Pond Station Road where I’m currently being pursued by a group of Ghost Hunters who have discovered the only way to see me is to shoot me with paintball pellets.
In late September, the entire Paintball Asylum range will be transformed into the Asylum Haunted Scream Park for its third season as one of Louisville’s biggest haunted attractions. Opening one weekend early, on Friday and Saturday of September 13th and 14th, Asylum will first present the Slenderman Live Action Experience which you can find out about in our Slenderman preview of here: . http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/slender-man-live-action-experience-aug-2nd-and-3rd/ .
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Asylum Scream Park co-owner, Richard Teachout, to talk about his appearance in the Louisville haunt documentary, “Monsters Wanted,” which is coming out on DVD on August 27th and can be pre-ordered here: http://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Wanted-Rich-Teachout/dp/B00DTTRGJW/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1376768428&sr=1-1&keywords=monsters+wanted .
During the conversation, Teachout also gave me the chilling, thrilling details about what’s in store for the haunt he runs with co-owner, Janel Nash. “Our target audience is anyone over ten years old,” says Teachout. “Last year we had a 90 year old couple go through Darkness Falls.”
“In fact, one of the lost articles we found on the trail after closing last year was a set of dentures. Now we can officially say we scared the teeth out of someone!” Apparently, an expecting mother’s water also broke in the middle of the haunt last season!
All three major haunted attractions featured last season will all be returning this year; Zombie City, Xterminate: Zalien Attack and Darkness Falls on Asylum. Xterminate will still be based on the movie starring Al Snow and John Wells, “Overtime,” and this year will feature expanded paths and more zaliens.
Zombie City features an evolving storyline that continues each year. This attraction is much different than the standard haunted house most people are used to going through. Zombie City is more of an interactive movie featuring actors that will meet and interact with guests as they make their way through outdoor and indoor sets. There are certainly scares along the way and the living dead are always a lurking threat, but the focus is as much on dramatic storytelling as it is on delivering a series of jump scares.
The centerpiece of the Asylum Haunted Scream Park is still Darkness Falls on Asylum, an elaborate one mile hike through the dark forest of our collective nightmares. This year, Asylum is excited to have a celebrity monster make-up artist from the SyFy Channel’s “Face Off,” Matthew Valentine, contributing to the special make-up and costume designs used in the mazes.
“We’ve added a lot of detail and décor to Darkness Falls,” says Teachout. “We’ve also changed some of the paths to help the general flow along the trail.”
The Carnival of Lost Souls will also be back for 2013 with a full carnival sideshow and freakshow. See the Human Pincushion, the Fire Eater, the Fortune Teller and more! There will also be game booths like “The Zombie Shooting Gallery” and plenty of food. For full information about dates and times see http://www.asylumhaunts.com/ .
Now if you’ll excuse me, these pesky Ghost Hunters have gotten paint all over my best evening cloak and puffy shirt and are currently pointing EMF detectors and spirit boxes in my general direction. I must escape back into the astral plane, but I’ll be back soon with more haunt previews, creepy news and tips on how to survive the zombie plaque coming to the Highlands in just a couple of weeks.
Travel back in time with us to a hotel that hasn’t changed since the 1950’s, except that everyone staying there is dead, and then stick with us as we look at plans for Nightmare Forest this Halloween!
You may feel like time is turning backwards as your car passes a chrome plated, 1950’s Diner and turns sharply onto a lonely, isolated stretch of road. The fog is so thick you can barely see the road ahead. Nervously, you turn on the radio for comfort, only to be accosted by the howl of Screamin’ Jay Hawkin’s “I Put a Spell on You.” You search the dial, but every channel is playing 1950’s music.
Then you come to a dead end.
In front of you sits a dilapidated hotel, covered with vines and overgrowth. Next to the hotel there is lake with a thin mist gliding on its surface, and across the lake sits an abandoned shack that looks like it hasn’t been inhabited in 70 years. The silence here in this desolate place is unnerving. There’s no one around, but you feel as if you’re being watched. A storm is coming in, thunder rumbles and lightening rolls across the sky, and you need to find shelter quickly.
You must enter the Dead End Hotel.
Greetings, Boils and Ghouls, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from Shepherdsville with a sneak peek at another brand new haunted attraction opening this Halloween season. This weekend I made the journey back in time to visit with owner/operator, Jason Weber, the same spook master who runs the legendary Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek Park.
“The Dead End Hotel used to be a swanky place back in the 1950’s,” says Weber. “I’ve based some of the back story on the Seelbach Hotel in downtown Louisville. We even have a secret poker and gambling room like the one Al Capone is said to have used at the Seelbach, as well as some of the secret passages Capone was supposed to have used to escape the Louisville police.”
“The hotel is haunted by all the ghosts who never left,” elaborates Weber. “You’ll find bellboys, chefs and food service workers, gangsters, gamblers, murder victims and worse.” Weber is sticking to a ghostly theme at the Dead End Hotel.
There won’t be any movie scenes or slasher cinema characters to disrupt the atmosphere. You will find a twisted maze that takes you from the lobby, through guest rooms and behind the scenes (sometimes behind the walls!) of this two story structure.
If you are interested in horror movie scenes and cinematic boogeymen, then you’ll want to check out Jason Weber’s other outdoor haunted attraction, Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek Park. “At Nightmare Forest this year, we’re doing the exact opposite,” says Weber. “The main trail is like a ‘best of’ all the horror films to be released in 2013. We’re keeping some of the classics, like “Hellraiser,” but we’ve added scenes based on “Sinister,” the “Evil Dead” re-make and the new “Texas Chainsaw 3D.”
Also included along the trail will be Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” “Jeepers Creepers” and “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors.”
“I’ve always loved “Nightmare on Elm Street 3,” admits Weber, “and I watched it again recently, and I thought there were some great dream sequences that I haven’t seen anybody use in a haunted house before. Everyone always builds the boiler room, but there’s a great scene that takes place in a creepy old house near the beginning of the film. I wanted to try to replicate the vibe of that.”
The Nightmare Harvest corn maze will be back this year, as will the Nightmare Drive-In which is meant as a setup for the first trail to make guests feel like they’re entering the movies. The second trail will be all zombie oriented like last year, but Weber has some new surprises in store.
Also returning this year, and included with the cost of admission, is the popular, Hawthorne’s Circus Bizarre. The mysterious Hawthorne is bringing an entire sideshow with him this year as well as his Tent of the Unusual.
So whether you prefer original ghost stories or horror movie scenes in your haunted attraction, Jason Weber and his talented crew, have you covered this Halloween. Dead End Hotel will reopen its doors for the first time in 70 years late this September and Nightmare Forest in Otter Creek will open it gates again to foolish travelers around the same time. I’ll be back soon with more haunt previews, gathering reports of an upcoming zombie attack and horror movie reviews.
Explore a Sinister Cornfield in Eastern Jefferson County this Halloween to Discover the Terrifying Secret of Cobb’s Haunt!
A cornfield at night is a scary place. The rows of corn muffle the sounds of the outside world, and you’re alone in a rustic place in the heartland of America, far from the comfort of the city. The moon looks bigger and the stars shine brighter here in this remote field at 6516 Echo Trail in Eastern Jefferson County. What was that sound? Was it just the corn stalks rustling in the wind, or was it something else?
This is The Phantom of the Ville coming to you from a place they call Sunny Acres Farm most of the year, but just like Camp Crystal Lake is also known as “Camp Blood,” Sunny Acres has another name. From late September through late October, on weekends during the darkest nights, it’s known as Cobb’s Haunt. A family owned farm since 1964, the land itself is rich with haunted history dating back to the pre-Civil War era and is home to numerous ghost stories.
This week I sat down with Cobb’s Haunt’s owner/operator, Samantha McNay, to talk about some of the real ghosts haunting Sunny Acres Farm and her plans for the massive cornfield maze on the property this Halloween season. McNay first became interested in the haunted attraction industry working as an actor in a couple of past local haunts, Castle of Carnage, which was once located in the parking lot of the Expo 5, and the USS Frightliner, which was once docked next to the Belle of Louisville and now resides at the bottom of the Ohio River. That particular ghost ship now rests with Davy Jones’ Locker.
“This is our fifth year of operation,” says McNay, “and this year we’re taking it to a whole new level.” Good weather and plenty of rain have given birth to a tall crop this year. “The stalks are anywhere from 12 feet to 16 feet at the highest levels,” she says, “and we’ve cut a maze that’s approximately .83 of a mile, or a full mile if you count the torch lit walk to the field.”
“It takes 25 minutes to walk through the maze in daylight,” McNay states. “But at night it takes 30 to 35 minutes, or longer if you take a few wrong turns.” McNay describes the way the maze was designed this year as the “chicken with its head cut off” technique. “It goes all over the place,” she says.
Cobb’s Haunt is open during the day for a non-scary experience for kids, but when the sun goes down, the freaks come out. You’ll find zombies, undead scarecrows and dueling chainsaw maniacs lurking behind the rows this year. “We’re also working on a couple of new ideas,” teases McNay. “We’re working on attacking people from above. You might find some creepy characters hanging from the trees.”
McNay also says they’ve added a “Saw” scene this year involving multiple doors where you’ll be forced to “choose your fate.” She also says “The Grudge” was an influence on one of the new scenes this year.
Samantha McNay knows something about the supernatural. She claims that the main house on the farm itself is haunted. “You’ll hear footsteps walking through the house at night when no one else is there. The attic door opens and closes by itself. The dog growls at something no one else can see, and he follows whatever it is around the house, growling at it. Blankets are constantly pulled from anyone sleeping in the house.” Apparently, the family is so accustomed to these strange experiences that they aren’t bothered by them anymore.
Even the twisting, turning drive to Cobb’s Haunt can be a spooky experience. “There’s a creek that runs along the back of the property,” says McNay, “and a thick fog bank rises on the old road that runs along the creek even when it’s not foggy outside.”
“There’s also a family cemetery on the site right next the cornfield. The graves date back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. There have been lots of stories and ghostly sightings around the whole area dating as far back as I can remember.”
Only two miles down the road, you’ll find the legendary Pope Lick railroad trestle and all the local legends that come with it. Cobb’s Haunt is located in the dead center of the spooky vortex of strange phenomenon in that part of town. So beware! I’ll be back soon with another sneak peek at a brand new haunted attraction in a completely different, but still creepy part of town.
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”
Bram Stoker, “Dracula”
For more than 15 years now, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been recording nightmarish soundscapes for the haunted attraction industry and for Halloween fans everywhere. Their music is featured in hundreds of haunts across the globe, and almost annually they’ve released a new sonic spook show to accompany each new October moon. Themes for their recordings have included haunted Victorian mansions, creepy Lovecraftian seaside villages, abandoned asylums, vampire’s crypts and dark carnivals.
You’ve likely seen Midnight Syndicate CDs at Caufield’s Novelty, Horner Novelty and in just about every temporary Halloween outlet store that pops up each October. You may also have seen the Midnight Syndicate table at FandomFest or at horror conventions like Days of the Dead and Horror Hound.
This year Midnight Syndicate has released a new symphonic audio soundtrack called “Monsters of Legend,” inspired by the classic Universal Monster pictures of the 1930’s and 40’s, as well the garishly bloody Hammer Horror monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. Midnight Syndicate weaves subtle sound effects into its themes; howling winds, rattling chains, flapping bat wings and other creatures of the night set the imaginary scene as each track pulls the listener into a story told by music.
You’ll be taken by coach ride to the mysterious village of Arcacia, and from there into the Black Woods and eventually to the castle that’s perched on the cliffs overlooking the town. The various themes conjure images of vampires, werewolves, witches’ curses and man-made monsters. It’s a journey best experienced lying in your bed or favorite couch with your headphones on during a dark and stormy night with the windows open, a candle lit and your mind free to take the dark journey.
If you’ve listened to some of Midnight Syndicate’s CDs in the past, you may be surprised how far they’ve come musically since their early audio experiments. Some of their early releases, while certainly evocative, tended to sound a bit electronic and were sometimes a bit repetitive in themes for my tastes. “Monsters of Legend,” much richer and more symphonic than anything they’ve released before, represents these two artists at the absolute peak of their talent.
Perhaps the theme of classic monster cinema has connected with Douglas and Goszka’s best childhood Halloween memories and inspired their best work to date. The artwork on the CD cover features Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein monster and Henry Hull’s “Werewolf of London” amid a foggy cemetery. There are tracks clearly influenced by classic monster movie composers like Hammer’s James Bernard (“The Curse of Frankenstein,” “The Horror of Dracula”), Bernard Herrmann (“Psycho”) and even Wojciech Kilar’s score for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992).
Varying from the quiet, creepy and cryptic mood of “Return to Arcacia” and “Cloistered Cemetery” to the sweeping sinister bombast of “Into the Valley of Shadows,” “Unwanted Visitor” and “Black Woods,” “Monsters of Legend” offers 21 tracks and over an hour of old school horror music. This is truly an early Halloween treat for Monster Kids young and old.
“Monsters of Legend” is available on Midnight Syndicate’s website at http://www.midnightsyndicate.com/buymusic.htm and through Amazon.com. Of course, first I’d recommend a trip to Caufield’s or Horner Novelty to see if they’ve got it in stock yet. This is the Phantom of the Ville howling with the children of the night through October 31st. I’ll be back soon with some brand new haunted attraction previews and news!
The Internet Urban Legend Come Indie Horror Video Game Hit Comes to the Ville as a One Time Survival Horror Experience!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: This event has been RESCHEDULED for Friday, September 13th and Saturday, September 14th!
Welcome back, my spooky friends, it’s the Phantom of the Ville just home from the hustle and bustle of the massive Fandom Fest convention at the Galt House and Convention Center this weekend. As a free floating phantom, I passed through walls, skipped the long lines and met many of my favorite horror stars and artists. I hope many of you were as lucky in navigating the hungry hordes of convention zombies.
In any case, I survived and brought back with me news about a one time, live action, survival horror adventure taking place next weekend in the dark, dark woods near the Haunted Asylum Scream Park at 3101 Pond Station Road just off the Gene Snyder Freeway. The terror takes place between 9PM and 2AM.
The Slender Man is the first urban legend of the Internet age. Photos containing images of the mysterious Slender Man in the background started popping up online in 2009. An ominous figure wearing a dark black suit with no face would appear in photos of children who were abducted and had mysteriously disappeared.
The Slender Man phenomenon went viral, spawning fan art, found footage videos, cosplay and ultimately an indie downloadable video game called “Slender: The Eight Pages,” on which the Slender Man Live Action Experience is based.
Created by the same team that brought you the Asylum Haunted Scream Park, the Slender Man Live Action Experience provides brave guests with a flashlight as their only resource and challenges them to quest through the pitch black forest to find eight pages of an arcane text and escape before being caught by the creepy Slender Man.
Prizes will be provided to all (any!) that manage to collect all eight pages and survive being caught by the Slender Man. This event is limited to just one weekend and the event organizers recommend you preorder tickets online at www.asylumhaunts.com/slenderman. Tickets are $10 each and are ONLY available online. There is a small chance that tickets may be available on the day of the event, but the website suggests that you get your tickets online in advance due to the limited nature of the event.
Patrons under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent who can sign the liability waiver in order to participate. Flashlights will be provided (one for every two patrons), and you should wear clothes and shoes suitable for hiking. It’s a dark forest trail with uneven terrain and faceless death behind every tree. You have been warned.
More information can be found at www.slendermantruth.com. This is the Phantom of the Ville, and I’ll be back very soon with more 2013 haunted attraction previews and spooky news.
Tips for the Horror Fan Who Wants to Get the Most out of Fandomfest 2013!
Just like the “Scream” film series presents its characters with the rules best followed to successfully survive a horror film, there are rules to follow if you want to have the best experience possible at a mega convention like Fandomfest. Started eight years ago as “Fright Night Film Fest” in a little hotel in the South End, festival promoter, Ken Daniels, has expanded his convention to include science-fiction, fantasy, anime, literature and every realm of pop culture in between.
Last year, Fandomfest had outgrown its suburban roots and moved to the Galt House Hotel downtown. In that one year, attendance doubled to 16,000 people and this year the crowd is expected to top 25,000. In anticipation of the expected growth, and to accommodate the large number of A-list celebrities scheduled to appear this year, Fandomfest has expanded to also include the Kentucky International Convention Center a block down the street.
I have a degree of experience navigating this convention and a number of others, and I can offer some advice on how best to have a good experience over the weekend. I’m going to tailor my advice specifically to horror fans to include guests and events that they might be most interested in. For the basic information involving celebrity locations, expected autograph costs and various panels check the official website at www.fandomfest.com.
The first thing you’ll want to bring is your patience. It’s going to be crowded. There will be long lines. There is likely to be at least some confusion and the volunteer staff isn’t going to have all the answers or the authority to grant your wishes instantly. The good news is that Daniels and his staff have made some considerable improvements this year to help the flow. My understanding is that you will be able to buy passes and autograph tickets at both locations, the Galt House and the Convention Center, this year. That should cut the lines waiting to buying those tickets considerably. Here are some other things to remember.
CASH IS KING: While Fandomfest will likely be setup to take credit cards for daily and weekend passes, many of the celebrities will only be taking cash for autographs and photos at their table. Some celebrities will only be allowing photos to be taken at specific photo sessions, so be sure to check the website for those schedules. The biggest celebrities will require you to purchase autograph tickets from the Fandomfest ticket booths before going to their table to meet them, while some of the other celebrities will be taking cash at their own tables.
While there will likely be cash machines on site, you’re better off bringing plenty of cash with you and avoiding the extra charges added for the service. Be safe. There will be a lot of people carrying a lot of cash in shoulder to shoulder crowds, and pick pockets know this. Keep your money in a safe location and have small amounts set aside to pay for autographs, food and collectibles. Use the restrooms or somewhere private to organize your cash, and don’t let anyone see how much you’re carrying.
Advance ticket sales have ended. Day passes at the door are $30 and weekend passes are $60. Children 10 and under are FREE. Hours of the vendor halls are Friday evening from 4PM – 10PM, Saturday from 9AM – 6PM and Sunday from 10AM – 5PM.
PARKING: Parking at the Galt House is probably your most expensive option, especially if you plan on being there for a while, but at least it’s plentiful. Parking is FREE on the weekends on Main Street and on many of the side streets, but those spots will be tough to get. If you don’t mind walking a couple of blocks, there are plenty of parking garages in the $5 to $8 range.
THE WALKING DEAD: The cast of “The Walking Dead” has been the driving force for large crowds at many recent horror conventions. It’s important to note that “The Walking Dead” is currently in production for its fourth season and shooting schedules could change, causing any “living” character to have to cancel. Everyone at Fandomfest is a working professional, and may have to cancel for any reason, and there are no refunds. So it’s best to not attend with the goal of meeting only one celebrity. Chandler Riggs (Carl) Is ONLY APPEARING SATURDAY.
“The Walking Dead” cast have been split between the Galt House and the Convention center, so you’ll need to visit both locations to meet them all. Norman Reedus (Daryl), Chandler Riggs and Jon Bernthal (Shane) are scheduled to appear at the Convention Center all three days. Michael Rooker (Merle), Lew Temple (Axel), Iron E. Singleton (T-Dog) and Vincent Ward (Oscar) are scheduled to appear at the Galt House side all three days.
WHICH DAY SHOULD I GO? If you’re not planning to attend all three days, make sure the celebrities you want to meet are going to be there on the day you plan to go. The demon of KISS, Gene Simmons, will only be attending on SUNDAY. Currently on tour with KISS, Gene is playing London, Ontario on Saturday night and has another show in Montreal on Monday night. So he’s flying the KISS Jet into Louisville Sunday morning and probably leaving later Sunday evening. Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”), on the other hand will only be appearing on Friday and Saturday.
For the sake of beating the crowds, the best day to attend any convention is always Sunday. The crowds tend to be much lighter, however in this case, Gene Simmons will only be appearing on Sunday and thousands of KISS fans will likely swarm the Galt House that day. That’s good news for everyone else, who will likely be easier to meet on Sunday. Gene is scheduled to appear at the Galt House side, thus Sunday would be a great day to visit the Convention Center side of the show.
The downside of visiting any convention on Sunday is that many dealers and sometimes even celebrities start packing up to leave early if the crowds aren’t as big. There’s also the chance that a lot of cool stuff in the dealer’s room and at the celebrity’s tables may be sold out by Sunday. Also, if you like the crowded atmosphere with lots people dressed up and wandering around in monster costumes and dressed as superheroes and sci-fi characters, there will likely be much more of this on Saturday than on Sunday. Keep in mind that these shows can be a draining experience for everyone involved, so expect everyone to be a little groggier on Sunday!
If you haven’t bought your tickets in advance, expect long lines on Friday evening, and especially on Saturday morning, to get in. Even if you have bought your tickets online, there will likely still be some wait to get your wristbands and badges. Sundays are usually pretty easy to stroll right in and get tickets.
WHO ARE THE HORROR GUESTS THIS YEAR?: Although William Shatner has a few great cult horror hits under his belt like “The Twilight Zone,” “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “The Devil’s Rain,” he’s better known to millions as Captain Kirk. You have my great respect, however, if you’re planning to get one of those DVDs signed by the Shat! Stan Lee is more known for co-creating some of Marvel’s greatest superheroes.
Readers of this blog are likely more interested in Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster), Deborah Foreman (“Waxwork,” “April Fool’s Day”), Zach Galligan (“Gremlins,” “Waxwork”), Fred Dekker (director of “Night of the Creeps” and “Monster Squad”), Jason Lively (“Night of the Creeps”) and Kane Hodder (everyone’s favorite Jason Voorhees!). Grant Wilson, formally of “Ghost Hunters,” will be there, as will cast members from SyFy’s “Face-Off.”
There are also a couple of really cool comic artists in attendance. James O’Barr, creator of “The Crow,” and Arthur Suydam, cover artist of “Marvel Zombies” and the latest Misfits album will be at the show.
IMMORTAL’s NIGHT MASQUERADE BALL: There will be a “vampire ball” on Saturday night at 10PM in the Fountain Room of the Galt House. See http://fandomfest.com/en/masquerade for details.
HORROR HOUND PARTY: Stop by Horror Hound’s booth on Friday night or Saturday morning to pick up tickets for a PRIVATE party on Saturday night. Live music will include an acoustic concert from the horror-rock band, Harley Poe, and Horror Hound is teasing an exclusive announcement to be made at the end of the party.
FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST: The film fest still lives! The schedule for all three days and nights of independent horror films and shorts can be found on the website at www.frightnightfilmfest.com. The biggest World Premiere at the fest will be Brian Cunningham’s (“Overtime”) Louisville haunt documentary, “Monsters Wanted.” For all the details about the “Monsters Wanted” screening, see our article at http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/monsters-wanted-haunt-documentary-world-premiere-at-fandomfest/.
GEORGETOWN DRIVE-IN EVENT: “Child’s Play” with Chucky! On Saturday night, July 27th, the Georgetown Drive-In at 8200 State Road 64 in Georgetown, IN will be having a special screening of the original, “Child’s Play” (1988), at 9:30PM. Ed Gale, who played the evil doll in the Chucky suit, will be there to sign autographs. Gale also played one of the evil dwarves in “Phantasm II” as well as the title character in “Howard the Duck.” After “Child’s Play,” you can stay and watch the new “Wolverine” movie and “Grown Ups 2.”
PANELS: Most of the horror related panels are all taking place Saturday in the same room, the McCreary Room on the third floor of the Galt House. Beginning with a make-up seminar at Noon and continuing with a Chucky panel with Ed Gale at 3PM, a “Waxwork” Q&A at 4PM, a “Let’s Get Your Horror On” Q&A at 5PM, a Horror Icons panel at 6PM, a “Monster Squad” panel at 7PM and a Classic Monsters in History Panel at 8PM.
LOUISVILLE HALLOWEEN (Shameless promotion!): We will also have a presence of some kind at the show, so look for our table. We’ll have a FREE photo opportunity a maybe even a giant vampire bat guarding our table, so BEWARE! Have fun!
Be Among the First in the World to See the Louisville Haunt Industry Documentary, “Monsters Wanted,” this Saturday Night at Fandomfest!
Greetings, my fellow Halloween fanatics and haunted house aficionados, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the historic Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville where I have already taken up residence in anticipation of the mega fan convention known as Fandomfest which will completely overrun both the Galt House and the neighboring Convention Center on the weekend of July 26th through July 28th. Amid the rooms filled with KISS demons, “Star Trek” captains, “Walking Dead” cast members and comic book titans, there will also be a series of horror films in the “Fright Night Film Fest” part of this multi-genre convention.
The biggest premiere will certainly be director Brian Cunningham’s follow up to his hit directorial debut, the sci-fi/horror comedy, “Overtime,” which itself premiered two years ago at Fandomfest before finding international distribution. The World Premiere screening of “Monsters Wanted” will take place Saturday night, July 27th, at 8PM in the Cochran Ballroom of the Galt House. Attendance is FREE with a Fandomfest wristband or badge, but you can also buy a ticket for just the “Monsters Wanted” screening for $10 at this link: http://www.fandomfest.com/en/programming/film-festival.
The film follows “haunt-repreneurs” Richard Teachout and Janel Nash as they risk everything they own for the love of Halloween in the attempt to open Louisville’s first haunted theme park. Cunningham’s camera captures every joy and heartbreak over the incredibly stressful six month period they spent building Asylum Haunted Scream Park, through the trials and tribulations of opening night and beyond. You’ll also catch a glimpse of other Louisville Halloween institutions such as Horner Novelty, the Baxter Avenue Morgue, the Haunted Hotel and the Louisville Zombie Attack.
This week I sat down with both film director, Brian Cunningham, and Asylum Scream Park creative director, Richard Teachout, to talk about making this horror-centric documentary.
“Like any good story,” Cunningham suggests, “it starts with, ‘I met a girl!’” Cunningham had recently met Kaley Roberts, who was recently hired as stage manager for Teachout’s new haunt. Roberts took Cunningham with her to meet Teachout at a local Denny’s.
“Richard had been sitting at Denny’s for eight hours with his laptop,” says Cunningham. “It was his office. I’ve just met him and he tells me he’s working an IT job making over $100,000 a year, and tomorrow he’s going to quit and start up a haunted theme park.”
“I thought,” continues Cunningham, “there’s a story here! I could feel Richard’s passion for this project. I immediately knew I wanted to tell this story, but I had no idea where it was going or how it was going to end.”
A graduate of both Trinity High School and the University of Kentucky, Cunningham had one feature film under his belt, but had no experience with shooting a documentary. “It was like starting back at zero,” he says.
Over a six month period, Cunningham and his co-director, Joe Laughery, followed the Asylum Scream Park crew as they scrambled to build three complete haunted attractions and one circus sideshow at the Paintball Asylum on Pond Station Road. Over two hundred hours of footage were finally cut into the 90 minute film set to premiere on Saturday night.
Cunningham traces his horror fandom roots back to when he was nine years old and asked his mother to show him the scariest movie she had ever seen, which turned out to be “The Exorcist,” but horror isn’t his only interest. In fact, he says his next movie will likely be a comedy.
Richard Teachout, on the other hand, can’t remember a time when he didn’t love the Halloween season, and sites a childhood trek through The Darkness in Saint Louis as a formative experience. “I knew as soon as I came out the exit,” Teachout explains, “that this is what I wanted to do.”
“I reached a point in my life where I felt it was something I had to try,” Teachout says. With a background in both theater and computer technology, Teachout seems to be a child of two worlds. His computer skills have provided him with a comfortable living, but his passion is really reserved for theatrical haunting. “We treat Asylum like a Broadway show,” he says. “We’ve tried to bring an element of live theater to our haunts with actors and storytelling that make the people going through feel like they’re an interactive part of the show.”
Through the film, one really gets an appreciation of how much work, sweat, stress and money goes into creating one of these attractions that we often take for granted every October. Over the 90 minute runtime, we get to know these people and feel every ounce of the mounting pressure they feel as opening night draws closer. It’s not all roses and pumpkins.
“I’ve completely lost my temper once in my career as a haunter,” says Teachout, “and it’s on film for everyone to see.” Cunningham’s cameras were rolling when a confrontation with a team member whose name and face have been removed from the film (he refused to sign a contract) heats up. Another scene sees a sleep deprived Teachout eating coffee grinds from the can and randomly throwing props and smashing equipment as he tries to get the show up and running.
“It’s a blur,” remembers Teachout. “We got to the point where we didn’t even notice the cameras following us around.” It’s these very real, very human moments that make “Monsters Wanted” so compelling.
There’s a supplies shopping scene shot at Horner Novelty where the sticker shock look on Janel Nash’s face at checkout speaks volumes about the financial pressures taking their toll on her psyche. If you ever wanted to start your own haunted attraction, I recommend you see this film first!
When asked if there were any scenes Cunningham hated losing when he cut the final film, he says, “There was a lot! There was a whole subplot we were following where Rich had spent $6,000 on wrecked cars to use as props that never showed up. Ultimately, I don’t think they ever showed up! In the end, however, I had to cut everything that didn’t follow the main story thread.”
“Actually,” Cunningham admits, “I didn’t know what the movie was really about until I cut the last scene.” He continues, “All of these people came together through this experience and found themselves in a new family. The movie is really about ‘creating a family’ and all the madness that has to happen to reach that goal.”
Don’t miss the World Premiere of “Monsters Wanted” this Saturday night at 8PM at the Galt House Hotel during Fandomfest Comic Expo! For more information about Asylum Haunted Scream Park see http://www.asylumhaunts.com/ and be sure to follow them on Facebook. Stay tuned in the following weeks for a complete sneak preview of everything new at Asylum this season. Brian Cunningham’s first movie, “Overtime,” starring Al Snow and John Wells, is available on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon.com. For a full Fandomfest “Fright Night” film schedule, see http://www.fandomfest.com/en/programming/film-festival.
A unique Louisville area Halloween tradition, the Danger Run – The Most Fun You’ve EVER Had In Your Car, is refueling with major upgrades in 2013!
For the last 19 years, Danger Run fans from near and far have gathered together in the chilly fall air to solve clues in a Halloween quest that leads them throughout the city in search of the area’s best haunted houses. The object of the spooky game is to follow the clues and make as few mistakes as possible to accumulate the most accurate mileage. The Top 25 closest to exact mileage are invited to the final showdown to compete for huge prizes and the title of Danger Run Champ.
Even though the challenge is winning the game, the most fun is cramming in a car full with friends and family to solve the rhyming clues and huddle together to face the terrors that await at the haunted attractions at the end of the bread crumb trail.
Founder and company president, Joe Bulleit, along with his partners, Michael Book and Mike Kimzey, have listened closely to customer feedback and this year the ghostly trio have made some major improvements to the Danger Run experience.
In past years, fans have been limited to experiencing only two haunts. This year, Danger Run has teamed up with FOUR BRAND NEW haunted attractions never before included. Doubling the number of haunts has opened the door to multiple routes, new thrills, and reduced wait times. While only two haunts are included on the adventure, now the Danger Run can be enjoyed multiple times for completely different experiences and have the benefit of spreading the crowd over more haunts to significantly reduce the wait.
Another major upgrade to the Danger Run is the ability to start any day or night at any time right from your own driveway! Unlike previous years, customers will now be able to purchase tickets online at dangerrun.com and download the clue book directly to their smart phone, tablet or print it out at home. Danger Runners starting online will then be directed to the nearest secret starting point to mark their mileage and begin their clues.
Tickets purchased online will save $1 on each ticket and still get all of the amenities provided by Danger Run. Of course, the regular start gates located at Lowe’s at 501 South Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville, Ky.; 6651 Dixie Highway in Louisville, Ky.; and 1350 Veterans Pkwy in Clarksville, In, will still be in operation for those who enjoy a more traditional Danger Run.
For just $19.95 per person ($18.95 online), Danger Run participants will get an entire evening of unique Halloween entertainment including the fun scavenger hunt style game, admission to two all new haunted attractions (valued at $40 per person), free food from DQ Grill and Chill, free fangs and a $10 Speedway gas card for carloads of four or more.
The Danger Run will operate this season from September 20 – October 26. Participants can start online any day at any time during this time frame and the traditional starting locations will be open on Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM – 11PM (the haunted attractions included are open from 8PM-2AM on Fridays and Saturdays).
A portion of the proceeds this year will go to the Children’s Miracle Network to benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky.
The Culbertson Mansion Pays Tribute to Classic Horror this Halloween!
Good Evening, Monster Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the creaky halls of the haunted Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, IN with another exclusive advanced preview of a beloved local haunted attraction.
Literally A Haunted House has been scaring the ghost out of loyal patrons since 1985 when it was introduced as part of the old Jaycees Spook Run. The first year of this haunt was really just a brief skit with a “Boo!” finale inside the actual mansion itself. Starting the second year, the haunt was moved to the carriage house out back where a more fully developed attraction could be created and it has haunted that location ever since.
This week I spoke with Culbertson Mansion’s Holly Crisler about her wicked plans for Literally A Haunted House for the 2013 Halloween season. Crisler started working the Culbertson haunt as an actor in 2001 and took over as chairman in 2004. Ever since she has been in charge of coming up with and developing a new theme for each season, completely revamping and rebuilding the carriage house interior each year to reflect the new theme and keep the haunt fresh.
“This year we’re paying tribute to Classic Horror,” says Crisler. “We’ll be showcasing the classic movie monsters of the black-and-white era as well as many of the classic horror stories written in the 1700’s and 1800’s. We thought that would be a good fit since we have an 1867 Victorian-style mansion as our backdrop.”
During my visit, Crisler’s crew was hustling and bustling about building sets and preparing wardrobe to make the carriage house look like a 1930’s Universal Monster movie. Costume maker and wardrobe specialist, Mary Sieg, brought in a nearly completed mummy costume that an actor immediately tried on. I was told the look would be completed by a professional latex mummy mask purchased at the Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show. I was able to visit the nearly completed Mummy’s Tomb set, and I must say the detail Crisler’s crew have put into the scene is amazing.
I was taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the entire haunt where every scene has been designed to make you feel like you’ve stepped into either a Universal Monster movie from the 30’s and 40’s or a Hammer Horror film from the 50’s and 60’s with a little Roger Corman/ Edgar Allan Poe era vibe thrown into the mix.
You’ll be witness to a witch burning at the stake whose dying curse brings out the rogues gallery of monsters to follow. You’ll face vampires, travel through the dark woods where werewolves lurk, enter the catacombs for a “Premature Burial,” discover Dr. Frankenstein’s lab in the attic, be forced to make your way through the dungeon and maybe even run into the Creature from the Black Lagoon!
That’s not all, however, because Literally A Haunted House has also added a classic, pitch dark maze area that’s full of classic gags as well as some unexpected “shocks.” That’s all I’m going to say.
“We are keeping the coffin ride near the exit,” says Crisler. “One member from each group will be taken away and put into a real coffin for a ride they won’t soon forget.” The last scene is being kept under wraps, but Crisler promises most guests won’t be walking casually out the exit.
I’m very excited to see the results when everything is completed, the Jacob’s Ladders and electrical equipment are buzzing, the coffin lids are creaking and the Full Moon is shining. I’ve wanted to see someone attempt to bring back the Classic Monsters of the silver screen in all of their atmospheric surroundings and Gothic glory for years. I’ve always felt that Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and all their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters somehow capture the true spirit of Halloween in its purist form.
Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back soon and often with more haunt previews, movie reviews, convention news and more. Follow us on Facebook for the latest news! Until then, I bid you goodnight.
The Phantom of the Ville Spent a Recent Sunday Afternoon
Haunting the Halls of the Days of the Dead Horror Convention in Indianapolis!
Good Evening, horror fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville just back from the Days of the Dead horror convention in Indianapolis. I hope you all had a great Fourth of July weekend. For those of you who weren’t able to make the trip to Days of the Dead over the long weekend, I’m filing this convention report so you can get an idea of what the show was like in case you want to mark your calendar for the next show.
My hearse driver and I arrived early Sunday afternoon to the Wyndham Indianapolis West to find a fairly good crowd of horror fans wandering the halls. It wasn’t insanely busy, like at some other recent horror shows where the Fire Marshall had to be called in to deal with the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, but it was comfortably well attended. All the big celebrities always had small lines of fans waiting to meet them, but wait times were never more than just a few minutes, and all the celebrities we met were in great spirits and enjoying the interaction with their fans.
Don Coscarelli, director of the “Phantasm” series, making a rare horror convention appearance, seemed to garner the most consistently long line of fans waiting to get their silver sphere props and “Phantasm” DVDs signed. Also the director of “Bubba Ho-tep” and the recent, “John Dies at the End,” Coscarelli is one of the nicest and most down-to-earth horror directors you could ever hope to meet. There doesn’t seem to be even a hint of ego in his personality.
Also getting fairly long lines of fans were Roddy Piper (“They Live,” “Hell Comes to Frogtown”) and Gary Busey (“Lethal Weapon,” “The Ginger Dead Man”). The lines for both of them were likely due to the fact that they both tended to disappear for long periods and then suddenly come back to their tables to sign autographs. Busey, who has a reputation for his crazy real life antics, certainly fascinated and entertained the crowd, often actually “directing” the photography angles of those who took his picture. If Gary Busey didn’t like the way your photo turned out, he’d make you take it again!
One fan excited to meet Gary Busey was actually a celebrity rock star himself, guitarist Twiggy from Marilyn Manson’s band, was hanging out at Days of the Dead just as a horror fan! You never know who you’re going to run into at these shows. Lita Ford was another rock star meeting fans at the show.
Danny Trejo (“From Dusk ‘til Dawn,” “Machete”) was another very popular guest. Trejo seemed shorter in real life than I expected, but I wasn’t about to tell him so in person! He seemed really nice, but I’ve seen too many of his movies to risk getting on his bad side!
I was really excited to talk to Chris Sarandon (“Fright Night,” “Child’s Play”), who I hadn’t seen since the Fright Night Film Fest here in Louisville a few years ago. “Fright Night” is one of my very favorite vampire films, and I still have the 1985 paperback novelization with vampire, Jerry Dandridge, on the cover, which Chris signed for me. Chris says there’s a good possibility that he will be re-teaming with “Fright Night” director, Tom Holland, this Fall for a new horror movie called, “The Ten O’Clock People,” based on a story by Stephen King and also scheduled to star Chris Evans (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Avengers”).
Among the many horror stars on hand were Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Tyler Mane (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”), Derek Mears (the “Friday the 13th” re-make), Heather Langenkamp (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) and Louisville’s own, John Dugan (Grandpa from the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”)!
I spent 15 minutes chatting with “Hatchet” series director, Adam Green (“Frozen”), about his epic battles with the MPAA over the ratings given to his movies for excessive violence, who has “Hatchet III: The Unrated Director’s Cut” coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on August 13th. Green has added Zach Galligan (“Gremlins,” “Waxwork”) to his regular cast that includes Kane “Jason Vorhees” Hodder as swamp ghost slasher, Victor Crowley, and Danielle Harris as heroine, Marybeth. Green says this is the definitive end of the “Hatchet” series, and I can’t wait to see how he wraps it up!
Days of the Dead was also sponsoring “Thing Fest,” a tribute to John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi/horror classic. Most of the cast was on hand, including Keith David (Childs), Richard Masur (Clark), T.K. Carter (Nauls), Joel Polis (Fuchs), David Clennon (Palmer) and Thomas Waites (Windows). Also on display was an incredible collection of memorabilia from the film.
Personally, I was pretty excited to meet Butch Patrick, who was nice enough to personalize a photo to the Phantom of the Ville! That’s going up on my office wall. I mean, it’s Eddie Munster! It doesn’t get any cooler than that! I also took in the sword swallowing act of the Amazing Captain Stab Tuggo!
I then got to spend some time talking to writer/producer, Thommy Hutson, the producer of a series of great horror film documentaries including “More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead,” “Scream: The Inside Story,” “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th.” Hutson has just completed work on what he calls the “ultimate” Friday the 13th documentary, “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th,” which should be released on Blu-ray on DVD just in time for Halloween this year. The main documentary, which is 420 minutes long, will cover every film to ever feature Jason Voorhees with equal care and attention. Hutson promises at least 15 hours of bonus materials. Not a single drop of blood will be overlooked!
The dealer’s room was huge, and stocked with lots of stuff Halloween fans would love. I took a few pictures of things I thought our readers would find interesting, including a guy who makes jack-o-lantern teeth, a full sized Sam figure from “Trick ‘r Treat” (2007), a booth dedicated to the beloved and recently departed Indianapolis horror host, Sammy Terry, and the Halloween-centric table of Indiana horror writer, Michael West!
I had a great time at Days of the Dead, which was very well organized and run. I hope some of you will join me in haunting the halls of this show next year. I’ll be back soon with new haunt news and previews!
Journey with Us into the Dark Forest of Man’s Greatest Fears and Dreamscape Myths as We Explore Louisville’s New Outdoor Haunt, Grim Trails!
(Images Provided by Andrew Coombs)
Welcome back, Haunt Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in from Eastern Jefferson County just down the road from the infamous Pope Lick railroad trestle. This misty, heavily wooded area is already plagued with urban legends, twilight superstitions and ghostly folktales, but it’s about to get even spookier this Halloween when the gates open for curiosity seekers to explore Grim Trails!
Based in part on the dark fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and some of the more haunting fantasy stories we were all read as children, this unique haunt will also incorporate some local legends into the mix as guests will adventure across two acres of forest trial over bridges, through dark caves and into ominous huts and houses as they explore the magical world of Grim Trails.
This week I spoke with Grim Trails owner and operator, Andrew Coombs, about his vision for this dark storybook attraction. As the creator of The Haunted Yard, Coombs has 34 years of experience as a home haunter. His free trick-or-treat extravaganza has become a Halloween destination for hundreds of little ghosts and goblins every October 31st. Two years ago, Coombs took the plunge into professional haunting when he opened Grim Tales in a shopping center in Middletown. Although his first attempt at interactive dark fantasy was a success, he took last year off to build a more permanent and elaborate attraction on some of his own property where he could better do justice to some of his grander concepts.
“We’ve got four acres of land to use for Grim Trails, two acres of which will be used for the trail itself,” says Combs. “For folks used to living in the city and the suburbs, they may be in for something of a shock. There’s a good chance they may encounter any number of wildlife while on the trail. There are live goats living next door, and the area is home to deer, rabbits and raccoons, any of which may wander onto the trail.” Then there are the creatures you, unfortunately, are guaranteed to run afoul of.
Coombs has built a trail with twists, turns and many different areas to explore. “We have a bridge that crosses over a great chasm guarded by a goat-headed creature, which is kind of our tribute to both the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ and the legend of the Pope Lick Monster which haunts the railroad trestle just down the street,” says Coombs. “We’ve also got a bear cave you’ll have to make your way through.”
There are also five different structures you’ll encounter along the trail that you’ll have to pass through as you journey into darkness. “There’s the ‘Three Little Pigs’ house,” Coombs elaborates, “and the big, bad wolf who wants inside.” There will also be a “candy house” that represents Hansel and Gretel’s home and a “witches house” in an area Coombs calls “The Dark Forest” area.
If you went through Grim Tales two years ago, you likely remember the enchanted winter forest scene where Coombs had installed a snow making machine to create snow indoors. This year, Coombs has upgraded to a much better snow maker. “At Grim Tales, we had a snow making machine, but the snow basically just looked like soapy foam. This year we’ve got a professional snow machine from Froggy’s Fog that makes very realistic snow, so I can promise a snowy winter forest scene to everyone who comes through.”
There are no movie scenes or cinema slashers in Grim Trails. Coombs is sticking to his theme of dark fairy tales and fantasy. As such, Coombs intends his attraction to be for all ages (except, of course, the very young), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. It just means that you won’t see scenes of torture and graphic bloodshed. Given the fact that there are plenty of haunts out there offering up chainsaws, gore and guts by the bucket load, I think Grim Trails sounds like a great alternative for a more imaginative, spooky adventure.
Coombs says his crew has been working on the haunt five days a week to get ready for Halloween. “Honestly, the hardest part has been constructing the parking lot. We’re out here in the woods on private property, so we’ve had to clear a large area of land and make a lot for folks to park.”
What a great city we live in for Halloween lovers! Where else can you find not only so many haunted attractions, but also such a great variety of haunt themes for different tastes and moods? There are still many more haunted attraction previews coming in the following weeks of July, so be sure to follow Louisville Halloween on Facebook for all the latest news.
Climb the Dark Stairway into Louisville’s Most Haunted Attic
to Discover the Horrors in Store for Foolish Mortals in the Devil’s Attic this
(Photos by Jason Besemann)
Happy Fourth of July weekend, Haunt Fans, it’s The Phantom of the Ville back with another preview of what’s lurking in the shadows and ready to pounce on you this Halloween. This week I spoke with Jason Besemann, owner and operator of The Devil’s Attic located on West Hill Street. This year will mark the fourth season of scaring poor souls in Louisville for the Devil’s Attic, and the third season in its current location in the old Jobson Paint Company building.
“Owning the building really helps,” says Besemann, “because what I really love is adding detail.” In the first season of his haunt in a little strip mall in J-town, Besemann had to contend with a rental location that meant he had a very short time to build his haunt and then had to tear it down and store the sets in November. Now he has had three seasons in the same building to construct, expand and add detail to his haunt, and guests this year will really be able to tell the difference.
“We’ve added one completely new scene, but I don’t want to spoil it. I want people to be surprised by it,” says Besemann. “But we’ve also added a lot of new props and details to every scene.”
One of the new props Jason was willing to disclose to us is a gigantic animated vampire made by Distortions Unlimited, the Halloween and special effects company featured on the Travel Channel’s “Making Monsters.” Besemann says the animated vampire prop was one of the coolest things he saw at the Transworld Halloween & Attractions show this year, and he just had to have one for the Devil’s Attic. “Ultimately, it’s just eye candy. It’s a distraction that will get people’s attention while a real actor will deliver the scare from another direction!”
“We’ve also added an LED Jacob’s Ladder to our Frankenstein’s Lab scene,” says the giddy Besemann.
When pressed about the horror movies he has seen this year that have inspired his haunt, Besemann points to the new “Evil Dead” re-make and, especially, “Mama.” There’s an area in the Devil’s Attic he calls “the ghost hallway,” in which some of the imagery from “Mama” will be worked into the theme.
“I see this attraction as a form of art,” expresses Besemann. The detailed set design, the costumes, the make-up and the performances of his actors are a kind of interactive art to Besemann and his customers complete the puzzle to become part of a living artwork that constantly changes with each group that enters the front door.
“This year we will also have live entertainment every weekend to keep people involved in the haunt while they’re in line. We’ve always had line actors out there interacting with the crowd, but this year it will be more elaborate. There will be five skits performed per hour.”
Besemann has also come up with an idea that he hopes will connect the haunt community more often during the entire year. He is currently programing a series of Devil’s Double Feature nights that take place on the last Saturday night of each month at Solidarity at 1609 Bardstown Rd. “Anybody can come,” he says. “But it started as a way to get folks who work in haunted houses all across the city to come together and discuss the industry and watch some great horror films together.” The next Devil’s Double Feature will take place on Saturday, July 27th (doors open at 7:30 PM and the movies will start around 8 PM) and will focus on independent animated horror. The features are “Heart String Marionette” and “Where the Dead Go to Die.” A $5 donation gets you both movies on a 101 inch HD screen and THX sound and FREE popcorn! If you want a chance to talk to Jason Besemann yourself, and find out more about what’s in store for the Devil’s Attic in 2013, this is the time and place to do it!
Have a bloody good Fourth of July weekend, my fiends, and I will be back soon with many more previews of the best haunts in the Kentuckiana area.
Get an Advanced Look at What’s New for the 7th Street Haunt’s Second Season!
it’s The Phantom of the Ville reporting in with the first in what will be a
series of advanced previews of the works-in-progress by some of the best
haunters in the region. While most of us don’t start thinking about haunted
attractions until September, many of the best haunters in the Louisville area
start building their terror mazes much earlier. In fact, for some the obsession
with scaring patrons in October is a non-stop, year around effort. It takes
months and months of hard labor to build the perfect scare machine.
This weekend I met with Travis Boling to discuss
his plans for the second season at the 7th Street Haunt. “First of
all, it’s going to be quite a bit longer,” says Boling. “We’ve added 11 new
rooms to the space, and opened up some whole new areas.”
In addition to the new rooms, the 7th
Street Haunt is adding a new wrap around back story to the attraction and some
new characters to beef up that story. The haunt will now take place in the
mysterious town of Fort Harmony, KY, a town that no longer exists. Years ago, a
strange accident happened in Fort Harmony involving something known only as
“Chemical 7,” and as a result the town was closed off by the government. Soon
after, the entire town disappeared. Now, suddenly, the town has reappeared
mysteriously and it’s up to you to investigate and discover the dark secrets of
Unfortunately for you, Chemical 7 is still leaking
in the area and it causes terrifying hallucinations. Chances are better than
average that you’re going to get gassed with the poisonous stuff as soon as you
enter town and you’ll have to make your way through all the horrors that Fort
Harmony has to dish out if you hope to reach the decontamination zone on the
other side of town.
One of the crazy new characters you’ll meet is
Billy, a demonic goat-headed resident of Fort Harmony. Part Pope Lick monster,
part Hunter S Thompson style hallucination, Billy doesn’t like
strangers in town and he’s got an Axe to grind with anyone who enters his house.
There are a couple of things I really admire about
Travis Boling’s haunt. The first thing is something he not only admits, but is
actually proud of: He likes to keep it OLD SCHOOL! Last year, I remarked that
his haunt reminded me the most of the legendary haunts I experienced as a kid in
the 1970′s. This old school vibe is completely intentional. You won’t find any
movie characters or scenes in the 7th Street Haunt. Everything is
original, and you won’t find any expensive props or animations bought in stores
or at industry conventions. Everything here is handmade by local artists and
craftsmen. This even includes the music score you’ll hear in the background,
which is all composed and recorded by a local musician.
Through the theme of hallucinations brought on by
Chemical 7, Boling is able to present a variety of terrible visions that prey on
different fears. This season will showcase scenes dealing with voodoo, satanic
worship, mining disasters, carnivals gone wrong, mutants, freaks and clowns. Oh
yes, there will be clowns. Boling’s entire family is busy building the haunt.
His mom is building stone walls in the crypt and his mother-in-law painted the
nightmarish clown face (SEE PHOTO) in the circus maze. Everything is handmade
and locally built, if that’s something you can appreciate.
Check out some of our exclusive (carefully framed
as not to give away too much!) photos of the 7th Street Haunt’s
work-in-progress. Get ready to try to escape Fort Harmony this October, and I’ll
be back soon with another local haunt preview!
The Legendary 80′s Slasher Film Shot in Bowling Green Finally Sees a Proper Digital Release and We Talk to Director, Doug Robertson, About His Locally Produced Halloween Cult Hit!
In the late 1980′s, the decade of the slasher film boom, a group of ambitious Western Kentucky University students and faculty took on the herculean task of producing a feature horror film on and around the WKU campus and other locations in Bowling Green. Shot on 16mm film and transferred directly to video, “HauntedWeen” has become something of cult myth in the Kentuckiana region. More people know about it than have actually seen it.
Finally, its time as a “lost film” is over, as there is now a digitally remastered 20th anniversary DVD available that includes a 45 minute documentary, “The Making of HauntedWeen.” The DVD also includes a commentary track with director, Doug Robertson, and producer, Cory Lash, as well as a photo album, movie trailer and official music video.
The story follows a group of fraternity students who decide to operate a fundraiser haunted attraction at the infamous Burber House where twenty years prior another house of horrors closed when little Eddie Burber, not understanding the difference between theatrical horror and actual murder, killed a little girl inside his family’s Halloween haunted house. What these college kids don’t know is that Eddie Burber is still alive and ready to continue his bloody work inside the new Burber haunted house.
You can order a copy of the DVD at www.hauntedween.com. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Doug Robertson about making his horror opus at John Carpenter’s alma mater at WKU. Without further ado, I give you the director of “HauntedWeen.”
The Phantom of the Ville: Good Evening, Doug. Take us back to the late 1980′s at Western Kentucky University. How did the idea for making a slasher film in Bowling Green come about?
Doug Robertson: I was faced with the opportunity to make my own movie. After taking a course in Los Angeles called LOW BUDGET FILMMAKING, I decided to make a horror comedy with very few locations and camera set ups. I had about three weeks worth of free help. So I had to maximize my effort to get the best bang for my buck. HauntedWeen was my sixth screenplay. I had written five others hoping someone would buy them. They were higher budget movies. I wrote HauntedWeen with the intent of making it myself. The idea came to me while taking a shower. I thought wouldn’t it be wild if we saw real people getting killed in a haunted house and patrons of the haunted house thought it was fake. So I took that idea and built the script. The college fraternity was the easy part of the script. Once you know how a movie ends, it’s a lot easier to write the beginning and the middle.
TPOTV: One of the greatest horror directors of all time, John (“Halloween“) Carpenter, is from Bowling Green and also attended WKU. I imagine his legacy cast a long shadow over any production by students from WKU, let alone a horror film. Did his career have much influence on you?
DR: There is no doubt John Carpenter influenced a lot of young movie makers. But honestly, I was never into the horror genre. I’m not a big fan of horror. Mostly horror movies scare the crap out of me. With computer generated special effects these days, the possibilities are almost limitless. I simply wanted to make a movie that I could put in a box and sell it in Hollywood. The genre didn’t really drive me. Making a movie that was feature length was my primary motivation. I could have made a love story or a drama with the same talented group of people that helped me make HauntedWeen. John Carpenter and I both shared the same creative writing teacher however. Mary Ellen Miller was also my instructor. She told us that John wrote THE FOG as one of his projects in writing classes.
TPOTV: “HauntedWeen” has been a notoriously hard film to find over the years. I’m so glad to see it get a 20th Anniversary Edition release on DVD. Why has the film been so hard to see over the last 20 years?
DR: I was offered three distribution deals in Hollywood. None of them were money up front. They were all back end deals. That meant only one thing. I would never see a dime. So I decided to distribute the movie myself. I set up a booth in Las Vegas during the VSDA (Video Software Dealers Association) conference in 1991. I charged $24.95 for one copy and sold almost 2000 copies nationwide. I sold almost 300 in Bowling Green alone. After expenses, I made a little money back. HauntedWeen is a small movie. The entire budget was around $60,000 in cash and another $100,000 in deferred compensation. That meant, if the movie ever made money, then I would pay people based on a predetermined deferment schedule. I was last on the schedule. So I never made any money and sadly, I lost thousands making the movie. But as I look back at the experience and what making that movie has meant to me and a lot of other people along the way. I would have made it again and again. It was the most incredible experience of my life. And even though it was a colossal flop financially, I think it helped a lot of people to get their foot in the door of the industry. And it gave me confidence to understand life better and realize, I can do anything I want if I just try.
TPOTV: Although I believe the film was released in 1991, it absolutely has an 80′s horror vibe to it. The horror explosion from the 1980′s, from “Friday the 13th” to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the “Halloween” franchise, is seeing a major resurgence in popularity on DVD and at horror conventions everywhere. Why do you think that is?
DR: That is an easy answer. All movie genres cycle. You will see three years of action movies, then comedies are big, then drama, then horror. I learned that a long time ago. Sometimes the cycle lasts longer than others, but there is definitely a cycle. I had some producer friends in LA explain that to me over dinner one night. It’s true, just look backward. It’s very track-able.
TPOTHV: The killer in “HauntedWeen” wears a number of different creepy rubber monster masks during the movie. I recognized one of them as a Topstone Nate zombie from “Creepshow” in the “baseball bat scene.” Where did the masks come from and who picked the ones to use on screen?
DR: I believe that a group of people work well together if you give autonomy to those that know their business. We picked up a very motivated special effects SFX guy from Evansville, IN. Dave Snyder. He read about my movie in a newspaper and contacted us. We interviewed him to take on the challenge of Special Effects Director. I allowed him to make those decisions. He picked out the masks, he made the molds, he squirted the blood. When it came time for a SFX shot, we worked closely together but I relied on him to be the expert and tell me what was possible. Then we designed a shooting sequence around his expertise. I was very impressed with him and his energy. I think today, he has made a living in the SFX business in the movie industry. For him, it all started with HauntedWeen.
TPOTV: You had a great theatrical poster using the “creepy old man” mask. Do you remember who did the poster?
DR: I had a box designed by a friend of a friend in Atlanta. I over paid for my video boxes and the box art. It was the worst deal I have ever made. I don’t remember her name. But I liked the outcome. I thought the box art was very cool and creepy.
TPOTV: Your movie might have been the first movie ever to present the idea that actual murders are taking place inside a haunted attraction and patrons don’t know that much of the blood and dismemberment are actually real. Where did that idea come from?
DR: That was the hook. Killing people in a haunted house had never been done to my knowledge. It’s hard to create something novel. These days, almost everything has been done before. I got lucky that the idea came to me and I was able to tell that story. But mostly, without the help of friends from Bowling Green and students and graduates that I knew from WKU, HauntedWeen would have never gotten off the ground. I owe Cory Lash all the credit for putting such a great crew together. He and I worked well as a team. I admire and respect his talent and ability to keep it all together under the pressure that we endured each 18 hour day for 23 days of shooting.
TPOTV: In the 45 minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the DVD, everyone seems to be looking forward to the next film project after “HauntedWeen,” which apparently never happened. Why not?
DR: I decided after making HauntedWeen that I didn’t want to be a filmmaker. I also couldn’t afford to make another movie. It took me 10 years to pay off HauntedWeen. I moved back to Kentucky after the distribution. I got into medical sales and that’s what I do today. It’s been a good career for me. I still love movies and I go and see 3-4 movies per month at the theater. I have enjoyed the re-release of the DVD. Making a movie is a magical time. All of our collective energy goes into each shot of every scene. Friends are made and hearts are broken. Emotions run high and egos abound. But it’s such a thrill to create something that will last. I get emails all the time from fans that tell me how HauntedWeen fit into their life. I am truly thankful that my movie impressed a few, distressed some, and drove others to go onto to bigger and better things in the entertainment field. I cannot think of a more fun project. It was hard to make my movie. Passion was my motivator.
This Weekend is Packed with The International Festival of Magic, a Screening of
“Robocop” with a Live Score by Ultra Pulverize and Some Great Spooky Guests at
Hey, Louisville Halloween Fans, it’s The Phantom
of the Ville here in my secret sanctum practicing my astral projection skills to
get ready for this weekend. I’ll need to be in more than once place at a time if
I hope to experience all the thrills being offered in Louisville this Friday
through Sunday. Here’s a quick preview to help you plan your weekend!
The Louisville International Festival of Magic,
Illusion and the Unusual (June 14th – June 16th ): Two of
the world’s most famous magicians, and both Louisville natives, Lance Burton and
Mac King, will be in town hosting the largest gathering of magicians and
illusionists in the world for magic shows, lectures and secrets shows of the
unusual all weekend long. Lance Burton just ended a 20 year career as Las Vegas’
most popular magician and Mac King, the undisputed king of magic comedy, also
has his own Vegas show. Both also got their careers started working as the house
magician at Caufield’s Novelty!
Perhaps the biggest show during the weekend, which
will be hosted by both Burton and King, is the Festival Gala Show which takes
place Saturday night at 8PM at the Brown Theater. Five of the world’s greatest
illusionists will join them for a variety of acts. Other shows and lectures are
taking place all over downtown from the Baron Theater in the Whiskey Row Lofts
to the Marriott to the Garage Bar to the Galt House. There are far too many
shows happening for me to detail them all here, and I recommend you go to the
Festival’s website at www.louisvillemagicfestival.com for show
information and tickets.
“Robocop” with LIVE score by Ultra Pulverize (June
15th ): If you’re a fan of one of the goriest sci-fi films ever made,
“Robocop” (1987), there’s a special screening of the film this Saturday night,
June 15th, at the Clifton Center at 11PM as part of the Flyover Film
Festival. One of Louisville’s most interesting and eclectic bands, Ultra
Pulverize, will be providing a LIVE, electronic re-score to accompany the film.
Ultra Pulverize has been one of my favorite local bands for several years, and
this is a one time event you won’t want to miss! The Clifton Center is located
at 2117 Payne Street.
VinylFest (June 14th – June
16th ): This is the first year for this vinyl record collector’s show
at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Hotel at 830 Phillips Lane. Most of the
best spooky records from my childhood, like Disney’s “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds
of the Haunted House” (the last record I bought from ear-x-tacy, by the way),
still only exist on the vinyl format. This is a great place to seek out some of
those lost treasures. The attending guests will also be of interest to
Louisville Halloween fans.
Fantasy artist, Ken Kelly, who may be most famous
for creating the iconic art for the KISS albums, “Destroyer” and “Love Gun,” has
also designed album covers for Manowar, Rainbow and many other rock bands. He
also painted the covers for a number of popular issues of “Famous Monsters of
Filmland.” Ken will be at the show all weekend.
William Stout may be the most famous bootleg album
cover artist in the world. His movie posters for films such as “Wizards” and
“Rock n’ Roll High School” are some of the most iconic images in the world of
cult cinema. He has worked as production designer on dozens of films including
“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Men in Black,” “Predator” and, perhaps most famously to
Louisville fans, “Return of the Living Dead.” Stout designed the entire look of
the film including the infamous Tarman zombie. He will be at the show all
weekend. Check out the VinylFest website at www.vinylfest.net for more information.
Get out there in the Ville and experience as much
of this magic and mayhem as you possibly can, and I’ll see you next week for
more news of the weird and unusual!
Haunted Memories of Halloweens Past
“It was an exercise in greed. Nobody cared what
you wore or anything like that. It was how many bags of candy could you actually
get. I remember, literally, three or four shopping bags full of candy. You know,
we’d have to go home and dump it and come back. It was really just pure greed.”
Alice Cooper, “Halloween: The Happy Haunting of
In Chuck Williams’ holiday documentary,
“Halloween: The Happy Haunting of America,” shock rock icon, Alice Cooper,
ponders the darker side of October 31st. His observations remind us
that the origins of All Hallows’ Eve are rooted in not only the supernatural,
but in the darker sides of ourselves, in spite of our cultural insistence that
the celebration of Halloween is for children.
Although in recent years, adults have taken back
the night with rituals of masquerade parties and pilgrimages to elaborate and
terrifying haunted attractions, the concept of Halloween being anchored by the
tradition of Trick or Treating has long been the sole privilege of the very
young. The dress up play, the make believe and the pursuit of free sweets in
roving gangs of monsters, super heroes and fantasy characters seems innocent
enough. But what lurks behind the Target vampire teeth and Walmart fright wigs
of these little monsters? What primal instincts are awakened by the ancient
traditions of Halloween?
As a little Phantom, I participated in Trick or
Treating every October since the first year I could walk, and although I
remember attending several Halloween parties at the homes of friends and
schoolmates, I only remember hosting one Halloween party at my parent’s house.
My mom took me to the local hardware store where we bought a shopping cart full
of black garbage bags. The idea was to turn our garage into a house of horrors
worthy of a neighborhood hootenanny, and we spent the better part of a day
cutting garbage bags and duct taping black plastic to the garage walls, covering
my dad’s tools and wrapping his shotgun shell re-loader.
The next step in getting the haunted garage ready
for the party was covering the walls with cardboard Beistle Halloween cutouts.
Jack-O-Lanterns, black cats, glow-in-the-dark ghosts and witches were evenly
spaced throughout the room, and my dad installed black lights in the old light
bulb sockets. My favorite memory of the haunted garage is the Wolf Man figure we
constructed to guard the entrance. We bought a Collegeville Wolf Man mask with a
day-glo painted face that would glow under the black lights, and stuffed my
dad’s old hunting clothes with newspapers to form the body. He had a plaid shirt
worthy of Lon Chaney Jr., covered with denim overalls, and the look was
completed with work gloves and boots. An old, Styrofoam wig holder was covered
in black plastic to hold the werewolf mask in place.
In the dead center of the room hung the piece de
resistance, a huge black spider pinata. This papier-mache monsterpiece was the
mystery and the terror of the room. My parents had insisted on filling this
eight legged arachnid themselves, so I had no idea what dark treasures awaited
inside its terrible belly. All I know is that we hung it up the day before the
party. I could hear the treats inside tumbling around as I helped my dad hold it
steady while he nailed it to the ceiling. All day and all night it hung there
while I obsessed over its mysteries, occasionally tapping it with my fingers
trying to size up the treats inside like a kid shaking his Christmas presents
under the tree.
The day of the party arrived and as soon as I got
home from school I went out to explore the haunted garage and help get
everything ready for the arrival of the kids in a couple of hours. I carefully
checked the giant spider to make sure my younger brother hadn’t previously tried
to poke a hole in his belly to get some early treats.
Next, I helped my mom move spare chairs into the
garage where we set up a mini movie theater. I was already a part time
projectionist with our Super 8 movie projector and my dad had edited together
three short reels of monster movies we owned so I wouldn’t have to rewind and
load each separate 8mm film. Tonight’s triple feature would be four minute
condensed, Castle Films versions of “Dracula,” “House of Frankenstein” and
“Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.” Sound effects for these silent reels were
provided separately by my “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” LP
playing from the black plastic covered record player in the corner.
As soon as the kids began to arrive, I ran off to my
bedroom to don my Collegeville Ultraman costume. Mom brought snacks and sodas
out to the kids who gathered to look around the haunted garage and check out the
newspaper stuffed Wolf Man. We finally had a room full of kids and things were
starting to get rowdy so my dad announced the start of the classic horror
movies. Everyone sat down, dad pulled down the portable movie screen and I ran
over to start the sound effects. I still remember the clicking sound of the
projector as a room full of kids sat and watched fifteen glorious minutes of
silent monster madness, cheering their favorite monsters and feigning terror at
the appropriate moments.
After the movies, my mom decided a game of musical
chairs was in order, so all the chairs were placed in a circle beneath the giant
spider pinata.I managed to get eliminated fairly quickly, but I was never a big
fan of musical chairs anyway, so I went to get a Coke with some of the other
early losers. We discussed the white elephant in the room which was, of course,
the black spider in the room. My friends and classmates were as curious about
its contents as I was.
Finally, it was time for the ritual sacrifice.
That black spider must die to appease the gods and provide treats for the
masses. My dad brought out a sturdy stick and the winner of the musical chairs
competition was given first swing at the eight legged guardian of the secret
treasure. The spider survived quite a few mighty blows, but it lost a limb or
two in the battle. Finally it was my turn to slay the beast, and I gave it my
best shot but I wasn’t well trained in the art of pinata murder and I failed.
I slunk away to the corner by the Wolf Man to
await another turn, but that turn would never come. A kid in a cute tiger
costume had much better pinata ninja skills and split the critter right down the
middle spilling his guts full of treats and prizes! The booty hit the floor and
spread out across the room. My eyes darted about the floor. I saw cheap candy
necklaces, Now N Laters and even some full size Snickers bars amid rubber
skeletons and spider rings! What a haul!
I reached down to pick up a piece of candy but it
was snatched by another kid before I could grasp it. I went for a rubber
skeleton, but it was whisked away as well. I looked around and the whole floor
was crawling with clutching, clasping kids, only they weren’t kids anymore. They
were hungry beasts, craving and desperate. Soon everything would be gone and I
would have nothing. Then I saw a full Snickers bar next to the foot of the Wolf
Man that seemed to have avoided detection by the ravenous horde. Just as I was
about to lunge for it, I saw a cute little girl in a witch costume looking down
at the same candy bar. She was using her witches cloak as a makeshift treat bag
and that sucker was full. We locked eyes for a split second. I reached out my
hand for the Snickers bar and I swear she growled and snapped at me! She
snatched up the candy bar and I withdrew my hand, just glad all my fingers were
still accounted for.
Soon after that melee, the party was winding down,
and I was holding back tears because I had no treasure from the spider’s guts to
run my fingers through. There was nothing special inside that spider that I
couldn’t easily talk my parents into buying for me at the local dime store the
next day, but at the time my situation seemed bleaker than I could see past. It
wasn’t so much the lack of rubber skeletons and spider rings that haunted me,
but it was how this group of normal, laughing kids had suddenly turned into
savage little beasts. I’ll never, ever forget the look on that little witch’s
face when it came down to her or me for that Snickers bar. That face haunts me
still when I’m alone at night.
As many magical memories as I carry with me about
twilight neighborhood wanderings, double feature horror screenings with long
gone friends and the buzz of excitement in line at local haunted houses, I also
carry with me this scene right out of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” The
years make even that experience all the sweeter in memory, so I guess Alice was
partly right. You can’t get to the sweet without a taste of the bitter.
Join us as we explore the history, significance
and current whereabouts of Louisville’s Sinclair Triceratops!
“She was always my favorite when I was a kid and
now that I see her, she’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw.”
Dr. Alan Grant, “Jurassic Park” (1993)
Welcome back, Louisville Monster Kids, it’s The
Phantom of the Ville taking you back to a time when dinosaurs ruled the Ville.
Well, not that far back. There was a time, however, not so long ago when one
famous, life-sized triceratops sculpture brought awe and joy to generations of
Louisville’s monster loving kids. Almost every kid that grew up loving monsters
started that lifelong affair by loving the ones that really existed and roamed
the primordial Earth 65 million years ago.
I first remember encountering the Louisville
Triceratops as a young child when it was located at the Louisville Zoo. Already
a dinosaur obsessed little Phantom, seeing the life-sized beast for the first
time in its natural glory amid the all the other animals at the Zoo was
something I’ve never forgotten. Kids were naturally drawn to it. Some of the
older kids even climbed on it! This was the 1970′s and parents didn’t fuss so
much over our safety. I guess they figured if we fell off the dinosaur and broke
a couple of bones, we’d learn not to climb on prehistoric creatures in the
future. I remember my dad hoisted me up so I could climb onto the dinosaur’s
shoulders for a photo op. Glorious!
Years later, the Louisville Triceratops was moved
to the Louisville Science Center downtown where it stayed for many years. For
years it sat in the Yarmuth Garden near the back entrance to the Science Center
until one day it was moved into the parking lot beneath the buzzing expressway
where it was chained down to keep it from escaping. Finally, it was moved right
next to the parking attendant’s booth where anyone entering the Science Center’s
parking lot could see it.
I think it’s possible for something to be so
omnipresent, even something as big as a dinosaur, that it becomes invisible to
local eyes. I passed that creature so many times over the course of my life that
I ceased to even notice it. Then one day a few years ago I was visiting the
Science Center with my niece and she says, “Where’s the dinosaur?” It was gone!
Where did it go? Rumors on the Internet suggested someone with a flatbed truck
had stolen it in the dark of night, but surely somebody would notice a dinosaur
sitting in someones back yard, and it’s not the kind of thing you can sell on
eBay. Other rumors guessed it must be stored somewhere within the Science
Center’s private collection.
After a year of looking, I finally found it, but
before I reveal its current location and condition, I think it’s important to
tell you where it came from and why it’s an important cultural piece of
The Louisville Triceratops was created by famous
Hungarian nature sculptor, Louis Paul Jonas, along with eight other life-sized
dinosaurs for a massive and popular exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The pavilion was called “Sinclair Dinoland,” and was sponsored by the Sinclair
Oil Corporation who had first sponsored another dinosaur exhibit at the Chicago
World’s Fair of 1934 for which they built a two ton, animated “brontosaurus” in
an attempt to draw a public correlation between petroleum deposits and the age
of the “Thunder Lizards.” That exhibit became so popular that Sinclair began
using the image of the dinosaur as a corporate logo and began selling plastic
and inflatable dinosaur toys at all of their gas stations.
When given the chance to get the attention of the
world in 1964, Sinclair built their elaborate Dinoland at the World’s Fair and
sold “Sinclair and the Exciting World of Dinosaurs” brochures and plastic
miniature versions of their dinosaurs in Mold-O-Rama machines where you would
insert your money and watch the high tech gizmo pour colored, liquid plastic
into a heated mold and make you a personal souvenir in just a couple of minutes.
Our Louisville Triceratops was prominently featured in Dinoland (SEE PICS) in
battle with the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex! Millions of tourists marveled at our
triceratops during the Fair and afterward.
After the World’s Fair closed in 1965, the
Sinclair Dinosaurs took their act on the road. The company knew they had a good
promotional thing going so they hauled all nine dinosaurs around the country on
the back of flatbed trucks. They toured the country again in 1967 and 1968,
setting up in the parking lots of shopping centers and malls, before finally
being offered to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., who declined
their ownership. In the spirit of the World’s Fair, each of the nine dinosaurs
were then gifted to different US cities to use for their own purposes in museums
Both the 70 foot Brontosaurus and the T-Rex ended
up in Dinosaur Park in Glenrose, Texas. The Anklyosaurus also went to Texas,
where it is still in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Stegosaurus
currently resides outside the Visitor Center at the Dinosaur National Monument
in Harpers Corner, Utah. The Corythosaurus is at the Riverside Park & Zoo in
Independence, Kansas. The Struthiomimus went to the Milwaukee County Museum in
Wisconsin. The Trachodon resides at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois and
the whereabouts of the Ornitholestes is unknown.
So where is the Sinclair Triceratops that was
gifted to Louisville in the early 1970′s? Sadly, this piece of World’s Fair and
Louisville (pre)history no longer resides at either the Louisville Zoo or the
Louisville Science Center, but it is currently still apparently under stewardship of the
Louisville Science Center. My search for the missing dinosaur drove me to the
Internet searching for clues, and a tip from a local dino-fanatic had me
searching the northwestern part of downtown on Google Earth where I found it.
You can see it from space!
Just around the corner from The Louisville
Stigmatorium (which I wrote about last week), you’ll find the Louisville
Triceratops sitting in a small field of grass near the back parking lot of the
Great Northern Manufacturing Co. at 901 S 15th Street. Apparently,
Great Northern is storing the dinosaur for the Louisville Science Center, but
the years of sitting outside in the weather have taken a toll on the once great
creature. The paint is severely worn and there are cracks on the tip of one of
his horns and the tail. It’s a testament to how well this beast was built,
however, that it has lasted this long.
I don’t blame the Louisville Science Center at all
for the predicament that our beloved triceratops is in. It’s huge. It takes up a
lot of space and badly needs restoration. I doubt the budget of a non-profit
organization would allow such expense for a forgotten, locally invisible relic
of the 1960′s. Here’s the problem, in my ghostly opinion: Nobody in our city
knows what it is or where it came from. I certainly didn’t until I did the
research. What the Louisville Triceratops needs, after a little TLC restoration
and a new coat of paint, is a place where it can be enjoyed by all of our
citizens with a commemorative plaque in front of it explaining its origins so
folks can learn about its cultural history and why they should care.
The question of actual ownership of the dinosaur
will need to be worked out before it can be saved. Does the City of Louisville
own the triceratops or does the non-profit organization that runs the Science
Center who acquired it after changing names from the Louisville Museum of
Natural History & Science? I don’t have the answer, but I encourage anyone
who reads this and cares to try and find out. Call the city government and ask.
Call the Science Center and politely inquire about the missing dinosaur. I think
the only way to save and restore this piece of Louisville monster history is to
have enough people show interest in it so that the city has no choice but to
look into options for bringing it out of the shadows.
I know some very talented artists and craftsmen
here in this city that stand ready to put the work into restoring this dinosaur
to it’s original condition, and will do it for only the cost of materials, but
they’ll only get the chance if its current caretakers actually start to care
Until the day that this dinosaur again rules the
Ville, I will look back fondly on this majestic creature and hope some of you
will as well. This is The Phantom of Ville heading back to the Jurassic Era
until next week!
The Louisville Stigmatorium Oddities & Strange Collectibles: Keeping Louisville Weird One Piece At A Time
It’s Halloween Everyday at the Weirdest Curiosity Shop in the Ville!
Hey kids, it’s The Phantom of the Ville checking
in with a story about a truly singular new curiosity shop/oddities museum/ punk
rock venue/ cult movie showcase at 1722 Maple Street in the industrial area of
downtown Louisville. After getting a tip from a friend at the Culbertson Haunted
Mansion, I decided to see the Louisville Stigmatorium for myself.
My hearse driver drove past the creepy warehouses
and construction sites that litter this part of northwest downtown with only an
address and instructions to, “Look for a building with a boat on the roof.” We
pulled into a sketchy looking alley in front of a large industrial building, and
sure enough we found an entrance with a large outboard motorboat perched atop
the roof. A skull covered sign let us know we were in the right place. Prepare
for a bit of a climb up to the front door as the front stairs are comprised of a
huge pile of timber logs with shipping pallets on top of them to make for flat
surfaces. If that already seems weird to you, then get ready to have your mind
blown by what you’re going to see inside.
As soon as I walked in the front door, my senses
were bombarded with an incredible variety of visual stimuli.The collection on
display isn’t easy to define. You’ll find skeletons in coffins, antique medical
equipment, cultural artifacts, life masks of Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price, cool
toys of our collective childhoods past like the Shogun Warriors Godzilla figure,
animal bones, various creatures in liquid filled mason jars, monster masks,
creepy dolls and many things I couldn’t identify but was too afraid to ask
about. Their motto is, “Nothing is too weird for us.”
Upon entry I was greeted by owner, Andy Harpole,
and his co-conspirator, Johny Walker. Harpole is the owner of both the space and
the majority of the objects on display and Walker is in charge of all related
programming of punk rock shows and B-movie nights, as well as being a low budget
horror film director himself. The Stigmatorium’s current museum room, which they
have plans to expand, is the front room in a large building that makes up
Harpole’s boat repair and storage business.
“At first we thought about opening a shop on
Bardstown Road,” Harpole says. “But someone brought to my attention that I not
only already have this space, but that this end of town already has the perfect
atmosphere for what we wanted to do.” Harpole says the Louisville Stigmatorium
is currently in “soft opening,” and he’s hoping for an official opening sometime
this Summer. Right now, the doors at the museum are open from 11AM until 3PM
Monday through Wednesday, but extended hours or a private showing can be
scheduled at your convenience by calling 502-544-9348.
“Not everything you see is for sale,” Harpole
says. “But we’re open to buying, selling and trading anything unusual.” Harpole
grew up in Oldham County and had an admittedly normal, comfortable childhood
before moving to the Crescent Hill area during his more troubled teenage years.
“There was this old guy who had an auction shop on
Frankfort Avenue,” Harpole remembers, “and one day I stopped in to see what he
was selling. He had all kinds of weird, old stuff and little by little I
starting collecting things. I’m fascinated by the history of Western medicine
and antique medical equipment. I think that’s where this collection started.”
While Harpole runs the museum, Johny Walker is the
event programmer who is busy generating a local following by presenting all ages
punk rock shows and triple feature B-movie nights twice a month. A low budget
horror filmmaker himself, Walker knows his cult horror stuff and sites “Plan 9
From Outer Space” as a major influence. On the week of my visit, he was planning
a show with films as obscure and insane as “Mystics in Bali” and “The Killing of
Satan.” He also regularly brings in touring punk bands from across the country,
and he’s in charge of a small gift shop that sells indie punk CDs, vinyl,
fanzines, horror magazines and other curiosities.
The Stigmatorium is the labor of love of these two
very unique individuals, and their interests & passions extend far beyond the
doors of their spooky operation. “One of the projects I’m very passionate about
is the restoration of Eastern Cemetery in the Highlands,” says Harpole, who
schedules regular volunteer days to help clean up the infamous decaying cemetery
which sits right next door to the immaculately kept, Cave Hill Cemetery.
“I’ve had meetings with the local government about
this problem,” he says. “It’s the saddest thing to me that we’re just letting
the place turn into ruins when so many people’s families and loved ones are
buried there.” The Eastern Cemetery and Crematory closed in the late 1980′s
after a scandal was exposed dating back as far as the 1920′s involving as many
as 48,000 people buried in only 16,000 graves. Vaults were filled to the top
with boxes of ashes, many containing multiple names. Since it closed, it has
been a victim of grave desecration and vandalism.
Andy and Johny welcome anyone to bring in their
weirdest stuff to show, trade or donate to the ever changing museum. New stuff
comes in all the time, and the quicker the museum overflows with weirdness, the
quicker they plan to add rooms to the tour.
Upcoming events include an all ages punk rock show
on Memorial Day, Monday, March 27th, featuring the California
rockabilly sounds of Reverend Red and local punks, EXPO. The show starts at 8PM.
The next B-Movie night takes place on Saturday, June 8th at 8PM. It
will showcase a triple feature of “Driller Killer,” “Basket Case” and “Beyond
the Door.” Food, popcorn and soft drinks will be available at the show. Check
out their Facebook page for more information.
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