The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News
Louisville Halloween gets an EXCLUSIVE preview of Fear Fair’s largest renovation ever for Halloween 2015!
Voodoo, gators and above ground cemeteries await you within the Freeman Municipal Airport at 800 Ave in Seymour, IN this Halloween. Owner/operator, Brett Hays, wants to take you to Bourbon Street and beyond to check out his biggest haunt renovation in 15 years at Fear Fair: Indiana’s Scariest Haunted House. Find Marie Laveau’s grave, meet Baron Samedi and escape the jaws of a legendary man-eating alligator in this season’s massive rebuild of this classic attraction.
Currently ranked Number 11 on USA Today’s Top 20 List of Extreme Haunted Houses in the United States, Fear Fair built its reputation on its realistic, film set worthy movie scenes featuring Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. The movie scenes and familiar cinematic slashers were so well done, in fact, that they ultimately attracted the attention of Trancas International Films, copyright holders of the “Halloween” movie franchise.
“We got a cease and desist letter from the copyright holders of Michael Myers,” admits Brett Hays who is actually a lawyer when he’s not serving as Head Frightmaster at Fear Fair. Since the birth of such huge budget Halloween events like Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, the copyrights to licensed silver screen boogiemen have begun to be much more closely guarded than in previous years where almost every haunted house had “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” scenes.
“Universal is paying over six figures to exclusively use Michael Myers for its Halloween Horror Nights,” says Hays, “and they’ve started cracking down on the higher profile haunts that use these characters without paying for them.”
“We got noticed when people started writing really good reviews of our scenes on Universal’s Facebook page,” relates Hays, “and from that point on I figured all our slasher movie characters were living on borrowed time. It was time for a change.”
“It was time to stop being the world’s best AC/DC cover band and start playing our own music.”
After Fear Fair closed for the 2014 Halloween season, Hays spent several weeks in New Orleans taking in the history and atmosphere of the place, joining expeditions into the swamps and touring the Gothic beauty of its above ground cemeteries.
“I visited Marie Laveau’s grave and took a lot of photos,” says Hays. Marie Laveau (1774-1881) was known as the Queen of Voodoo in New Orleans, and was equally respected and feared for her legendary magical powers. “We rebuilt Marie Laveau’s grave in exacting detail in our new above ground cemetery scenes.”
The new cemetery scenes are the centerpiece of Fear Fair’s original rebuild which includes a trip to Bourbon Street into some of the more infamous Voodoo shops and across rickety bridges in a gator filled swamp. These new scenes replace scenes depicting Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream,” “Friday the 13th” and even the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” scenes which were just installed last season. This year you can still experience Fear Fair’s infamous “Saw,” “Silent Hill” and “The Walking Dead” scenes, but Hayes intends to replace those as well with original haunt scenes by Halloween 2016.
We did manage to get Brett to give us a hint at what to expect next year. Think “The Haunted Mansion.”
The above ground cemetery is huge and includes both an interior and an outdoors area filled with Gothic architecture all built to scale using real brick, stone and mortar. Its construction alone took six months and untold hundreds of man hours to complete.
It’s filled with both animatronic zombies and dozens of shambling undead actors as well as one gigantic cemetery demon summoned by the ghost of Marie Leveau to protect the graves from interlopers. The zombies you’ll find here aren’t the bloody, gory kind you’ll find in “The Walking Dead” scenes. They appear to be more influenced by George Romero’s original, black-and-white “Night of the Living Dead.”
“These zombies are older, dustier and more dried out,” says Hays. “It’s a different kind of zombie than you’ll see in the other scenes. These are real Voodoo zombies.”
Fear Fair will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through November 1st. They will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 PM until 1 AM and on Sundays from 8 PM until 10 PM. General Admission tickets are $20 and Fast Pass tickets are $25. The drive from Louisville to Seymour takes approximately an hour.
Slithering surprises await in the new “Jungle Book” area of Louisville’s most unique haunted attraction at Grim Trails.
Grim Trails Haunted Attraction, located right off of Blankenbaker Pkwy at 12009 Rehl Rd in Jeffersontown, has grown in both scope and spine tingling terror since it first opened its 3/4 mile trail of twisting, turning wooded horror three years ago in 2013. Now those dark enchanted woods have expanded into a 30 plus minute tour of phantasmagorical fear with several new scenes including a journey into a forbidden Jungle Hell!
Unique in its theme within the regional haunt scene, Grim Trails draws inspiration from an ancient Halloween tradition: the dark and magical world of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and other fantastical children’s bedtime stories that often already contain enough nightmare fuel to keep kids from ever wanting to close their sleepy little eyes. Grim Trails, however, takes those bedtime stories and twists them into frightening and distorted versions of the stories and characters we all remember growing up.
As you follow the tea lit trail, you’ll run afoul of cloven hoofed bridge trolls, giant rabbits, cow skulled woodland creatures, ancient hags and fire breathing dragons, and make your way through witches’ huts, haunted castles, lost jungle temples and spider webbed lairs.
Owner/operators Andrew and Michael Coombs have made use of their day job skills and tools as landscapers to create unique features like a creepy mermaid lagoon, a tunnel made of gnarled tree branches and a cascading jungle waterfall. Springing up from the natural environment, they’ve also constructed a number of semi-permanent structures that you’ll pass through on your journey: Hansel & Gretel’s Candy House, the Three Little Pig’s Brick House and last season’s pièce de résistance, Maleficent’s Castle.
That 25 foot Gothic fortress with its chain linked drawbridge and foreboding castle door is actually one of the first scenes you’ll encounter at Grim Trails this season. The amazing Maleficent-changes-into-fire-breathing-dragon showpiece in the castle’s courtyard is still a highlight of the 30 minute walk, but it’s book-ended this year by a new “Jungle Book” area and its centerpiece, Kaa’s Lost Temple, which is one of the last featured scenes before the shocking surprise finale.
You’ll hear jungle noises, see ancient ruins and notice tropical vines and flora as you enter the “Jungle Book” scene, and you’ll have to make your way across a sketchy rope bridge and under a waterfall before you reach the snake statues guarding Kaa’s Lost Temple. It’s a scene that recalls Indiana Jones as much as it does a traditional haunted house.
There is a sense of dark adventure that’s part of what makes Grim Trails a unique Halloween attraction. While the cast of creepy characters lurk in the shadows waiting to spring on you, there’s the added thrill of exploration into the unknown. What lies beyond that next door? Once you’ve departed the cabin in the woods at the very beginning of the trail, entering into a green, foggy vortex that transports you into the strange and otherworldly reality of Grim Trails, there’s no turning back!
You will literally follow Alice on a trip down the rabbit hole to explore twisted scenes from “Alice in Wonderland” and other warped classics. To prevent getting lost forever in the darkness, you must follow the tea lights dangling from spindly tree branches in the hopes they will lead you to your final destination. Stay on the path!
You’ll be tempted to pause and take in the grandeur of detail and atmosphere that Andrew and Michael Coombs have worked many months to bring to this dark wonderland, but beware, your eyes and senses may be working against you. You may not have even heard the unearthly beast sneaking up behind you.
Grim Trails Haunted Attraction has the potential to become a hugely popular Louisville holiday tradition alongside Actors Theatre production of “Dracula,” the Highlands Halloween Parade (now sponsored by Louisville Halloween!) and the 25th Anniversary of The Haunted Hotel. They recommend ages 10 and up only due to frightening scenes and dark themes.
Grim Trails Haunted Attraction is open every Friday and Saturday night through Oct 31st from dusk until 12:30 AM. Tickets are $17. If you’re looking for something different, I think Grim Trails will give you a night to remember!
Louisville Halloween explores the possessed town of Fort Harmony and discovers the dark secrets of one of its most notorious residents in the 7th Street Haunt’s brand new attraction, The Experiment.
Former guests of Fort Harmony in the 7th Street Haunt at 2900 7th Street Rd next to the Expo Five complex are in for a shock. Owner/operator Travis Boling’s “little haunt that could” is no longer a little haunt, and on opening night four years ago I fondly referred to it as Louisville’s “old school” haunted house. Everything was built by hand with blood, sweat & tears, but certainly not with an excess of dollars. It had a charming, retro quality that recalled the infamous WAKY Haunted House of the 1970’s.
But the 7th Street Haunt’s original attraction, “Fort Harmony’s Revenge” isn’t just an “old school” haunt anymore. It has graduated to a whole new school of fright machine!
If you haven’t taken the Fort Harmony tour in a couple of years, you probably won’t even recognize the quaint little town it once was, and if you’ve never experienced the 7th Street Haunt, this is the year to take the plunge into madness. It’s longer and much more detailed than ever before. Each room is packed with wall to wall eye candy. Much more attention has been paid to the ceiling structures and overhead lighting, creating a much more immersive environment than in previous years. More fog, more atmosphere and even a few new animated pop up effects!
“Fort Harmony’s Revenge” has also seen a major upgrade in character acting. The returning characters have upped their game to match the growing pace of this all original attraction, and many new characters have been added to the 40 plus member cast.
Special mention must go to Justin Sinkler who plays a cave dwelling creature that recalls a blend of Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” and the bat creatures from “The Descent” (2005). He rolls, summersaults and pounds the ground one minute, only to be climbing the walls the next in one of the most frightening athletic performances I’ve seen in a haunt actor since Gustav, the elevator goon at The Haunted Hotel.
Veteran haunt actor, Lucian Tomes Jr., who used to grace billboards across the city as the nefarious Warren Vanderdark of The Baxter Avenue Morgue, also shines as a carnival barker in the circus scene which includes high wire clown surprises. The new Voodoo scenes also feature a terrific actress playing the Voodoo Priestess wielding her witch doctor stick.
The 7th Street Haunt has doubled in size this season to 25,000 square feet thanks to a new, high tech attraction called “The Experiment” which introduces one of Fort Harmony’s most notorious characters, Dr. Jenkins. Years ago, Dr. Jenkins’ purchased a warehouse on the outskirts of town to conduct mysterious experiments and one day his own daughter got lost inside the factory, never to be seen again. Her disappearance drove the doctor mad and the warehouse closed its doors forever. Now lights and strange sounds have been reported at the warehouse and it’s up to you to investigate.
The Experiment is the creation of long time Halloween fanatics and haunt prop collectors, Todd Stephens and Dr. Jim Phifer, who have amassed a staggering collection of professional haunt industry animatronics, sets and special effects. These two maniacs were responsible for the unnamed haunt that mysteriously popped up right before Halloween last year in Middletown. You can take a look at some of the types of animated monstrosities and special effects in their collection that you might encounter in The Experiment in our look at their Haunted Warehouse show from last season here: http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/there-is-a-secret-haunt-in-middletown-offering-one-last-great-halloween-scare/.
The Experiment is much more reliant on animatronic zombies, specters and other monsters than Fort Harmony and thus is lighter staffed with actors, but the actors are well trained at using the animated props as visual distractions to generate live scares. As a higher tech haunt, The Experiment offers a nice balance to the more actor driven scares in Fort Harmony and in tandem they become the perfect evening’s horror double feature.
In The Experiment, you’ll explore Dr. Jenkins’ living doll factory, St. Mary’s Hospital and its subterranean tunnels & morgue, and ultimately the children’s ward finale that will hit your nerves with multiple animatronic surprises. It’s quite impressive how well programmed and precisely placed Stephens and Phifer’s animatronic ghouls are used to get right in your face, sometimes even temporarily blocking your way forward, as if they were living creatures interacting with guests as they pass through each room.
Boiling and Stephens have employed a small army of tech crew that scramble about, constantly in radio communication, that stealthily monitor and repair all of the mechanical aspects of the haunt, making sure everything is working properly for each group that enters the abandoned doll factory. During my visit, everything was working like a well-oiled machine.
The 7th Street Haunt will be open every weekend in October on Friday and Saturday from 8 PM until 1 AM and Sundays from 8 PM until 10:30 PM. Tickets for Fort Harmony’s Revenge and The Experiment are $18 each, but I fully recommend the Combo Ticket for $25 for a full hour plus of haunted thrills. You can get $5 off admission with a work, school or military ID.
Costumes, animatronic props, masks, makeup and accessories are awaiting to fulfill your darkest Halloween desires at Halloween Express in the Springhurst Center just off Westport Road!
Greetings, my orange and black legion, it’s The Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the Halloween Express store at 10517 Fischer Park Drive in the Springhurst Shopping Center off Westport Road just down the street from the Cinemark Tinseltown USA Movie Theater. The haunting season is again upon us! It’s time to dress up your front porch and yard with the latest ghoulish props & displays and your corporeal body with the sexiest and/or scariest garments of your dreams & nightmares.
As one of our returning sponsors this season, I’ve chosen Halloween Express to haunt from this day through the end of October. That’s right, kiddies, if one of the animatronic witches, ghosts or zombies in the props and decorations room starts moaning and moving about even though nobody walked by to trip its sensor, or if one of the funky hats on the massive hat rack suddenly falls off the shelf all by itself, it’s probably me.
This is my kind of place, so I’m making it my autumn vacation home. Come by and say hello.
Halloween Express is carrying a large selection of Halloween costumes for all types and sizes from adults to cradle creepers to matching couples’ costumes to the family pet. Or maybe you want to dress up as the family pet. They can help you with that too. You’ll find sections for traditional monsters, fairy princesses, pirates, superheroes and much more including costumes from the much anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
If you want to get your sexy on, they can certainly help you find the look that will turn heads (and not just possessed ones either) this Halloween. They also have fully three dimensional mirrors where you can try on costumes and see how they fit from every angle. At our video shoot last night, which will be coming soon to the Louisville Halloween website, we were treated to a full on frightening fashion show from some of the kookiest, sexiest models in the Ville including cosplay model, Megan Rouge, wearing a skintight female Michael Myers costume.
As a matter of fact, it was the boogeygirl.
Halloween Express also carries haunt props, animatronics and inflatables of all sizes. Need fog juice, zombie makeup, high-quality vampire fangs or swords, knives and other weapon accessories? They have them, plus a nice selection of monster masks for those of you whose faces are already too scary for public gatherings.
Store hours are Monday through Thursdays from 11 AM to 7 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Sunday from Noon until 6 PM.
Get your haunt on at Halloween Express!
You’re not out of the woods yet! Far away from the Louisville city lights, your worst nightmares await in Otter Creek Park!
Darkness takes on a whole new meaning as you pass the twisting tree-lined road that takes you into the wilds of Otter Creek Park in Brandenburg, KY. You’ve never seen the stars shine as bright as they do far beyond the city limits under an October moon. There’s just nothing else like being outside amid the pines and the wilderness on a chilly autumn evening to get your heart pumping blood through your veins.
Nightmare Forest is back with a few new tricks up its sleeves!
I made the trip from Louisville to Brandenburg yesterday to get a taste of what the Nightmare Forest crew was brewing this Halloween, and I was impressed with the scope and the scale of the attraction they’ve managed to construct amid the natural setting in the woods.
Returning for another engagement this year is Hawthorne’s Circus Bizarre where you can witness acts of fire-eating, electrocution and pain endurance. You’ll also get the chance to peek inside his unspeakable Museum of Oddities.
That’s just the pre-show. The main attraction is the ghostly trio of haunts that begins with the Dead End Hotel, continues into the black forest of the Trail of Terror and finally sends you through a series of scenes from both classic and new horror films in the signature Nightmare Forest trail.
The Dead End Hotel hasn’t changed much since last season, but the actors were all at the top of their game at dress rehearsals last night. Watch out, especially, for the little zombie girl that hides under the bed! This indoor haunt starts off the haunted adventure with about a 10 minute walk-thru before you exit into the woods for the outdoor portion of the attraction.
Next you’ll enter a large above ground cemetery at the start of Trail of Terror where it’s sometimes difficult to spot the “living” undead from the lifelike props until it’s too late to prevent the shock to the system that occurs when one of them jumps out at you. What follows is a true Phantasmagoria of spooky scenes that takes guests through an ancient tomb, an alien military base and a demented Fun Park with a Western Town and a Kiddie Land. New this year is a spectacular Gothic church scene that’s being kept mostly under wraps, and I look forward to seeing what happens inside that sacred façade.
As always, the finale awaiting guests is the Nightmare Forest trail, which has been changed up quite a bit this season to offer several new movie scenes while eliminating some of the old favorites to keep things fresh. For example, “Hellraiser” is gone this year, which had been a staple in Nightmare Forest for probably 20 years, but in its place there are new scenes based on “Anabelle,” “Hostel,” “Deliver Us from Evil” and “Ouija.” The “Ouija” scene is a highlight, giving guests the chance to actually enter inside a gigantic Ouija board!
The 80’s horror boogeymen are back to haunt your nightmares: Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees are all present and accounted for to give you that jolt of Halloween nostalgia you’ve been craving all year long.
Lastly, Nightmare Forest is delivering a sequel of its own this year. Last year they introduced guests to “The Purge” on a small scale, intimate level, but this year they’re unleashing the beast on a larger scale as you’ll have to try to escape a Purge ravaged city scene right out of “The Purge: Anarchy.” That means you’ll be up against some major fire power! Good luck.
Nightmare Forest opens this weekend, Friday, September 18, and will be open on Fridays and Saturdays through October 31st from dusk until 2 AM. General Admission, which includes all attractions, is $20 at the door or $30 for a VIP Speed Pass.