The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News

Happy Halloween & Get Well Soon to Dawne Gee!

WAVE 3’s Dawn Gee, who will be undergoing surgery for kidney cancer this Halloween, is undeniably “one of us”!

I’m not sure how many of our Louisville Halloween readers are aware of this, but WAVE 3’s News Anchor, Dawne Gee, is a hardcore horror fan and Halloween enthusiast! As some of the singularly unique characters in Louisville born director Tod Browning’sFreaks” (1932) proclaimed, she’s “one of us.”

I’ve personally bumped into Mrs. Gee on more than one occasion while she was out meeting some of her friends and family on the opening night of some new ghostly thriller at local movie theaters. Her own Facebook page posts some of her extensive horror movie memorabilia collection, and she has created, shot and edited a number of supernatural related stories for WAVE 3 such as her recent Kentuckiana’s Monsters, Myths and Legends series.

In the interest of full disclosure, Louisville Halloween was consulted for the Sleepy Hollow Road segment of that extremely popular series. Off camera, Gee’s enthusiasm for the spooky, the unexplained, the haunted and monstrous is clearly genuine. She spoke excitedly about a segment she had recently shot which found her spending the night in a real haunted house.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Gee will be spending Halloween in the hospital having surgery to remove a tumor on her kidneys and we wish her well for both the success of the operation and during the 4 to 6 week recovery period. This isn’t the first time Gee has fought a battle with tumors. In 2009, she underwent a risky operation to remove a benign brain tumor.

I, for one, appreciate her presence in the local media as a positive role model for horror fans and for those with big imaginations and bigger dreams. When I was a little Phantom, one of my favorite local news journalists was Byron Crawford, who also did a series of investigative segments for WHAS in search of local urban legends, ghosts, haunted houses and Bigfoot-like creatures. In fact, the junior, 10 year old Phantom of the Ville put on a series of “theatrical productions” for my parents and neighbors wearing a fishing hat and a robe that doubled for Crawford’s trench coat. Each production ended with me running off stage in mock terror from some unseen supernatural force or legendary creature.

I think Crawford’s supernatural news segments, combined with Darren McGavin’s 1974 “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” TV series, were probably the primary influences that eventually led to the column you’re now reading on Louisville Halloween, and I truly believe that Dawne Gee’s infectious love of the unusual and her own creepy series of local ghost stories are currently inspiring a new generation of imaginative fans.

Louisville Halloween wishes Dawne Gee a Happy Halloween and a speedy recovery! There are some Charles Dickens-styled Christmas ghost stories awaiting your attention this December!

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Yard Haunts! There’s Probably One Lurking in a Neighborhood near You!

What are Yard Haunts? Where can you find them this October 31st? We track the best ones across the Ville and give you an EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of “Disturbed Souls” in J-town!

“Three more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Three more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock! It’s almost time kids—“

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch” (1982)

As the Silver Shamrock ad reminds us, it’s almost time! It’s the Phantom of the Ville here in the backyard of Shawn Pulliam and Kristy Ferrell’s Gaslight District home, which has been transformed into an elaborate Halloween haunted maze full of silver screen boogiemen, creepy clowns and animatronic monsters for a FREE yard haunt this Halloween.

Yard haunts are haunted attractions put on by extreme Halloween enthusiasts in their own backyards, usually featuring members of their own family, their friends and neighbors as actors. You’re usually not going to find anything in a yard haunt resembling the same high tech quality you might find in a haunted attraction charging a $20 admission fee, however, some of these attractions might just surprise you at how much work, detail and attention goes into their construction considering they’re only built to operate for a few hours on one night of the year. They are all FREE, by the way!

Disturbed Souls,” in J-town for example, delivers quite a show out of pure love for the holiday. I was invited to a sneak preview night on Saturday, Oct. 25th, of their third annual backyard haunted house and brought back some pictures and stories to tell about the experience.

You can’t miss Pulliam and Ferrell’s yard when you’re driving down Marlin Drive in J-town. The front yard is lit up like a Halloween beacon that can be seen from a block away. Just listen for the scary music pumping through their sound system as you turn into their neighborhood. You’ll find a graveyard scene amid a yard full of Halloween inflatables and blow molds.

When you pass the entrance to the haunt, you’ll meet a scary little girl with a scream that could break glass and her creepy grandpa who you’ll run into again towards the big finale. Then it’s into the maze, passed some poisonous snakes and caged werewolves and right into Pinhead’s torture chamber. Next it’s a jaunt into America’s heartland and an encounter with Michael Myers, and then through a fog bound, outdoor movie theater playing “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” that’s haunted by Ghostface from “Scream.”

You’ll have to feel your way through a dark, foggy laser tunnel and next you’ll have to get by Chucky and a great “Exorcist” scare including a possessed bed (hydraulic effects and everything!) before navigating a clown room full of balloons. Freddy Krueger will threaten you before you head into the final maze where grandpa returns in a scene that has him floating right up the wall just before the big shock chase out.

Not bad for a FREE haunted stop on your evenings’ trick-or-treat adventures!

DISTURBED SOULS YARD HAUNT is located in the East End in J-town at 3702 Marlin Drive. It’s FREE, and they’ll be open Halloween night from dark until at least 9 PM or until everyone in line gets to go through.

THE HETZER HAUNTED HOUSE presents PSYCHOPATHWAY this year in the South End just off Dixie Highway at 6615 North Drive. It’s FREE, but you can bring a canned good to benefit the Southwest Christian Ministries Food Pantry. They open Halloween night at dusk and close when everyone has gone home for the night.

THE TWISTED SILVER YARD HAUNT is located just across the bridge in New Albany at 1015 Silver Street in New Albany, Indiana. It’s FREE and will be open on Halloween night from 6 PM until 9 PM.

So no matter what part of town you live in, there’s a FREE yard haunt not far from you. All ages are welcome, but parental supervision is encouraged. Some of these haunts can be as scary as their professional big brothers, and you’re likely to encounter chainsaws and bloody scenes just like at the bigger haunts. Mostly, though, these yard haunts are labors of love put on by folks just like you and me that just love Halloween. Get out there and join them this Friday night!

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The Haunting of Hillcrest 2014: America’s Halloween Street

Louisville’s Crescent Hill neighborhood is quickly gaining national recognition as one of the best trick-or-treat destinations in the country!

Looking for somewhere special to trick-or-treat with the kids this Halloween? Many long time Louisville residents already know where they can find more K-Mart cobwebs, grinning jack-lanterns, plastic skeletons and Styrofoam graveyards than anywhere else in town, but recently the rest of the country is catching on too.

Last year, AOL Travel crowned Hillcrest Avenue number nine on the list of the Top Ten Best Halloween Neighborhoods in America.

The annual tradition has been going on for nearly 20 years along the three block stretch between Frankfort Avenue and Brownsborro Road, and many homeowners on the route start setting up their elaborate displays in early October. Each participating household regularly purchases between $200 and $300 worth of candy to hand out to the average of 2,500 to 3,000 trick-or-treaters from all over the city.

That’s just on Halloween. The special effects and lights show goes on every night in October and the sidewalks are packed with people every night, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Hillcrest generally expects around 75,000 visitors to walk up and down its spooky stretch of road through October 31.

If you plan on trick-or-treating on Hillcrest this year, the official hours next Friday are from 5 PM until 9 PM with police sweeping the streets clean at 10 PM. You can keep up with the latest news at www.hillcresthalloween.com where this year they have a page dedicated to Hillcrest Selfies posted on Instagram or Twitter. You’ll find dozens of Hillcrest Selfie stations up and down the entire street.

I took a twilight trip out to Hillcrest this afternoon to see what was new and snap a few photos before the sun went down and the crowds came out. Many of the usual favorites have returned this year, including Hillcrest Cemetery, the Ghouly Garden, Area 51 and the Clown House.

I think my favorite new creation this year was the house probably inspired by the 2006 animated film, “Monster House,” which has turned an entire two story house into a raging monstrosity with glowering eyes and razor sharp teeth. It already has blood dripping from its front porch fangs, so I’d think carefully before trick-or-treating there even if they’re promising full size Snickers bars.

Have fun and be safe this Halloween, and be sure to regularly check the Louisville Halloween website for more Halloween news and reviews all next week. Our Facebook and Twitter pages will be updated with the latest news as it comes in. Happy Halloween from the Phantom of the Ville!

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“Boo to You” Turns the Kentucky Renaissance Fair into a Child’s Halloween Wonderland this Saturday!

Get treats, have fun and give back to Kosair Charities at the huge “Boo to You” Halloween party this Saturday, October 25th!

Happy Halloween, everybody, it’s the Phantom of the Ville here! Over the last month, I’ve been bringing you news and reviews of some of the creepiest haunted houses and spookiest Halloween events in town, but today I have something really important to tell all you parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, big brothers, big sisters and anyone else with children in their lives.

This Saturday, October 25th, there’s a big Halloween hootenanny going on at the Kentucky Renaissance Fair at 955 Elm Street in Eminence, KY. The whole medieval park has been transformed into a Halloween wonderland and from 1 PM through 5 PM you’ll have the opportunity to bring your kids out for a complete Halloween experience that benefits Kosair Charities. It’s Boo to You! Louisville Halloween is sponsoring the event, 100% of proceeds go to Kosair, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.

The cost is only $10 per child and adults get in for FREE. If you’ve been out to the Kentucky Renaissance Fair before, you know how spectacular it’s going to be for this Halloween event. There are wooded trails perfect for haunted trails and trick-or-treating, and a whole medieval village to explore.

Let me tell you about all the cool things they’ll have for you and your kids to do! Of course, there will be a trick-or-treat trail, but that’s just the tip of the candy corn. There will be pony rides, bounce houses, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze and hay rides. You’ll find a fortune teller, clowns, magicians, story tellers and the League of Mascots. There will be arts & crafts, face painting and food & beverages. There will also be a haunted trail for the older kids and some of the braver adults.

There will also be a costume parade that you and your kids can participate in and a costume contest where you can win some great prizes provided by some of the sponsors. There will be prizes awarded in three different categories and age groups, and prizes include Kindle Fires!

Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak with “Boo to You” founder, Jill Childers, about this amazing Halloween event. “This will be our third official year,” says Childers, “and the first three actually took place at our home. Last year we had 500 people, and I knew that we were quickly outgrowing our space. This year, the Kentucky Renaissance Fair has graciously given us their park to use for free.”

“Our oldest daughter, Addie, has cerebral palsy,” says Childers. “We turned to Kosair Charities several times when insurance would not cover the treatment and equipment Addie needed to live a full life. Kosair Charities have impacted our lives tremendously.”

“Boo to You” is just one way that Childers and her husband have chosen to give back to Kosair Charities and it’s also a chance for you to contribute to this worthy cause while having a lot of fun.

“There are a few hidden things and surprises in store for kids,” says Childers, “but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises we have in store. The drive to Eminence is about the same as the drive to Huber’s from Louisville, so we hope people will make the time to come out have some fun with Addie.”

Besides the $10 donation, Kosair will also have the Wishing Well on site if you would like to donate canned goods.

Halloween has been a lot of fun so far in the Ville, and there’s much more to come in the next two weeks, but “Boo to You” is not only fun, but significant too. Please take some time this Halloween to make a difference to the kids in your own life and the kids out there who need your help. Thanks!

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The Phantom’s Top Haunts of 2014

The Phantom of the Ville unleashes his list of favorite scares, haunts and Halloween attractions for the 2014 season.

With only two weekends left in the 2014 Halloween season, it’s crunch time for those of you still trying to decide on which haunted attractions and Halloween events you want to attend before the rising sun on November 2nd officially ends our ghoulish hootenanny for another year. Most, but not all, haunted houses will be open on November 1st since it falls on a Saturday this year, but be sure to check www.louisvillehalloween.com for closing times before you head out the door.

The definition of “scary” is different for each and every one of us, and we all have our own unique fears and phobias, and even the best haunts in the Ville have “off nights” due to weather, crowd capacity, actor availability, faulty special effects and a dozen other factors. This list isn’t meant to be the definitive “Best of Louisville” list for the 2014 Halloween season, but just a highlight of some of my favorite experiences out there in the region on dark nights over the last month. I’ll start off by shining a light on some of the best and most creative scenes, actors and effects I’ve seen this season and finish it off by naming my TOP THREE HAUNTED ATTRACTIONS of the year.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

MOST INTENSE HAUNT OF 2014: The Haunted Hotel! Was there ever any doubt? If you’re looking for a haunt that’s going grab you, shake you and send you out the door a sobbing, shell shocked mess, the Haunted Hotel is for you!

LONGEST HAUNT OF 2014: Field of Screams! When it comes to bang for your buck, nobody delivers like the Field of Screams. You’ll spend over an hour in their signature attraction, which includes a corn maze, haunted barn and haunted woods, and at least another 40 minutes on the Hayride to Hell. This is an action packed, high quality and even exhausting attraction.

BEST OPENING SCENE: Literally, a Haunted House! New Albany’s classic Culbertson Mansion haunt delivered my favorite opening scene this year inside a witch’s manor. This scene includes great acting and interaction with the audience, an atmospheric set, a great “Boo!” finale and a fantastic hidden exit into the haunt.

BEST LAST SCENE: TIE! Nightmare Forest and the 7th Street Haunt! In a brilliant move, Nightmare Forest decided to take advantage of the concept behind “The Purge” and the infamous Internet prank that had Louisville residents locking their doors and hunkering down for “Louisville Purge Night” to deliver an effective and shocking ending to their haunted forest trail.

The 7th Street Haunt ends its tour of Fort Harmony with a descent into the fiery pits of Hell! There you’ll pass through an incredibly creative (and scratch made!) volcanic Hellscape complete with lava monsters and demons!

BEST MOVIE SCENES: Fear Fair! Nobody does realistic horror movie scenes like Fear Fair, and this year they’ve added the prison from “The Walking Dead,” an updated “Exorcist” scene and a brand new, extensive “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” finale.

BEST MAKE-UP AND SET DESIGN: The Devil’s Attic! Nobody pays quite as much attention to detail as the Devil’s Attic. The make-up, monster costumes and Gothic set design are two steps above what anybody else is even attempting in the Ville. In fact, even though the lighting, fog and special effects are tremendous, the Devil’s Attic looks almost as good with the lights on.

BEST NEW SCENE: Grim Trails! Nothing in town blew me away as much the new Maleficent’s Castle scene at Grim Trails. It’s a jaw dropping experience when you step out of the woods and are faced with the imposing drawbridge, 25 foot towers and huge wooden door of the castle. The scene is capped off with a spectacular special effects sequence that witnesses Maleficent transform into a gigantic fire breathing dragon and a jaunt through the castle’s catacombs.

BEST “WOW” FACTOR AND HIGH TECH HAUNT: Industrial Nightmare at Industrial Terrorplex. The signature maze at Industrial Terrorplex was pumped up on high tech steroids last year with a $300,000 renovation and nothing in town can touch it in terms of scale, lighting and special effects. It kept the best scenes of the past, the swamp scene and the giant monster, but completely changed everything else and is now almost overwhelming in its spectacle. Giant rats, bridges over water effects and the best animatronic creatures in town combine to create an unforgettable experience.

BEST OVERALL VALUE: Danger Run! Including THREE of the haunts included on this list for only $20, Danger Run also includes its signature road game puzzle for an entire night’s (or maybe two nights!) entertainment.

MOST INTERACTIVE HAUNT: Asylum Haunted Scream Park! If you want to be a part of the show and feel like you’ve been dropped into a horror movie where you are the star, Asylum Haunted Scream Park is the haunt for you. Zombie City is the most interactive attraction in town and Xterminate lets you actually shoot the zombies!

CREEPIEST ORIGINAL CHARACTER: The Spider Creature at Literally, a Haunted House! This thing is still showing up in my nightmares.

MOST SCREEN ACCURATE MOVIE CHARACTER: Jason Voorhees at Fear Fair!

MOST DISTURBING HAUNT CHARACTER: The elevator goon in the Infected maze at Industrial Terrorplex! If you’ve ever met this guy, you’ll never forget him.

BEST UNEXPECTED SCARE OF THE SEASON: The flying vampire in Darkness Falls on Asylum at Asylum Haunted Scream Park.

BEST FAMILY HALLOWEEN EVENT: The Louisville Jack O Lantern Spectacular! The majesty and October beauty on display in Iroquois Park is a MUST SEE for both families and Halloween fanatics alike.

When it comes to total, overall experience, I have chosen my three favorite haunted attractions for the 2014 Halloween season. Each year my list changes and new scenes, new mazes and new cast members can greatly affect the results. It also comes down to personal tastes and what you’re looking for in a haunt. There are a great variety of experiences out there, and there are no bad haunts in the Ville.

Number Three: INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE at Industrial Terrorplex! I was blown away by the scale and quality of the new Industrial Nightmare maze, and I think it’s the most impressive big budget attraction in town, comparable in every way to the haunts at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando. 

Number Two: FEAR FAIR in Seymour, Indiana! Fear Fair has actually been my number one favorite haunt in the region for the last five years. It’s a huge haunt that takes 30 to 40 minutes to experience, and as a huge horror movie fan, it just feels like “home.” No one creates realistic horror film scenes like Fear Fair, and no one consistently delivers the number of shocking scares they deliver on an annual basis.

Number One: My favorite haunted attraction this season is GRIM TRAILS HAUNTED ATTRACTION! I don’t expect every haunt fan out there to agree with me because Grim Trails is bringing something completely different to the haunted house scene in Louisville and may not be what some haunt fans expect. There are no chainsaws, clowns or movie scenes. Instead, it’s a dark fantasy haunted woods lit by a tea light trail based on the Brothers Grimm tales and other fantastic childhood stories.

Grim Trails captures the essence of the Halloween season with mood and atmosphere instead of blood and debauchery, and while still certainly delivering on the expected scares, presents an attraction that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. In only its second season, it was the majesty of the new Maleficent’s Castle scene that pushed Grim Trails to the top of my list this year. When Maleficent disappears into a blast of green smoke and transforms into a fire breathing dragon, I was completely sold on this extremely original and creative attraction. Highly recommended!

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