The Phantom Gazette – LouisvilleHalloween.com News
Kentucky writer/artist, Dave Flora’s pulp style supernatural vigilante, Ghost Zero, delivers justice from beyond the grave!
Greetings, my loyal legion of Lou-natics, it’s The Phantom of the Ville here with a special edition of the Phantom Gazette. This week I’d like to introduce you to a fellow specter that haunts his own part of the country’s heartland not far from our own city lights. This particular apparition is one part of a comic book vigilante team, one small town kid of flesh and blood and one deceased crime fighter, who when joined together through the power of a magic ring becomes the supernatural avenger, Ghost Zero!
Young Eddie Quick lives in the small, late 1940’s period town of Secrets Crossing where one day he discovers a lost, magical ring containing the spirit of Charles Pallentine, a masked avenger who was brutally murdered some ten years past and whose ghost is trapped inside the ring. Whenever Eddie wears the magic ring, he can summon the eternal spirit of Pallentine to possess his body giving him supernatural powers. Ghost Zero’s primary weapons are a pair of Civil War era LeMat pistols that Pallentine’s ghost fills with ectoplasmic bullets that can both kill the living and destroy the undead.
Together, Quick and Pallentine set out to avenge the former crime fighter’s murder and to protect the city of Stockton Station from supernatural threats and Lovecraftian creeps.
Ghost Zero and all the spooks, monsters and murderous cultists he must contend with are creations from the mind of Fleming County, Kentucky storyteller, Dave Flora, who grew up fascinated by the Pulp Magazine Era of dark heroes like The Shadow, The Phantom, Doc Savage and The Spider. When Flora set out to create his own comic book avenger, however, he didn’t want to set his adventures in a big metropolitan city like those protected by Spider-man, Batman and other modern comic book heroes.
He decided to stick to the old storyteller’s adage, “Write what you know.”
“I grew up on a dairy farm in Fleming County,” relates Flora, “where I learned the hard labor of farming as a young child. I’d go to school during the day and come home and milk cows at night.”
“All I knew about the city is what I read in comic books, pulp fiction novels and what I saw in movies on TV,” says Flora, “so I set my stories in the backyards, dank basements and old barns I grew up in. Eddie Quick lives in Secrets Crossing, which is basically the small town of Poplar Plains were I spent my childhood. The city of Stockton Station is basically Flemingsburg, Kentucky.”
“The land really enchanted me,” Flora says of his connection to his hometown. “The rolling hills and the mysterious hollows captured my imagination, and I could imagine vampires roosting in the dark woods just beyond the tree line.”
“One of the things about living on a farm in a small town is the sense of isolation and mystery lends itself to ghost stories, superstitions and urban legends. I could tell you some pretty hair raising stories that were passed down to me as a kid that would keep you up at nights.”
“I think what makes stories set in this type of location interesting,” Flora continues, “is the isolation. Nobody is coming to help you and the nearest neighbor couldn’t hear you if you screamed for help. If you get yourself into something, you have to get yourself out of it.”
Flora came up with the basic concept for “Ghost Zero” back in 2000 while participating in an exercise of collaborative, improvised fiction on an Internet message board where one person would pick up a chapter written by someone else and continue the story using their own ideas of where it would go from there.
“That’s where I created the character of the Revenant, Charles Pallentine, and his LeMat pistols as sort of an homage to the Pulp Era characters like The Shadow and The Spider.”
“A few years later,” Flora continues, “web comics became a big thing, and I thought I might be able to produce a series of comic panels that would eventually form a complete story, and I did manage to complete a couple of Ghost Zero stories, but it was extremely time consuming.”
“I have a full time job that pays the bills and I was doing the comic for a couple of hours a night. It took one to two weeks to complete a single page. I needed a way to tell the story faster.”
The need to get his ideas out faster resulted in the first Ghost Zero novel, the 194 page “Spookshow,” now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. The success of “Spookshow” was quickly followed up by its sequel, “The Midnight Society.” Now both full length novels and the collected comic book adventures, “Ghosts with Guns” and “Escape from the Vigilante Crypt,” are available to order on Dave Flora’s Amazon Store page at http://www.amazon.com/Dave-Flora/e/B00I1MXG9Q/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1440811588&sr=1-2-ent.
The comic books are only available via Kindle editions right now, but if enough interest is generated, Flora promises to have more physical copies printed. As an old school ink and paper ghoul, I look forward to being able to hold copies of the “Ghost Zero” comics in my boney hands. I read, absorbed and thoroughly enjoyed the digital versions, but it just doesn’t feel right to me to behold Flora’s stunning tribute to the Pulp Era dark avengers on a computer screen. I need to feel and smell the newsprint paper and get inky smudges on my fingertips. I want to be physically possessed by the spirit of the story just like Eddie Quick is possessed by the ghost of a masked crime fighter.
Currently, Flora is also working on a new comic book character that draws inspiration from Pulp Era heroes and Classic Horror called “Doc Monster,” which was a finalist in a 2009 DC Comics competition.
“I guess the thing I’m most pleased with at this time,” admits Flora, “is the fact that my Ghost Zero books are on the shelves of the local Fleming County library. Some kid could walk in there at any time and read about ghosts and heroes, and those books could live on his own imagination long after I’m gone.”
To keep up with the latest news about Dave Flora, “Ghost Zero” and “Doc Monster,” check out http://daveflorapresents.com/.
What began 11 years ago as a spontaneous birthday party of like-minded zombie fans has become the largest annual Zombie Walk in the world!
Lock the doors, bar the windows and brace yourselves. At exactly 8:29 PM on Saturday, August 29 at the corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway, a horde of flesh eating zombies far greater than anything ever seen on “The Walking Dead” will unleash Hell on the Highlands, devouring every living thing in sight from the above starting point to the Highlands Tap Room at 1058 Bardstown Road.
The Emergency Broadcast sirens will soon be ringing, and we spoke with Louisville Zombie Attack co-founder, Lyndi Lou, exclusively this week to get all the information you need to know in order to successfully survive or to join the shambling masses.
“The Louisville police estimated we had approximately 32,000 attendees last year,” says Lou, “and we’re prepared for around 40,000 this year.”
Eleven years ago, Lou and her co-founding partner, John King, had been watching zombie movies rented from the late, beloved Wild & Woolly Video when they came up with a plan to stage a little Zombie Walk on their shared birthday of August 29th, sending out invitations on social media and posting flyers around town.
Around 80 zombies shambled their way down Bardstown Road that year, but the virus was unleashed and the infection spread quickly. Even Tracy Caufield of Louisville’s own nearly 100 year old Caufield’s Novelty store now calls the Louisville Zombie Attack the “official kickoff of the Halloween season.”
If you’re planning on going to the bloodbath, we’ve got all the information you need to know to make the best of your evening. First of all, plan on getting there early.
“The usual hours of the Zombie Attack, when all of the streets closings are enforced, are between 7 PM and midnight,” says Lou. “This year, however, because it falls on Saturday, the streets will be closed from 5 PM until 1 AM the next morning.”
STREET CLOSINGS: 5 PM – 1 AM
PRE-PARTIES starting at 5 PM at the Highland Tap Room (1058 Bardstown Road), Big Bar (1202 Bardstown Road), Nowhere Bar (1133 Bardstown Road) and the Back Door at Mid City Mall.
EXCLUSVIVE Louisville Zombie Attack collector’s cups will be available at all four pre-party locations for the purchase of a drink.
Speaking of drinks, Kentucky soft drink bottler, Ale-8-One, who has been creating its unique, ginger flavored soda in Kentucky since 1926 is a sponsor of the event this year and will be on hand giving out free sample sodas all night long.
MEETING POINTS: The gathering of the living dead will take place between 8 PM and 8:29 PM in the Mid City Mall parking lot and at the corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway.
OUTDOOR PARTY starts at 9 PM outside the Highland Tap Room.
ENTERTAINMENT: Bands playing include Verity Vice and the Vice Tricks, I Have a Knife, the Nuly Dedz, Boner City, Stagecoach Inferno, DJ Crash and more!
COSTUME COSTEST at 10 PM on the main stage outside the Highland Tap Room. Awards will be given out for various categories including the infamous “Hottest Zombie.”
New this year, the Louisville Zombie Attack has two sponsors from the local haunt community, THE DEVIL’S ATTIC and THE 7TH STREET HAUNT, who will both be on site with monster scareactors and photo opportunities. The Devil’s Attic will be on the side of the street where the Highlands Tap Room is located and the 7th Street Haunt will be directly across the street.
“The Devil’s Attic have been the absolute best (to us),” says Lou. “They’ve gone above and beyond helping us this year.”
I spoke to the Devil’s Attic owner, Jason Besemann, and the 7th Street Haunt’s owner, Travis Boling, this week and both are planning to give away plenty of “haunt swag” at the party, including FREE TICKETS to their respective attractions, haunt t-shirts, posters, coupons and other items. Look for both of their signature hearses set up right beside their tables and stop by to meet them and their monstrous cast and crew.
MIDNIGHT MOVIE SCREENING: “Shaun of the Dead” will screen at MIDNIGHT at the Baxter Avenue Theatres on the rear side of the Mid City Mall. Imagine watching Edgar Wright’s comedic zombie apocalypse masterpiece in a theater full of living dead! Thirty percent of proceeds will go to the Todd Crawford Foundation (www.toddcrawfordfoundation.org) to cure paralysis in the name of recently departed filmmaker and lead singer of Ultra Pulverize, Andrew Vititoe.
Be safe. Be prepared. Eat brains.
Asylum Haunted Scream Park Reinvents its Original Terrifying Trilogy of Attractions and Teases a Brand New Splatterpiece for Halloween 2015!
Take a behind-the-scenes look at Asylum Haunted Scream Park’s creative hub, The Hive, and tour the new terrors of Zombie City, X-terminate and Darkness Falls!
The Paintball Asylum at 3101 Pond Station Road is abuzz with sinister activity getting it ready for its annual transformation into the Asylum Haunted Scream Park which opens in less than a month on September 18. Work began, however, many months ago inside Asylum’s secret creative laboratory, known as “The Hive,” building foam bodies, mock up weapons and other props for Richard Teachout’s Asylum Props haunted effects company.
“Asylum Props is a company we started out of necessity,” says Teachout. “We have a large haunt and we need a lot of props. Buying them from other props companies can be very expensive, and this season we needed lots and lots of bodies. Since we have the creative crew and ability to make our own props, it just made sense for us to do so.”
The company has already sold dozens of their foam bodies to other haunted attractions through the TransWorld Halloween & Attractions Show and off their website (www.asylumprops.com).
“So far we’ve been focusing on making lower cost, less expensive foam bodies of different shapes and sizes,” admits Teachout, “but in our next phase we will begin making super highly detailed, lifelike figures as well.”
After touring the Hive, Teachout led me to the massive dome that houses X-terminate, which will not only be much larger this season, but much higher tech as well. Over the last year, the Paintball Asylum has built a massive, two story structure full of twisting passageways and structures which will be used for Asylum’s interactive shooting attraction. Only this year they won’t be using empty paintball guns to shoot at monsters that pretend to get shot and fall over.
“We will have the absolute latest in laser rifle technology,” says Teachout, “and the monsters will be wearing laser targets that will register hits when you shoot them.”
Leaving X-terminate for the three quarter mile haunted trail known as Darkness Falls on Asylum, I was given just a peek at some of the new ghosts and ghouls that will inhabit these dark woods in September and October, but something caught my eye on the way to the Darkness Falls entrance.
Down the hill, past some fences I spotted what looked like an entire village under construction. There are multiple buildings already completed and others in the works. This squares with a rumor I had heard about a “full scale zombie hunting paintball experience” that Teachout would neither confirm nor deny would be coming to Asylum Haunted Scream Park this Halloween. We’ll keep Teachout “under the heaters” until we sweat the information out of him. Stay tuned!
Next I was turned over to Zombie City’s new Creative Director, Joey Arena, who gave me an exclusive tour of the completely reworked interactive, theatrical attraction. Still following the storyline set in place by the previous years’ plot, Arena wanted his Zombie City to have a different tone than what had come before.
“I thought the whole military angle had sort of been done,” admits Arena, “so this season’s chapter will be coming from an entirely different place.”
“The corporation that was responsible for the zombie outbreak has cleaned everything up and announces that it has the cure for the zombie virus, and can prevent it from ever happening again. Our guests will be invited into their pristine corporate labs for a demonstration of this process.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a haunted attraction if something didn’t go horribly wrong.
“Guests will be involved in the outcome of every scene and even their own fates,” says Arena. “You’ll need to collect items in order to get out, and it’s not a guarantee that everyone will make it.”
I was shown a couple of new, interactive scenes where guests will have to participate with the actors to survive and I was given a demonstration in one scene of what happens when everything goes wrong. It’s going to be one Hell of a harrowing experience. Arena wouldn’t reveal all the surprises however, but it’s clear that we should expect a chaotic climax filled pyrotechnics and special effects.
As far as that fourth, full out zombie paintball massacre attraction that we’ve heard rumors about goes, we’ll just have to wait and see what the spooky season has in store for us. Don’t touch that dial! Keep it on the Louisville Halloween channel all the way through October 31st! Much more to come!
HAUNTED WEDDING: Team Zombillies from Scare Factor Haunt Reviews Ties the Knot at Asylum Haunted Scream Park!
The haunt community came out in full force this week to witness two of their own be joined together in Holy Terror.
“What a lovely day!”
Nux, “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
It was a beautiful, warm August evening just an hour prior to the scheduled nuptials as I drove along the stretch of Gene Snyder Freeway just a few miles from the Stonestreet Road exit near the Paintball Asylum, seasonal home of the Asylum Haunted Scream Park. Suddenly the clouds began to gather, bolts of lightning began crashing down directly above the Asylum grounds and the heavens unleashed a furious downpour of Biblical magnitude.
Like a scene from a Post Apocalyptic science-fiction road movie, trucks began slamming into MINI Coopers, convertibles started slamming into guardrails and people exiting their devastated vehicles were scrambling across the highway in front of me trying to avoid the death machines racing by in the ongoing deluge.
Asylum Haunted Scream Park was ground zero of the maelstrom, which can mean only one thing. Two Halloween fanatics were getting married. Mother Nature has her own way of setting the proper mood.
The Halloween obsessed couple that spent months planning this Haunted Wedding ceremony, Nora Parsons and Tyler Proffet, are the owners and operators of The Scare Factor Haunted House Reviews and Directory (www.thescarefactor.com) and together they represent their own haunt review team called Team Zombillies.
The haunt community came out in full force, most of them fully dressed in their best Gothic threads and corsets or their worst bloody haunt character costumes. Apart from Asylum cast and crew members, I bumped into representatives from The Devil’s Attic, Literally a Haunted House at the Culbertson Mansion, The USS Nightmare, Waverly Hills Sanatorium and many others. It’s clear that there’s a strong familial bond among haunters, haunt actors and those of us that write about and love what they do.
Master of ceremonies and acting Minister was Asylum Haunted Scream Park co-owner and Creative Director, Richard Teachout, who made quite an entrance driving a forklift that carried the wedding arch from its original location deep in the dark woods of the Darkness Falls on Asylum haunted trail.
“Make a hole,” he exclaimed as drove the arch to its new location near the reception tent. The original plan was to send wedding guests down the completed first half of the trail, which would be fully operational and full of monsters and other surprises, taking them to an elaborate wedding stage in front of the massive paintball castle that serves as a part of Darkness Falls during the Halloween season.
Mother Nature’s recent outburst, however, had quickly made the trails mud soaked, flooded and impassible.
Instead, Teachout and his cast and crew quickly diverted all resources to the newly constructed, multi-level X-terminate building which is housed inside a giant (and very dry) dome. This was my first look at the new X-terminate structure and it is MASSIVE. More about that attraction to come soon!
Soon it was time for the main event and the bride and groom walked down the aisle to suitably spooky music played by DJ and Zombie City Creative Director, Joey Arena. Both Nora and Tyler were glowing with love and excitement and looked amazing in period attire. Their wedding vows were fairly traditional except for the fact that they also pledged their devotion in sickness, health and potential zombie apocalypse.
After kissing his bride, Tyler and Nora exited the stage to “Hooked on a Feeling,” only to return minutes later rocking inflatable guitars into the reception area to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”
From that point on things got weird. Kidding.
Tyler’s father delivered a heartfelt tribute to his son and newly acquired daughter by marriage and the two danced the night away with friends and family on the same stage that annually hosts circus performers, fire-breathers and human pinheads during the haunt season.
All was right with the world.
Louisville Halloween congratulates Tyler and Nora on their unholy union and wishes them many Happy Halloweens and Haunt Seasons to come!
The lunatics have taken over the asylum at Culbertson Mansion’s Literally a Haunted House, and your only hope of survival is to either escape or join them!
True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?
Edgar Allan Poe – The Tell-Tale Heart
This year marks the 31st season for this haunted attraction in New Albany, IN and just like every year in its long and distinguished history, a new Halloween season means a completely new theme and reworked sets and characters. I stopped by the haunted carriage house next door to the 1867 Second Empire-style mansion this week to get a sneak peek at what they have in store for Halloween 2015 and was barely able to escape with my life and what’s left of my sanity.
Those people are crazy. Literally.
The first sense I got that something might not be “quite right” at the mansion was when I was greeted by longtime Chairperson, Holly Crisler, who told me she was stepping down this year to the position of Managing Director and letting her old manager, Gary Collins, take over as Chairman. Collins, who has been working with Crisler for 14 years at the haunt is certifiably insane. Trust me, I’ve bumped into Collins at enough horror film festivals and Misfits concerts to testify objectively about his mental state, and in technical terms, he’s as mad as a hatter.
As Collins gave me the guided tour of the work-in-progress for this year’s Literally a Haunted House, I began to get the sense that things would be different this year. For years now, I’ve often thought of this little haunt as a “perfect starter haunt” and a “great family oriented haunt,” but as we passed through the dank halls, padded cells and therapy rooms being constructed for this year’s attraction, I got the sense that Collin’s wanted to add a bit of shock therapy to this Halloween tradition.
I don’t know, maybe it was the words “Happy Place” scrawled across the bathroom walls in human excrement, but something seemed a little edgier than ever before.
“This will be a full sensory experience,” says Collins. “When you enter the bathroom, you will smell everything and even see a patient eating what you smell.”
“When you get to the lab, you’ll smell the urine samples,” he continues (between twitching and drooling a bit). “We’ve added a sensory deprivation area where guests will be in complete darkness, and they’ll feel things touching them, maybe even be forced to reach out and touch some strange, gross things in the dark and get a little shock therapy.”
“The brain surgeon will be letting everyone touch the cold, slimy props,” says Collins.
“The theme this year,” chimes in Holly Crisler (giggling and pulling at her hair), “is based on turn of the century mental institutions. They used to charge admission, like at a zoo or a theme park, and let paying guests walk through the hospital and look at the inmates.”
“We’ll still keep a couple of Culbertson’s classic scenes,” she continues, “like the coffin ride and Vortex to Hell at the climax.”
“The graveyard scene will still start off the haunt in the yard next to the carriage house as usual,” injects Collins, “but this year we have a little surprise for guests that they won’t be expecting to get them running up the stairs and into the first scene.”
Literally a Haunted House will be open for tours every Friday and Saturday night in October, but since they’ve already lost all sense of normality and reality this year, they will be hosting an early opening event on Saturday, Sept. 26 known as the Culbertson Mansion Coffin Races and Zombie Fest! This will serve as a “test night” for the haunt and admission will cost only $10 with all proceeds going directly into the restoration of the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site.
There is no charge for attending the Coffin Races, in which attendees are encouraged to design and build their own “coffin rides” to carry the body of William Culbertson down Main Street and back to his mansion the fastest. Awards will be given to the winners as well as to BEST DECORATED COFFIN and other categories. The mansions’ grounds will be overrun with vendors selling food & wares and providing entertainment.
Click here for more information: http://developna.org/downtown-new-albany-events/downtown-new-albany-indiana-events-calendar/community-events/zombie-fest.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join the crazies this season at Literally a Haunted House at the historic Culbertson Mansion in New Albany.