Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Halloween Countdown: The Haunted House That Ended It All

On Halloween 1979, when I was a senior in high school, my friend Darrell Detzel and I designed a haunted house for the carnival at our church (Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL). The pastorate (house the pastor lives in) behind the church was empty so they let us use that. We gathered a cast of friends and created our own little house of horrors. I used to have pictures but they (along with many photos from my teen/college years) disappeared many years ago. I do recall that I might have some sketches I did for it somewhere. If I find them, I'll post them. Meanwhile, here's what I remember about it.
At the front door, you were met by Tanya Roberts wearing what I think was a Jawa outfit. The lights really glowed and it was very cool. I also believe Darrell was dressed as a mad funeral director or something and helped lead the tours.
In the main room we had Rick Hual as Dracula lying in a casket. A man from our church owned a funeral home so he let us borrow a transport casket...meaning many, many bodies had been in that thing. Rick had no problem with that. His schtick was to open his eyes, sit up and growl at the kids. He was attended by Lesa Ervin and Karen Polk in this weird glow-in-the-dark ghost makeup I had designed. They both got mad at me because the paint got in their eyes and burned.
The next room, the first door on the right down the hall, was the executioner's room. I was in there dressed as the executioner with an axe, mask and everything. As they were leaving, Andy Gresham, all 6' 7" of him, came out of the closet at them dressed as Death.
The second door on the right was the mad scientists lab. Tim Passmore was the doctor with his skill saw (no blade) revved up. I believe Kerry Ward was the victim and Kristi Essex was the doc's assistant. I am going on pure memory on all this.
In the next room was a fish tank with bloody water and a head sitting in it. We had one of those fish tank things in it that makes the bubbles. It was gruesome. Also in there was Eric Ervin as the werewolf in the closet/cage. He broke out and chased the kids.
The bathroom was decked out with Kerry Hudson chained in the bathtub covered in blood being attacked by rubber snakes. Yes, I am aware that we were some demented rascals.
We had nothing in the kitchen (what a wasted opportunity) but as they exited out the backdoor they had to escape Scott Cooper, the ghoul inhabiting the makeshift graveyard.
Now for the good part. It was so scary, many children left crying. We felt like it was a great success. Later we found out that some people weren't happy with the whole thing. Because of the scariness and the fact that we did some minor damage (holes in sheetrock) to the home, haunted houses were banned from the church Halloween carnival from then on. In retrospect I think this was a good thing because in future years we had to be more creative with themes. I'll tell you about our Star Wars room some other time.
If you read this and you were part of this experience, shoot me an email or a comment. If you have pictures from this, please send me some. If you were part of this and I forgot to mention you, sorry. That was nearly 30 years ago.


goob44 said...

I remember that - it was the bomb!
I think you forgot the body swinging from the tree.

Anonymous said...

Interesting..! Thanks for reminding me old Halloween memories.

schebs said...

That glow in the dark paint was aweful!!! I didn't think my eyes were ever going to stop burning and let me remind you that you had ZERO sympathy for us and we still love you:-) Something is wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

And all this time I thought I was the one who scared the kids INTO the house from the back door! I do remember some of them coming in that way, and one kid slapped me as hard as he could across my face with his heavy rubber mask. Ahhhh! Good times.

Anonymous said...

Good times had by all! But, it WAS lonely out there in the back yard by myself! Funny, I always thought it was my job to scare the kids INTO the haunted house! Crazy how memories get all twisted up... kind of like our senses of humor back then. Great to remember that the church banned haunted houses after that! That's the way to do it, gang! Slash and burn!