Throwback Thursday – Visiting Haunted Attractions

Will haunted attractions be a Halloween tradition that survives the apocalypse?

Past:

The mention of real haunted houses dates back to First Century A.D., when Roman author and politician, Pliny the Elder, wrote a letter about a man haunting his house in Athens, ever since then, people have been telling stories of ghosts and haunted houses. That’s its own topic for another day. This post is about haunted attractions, live entertainment inspired by haunted places and things.

In 1802, Madame Marie Tussaud opened the first wax exhibit, which took the public by storm, depicting gruesome decapitations of public figures such as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Her permanent museum on Baker Street in London featured what she called the Chamber of Horrors, wax figures of notorious murderers and villains. This is thought to be the very first horror attraction. Sadly, Tussaud’s closed in 2016.

Madama Tussaud Chamber of Horrors Guillotine

Over 100 years after Tussaud’s, the first-ever electrified haunted attraction ever recorded was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House, at the Edwardian Fair in 1915, as part of the steam collection, in what would become known as dark rides, moving vehicles, trains, and boats that took passengers through scenes, like a spooky house or the tunnel of love. It didn’t take long before attractions featuring dark rides popped up in carnivals, world fairs, and exhibitions worldwide.

The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland

In 1969, Walt Disney opened The Haunted Mansion featuring groundbreaking technology and audio-animatronic ghosts. This is when commercialized haunted attractions were thought to have become a cultural mainstream. The idea was born in 1951 between Walt Disney and his Imagineers, when early illustrations created by the Legendary Harper Goff, of the proposed park featuring a church, a graveyard, and a “run-down manor perched high on a hill that towered over main street”, but Walt didn’t like the idea of a rundown house in the middle of his brand new park. It’s said that after a visit to the Winchester House in San Jose, CA, with its creepy deadends and stairs leading to nowhere, Walt was inspired to fashion the mansion in a similar way. It originally was going to be a walkthrough too, but Walt and the team decided on making it a dark ride that would carry passengers through their animated “Museum of the Weird” and christened their vehicles “doom buggies.” During the planning years, The Haunted Mansion grew darker and stranger, and took on several iterations, not to mention several years to build. Sadly, Disney died in December of 1966 and never even had the opportunity to experience one of his most popular creations.

Since The Haunted Mansion’s opening in the late 60s, there have been hundreds of commercialized haunted houses or carnival dark rides, too numerous to count. Haunts popped up in abandoned buildings and farmhouses across the USA, People capitalized on both rumored and actual haunted places, offering tours, mazes, hayrides, and festivals in honor of legendary ghosts and American haunts. According to AmericaHaunts.Com, there was even a book written on the subject authored by Jim Gould and Tom Hilligoss, who detailed makeup FX, scene ideas, and marketing strategies. Over 20,000 copies were sold and Gould and Hilligoss became known as the first Haunted House experts. They would go on to create the Haunted House Company, one of the first outfits to sell FX, masks, lighting, costumes, etc.

Present:

After Hollywood’s horror boon during the 1970s and 1980s, horror movies became more mainstream and an entire industry of itself. Bigger theme parks found a way to offset seasonal attendance by offering haunted mazes and attractions. In 1973, Knott’s Berry Farm turned part of its fairgrounds into Knott’s Scary Farm. Today it boasts 160 acres featuring haunted mazes, spooky characters, scary rides, and scare zones. Universal Studios would cash in on the craze during the1990s, using its extensive film history with classic monster films and newer horror franchises as inspiration for haunted mazes and attractions. Soon after, all haunts everywhere featured popular characters from horror books, movies, and television. These days, I’ve heard there are something like over 4000 amateur-made, professional, or commercialized haunts every Halloween.

Future:

No people, no haunted attractions. We’ll all become ghosts. Every place will become haunted. Simple as that.

Friday Fright Nightcaps – Ode to the Mummy

Every Halloween season I make it a point to revisit the classic Universal monster films. These are the films that cemented American’s love affair with horror. Watching my favorite old classic horror films is one of my biggest Halloween traditions. This week, I created spooky cocktail to honor Karl Freund’s classic The Mummy, starring the legendary Boris Karloff, with a drink I call Ode to the Mummy.

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz. Coffee
1.5 oz Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Monkey Liquer
1.5 oz. Vodka
1 oz. French Vanilla Creamer or Cream
Splash of Cream of Coconut

Gifts for Classic Monster Lovers

Every Sunday until the week of Christmas, I’ll post a gift giving guide for Halloween and horror fans. From cool collectibles to offbeat gifts, check out these awesome gifts I came across, featuring the classic Universal monsters.

Ravensburger Universal Monsters Horrified Board Game – Target/Walmart ($30)

Universal Monsters Funko Mystery Minis – Amazon/Various Stores ($7-$25)

Holiday Horrors Monsters Ornaments – Trick or Treat Studios ($19.99)

Universal Monster Geeki Tiki Mugs – Entertainment Earth ($19.99)

Universal Monsters The Creature From the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein’s Monster Bottle Stopper Box Set – Toy Wiz ($29.99)

Dracula Puzzle, Pocket Size – Wiz Head ($12.95)
https://wizhead.com/site/product_detail/MON-22-P

Universal Monsters Socks! Art by Sara Deck – Fright Rags ($12)

Invisible Man Vintage Mug – Tee Public ($11)

Phantom of the Opera Bookmarks – Film Cells ($9.99)
While Film Cells does have its own website and store, they’re only selling the Universal Monster bookmarks via Amazon

The Mummy – Classic Universal Monsters USPS Stamp replica pin / tie tack – Boris Karloff – Postal Brass ($8)

Universal Monsters art print, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Horror art, 11 x 17″ print – Paul Maitland ($15)

LINKS TO OFFICIAL LICENSED CLOTHING COLLECTIONS:

https://www.hottopic.com/pop-culture/shop-by-license/universal-monsters/

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Sam Heimer

Happy October!  Kicking off Wicked Art Wednesdays this Halloween season with illustrator, designer, and master horror artist, Sam Heimer, who credits Edward Gorey, H.P. Lovecraft, and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, as early influences on his work. His art invokes the Halloween spirit with scenes of trick-or-treaters, skeletons, pumpkins, classic movie monsters, aliens, and Victorian and Steampunk themes, as well as film noir.

 

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©Sam Heimer

Artist: Sam Heimer
Where to Purchase Goods: Etsy shop, horror conventions, gallery shows, and special events
Website: https://samheimer.wordpress.com/ and https://www.etsy.com/market/sam_heimer 
Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/sam_heimer/

Why we love them: Chances are you’ve come across Sam Heimer’s art before and a big part of the reason is he still takes custom orders. No, seriously, I’m not sure if you all understand how big an opportunity that is. From magazines to book covers, t-shirts to beer cans, Sam Heimer’s work is everywhere and Halloween fans are better for it. He smoothly blends horror with whimsical trick-or-treat scenes, reminding us just how thin the veil between innocence and evil is on Halloween night. If terrifying could be cute, it would be a Sam Heimer piece.