Extreme Haunts, Halloween Movie Picks and MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Blackout: The Origin Of Extreme Haunts
- Image of the Week: Creepshow Kings
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: “Oh, you’ve got to be f***ing kidding!”
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
HORROR HISTORY: BLACKOUT: THE ORIGIN OF EXTREME HAUNTS
By Jon Schnitzer*
**Content Warning: This article contains material that may be triggering and upsetting for some.**
The world of extreme haunts is fueled by curiosity and controversy. I’ve crawled through electrified shock tunnels, been locked in coffins, and covered in real cockroaches. People go to extreme haunts to either learn something about themselves, to try to overcome their worst fears, or for the therapeutic value of being scared, what I like to call “scareapy”. But how did we get here? When did haunted houses for Halloween go from mazes where monsters yelled “BOO!” to hands-on, full-contact experiences?
It all started in New York City with two off-Broadway theater directors in 2009. Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor directed the traditional plays of Shakespeare and Chekhov, but they were about to lose their theater space. Kicked out by the landlord, they decided as a last-ditch effort to try and pull in a large audience to make money, organizing a haunted house in the summertime called Blackout.
Since they didn’t have funding, they had to create within their limitations. They used garbage bags for set design, almost no lights at all, and their actors were naked to emphasize that they are real. What happens is different every time, and always shocking. They’re notorious for simulated waterboarding and having audience members pull a bloody tampon out of a woman.
What makes all of this even more disturbing is that you go through Blackout all alone. People act very differently when they go to a horror attraction alone. They no longer have anyone to impress, no one to laugh with, no one to protect them. Blackout was also the first to have a safeword. Once you use the safeword, it’s all over. When I have used the safeword it gives me a feeling of control and accomplishment, kinda like seeing how far you can make it in a marathon.
After only being open for a single week, Blackout had lines around the block. At one point, it was so popular they had shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Their fans include Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Blum, Skrillex, and Trent Reznor. This fall, they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary by returning to their roots in New York.
What started off as a creative attempt to raise money for rent became the first in a new wave of live horror attractions. Every single extreme haunt owes a debt of gratitude to these groundbreaking pioneers.
*Jon Schnitzer is the director and producer of the extreme haunt horror documentary HAUNTERS: The Art Of The Scare. He is also co-owner of The Brain Factory, where he creates horror attractions, as well as VR and immersive experiences for clients such as Tim Burton and YouTube Red Studios. They also had the honor to produce 3D ghost illusions for President Obama’s 1st Halloween Party at The White House.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
37 years ago, George Romero and Stephen King celebrated in front of a billboard for the original Creepshow. As was Romero’s M.O., the horror anthology changed the game, paving the way for a string of others over the years that would lovingly crib its formula.
EXTREME HAUNTS, HALLOWEEN MOVIE PICKS AND MORE
Just in time for October, Esquire ranked every Halloween film, including Rob Zombie’s remakes and David Gordon Green’s sequel. (Nice to see they appreciate Season of the Witch as much as we do.)
Jac Jemc, the author of the upcoming collection of stories False Bingo, lists her favorite ghost stories.
Bustle looks at the chilling behind-the-scenes stories from some of your favorite horror movies that earned them the label “cursed.”
From 1950’s The Flying Saucer to 2018’s The Nun, Good Housekeeping has the most popular scary movie from the year you were born.
Creepshow got a lot of love this weekend, but the best praise came from the maestro himself – Stephen King.
10 years ago, Jennifer’s Body bombed critically and at the box office. Now, it’s getting the reappraisal it rightfully deserves, including a 10th-anniversary screening at Beyond Fest.
To celebrate the digital release of Midsommar, A24 is offering free couples counseling to three lucky couples.
In case you don’t have a Halloween costume picked out yet, check out some horror movie cosplay for inspiration.
“OH, YOU’VE GOT TO BE F***ING KIDDING!”
No, we’re not kidding. This exists. We all remember Pingu, the lovable penguin from the ‘80s and ’90s. Well, back in 2012, claymation artist Lee Hardcastle uploaded this little diddy to YouTube only to have it promptly removed. We present to you, for your nightmare-inducing entertainment, Pingu’s The Thing aka Thingu.
HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS
Now Scream This: The Best Fantastic Fest Horror Movies Streaming Right Now (Tigers Are Not Afraid, Knife + Heart)