Review by: S. J. Martiene
Too early to talk about Halloween, you say? P’shaw, I SAY!!! It is NEVER too early to talk about the second biggest holiday of the year … and even now … preparations are being made to scare the poop out of you, dear reader. Oh yes, plans are being drawn up, and plots are being formed. NO, not the normal plotting that comes from your relatives, but from those hard-working people at your local Haunted Attractions. Do you know that planning has to start in the heat of a summer night? Well, it does, my candy corn chomping friends. Today, we are going to focus on one place. It is a place that exists not too far from where I grew up in Kentucky, but first a little back story.
Long ago, three decades ago or more, your humble servant had a brief stint as a Haunted House Actor. I performed in two separate haunted houses in North Central Kentucky during the early 1980’s. My duties were varied from zombie, to Mad Doctor’s victim, to “screamer”. Though the ones I worked were small-town, and on a much, much smaller scale than detailed in the MONSTERS WANTED documentary, I can empathize with the creators of Asylum Haunts (Louisville, KY). We also had to build our own sets, create our own costumes, do our own make-up, and hope we were not too exhausted at the end to want to do it again the next year.
MONSTERS WANTED is a documentary taking us through the good, bad, and the scary ugly of what it takes to put out a high end haunted theme attraction. The Asylum Haunted Scream Park is NOT just a haunted house….but a 40-acre world borne from the maniacal hard work and creative minds of Richard Treachout and Janel Nash. The time span of the documentary takes us from July 2, 2011 until Closing night October 28, 2011, detailing the openings of Darkness Falls, Zombie City, and Carnivale of Lost Souls.
The viewer is taken through what IS actually a theatrical production. There are stage managers, auditions and fine-tuning auditions. There are production meetings, staff meetings, and problems with logistics, sets, and people. As with any good production, there are always personality clashes, and they were evident here. HOWEVER, it seemed (with one glaring exception – JOE), that most of the people running Asylum Haunts were pretty much trying to stay on the same page despite the pressures of time and money. Oh, and let’s not forget this is an OUTDOORS production so, they had to deal with stuff getting rained on and the heat…and by the end of the movie you could see everyone’s breath when they were speaking. AH, weather in the Ohio Valley!!
As the months pass, we not only get treated to the birth of this HUGE Halloween baby, but we get a peek at several other holiday-oriented events that happened. One is The Transworld Trade Show in St. Louis, Missouri. This show is for proprietors of haunted attractions and premieres the latest and greatest in Halloween gore and more. It’s kind of like a toy trade show for adults. I thought it was pretty fun how Treachout wanted to look at everything and see if they could make it cheaper “with duct tape”. It is fitting that MONSTERS WANTED was shown at the 2013 trade show. Also, I discovered that Asylum Haunts is one of the sponsors of the annual Zombie Walk in Louisville. People get dressed up, there are bands playing, food, and they swarm in on one part of the city each year. I have relatives that go to this each year and have a blast. If I still lived in Kentucky and was about 20 years younger, I probably would attend too, but it does occur on my husband’s birthday each year, so I don’t know if that would work out or not. The documentary also covered other haunted attractions in the Louisville area, such as Baxter Avenue Morgue Haunted House and The Haunted Hotel. There is enough scare to go around for everyone in Jefferson County and the surrounding areas.
As the days closed in on opening night, there was the usual drama one could expect from this type of large-scale event: actors quitting, equipment failing, and the general “idea-in-the-head-not-playing-out-as-well-in-real-life.” It didn’t take long for things to start running fairly well, and everyone was enjoying the job and scaring people, discounting the two concussions of course.
Overall, I really liked this documentary. I thought it was VERY well-done and made me feel good that it was done “back home”. The only parts I didn’t care for was some of the language and getting no warning before a certain artist started stapling and piercing himself. I am probably in the minority on this overall, but if the f-bomb is part of one’s everyday verbiage, allow it to be bleeped so others do not have to hear it. As for the performer, once I realized what the he was doing, I could not watch that part of the documentary … ewww … I mean … ewww …
Aside from those two things, for me, it was wonderful. Richard Treachout, left a well-paying job to focus his entire energy on this project and the fact he and Nash went through their life-savings and were essentially broke after this is not lost on the viewer. They are both incredibly dedicated to this project and I am sure they will have many successful years ahead of them. They have probably created many memories for thousands of people across Kentuckiana and beyond…and not many of us can say we’ve done that in our lives. If you get the chance to see this documentary on DVD, do not hesitate, especially if you love Halloween.
Please check out the links below and show them some support. After checking today, I do not see 2014 dates set, but I’m sure that will be updated soon. And if you happen to be in the Kentuckiana area during the Halloween season and are looking for a scare, visit The Asylum Haunted Scream Park.