I’ll get straight to the point: I feel this year was a definite let down, at least for me. Murphy’s Law was in full effect – everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. My brand new, just out of the box fog machine started leaking immediately, and I wasn’t able to return it or buy a new one; volunteers who said they would help ended up flaking out on me over and over; half the props I hoped to build never seemed to come close to being finished; one of my sound systems died 40 minutes into the show, leaving me without the creepy radio effect that told the backstory, which I had spent over a week perfecting; the nasty old geezer who lives on the floor above me tried to get me shut down 30 minutes to showtime by calling the landlord (I already had prior permission, but it was still a huge waste of precious time); only 30-odd ToTs ended up stopping to get candy, with many more just walking by completely uninterested; the haunt got vandalized in the AM of November 1st; and adding insult to injury, the year I do a haunt based on the infamous “razor-in-the-candy” urban legend had to be the year that every attention-seeking narcissist on the East Coast decided to do their own tampered candy hoax (one lunatic in my own county actually sliced up her own mouth with a razor to make the hoax seem more “convincing”).
I mentioned above how only 30-some ToTs stopped to get candy; there were more than that out and about, but a great number walked right past with either no interest or contemptuous sneers. At one point a corpulent bottle blonder soccer mom waddled past with a pack of kids, regarding the haunt with a look of disgust and saying (in a voice loud enough to make sure I could hear), “This is sooooo unhealthy for children!” By 7:45 my street was a ghost town, everyone gone elsewhere. I finally closed the haunt about an hour early when it became clear no one else was coming. I went inside, turned off the lights, collapsed onto my bed, and passed out, simply not caring anymore. I woke the next day, spending most the morning in bed, too depressed to get up, and when I finally did, I went out and found that the haunt had been vandalized – wall dressings ripped down, wooden crosses tossed about, witch jars stolen. Granted, it wasn’t major vandalism, but the sheer dickishness of it didn’t help my already dark mood.
I had worked myself to the point of exhaustion, working every night right into morning, 5:00 AM, sometimes even 6:00 AM, sleeping for only a few hours (4 at the very most), then getting up and starting over. By 10:00 PM the night of Halloween, I was so exhausted I was swaying on my feet and couldn’t even see straight. I wasn’t eating very well, having gone down to only one meal a day to make sure I had money for haunt supplies, and I still ended up not having a big enough budget to pull off everything I wanted. My physical health was shitty, a result of little sleep and next to no nutrition. Needless to say, after pouring my heart, soul, and every penny I had into this haunt to see just how little anyone cared was beyond disheartening. It was soul crushing. In the 2 ½ years I’ve lived in this shitty little town, I’ve learned that anything genuinely creative and unique is completely ignored and unappreciated. As a friend of mine once said, “Indiana, PA is where dreams go to die”. Fuck this town. It doesn’t deserve artists and creative people. This is why I’m looking forward to moving out of state in a few months – at least I know I’m going somewhere my efforts will be appreciated, instead of wasted on ingrates.
However, I cannot allow myself to wallow in self-pity; self-pity leads to stagnation, and stagnation is the death of both the Haunter and the Artist. Thus, I’m choosing to learn from my mistakes of this past year – after all, there is no better teacher than trial and error. Some of the more important lessons I’ve learned (or in some cases, re-learned): plan/strategize better; start building earlier in the season; always have a back-up plan – then have a back-up plan for the back-up plan. At least I’m learning these lessons now, early in my career, as opposed to later.
I didn’t get as many night shots of the final haunt as I would like, but I am currently working on a haunt video/short film that will hopefully at least give you feeling/aesthetic of the haunt, if not an actual blow-by-blow walk-through (more on that later). As for the future of Elmer’s Cellar, I would not be at all surprised if Elmer Wyatt Heddy reared his ugly masked head again in the future; after all, if one Halloween Massacre was not enough for him, who’s to say he won’t try again – who knows, maybe he’ll be taking his act on the road…
Finally, I must give credit where credit is absolutely deserved: scream-outs to:
August and Pandora Rose, for their support and encouragement in keeping the haunt going, and for inspiring the look of Elmer’s trademark mask.
Beckie-Ann Galentine, for her stunning photos that she took of both the haunt and me in character as Elmer; as well as for being a supportive friend through some tough times, along with JB Bowser and Brandon Dunlap.
Jeff Mays, for sending some skellies my way (along with a wicked example of his own handiwork) to add to the haunt, along with some sweet Ragged Grin swag.
Steve Holliday, for loaning me some equipment at the zero hour.
Sharon Day, for her inspiration and for plugging the haunt through her blog Ghost Hunting Theories.
Sean Hughes for allowing me to display some flyers at Sacred Ink.
Christy Pierce, for donating some items to the haunt.
And finally to Pumpkinrot, already an inspiration to countless many, who’s defining of the concept of the “Old School Haunt” was an important inspiration to my own work this year. (By a strange coincidence, he actually wound up doing a pretty similar theme with this haunt – seriously, go check it out!)
I hope you all had a great Halloween, and that your haunts were a success. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing next year, but I’ve already got a few evil plans circulating in my brain... and on that note, Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain, and most of all, Stay Scary! \m/
|Elmer Wyatt Heddy closes the door on Halloween 2015|