Blind Scream opened to the public October 8th for the first time in a couple of years, but the entire time they had to close to the public the team was building the maze and expanding the story coming up. Now that Blind Scream is finally open. What can you expect?
What Is Blind Scream?
Drew: That’s a good one. I mean, Nobody’s actually asked me that question. It is a story that we started about 12 years ago about the Hunter family. It started with Doc Hunter and his Horror-torium, and every year we introduced a new character, and that new character usually comes up with a new haunted attraction for the coming years.
Finally after 12 years, his sisters, who are all witches, have come together and put together the Witch House. Each one of those sisters is a Hunter, there’s Helga Hunter, Hildreth Hunter, they all have H names. And Hunter was a perfect name to give them for the backend of it because they are all Hunters and they’re all nasty, nasty family.
These sisters of his live all over the country, and you get to meet the dark gothic, witch sister, who is a Hilda Hunter, and her other sisters, which there is a voodoo witch, a swamp witch, a gypsy witch, and each one of them has their own thing that they do.
What Do You Want The Guests To Experience Going Through?
Drew: We designed it out to be almost a play. So, we want you to feel like you’re immersed in this play, like you could really watch this on stage and watch it happen. But, what if you were walking through it? And it lines up like a movie shot all the way through, if you were to walk through with a video camera, and somebody startles you, you’re going to back up, and you’re going to take an alternate path.
We don’t claim to be the scariest haunted house, because everybody can have that claim, they can have that, that’s fine with me. We want to be the Halloween-iest, we want you to feel, every now and then, that you see that jack-o-lantern in the back corner that’s just flickering or whatever, we want you to feel the Halloween party of Haunted House Halloween. I came from really old school, I came from the original, Knott’s Scary Farm. I came from Campus Life Haunted Houses, which were the startings and the beginnings of some of these things, along with the JCs, and some of these other ones.
And some of those guys really came up with some good stuff, with really fifties technology, and you’re able to do that. The leaves creaking under their feet, The crackle of the branches, the wind blowing, you hear a little bit of water in the stream bed or something like that, those things are the triggers that trigger nightmares. It’s that thing, and then letting it go so far, and then all of a sudden you just dropped that humor bomb on top of them and they all laugh about it, and now you have Halloween. That’s what we have all about, we’re here for Halloween. The older I get, the more vintage I want, the more things that I appreciate that way. The predecessors that laid the groundwork for us, right?
Judy: And we also want the characters to go home with you at night, we want them to be in your nightmares, we want you to think about them afterwards, we want the smells in the house to go home with you, we want that whole immersive experience as you walk through the haunted house.
Philip: It’s interesting, so it sounds like you think that humor still is a big component of Halloween.
Drew: That’s the flip side of the horror coin. There’s love, there’s hate. There’s humor, and there’s horror. There’s black, there’s white. There’s dark, there’s light. Honestly, there’s the flip side of humor.
What happens when some of you scare the crap out of somebody, and they come flying out of the thing? The first thing they do, they stop, they take a breath, and then they laugh at themselves, because that’s what just happened. Every now and then you see that perfect tombstone that says Diane Rot or something, and that’s an oldie, but a goodie, but just seeing those, just those little bits. I think you don’t have to come out just fearing everything, right? Scooby Doo was a great cartoon.
How Was This Particular Story Conceived For Blind Scream?
Drew: Okay, let’s go back. I went to the very first, Knott’s Scary Farm. By the 25th anniversary I was a lead prop master in Knott’s Scary Farm. I built props for different Universal haunty things, we’ve done props for Six Flags, we do a lot of that stuff. But one of the things that I really noticed is, it’s always the male that scares the people, and we’re like, ” women can be equally big, so let’s give them their day.” Very rarely do you see that. Like, we give the whole haunt to the women.
Judy: We did the Witch House two years ago, but it was much, much different, because we had two haunted houses it was just a piece, we didn’t put a hundred percent into it that we’ve actually put into it this year, but it worked two years ago. But, due to COVID and not knowing how it was going to be when we got to open up, we decided that it was important to make sure we had one great haunted house. So, instead of two haunted houses, we designed the Witch House to be one big haunted house, and that’s where we brought in all of the rest of the characters, the other witches, and expanded on that.
We have some really talented female actors that have been with us over the years. We’ve given them more power in their roles. We haven’t seen a lot of haunted houses with the whole witch theme, it happens, but around here we don’t see a lot of that. It’s a great time to focus on witches, and to play up that whole theme for this year. Next year, I don’t know that we’re going to go witch again.
Drew: One of the picks with the Witch House was, haven’t seen it, there’s no zombies in it, it’s not Walking Dead, it’s not a pirate movie, and then we hadn’t done witches.
Judy: We hadn’t done witches.
Drew: And so that was a total, complete retool, because costumes, makeup, all that other stuff had to come in. And when we do our costumes and makeup, we really don’t cheat out. Up here we have nothing but forest fires. So, that shuts us down just about every year too. So we built a witch house, we had another carnitas kind of thing, and went into a black light backroom and everything, and then that year we’re like, “you know what? Let’s get rid of this. Let’s start with one big one.” Walls were coming down, moved around, there was some stuff that we did that was really cool, so we left it up. So then we just hunkered in and we decided, rather than spend all of our money, tearing this crap down, putting it in a trailer, rolling down the road, storing the trailer, putting it back in the trailer, coming back up rather than spending that money, what is that cost?
We decided to just hunker in, what was that cost? To pay that as storage rent on this building and then, just build and build. Every weekend my boys would come together, and we would build a new set. We come up with our designs.
So we had literally a hundred weekends to work on this thing. We, don’t go shopping for the props and stuff that we need, we build it all. So, there’s actually a studio in the middle of this haunted house where all the rubber is cast, all of the molds are made. I make all our own molds, we make our own music, we have our own sound effects. You won’t see anything like this on the planet earth. That gives us, also, the opportunity to work differently.
This is the first year anybody got to see all of us, everything that we got to do, everything that we had, kind of reads out like this kind of a cool comic book, it’s got a story, it’s got all those elements.
Walt Disney said, “I’m sitting on a bench and I’m looking at these people. They’re on a carousel in Griffith park.” And he said, “that’s what I want my theme park to be. I want it where grandpa and the baby can ride together on certain things, and I want them to be immersed in what I have.” It’s hard to imagine that you’re in the Sears Auto Center. When you’re walking through it, it really is.
COVID Safety At Blind Scream
Judy: One of the biggest things is just being able to open. We have really worked hard to make sure it’s a safe situation, not knowing what’s going to happen with COVID. We’ve got our actors masked up, on top of their scary masks. Everybody’s got their COVID masks, our guests are wearing masks. It’s been a struggle to know what the consumer’s going to want to see, what’s it going to take to get them into our doors, what’s going to make them feel safe. But then, what’s also going to be scary and Halloween-y, and what can we do to make sure we’ve got a safe and entertaining atmosphere? We all have been anxious to get back to Halloween and events, and this is just really one of the first steps up here in Northern California. It’s been really slow, events are so slow to come back.
So, just being able to open this year and to have changed the house up with more projections, more sounds, more animatronics, we’ve cut our actor base back a little bit just so we could have a safe and entertaining haunted house that we could show off to our committee.
Drew Explains His Feelings About This Year’s Blind Scream
Drew: Then also, the haunt is just probably, singularly, the prettiest thing I’ve ever built in my entire life; and I have built some big things, and I’ve worked for Knott’s Scary Farm, and I done those things, I’ve been that guy who’s built 10 mazes in a year. This one here, it’s just a beauty. I can’t be happier with the family that helped me build it, I can’t be happier with my acting family. We all just gel. It used to be that things were tougher and they were harder, and people were butting heads a little bit harder and things, but this year has been fantastic.