What Is Fear Farm?
Rix: So, Fear Farm has been a passion project of us for the last 17 years. This year we’re going to be running three main haunted attractions. We’ll have the Sundown Manor, which is our main haunted house, that’ll be our biggest haunted house. New to this year, we’re doing Dead Creek, which is going to be kind of an outdoor like maze thing. It’s going to go in and out of different buildings and stuff like that. And then we have the haunted hayride, tickets are $13 online, and they’re going to be $15 at the door.
We started off is just like most haunts do, you know, a tarp and a strobe light on a porch, and it kind of evolved into about two and a half acres. We have multiple attractions now. We have q haunted house, we have two mazes, a hayride, a midway, a ghost town, we’re doing food this year. So, it’s really evolved into something more than just a small little porch haunted house.
The space we’re utilizing this year is much bigger than we have in previous years. We’ve added like a ghost town area and stuff, so there’s definitely a lot more room for people. It used to be you’d come in and there was the line area, and that was basically it, this year you’re going to be able to free roam, we’ll have actors kind of walking around, kind of like if you were to go to like the amusement parks, you can kind of mingle with them. You can kind of choose what attractions you want to do versus having to go in like a single path. So, that’s kinda what we’re doing new this year.
Rix Walks Philip Through Sundown Manor
Philip: Tell us a little bit about why you decided to do the room we just went through. I liked the idea of when you walk in, you enter like a two-story mansion. So, already you have the sense of size, it’s just a huge grand facade. Then you walk in and you walk down and, looking like you’re going to below the sight line of the fog, and then you have the actor in there on stilts. So, it just creates this crazy sense, it’s almost like you feel like you’re on an elevator, you’re going down and he’s going up and you’re just like what is happening?
Rix: Twilight Zone feeling for sure. I remember we tried it out about a week ago with him in there, we had him practice on the stilts, we set the stilts to the right height, and we were just in awe, it looked like he was skating across the laser beams, and it was just, it was unreal. We couldn’t believe how well it turned out, because, you know, when you come up with these ideas, sometimes they look good on paper and in reality it doesn’t work as good
Philip: You were basically like, “what if we could have an actor walking on the fog?”
Rix: Right, right. That was the challenge. We were like, Okay, how do we do that? I was like, put him on drywall stilts, paint them black, and just let them go for it and see what happens, you know? We just want to be innovative, we want to push it. We do different stuff every year, you know, and that was kind of our one thing we wanted to do that was truly unique.
Philip: And then you enter in, and you had to like kind of crouch under, and so it’s very like you said, very Wonderland.
Rix: I wanted to go from a really big, tall space to a real small space. Yeah. We don’t want people to get too comfortable.
Philip: We’re like walking down the hallways and very distressed, very like incredible panel work here. And then, like you said, then you’re not even expecting it, and you do that classic misdirection where you had the light kind of shining at you. So, you’re not looking up, you’re looking at the doors and you’re looking at all this side stuff. Cause like you said, you think they’re going to come from the doors, but then you have, basically on the roof coming in, , there are still cross beams here and you have a little bit of tiling to give the impression that they were breaking through the roof.
Rix: We’re not supposed to have roofs. That’s a rule, you know? Cause we don’t have, we’re not in a building and we don’t have sprinklers.
Philip: So, do a half roof.
Rix: Like tear the roof off.
Philip: Yeah. So, it’s technically still an open-air building, so you don’t need sprinkler system, and it’s up to code, but you can get enough of the suggestion of you tearing open… which is just another layer. So, you’re like, you’ve come in and you’ve gotten this huge, then you’ve gone down this tunnel, and now you’re in the hallway and the ceiling is being ripped off and there’s this huge claw and person coming down.
Rix: Well, for one, normal guests, they looked out more than they look up, we know that.
Philip: You’re drawing their attention with these set details, right.
Rix: And that’s exactly why those are there, that is. But it’s crazy how, this room looked very open until you just throw a couple two by fours across the top and then all of a sudden you have a roof. And it’s those little things, the little things.
Philip: And especially because you’re lighting it from the top right, you’re not lighting it in this way and you’re highlighting needs side panels. You know, you normally, why would you that? You’re doing that so that you’re not gonna look into light, right. Humans don’t look into the light.
Rix: Yeah. I mean, they’ll go towards it.
Philip: But they don’t look into it. Any other design choices as you’re going through?
Rix: You got to have a little bit of a break, you know? Like, they gotta have some kind of suspense, you know? So that’s kinda what this room is for. It’s kind of just stuff to look at. Yeah. It’s gross. You know?
Philip: The bathroom, yeah. We’re in the bathroom, it’s gross. There’s like a dirty bathtub here with the dirt inside of it and like a toilet. But what I like too, it’s everything’s real.
Rix: Pulled that out of a Rite Aid. My dad and I used to fix Rite Aids for a living. So, yeah, so that came out of a Rite Aid. Yeah, lots of that kind of stuff. Then we bring them this way and then we hit them with a drop window, which to me is my favorite scare. I think it’s the easiest and the best thing there is.
Philip: So, we go through the hallway, and then into the dining room, so this is open air room, it’s a dining room, but we have a chandelier which you have attached with cross beams, but the crossbeams are not described. We have little, like, again, showing the hints here on the side, showing the hints of a roof that has been kind of ripped off.
Rix: The average person is just not going to notice that there’s not a roof here.
Philip: They’re going to notice this, you know, they’re going to notice the ceiling fixture, and plus another trick too, it’s over the table, so there’s never a point at which the guests would go under it. So there’s not a a fall hazard. So then we, from the dining room, we’re progressing to the kitchen.
Rix: And a cabinet came out of my grandma’s house right there.
Philip: And we have some beautiful distressing on the walls here, and then we have the classic you have to go into the refrigerator.
Rix: This was actually my mom’s idea. She was like, “wouldn’t it be awesome if you shove people in the refrigerator?” But I was like, “okay, so let’s hog out a refrigerator,” and now it’s a walkway through so yeah. So, it worked out pretty well. We get a lot of compliments about this.
Philip: Yeah. And the freezer then, you know, you’re kind of like breaking out through the freezer. Yeah, so now we’re in the doll room. I guess like thematically, how do we arrive here, like storyline? What were you thinking when you were like, “let’s put a doll room at the end of the freezer?”
Rix: You know, I mean, originally this is kind of one of the areas where we ran out of time. You know, because we were originally going to bust a hole in the wall and you were going to go through another hole in the wall and ended up in another part of the house. That was kind of the idea, but time was our enemy this season.
Philip: Yeah. But so, like thematically that’s what kind of happened? You basically, like you, you bust out basically through the freezer, into a different room and the room is like the child’s?
Rix: A very interesting child.
Philip: Lots of dolls.
Rix: So, yeah. And then what we really wanted to do is, we did a doll room before and we weren’t getting the dolls close enough to people. That was our problem, so we were like, okay, let’s make a doll house where they have to duck and we’ll put the dolls right on them. So that’s kind of the idea behind this.
Philip: And again, it plays on the theme earlier, like a kind of like recurring motif of size. It’s the same thing again, where previously you entered into a facade and you went down, and you entered your first room, and now it’s a smaller facade because it’s a dollhouse and you’re coming back out again.
Rix: And we don’t want people to feel like it’s too open. We want to bring it down and an open it up. And then , like in old houses, they have slatted walls. So that’s kind of the idea behind this. Honestly, time kind of got us, but there is a guy under here. We were supposed to put a light on him, but you know, next week.
Philip: And then it makes sense to where like, kind of, we’ve gone into the dollhouse now. So we’ve entered the house and that’s why you had the slats, because this is like the wood that old, old school wooden doll houses were made out of.
Rix: Right, well, old houses were made out of wood slats too, like Victorian homes.
Philip: And then we have the actual mannequins, full size mannequins here.
Rix: Yeah. Which I actually got all of these from different people.
Philip: So then , we’ve left the dollhouse.
Rix: This is the greenhouse.
Philip: I think we’re kind of still in the dollhouse of world, essentially. And so that’s why, because it gets a little bit more fantastical at this point. And so, it’s kinda like the make-believe world. So, we’ve exited the doll house and outside we have the greenhouse and then of course the lattice work, and this is the kinda like fake lattice work where the like werewolf pops out at you through the wall, so it’s a great scare, but also thematically it makes sense. We’ve become more fantastical.
Rix: And then you’re going back to the world, so squeezing through the tube.
Philip: Yeah, and a good way to enter the claustrophobia tunnel. You know, something that this year we saw some people cut because of the high contact touch surfaces, there’s an optional exit if they don’t want to go through it.
Rix: That was really important to us, we understand some people are kind of worried about it. We allow them to make that choice on their own.
Philip: What the claustrophobia tunnel does is it continues that theme of being compressed, of feeling like things are size and to spit you back out into the regular world.
Rix: Right, and they come running out that. I’m like, it’s crazy, and so yeah, that’s the maze.
What Was The Goal For This Year And Future Years at Fear Farm?
Rix: We have been volunteer staff for years, we want to pay people. That was our biggest achievement. They deserve it, their blood, sweat, and tears go into this thing, and they are what makes this thing like work. So, this year, we got the funds, we got the sponsors, we got everything to make that happen. You know, we went way out of our way for that.
Philip: So, you did make it to pay everybody? And then also has everyone shown up? Because we’ve talked to a few other haunts where they’ve had maybe like a 50% no-show rating because.
Rix: We had about 80 or 90 people that were new sign up for the haunt. Two actually showed up. And now we’re down to one. So, we are all returners here this year, the whole entire crew is experienced, and I’ve had some of these people for 10 years or more, and they just, they’re addicted. They’ve got bit by the bug, like me. This is my 26th haunted house that I have done. Some of these people have been with me like 10, 12 years, it’s crazy. And it’s like, they’re my family.
Philip: What is your next goal? Now that we’re here and we’re open? Like we’re here, you opened successfully, humans had showed up to attend. People showed up, they paid, you’re here, you’re paying actors, you’re open, like, oh my God, what’s your next goal?
Rix: I guess my next goal is just to expand. I want to see how big we can go. We want like 20 acres of land. We’re on about two and a half acres of land, but we want about 20 because we want to do about four mazes and a haunted hayride. That’s kind of the goal. And it’s hard, it’s hard, especially because there’s like two of us.
We’ve expanded a little bit. Now we have James, and we have Danny. But when we were first starting, like getting this together, it was months where it was just us to putting everything together. I mean, this whole maze, everything was kinda put together by the two of us. But I’m just lucky to have really, really good people to fill this thing with at this point, you know? But yeah, we’re excited, moving forward though, we are going to grow bigger.