HalloweenOverkill: "So what is the theme/story behind the haunt?"
Victor: "The haunt is a Victorian manor. The disreputable family that lives there is the Goulet family, nicknamed the "Ghoulie" family, thus the name of the haunt: Ghoulie Manor. So, this sick and twisted family is into the occult and murder and such. Family members dabble in dark arts or perform horrible experiments or are just plain insane.There's also a lot of Lovecraft themes that go along with the occult piece. Our haunt is character driven. We create a playground for the actors and they excel at being Ghoulies! Not only does the family theme work for the haunt, but it creates a family bond with all of us."
HalloweenOverkill: "Does the haunt stay thematically the same the whole way through or does it veer off theme at any point?"
Victor: "We stay with the theme. The theme is open enough so if we wanted something like a werewolf, we could say that a family member was cursed with lycanthropy. Or the undead has been summoned in the cemetery in the back by a family member. There's still a lot we can do with it."
HalloweenOverkill: "What is your favorite set/scene/room/effect in the haunt?"
Victor: "That would have to be my daughter Gwen's room. She stands in a doorway at the end of a long hall. Her ghostly voice travels down the hall and travels back. When her voice travels back the lights blow out and the door slams, leaving the hallway in complete darkness. It's all automated and is something that people haven't seen in a haunted house before. It's easy to scare people, but it's hard to creep them out. Those are the kinds of effects that I love."
HalloweenOverkill: "Do you have any favorite memories/stories regarding customers/groups?"
Victor: "The last room in the haunt is a chapel where a Lovecraftian monster has been summoned. You exit the room through it's mouth and you can be seen leaving that room by everyone in the queue line. There is a big, locked cemetery gate between chapel/monster mouth exit and the queue area. One group got so freaked out that they tried to push their way through the gate and almost brought it down. I had to push the gate back and the actors had to direct them through the proper exit. Everyone in the queue line started getting nervous. Often, there are a few people in a group that panic, but this entire group really lost it. It really primed everyone in line."
HalloweenOverkill: "About how long does it take to prep the haunt for the season and what goes into it?"
Victor: "We start throwing ideas around in January. I invite the actors and builders to do walk throughs and toss ideas around. We take a long list of ideas and whittle them down to what would work best and start building in March. Usually, we do one night a week for the build, but we have to ramp things up starting in the summer."
HalloweenOverkill: "Why “pro” haunting instead of simply home haunting?"
Victor: "Pro haunting gave us a bigger playground. You can only take a home haunt so far and I just felt really confined. There is no way we could have built an entire manor façade in my back yard."
HalloweenOverkill: "Any general operating anecdotes/advice?"
Victor: "It's waaaay harder than it looks. Do your home work. Work for a pro haunt before you start your own. Go to conventions, take lots of classes including business classes. Get yourself a book called "So You Want To Be A Haunt Entrepreneur" by Kelly Allen. Learn the business side. I wish it was all building props and scaring people, but that's only half of it."
HalloweenOverkill: "What does the future hold for your haunt?"
Victor: "Even I can't say. I want it to be bigger. More successful. Have multiple haunt attractions with different themes. We are building a good reputation, but it takes time. We will grow."
HalloweenOverkill: "What do you think of the “extreme haunt” trend (examples: Blackout & McKamey Manor)?"
Victor: "I think it's a different kind of entertainment entirely. I think it needs a label other than haunted house, something like torture house, just to differentiate the two. People obviously enjoy it, so there's a good niche there. But, it's not my thing."
HalloweenOverkill: "Your favorite haunt (home or pro)?"
Victor: "Man, that's a tough one. I like so many. If I had to pick one I would have to say The Haunt in Grand Rapids. That haunt was just my style and what I've always wanted my haunt to be. Ask me again tomorrow and I might say 100 Acres Manor or Fright Kingdom, but today I'm going with The Haunt."
Check out some pictures and a t.v. spot for Ghoulie Manor below and don't forget to click the logo above or in the sidebar to be taken to the Ghoulie Manor official website. Keep it bookmarked for the upcoming haunt season and if you are in the Taunton, MA area check out the haunt and let us know what you thought....we'll pass on the good word to the amazing people over at Ghoulie Manor!