During the first week of August, I attended ScareLA and was blown away by the mini-haunts that I saw featured. One of my favorite ones that I got to experience was called “Field of Screams: The Haunted Stadium.” They are located in Lake Elsinore, CA at one of the most beautiful minor leagues baseball stadiums I had ever seen. This October, they are presenting five new mazes for our horror enjoyement: Exorcism Reborn, Cannibal Island 3D, Holidays of Horror, House of Nightmares, and Roadkill Cafe. Last week, myself and Norm from Horror Buzz, sat down with Field of Screams Creative Directors Jon Parry (from Twisted Scare) and Jeromy Ball (half of the Bloodshed Brothers team) and interviewed them on all things horror and haunted attraction related. Not only where they and their team amazing but we got the opportunity to see what really goes on when it comes to getting a haunt ready for the Halloween season.
HOW DID THE IDEA OF HAVING A HAUNT AT THE STADIUM COME ABOUT?
Haunted Stadium: The old VP of the stadium, his name is Bruce, saw the opportunity to do something with the stadium when it wasn’t baseball season. So the first year, which we don’t really count as the years it been open as the Haunted Stadium, they did a haunt with the people who worked in the office and it ended up not being very good. The following year, they hired it out to a guy that did haunts and called it Toxic Terror. Ever since then they have been hiring it out which has resulted in more and more people and it’s gotten bigger and better every year. What’s interested is that Jeromy and Zach (from Bloodshed Brothers) and myself (Jon) and family (Twisted Scare) had only met through the stadium 3 years ago. The first year we didn’t know each other and didn’t even really talk. Last year we became friends and that’s when everything started getting good.
DO THE HOUSES HAVE A STORY OR A THEME?
HS: They always have a story. We strive every year to have our houses have a story from start to finish. We try to give out a couple sentences for each home so that you know what they are about. However, this year, we definitely want people to know the stories – whether you are waiting in line (to give you something to do while you are waiting) or in the houses so as to give you an idea of what you can look forward to.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE DOING DIFFERENTLY TO THE HOUSES THIS YEAR THAT YOU HAVEN’T DONE IN PRIOR YEARS?
HS: Every year we try to bring something new. We got on board with Gantom this year and are incorporating flashlight torches. I think that this will be a new technology that not many people have seen, especially on the West Coast. Our “The House of Nightmares” maze will incorporate these flashlights throughout by having a group of 6 enter the maze with minimal lighting and only this flashlight. Other than that, the only house that’s technically new but an older idea is the Exorcism Reborn Maze from last year. We were really trying to push the envelope with it and kind of held back but it ended up being a crowd favorite so we are going to push the envelope a bit more to the extreme this year.
ARE THERE ANY MAZES THAT WILL HAVE AN UPCHARGE ONCE ENTERING? ARE THERE ANY MAZES YOU HAVE TO SIGN A WAIVER FOR?
HS: The actors will not be touching you and there is no waiver. The only upcharge we will be doing is the VIP which every maze (except for The House of Nightmares) will have an extra room with an extra experience before you get in. We didn’t want to do this with “The House of Nightmares” because we want everyone to enjoy the flashlight experience.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HOUSE YOU’VE DONE?
HS: Our favorite houses that we have ever done are probably Orphanage and the Darkness
DO YOUR SCARE ACTORS WEAR MAKEUP OR MASKS? HOW MANY ACTORS DO YOU HAVE?
HS: Because we have so many [scare actors] we try to get as many in masks as possible; however, we do have a good makeup team (that consists of about 6-8 makeup artists), who get here about 3 hours prior to the event to get the scare actors ready. As of right now we are sitting at about 75 actors.
DO ANY HORROR MOVIES INFLUENCE YOUR HOUSES?
HS: We draw inspiration from everywhere – horror movies, Disney, stuff we see on the street. Last year in our clown maze we had hidden Mickeys that you could see with the blacklight. We write movie references all over the place and people’s names. I mean we love to do horror movies because it’s easy but it’s not really original.
IF THERE WAS A HORROR MOVIE MAZE YOU COULD DO, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
HS: (jokingly) Zombeavers!!! I’ve always wanted to do a “House of 1000 Corpses” but what I would really love to do, and will do someday, is a haunt that shows the evolution of zombies. You have the modern day zombies that chase after you and want to eat you but then you have the zombies from our parents generation that are slow. I think it would be cool to start off with your old school slow zombies and evolve to the fact paced zombies of today.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT HIRING YOUR SCARE ACTORS AND WHAT PREREQUISITES DO THEY NEED?
We hold auditions here at the stadium. A lot of our scare actors are ones that continue to return year after year. When it comes to new actors we kind of just get a feel for them. We do not allow any child actors, the youngest that we will allow is 14 years old. If we do get adults, they are just as into it as we are and end up just wanting to volunteer their time. The oldest scare actor we have is Frank and he is 45 and has a blast – he absolutely loves doing this and is always so apologetic when he can’t be here to help.
WHAT MAKES YOUR HAUNT A GOOD HAUNT?
I think what we have going right now is perfect. The combination of our styles works. Its important to not overkill with actors and special effects, you need to have the proper balance of it. Special effects and animatronics can give you tension but scare actors will scare the crap out of you. A lot of our stuff is homemade – we make our own props, costumes, and makeup – it’s all original. Our haunt offers things that other haunts don’t, for example, moving attractions within some of the mazes.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE DRIVE OUT TO LAKE ELSINORE FOR YOUR HAUNT?
You get a personal experience. You aren’t conga-lining through the mazes like other haunts at large scale theme parks. It’s truly more scary because you get more of a solo experience and because you get to go through so many more times. Eventually the scare actors get to know you a little bit better and your experiences change because of that. We’ve been working on this since February and is something we take great pride in.
I want to thank the team of The Field of Screams for letting myself (and Norm from HorrorBuzz) interview them. Nightmarish Conjurings will be there next month to preview the haunt for all you haunt fans out there so make sure to stay tuned!
For more information about Field of Screams: The Haunted Stadium, check out their website www.hauntedstadium.com. They can also be found creeping around the following social media accounts:
Facebook: The Field of Screams: The Haunted Stadium