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View Full Version : Amazing Discovery ... Read On Now!!!



drfrightner
12-22-2008, 12:50 PM
This question has been posed many, many times... where did the haunted house industry come from, where did it start, how did it get started, blah, blah.

Well maybe finally some answers ... there will be an article in the Hauntworld magazine that helps explain much of where the haunt industry got started, how it got started and more.

We will even have a follow up story on this very subject. But for the time being a document was found created by the JC's who more or less started the haunted house industry back in the 70's. They created a how to book, that outlined how to start the industry, how to build a haunt and much more. A member of our industry has this book and I will be getting a copy of this document and the man who helped start these problems will have a lot to say about the history of our industry in coming issues of Hauntworld Magazine.

The book outlines best scenes, where to buy supplies, it even has a catalogs from Don Post inside. This is an important document for our industry. FOUND!

Larry

Darkblood
12-22-2008, 01:02 PM
That should be a great article(s) Larry!
Y'know, I've heard that before though...with the Jaycee's and the 70's...somewhere but I can't remember...
Can't wait to read it in depth!

Kirk

JamBam
12-22-2008, 01:33 PM
The Jaycees in our town started in 1968. I went to the library and searched the old newspaper microfiche machine for a couple of hours. Then, I found a picture of an old Jaycee that has his office a block from the current location we are using. He and I are on another board together. He and his wife confirmed 1968 was the first year. They were active with regional and state activities, so I am sure it came from another chapter.

When I joined Jaycees, the haunted house was in a building that they had for three years. Then we used a series of houses, buildings, park building, and parks until my last year as an official member. That year I managed it one last time (or so I thought). I managed or co-managed it eight out of sixteen years.

By then some of the houses around the country had started to use themes and branding. The setting up in a few weeks, running a few days, then tearing down, and putting everything into storage was taking its toll on everything and everyone.

All the Jaycees haunted houses were simply named "Ourtown Jaycees Haunted House". Masks were the only thing used and black walls or plastic was the buildout. It was all what I call boo scare/startle with very little character reference unless it was a movie thing with no regard to licensing or copyrights.

We found out current location after we decided that a permanent location was the only way to survive. Also, a theme of the Haunted Hotel was started. (1998).


I am going to put out an inquiry to the old Jaycees network for early days information. I should have some good solid info in a few days.

SSP
12-22-2008, 01:46 PM
What about the Witches Dungeon in Bristol, CT? It opened in 1966 as a horror movie museum and is considered the longest running attraction of it's kind by Entertainment Tonight. As far as I've heard, this might be a contender to one of the first, starting as a tribute to the horror movies that fueled this whole craze.

http://www.preservehollywood.org/DungeonWebNew/History.html

Just thought I'd throw this in

Darkblood
12-22-2008, 02:15 PM
Hmmm...these are interesting historical posts...
I know we've got a Jaycee's haunt about 30+ miles from where I live called the Cochranton Jaycees Haunted House...they own the house and it's mainly black plastic and typical haunted house stuff...
It's been around a looooong time as they don't even advertise much but have tons of people show up and it's not unusual for it to be a 3+ hour wait at all times...even getting there an hour early sometimes there's already a line!
I'm going to try and find out what year it started!

Kirk

drfrightner
12-22-2008, 02:26 PM
We know there was dark rides and funhouses for decades some date back to the 20's or whenever... but the industry an industry of opening haunted houses nationwide that is a direct result of the JC's. They have created and printed books on the subject all the way back to the 70's.

People constantly ask how we all came about as an industry well I think we've found some evidence that it started with the JC's.

Larry

Slain
12-22-2008, 03:36 PM
I would be very interested in this information.. The Birmingham Chapter always had an award winning haunted house because they actually owned the property and seemed to manage it very well back in the 70's and 80's...
At the time when I started in the haunt industry (around 1986),the Jc's was it. They had a house which is still standing today but being used as nothing because they forgot to reinvest in what was making their monies...
They had alot of heart but not much business sense. I would be interested in anything found on this subject...





We know there was dark rides and funhouses for decades some date back to the 20's or whenever... but the industry an industry of opening haunted houses nationwide that is a direct result of the JC's. They have created and printed books on the subject all the way back to the 70's.

People constantly ask how we all came about as an industry well I think we've found some evidence that it started with the JC's.

Larry

Raycliff Manor
12-22-2008, 03:48 PM
There was an organization in the San Diego area back in the 70's called Campus Life and they put on haunted attractions. I may be wrong, but I believe they were connected with the Scream in the Dark attractions, or perhaps they just overlapped in operating haunted attractions out there at that time. For their time, the Scream in the Dark haunted houses were great!

Kel

Raycliff Manor
12-22-2008, 03:51 PM
I just googled Scream in the Dark and found this site: http://tulsatvmemories.com/mahu.html

Very interesting!

Kel

Nightgore
12-22-2008, 04:22 PM
Wasn't Campus Life Tim Turners thing? Or am I mistaken? -Tyler

skullman
12-22-2008, 06:06 PM
What about the Witches Dungeon in Bristol, CT? It opened in 1966 as a horror movie museum and is considered the longest running attraction of it's kind by Entertainment Tonight. As far as I've heard, this might be a contender to one of the first, starting as a tribute to the horror movies that fueled this whole craze.

http://www.preservehollywood.org/DungeonWebNew/History.html

Just thought I'd throw this in

The Witches Dungeon is a very cool attraction that often gets overlooked!!

Bill Schnell
12-22-2008, 06:56 PM
I always thought it would be cool if somebody would put together a well researched book on the start and evolution of our industry.

Matt Marich
12-22-2008, 07:25 PM
My very first professional jobs in the haunt biz were in the late 70's. They were as follows, Phoenix JC's, P.A.C. Foundation ( Youth Group ), and Churches!!! Yes that's right, several Christian churches hired me for Gore and Special effects. Funny how the world has changed. We had several Rock Radio Stations that put on their own Haunts as well.

Jim Warfield
12-22-2008, 09:02 PM
Fan Told me, a Doctor (An M.D.) took his kids to a haunted house that was maybe in San Antonio held in a castle-looking building operated year round by a church as their main fund raiser and that some JCs basically coped and put into their JCs handbook everything the Church had figured out and then the next year copies of the JC book were published and distributed across the USA.
And that is how it began.
The church-haunt had a real hunchback walking the top of the tower. They used real snakes, bats, rats in the place.
They had an electric chair in which with much fanfare the Doctor's little daughter was strapped into. When the kill-switch was throw everyone except the girl got a mild shock through the metal benches they were all sitting upon.,

Then Herman Muddgett a serial-killer in Chicago had a three-story "Murder Mansion in the 1890s and while he was on trail someone was giving house tours of his place and collecting 25 cents for the experience.
The house contained gas chambers, holding cells secret passages, doors that opened that would allow someone to fall several stories down and a slide to take the bodies down to the basement where he conducted experiments on them, he was fascinated with how much a body could be stretched.
He sold real "Buckys" to local medical schools too.

The Greeks had their scary maze with scary mythological creatures waiting for you inside, it really existed, it was rediscovered quite some time ago. The really large hollowed out log that rotated as people walked through it was just a cartoon I made up, they never had one.

The Ravens Grin Inn was used as the Mount Carroll JCs second haunted house. That was when I began wishing I could own it, I never stopped wishing (and begging and thinking how?)
One night a female customer of the JC /Ravens Grin haunt claimed "someone" had kissed her, "Fully upon her lips"in the pitch/dark wine cellar..it is a haunted, haunted house.
Then many years later I was kissed across my forehead 4 times from right to left, my eyes were wide open by the end of the third kiss, fourth kiss hits me and the lights are on and the room is empty except for me! It kind of got my attention.

SSP
12-23-2008, 03:42 AM
I'm sorry to throw this off topic, but...

Jim, a kissing ghost? That has caught my attention too!

I would love to see an article on real spooks in a haunted attraction, I think that would be a great read!

Barry
12-23-2008, 07:10 AM
A few years ago I started doing research for an article I wanted to write on this topic. I never found the time to continue with it though.

From what I can tell the Jaycee's were some of the first. The idea for a commercial attraction was presented at their "Metro Conference" in 1971 and that is when it started to go nationwide.

I did find a reference to Cox's Point Haunted Mansion in Baltimore that had definitely started by 1970 and possibly as early as 1968.

Prior to these I only found references to home haunts in the mid 60's.

As for the origins of today's haunted houses you can go back hundreds of years with mirror mazes followed by the 20th century's tilt houses, dark rides, and carnival fun houses. Throw in the influence of TV and monster movies, the baby boom generation of the 60's and that brings us to our haunt industry of today.

JamBam
12-23-2008, 09:14 AM
Hey,
The Jaycees Metro conference was for chapters in cities of 75,000+ population and other chapters that had 150+ members. The proposal most liklely was a sharing of info based on a chapter's success. It would be interesting to know which chapter it was.

Barry
12-23-2008, 01:49 PM
Brett,
It was from Peoria. Here is the link:

http://www.jaycees.com/history/1970s.htm

Banshee
12-23-2008, 02:23 PM
I started out with the Birmingham Jaycees in the mid-late 70's . They had an amazing old building in the downtown area then & would go to different schools & civic groups & give everyone a room to decorate & staff.. Very fond memories of that!

xxxdirk
12-23-2008, 03:06 PM
I had heard of the MURDER CASTLE in Chicago before and it amazes me no one has made a major motion picture on this thing. He makes Sweeny Todd look like an amature...

KroneDaddy
12-23-2008, 03:48 PM
Rubbish,

I personally started the Haunted House industry in 1964 when I was 5 years old. The Beatles were new and the world needed something else to do. I am honored to have been on the cutting edge. I wrote that JayCee book in 67, I was 8.

I also was in the back-up bigfoot costume Roger Patterson was supposed to film, but Phil Morris cut the eyes out of the mask wrong and I missed my cue. We were supposed to be a bigfoot couple, sort-of.

So now THE DEBATE IS OVER, that goes for AL Gore too!

KroneDaddy

Jim Warfield
12-23-2008, 05:41 PM
Fiction versus actuality. Truth is stranger (and bloodier) than fiction.
Herman Mudgett's schemes usually involved collecting insurance money on people he insured then made die.
He traveled all around this country doing this and had satellite offices in other cities, I think one was Philadelphia?
And he started out as a brilliant medical student too!

damon carson
12-26-2008, 09:21 AM
I cant wait to read more on this. Thats how I got into haunted houses is by going to the local Jaycees haunted house. Can you imagine how many haunted houses were put on by Jaycees nationwide?! It would be phenomenal the amount of haunts being done in the U.S in those days. Practically every town with 8 to 10 Thousand population probably has a local Jaycee orginazation. Im not positive but it would probably be a good logical guess. Maybe even smaller towns may as well. It would really be awesome if someone could find an old news report like with Walter Cronkrite reporting on this. Thats if there ever was such press on Haunted houses or Halloween events back then.
Damon

Jim Warfield
12-27-2008, 08:09 PM
A look at the JC's Haunted houses was sort of like this:
Mount Carroll had a JC haunt for...? 8 years ?
Lanark JCs had haunts ..? 4-5 years?
Shannon-no JCs
Chadwick=No JCs
Savanna = ? 3 years of JC Haunts
Millegeville = 1-2? years of JC haunting.
Thomson = no JCs
Carroll County , Ill. only still has a population of 15,000
The largest town back then was Savanna pop.3,500
Mt. Carroll pop.2,500
Shannon = 1,000?
Chadwick = pop.350
Mill"ville = 1.200
Lanark = 1,700
Thomson = 600
The Carroll Co. JC haunts were held in old houses, a warehouse, trailers Semi and house.
If this little area of the country could be considered typical (which it might not be) there would have been at least a JC haunt in almost every town the JCs were established in.
Clinton, Iowa 25 miles from Mount Carroll had a JC haunt several years usually in a train station and a second floor of an old building.
The Rockford , Ill. JCs , being a bigger city,had a haunt in a mall space, got hefty donantions from a lumber yard of much plaster board and 2 by 4s and unlike the rest of us , they hired high school kids to actually man the haunt for them. (This would have ruined all of my fun, personally.)
Part of the JCs was learning how to "Delegate"(convince others to do your bidding), I guess paying kids to run the place was considered delegating?

JamBam
01-06-2009, 10:07 AM
I have put out an inquiry to the Indiana Jaycees old timers and through the national old timers newsletter. I have had several responses, but no new info.

Later,