Friday, October 19, 2012

So Bring The Kids Along, It's Good Clean Family Fun

The Shaker Can. The most underrated Scare Accessory in the Haunt Arsenal.

I mean, look at it. It's ludicrous when compared to brandished weapons. You can't take it seriously as a frightmaker when it sits on a counter. Until you see it in action.

I was hired last year to be a ScareActor at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights. I worked in the Rec Room Set of the Thing: Assimilation maze, and part of my duties involved jumping through a door with a pickaxe and banging on a window leading into the room while another person provided a distraction in the corner of the room. Halfway through the run, the supervisors added another person into the room, stationed behind the bar and armed with one of those incongruous shaker cans. I was initially a little put out by this, as if it was a testimony that we weren't doing or jobs or something, but I soon came to realize how effective this bonus scare was. Once I was stationed at the window to witness a man with his girlfriend clinging to his back pass by into the room, only to immediately hear the report of the Shaker Can striking the countertop right by the door. I swear, the guy rockets backward like he was tased, crushing the girlfriend into the opposite wall before they both slid to the floor in a heap.

I wish to replicate this distinctive memory. Upon entering the Arts & Crafts Room, the guest is immediately confronted with a slammed shaker can and the brutal sweatshop conditions promulgated by Camp Knossos.

A schedule posted on the wall attests to a constant stream of product output for the Shaker Can Industry, and a Counselor armed with a cattle prod clearly is the impetus for this productivity.

The cattle prod prop is fabricated with blue LEDs at the tip, and plays a sampled crackling sound from an integrated audiochip. However, it's always the ScareActors that sell the exchange. Technical difficulties happen all the time, but performers are trained to convince the audience that everything's in working order even when they aren't.

Do you have something less noisy? Like leather lanyards?

Oh sure. Just step over to the next workstation.

I'm not disputing that this is messed up. I just check in on my brain every so often, and sometimes I back out of the room to have a bit of a lie-down after I see what it has to offer. The ScareActor here simply drapes his sleeve over an artificial arm mounted to the table and sells the performance.

Another display in the Arts & Crafts Room is a brutal vignette of what happens when a Counselor is disappointed with a Scout's craftwork.

As noted in the illustrated storyboard sequence, an improvised scene is augmented by the static props of a pistol in the hand of a Counselor and a makeup appliance on the back of the Scout's head.

Forgive my bragging, but I'm proud of all the deranged activity in this whole set. Original, too! I don't think I've ever seen a scene like this in—

Hey, wait a minute...

Children sent away to camp forced into slave labor to make commercial products? Why does that sound so familiar?

Oh, come on now, just because there are similar themes doesn't mean that I'm ripping off a popula—

Hold on a sec. Let me take another look at that Counselor from earlier...



Monday: HHN 2011 Memories

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