Saturday, September 27, 2008
Looking for the Goatman
So, naturally, our favorite season is coming, and I got a little headstart on the fun. Tonight, I was a Very Special Guest at the dress rehearsal for Goatman Hollow, a haunted attraction in Riverdale, MD. Goatman Hollow is not just another haunted house, with guys in black hoodies and dime store masks snarling at you or waving an axe with a visible Home Depot sticker, or indifferent ghosts who turn in your direction and intone, "Oh yeah. Boo." GH is a real theatrical experience, with great makeup and costumes, a storyline, and effects that are, well, effective.
The Goatman is an urban legend in the Maryland burbs, mostly in Prince George's county (there's a Wikipedia article about the Goatman, and the Washington City Paper had a good article about him a few years ago), so it's only decent to have a haunted house centered on him. (More places need to do that, really.) When you click those links, you'll see there's a lot of juicy material to use....
Now, I've been asked to keep a number of secrets, so I can't go into too much detail about what goes down in GH. But...I had a freakin' blast. I was part of a group that went through it three times, and watched how some kinks got ironed out and rough edges were smoothed over during the show. The delightful Jay Wright (one of the big brains behind GH) took me behind the scenes to see the makeup and wardrobe rooms, showed me some of the setups, and was basically let loose in the backstage area to poke around to my heart's content. Now THAT was fun; I found lots of secret doors, looked over the sets in full light, and managed to stumble into the opposite sides of some of the effects. And Jay will be happy to know I resisted the urge to leave my initials on the sets.
The cast and crew had a pizza party after the repeated runthrough, and I got to participate and sit and chat with a few folks, and was honored as Goatman Hollow's "Number One Fan." It was fairly surreal, seeing people in ghoulish makeup and bloodstained clothing, casually chowing down on pizza. I was having fun but I was sweating profusely (it's a warm, rainy weekend here in the DC area) and I was drenched and uncomfortable toward the end of the evening. Still, I was reluctant to tear myself away; I was having way too much fun and everyone I met was a delight. Everyone involved seems to be having a good time and the performers are all doing their best. Especially the guy who plays the mad scientist; he knows how to make an Entrance. During my third run through the house, I was getting very snarky and smart-assed with the actors, but they all went with it and ad-libbed admirably.
GH changes every year; the story is always different, so it's not as if it's the same thing year after year, which makes it worth repeated visits. It's refreshingly inventive and fun, and amazingly chainsaw-free. It was featured on a Travel Channel documentary about remarkable haunted attractions, so you know it stands out from the crowd.
Goatman Hollow is not only a thrilling night out, but it also benefits the local fire company (worthy cause alert!). If you're in the DC area and have a Friday or Saturday night to spare, go to Goatman Hollow. Tell 'em "Dust & Corruption" sent you. Or not. I can't guarantee anything if you do tell them....except maybe some good scares.