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News arrow Features arrow CHILLS AND THRILLS: THEATER GROUP PREPARING HALLOWEEN SCAREFEST

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CHILLS AND THRILLS: THEATER GROUP PREPARING HALLOWEEN SCAREFEST

Pilot story and photos by

Bill Schlichting

Thrill seekers who attend the Chetco Pelican Players' annual haunted house will find themselves in a carnival of horror, in chambers based on outtakes of scary movies and, of course, witches, monsters and other denizens of the dark.

And most of all, the theater company's production, which is its highest-grossing fundraiser of the year, will be bigger than previous years.

Titled "Netherworld," the haunted house will be at a new location: the former Club Center, 745 Railroad St., at Center Street, Brookings.

"Netherworld" will be open Friday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 11 p.m. Shows will continue the same hours Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25 and 26, then continue Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 29 through Nov. 1. As in previous years, Dracula (Dale Baker) will be greeting everyone at the door. He'll be the one collecting the $8 admission fee.

The event is the fifth year the Chetco Pelican Players (CPP) has staged this production, and this year, according to co-director Lon Goddard, it could quite possibly be the largest haunted house on the Oregon Coast.

"One of the most distinct attributes of our haunted house is that it is primarily performed by people, not machines or high tech, as are the majority (of haunted houses)," Goddard said. "Ours is manned by crazy folks of all ages from Brookings and the surrounding areas."

According to the production's creator Claire Willard, about 40 people committed to make the event happen. In addition, there are extras who help when they can. As many as 80 people of all ages will be involved at one time or another.

Willard has taken the responsibility of creating a new theme every year, coordinating the actors and planning the haunting skits. For her efforts, she has been presented the coveted Steve Stevens Award for service to the CPP, and has recently been appointed to the CPP board of directors.

The haunted houses are framed and the most elaborate attractions built by "Phantom of the Playhouse" Mike Moran. He is assisted by Susan Brickley and Steven Godo. The three oversee a team of youths and adults who are eager to perform in what they have built.

Each haunted house is similar to building an elaborate home from the ground up – a huge scary mansion with many rooms, all inhabited by ghouls and denizens of the dark, Goddard explained.

Because the event is in the largest building the Chetco Pelican Players has ever occupied – 11,000 square feet, much of it with 20-foot ceilings – the group has planned bigger attractions. Perhaps the largest is the Vortex Tunnel. Those who dare can walk through a revolving 12-foot diameter drum. The idea is to throw off people's equilibrium, Moran said.

As for what else lies in the darkness of the production, that will have to be left as a surprise.

In the past, some of the Players' most horribly remembered scenarios were clowns who popped out of boxes, threatening to saw the viewer to pieces; a butcher with a chain saw who served heads and arms on plates; Jack The Ripper attacking a helpless woman of the night; a woman cut in half; a mad doctor who stabbed his patient and threw flesh at onlookers; a car wreck attended by ghoulish police officers; an elevator down to the world of the dead; a girl who hanged herself in a cell; Frankenstein's monster rising from the table and chasing patrons; the Hypnotic Wheel of Death and many more atrocities featuring werewolves, vampires, ghouls, goblins, and skeletal maniacs.

Those who make it through without fainting or running out screaming will be treated to Willard's Famous Creepy Crawly Chili along with other "finger" foods and "blood plasma" drinks.

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