Leonard Pickel has made a career of the unexpected. From manipulating architecture to designing impossible floor plans, his Hauntrepreneurs business pulls out all the stops to pack the creep factor into every square inch of the 300+ haunted houses they’ve designed. The company’s DNA lies in the Pickel Theory of Haunted Houses. “It’s high startle rather than high gore,” he says. “People are grossed out by blood and guts and body parts, but they’re not really frightened by it.”
As far as haunted houses go, Leonard’s are more involved than hanging your typical scary Halloween decorations. When Leonard designs a haunted house, he’s focused on scaring the most difficult patron: a 21-year-old dude. (As he explains in this exclusive clip that didn’t make the final cut of his Curious State episode).
Leonard: He’s going through the haunted house saying to himself, nothing’s gonna scare me. Because he’s with a date or with his buddies and he doesn’t want to be seen screaming. He’s not going to be afraid of a bathtub with body parts and blood splatter on him. You have to do something he’s not expecting. So maybe you show him that bathtub, but then have somebody come flying out through the mirror or something from another direction.
Doug: So a 21-year-old guy is the hardest to scare. Who’s the easiest?
Leonard: Well, it’s a 14-year-old girl, isn’t it? One time I was in a haunted house hallway with a flashlight in my mouth, trying to fix a panel that had come loose. And I heard a group coming down the hallway. So I stood in the corner and tried to stay out of the way. The worst thing you can do is stand in the way of a group. Then they’re too afraid to pass and all the groups behind them will catch up. Then one young girl in a group sees me and says, “There’s somebody over there, there’s somebody over there!”
And I just said in a creepy voice, “Maintenance.”
And they all screamed and ran down the hallway. They go in because they love that adrenaline rush and they really enjoy having a good scream.
Listen to the full, spooky interview here.
Fun Fact: Vampires are Among Us
Vampires are among us, except the real ones don’t levitate through your balcony window. And they aren’t after your blood, at least not all of them.
Michelle Bella J. is many things: occult researcher, author and television personality. She was raised by her grandmother in a house where psychic abilities weren’t seen as strange – they were sort of par for the course. So it wasn’t a shock when she realized she was a vampire.
But Michelle isn’t a blood-sucking vampire from the movies though, she’s an energy vampire.
There was another power she possessed. Michelle was a vampire, not the blood-sucking kind like in the movies. She was a psychic or energy vampire. If you’ve ever watched the TV show, what we do in the shadows. The character Colin Robinson is also an energy vampire, albeit for comedic effect. For Michelle, realizing she might be an energy vampire was no joking manner. There was a whole other part of her existence, she was only just beginning to understand. It was a revelation, as much as it was a conflict of self.
Michelle: Living vampires are people who believe themselves to be vampiric in one way or another. And that needs to be defined as well. So someone who is vampiric feels that they need to regularly and actively take human vital energy in order to maintain their mental and physical and emotional well-being. For some that vital energy takes the form of blood. Those are blood drinkers, sometimes also known in our community as sanguine vampires or sang vamps. And, like myself, there are psychic vampires. And you might be familiar with that term in the sense of people who really like to ramp people up emotionally and seem to drain them in social and psychological ways. But for our community, it’s distinct from that. And a psychic vampire is someone who takes vital energy from other people in a process that’s really quite similar to, like, reverse Reiki.
Listen to the full episode below to learn more fun facts about vampires and their presence in everyday life.
Making a Horror Movie? – Bring on The Blood
Blood and movies tend to go together like peanut butter and jelly. All thanks to people like Howard Berger.
Howard Berger started working in the movie industry at the young age of 13. Today, he has over 100 films to his credit as a professional makeup artist. He’s worked on movies like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, From Dusk Till Dawn, and the blood-filled Kill Bill movies. Hard work on set pays off, but there are plenty of bloody failures along the way.
Hear how Howard worked to make Quintin Tarantino happy with the quality and force of spraying blood on the set of Kill Bill. Listen below.
Why Are Stranger Things Songs So Haunting?
David Klotz is a music editor who has worked on numerous film and television shows. He cuts in the music, works with the composers and the music supervisors, along with the producers and directors, and is part of the music team to help use music to best tell the story.
Some of those include Iron Man, American Horror Story, Game of Thrones and the ever-popular Stranger Things. But what exactly makes the music of Stranger Things so haunting?
David: You know, I think it’s a combination of two things. I mean, I think it stems from the top. It’s the Duffer Brothers and their incredible vision that they have for the show. They have a story, a narrative they want to tell and most importantly, they know how music is important to that process…They’re using these cool sounds, these cool synths, kind of like these darker sounds and pushing the synths in ways that I honestly don’t think was done before. Part of their, you know, innovative use of using hardware also has a nostalgic feel of the 80s as well. I think all that sort of combination along with the Duffers knowing narratively how to use it all works to make the music haunting and very effective for the show.
If you’re curious about the Stranger Things songs and want to hear more, listen below.