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Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2008 Great Lakes Fright Fest

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  • Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2008 Great Lakes Fright Fest

    Rex B. Hamilton reports on the 2008 Great Lakes Fright Fest

    June 8, 2008

    Greetings, Fellow Haunters:

    Last weekend was spent at the Great Lakes Fright Fest in Petersburg, Michigan. I did my best to meet the 300 or so haunters who attended along with me. Perhaps one day I’ll have the chance to meet them all.

    First, the big numbers:
    The canned food drive’s goal was 1500 cans: the actual result was 2010 cans. Maybe more
    The haunt raised 400 pounds of dog food and more than 600 cans of pet food
    I’m told that the “Haunters Against Hunger” drive received a surprisingly large cash donation. I am also aware of rumors that the pet food drive also received nice cash donations.

    If these bold numbers can be believed, then the GLFF has outdone itself once again.


    I arrived on Friday night at around 8 PM. It was a rough night, with blowing rainstorms throughout. I got the tent set up and the necessary provisions unloaded from my car just before the raindrops started falling.

    I’ve been informed that some events planned for Friday evening were cancelled. For example, the all-night horror movie stream that was to play inside the pavilion fell victim to the weather. The late-night campfire where everyone gets to yell and scream at everyone else was another casualty. Even though I had my tiny tent zipped up against the weather, I still had a smallish puddle of water inside. It rained steadily and the winds were gusty that night.


    Saturday was a far different day. The sky that morning was completely clear. Attendees gulped down a quick breakfast (I had two bowls of raisin bran) and gathered together in eagerness for the start of the Saturday seminars.

    Imagine our surprise when the first presenter of the day was an 8-year-old boy who gave us a short session on using Monster Mud to decorate a tombstone, and how to etch your final words into the layer of mud. By his side stood his grandmother, a woman who wore a name badge that said “Bella Donna.” She prompted him from time to time, but the majority of the words spoken during that session were by that young shaver. I took a handful of photographs of this young gentleman, and I hope you get a good look at him.

    From there on, the attendees seemed to be in a jocular mood. The haunt itself had moved to a new location in the campground, further away from the seminar/meal pavilion. As a result, there was a small battalion of haunters with whom we had little interaction with because they were so hard at work on their scenes all day long.

    A kids activity tent stood where in years gone by the haunt once stood. Throughout the day, youngsters were treated to face painting, crafts and games. To my eye, the kids tent looked twice as big as it did in 2007.

    There were plenty of highlights and a few lowlights associated with my Saturday at GLFF:

    1. I began my 34th season of haunted acting by being a zombie. I did my “The Dead Matter” zombie character that night, but with a classy outfit. Those in attendance that evening got to see what the small army of zombies looked like during the filming of that movie last August. If my character doesn’t get left on the cutting room floor this summer, perhaps you’ll see it too, early this fall.

    2. My biggest lowlight: As a pre-registered attendee, I received a raffle ticket for the impressive door prize giveaway that takes place right after the potluck dinner on Saturday evening. But I forgot to bring a door prize of my own. I had intended to bring something special to give away, but that thought flew right out the window. So what I did was give away my ticket to a woman (I do not remember her name) who had brought her own door prize.

    This year I did not pay much attention to the door prize giveaway because I was busy making myself look ugly. But I do recall that in previous years this activity took well over an hour to complete.

    3. Another lowlight: In years past I have wisely remembered to bring a couple of cans of food to donate to the haunted house. This time I forgot to bring along a can or two to add to the big pile of donated food items. I don’t know how I have managed to become so witless in my old age. I am very lucky that my haunted comrades got together and made 2008 a record season for GLFF donations, despite my forgetfulness. My many thanks to them all.

    4. One more highlight: I was just about to press the shutter button for a posed photograph of pastry chef Jonathan Elias holding a plate of his “rum ball eyeball” deserts when the tent I was standing under collapsed upon me. I was right underneath the front-right corner of the structure. The tent’s metal frame came crashing down on my right shoulder, luckily missing socking me on the noggin.

    While it sounds scary, the tent did not weigh all that much and I managed to keep my feet during the event. Jon had just offered to give all his “eyeball” deserts to the attendees in his seminar on creating easy but yummy haunted deserts for your holiday parties this October. The crowd immediately went “ooh” and “aah” and made a move for the stage. I dashed up to the front in order to beat the crowd and get a photo before all the goodies disappeared. I put the camera to my eye and that’s when everything went topsy-turvy.

    I’m a haunted house actor. I’m used to weird things happening to me. It’s what makes life fun.

    There were more than several vicious wind gusts that Saturday afternoon. Ten minutes after my event, the rear portion of the same tent collapsed. Fortunately, this time no one was struck. At the same time, the small tent that covered the food and supply storage area was picked up and blown about 20 feet away. Again, no one was hurt.


    Lots of other nice things happened that weekend. The Saturday night haunt was fun, but it was a challenge to work in. The temperature and humidity were way up there for us folks who are generally used to cooler weather. So I spent most of the evening in the outdoor zombie scene where the temperatures were the best. Hanging over much of that outdoor scene was a large oak tree. Its leaves were completely motionless all evening long. The strong winds which had blown so many things around in the afternoon had entirely gone away.

    The haunt had a spinning tunnel, one built to be broken down into three sections for easy transportation. This black hole had its walkway made of wood, instead of the normal angle iron. You should have seen the connection/bolting system they used. It looked strong. But the entire length was bowed by nearly a foot, according to my eye.

    The Saturday campfire party was in full swing this year. Plenty of people, like yours truly, sat around, imbibed adult beverages and hooted at each other in haunted glee. When I left at 2 AM to go scrape my face, there were still a dozen or so diehards making whoopee.

    My opinion is that this year’s Sunday pancake breakfast was the best of the 3 years I’ve attended GLFF. It seemed to me that everyone got their fill and had a smile on their face.

    Around 1 PM, I had to yell at Kkrazy Kkaren a couple or three times to pose in front of the grin-inspiring pile of donated food and pet feed. She was starting to tear up just by looking at what all the other haunters had done to support her cause. There were times when I took photos of her and husband Brian in which she could not hold a straight face.

    One more thing and then I’ll let you go: Jonathan from Rotting Flesh Radio did a “party line” interview with a few of us live from the GLFF on Sunday afternoon at around 1:30 PM. Please look for the show that was released on Monday, June 2. At the one hour and five minute mark, you will hear Jonathan interview me, Barry Schieferstein, Maddison “Grandma” Poole and Kkrazy Kkaren herself.

    I hope to see you there next year.

    Very truly yours,

    Rex B. Hamilton

    13939 Clifton Boulevard
    Lakewood, Ohio 44107-1462
    216.973.0050 (cell)