After that it was non-stop insanity. Real flames so close you had to back away from the heat, a devil throwing fireballs at you. How was this stuff legal? The best chainsaw room I had ever seen, a maze of exit doors and signs, six guys with saws, tearing at you. Then you were back into the quiet dark woods. Think you're safe? NO! A guy with a chainsaw came flying over my head. Get me out of here! All I can say from my first experience at the Hoochie was, I was inspired.
Even before I started working at the Hoochie I was all about haunting. From when I was eleven years old I would enclose my porch at home with black plastic and make my own haunted house (porch). I would use money made from delivering the papers to buy strobe and backlights, cheap little props, and dry ice for fog. I wanted to use my dad’s chainsaw, but He didn't think that would go over to well. So I made a fake one out of cardboard, wood, a bent pipe, and a bicycle chain. I know it sounds cheesy, but it looked real. I recorded a real chainsaw, setup speakers and blasted it at trick or treaters with me jumping out with my phony saw. It worked all to well. The police came thinking there was someone with a real saw.
My first year at the Hoochie was 96. I saw someone with a Hoochie shirt and practically begged for a job. Just so happened he was a chainsaw guy. Yes, Now I had to find my character. I didn't want a store bought mask that everyone could get and would see seven of them on trick or treaters on Halloween. Although, I always liked the blank evil stare of the Michael Myers mask, but that was too commercial, not original enough. So I made a wig of dreadlocks out of fake hair, glue, and a modified ball cap. I thought dreadlocks would look crazy flying around in a strobe light. Then I bought a plain two-dollar white mask and drew a tribal tattoo on the one side of the face. Yes, It was awesome, creepy, wicked, and evil. I had found my character, which over the years would become known as Dread.
My first year was just chasing people down the trail, and what a time it was. People would run into trees in fear, trying to get away from you. Unfortunately, there were a few injuries. I was in your face, but never trying to hurt anyone. People cowering in corners peeing themselves, screaming in terror at the sight of you was quite an empowering sensation for a sixteen year old. More fun than should be legal, and I was getting paid. I would have done it for free, but the paycheck is always nice.
Chainsaw guys always get a bad rap like they aren't really actors. Anyone can scare with a chainsaw, which I can agree with, but to be good it takes more than just pulling a string. Believe me I have seen some horrible chainsaw maniacs, more like stationary chainsaw operators. It takes a lot of energy, movements, technique, and attitude to truly frighten someone to their core with a chainsaw. You have to catch them off guard, make them question what's real. I take pride in my character. I want you to feel the vibration, smell the fuel, and truly think I'm about to cut through you as I charge, and don't let up till I have pulled enough screams out of you. If your heart isn't racing I haven't done my job.
Everyone always goes for the screaming girls, which is great, nothing like that high pitch scream cutting through the night. Some of the girls want to scream and others just want to grope you. Women, I'm a monster, stop molesting me! So distracting.
But the best is getting a dude to scream like a girl. There is nothing like making a grown man cry. It is unbelievable how many men I have seen revert to the emotions of a four year old. It never ceases to amaze me. I've even pulled screams out of policemen patrolling the haunt; one even went for his gun! That got my heart racing.
I've had whole groups lost in the woods. I would fire up my saw and thirty people would scatter in every direction off the trail into the blackness of the woods, leaving the guide standing there like what do I do now? We found some of them hiding in the woods hours later still cowering. The human mind is a fragile thing, so easily cracked.
My second year my talents and appeal of my character were recognized and I was put in the spotlight, I got my own skit. I cut off a guy’s head as he was tied down in a chair, blood flying off the blade onto the window. Great effect! Spectacular in its vulgar ness and gore, I loved it. Now I got to be on stage violating someone in a bloody mess, then jump off stage (people should have to pay to see peoples reactions when I jumped off stage at them) and chase them out onto the trail. Such Horror. Their hell was my heaven.
My next skit for the next few years I cut a man in half at the waist as he hung from the rafters, legs cut off guts and blood streaming out in waves. Again, awesome effect! One of my leaps of faith from the stage resulted in me falling on my head on my saw blade. I still have a scar on my face from that tumble and the blood wasn't fake that time. One time a group was hugged together in a tight huddle running away. The leader fell, and like dominoes they all toppled. I had never seen thirty people fall at the same time. No one got hurt so I had a good laugh.
But my favorite skit I did at the Hoochie was the one I did the last year of the Hoochie. It was one I came up with. It was with a kicking guy hung by meat hooks through his back. I cut him from his head along his side down to his waist. The front part of him would fall revealing all of his guts, lungs, heart, brain, eye sockets, everything. It was greatly detailed gore. It was a truly masterful effect. I only wish I could have done it one more year.
The Hoochie was legendary. It raised the bar of what a haunt should be and paved the way for haunts of the future. I was sorry to see it go, but it too must evolve with the industry or be left in the dust. So I was glad it ended in its prime, making way for Dead Acres, the new high tech extreme haunt that still holds the intensity and excitement of the Hoochie, who with bad intentions carries the flame of the legacy of the Hoochie into the nightmares of another generation