Dougherty stumbled upon his twisted passion in 1987 during a visit to Knott's Scary Farm, which ultimately led to a fan website dedicated to the seasonal theme park event, an annual job as an undead werewolf and now a new book, "Knott's
"To be on the inside and witness, first hand, what brings this massive machine to life is something unique and special," Dougherty writes in the book's introduction. "It was there, in the dingy trenches, where I found a renewed love for the event."
As co-founder of the Ultimate Haunt fan website, Dougherty spent a decade researching the book and conducting 80 interviews with such participants as maze designers, makeup artists and a multitude of monsters past and present.
The book opens with a foreword by "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "How I Met Your Mother" star
The first chapter takes a deep dive into the "overnight success" of Haunt in 1973 with subsequent chapters tackling the exponential growth of the event decade by decade.
Dougherty tracks Haunt's origins to Magic Mountain in 1972, where Sinister Seymour: The Master of Macabre hosted a Spook-tacular
The first Halloween Haunt, billed as a $4 hard ticket special event, featured monsters based on classic horror movie characters, a walk-through maze and a pair of "hauntified" rides.
What makes the book invaluable for Scary Farm fans is the collected ephemera of Haunts passed, ranging from character sketches, concept art and maze blueprints to prop lists, event fliers and park maps.
The exhaustive list of mazes includes several humorous entries I wish I could have seen -- including
And the Monster Speak vocabulary index features a number of lexiconic gems, including dead meat (a
"Knott's Halloween Haunt: A Picture History" can be purchased for $24.99 at Ultimate Haunt or at several shops inside Knott's Berry Farm, including this year's Haunt Museum.