‘Haunted House’ Promises to Be a Hair-Raising Event
The lights are on again at the Bates Motel. Tonight, Norman will stalk while the crew from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” revs up for action, and Michael slashes his way through yet one more “Halloween.”
It’s just another Oct. 31 for the folks at 824 Lime Street in Anaheim, the residence where these movie characters and other fictitious bloodletting creatures will come alive tonight. Center Cinema Enterprises’ “A Nightmare on Lime Street” is a contemporary version of the haunted house that should make visitors feel that vampires and werewolves, by comparison, are harmless creatures of the night.
“The idea is to do a haunted house experience that no one else has done,” explained amateur horror film director Rik Carter, 30, one of the creators of tonight’s free event. “It’s not the type of thing you see in the malls or colleges or high schools.”
“Nightmare” uses Center Cinema’s film-making experience to create a live presentation, Carter said. “It’s very easy to scare people on film because you show them what you want to show them. In a live situation, it’s not quite that easy because they can look wherever they want.”
A true horror buff, Carter scoffed at the idea of a more traditional haunted house, preferring to put his horror film experience to more terrifying use. “In most haunted houses, you go in and wander through. You’re a spectator and then you leave. In this one, things are going to happen to the audience.
‘Like a Live Film’
“It’s going to be as much as possible like a live film. There’ll be music cues and music builds and things jumping out. It’ll build just like a film builds. Everything will get scarier and scarier until, at the very end, it’s going to be so darn scary that you’ll run out screaming.”
Eighteen people will be involved in creating this horror extravaganza, Carter said. This free Halloween “nightmare,” complete with candy for those who persevere, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue “as long as people keep coming,” Carter said.
In the front yard, singing busts, similar to those found in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, will serenade those waiting to begin their adventure. The audience with their ghastly tour guide will then proceed through the house battling fright after fright until they end up in the backyard-turned-graveyard.
“Nightmare on Lime Street” is not for the fainthearted, Carter warned. “We’re going to warn people that they really should be cautious about bringing their children in. We’re going to suggest that if they want to bring their kids, that they go through it themselves once, and then, if they want to, they can go through again with their kids. It’s going to be fun. There’s going to be nothing dangerous. But it’s going to be darn scary.”
The launching point for this fanciful blood bath will be a showing of “Horror Brunch,” a five-minute horror short directed by Carter and produced by Center Cinema Enterprises. As the “Horror Brunch” massacre comes to a close, one of the characters from the film will appear to serve as guide.
Filmed at the Mill House Art Gallery in Garden Grove, “Horror Brunch” depicts a placid Sunday brunch gone berserk. A waitress turns into a vampire, a brunch patron is attacked by a serrated grapefruit half and a flying meat cleaver decapitates another patron. “We took over the art gallery for a whole weekend,” Carter said. “They (the gallery staff) were very cooperative and helpful. We couldn’t have done it without them.
“Horror Brunch,” written and directed by Carter as an assignment for his Orange Coast College film class last spring, received the Founders’ Award at the “10 Best of the West” amateur film competition held this month. Receiving the award is a very special honor, Carter explained. “It’s awarded on an infrequent basis. When they feel it’s warranted, they will give the Founders’ Award for the best overall film. ‘Horror Brunch’ won and it’s very exciting.”
“Horror Brunch,” along with “I Dare Ya,” another Carter-directed horror short, was selected from more than 500 entries in the festival, Carter said.
Winners in Competitions
This is not the first competition where Carter’s films have been honored. “I Dare Ya” took first place and “Horror Brunch” was runner-up in amateur film competitions in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, and at the San Mateo County Fair. “I’ve seen so many student films and amateur films, and no one is doing the stuff we’re doing,” Carter said. ". . . I’m so proud because other people realize what we’re doing is special.”
Horror movies have been a lifetime pursuit for Carter. “I was always interested in horror movies and scaring people. I used to tell stories when I was a kid and scare my sister and the neighbor kids.” Carter began his horror film career in junior high “as a way to attract girls. I couldn’t play sports. I was just too small. So I started making movies--and it worked.
“Halloween has always been my favorite time of year,” he added. “That’s what I live for.”
Carter moved to Orange County in 1977 and worked at Disneyland for five years. The OCC student has begun many films, from action-thrillers to science-fiction flicks, but he has never completed a project until this year. “I Dare Ya” and “Horror Brunch” were both completed in the spring as part of Carter’s class assignment.
Filmed at Parents’ Home
Carter shot “I Dare Ya” at his parents’ home in Santa Barbara. The five-minute short concerns two 11-year-old girls who dare a boy to ring the doorbell at a scary house.
Carter’s favorite film director is Woody Allen, but he looks to horror directors David Cronenberg (“The Fly,” “Dead Zone,” “Scanners”) and David Lynch (“Blue Velvet,” “Elephant Man,” “Dune”) for inspiration. “I also really like John Carpenter because of ‘Halloween,’ the aspiring low-budget film maker added. “That is the key film to my life. It was made for $300,000 and made millions. There’s no blood, but everybody sees blood.
“I don’t think blood is necessary for a scary film,” he said. “I like it though. I love the really gross, bloody films.
“Everyone accuses me of going to the local slaughterhouse to buy guts for our films. I don’t do that. We make them. It’s just latex and red food coloring. We have to put our hands in there. The idea of using live animal entrails is really disgusting.”
Carter started Center Cinema Enterprises in 1980 with his partner and roommate, John Jockinsen. It was Jockinsen who came up with the concepts for “I Dare Ya” and “Horror Brunch” while Carter wrote the scripts.
“This is not a one-man operation,” Carter remarked. “It’s not just me. I don’t do a lot of this stuff when it comes right down to it.”
Behind the special effects of both award-winning films and tonight’s “Nightmare on Lime Street” is David Stinnet, Center Cinema’s resident “monster maker.” He has created everything from an ersatz mother for Norman Bates to unearthly creatures.
The Lime Street event was suggested by another Center Cinema production member, Anaheim resident Steve Vasquez. “Steve and I are splitting the writing and directing of this event. He’s even letting us use his house,” Carter said, as Vasquez grinned and continued to convert his backyard into a graveyard.
After Halloween, it’s back to film making. Center Cinema Enterprises’ next project, “Closet Case,” will be shot in January, Carter said.
“The premise is there’s a man with a gun in a closet and there’s something out there trying to get in. The whole thing takes place in the closet. I want to see if in 10 to 12 minutes I can scare the bejesus out of people. If I can scare people like that and keep them interested and keep the suspense with those limitations, I can do anything.”
But for the time being, Carter is busy coordinating monsters and digging graves for tonight’s nightmare. “I just love a good scare. I remember getting scared when I was a kid watching movies. And I just loved it. It was great. I couldn’t sleep for weeks on end. I want to do that for other kids.”