Nightmare On St. John Street Is Horror Fan's Dream

October 20, 1991|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,Staff writer

Haven't been successful lately finding a good sale on body parts?

Don't despair.

For the next two weeks the Haunted House in Havre de Grace is offering just what you are looking for: knuckleheads for the bargain price of $99.95 plus tax and torsos for $89.95.

While you're shoppingyou might just be lucky enough to meet Frankenstein, obtain a front row seat to an execution or vanquish a vampire.

"The Nightmare on St. John Street offers something for everyone," says its creator GaryYoder Sr. of Mid-Atlantic Seasonal Amusement in Havre de Grace.

He's also convinced that "there's never been a haunted house of this magnitude on the East Coast."

A professional fund-raiser, Yoder started designing scenes and effects for the production in July and estimates about 2,000 hours have gone into setting up the Haunted House.

He's assisted by Neil Houck of Peach Bottom, Pa., in charge of thesight and sound effects, and Chuck Maslin of Havre de Grace, the executive producer of the professional production.

Yoder says the three of them have hardly seen daylight since early September when they began the actual assembly of more than 40 chilling scenes.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Battery Island Preservation SocietyInc., a non-profit organization whose goal is to restore a Havre de Grace lighthouse on a 4.3 acre island of the Susquehanna River.

Taking over the old Seneca Cannery Warehouse on St. John Street, the Haunted House is divided into 34 rooms, offering 42 scenes. They range from medieval times complete with knights and castles to the early 1800s. And those who enjoy watching horror movies will be familiar withvarious scenes from "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The Exorcist," "Friday the 13th," and "Psycho."

Though the production is Yoder's design, the 31-year old Havre de Grace resident could not have pulled itall together without the help of an enthusiastic group of volunteers-- students from Havre de Grace and Aberdeen High and Havre de GraceMiddle schools.

Jennifer Houck, 16, of Aberdeen will guide those brave enough to enter the Haunted House. And she has promised to keepher eyes open throughout the entire adrenalin-pumping tour. "That's a first for me," admits Jennifer, "The only way I used to walk through a Haunted House before was with my head under my dad's shirt," she adds.

Marvin Jackson, 17, of Havre de Grace also is ready to lead you through the nightmare and he should be a great comfort -- he onlygot scared once himself during rehearsals.

Lisa Flick, 17, of Havre de Grace says she didn't mind giving up more than two weeks of hersocial life. She considers volunteering at least four hours each evening her way of celebrating the Halloween season. "I'm too old to go trick or treatin', so this way I still participate in Halloween fun."

Upon entering the dark, damp halls, guides will most likely lead you past a portrait of Mr. Perrywinkle. But refrain from touching thepainting -- unless you are prepared for the consequences.

Perrywinkle is portrayed by Christy Hause, a junior at Havre de Grace High School, who just loves being part of the production. A member of her school's drama club, she says the haunted house provides a creative outlet and she's able to spend the Halloween season with friends. "And it's fun to scare people," she says.

About 50 students are participating in the 18-day event and learning that acting is fun, but can be strenuous on vocal cords.

Will they be able to belt out spine-chilling screeches night after night? James Hall, 16, who plays Frankenstein, went home hoarse after dress rehearsals Thursday night. But hefigures a good dose of lemon juice each evening will restore his voice enough to make your wildest nightmares come true.

"They are just a great group," says Yoder. "I really feel lucky to be working withsuch a talented bunch of kids."

The students have equal praise for their director. "It's fun working with Gary, he's level-headed, keeps everything in control and he listens to our suggestions," says Hall.

Lauren Foell, 17, another tour guide, adds, "He tells us when we're wrong, but gives us room to make mistakes and correct them. Eventhough we're kids, he listens to us."

Yoder says he's enjoyed scaring people ever since he was a kid. The son of an artist who designed effects for amusement parks, Yoder remembers going along with his father to job sites and being awe-struck by his work. "That's when I got hooked," says Yoder.

Now the father of four young sons himself,Yoder is continuing the family tradition of passing on the love for the trade. Look for two of his sons, Bryan and Gary Jr., in the freshbody parts store.

* Doors to the Havre de Grace Haunted House creek open nightly at 7 p.m. through Nov. 3. Groups of 10 will be escorted through the Nightmare on St. John Street by two trained guides. Tickets are $4 each or $30 for groups of 10. Information: 939-9683 or 939-2877.

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