By: Jason Wilson
Halloween, the time when the creatures of the night roam free across the countryside and the cold chill of autumn sends shivers down your spine. Everywhere you look visions of demons, werewolves, vampires and pirates can be seen. Wait! Pirates?
For most people, when they conjure up images of Halloween, pirates rarely get a passing thought. But, for a few swash-buckling haunters…their entire holiday revolves around them. Sunken ships, cursed treasure and pirate zombies fill their yards and porches.
But why, when everyone else is donning their more ferocious costumes, do these folks choose to go for the less popular pirate theme…and how do they make it successful? I had the chance to speak with Tim Wilkie, creator of the “Foggy Fathoms” haunt in Antioch, NC and Troy Ashley co-owner of “Ashley’s Asylum” in Indianapolis, IN with his wife Stacey. Both of which operate pirate themed haunts.
Jason: So, when did you first get into doing a pirate-themed haunt? What is the allure of pirates and why do a haunt themed around them?
Tim: “3 years ago. I was inspired by John Carpenter’s “The Fog!” I loved the moody, murky look and the ghost story of the film. The thought of dead pirates coming back from the depths of the sea for revenge was very interesting to me
Troy: “About three years ago. For us, we love the skeletons, and everything around the pirate theme. We’re not really into gore and prefer the subtle scare. It offers a very wide range of things to do and add to your haunt year after year
Jason: Wider range of things…like what?
Tim: “[there are] endless possibilities for your haunt.”
Troy: “Cages with skeletons, nooses with dead pirates, sea monster, mermaids…… Pirates will never go out of style!”
Jason: LOL…I keep hearing that. Do your families share your same passion?
Troy: “For me…yes, it’s a family event, even the in-laws.”
Tim: “Mine don’t really help, but they let me do whatever I want and love the end result. They do come up with ideas and are always looking out for props.”
Jason: That’s great…I completely understand Tim…My wife doesn’t exactly “get it”…but she puts up with me. How many visitors do you get on average per year…And what, if any, feedback have you gotten about your haunts?
Troy: “We averaged around 200 tots (trick-or-treaters), and if we don’t start to set up the first of October the neighbors get nervous and wonder what’s going on.”
Tim: “I live in a rural area so, I only get around 30 trick-or-treaters, but a lot of folks slow down while in their cars at night and some get out and take pics.”
Jason: Do you guys have different areas in your haunt…or is it all pirates all the way?
Tim: “My main theme is a shipwreck scene, but I also do a lot more. [I’m] Doing a big witch scene, a graveyard, mad lab, spider victim and so on. “
Troy: “We have a graveyard in front of the house and the pirates take up the whole back yard, inside is dedicated to the witches.”
Jason: Very cool…
Tim: “Plus Jason, I like it that not everyone’s doing a pirate type thing too, [it’s] kind of unique.”
Troy: “Don’t lie Tim, they’re all closet pirate haunters.”
Jason: True…it is not as commonly used as other “themes”
Tim: “Everyone’s got a little pirate in them.”
Troy: “If not, they should.”
Jason: What is your favorite prop in your haunt?
“My main pirate prop, cannon I made, the shipwreck façade.”
Jason: What is your “main pirate prop” Tim?
Tim: “I built a long facade of a jagged shipwreck.”
AA: “Probably my pirate ship, The Devil’s Mermaid.”
Tim: “I love that name! Troy, I’ll give you 20 bucks for it.”
Tim: “I came up with my next shipwreck…the Blake’s Revenge!”
Jason: The mermaid aye…buy her or build her?
Troy: “Well, the skeleton was bought, but turning her into the mermaid was all papier mache.”
Tim: “It’s funny Jason, me and troy became great friends because of the pirate theme, but we have a bunch in common.”
Troy: “We’re friends……yeah I guess that’s right! Ha.”
Jason: So, “pirates” brought you two together??? Sounds like an eHarmony commercial..
Troy: “You don’t know how close you are. Tim and I have never met, but it’s nice when you talk to someone and instantly connect……..Jesus, that’s mushy.”
Jason: So…what are the “new additions” for 2009?
Tim: “A big witch scene, around 8 adult size props, stirring witch and cauldron and a rotisserie prop.”
Jason: That is quite a coven of witches!!! Where did they all come from?
Tim: “I built 5 and bought the others.”
Troy: “Some of them come from a little sucking’ butt!”
Jason: Hey, if it gets results…or free props!!
Tim: “Right place at the right time.”
Troy: “Pirate cage, treasure chest fogger, new pirate ship piece……….still adding to the list.”
Troy: “Fog chiller.”
Jason: A treasure chest fogger? Like a fog chiller shaped like a treasure chest…or something different?
Tim: “I built a fog chiller too, but not as cool as Troy and Stacey’s.”
Jason: Troy, what is the new pirate ship piece?
Troy: “This year our Indianapolis Sinister league crew is decorating for an animal rescue group, they want to do a Pirate theme and it will be a piece of broken pirate ship at the start of the entrance.”
Tim: “Brag, brag, brag!…..lol!”
Jason: So..one last question… What do you have planned in the future…what props would you like to add?
Tim: “Hmm, another large pirate wreck….more animated type stuff, better effects and a large sea kraken. I’m sticking with this theme. I just like the different ways to use the pirate theme.”
Troy: “We bought a very large latex dragon mask this year at Great Lakes Fright Fest, and I’d like to make a very large humped sea monster going thru the yard like Loch Ness.”
Tim: “That would be awesome Troy!”
Jason: Very cool…you both kind of have the same idea…either way, it’s a sea creature.
Troy: “I think we tend to feed off of each other.”If I have an idea I run it past him and vice versa.”
Tim: “I’ve stolen many ideas from the Ashley’s…his wife stole my mad lab idea one time, but no hard feelings…..just kidding.”
Troy: “[I] would like to jump into learning some pneumatics.”
Jason: You and me both Troy. Of course…I would need an air compressor for that.
Tim: “I would love to be featured on that Route 666 on Fear Net!”
Jason: I think any haunter would Tim. I would like to thank you both again for taking the time to do this interview.