Saturday, November 3, 2012

'Til We Bring You Nature Trail To Hell Part II

Greetings Internet Latecomers! Welcome to my October 2012 project in which I did conceptual design for a theoretical Spookhouse Haunt Attraction based upon "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Nature Trail to Hell." The intent is to demonstrate how I would approach the development of a professional production for a client, and the level of thought put into making a themed environment plausible.

If you need a recap, click here to go back to the initial introduction for this feature, click here to get the premise, and click here to start back at the Entry Façade to begin the walkthrough via each consecutive "Newer Post" link.

You can find my @N8ureTrail2Hell Twitter account here for any updates or scatterbrained musings.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the content!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Know You'll Never See Hideous Effects Like These Again

'Tis October no longer. The alluring spell of the Jack-o-Lantern flickers and fades, and the November business of preparing for winter shifts one's mindset toward the practical and sensible.

It's beginning to have its effect on me as well. I am now more reminded of the non-creepy mass of my body of design work. Elements such as murals for nurseries...

...writing and illustrations for children's books...

...designing contest-winning architectural concepts for Amarr® Garage Doors...

...drawing cartoony promotional art for John Scalzi's book "Redshirts"...

...Actually, that last one's beginning to skew Dark again. I should best go put the kettle on and make some tea. Perhaps think of adorable scampering kittens, the ones that aren't actually fluffy secret murder demons who whisper into my ear orders from the netherworld—

...Okay, wait! Everybody just wait. That's just the October Residue talking. I'll be fine after a bit of a nap.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Let's all drop a Nostalgia Bomb and take a look at the Ghosts of Halloweens Past!

— —

I'm Flame Retarded! Said so right on the box for the costume. I thought it was a peculiar name for an action hero, but aren't they all?

If they sold these today, I would totally put an embroidered gold scorpion on the back.

Here's me about to precreate the scene where Tony Montana psyches himself up for a gunfight:

Well, the storebought costumes are all very nice, kid. Congratulations, you're a consumer. However, you say you like "being creative," which is code for "inevitable low-paying Service Industry employee." So, sack up, champ. Show us what happens when you make your own costumes.

Yes, I can see you would take the time with crayons to write "Trick Or Treat" in a dripping-blood typeface and draw bats and skeletons on a plastic bag in anticipation of Halloween, but I also see you did not take the time to pay tribute to your favorite comic by fully Charlie Browning the ghost costume full of holes. You failed, kid, and you will always be a failure. I see failure written all over your face and your costume will never hide that, much as you'd like to try.

Alien Invader Costume.

Or Glam Rock Reject.

Go ahead and judge, Internet, it's what you do.

Okay, Me in 1978, we need to talk. I know you love sci-fi and UFOs and stories of alien invaders and that you thought it would be a cool idea if you dressed up as an alien invader yourself, but what you need to realize, and as soon as possible, is that there is a disconnect between the epic space battles going on in your head and what other people can see. I'm saying it's going to take a little more than using a magic marker to draw the letter "Z" superimposed over a jagged lightning bolt on an old t-shirt to convey to others the horror of xenocidal apocalypse and the destruction of all they love and revere.

You need to prepare for the eventuality that people handing out candy might just say "What are you?" You need to know the candy they eventually proffered was a sign of pity, not a reward for accomplishment. Except for that box of raisins there. You deserved that one.

It's fortified with rejection!

And FFS, work on the application and the contrast between the shades of makeup. You don't look like an alien invader, you just look like a dirty photonegative of a case of jaundice. And that single rolled up pant leg. What is that? Is that deliberate? I know for a fact that when you used a Bic ballpoint pen to scribble the concept for this costume down on paper you wanted to convey what an otherworldly uniform would be. With the exception of Fiddler Crabs, Terran biology and all its artifice gravitates toward symmetry. Hence, you thought that if you drew this thing with Harlequin coloration and one pant leg shorter than the other that would mean "alien" because "Nobody on Earth would dress like this." Well, that's all true, kid, and we can sympathize with if we don't completely understand the connections you make in your argument. But did you communicate this to your audience? The answer is no. You would need an advance marketing campaign prepared and distributed weeks beforehand to get that image associated with a horrific invasion before you even walk up to the doorstep with that pillowcase of yours. Decry the sad state of the need for a hype machine all you want, child, but it works. Furthermore, in this worldbuilding exercise of yours, did you even ask why this alien race would have the need to have one pantleg of their uniform shorter than the other? Is there a standard-issue raygun sidearm commonly strapped to their calf that requires dermal contact to recharge? Is this an homage to a mythic figure in their past, and for what deed would this be commemorating? Is this alien race born with a venomous barb on only one knee that gave rise to not only their being the dominant species on their planet but to the creation of a warrior caste as well? If so, was this feature encouraged by selective breeding or engineered through genetic manipulation? In any of these cases, did this biological advantage encourage a culture of conquest that still manifests itself even after their mastery of interstellar space travel? If any of these points in the backstory are acknowledged in your costume design intent, they not only have to be fleshed out, but broadcast to the viewer through visual cues.

I'm just saying that you suck, kid. Give up now.

Yeah, looks like that rolled-up pant leg was deliberate. Because I am just so gangsta like that.

Homemade Suburban Graveyard. Quick now: Is that the name of an AIP motion picture release or the name of an album by a Psychobilly band?

I put candles in the pickle jars propping up the cardboard tombstones. Not as effective as I thought they would be in simulating portals to Hell. No eldritch cult leader ever wants to hear, "Ooh, your Summoning is just so festive!"

Do the light bulbs on your robot face even light up? No? How did my secretary even let you in here?

I just don't see it happening, kid. If you didn't even bother to tape off boundaries for the fluorescent tempera paint splotches that laughably depict mechanical buttons, I just don't think you'll ever have the stuff that shows others you pay attention to detail when worldbuilding.

Oh, wait. Future You is informing Present Me that you actually grew up to contribute to a THEA-award-winning design team? And telling me, furthermore, to eat a multitude of dicks?


That's just Weird.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You Won't Believe Your Eyes When You See

Meet Mom and Dad

Mom does indeed have an explanation for you. A frenzied, sobbing one that involves pointing a kitchen knife at you.

I heard you were listening to a song on the radio about dying a dog dark green and that's animal abuse and that's an early warning sign of growing up to be a serial killer which is a fact I heard on the TV along with a news special on Punk Rockers who were instructing their violently aggressive audience to steal some money from their mothers to buy a gun and kill their parents and some experts said Punk Rock is just like New Wave and we overheard you say to a friend that you actually liked New Wave and so we were just so scared, baby. You scare us now, baby. So when I saw an ad in one of my suburban lifestyle magazines that talked about potentially dangerous problem children I knew the right thing to do was to call them up and ask what they could do and they told us the best thing we could do is have them take care of you while we just start over fresh and now maybe this time we won't fail and do whatever we did wrong with you.

So you've all figured it out now, alas, a little too late: Camp Knossos is an institutionalized oubliette catering to the timeless fears of parents who feel they are on the verge of creating monsters, not children. The Lurker was the one former Scout who escaped Camp Knossos thirty years ago, only to discover that he, too, had no safe place to which to return, nor would he ever, and neither would any Scout packed off to Camp Knossos. Since then, he lurked around the periphery of the Camp, mercy killing Scouts with secretive, swift blows to the head with his hatchet, and, when the opportunity presents itself, slaughters Counselors with a vicious and hopefully protracted vengeance. In fact, he's the one who dropped that Counselor into the meatgrinder in that earlier scene.

If Mom doesn't finish you off in the kitchen, then let Dad burst through the door with a revving chainsaw as the finishing scare before you make it through the final exit of the maze.

— —

I hope you were amused and horrified by this theoretical spookhouse attraction! If you need a recap, click here to go back to the initial introduction for this feature, click here to get the premise, and click here to start back at the Entry Façade to begin the walkthrough through each consecutive "Newer Post" link.

Tomorrow: Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Spoil The Big Surprise

The "Home Again" Set

After all of the harrowing ordeal that has gone before, stumbling one's way home again is a triumph, not just solace. Nevertheless, the terror that one has experienced throughout Camp Knossos casts a pall of fear over the familiar. Even the bedsheets benignly hanging on the laundry line now look like they could hide psycho killers. (As a personal aside, being confronted with a backyard full of sheets of hanging laundry in the "Halloween" maze at a previous Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights is about the only thing in a spookhouse that made me halt dead in my tracks and think of all my favorite NOPE NOPE NOPE .gifs.)

 Everything in the backyard now suggests ambush points: the obscuring sheets, the cellar door, the adjacent garage. The trauma of all that has gone before primes one with souring adrenaline that an attack will occur at any second from any angle. And what happens is...


It's a scare-free zone. Although this is counterintuitive, the lack of a scare feature in the backyard will allow the guests to realize just how wound up they are, and to stew in their own tension. They will subconsciously demand any release for their pent-up expectations that they will envision sources of fear in the most mundane of objects.

Oh, alright, if that doesn't test well, one can add an ubiquitous "cat scare" in the form of a raccoon puppet bursting out of the garbage can, or a luminescent ghost of a dead Scout bursting out of the shadows with the plaintive guilt-inducing cry of "Why couldn't you save me?"

But let's not dwell on that. Focus on the comforting yellow tones of the homestead. Why, there's none of the harsh reds of Camp Knossos here. See, the only thing red I see here is...

The print on the "For Sale" tag on my BMX bike. Why would they be selling my bike?

...and wait a sec. Are those all my comics, albums, and toys in boxes outside the back door?

This is a mistake. I'm sure there's an explanation. Let's go inside the reassuringly brightly-lit kitchen and everything will be answered.

Mom! There you are! That camp was a literal Hell! There was a deadly bus crash and all the Counselors were killing kids for fun and there was this crazy man who was lurking around the woods who chopped up people with a hatchet but I set a fire to escape and he burned up and I ran and ran and I had to hop on the back of a semi to make it back here and...

Mom, why are you looking at me like that? Mom?


Tomorrow: Meet Mom and Dad

Friday, October 26, 2012

Please Don't Reveal The Secret Ending To Your Friends

This Is How It All Fits Together.

I waited until now to provide the Plan View of the entire experience in order to avoid Spoilers. Click the links below to take you to the individual scenes described in the walkthrough:

The Entry Façade

The Bus Crash Scene

The Camp Knossos Entry Scene

The Bunkhouse Interior

The Shower Room and Toilet Stalls

The Lakeshore Exterior Set

The Mess Hall

The Arts & Crafts Room

The Perimeter Wall

The Canteen Kitchen

The Forest Fire Scene

The Home Again Scene
— —

A headcount of the ScareActors tallies a pool of 32 in the maze's current state; one would add at least half again to that total to accommodate the cycles of those rotating on break when their shift ends. Accounting for the additional staff of supervisors, tech gurus, and security must also be considered. The ultimate personnel roster may be considered too large to be financially feasible for one maze, and thus may be a source for determining cutbacks by working backwards from any trimmed proposed ScareActor positions to the individual areas in which they would work. It's all part of the limitations to be expected.

Monday: Home Again