Eagles work local screams

Vanessa Roach


Upon arriving to the Olde Courthouse Catacombs/ House of Lecter, viewers find a reaper, a clown and a wolf man lurking outside.

Inside, creepy instrumental music plays and the dimly lit chilly hallways feature trap doors, hidden rooms and old concrete stairs, which leaves guests wondering what could be lurking around the corners.

The Olde Courthouse Catacombs/House of Lecter was first established in 1980, making it one of longest running Halloween events in the United States. The haunted house employs over 80 actors and actresses every season, including several USI students.

Angel Gieneart, a junior communication studies major at USI, said working at the haunted house “is almost like a theater family.”

In the dressing room, the atmosphere is chaotic, but also humorous as excitement fills the area. The employees crack jokes and puns as they pour fake blood on each other and try out their best growls, evil laughs and scares.

Although they have fun and work well as a team, safety is the number one priority as the supervisor reviews emergency exits for everyone and reminds them of the rules before they open the doors to the public.

Many of the actors and actresses, like Gieneart, pour fake blood on themselves or use white grease makeup for their faces, adding black or red accents. Halloween eye contacts are also used by several of the characters, including the “toy maker” Bubby May.

Gieneart said most of the makeup styles at the haunted house are not too complicated.

“It’s pretty easy to put on a ghoul face,” he said.

Gieneart said that he has loved fall, horror movies and Halloween for as long as he can remember, so a job at a haunted house seemed like a perfect work environment for him.

Vance Voyles has been working at The Olde Courthouse Catacombs/House of Lecter for six years.

“Now it’s more of a hobby than anything,” he said.

Voyles plays Jason from the movie Friday the 13th, complete with a mask, fake blood and black rimmed eyes.

“[Working here] is something different that not everyone can say they have done,” Voyles said. “It’s fun to see people’s reaction to this kind of thing.”

Owner Phil Walter said the goal of The Olde Courthouse Catacombs/House of Lecter is “to sell value, not scares.”

An unique thing about the haunted house is that guests can go through the two buildings as many times as they want with the purchase of one admission ticket.

“Every year there is something different,” Walter said. “This year, the theme is Monster Dolls. It’s good old fashioned Halloween fun.”

Eville Studios, located on Fulton Avenue in Evansville, is another popular attraction during the Halloween season.

Aside from the haunted house experience, Eville Studios features Shoot-a-Zombie, where guests can fire off real paintballs at zombies, and Buried Alive, a coffin simulator, where guests experience what it is like to be buried alive.

Bailey Nance, an Eville Studios employee and junior public relations major at USI, said the makeup application process for actors and actresses is a lot more in depth than many other haunted houses in Evansville.

She does all of the 3D makeup and teaches others how to do different types of makeup application.

Nance said she first got involved in haunted house work at Castle High School, when she joined Junior Civitan in 2008 and became president of the club the following spring.

The club allowed her to work with Zombie Farm’s costuming and makeup, which she continued doing until she began working at the Asylum and Slaughterhouse her senior year.

Nance said she started doing makeup and working in haunted houses “just because she thought it was fun and kinda got stuck into doing it.”

She ended up leading the makeup team at Zombie Farm and currently works as one of the lead makeup artists at Eville Studios.

“I’m doing all the upstairs makeup, which is 3D and neon,” she said. “I had to teach myself how to do that. Then I’m teaching other people how to do the downstairs makeup. The downstairs is simple; it’s just blood and gore.”

Nance said Eville Studios uses liquid latex and airbrush or paint as foundations, coagulated blood , which does not dry, and stage blood, which dries and turns brown, on the actors and actresses.

Nance is moving toward the management side at Eville Studios.

“There are nights when the owner isn’t there and I have to do everything by myself,” she said. “If there are problems, then I have to fix the problems. It gets a little chaotic sometimes.”

Nance said a USI sorority volunteers every year for a couple of weekends.

“Basically we put make up on them, stick them in a room and have them scream and scare people,” she said. “They really enjoy it and it is a good way for them to get their community service hours done. I’ve been trying to get a fraternity to come out, too.”

Nance said the best thing about working at Eville Studios is the close bond she shares with the other workers.

“I’ve worked with these people for 8 years,” she said. “It’s like a big family and we’re all just crazy. We hate on each other and pick on each other. It’s just like a party all the time.”