Americans are forecast to spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation, shelling out for things like pumpkins, candy, costumes, fake cobwebs and zombie masks. And, of course, haunted houses. With their Hollywood-style effects, haunted attractions have gotten increasingly sophisticated and in-your-face over the years.
“Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House,” opened last month on New York City’s Lower East Side, promises just that. Created by Tim Haskell and produced by Steve Kopelman, “Killers” takes a theatrical approach to the standard haunted house theme and plays on our fascination with serial killers. Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac killer, and even Dexter from the Showtime series make an appearance in the show.
We visited the “Killers” exhibit and spoke with Kopelman about the burgeoning haunted house industry and his strategies for creeping people out.
How did you get in to this business?
I've been producing haunted houses for about 30 years now. Years and years I've been on the road with the Stones and The Who, and I helped with merchandising for rock bands. I drove by a haunted house, and I thought "this is interesting." I've always wanted to get in to Hollywood movies and stuff, but never had the funds to do something like that. So I said, "Hmm, maybe producing a haunted house would be the next best thing." I've been doing it as my primary source of income for the past 30 years.