Flutterby™! : Dimensions of Darkness

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Dimensions of Darkness

2010-10-26 14:38:01.992051+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

This last weekend, Charlene and I flew out to Detroit where my sister picked us up for a visit to family in Whitehouse. Or at least that's what we told family, but the real reason was to visit Dimension of Darkness.

If you're not into the scene, it's a "haunt", not "haunted house", because it's not a house. But the transformation made to an empty storefront in a strip mall is pretty cool. The primary driver behind Dimension of Darkness is my sister Sara's husband Matt who, along with Autumn, a woman who has "gore" tattooed across her chest, a reference which has nothing to do with that particular inconvenient truth, and a few other partners have long wanted to create one of these.

And it's a hell of a lot of work. We went through almost as regular customers on Saturday, my parents and Sara were well enough recognized that the cast gave us slightly special treatment, but my real appreciation for the art of the thing came on Sunday when we went back over to help reset the space for that evening's festivities, and I got to see all that went into the place.

The lighting is all 12v LED, to allow spot lighting without having to have all the fixtures UL listed and every junction inspected. The place is laid out such that no point is more than 50 feet from any exit. Heat detectors on the ceilings, with the alarm system, a calm voice instructing visitors to "please move calmly to the nearest exit", on batteries. And the whole thing is constructed out of fire treated lumber (which is bright pink in its unpainted state, a circumstance that I'm told led to any number of hilarious exchanges with people watching from a nearby bar when they were building the place).

But as impressive as the planning for safety that went into the design and construction is building the place so that the cast of high energy goth kids banging their heads on the wall, and freaked out customers running headlong into places there aren't doors, only destroy the place to a state where it's possible to reconstruct it every day.

It's not really my scene, the demographics are targeted young and we were joking later about things that'd terrify the over 35 crowd (having mortgage payments leap out at you...), but it's really cool.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-27 15:16:34.156311+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oooh, that looks fun! I need to whip up a couple little basic servo controllers, there are a whole lot of projects that some basic 2 or 3 axis servo control could do, and I've got a bucket o' servos that I picked up as part of a buy at a garage sale recently.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-27 14:16:33.348443+00 by: ghasty

Yes, we're looking at a lot of automation but still want some old school sideshow freaks mixed in. This will definitly be on my project list: http://www.reghardware.com/2010/04/15/creepy_eyeball/

#Comment Re: made: 2010-10-26 17:59:47.502179+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, Matt and crowd are very much in the "high energy actors make it happen" mode, where I'd want to focus on a narrative and a little more automation (although the need to bomb-proof the environment can't be overstated). There was one segment where the visitors squeeze down a hallway in between body bags, and boy if one or two of those body bags twitched as you walked past 'em there'd be some serious brown trousers moments.

(Though I'm told they've already had at least two literal brown trousers moments from visitors.)

And a friend of mine has been putting a lot of energy and effort into a Halloween party he's hosting next weekend, going the Edwardian mad science sort of direction. There are a number of things that would probably be hell to clear with a fire marshal (Jacob's ladders, Tesla coils, etc), but I could see getting involved in something mansion themed with eyes that follow you that goes for the quietly creepy...

#Comment Re: kewl made: 2010-10-26 16:59:41.240547+00 by: ghasty

The haunt industry is an amazing little venture. myself and a partner had planned a commercial haunt this year but missed a filing date with the county by a week to get it all okayed. Next year, dammit. http://CarnivalOfDoom.com

This season I've been hitting every haunt I could find (Atlanta's home to the #2 haunt (most years) at Netherworld that's a little too big for us to compete against but think our story telling and concept will set us apart from the "boo" factories.