Above, the picture for the cover of the Grave Creations catalog 1986.
|The best way I can describe myself is, I am an artist. I love to design and build. I have been involved in art and theatre since I was very young. My start in Halloween haunting was at the tender age of twelve when my mom handed me the candy bowl and said. "Here, hand the candy out. You're too old for trick or treating." Just handing candy out is very boring, so I dressed in a costume and scared the trick or treaters as they came up to the door. Next year I set out a few props in the yard and things just go a little more elaborate every year. I recruited my friends and family, having them help in set-up, then making them up as characters for the yard haunt. One year, while still in high school, I helped my dad, who managed an Alpha Beta grocery store, by building some props and assisting the set up for the store's Halloween candy display. We won a prize that year for the display. During high school, I participated in the school's theatrical productions, acting, building and painting sets, doing makeup and working in all areas of the theatre. I joined the Navy after high school.
In 1979, while stationed in Bremerton, I saw a notice in the paper about the March of Dimes putting on a haunted house and they were looking for volunteers. I called and was immediately snatched up and promoted to chief designer. Thus began my professional involvement in haunted houses.
During the 1980s I was involved with Campus Life's "Scream in the Dark" here in San Diego. It was run by Ken Overstreet, who taught me a lot about the operation of season haunting attractions. I built many costumes, props, animatronics and large elaborate puppets for "Scream in the Dark". It was good OTJ training. In the mid '80s I started a mail-order Halloween prop and makeup supply business called "Grave Creations". It was through this and the ads I placed I "Fangoria" that I first heard from and corresponded with Leonard Pickel, founder of IAHA and "Haunted Attraction" magazine. We finally met up years later at TransWorld Chicago. I remember that Grave Creations had one really big order of nine dozen skulls that were shipped to Maine to be used on the set of "Steven King's Graveyard Shift" The mail-order business closed in 1989 following my first divorce and the death of my friend, Paul Batson (the originator of Woochie and my biggest supplier).
In 1991, I was asked by Jeff Hedgecock if I could do some design and sculpting for him. He had just gotten the armor making contract for a little film called "Army of Darkness". That turned into a fun little gig. Since I was not working on any haunts that year, I decided to decorate the front yard. We also threw a Halloween party where the guests could scare the trick or treaters if they wanted to. The party filtered between the front yard and the house, with everybody having a lot of fun. We kept this idea of a haunt/party going through 2000.
Tim Allen and I had first met at a Haunt builder enthusiast gathering in 1999 and had kept in touch over the years. In 2001 we got together and discussed putting together an all volunteer, charity haunted house to benefit the community. Tim handled the sponsorship and getting the startup money, I handled haunt design and safety. We got a WHOLE LOT of volunteers and built the entire haunt in a month and a half's time, a record of some kind, I think. And since that was th first time in a long time that October had two full moons that month, "Monster Manor" was truly once in a blue moon.