Haunted Theatre: Scares aplenty at this year’s attraction

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Imagine dizzying, spinning blackness, flashing lights, ferocious howls and the sense of being completely lost. Scary, huh? That’s the effect Steve Miller is going for in the coup de grâce of this year’s Haunted Theatre: the Tupelo Tornado.
“It throws off your equilibrium,” Miller said. “And it really works.”
Miller and his builders, Brian Gray, Mark Smith and David Dawson, have been constructing the tornado for several months now out of wood, black-lights and Visqueen, a brand of black plastic sheeting. It spins at five and a half miles an hour using bicycle wheels from bikes the guys found on the side of the road.
“I have not made anything harder,” Miller said. “This thing is a beast, just to assemble.”
It’s so large it had to be brought into the Lyric in pieces for Tupelo Community Theatre’s annual haunted attraction.
“You’re scared through all of it, and then this is the fun part,” he said.
TCT’s Haunted Theatre – the largest haunted theater attraction in the Southeast – uses every part of the building to spook guests, from the balcony to the auditorium to the lobby to the alley outside. The scariest part, Miller said, is a 40-foot maze built on the stage. It’s incredibly close quarters and full of frights, like a ghoulish grandmother’s parlor and a spooky sewer.
Though there will be frights throughout the building and especially in the maze, Miller stresses the Haunted Theatre is a no-touch attraction. Goblins may jump out, but they won’t grab you. It’s a guided tour, too, so you won’t get lost.
In true theater fashion, those goblins will feature more make-up and fewer masks, Miller said.
“Masks are a thing of the past. We’re doing all make-up and hair. If we have one or two masks, I’d be surprised,” he said.
The upstairs part of the Lyric will include lots of creepy rooms, including a gruesome operating room.
“There’ll be just a lot of blood. If you’ve got blood, you’ve got everything,” he said.
The Tupelo Tornado isn’t intended as a play on the tragic 1936 tornado that destroyed much of Tupelo, but it might bring back memories for the Lyric’s resident ghost, Antoine, who supposedly died in the tornado 76 years ago. He’s made himself known to Miller by making plenty of loud noises.
“He messes with me the most when I’m leaving,” he said. “He’s very active this year.”

Get spooked
What: Tupelo Community Theatre’s Haunted Theatre
When: 7-10 p.m. Oct. 18 and 25, 7-11 p.m. Oct. 19-20 and 26-27
Where: The Lyric
Cost: $10
Info: (662) 844-1935
Extra: Not recommended for children under 10.

We brake for zombies
Steve Miller and his crew are advertising TCT’s Haunted Theatre by driving around in a zombie pick-up. It’s Miller’s old truck that he’s fashioned into a zombie trap, complete with a quartet of chained-up zombies in the bed. Miller and his guys will be driving the pick-up around town for the next week or so.

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