Six of the world’s scariest psychopaths escape from a local asylum unleashing a bloodbath on unsuspecting scare seekers at a Halloween Funhouse with rooms and mazes inspired by their notorious killing sprees.
That’s the plot of LA-based Petri Entertainment’s The Funhouse Massacre, a horror movie made at the Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park in Middletown, OH from March-April last year. A casting call was sent to the area asking for film extra’s to audition for crowd scenes, small parts and victims.
“I couldn’t give an exact number, but I want to say at least 70 to 80 percent of the people there were local,” Rick Plummer of Middletown said, who appears in the funhouse line carrying six two liters early in the film. “It was a big deal for Middletown.” Including cut scenes, Plummer had to hold six two liters over 20 times. “The special effects guy kept apologizing to me because he couldn’t figure out how to make them look full, while empty. But everyone was very helpful in getting me set back up. My arms were Jell-O.”
It was released theatrically in the fall 2015 then released this month on DVD.
Channel 5 news covered the story providing casting information. “Local actors I would say there were about 40 of us,” Duane West said, who played a crowd member during Manny’s “this is real” speech. West submitted an application but didn’t hear back till the last week of filming telling him to be there that Friday (for an all-nighter). “It was a very long, cold night. They made sure we were well cared for giving anyone (in need) heated hand warmers and catering.”
The Andy Palmer directed horor-comedy stars Robert Englund, Jere Burns and Scottie Thompson with genre veteran Clint Howard playing the demented taxidermist Walter Harris.
Its Halloween night at the Statesville Mental Hospital, a perfect night for a murderous escape plan.
“There’s people here even God is afraid of,” Englund as Warden Kane tells Candice De Visser as Ms. Quinn/Dollface, “Dahmer, Bundy and Gacy got all the press. We have the ones that you whisper about around the camp fire.”
The imprisoned crazies include Jeffrey “Animal The Cannibal” Ramses, the demented dentist Bradford “Dr. Suave” Young, Harris, former killer pro wrestler Rocco The Clown and “Manny The Prophet” AKA Mental Manny.
A group of kids go to the park for some good scares not knowing what awaits them. The killers settle into their temporary pseudo digs preparing for the slaughter.
Local Marc Schetter got some extra screen time as a pseudo psycho, “I played Fake Dr. Suave in the film, which was essentially one of the workers at the funhouse. I first appear in a scene alongside Sebastian Siegel (Dr. Suave) and then again later in a scene with the main group of college kids. Everyone was top notch and very friendly, professional, and helpful.”
Land of Illusion cast members Angela Metcalf, Susan Logan, Michael Cook and actor Jack Norman were also on set.
The film is split into more camp, than horror with good effects and enough blood to keep gore hounds happy. Most characters are likeable though bumbling; dimwitted Deputy Doyle (Ben Begley) laughably gets away with behavior that’s between fireable and lawsuit worthy. The audience might cheer for the psychos in some scenes and Nintendo’s Hogan’s Alley gets a fun shout out. Most of the killer’s backstories are fiction with bits and pieces taken from true crime, Manny’s character mirroring the Heaven’s Gate cult and Jonestown Massacre.
Chaos ensues when Manny drops the spoiler that people are really dying, instigating chaos, bloodshed and broken bones ending in a serial killer shoot out and a Silence of the Lambs tribute.
Several lifelong movie memories were made on set.
“The opportunity allowed me to create valuable friendships with other great local actors such as Jack Norman and Chris Hahn,” Schetter says. “(It) was very eye opening for me as far as how the industry works. It wasn’t my first time on set, though it was my first time on camera. I arrived with the intent to work hard and learn as much as possible.” Schetter is writing and directing a short film called The Fear Revival this summer.
“I spent an hour with Courtney Gains,” West remembers. “He signed an autograph and we did a video on my iPhone re-enacting my favorite scene from The Burbs.”
From arrival to a “few” rehearsals to action West said “Everything was carefully choreographed and organized. It was cold and hectic but one of the (most fun) nights and memorable moments I ever had.”
“It’s your worst nightmare and the best experience to see and understand how difficult film making and acting truly is,” stated Brett Oakley, owner of Land of Illusion. “My hats off for all the staff, crew and stars for an amazing job. It truly was an honor to have Andy Palmer (director), Robert Englund and all the stars, extras and crew filming at Land of Illusion.”