Theatre Du Vampyr
For the past several years, I was attempting to organize and run a haunted attraction while simultaneously preparing a theatrical production. Two years ago I moved my Fall production from October until November, to help ease the time constraints I was having to deal with. This didn’t help all that much, and I at last had to admit to myself that I simply couldn’t do both things at the same time. Last year I recruited someone else to take over the running of the haunted attraction for me while I concentrated on the play. I have been insanely busy getting this little show called DRACULA: LORD OF THE VAMPIRES ready for an audience–you will be hearing lots more about this in the next couple’a-three weeks–so much so that I hadn’t even been able to see what had been done with the haunted attraction this year. Not until last night.
The Historic Lowry House in Huntsville has a long and sometimes dark history. (It also has several real ghosts.) This makes it the perfect venue to stage a haunted attraction, as it has that creepy Southern Gothic vibe oozing out of its walls. This year’s theme was THEATRE DU VAMPYR, a totally alien concept for me, obviously. Lemme give you a little rundown of how I spent my Halloween, then.
I arrived early at the Lowry House, so there wasn’t much of a line. There were several stops on the tour, most taking place in one of the house’s downstairs rooms. At the first stop we met Bram Stoker in his study, busy working on the manuscript for DRACULA. Then we went one room down to the “Museum Obscura” to see Bram’s personal collection of oddities. That coffin in the floor–it couldn’t possibly have anything inside it, now could it?
Crossing the hallway, we reached my favorite point in the tour, the theater. A film projector was rolling, and F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU was displaying on a makeshift movie screen. Why is the screen split down the middle? So that Nosferatu could step from the screen and into the room with you, naturally.
The Lowry House has a cramped root cellar, the perfect place to stake a vampire, and the backyard is perfectly suited for a reenactment of the historical Dracula’s favorite pastime, impaling his (actually her, last night, as the actor supposed to play Vlad couldn’t make it and they had to substitute a girl in the role) enemies on sharpened poles. As it was chilly out, though, I felt bad for the victim of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, who had to get a little wet. I was told that the original plan of putting Elizabeth into the bathtub in a body stocking to have her bathing in “blood” was deemed unfeasible. (Again, it’s been cold in northern Alabama the past few days.)
After completing the tour, my lovely better half and I went to the nearby Royal Rose Cafe for dinner. In honor of Dracula and Bela Lugosi, I ordered authentic Hungarian goulash. It was to die for.
Tomorrow I have to go to the Lowry House to help with deconstruction of THEATRE DU VAMPYR and to begin setting up for DRACULA–which opens this coming weekend.
Who said Halloween is over?