Back from the Dead
House of Shock co-founder Ross Karpelman talks about “resurrecting” the 2015 season
Craig Mulcahy PHOTOGRAPH
For horror fanatics, an unassuming spot near the foot of the Huey P. Long bridge morphs into Mecca around Halloween time. House of Shock turns a warehouse and the surrounding area into a horror Carnival complete with freak shows, live heavy metal and of course the haunted house that has gotten national press for its Hollywood-caliber pyrotechnics and costumes. When news that the haunted house would close after 22 years broke in 2014, an anonymous investor quickly swooped in to save the Halloween tradition. The “resurrected” iteration of the haunted playground, starting up Oct. 2, includes Bordello of Freaks, a Louisiana-flavored roadside freak show and Laff in the Dark, a Pontchartrain Beach inspired funhouse featuring a “3-D Clown Assault.” We talked to co-founder Ross Karpelman about House of Shock’s second chance.
Why did you all ultimately decide to bring House of Shock back? It was the outcry from the public and the emotional last night with our cast that had us considering a comeback. A ton of people didn’t want the tradition to end. However, a lot of things had to fall into place in order for us to feel right about it. It would take a lot of funds to pull off – way more than we had. We weren’t sure how to go about raising the money needed to rebuild. Some of our volunteers suggested Kickstarter, so we threw that together and ended up taking it down when a local attorney saw our campaign, loved us, saw we were struggling and threw us a rope – which we quickly used to strangle ourselves!
Do you think haunted house goers are a little more open-minded now? More like more desensitized! Today, we all have the Internet. We live in a world where everyone has access to video cameras, at all times, and are able to catch the gritty things that happen daily. Everything can be broadcasted to the world in seconds. We have lived through Katrina. We live in a world where ISIS can operate and broadcast their atrocities, and it seems there’s little we can do about it. All of this is on your TV or on your phone and available for kids to see mostly without supervision. So with all this reality, it would seem that a bunch of grown-ups, with scary make-up on, acting Satanic, should be taken in context for what it is: Halloween fun.
Someone got married at House of Shock in 2013. Do you have any favorite crazy or romantic moments in the house’s history? For me, it would have to be marrying my wife of 15 years, Melissa Karpelman. We had the service and reception in House of Shock. There were over 400 people there. One of our favorite bands played, and it wouldn’t have been House of Shock if we didn’t have a ton of pyrotechnics.
For more information, visit HouseOfShock.com