Horror and Halloween fanatics know that one haunted house they have to visit year-in and year-out is 13th Gate. The Baton Rouge production covers 40,000 square feet on the edge of downtown at 832 St. Phillip St.
For those who have never been, the award-winning haunted attraction features 13 themed areas. This year, there’s a nod to the Sam Raimi classic “Evil Dead” as well as some terrifying takes on fairy tales such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Snow White.”
The 13th Gate opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The attraction will be open Thursdays-Saturdays the first four weeks October, all week long Oct. 25-31, and Nov. 6, 7 and 13. General admission tickets are $25 for 13th Gate and $20 for Necropolis 13, the haunted cemetery attraction. Combo and VIP tickets are available. For more information, visit midnightproduction.com.
To preview this the 13th Gate’s 14th year, owner/founder Dwayne Sanburn talks about what frightens him and what’s new this year.
Does anything scare you?
The real answer is no. I always loved horror and Halloween. I find it fascinating what scares people.
Creating and being a part of this, it seems like a year-long thing, though.
It never turns off for me. I’m in tune with the horror industry. I go to all the conventions and see as many movies and read as much as I can. I really love Halloween. No matter where I’m at, I could be in the most unscary place and see something I could turn into something that can be used in the haunted house. I do a lot of research, constantly, and have a lot of things in my head that I want to do. Then, in November, I sit down and look at all these pieces and put it together. The way it starts and the way it ends is always different.
What are some new things at 13th Gate this year?
We’ve built two really cool areas this year. The first one is a nod to “Evil Dead.” It’s that old cabin in the woods. There is fantastic makeup in it. People are going to be shocked at the amount of special effects and makeup. The second section we’re doing is way off the beaten path. It’s a take on Grimm’s fairy tales. We call it “scary tales.” It’s 13th Gate’s version of stuff like “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “Snow White.” There are twists and surprises. It’s not quite the way you remember it. Within the haunted house, there are a lot of new changes sprinkled throughout — a lot of new scares, characters, costumes, makeups and surprises.
Do you have a quota for the amount of scares you want to have each year?
There’s something around every corner. I don’t think I could put anything else in there. We have 40,000 square feet, and it’s completely full. The cemetery across the street, too, and there’s no space.
Does it ever get exhausting?
It’s certainly a challenge to outdo ourselves every year. It’s a labor of love for me. I love designing it, and I get a tremendous amount of help. The team that works for me is extremely talented. This year, we have 200 actors. We have the most amazing actors. Then, there’s the makeup department. They spend two-and-a-half hours each night. It’s organized chaos. I can’t say enough about everyone involved.
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