|Witness the CikNis
||[Oct. 27th, 2014|07:42 pm]
Я не † имею 卍 никакой ۞ жизни.
As Joel has already weighed in with his opinions on the CikNis, I feel it is my turn to express my viewpoints on what was probably the largest project any of us had ever undertaken. To build a haunted house of our own seemed like a fanciful idea—not really even an idea any of us had thought of before. As much as we enjoy haunted attractions and the whole Halloween season in general, the most zealous of us all has long been Joel, and usually most of his wayward ideas and projects are done solo with the rest of us merely being outside participants or mere readers. But, back as early as July, Joel and Cikalo discussed the idea of converting Cikalo’s garage into a haunted attraction for a Halloween party. At first, I thought the idea was silly, and I was overly skeptical that such an endeavor could ever get off the drawing board. After all, the project seemed too large, too technical, and too cumbersome to begin from scratch, even if the plans were on the drawing board over three months before the party. On Saturday, October 25, the party took place, and the CikNis, as the haunt became known as, was a success. Future suggestions, ideas, and criticisms of our own haunt will be posted separately.|
We’ve all been to dozens of haunted attractions near and far, and we knew the most obvious pros and cons of such attractions. We are often critical of some haunted attractions that we deem flawed, poorly conceived, overpriced, or lackluster. Our main task at hand was to covert Cikalo’s average-sized garage into a haunted house that would impress, excite, delight, and even scare our friends when they would pass through at the party. The garage was cleared of all items, and hundreds of pounds of particle board were brought in and painstakingly cut, assembled, and painted black in the garage. When that initial stage was done, we had four main rooms and numerous winding corridors of various widths and heights. One corner served as a smaller room, and the ceiling and outside walls were covered with black plastic film. With no lights on, the place was pitch black. There was only one door on the side of the garage, and that served perfectly as both an entrance and exit, with a hinged door closing off the exit until swung open. The whole thing was held strongly together with caulk, brackets, braces, and countless screws. The music set-up consisted of a small speaker hooked up to Cikalo’s laptop tucked away in the attic, and without that streaming music, the haunt surely would’ve lacked a major element.
Upon entering the haunt with Madison serving as the impromptu doorman, the blue siren provided the only light until one meandered to “the lab” in the corner. The lab was a fitting setting since it included the only small lot of shelves and cabinets in the garage. The table held a myriad of tonic water mason jars glowing under the lone black light. The walls were littered with various chalk drawing in the form of mathematic symbols and equations. The lab was occupied by Jason, who played an eccentric, self-loathing, angry, and growling scientist who caused the “CikNis” and was furious at his inability to find an antidote. He lured visitors to his lab and gave them an alcoholic potion that may have contained either the CikNis or a possible antidote. He would then kick them out of the lab, as he continued his work.
The guests meandered through the “noodle hallway” that consisted of many pool noodles decorated to gleam under dual black lights and splatted paint on the walls. It served to set the tone for the upcoming “retard room,” which is where my character dwelled. My small room was skewed with trash and dirty clothes, while the ceiling was covered in helium balloon and dimly lit with a small, multicolored disco ball. My décor consisted of several crude drawings taped to the wall, a mini-shopping cart filled with empty cans, and a small toy box with a few childish items—most prominently George, a small monkey hand-puppet. My character was a well-balanced mix of schizophrenia, autism, manic-depressive actions, and violent fits, as I tried to befriend my visitors, while seemingly clashing with George and also the visitors with a dual personality. I would send them off after initiating a game of hide-and-go-seek, in which in angrily vowed to find them and win.
The guests then traveled through increasingly smaller, strobe-lit hallways into Ashley’s red corner, where she offered shots to her visitors. She was well dressed in Goth attire—dressed more than any of us to fit the mood. She would force her shots on her guests, even if they didn’t want any. Her room was decorated with a red lamp and a candle set covered in spider webs. It was a nice lead-up to Joel’s room right around the corner. The hallway leading to consisted of several hanging baby dolls that immediately provided a creepy element. His small room was filled with dozens of baby dolls of various shapes and sizes siting on the floor and on three shelves. He had several larger dolls hanging from the ceiling, where he jumped out of to unsuspecting visitors. His room also housed a rather large doll house that had a strobe light inside that provided the only light other than several glow sticks spread out among the dolls. Joel amused and frightened his guest with his vaudevillian-like ventriloquist character named Gerkin, complete with a suit and tie, face paint, hat, and cane. With a falsetto voice, he surely caused an uneasy and creepy sensation for those in his room, as they gazed at dozens of awkward baby dolls.
One short hallway led to Cikalo’s room, where he played the scarecrow in what I considered the coolest room in the haunted house. He had the largest room, and it was filled with dozens of cornstalks—some of which were fastened to the side walls while several others were supported with wood in the middle of the room. This created and almost maze-like element, as visitors stepped on ears and husks and pushed their way through the eerie cornfield. The scarecrow would jump out and hide behind these stalks, and it truly spooked many visitors. His room was only lit with orange flame-lights strung around the perimeter of the ceiling. The exit was hidden. Where a small cabinet once stood, the doors were removed, and guests had to crouch down into it once they found the exit, which was obscured with plastic film. This would spin them around into the next hallway. I could hear many guests asking with shock, “How do we get out of here?!” Once they found the exit with the scarecrow bearing down on them, they entered the “crouched hallway”—the only section with a lowered ceiling that stood about four feet high.
As they felt their way through the pitch-black crouched hallway, unable to find the hidden exit (which was a closed door on their left), they travelled closer toward the dead end. For weeks, we contemplated what to put for an end to this hallway, as the easiest choice would’ve been to just have the guests bump into the end of the hallway and feel scared and confused as to where the exit really was. A last minute addition brought me back into the scene when I discovered the dead end hallway would open up into my room. I built a very small trapdoor that would allow me to squeeze through my room and lie in waiting at the end of the dark, dead end hallway. Those crouching through the hallway would eventually bump right into me at the very end, as the real exit was at the midway point in the hallway. When they bumped into me, as I silently waited, I blinded them with my flashlight and jumped in joy at having found them and won my game. This came as a great surprise, prompting one guest to comically throw her drink everywhere. With me on one side and the scarecrow on the other side, they bumped heads again until eventually finding the exit. When they exited and were now able to stay up again, they turned to see the final scare—Cikalo’s brother Brian. He had rigged up a jumpsuit to literally hang himself from the opening where the attic door used to be. With a red light glowing behind him, he shouted and thrashed as if he was trying to get down. It was a great last scare. The guest then pushed open the hinged door to head back out the same door they entered.
The haunt, in our opinion and in the opinion of the guests, was overwhelmingly positive. While we acknowledged there were some things that could have been better, the guests didn’t seem to notice these trivial things, and they were amazed at the acting, the décor, and the fact that all of fit into Cikalo’s garage. Nothing caused any disruptions in the show, and I’m not even going to mention any of those things at this time since I don’t want to take away from the true amazement that the CikNis caused for our guests and to all of us who “worked” the haunt. As we mingled for several more hours in the house as the party went on, we were all complimented and congratulated on putting on such a good show.
The show was mostly character driven, as we obviously didn’t have the time or resources to scrounge up fancy decorations or things like that. Many of our decorations were things Brian dug up from dumpsters and Joel bought at the thrift store. It took dozens of trips to the store to get construction supplies, and at times, our architectural and craftsmen skills (or lack therefore) were exploited. But, in the end, nothing went really wrong. No lights failed. Nothing came unplugged or unexpectedly stopped working. No walls fell down. The music played perfectly. I hope a bunch of people got sick, because it doesn’t seem like the CikNis will be cured any time soon. Yes, the haunt will not stand forever (after all, it is his garage), but last time I checked, Halloween happens every year.