Something Wicked This Way Comes to Avondale Estates; Step Right Up to the Nightmare Circus of the Dark Harvest Haunted House, Masquerade Ball and Festival!

Posted on: Oct 23rd, 2012 By:

Pull back the tent flap and see what happens when the Devil himself brings the circus to town at the Dark Harvest Haunted House at the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates! Step right up and brave the cornfields of Bradbury Farm, where the souls of a dead town grow right out of the corn, and Mr. Dark’s Nightshade Odditorium, inhabited by the spirits of long dead sideshow freaks. Oh, and did we mention the Killer Clown Maze?

Another example of Atlanta’s talent in designing homegrown haunts, Dark Harvest runs Fri. Oct. 26 through Halloween (Oct. 31), with an opening night Masquerade Ball featuring some spooktacular entertainment on Fri. night and a family-friendly street carnival on Sat. Oct. 27 from noon to 5 p.m. And as an extra treat, proceeds from all the tricks will benefit local charities such as The Academy Theatre, Lifeline Animal Project and The South Dekalb Senior Center.

From Ray Bradbury’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES to Erin Morgenstern’s recent bestselling THE NIGHT CIRCUS and countless carnival-themed horror movies (Hammer’s VAMPIRE CIRCUS [1972] is one of our favorites and recently remastered on bluray), it’s well-established in horror fiction that circuses and carnivals can be creepy places. We caught up with Angelo Ritz, the mastermind of the entire mad affair, to find out more about his haunting Halloween history, Retro influences and the Dark Harvest experience.

ATLRetro: What’s the first Halloween haunt that you remember going to as a kid and what about it scared you the most or stayed with you?

When I was about eight years old, The Lake Worth Jaycees put together a charity haunted house at The Palm Beach Mall in West Palm Beach, Fla. The only thing I really remember of that first visit is seeing an 8-foot tall vampire – he seemed that big to an 8-year-old – appear out of nowhere in a strobe room and running all the way to the exit screaming like a Catholic school girl in trouble the entire way!

When did you first become interested in designing your own haunt and when/what was it? 

After that first haunt, I was hooked on horror films – anything from UniversalFamous Monsters of Filmland and anything else I could get my hot little hands on related to monsters. The next Halloween – 1972 to be exact – I built my first haunted house in my living room for the neighborhood Trick or Treaters. It wasn’t much, but I did make one little girl wet herself!

Dark Harvest has a circus/carnival theme and there’s even a Bradbury Farm area and Mr. Dark’s Nightshade Odditorium. How much of an influence was SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury on the design? Was that story particularly scary for you as a child?

I’m thrilled that you picked up on the reference! As a child, I don’t think any other piece of genre literature had a more profound effect on me than SOMETHING WICKED. It wasn’t particularly scary to me, but for the first time I think I finally understood the human side to horror literature, that the true nature of an individual can be more monstrous than any zombie or vampire I had seen up to that point.

What other classic horror stories or movies provided inspiration for Dark Harvest?

I would say Tod Browning’s FREAKS (1932) and a little dash of David Lynch‘s ERASERHEAD (1977).

Clowns are supposed to be funny, but creepy clowns have become a special trope in horror movies and fiction (Stephen King’s IT comes immediately to mind). Who are some of your favorite killer clowns and why do you think clowns are so scary to so many people?

Stephen King’s IT, hands down! All others pale in comparison. The book kept me up nights for about a month! The miniseries may not have been great, but Tim Curry as Pennywise haunted my dreams for a good while after. I think people are frightened by clowns for a very simple reason – you never know what’s really under that white make-up and painted-on smile!

Without giving away any spoilers, is there anything else you’d like to point out that’s different about Dark Harvest compared to Atlanta’s other haunted attractions?

The one big difference is the absence of gore. Don’t get me wrong, gore is very effective in the right context, but considering the source material the show is based on, I felt classic scare techniques were more appropriate.

Tim Curry plays Pennywise in the ABC-TV miniseries of Stephen King's IT (1990).

On Friday night, there’s a masquerade ball. The Artifice Club’s Doctor Q will be spinning, but what else will be going on and will there be costume prizes?

We have a great line-up of live entertainment for the ball. Gwen Hughes and The Retro Jazz Kats, The City Gate Dance Theatre Company, Thimblerig Circusand the incomparable Aqualencia Litre. Everyone who attends also gets a VIP (no waiting in line) ticket to the haunt. For the costume contest, there will be trophies in a few categories. I want to keep those under my hat for now!

The family festival on the weekend reminds me of the Halloween school and church carnivals when we were kids. Do you have a favorite childhood Halloween carnival memory and is that the idea – to bring back that tradition?

I think you hit the nail on the head. After my first living room haunt, I built two houses for middle school fundraisers, and I wanted younger children to be able to have as much fun as I did at that age. We are going to have a few different scare levels during the festival to accommodate all ages, including “ The Trick or Treat Haunted House” for the very young (3 to 5 years old) where the actors will give out candy.

Can you talk briefly about the charities that the haunt will benefit?

The haunt will benefit Lifeline Animal Project – a no-kill shelter and pet-fostering facility. The South Dekalb Senior Center – they are greatly in need of art supplies and an instructor for their senior activity program. And The Academy Theatre’s Theater for Youth outreach program.

Advance tickets for all Dark Harvest festivities, including group discounts, are available at 

All artwork courtesy of Dark Harvest and provided by Angelo Ritz.


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30 Days of The Plaza, Day 23: The Ultimate Rocky Horror Trivia Quiz: Esoterica for Hardcore Obsessives!

Posted on: Jul 13th, 2012 By:

Lips Down on Dixie performs at The Plaza.

If it weren’t for The Plaza Theatre, where would we get our Friday midnight ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW fix with live stage show by Lips Down on Dixie?!  If you haven’t been in a while or are – shudder – a Rocky virgin, maybe it’s time to lust after a sweet transvestite and do the Time Warp again. Think you remember it well? For the third in our series of Rocky trivia quizzes, we asked our resident expert in all things RHPS to titillate you with her most difficult questions yet…

1. Name the date and location of the world premiere of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

2.  Who supplied the singing voice for Peter Hinwood/Rocky Horror?

3. Which cast member appeared in RETURN OF THE JEDI?

4.  Is the newspaper that Janet uses to shield herself from the rain a) an actual copy of the newspaper “The Plain Dealer” or b) a mock-up of “The Plain Dealer”?

5.  The “castle” featured in the film is currently:
a) a private residence
b) a hotel
c) a set located on the backlot of Bray Studios

6. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW was the film debut of which principal cast member?

7. Was the glowing dome on top of the castle: a) an optical effect added in post-production or b) a real dome?

8. What type of car does Brad drive?

9. Five cast members of the original London stage production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW went on to appear in the film version.  Name all five.

10.  Is the church depicted in the opening wedding scene a real church?





1.  August 14, 1975 at London’s Rialto Theater on Coventry Street
2. Trevor White
3.  Sadie Corre, the shortest Transylvanian, played an Ewok.
4.  B–it is a mock up featuring the fictitious headline “6 Big Ohio Utilities Seeking Rate Boosts”
5.  Oakley Court is currently a luxury hotel
6.  It is Tim Curry‘s feature film debut
7.  The fiberglass and metal geodesic dome was constructed for the film.  It was approximately 25 feet in diameter and was lifted to the top of the castle by a crane.
8. A 1967 Ford Country Squire
9. Tim Curry, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell and Jonathan Adams.
10.  No.  It was a set constructed for the movie.

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30 Days of The Plaza Theatre, Day 4: Hot Patootie, Bless Our Souls, It’s a Time Warp of a Rocky Horror Trivia Quiz!

Posted on: May 11th, 2012 By:

Lips Down on Dixie performs a live stage show at THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, midnight every Friday at The Plaza Theatre.

Tonight, there are two great reasons to get down to The Plaza Theatre and support this city’s one and only longest running historic independent nonprofit cinema! First off, cult classic THE ROOM starts a three-day run at 8:30 p.m., made extra special by special guests stars Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestaro.  May 11, 12 & 13 at 8:30 p.m. SPONSORED BY FANTASYLAND RECORDSThe film’s so-bad-it’s-freakin’-awesome vibe has attracted a devout army of aficionados whose membership includes the cream of Hollywood’s comedy community.  Dubbed the “CITIZEN KANE of bad movies,” it’s a must-see and we’ll be writing about it tomorrow, but first, we’d like to remind you that The Plaza is the only place in Atlanta to catch the mother of all midnight movies, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW every FRIDAY NIGHT at MIDNIGHT just like it’s meant to be seen with audience participation and a full floor show by the incomparable Lips Down on Dixie. We’ll be talking to Lips Down soon, but first we thought we’d have some fun by testing your ROCKY HORROR knowledge. So we contacted our secret arcane mistress of all things ROCKY and asked her to come up with a mix of both easy questions and ones to really test your sweet transvestite stripes. If you don’t score a perfect 10, then that’s just another reason to plan another visit to Transexual Transylvania. And remember if you don’t buy some tickets to the Plaza soon, there may be no more Plaza and Brad and Janet won’t ever get undressed and do the Time Warp again…

Questions (answers at end):

1. What number is tattooed on Frank’s leg?
2. What does it say on the back of Eddie’s jacket?
3. What is the bride’s name in the wedding scene at the beginning of the movie? (Add a bonus point for correct spelling!)
4. What is the religious denomination of the church where the wedding is held?
5.  How many Transylvanian guests (unconventional conventionists) are at the castle?
6.  According to the criminologist, in what month does the movie take place?
7.   When Dr. Scott rolls through Columbia and Magenta’s room, what magazine is Columbia reading?
8. What is depicted on the stained glass window over Frank’s bed?
9.  Who is the first person who gets turned to stone?
10. In the floorshow, who is the last person out of the pool?
OK, here’s a tasty pic of Tim Curry to give you a little antici…pation before you check your answers….

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N Furter in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, every Friday night at Midnight at The Plaza Theatre. 20th Century Fox.

1. 4711
2. Baby
3. Betty Munroe (Munroe, not Monroe, is the correct spelling according to the credits.)
4. Episcopal
5.  19
6.  November (late November)
7.   Movie Life
8. Atlas holding the world on his shoulders.
9.  Brad
10. Janet
Also Playing This Week at The Plaza:

AKA BLONDIEMay 14, May 16 and May 17 at 9:30 p.m. An intimate view of the most famous exotic dancer in the Southeastern U.S., the new documentary provides a fresh, provocative look at the complex, morally ambiguous world of the 55-year -old Atlanta icon. Anita Rae Strange, also known as Blondie, recounts her childhood with an absent father, her brief stint as a prostitute, the loss of loved ones to AIDS and the infamous Clermont Lounge.

THE ROOM, with special guests Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestaro.  May 11, 12 & 13 at 8:30 p.m. SPONSORED BY FANTASYLAND RECORDS!  Win CDs and LPs every month by grabbing the most spoons after the show! The film’s so-bad-it’s-freakin’-awesome vibe has attracted a devout army of aficionados whose membership includes the cream of Hollywood’s comedy community. Role Models star Paul Rudd and Arrested Development’s David Cross are both fans, as is Jonah Hill, who uses a still from the movie as his MySpace photograph. Heroes star Kristen Bell hosts Room-viewing parties at her house and last year attended the film’s monthly Laemmle screening with Rudd, Hill, and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. ”There is a magic about that film that is indescribable,” she says. The Room has even infiltrated the halls of cinematic academia. ”It is one of the most important films of the past decade,” says Ross Morin, an assistant professor of film studies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. ”It exposes the fabricated nature of Hollywood. The Room is the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Every Friday at Midnight. With live stage show by Lips Down on Dixie.

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