Wolf Creek Haunted Forest-“An Interview With Kevin Stitch”
By Noah Wullkotte
Today we interview Kevin Stitch, co-owner of Wolf Creek Haunted Forest in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. This haunted trail has only been open for 2 years, but is quickly becoming popular in the Louisville area. In this interview you’ll learn about the history, future and the people behind Wolf Creek Haunted Forest. For more information on Wolf Creek Haunted Forest, please visit www.wolfcreekhauntedforest.com.
How are you involved in Wolf Creek Haunted Forest?
My name is Kevin Stich and I am one of the owners and creators of Wolf Creek Haunted Forest. My other evil half is Brian Stich, who is my brother.
How would you compare Wolf Creek Haunted Forest to other haunts in the Louisville area?
Louisville, KY…..as weird as it sounds, might be the Haunted House capital of the US, and if it’s not, we are right up there in the running. This is our 2nd year so we are still learning but we put our heart and passion into everything we do. We don’t have 20 or 30 people helping us build or advertise or anything like that. It’s my brother and me and just a handful of other people I couldn’t do this without. Every year we will improve, add more props, scenes, and the budget will increase. I am not one of these guys who advertise “MY HAUNT IS THE BEST YOU HAVE EVER SEEN” because we are not at that point yet, but our production and experience you will have is unique to the area I believe. We are located on 77 acres and we are an outdoor haunt, which most haunts in the area are indoor. We are unique in that aspect.
Are there any haunts that inspire you to improve yours?
Definitely!!! There are haunts in the area that have been here since I was just a little kid. How can you not aspire to have success like that? Haunted Hotel, Industrial Nightmare, Field of Screams, and definitely a haunt that has recently retired, Nightmare Forest. I look at all these as big players in the industry and I just hope I can keep up, which I think we will!
What type of rooms or scenes can people expect to experience?
Our first year, we stuck with a mixture of horror film based atmosphere and some non horror film scenes that I believe most first year haunts try to recreate. Having an outdoor experience, I think it played well for us because we could use our outdoor landscape to recreate some ideas from the movies that indoor haunt might not be able to recreate. This coming season, you can expect a lot more interaction, tighter spaces, underground style building, earthquake style experiences, and just an over all much more intense experience than last year
What goes into creating a haunt like Wolf Creek Haunted Forest?
Building an outdoor haunt in my opinion has a huge disadvantage. I can’t keep my structures up all year and I can’t keep props outside all year. I have to start from pretty much scratch each year. This year we created a new path and we are building all new scenes to further the experience. Having to think of ways to keep the lighting, audio, and props from being destroyed from weather is tricky also. I can’t use all the same props indoor haunts use; so it’s a tricky endeavor.
What are some obstacles you faced during your first year of operation?
My brother and myself along with only 2 or 3 helpers create the entire haunt. Sometimes it’s overwhelming because we opened a themed restaurant (JailHousePizza.net) also this year and dividing the time this season has been really hard. Another factor we deal with is weather. Last year was the the wettest October on record and caused us to be closed 7 out of 21 days. We also lay down wood chips on the path all the way throughout, so the customers have a been walking experience and it helps with keeping the mud down when weather does turn for the worst. Last year it was a lot of trial and error and we have vastly increased our knowledge.
How do you market your relatively new haunt?
I use all sorts of marketing tools for my haunt. We do radio, hand out flyers, giant CBS billboards throughout the city, advertise at our kiosks in local malls, we have a hearse we drive around starting in August to draw attention, send flyers to all the haunted stores in the city, and we flood the social netwoks.
What have been people’s responses to Wolf Creek Haunted Forest?
Customers and fans have embraced us with open arms. I was surprised about how much positive feedback we actually got about the haunt. It was a breath of fresh air when you strive to do your best and the masses give you the thumbs up. I get asked by people on a regular basis about the haunt and we love it. I can’t wait for this year.
What inspires you to create new scenes and rooms?
In any business if you are stagnent for too long and never evolve as a company, you will be left in the dust. Also, new movies and a whole year of planning creates new ideas. Plus, it is really fun to put together a new scene and seeing the ending result.
What is your favorite part about being involved in the haunt industry?
Two things… First being the customers that come through and really enjoy themselves is a huge part of it. We have the ability as haunt owners to be apart of a small group that provides like minded people enjoyment for a month out of the year you can’t get anywhere else or during any other time of the year on the scale haunts produce. 2nd, the props, animatronics, pnuematics, and all the cool stuff we get to play with. I mean we get to make stuff bloody, vomit, cut off heads, and so much other cool things and it’s a job. How can this not be a favorite?
Where do you see the future of Wolf Creek Haunted Forest?
Wolf Creek is such a young entity right now. My brother and I are learning new things every week about the haunt industry and I am not afraid to say it. We collaborate with lots of other haunt owners on things. The sky is the limit. The property we sit on has the ability to house multiple outdoor attractions. We hoped to add a 2nd attraction this year, but timing just wasn’t there. I believe Wolf Creek Haunted Forest will become one of the major players in the area of Louisville, KY, but we have our dues to pay first. There are so many good haunts in the area.
When do you begin construction and how long does it take to build the haunt?
Our first year we started, we began total construction in July. That gave us only 2 1/2 months to put a haunted house together, which is unheard of. I believe our first year was a huge success with the elements we were faced with. 2010 season construction began August 1 and it took us up until opening day to get everything done. We definitely pushed the time limit this year. Next year we will start in late May just to be safe lol.
What first got you interested in the haunt industry?
Going to other haunted house to be honest. We went to them all. It was a yearly tradition to visit all the haunts we could. The fascination became an obsession to own one. When the reality finally came true, we jumped at the opportunity.
What is your favorite horror movie and why?
My favorite horror movie of all time has to be Aliens from 1986. Bill Paxton was my favorite actor in this movie! This is one of those movies I watch everytime it is on.
If you had an unlimited budget, what crazy things would you add to Wolf Creek Haunted Forest?
I think anyone with an unlimited budget would have a various avenues to explore with a haunt. There is just too much for words.
Where do you find the majority of your actors?
The majority of the actors come from local high schools, social network sites, and Craigslist. I have to turn down more than 40 or 50 people a year because of the overwhelming response. I love it!
Is Halloween night a busy night for your haunt?
It really depends on the day Halloween falls on. This year it falls on a Sunday and it will be very busy. Most haunts are not open on Sundays, so I take full advantage of being open Friday – Sunday in October. Not everyone wants to come out on Friday and Saturday and wait in long lines. Sunday has been really good day for us and the customers love it.