If you go to a certain quiet corner of Michigan in the fall, near the shores of Lake Huron, you’ll find quiet cottages, harvested wind-swept fields, and scarecrows with scythes, bloody eyeless skulls and severed limbs. It looks like you’ve reached Scarecrow Village, created by your dark entertainers for this chilly evening, Sandy Reebel and Sada Egenriether.
Sandy has been creating yard haunts and her delightfully gruesome “scrows” for many years, and when she isn’t preparing her village, she co-owns a local landscaping company. Recently, she and her daughter Sada Egenriether have teamed up to provide professional design services and advice for anybody’s haunted attraction. Their website, The Horror Teller Online, showcases innovative products and concepts, and provides e-books and CD’s to help you produce your own haunted show.
We recently caught up with Sandy and Sada for an interview, where they discuss their ideas, thought processes, and what they hope to accomplish with their new business.
Sandy Reebel and Sada Egenriether
HA: What is your background?
We are a mother-daughter team of dark entertainers whose specialty is blending old school haunting with innovating new concepts to bring our guests horror with a dash of theater. We have been the owners of Scarecrow Village, a haunted house, haunted woods, pumpkin patch, and various other family-related businesses that have all stemmed from our love of entertaining, Halloween, and fall.
HA: What inspires you to create a prop or scene?
I actually think we sleep, breathe, and live Halloween every day of the year. With this level of immersion, virtually anything can serve as an inspiration: a scene in a movie, an old folk tale, a frightening real-life story, or even a peculiar person we encounter. Once even a single, small idea has been sparked, it will eventually develop into something much larger.
Welcome to our humble abode
HA: Was this self-taught?
Yes and no. There has been a lot of trial and error over the years. Learning how to run a haunted attraction came partially from books, and the age of the computer brought us into contact with a fellow haunter, who took us under his wing to teach us what the books didn’t. The ideas for haunt sets and scenes have always been our own, as well as the entertainment aspect of our attraction.
HA: How do you implement your ideas?
Creativity comes to us naturally. We take a simple idea or concept and determine how many ways there are to implement it. We like being different and expressing our unique outlook on life through our work, then bringing it to the village for our guests to enjoy. We believe a good attraction should have its own unique signature.
HA: What are your thought processes when you are imagining your creations?
First, we set the theme for the next season, which is usually done before the present season is even over. Once we have a theme, we begin the process of determining what kinds of characters, props, scenes, and so on will be needed for the new season. We begin the search for masks; sometimes we are able to revamp ones we already have in our possession, other times we need to purchase new ones. We scour garage sales and thrift stores weekly, searching for clothing that can be used as pertinent costumes. Through the summer, we create the scrows, and get them ready for their big Halloween debut.
We’re a bit tied up at the moment
HA: With twenty years in the business, have you seen a change in Halloween from when you started to today?
Definitely. From decorations to professional props, they certainly are advancing rapidly because of the technology that is available today. From animatronics to sound chips, and even synchronized musical light shows — it is unbelievable. More and more artists are arriving on the scene, developing new products that even the home haunter has access to. There has been a definite increase in the level of gore involved. However, even with all of these varieties of “eye candy” out there, I still like the old school type of haunting: the one-on-one personal experience with the guests, sprinkled through — rather than inundated — with the newest eye-catching props.
HA: Do you find a lot of demand for your professional services?
We have always been around on a lot of the Halloween forums, offering advice here and there, but our professional services are fairly new. These services are for anyone who wants help, whether it is working with scares, themes, effectively “recycling” an old set to use the following season, promoting and advertising, technical issues, scareactor training, or Horror-Telling. Our goal is to someday be the prominent name for new haunt-themed shows and new ideas for haunters to incorporate into their own establishments.
HA: Is this all year round, or only during the Halloween season?
We just introduced our services in January 2008. Our hope is that once we become known for our capabilities, our reputation will sustain us, generating year-round service to the industry.
HA: Last words?
Yes: Follow your dreams. If you believe in yourself, with a lot of hard work, success is around the bend. Most importantly, have fun, and keep doing what you love to do.