Star Web Editor does the Monster Mash at Cedar PointWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a monster! That is to say, for one night I was a monster. I didn’t ride any roller coasters in my latest trip to Cedar Point, but it was by far my most memorable time at the park. I got to spend a day in the life of a monster at HalloWeekends.
For the transformation, I spent 30 minutes with first-year makeup artist Joe Wasserman. I had to stuff cotton balls in my ears and keep my eyes and mouth shut while he applied a base coat of copper latex acrylic paint with an airbrush. The airbrush is cold and the process is awkward and uncomfortable but once you get used to it, it’s oddly relaxing. Wasserman used stencils to airbrush gears onto my face then touched everything up with a brush.
“It’s a pretty good challenge to do makeup for the wide selection of all 10 fright zones,” Wasserman said. “It keeps you on your game, especially since you want each zone to look different from the others. On any given night, each artist can see 18-25 monsters, each needing an individual look different from the others. Previous research on each of the zones is very helpful, so you can adapt your early ideas to meet individual monster’s wants and needs. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 15 minutes with a trusty airbrush, some hand-cut stencils, a liner brush and paint.”
Once I was painted up, they completed the outfit with a puffy shirt, an overcoat, a hat with LED goggles, gloves and a can filled with metal to use for making noise. The result was a golden robot with a disdain for man rivaling that of any machine before me. After a monster pep rally, we all marched to the middle of the park for a sort of opening ceremoy speech from the head monster, after which we all sprinted to our assigned scare zones, mine being Maniacal Mechanical Screamworks.
I received some contradictory advice prior to the opening of our zone. One leader warned me about invading patrons’ personal space. Then he paired me with a monster who explained that one of his favorite tactics for scaring is to get right in patrons’ personal space. One strategy he taught me was scraping my can along the ground near people. Another was sneaking up behind someone, shaking the can on one side of them and popping up on the other. Both methods were successful.
I had a hard time keeping my smart aleck attitude out of my character, popping up at people on the phone and yelling, “Who are you talking to?” and sneaking up on people who had just been scared and yelling, “That monster’s pretty good!”
Two scares stand out above the rest. The first was in the entryway to the scare zone. I jumped out of the mist at a woman, and she leapt to the side directly onto a woman in a wheelchair. It was like something out of “Scooby Doo.” For a moment I thought I might have brought a lawsuit upon Cedar Point, but after a couple of seconds of shock the woman in the wheelchair laughed it off and kept moving. The second scare was when a teenage girl moved alongside a fence in an alleyway to get away from the action. As she called to her friend to come over to her, I snuck up from behind and yelled, “Why so scared?” She screamed and was nearly curled up into a ball fighting tears as I apologized while fighting back tears of laughter.
Not all of my attempts were that successful. There were plenty of people unaffected and there was some ridicule involved, including a group of teenagers imitating a dance from a character called Party Boy on “Jackass.”
Two hours and a rip in my jeans later, I was exhausted, all scared out and ready to go home. One monster I met has been with HalloWeekends a lot longer than my two hours. Gabe Russell, a Toledo resident since 2005, has been with HalloWeekends for seven years and has been in the haunted house industry for 19 years.
“I love the job, but I think what keeps me coming back is the people,” Russell said. “I get to have fun with all my friends, act silly and get paid to do so.”
Russell performs in Maniacal Mechanical Screamworks as a slider, which involves special knee and elbow pads designed for sliding across the ground in front of guests.
“It’s a very hard job, but it’s fun and rewarding,” Russell said. “It was a little overwhelming at first. There’s a great risk for danger. We start practicing every year with the old and new sliders in March so we don’t run into problems when the park is full of people.”
After so many years with HalloWeekends, Russell is an efficient monster.
“I’ve seen it all,” he said. “I’ve seen people urinate, defecate, vomit and pass out. Not all at once though. Peoples’ reactions are priceless.”
HalloWeekends is open from 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 28, noon to midnight Oct. 29 and noon to 9 p.m. Oct. 30. Tickets are $49.99 for adults and $24.99 for juniors and seniors. Visit CedarPoint.com for more information. Check out Facebook.com/ToledoFreePress for more photos from HalloWeekends.