Longer, Gorier and More Sick & Twisted Than Ever Before, The Baxter Avenue Morgue Returns with Some Old Friends and New Nightmares!

Greetings, Haunt Fans. I am the Phantom of the Ville, and I welcome you to the first in Louisville Halloween’s series of haunted house previews for 2012. It seems that Halloween is truly in the blood in this town. Louisville has more haunted attractions per square mile than almost any other city in the country, and two of them opened on September 14th this year, The Field of Screams in Brandenburg ( ), which I will visit as soon as possible, and The Baxter Avenue Morgue ( ). Many more haunted previews are coming in the following weeks.

The Baxter Avenue Morgue is located in the Highlands at 451 Baxter Avenue on the corner of Baxter and Hull Street, just two blocks down from Cave Hill Cemetery. The building itself was the real location of the Vanderdark Morgue, which opened its doors for business in the early 1900’s, but closed under mysterious circumstances in 1940. Narrowly escaping demolition in 1976, the morgue sat abandoned until 2001 when long lost relatives Reginald Andrew Mortimus Vanderdark, aka Rig A Mortis, and Warren & Lillian Vanderdark suddenly emerged from hiding and reopened the morgue for seasonal tours.

I was invited by Warren Vanderdark himself to tour the newly renovated tunnels beneath the historic building. The labyrinthine maze of passageways underneath the historic building are a large part of what makes the Baxter Avenue Morgue such a unique attraction. You will travel down into the very bowels of the earth to discover the dark secrets of the Vanderdark family. Tight passageways and low ceilings will give unsuspecting visitors a sense of claustrophobia, and then suddenly the path will open up to vast open caverns and crypts. You’ll also come across grotesque embalming rooms that still seem to be in operable condition and living chambers still decorated in turn-of-the-century decor.

If you’ve visited the Baxter Avenue Morgue before, don’t expect to know exactly where the tunnels lead. New passageways have been excavated and new rooms have been added for a longer and more disorienting experience. New characters have been added too. You won’t find Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees here. This is an all original creation injected with all local mythology by all local talent.

The entertainment begins as soon as you pass through the Gothic gates on your way to the ticket booth as creepy doormen and mutilated freaks immediately begin jangling your nerves. As you wait in line, a local dance company engages in continuous performances of the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video which always ends with zombies wandering into the line.

This season lots of new characters have been added to the haunt, but you will see some old friends as you begin your tour. Warren Vanderdark and his lovely wife, Lillian, will meet you in the waiting room to offer some advice on your best chances for reaching the exit alive. They’ll also familiarize you with the infamous “chicken doors” labeled with painted chickens that those who prove to be less than stout of heart can take during the experience if they need to “check out early.”

This year the actors have gone through extensive “scare training” and it shows. In one room, we were relentlessly pursued by a girl with long black hair right out of a Japanese ghost flick that made the most disturbing, guttural clicking sounds I’ve ever heard. If there’s one word that describes this Highlands haunt this year, more than any other year, it’s “relentless.” I’ve never seen this many ghouls working in the morgue before. I’m telling you that this year the Baxter Avenue Morgue is filled with wall to wall FREAKS! And they WILL touch you, grab you and torment you with their agonizing screams.

This haunt is all about its characters and their interaction with the foolhardy tourists. The Baxter Avenue Morgue does not rely on animatronic and pneumatic props or prefab, haunt industry built sets and monsters. Almost everything you see was built from scratch by local artists and craftsmen, and the main focus is on the amazing location they have to work with and the make-up and intensity that their effects crew and actors bring to the table.

As you leave to go home, don’t forget that the abandoned Eastern Cemetery is right next door with its boarded up Louisville Crematorium just over the hills past broken monuments and crumbled gravestones. This notorious cemetery has a dark past of its own, and is the final resting place of many angry spirits who were buried in mass graves and forgotten. As you pass, you may recall the performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” you enjoyed earlier, or even “Return of the Living Dead.” Is that a chill in the air that’s making your neck hairs stand up, or something else?

Our final destination after escaping the Baxter Avenue Morgue was Spinelli’s Pizzeria just a block down the street at 614 Baxter Avenue. For a great Halloween experience, stop in for a pizza and check out their amazing Zoltan Fortune Telling Machine (SEE PHOTO) where for only a dollar the Great Zoltan will look into your future and give you a keepsake fortune card to take home. If you’re really nervous about your trip to the morgue, maybe you should go see Zoltan first just to make sure the fates are on your side!

The Baxter Avenue Morgue is open September 21-22nd and 28-29th from 8PM-Midnight. In October they will open every Thursday night from 8-11PM, every Friday & Saturday from 8-1AM and every Sunday from 8-11PM. They will also be open Halloween night (a Wednesday this year) from 8-11PM. General Admission is $20, but $5 OFF discount coupons are available at local participating Circle K stores.

The Phantom of The Ville

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